Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The PCS Fifteen.

WOW. Has it really been A YEAR since I have posted anything on here?! Well, let me attempt to dust off the cobwebs of this pathetic blog and make some baby steps to begin to update our life. Let me say HELLO! to anyone that might be reading this. Maybe one person? Lets be honest, I probably lost all the followers I did have (which was two I think). a year ago. ;)

But for those of you not on the wonderful world of Facebook, we have officially moved and settled into Germany. (Although, judging by our house, not sure you would say "settled".) It has been quite the experience to move from a house that was small but with tons of storage to a house that is much larger with not a single "closet". If you have been to my house or know me at all, you know i have a lot of crap beautiful showpieces. And now, no where to hide them! :) We have made three trips to the beloved IKEA already, Tdub has been a good sport, but think I am wearing thin on that request. Slowly but surely our stuff is moving from piles on the floor to piles in a cabinet and it's beginning to look a little more like a home. :)

Part of the reason we have not nested as much as I would have liked is we are too distracted with all the traveling we could be doing instead of hanging pictures! ha! We spent Christmas week in Belgium, New Years in Paris, been to a concert in Luxembourg, visited Amsterdam, spent a weekend in Porto, have skied in Austria and Switzerland and we are off to Prague this week! #hardlife #iknow. :) We have been given this great gift to be here for a limited time and we will not be guilty of sitting on our butts and not experiencing it!

Some random thoughts of mine upon moving to The Germanies:

-I personally have had quite a bit of culture shock here. Which was totally unexpected for me. I thought I have lived in Asia for the last 4 years, on a an air force base, rode the train all around Tokyo, made the less than pleasant commissary work for my meal plans, got really good at communicating in hand gestures and charades, drove on the wrong side of the road, learned some Japanese and I survived. So, Germany? I got this. a piece of cake. My first purchase at a German store: I go to check out and the lady starts speaking to me in German cause she's, well, German. Of course I don't have a clue what she is spouting off to me and obviously waiting for a response and my first and really only thought is, "Can't you see I'm American?!" and then I, she can't. I look just like her. *face palm* While many Germans speak English in this area, I find I get really nervous when I go to the farmer's market or shop off base, because they can't tell I'm a foreigner and I hate to not be able to communicate. In Japan it almost seemed easier because I stuck out and so no one even tried to really communicate. Normally I don't like to stick out, but in this case it seems more comforting for some strange reason.

- there is schnitzel ev.ery.where. and they serve french fries with everything. like, everything. I like french fries as much as the next person, just don't expect them to come out and be served with my chicken salad. :)

- the lack of closets. (see above.) My maiden name is Schrank (which means wardrobe in German). The joke never gets old (at least to Tdub) that he came with his own "Schrank" and my parents came to visit this last weekend and we had lots of "Schranks" in the house. Guaranteed cheesy jokes for the next 3 years with that one.

- we are SO close to SO many countries. Coming from Japan where you were literally on an island, you had to take a flight to leave Japan and get to another country to travel and you better have about 12 days of leave (vacation time) in your pocket, or you couldn't go. In the first 3 weeks of being here we had already traveled to 4 other countries. FOUR. I couldn't believe it. I still can't wrap my mind around that I can be in another country in 45 minutes. This is also the girl that's coming from TX, where you are driving for 3 days and finally get to NM. While this is something I am so grateful for and do not take for granted to have this life experience, it is also kind of paralyzing. Like where in the world do you start?!? What country do you go to first? How will I ever choose what to do in that city or how should I get there? Trains and cars and planes, oh my!

- I have come to notice there is a little police officer in every German. They have rules, they enforce them and they follow them.* This hits fairly close to home as I have lots of German blood running through my veins and finally makes sense why I am such a rule follower.

- A line? What's that? they don't wait in them. I have to be honest, it drives me nuts. *(guess standing in line isn't a rule and doesn't apply here?) I am constantly getting cut in front of and ending up further from the counter or entrance than where I started. Coming from Japan where there is a nice, single file line for everything and even the tsunami survivors were patiently waiting in line for their scoop of rice, I am not used to having to push and shove to hold my spot. I was here before you, buddy. But I'm getting a little fiercer every day. :)

- Sundays. are. awesome. The whole country of Germany respects and uses this day as a "quiet day". Everything is closed. It is actually illegal for stores and shops to be open and sell anything. You can't wash your car, mow your lawn, (enforced by your local German neighbors, who actually have noise meters to make sure your decimals of noise aren't too loud, not kidding. again, please refer to little police officers for this one.) and while some Sunday's it drives me nuts I cannot go buy some eggs or run my vacuum cleaner, most Sunday's I am so thankful for a day of quiet and rest. Where the day can be spent how I think the Lord intended it, as a Sabbath.

- Kinder Eggs (which are illegal to send to the states and I will be fined $5,000 per egg if found. So you can guarantee the rule follower in me will not be sending any kinder eggs in your care packages. :) sorry.) and Happy Hippos are gonna make me fat. For real, they are to.die.for. Cruel I realize, as I cannot send you any kinder eggs to try for yourself, but trust me or come visit me. :) they are good!

- The PCS Fifteen is a real thing, people. For you non-military folk out there "PCS" stands for Permanent Change of Station (i think). So pretty much it's when you move from one duty station to another. For those of you that have endured a overseas PCS, you will know exactly what I am talking about. But if I could just explain complain about the hardship and drama of it for a moment. Anyone that has ever moved knows it's stressful. If I may preface by saying, I am very grateful and appreciative to the government for taking care of us and footing the bill, I guess like anyone's company should. For the military, you are given a date that you have to be to your new location by. Sometimes you have enough time to make a stop or two to take some vacation time or visit family, but sometimes not. You are packed up in two shipments if you choose. 1st one to hopefully get there a little quicker than the other (although, both of our shipments have always arrived at the same time) with pots, pans, linens, kids toys, things you would need to begin to set up your house or well...just survive. Then your 2nd shipment is the big one, with many crates of stuff. Well, at least we had many crates of stuff. You are then moved out of your house, and are put into a holding tank (some call it Base Lodging) for a few days until you have a flight out. In this said lodging, you may or may not find yourself with heat, electricity, soap or clean towels, just depending on where the budget is being cut this week. ;) You have a very sad day saying some last "see you laters" to your dear friends, that have become family as you look ahead to starting all over at the next place. You then arrive at your next duty station to have some very nice and friendly people from your squadron, and you find yourself in the short time of one flight to the next..."the new girl". again. You stay in another said "holding tank" for 30 days until you find a house/or can move in. In this room you have a mini-fridge and a microwave, one bar of soap for 30 days (budget cuts) and wifi that works between the hours of 1:02pm-3:23pm #firstworldproblems.
*Enter PCS 15* This is where the weight gain can really set in. Eating out every meal, or trying to survive on hot pockets and microwavable lasagna with plastic cheese is nor healthy or great on the waist line. Plus you're in a new place and want to try all the local foods, and for us the German Christmas Markets did not help. Even with a daily workout routine, it's the amount of stress and the laundry list of things to be done with a look down and it's not so pretty. :) So as a military community, the PCS 15, is something we must embrace and be glad we only move every 3 years.

- the US dollar is not equal to the Euro. So we will be fat AND broke when we leave Europe. :)

While half of our hearts are still in Japan (pretty sure everyone here is sick of hearing me talk about Japan, sorry!) we absolutely love it here and it's feeling more like home everyday. I am attempting to stay a little more current with this blog in hopes to share with you, but also try and keep all our adventures straight to be able to remember and cherish them! And to that one person, thanks for reading. ;) Cheers!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I. love. new.

There's been lots of talk about "new" as we start a "new year". i love new. i love new clothes, i love new books and their crisp pages (and the way the smell), i love new recipes, i love watching new movies or when a new episode of my t.v. show pops up on hulu plus, i love new adventures, i love new tennis shoes, i love meeting new people, i love new places, i love new camera equipment, i love trying new restaurants, i love new car smell...well you get the point. :)

New can be a fresh start, an adventure, fun, unexpected, unknown, different, exciting, hopeful. Unfortunately, the unknown and different part of new, can also be hard, unwanted, dreaded, disappointing, tiring, scary, unhappy. So as much as i really love the new, I also really love the old. The comfortable, the known, the expected, the easy, the same, the happy. The new is inevitable, because we can only comprehend what our bodies and minds have experienced and we haven't experienced everything that will be brought our way, in our lifetime. We don't know what is yet to come.

But, I find comfort in knowing that the Lord knows. Really there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9) nothing comes as a surprise to Him. Sometimes the only thing I can hold on to is no matter how new it may be to me, it's not to Him. He already knows and has created a plan to carry me through.

At risk of sounding like Debbie the Downer, sometimes the unexpected, unexplainable, unplanned things aren't so fun. But almost always, they are the things that shape us, remake us, build us, and change us. I think about the sweet couples that have lost a baby, the wife that has been cheated on, the husband that has lost his job, the house that burned down, the child support that didn't come in, the long sleeves that cover up the cuts, the words that sting us and we'll never forget, the little girl that doesn't think she's pretty, the little boy that didn't make the team, the families that had to attend their small children's funeral a few days before Christmas, the woman that desperately wants to hold their baby and can't get pregnant, the man that's never been told he's good enough, the spouse and children left behind while Daddy/Mommy deploys for months, the single person that desperately wants to get married, and the list goes on and on. It may not always be the circumstance of choice and the new is not always fun, or easy or what we would have picked, but there will always be new.

Some great news: there will also always be Hope (Heb 6:19), there will always be Comfort (Ps 10:17), there will always be Safety (Ps 91:2), there will always be Good (Rom 8:28) to come (ever if we can't see it now), and there will always be Someone that has gone before us, there will always be Him.

"You don't go alone. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty,you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." Is 43:2

So whatever 2013 may bring us, and the chances are good it will be something (or a few things) new and unexpected and it may be gladly welcomed or it may be weirdly uncomfortable. If this year has it's trials and uncomfortable spots, I encourage us to remember that we don't travel alone. There will always be a new, new. The new will pass and become a little older soon. May you find comfort in your unknown and unexpected, that Jesus knows your tiredness, He knows your hurt, your frustration, your fear, your excitement, happiness and He knows your joy. He knows and He's got your new in the palm of His hand.

"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Is 43:19

If we never had new, no matter if it's easy or hard, we would never change. we would never trust. we would never grow. we would never be better. we would never truly live. the new makes me better. makes me more like Him. So, maybe I lied a little, I don't always love the new, but I'm thankful for it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


“Honey, I’m deploying for a year.”

One of the many dreaded sentences every military wife hopes she never has to hear. Tdub came home one evening from work in late April and said those words. My heart dropped, or stopped I’m not sure which. At first I thought he was kidding, but there was no smile on his face or laughter in his voice, not that this would have been a funny joke, but was hoping that he was not for real. Questions flooded my mind as tears filled my eyes and that was my status for the next week. I avoided going out and when I had to I put on "big girl panties", my hat and my to-big-for-my-face sunglasses and dodged people at the commissary (sorry if you were a victim of my dodging) and post office, holding my breath and hoping to not have an "ugly cry" breakdown in the middle of the store.

My eyes have finally regained their shape and I can go out without sunglasses on, but the sting of sadness that comes with Tdub having to be gone for a whole year has not gone away. Not sure that it will. And that's ok. It's part of it.

It came as such a shock, not even on the "radar." But then again who dreams and thinks of the day their husband will go away for a year (if you've had a rough week with your hubby, don't answer that! ha!). I guess as a military wife it's always in the back of your mind as a possibility, but not something you actually think will happen or at least hope it won't. Well, when it happens, you wonder, how could I have prepared for this? How do I prepare for this? And I have not figured out the answer to that questions yet, so if you have it, let me know. ;) I have had to remind myself (more that once) that I too have agreed and signed up for this. I may not be flying planes or running around with camo on, but I agreed to marry my man and this was what he did and felt called to be a part of. Therefore, I am not "just a wife" being "left behind" once again, I agreed and I am called to this too. It is really easy to start feeling bitter and mad and like someone has come in and robbed you from a year with your husband. and you are left helpless, with no defense or way to make it different. I know I am not the only one going through a long deployment right now, that has gone through one or will have to go through one (and any deployment, no matter the length, is hard), so I hope this does not sound "poor me" or like others do not have it worse. I fully recognize that I am not the only one dealing with something that's hard, but I do think in sharing with one another and hearing others stories we can find comfort when our own storms hit.

I am finding I am more sad about the things that haven't even happened yet. The moments we will miss out on together, the dinners we won't be cooking together, the trips we had planned that we won't be going on, the restaurant we haven't tried, the marathon we were going to run and the mountain we were going to climb. The big and the little moments that won't be together. Tdub is my favorite person and I love being together and to not have that for a whole year almost seems unbearable. And too be honest, I know it is unbearable. On my own.

I still have the ugly cries and have to consciously put on my "big girl panties" almost everyday, but we have a deep sense of peace, that we know only can come from the Lord. Just when it seems like it's too much, He takes over in a way that I cannot describe, but it is so obvious it is not just us being brave or mustering up confidence we can get through this, but it is Jesus taking the load off of us and giving us a deep sense of peace that He knows and is in control and is deeply interested in our details, in our hurt, in our happiness and in our holiness. He reminds me that this does not come as a shock to Him and this deployment has always been on His "radar". And I don't just believe this because I have always been taught this and it sounds good, I believe this because it is the only thing I can cling to for this next year. My hubby is leaving whether I think it is fair or like it or am even ok with it. So I can either except that this is the Lord's plan, that He will help us, protect us and keep our hearts safe and close to one another through the distance and that great things will come from this next year or not. and the "not" option to me seems a little hopeless and lonely.

The million dollar question for the last 2 months: "How are you doing?" Ugh. There is no good way to answer it, especially if you want to stay PC. :) We do not know what to expect. There is no recipe or formula for how we will feel or handle what is to come. We may do great or it may be awful (if it's the later, sorry for those that live close to me.) I don't know what tomorrow holds, and for sure don't know about the next year. I just know today. So I am working on living for today and not being sad about the things that may or may not happen. I sometimes feel guilty for being sad, because it is just a year apart from my husband and there are 25,000 people dying from hunger everyday. Gosh, perspective. There are so many other things going on in the world around us that are heartbreaking and more life altering. I do not claim to have it all together or on the flip side I don't want to be dramatic or have a martyr complex, but I do want to be honest and transparent through this process so that 1. if/when others have to go through this our journey can hopefully be a sense of encouragement and help 2. I want Jesus to be glorified through this. His power can best be seen in my weaknesses. and I'm not sure, but I think there will be plenty of opportunity for Him to show His strength and power this coming year. :) "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness."

For each one of us, everyday comes with storms, trials, worries and fears, surprises and things that were not on our "radar." They will look different, some are big and some are small, some will last 1 day, some 365 days and maybe some a lifetime. None of us are exempt. But may I encourage you as I have been encouraged that YOU are on God's radar. May we walk in today, because that's all we know and have been given and find some peace in knowing that HE has not forgotten about you. He knows your details, the good, the bad, the happy and sad. He is crazy about you and loves you deeply. He knows your heart and what you need. That He "causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them."

And some days we may need to put on our "big sunglasses" and our "big girl panties" and that's ok. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Stay Calm and CRY LOUD!!!

We had a fun weekend in Tokyo in April with some friends. A fancy dinner at our favorite hotel in downtown Tokyo was the agenda, but it happened to coincide with a festival. Our favorite festival to date. Babies + Sumo Wrestlers = awe.some.

Most parents of small children will do anything to make their baby feel safe and happy and will go to extremes to keep their crying to a minimum. Not at the Nakizumo festival where crying is actually encouraged and prompted. The Japanese believe that the sumo induced crying keeps their children in good health, and wards off evil spirits.

The Sumo wrestlers each hold a baby and order them to "nake, nake" which means "cry, cry" and the wrestlers growl, make faces, and kind of lightly "shake" the babies. Whichever baby cries first, is the winner. This "crying baby festival" is an over 400 year old (older than America, people!) tradition and not taken lightly. Parents from all over bring their babies of their own free will. If both babies cry at the same time, the one screaming the loudest is declared the winner.

It may seem a little cruel and while standing there I found myself wondering if these kids would have scarring from this event that would some day make them scared of sumo wrestlers as many Americans are scared of clowns from some silly circus. But if I can be honest, and I can since it's my blog...this festival is freakin' hilarious. It would never fly in the US because someone would get their panties in a wad about it and stick CPS or PETA or whoever would listen, on the Sumos. In Japan, they are cool. 400 years of cool going on here. I figure if their parents were dying laughing, you can too.

and gosh, Asian babies are SO cute!

parents waiting to present their babies.
and the fun begins...may the loudest, most obnoxious cry win!
a little classier for the PM...
i love our Japanese friends! :)

i heart sakura (cherry blossoms).

So we have missed the past two years of cherry blossoms for one reason or another and this year I was determined to capture them. They are fully bloomed for such a short amount of time, sometimes just one or two days and I am normally taking pictures of other people in front of them, but this year I wanted my own. :) So I begged/bribed Tdub to come out with me one afternoon. We trekked far into Tokyo on the trains to a very famous area and it was totally worth it. Here are a few shots of our Sakura findings!
see i told you i had to bribe him...with beer.
love these next two, with the city in the background. beauty and grace in the middle of a humongous, bustling city.
two cute little ladies on a lunch date, enjoying the blossoms.
sakura festivals are everywhere!
Hanami (which is literally translated to "flower watching") is a very popular activity during this season. people gather and put out blankets and tarps and sit underneath the blossom trees all day. sit, drink sake, nap and eat! get there early if you want a small area to sit on.:)
some other beauty nuggets i fell in love with.
when the blossoms start to fall it is beautiful and completely unbelievable how many blossom petals are left behind.
sakura snow.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Frost bitten...part 2.

My friend Chelsea and I broke away from the group one day to go to a nearby city. Otaru is a precious, quaint little glass blowing/making village and know for their night lantern festival during the winter. Here a are a few shots from our day...
Once again the Japanese resourcefulness strikes again!!
Chelsea wanted to relive her professional flower girl days and test out scattering the seashells. she still has it.
told you. buns, frozen!
some guys working on some different snow structures
placing the lanterns in the canal
view of the canal during the day...
and the night...
cutest little snowmen/snowwomen ever!!
had to stop at a local brewery for a snack :)
Ramen has quickly become one our favorite fares in Japan (even though it is Chinese noodles). I would like to think we have become connoisseurs of sort, we eat enough of it to qualify for something. :) There is a "Ramen Alley" in Sapporo with all different Ramen styles, soups and add-ins that we were dying to visit and we did. I won't say how many times we visited in our 3 short days. :)
The Ramen shop that Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" show stopped at! All smiles here!
It wouldn't be a trip with our friends if we did not at least visit one microbrewery or craft beer house. I could have cared less about what bottles of beer they had for sale to actually drink, once I saw the ridiculous amount of unique and random cans of beer they had on display. I couldn't stop snapping. Unbelievable.
found a little bit of Texas in the middle of Japan. :)
and I have some Japan pride too...old Japanese beer cans!
visit to the fish market for some of the freshest seafood in Japan. where they let you hold your crab alive...
and come back in 30 minutes and, well, eat your crab.
the smallest sushi shop and also the most delicious.
mouth full of goodness!
kid in a candy shop. ha!
the. real. deal. you can't make this face up. or for that matter, make this face. it just happens.
A very popular thing to do while in Sapporo is too eat genghis khan at the Sapporo Beer Factory. It is all you can eat, all you can drink for 90 minutes. Let's just say they lost money on the Americans that night.
enjoying a little biru tasting before dinner. aren't these ladies so cute?
beer snobs!
dinner time!
the last afternoon the boys and girls went their separate ways and since I'm not a boy I'm not sure what they did. But the ladies went to The Sapporo Chocolate Factory. Ommpah loompah doopie doo...
i felt like i was in Willy Wonka's factory. it was magical.
"sensory evaluation"?...where do i apply?
don't mind if I due, fondue, that is...
it was a wonderful adventure, one for the books. full of many sweet memories and lots of laughter!