The Recents: April

I am terrible at deadlines.  It is one reason I decided very early on in my college education that I could not enter into a journalism or similar field.  I can write anything that is graded within a certain amount of time, but without proper motivation (i.e. a grade or financial compensation), I will miss the deadline.  If I am motivated, I will still wait until the last minute to finish something.  So when I said that I would post “The Recents” weekly, I should have specified that I would miss a week or two sometimes.  Okay, often.

Lately, I have been incredibly busy, which means I have been incredibly tired as well.  I do not write in this blog until the girls are in bed.  All three girls are in soccer on different days.  I have been interviewing and job searching.  I also have been babysitting for my friend who had another baby!  Exhaustion has been taking precedence over blogging lately, so I apologize.  Now that I am here, I present you with my latest recents:

Music:  oh, music.  I feel like I do not listen to anything but the “Frozen” soundtrack or One Direction as of late.  Sorry, no great suggestions this week, although I have been stalking *cough* browsing the Fall Out Boy YouTube site and enjoying their videos on their latest album.  That counts, right?

TV/Movies:  I rented a documentary called “God Loves Uganda” about missionaries in that country, particularly leading up to the law that punishes homosexuality by death in Uganda.  I am very excited to watch it!  On another note, my guilty pleasure returned this week.    The Real Housewives of Orange County is back, so you know I will be watching that as well.

Books:  I believe I have admitted that before I see a movie based off a book, I like to read the book.  Since you know this, please do not judge what I am about to say:  I have been sucked into the Vampire Academy series.  It is the epitome of a teen series, but I am addicted. This is not really surprising, since I love vampires, but this series is written at the teen level.  I love it, but I also feel too old to read it.  Does that make sense?  Despite this, I love the books.  I am on book four already!

I am also reading “Eva Braun:  Life with Hitler” and am totally engrossed.  There is so much mystery around Hitler’s mistress, but she was the other half of a dictator that shaped history.  My nerd is showing!

Food:  dieting sucks.  I have been trying to be more conscious of my food intake while also getting back into my gym routine.  I have been vigilant in inputting my food into “My Fitness Pal” app on my phone, and I have realized that so many of the delicious foods I love drain away my daily calorie intake.  OMG, I’m boring myself talking about this!  I’m eating a lot of vegetables and fruits lately, and I just rediscovered my love for Greek yogurt with Nutella and raspberries.  If you haven’t eaten this, try it.  You’ll thank me later.

Topics of interest:  babies!  So many people related to me/friends with me are having children, and I love it.  Babies are adorable – I was holding my friend’s new son, and I remembered all the cute little faces and body scrunches newborns do in their first weeks of life.  I love it, and I will gladly hold/babysit/squeeze anyone’s babies if the opportunity arises (though not strangers – that would make me a crazy person).

All the babies make the husband and I question if our family is complete at three girls.  We never rule out the opportunity of another child, but we also recognize that we have finally reached that phase of parenthood where we are “good,” if that makes any sense.  The girls are all at great ages and are becoming more independent.  In less than six months, they will all be in school (yes!). Are we done with the baby phase of our life?  Is it responsible to have another child given our military life?  We never rule anything out, but for right now, I’ll just love on my new nephew from afar and will squeeze the babies here (but not too tight).

Goals:  keep working out every day.  Even if I do not get  my usual workout, it is nice to at least get a walk or some circuit workouts in each day.  I have been doing this for over a month, and I feel so much better.  I also need to get ready for my upcoming trip to Spain.  Finally, my baby brother is coming to stay this summer!  So I want to plan an awesome summer for him.  I have been job hunting like crazy, to no avail, so if I am unemployed, at least I can spend some quality time with him and the girls this summer.

On a final note, Happy Easter to all!  I will be spending the weekend at soccer practices and games, an Easter egg hunt, egg coloring with the family, and a relaxed holiday with many phone calls to family in the states.  I hope you all enjoy your holiday no matter how you celebrate it!

Day trip: Flossenbürg

We love a good day trip.  We recently took a very scenic drive to Flossenbürg, about an hour from our house.  I was taking the girls there because there is an old castle there.  However, there is more to this small town than an ancient castle on the hill.

The castle was amazing though.  The ruins of a castle are prominent as you enter Flossenbürg.  The construction of this castle is said to have begun in 1100; however, the structure was destroyed in the Thirty Years War and never continued.  The ruins are amazing, even if one does not enjoy European history.  We hiked the short but steep distance up the hill, ate a picnic lunch, then climbed the many narrow steps to the top.  The top of the castle measures 745 meters, and the view is worth the climb.  I was so proud of the girls for not complaining during the walk, and I appreciated their sympathy as I panicked every time they slipped on the stairs or neared the railing.  The fall on the other side would have been treacherous!  We also discovered that I am the one instilling the fear of death in the girls, as I mentioned numerous times that the fall would kill them.  Eh, at least my children have a healthy and extensive fear of death, right?

Picnic lunch outside the castle
Picnic lunch outside the castle
Castle ruins - Flossenbürg
Castle ruins – Flossenbürg


Exploring the castle.
Exploring the castle.


View from the top of the town of Flossenbürg.
View from the top of the town of Flossenbürg.
Those stairs almost killed e - I do not know how I did not lose 10 pounds just shuffling the girls up and down these!
Those stairs almost killed me – I do not know how I did not lose 10 pounds just shuffling the girls up and down these!

I had heard that there was a concentration camp in Flossenbürg as well.  I loved World War I and II history, and I was excited to see this place.  There were no extermination camps in Germany, so I thought that this camp would be less devastating to witness for the girls.  I want them to learn history as it really happened, but I also do not want to expose them to elements of war, death, and destruction before they are ready to understand them.  KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg seemed to be an ideal first attempt at some devastating history lessons for the girls.

I was not prepared as to how I would feel touring my first concentration camp.  As I said, this was not an extermination camp.  However, the conditions of the prisoners here were no less tragic.  The camp has retained its regal entry gate, a few buildings for museums, the guard towers, the crematorium, and burial grounds.  As soon as I walked through the gates, I felt a sadness upon me.  So much discrimination, starvation, torture, and injustice occurred on the very grounds that I was walking.

Entrance to KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg
Entrance to KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg
A sample of records from the camp.
A sample of records from the camp.

It was amazing to see that the citizens of Flossenbürg had preserved the camp but had also built houses and businesses right outside this camp.  It was obvious that the area was meant to be preserved for posterity and history, but that the town wished to move on as well.

Camp grounds.
Camp grounds.
The underground entrance to the crematorium.
The underground entrance to the crematorium.

Lorelei and Addison did not really understand what they were witnessing, and I was perfectly amenable to this.  They were quiet and respectful as I asked them to be.  Anya, my child genius, understood every part of this area.  She stood speechless at the doors of the crematorium, shielded her sisters from photos of the dead, and asked questions about the shower and barber areas of the in processing building.  I feel like our visit provided her with knowledge but insight as well.

Powerful words.
Powerful words.


The shower room.
The shower room.

This was a very sad place.  At least 30,000 deaths were recorded at this camp from hunger, exhaustion, and execution.  At one point, the camp received 15,000 new prisoners as the war ended and the prisoners were moved from the death camps in Eastern Europe.  As more prisoners entered the camp, the need for executions increased towards the end of World War II.  KZ-Flossenbürg was liberated by the 90th Infantry Division in 1945, and there are many graves and memorials to those who died and those who aided in the liberation.  There is a section dedicated to the differing cultural groups that were imprisoned at the camp, and it makes one wonder if your own people would have been imprisoned at this time simply for your heritage.  Anya and I learned a great deal during our visit, and were left feeling haunted and enlightened.

A plaque dedicated to the US Army for the liberation.
A plaque dedicated to the US Army for the liberation.


For such a small town, Flossenbürg proved to be very historical. from 1100 to World War II.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time and learned a great deal about this nation.  If you have a chance to explore any concentration camp, I would recommend it, and Flossenbürg was an excellent first camp to expose the girls to.

The Recents: 31 March 2014

Sad news friends:  my iPhone has a scratch.  It is not a deep scratch and is not effecting its performance.  Despite this, I am a little sad.  I have had every version of the iPhone up to the iPhone 5 (current phone).  I have dropped it, had one stolen, and have had one just quit.  I have never had a scratch though!  I do not know how it happened, but it definitely put a damper on an otherwise fabulous Monday.

Enough of my first-world problems – here are the recents for this week:

Music:  we took a day trip this weekend, and we listened to a lot of One Direction on the drive.  It pains me to admit this, but I do not mind this band.

TV/Movies:  I finally watched “12 Years a Slave,” and it was so sad.  It was a great movie though.  I need to catch up on “The Walking Dead” and “The Vampire Diaries” this week.  I am back to using my iPad on the treadmill to catch up on my shows!

Books:  an autobiography of Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress.  No one has really published a decent account of her life or explained her influence on Hitler.  In the book, the author explains that both during and after World War II, no one wanted to explain Hitler’s love for this woman because it would humanize him and show a personal side to the dictator.  This would have been detrimental because Hitler was supposed to be fully committed to Germany.  Also, who wants to feel anything besides distaste and horror for this man?  The book has been interesting so far.

Food:  I ate one of the best döner kebab sandwiches today, of course from a little stand outside a hardware store.  I am now determined to find out how to recreate the sauce in that sandwich!  My friend is also going to teach me how to make really good biscuits and gravy, so I’m excited for that, too.

Topics of interest:  how to parent a pre-teen without losing my every-living mind.  I have to be able to manage this stage because the next stage, the teen years, is going to be even harder!

Goals for the week:  keep working on the yard.  In this house, my back yard is actually the yard that faces the street, making it my front yard.  I have been slowly trying to make it more beautiful, and I want to keep working on this.   The husband also comes home this week (yay!), so getting the house in order is a priority.  I do not want him to think I let the house fall apart when he is gone for a long time!  It really doesn’t, but I like him to think that I make an effort.


In Europe, we had our Daylight Savings Time yesterday, and that one measly hour forward is kicking our butts.  Good night all!

The Recents 26 March 2013

So I missed a date for my weekly “recents.”  Oops!  I’ve been doing a lot during the day lately, so I’m exhausted at night.  But here they are, your weekly dose of aralacarpenterdaily recents…

Music: I love All Time Low.  I really do.  Somedays, I cannot stop listening to this band.

TV/Movies: Catching up on How I Met Your Mother, and hopefully seeing Divergent!  I read the books, so I’m hoping the movie lives up to them.

Books: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and the third Vampire Academy book.

Food: I’m back on a diet – yuck.  I have an app called My Fitness Pal that I love and have used before.  It tracks your calories and uses your weight and goals to give you a daily calorie estimate.  You can gain more calories by exercising, and it helps you understand how many calories you are intaking with every meal.  So for this week, I really do not have any fun food for you.  However, I am loving me some broccoli this week.  Boring, but still delicious.

Topics of interest: what do you all think of the Kanye/Kim Vogue cover?  I know I am talking about it, giving more attention to these people, but it pops up so much on my news feeds and websites.  I do not think it is that big of a deal for them to be on the cover of a fashion magazine, and it is not worth wasting my time to complain about.  Thoughts?

Goals for the week: workout every day.  So far, so good!  I also want to deep clean my house.  I have been neglecting my cleaning duties lately, and it’s starting to show.  Finally, I really want to go through my craft supplies and reorganize/purge.  Maybe it’s the spring air, but I want to declutter and reorganize!

Why am I doing this quiz?

Do you remember when social media and chatting first came about? Everyone had AOL or an AIM account, right?  When I was a preteen (yes, that’s when I remember it becoming popular), I had an AIM account.  The most popular thing to do was to complete quizzes that were all about you, then posting your results for all your family and friends to see.  You know, just in case they wanted to know even more about you.  Such a waste of time and usually not entirely revealing.  However, it did help one when bored.

I am telling you all this because  – flashback! – I am completing one of those lovely quizzes for you all.  Many of you only know me through this blog, so perhaps you will learn something new.  If not, know that I spent an extraordinary amount of time completing this quiz for no reason outside of boredom.  Enjoy!


Full name:  Rachel Irene Carpenter

Date of Birth: 25 October 1984

Birthplace: Davenport, IA

Current Location: Germany!  No specifics though :)

Eye Color: Green

Hair Color: naturally dirty blonde.  However, I have been dying my hair red since I was 16 years old.  Right now, it is a pretty vibrant and awesome shade of red

Height: 5’7”

Heritage: Too many to pin them down!  I am really an American, a great mixture of many things.  I do know that there is a little of Irish, Welsh, gypsy, and American Indian in there.

Piercings:  4 in the ears, 1 in the nose.  I had 2 in my belly button but after 3 kids, I quit putting them back in.  I really want another piercing before I turn 30, but I remember the pain too vividly!

Tattoos: 5


Band/Singer: ooh, too hard!  If I’m being honest – All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and Paramore.

Song:  Again, hard!  “Black Balloon” by the Goo Goo Dolls, “Saturday” by Fall Out Boy, “Monument” by A Day to Remember, and “Helena” by My Chemical Romance

Movie:  I LOVE movies!  Inception, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and scary movies

Disney Movie:  Sleeping Beauty

TV show:  Varies constantly.  Right now, it’s Game of Thrones, Parks and Recreation, The Vampire Diaries, and Law and Order:  SVU

Color: Black

Food:  Chocolate and pasta

Pizza topping:  spinach and red peppers, or pineapple.

Ice-Cream Flavor: Mint

Drink (alcoholic): Chianti

Soda: I really do not drink a lot of soda, but Dr. Pepper is still a fave

Store: Currently the Depot store here in Germany and Zara

Clothing Brand: I am a die-hard Gap fan.  I also really love Zara, H&M, and Forever 21

Season: Autumn

Month:  June

Holiday/Festival:  I love holidays, so we do them all pretty well.  I have to admit that Christmas is my favorite though

Flower:  Stargazer lilies

Make-Up Item:  Benetint stain and mascara

Board game:  I’m pretty awesome at Scrabble

This or That:

Sunny or rainy: Sunny

Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate.

Fruit or veggie: Veggies

Night or day:  Both

Sour or sweet: Sweet

Love or money:  Love, although I wouldn’t mind love AND money

Phone or in person: In person.

Looks or personality:  Personality, because you have to actually like the person beyond their looks.  Some of the most beautiful people have the worst personalities.

Coffee or tea: Coffee, then more coffee.  I do like tea, too.

Hot or cold: Hot for beverages, cold for body temperature.


Goal for this year: I already revealed these in another post!  I am really working on that reading goal though.

Most missed memory: Spending time with my Grandma.  She was so awesome.  I still miss her and think of her at random moments, like eating a cheese slice out of the fridge for a snack or watching Carey Grant.

Best physical feature:  I really like my hair and try to take good care of it!  I like my upper back too.

First thought waking up: Coffee!  and I wish the dog would let herself outside…

Hypothetical personality disorder: BDD, or body dysmorphic disorder.  I actually think I have a slight version of this already since no matter how hard I work or how I diet, I think my body and face are icky.

Preferred type of plastic surgery: Despite the answer above, I do not want plastic surgery.  My husband loves me like this, stretch marks and all, so I am good!

Sesame street alter ego: Rosita.  Look her up!

Fairytale alter ego: Hmmm….anything royal!  My favorite Disney princess is Sleeping Beauty, so I guess I’ll go with that one.

Most stupid remark: I hate that I call people “Dude!”  I really need to stop that!

Worst crime: I am a law-abiding citizen :)  So I guess my worst crime is jaywalking?

Greatest ambition: To keep gaining more knowledge.  Even after many degrees and so much time in school, I love learning.  I also really want to learn how to play the guitar and to teach piano at some point to my girls.

Greatest fear: Death, in any form.  I am terrified of dying.

Darkest secret: I’ve been arrested.  I will not tell you what for, but it’s my most embarrassing secret.

Favorite subject: English!  Anything with reading or writing.

Strangest received gift: A Billy Ray Cyrus cd from my cousin, many years ago.  It was strange but awesome, because 1)  we were really young, 2) I hate country music, and 3) he gave me his instead of buying his own.  I loved it for that more than anything.  Families can be amazing!

Worst habit: worrying about unnecessary and improbable things.  Anxiety sucks.

Do You:

Smoke: Not anymore!  beyond two minor slips, I quit smoking in October 2008.  yay!

Drink: Yes.  Wine is fabulous.

Curse: Yes, but only when I am angry.  That’s how Andy knows I am really mad.

Shower daily: yes, but I wash my hair only 1-2 times a week.  It’s a lot of work!

Like thunderstorms: Love them!  

Dance in the rain: Not in awhile

Sing: Always!  Especially in the car.

Play an instrument: Piano.  I played the saxophone for awhile in junior high, too.

Get along with your parents: My mom is one of my best friends!  My dad is not in the picture at this point in my life.

Wish on stars: No

Believe in fate: I don’t think so.

Believe in love at first sight: I believe in strong feelings upon first sight.  Love takes time and development.

Can You:

Drive: Yes, and pretty well!

Sew: Yes

Cook: Exceptionally.  It’s one of my favorite things.

Speak another language: English is my strong one, for obvious reasons.  I remember and can speak Spanish much better than I give myself credit for.  My Italian was conversationally decent, and I’m progressing in my German every day!

Dance: Always.

Sing: Not well enough to make a profession out of it, but I’m not tone deaf either.

Touch your nose with your tongue: Almost!

Whistle: Yes

Curl your tongue: Yes

Have You Ever:

Eaten Sushi: Yes.  For someone who is big on non-mushy food, I do like sushi.  My favorite is tatamaki and eating edamame whole while waiting for my order.

Been in Love: I still am (mushy moment).

Skipped school: Only once, my senior year.  I took my punishment of 5 detentions.  Those were the only detentions I ever served!

Made prank calls: If you have not, you obviously never attended a slumber party.  Do kids do prank calls now that everyone has caller ID?

Sent someone a love letter: I sent Andy so many letters when he was in basic training and tech school.  We have all of them in a shoe box.  If I read them now, I almost die of embarrassment at how immature and sappy I was.

Stolen something: Never from a store.  I used to steal my sister’s clothes all the time though!  To be fair, she took mine, too.

Cried yourself to sleep: Only a few times.  My husband is in the military – enough said.

Other Questions:

What annoys you most in a person?

Immaturity as an adult.  If you are over the age of 25 – and that’s generous – you should be somewhat grown up.  

Are you right or left handed?


What is your bedtime? 

It varies.  I have to wake up so early with the girls, so weekday bedtime is usually between 2200-2300.  

Name three things you can’t live without: 

Coffee, my phone, and a book.

What is the color of your room? 

Ugh, it’s all white.  I’m trying to decide if I should paint an accent wall.  We will be here for awhile, but do I really want to repaint it before we leave?

Do you have any siblings? 

2 sisters, then 2 brothers.  And I love them all madly!

Do you have any pets? 

We have one dog – Emma.  She is a chocolate lab, and she is the best dog!  Even on days when she digs all the garbage out or tries to jump in front of a car, I love her.

Would you kill someone you hate for a million dollars? 

No.  A million dollars won’t last forever, but that guilt will be with you always.

What is you middle name? 

Irene.  It’s my mom’s middle name and my great-grandma’s name.

What are you nicknames? 

When I was little, I was nicknamed “The Queen” by my family – and I still love it!  Girls can call me “Rach” but not boys.  It’s for a weird reason, but it’s true.

Are you for or against gay marriage?  


What are your thoughts on abortion? 

I think that I do not have the right to tell someone how to live or what to do.  However, I could not have one myself.

Do you have a crush on anyone?

Andy and I are allowed to have crushes on celebrities, and we tell each other about them.  For example, he really crushes on Katy Perry (and who wouldn’t?).  I won’t say mine, but who doesn’t love a bass player or the Hemsworth brothers?

Are you afraid of the dark? 

Andy sleeps in pitch black darkness, so usually not.  If I’ve watched a horror movie, I might be guilty of leaving a light on…

How do you want to die? 

I really don’t ever want to die.  I hope that when I finally am really old and ill, I will accept death.  However, I am so afraid of death that I do not even picture it.

What is the largest amount of popsicles that you have eaten on one day? 

Only two.  I hate brain freeze.

Would you take a bullet for the one you love? 

Maybe a flesh wound :)  Of course I would!

What is the last law you’ve broken? 

Speeding.  I like to know how hefty a fine will be so I can know how much I can speed without breaking the bank.

In a Member of the Opposite Sex:

Hair color:  Not picky!

Eye color: I really like Andy’s grey eyes.  Different or striking colors are good.

Height: Taller than me.

Weight:  Not a huge issue.  Not fat, but doesn’t need to be a bodybuilder either.

Most important physical feature: Height and hair.  Hair is important people, and so is what you do with what you have.

Biggest turn-off: Arrogance, above everything.

Did you all enjoy this?  Find this entertaining?  Would like your time/brain cells left?  If anything, this probably made you feel a little nostalgic.  Buenas noches mis amigos!  I do use that Spanish from time to time.  :)

The Randoms: 17 March 2014

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  We all wore our green today.  Someday, I hope we can be in Ireland for this special day, but this year, I a content to wear a little green, eat some potatoes (not corned beef, but still), and write on this blog.  So here are this week’s recents:

Music:  Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens.  First of all, these are awesome band names!  And I also love their music.  Listening to “Low” and “Carnephenalia” on repeat this week.

TV/Movies:  12 Years a Slave, Frozen, and American Hustle are all on the agenda this week.  So excited!  I am so tired at the end of the night though.  It will be a miracle if I can watch any of them before the weekend.

Books:  The Vampire Academy series.  Yes, it’s teen series.  They are easy reads and entertaining.  I also started Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Food:  juicing is back!  I feel so much better if I can make a fruit/veggie combo juice and chug it.  Drink your vitamins!

Topics of interest:  Andy is a little concerned about the missing Malaysia plane.  Where did it go?  Is it a cover-up of some kind?  So interesting.  I am also trying to prepare for my upcoming trip to Madrid and to find places for day trips during Spring Break next month.

Goals for the week:  workout every day.  I was thinking of when I felt the best (and honestly, when I was thinnest after having my girls), and it was a few years ago.  I was very food and exercise conscious, and I am trying to get back into that routine.  It is not about depriving yourself or working yourself to death, but there is hard work and dedication.   Wish me luck!  I’m already two workouts down today.  :)

The Recents: 10 March 2013

I hate my dryer.  Because we live in government leased housing, I have to report all my problems to the housing officials here.  My dryer has not been working, and the tube that releases steam from your dryer <insert the correct name here> has been merely collecting mass amounts of water for about a week now.  My new dryer was delivered today and while is is new, it sucks.  End rant for today, even if it is frivolous.  Here are the recents for this week:

Music:  Having spent many, many hours in the car listening to my own music this past weekend, I have realized that my taste in music is fabulous.  :)  I listened to a lot of Panic at the Disco, The Hush Sound, Rihanna, Silverstein, and A Day to Remember.

TV/Movies:  3rd season of Cougartown, catching up on Law and Order:SVU, and The Counselor.

Books:  I bought a new book on Columbine titled with the same name, and I am anxious to start it.  I am only nine books into my challenge for the year, so I need to get moving!

Food:  buttered toast, with real butter.  Simple, right?  But it’s my go-to food right now.  I have been making a lot of lemon-pistachio biscotti lately, which is not helping my waistline.

Topics of interest:  this lovely Russia/Ukraine fiasco.  What are your thoughts?  I feel like anything Obama tries to threaten, Russia is going to take with a grain of salt.  Right now, our administration has been administering promises and threats without any backing.  Then again, do we need to do anything?  Can we stay out of it, or do we have a responsibility to quash this before Putin takes this any further?

Goals for the week:  read, a lot.  I really need to get moving on my own goal for the year.  I also want to be more helpful with the girls in their homework.  I take for granted that they are so self-sufficient.  They take initiative and complete things on their own.  I also make sure that we always have the supplies and  crafts they might need for a project, so they usually do this on their own.  Despite this independence, I want to help more.  I will make more of an effort this week!

5 hours, 4 cities, 3 criers, 2 cars, and a great road trip

The husband has been at NCOA, a school for non-commissioned officers, for the last two weeks.  Combine that with the other TDYs and hockey tournament, and we have barely seen him.  Since NCOA is only a four hour drive west of us, the girls and I drove to see him this weekend.  I did my research and found out that there is a multitude of places to see and things to do around the area where he is staying, so I planned a full weekend while we visited him.

My title includes many numbers – curious as to why?  Our initial trip was five hours long.  My plan was to get up early, let the girls miss school, and drive to Trier first.  We would sightsee, then head to see Andy.  However, we had a late start due to many different things (almost all my fault), and I decide to head to Saarbrücken instead.  Five hours later, we arrived in this busy city and were overwhelmed.  The entire city has beautiful architecture and gorgeous bridges over the river.  This is very much a “city,” with shopping, sights, and traffic!  We did not stay long here because the girls were tired.  I also did not really get any pictures because I was watching three girls very carefully!  So sorry about that.  However, it is a wonderful city.

We then headed to Kaiserslautern to see Andy.  My mother-in-law informed me that this city is the sister city for Davenport, Iowa.  This is where Andy and I are from!  We stayed on the military base where Andy is in school, so we enjoyed the comforts of American food and convenience.

The next day, we all went to Trier.  This is reputed to be the oldest city in Germany.  This city is modern but also full of history, with  many Roman ruins and an excellent Dom within the town center.   There is also great shopping there, in case you were wondering.  :)

Porta Nigra, Trier
Porta Nigra, Trier
Dom, Trier
Dom, Trier
Garden at the Dom
Garden at the Dom

We spent the rest of the weekend with the husband.  As a military family, we always predicted that at least one of our kids would hate having their dad gone so much.  We figured out which one that is – Lorelei.  She admitted to being angry that Daddy was gone so much, and she cried the night before and the day that we left.  She is always the one who is slowest to warm up to Andy when he returns from being away, and she is the typical middle child.  It kills Andy to have one of his girls be so upset or angry at his job.  He spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday morning trying to make Lorelei happy.  By the time we left, all three of us had cried at least once.  I always cry upon leaving, even if I know it is only for a little while.  But to see Lorelei and Andy cry?  Horrible!

I also drove the husband’s new and fancy BMW back from Kaiserslautern.  Why, you ask?  On the way back from Trier, Martina the minivan made a weird shudder, decelerated, then showed a flashing “Check Engine” light.  Not good.  We could not take the van in right away, but I was very worried about driving it four hours back to our house.  So, I took the BMW back home, and Andy is taking the van in to a repair shop on his lunch break.   He thinks this is a treat for me since his car is VERY nice and modern.  However, listening to three girls complain about being cramped and touching each other for more than four hours is not my idea of  treat.  For the next month, I have to endure this.  Keep your fingers crossed that the van needs minimal repairs (although from what I researched online, it is not looking good).

Despite the crying and the car troubles, it was a fabulous weekend.  We managed to see Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken, Trier, and Heilbronn within three days.  We spent time with Andy, whom we all miss a lot.  Driving around the western part of Germany only cemented my love for the region, as I drove past castles, monuments, and the Weinstraße.  Now if only Martina would cooperate on the next road trip…

Fasching 2014

What is fasching?  Compare it to Mardi Gras, Carnivale, etc.  In Germany, this season last from 11 November at 23:11 at night (11-11-11, to be exact) and ends with Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent.  Each area celebrates in their own way.  I did not realize that the season lasted this long.  When we lived in Italy, Carnevale di Venezia was huge (see my post about this).  In our little town of Vilseck, there are several celebrations.

There are smaller celebrations in towns depending on the club and who throws the party.  Many towns hold a “Ladies Night,” which is held on the Thursday before Lent begins.  On this day, women rule in Germany!  There is record of women overtaking town halls, city councils, and businesses for this day.  The best tradition, outside of the huge party in each town, is the cutting of mens’ ties.  Women can cut off the ties of men on this day to symbolize their power.  Funny, right?

This past Sunday, Vilseck held a Fasching parade, which ran through the entire town center and most of the town.  The girls and I walked down from our house with our friends.  It was fantastic!  The parade participants were eclectic in costumes and floats, and they literally threw tons of candy into the crowd.  My German-lady basket came in handy to catch and collect all the goodies.  Europe is notorious for being a little more acceptable with sexuality, but there was only one float that I shielded the girls from (a bunch of men in Borat-style swimsuits gyrating?  Meredith helped me hide them from that!).  It was awesome!

If you ever feel like attending the festivities through Fasching, and I highly recommend it, the best tip I can give you is to drink.  Seriously.    Everyone in the parade was loaded.  Adults in the parade were handing out shots while toting wagons with crates for empty beer bottles.  There were entire floats of drunken people dancing and swinging their beer bottles.  I am not suggesting that one needs to be drunk to enjoy the festival, but from Sunday to Fat Tuesday at least, it is a period of letting go.  And while in this crowd, it feels fun to swig a beer or two, each some bratwurst, and let loose for a little while in a ridiculous costume.  That was the other one – wear a costume!  Even if it stupid, wear it.  There is no right or wrong thing to wear.

Next year, I will be better prepared.  Here are a few pictures to enjoy until then!

Fasching 2014
Fasching 2014
Fasching 2014
Fasching 2014
Two of my girls and I at the parade
Two of my girls and I at the parade
Fasching 2014
Fasching 2014

Mom truths

So a blog I follow, the Iowa City Moms Blog, has started posting “Mom Truths” in the past week.  These are pictures and blog posts of the truths that moms tend to hide in an effort to appear “normal.”  I really like all of the posts I have been seeing on their blog and their Instagram.  It makes me feel like all moms are united in the struggle to raise our children as best as we can while also admitting that we all do the things that we need to do, even if they are not pretty.  So far, no one has posted anything that I have not either done or considered doing myself!

In light of their honesty campaign, I would like to share a few of my “Mom Truths:”

– I know that the only reason I survived my undergraduate and graduate education is by using the TV to keep my children busy.  I accomplished a majority of my schoolwork at night when my girls were sleeping.  However, every Sunday was crunch day.  The girls knew that we were not leaving the house and that if they could be quiet, I would let them watch as much TV as they wanted.  All they had to do was let Mommy type and read her books all day.  Yes, the TV babysat my children.  I always censor what they watch and would be in the room with them, and I’m not ashamed to admit this as I stare proudly at those diplomas on the wall.  We all do what we need to, right?

– Pregnancy scares me, even after having three children.  It is painful, exhausting, and nine months of giving your body over to another human being, followed by a hopefully short but excruciating labor and many months of getting your own body back.  It’s selfish, but I like having my body to myself.

– I sometimes bribe Addie with M&Ms.  Today, it was the only way I could get her to go to preschool.  It’s her favorite candy and every once in awhile, I pull out this special bribe.

– Even if I have a cool exterior, I feel like a hot mess 90% of the time.  I constantly feel like I am falling behind in what is the “norm” for mothers, that I do not volunteer enough, dress my kids well enough, spend enough time with them etc.  I hate that I feel this way, but I do.

– I try really hard not to lie to my children.  I like to think that I creatively tell the truth.  For example, Anya (my child genius)  was telling me everything she learned about Henry VIII and his reign.  Mind you, she read and learned this on her own.  She was explaining how he was married to Queen Catherine, then divorced her to marry Anne Boleyn.  She loudly proclaims, in front of all the other children walking home from the bus, that Queen Elizabeth I was originally called a bastard.  She said that actual word.  A part of me wanted to shush her, but I merely pulled her aside to say, “You are not wrong.  That word is not such a nice word though, so don’t say it in front of the other kids.”  I think that children can be told the truth while also having it presented in a better, less offensive way.

– I tell my kids that places are closed when I do not want to go there. For example:  “oh, the food court is closed today, so we cannot go there.”  Works every time.  This kind of lie does not bother me in the least.

– I have hidden treats from my children so that I do not have to share them.  This includes but is not limited to :  the last cupcake, good chocolate, Twix bars, croissants, and hummus.  Yes, hummus.  Not even a little sorry about that.

These are just a few of the truths I could share.  We all do the very best we can, hoping that our children will someday grow up and appreciate our time and sacrifices like I do of my mother’s.  What are your “Mom Truths” that you are willing to share?

***Follow the Iowa City Moms Blog for more truths and even better mom blog posts at  If you love pictures as much as I do, follow them on Instagram at icmomsblog.

Andy – Rachel – Anya – Lorelei – Addison

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