One lump or two?

Guten Tag!


The week has simply gotten away from me!  Ryan has been working extremely long hours in these last days of September and I have been getting ready for Ryan’s parents to visit.  Only four more days until they arrive!  I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! 


Today I would like to tell you about the three weeks I spent in sunny AZ and the shower that I and my Co-Matron of Honor threw for my sister, and the bride to be, Charly.


After the horror of the plane ride had faded and my mother, father, and myself had gathered my baggage we stepped out into the muggy heat of a Phoenix summer night.  I must confess that there are truly no words.  Now you have to realize that both Ryan and I were born and raised in Phoenix, and managed to spend the majority of our adult lives trying to leave the stiflingly hot and overcrowded desert, before we gave it up and settled into out doom!   When we were assigned to Germany it was with shock, fear, and a little edge of joy that we would get to see snow and fog…  But, at the moment I stepped off of that plane it had been more than a year since I had been truly, blessedly, and completely…. WARM!  It was wonderful… for about 10 days… and then it was HOT!  The grass is always greener ect. ect. ect.  Ah but it was wonderful to be in the desert again…


The next few days included much visiting and shopping.  I can honestly say that at the end of it, sitting here in my quite sitting room on a rainy day, that I can not remember the sequence of events for those first ten days or so… I can only remember that I was kept busy!  So I’ll just let the few pictures I managed to get in the midst of all the running too and fro do the talking!


Here you have the bride to be… my lovely sister Charly.


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 And the Groom to be… Ryan’s handsome brother Zach! 


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 They make each other laugh, they make each other happy, and they make each other sappy…  not a better foot to start on than that! 


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 My mom and I stole a few hours to go shopping!  Thank goodness she’s a good driver! 


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 We made an unscheduled stop to see my sister Becky along the way… 


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 You think Becky and I look alike and then you see her and my mom together and it’s a bit scary! 


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 Since Charly worked during the days and so did my mom about half the week, I got to spend a lot of time with me dad.  We had a blast!  As I have gotten older we have gotten closer… He’s now one of my best friends and we did everything together before Ryan and I left.  It was good to see him again and just hang out!


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 And then the day of the party dawned.  The Co Matron of Honor, Kallie, and I coordinated this thing in frantic emails from 6000 miles apart.  And it ended up being a staggering amount of work… but I must say it was a huge success!


I cooked for 11 hours on Friday and another 6 hours on Saturday before the shower…  By the time the first guests arrived I was already ready to sleep for days!   Here I am shortly before it started…  Oh and the theme for this elaborate day?  TEA PARTY!!! 


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 We had fruit and veggie platters with the appropriate dips at the beginning of the line… 


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And then you turn to find this!  I had made; Pumpkin ginger bread (loaf and muffin form), Zucchini bread (loaf and muffin form), Pumpkin chocolate chip bread (loaf and muffin form), scones with local jams brought from Germany, two pumpkin cheesecakes, Spinach balls, hot spinach and artichoke dip served with pita chips, hot crab dip served with crackers,  a spinach and artichoke appetizer ring, and gurkensalat.  And then Kallie and Charly made pink and brown cupcakes to match the color theme of the party.


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Charly and I right before the festivities were to begin.  (Sorry for the glassy eyed look in both our eyes but we were tired.  I was tempted to scrap this picture since we both look weird but it turned out to be THE ONLY one of the two of us together in the three week visit!)


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 And Charly and Kallie together!


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 Here is Charly posing with the table and one of her flower girls!


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And then the guests arrived.  We ended up with about 25 women all ready to sit and talk and drink tea.  We began with the food and a little time to visit.


This picture is one of my all time favorites.  Could there be a better caricatured of a pregnant woman who has been set before a smorgasbord of her favorite treats? 


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Even I found a moment to stuff my face in between acts! 


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When the eating was done mom and I boiled water and filled the teapots for our afternoon tea.  


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 Let me take a quick moment to introduce you to Earlene…  This is the woman who put the love of a good tea party into all of us girls.  She had tea parties for all of us who went to church together when we were little girls and so she gets all the credit for the success that this day became!  Thanks Aunt Lee for giving us the love of a good cup of tea, an extended little finger, and saying “One lump or two?” 


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This was the tea table.  I think we did a wonderful job setting it up with all of my mom’s teapots and the tea cups that three generations of the women in my family have collected.  We had four kinds of tea, real cream and sugar cubes, and honey from Germany all set up. The ladies were asked to come to the tea table, choose a teacup, and make their cup of the genial beverage.



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Once all the tea was poured all of the young women who had learned this art at the knees of the women who’s cups we drank from posed with the bride to be and our formal tea. 


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 Charly making tea in her favorite family tea cup and one that is already marked for her…  One day she’ll teach her own little girl how to extend her little finger and sip delicately from this very cup.  Though I can hear Charly saying quite clearly…  “Not until she’s old enough to not break it like I did!”


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 A toast to the bride! 


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 Such a lovely afternoon. 


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 I think that this may very well be my favorite picture from the whole three week trip.  This is all four sisters from both families now (or soon to be) doubly joined by marriage.  Becky, me, Charly, and Ryan’s baby sister, Josie. 


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 My Aunt Lee insisted that I pose with my teacup at the table! 


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After the tea part was done and we were all quietly sipping and talking once again, we went into the family room where we had a big surprise for the ladies!  Kallie and a few of the other girls had put together a wonderful game!  They had interviewed Zach and asked him 27 questions.  They asked Charly the questions, let her answer, and then played Zach’s answer.  It was wonderful!  Zach’s answers were priceless and something that every bride wants to keep in her hope chest for all time to show her daughters…  I won’t tattle on my wonderful brother in law but I will repeat just one answer. 


Kallie:  “Zach, what is your favorite color?”


~Pause the video~


Kallie: “Okay Charly what do you think Zach said?”


Charly: “Hmmm he always says blue and green but he goes back and forth.  I’ll say blue…. No wait… Let’s go with green.  Yep definitely green.”


Kallie:  “Okay here we go”


~Roll the tape~


Zach:  “My favorite color?  Charly’s eyes!”  (She was of course right as her eyes are green!)


~Insert the sound of 25 women going “Aaaawwww…”~


And he was sick and had no warning… Good job brother!


And of course Charly was just swept away even more than she already had been… 


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After the video was over and Charly had won the rumble that ensued and emerged victories to keep her title as Zach’s one and only fiance (what do you think I’m kidding?)… we moved on to gifts. 


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 She got some wonderful gifts to begin their new life together and of course the ever present one piece of lingerie!   


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After gifts we watched a ten minute slide show that I made for Charly and Zach.  It was set to their three favorite love songs and came out beautifully.   (The song on my site right now is their favorite love song)


The day was a huge success.  There was one point when Kallie and I were standing side by side, exhausted and pleased with how it all turned out.  Our ears pricked up just in time to hear Charly exclaim…


“This was the best shower I’ve ever been too and it’s mine!” 


Could we have received a higher compliment than that?  I don’t think so!!! 


The ladies slowly left for home and hearth full of chatter and good cheer and then came Zach!  Anxious to see what they had received for the shower and… what else?  Ready to drink a little tea and pop his pinky!!!   


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One of the gifts was a gag gift from Zach’s mom, Cheryl.  A veil hat and a ball and chain hat… We couldn’t resist a little gag reel. 


You may now kiss the bride! 


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 Ghetto bride and groom.


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 And so with that I will bid you farewell.  I still have much to do in the next few days as end of year comes to a close for Ryan and as we wait impatiently for Denny and Cheryl to arrive.  I don’t know how often I’ll be able to get on here for the next few weeks but I’ll try to keep up with everyone! 


Auf Wiedersehen! 


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 Courtney


 

Scones, The return of the flying nuns, and Vanity.

Guten Tag!


I just had the weirdest moment.  I woke up at 5am, showered, dressed, came downstairs and baked scones for my husband’s breakfast and then packed him off to work with a thermos of Earl Grey tea and a bag of buttered scones.  Um that’s a bit surreal don’t you think?


Anyway…


To everyone that commented on my last story, you are all so funny.  As much as the trip home was abominable you should know that I have enough of a writers spirit in me that the horror of it has long passed, the anger has faded and I’m just thankful for an interesting experience to write about!   I’ve been giggling like a loon about it behind my hand for days now… 


And I must say in my defense… I am NEVER that placid about something so horrid.  Don’t believe me?  Just check out the comment my Aunt Susan left on the post!


“Pardon me while I laugh my booty off! Oh Courtney, why in the world would you put up with that kind of crap! Come on, tell the truth, you went off on her, didn’t you. Shhhh, I’m family, you can tell me…!”


See?  I would normally try to strangle the insolent twirp!  But….  You must remember my experiences up to this point.  I was, quite frankly in a state of pure shock.  I was more inclined to laugh at her than take her on.  I was afraid that if I went off on her I would get arrested or have a full cavity search done … it was just that kind of day.  So I held my tongue and swore to remember every moment of it!  Not to mention I was afraid the Nuns would come after me!  (I must say here that I have no idea if these nuns were Catholic or something else.  I do not lump their behavior with the church.  I know we all make mistakes and though they are supposed to be an example of love, aren’t we all supposed to be an example of that?  I know I’m not always a shining example of love so I’ll just say that Nuns go through menopause too… So they can have a free pass here.  I was freaked out, not really offended.)  For your peace of mind though I have written a strongly worded, yet polite, letter of complaint to Delta airlines, they don’t get a free pass.  I certainly didn’t.  We’ll see if anything comes of it.


So what should I tell you about today… Hmmm… 


I think this may be a very good day to talk about Vanity and Pride.  Come on, you know it’s something that every one of us struggles with from time to time…  Some more than most (mumbled under my breath while pointing a finger at myself…)


~~~~~


Ah vanity… You know the saying “Pride goethe before the fall.” ? Well I seem to be the walking billboard for that quote. Do you think I have something I need to work on?


Let’s just jump right in shall we?  Feet first?



I love my feet. I always have. I think they have a pretty shape and my toenails are the kind that when painted everyone always notices my toes.  And I will admit at the risk of being murdered by my family or God causing my feet to grow three inches,  I have always been secretly proud that my feet aren’t overly large like the feet of many of the women in my family.  (I probably shouldn’t have said that!)  I don’t get a lot of chances to show them off in Germany where a good hot high in the summer is 62! So when I went home to Phoenix I didn’t allow myself to bring t-shirts or tennis shoes only nice tops and sandals. I refused to allow myself to fall into that rut where I wore only what was comfy because I was busy.  I wanted to dress nice and feel pretty!



Well, I have this beautiful red long shirt that I paired with bell bottoms! (Made too look like sailor pants.  Oh happy day!  FYI:  I love bell bottoms and I’m obsessed with sleeves.  Anything that has big floaty pant legs or sleeves is my friend.)  I also, just happen, to have these awesome red and white striped strappy sandals that I LOVE!



So I primped and polished. I gave myself a pedicure and painted my toenails in just the way that gets everyone to notice them and exclaim “Oh what cute shoes and I love your toenails… so cute!” You know, the way you dress when you want everyone to really SEE your feet.


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My mom and I set off for a day of shopping.  We had no obligations for the day, we were foot loose and fancy free!  (No pun intended!)  Imagine my shock when I stepped out of the car at the first store in a long 8 hour day of stores, looked down to admire my toes, and saw that my feet had become wooly mammoth feet!!! I shaved my big toes of course (we all do it and you know it!) but no one told me that you can have hobbit hair on your pinky toes!  I mean I know my husband does, but me?  GASP! (Okay to be fair we’re talking one very long and curly hair on my right pinky toe not really wooly mammoth but bad enough.)



I was mortified and a bit panicked.  Of course, everyone I met the whole day just stared at my feet. I got what I wanted.  Several ladies gave me the cute toenails comment and then (maybe I was just being sensitive here but I don’t think so) it was always followed by an awkward second or two of silence.  It was torture to pretend I didn’t notice.   I could just imagine the thoughts going through their heads. 


“Whoa look at that hair!”
“I wonder if I should tell her, she has an out of control hair on her pinky toe?”
“Don’t laugh, don’t laugh!”



I know you’re laughing at me and my vanity but here comes the true irony.



I walked in the door back home, humbled by my day of trying to hide my feet and cursing myself for vanity.  It had been a long hot day of desperately trying to call attention from my toes, with little success.  But the moment the AC hit my face I realized…



I COULD HAVE PLUCKED IT!



Ah well of such is life…


So what lesson did I take from this?  Was it to not have pride? Was it to not be vain?  Was it to not wear sandals?  No, no, no…  It was to never assume that hair does not grow out of your pinky toes…  I hope that my experience has served to stave off this humiliation for just one of you.  If it has then it’s all been worth it.  (Excuse me while I’m being sarcastic here… LOL)


~~~~~


And with that humiliating story that I just couldn’t help but write… I’m off to work on things around the house.  My Inlaws will be here in Germany for a two week visit in only 8 DAYS!!!


Auf Wiedersehen!


Courtney


 

You are now entering the Twilight Zone…

Guten Morgan!



I find myself sitting here with so much to catch you up on, so very much to write, that I don’t know what to say! How’s that for irony?



I suppose I should begin with my travels since they are what I have already alluded to.


I appologize for how long this will be but if you’re going to tell it tell it right…


~~~~~ 



My flight to New York was wonderful. Quiet and uneventful and I had not one person sitting within two rows of me on any side. The flight attendant adopted me because she said passengers just don’t come any easier than me. She brought me extra snacks and drinks whenever she had a free moment! It was nice to be pampered! You just can’t ask for better!



My flight to Phoenix from New York was quite another story.



(My layover in New York will be a story for another day as I was privileged to meet a woman who has become a lifelong friend for me and I want to give her and our visit top billing!!!)



I boarded the plane feeling content and excited to find that I did have a neighbor this time but it was only a two seat row with no one behind us and extra recline. No sweat. Until we were about an hour out of Phoenix, oh yes then the sweating began!



I had fallen asleep, rocked by the plane and the constant sound of the engine… when I was suddenly startled awake by my stomach forcing its way up my throat. We were falling! I don’t mean one of those little air pocket falls where you have a split second to wonder… if… and then the plane catches, all is well, and you are left to enjoy a little punch of adrenaline.



No, no my friends. I mean when I opened my eyes I was looking down the length of the plane and my hair was swinging forward away from my shoulders. I mean from the time I awoke until the time normal flight resumed again I had time to seriously wonder if this was the end, say a prayer for my sins, and get all the way to high school in my life flashing before my eyes.


The worst part? The sound! I was sitting right over the engine and it was screaming. I know in my head it’s because we were in an air pocket and the engine was sucking air much like a vacuum will do when you pick it up off the carpet while it’s running. But my head wasn’t the part of me in control. It sounded like a T-Rex straight out of Jurassic Park. Somehow I would have felt more comfortable if it had been a T-Rex!



This happened three times in the hour before we touched down and every second in between these dramatic moments were filled with horrible turbulence. The kind where air bags are used and flight attendants stay in their seats. The kind where all you hear are hundreds of those little breathless screams all at once.



And then we landed… HA! You know it’s going to be bad when you look out the window only to realize that your plane is not only bucking up and down but side to side as well and you’re only a few feet above the ground. Let’s just say I’m surprised we didn’t do a few donuts on the tarmac! But I landed safe and sound if not a little shaken!


~~~~~



I will draw a veil over the next three weeks as, again, there are many things I want to talk about and all of them should have their fair moment in the spotlight! I have showers, and vanity, cooking, and babies, blankets and prayer… Oh so many things to tell you, but for now, we’ll move on to the trip home.


~~~~~



Oh this started at almost the first moment!



We left the house a little late and there was horrible traffic. So I arrived, not late, but later than I would have liked. The line to check in for international only had about 10 people in front of me, no sweat, but only one person checking them in. After standing there becomeing increasingly worried for about 25 minutes one of the attendants checking in first class called me over to try to help out her counterpart and speed things along.  I was so relieved! Boy how I wish she hadn’t helped out! I handed her my ticket information and my passport. After a few very silent moments she said…



I’m sorry I can’t check you in. All people flying with a U.S. Passport must have a returning ticket booked and can only be in Germany for 90 days. This information is not valid for you to fly.”



I said in a puzzled way with panic building in my throat… “Well but I’m a military dependant. I live there.”



She said. “Well do you have your orders?”



(Let me break here to tell you that active duty military members have to fly with their orders but spouses don’t have orders we are simply command sponsored and have a passport.)



I said… “No I’m not active duty military I’m a dependant and I’m sorry ma’am but I have flown in and out of Germany just like this four times in the last year and you are the very first person that’s ever said that to me.”



She came back (in a very nasty tone I must say) with… “Well if I let you on the plane I would lose my job and be fined $11,000 so you’re out of luck!”



By now I was getting upset… I don’t really remember how the rest of the conversation went until she flipped through my passport again (for the third time!) and spotted my SOFA stamp, (the stamp from the U.S. government that states and I quote “The bearer is a member of a civilian component or dependant of a member of a force or civilian component of the United States of America and entitled to unrestricted entry into and exit from the Federal Republic of Germany.” So now that we have that clear.) She looked closer and actually read it this time and then got all snotty.



“Well do you see this?” (Points snottily at the stamp) “This allows you access and it’s your responsibility to point this out to me when you come to check in. How else will I know you have one?”



(Oh I don’t know, maybe because I told you that I’m a military spouse? Maybe because it’s your job to look for it? Or maybe, maybe just because you saw it three times and that’s why I didn’t mention it? Please)



Of course I didn’t say that… I smiled, played dumb, said “Oh, okay thank you so much.” Took my ticket and walked away scathing mad.


~~~~~



So that brings us up to security… Nothing huge there only a full body pat down and a complete unloading of both of my carry on bags which took a full 30 minutes and almost made me late for the plane all because they thought I had liquids… which I didn’t. But no big deal, that’s life and the ladies were very nice and chatty so it was actually kind of a bright spot of my day.


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So then I board the plane. I must first tell you that I had booked my tickets a full two months before hand with a travel agency and had booked aisle row seats the whole way there and back due to my extreme medical condition. (Smallbladderitis!) So imagine my surprise when I arrive at my row only to find that I have a window seat. I didn’t make a fuss because the plane was full and it was a short flight so I figured I would only have to get up once. So I settled in, got out my book, and waited for departure.



So here is where the rest of my day becomes unbelievable and almost hilarious, if I hadn’t had to live it that is.



I look up to see a gaggle of nuns (would they be a gaggle or a troop or maybe a herd?) coming down the aisle. One sits next to me, one across the aisle from her, one in the seat directly in front of me and one in the seat behind the nun next to me. I nod, smile, say good morning and go back to my book. She starts in on me right away…



“Hello dear do you attend a church?”



“Yes ma’am I do, only online at the moment since I’m currently living in Germany with my husband and we have not been able to find a place to attend but we are devoted Christians.”



We chatted for a moment about Germany and the military and then fell into silence. Hoping to cut a potentially long and uncomfortable conversation short before it began, I wait a tick and when she doesn’t say anything more I resume reading. But a moment later she notices my book and exclaims…



“But what is that you’re reading?”



I glance at the cover and say, “Oh it’s called Utopia by Lincoln Child. It’s rather good so far.” I figure that was a polite answer smile at her and go back to my book. Imagine my surprise when this was the next sentence to fall upon my ears…



“Well… I thought you said you were a Christian?”



I looked up startled and said “I am.”



She made a nasty face at me and said, “Hmm…”



I choose to drop it and go back to my book. I really didn’t want five nuns to go all ninja on me at 30,000 feet! But imagine for a moment what it was like to fly five hours to Atlanta with five nuns actually craning their necks to scowl at me and rub their rosaries! What in the world am I missing here? And what kind of nuns were these?


~~~~~



So after a very uncomfortable flight I finally disembark in Atlanta. My flight was changed to a different gate in a separate terminal so I had to take a train but I had plenty of time and it was fun! The only regret I had was that the terminal I ended up in didn’t have a Starbucks so no last cup of coffee for me… again. Oh well.


After I had located my gate I decided to go and find some dinner since I didn’t know what or when I would eat next. I looked through the food court and didn’t see anything great so I just got in the line for McDonalds because chicken nuggets and a nice cold glass of ice tea sounded good, in a standard comfort food kind of way.



I get to the register and order the 6 piece chicken nugget meal with an ice tea.



She rolls her eyes at me and says, “We’re McDonald’s we don’t have Ice tea.”



I said, “Oh, no problem the one back home has it so I just assumed I’ll just have the power aid then.” (Very disappointed here since I hate power aid and I can’t drink soda but oh well)



She comes back with, “Well this aint back home now is it? That will be $5.46.”



I handed her my money in mute shock. (What is happening to common curtisy and decency?)  At this point I’m wondering if I’ve slipped into the twilight zone because this is turning into a real hum dinger of a day!



She points down the counter and says “Go there to pick up.”



I do and a few moments later my food comes up and I fight my way to a table, unpack my book and settle in, take the first bite… only to find that my chicken nuggets are raw in the middle. Um GROSS! So I pack everything back up, take them back up there and very nicely (because I really don’t want to get in an argument with this girl… she’s mean…) say…



“Um I’m sorry to bother you but these chicken nuggets are not cooked all the way through. Is there any way I can get new ones?”


“No.”



Shock and awe people shock and awe…“Oh, why not?” Getting miffed now…



“Because that’s the way they’re cooked so you’ll just have to deal.”



Really not happy now, but still not wanting a fight, “But they’re runny in the middle. I’ve eaten these for years and they are not supposed to be this way. What happened to have it your way?”



With the most horrible smug look on her face… “Nothing at all, they are my way. Eat them or don’t I don’t care.”



I just walked away stunned and angry but too tired to jump her and go all ninja. I’ll tell you what though, it’s what I really wanted to do!  Do you think the nuns would have been proud I didn’t…? (Chews bottom lip) I’m really not sure.


~~~~~



At this point I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry. I just want to get on my plane, sit in my nice aisle seat and go to sleep to end this day faster.



Only that is not what was to be.



I get on the plane and find my seat. It’s a middle seat on a row of three. I won’t take this again so I go and find a flight attendant who is very nice says she’s sorry for the mix up but the flight is full. If there are any no shows she’ll come and get me. I grumpily go back to my seat and wait.



In ten minutes I know I’ve entered the twilight zone, because I’m literally in the middle of a cliché as old as flying. First a hugely fat man (and I mean 350 pounds. I’m not judging because I used to be fat but understanding doesn’t make any more room appear in the row) sits to my left and only seconds after I start hoping that a very thin deaf AND mute person will sit to my right so I’ll have some kind of peace, here comes a young woman cradling her 3 month old fussy baby girl. And where do you think she sat? That’s right… on my right.



I am ashamed to say that at this point I actually burst into tears. Quiet beautiful tears of course. Naw I’m lying… My nose turned as red as Rudolph’s I screwed up my face and narrowly missed the howling. The only affect this had was to make the baby stop crying (in fascination) and draw unwanted attention to me. Le sigh. Everyone was very nice but as my flight attendant (who was not named Calgon and had no intentions of taking me away) informed me the flight was full and there was nothing she could do. So I sat there feeling very embarrassed and politely kept my elbows to myself.


~~~~~



I will again draw a veil over the remainder of my flight. You don’t need to know about the man who sat behind me and kicked my seat, calling me a big baby under his breath whenever I tried to lean back. You don’t need to know that I couldn’t read the whole flight because my reading light disturbed the baby. And you absolutely don’t need to be informed about how much a 350 pound man can drool while he snores directly in your ear. (Do you think drool crusties will come out of my favorite shirt?) Ooops I’m sorry, was that too much information?



Suffice it to say that when I crossed out of the twilight zone and stepped into my husband’s arms it was with a profound sense of relief.


Moral of my extremely long winded story?  I won’t be flying Delta again anytime soon… Unless of couse they are cheapest!  (What can I say?  I’m cheap!)



So there you have it, the stories of my travels. I will be honest. I would find it hard to believe that all of those things happened to one person, let alone in one trip. But then again I know what happens to me EVERY time I enter a public bathroom in a Wal-Mart so I’ll believe me.



I hope that you got a few good laughs out of this. I hope to look back upon it and do my fare share of giggling once the horror has worn off. I’ll be back soon with more stories of my trip, though none will be quite as unbelievable, I promise. (And that’s really okay with me… I don’t know how much more I could have handled!)



Auf Wiedersehen!


Courtney



 

I’m home everyone!  It was a trip… well… that made some facinating stories!  Not the most fun experiences but hey…  life is… errr… colorful!  For now I’m exhausted and ready to get some sleep so look for some catching up for me in the next few days!


Courtney