Friday, July 30, 2010

Small Town Big City...

I've been following a blog. This blog. And every Friday, Wendy, puts up a question. This week's question was "Who is your neighbor?"
Easy Question?  It used to be. But, it got me thinking...partially due to jet-lag and I Can't.Sleep!

"Downtown Jamesport"

I grew up in a small town. Very small. 
500 people small. 
I knew my neighbors. 
Hey, in fact I knew probably 99% of the entire town, including their dogs, cats, and horses.
I knew to stay out of Mrs. Sour Face's yard, she didn't like kids.
I knew to stop by Mr. and Mrs. Bubbles because they would have some cookies, they liked kids.
I knew that my BFF lived on the other side of town, only a 10 minute bike ride away.
I knew that I couldn't get away with anything, because not only did I know everyone...they knew me and who my parents were. 

But, this small town girl is now living in a city of 3 million. 
"Downtown Taipei"
Mind-boggling? Yes!
Fascinating? Quite!
Loving it? Hmmm, most of the time.  
I love that everything is just right outside my apartment building.
Need milk or eggs? No problem, 5 min. walk to the grocery.
Can't sleep and need a snack? No problem, 24 hour McD's and a 7-11 just 5 min. walk away.
Coffee? Starbucks, just a 5 min. walk's full? No worries, there are other coffee shops or I can walk another 3 min. down the road to yet, another Starbucks. 
Pathetic? Just a bit?
Spoiled? Definitely

"Green OB"
I forget how spoiled I am until we visit my little hometown or in this case, my FIL's hometown.  My in-laws moved to this beautiful little village about 11 years ago when they retired.  
Oberreidenbach. Say WHAT?
Big name for a village of 700, eh?

But, being back in a small town brought memories back from my childhood.  
Everybody knowing everybody. 
Green. Green. Green. Lots of Green.
Fresh. Clean. Air.
Did I mention Green? 

But, back to Wendy's question..."Who lives in my neighborhood?"...Neighborhood = Community.
Do I know everyone in the city? Ha! That is funny!
Do I know all my neighbors? No, but I know most of them.
Am I lacking in community?  Nope! Community in the expat world usually circles around schools, employment, expat community centers, or places of worship.  
For me, community lies within the school my kids go to and the church we attend. Some of those people just happen to be my neighbors.
Which for a cup of sugar is only down a flight of stairs or two...or when I'm lazy down the elevator. ;)

If you like to follow blogs, Wendy's blog is a great place for inspiration and encouragement....check her blog out here.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I think it is Wednesday, but not for sure....

Yes, jet-lag is in full swing at the Maurer house.

Ah, jet-lag. Those mixed feelings that make your body and mind just about go crazy. You know.
Upset stomach, yet starving.
Sleepy, yet can't fall asleep.
Writing blog, yet the brain is fog (so that means my fingers are hitting every other key incorrectly, and making horrid rhymes, seriously. need. sleep.)

So, while I'm waiting for my two Darling Dears to get to sleep...I'm catching up on blogs that I've not been able to read the last few weeks.
And since it is Wednesday and I haven't reported one single WIP in probably 2 months thought I'd try my hand at getting one in....sigh....

But, I need to start this back up or I don't think I will finish this next project. I need accountability to keep moving forward.  I sent off a magazine story and am (now that I've remembered) anxiously waiting for the reply, which could be any day now.
The other WIP is in the editing stage, then will be sent off to a magazine.

But the newest WIP is...drum roll, please.....I've been inspired to write a novel. My first.  It has been rolling around in my head for quite a few months. I've bounced the idea around much like a soccer ball on the pitch and decided to really give it a go. I'm still in the beginning making an outline or more like a really rough sketch of where I want it to go.

For those of you who write, do you use an outline of some sort or do you just start writing and see how it goes?

Now back to unpacking (which I haven't started yet) OR daydreaming about Bath (I'll be blogging about that trip in a few days with pics)....decisions, decisions....but those both will have to wait as I am going to have to sleep in the DD's room to get them to stop playing and to fall asleep.....being away from their toys for 6 weeks makes their room an amusement park.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lovin' LegoLand!

This spring I got a newsflash....that there's such a place as LegoLand. I seriously had no idea about such a place. Did you?  And as I'm finding out, they are everywhere...kind of like Disneyland.  But, as my gracious husband is a place we should add to the itinerary for our Germany Trip. So, with some gift money, that is just what we did after our visit with his siblings (who live very close to the place). 
Pictures below can tell you the highs and lows of the day.
LegoLand, here we come. Matthea was so scared of the music and the people walking on stilts that we couldn't get a picture of her until after we were inside and everything made sense to her. I was worried that we were wasting money, but she had fun once we entered. Thank goodness!

The Lego Train was a favorite for the kids. 

But this train ride was NOT. Sick stomachs.  Dizzy Heads.  Get Us Off of here!  
It was our first ride and I thought Uwe was going to kill me for taking the kids on it. 
After five minutes of rest, ready for the next. Why is that?

First roller-coaster ride for Marcus and Megan. It was a hit!

Dragon Ride Marcus to ride with me. We finished and he was glad. But later said he'd like to do it again next time we come.  Again, why do we love these stomach turning rides?

"Prisoners of the King" Hmm, says it all, eh?

All of us, well almost all Meg would NOT get on, rode the water ride. My favorite! But...

not Matthea's. Uwe said she screamed through the whole thing. Poor thing...thought she'd like the water and being on a boat. Marcus on the other hand rode this about four times! There was no lines as school was still in session in Germany!

This canoe ride was more up to her speed. Meg was ok with it...actually she wasn't really happy with much that day. I think Meg didn't know what to think of all the things and it was overwhelming...or maybe she was just having one of her "Meg Days".

The Safari Guy made of legos, of course!

The other favorite of Matthea's was driving her car through the safari park. They had lego animals all around the drive. At one point I jumped and screamed because of some snake sound that sounded like it was landing in our car. Freaked me out. Don't like snakes.

They had a lego room where you could build with legos/duplos. This is a mural on the wall that you could add to with duplos. This was a favorite of all the kids. They didn't want to go and eat lunch even though it was way past time!

LegoWorld was quite amazing. They built miniature buildings and cities...all with legos. The cars moved, the boats traveled on the water...well done. 
This is Marcus standing in front of part of Lego Berlin.

This is the football stadium in Munich. It took 1 million legos to make it. 
It is currently the largest structure built with legos in the world.
Cool thing about this was that flashes went off like people taking photos.

But, the best of the day was at the Pirate's Cove. You could become a pirate and shoot water at each other. It was so much fun! This is Uwe and Marcus under Skull Rock.

Of course, I had to have a go.

Taking a hit! (actually quite a few. There were waterguns on the ground that people could grab and shoot you not just at war with other boats, but people along the "coast")

Taking cover. We were soaked! But after half an hour of walking around we were all dry once again! This place was a boy's dream place for sure!

After spending the entire day at LegoLand, we drove five hours back to Oma and Opa's. Crazy? Probably. 
Our trip to England was two days away and we needed to desperately do some laundry and regroup for packing. The nice thing about that trip is that the sun seriously does not go down until 10pm, so we were driving in daylight most of the way there. 

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Monday, July 5, 2010

World Cup Fever

Marrying a German I have learned a whole lot about soccer...or what the rest of the world calls "football". I came into the relationship loving sports, but knowing nada about soccer. My first World Cup was just after a few dates in '98.
I have come a long way since then. But, being in Germany this summer during the World Cup has been a cultural experience for me. I grew up in the US, so I remember Olympic players advertised on cereal boxes. But, seriously, I've never seen anything like this.
It reminded me of when the nearby city's high school football team made it to the State Finals. The whole city flared up RED Pride. Business windows shouted out slogans on billboards, red was the fashion, and cars sported phrases on the windows. It was a sense of unity among the community.
Now imagine this hype on a larger scale where the entire country is united in supporting their team. Fashion IS the national shirt. Flags are draped out the front window of most houses. Cars wave the flag from their windows, on their shield guards, and they even have flags that fit over the side mirrors called window bikinis (no joke!). And then, of course, the products advertise not just the World Cup, but the German team or colors.
Need examples?
OK, here they are....
Yes, that would be Black, Red, and Gold M&M's

And, "Pringooooals"

Had to show one house with a flag. I haven't gotten a picture of the cars all decked out, but will try to do that when we get back in a week. I'll post them on here when I get those!

And here is my family getting into the spirit of World Cup Fever. This is the game Germany beat England. We got to watch and celebrate with the whole Maurer Family! What a day!

Got to have face-paint, don't we?

Kids all watching the game. Yes, we had our own vuvuzela in German colors, of course!

Flags were everywhere at this house!

And it's a win! Kids were loving it all!

We are now in England and I haven't seen much of the spirit here. Probably since they are now out, but here is one picture that shows they at least had some. The big thing around Bath, is decorated Lions. They have them everywhere, then at the end of the season they will auction them off for charity. Anyway, here is one lion dressed up in an English National Uniform.
As we sat and watched the final few minutes of last night's game (Germany vs. Spain) it was very clear that we were not going to advance to the Championships. But, some good stories may come out of it.
1. The German team is VERY young with an avg. age of being around 24-25...many playing were in their early 20s. They were not expected to get this far.
2. Klose could tie with Ronaldo as the player with the most goals scored during World Cup games. Wouldn't that be something to see?
3. The Championship game is Holland vs. Spain...neither country has won the Title. This will be a first for one of them. Someone wrote on their FB status, "epic". In the sports world, that is definitely what it epic.

So, have you been following the World Cup? Who will you be cheering for to win the Title?
Me? Holland...for no other reason other then Spain beat Germany. Pathetic, I know...but at least I'm honest.
And speaking of pathetic....I have to admit that I do not know a single player on the US team. A shame, I know....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Short post with contest

Greetings from Bath. Not the bathtub, nor The Green Bathtub (couldn't resist Amy), but Bath, UK.
A quick view of the building our flat is located in.

My husband, Uwe, is currently taking his final class here at the university. And we are taking a vaca. I'll be posting about all our summer adventures at a later time; probably in a few days because Germany plays Argentina (World Cup Game) in less than an hour and I just don't think I can get the girls to sleep, clean up the kitchen, download the pics and write another blog post all in that time.
But, I wanted to stop and post this really fun contest by KarenG. She's giving away a fun book for her Let-tuce Read Contest. So jump over there and enter.

Hope you all have a great 4th and a safe weekend. I'll post what we did on is always interesting celebrating July 4th in another country other than the USA.