Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

So what does a Texan do at Christmas time? Eat tamales! What to do if you are far away from Texas at Christmas time? Make your own tamales and invite friends over to help eat them. Which is exactly what we did. We made 12 dozen tamales, a pot of chili con carne, a pot of beans because some people like beans in their chili, bought some Big Red (God bless who ever is charge of the commissary!) and then invited everyone from Dave's office to stop by this afternoon after work. Of course some people are out of town, some people are busy, but some showed up and we ate, talked, laughed, and had a blast. I think this may be a new holiday tradition.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Derailed Again

Today we were supposed to be in Holland at the Christmas Market in Velvet cave. The entire market is held underground in caves excavated when the castle was built around the year 1050. The weather isn't cooperating though. This weekend the temps were down in the single digits (fahrenheit). Sunday it snowed and after talking to some friends who had been out on the road between Frankfurt and Wiesbaden we decided to call it off to be on the safe side. The sad part is since this is our last year in Germany we are unlikely to ever make it the market but you never know.

Today instead of driving to the Christmas market we are hanging out at home. Meat is cooking for the tamales later this week. I am working on assembling the gingerbread houses so they can be decorated tomorrow, catching up on all the cleaning and laundry that didn't get done last week, and of course we took advantage of the snow and did some sledding.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This Week Has NOT Gone As Planned

This week was supposed to be a busy productive week. I was supposed to get all the presents wrapped, the house cleaned, some of the holiday cooking done up ahead, conquer the mountain of laundry, the menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas day finalized and the grocery shopping finished so I wouldn't have to be out there in the chaos next week. This was the last week before the kids would be off for the holidays. I had so much to do.

What did I actually accomplish? Well I have washed every towel, sheet, and blanket in the house, some of them twice or even three times and the floor especially between the kids bedroom and the toilet has been mopped repeatedly, other than that I survived this week and that is quite enough. If you are a facebook friend you already know what happened, but for the rest of you what happened was the stomach bug that destroyed my week. This nasty bug swept through our household and wrecked everyone's plans.

Poor Grayson was the first victim. He came in to our room shortly after 2 Monday morning. I woke just in time to hear him announce "Mommy my tummy hurts." Then things got ugly, not to mention very very smelly. Dave scooped him up and ran to the bathroom while I scrubbed the remains of dinner from the night before out of our of the carpet. And that was that for sleep on Monday. Dave drove the Alonzo and Colin to school because there was no way I was putting a barfing 5 year old in my van. By eleven o'clock Grayson was exhausted and slept for hours. Dave had taken the day off and so we took a nap and watched a movie together.

Tuesday he was feeling better so off to school he went. I went to the farmers market to pick up some hand dipped beeswax candles and fresh veggies. I cleaned house to remove the lingering nasty smell and did lots of laundry. Also made cookies for kids Christmas parties. Thought I was back on schedule. Until about 11 that night when Alonzo showed up in our room. Since I was still awake I was able to get him pointed at the toilet before he blew. Minutes later David heard Colin upstairs. He found that both boys beds were...well nasty would cover it and Colin was in the same shape as Alonzo. About two a.m. I shoved David in to bed since he had already taken Monday off there was no way he would be taking Wednesday off. I spent the rest of the night taking care of one boy or another and washing sheets and blankets. (To my neighbors--sorry about that I wouldn't normally run the washer in the middle of the night but it was an emergency!)

Wednesday passed in a blur of unpleasant sounds and smells. I remember opening the upstairs windows only to have it start snowing. I just let it snow into the room because our apartment is concrete construction with radiators and no ventilation or fresh air circulation unless you open a window which means once a smell is in the house it stays until you open a window. Lighting a candle just wasn't going to cut it. Don't worry the boys weren't cold, they were both downstairs in sleeping bags on the floor as I had run out of clean sheets and blankets and it takes my dryer at least two cycles to dry anything so laundry is a slow process. When Dave came home I mumbled "I need to make cupcakes." and then I think I passed out. By that time I had been up over 36 hours.

Thursday I was still a little out of it but I did manage to make it to the commissary to get groceries, but sadly not the stuff for the Holiday dinners so I will back there next week. Oh well, I will just have to stop in at the book store to grab a new book and an eggnog latte, darn the luck. I also managed to make it to Grayon's holiday party at school. David had baked cupcakes the night before while I slept so I was in good shape for that, even remembered the camera. Thursday wasn't over though, Dave was the next victim. Almost a soon as he laid down in bed that night he jumped up and ran to the bathroom. As he generally wants to be left alone when he is sick I managed to get a little sleep, but I don't think he did.

Friday morning about 3 a.m. I found out I was the next victim when sharp stomach cramps woke me up. This stomach bug was getting ridiculous. Both of us sick is not a good thing. We made it through the day even got the kids to school and picked up at 1 from early dismissal but as soon as Cody made it home from school we both went to bed and Cody got stuck babysitting the kiddos.

Today we are both feeling better. My stomach is still a little tender, and I don't think I want to eat anything spicy or greasy but I am feeling much better than yesterday! Cody on the other hand will probably feel better tomorrow. If there is anything redeeming about this bug it is that it hits hard but goes away quickly. Now unless the cats start barfing we should be just about all done with it, I hope!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I am FINALLY in the holiday mood!

I am usually the driving holiday force around our house. I don't just celebrate Christmas I wallow in the holidays! This year I have been going through the motions but not feeling the joy. I don't know why but I have been in a blue funk. Even the Christmas music, which I normally play nonstop, has been annoying me, but after the last weekend I am FINALLY in the holiday mood.

This weekend was nonstop Christmas fun. Thursday we went to a Christmas performance by Grayson, and Friday we went to a performance by Colin. Friday night we watched a Chipmunk Christmas DVD which goes with the Chipmunk Christmas CD the kids have been listening to on the ride to and from school each day. The kids are loving Simon, Theodore, and Alvin. Now if they would just quit acting like them!

Saturday we went to the Christmas Market in Wiesbaden. I like that one so much better then the big market in downtown Frankfurt, much less crowded. I didn't have to worry about spilling my gluhwein from people pushing me. On the was home we drove the long way through the Taunus and there was about 5 inches of snow up there. Gorgeous!

Those of you familiar with Jakarta will notice that the blue stall in the right of the picture above looks like it was stocked from the 4th floor of Pasaraya where all the handicrafts are sold. Those little wooden cicaks that you can pick up for a few thousand rupiahs there sell for 40+ euros here. There seems to be one of these stalls at all the markets. It cracks me up.

There's lots to eat and drink at the markets. David got his favorite bratwurst mit brot otherwise know as sausage on a roll. All the kids opted for a crepe filled with Nutella and while I agree it is good I went for this German version of pizza topped with some sort of white sauce, onions, and ham, yummy!

And what would a day at the market be without riding the rides with the kids? We rode the double decker merry-go-round and the kiddie train. In a different part of the market there was ice skating rink but we managed to escape that this time.

Saturday night we went to the Seidlung Christmas party at the fieldhouse. Free food and live holiday music, what could be better? I even won a cute Christmas village cake in the silent auction. Sunday found the kids back at the fieldhouse for pictures with Santa, of course I was at the commissary because I forgot but Dakota saved the day and took the kids down there to meet Santa and take pictures while David and I shopped for groceries. Yay Dakota! Now that I have been on holiday overload for a few days I think I am ready, bring on Christmas.

Oh if you are wondering why there are no pictures of Colin at the market it's because he spent the day with a classmate skating and curling down at the Eissporthalle. He had a blast and currently holds the title of the only Mullins to go curling.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unfinished Business--Halloween 2009

OK so I know it is Christmas time but I still haven't posted the kids in their Halloween costumes so their Grandmother and Aunt Teri can see. With no further ado (or procrastination), here ya go!

Alonzo and Colin decided to be faceless phantoms. Funnily enough Colin's best friend back home had almost exactly the same costume only in all black. Great minds think alike, I guess. Dakota raided the kids dress up box to become a pirate after he tired of explaining his original costume Dakota Fanning. He made a paper fan and walked around fanning himself. Well, he thought it was funny. His girlfriend Josephine showed up as one of the ghostbusters complete with a soundtrack, somewhere she had hidden a speaker playing the theme song "Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!" For Grayson we dragged out the cobra costume I made years ago for Colin made a few repairs and he was all set.

A close up of the cobra costume. I worked hard on it and he is the last of my babies to wear it. It will go back in the dress up box for a while longer, but before long even he will have outgrown it!

The day after Halloween we watched the Halloween Tree and learned a little about the history of Halloween. We also read about Dia de los Meurtos. We tried making our own pan de muerto, not very authentic but tasty anyway. Each person shaped their own skull and crossbones. I think they came out pretty well.

We also cut up the Jack-o-lanterns from the night before to make pumkin pie filling but before I could cook them the boys had to take one last picture.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Get it Now

We used to have a live Christmas tree every year. We would drive out to a cute little Christmas tree farm near Seguin, spend hours walking around and around comparing the trees until finally we found THE TREE. Then Dave and Cody would use a hand saw to cut the tree down and haul it to the front of the farm, load it up, tie it down, and haul it home. Then we would struggle to get it to sit right in the stand, and get the lights strung all over it so there were no dark spots and hang the ornaments just so to disguise any bare spots. The reward would be a gorgeous unique tree and that wonderful pine smell through out the house all through the holidays.

Then we moved to Jakarta and had to get a fake tree. Not so many Christmas trees in a tropical Muslim country. There are a few to be sure but they tend to be pricey and there is certainly no cut your own tree farms, at least not that we ever found.

Now we live in Germany. There are lots of beautiful real trees to choose from here, after all this is supposed to be the country that came up with the idea of decorated Christmas trees. Last year I tried to talk David into a real tree, plastic just isn't the same. My argument was the smell, I missed the smell. Dave bought me a pine scented candle. Hmmmph!

This year I tried again. The tree lots are everywhere, and the trees are so pretty, I really want one. I have tried sad puppy dog eyes, hints, longing sighs, profuse admiration of the real trees, flat out demanding a real tree. And....nothing...silence...crickets chirping.

Finally last night David announced that real trees are just too much trouble, then he hauled the fake tree up four flights of stairs from the basement and dumped it in the living room. Today as I was setting up the tree and fluffing the tree I kept wondering how this is any easier than a real tree. He went to work today and I got to spend half the day trying to make a pile of wire and plastic look like a tree. I have scratches all over my arms from this thing. Then I suddenly figured it out. It is easier FOR DAVID!

When we had a real tree David had to drive to the tree farm, David had to help Cody cut down the tree, David had to haul the tree to the car, David had strap it down, David had to drive it home with out losing the tree on the highway, David had to trim the tree so it would sit straight in the stand, David had to string the lights and David was usually the one who remembered to water the tree so it didn't dry up too fast.

With a fake pre-lit tree all David has to do is haul it up from the basement dump the box in the living room and say, "Here ya go Babe." then he is done. Yep, I get it now.

*if you click on the picture at the top it is interesting to note that is NOT Dave helping Cody haul that tree, it is Paul, aka Uncle Bubba. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Unfinished Business--Marine Corps Ball 2009

Living overseas with my husband working for the foreign service I have had the chance to go to a number of balls: The St. Andrew's Ball (Scottish), Trafalger Ball (British), St Patrick's Ball (Irish), Marine Corps Ball (US) and the Navy SeaBee Ball (US). All of the balls have some sort of opening ceremony, followed by eating, drinking and dancing. Each ball's opening ceremony is moving in it's own way, but hands down the ball that is most likely to wreck my makeup is the Marine Corps Ball.

The opening ceremony is pretty much the same regardless of where the ball is held. There is the address from the Commandant of the Marine Corps which is projected on to a screen for everyone to see. A message from the Secretary of State, which will be read by a guest of honor, at a Embassy Ball generally the Ambassador or the Chargé d'Affaires. High ranking officers will also make speeches. Then there is the cake cutting ceremony, a huge cake will be marched in cut with a sword then a piece offered to first the guest of honor, then the oldest Marine present and finally the youngest marine present. There is always a collective gasp when the birthday of the youngest Marine is announced, and you realize just how old you really are. This year's youngest Marine present was a young (emphasis on young!) woman born in 1989. I will give you moment to recover.

I did video the cake cutting ceremony but opted to use my little point and shoot instead of dragging the big cameras along, which explains the quality of the Wordless Wednesday pictures, so I will spare you that experience but instead will post the Message from the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. This is usually the point at which my make up begins to go wrong and the tears start flowing. It is very moving, expecially with all our brave young men and women in the middle east right now. Grab some kleenex and spend a few minutes remembering those so far away.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Unfinished Business--Teri Visits Germany

It is December first. The last month of the year. As far as I am concerned it is officially winter, yes I know winter officially starts on December 21st but for me Thanksgiving marks the end of fall and December first is the beginning of winter. I was looking back over the blog this morning and realized that I have been a bit of a lazy blogger. I know you are shocked. My plan is to use the first couple of weeks of December to catch up on unfinished blog business so I can start the new year with a clean slate.

The first bit of bloggy catch-up business is Teri's visit to Germany last summer. The kids love when Aunt Teri comes to visit because she spoils them rotten and we get to do lots of fun stuff. This time was no exception. It was go go go the whole time. We saw castles , lots and lots of castles, went hiking, played in rivers and swam in lakes. Visited Bavaria and Luxembourg. We went downtown to a kids fun festival and stumbled onto a gay pride parade (Mommy why is that man wearing gold underwear? Yeah that was fun!) visited the Alps and took a ride to the highest peak in Germany, rode a luge, toured Mad king Ludwig's castle, celebrated the Forth of July and so much more. I could do lots of posts on her visit and I really should have been posting like crazy when she was here but I just too busy having fun. Yeah I like it as much as the kids when she visits. What can I say? Any way here are some pictures from last summer.

Taking a break from hiking in the Taunus.

What visit to Germany would be complete without touring the most famous castle in Germany? Neuschwanstein also known as Mad King Ludwig's Castle.

A quiet moment on top of the world.

Burg Eltz

A view of Luxembourg from the top of the Bock Casemates.

This was not what we had planned when we headded downtown but it was fun to watch, although Colin had some interesting questions.

When we were just hanging out at the house Teri and Dave went head to head in a game of wii baseball.