Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top 10 Things That Always Made Christmas Great For Me

Grandpa Bates - Having him around made everything memorable though. Everything about my grandfather was great. From his laugh to his kind and generous nature to his love of and loyalty to his family. I was lucky enough to share a handful of Christmas’s with him. He even started a very key Christmas tradition that my mom still carries on with, of opening a pair of new pajamas on Christmas Eve to wear to bed that night.

Mom - It was her who made Christmas, not that fat guy in the red suit at the mall. Only a woman with a huge untamed inner child would spend so many hours stalking her prey (our toys and other gifts) in the aisles of the local toy and department stores and tirelessly wrap mountains of gifts like she did. She has even been known to brave frigid temperatures in order to stand in a long line at the butt crack of dawn in spite of the potential for hand to hand mom combat to make sure a certain little girl with big glasses had a Cabbage Patch Kid under the tree Christmas morning. For that and so much more, I thank you Mom!

The Billion Light Christmas Tree - This one also goes out to my Mom because it is in fact her Christmas light OCD that we have to thank for the brightest tree ever. Clark Griswold would have been envious of our Christmas trees. Hek, we even had to keep a supply of sunscreen handy for when we turned it on so as not to suffer third degree burns from it’s glow.

Heirloom Ornaments - I absolutely love Christmas ornaments, especially the one’s of the much older than me variety. I was fortunate enough to inherit a load of ornaments that once belonged to my mother, my grandmother and even my great grandmother. I will cherish them forever.

Christmas Cookies - Do I really need to say much?

Snow - I just love the snow in general, although I know many of you reading this in Michigan and Canada at the moment are quite sick of it. A nice dusting or dumping if you are lucky enough, is particularly appreciated on Christmas day.

Christmas Breakfast - This is a tradition that Marshall and I started, it always consists of bacon or sausage and waffles or crepes with a lot of Nutella in our house.

Bulldog Prezzies - Gemma and Shocker seriously love getting presents. We also love to watch them open them. Those nubby tails go at least 90 mph. Besides, giving them a little something first distracts them from being too nosey about what we do.

Eric’s Bed Head - Without fail every Christmas morning (well really every morning) my brother would jump out of bed (crawl in later years) with the most glorious bed head I had ever seen. It was kind of like his version of a Santa hat.

The German Christmas Markets - Living in Germany has opened our eyes to many different new traditions, however I particularly love the Christmas markets. They begin at the end of November or beginning of December and run up until Christmas. There is nothing as charming as visiting one of these markets as the snow gently falls with the scent of Glühwein, and roasted almonds in the air. I know, it's so sweet it gives me a toothache too!

So what are some things that have made Christmas great for you?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bim 1, Luck O'the Irish 0

I know it has been forever since I last posted but to be fair, there just was not a whole lot going on aside from that death match of Carcassonne with Marsh and Chris when we went down to Ingolstadt. Oh, and just in case Chris reads this, I feel that I should mention the fact that I not only won the game, but I pretty annihilated he and Marsh. I'm not bragging, just stating the facts. Anyhow, please read on.

On St. Patrick’s Day Marshall and I decided to venture down to Nürnberg to meet up with some other English speaking people at an Irish pub called O’Shea’s. So we donned our finest greenery, in this case a green Mustard Plug shirt for him and a green Dropkick Murhpy’s shirt for myself, and hopped into Bim the BMW. The traffic was cooperative, the weather was relatively decent, so things were going swimmingly, well that is until Bim decided to magically turn our heat into air conditioning. How Bim takes it upon himself to make these decisions is really beyond me. I think we treat him pretty well to be honest. I mean we keep him clean, filled with nice gasoline, we keep his oil changed, his tires filled with the suggested air pressure and everything. So why would he turn on us like this? That ungrateful bucket of Bavarian bolts and scrap metal acts as though we have a soccer team of bratty children that we allow to write on his upholstery with crayons, wipe all forms of their bodily fluids all over his interior and blow raspberries on his windows all while neglecting his general maintenance needs. Well alas, after much button pressing on Marshall’s part, we pulled over to rest area and Marsh’s almost worse fears were confirmed because the coolant was in fact leaking like a nineteen year old American boy on his way home from his first night of drinking in Canada. Bim is such a bastard. Luckily though, my “always prepared” Scout of a husband happened to have a big jug of water and we were able to make it into Nürnberg with no more problems. However, Marsh thought it would be best to park the car and take the train into the city center just to be safe and avoid the stop and go traffic. When we finally arrived at O’Shea’s it was completely packed, like we are talking in danger of being trampled crowded. We knew the group we were meeting had reservations though, so Marsh pushed his way through the crowd and I tried my best to follow. I tell you, it was no easy feat to squirm through this place either, especially being a full figured gal. After doing what I realized was almost a complete lap around the place we found the group's table. If only we’d gone straight when we walked in rather than going to the right my self esteem would have been spared a little blow trying to squeeze through the crowd, but alas we found seats. We joined a table with five other’s from the Toytown group, two American guy’s, a woman from Spain, a German guy and his Brazilian wife. As luck would have it they were all very nice and likable. Although as the night wore on I came to realize that the American guy’s were not going to become my best pals. I found the guy who was from Royal Oak, Michigan (although he told everyone who didn’t know better that he lived in Detroit his whole life) to be particularly annoying. It is guys like this that are the reason that so many people the world over dislike Americans and why there is the stereotype of the “ugly American.” I can only hope that people don’t view me in the same light. Anyhow, we spent most of the night talking with the German / Brazilian couple and some of her friends that showed up later as there was definitely a noticeable divide between the regular crowd and the new crowd. All in all, we had a decent time and hope to maybe meet up with the nice German / Brazilian couple again.

The next day however, we realized that all was not well. Marshall checked the forum and came across and interesting post about how some “peasant” did not pay for their fish and chips and three pints of Guinness. Then there was another post in reply that mentioned how the “girl from Colberg” ordered fish and chips and then went on to say everyone else paid at the table but then eluded to the fact that perhaps this “girl from Colberg” had not paid her bill. Well guess who the “girl from Colberg” was? If you guessed me, then you would be correct. Although I think that at the ripe old age of twenty eight I should be considered a woman rather than a girl, and do not I live in a place called “Colberg,” but rather in a little obscure village outside of Coburg. Well those of you who know me can imagine what happened next. I of course was offended and just plain old ticked off. So I logged in and left a little reply informing them who I was and that although I did not pay for my fish and chips that my husband did and I was also sure to let them know that he paid for my one drink that was in fact a Coke and not three pints of Guinness. I even offered to reimburse whomever it was that had been left footing the bill for the unaccounted for food and drinks just to show my graciousness. Not bad for a lowly peasant girl hailing from Colberg huh? I cannot believe how catty and petty adults can be though. I suppose I was an easy target being one of the new people even though it was clearly just an accounting error which is understandable given how very crowded and hectic it was. In the end the accuser did apologize, most likely for fear of my wrath no doubt. I mean I do have a very formidable presence. So I will be quite hard pressed to join this particular group in the future. Hopefully we can find another group to meet up with somewhere a bit closer though.

As for Bim the BMW, I thought I would let everyone know that Marshall was able to fix him the following Saturday. A friend / coworker of Marsh’s helped him out by providing some assistance with replacing the part as well as with getting the part we needed. So Bim is back in action. I am seriously thinking of drawing on his upholstery with some crayons and blowing a few raspberries on his windows though.

This Sunday we have been invited to Gisela’s (she is our German mommy and dear friend) for an Easter breakfast with her family. So we are looking forward to that. We really are very lucky to have friends like her and her daughters Johanna and Annette. They along with Chris, Bernd, Stephan, Moritz, Michael, Helena, Liz, Nils, Rosie, Heike, Thomas, Ollie, and Uwe have been so wonderful to us.

Well my trip home is fast approaching and while I am going to miss Marsh, Gemma and Shocker I am certainly looking forward to it. I already have some plans to have a “girls night,” with my mom, aunties, Sara and Layla. I will also be meeting up with quite a few of my friends, visiting Di in Chicago, visiting the world’s best neighbor’s, and standing up in Amanda’s wedding, so long as we get this dress situation under control. Just yesterday I found out that some family from Tennessee might be coming up the weekend of May 1st as well. Maybe I’ll even get to meet Eric’s wife and the kids. So I think I will be pretty busy and the time will fly by. Seventeen more days to go!