Monday, October 29, 2012

October Recap

Wow! Time sure is flying! I can't keep up on the blog anymore! I'm not complaining though! I'm glad time is going fast. We are half way done with our current assignment down here in Ft. Benning. Jay is just finishing up his first phase of the class and will move on to the last phase in another week.

The month of October has kept us plenty busy. Over Columbus day weekend, we secretly flew home and met my parents in the airport. They loaned us a car for the weekend and we headed up to Manchester. We walked in the door to surprise Jay's parents. We came up for Jay's grandma's (Delores) 90th birthday party in St. Ansgar. We enjoyed spending the weekend with the family. It had been awhile since we had seen everyone, so it was nice to catch up.

I also stole my nephew for the weekend. I was really missing the lil' guy, so I asked his mom and dad if they could do without him for a few days. They were nice to me and let him come along! I had so much fun with him. We all went to the Mac Valley football game on Friday night, partied all day Saturday (especially in the leaves), and played farm on Sunday. The trip was quick, but it was nice to be in Iowa again.
 Isn't he just so precious! I have this picture on my phone. Makes me smile every time! Be sure to click on the picture to make it bigger and get the full idea of cuteness!

Jay has been working really hard on his school the past few weeks. He'd had two huge presentations to prepare for and give. He is giving his last one right now. It will be so nice to have them over with! He also has been writing many papers, one of them being 10 pages. That long one is almost finished. Maybe by the end of the week. The last thing is a huge comprehensive final that's on Friday. Just like a semester test, it will cover everything they have learned so far. Once this presentation is over with today, that's the next thing he'll focus on. I'm sure we'll be reviewing a lot of notecards in the next few days.

I've been holding the fort down at home. We got everything unpacked in September and placed it where we wanted it. We didn't unpack much because it's all going back in boxes in a few months. We did finally put a few things up on the walls a couple weeks ago. We weren't going to, but it just didn't feel like home with bare walls. I have applied for two subbing jobs and have been hired on in one. I will begin subbing for the schools on post next week. I also have an interview next week to sub with the other school. I am hoping to get on both lists so I can be working nearly every day. We'll see what happens. It's been nice being home though. I have gotten several things accomplished that I have slacked on the past few years. The biggest thing has been scrap books. I still have a lot more countries to go, but I'm getting closer.

Not too much happening this month. Life is pretty calm when we stay home on the weekends and have work to do! We have lots to look forward to though. Jay's family is coming here for Thanksgiving, and then we get to go home for Christmas! Soon after that Jay will be done with school! Wow! It all goes so fast!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Settling In

We have been in Georgia now for a little over a month. Are we getting settled in.... barely! We haven't been able to do a whole lot since our house hold goods haven't arrived yet. Once we got to Fort Benning, we spent the first couple of nights with friends until we got our feet under us. Our first full day here was dedicated to surviving in the US. We bought cell phones, we looked for housing, Jay checked in on post, and I don't remember what else. Nonetheless, we were busy! We had two days to get things figured out before both of our parents were coming down. On Friday, we signed a lease for a townhome in a big housing complex off post. After attempting to get in contact with the housing office on post, we decided it would be easier to be off post.

We arrived to Georgia on a Tuesday and both of our parents arrived on Thursday! We had reserved two hotel rooms for all of us to stay in during the time they were here. Thursday consisted of shopping! We were looking for a couch and end tables. We ended up finding a sectional we liked and purchased it on Saturday! That was a big deal for us. Other than the car be bought in Germany, this was our first big purchase as a married couple! Yes, I know we've been together for nearly 5 years, but the Army supplied us with furniture in Germany. We also went to Target and bought $100 worth of cleaning supplies! We had to throw everything away that we had in Germany since they won't ship these things! That evening we enjoyed good ol' American food with our parents!

It took another week to be delivered. Here it is in our living room, filling up the entire room!

On Saturday, we were able to get the keys to our new place and move in! Well, the moving it part was pretty simple since we didn't have anything to actually move in! The ladies cleaned all day and the guys built a kitchen counter for us. There were hook-ups for a washer and dryer in the little kitchen. We decided more counter space was a better option for us.
We were able to enjoy our parents company on Friday and Sunday, with a trip to the Coca-Cola Factory in Atlanta and the Infantry Museum in Columbus. We didn't make them work these day! We'll see if they ever come visit again after all the sweat they shed for us on this trip!
Even though we had a house to stay in, we opted for staying in a hotel for the next 10 days. This way we had a bed to sleep on, a tv to watch, towels to use, the basics! Mom brought down most of the basics we needed to survive and we have borrowed the rest! We have made it work for a month and a half now with little to nothing in the house!
After our parents left, it was time for us to face the real world again! Jay had to go back to work, and I..... well..... really had nothing to do! I couldn't clean the house. I couldn't unpack. I couldn't work. Jay was extremely busy studying and working on projects. So, I decided I was going to go to Iowa for three weeks, hoping our stuff would be here by the time I got back!
My Iowa trip.... amazing! I sure do love that place. A quick brief of what I did...
Went to the Iowa State Fair with my parents! Tried out the fried oreos, which turned out to be delicious!

Drove three hours down to Kirksville, Missouri to visit friends that I haven't seen in a really long time! I met up with Jennifer and Samantha for lunch. Then we went to surprise Tristan at his baseball game! We spent the rest of the night catching up on life!

The next day, I drove six hours up to Sioux Rapids (where I taught my first year) to visit teacher friends! I stayed with Erica and her family and was able to go to the football game! It was fun to see so many of the kids I taught now half way through high school.

I went down to Nicole's for a night after leaving northwest Iowa. We hung out together, along with Amy and Michael.

The majority of my time home was spent playing with these guys, my brother's sons! I enjoyed being outside with them, watching them play on all their toys!

Over Labor Day weekend, my entire family (except for Jay) was together for a family birthday party and a family reunion. I hadn't seen these kids for a long time, so it was fun to see how tall they've gotten! This is Jacquelyn, my only neice.

And my lil' buddy Carson! This guy kept me entertained the entire time home! I can't wait to see him again, and the rest of them too!

After all that excitement, it was time to come back home. I was missing my hubby by then, and I think he missed home cooked food!

We got a call earlier this week that our shipment has made it to Georgia. They will be coming this Wednesday to deliver it! Hooray!!!! No more sleeping on a blow-up mattress! The bed is the first thing getting put together! That's what we miss most!

I'll be sure to put up pictures of the house after it's all put together. It won't take me too long because we aren't doing much to it. We have decided not to hang anything on the walls or do too much decorating since we will be moving out in five months. It's not worth it this time around!

Hopefully after this week, this will start feeling like home! We want to get settled in and be comfortable here.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I have some major catching up to do! I haven't done a good job of posting since.... well, really all year! Here is my attempt to catch up from June.
My last day of school was a teacher work day on June 15. The students had a half day on the 14th and then were gone for the summer. That gave me the rest of the day on the 14th to pack out my room. Not only did I have to clear all of my personal items out, I had to organize what was left, and move it all to another room. One of the reading teachers wanted my room, so we flip flopped all of our things. Thankfully we had some soldiers to help out with the moving part! By Friday morning, I was pretty much done! I didn't want to go in Friday, knowing that I had to say goodbye to a job that I loved. My principal walked in to clear me and sign me out. Both of us were fighting back tears. After clearing, we said our good-byes, gave our hugs, shed a couple of tears, and out the door I walked. Jay came to pick me up, and we were on our way.

Jay was on our four-day weekend and I was done with school, so we hit the road to Slovenia! This was one of those trips that we were just winging it! We didn't know where we were going or what we wanted to see. We drove to the capital city of Ljubljana and found a hotel to stay at. It was a fancy hotel where many famous people had stayed. Some how we got a steal of a deal on it, paying about a fourth of the listed price! See, sometimes it pays to not plan ahead!! The best part about the place was this it was close to down town, allowing for an easy walk.

On Saturday, we spent the day walking around the town. The first thing we came across was a concert of local dancers. There were people of all ages dressed up in their country's attire, up on stage, dancing to ethnic music. We stood around for about an hour watching the different groups.

We also spent time in the market area, where many fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and homemade goods were being sold.

For the rest of the day, we followed our tour book's advice and did the number one activity to do in Ljubljana.... people watch! The town had such a relaxing feel to it. It was great just to sit around and watch the small crowds stroll by.

On Sunday, we drove to the town of Bled, which was the home of Lake Bled. It was a beautiful area with the crystal clear water and powering mountains.

We decided to have some fun and went rodelbahning down the mountain. This is the summer version of bobsledding. The first time was a little nerve racking, hoping that we won't go flying out of the cart. We picked up some speed the second time down.

We also took a lovely walk around the lake, getting a good view of the island in the middle, with a church centered on it. A climb up a mountain to reach the castle topped off the day.

We got back from this trip, did laundry and got ready for the next! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Clearing Schweinfurt

We are still around.... for four more days! Besides traveling for the past month, we have also been working on packing out our house and clearing the community. We have been in a whirlwind trying to get everything done, while of course traveling just a little bit more!

Quick catch up with more details to come.... eventually....

After my last day of school, we headed to Slovenia for three days. It was a great trip just to unwind a bit. The number one travel activity that our travel book told us was people watching! That tells you how much excitement there was! And that's basically what we did. We spent one morning watching local dancers in their traditional outfits. It was neat to see!

We went to China (Shanghai, Xi'an, Beijing, Hong Kong) the last two weeks of June. We really enjoyed seeing all the sites, our favorites being the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. We struggled with the food and mostly stuck with Western restaurants. We were with a great travel group which made the trip more enjoyable to have people to go around with. We had a hard time with the Chinese culture. They sure do things different than we are used to. Their standards are much lower than ours are.

Once we got back, Jay spent the first week of July packing out the house. He had the weekend to prepare after coming home from China. The movers came on Monday and Tuesday. Then the Army came to pick up their furniture on Wednesday. Lastly, he met with the landlord and inspector to turn in the keys on Thursday! During all that time, I took a trip up to England to visit a good friend of mine one last time (at least until she comes back to the states). I felt bad for leaving Jay with all the packing, but he told me to go (and I didn't question him)! We had about 70% of the house already packed up, so he didn't have too much left to do. During my time in England, we went to London for a day and saw the production of Chicago. It was great just to hang out and relax a bit with Elizabeth.

On Thursday, once Jay turned over the apartment, he spent the rest of the day clearing different agencies on post. Meanwhile, I flew back to Germany and got into the airport around 6:00pm. Jay met me at the airport around 9:00pm. We went to eat supper, came back to the airport, and boarded our plane at 1:00am heading to Izmir, Turkey! Jay had the next four days off, so we were taking one last trip! We flew all night and got to Izmir by 8:00 the next morning. We went to our hotel, sat around for an hour or so until they could get a room ready for us. After not sleeping all night, we ended up falling asleep for most of the day. We finally went out around 5:00 in the evening to go walk the town. It was extremely hot as we walked through the market. We walked in every air conditioned store we could find, just to walk around. Jay would find a bench, and I would go browse the clothes. The more time I wasted browsing, the longer we could stay in the AC.

On Saturday, we took an early train ride to Ephesus, a city that is down to ruins. This was a very important city back in its time, being a big port city. It had a lot of religious history to it also. It was neat to walk around the area, see the sites, and listen to our Rick Steves audioguide about each ruin. We also visited the last home of the Virgin Mary. This is the place that they thought was her place of retirement, along with John the Baptist. We walked through the tiny house. Not much left but walls. We then went to the church of St. John. It was also down to ruins. We saw where he was buried. By then, it was time to hop back on the train to head back to Izmir. After being outside in the 105 degree sun all day, we showered up, rested, and then grabbed a doner for supper.

We took it easy on Sunday and Monday before flying back to Germany. When we arrived back into Schweinfurt at 3:00am, we had to go check into a hotel on post since we don't have a home anymore! We both fell fast asleep until the alarm went off at 7:00.

Jay had Change of Command on Tuesday afternoon. He gave up his command of HHC USAG Schweinfurt. It was a great job for him for the past 18 months, but he's ready to move on to something new! Since then, we've cleaned out his office, sorted through more of our stuff, gave a lot of things away, and continued to clear.

For our last few days, we are going to take one more trip on Saturday to Bamberg, hang out on Sunday, and get ready to leave on Monday. We jump on a bus in the middle of the night on Monday (actually Tuesday morning) and ride to Ramstein, where we will get on a plane. We will be to Columbus, Georgia by Tuesday night!  Then we start improcessing and finding a place to live!

Did you keep up with all of that! My mind was racing just trying to remember everything we have done! The past month has completely flown by! And the next month will be the same! The hardest part of all of this is saying goodbye to our dear friends. We had to said goodbye to Jay's boss and his family a couple nights ago. That was a tough one for both of us! This is the part of the Army life that just isn't fun! But what goes along with the Army life, is that chances are we'll see them again sometime down the road.

Once I get to Georgia, or maybe on Sunday if we aren't doing anything, I'll try to go back through our trips and update with pictures. That's the fun part to see!

Hopefully Jay will be done with his meeting soon so we can head to the next place. I don't like having only one vehicle because I'm stuck with him for the day! If the hotel wasn't so far away, I would walk there and start packing boxes! We have a lot of stuff to mail to Georgia that won't fit in our suitcases!

Pray for a safe and easy move for us! Pray for contentment through the next week as we say good bye to our first home together and hello to our next home

Monday, June 11, 2012

IMCOM Softball Tournament

This past weekend we had our final softball tourament in Hohenfels. It was the IMCOM tournament to determine the European winner. We went into the tournament with high hopes. We hadn't lost yet all season, and were hoping to keep that it that way!

We left Friday night after school. It ended up taking us 6 hours to get there because we got stuck in a 3 hour stau (traffic jam). For the first hour, we made it a whole three miles. The last hour, we were at a complete stand still. I had the van turned off and the girls were out on the road playing tag. I'm sure the Germans thought we were crazy Americans, but we were having fun! We finally pulled in after 10:00.

On Saturday, we started our first game at 10:00. We won the first one, so played a second at 12:30. We easily won that one, so palyed again at 2:30. My girls were getting tired by this time! The last game wasn't as pretty! We got schooled by Stuttgart. That sent us into the losers bracket. Several of the girls, including myself, were in tears. This loss hurt.

On Sunday, we played our first game at 10:00 and won that one. It was a close one, but we pulled it off. Our next game was against Stuttgart again. This was the Championship game. My girls were ready to win! We played well, but just couldn't pull it off. We ended up losing in the fifth inning. I was devestated, but tried to put on my happy face. I took the equipment to the van, cried my tears, and then went back to the team.

Hohenfels presented the awards ceremony. They began with us and called me up to give me the team trophy. I'm sure I looked like a wreck, but I was trying to smile. Then all the girls were given a medal. As soon as we were finished, they swarmed me and gave me a big ol' bear hug.

At this point, I lost it again! The tears were flowing! I'm going to miss these girls so much! They are so near and dear to my heart. I have been with several of them for four seasons of softball. These are my girls and I'm just not ready to leave them!

I'm so glad I had the chance to coach during my time in Schweinfurt. It was a great way for me to grow and develop. This is definitely a hard part when it comes to leaving!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Time has Come... to Pack

Our time in Germany is getting shorter by the day! Are you tired of me saying that yet? You'll continue to hear it for the next two months! Jay and I looked at our calendars this past weekend. We have every single weekend booked from now until we fly! We have a couple trips that we are trying to squeeze in somewhere. I have asked for help with one of our softball games so we can get away for the weekend. We want to take a boat cruise on the Rhine and Mossel River. We'll see if we can fit it in.

The actual reason for the post.... the packing has begun in our lovely home! Jay had an urge to start the pre-packing process when he got home tonight. We cleaned out the backroom which was stocked full of boxes, boxes, and more boxes! This has been our storage room for the past four years. Because we have no closets in this house, it all goes into this room. Now that the room is empty, we'll start to pack boxes and put them back into the room. This will make it easier when the movers come. We can tell them to load the entire room.

As for our dining room.... it's going to be a mess for awhile. I'll look on the bright side! I guess this means I don't have to clean for a couple of weeks! We left about a two foot walk way to get to the living room.

We're hoping to get our orders to Ft. Benning next week. That will be three months prior to the date Jay starts his schooling. We are hoping to schedule the movers to come as soon as we get orders! We'll get this house under control sooner or later!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Best & Worst of the Weekend

It was quite an eventful Saturday for us, but a quieter Sunday. I'll give you the best and the worst from the weekend.
Saturday started early as I prepared for another softball game. This was our first home game, which is always exciting. I went to the field at 9:00 to watch the game before us. Our game didn't start until 11:00. It was another typical Schweinfurt Juniors Softball game, with a score more like a football score! In the first inning we had shut them out with zero points. We were running the bases and turned in 13 points pretty quickly. At this point I slowed my girls down and wouldn't let them steal. They hate when I do that to them and don't understand, but I remind them we need to learn some sportsmanship. We finally found our third out after 15 points. The second inning wasn't so successful. They scored a few on us, making the score 13-7. This made my girls mad, which was good. This is the most anyone has scored on us. The competitive side came out in all of them. We got back to the bats and scored another 7 points, making the score 20-7. We held them for the third inning, which meant it was time to finish the game. We needed 2 more points to finish the game (15 point split in the third inning). Well.... who wants to stop at 2. We ended the game at 29-7. The girls were still frustrated as this was our worst game yet, but they were still glad to win.

Will try for better pictures next time. It rained on us throughout the entire game! It was definitely not softball weather.

After softball, I took one of the girls home with me to get her ready for the middle school formal in the evening. I curled her hair and put it in rollers. Then another girl came over and I curled her hair. They were taking turns as I worked step by step through both of their dues. They both ended up with a head full of curls with sides half up in a fun way. I finished their hair at 5:15 and the dance started at 6:00. It was then my turn to get myself ready. I told the girls to do their makeup while I jumped in the shower. When I got out, they said "Ms. Gina, we don't know how to do makeup." I told them to wait a minute while I thew jel in my hair. I then dolled up their eyes and finished getting them ready. I threw a dress on and out the door we went. They both looked beautiful!

Before shot

The dance was a hit! Jay was the all-star DJ. The theme was "A Night in Paris". The decorations were really neat and all the kids looked great! By the end of the night, we were exhausted! We don't have as much energy as middle school kids anymore.

The background painted by our art teacher

With two other teacher friends

So Sunday was our day of rest. We both slept in and took an easy morning. We cleaned up the house and did a few things that have been waiting for us at home. Laundry was one of those things on the list that needed to be done. We got everything put away except for the socks. This job stinks!! There is a reason I have mismatch socks. They really are easier to match!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Rest of April

Finally taking the time to catch up on the rest of April. If you haven't noticed, we've been pretty busy lately. We haven't been home or finished supper before 9:30 the past couple of weeks. Which means little time to blog. Let's just say we are making the most of our time, as it's getting shorter and shorter!

So... to finish up our Spring Break trip. We spent the rest of the week in the Baltic countries, Latvia (Latvija), Lithuania (Lietuvos), and Estonia (Eesti).

After we got back from Nice, we repacked and reloaded. The next day we flew to the capital of Latvia, Riga. We toured around the city for the day, seeing the changes in the past decade.  Latvia has had its independence for only a few years. They became their own country in 1993, gaining their independence from Russia. We could see the communist affects on the country, especially the capital. The buildings were very drab and run down. On the other hand, there were several new buildings, big, tall, and fancy. They didn't fit in very well with the rest of the city. They are definitely still in the rebuilding phase. The city wasn't one of the most beautiful ones we've seen, but learning the history was quite interesting.

Then next day we drove four hours up to Tallinn, Estonia. This city has a different story. Estonia has had it's independence for longer than Latvia. It wasn't quite as run down and had more up to date buildings. The capital city was quite beautiful. It wasn't touched by World War 2, so the city is still in its original condition. The wall around the city still fully stands, protecting the rest of the city. The small roads that run through the town were crowded with small shops, several of them filled with wool clothing. This was definitely my favorite place in the Baltic.

Part of the outer city wall.

Inside the city walls

As we were walking along the wall, I had to stop to build a snowman!

This is the president's home, placed right in the middle of the city.
 We laughed about how it compares to the white house. Similar in size and style.... but this one we could walk right up the front steps!! I was going to knock on the President's front door!

We drove back to Riga the next day before heading to Vilnuis, Lithuania, a four hour drive south. This country wasn't much different from Latvia. It was also run down, but showing signs of rebuilding. We stopped to see a national park and castle on the way.

The least exciting part of the trip.... the four hour drives each day. There wasn't much at all to see as we were driving. The roads were lined with trees, but that's all there was to see. Also, the speed limit was 90kph..... which is a whole 54mph. To you Iowans, that prolly doesn't seem like a big deal. But we're used to driving 90-100 mph..... so this was super slow to us!

Over all it was a good trip. It wasn't the most exciting with the most beautiful things to see, but the history and the changes made it very interesting. We got back Sunday night, just in time to write lesson plans, check email, and get ready for work the next day.

Next trip for us coming at the end of May. By then.... school will be almost over, Jay will be close to giving up his command position, and our house will be being packed up! Lots of changes coming around the corner.