Thursday, November 19, 2009

Erin & Adam's Wedding, Reunion with Friends, and Visit with Family in Maryland

I should've taken more photos. I enjoyed the weekend so much, that I forgot to take many. There are no pictures of Ray's parents, grandma, sister, me, or some of the other friends we spent time with during the wedding weekend.

Anyhow, this is a photo of Erin's rehearsal at Holy Family Catholic Church in Middletown, Maryland. Ray and Brian were scripture readers at the ceremony, so we attended the rehearsal also.

Fast forward to the wedding. Here's Ray reading a few passages from Genesis. He wasn't even nervous a bit.

And... Brian reading from the Corinthians.

The (sadly) only photo I actually took during the wedding ceremony.

Erin & Adam had a coreographed first dance and it was excellent. I can't help but also notice Adam's mom and dad in the background. That women had so much joy on her face; it was wonderful.

Adam looks super nervous in this picture! Erin looks like she's having a blast.

The boys of Middletown together again for a photo.

Erin and the boys (left to right: Jonathan, Ray, Erin, Jeff, and Brian). This is probably the closest they'll come to their 10-year reunion!

Their wedding gift to the guests: McCutcheon's Apple Butter. This is an East-Coast treat. The name/table numbers were printed on cards and stuck into the stem of a small pumpkin (stamp color indicating your meal choice -- red leaf = crab cakes & orange leaf = prime rib). Such a cute fall idea. Getting married in different seasons allows for some great creativity. We went to a wedding last December (Steven & Christina Gaynor) and they used glass ornament bulbs to hold their table assignments. And yes, there's my Burt's Bees in the picture. I've since lost it. Bummer!

The next day, we had an early Thanksgiving meal with Ray's parents, sister, and grandparents. It was complete with Turkey, rolls, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole (my favorite... I requested), and of course, more dessert. Ray's grandfather is showing him how to cut up a turkey nice and well. As long as I can avoid cooking a turkey and instead appreciating others doing it... I will. Thanks to our parents for that!

And finally... some Snuggie action for you.

Check back next week for photos from our weekend (we leave tomorrow night) in Belgium.

And now, this week in writing:

Mittwoch 11.11.2009 (day 58)
A nice relaxing morning started the day off. I love quiet, calm mornings. It didn’t rain today, either! I got busy with laundry and getting things ready for our Maryland trip this morning… and had leftovers for lunch when Ray got home. A little chili, a little spaghetti. Basically, whatever was in the fridge and quick enough to heat in minutes. Ray’s not picky and I couldn’t be more grateful for such an easy-going husband. I definitely scored on that one. We bolted off to work and I got busy on the blog. Uploading the photos takes the longest and I only choose to do that when connected to a good Internet line—at work. I got all the photos uploaded and just began to start the writing portion… when… Sabine… arrived. It feels like we never see her anymore, and that’s not a good thing. It’s just really hard to make time when we’re here or there for work, travel, etc. Ray was in a meeting and we started our lesson around 2:30. Then, at 4:30, Ray had a video teleconference with the Chicago office. Our tutor wasn’t too happy. I felt pretty awkward, too, because it seems there’s always something interrupting our lessons. But, Ray is a busy and productive man who is doing all he can to learn about business, manufacturing, hydraulics, cultures, oh, and German. It’s a lot on one person’s plate, and he’s doing an amazing job. Not to mention, when we arrive home for the evening and all the other Germans are relaxing, Ray is online responding to emails, phonecalls, and other inquiries sent to him by the Chicagoans. It’s hard because when we head home from work (being 7 hours ahead), they are just getting to work and have lots of questions and fires to put out. So, back to our German lesson. It’s particularly difficult explaining to her that he must carry on with the business. She understands, but wishes we could’ve planned better. I am just torn in the middle and have no way to explain. She also needs to make a living, and is paid based on our hours of learning. In the past couple weeks between her schooling, sickness, our trips for Elliot to get training in Frankfurt, etc… we’ve had few lessons. It’s not good for her pocketbook, or our language acquisition. We do our homework and use Rosetta Stone (and luckily are exposed daily to the language), but it’s still not coming quickly. Stress was a bit high today because of the conflicts in schedules. Beyond that, we came home and got busy packing for our trip tomorrow. We’re so excited to see family and friends! (and I’m especially excited to have a Chipotle burrito!)

Donnerstag 12.11.2009 (day 59)
We woke early to get ready and head off for our American adventure. We made great time from our place to the Frankfurt airport in about 1 hour, 45 minutes. Not bad! Then, we drove insanely far to park in “holiday parking” for dirt cheap (under 40 Euro for 1 wk.). We met another American waiting for the shuttle to take us to the terminals who said he flew helicopters and had been living in Germany for 3+ years. He, too, was going back to the states for a wedding. We got to our gate just fine with about 30 minutes to spare before boarding. Once we did board, we were excited to see it was a (Lufthansa) Boeing 747 flight! Neither of us had ever flown Lufthansa, and we heard it was exceptional—so we were excited. It was positioned 3,4,3 on the plane and of course the lady was already positioned next to the window. Bummer. No chance at that time to have our own row or a free seat at least. Well, the flight wasn’t booked. There were 70 free seats. We figured we might be able to squeeze our ways into another situation. Nope. As soon as the cabin doors shut, people scrambled to get their best position and we were stuck. As usual, I sit center. I hate center, but I love my husband and understand that the small one gets center. But, my biggest complaint is that I always have a neighbor who takes the entire armrest and juts their arm over into the center! Today was no exception and it was an 8-hour flight, nonetheless. About 3 hours into the flight, Ray notices a spot against a window a few rows back. He moves there and I take the aisle seat. My lovely window neighbor (now with a seat in the middle of us), proceeds to put her legs and feet up on the seat, facing my direction! She also got up SIX times. Perhaps she should choose an aisle seat next time? Not to mention the guy in front of me leaning his seat back and the guy behind me knocking against my seat. Also, no personal monitor screens in the seats. Man… so far, Lufthansa isn’t winning brownie points. We go through customs (I had an orange in my bag… oops!) and off to grab our luggage before Ray’s parents met us at the exit gate. We had a nice car ride and headed back to their house for dinner with Gramie & Papa. We had delicious crab cakes and all the fixings, including a special carrot cake birthday cake made just for us! We opened a couple birthday presents (since mine was last month and Ray’s is next month) and looked at some of Gramie & Papa’s photos from their travels abroad. They’ve been to so many exciting places we hope to also visit in our lives. They even had some pictures taken at the exact same spots we took some in Europe! Now that was really cool. We hung out and talked awhile until about 10 p.m. (which is our 4 a.m.!) and headed off to bed. What a great day (except the crazy lady on the plane…) and we still can’t believe we’re in the U.S. It’s surreal!

Freitag 13.11.2009 (day 60)
We woke up at 5 a.m, Maryland time. To us, it felt (and it was) 11 a.m. in Germany. So, we stayed up. We figured it was best to stay awake so we didn’t have as much an issue trying to reacclimatize when we returned. Ray’s dad headed off to work and we got ready for our day with Ray’s mom shopping around town. We had a list, and we were very productive at fulfilling the list. First stop, bagels & apple cider. YUM. Bagels are not popular in Germany or any of Europe that we could see—so this was a real treat. We moved next to a few doors down and I got a much-needed haircut. It said $13 for an “adult” (I thought I qualified) haircut, but she charged me $18. No wash, no blowdry, no style. Perhaps it cost her $5 to spray my head with water. And yes, I paid under $20 for a haircut. I always do. It’s pretty tough to mess up cutting an inch off the bottom, plus adding some layers. Our next stop was Target. I love love love Target and couldn’t wait to (as my Mother-in-law puts it), “smell the stale popcorn” as we walked in the door. Exactly what I’ve been dreaming of for 2 months! I stocked up on $100 worth of very important American goods (such things as peanut butter, facewash…) and we checked out. Off we went to Jos. A Bank for Ray to try on sport coats. I think he tried on 2 and made his decision. We weren’t even in the store for longer than 7 minutes. It was amazing! It reminds me of buying my wedding dress, right Mom? I just knew. Well, Ray just knew, too. Then, off to buy a bottle of wine for a gift. Since we’re going back to Germany, we have some gifts to purchase for people and we’ll be carrying that all back in a spare suitcase—that is presently packed. Final stop—Chipotle. Such an important stop! Then we went home and relaxed a bit with Ray’s parents before heading off to Erin’s wedding rehearsal. It was held at a church called Holy Family and then dinner was at Dutch’s Daughter. We’ve had dinner there once before when we were out here in July. It’s really good. Buffet dinner, a couple games, and Brian & Ray were proud owners of some gift cards. Brian actually guessed close to the correct number of candy corns in this big jar. And Ray was a random win. Dinner was excellent and more dessert. I’d already had a large slice of carrot cake earlier, so the chocolate pie was completely unnecessary; especially eating it at our 4 a.m. Since it was about 10 p.m. Maryland time, we headed home and crashed. We got in bed so fast that I am actually writing this at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday for the previous day. That rarely happens!

Samstag 14.11.2009 (day 61)
Wedding day! I actually really like attending weddings. It’s not only because it’s fun to be a little fancy sometimes (and weddings allow for such dressing up), but because I can truly appreciate all of the hard work and effort that goes into the experience. I will never look at another wedding with just surface views after planning my own. It’s a lot of work and I am appreciative. We woke up a bit later this morning—7:30… which means it was 1:30 p.m. in Germany. I’m afraid our hopes of staying on German time is diminishing and we’ll have to train ourselves again. There are worse things, I guess. We had pancakes for breakfast (yum!) and watched the slideshow from Kay & Steve’s Alaska cruise from the summer. It seems beautiful. Someday we’ll visit. After the photos, we headed out to walk around the Frederick park pond a few times and stopped off at Taco Bell. Kay & Steve don’t really eat Mexican food and couldn’t calculate when their last experience was there… so they were clearly sacrificing for me. I enjoyed it, but Steve gave it a D. Having been a couple months since my last encounter, I actually anticipated it being much better, but still enjoyed it nonetheless. We bolted back home and got cleaned up for the wedding that was to start in less than an hour from when we arrived home. Quick shower and makeup in the car and we made it, with just minutes to spare before the wedding songs began to play. It was a nice ceremony and everyone was dressed so beautifully. Being a fall wedding, the girls were dressed in burgundy and carried bouquets with fall colors. I think there were even fall leaves strewn in there. After the wedding we headed to Musket Ridge Golf Course for their reception. They had a slide show playing in the background the entire evening and really pretty centerpieces everywhere. Our table names were presented by slicing the stem of a mini pumpkin and placing a card in the slot. It was a really cute idea. Fall weddings allow for so many clever options. Erin & Adam were announced and the had their first dances and toasts immediately. We had appetizers and dinner served and more festivities continued. There was tons of fun dancing. We enjoyed such melodies like “Baby Got Back” and “Whoop There it Is” … cake cutting and bouquet toss followed and then more dancing. Adam’s mom truly had such joy on her face throughout the whole night. It was really sweet to watch her face shine when seeing photos or watching the festivities. It was a fun night to meet some of the people Ray went to high school with and see what they’ve done with their lives. The group of people seem really great. We’re trying to convince Brian and Mary to come visit us in Chicago this summer. That would be loads of fun. The wedding ended around 9ish (our 3 a.m.) and we headed home to see that Samantha surprised everyone by showing up a day early! She was meant to come tomorrow and came today instead. We caught up for a bit before ending our day at half past 11... also known as 5:30 in the morning… as I sit here dozing off while writing this…

Sonntag 15.11.2009 (day 62 - marks two months since we left Chicago!)
Everyday we wake up just a little later than the day before. Today was 8:00. It appears we’re almost entirely living on Eastern time zone. I hope it’s not so painful when we return. Ray headed out for a run with Samantha while I managed to maintain my inactivity level. I wouldn’t want to break a streak of laziness with a silly run, now would I? Haha. We got ready for church and headed out for the 11:00 service. It was nice. They had an orchestra and played some contemporary songs which I missed hearing. It’s been awhile since we attended a service, let alone one with great music! We headed home after for Thanksgiving lunch-dinner with Ray’s family and grandparents. We had good talks, delicious food, and it was just really relaxing overall. I had my favorite green bean casserole, delicious mashed potatoes… and I even tried a yam. A yam. Meaning, one. Nope, I still don’t much like them. But altogether, the meal was spectacular. The next Thanksgiving meal will be the weekend after the actual holiday with our friends Andy & Jen who live in Germany. We’re going to spend the weekend with them at the end of the month and we’re really excited about that, too. Samantha left us with a really nice Godiva basket of deliciousness and some magazines for the plane. We were well stocked for our long flight! We said our goodbyes as Sam went back to focus on grad school (boy do we remember that… exciting, stressful, exciting…), Gramie & Papa headed home, and we headed to the Dulles Airport. Check-in was easy and the International terminal was pretty nice. Erin called because she dropped off some wedding stuff at his parent’s house for us, but we had already left for the airport—so they get pears and a centerpiece! The pears are a joke because Ray ate a couple of them that sat on the tables at the reception last night. They were real pears, but at the end of the night, had no more purpose. So… he and a few of the guys took it upon themselves to indulge. Erin, knowing this, dropped off a bunch of pears. Funny! She seemed to be happy with the wedding. It was gorgeous and we thought it was really fun, too. So back to traveling… we boarded the flight—a Boeing 767. The rows were positioned 2-3-2. I like this arrangement much better, I think. Either way, I’m in the position to get out of the seat without disturbing anyone. Crossing my fingers about my seat partner and it turned out to be a 42-year-old woman who is a flight attendant for United. She was slender and respectful of my space. Nevermind her pretentiousness and need to brag about her Porsche, her boyfriend’s Ferrari, living all over the world, and the list goes on. No problem lady… whatever floats your boat. Despite the fact that we could never be friends based on her insistence to brag, I was pleased to sit next to her. The flight was a bit over 7 hours and neither of us got much sleep at all—despite being upgraded to economy plus (yay, more leg room!). We arrived in Frankfurt at 8:45 their time (2:45 Eastern U.S. time, ouch!). Off to our car we went…

Montag 16.11.2009 (day 63)
Why, oh why do we have German lessons today?! We got literally an hour or so of sleep total. It’s okay, we’ll be used to it all again in a few days. It was a great weekend and well worth the effort. When we got home, we began to unpack… but were so tired having had about an hour’s sleep that we took a 1-hour nap. After, we cleaned up and headed into work around 3 p.m. Sluggish, but required in order to force yourself into the time change. Ray worked for a few hours and I caught up on some emails. I still haven’t received an email back from the guy at the Gymnasium (school). I’m assuming he’ll email me once he has the schedule in order. Since I’ll be sharing in multiple classes, I’m sure he has plenty of coordinating to do. This brings me to talking about living in Germany. While visiting the U.S., I was reminded of all the things I missed—so I packed them in a suitcase and shipped them with us! On a side note, unfortunately they ripped my favorite red carry-on luggage. Argh. That’s what happens when we check bags! On the flip side, we brought back some great things to share with the Germans over here and I guess it’s just a bag, right? Back to living in Germany. While it’s not the easiest thing I’ve ever done to up and live in another country for 6 months, it’s not the hardest or most painful thing either. It’s actually been really wonderful experiencing the world I had yet to be exposed to. After all, the point was to “internationalize” ourselves… and it’s working. I’ve heard from many people that it takes a couple years to really be comfortable and feel like you “belong” somewhere. That’s no different with our transition. Knowing this is temporary makes me a little less inclined to plant firm roots (as I get excited about doing so in Chicago), but more inclined to drop my inhibitions. German lessons are hard and not having it all together like I’m used to is the hardest part for me. I am used to being successful at life so far, and being humbled in this way is actually good… but hard. I would be lying if I said it was easy. In the same breath, I could say I’d be lying if I said I’d rather not experience this. I want to and I love it! I embrace this experience and appreciate the opportunity we’ve had. After all, I am expecting to be a supportive wife of a busy businessman. While that I am, this helps me better understand his relationship to his business, his absolute passion for learning it, breathing it, and being involved in it. I love seeing his joy—that makes me happy. On another note: the girls at the office told me they plan to take me out! Like out on the town with them to experience German culture, nightlife, etc. I’m really excited! We’ll have to coordinate a day, since we’re gone most weekends. Things like that—people involving me makes this experience really fantastic and I feel appreciated and welcomed. We had our German lesson as planned and it went quite well. We caught up on some homework and were assigned some more for Wednesday’s lesson. A lazy dinner and an early bedtime for us two. What a ride this is!

Dienstag 17.11.2009 (day 64)
Sleep came last night just as we hit the pillows. Refreshing and wonderful it was. Still no email from the school—but I emailed again to say I was back in town and ready to come in. We’ll see. Since I’m just a volunteer of time and information, I take the backburner. I know what it’s like… Ray came home for lunch as always and I went with him back to work as our schedule usually dictates. I got to work emailing people like crazy. I had some emails from friends to return, and I wanted to send some emails to some former students who had recently emailed me. One of my really hardworking students from last year, Melinda, emailed me an update of life in 5th grade. I had sent her a message (through another teacher to tell her) that we went to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I recommended that book to her last year because she was really into auto/biographies. I had a feeling she would enjoy it and relate to the age of the girl. When we visited, I thought of her and had to send a message her way. She wrote me an email in return. It was nice hearing from her (and any students who update me… I enjoy keeping in contact). I uploaded some photos to Picasa for them to see (I made it more G-rated, minus any alcohol-related photos) and began writing my German notebook. We bought new Five star notebooks at Target when we were in Maryland and I’m transferring information from my legal pad to the new one. I love Five star notebooks. When I was in school for my BA, credential, and MA, I used these notebooks religiously. Normally I purchase the 5-subject, but this time I only bought a 1-subject. That subject being Deutsch. Ray had a meeting he spent much of the afternoon in. We’ve been meaning to plan dinner with Lothar and his wife (though we’ve had dinner with them before, never at their house), but we’re busy most weekends! We like to take short trips from Friday-Sunday and this weekend is Belgium. Unfortunately, no dinner with them this weekend. We have 4 months… we’ll get around to it! Perhaps Thursday instead. We’ll see. We stopped off at Kaufpark for some fresh veggies and other items and headed home to cook some stir fry for dinner. Delicious! German homework ended the evening. I am feeling a bit sick… like a headache and I think I can blame that on jetlag and sleeping too much. I still feel like I’m a bit in a cloud, and it’s 9:30 p.m. Tomorrow will be a brighter day! Okay, maybe not weather-wise considering it rains everyday!

Mittwoch 18.11.2009 (day 65)
Still no call from the school. I haven’t been bored, though. I just finished the last of the laundry and tomorrow I’ll be at work all day because we’re having a German lesson in the morning—so I’ll just stay for the afternoon, too. Then, I need to make an apple pie for Sabine. I’ve been making an awful lot of those lately! I made one for us… and once that was perfected, I made one for the office people to try. But of course… Sabine didn’t have a chance to taste it. So, I planned to make her one for her birthday, which is on Friday. Anyhow, I have a few things planned. I woke up at the normal time today, despite my interest to sleep in forever. I’m a little spoiled with my sleep schedule. It’s like summertime, but the weather isn’t the same. We had leftovers for lunch and headed back to work for our German lesson. It was meant to begin at 1:00, but she was late and we started at almost 2. We still got a good 3 hours in and we’re feeling good about having lessons this week. It’s frustrating not having them for awhile, but also relaxing. My philosophy is that we either jump right in and work multiple days in a week, or don’t bother. I feel better with the acquisition when I review. I think it’s similar to teaching a child math and not reviewing that concept for 6 days. They lose the knowledge or don’t feel they have a firm grasp of the content. Even worse, I’m way older than those kids who suck information in like sponges. We need constant and regular review. This week, we’re shooting for 4 days of instruction. That is what is intended and we’re pleased by this. Also, copying the information into my new notebook has been helpful for my review. Perhaps I do this once every few months! Haha! I’m kidding. It’s silly to re-write everything into new notebooks every few months, but it is helping me refresh the grammar rules, etc. After the lesson, Ray got to work and shortly, we left. We stopped by Lidl before heading home. We have visited one grocery store each day we’ve been back from the states. It’s just the way this whole European lifestyle works and it’s right up my alley. I love grocery shopping. As I write at 9:30, Ray is still in work clothes, plugging away on his laptop writing email after email for work. He’s such a hard worker and although I’d prefer my husband not work such long hours, I can see the joy he has. He’s doing what he loves and living his dream. I remember what I was like last year (yikes… maybe 1.5 years now!) through my master’s program and how hard and long I worked—while stressful, I loved every brain-stimulating minute. Also, I spend lots of time on my teaching (way above what’s expected, as most great teachers do) during the school year… so I see why he presses on. For the love of it…

One last comment. I don't spell-check or re-read my journaling before posting. So, if you notice mistakes, that's why. :)

Ich bin fertig. (I am done)