First Guests to Stuttgart… Pt. 4

Farewell for now…

Stephanie and Hannah checked off and signed our Travel check list…

IMG_3086IMG_3092

Airport drop-off-farewells are the worst. Anna was already crying…IMG_3101

IMG_3110

On the way to the airport I pointed out the neat fields you see all over Germany. You can pick your own flowers (or fruit, depending on the field) and pay on the honor system. On the way home I stopped by the field I had shown Stephanie and spent a few minutes crying while picking flowers. This military life is hard. When you thank a family for their service, this is what you’re thanking them for. Not just time away from their service-member or families of origin, but repeated, painful separations from the people who become family along the way.

All of a sudden the room that was ready for guests was empty. I spent my first hour back home in here on the couch just reliving the fun moments, wishing the visit didn’t have to come to an end. Hayden and I sat there and chatted, and then I got to work putting the house back in order. He stayed in this room the entire day…

IMG_2459

This trip was wonderful from start to finish. We are thankful for the opportunity and for the time we were given. The kids were already planning the next visit before we dropped Stephanie and Hannah off… and they’ve started saving their money for that visit.
(If I used emojis on my blog, I’d insert a heart-emoji right here.)

Posted in family, friends, germany, travel | Leave a comment

First Guests to Stuttgart… Pt. 3

After Paris we came home and rested for a few days. Some of the activities and pictures featured in Part 1 were from the down-days between Paris and our trip to Garmisch.

Our bigs have very fond memories of Garmisch and wanted to take Stephanie and Hannah there. It just so happened that Matt had a conference at Garmisch that week, so we planned our trip to coincide with his.

One of our very first activities was to check out the new pool. (This post features Parker at the older pool when he was just a little younger than Anna.)

Our dear Fort Hood friends, the Wests, were attending the same conference as Matt, so we had dinner with them. How fun it was to offer not only a beautiful setting, but time for Stephanie and Loren to reconnect.  The teens played cards and watched movies together. It was a great time of connecting.

34963662_10156439723979699_2131336542357028864_n

And it is always adorable to watch little Nico with Anna!IMG_3008IMG_3010

One just a few of us took a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. We weren’t able to get tickets to go inside (I should have ordered them several weeks in advance) but we enjoyed a horse-drawn carriage-ride up the mountain and then a harrowing bus-ride back down.

Anna’s reaction to the castle was, “My ballerina castle! That’s my ballet!”

IMG_2920

IMG_2924IMG_2931IMG_2940IMG_2928IMG_3005IMG_2950IMG_2984IMG_2986

I think Hannah took this picture. (I know I did not.) f80ab8ef-f774-45fd-be6b-51228c1d94d3Someone was tired from all that being-carried-around all day.3cb59e17-6a8c-4840-9aa3-8423239f474e

The Hamrick family has missed Mexican food and so we decided to give it a shot: not a good idea. I do not recommend the Mexican restaurant in town (purely based on the food). It wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t hit the spot and was overpriced.

However, our waiter noticed Anna eyeballing the ‘pink drink’ on the menu so he brought her a special one. Her reaction was priceless:

He ended up bringing her a second… she had more sugar that night than she’s ever had before… this waiter is most definitely not a parent, or he would have known what was in store for me. Here is Anna at bedtime… decidedly not tired:

IMG_3037

That night we were able to watch the soccer game… it was a BEAUTIFUL win for Germany!  Anna was finally asleep by then so Stephanie and I screamed in whispers!

IMG_2908

Our last adventure was supposed to be a Sound of Music bike tour in Salzburg. I had reserved child care for Anna for the day so that we could fit in one car. We woke up to a steady rain and decided to stay in and just relax. I kept Anna’s reservation so she could play with other littles and participate in activities designed for two-year-olds. (Hotels are not made for two-year-olds.) Anna made an impression on the CYS staff: when I picked her up the manager was walking through the hallway and said, “Bye, Anna! Have a fun day!” And then she looked at me and said, “That vocabulary, though…” Yes, indeed. Anna has the vocabulary of five year old at times!

This day was bitter sweet. We all started to feel the end of the trip approaching so we played games, talked, ate, and drank coffee, soaking in as much togetherness as we could.

Hayden got this gorgeous photo of Hannah and Anna:

89243225-cc39-4709-8281-144ff7ba5e7e

Leaving Garmisch was very hard. None of us wanted to.IMG_3052IMG_3041IMG_3045IMG_3072IMG_3076IMG_3081

Stay tuned for the last part in this series.

Posted in family, friends, germany, travel | 2 Comments

First guests to Stuttgart… Pt. 2

When we have loved ones come visit, I am oddly excited to show them the every-day things: the commissary, our fields, Anna’s preschool. On the first day Stephanie and I went on a four mile walk through the forest and now I will have memories of that day every time I go on a run.

One afternoon we watched the kids slack line and play spike ball. We then walked to our favorite ice cream shop. These are treasured memories.

IMG_2601

As exciting as our daily-life is, there were a few more exciting places we wanted to share with Stephanie and Hannah, so we loaded up our vehicles and took to the road.  Paris, France was our first destination.

Paris ~ Lodging and transportation:

We arrived in Paris and unloaded at our hotel. We stayed at City Résidence Marne-La-Vallée-Bry-Sur-Marne (that’s a mouthful!) and highly recommend it. Especially during the summer season and for large families. During off-seasons (does Paris even have an off season) it may be possible to find a large hotel closer to the city, but not at the start of summer. We had easy access to the Metro and travel in and out of the city was no problem.  We had two hotel rooms, one for the girls, one for the guys. The guys’ room had two bathrooms and two floors, and both apartments had balconies and full kitchens.

 

After we got settled into the room we went to the metro station and bought our metro passes. From then on we took public transportation everywhere we went. One of the metro stations is named Madeleine… Anna’s middle name, but spelled with the extra “e.” Mama Kim picked Madeline – after the book character. The little girl who lived in Paris.

IMG_2845

Since I’m on the topic of Metros, occasionally you’ll run into a free bathroom in metro stations:

IMG_2849

Paris ~ First view of the Eiffel Tower:

We ate dinner at Hard Rock. There were a handful of God-moments on this trip and one occurred while we were signing in to the restaurant. An American who was just leaving used her member’s pass to let us skip the wait and we got our table much faster as a result.  Dinner was tasty, if noisy.

We were not watching our time, really. We were just going along with the flow of the day, not stressing because we had no specific time to be anywhere. Another of our God-moments occurred as we arrived at the landmark that screams “PARIS!” We didn’t quite realize this until the sun went down, but we had arrived at the golden hour and the view was as beautiful as it can get. As I look through the pictures we took I can see the shade creeping up the legs of the tower… We got there at the perfect time. 

It’s blurry but I am thankful for this picture! This was Anna’s expression when she first saw the Eiffel Tower! She was genuinely amazed.

 


IMG_2687

IMG_2655

IMG_2677

IMG_2647

(Below is a retro pic: May 2011)

28379048_163538534440388_1321091163852551235_n

IMG_2698IMG_2661

When we had taken all the pictures we could, and a the sun continued to set, we walked to the tower itself, only to find security measures and massive construction around its base. When we were there last, the floor underneath was open to pedestrians.  Now you have to go through security to get there.

IMG_2712

We walked back toward the direction we had come and sat on the grass, waiting for it to sparkle. Once the show was over, we walked to a nearby crepe stand and enjoyed the treat with a view.

IMG_2716IMG_2730IMG_2735

Paris ~ Bike tour:

This was a fantastic way to see the city, I just didn’t get a ton of pictures.

 

The next two pictures are Hayden’s:

663c81f5-f84f-46c9-86d2-97ff6651ae687d52b694-3972-479c-b24c-4502c6883e4d

Paris ~ Climbing the tower (or napping):

Some of the group climbed the Eiffel Tower to the second floor, some went on to the top, while Anna got a very long nap in a snack-shop at the base of the tower.

IMG_2793

36241846_492241691207352_5137812631649779712_nIMG_2796

We made sure to bring Anna’s book with us on that day.

img_7529

 

Paris ~ Last day, fit it all in:

Arc de Triomf:

IMG_2814

Notre Dame:

IMG_2851Sacré-Cœur:

36342089_1722274554546999_1870507314524454912_nIMG_2825IMG_2835

Photo cred: Hayden

f4eea4a3-e44a-4818-8976-49acfa60db2cMore of Hayden’s pictures from the trip:

36fccfb9-7d43-4635-87e5-41d787d6da929090d5a0-1498-43ce-be77-e37f21c77058c53e59c4-4771-492f-9c48-46cc278ef082

Stay tuned for more pictures!

Posted in About my faith, family, friends, germany, travel | Leave a comment

First Guests to Stuttgart… Pt. 1

As I’ve mentioned, I had a somewhat emotional reaction to this PCS. I am thrilled to be where I am, I love Germany and the experiences living here affords us, and I love the weather. I love rain, cloudy days, and cool weather, and while we haven’t had much rain, we have had amazing weather! I write this in the middle of July, my windows are open wide, and I’m wearing long pants and a sweatshirt.  It’s 62 degrees!

Healing from the grief of leaving my community at Fort Hood began in April, I’d say, and having Stephanie and Hannah come visit helped my healing reach near-completion.

Over the next few posts I’m going to share about our visit, with way more pictures than words.  I do want to give a huge shout-out to all who made it possible for this trip to happen… we are all grateful for you and for the treasured moments we experienced.

Today’s post shows pictures taken at home and on our day-trips.

All set up and ready:

IMG_2459

IMG_2467

IMG_2478

Touring Stuttgart:

IMG_2488

IMG_2504

Rothenburg ob der Tauber:

IMG_2519

IMG_2524

IMG_2525

IMG_2535

IMG_2545

IMG_2547

IMG_2548

IMG_2553

IMG_2554

Getting her nails done for the first time:

IMG_2569

IMG_2570

Friends meeting friends:

IMG_2586

IMG_2597

IMG_2618

Movie time on a rainy day:

IMG_2857

Reussenstein Castle (on cold day!):

IMG_2860

IMG_2867

Stay tuned for more pictures!

Posted in depression/blues, family, friends, germany, travel | 1 Comment

For the love of a dog…

Anna loves dogs. All dogs.

If you know me at all, you know that this is not a characteristic she picked up from me. No one else in our household really likes animals and for that, we know we are in the minority. We love people, but we don’t love animals.

But when Anna sees a one, be it a bird, a duck, a cat, or a dog, Anna bends over and starts talking to it as if she’s a mama talking to her baby. It’s the cutest thing ever!

Fortunately we have friends who have pets – they’re kind enough to let Anna get her animal-fix. She especially loves dogs.

We’re teaching her to ask owners before she pets a dog so that she won’t pet one that is not child-friendly… We’re trying to teach her that dogs are not horses, so she shouldn’t ride on their backs… We’re also trying to teach her that when a dog is napping, she should leave him be. That last one is not so easy for her!

Thanks, Thor, for being so gentle with my Anna, even when she’s not so gentle with you!

Posted in family, friends, Probably only interesting to the boys' grandparents. | 4 Comments

A Treasured Visit

There really aren’t words to describe how excited I am to have these two precious people come visit, so I won’t even try.

I will say that I recognize the challenges it takes to get them here…

  • It’s expensive. Hello, summer travel ain’t no joke!
  • Stephanie’s a wife and mom and she’s sacrificing two weeks of her life to spend with us… the logistics of that are confounding and I do not take that for granted!
  • They just PCS from Texas to a new duty station a couple of weeks ago. WEEKS. Not months. 
  • Flying over the ocean isn’t fun for anyone. If you haven’t done it before, I’ll remove the allure… the  magic of getting from one continent to another is just as amazing the 5th time you’ve done it as it is the first, but actually being on the plane while getting there is less amazing.
  • Stephanie and Hannah are about to live for two weeks in a house with three teenage boys… they only have one teenage boy in their own house. Could. Be. Interesting.

With all of that said, you will not hear from me on this blog for at least two weeks. I’ll be sure to update after they’ve headed back across the ocean but until then, you will be lucky to catch me on Facebook. I am overwhelmed with the anticipation of sitting and talking with my friend, watching our teens reconnect, and showing them around this amazing country. We have almost exactly six months of chatting to catch up on.

Screenshot 2018-06-12 07.48.57Screenshot 2018-06-12 07.48.40

IMG_4369

Stephanie, for the record, I’d move back to Texas if the Corps said we could be stationed together again!

Posted in family | 3 Comments

Running in Stuttgart

I took a few months off running in order to get my weight under control (sounds counter-intuitive, but apparently it was what was needed). I wanted to start back up in March and then Bailey broke his arm, followed by Carson breaking his leg eight days later. We spent all of April recuperating and I had surgery on my vocal chords. March and April were tough. TOUGH.

I started running again May 3rd using Couch-2-5K, letting myself start on Day 1 as if I had never been a runner before.

I soon found that if I was going to take the time to get dressed and go, I wanted to be out on the trails longer than the 30-ish minutes that the app assigns, so I decided to take a chance on a route. One day, with Anna in the jogger, I went a different way with the intent to make a loop around our barracks. That day changed my world. Okay, that’s a bit dramatic sounding, but I honestly felt a little of the fog lift from my head. The clouds have parted a little since that day, so, dramatic? Maybe… truthful, though.

I found myself in and amongst the most beautiful trails… tree-lined, wide enough for bikes and people to share the path, and shade much of the way. One thing I really despised about running at Fort Hood was the lack of shade and having to run through neighborhoods almost the entire time. I treasured the part of my run that took me on an old golf course that, while it was the back side of a new neighborhood, it did allow me to feel a little distance from people and I didn’t have to look out for cars for that little bit of my run. My second favorite place to run on Fort Hood was “old Patton” (Classic Patton?) because there were trees there. In that neighborhood I could run under a bit of shade – out of the blasted sun for just a little while. I literally snaked back and forth in that neighborhood to get every last inch out of the shaded part of Hood. Trying to get six miles in while staying on post where there is only one neighborhood with trees can cause you to get quite bored.

Another complaint I had about running on Fort Hood was that the sidewalks seemed to have been designed by Shel Silverstein…. we found “where the sidewalk ends” and it ended in multiple places… no fun when pushing a jogger. We called in a work order and the project manager for roads and traffic actually came to my house to apologize for the problem and to explain why other projects take precedence over the suddenly-ending sidewalks. Hey, at least they were willing to address the problem, even if they couldn’t solve it.

Sunday I went for a run and about a third of the way into my loop I started to hear thunder and a huge flash of lightening cut through the sky… Matt called to see if I was okay and to ask if I wanted him to come pick me up. I was eager to get this run in and so I decided to push through as I knew that in a short distance I’d be under the cover of thick trees. The rain started soon after but not so severely that I felt I needed to remove my Airpods. Eventually, though, rain started coming down harder and I decided it was time… they’re not cheap and I ABSOLUTELY love them, so I put them in a pocket where they’d be dry and yet not fall out while I ran. The rain picked up so much that any time I breathed in through my nose I choked, as if I were under water! I’m sitting here a few days later writing this during a similar thunderstorm glad I got my run in earlier and did not have to run/swim in the again.

I am very grateful that we are now surrounded by such amazing greenery. Here’s what I see on any given day during my run.

IMG_2359

This is me being more intentional about being in pictures – I don’t like it and could find at least 10 things I don’t like about this picture, but I decided to post it anyway. This one, and the other one of me, capture me, my kids’ mom, on this 12th day of June, doing something fun, good for me, something I enjoy, and I hope they will spend time each day of their adulthood doing the same.

IMG_2357IMG_2350IMG_2349IMG_2355

IMG_2348

This always reminds me of my parents’ driveway.

IMG_2351

IMG_2366

Admit it… you’re trying to figure out how I got that picture of myself when I was on a run all alone. 🙂 HINT: Apple Watch + iPhone

Posted in family, friends, germany, running, Texas, weight/health | 4 Comments

Six white chairs

I was looking for punishment, but I accepted a doctor’s appointment for Carson at Olgahospital for 8:00 am. I know better than to do that, but I actually did want it out of the way as I knew we had fun afternoon activities planned and wanted to get back home to accomplish some schoolwork before we packed away school for the weekend.

We left in time to get to the hospital without tempting fate. If you live in Stuttgart you know that simply means that I left in time to not have to risk speeding which would likely end in me having my picture taken by a roadside camera… this photo would then be mailed to me and it’d have a fee attached.  Speeding cameras abound in Stuttgart.

We made it without any flashes and only a little traffic.

I have been to this hospital for so many visits in our short time here in Germany that I noticed the difference in the parking garage… it was nearly empty, another bonus to having an oh-dark-thirty appointment. Oh, wait. If you live in Stuttgart you probably caught that error… it is not dark at 8:00 am… it fact, during the summer here it’s fully light by 6:00 – sunrise is around 5:20 am.

Carson and I parked and went in to the first sign-in desk which is behind the pirate ship playground. How COOL is this hospital?

pirate at olga

At this point I was just happy to have gotten to the hospital before our assigned appointment and no deep thoughts had crossed my mind as of yet, but standing in the line at the next desk (near the ER, which is also where cast changes are done and orthopedics is located) they came.

I stood on the red line affording the patient in front of me absolute privacy. I looked to my right and saw the darkened hallway with six white, plastic chairs on one side. In a wave, all sorts of memories flooded my mind.

No memories of the first time we visited Olga, though. That was when Anna’s arm popped out of socket… I don’t think I wrote about that on the blog because, while it felt a bit traumatic at the time, her arm popped back into place on its own on the way to the hospital. Her screaming ceased on its own and the doctor told me that it may happen again, or maybe not. We were home an hour after we left with high hopes that we’d have that kind of experience for any and all future visits, should they be a requirement. Little did I know we’d be spending many hours in this hospital…

Our second visit to Olga was for Bailey’s break. During our five hours of waiting to be seen, I charged my phone on an outlet across from the white chairs. While there we witnessed a multitude of heartbreaking circumstances. A lethargic baby, a baby with a broken leg, a baby with a busted ear crying non stop and in severe pain, a teen with cerebral palsy who was sick but unable to understand what was going on, and we saw the EMTs come, delivering a variety of patients. I could see them all in my memory and remember the frustration of waiting with Bailey late into the night. I had his dinner with us but they wouldn’t let him eat… he was starving! I had been preparing it when he broke his arm.

Standing there Friday and looking at that hallway that was quiet and still at the moment, I also recalled the night Carson broke his leg. We spent more time in a triage room than in the hallway but I do remember very vividly another lethargic baby, and a person with a virus who lost his lunch under the first white chair. I remember seeing the hallway lined with people watching us as the nurses took Carson back to get x-rays twice… both tibia and fibula broken, in excruciating pain. I remembered a set of parents who were both crying, the mom more-so than the dad. They looked to be in their late 40s so I can only imagine their child was a teenager… I figured girl. No idea why I assume their child was a girl, I saw them ask questions of the nurses and, at one point, they went up an elevator behind a set of glass doors. Now I know they were going up to surgery… I didn’t know that then.

Standing there Friday I remembered seeing Carson be transferred from the triage bed to an actual hospital bed and I remember turning to the nurse who had been by our side for a few hours at that point and begging her to go with me. (She was such a comfort to me during those hours.) She smiled and said she would go, even though she wasn’t a nurse yet but was doing a type of internship. She said she’d have to get a ‘real’ nurse to go along with us since she didn’t have the authority to transport patients just yet. I was fine with that… as long as she went, too.

I remember standing by those white chairs waiting for the ‘real’ nurse to come and then her taking us through those glass doors just past the white chairs. It hit me at that point that the couple from earlier must have been going to check on their daughter(?) who was most likely in surgery. My heart broke for them and I prayed that their child was fine.

Friday, standing on that red line, I had all of those memories flash through my mind in less than a minute, and then it was my turn to sign in. The vast number of memories and the weight with which they hit me took me by surprise. I was happy to be at the hospital for the kind of appointment we had: follow-up and to schedule surgery (to remove his screws). We were not there for any current trauma. I was happy, and yet, overwhelmed at all the hours we’ve spent in that one hallway and all the experiences we’ve had in it… None of what I’ve written about in this post details the other rooms we’ve grown to know: the actual waiting room, the triage rooms, the x-ray hallway/room*, the cast-replacement/set-the-bone-for-you rooms, the operating room, or Carson’s two rooms he stayed in for four days after surgery. (I didn’t even think about the fact that I’ve since had surgery there, myself.)

It seems like another world, the hospital. A sad and yet familiar one, a place where hope to see less of going forward. We are very grateful for the good care our children have received there and have few complaints (see asterisk at the bottom of the post for one minor complaint). Our lives are not only full of goodness and happiness but there are great losses and trials, struggles and difficulties. Carson’s broken leg is the most severe physical trauma any of us has experienced (let’s leave child-birth off the table) and yet in it I can see good. The experience has tried all of us and stretched us. It’s still keeping my prayer life in check as I am ready to see him walk without a limp (without screws for that matter).

I’m sure if I sat here long enough I could come up with some very spiritual conclusion but all I really wanted to do was jot down all the many thoughts I had flood through my mind in a thirty-second window of time, memories that just touch on the experiences we’ve had in a small side-hallway of a hospital halfway around the world from our family… Memories that are sacred to me because I was living them and feeling them deep in my bones as a mother. Just wanted to journal these thoughts.

 

*Note to future hospital planners: when your patients come in with broken bones, it’s a good idea to have the x-ray location close-ish to the ER/orthopedics/cast-changeing-room. Pushing a teen with a broken tib/fib back and forth through the hospital is no fun… and those smooth floors aren’t as smooth as they look – just ask Carson… he’ll confirm.

Posted in family, germany | Leave a comment

Strawberry Picking – 2018

One thing I love about where we live is our proximity to beauty. We can walk out the back gate and access tree-covered trails or fields with various plants growing. One of the fields has strawberries that you can pick yourself. Daddy and the brothers were away one evening so Anna and I passed the time by picking strawberries. I believe she ate 10 before we paid, then another 15 before we got home.

We had fun on our Mommy-Daughter date!

_JEN3422_JEN3483_JEN3477_JEN3442_JEN3521_JEN3452_JEN3474_JEN3446_JEN3449

I would like to pause the viewing of these adorable pictures to point out something really REALLY cool in the following image.

Do you see in the background a series of what looks like blue-silver roofs? That is the Stuttgart Airport… in less than a week we have some of our very best friends flying in to visit us… every time we see that airport we get excited about the special visit we have ahead of us!

Stephanie and Hannah, we can’t wait to go for walks with you along these paths – maybe we could even pick strawberries with you!

And now, you may continue scrolling…

_JEN3489_JEN3492

 

Posted in family, friends, germany, military | 4 Comments

Mother’s Day ’18 Recap

Yesterday I shared what was on my heart.

Today I’ll share my memory of yesterday. It’s quite comical, really.

First, let me say, this was the first year I woke up without the mindset of, “It’s Mother’s Day… I need a day off.” I believe in as many ways as possible, moms should have it easy on Mother’s Day. Next year I may wake up having returned to this mindset, but yesterday, I woke up with no expectations, no need for rest… I just woke up thankful and this wasn’t a decision I made.  I just felt that way, and all day long I wondered what caused this shift in attitude and never pinpointed it, I just went with it.

I started the day by spending some time in my office (which, if you read yesterday, you know not to have any grand ideas about what this office is like). Here are some snapshots of what I was watching:

I arrived at church on time, mind you, though not as early as I would have liked, and dropped Anna off before heading upstairs to the sanctuary. Matt lead our service in a baby dedication which is always a special time. In a military community, it’s a different kind of special as we know that the people in the audience vowing to help raise the children being held by their parents won’t actually have the pleasure of helping to raise them, but will only be in the child’s life for a few years.

Once the ceremony was complete I headed downstairs to relieve a mom who was volunteering. A mom who is currently in the middle of the years I remember very badly needing Mother’s Day to be a day off. Or at least a day with less to do. (While I would have loved for her to stay and chat, I really did want her to go to the service!) She has five boys. Yep! I have extra amounts of love for this mama because there’s a “thing” between “boy moms.” I’ve been told that I still get to retain an honorary “boy mom” title even though we’ve added a girl because I did spend 15 years of my parenting journey in this exclusive club.

When I entered the nursery Anna, who absolutely loves her class, came to me and said, “Not leave me. Not leave me.” I love watching the maturing stages of children and keeping an eye on the stages of development, especially in light of adoption and making sure we’re doing right by Anna. She goes to class just fine, and runs to us when we come pick her up. Yesterday, when I went back to her class earlier than usual, she noticed something was off and stuck by me pretty closely for the first ten minutes. I literally drank in her wanting me. I don’t know how else to say that. I held her and absorbed her want. I assured her that I wasn’t leaving and was going to stay in her class today. When I had to put her down to tend to something else, I let her hold my finger as I said, “I’m not leaving. I’m staying.” When she got jealous that I was holding another kiddo, I pulled her onto my other knee and held them both. I’m still kind of surprised she let me hold them both… it could have gone sour. After a while she believed that I was going to stay and she wandered around a little more, but still she played on the half of the room I was in more rather than wandering around like she normally does. I was her “safe base” and she wanted to be near me. I loved every minute of being in the nursery… and lest you think I’m a saint, this is the first year in my parenting journey that I wanted to be in the nursery on Mother’s Day.

Now on to the comical part of our day… and hear me when I say, I am the guest in this country. I will adjust to the cultural expectations of this part of the country which are noticeably different from those of Wiesbaden. I also realize that here, especially in the city of Stuttgart with a vast array of other people groups represented, we have multiple cultures to navigate… So, we went to lunch at a restaurant I’ve been eying and excited to try. I didn’t make reservations because I wasn’t sure if Anna was going to be too “two-year-old” for eating out.  After church she was still acting just fine so we loaded up our two cars and drove to a Greek restaurant. We walked in and no one was at the “greeting” desk so I opened the next door that opened into the actual restaurant part and saw a table full of people to my left, three waitresses standing behind the bar, and saw several tables empty. None of the waitresses spoke and all three looked me dead in the eye. It felt stupid to ask but it was the only thing I could come up with in the moment… I asked, “Are you open?”

When one said yes, I said, “seven people” in German and she pursed her lips and then asked if we had a reservation. I said no, and she looked down at her seating chart. “This is a problem” she replied in English… I’m guessing what we did would be the American equivalent of walking into Chili’s with a party of 60 with no reservation. No American would do that. We know that for large parties (10-15 or more) you really need a reservation or to at least call ahead to see if they could accommodate the group.

But seven?  A single family?  Again, I’ll learn the cultural norms here and will work with them, but we’ve been here a fairly short time and we’ve spent much of it in recovery (casts, surgery, etc). There’s my excuse.

Everything froze for a good 10 seconds before I finally said, “It’s okay. We’ll go somewhere else.” She said, “No. No. Come.” and by that point I was done. We were about to spend 100 euros on a meal and I was not going to do so in a place that was that harsh. I don’t think she did anything wrong, necessarily… I was definitely in the wrong for not having a reservation, but I just couldn’t spend that kind of money feeling as rejected and dejected as I felt at that moment.

We walked out as unobtrusively as a family of seven can (we felt all eyes on us) and stood in the parking lot for several minutes googling restaurants. It’s hard to find one open on Sundays in Germany.

I found one with good reviews and a cool name (Parker and I are reading a book with a character named the same as the restaurant). We drove 15 minutes, parked in an underground parking deck that was considerably farther from the restaurant than we originally thought (it wasn’t that far for walking-people but for those on crutches, it was too far…).

This was a German restaurant and we were greeted much more pleasantly than at the first, though his first words were, “You have a reservation?”

There was my second rebuke of the day.

“No, I’m sorry. Is that okay?” I asked, and he said, “One moment.” and went to check seating. He came back smiling and said, “It’s okay” and he seated us.

By this point Anna was getting “squirrely.” Spell-check is rebuking me with a red line under that word but I promise, there’s no better word to describe her. She wasn’t being ugly, disrespectful, whiny, but she was like a squirrel playing in the branches of a tree. There was no containing her.

We hadn’t brought the stroller because we thought we were closer to the restaurant than we were and after checking around, the waiter said they didn’t have one.

There was no way we were going to survive this meal with Anna the way she was so we left our second restaurant of the day. I apologize profusely, thanked him for trying to accommodate us, and scooped Anna up.

We walked out as unobtrusively as a family of seven can (we felt all eyes on us… again) and left Carson by the front door so he didn’t have to hobble back to the car. On the way to the parking garage I called a pizza place near our house and ordered four pizzas and five sides of fries.

Once at the garage we couldn’t find the Kasseautomat (first time in over three years in Europe that we spent more than a minute looking for the kasseautomat). I’m embarrassed to say it took us close to ten minutes to find it but we were successful. I stopped at the pizza shop and on the way home I ate my fries because it was Mother’s Day and I wasn’t going to eat soggy fries. If I was going to splurge and eat crap then I was going to have the tastiest fries I could find!

We ended up enjoying a much calmer lunch than had we stayed at the restaurant. That afternoon Matt and I watched a tv show and then I spent a few hours working on creating Anna’s two family trees.

Hayden found a near-by soccer field and asked if I could take him and Bailey while the rest of the family rested. I did and took along a book and enjoyed the cool breeze while they played. While there Bailey spotted a neat park with all sorts of fun activities.

We ended up going home and getting the rest of the family to play at the park. We had SO much fun. All seven of us rode the zip-line multiple times!

We tried to FaceTime with Mama Kim but she was at work so Anna and I recorded a video and sent it to her. This little girl cracks me up! (She loves to see herself in the phone… she is an entertainer!)

To close the night we watched the first half of Monster’s Inc. and all of us literally laughed out loud… especially at the part when Sully repeatedly faints when he thinks Boo went through the trash compacter.

It was a great day in spite of the “cultural learning experiences” we had. I love being a Mom.  I am honored to be these kids’ mom… I am undeserving and I want to do the best by them.

Here are some photos from our evening at the park:

IMG_2206

Posted in family | Leave a comment