Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween costumes

I do not usually dress up for Halloween, and often Josh is working. This year we have several party invites, so we are discussing costume options. I hate wigs, heavy makeup, plastic clothing, and wearing thrift store shoes. Kara and I had the predictable but fun idea to be a clan of vampires- the Meyer variety. We can wear posh clothes and shimmer and make our faces pale. Easy, cheap, and culturally relevant. I know it is not a supremely creative plan, nor is it ironic, so some people may find us pathetic... but I think it would be fun. And if I hang out with Kara's cat for a few hours pre-party, my eyes will be red. How deviant of me.


- painstakingly keyed for your enjoyment via becky's iPod

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A gift I remember

In some ways this post was conceived from those cliched writing prompts given to fifth graders and bloggers without a cause.

One of the most memorable gifts I have ever received sits on my bathroom counter, holding synthetic brushes and that eyelash "comb" that most women own but (let's be honest) find fairly useless. It is a light sage mug covered in gold script. I am terrified to wash this mug. It was given to me by those who attended the bridal shower thrown just before graduating from Wooster.

There are messages both silly and heartfelt from some very special people. I see it every morning and evening, and allow myself a few moments to reminisce and to think of the lovely people who gave me this special gift.

More proof that money does not buy happiness, but friendship grants you an abundance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Case of Worms

I'm happy to finally be able to add this to our written record. I was officially promoted and given a full-time position as of last Saturday. I won't bore you with the details, but I'm pleased to have gotten a small raise and to have more responsibilities.

There are only 18 days until we leave for vacation, and once our trip is finished there will be only a week until Corrie arrives to live with us. We made it through August!

We went to see "The Proposal" tonight- well actually, I (Becky) have seen it twice now. I almost never see movies in the theater, and to see one twice is a big deal. I love that movie! Betty White steals the show, but the entire cast does a terrific job and the comedic timing was priceless. Plus, aerial views of Alaska are always nice between scenes.

We found out Maggie was sick with an intestinal parasite, and it was by far the grossest thing I've ever researched. I've been terrified of tapeworms since I was about eight or nine and I saw some public television special about the horrid things, and now I feel like I am filming True Life- My Dog Has Worms. Ugh. Luckily there is very little you have to do once you discover the wretched things are leeching off of your pup, so now we're just waiting for a follow-up appointment to get the all-clear. We'll get Trixie checked, too, never fear!

I've been writing about insects way too much lately; this is a sign that I am dealing with them too frequently in real life. I need to change this trend.

This past weekend, our village had it's summer carnival- Kindsbacher Kerwe. We didn't go (maybe next year!) but as I was getting ready for bed, I could hear a band and people singing some kind of folk-type song. I imagine they were drunk on Bitberger and happily sloshing their way past the rose gardens, but perhaps I'm romanticizing the whole affair. Regardless- those voices carried!

Nothing more to share tonight. Alles gute.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No, it's true, we are still alive and thriving.

Am I the worst blogger in History? Quite possibly.
Je suis vraiment desole. (With accents.)

Right, now you can guess that I'm trying to pick up a bit of French. Italian is in the queue, and if I can understand basic questions and provide elementary responses by the time we leave for vacation in four weeks I'll be overjoyed.

But to business; and explanation is in order I suppose. Not an excuse, just the honest reasons I haven't been writing.

1. We moved. I don't know if I've written since that fiasco, but I'll just say that the Process of Moving is awful. An international move was somehow easier than the trip from an apartment to a house fifteen minutes away. This is probably because someone else paid for everything to be packed and shipped and loaded and unloaded in the first situation; this time we ended up frantically moving heavy boxes and cleaning for 20 hours a day, several days in a row.

2. We had a party. A housewarming barbecue, to be exact. Obviously it took a lot of effort to get our home to look comfortable and presentable for our guests. The party was really fun and I'm glad we were able to throw it prior to the departure of some of our friends from Germany to the states.

3. We had to watch our shows because when you have a DVD full of action-filled goodness you can't stop watching. Friends was nearing the end, Smallville had all kinds of crazy stuff going on, and of course there was So You Think You Can Dance. So yeah, television ate our brains and free time... of which there was little due to point FOUR.

4. Work. My job is honestly fabulous; a little chaotic just now, but great. We just opened a new branch and I'm feeling quite useful and much more knowledgeable than in the past. Also, co-workers are fun. May I just stress how pleased I am that Josh is finally back on the day schedule? I would like to especially emphasize this point: shift work is for the birds. No, actually, birds are too nice to deal with the crap of shift work. Shift work is for arachnids.

5. Oh speaking of arachnids, did you know that they can grow to be AS BIG AS MY HAND? Because they can, and then they can find their way into my house and cause me to lose my mind in a constant panic-stricken, nauseated, fearful state of being. Yes, it's that bad. Even now as I type, I check for spiders every few lines. I need therapy, but those spiders need to die.

I believe this should clear up some of the reasons for my absence, although I do have one last confession: the log-in page for Blogger is all in German and for some reason that bothers me immensely. I can read the simple instructions, but seriously... it's just not inviting right now. I'm so silly sometimes.

As soon as I find my media reader card (or alternatively the cord to connect the camera to the Mac), I will update with some photos of recent events. And I really will work on writing more frequently. I can probably pull myself away from re-watching the new DVD releases of Scrubs, Smallville, and The Big Bang Theory. Hah!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Life is both exciting and hectic.

We are both working often, and conflicting schedules minimize the time we can be together.  Even when we have time together, we spend it rushing through things- making plans, cleaning, trying to see friends and find a moment to relax within the span of a few consecutive hours.  

The better part of our news is that we are finally moving from our fourth-floor apartment.  We found a beautiful row home with a back yard, three floors, three bedrooms, two full bathrooms (by American standards) and even a garage.  As is typical of German homes in this area, the outside is not anything spectacular, but the inside is gorgeous.  We will be doing a self-move in late June, and we're weighing several moving options.  Actually, I've already decided which option I prefer and it involves using the bulk of the moving budget to hire my father as a crew chief and move director, and throwing a fantastic barbecue for all of our friends who lend a hand for any portion of the move.  I'm trying to convince my father that he should let us bring him over here for a few days of work and a few days of vacation.  I am hopeful that he will come.

I am dreaming of the things I'll do in this new house.  First and foremost, I will let my dogs be outside in the sunshine all summer long, as much as they desire, to run in circles and enjoy the fresh air in this beautiful country.  I'll spend time making a small garden in the tiny plot by the front door, and I'll maybe be able to keep some plants alive.  Maybe herbs for cooking.  I want to focus on design and decoration, because for the first time I have coherent themes we both enjoy and I can improve upon them.  Eventually my sister will be here for a while, and I'm really thrilled about her being with us.  Hopefully more friends will visit in the next few years- we'll have an actual guest room for their comfort.  More than anything, I hope that life will feel less disjointed, less temporary in this house.  I want to meet more people and speak German and go on walks through a village and buy bread from the Barbarossa down the street.  

I had resigned myself to staying in the apartment for the next two years, and once I let it go the house of our dreams- in the location we desired most- became available.  I should let go of things more, that's when all the good stuff happens.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Began on March 26th and Lasted Until April 1st

March 26, 2009
Today marks the beginning of our first-ever couples detox week. For one week we are going to severely cut back on our use of electronic media. We are going to complete projects we've discussed for ages. We are going to eat healthier meals at home.

"I might die, just so you know," my tech-savvy husband mentions casually over a plate of fish and whole-wheat pasta. I think to myself, a risk I may be willing to take.

Why a detox? We're not talking about a liquid-diet detox, but rather a new approach to life that will (hopefully) allow us to enjoy the little moments together, to savor hobbies that we've been ignoring, and to spruce up our disheveled home. I suggested the detox, of course. This may have been an easy guess. What you might not have expected was a willing response from my husband. I suspect that the reality of the changes we'll both have to make are just now occurring to him, part way through our first day, and that last night when he agreed so quickly he was just trying to help me feel better about the things that I've lost control over. As long as we both approach this week as a team, I'm sure we will both be fine. Perhaps we'll even be more satisfied with our lives! One can hope.

Day One

Starting, I feel a bit nervous. Already today I've found myself desiring time on social networking sites, and in the moment between focused tasks I've nearly walked to the computer, mindlessly, to begin surfing. This may be more difficult than I imagined. Josh also says he's not sure if he can do this, but that he is going to put forth the effort. He's reading as I type, which is a good sign and something that he has always loved but often neglected. I'll be thrilled if he finishes some of the books I picked up for him on my last trip home to the states.
We accomplished so much today, I can hardly believe our success. We moved our large bookcase to the front hallway, and I created a list of every book we own for cataloging purposes. Josh helped Matt build his new computer, adn we cooked dinner for four. The evening moved forward quickly with Trivial Pursuit and friends. To our surprise, though, it was only 8:30pm when they left- what to do with the rest of the night? We read books. What an enriching day.

Day Two

Today began with a scare- I found Trixie with what I thought was blood covering her paw, and spread over her fur and the bedspread. After fashioning a tourniquet from a washcloth, I realized that she was not bleeding. She broke through the casing of a red gel ink pen and her fur was stained, her paws still covered in the wet ink. Not blood. Trixie is lucky that she is so adorable.

Other than my eventful morning, I spent my day working and enjoying more time with friends and my husband in the evening. It was still difficult today to avoid the computer and the television, but I have already felt less compulsion to sit in front of either machine. Josh said he was able to clear his mind and relax this morning, which is apparently difficult normally because his mind is racing. One day away and he's already feeling more calm. I think we're seeing progress!

Day Three

I worked again today, so while I'm at work I feel like I'm breaking our rules because I have to use the computer to process all of my work. However, I usually let myself read online news titles during quiet times, and I've stopped doing that. Also, a co-worker almost spilled the beans regarding the outcome of an episode of a show I missed, and I asked her not to elaborate in front of me. Everyone looked at me as if I had five heads when I told them about our "detox." It's not that strange, right?

Day Four

I had so much free time today! I spent time in the kitchen pre-cutting veggies and making an Italian cream cheese spread for my sandwiches this week. I've been taking lunch to work and my body can already feel the difference. It occurs to me that if I always spent more time doing things like cutting up vegetables or pre-cooking healthy meals, it would be easier on a day-to-day basis to eat very well.

This afternoon, Kara joined me for some fun with stamping and craft products. We both made beautiful to-do lists for ourselves. It was both mentally stimulating and relaxing simultaneously. It would be so nice to be creative with friends more frequently.

I think Josh is cheating at work (he's been talking about computer parts he wants to buy that he found online... hmm) but I'll let it slide because he is still following our guidelines at home. I hope he finds this experience as rewarding as I have so far.

Day Five

We ended up cheating tonight, together, but there was a pretty good reason. We decided that the real underlying goal behind this detox is for us to do more engaging activities together. One of the things we really enjoy is watching "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and discussing the warped plot lines. There's just something about theorizing together that totally works for us, so we allowed ourselves to watch the most recent episode. Watch and discuss. We're still completely avoiding the internet at home, so this is the picture of success for the two of us. I was not sure we'd even make it this far.

Day Six

Today we made good use of our extra time and rearranged the majority of the furniture in our apartment. I am totally loving the new vibe we've created. We finally put our furniture to good use, divided spaces in a more design-centered way, and created more functional space. We've also been using this time away from our computers to negotiate the sale and purchase of electronics. We've decided to switch to a new iMac computer, and use Bootcamp as our dual-boot option. We'll sell most of our other systems to get rid of some of the clutter and time-suck the lurks around every corner of our tiny living space.

Day Seven

We ordered our new computer today! This is no April Fool's joke. If only overseas shipping didn't take so darn long. All of this time away from technology has given us some great perspective on what is important and what we enjoy. We can agree to sell things that we don't really need, and not to buy other things that will hinder us from pursuing our joint and personal goals. Our apartment has never looked better, despite the red room being unfinished. Our kitchen is clean and stocked with healthier foods. I think we both feel more at peace in our hearts and minds. Once past the initial compulsion to check every web page in my bookmarks, I felt free. This was so easy to do, I can't believe it took me this long to try.

Post Detox

I am finishing this entry a few days past the detox, but I'm going to post it on the last day of the official detox week. In retrospect, a technology detox is absolutely something I'm glad I tried. We have already made plans to detox every month for some period of time. When you enjoy technology, you can find ways to use it and apply its functionality to every aspect of your life. This can be a great organizational tool, but it can also cause you to forget about other important things. Connecting with family can end up on the back burner. Focusing your mind on one project- like reading a great book or making a card or even just cutting up vegetables- becomes so difficult when you constantly inundate your brain with the multitasking expectations of television and the internet.

I don't like myself as much when I'm addicted to technology. I don't enjoy my husband's company when his mind is stuck on the television or what he read on the internet. Returning to a more simplistic existence has done wonders for us both.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My New Organizational Paradigm

Today I am working on my new Tickler file, which was first brought to my attention by a Glorious Generalist from Chicago. A tickler file allows for customized, total organization based on daily tasks and filing for down-the-road events. I love that I can reuse the system components- no need to feel badly about throwing out a pile of dated pages from a typical planner.

I could not find a suitable option for a file holder locally, so I chose this little beauty at staples-dot-com and asked my mother lug it to Germany. It's lightweight and fairly compact, thankfully. So far, the files fit easily with plenty of extra space to expand.

The idea is to place all future to-do items, including everything from doctor's appointment reminders to birthday cards, into the folder for the appropriate day, month, or year. I can organize the things I should not forget, for as many years in the future as I require. The only folders that need be replaced regularly are the yearly folders, and I'm not too concerned about throwing out one file folder per year (after it's turned inside-out and reused, of course).

I was warned that any expectation of spousal enthusiasm may be unwarranted, but so far Josh is not really objecting to the *new organizational paradigm*. I guess we will see how he responds after "forgetting" to get the oil changed, and I mention that he should have checked the tickler file a week ago for a reminder... yes, I can see that this might not work for both of us. I'll be glad if I have an idea of what should be accomplished, so for now I'm going to press forward and make the most out of my Tickler File. Though perhaps I should name the thing- calling it "tickler file" just feels awkward.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A short list of things accomplished in one week:

- Successfully completed 25 years of life. Began undertaking of 26th year.
- Wrote essays on a topic I've never studied, received high marks regardless of knowledge deficit.
- Sang ABBA songs in France and Belgium.
- Walked well over ten thousand steps per day while visiting the major tourist attractions of Paris.
- Ate a genuine Belgium waffle. Subsequently obsessed over potential frequency of visits to Belgium to consume aforementioned waffles.
- Photographed my father posed as Napoleon in front of the Butte du Lion at Waterloo.
- Saw Luxembourg while the sun was shining.
- Spent so much energy remembering French phrases that, upon return to Germany, I am still saying "oui".
- Bathed two rambunctious, unappreciative dogs.
- Discovered location of a portrait taken of my great-great-great grandfather. Potential for family history research suddenly multiplied by about one thousand percent.
- Came to realization that I'm probably too old to continue watching America's Next Top Model; also realized that I need not stop because I love reading Four Four too much to give up on the show altogether.

I will actually review our fabulous vacation, perhaps even in a timely manner, but for now I'm off to bed so I can be a productive and reliable member of society tomorrow. Being an adult has some lame points.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I just spent about two hours trying to make improvements to this blog. I've added topic tags, so if you want to know what I consider annoying (doltishness) or how often I allude to the weather in Germany (weatherbug), those topics are but a mouse click away!

I'd really like to change the look of J&B in Germany. When you read a blog, what kinds of features do you enjoy? What kind of layout is appealing? I'm going to work on this in the coming weeks; I'd -love- to hear your suggestions.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Grüße und die Fortschreibung

OH my gosh! Where did February go so quickly? What was the hurry?

Too bad, I guess. I think February is a godforsaken month anyway. My husband celebrates his birthday today, so that marks pretty much the best day of all, and the rest seems like a waste. I probably feel this way because February weather, in my experience, is always miserable. Every day I dream about living in Austin, and about how "cold" will mean, oh, 50 degrees. Ice will scare everyone else, but not me! I'm accustomed to black ice, snow, snow coated in ice, freezing rain- the full spectrum of bad driving weather. I can clean off my car in mere seconds because I know which way to push the snow to achieve maximum vision. I will be a lion among ants when I live in a place that fears the prospect of a frost. It will be glorious.

In much more important, relevant news- today is Josh's birthday! Now we will be the same age for five days. It's an exciting time of year for us. Making things better is the upcoming visit from my family. They will arrive next Thursday, and we're planning to see Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, and then I'll go back to work while Josh takes them to Stuttgart, Munich, and Karlsruhe. I am über-thrilled about this vacation.

I'm also thrilled that I finally got enough motivation to bookmark a special characters shortcut page. This new information allows me to tell you that Trixie's new hobby is shredding paper, and I think she may have gotten a €10 bill and destroyed the thing- that's a thirteen dollar loss! Silly dog!

A final note- my cousin Lucy started a blog focused on natural and organic beauty products, and I am a contributor on the site. I've only managed to write one review thus far, even though I have a list of about twenty items I will review in the coming months. Please take a moment to check it out; we are both pretty passionate about Toxin Free Beauty and I think the blog is shaping up to be very interesting and informative. It might save you a breakout, super-sensitive skin, or even money one day!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eine Kleine Augenblick

Here are a few of the moments I've neglected to blog in recent months, visited in photographs.

~ We visited Luxembourg with Katie and Matt. It was a very foggy day and there was a protest going on, following us down the road. We saw a gorgeous cathedral and impressive gorges.

~ I went home in November to visit my family and some friends. I rode with cargo on an Air Force plane. I remodeled the extra room at my parent's so it is now a guest room. Margaret came to visit and we toured Baltimore and Philadelphia.

~ We explored a few of the December Christmas markets. Here are shots from Saarbrücken and Kaiserslautern.

~ We had our first live Christmas tree, which subsequently died and left dry pine needles all over our floor. I made the cards we sent out this year- a labor of love, for sure.

That should do for a catch-up. More to come... we've got a big month ahead!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Living la dolce vita

I have not written very frequently this month, and not for lack of desire, nor for lack of news. I’ve simply been swamped by my own life, drowning in the mire, and I’m finally emerging.

You may realize that I started my new job at the beginning of January. I’m a member service representative at a credit union. This essentially means that I am a teller, but I am able (well, I will be able) to do much more than basic account transactions. Without boring anyone with details, I’ll simply say that I am indescribably happy at my new job. I’m excited at the prospect of constantly learning more, and at having chances to re-invent and re-educate myself in new employment positions. Not a day has gone by that I have not been thankful for this new development in my life.

So, obviously the “mire” part has nothing to do with my own work. It all comes back to my husband’s job, or really to the Army’s occasional, multitudinous stupidity. Again, without flapping my tongue regarding details, it comes down to this simple fact: I was essentially without a spouse for the vast majority of this month. I know that tons of spouses deal with this for much longer; I’m sure they complain too. It really sucks. On top of taking care of everything, I still had to do things to take care of my husband because he wasn’t able to do any of them himself. With a sudden full-time work load, it was all a bit overwhelming. I’m glad it is over.

We’ve been living here for almost one year. In fact, I’ve been writing fairly faithfully in this blog for over a year now. I was so nervous last January. We had so much to do and so little time, and on top of everything I didn’t want to deal with the reality of saying “goodbye” to every single person I loved, except for the one I’d agreed to follow anywhere when I married him. I’m happy to realize that one year later, we’re doing better than ever. Yes, we miss our loved ones in the states all the time. The beauty of military life is that everyone is in the same boat, and if you are lucky, you can find true friendships that feel like a surrogate family. I believe we have found a second family here. Our ties don’t go back as far, but we all understand one another. Last night we had dinner at a favorite restaurant with some of our favorite people. It wasn’t a big occasion and I believe that every single person at the table had a cold, and yet as I sat there I couldn’t stop smiling. I feel the happiest and most comfortable I’ve felt in such a long time. So even when circumstances take the wind out of me… life is still unbelievably good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And I didn't fall down!

Last Sunday, I went skiing for the first time in my life. I’ve been hoping for an opportunity to learn for quite some time; even Josh got to join my family on trips while I was away at school. I wasn’t quite sure how the experience would go, since I’ve been told on many occasions that skiing is quite athletic and very difficult. I wanted to try regardless of the physical demands. I figured that I’ve walked in several 5Ks, which I never expected of myself, so why not give skiing a try?

I joined Shurrece and her daughter on a bus trip to the slopes at Feldberg, Germany. Feldberg is located in the Black Forrest, about one and a half hours from Zurich.

The Feldberg is the highest mountain in the Black Forrest, and other than the German Alps, it is the highest point in Germany. The trip to the summit involved many switchbacks, and the road entering the range provided views reminiscent of alpine landscapes.

When we arrived at the ski resort, we labored with our gear through the cold, under a grey sky. Still, the roads and paths were clear, and we didn’t encounter excess snow until we reached the “point of no return”- the slopes. I wrestled with my rented ski boots for several minutes, and never really found a comfortable fit. Looking back, this should have been my first indication that the day might involve discomfort. Oh, glorious hindsight!

Shurrece dropped her daughter off at the children’s ski teepee- yes, they got to drink kinderpunsch in a teepee at their lessons- and we found our lesson group just a few minutes late. The ski instructors decided to split our class into two groups, and of course we were put in the group of women who spoke English. Right away Max, our instructor, put us to work. He showed us how to climb up the side of the slope sideways.

I am told that in some places, skiing classes get to use the bunny slope lift during lessons. Even though there was a rope lift, we got to climb the hill for every single exercise Max taught to us. This is my biggest problem with skiing. Going downhill was loads of fun, and I’d love to do it again! Climbing up the hill is a horrible, brutal idea. For one, your whole body will ache after about the fifteenth climb. Secondly, if your boots don’t fit (and we’re back to my poor foresight), you’re in for bruised ankles and possible tears. Yes, I admit that I cried because it hurt so badly. I kept going, and maybe part of my welling was due to the horrible wind chill (more on that in a moment), but I know that I was so upset that I felt as if I were crying.

Every time I reached the bottom, there was Max to remind me: “Becky, we must climb up to make this exercise again, yes?” I couldn’t stop thinking, this guy cannot be serious!

I kept climbing and trying and resolving to push forward for quite some time. As our lesson progressed, the forecasted winter storm began to roll over the mountain. I don’t own truly proper ski gear, so my multiple layers of exercise clothing were succumbing to the ice and snow being pelted at me by high-speed winds. I was being blown sideways on my skis. I can say that I was proud when I managed not to fall down, even one time. I might as well have fallen, though, by the time I had finished- I was soaked all the way through my layers. At one point toward the end of the lesson, Max told us we could stop when we felt we needed to, due to the weather and our relative inexperience. I picked up my skis to climb the hill again (no more ankle-breaking sideways-climbing for me!) and realized that my hands were freezing through my wet gloves, sticking to the skis! That was the end of my lesson, thank you very much.

I bought some overpriced gloves and a warm fleece to change into something dry, and met Shurrece and Madison in the lodge. We had a delicious lunch and sat there for hours talking, waiting for the time when we could meet our bus to head back home.

I enjoyed this part of the day at least as much as the skiing. While we ate and talked, the storm assailed the mountain more fiercely each hour. By the time we left, there was at least a foot of snow on surfaces that had been clean only four hours earlier.

When we finally made it to our bus and headed back toward Kaiserslautern, the driver heard on the radio that we had just missed an avalanche on the Feldberg! I’ve never knowingly come so close to an avalanche before in my life. But this is life in Germany; you never can be sure of the weather, until it is happening. You can bet that it will surprise you, often in less-than-pleasant ways.

My overall assessment of skiing is that, yes, it is very strenuous. My body is still aching all these days later. If you don’t have proper gear, it isn’t very comfortable even in the best moments. However, the rush of flying downhill is totally worth the discomfort and frustration. I’m planning to go skiing again, and to buy a lift ticket and ride halfway up the bunny slopes for a while. Maybe some day I will ski from higher up a hillside, but for now I’ll take the rush of the little bump.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

We realized last night that this is the final year in the first decade of the new millennium. That's pretty difficult to believe, but time does seem to go by faster with each year of life. For example, I remember when I was in elementary school and the time between Thanksgiving break and winter break was a horrible, tormenting stretch of almost a month! This year, I blinked and went to work and then it was time for Christmas. Now it is the first day of 2009, the year in which at least one of us will be a quarter-century old. The person turning 25 is freaked out. Decency dictates that I not specify which one of us is the "old one".

Last night we celebrated the new year with food and drinks from around the globe, "Around the World New Year's Eve". It was a wonderful night, but the best part was midnight. We obviously didn't get to see the ball drop on television, since we are six hours ahead of the east coast. We got to see something better- fireworks set off by neighbors, people in towns and in fields all along the mountainside and the train track. We saw fireworks going on for miles. It was a beautiful way to start this year.

We wish you all an exciting, fulfilling, and blessed new year. Make the most of it; we plan to do and see all the we can!