Friday, December 30, 2011

More of our Vacation

Here's more of what we've been up to the past few days...

Cuddling with my youngest nephew!

Building castles with the kids!

Having a slumber party in our footie pajamas!

Meeting another of our nephews for the first time!

Only a few more days left in Iowa! Our time has gone way too fast. I'm not ready to leave my family, especially all the lil' ones running around! They are going to be so big next time we see them!

We have one more Christmas tomorrow with Jay's dad's side. We'll spend New Year's Eve with both of our families and head to the airport the next day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Week in Iowa

It's so good to be home in Iowa for Christmas! Jay and I arrived to Cedar Rapids on Saturday and have spent the past week traveling back and forth between both of our parents' houses. This has been a pretty calm week, giving us time to catch up on sleep and relax!

Some of the things we've done so far...

We played with our nephews, Carson and Mitchell. Jay and Carson had fun building a tower, which was a new word that Carson learned how to say. Jay would build and Carson would knock it down! I don't think Jay appreciated that too much!

We also went to a UNI basketball game! It was fun to go back to our old stomping grounds.

One of the days, Jay, my sister Nicole, and I went shopping. We spent a lot of money, but all purchases were justified! Jay needed some new shoes and hit the jackpot on Christmas sales! I slurged on a couple of sweaters too!

Last night, I went out with my girl friends, Amy, Ashley, and Nicole. When we were planning our outting, I asked to go to someplace American. We decided that Texas Roadhouse would be perfect! We enjoyed our meal and then dessert at Scratch. This is a new cupcake store! I know the owner and wanted to stop and see her!

On our walk down Cedar Falls Main Street, we took in all the lights. We also stopped at Santa's Workshop, but he had already left to head back to the Northpole! We missed him!

Today is Christmas Eve and we're celebrating very quietly. We're making some last minute food and wrapping presents for tomorrow when the whole family will be together. Our ENTIRE family hasn't been together for 10 YEARS... so this year will be special! Jay hadn't seen 4 of his nephews, so he's excited to meet them! I can't wait to see all of the kids and be able to play with them! Tonight we'll go to the Christmas Eve service at my families church.I love our service, holding candles and singing Christmas songs! It just seems so magical!

We hope everyone enjoys time with all their loved ones this Christmas! It makes celebrating our Savior so much better!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving in Budapest

Jay and I took advantage of another four day weekend over Thanksgiving! Thursday morning we jumped on a plane to Budapest, Hungary. The trip was meant to be more relaxing than we're used to. Budapest is known for it's spas. There are fresh hot water springs all over the city that fill into pools.

We took most of Friday to soak up the water. The spa complex that we went to had 15 pools in all. We made it into two of them and both of them were outside. It was FREEZING out, but the water was so warm! We had to keep ourselves under the water up to our shoulders in order to stay warm. But, the water was so hot that we had to sit out every once in a while. It was great just to sit and relax in the water. A good stress relief!

 These guys were fun to watch. This is a huge tradition in Budapest..... old guys playing chess in the water.

The rest of the time we were in the city, we walked around to see all the beautiful sites. It was freezing out, but that didn't stop us. Well.... at least not Jay! On Saturday, I decided that I would rather stay in the hotel and spend the afternon there. Jay went out on his own to finish seeing the city. I had no troubles sitting in the hotel room, watching a movie, skyping with my family, and writing our Christmas letter.

The BEST part of the whole trip..... we went to the Christmas fair every night! It got better and better each night we went as it didn't actually "open" until Saturday. Several of the booths were open on Thursday, but there were many more by Saturday. We got some great Hungarian food that hit the spot! My favorite part was splurging on a tea pot. I have started a small collection and this one was just awesome! Handmade and cutely painted! I was so excited to get it!

We're home now for three weeks...... and then...... TO THE USA!!!!! I can't wait to be home!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Summing Up November

I decided I better make another post in the month of November before it's over! It went so fast.... BUT THAT'S OK WITH ME! That just means we'll be back in Iowa that much sooner!

Over Veteran's Day weekend, Jay and I took a trip to Turkey. We spent four days traveling around Istanbul. The weather was pretty chilly and rainy, but we still had a good trip. It was very interesting to see an entirely different culture! We were able to go into a few mosques and see their style of religion. In order to go in, we had to take our shoes off and I had to cover my head.

One of the full days we had in the city, we bought tickets for a hop-on hop-off bus. It wasn't the best of days, so a good day to be on a bus. We drove all around, getting off to see a palace and a few other sites. The best part about the bus trip was that it took us into Asia! The city of Istanbul is actually on two continents. The west side of the city is in Europe and the east side of the city is in Asia. The city is split by the Bosphorus Strait. We rode over a huge bridge and into Asia. The east side is much more Turkish than the west side, which is much more Westernized. I was excited to have the chance to be in Asia. That was my first time crossing over!

 This guy was just fun! And he was posing perfectly!

We really enjoyed the different markets that were spread around the city. We spent a lot of time and money in the Grand Bazaar. That is were most of our family will be getting their Christmas presents! They had thousands of rugs to choose from, but we have plenty from Afghanistan. I tried to keep my eyes away from all the scarves, as Jay has supplied me with lots of those too. We had to try out some Turkish delights. They are little gummy squares covered in powdered sugar. We bought a couple boxes to try out!

It was nice to be traveling again. We haven't been anywhere all fall because of my coaching gig. We had games every weekend, so were stuck in Schweinfurt. We were a little out of practice. We usually don't worry too much and just go with the flow. We had a little trouble getting back home. Our flight left Istanbul late because of thick fog back in Munich (Germany). Once we got to Munich, we had already missed out flight to Nurnberg, where our car was. We tried to catch a train, but being nearly midnight, there weren't any more left until morning. They couldn't get us on another flight until 8:00 the next morning. The hotels were all booked up, so we ended up sleeping on the airport floor. We took some cushions off restaurant benches to make a bed! They worked pretty well. I had to call in and take the morning off since we wouldn't be home in time. Our flight left a few minutes late the next morning, but we made it back at a decent time. Jay drove as fast as possible back to Schweinfurt to get me back by 11:15, when my half day started. We didn't even stop at home, Jay just dropped me off at the school door at 11:18.

This weekend, we are heading out to Budapest, Hungary. We fly out tomorrow morning and we'll be back on Sunday. It's really cold there, so won't be too fun to be outside. Thankfully they are known for their pools and spas! That's where we'll be spending our time!

We hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for this year! Things in our lives are just so wonderful. God has really blessed us beyond belief!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Medical Update

There are times in life when God tests us, wondering how much he can give us before we fully give it all to him. Well folks, the past month has been a test of character for us. A lot has been happening that has kept us busy, made us worry, sent us to places we don't want to go, and challenged us, sometimes more than we care to handle.

Let's begin in the middle of October, since that's the last time I posted. Nothing too stressful to report, just the usual. It's just that our usual is quite full! I was in the middle of my volleyball season, majorly struggling to build a team (that's for another blog). Jay was doing his usual things at work, keeping himself busy. We watched the Houston's a few days while mom and dad were trying to recoop. During the week, besides not finishing up with our day's work until 6:00 in the evening, we have activities every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. All of this we could deal with. It's our normal life routine! But there's more to add...

One of our best friends here in Germany has cancer and is going through chemo. We've been trying to help out the family as much as possible. Jon has been recovering, which means sleeping a lot. Angie got sick herself and ended up spending the night in the hospital also. We took the two little boys for a couple days, got them to school and a babysitter, and then back home to mom and dad. We can't do a lot for them, but we try to do what we can. They are special friends to us and we want to be there for them! On October 21st, I get an email from Jay in the middle of the day to tell me that Jon went to the ER because he couldn't breath. Come to find out he had a collapsed lung. He was going to be hospitalized and would be in for a few days. Jay said in his email that we should go see them that evening, after volleyball. I was at volleyball late because I had to get two gyms set up for a home tournament the next day. Being a new school, we had to make shift a few pieces of equipment to make things work. We got it all figured out thanks to a lot of duct tape!! Jay and I both parked our cars in front of the house at the same time once we were both done at work. I got out of my car and jumped in his to head to the hospital. We called Angie once we got there to ask if we could come up for a few minutes. She was just getting ready to leave for the night, so we quickly went up to say hi. Jon wasn't in a good state, so we gave him our love and walked out with Angie. She had already called for someone to come pick her up, so had to wait for her ride. We walked outside the hospital and were standing on the sidewalk waiting. Jay, Angie, and I were all standing there when all of a sudden Jay fell to the ground. He had his hands in his pockets and fell just like a tree. His chin was the first thing to hit and he bounced. Angie and I both looked down and at first, thought he was joking. It took us 2 seconds to realize that something was wrong. I quickly rolled him over and held his head. Wade, our friend that was coming to get Angie, jumped out of the car and came alongside Jay. He found Jay's pulse through his entirely tense body and started unzipping his coats. All I could do was stay at Jay's head and keep it from hitting the ground. Angie ran inside to get someone out there, who was out there within the minute. They quickly got Jay stabalized and onto a stretcher. They took him straight to ICU, where he stayed overnight and into the next day. That first evening was really rough. Jay had no idea what happened and why he was in there. I had to keep telling him over and over again. On Saturday, Jay was moved to the stroke unit. There they had him hooked up to a heart monitor at all times. We aren't quite sure why they put him in the stroke unit because he didn't have s stroke. It was a seizure instead. Jay was stuck in bed for the next three days, with cords hanging all over him. He wasn't allowed to leave his room, let alone the floor. He wanted to go visit Jon on the floor below us, but the nurses didn't like that idea. After multiple tests, his brain was cleared. He was then taken down to the cardio unit. After another day full of tests, Jay was finally released. All of the tests came back negative, showing no reason for what happened. Since then, Jay's been doing well. His face was pretty beat up for quite a while, but has since healed. The sidewalk definitely got the best of him.
Bruised shoulder...

We still aren't convinced that something isn't wrong. We continue to pray that all is well with him. Jay took a blood test last week and we're waiting for results. From there, we'll decide if we need a second opinion. Time will tell!

To change gears, I had my blood tested two months ago based on a doctor's request. I never heard back from the clinic with any results, so I made an appointment to check it out. All was clear, except for one thing! I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Not a big deal, just means I take a little pill for the rest of my life! I can deal with that! I looked at all the symptoms and so many of them made sense! Hopefully things will get better for me now!

We're still two very healthy individuals, just with a lot on our plate! But don't think that any of this will make either of us slow down! I certainly know that's not going to happen!! Too much to live for!!

Enough health news! Let's move on!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Just had to share three more pictures of our victory! I think they were a little surprised they did so well!

 Team pictures after our first win!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

SHS Volleyball

I am coaching the Schweinfurt High School volleyball team this year. We are half way through our season and slowly making progress. I was real nervous the first week of practice. We had a lot of new girls that had never played before. We spent the first couple of weeks working on fundamentals. We really had to drill them into them.

I'm still getting used to coaching high school girls. They have a lot more attitude and mood swings than I'm used to. I can't keep track of who's fighting with who and who are best friends. Some days they are fighting with each other and the next day they are playing together. They are just typical high schoolers.

All of that has made it difficult to join our team together. We have decent skills, but we aren't playing as a family. We're been working really hard on that. I've tried to be nice, I've tried being mean, I've tried playing games with them, I've tried yelling, I've tried everything. This week I let some of the girls act as the coaches. I wanted them to get a taste of what we deal with everyday. By the end of practice, they were so mad and frustrated. They then made the comments that they see what we have to deal with. It worked perfectly! They saw how stressful our job is because of the way they act. They turned themselves around. Our past couple of practices went really well.

Yesterday we had two games in Ansbach. We WON BOTH GAMES!!! I was so excited and so happy for the girls! They all played together and played very well.  It was very fulfilling for me to see them do the things we drilled during practice. We worked really hard on coverage and they did it very well!

We have three more Saturdays to play and then Europeans the first weekend in November. I hope we keep getting better and peak at the end of the season.

Coaching this season has been a great learning experience for me. It has been very difficult, but I'm sure glad I did it. I have really grown in my coaching skills. The high school principal is trying to talk me into coaching track. I'm still debating. If it weren't for all the weekends we would miss of traveling, it would be a no brainer. But I know we don't have much time left over here and we have more places to see! I have two more days to think about it before I have to make a final decision!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jay's Birthday

I know I'm really late at posting this, but still wanted to share Jay's birthday festivities! His birthday always lands around Labor Day. This year, his birthday was on the Tuesday after Labor Day. Jay had a four day weekend before that so took a trip to Poland.

Jay and his friend, Jon (who has the same birthday), left Thursday night and drove to the border. They stayed in Dresden, Germany on Thursday and left early Friday morning to get to Krakow, Poland. The toured the city for a couple days, went to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and then climbed the tallest mountain in Poland. It took them six hours to get up and six hours to get down! Both of them could barely move when they reached the bottom! I think they both enjoyed the trip, at least it sounded like it.

 Taking a break on top of the mountain before climbing back down!
On Tuesday, their birthday, we met Jon, Angie, and the boys for supper and then came back here for birthday cake! Angie made a yummy chocolate cake! We put the number 25 in the middle and then added two candles to one side for Jon and four candles to the other for Jay. It wasn't a big celebration, but we had a good time together!

Next year is the big one! It's Jay's last year in his twenties! Yikes!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bike Riding Wine Tour

This past weekend, Jay and I went on a bike riding wine tour. We went with a group of teachers through the vineyards of Volkach. We started in this small town, and traveled through a couple other towns. We took trails through the vineyards. They were all so full of dark, red grapes. The vines were absolutely georgous! I wish I would have stopped to take more pictures.

We stopped at a couple of wine fests along the way. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Germany.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The day that Jay's parents flew out of Frankfurt to head back home, we flew out of Hahn to head in Edinburgh, Scotland. We had tickets that evening for the Military Tattoo.

We flew in at 4:00, and took a half hour bus ride into the city. Once we got off the bus, we walked to pick up our tickets for the evening. By this time it was raining. We pulled out our umbrellas and walked to find our hostel. Once we got there and got settled, we decided to venture back out. Before doing so, we bundled up with our sweatshirts and winter coats. We walked out the door and it was pouring! We went in to McDonald's to try and wait it out. We figured we might as well eat while we were there. After waiting for awhile, it wasn't letting up. So out in the rain we went.

We had a couple of hours to waste until the doors opened for the show. We went into a few stores to look around. Since we had already been to Edinburgh, there wasn't anything else we needed, but it was still fun to look. We then went to go get in line. By the time we got there, the line was already 200 meters long. They weren't allowing people to have their umbrellas up while in line for safety reasons. We didn't want to stay there and get soaked, so we went and hid under cover for another half hour.

The ran slowed down by the time we went in. And by in.... I mean inside the gates of an open air stadium. That means all the seats were wet. We planned ahead, knowing it rains a lot if Scotland, and brought towels and plastic bags with us. We put the towels in the plastic bags and then laid the bag on the seat. That helped to keep us dry and warm.

The show was pretty good. The bands were fun to watch as each put on a show. They didn't just come out, stand, and play. They all had a theme and people to watch. We were surprised there weren't more bands. The show was only an hour and a half long, but we were getting tired of sitting by then, and we were really cold!

As soon as it was over, we headed straight back to our hostel to go to bed. We slept in the next morning, thinking we had the day to waste. When we checked out at 10:00, I looked at our flight tickets to make sure we got to the airport in time. I thought our flight left at 5:00 that evening, but it really left at 11:30! Yikes!! We sprinted out of the hotel and down to the bus station. The bus was there and waiting thankfully. It took us a half hour to get to the airport and then we ran through the terminal. We got checked in and to our gate with plenty of time. We even sat for 20 minutes before getting on the plane! After we got there we couldn't help but laugh! For some reason we have done this a couple of times to ourselves. But, we have yet to miss our flight (knock on wood).

It was an extremely quick trip, as we were on Scottish ground for only 19 hours. It was great though. We have been wanting to go to the Tattoo for a couple years now, so glad we had the chance!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer Recap

We barely had time to breath this summer, let alone keep you all caught up on our lives. It was an extremely busy few months!

Let’s recap, shall we! Our summer in a nutshell.... the short version!

We left for Portugal the day school got out. We stayed there for a few days enjoying the beaches.

We came home for three days before flying to Romania for a Club Beyond Mission Trip.

We traveled a bit on our own once we were done with Club Beyond. We wanted to see the rest of the country.

When we returned home, I thought that would be the start to my summer break. Not so much! While we were in Romania, we learned that Schweinfurt would be opening a new high school at the start of the school year. So during my week off, I worked at the school all day packing up classrooms.

At the end of the week, my friend Elizabeth came to stay with us for a couple days.

We dropped her off on our way to Luxembourg, where I ran the triathlon.

The next week I worked some more at school while Jay was at work, and we taught a CPR class together.

Then we watched some boys to finish out the week! All their parents came home on Tuesday night and I was headed to the airport Wednesday morning to pick up Jay’s parents.

We stuck around Schweinfurt for a couple of days, venturing out to some local towns.

On the 30th of July, we flew out for Italy, spending a week between Rome and Venice.

Rome (We were both sick as dogs on this day!)



Cinque Terra


We returned back to Schweinfurt for two days before heading out to Paris. I went with Jay’s parents to visit the beautiful French city. Unfortunately, Jay had to stay home and work!

We came home for a day, repacked, and then headed to Berlin for the last weekend that his parents were with us. After learning a lot of German and American history, we came back home.

All four of us packed our bags once again. Curt and Nancy packed to head back to Iowa the next day. Jay and I packed our bags for Scotland. On Tuesday morning, we drove to Frankfurt early in the morning. We dropped off Curt and Nancy, watched them go through security and then headed to Hahn for our own flight. We flew to Edinburgh to watch the Military Tattoo. This is a huge band concert with military bands from around the world. We were in Edinburgh for a whole 19 hours before flying back.

I had to be at school the next day for an all day meeting. Came home from school, packed one last time for the summer as headed to Finland the next day. We took a four day trip to try to find Santa Clause. I saw a lot of look-a-likes! What I really wanted to see was a moose or a reindeer! Unfortunately we didn’t see anything, except for some beautiful barns!

We came back home on Monday night at , went to bed, and then both went to work the next morning. It was the start to the school year for me!

And that’s it folks! Time to get back to the real world again! This was a summer of a lifetime. I would catch myself complaining from being so tired, but really, what could I complain about! In two months, I visited seven countries!