Friday, July 30, 2010

At work

We have pictures from Afghanistan!
James hasn't taken many pictures so far between trying to get situated, getting up and running and being slightly sick for a week or two now. Enjoy!
James at the police station
From a hilltop patrol base looking out across what is mainly a dry river bed but it still has plenty of underground moisture allowing the trees to grow.

These 2 are from a lunch in the police chiefs apartment. They are eating sheep rice melon and the white stuff in the bowl is a cucumber yogurt drink that James says is pretty good. Notice they don't do couches in their living room just cushions and pillows.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not the intended use...

This blow up ball is actually a water sprinkler but the boys found other uses for it. They were putting it on top of each other and asking if it tickled and rolling it all over the place. Even attempting to roll over it at times.
And then they set up an obstacle course of their bikes/cars and were jumping off the seats of them. Between the 2 of them, they have 6 cars/bikes/scooter (and yes they still fight over them all). This is something Macen would have never done a month or two ago especially with this bike. It wasn't exactly stable so when they would jump off, it would sometimes move or tip over. Macen did fall a couple of times but he didn't let it stop him from jumping off it over and over again. They had a blast and were yelling "To infinity and beyond" at times.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rothenburg - a little medieval town

The last day Ryan and Kelly were here, I showed them our post and the Grafenwohr post. Afterwards we left for Rothenburg. I had heard it was a cute little town but I wasn't prepared for how gorgeous it was. It is known as the best preserved medieval walled town in Germany. It's also known to be very touristy but I didn't think it was that busy or crowded.

If you look just above the arch on each side, you see wooden railing. You can literally walk around the entire top of the wall - about 1.5 miles total. We just walked up some stairs and looked at a section of town.

The organ inside and some statues outside of the St James Church. This church was much more simple compared to any cathedrals we have seen since being in Europe.
Rothenburg is the perfect town to do some shopping for German treasures. Not only is there a couple of Kathe Wohlfahrt stores but it's lined with shop after shop. I was completely in awe with this little town and I can't wait to go back and see more.


After the castle, we headed up to Munich to see the city center
This was at the famous Haufbrauhaus. Your typical German music. Every so often they would to a chant, raise their beer mugs and drink. Well Macen kept a close eye on this. Ha ha! He would try to say what they were saying and then he would raise his cup.

This is the regular size of beer. They do offer a smaller one but its not as common to get as Kelly found out.

This is a cathedral but I don't recall which one. It is beautiful and just a bit different with its golden exterior than other cathedrals we've seen.

This is the New Town Hall we also posted about back in February. There is no snow this time and the pink flowers have been added.

We stuck around to watch the animation of the statues within the green area but we were disappointed. They were suppose to dance and move around after 42 bells rang at 9pm but all we got was 2 statues moving on either side where you see lights. You can see the one on the right.

Kelly got Macen to eat a German pretzel at the Haufbrauhaus. As in a true German pretzel, like our Auntie Anne ones in the states, so it is bread. He has refused bread ever since I gave him a roll at TX Roadhouse when he was 11 months - I mean really, who refuses those rolls????? So huge progress here. And I have since bought several and I give him half of one everyday now and will continue to do so. Thank you so much Kelly!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Neuschwanstein Castle

We headed down to the south of Bavaria to one of the main attractions in Germany. It was a pretty amazing castle and hard to believe it was hardly lived in - Ludwig died before it was completed. We couldn't take pics on the inside but here is a glimpse of the outside.

Here is a view of the castle from the parking lot. We walked up an incline to get to the castle.

A view from the base of the castle.

Regensburg area

Weltenburg brewery

We had some friends from IA visit us this week. James wanted me to take them to the Weltenburg brewery but we didn't find the boat cruise this time. Instead the gps stated there was a ferry to take across the river right at the brewery and thankfully Ryan found it after we had trekked a bit. We get across the river on the ferry and wanted to double check if the ferry would be able to take us back across to the car. Ryan was able to finally decipher we could bring our car on the ferry for a very reasonable pice. So back across the river we went and Ryan got the car on the ferry. Now let me explain this "ferry" - it was a wooden platform with 2 sides. I wasn't convinced it would hold a car but it did.
Not a great pic to show it but here is the car on the ferry. I had my super zoom lens on since I thought we'd be doing the boat cruise so this is a far out as I could get.
The boys skipping rocks. Macen couldn't wait for this.

                                                Regensburg city center

Regensburg was the first place we visited when we got here. If you go back to that post in January, you can see the difference between the winter and summer pics. James here is a pic of the wurst kitchen in the summer - a lot more seating than we experienced.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back to the pool as well

We went back to the schwimmbad over the weekend too. Way too hot to stay at home! Macen is finally getting more brave. He decided it was okay to go down the little elephant slide that ends in the water. Or maybe it had something to do with me forcing him to go down it and he thought it was pretty fun. Whatever works! There is also a park area next to the wading pool that has a climbing tower that met his approval. It's pretty high so the fact that he wanted to climb it on his own was impressive.
Here is the slide I mentioned the first time we came. I'll have to get a better pic though. It curves all the way behind the bushes too. Macen loves that thing - on my lap that is.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ahoy, back to the ship!

We went back to the Pirate Park, otherwise known as the Piratenspielplatz. Macen has been asking to come back everyday since we came the first time. And I told him Friday night we were going the next day so what is the 4th thing he asks for when he wakes up (after chocolate milk, special k and Shrek)? Yep, the pirate park. And this was 5am! Kid, nothing is open at 5am over here and everyone else is asleep! Needless to say since he got up so early I made him take a nap before we went so he had to wait until mid-afternoon.

We went by ourselves this time and Macen could have cared less. He will walk up to any kid and say "I Macen, wanna play". This isn't working as well as he'd like it to over here in Germany. He's not understanding there is a language barrier and I loved watching that yesterday. It's this age when kids are completely innocent of their surroundings and they just want to play. Some German kids will start playing with him and some just stare at him as he continues to talk to them. He doesn't care, he just wants a playmate.
So we spent several hours there as the temp hovered in the 90's. Have we mentioned they don't believe in A/C over here? Granted they don't have the humidity the states has but come on, 90 degrees is 90 degrees.
If you are feeling sorry for me you can mention to James that he needs to stop taking me to places that don't have A/C. First Colorado and now here :) Love you husband!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

1 month down, 11 to go

None of us are counting though!

We've survived the first month. I treated Macen to day all about him (which is pretty much every day anyway) and I think we'll do something special at the beginning of every month to celebrate we're 1 month closer to James coming home. Last Friday we headed out of town to Weiden about 30 mins away and went to a toy store. Macen picked out a Toy Story toy since we were going to the movie that evening. He was so excited and was completely hooked the entire movie!

We've kept busy the last month with projects around the house, hanging out with friends, meeting new people, making a routine of hourly care which he loves going to, lots of outside playing and potty training. Until last night, I would have said Macen was fully trained but he had accidents at bedtime last night, naptime today and this evening. It was bound to happen because we started doing only underwear at sleepy times about a week and half ago and he had no accidents until now. That's pretty good and I am impressed. We'll see where we go from here but he has been a champ with potty training.

It looks as if we'll stay pretty busy atleast until the end of year. We have friends coming to visit next week and will continue to have someone visit for the next couple of months.

We got to Skype with James tonight for the first time and I think we all needed it. Macen loved getting to see daddy! Hopefully we'll get to do this more. This deployment looks as if its going to be as emotionally draining as the first. With James' conditions being similiar to his first deployment and new challenges we are facing, we are going to need one heck of a vacation come next summer. Good thing we are in Europe!

Please continue those thoughts and prayers for James.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Macen and I joined a group of friends at the Grafenwoehr post for the 4th of July. We had a good time but I really missed being in the states for this holiday. Gary Sinise and his band (The Lt. Dan Band) played some great music for us. There was also a fireworks display but we opted out. It doesn't get dark here until atleast 10pm so the fireworks weren't starting until 10:30. That's a little late for us.

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

30 Days down 335 or So Left

Well I've crossed the 30 day mark and I've managed to keep my sanity. Things are changing here and the Regimental mission is growing, morphing and evolving every day and that means that my squadron and my mission is changing as well. Somehow that now means I'm going back to the advisor role that I played on my last deployment. Right now as it stands I'm going to be working with a Provincial Chief of Police and his staff. Yeah I've been an advisor but don't they know that little brother is the cop in the family??? The only thing that I know about law enforcement is that night back in high school where I got arrested for minor in possession of alcohol that keeps haunting me every time I have to renew or upgrade my security clearance, isn't there a statute of limitations on teenage stupidity?

With all that said as of right now I'm going to be living at the provincial police headquarters with a small group of officers and ncos much like last except we didn't have the benefit of going through the advisor training at Fort Riley or Fort Polk. Should be fun as they learn on the fly. Also living conditions are much more "gucci" compared to what I had to put up with in Basra.

I have been pretty busy trying to get everything for the squadron's new mission and getting soldiers and equipment out to their respective locations. So there hasn't been much picture taking and my interconnection isn't the best anyway to be uploading pictures to the blog. You'll have to wait until I really get settled to see some pictures.

I want to say thanks to everyone who has sent cards and letters. They really do lift the spirits.

Well time to head for chow.

Aargh, Matey!

We headed out of town yesterday with some friends and went to a pirate park. Macen made a dash for the pirate ship.

Within the rock formation you see the boys climbing on below there are some caves for the kids to go through. Macen was pretending there were bats and bears in them.

There were 2 rafts the kids could take from one side of the water hole to the other. The water was about knee deep for me at its deepest so perfect for the kids to play in.

The boys climbing their way to the top. At the top, there is sand and a water pump. Also there are several paths and such to wind around and play within.

James, you would have been amazed at how much Macen was doing everything. He didn't hesitate to jump these tires. He also went across the wobbly bridge to get to the ship on his own. He definitely wasn't as cautious as he normally is with new things. 

The pirate ship Macen loved. It sat pretty high so he couldn't get into it himself. You can climb the logs you see to get in or on the other side, you can see some netting to climb to get onto the ship. It's quite the step from the netting over the log though and Macen couldn't figure it out. He did climb that netting though but I think that had more to do with the little German girl he was playing with and following her.

Apparently we reached record highs yesterday so the sand was hot, hot, hot. These was a great play area with a little of everything.