Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Had a Great day, did the hop on, hop off bus, then went to the Spice and Grand Bazaars, they were awesome! Tonight I went on a river cruise on the Bosphorus river which goes between Europe and Asia. Now it's 2:30am, I've made a Bunch of new friends, I've had too much to drink in celebration and now I need to get to bed. With my luck the prayers will go off at 6 am!

Auf Weidersehen,

Friday, December 30, 2011


I can't upload pictures from my IPad, which is what I brought on this trip. I got here about 3pm and came to the old town of Istanbul. I'm staying at the White House hotel, it's a great hotel, very personable. They game a little evil eye on a pin, then gave me some orange juice and a piece of candy while they talked to me about the hotel. The room is fantastic, they have 2 chairs in the room that remind me of sitting on a throne. After getting settled in the room, I made arrangements to go to one of the oldest Hamans (if not THE oldest) it has been in use since 1550. That's old! After the Haman experience (Turkish bath), I came back and then walked all over the old town here. I felt very safe. I didn't buy any souvenirs but saw several things I liked and hope to buy before I leave here.
ok, I had better sign off. It's already midnight and they will be doing the Muslim prayers/chants over the loudspeakers around 6am, they say the prayers 5-6 times a day. Guess I will wear my earplugs to bed tonight!

Auf Wiedersehen,

Thursday, December 29, 2011

One more quiet night!

I'm looking forward to being here tomorrow afternoon and to seeing the "Blue Mosque!" Yes, I *am* taking my camera (taking my 2 Canon's and both the batteries have been charged).

Work today was hectic. I only had a couple appointments scheduled (and one new one was a no-show, so that worked out). Today was spent catching up on documentation and going around labeling everything in sight. And just about the time I thought we had gotten everything labeled and boxed, we found three cabinets that had not be emptied! YIKES! Thank goodness for three of my co-workers in particular, they have really jumped in and have done way more than their share. The problem we have is that some of our co-workers are on leave. One in particular didn't pack up any of their belongings, thinking that they would be able to do it when they returned. That was NOT the case. Our receptionist had offered to come in and pack up, but two other people told her to stay on her leave and not come in and they packed up her stuff (and all the associated files). I did help out with some of the packing and a lot of the labeling of our clinic's stuff, my one co-worker who is aggravating to me at times, is, I think, the ONLY person in the building who has not gotten all their stuff packed up (she's working tomorrow). She didn't help out with ANY of the other packing or labeling either. AND, we were told we could leave at 3:30 today, so she high-tailed it out of there. (We were told that yesterday as well, but I had a client that I didn't finish up with until 4:15, so she had to stay. We are not allowed to leave if another provider still has a client). But, I was there today until about 4:45pm, and I was there that long, at least, yesterday. Okay. I'll quit complaining. Different work ethics, I suppose.

I stopped and picked up a travel book about Istanbul. I've been reading through it tonight and will read it some more on the plane to Istanbul. I'm flying on Turkish Airlines, leaving Stuttgart just before 11am. I think I get in about 2:45pm to Istanbul. I'll be staying at a place called the "White House." It's not a 4-5 star hotel, but it does get VERY high ratings on TripAdvisor. It sounds like their hospitality is awesome! I come back on Monday and have a fairly early flight, getting here about 10am. That'll give me a chance to recoup before I head back to work on Tuesday for the hectic chaos that will be next week as we try to sort through boxes and get settled into our new offices.

Okay, I'd better sign off. It's about 8:15pm and I still need to pack. It's been a quiet night since my co-workers took the dogs home with her after work. I hope they are behaving themselves!

Remember, this time tomorrow I'll be in Istanbul. I'm supposed to have internet access at the hotel and will *try* to post. I may not be able to post pictures until I return though.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Test post

This is a test to see if I can blog with the google app on my IPad. Then, when I go to Istanbul this weekend, I can get away with just taking my iPad. @smiles@


Happy Hump Day?

Thought you'd like this picture of Bruno and Peanut. Peanut loves to get herself covered up in the afghan (which she has now claimed as HERS!) and then Bruno will snuggle next to her here on the couch.

Work went okay today. I got everything out of my cabinet packed into boxes and labeled. The German movers are supposed to come to our offices on Monday (we will be off that day, but it isn't a German holiday) and move everything over to our new offices. I still have just a tiny bit of stuff to pack, less than a shopping bag full, that I may hand-carry over there tomorrow. I can't schedule any clients for Tuesday or Wednesday next week, but I *do* have three clients scheduled for Thursday. I'm hoping my office is ready to go by then. Right now, when we meet with clients, we meet in one of two offices, but in our new building we are expected to meet with clients in our own offices. That should be interesting. The furniture that we have (desk set-up) is SO big, it dominates the room. I'll be glad when we get through the next few weeks and things settle down. I think there will 2 main problems about moving to our new location. 1) Parking is absolutely HORRIBLE. The clinic parking area is overcrowded as it is and now it will be worse. The other thing is that our offices are located on the 2nd floor and there is NO elevator, that may make it difficult for some of the clients.

Other than that, I slept a little better last night. I wasn't so tired today, so that was nice. I got home from work late today because I went and got my nails done. They look nice *smiles*

Okay, I'm going to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Short blog?

I'm just going to do a short post as I wake from falling asleep on the couch after I got home tonight. I'm very tired tonight. Of course... I looked at my fitbit results and can understand why. It says I went to bed about 11:30 last night and took almost a half hour to fall asleep and I woke up 29 times throughout the night. I had stayed up late last night because my co-worker called and said she had arrived in Stuttgart and could come pick up here doggies. SO, I stayed up so they could spend the night with their mama. I know she missed them a lot!

Work was fairly busy with a couple interruptions. I had to take the dogs in this morning for a Vet appointment. They got their Lyme disease shot and their 3-year Rabies shot (good for 3 years). Peanut got her anal glands expressed (she's only had it done one other time). And other than that, the Vet said the dogs are healthy. They also got lab work done to test for heartworm and I had taken in a fecal sample. All in all, it ran me $190 (about double what I had expected/hoped). Anyway, barring any illnesses, they are good to go for awhile.

Oh yea and when I woke up this morning, I found out that my router was belly-up, it doesn't work anymore. So after work I had to stop and get a router. Before I went and got that though, I dropped of a couple comforters and a down comforter off to be dry cleaned (well, two of them just need to be washed, but the German washers are SO small here, that I can't fit them in at all. Anyway... imagine MY shock when I found out they are going to charge me almost $100 for that. And I dropped off my Flokati rug and it sounds like that will run me at least $50 to be cleaned. ARGH! I *miss* having access to the triple-size washer and dryers in the States! Next time though, I *will* take the comforters to a base laundrymat, one of them is supposed to have larger washers and dryers. I believe the two comforters I dropped off I could have washed in one of those washers (one at a time). Oh well, lesson learned, right?

SO... today has been an EXPENSIVE day and of course, it comes right during the Holidays and just before I'm going to Istanbul. It feels like one of those days.. if it isn't one thing, it's another!

At least I now have my internet back up and running, the dogs are healthy, and in January (when I get the bedding back), I'll have clean comforters! (Peanut got sick on my duvet that I had over the down comforter and it had soaked through! grrrr... guess I need a water resistant duvet??? Do they make such a thing?).

Okay, it's almost 10, bedtime. Even though I've had a nap now, I sure hope I sleep better than last night!

At least I'm not on call anymore!

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Monday, December 26, 2011

Istanbul, here I come!

In 4 more days, I'll be in Istanbul for the New Year's! I CAN'T wait!

So... after getting home very late and then staying up to watch the first half of the Packers - Bears game... I didn't get to bed until about 4am and so I slept in this morning. Although, I guess it was good I stayed up? I had just gotten into bed when the on-call phone rang. It was the police calling with a domestic violence report. The guy that called made a comment about how awake I sounded for it being the middle of the night, so I told him I had just gone to bed after watching the first half of the Packer's game. *smiles* Now I have 2 reports to write up first thing in the morning. My co-worker, who will have to deal with them won't be a happy camper!

The dogs have been doing okay (visiting doggies). I worry a little, both are so old and feeble, it's almost like I worry about them dying on "my watch." I won't miss having to give them their heart medication every night. I dread the time when Peanut & Bruno become so old.

This afternoon I went and saw the movie "Chip-wrecked." I knew that it involved a cruise ship, I guess I expected more of it to be on the ship. After the ship scenes, the movie got a little boring.

Okay, I suppose I'd better sign off and head to bed. Tomorrow morning I get to take the dogs in for their Vet appointment. I hope it doesn't cost TOO much!

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Jack & Bennett, the dogs I'm watching over the Christmas holidays while their mama is enjoying Paris.

My tree with some presents underneath...

Peanut "sitting pretty" and Bruno, on Christmas morning.

My advent wreath and candles...

So, after sleeping in the morning, I got up and made more cookies (frosted Sugar cookies that all got gobbled up by the kids across the street, they absolutely LOVED them!). I went over to Tamie & Curt's about 3pm, took over a ham, lots of cookies and then some chips & Rotel Cheese dip. Then, I didn't leave there til 1am! I did take a break right at the end of dinner time to come over and Skype with Kori & Michelle and I got to watch them and my youngest granddaughter Kiara, open their presents. I haven't been able to catch up to my daughter Kati yet, they are over at the in-laws for Christmas. I'm looking forward to finding out how Kati's father-in-law liked his present that she picked up for him over here (it's the family name and crest information, printed out in Calligraphy... BUT in German! Kati had it framed and I'm sure it looked really neat). I also want to find out what Scott thought of his present. She did send me a message via Facebook to tell me that my granddaughter was VERY happy about her present!

Okay, I'm going to keep this short. I hope you all have had a Merry Christmas and I wish my friends and family a Blessed, peaceful Christmas!

Frohe Weihnachten from Deutchland!

- Kris

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas eve!

This was the creche at the post chapel tonight. I went to the Christmas Eve Candle-light service tonight. And of course... I'm on call and WHEN did my phone ring? Yep... DURING the service. And just WHEN during the service did it ring? Yep... in the middle of prayer! (it actually rang twice, but for some reason the first time it rang, it disconnected. So they called back about 5 minutes later (when I had tried to call the "last" number listed in the phone and gave up and went back in to sit down... then it rang AGAIN during an inopportune quiet time). The service was nice... I enjoyed singing all the carols and listening to the Christmas story. The service was quite packed with families.

After the service I went to the Police Station to get the report they had called me about (a domestic violence situation where one spouse tried to run over another). At least I didn't have to go in about it, (other than since I was "out" I just went and got the report rather than taking the whole thing over the phone). My co-worker will have to deal with it next week.

Here's Trevor in the play, he's on the far left in the orangish gown as a wiseman. He & Tia were in the play "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". It's finished now. I took these photos last week when I went to one of their last performances. Trevor was a "Herdman." (that was supposed to be the kids' last names that were real trouble-makers... in my growing up years, I'm SURE some of my Sunday School teachers thought we were as bad as these kids! And to tell the truth, we were probably worse!). It's a good play, it may even be a movie, I'd recommend watching it. (Maybe you can find it on YouTube?).

Tia is the Angel with the long curly blond hair (she has naturally curly hair).

Tia is the middle angel in this picture.

SO. Doesn't look like we will have a white Christmas here in Germany. I did get to take the dogs out for a walk today. We did 2 1/2 miles. I left Jack and Bennett here, they can't walk very fast or very far. It was about 40* out, but at least it wasn't raining. It WAS rather muddy out there though, so I've got a couple towels in the entryway to wipe the dogs down before they come on into the Livingroom and Dining room.

I also did MY adult version of "Mancala." Have you ever heard of Mancala or played it? If not, I would suggest googling it. It's a game I played with pebbles as a kid at the local park. ANYWAY... every couple months, I get out all my weekly medicine containers (the ones that have 7 sections, so you can divide up your daily vitamins/medications). Anyway, I think I have about 10 of them. So, I put them all on the kitchen counter, then go through and put my various vitamins in them... the Multi-vitamin, the A, the D, the E, the Folate, and the Zinc. I also take a couple prescription pills (Allegra for itching, an anti-inflammatory, and then Prilosec or something like that, to combat any ulcers that come from taking the anti-inflammatory pill). I end up with about 8-10 pills in each one. But, at least that is done for a couple months now.

The other thing I did today was to bake more cookies to take over to the neighbors tomorrow (I'm also baking a ham tomorrow to take). I'm going over there for Christmas dinner. Anyway... back to the baking. I made the no-bake Chocolate drop cookies (with cocoa, oatmeal, coconut and nuts). I made 7-layer bars, but instead of using butterscotch chips, I used Reese peanut butter chips. AND, last but not least, I made some more Mexican Wedding Cakes (Russian Tea Cakes). I had hoped to make some Sugar cookies. I bought some canned green frosting with sprinkles, but didn't get to them. Maybe tomorrow morning?

Speaking of tomorrow morning. I'd better sign off and think about heading to bed soon.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last day of work for a couple days...

The Cathedral in Stuttgart at night...

So, I got off work about an hour early (felt like yesterday should have been Friday). There was only one other Behavioral Health provider there today, so it was quiet. We had some early childhood development people there (I think they had 4 people there!) So, what's that make... six in the building? Not too bad. Some minor distractions. Tom brought his wife & dog in, so I sat and visited with them for awhile. I did sort through a bunch of papers to determine what needed to be tossed and what needed to be shredded. I didn't get to the work I've been procrastinating about, but I have it all organized and stacked (and together) so I *can* start working on them. I packed one box, but have several more to pack before next Thursday. I thought I was going to have a light week next week, but I've managed to schedule, I think, 4 a day.

At lunch time I did go over to the local military exchange and they had their Christmas Polish pottery on sale (well, marked down a little anyway), so I bought myself a couple pieces. I got a large cake plate (or cookie platter?) and a baking dish. Those are the 1st two pieces I've bought for myself. (I have 3 other pieces, but they are gifts from my friends the Barnharts). I bought an additional platter as a gift for my neighbors across the street... they are just so wonderful!

I've gotten some comments about exercising to get my steps in. I *do* still have my Elliptical machine and I have my "Gazelle". I put my Gazelle away when I had my company and haven't gotten it back out (now I need to wait until the extra dogs are gone and then will probably wait until after the 1st of the year when I return from (hopefully!) my mini-vacation. I *do* have an ab lounger as well (in my bedroom) and should use that too. I'm thankful for my tummy tuck and abdominoplasty I had a few years ago (has it been 6 or so? Already?), while I don't have a 6-pack, my tummy's fairly flat! *smiles* AND, I *am* wearing size 12 now (I wore jeans to work... whoohoo... (oh yea, don't tell my boss... she frowns on that!) They were size 12 jeans.).

Tonight I went and did a little grocery shopping and now I'm watching the "X factor" on TV. I'm tired and hoping I get a decent night's sleep tonight. No real plans for tomorrow (sleeping in???). The Christmas markets are over now (except in France, and maybe Austria). I had thought about going to one tomorrow, but found out it ended yesterday. I *may* go to the Christmas eve service tomorrow night, I need to find out what time it is.

Okay... signing off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost Christmas!

These are some of my co-workers (and a couple people in my chain of command). This was at our Christmas luncheon last week. We had a "group" lunch today among those in our building, because it was the last day the majority of the building present. By the time some of them come back from their holiday we will be moved into our new building. (oh fun). It should be interesting... the move into the new building. There are significant size changes in office and common space. Instead of being in a large area... my new office will be down a long corridor.

Today I got two new dogs at my house (thankfully not for keeps... I have my hands full with my own 2!). My co-worker is going to Paris for Christmas (two others are gong to London for the weekend). Anyway, she's agreed to watch my dogs next weekend while I go to Istanbul. I'm not sure what type of dogs Jack & Bennett are, I think Shitzu's or something. I like Bennett more than Jack. Jack comes across as a grumpy old man (who apparently does NOT like to be picked up). So far my dogs are behaving with them. I've got to give them some medicine here soon. Both are on heart medication.

The weather here today has been rainy (yuk) and I've NOT been getting my 10,000 steps in at all this week. I should be getting on my elliptical machine. I put it away when I had company and haven't gotten it back out yet.

Okay... time to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches...

At the Christmas market these Swiss people (I think) made their grilled Cheese Sandwiches this way.. the cheese wheel is below and they browned the bread on top.

I had grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner tonight (yum, yum! I had it at home though, not at the Christmas market).

Work went okay today, it was fairly busy, I had a couple new people for appointments today and that's always more paperwork. Today was my supervisor's last day until next year. And apparently we are supposed to move to our new clinic the first week of the new year. So, it sounds like things will be a little chaotic for the next few weeks at work.

Tonight I've just been chillin (after staying up late last night baking cookies and making fudge last night). So... not a whole lot to write about today... so I'll sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Argh! Cookies

This is a photo I took of me with my Iphone when I was out at lunch time.

So... first of all, we got our first REAL snow of the winter. We got about 3" and as a result, we also got to go home about an hour early! YAY! Work wasn't too busy, I think the snowy weather kept some people away. One of my co-workers isn't feeling well, so she went home early.

I took over the on-call phone today, so far it's quiet.

Since I got off early, I decided to come home and do some baking. I made some "Russian Tea Cakes' (or "Mexican Wedding Cakes" depending on where you live, I guess?), and then I made some fudge. I took a break for dinner, I made a steak, stuffed mushrooms and some corn for dinner. After dinner I sat down too long to watch some TV. I watched the Country Music show from the White House, then watched some crime show. After that I started making some Spritz cookies... I had gotten a cheap cookie press and it is DRIVING me NUTS! I sure miss the old metal one I used to have!!! I guess I'll have to check on Amazon and see what they have. I did manage to squeeze out some Christmas trees, but the ones for the Marchino cherries are NOT coming out at all. I think I'll have to roll some dough and wing it.

Okay... its after 10 and I still have 1-2 batches of cookies to make so I'd better sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's a Monday alright!

This is a picture of the train garden down at the Christmas Market in Stuttgart. I like the old town section.

Work went okay today. I came in and found that one person had rescheduled their appointment and then another called and said they weren't going to be able to make it today, so I rescheduled them for tomorrow. I was able to catch up on the back notes, but still have a bunch of assessments to write. I'm hoping I'll be able to do them on Friday when almost everyone else will be out of the office and I don't have anyone scheduled. And, I'm trying to keep my workload light next week.

After work I had to deal with a pretty flat tire (at the gas station it only had 10lbs of air in it!)... I got air put into it and will find out tomorrow if that was sufficient or if I will need to go get the tire repaired (it's a year old). It's always something, huh!

Tonight I've been watching the finale of "Survivor", I was rooting for Ozzy, so I was disappointed that he didn't make it.

Okay... time to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

Sunday, December 18, 2011

YAY! I got my tree up!

A couple pics of my dining table with the new tablecloth I bought yesterday and my advent wreath with the three candles lit.

This is just from a different angle

And here's my Christmas tree. I had to buy a few more balls to hang on the tree, it's a little sparse. I went to the "Exchange" today and unfortunately they didn't have any 220 christmas bulbs, so I had to settle for "110" (electric type). So then I had to get a transformer for it as well (that's what is behind on the floor). It's been MANY years since I've had a tree this big. The "Exchange" didn't have any garland either, so at least they had tinsel, so I hung that on the tree. I also had to buy a new tree topper... not one I would have selected had there been very many other choices (there were only 3 choices today! ) I also wrapped most of my Christmas presents today as well (for co-workers and for my neighbors and their kids). So, today has been spent doing Christmas stuff. I've been enjoying Christmas music on my Ipod all day (I have 220 Christmas songs on my Ipod). I *didn't* get my cookies made today as I had hoped. Maybe I'll be motivated to come home each night after work this week and make cookies, a different batch each night.

Tonight I got to SKYPE with my friend Bette and her daughter Ellen (AND Walt). It was good to talk to them AND see them!). That was such a treat!

Okay, I'd better sign off, it's 9:45pm and bedtime already.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Saturday, December 17, 2011

O Christmas tree... O Christmas tree...

The Cathedral in Stuttgart above the Christmas market

The "Old town" Train garden

It was VERY crowded tonight at the Christmas market

The Nutcracker is a common place for people to meet up (especially if they get separated in the crowd).

So. This morning I got up (after sleeping in awhile) and went to one of the local stores and bought a Christmas tree (and stand). The tree cost me 38 euros (about $50). It's quite tall, about 7" (especially the with the long stem at the top). I have it up now, but haven't decorated. I realized too late that my lights aren't long enough and that I don't have enough garland for it. SO... hopefully I can go to the Post exchange tomorrow and see what they have. I had hoped to just spend the day baking tomorrow. I did get my little Christmas Palm tree set up in one of my windows... that'll make the Germans wonder! LOL!

This afternoon I went to Trevor & Tia's play (my neighbor kids). They did a great job! I took some pictures, but Tamie didn't have her camera with her and the kids were having a Christmas party for the cast between the matinee performance (that I went to with Tamie) and the evening performance. So, I let Tamie borrow the camera I had with me so she could take some pictures during the party.

Tonight I decided to head into Stuttgart to the Christmas market. I parked at a nearby train stop and took the train in (it's easier than trying to park downtown). The Christmas market was PACKED! I did find a nice lace Christmas table cloth and matching placemats (that set me back WAY too far!). I will be able to use the Christmas tablecloth for many years to come (hopefully). I also went to one of the stores downtown and bought myself a couple more little ornaments (that were dirt cheap and 50% off), I found a pretty little elevated cookie plate with a Christmas design and then I bought a scale that I can measure out grams on (for baking Christmas cookies... the recipes I got while Kati was here were all in metric). So, it was a good night. And it was even better because it didn't rain or snow and there was very little wind. It was about 37*. This morning there was a little snow on the ground, but it melted pretty fast.

Okay... it's after 1am, I'd better sign off. Since I got home I've been putting out some of my Christmas decorations and listening to Christmas music. *smiles* Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to post a picture of my Christmas tree!

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Friday, December 16, 2011

YAY! It's Friday!

So, a half-busy day at work today. Started off with a staff meeting, then had one appointment this morning and then managed to get a couple notes written before we left about 11:30 to drive about an hour north for a Social Work Christmas luncheon. We were to be there by 1 and got there about 12:45pm. By the time everyone showed up (one person got lost), I think it was after 2 before we started getting our food and it was almost 4 by the time we left there. (It was planned that we would be gone most, if not all of the afternoon). The weather going and coming was VERY windy and raining. My boss drove and the car got buffeted around a couple times. But, we did make it up there and back safely and had a good time. I got to meet some Social Workers from up in the Heidelberg area, so that was nice. We did a weird Christmas exchange gift thing and I ended up with my own present (which was fine... I try to get gifts that I would want to receive... in this case, it's a Christmas fleece throw and pillow). I was the only one that ended up with my own. Someone offered to exchange my gift for one my co-worker had brought (a table decoration), but I already have one... so said no to that one.

Tonight has been a lazy night at home and I'll be lucky if I have 5,000 steps today. It's been SO rainy and SO windy that even the dogs don't want to be outside for very long!

Okay... I'm going to sign off.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris

P.S. Kati made it home okay, it was a LONG flight. She left here yesterday morning about 4:15 (from the house) and didn't get to Alaska until about 11am my time today. Wow. She had her interview today and felt she did better this time in some areas, but felt like she didn't do as well on a couple questions, but overall felt like she didn't do too bad. She's supposed to find out either today or early next week. I'm praying she gets it. Not only would it be a pay raise, but it would be SO close to home for her (her hometown library).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back to work...


This from the other side of the wall (these two photos were taken at Berg Nanstein in Landstuhl).

So, it was a VERY early morning today as we got up about 3:30am, so that we could leave for the airport by shortly after 4am. I dropped Kati off about 4:30 or so (this morning) and then came back home for about 2 hours. Unfortunately I wasn't able to fall back to sleep. I originally had six appointments scheduled for today, but one had already called to reschedule, and then I had a no-show that called and apologized for not remembering it was this morning, so they re-booked for next week. Somehow I have managed to get through the day.

After work I needed to go pick up a gift for a gift-exchange we are having tomorrow for the Social Workers (in our clinic here and another one up in Heidelberg). We were to have a $20 dollar limit. I think my gift is about that much. I got a Christmas polar fleece blanket/throw and a Polar fleece pillow that goes with it. I think I did good.

I managed to make it home in time to watch the last half of "Survivor" and I am watching "The X-Factor." I'm tired now though and hope to head to bed soon (but needed to get my blog done *wink*).

Okay... will say Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last day of Kati's trip

I believe this is the house we first lived in when I was here in Germany (30-34 years ago). This house is in the town of Weilerbach

This was the house where we lived in Mehlbach, we had the downstairs apartment. The outside wasn't finished back then, it was rough brick. My landlord back then said something about it costing less in taxes if it was still being worked on.

So, just a short post because it's after 10pm and I have to be up at 3:30 or so in the morning to take Kati to the airport.

We had a lazy day, slept in after staying up so late last night, then I vacuumed my downstairs (and main floor) did some laundry, changed my bedding and fun stuff like that. Kati was working on "train" puppets for a story she is going to tell for her library interview (for a library closer to where she lives). She gets home Thursday night and the interview is Friday morning! YIKES!

This afternoon I had to take the rental car back, so stopped by where I work and one of my co-workers followed me to the rental place and gave me a ride back to my car. I also had to get gas (in the rental), drop off garbage and check mail and I spent too much time at work (catching up on things).

Tonight has been quiet. I colored my hair and have had the dogs out a couple times.

Okay... signing off... morning is going to come early!

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Tuesday - Ramstein, Landstuhl etc...

This was a neat building I saw in Idar Oberstein...

A couple photos from Berg Nanstein in Landstuhl

This is the church built into the cliff side in Idar Oberstein.

The Rock Church, a church built into a natural niche in the rocks, rises high above the houses of Oberstein. Wyrich IV of Daun-Oberstein, had it constructed in the years 1482-1484. Behind it, a wall of rocks rises steeply upwards, and under it, the houses of Oberstein nestle into the slope. On account of its prominent location, the church has become a symbol of the city. Where else is there a church that can only be entered through a tunnel which was dug into the rocks (1980-1981)?
The church's greatest treasure is the medieval winged altar. It was created around 1400 by an unknown painter, the "Master of the Mainz Mocking".From May to October church services take place every third Sunday of each month at 10am.

***This post is a day late because when I went to post it last night, my internet system went down (as did the phone and German cable). I waited a couple hours to see if it would come up, but finally gave up about 2am and went to bed.

Well, we had a nice, but long day. We left home about 8am and headed up towards Ramstein. It’s about a 2 ½ hour drive, but we ran into a stau or two on the way up (A stau is the German word for traffic jam, but they can be 2-10 kilometers long – or more!). We got up to the area just after 11 am or so. Our first stop was the town of Mehlbach, which is the last town I lived in before leaving Germany back in 1981. The house looks different now (it’s finished on the outside, it wasn’t then). From Mehlbach, we headed to Weilerbach, which is the first village/town I lived in when I got to Germany (in between the two, we lived on post). I *think* I found the house we lived in, not 100% sure though).

From there we headed to Landstuhl, to see the hospital where Kati & Shelli were born. Man, it’s grown into a monstrosity of a complex! Heaven help me if I ever have to go there for an appointment, I’ll need an extra hour and a half just to find the right building up there (as it was, today I went to 3 different gates before I found the one I could enter… the same problem with leaving!). We also went to the Nanstein Castle ruins there in Landstuhl and walked around that. It was raining almost all day (made fun for driving back in the dark!).

After Landstuhl we headed up to Baumholder. I got to see the military installation up there. I should have called my friend Leah and stopped to say hello to her, but as it was, we didn’t get back home until after 11pm. My friend Laura is supposed to be there in January… she may regret my talking her into applying for a position in Germany. That post is VERY remote! From there we went over to Idar Oberstein. There’s a church built into the side of a rock hill up there (see photo above). It’s cool! I had seen it from a helicopter when I was here before, but don’t ever recall driving to see it, even though it was less than an hour from where we lived.
After stopping for pictures in Idar Oberstein, we headed to Ramstein. I had planned to do quite a bit of shopping… but after all was said and done… I didn’t do too much. I found a pair of jeans, whoohoo… (okay… okay… well, they ARE a size 12 and I *am* able to get them on). I had just hoped for a better selection than what they had. It seemed like the last time I was there, I had more choices. I also realized that while I’ve been in Germany for just over a year now, I’ve only been to Ramstein 3 times! Wow. (I know, there are so many OTHER places to go to!). We ate at the German restaurant there at the shopping complex and shopped in the other little stores there. Kati found some small polish pottery pieces to take home – it’ll be interesting to see how she does packing tomorrow! LOL! We did mail a couple flat rate boxes home for her today, mainly stuff she didn’t need to pack back (to save room for hand-carrying her Christmas stuff back). After shopping at the Exchange, I went to the Commissary and stocked up on some groceries (they have a better selection) to bring home. Then it was the rainy trip back home, but we did make it safely and traffic wasn’t bad. (The rain was though).

We don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Kati gets to pack and I’ve got to get the car back to the rental place tomorrow afternoon. I may try to clean up the house a little tomorrow.
Okay, time to sign off. It’s after 1am and still no phone/internet service. Will post this tomorrow.

- Kris

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hohenzollern Castle, Calw and the New Stuttgart Library!

St Michael's Chapel dates back to 1452 (at the Hohenzollern Castle)

Nice thing about going on a winter Monday, is that there were only about 8 other people here during the same time we were here...

Kati walking along the perimeter of the castle...

We had hiked about halfway at this point... still a LONG way to walk up to the castle! (At least there wasn't any snow on the ground!)

Main street of old town Calw (pronounced Calve)

Love the half-timbered buildings. Calw sits at the edge of the Black Forest...

The new Stuttgart Library, voted as the world's COOLEST library! (and I agree!)

Looking down from the 8th floor (this section is 4 stories), then the other 4 stories below have a different layout.

So, we started our day today heading down to the Hohenzollern Castle. Kati actually liked it better than Neuschwanstein because the Hohenzollern has more of a history behind it. It was overcast when we got there. We parked in the highest parking lot and then had to hike up to the Castle (it took us about 25 minutes. Kati's been dealing with a bad cough and had to stop about every 50 feet or so to catch her breath (bless her heart!). But, we did finally make it up to the top and were rewarded with the fact that there were only a couple other people up there. (some came and went, and then there were only 2 guys on our tour with us, which was given in German. I bought Kati a small booklet about the castle, so she could follow what the tour guide was saying. Both Kati & I know a LITTLE German and could pick out some words here and there... We were up there at the castle for about 3 hours or so.

After Hohenzollern, I wanted to go to Calw on the edge of the Black Forest. We use the Psych hospital up there, and I was curious where Calw was (I didn't see the Psych Hospital. Well, I did see one hospital there, not sure it was the Psych hospital or a generic hospital). We parked and wandered around the old town a bit, and got some Chinese stir-fry for a very late lunch.

From there (it was about 6 or 6:30pm) we headed into Stuttgart to find the new library. We found the old one first. Then we could see where the new one was, but trying to get turned around and get back there in rush hour traffic was a pain. SO... I finally pulled over, got my Ipad out and googled the new library... only to find out that the new street it is on, isn't in my GPS. So, we managed to come up with a nearby address and finally found the NEW library about 7:30pm (it closes at 8pm). Wow... that's an AMAZING place. I only posted 2 pictures here... but have posted more on my facebook page. Kati was in heaven (she works at a library in Alaska). I think she would LOVE to live here in Germany if she had the means and the chance! She would LOVE to work at that library (she'd have to brush up on her German a tad (okay... a LOT!) ).

Kati made us some pizza for dinner when we got home and now it's already 11pm. We are hoping to be up EARLY to head up to Ramstein for a long day tomorrow. My neighbor kids are going to come over and take the dogs out for a walk after school for me, so I don't have to worry about rushing back.

Okay... signing off...

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Neuschwanstein and Ulm

The best shot of Neuschwanstein... this was at dusk

It was dark by the time we walked down the hill. This is the Hohenschwangau castle.

The tallest Cathedral in the World... in Ulm at 528 feet high.

Kati enjoying the main staple of any Christmas market... Gluwein (she had the white wine... gluwein is served hot).

Another shot of the Ulm Cathdedral, above the Christmas market.

So, after a late start to the day, we headed down to Neuschwanstein. The weather forecast had been for partly sunny weather... they should have said "very foggy!" It wasn't so foggy in town, but it sure was up at the castle! I was VERY disappointed that I couldn't see the castle from the Marien bridge. Kati enjoyed being able to go there.

Afterwards, we discussed whether to head to the Munich Christmas market or the one in Ulm (people had recommended Kati go see Ulm and the Cathedral there), so (obvious from the pictures above), we went to Ulm. It was on the way back anyway. We didn't leave Ulm til about 8:45pm for the drive back to Stuttgart. Now its almost midnight and time to be heading to bed, but I wanted to upload the pictures and post them on Facebook as well as posting a couple here.

Not sure yet what we are doing tomorrow, we've decided to go up to Ramstein for the day, on Tuesday.

Auf Wiedersehen!

- Kris

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Kati with her "Knight in Shining Armour!"

Eating a VERY long bratwurst (okay... to tell the truth, Kati ate half and I ate half)

One of the most famous scenes in Rothenburg (the "crooked" house)... that's Kati in the green coat. (stands out, huh! It makes it easier to find her in the crowds)

This is the advent wreath I have on my dining room table... it's so pretty!

So, today we went up to the Christmas market at Rothenburg, Kati really enjoyed seeing it, especially seeing the "crooked house." We had an oil painting of that scene over our fireplace for 20+ years in Alaska (and we had it on the wall for the 3 years in South Dakota). My girls have grown up looking at that scene. Kati said that seeing it today, was like walking back into a fairy tale she had grown up with. Neat, huh!

On our way home we stopped and did a little grocery shopping and then Kati made us a "Chicken Ring" (which is a pampered chef recipe) for dinner. It was delicious! Now I've been working on my photos and have posted a lot of them to my facebook.

Time to sign off... it's already 11pm and time for bed. Tomorrow's plan is to go down to Neuschwanstein.

Auf Wiedersehen!
- Kris