Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lots of Random Stories

I've been collecting small (sometimes silly) stories the past couple of weeks. I haven't taken the time to put them up, so today you get them all at once....

Two weekends ago, Jay and I went up to England to visit Elizabeth. She had some plans to take us to a couple of neat towns around her. On Saturday morning when we woke up, we heard the wind howling and noticed the sideways angle of the rain. Not such a great day to be outdoors. Instead, we decided to stay inside and help Elizabeth get her bedroom set up. Really.... Jay did most of the work and Elizabeth and I played games or talked.

We did help out some though!

Our shower is about one meter by one meter..... not very big!! Mix that with the extremely hard water in Germany that quickly creates not such a clean shower, and you've got a problem!! I have to clean the shower often to stay ahead of the black stuff that grows in it! I have found that the easiest way to clean it is by cleaning while in the shower. I haven't figured out a better way to clean the inside of the door. Nonetheless..... I was cleaning the shower earlier this week and went to stand up. I hit my head on the handle that turns the shower on. After my head stopped spinning and I got out of the shower, I noticed a massive egg on top of my head. I thought I could shake it off, but it didn't stop hurting after quick awhile. So, I sat in my chair with a bag of corn on my head. Jay got a kick out of it and thought it was picture worthy. It took several days for the bump to go down, which made it difficult to do my hair. I still have a bruise, but no bump anymore, thankfully!

Last night we had a Hail and Farewell with our squadron. To those that don't know what it is, you hail the new people to the squardon and you farewell those that are leaving. We are leaving and really excited!! Jay switches over to the garrison after next week! He has already been doing some work for them, but we will finally officially be moved over.

Here is what both of us received last night...

This morning Jay and I had some time to ourselves. We slept in and then headed to the PX. They were having a sale on winter clothes and shoes. Jay was hoping to get a pair of running shoes. Unfortunately they weren't on sale. We then headed to the commissary to put up a couple of things. We ended up coming out with four donuts that weren't on the list! It is a rare occcasion that we get donuts, but we sure enjoyed them!

Yesterday I was given keys to my new classroom in the middle school. I have been hired to teach 6th grade math, a class of 8th grade math, and an applied science class. I have never taught in the middle school and really haven't even thought about it. But when this opportunity came up, I couldn't pass it up! I will be finishing up this school year full time. I'm really excited to get started! I can't get into the room until tomorrow because the old teacher is still moving out. Nonetheless, I have the text books. So today I will start making some lesson plans.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Playing in the Snow

Being from Iowa, Jay and I both love snow! We can hardly imagine a winter without that flully white stuff! Well, this year we almost missed it. Being on vacation for most of the winter led us to missing several of the beautiful snow falls! We even missed the one day the school was cancelled, which hasn't happened in years!! We were in a warmer place though, so we weren't complaining.

We have been skiing a couple times this winter on a slope just an hour north of us. It has been the perfect place for day trips, and is enough to satisfy Jay's skiing desires.

When it comes to playing in the snow.... we "forced" the boys we were watching to go play in the snow.... really so we could go play with them. They have a nice back yard (that our place is lacking), along with sleds so it was perfect! We told them they couldn't play any electronics until they went outside to play. The response we got back from one of them as he was stomping up the stairs... "Fine, I'll go out now so I can get it over with and come back in to play." He's definitely not an Iowa farm kid!! My mom couldn't get us dressed quick enough in the morning to get us outside! (And I hear the grandkids are the same!)

I got all five boys dressed and outside, along with a bigger sixth boy. Then it was my turn to get bundled up. Thankfully, it really wasn't all that cold out. Here are a few pictures of the fun we had!

When talking about the boys, I use numbers instead of names. It's easier for others to keep track of!

#1 Throwing a snowball.
As you can see, the snow wasn't good for packing. It was too fluffy. As soon as you would throw, it would disperse as a powder.

#2 Taking a break from a snowball attack.

#3 The one that didn't want to go outside.

#4 Clearing off the snowy bench

#5 Wasn't quite sure what to do out there. He certainly didn't like walking in the snow with all of his puffy clothes on. He kept falling over!

 #5 and #6 Jay cleared off the slide and made a snow pile at the bottom for them to fall into.

Pulling #4 and #5

I showed #4 what an icicle was that was hanging from the windows. He loved licking it, and even shared with #5.

Once the church bells chimmed for 11:00, I was quickly told by the same child not wanting to be outside that we had been out for about an hour and it was time to go back in. I told him we hadn't been out that long! He said, yes, that we came out at 10:24. So I responded by saying it hadn't been an hour yet. He continued on trying to reason with me, but I was the mean babysitter that made them stay out another 24 minutes!

At about 11:20, #4 was saying he was cold. So Jay took his warm hand out of his glove and put it on #4's cheeks. It looks like Jay is suffocating him, but he was liking it. I finally gave in after this and let them go inside.

Once we went inside, Jay entertained for awhile...

While Jay and the boys were playing, I was in the kitchen making lots of food. This was New Year's Eve day and we were heading to a party that night that we were supposed to take food to! It's so nice to have Jay around to help out instead of doing it all by myself!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

CAV Ball

Last night we had our 1-91 CAV ball. It was fun getting all dressed up and heading out for the night. This time I even had time to do my hair. For our last ball, it took too long for us to set up that I had to go with a wet head. We were finished decorating by 12:30 and didn't need to be back until 4:30. It was nice to get ready and actually enjoy it! I could have used mom's extra hands to do my hair, but it worked. Jay helped me by holding a couple of times (and by cutting the rubberbands out of my hair at the end of the night.)

Looking our best!

The table decorations that I was in charge of. Not really what I had in mind, but it turned out alright. The glasses were the best part. Something we can actually use around the house!

We had a good time eating and chatting with friends...

And spending some time on the dance floor!
(Sorry, No pictures of us dancing)

Tim and Jay

Waiting for the dance to start

We'll get to go to another one of these this summer, once Jay becomes part of the Garrison. They are fun to go to.... feels like prom again! What makes it great is when the LTC gets out there dancing. No.... our SCO was not out there, but LTC Spain was sure having a good time on the dance floor! That's what will make this summer lots of fun!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An End to Block Leave

It's all over.... one month of traveling and enjoying the time with my husband. But now it has come to an end and we have to get back to the real world.

Let me recap for you the last week!

Lots of time spent in airports! We played a lot of card games and computer games!

We spent three nights in Beligum. The first day we took a train to Brussels. It rained on us all day, but that didn't stop us from seeing all the sights. We still walked the entire city. Brussels is just a normal European city, nothing too extremely exciting for us to see.

The next day we decided we were tired.... we didn't feel like being wet.... so we took the day off. We went on to an Army post close by, shopped at the commissary and the PX, hit up the library for awhile, and then went back to the place we were staying. We sat and read for awhile before heading to Mons to find some food. It was a nice day to slow down a bit!!

On Friday, we drove to Weeze, Germany to the airport. There, we hopped on a plane heading to Leeds, England. I was so excited to see Elizabeth! She picked us up (thanks for not making us hitch hike!) and took us out to eat. Then we went to her place, which is absolutely ADORABLE!! It is an old barn that has been turned into a little house. I loved the wood beams and the stone walls. She has done well in the past month!

On Saturday, we were going to head to York. But it was raining sideways because the wind was so strong! Instead, we decided to stay in the house and build Elizabeth's bedroom furniture (Jay did most of the work. We played games instead). We stayed in our pj's all day and took care of things around her house! It felt good to just "stay home". That night we were going to go out for fish and chips... but that would have required us to change out of our pj's and that just didn't sound like fun for us! So, it was pancakes instead!

On Sunday, we went to church in the morning. It was fun seeing another chapel and how things were done. Then we went to a surprise birthday party for a middle schooler. Then it was off to Xscape, which was an indoor fun park. It had bowling, mini golf, a rock roll, indoor ski slope, and several other things. It was a teenagers heaven!! Elizabeth needed to check it out before bringing kids there. We were glad to go with her! We played two rounds of mini golf before heading home.

Monday meant we had to go home! After a traditional English breakfast, we were off to the airport. I was sad to say goodbye, but I know I'll see her again! If nothing else, I'll have to go visit again this summer!

Today was the first day back to real life... we had to set the alarms, we had to get up and get going, actually accomplishing things today. While Jay went into work, I stayed home and worked on the house. The Christmas tree and decorations came down, the usual decor came back out, laundry from the past month got washed and put away, supper was made (which I was so glad to do after eating out for the past month), made food for Bible study tomorrow night, and the house got cleaned. It sure feels good to be sitting in a clean house tonight, not needing to get things done (even though I'm sure I could find more to do).

Now we have to get our minds in gear for the next year ahead of us!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 6 - Last Full Day in Crete

It's our last full day in Crete and we are already in bed! That's because tomorrow will come fast as my alarm clock is set for 3:15!! We need to be out the door by 4:15 in order to catch a taxi and be to the airport for our 6:55 flight! It's going to be a long day of traveling, but that happens!!

Today was a day of strike outs! We went to a cave that is supposed to be the most beautiful. After driving two and half hours.... we drove up to closed doors!! Bummer!! In the winter months, they are open only on the weekends! We wish they published this stuff somewhere! So, we drove another half hour to go to another cave. And strike number two! CLOSED!! The gate wasn't even unlocked for us to drive into the parking lot!! So much for seeing more caves today!

Instead we went to Rethymno to see a fortress. It was built right on the shoreline, above the rest of the city, to defend the city from the pirates. Jay really doesn't think it was pirates.... but it sounds cool to me!!! We walked up inside the fortress, walking along the wall. There wasn't much left to see, a church, mosque, and a little house. All locked up, so couldn't see in. But the fortress itself was pretty impressive!

After that we headed back, turned our rented car back in, took the bus back to our hotel, and then settled down for the night. We went to Goody's for supper. Ever heard of it?!? We thought hamburgers sounded pretty good. This place was amazing!! We each had a hamburger and cheese fries with bacon!! It totally hit the spot! We miss our good ol' American food!! We ended the night with an ice cream cone!

A good way to end our stay here in Crete!

Tomorrow... we should be back in Frankfurt in the afternoon and then are heading up to Belgium for three days. This was just planned a few days ago, but we thought we might as well use the time while we had it!  Besides not looking forward to the drastic weather change, we're excited to go view the bustling city of Brussels!!

Day 5 - Stalagtites and Stalagmites

Our goal for the day was to get to the Diktian Cave, which is where they say Zeus was born. His mother fleed his father because he had killed all his brothers when they were born because he had been told one of them would take over reign. So Rhea fleed and had her baby hidden in this cave.

Outside the cave, looking down on a plateau. Hard to believe it's a plateau because we are looking down on it, but we had to remember that we are thousands of feet in the air and this just happens to be several taller mountains. Pretty neat to see such flat ground amongst all the mountains.

We don't really care too much about the mythology, but the cave was quite awesome. The pictures don't give it justice. There were stalagtites and stalagmites EVERYWHERE! It was so neat to see their growth through the thousands of years. After climbing to the bottom, which was very deep, we were able to walk around just a bit. There is a lake down there too, which had crystal clear water from mountain runoff.
After that we drove to Agio Nickolaus, which is a huge tourist town. This is the place to be in the summer as it's packed with vacationers. It was an absolutely beautiful town. And to make it better the sun was shining and warm! I could have sat out on the rocks looking at the water all day! (I'm sitting on the rock below)

Then is was a long drive home. We were home early, by 7:00, so watched a movie before falling asleep.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 4 Finding Success

Well folks.... today turned out a bit more like we planned! We headed out this morning by 9:00, heading over to the eastern side of the coast. Not to the far east, because that would take a long time to drive, but central east. If you think like we did and wonder how it could take so long when the island is only 40 km by 160 km wide. That's because the average speed is about 50 km/h (30 mph). The entire island is made of switch backs that take you through the mountains. As soon as you see a straight stretch and start to speed up, you quickly have to hit your breaks before making a 180 degree turn to head in the other direction.

Fun to drive..... not so fun to ride! Jay will tell you that first hand! He was having fun being a race car driver, but when it was my turn to drive, he wasn't so fond of the curves!! He was holding on pretty tight and taking lots of gasps of air! (Mom... he sounded like you! : )

The first place we went to was an ancient Minoan palace in Knosos. Most of it looked like rubble, but a lot of it had been refurbished. This palace was thought to be built around 6000 B.C. That is so hard for me to even fathom. As Jay put it.... that is three times as many years on the otherside of the timeline than we currently are. (6000 B.C. to 2000 A.D.) We could have taken a tour, but we weren't quite that interested in the place. They had posters up all around that explained what we were looking at. Those were good enough for us.

Our next stop was the Idean Cave. This is the place where Zeus grew up. He wasn't born here (that's where we are going tomorrow) but spent his childhood here. We had to drive way back and up to the top of the mountain. When I say up... that's exactly what I mean! We were above the clouds and into the snow! I felt like we were five steps from heaven! You can tell in the picture below how we were looking down at the clouds.

Once we parked our car, we had a good 20 minutes hike up the mountain. There was somewhat of a path made out of rocks, but it certainly wasn't too smooth. We made our way up nonetheless.... Jay a few feet in front of me. I was gasping for air as the oxygen level was a bit on the low side! Anyway, once we got to the cave, Jay climbed a little higher to get some pictures. The snow got the best of him as he fell through, but thankfully only to his knees. Can you find him in the picture?

We then climbed down into the cave, which was quite scarey. The slope was steep and the snow was slippery. There wasn't much to see down there. It was just dark and wet!

On our way down, I had to try out the snow! It was just like a snow cone, minus the flavor! Not snowflakes like we are used to, but more like ice crystals.

Jay got a kick out of me rolling up my pants, but there was a lot of mud and these pants have to last me another week!

We then headed home again. This is when I got to drive as Jay was tired. Instead, he sat in the passenger's seat and took pictures the whole way home! We have some lovely signs....

But also some great shots...

My photographer... standing on top of the world!! (even above the clouds)