Friday, March 26, 2010

SeaBee Ball 2010--Part Three Almost Done, I Promise!

What do they serve for dinner at a medieval castle? Thankfully NOT what was served in the middle ages, swan neck pudding anyone? We were treated to the Festive Baron's Banquet, a four course menu consisting of the following:
Rye rolls baked golden brown with lard. We all thought the rolls were baked with lard, which is fine if you don't think about it too much. Lard actually gives a very nice flavor to food when used in place of shortening, trust me I love to cook. Instead we were presented with tubs of lard to smear on our rolls. I gave it a try, it tasted...umm....greasy. They also gave us nice tubs of butter, much tastier!

Delicious caraway soup just like the Baron likes it. I liked it too! In fact I want the recipe. It happened that a chair near me was empty, but the serving wench filled the soup bowl. Perhaps we told her the seat occupant was in the bathroom? In any case the soup did not go to waste, and the seconds tasted as good as the first.

Crackling saddle of pork roasted with finest herbs from the castle garden like the knights loved it - carried in by the Baron's cooks with the roll of drums - and with a sauce made of queen apples, cabbage sprouts, and potatoes roasted in butter. The pork was in fact on fire when presented which cause a rush of people and cameras. We did manage to get one shot where you could see the flames but they were already dying back by this time. Cody said when the flames shot up high they could feel the heat from where they were sitting. The pork was just OK, no where near as good as the soup but the presentation was great!

A strudel made from Boskop apples with nuts and grapes straight form the oven. It was strudel, not chocolate. Enough said.
Each course was announced by this gentleman and his minstrel. It was quite the show. I really wish we had brought the video camera, but I will just have to be happy with still photos and memories.

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

The minstrel actually played a number of instruments including an accordion. I wasn't aware they had accordions in the middle ages. What ever this thing is, it looks much more middle-agey than an accordian. Sounds better too!

Of course there was a cake cutting ceremony. It involved the oldest SeaBee present, the youngest SeaBee present and the guest of honor, in this case the Counsel General. The cake was cut with all due ceremony using a saw, not a sword. Why a saw? Because it is the SeaBee Ball of course. The SeaBees are the Construction Battalion of the Navy. CB's...SeaBees. Get it? Yes that very pretty young thing in the middle is the youngest SeaBee present. You can't really see the top of the cake well but it is decorated with the emblem of the SeaBees. They are not an offensive group but can and will fight if needed and that is represented by the emblem a bee carrying tools and a machine gun.

How many SeaBees does it take to cut a cake?
Two plus a Consul General!

As I mentioned each place setting had a dagger. I kind of liked this. I used mine to threaten David into trying to make him behave. Obviously it didn't work.

Don't push your luck buster, I know how to use this!

We also had lovely bibs. Here Cameron models the proper way to wear one. Handsome guy isn't he? I didn't wear mine, it clashed with the dress!

His wife was so proud, can you tell? It was probably a mistake letting David and Cameron sit together. They egged each other on all evening.

Don't let here fool you. She is the one who set up a toll road at the corner of our table since everyone needed to pass by to get to their seat. We accepted dances, small change, excuses, and even a little flash of thigh from our kilt wearing friend Christian. Everyone laughed with us and it was all in good fun. Tammy is such a hoot!

Here is David looking very handsome in tuxedo, hanging out with some knights in shining armor, or at least less than shining old suits of armor. The serious look didn't last long though.

You better be nice to me or my friend here will get you!

Look, antlers in all the decorating! Wonder if the Baron's name was Gaston?

I kept humming that stupid song from Beauty and Beast all evening. I was very glad when the dance music started and drowned out the music in my head.

To end this post, and my week-long series of posts about the ball, here is one more picture of Cody dancing with his Mom. I just love a man in uniform! Who doesn't? He looks so calm, almost suave, and I look just plain giddy.

Weather Woes

Spring Break starts today at 3:30.
Here is the weather forcast for the next week:

Fabulous! Just fabulous!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dakota at the Ball--SeaBee Ball Part 2

Quick Note: Dakota is Cody's given name. He prefers to be called Dakota because he says it is a manly name. Two words for him Dakota Fanning (in all fairness I named him Dakota long before Dakota Fanning came along). In any case I am going to call him Cody because that is what I have called him since he was little bitty and I am MOM, I think he should just be glad that I quit calling him Ducky when he was about two.

Since David joined the foreign service one of my dreams has been to take each boy to a ball their senior year. The three younger boys have a while to go until they are old enough to go to a ball, even though Colin tried to get an invite to the ball last year. Cody, however, didn't just get to go to the ball this year he actually participated in the opening ceremonies. His JROTC Color Guard team presented the colors during the ceremony portion of the SeaBee Ball. All four of the boys did a wonderful job and I couldn't be prouder.

Look what I found hanging around outside the ballroom before the ball.
From left to right: Chris, Dakota, Me, David, Seth

There the boys are in action. They did an amazing job.

Once the ceremonies were over the boys could have a seat and join in the fun. Bottoms up! Actually they behaved very well, which is very impressive considering they has this as role models:



What? They gave me a dagger! And besides didn't you know that forks weren't commonly used in Europe until the 1600's, this is a medieval castle! Oh all right, of course these pictures were posed and we used appropriate table manners and forks. Boring!

After the feasting I did manage to get Dakota out on the dance floor but it did take some coaxing.

Dance with me, Please. No, Dad isn't going to help you.

Wish fulfilled! I danced with my baby at the ball. One down three to go!

Cody and crew spending some time bonding with the SeaBees. I think all four boys had a good time and really enjoyed themselves. I know bunches of people stopped by our table to tell us how impressed they were at the way a group of high schoolers handled themselves at a formal function, in a crowd of diplomats and sailors. David and I are very proud parents!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Remember

This Table set for one is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his oppressors.
The Tablecloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms.
The single Red Rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms
who keep the faith awaiting their return.
The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing.
The Candle, the candle is lit,symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit.
A Slice of Lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.
There is Salt upon the bread plate, symbolic of the families tears as they wait.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The Glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us this night.
The Chair, the chair is empty. They are not here.
All of you who served with them and called them comrades, who depended upon their might and aid, and
relied upon them, for surely, they have not forsaken you.
Until the day they come home, Remember!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SeaBee Ball 2010

I like going to the ball. I like getting dressed up and playing princess for the evening, I don't think I want to do it all the time but once in a while is great fun. I have been privileged to attend several balls in Indonesia and in Germany. I don't know when the next ball will be, anyone know if there are balls in Malawi? This last weekend I had a new experience, going to a ball in a castle. It was so much fun! Too much fun in fact to fit all into one blog post so I am going to milk it for blog material all week.

We arrived at the ball to find the bus would have to park in a muddy field at the bottom of a rather steep hill. Even the bus driver moaned, "Oh your shoes!" when she saw all the women's heels sink sadly into the mud. I managed to get out of the mud and up the hill with out breaking a heel, I think everyone else did too. David gallantly held my hand to keep me from falling, heels are really not my thing and heels on a steep hill was potentially a serious health hazard. Think broken ankles and bleeding knees.

We noticed the castle seemed a bit more crowded than one would have expected for the ball, and many people's dress seemed a bit out style, by that I mean several centuries out of style! Turns out that there was a medieval festival going on. We arrived just a it was breaking up for the night. It was pretty funny all the people in black tie formal wear staring at all the people in medieval garb and the medieval folk staring back. I must say their shoes looked considerably more comfortable!

Need a broom? The broom maker can help you out! This guy wasn't staring at anything but his brooms. I guess he sees tuxedos and ball gowns wandering around medieval Germany all the time.

Winding down at the end of a long day. Looks like fun, I was tempted to join them but I had to keep climbing uphill to the castle and the ball. I am sure a cup of grog would have made the climb more fun!

I found these two wandering about and had to have a picture with them. He seems very proud of his axe, don't you think? I started something when I took this picture. I am sure they were there taking pictures for a while. I wonder if he was smiling as widely after two bus loads of ball goers had their pictures taken.

Do you see them lining up? Yep those guys were there a while. They seemed good natured about it though.

Did you notice my hair blowing about in that last picture? If I had known there was going to be a forced hike through the wind and drizzle I would have spent considerably less time trying to make my hair curl just so. Oh well, at least this hair cut looks well with the windblown look.

We did eventually make it to the top of the hill and finally got a good look at Ronneburg Castle. It is a genuine medieval castle dating back to around 1250. Looking around we discovered the festival will continue next weekend, and they have a falconry show so you will probably read more about the castle later. Here is a picture David took of me in the inner courtyard. It was actually taken later the the previous pictures I have no idea why the sky looks so light. Maybe he didn't use a flash?

Behind me you see the entrance to the ballroom and in front of me actually behind and to right of where David was standing to take the picture was the bathroom. The ONLY bathroom was across an open, getting darker by the second, courtyard. Did I mention it was downhill a bit? Did I mention it was drizzling slightly? Dark courtyard, slippery wet cobblestones, plenty of beer, high heels, and yet not once did I slip and fall. Not sure why, just lucky I guess. Castles are cool but all things considered I think they would be a bit inconvenient to live in.

We got our first glimpse of the ballroom through these windows. Gorgeous! Castles are very picturesque. I have yet to tired of touring castles! Just don't think I need to live in one, that's all. Did you notice those tiny white flowers in front of the window? Flowers! Spring is coming! YAY!

Inside did not disappoint. Check out the table settings. David has already requested his own dagger and small wooden cutting board so he can stab the dagger into it with a bang during dinner. Maybe for Father's day?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Marathon Day

Yesterday was go go go from the moment we got up so I am going to borrow my friend Monica's favorite form of blogging: The List. It just seems to suit the way the day went. It felt like the whole day was a list of things that MUST be accomplished before we could go to the ball. Yes, the ball was definitely the light at the end of the tunnel yesterday,

1. Everybody up bright and early, cereal eaten, dressed, teeth brushed.
2. Tell Cody to double and triple check that he has everything needed to present the colors at the ball. He will not be coming back to the house before the ball.
3. Make sure Alonzo is in his cub scout uniform, make sure we have Colin's uniform: shirt, belt, neckerchief and slide.
4. Make sure we have the drinks for the Blue and Gold.
5. Drive to school to pick up Colin from sleep-over at school. School is 15 minutes from our house heading out toward Wiesbaden.
6. Drive to Oberursel for Blue and Gold cub scout awards banquet. Oberursel is 30 minutes from our house the other way. Thank goodness for the GPS it cut a few minutes off the time.
7. Blue and Gold over. It went well. Awards given, skits performed, jokes told, pizza eaten, good time had by all, except maybe Cody who spent his time chasing Grayson.
8. Head to Weisbaden which is 40 minutes from our house in a different direction.

This map will give you an idea of the location of Oberursel and Wiesbaden, although our actual route may be different than shown. We go where the GPS instructs. Start at E (I have no idea where A went) go to boys school B, then Oberursel C, then Wiesbaden D, then back to E.

9. Dump Cody and all his stuff at the base and head back to the house so we can get ready for the ball.
10. Start working on hair. There is a reason I usually just schedule an appointment so someone else can do my hair for the ball. I am totally hopeless, but the new haircut did make is easier. Short hair is just so much easier.
11. Stop messing with my hair and deal with The Incident. It involved the bathroom, a closed toilet, someone not looking before they went, a disgusting mess, and hysterics. It also involved a vow NOT to blog it so I will stop because I am perilously close to breaking that vow.
12. Wash hands, twice. Return to fussing with hair.
13. Hair and makeup finally done as good as they are going to get.
14. Put on dress, change my mind about which shoes to wear. To wear hose, or not to wear hose? Put the hose on with the vintage shoes. Love the shoes hate the hose. Take the hose off. Keep vintage shoes.
15. Put on jewelry. Change necklace...twice. Decide not to wear the vintage shoe, they are closed toed and I didn't paint my toenails for nothing. Strappy sandals it is.
16. Suddenly remember I need a purse. Destroy closet looking for my beaded clutch. Find it on dresser where I apparently put it earlier in the week so I could find it.
17. Check to make sure David is ready. Of course he is. And he has the oven preheating to the babysitter can make pizza, and is giving the babysitter instructions, not that Emily needs them. She rocks! So does David.
18. Take pre-ball picture. Don't we look fabulous?

Picture taken by Alonzo

19. Head to bus stop to catch bus to the ball. Yes, we rode a bus but at least it was a chartered bus. Not very glamourous but does mean we can both drink if we want to.
20. Have a blast at the ball!

Friday, March 19, 2010


It is Friday movie night in our house. Colin is still at school enjoying his sleep over in the library that is the conclusion of Book Fortnight. The other two little ones are watching "The Pagemaster" which I thought it would be the perfect ending to the week. David, Cody and I are all playing on our laptops which brings me to my first conclusion:

1. There is such a thing as being TOO connected.

However you will notice I am still here blogging. I have seen this movie so many times when Cody was younger I can do long passages of the dialogue. We are at the part where Tyler says "Boy I thought you two were goners." and Fantasy replies "We almost were until we discovered this enchanting fellow (that would be Horror) can float." Meanwhile Adventure is locked in a treasure chest. David must have read my mind because he just put up his laptop and is now stretched with Gray on the couch, both of them with their ankles crossed and the hands behind their heads. Too cute.

Tomorrow is the SeaBee Ball. Cody's JROTC team will be presenting the colors at the ball. I am very excited to see him in action. I am also excited to get to dance with my baby at a ball. I am mostly ready but I still need to paint my nails which brings me to my second conclusion:

2. It was a lot easier to get ready for the ball in Jakarta. Cheaper too!

In Jakarta I would call Mil and Mat's for an appointment the day of the ball for hair, nails and makeup. A team of wonderful women would pamper the stuffing out of me and after a couple of hours I would leave feeling and looking like a princess, around $50 dollars for the works. A bit more if I decided I needed a facial (an of course I did!). If I needed a dress I would just have a seamstress make one up. I had a silk corset made while I was there to go with my black satin skirt and it was a whopping $35. I probably overpaid. If a dress I had needed alterations no problem the seamstress could handle that too. So here I am doing my own hair, make up, and nails. So far I have spent $40 last week for a haircut, $20 something for a bottle of nail polish and some hair products another $30 for some makeup. Plus I spent far too much for a new dress downtown it was in euros and I really don't want to do the exchange rates because it will just depress me. It is a really cute dress though!

I have made two trips to the base today (one for groceries and one for gas and all the things I forgot to buy the first time) and three trips to school (one to drop off kids, one to pick up kids, and one to deliver the forgotten music book and instrument). Good thing traffic here moves a bit faster than Jakarta or Bandera Road back home for that matter. Which brings me to my third conclusion:

3. I am gonna get a heck of a speeding ticket this summer if I don't learn to slow down!

Contrary to what you hear back home a lot of the autobahn does have a speed limit. The stretch between here and Wiesbaden has a speed limit of 120 km/hr or around 75 mph and just like back home the traffic always seems to move just a bit faster than the posted limit. I tend to average around 85 mph in the middle lane which means I am passing the people in the slow lane but the cars in the fast lane are wizzing past me. I am hoping to make a trip to Houston this summer to visit my cyberfriend Kolbi and I can just see me forgetting that Texas has a bit more restrictive speed limit and opening it up on I10. That could be really expensive.

Whoops Tyler is asleep in the treehouse and the credits are starting to roll. I better go kiss my little ones good night and tuck them. Which brings me to my last conclusion:

4. Kids grow up too fast! I can't believe Cody is going to the ball tomorrow!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Fortnight

The Metropolitan School Frankfurt is in the midst of Book Fortnight. So far the kids have had trips to the Rödelheim Library, and tell-me-a-story workshops. They are reading their hearts out in a read-a-thon. They have enjoyed a visit and book signing by author David Greenberg, who also lead writer's workshops with the kids, teachers and parents. Yesterday and today Usborne books are hosting a book sale, sort of like the scholastic book fairs back home in the states. Tomorrow the fortnight will conclude with a a second grade library sleep over. Colin is over the moon knowing he will be staying overnight at the school library while his brothers will be sleeping back home in their boring old beds. Some kids have all the luck.

Today is Dress Up as Your Favorite Character Day. Alonzo chose to dress as Bad Kitty (thanks to Aunt Teri for sending him Bad Kitty Gets a Bath when her library had a book fair! You are the best Librarian/Aunt a kid could want!) He stole on of my head bands, a little tape, construction and imagination and he was all set. Grayson decided to be a bug from one of David Carter's pop-up books. We dug through the dress up box and came up with an old bee costume. Perfect! Colin knew just what he wanted to be, He wanted to be Hedgie the Hedgehog from the Jan Brett book Hedgie's Surprise. He said it would be easy, just spike his hair and color his nose. One problem, he has really long hair. I tried, I really did, but I couldn't get the gel to hold up all that hair, it made spikes that just drooped over. Hedgehogs are spikey, not droopy. And anyway porcupines don't have spike that long, never mind hedgehogs. I did suggest a haircut and got yelled at by Colin and David, but Cody did offer up his hair clippers. Colin is rather proud of his status of having the longest hair on a boy in second grade, David just likes long hair on boys. Colin still has all his hair, sorry Teri I did try.

Back to the dress up box: Harry Potter, no too many people doing that; A firefighter or a policeman, NO! 'nough said; Stellaluna, no that's for babies, how about a dinosaur? Cool! A dinosaur it is! I quickly stitched up the small tear in the knee and we were all set for school.

Here are the boys with their costumes on. I did sew up that tear in the dino costume and Colin realized that the book he was holding wouldn't work because he was supposed to dress up as a character and the book he was holding was non-fiction. A quick rumage through the shelves and we came up with How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? We decided that would work well enough.

Minor Mirror Mishap

So it finally happened. I clipped another car with my mirror while driving the kids to school this week. ARRGH! Considering how narrow and congested some of the streets I drive can be, I am not really surprised that this happened. I am more surprised it hasn't happened earlier. Maybe the reason it hasn't happened sooner is that I drive a minivan so my mirrors are higher than most. Maybe I am just lucky, who knows. I was trying to avoid getting sideswiped on the driver's side and misjudged the distance on the passenger side. I was very lucky though, I didn't do any damage to the other car, but my mirror is toast. The mirror itself didn't shatter but the plastic clip that holds it in did.*

David has already ordered a new mirror assembly but it will take a week or so to get here and I still have to drive the kids to school everyday. I really need that mirror, there are several spots where I have to merge right and with out that mirror I will be driving by ear. CRUNCH! Not the best plan. So what to do? What to do? I applied a little southern ingenuity and dragged out the packing tape. Hey Presto, I am ready to roll!

Classy I know, but Hey I was out of duct tape.

*I don't think the clip would have totally shattered if David hadn't hit the mirror on a big cargo truck in Indonesia, which cracked the plastic clip. The mirror has been a little wobbly every since, so it's not all my fault. I don't care what Dave says!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Snow

Saturday morning we woke up to find the ground white and glittering with snow. We groaned a bit and whined about the cold weather. Finally we decided to make the best of it, stuffed ourselves into the snow suits, hats and mittens one more time, then headed outside. After all we may not know exactly what to expect when we move to Malawi but we are pretty sure there won't be any snow, so we better enjoy it before it all melts away.

We threw snowballs and ambushed the neighbor trying to sneak out to the trash bins his pj's. Sorry about that Randy! After a while the neighboring kids came out to join us and we had a grand snowball fight followed by snowman building. I have pictures of the snowmen but not of the fight as it is hard to defend yourself while taking pictures, also getting hit by a snowball is probably not very good for the lens. Sometimes you have to quit taking pictures and participate in life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Way To Go Dakota!

This weekend was a big weekend for Cody. For months now he has been staying after school practicing with the JROTC Drill Teams preparing for competition. This is a big deal for these kids. They worked very hard getting ready. There are 5 drill teams: color guard, regulation, saber, unarmed, and armed. Cody is on every team so he had lots of routines to memorize and perfect. Two of these teams, color guard and regulation, have preset routines where every team from every school does the exact same thing. The remaining routines are choreographed and performed by the students. On Friday the students put on a performance for the families. Cody had not only his parents and brothers cheering for him, but also our friend Doug, and our neighbor Randy and his family. The students looked sharp in spite of the fact they were performing in jeans and t-shirts. This was understandable as everyone's uniform was fresh from the cleaners and ready for competition. We did not get to see the real deal which was held on Saturday in Kaiserslautern, Germany, but here are some pictures from Friday.

Competition Colorguard

Regulation Drill Team

Saber Team--Yikes! That's a sword flying though the air. Don't worry Cody caught it perfectly!

They look sharp, I mean the kids not the swords, although the sabers look sharp too.

Unarmed Drill Team

Its all about precision.

Armed Drill Team

Those rifles weigh in at just over 9 pounds, but you would never know it from the way they were spinning and throwing them around.

Caught in mid spin. Now that is synchronization.

When did my baby grow up??

Schools from across Europe participated in the competition Saturday. Wiesbaden took 1st in unarmed, 1st unarmed commander, 2nd in saber, 1st in armed duo, and 3rd overall. In addition Dakota took 4th in the individual drill competition. In this competition all participants, including alternates, follow drill sergeants' calls. Any mistake, however small, is an automatic elimination.

Dakota in his uniform showing off his medal from the IDR.