Friday Fives: This Feels REALLY Weird to Say…

Today is the FIVE YEAR mark for John Paul and my’s wedded bliss!  It’s been FIVE YEARS since we decided to take the plunge into the “old” marrieds club by standing in front of our friends and family to exchange our vows and follow that up with a huge party.  And you know what?  It feels really freaking weird to say that it’s already been five years, but at the same time if feels really good because the last five years have been full, and mostly full of joy and geekiness at that.  Like any other couple, we’ve had our share of struggles between older family members passing away, loss of a very personal nature, financial struggles, and health issues, but I think that these have served as cementing moments in our relationship.  And while I’m looking forward to what will come our way, let’s take a moment and look over some throwback pictures:

Five Years in Pictures

//2009: year one


Love this shot of us. I need to get it printed out and framed when we get back to Indiana this year :)

//2010: year two


Germany round 1!


//2011: year three


Honeymoon 2.0 in the Black Forest and Switzerland.

//2012: year four

us 2012

JP (and Sally) visiting me during the pipeline field work. Photo taken in Peoria Illinois.  It was really good to see him after a couple months apart.

//2013: year five


Germany Round 2! “Fun” fact, this was taken a couple days before I ended up in the hospital. I can honestly say that JP was my champion through that crazy week, and I don’t know what I would have done without him.

//2014: today


Five Years!

Here’s to at least another 50 awesome years of marriage for us!
Happy 5th John Paul, I love you!

Dream Debates

Have you ever been woken from a dead sleep and know that even if you TRY to roll over and snuggle you’re not going to fall asleep again? I’ve been having a couple of those mornings lately, and this morning was one where the dream REALLY bugged me, and so much so that I didn’t even attempt to snuggle with JP but just got up to make myself a cup of tea. The bright side of this is that the camera battery is now charging for today’s vlog :p

Of all things my dream focused on me going into a meeting about Catholic scientists where I ended up not only defending my faith but also correcting a whole bunch of misconceptions — especially about the Church not being on board with the pursuit of scientific inquiry, and I kept raising my hand and going but but BUT:

(Image source)
Click the picture to find out more!

And it went on like this for a while with the nay-sayers saying no and me giving concrete evidence (including clearing up the whole Galileo mess…Church liked the science, but didn’t want him to play theologian!) THEN it ended with a priest coming in and saying that he wanted to clear things up and the main nay-sayer calling me a VERY INAPPROPRIATE name (hint, who was the face of Germany in WWII? that wouldn’t make you happy either!), and us walking out to find a hippie lady strumming a guitar singing THIS which just made me MAD and made me go on a whole Christ-is-the-son-of-God-made-flesh-and-he-dwelt-among-us rant.

Needless to say, I woke up in a somewhat complicated mood, so I woke up, made tea, and read a whole bunch of things online to make me feel better while JP peacefully slumbered on — though I did poke him to find out if he wanted coffee at one point.

OK, I’m off to get ready to go VLOG!!!

Being “On-Trend”

It’s no secret that I often feel like I’m lacking a part of my x-chromosome, meaning that I feel like I’m missing a girl gene or two.   This is especially true regarding clothing and hair — I attribute my ability to do my makeup fairly well to being involved in theater in high school and college.  So, it makes me ponder the ways of the world when my choice in German-made footwear is on trend.  Especially when that footwear takes at least a good two, if not more, years to break in so you don’t have battle wounds on your feet from the leather or on your soles from the cork adjusting for you.  But if you google “birkenstock trend” you’ll find LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of articles talking about em.  So I guess I’m “in” this summer?


Meet Thelma and Louise (my black pair), my feet with new blisters, and Lucy and Ethel (my newest gray pair)

I (sillily I might add!) decided to wear Lucy and Ethel, my newest pair, to the zoo on Friday and the result has been two really BAD blisters on the tops of my feet, “scuff marks” by the lower straps, three on the soles, and one on a poor pinkie toe.  Did I also say that I forgot to have a box of bandaids with me?  Thankfully we found the first aid station and I was able to get some to hold me out until we could find a Rossmann so I could grab some that were waterproof – an important element in the summer heat!  Granted, I would probably avoid some of the battle wounds if I broke my Birks in as directed here, but I was SUPER excited  so I wore them to the zoo.

Anyway, back to Birks being “in” – or is it “on”? – this summer.  Since I bought my first pair (Thelma and Louise) for my 25th birthday LAST time we were in Germany I’ve pretty much lived in them when the weather is warm, so I was SUPER excited to buy Lucy and Ethel last weekend, and given how I know prior to this year lots of people associated Birks with hippies I find it really funny that lots of fashion-forward types are into them, though at the same time it makes sense because they’re actually GOOD for your feet.

I also have to wonder if after these things are “out” if there will be a huge influx (at least in the States) of barely used (example Thelma and Louise are only 3 years old and are hardly worn out) will end up in thrift and consignment type places, which I find myself a little sad at that prospect.  Mrs. Munchkin has a pair of Birks she had owned for 20 years and I know my dad is going on 15ish with a pair of his, so I’m looking forward to walking many more miles in mine.  Aaaaand I really don’t know where I’m going with this… gotta love when the mind decides to “go poof” in the middle of writing a blog post… anyway, I guess to sum it up, it feels a little weird to be “in” this summer and I am going to continue to rock Birkenstocks when they’re “out” ;)

And if you’re interested, here’s the Weekend’s VLOG where I bought Lucy and Ethel!

Why Kid-Wrangling?

Since coming to Berlin I’ve been asked by multiple people in multiple situations why I chose to go with watching kids over finding something in the environmental field. There are several reasons and matching explanations.  Here’s the short answer.

First, prior to our move I DID try to get an internal transfer within the MegaCorp I worked for back in Indiana as there was a location in Berlin. I had the requisite technical experience, but my level of German was not where it needed to be. If the position had been more office and less field-based I might have been able to make it work, but the whole language-barrier thing makes working with contractors just a BIT harder. Oh, and on a way it is similar to trying to break into the medical field in a foreign language because there are very specific terms for the field that I would not have been exposed to in your average German class. Looking into the long-term, I really should look into some more specialized classes for my field and the corporate world.

Now after getting boots on the ground once we arrived in Berlin I could have looked for something environmental-related, but again there was the whole vocabulary thing, then there is the fact that finding a job in Berlin is tough due to there being SO much completion, and the thought of not finding something when I could very easily get something kid-related due to being a native English speaker seemed dumb.  So if you are planning on moving to Berlin in hopes to settle here, just count this as your warning that you’ll have a bit of an uphill battle.

Though, as I type this, I realized that I’m facing a very similar thing going back to Indiana… Oh the joys of looking for work :p  I’ve put in 50 applications since February and haven’t heard back on any. Oy.  That said, it’s not impossible, lots of people have managed to do it, but it will require you to do the leg work.  Also be sure that you do all the research about what you will need visa, work permit and insurance-wise.  I’ve been fortunate insofar as those are concerned with the accompanying spouse status I’ve had during the time we’ve spent in Germany.

So back to the topic at hand, Kid-wrangling. With the language thing in mind I figured that since I was successful in Hamburg that it would be fairly easy to find something in that area in Berlin. It turned out to be more or less that I was right, and through it I have met some wonderful people. In several cases it turned out that being a native English speaker from the States was an added bonus as my accent is preferred for some reason – though I’m not complaining about there being a preference!

I also chose to pursue kid-wrangling because it allowed me a little more flexibility — this turned out to be all-important with the health issues that I’ve encountered over the course of this last year. Of course I had planned to use the flexibility in pursuit of travel and strengthening my language skills instead of spending weekends in bed, but what happened happened.

Another reason that watching kiddos appealed to me is the relationship aspect — I still have a great relationship with Mrs. Munchkin and the boys, and both JP and I have become really good friends with Tex and his parents, and the Amigo family is awesome!  We’ve given the invitation to all of these families to send their kiddos over for a year to study abroad in the States when the kids are the right age.  Then there’s the fact that I really enjoy being around kids, and this helps keep the baby-bug away for just a touch longer.  Also working with German kids means that I’ve picked up a LOT of vocabulary that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise — I often joked before that prior to Berlin that I could speak “kinderdeutsch” thanks to working with the Munchkins in Hamburg.

So there you have it. This isn’t anything earth shattering, but it is a few of my reasons.

Now if you’ll excuse me, we’re off to go do some vlogging around this crazy city and I need to get our coffee cooling for tomorrow ;)

A Day in the Life – July 2014

07:34// Alarm goes off, hit what I assumed was the “snooze”, roll over and cuddle JP some more
09:01// look at DS after hearing hour chime thinking it was 8, only to find that it’s 9.  Ooops!  So I get out of bed.
09:09// log onto computer to check email, make replied and read comments (thanks for the smartphone input people!)
09:20// JP wanders into living room.
09:35// Facebook and the doorbell rings — UPS guy is here with an order for a friend of mine.  I’m taking some European goodies back for her and saving her a bit on shipping.
09:40// pull together a randomish breakfast, wash hair, get ready to head out – which included wearing my new birkies :D
10:06// head to trains
10:17// board regional to head into town, WE’RE GOING TO THE ZOO!!!
10:30// arrive at Potsdamerplatz, make a side trip to get a large iced coffee to split with JP before getting on the U2
10:50ish// arrive at zoo, buy tickets
11:00 to 15:00// SEE ALL TEH ANIMALS — here are a few highlight shots:











15:05// head to KaDeWe so I scope out a gift for a little man we know who is turning THREE this year, and to buy a Trappist beer and something cold to drink on the way home.
15:30// head to U2 to go home and get some grocery shopping done and dinner.  Also my feet HURT.  Breaking in birkies isn’t the funnest thing in the world >.<
16:00// on S25 going south!
16:30// grocery shopping, JP found an awesome looking mustard sauce.
17:00// home, put groceries away, open wordpress to start this post, JP gets dinner heating up (yay curried lentils and rice), I find an episode of ST:E to watch.
17:24// time to eat!

17:40// Put bowl in kitchen, then open the package that arrived this morning to make sure there isn’t anything broken and shoot her a message.
17:46// pull craft bag out so I can make a summer anklet.  I realized this morning that it’s freaking JULY and I still haven’t made one for 2014!
19:17// Dessert!  We had rote grütze with vanilla sauce :D  Anklet is about  1/3 finished.
19:54//  Onto episode three of Enterprise with a Pinterest and 20sb break.
20:17// back to making  my anklet.
20:48// As the episode of Enterprise end JP and I both burst out in a “Rock People, Rock People, Rock People” chant akin to the Crap People chant from South Park
20:58// Select and edit zoo pictures, then insert into this post.
21:13// back to working on anklet.
21:30// JP breaks out a beer to share — it reminds me of bacon!
21:47// Anklet finished and I’m now sportin’ it on my right side.
21:52// head into kitchen to gather all the pfand flaschen together to take back tomorrow, and brew some coffee for tomorrow morning (iced coffee in teh summer is awesome!).
22:07// decide to end post here since nothing more is going to happen tonight aside from changing into pajamas, a bit of facebook and teeth brushing before JP and I adjourn to the bedroom to watch a classic episode of Mother Angelica Live before going to sleep (something that had become part of our nightly ritual).  So g’night internet!

/End July 18, 2014


The Smartphone Debate

With our return the the US quickly approaching on the horizon and it means I’m looking into everything we need to do including planning our route back to Indiana so we can see friends and family, reserve a moving truck, and new phones for us — it  JP’s current US phone has a cracked screen making it a touch difficult to use.  This means that we’ve begun to talk and deliberate about IF we want to “join the 21st century” and get on the smartphone bandwagon.  There are of course pros and cons — pros include all the apps! (specifically German radio and dictionary access), cons include that whole technology addiction and the whole being constantly connected thing.  That said, I have a feeling we’re going to be upgrading in one way or another… maybe.

The debate got a little bit harder when (on my birthday no less!) Amazon announced their brand new fire phone, because it looks freaking cool so it’s piqued my interest in potentially upgrading (though I’d want to see reviews from people who have used the phone first).  The downside of the phone is that to buy it off contract it is SO expensive.  So I’ve been researching the heck out of other more affordable options.  Though there is a part of me that totally wants to splurge on a fire or iPhone…

When I asked JP what kind of phone he would be interested in phone-wise, and his only requirement is that he wants a full physical keyboard.  He’d be ok with something like our current phones, where you have the touch screen but it flips out to a keyboard.  He’s been pretty non-committal about whether he actually wants the whole smartphone, but then he’ll come out of the blue and say he’d love to be able to stream German radio or have his email.  So I’m thinking a blackberry?

For me I’m thinking about going more in the route of the kind of smartphone that everyone envisions, BUT I really am not a fan of how freaking HUGE some of them are — I want to carry a phone, not a freaking tablet, though I may not win that wone…  Right off the bat when I was chatting with a friend they said that I should get an iPhone for size, BUT, like I mentioned above, I’m not a huge fan of the cost to buy the phone itself.  Also I’m not sure that iOS is the right operating system for me.  I’ve played with iPhones (and iPads) in the past, but wasn’t necessarily wowed by it.  Which means that I’ve been looking at android and windows phones — two operating systems I have NO experience with (which means that I will probably be taking myself to Saturn or Media Markt soon to play with some phones).  I’m leaning more towards android due to it being more streamlined with Google, and being a gmail and drive user this seems like it’s important.  Though in many ways, mostly because I have no real frame o reference, the research on what TO buy is more frustrating than buying a new computer!

All of that said, I’m still at odds about upgrading phone-wise.  I worry about becoming overly-dependent on the phone.  I worry about the possibility of overdoing the social networking.  I worry about a lot of things. Though, I supposed I could just adhere to what my mom always said about the computer growing up: Yes it has games, but this is a TOOL not a TOY, and you should treat it as such.

In the time between, I do have a question for my readers:

If you have a smartphone what do YOU personally like about your model, operating system, etc?  I really am curious!