Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mr. Wyatt- our trail guide

First of all, I got a new lens for my camera. Its awesome!! Can't wait to take more pictures with it. It has an AMAZING zoom! Something I would want to have here in Germany, so I can take pics of far off castles :D 

Here is a pic looking down our road. Its used with 55mm zoom (the highest zoom my old lens could get) Pay attention to the hill up at the top

Here is that same hill, with the greatest zoom with my new lens- 250mm zoom. BIG difference huh? I was shocked at the difference. However, with my new lens its hard to get pictures of something right in front of me a few feet away. I wouldn't have a problem with my old lens, but with my new lens I have to walk backwards so I'm not so close. I'll just carry both lens with me and switch out when needed. 

We have all these walking trails around our area, called the Nordic Walking trails. Some are a couple KM long, others are 9-14 KM long. We have a walking path right above our house on the hill. We set out the other day to find it. Wyatt was our guide. 

We walked past the lake and found the nature trail that took us in a zig zag pattern through the hills and trees until we reached the clearing at the top. It was gorgeous on the way up. Wyatt led the way and occasionally would give us high-5's once we made it so far. 

Wyatt allowed us to take a breather. 

Up the hill behind our house are the goats. That was the reason why we set off looking for this trail. I loved this goat. The picture is great too, minus the wires. 

Wyatt fed them some grass. James is taking the kids up there again today while I'm at practice (and while I use the wifi at the coffee place on base) to feed them some carrots. 

The orange house is ours. Its the back of the house. The white house next to it is another Germany, who seems nice but doesn't speak much English. The house to the left of ours (that you can barley see because of the overgrown trees and bushes) is the crazy cat lady.

And the pretty view of the Biersdorf from the top of the hill. I love the church. Its my favorite thing in the village. 

We saw the sheep that are on the hill as well, but didn't get close enough to them on this hike. I'm sure James and the kids will find them later today.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stausee Bitburg

In the middle of February Germany had a cold snap (meaning high single digits, low teens). The temps were cold, but nothing that we weren't used to. People were complaining about how cold it was, but really this was normal weather for Minot. We didn't mind the weather so much.

About 1/4 mile down the road from us there is a nice lake. Stausee Bitburg (Stausee meaning 'manmade lake) froze during this week. Apparently, this is something that normally doesn't happen in the area because its usually never that cold long enough for it to freeze. The community took advantage of the frozen lake and so did we.

We bundled up the kids and took them to the lake to do some walking. I have NEVER been on a frozen lake (or pond for that matter) so I was pretty excited as well. The ice was probably 12 inches thick at least! Lots of people were walking on the ice, ice skating, or dragging their kids on sleds.

Here is a local Biergarten between our house and the lake. We haven't tried it yet, but plan to someday. 

Here is one view of the lake. If you look below the hill you can see the Dorint Resort. There are also Nordic Walking trails all around the lake and through the woods. Its actually very nice. 

Kylee was a bit nervous about walking on the lake at first.

Wyatt really enjoyed the ice! He liked running and sliding around.

The kids with Dad.

Me and the kids. 

James being silly. He had a good time as well. He said he wasn't thrilled about going down to the lake at first, but once he got there he really enjoyed it. Glad I made him come with. 

James can be so sweet :D He wrote our names in some of the snow that was on the ice.

Miss Kylee 

Mr. Wyatt

Kylee and James playing tic-tac-toe

I spent a whole 2 dollars to get the kids to pose for the picture. Kylee had no problems sitting there, but I had to bribe Wyatt with a dollar. And because I offered it to Wyatt, of course Kylee said she needed one too. But I LOVE this picture. I want to print it out and frame it. 

These are air bubbles in the ice. They were pretty cool. James found a stick and started digging in the holes. I actually took a picture of him telling him it was the last picture I would take before he fell through the lake. When the lake finally melted a few weeks later Wyatt blamed it on James because 'Daddy was poking holes in the lake and made the water come up.'

We walked clear to the other side of the lake. 

Kylee on a walking path on the other side of the lake. I love this picture of her too. 

The kids really enjoyed sliding down this small ice hill. James even got into it as well. 

In the summertime the lake has something called IMBISS (sp). Its basically roach-coaches, or food from a vending truck. Its supposed to be very good though. They also have paddle boats and kayaks I believe. I really hope they do have Kayaks because James really enjoys that now. Thankfully, we were smart and brought the kids' life jackets from the states just in case. I'm glad we did. Now, if we only brought out fishing poles too, we would be all set! 

I absolutely love the little village we live in. Everyone (other than crazy cat lady) is really nice. They have a really great park up the hill from our house, a lake that we will spend lots of time around in the summertime, and plenty of other outdoor activities to do. My kids are finally becoming 'outdoor kids'!! Our landlord gave Jessica (our American neighbor) and I permission to grow a large garden in the backyard. The kids are really going to enjoy helping me with that. I know they enjoyed helping MawMaw and PawPaw in their garden when we visited them. There are also cows (Kuh) and sheep (Schaf) in the village. I'm hoping that I will be able to find a way to let the kids get a closer look of the sheep. 

While we still do not have internet (I'm back at the coffee place using their internet while the car gets an oil change and summer tires put on), I plan on coming back next week to post pictures of the inside of the house :D

O, our garage door is supposed to be put on today!! So excited about that. Its just the front garage door. Our landlord is on holiday and will be building the back entry garage door. We'll find a way to keep the cats from coming through that back door this weekend. I'm tired of them. I found out today they decided to use our nice camping chairs (all 4 of them) as a place to mark their territory, even though they were put up and out of the way. Ugh. Guess we'll be buying more. 

Anyhow, I'll hopefully be back in a few days. Enjoy the weekend :D 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There is this thing called 'Facshing' that is pretty popular here in Europe. It has something to do with the Catholic church and Easter. Its similar to Mardi Gras, except when we think of Mardi Gras I think of Beads and how you 'earn' those beads.... Facshing is not like that. Its a holiday celebrated over a week or so. Each day is celebrated differently. For example, there is men's night. The men in the village dress up and put on some type of play or something. One day is Women's day. The women in the villages dress up, stand in the streets, and stop passing cars. You must pay a toll if you want to pass them (usually 1 Euro). Each village also has a parade. We went to the one in Bitburg (the bigger village close to our village) as well as the one in Biersdorf. These pictures are from the parade in Bitburg. 

The kids ready to head to the parade. 

Walking through the Marketplatz in Bitburg. A marketplatz is an outdoor shopping area.

The kids love these statues. I'm not sure what it represents, but people are dressed up in goat costumes. 

These are the German cops, Polizei. 

And the parade starts

Here is a local band. If you look closely you might find a beer or two in the horns. Germans really like to drink. 

Each float tossed out candy to the children and poured shots of alcohol to the adults. Basically each float is a bar on wheels. 

This band had a wagon to pull the drinks they were passing out. 

The Facshing parade was a lot of fun. The kids came home with a ton of odd candy. We stayed away from the drinks because we didn't realize they were passing them out to everyone. However, the parade in Biersdorf was much smaller. We had a few small drinks there (most were gross). 

Another tradition that is practiced here in Germany is the welcoming of Spring. This is done the Sunday after Facshing. Each village builds a HUGE cross (usually made out of bails of hay) and then lights it on fire at night. From what I understand, this is to wash away all the sin from Winter and welcome Spring. 

I just want internet.... And random updates

Insert sad face here > :( We STILL do not have internet. This is getting a bit ridiculous. The phone/internet company came out on Monday to try to hook things up for us. I wasn't there because James had surgery for a hernia (which he did just fine), so we had a friend hang out at the house for us. Anyhow, we knew that the company may have to go in the neighbor's house (crazy cat lady). We had previously spoke to her and she was fine with letting them in. However, Monday she would NOT let them in at all! Apparently she was very rude about it and denied access to her house. I guess there isn't a spare line to my house, so the company needed to try to add one from hers, or look at her box to build me a new one for my house. I don't really know what the deal is, but they need access to her place. And she's not letting them do it. I don't want to even talk to her about it because I'm sure I would go off and just look like the pissy American. But, I'll tell you what, next time I see one of her damn stray cats in the street I may not slow down for them (ok, maybe I will, but I'll give them dirty looks). Besides, they spray in our garage, on our car tires, bushes in the yard, even the kids' bikes! Its NASTY!!

Speaking of garage, we still don't have garage doors on yet (which explains the ability for the cats to spray things in there). We should be getting them *hopefully* in a few weeks. It will definitely help with the cat issue.

The kids are really enjoying it here in Germany. Kylee has made a really good friend who lives in our village. Its nice that she finally has a friend who is a girl, poor kid had only boy friends back in Minot. Kylee is doing amazingly well in school. She had adjusted well to the harder work even. That kid amazes me with her reading abilities. Kylee starts T-ball in April. She is really excited about playing. I hope she really likes it. Wyatt is not in preschool here. I figured I would keep him at home until he starts Kindergarten next year. (YIKES) I register him for Kindergarten at the end of this month. I still can't believe Wyatt and my nephew, Ean, are going to be Kindergarteners! Scary thought!!

Softball season has started for me. I am on the base team, the Lady Sabers. We will be traveling all over Germany for tournaments and even Italy and England!! I'm loving being back on a softball field... I didn't realize how much I missed it until now. I've also met a few friends in the village and on the team. In fact, one girl went to High school with me in Pearland! Crazy huh?! She was a year younger than me. We were not friends, but knew of each other and have mutual friends as well. Small world.

James likes the shop he works at, at least thats what he tells me. He seems to get a long with the guys which always makes work a bit better. Like I said earlier, he had surgery on Monday to correct a hernia. His surgery went well and he's starting to move around a bit more. He'll have two weeks off before he heads back to work.

By the way, I'm up at the coffee shop on base using their wifi :D I'm hoping to get here once a week at least to get onto the internet. I'm starting to have withdrawals. :(