Tag Archives: biergarten

Happy (Just About) Summer!

25 May

Greetings, all! Fancy seeing you here- it’s been a while! Let me start by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has made the move with me over to Treats, Travels And Truths– there’s absolutely no other place I’d rather start the journey than with you guys who have been following our shenanigans for all this time right here.The new site is coming along so nicely- growth is slow, but steady, and I’m learning more every day about the ins and outs of blogging on a larger scale. Most importantly, I’m having a really good time with it and that’s really all that matters, right? Please, please, please continue to help me spread the word and get the site out there- sharing it on Facebook or Instagram, sending the link to friends in emails or just telling them about it. I SO appreciate it. And you. ❤

So I just wanted to share some pictures from our last month or so. We’ve been really busy- and in a really good way for the most part! Y’all know we’ve had some visitors- my mom came for my birthday at the beginning of April and then John’s sister, brother and his family came a few weeks ago when we all headed to Greece (phenomenal vacay, btw). Other than that, we’ve been kinda all over the place- waiting for spring to arrive and taking advantage of days when it teases us (see the snow pictures below that were taken mid-April!), getting Neve registered for Kindergarten, Fruhlingsfest (the largest spring festival in the world!), rock climbing (Neve is in LOVE), celebrating Mother’s Day…Have a look!

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She’s really taken an interest in drawing- and is pretty darn good!

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Anybody else think these are the best kinds of lunch EVER?!

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Bedtime Stories ❤

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Fruhlingsfest

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Chocolate-covered fruit on sticks…

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What better last weekend in Germany than homemade pizza from scratch?!

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Morning waves from school ❤

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Mother’s Day Breakfast at Kindi…

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Found a huge rock climbing gym less than 20 minutes from the house! Neve has really started showing an interest and is really good at it!

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What do you do when you’re out walking the pups on Sunday afternoon, but a storm is rolling in? Find the nearest biergarten and wait it out 🙂

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All doing our best impressions of the ‘Ears Up’ pose 😉

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Waiting out the storm at the biergarten, overlooking Stuttgart…

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Good Lord. He is mine. ❤

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Just finished with Kindergarten Orientation on base. Safe to say that all three of us like the school, the teachers…and the playground! September can’t get here soon enough for this kid!

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We make Countdown Chains for so many things. This one marks when Daddy gets home this Saturday (the link with the stars) and when Uncle Andy arrives (the link with the smiley faces). This is the first chain that Neve made entirely by herself 😦

I told you we’ve been pretty dang busy! Lots of fun, though, and some pretty exciting stuff (how do we have a Kindergartner?!). And I’m happy to report that the weather is *finally* cooperating for the most part- we’re at least reaching 70/75F most days! Ha! I swear summer can’t get here soon enough! Speaking of which, our next adventure begins in just 5 days! We’re headed for the Canary Islands next week to do (hopefully) a whole lotta nothing- sun, sand, waves, drinks with umbrellas…Ha! This family needs some summatime, dammit! My little bit of planning is officially done (see selfie below where I reconfirm that I’m a nerd and must write down everything!), John gets home Saturday (he’s been in the States for work since last weekend), and Uncle Andy gets here Monday (he’s needing some Canary Islands in his life, too!) Life is good, friends. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

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Happy Easter, Y’all!

20 Apr

OK, a few days after the fact, but I hope all of you had a lovely Easter! We sure did! For starters, my mom was in town- she surprised me a few weeks ago with a last minute decision to come for a quick visit that just so happened to include my birthday and Easter. Both weekends were terrific. For Easter, we finally made it Burg Eltz, John’s bucket list castle that Rick Steves had named as ‘Best in the World’ (we attempted to see it last fall, but it ended up closing for the season the week before our trip :/). It was well worth the wait and has most definitely become one of our favorites, too! Birthday Weekend was terrific, too- the first night we celebrated with a Grown-Ups-Only night out with our tribe (woohoo for 2 babysitters + 5 littles!), then spent Sunday doing what we love the most- cooking, baking, and just being together. Meant so much getting to share it with Mom.

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We made pizzas from scratch- the crust, the sauce, the toppings…DELISH!

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This is my absolute FAVORITE cake on the planet and I get it once a year, when my sweet husband- and now sweet daughter- make it for me on my birthday. It’s a take on the classic Tres Leches, but with fresh homemade whipped cream and Oreos. HOLY COW.

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Birthday Flowers (with a Boston Terrier photo bomb!)

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Driving to Burg Eltz

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Burg Eltz

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Driving to Burg Eltz

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Waterfront in Koblenz, Germany, where we stayed to visit Burg Eltz…

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Deutsches Ecke- the merging of the Mosel and Rhein Rivers in Koblenz, Germany…

Mom and I also did a little daytrip over to Burg Lichtenstein, which is another of our favorites. It’s small and quaint, yet so charming and regal the way it’s built right on top of a giant rock overlooking the foothills all around. How is it possible that this is Mom’s first castle?!

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Other than that, we’ve just been doing a whole bunch of normal. And it’s been awesome. It’s crazy how much of a boost the regular, day to day stuff gets just from having your mom around. We dyed Easter eggs, we met up with friends at the biergarten when the weather was pretty, we celebrated the Easter Bunny’s delivery (via a clever scavenger hunt set up while we were gone to Burg Eltz!)…Oh, and BIG NEWS! Neve learned to ride her bike all by herself, no training wheels! BURSTING. That’s the only way I can describe the love and the pride her Daddy and I- and Goddess, and Poppy from afar!- felt. ❤

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Stuttgart Postcard Heart on a random fence…

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Trying to get a picture and I keep saying, ‘Turn around, no the other way, no the other way…’

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The beautiful face of a big girl bike rider!!

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When you take your American- little-bit-European- new bike riding girl for ‘whatever she wants’ and she chooses strawberry ice cream and an espresso with extra milk ❤

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When you get to be there to open the care package you sent before you knew you were coming! Ha!

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Do you ever stand at your grill flipping burgers and get the feeling you’re being watched?

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Taped to the door when we got home from the castle on Easter Sunday…

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We really did have the loveliest of times with Goddess here visiting and saying goodbye to her earlier this week was difficult all around. But at least our hearts are full and our souls are happy. ❤ Funny thing is that Mother Nature must’ve known we were prepared for a crummy few days because she brought back the snow! In April! This is the third time it’s snowed on the day Mom is leaving. Maybe it’s a sign…Ha! As pretty as it was and as unexpected, I’m pleased to report that it seems to have passed again and the forecast is showing slow improvement throughout the weekend. This Southern family is ready for WARM!!!

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And that’s it for now! Lots of fun over these last couple weeks and even more to come as John’s brother, sister-in-law, niece and sister arrive on Wednesday for their annual visit- and this time, we’re headed to Greece! A first for all of us!

But in the meantime, remember that big news I teased you with a couple weeks ago? Well, the time has arrived to share it- finally! Stop back by tomorrow for the big reveal 🙂

Spring in Stuttgart

4 Apr

Hello again! I go from MIA for nearly a month to twice in a matter of days! Sheesh. I’m sorry about that. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve got something big in the pipeline- a project that’s been taking up a good bit of my time and that I’m really excited to share with all of you in the very near future. *And before some of you start jumping to (crazy) conclusions, nope, I’m definitely not pregnant, nor adding any living creature to the family 😉 But in all seriousness, it is a venture that I’m pretty damn pumped about and that I’m feeling so, so good about. I promise to share more in the coming weeks!

That being said, let’s consider this a photo dump post because we haven’t had one in a really long time! March was a really busy month around here- you already saw the Retro Classics Car Show and that we had Uncle Andy here to join us for the Bunkerhotel– but we also spent a heckuva lotta time welcoming spring, hanging out with friends, welcoming biergarten season back (hallelujah!), exploring new (to us) haunts in our city, etc.

So in completely random order, I present to you the, ‘Thomas Family Month in Pictures…’ (*warning: it’s alot, like alot alot. 😉 )

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New pants, vintage boots ❤

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The 70s called- they want their look back. Never.

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You know a carwash is the bomb.com when you have to take a picture.

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Thumbs up for new house shoes at school!

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One pup took the other pup’s treat. Can you guess which is which? Ha!

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Afterschool Tea Parties ❤

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When you’re still in a funk from yesterday, but you have to walk the city…1. Ear buds in so no one will talk to you – > No explaining that you don’t speak German. 2. Sunglasses on so no eye contact. 3. Ball cap on to erase any doubt that you’re American. Ha!

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(German) Breakfast of Champions

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Tulip Trees are my favorites ❤ (And Redbuds…)

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Sunrise from my side of the bed…

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Nothing better than homemade frozen yogurt pops after school!

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Slumber Parties ❤

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When you don’t know if it’s because you just got out of school for the day, or if it’s that it’s finally feeling like spring, or if it’s that the sun is out for the fourth (!) day in a row…You’re just…THANKFUL.

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Saturday morning farmers market ❤

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When you see one of these in your mailbox, it’s a great day. When you see 5…It’s like freakin’ Christmas! Bring on the packages!

Sunday afternoon at the Stuttgart Planetarium. Neve’s first such experience- she LOVED it.

Another Sunday afternoon at the local biergarten with friends…

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Pretty impressed with myself for creating this Stuttgart skyline…

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Beauty and the Beast in 3D ❤

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She loved this outfit she picked all by herself ❤

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Stuttgart Opera House

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New Palace

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Whew! I warned you it was alot! Ha! Thanks for sticking it out with me. I promise I’m going to try to do better this month. For now, I’m going to try to contain my excitement as my mom gets here in 36 hours!! Total last minute surprise trip just in time for my birthday this weekend (and Easter the following) and I simply can’t think of a better gift than having her here. In many ways, it’s been a very challenging season for my whole family (will elaborate on that in due time…), so having her here for just a couple weeks is a really good thing for me…and for her. Can. Not. Wait. ❤

WOOHOO! Weekend, baby!

2 Sep

It’s Friday, y’all! So excited! And even moreso than normal since my mom gets here- FINALLY!- on Sunday! And if I’m pumped, I can only imagine how ready my Dad is. Bless his heart (proud Southerner here!), he’s been here with us nearly a month all by his lonesome. But on the flip side, it’s been SO terrific having him. We’ve never in my life had this kind of uninterrupted time together and that in itself has been priceless- something I’ll cherish for always. ❤

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I’ll go ahead and warn you that this is going to be a photo dump. Lots going on here this week and just about all of it fun. The weather has been nothing short of amazing (maybe a day or two of a smidge hotter than perfect, but I’m not complaining! No, we don’t have air conditioner…) and we’ve been taking full advantage. This was Neve’s second week out of school for summer break, so while I admit it I was a tad bit jealous seeing all the darling ‘back to school’ pictures filling up my social media, I rejoiced knowing that we at least have a few more weeks of the best season of the year 😉

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Picnic in the park with friends ❤

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Because sometimes you’re already in your jammies before you realize you need an ice cream from the mall downstairs…And it’s raining outside. So we roll with it.

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You can take a boy away from HIS yard, but there will always be A yard.

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Swimming lessons at the outside pool!

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Sunday Mornings ❤

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She LOVED this outfit she picked out. Can’t tell you how much I celebrate her individuality…

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John spent last week in the Azores, an island chain of Portugal, but closer to the US than to Germany. He tried to squeeze in some sightseeing around work and would send us pics along the way.

Remember a couple weeks ago when we found that neat biergarten, Barenschloss, at the end of an awesome little lakeside hike? Well this time we took company…and a blanket and wireless speakers! Best Saturday afternoon in ages!

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This family. No clue what we’d do without them. Hallelujah that we’ll all be back in Charleston together at the end of these adventures!

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Rare shot of all 4 Thomas ladies 😉

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Because sometimes you just want to match your girl ❤

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This may or may not be at about Beer #54. HAHAHA!

One of the highlights of Neve’s week was a Halloween-themed (how fun is that?!) birthday party for her friend, Lauren. What made this particular party extra special was that Lauren was one of Neve’s first friends- they met in the German Immersion class back when we first arrived- and several of her old classmates were also at the party. She and her friend, Taryn, even won the Mummy Wrap! Coincidentally, none of them are still going to that school (several switched to German kindi like us and a couple have started elementary school), so it was quite the grand reunion all around! Heck, it was even lovely for John and me to catch up with parents we haven’t seen in months!

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With Estelle (also from Charleston- small world!) and Archer (Neve’s first- and still current- crush!)

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Birthday Girl, Lauren, as the Wicked Witch…

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I just love this picture of them. Archer, who just turned 6 and is starting first grade this week, is just the sweetest little boy and they have had the best friendship since the day they met.

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It’s not often you get to shop with a fairy…Stopping by the commissary after the party 😉

In case you’re not on Facebook or you missed my post on there, I’ll share it here because it’s one of my favorite posts ever- one of my favorite moments so far from motherhood.

As I was walking past a store today, this beautiful, lacy, sparkly, twirly, bohemian gown caught my eye. Without a single thought given to where she’d wear it or for what fancy occasion we might need it, I immediately went in the store and bought it. For no reason at all other than that I knew how much my Neve would absolutely love it. Everything about it just screamed Neve. After dinner tonight, I gave it to her and told her just that- that I got it for her just because. She got so excited putting it on that she got teary- and I did, too, because it just felt so good. She must’ve twirled for half an hour- even had me take a video so she ‘can remember what it looks like twirling even when she’s not wearing it.’ She took it off long enough to take her bath, then asked to put it back on as her nightgown. And as I turned out the light and leaned down for one last hug and kiss, she whispered in my ear, ‘Mommy, I just adore this dress. Thank you.’ Oh sweet girl, how I adore YOU and your feistiness and the little girl you’re becoming and being you mom. These are the moments that reach the little corners of your heart you didn’t even know existed…the ones that make it feel as if it could just burst.

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My current favorite picture of Neve…

Meanwhile, back inside…Have I mentioned how much we love having Dad here??

And finally, this last shot…Nope, not taken the same night as the above pictures- just back in the dress because…well, just because.<3

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Hope everyone has a great weekend- I guarantee it won’t be as great as our’s! Ha! 😉

Monday Mash-Up

8 Aug

You know it was a good weekend when you have so much to share on a Monday morning! Ha! We really did have a good weekend, with some great pictures to prove it, if I do say so myself 😉

To start things off, it was Sommerfest weekend- four straight days and nights of food, drinks, live music and just all around FUN- all at Schlossplatz, Stuttgart’s main square, just a few blocks from our house. No better place to meet up with friends for Friday Night Dinner if you ask me!

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Those clouds look pretty ominous, right?! They’re actually why we missed opening night on Thursday because it was raining so hard, but we just went prepared with umbrellas and rain jackets this time…And wouldn’t you know it…The clouds parted!

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These balloons were the coolest things ever! I’m not even kidding. We were just sitting there gabbing with friends on our blanket when right behind us, these things start inflating. WOW. So neat to watch!

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Saturday night, we found ourselves running errands in one our favorite suburbs, Boeblingen, which has the cutest little Alstadt (Old Town). One of the best things about living here is just being able to walk everywhere- so after dinner (where they gave us the most delicious fresh watermelon and (not so delicious) uzo with our bill!), we did just that. And it was lovely.

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And then came yesterday, always our Sunday Funday. The weather was absolutely perfect, the countryside was calling our names and we just had to answer. Our initial goal was to take the pups out for a good run and stretch. Y’all know from lots of my previous posts just how easy that is here- drive 10 minutes out of the city in any direction and you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of nature…Rolling green hills, fields tilled for planting, forests straight out of a fairytale…Well, one thing that’s super common here are roadside fields of whatever’s in season- berries, pumpkins, flowers…- with a small box for you to pay for whatever you pick. Yep, all on the honor system. Only in Germany 😉 Well, it’s sunflower and lily season and we just couldn’t help ourselves!

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‘Kasse’ essentially means ‘pay here.’ As far as you can see, little fields one after another of different kinds of flowers- just take your pick! Literally!

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Yep, she brought her magnifying glass to inspect for bugs ❤

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Little Miss Attitude 😉

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And just so you see what we ended up with…Oh if only one of us was a florist- or had even the slightest bit of flower arranging skill! Ha!

By the time we finished picking flowers, it was lunch time and John remembered this biergarten, Barenschloss, out in the woods that he passes when he rides his bike to work. So we found the highway nearby, parked the car, and starting hiking…All the while, him ‘hoping this is the way.’ Ummmm….? (And yep, I deserve a gold star in the mom department for thinking ahead and knowing she wouldn’t want to be in that dress all day!) It turned out to be the PRETTIEST wooded hike right alongside the most peaceful lake. And about a mile down the path? Yep, Barenschloss. And about 500 people laying on their blankets, throwing a frisbee, playing catch with their pups! Ha! PERFECT Sunday lunch ❤

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Popsicles with friends 🙂 (Does this log carving look like Falcor to anyone else?!)

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Sorry for all the pictures, but…We were just so many pretty picture-worthy places over the last few days! All three of us absolutely love getting to experience new things and find new places to explore. And when that happens to line up with some awesome weather, HELL. YES. 😉 (Btw, I’m ignoring the fact that the forecast is calling for rain and highs in the 60s for the rest of this week.)

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And now on a crummy note since I know alot of you are following along through me (thanks to everyone who has reached out in support!)…My dad is en route back here to Stuttgart as we speak. He so enjoyed getting to see Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, last week and really gave the hiking of El Camino his absolute best effort. But some things- and some partnerships- just aren’t meant to be. From the moment my dad and his cousin, Bill, connected in Portugal last Wednesday, it became apparent that their personalities, their ways of doing things, their goals, their values, their core principles…are just very…different. My dad is the most caring, kind, generous man you’ll meet. He’s honest to a fault and he’s so wise. And he’s fun! He would do anything for anyone, give away his last dollar to someone who had less. But sometimes, folks just can’t see how lucky they are to have such a person by their side- how blessed they are to have such a person along on an adventure of a lifetime. And sometimes, that person just reaches his limit and calls it a day. (Remember that whole wisdom thing I mentioned?) We’re all SO proud of Dad for jumping into such an adventure feet first and giving it his all every (literal) step of the way. He is a rockstar. And John, Neve and I are beyond pumped to have that rockstar here with us for the next little bit. ❤

 

It’s August, Y’all!

3 Aug

Does anyone else feel like it was JUST Christmas?! It’s so strange because in alot of ways, yes, Christmas feels like eons ago and ALOT of awesome adventures have been had since then, but in other ways, I just can’t even wrap my mind around the fact that summer is just about over- it just got here, dammit! But the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s because spring lasted an infinitely long time here (we were still in jackets the week before we headed to the States in June!) and because I know from last year’s experience that we never even got to unpack our shorts when we arrived here the third week of August. (Yep, our official One Year Anniversary is almost here!) In other words, I don’t think Germans can fully appreciate the meaning of the season! Ha! John’s been joking lately that he’s so ready for fall and crisp air and pumpkin everything and chili. I just look at him with disdain and tell him to shut his mouth. ❤

Anyhoo, just wanted to share some pictures from the last couple weeks as we’ve really settled back in here at home. Back to the farmer’s markets, taking the train instead of the car, evening walks for ice cream, dinners with our tribe…All the good ❤

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When you get home from a month away and crave the two best parts of German cuisine- sausages and fresh produce! Ha!

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When she picked out this dress, she told me, ‘Most of the kids at school here don’t wear stuff like this. But I can…because I’m from Charleston. And they would like Charleston.’ Yes, they sure would, sugar. ❤

 

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One night talking about our time in London led to the next night’s homemade British delicacies!

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After-dinner ice creams at Schlossgarten…

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Ringing in August 1…with a jacket. Yay.

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Celebrating 12 years of wedding bliss with a long overdue date night ❤

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And last but not least, we’ve had the best last 24 hours! My dad got here yesterday morning as a quick stopover on his way to Portugal to hike the famous El Camino trail. What an amazing adventure, right?! It doesn’t matter if it’s been 6 months or 3 weeks, reunions are always…

I mentioned all of this a while back, but in case we’ve got any newbies…My dad’s cousin, Bill, spent 10 months last year hiking the Appalachian Trail- solo. (I know, WOW.) When he came to Charleston in June for our BBQ, they got to talking about his next hike- in Europe- and the rest is history. El Camino starts in Lisbon, Portugal and heads north through Porto (yep, the same two cities we visited this past May, so feel free to look back at those posts!), then across the northern coast of Spain, and north again through the Pyrenees Mountains and southern France to Paris.

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Bill will hike the entire trail over the course of several months. Dad will hike until he’s ready to come back here to Stuttgart- probably 6ish weeks- or in time for Oktoberfest, whichever comes first! Heehee! He and my mom were coming all along for the Fest, so it worked out just perfectly. See how the Universe does that? 😉 My mom will meet him here next month, and then a few weeks later, Andy will be joining us as well. The WHOLE gang together again for the first time well over a year. YES. ❤

Dropping him at the airport this morning- exactly 24 hours from when I picked him up- was bittersweet. His time here was short, but it was full of all the good stuff and I think I speak for all 4 of us when I say that we didn’t want it to end…

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Dinner at the biergarten…

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But on the flip side, I know he’s going to have such a wonderful adventure with so many stories to tell when he’s through. I’m so proud of him- our whole family is so proud of him- for taking on this challenge doing it with gusto. A few years ago, he did the Race to Bermuda on a sailboat full of strangers (who came back friends) and here he is setting out to hike hundreds of miles with nothing but what he can carry. That’s my dad, y’all. ❤ We can’t wait to have him back here sometime next month to hear all about it! In the meantime, Bill has a blog that he intends to update along their way, so if you’d like to follow along, head over to MyATGuide.com. I’m sure I’ll be updating here a bit, too, but straight from the horse’s mouth seems like more fun 😉 Good luck, Dad! We love you!thumb_IMG_0516_1024

Summer is (Practically) Here!

9 Jun

Is it the weekend yet, y’all? This week is dragging some serious…Well, let’s just say I’ve been asking that same question since Monday! Ha! I think it’s because I’m in full on Countdown Mode getting ready to go HOME in less than 2 weeks! Oh my God, I can’t wait. For so many reasons. But that’s not what this post about. We’ve had some lovely weather here over the last couple weeks and I just wanted to share some pictures with you of some of our fun times. Y’all know me- keeping it real with our everyday life in between our bigger adventures 🙂

First of all, a little celebration for SUMMER!

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So back to our (mostly) awesome weather…Neve had a day out of school, so that meant we had an extra day to explore a new (to us) park that we’ve been wanting to check out since we moved here! And we got to take our friends with us 😉 The Killesberg Park is a huge urban park (smack dab in downtown Stuttgart!) that covers about 125 acres. Once a rock quarry, it was transformed in 1939 into a hosting space for a huge horticulture event and has remained as such ever since. Today, there’s still the most gorgeous flora and fauna, along with ponds, wildlife (including a petting zoo), observation towers (you can see the main one in the background of that top pic) and ginormous playgrounds. It is AH-MAZING.

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No, that’s not a real tortoise. Duh. 😉

We’ve also been taking full advantage of the biergartens and eating outside as often as we can. I think Neve lives for Friday night meet-ups with friends! Ha! And in addition to the weather, not sure if I’ve talked about it on here before or not, but Germany has ridiculously long days with the sun rising around 5a and not setting until at least 10p. I’m not kidding- you could easily read a book outside until at least 930p! So while that’s not always helpful when it comes to winding down and going to bed, it’s super awesome when you have time after dinners to walk, to get ice cream, to sit in the park and to play ❤

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What do you do when you haven’t seen your bestie in over a week?

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We sure are raising up some awesome- and beautiful- girls. Ellie is 20 months, Neve is 4 1/2, and Emmie is 6 1/2. ❤

So as you can tell, we’re basking in this glimpse we’re getting of the summer ahead. In all honesty, though, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘screw it, I’m going to the SC Lowcountry in a matter of days where the weather really got the memo that it’s June and time for stifling heat and humidity!’ I may not ever have on more than two articles of clothing at any given time I’m there!  Ha! But for now, it really is nice sleeping with our windows open, meandering through the parks and not bundling up to walk to school in the mornings!

We have a buddy coming into town tomorrow just for the night and to hang out on Saturday. Matt and John work together in Charleston (and we’ve all traveled together multiple times over the years) and Matt is on travel this week and next working a few hours north of here. It’ll be so good to catch up with him and show him a bit of Stuttgart- John is really excited as he has so missed his work gang. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Family Photo Dump

18 Apr

Happy Monday, y’all! I thought about waiting until this weekend to do a post because it’ll be a terrific, juicy one with lots of pretty pictures. Afterall, we’re headed to Rome on Wednesday for the rest of the week! Or I could’ve waited until tomorrow since we’re headed to FruhlingsFest tonight (the Oktoberfest spring equivalent- WOOHOO!) But I just couldn’t wait. We are having the BEST time with family- Mark, Bethany and Norah. We’ve been so excited for their visit- and have missed them terribly since we left last summer. At home, we spend alot of time together, so the distance has definitely been felt in that regard, especially for Neve and Norah who  (usually) gracefully straddle the line between cousins and besties. 😉

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Night One ❤

This is their time in Europe, so it’s been so great to experience some of those ‘first time wonders’ again through their eyes. Things that we don’t really notice anymore, customs that we’ve just gotten used to, scenery that has become our norm…I just love those little nuggets of newness! And we love being part of this new experience for them.

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First night in Europe. What better way to kick off than dinner at the nearest biergarten?!

Just a quick aside for those of you not as familiar with our family tree. John is the oldest of three children- Mark is four years younger and Christina, who was here last month, is in the middle. He and Bethany are high school sweethearts (Bethany had just turned 15 when I met her! She and Mark started dating a few months after John and me), who then both graduated from University of Louisville. Mark lived with us one summer in college while he interned at SPAWAR with John. Once he graduated, he moved to Charleston to accept a full time position as a civil engineer (John is an electrical engineer). Bethany soon followed and they bought a house just a few miles from us. Norah came along in 2013, making her just 21 months younger than Neve. And that’s our quick run down 😉

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For our first week, we’ve been super busy, both exploring Stuttgart (y’all know I love playing me some tourist!) and venturing out for some cool day trips. So far, though, nothing that I haven’t already posted about, so I won’t go there again. 😉 If you happened to miss the posts about the famous Wilhelma Zoo, medieval Rothenburg or Schloss Lichtenstein, just do a quick search of the site and it’ll take you right to them! But for now, just some shots of our adventures, our time together, some awesome spring-welcoming weather, some not so awesome weather, because…Germany. HA!

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John’s newest toy! Several of the guys ride to work each day and John’s been dying to join the fun! It’s less than 10 miles, but half of that is straight uphill! Ha!

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Spring has sprung at Wilhelma!

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What are the odds?! We met a family on the train en route to the zoo…who are also American…and who live across the street from us! The boys are 4 and 6- and the three of them were instant friends! We have plans to hang out next week 🙂

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Where did my little baby go?

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If you look closely at the roof of the building at the far end of the alley, you’ll see a stork sitting in her nest. Storks return to the same nest year after year- and they meet their lifelong mates there, too. ❤

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Lichtenstein Castle is always one of our favorites, even on days the clouds and fog are so heavy it makes it look like the Evil Queen’s castle instead of Snow White’s.

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Just a little patience…Grabbed some lunch before heading home and the weather cleared out- just temporarily- and long enough to get the perfect shot ❤

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Two birthday celebrations in less than a week! And yes, this is a real cake this time- an ice cream cake, actually! My attempt to write his name ended up completely not centered, so I added a ‘y’ for extra pizzazz. Ha!

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See, I told you so! We really are having a wonderful time, strengthening our bonds and making such lovely family memories. The sad part is that this coming week is sure to go by even quicker than the past. Not even going to think about that yet! Just going to focus on the Fest tonight, a quick trip back to the Sonnenhof farm tomorrow and then we’re Italy-bound for five days! I know, I’m tired just thinking about it, but SO pumped! Go big or go home, right?!

Spring has Sprung!

4 Apr

And yep, we’ve been doing the happy dance for days! Last Wednesday was the first day since September that we had sunshine AND temps in the mid-60s. I even texted my good Michigan friend, Sue, as I was walking to pick up Neve that afternoon that I must be acclimating because I only had on short sleeves and felt great! At home, I’m usually the one in a jacket until we at least hit 80! Ha!

So yeah, our whole weekend was about getting outside, breathing the fresh air, letting the sun hit our faces and the scents of spring wafting through our open windows. *HEAVENLY*

We kicked off the weekend at the Paulaner Biergarten with friends. Hallelujah for it finally being biergarten season again! One of our absolute favorite things about Europe! It’s a way of life here and we are ready, willing and able to embrace it!

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And of course, after a delicious German meal, you’ve got to have a little stroll, a stop off at a playground, an ice cream cone…and some selfies. 🙂

Sunday was by far the prettiest day of the year so far. It was mid-70s and not a cloud in the sky. We slept in (yay!), John fixed us breakfast (yay!) and then we through on our tennis shoes and headed out to trek around our city (woohoo!). Flowers in bloom, the fountains back flowing (they drain them empty for winter, obvs) and plenty of folks just like us looking to take advantage of such an awesome day. Schlossplatz, the main square in the city, was covered in sunbathers, picnickers, people watchers and relaxers. We claimed a perfect little spot just for us ❤

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Schlossplatz

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Afternoon snack while we’re out…

Looking ahead at this week’s forecast, it doesn’t look like Spring is quite ready to make a commitment (tsk, tsk, tease), but we’re still moving in the right direction at least! Temps in the 60s mostly (I may or may not have seen a high of 54 on day, but I refuse to talk about it!) and some spotty sun. Today was chillier, but the first thing Neve asked when I picked her up from school was, ‘Can we stop in the bakery and eat a pastry on our walk home?’ Absolutely, sweet girl. That’s one of the reasons here. ❤

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Next Stop, Charleston!

11 Jun

Y’all. I can’t even wrap my brain around the fact that by this time tomorrow, we will be on an airplane over the Atlantic Ocean on our way HOME! My Dad and I have actually been counting down the hours since Sunday…He gets up in the mornings- so about lunch time for me- and sends me a text. 104…77…51… I love it.

We’ve had a really good week. John’s been really busy at work with all the project folks- from here, from Stuttgart, from Charleston- convening for the quarterly Design Review meeting all week. Yesterday was his day to lead the meeting and he said it went swimmingly (my word, not his- he probably said, ‘yep, it went great’ and then went to look for the gummi bears, but…), so that gives him today to tie up loose ends and say his temporary goodbyes. (Regardless of what we decide, John will still be working with the same peeps, either from here or during travel to here.)

Our new digs for this week. That's us on the second floor- all the windows you can see are in our apartment :)

Our new digs for this week. That’s us on the second floor- all the windows you can see are in our apartment 🙂

Neve and I are loving the location of our ‘new’ apartment- we just step outside and it’s like being on King Street in Charleston. Granted, it’s not ideal at 5a when all the restaurant vendors are pulling in to ridiculously-noisily unload their replenishments, nor when she’s trying to nap in the afternoons, but for getting out and about? Awesome. We’ve done some shopping, some playground hopping, some exploring and a whole lotta walking. Speaking of walking, once again, we three of us LOVE being able to walk to dinner!

A blessing or a curse. A McD's- Neve's unfortunate favorite- within site of our front door. She loves McFlurrys. Plain. Ummm?

A blessing or a curse. A McD’s- Neve’s unfortunate favorite- within site of our front door. She loves McFlurrys. Plain. Ummm?

Dinner on Italian Alley. Carbonara and Gorgonzola Gnocchi. Ahhh...

Dinner on Italian Alley. Carbonara and Gorgonzola Gnocchi. Ahhh…

After dinner at the Italian restaurant.

After dinner at the Italian restaurant.

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The highlight of the week was definitely Tuesday when we finally made it to the little riverside town of Rudesheim. Been trying to get there since Day 1, but for one reason or another…Rudesheim is a winemaking town in the Rhein Gorge, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s known for its beautiful vineyards (you’ve never seen so many in your life!), its romantic architecture and its gorgeous setting on the banks of the Rhein. Founded around 1000ad by the Franks, archeological finds of glass suggest that they were already making wine here at that time, in addition to timber rafting.

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It’s such a lovely little town and I’m so glad Neve and I decided to rent a car for the day and make the 45 minute trek to visit. Coincidentally, one of the friends we made at the playground during our first week here and have continued to see ever since, had told us about Rudesheim being the starting point for some neat Castle Tours, so that was a must during our visit. Boats run all day, every day up and down a stretch of the river that is particularly inundated with castles- some in ruins, some converted into museums, and one even renovated to be a hotel! There are five different lengths of cruise, depending on how long you want to be on the boat- the longest being a full day and seeing all the castles.

We opted for Rudesheim (at the bottom) up to

We opted for Rudesheim (at the bottom) up to Trechtings-Hausen (third X up on left) and back.

thumb_IMG_4369_1024Our cruise was about two hours and we saw six castles, several towns and lots of vineyards. So Much Fun. Neve loved being on the boat, floating down the river. We had a swan named Freddy who met us at each stop (there may or may not have been 5 different Freddys- that, or Freddy was one helluva swimmer 🙂 ). She loved all the castles, especially one in particular that was clearly Rapunzel’s. Seriously, though, the castles- and the scenery in general- was fabulous. Once again, I was reminded of just how new the United States really is. Here we are, looking at a castle that was built around the time that Jesus was alive, and just imagining what life was like then- how incredibly intelligent and hardworking and inventive and advanced those people were to have built such wondrous buildings- and cities, for that matter. How many years have people been floating down this very river than we’re floating down today? I was in such awe.

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Windy day!

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Our favorite castle was the Rheinstein. For me, it’s exactly what I picture when I think of a castle- stately, commanding, regal, heavy and beautiful. It rises up from a rocky cliff right at the edge of the water- you have to really look to determine where the rock ends and the castle begins. This was also the one that Neve thought looked like Rapunzel’s because of its towers.

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It’s beautiful, right? The other one I really liked wasn’t actually for the castle itself- although it’s pretty snazzy itself (it’s the one that has been turned into a hotel)- but for the fabulous trailer park going on in front of it, right on the river bank! I can honestly say that it’s the first trailer park I’ve seen in Germany and that it just looked like a terrific place to live. Mostly large campers, each with a landscaped, fenced yard and windchimes dingling in the breeze. We even saw lots of the residents sitting in lawn chairs watching us pass by. Call me crazy, but the whole thing made me smile and was almost like a little slice of Americana! And this is the truth: I mentioned it to John as an idea for our housing if we decide to do this! Ha! (I know y’all aren’t even wondering his response.)

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We used the trip back down river for a little selfie sesh. I can’t describe how much I’ve enjoyed these last two months with Neve and how much I’m going to miss this when we get home. I know, it’s not like I won’t still see her every single day, but it’ll be different- so many more demands on our time other than each other. Yes, it’s real world, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still wish for just a little bit more of it!

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thumb_IMG_4409_1024John gave me the greatest compliment yesterday. He always says that I’m a good mom, but walking home from the store last night, he looked at me and said, ‘Your patience with Neve, and with just about everything, has grown so much since we got here. I never think you can get more beautiful. And then you do.’ I melted. There’s nothing nicer he could’ve possibly said to me at that moment. Being in this situation for the last two months has been a challenge in every sense of the word, but especially for me in the role of Neve’s mom. At home, we have our village- she goes to school, to swim lessons, to Goddess and Poppy’s, to Grandma’s, on playdates with her friends…Here, it’s just me M-F. Responsible for stimulating her, playing with her, growing with her, building her imagination, encouraging her creativity, teaching her, challenging her, loving her…I knew coming into this that it would stretch my comfort zone and be an eye-opening experience for both of us- and I can honestly say that I’ve done my absolute best to make our time count. I knew I could feel the growth Neve and I had made in our relationship- and that I’ve made as a mom- but to hear that it’s visible to the man whose opinion matters more to me than anyone’s…I have no words.

Alright, alright- enough with the sap! 🙂 Last night, a big group of us went to the biergarten for dinner- great to finally meet some of the folks on John’s project that I hadn’t met before. It was also a nice midweek change of pace- haven’t been to dinner with a group in ages! Laughter and conversation and sausages and clinking glasses…Lovely. Today, Neve and I are working on getting things packed and the fridge cleaned out with a Smurfs marathon going on in the background, courtesy of Netflix and high speed internet (finally)! Ha! I’m sure we’ll head out in a bit to find some lunch and a good play spot…

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That’s it- our last Week in Review from German soil! For now. We’re definitely making some headway in the decision-making department, hallelujah, so hopefully we’ll have something to report in the coming weeks. 🙂 I’ll definitely touch base this weekend to let you know that we made it home safely. The time change actually works in our favor this time- we leave just before lunch and get home in time for dinner! Ha!  Unfortunately, John’s still flying separately from us (we all leave and arrive within an hour of each other, though) and going that direction tacks on an extra hour (9 hrs the first flight, 2 hr layover, 2 hr final flight), but hopefully the adrenaline that comes with getting closer to home overshadows all that! Oh, and Dad…38.

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