Thursday, June 30, 2011

Late Night Silence

I am still here, I promise. I've just been...busy...since A got out of school 2 weeks ago. (Has it only been 2 weeks?! Ooooooh, this is going to be a long summer...) But by the same token, I cannot believe that tomorrow is the first day of July! Insanity!

The weather here has overall been amazing. It's been cloudy and rainy and cool. (I'm talking in the 60's F, cool.) A lot of friends and family have been dealing with temps anywhere from 80* to over 100*F! We had a few warm days earlier this week where we hit in the mid-80's range, but those few days were enough of that, and I am very thankful to be back in the 60's!

With said wet weather, the boys and I have been pretty confined to the house. And that, in turn, means breaking up a lot of fights and picking up a lot of laundry and toys all over the house. I've not made any new trips since Belgium, and I'm feeling the "not-traveling-blues" harder than I thought I would. Unfortunately, it's not like we can afford to have me constantly traipsing off...especially with my BFF getting married in September (which I will be going back to the States for)! I have, however, gone down to visit Misha a couple of times, and enjoyed some much needed kid-free time. :) The first of the two times, I got my hair cut and colored...and I got bangs. :O

Then this past weekend, I went back down and Misha and I redeemed the 25-minute massage part of our gift certificates at the spa on base that he got for us for Mother's Day! :D It was my first ever massage, and it was amazing. I nearly fell asleep more than once, and after it was done (and we sipped some hot tea), I could have easily taken a nap...but instead, I went and got my bangs fixed (I couldn't stand the side-swept thing...they were driving me to distraction!) we went back to Misha's house and she prettified me up with make up and we took a walk. And I had my first ever "photoshoot."

Growing up, I always wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a singer. Give sold out concerts around the world, make CD's, support myself (and the family I now have with The Instigator, of course) with something I truly love to do. Well, that's obviously not happened. LOL But part of the fame is the publicity and photo shoots. No fame, no amazing photos, right? Wrong! Misha is amazing with a camera and her photo editing. (I don't care what she says in protest, I think she could run her own little photography stint and charge to do portraits! She's amazing!) In fact, here are some results from said walk:

And I'd originally posted them on Facebook in an album titled "My 1st (& only) 'photoshoot'"...and she said it would definitely not be the only one! LOL

Other than that, though, I haven't been up to much. I actually started playing WoW again, and I've been working (somewhat)-diligently on Misha's Elphaba Sweater. It's coming along so well! I am very happy with how it's turning out!

All I've got left on it is to finish the border/collar and seaming up the sides and the sleeves. :D then it's on to a couple of super-secret projects!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Last Spangdahlem Craft Fair

So before we were given our date to leave Italy, I was supposed to participate in a fair/bazaar that the base craft store put on. I worked on things to sell at my booth for some time. At least a month, maybe two. Unfortunately, it got rained out, and when they re-scheduled it, it was set for shortly after we left. I was a bit disappointed, to say the least.

Not long after getting to Germany, though, I heard that the craft store on our itty-bitty base was going to have a craft fair. We hadn't really settled in yet, but I went as a customer, and found some super cute stuff! And when one of the people that runs the craft shop mentioned that there was going to be another one in a couple of months, I knew that it was my shot to participate in one after all. I was excited! It took a little bit longer than I expected to fall into place, but in reality, had it happened before it did, I would not have been prepared. (I'd been too busy planning and going on trips! LOL) And this was only going to be the first of many...there was talk of it becoming a regular thing.

But that got shot down really fast.

I won't go into all the details (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to or not...), but suffice it to say that the agreement between the U.S. military and Germany forbid us to have small businesses unless we adhere to their stipulations. And these stipulations not only make it difficult to run any sort of small business, but make it hardly worth the effort to try and be an entrepreneur. As a result, the first craft fair I was able to participate in will also be the last, at least for the time that we're living here. I'm also not allowed to run an online Etsy or Artfire shop.

On the plus side, I did get to have my booth out front where it was cooler (we had the air circulation from the front doors while the vendors further in did not) and where the people that came by had to walk by us as they were both entering and leaving the fair. And on top of that, the ladies who had the booths in the same area as me were quite pleasant! It was nice to get to sit and chat about crafting (the ladies that were beside me and across from me both had sewing goods, and the lady that was caddy-corner from me was mainly advertising the beading class she is offering on base in the fall and had some of her bead work out on display and she also knits and crochets...same as me!) and military life. It's nice to get to connect with other military spouses and other crafters all at once! :D

Another bonus was that Misha and her husband and their boys drove all the way up to see and support me! :D It was so awesome of them! They were then able to meet up with The Instigator and my boys and go bowling.

While it was my first time participating in any sort of bazaar (and will be the last for some time), I did also learn a few tips about presentation that will come in handy for the time when I can participate in another one!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The rest of the (Exhausting) Weekend of Awesome!

After my dashing away twice in one month, The Instigator was ready for some kid-free quiet time. (And he wonders why I feel the need for kid-free time...pshhh! Two weekends it nothing compared to what I've dealt with while he was deployed!) So, even though I was pretty tired from walking all over Brussels the day before, I got up at a decent hour and put the boys in the car and headed down to Misha's house! We went to the Dinosaur Park down there, and the boys had a BLAST!

There was a water park within the Dino park, and everything! I bought season passes there, and I have a feeling it will be very much worth every penny! Unfortunately, I forgot sunscreen. (I know, I deserve the "World's Worst Mother" award for that...) The boys got a little tanned, but I burned.

We stayed the night with Misha, and the following day (Memorial Day), we had a cookout with the grill that Misha and her husband bought the day before. Kristin and her family came as well. We bought the meat on the German economy, and YUM!!! Was it ever good! That was seriously the best grilled chicken I have ever eaten! And while we were waiting for the food to cook, us mommies and daddies sat outside while the kids played. My boys had a blast in the paddling pool! (Just further evidence that The Instigator and myself need to invest in one at our own house for the summer months...)

Thankfully, while we were at the BX the previous day, Misha reminded me that we needed sunscreen, so we were safer outside on Monday than we were on Sunday, though it still hurt to have the sun shining on my burn from the previous day.

With all the walking in Brussels and the driving and watching the boys and fresh air and sun in one weekend...well, suffice it to say that when Tuesday rolled around, I would have much rather slept in instead of having to wake A for school! But it was all completely and totally worth it! (And I'm sure that Misha and Kristin would agree...especially as I showed up to their area bearing Belgian chocolate! LOL LOL LOL)

I'm so grateful to have the amazing friends that I do so close by while we're so far away from our native shores. Words cannot express how much they mean to me. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The (Exhausting) Weekend of Awesome!

I can hardly believe that it has already been over three weeks since I came home from London! It flew right on by! To be fair, though, I am of the firm belief that that entire first week following my jaunt to England was purely recovering from the kid-free fun.

And then I turned around and went off gallivanting again! LOL Instead of it being a full (extended) weekend trip like London, I simply drove up to Brussels for the day. (It was only about a 2 and a half hour wouldn't have taken so long if not for the copious amounts of construction! LOL) I was going up to meet and visit with Mikayla, as she is one of the students my BFF had while she was teaching French. Mikayla is finishing up her time as an exchange student to Belgium, and it seemed a little ridiculous for her to be so close and for us to not meet! She brought along her friend that had come from the States to visit her for about 2 weeks...she literally got off the plane and onto the train to get to Brussels! LOL The poor girl was quite jet-lagged!

We didn't really have a plan of what to do or see, so we wandered about in a random way (that caused us to backtrack a few times, lol) and just took it all in. One of the first things we saw upon departing the train station at which they arrived, was this dancing street performer!


I'm pretty sure that Misha (being the dance fan that she is) as well as my mother-in-law and childhood best friend (also dance fans), would have enjoyed it greatly...I enjoyed it, and I'm not as much into the dance scene! (I'm generally the bookish, music and crafting type...LOL) We then continued down the road and came out into the Grand-Place!


There was a lot of road torn up all over the place (yay for construction...) as well as cleaning/restoration scaffolding everywhere (a commonplace thing for European cities), so we sort of wandered about in a non-organized fashion, and came across this lovely "little" church. 

When Mikayla realized we missed the Mannekin-Pis, we had to double back towards the Grand-Place.

This statue is a) really small, and b) kind of weird. Seriously, Misha's younger son is probably about the size of the actual sculpture of the boy. And the weirdness? Well, it's a statue of a boy peeing. How is that not weird? And the story behind it?...Well, according to Wikipedia, there are a few different ones. The one I heard was the one of an artist (instead of a merchant...I think, was 2+ weeks whose young son went missing, and was found on a street corner, peeing. The artist was so grateful to find his son in well-being that he created this statue and fountain as a monument to express his joy and gratitude.

Now, as a parent, I totally get the heart racing, gut-wrenching feeling of your child disappearing. It's happened to me in the BX before. (Not even out on city streets like in the story!) It's terrifying. And I totally get the relief in finding your child okay. I completely get that. But to make a statue of your child peeing to show your gratitude?...Yeah. Weird.

After that, we went a little further up that same torn up road back to the monument to Everard 'T Serclaes. Mikayla said that if you rub his hand, you are supposed to get good luck. (Much like rubbing the boob of Juliet in Verona, evidently...) There was a woman nearby that turned upon hearing this and said, "Really? Just luck? I heard it was to help a woman get pregnant..." Needless to say, I didn't take my chances and didn't even approach the monument. LOL

At that point, Rachel (Mikayla's friend from the States) was pretty famished (and no wonder!), so we stopped to get ourselves some authentic Belgian waffles! She got strawberry and cream, and I got Nutella!
It was quite tasty, although, to be honest...I didn't taste a significant amount of difference in this waffle and one I could get from an IHOP in the U.S. LOL Blasphemy, I was a little less spongy, but taste-wise, pretty much the same. At least, from what I can remember. It has been a few years since I've had the American "equivalent" to compare it to, though.

While in the Grand-Place, Mikayla pointed out these "shell markers" that appear all over Brussels, which mark the journey of some person that I don't recall...I'll let you know when I find far Lord Google has failed me...

We then headed toward the Parc de Bruxelles (which used to be the hunting grounds of Dukes way back in the day), where we headed down toward the end and saw this lovely fountain, and then headed onward in the direction of the Palais de la Nation, which is the building Parliament convenes in. However, Brussels has been without an acting government for over a year now. (Don't ask me how that works, because I have no earthly idea...)


Walking away from the government buildings, I began to take notice of the lamp posts...I love the detail on them! (Not that I'm pulled toward things with leaves and vines or

We wandered around a bit more and saw this church on our way to the museum of fine arts.

We weren't allowed to take photos in the museum (though there were people we saw there that blatantly disregarded that rule), but after walking around and seeing such famous artwork, I have come to the conclusion that while paintings are lovely, I personally prefer sculptures. I found one sculpture there in particular that I absolutely fell in love with called "Scene du Deluge" (and you can't see it in the photo linked, but there is a snake slithering up the back side of the sculpture). 

By that point, we were all starting to wear down, as we had no actual plan and walked around in circles and seriously lacked organization of nearly any sort (LOL). We got a pleasant little surprise, though, upon entering the next church we came to!


It was supposed to be closed to tourists while the ceremony was going on (oops!), but they didn't lock the doors at all...maybe for guests that might be late? But it was all so beautiful, so I snapped this one photo (though I felt a bit guilty for it afterwards...). We then crossed the street to the church's "accompanying" garden.

The square is surrounded by 48 statues, each one representing a different medieval guild of Brussels. We sat on a bench for a little bit while pulling out a map and trying to figure out where the heck we were and how to get to where we wanted to go. LOL And wouldn't you know, the wedding was over by the time we left the Square, so we decided to check out the interior a bit more.



After that, we stopped to get some Belgian fries (or "frites," as they're called there), which did taste different to me than the U.S. version. I don't know if it's because of the way they were cooked or what they were cooked in, but dipping it in the Brasil sauce that we got with it...YUM!!!! (I'd have taken a picture of the fries, but we were all pretty hungry by that point that they disappeared pretty We sat on a bench near Notre-Dame de la Chapelle to eat.

Rachel wanted to get some money from an ATM, but there was a homeless man nearby that was, let's say unabashed. He was very forward (not quite aggressive, though), and felt the need to follow the three of us when we hastily walked away. It was a bit creepy.

And upon trying to make our way back to the train station (and my car), we came across an unexpected surprise: the Aneessens Tower!

It's a piece of what's left of the first wall that surrounded Brussels, a fortification put in place in the 13th century!!!

After that, we oriented ourselves with the map and made our way back to the train station to get Rachel's luggage, and we piled into my car and headed to the Atomium.

The Atomium was made for the 1958 World Fair, and is known as Brussels equivalent to the Eiffel Tower. (Personally, I think the Eiffel Tower is prettier, but then, I also tend to be biased that way...LOL) Then I dropped Rachel and Mikayla off and headed home myself. It was a great day!

Ick, sick!

I honestly meant to blog about Brussels (and Memorial Day weekend) before now...but I got delayed. There was a craft fair this past Saturday that I had to prepare for, and then we got hit fairly hard in this house with lots of "ick." I finally got us all in at the clinic on Monday, and it turns out that A had/has an ear infection, and C and I both had/have strep throat! (And this is the first time I've ever had it, too...I was pretty miserable!) The pharmacy on base got us A's medications right off, but as C's and my diagnoses were waiting the lab results, the orders weren't sent to the pharmacy in enough time for it to all go through and be filled before the pharmacy closed for the day. So it wasn't until yesterday that they were ready, and I am so grateful to The Instigator for taking time on his lunch break to swing by there and pick it up and drop it off at home for me. It wasn't until about an hour after taking it that I felt like I could do much of anything. And now that I've actually had strep throat, I can now empathize properly with my niece that had it so many times she had to have her tonsils out! YUCK! Poor girl...

But now that we're on the mend and I'm making progress in catching back up on dishes and laundry, I think I can take the time to blog some...and after I post about the past 2 weekends, I can reveal the reason for this photo:

I hope that this past week or two has found the rest of you healthier than it has me!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Playing catch up!

Goodness me! I think I'm done with traveling...just for a little bit! Between London, soon followed by Brussels and a great Memorial Day weekend, I am beat! And I don't have the time to be lackadaisical, either!

I've got my first craft fair/bazaar coming up this Saturday that I still need to organize myself for. Evidently, this will be the last one they hold (at least for this base) because of political, fine print mumbo jumbo that irritates me to no end.

I've also managed to complete the soaker skirty!!! :D HOORAY!!!!!!!!

It only took me a month and a half (when it should have taken me less than a week!), but I finially completed it! And it will likely be the first of many. I purchased the seller's version of the pattern (which means it came with a cottage license) so that I can make these to sell online! Hooray! The rest of them will definitely go a LOT smoother and faster, now that I understand the construction of the pattern and such. :)

After I finish with the craft fair, I'll need to work hard on the onesie/romper for little Anja (who will be arriving before I know it!), followed by a birthday gift for Misha (which has already been dubbed "The Elphaba Sweater") and a gift for the mother of the bride for my BFF's wedding day in September!!!

I guess that means I'd better get cracking! I promise that a post about Brussels and this past weekend is in the works, but it will have to wait for now...