German Medical Care

I was at the Dr.’s in Kaiserslautern (off base clinic) for 2.5 hours today.  They just go ahead and do everything, no questions asked.  I have been trying for 3 years to get an MRI in the states and even had two neurologists recommend one.  But always my doctor on base would say that I didn’t need one, that it wasn’t justified.  Now, finally, someone is taking me seriously.
Funny that it’s a German, and not an American that finally takes me seriously.  All the German nurses and doctors all are very focused on their job.  No employees were sitting around eating a sandwich like you see in the states. The office was very clean and every patient was very gracious to every other patient.  The Dr. spoke perfect english, but none of the other  staff did…in fact very few people in the entire hospital did.  It’s amazing once you get out of the Ramstein “bubble” how many non-english speakers are living right in Kaiserslautern. Hey – this must be Germany?  Everyone that told me “oh, don’t worry, everyone speaks English” ….they were wrong.  Or they haven’t been to very many German businesses/restaurants/shops outside the base.
In other news, I just ran my first 5k in Deutschland on Saturday.  It was pretty cold and my lips were frozen the entire time.  I wore a hat and gloves and not nearly warm enough pants.  Also, I’m definitely working harder than I used to in my younger days, and I was a lot more stiff afterward.  But my time was really good, and I managed to chase the same father/daughter couple the entire race (they were booking it – she was only 9 or 10 yrs old!).  Dogs were not only accepted, but welcomed, and many people came just to socialize their pups.  It was like being out to dinner at a German restaurant.  I really miss Kona and Zoe.  A photo of them just to make me feel better, and a photo of me just for fun;)
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Culinary Hike

This weekend was our town’s major event for the year – the Rodenbach Culinary Hike www.kulinarische-wanderung.de.  It’s all in German so I didn’t quite understand what it was all about…until we arrived.  Food.  Beer.  More beer.  Dogs.  Walking a four-mile loop  in search of beer around beautiful countryside full of cows and farmers.  Kids running wild, having a great time.  German men and women shouting ‘Probst’ and ‘chin-chin’ and just the sound of jolly merry-makers everywhere.  The best part is that it’s within walking distance from our house.  We put little man in the stroller and hiked to a couple of the stations (tents set up with grills for food and taps for beer) and sat on the benches with a hundred or so others who were doing the same thing.  Last year 8,000 people showed up throughout the weekend to hike and eat.  Rob and I bought bratwurst on bruchen (a German roll) and a sort-of grilled pork skewer on bruchen.  Very yummy.  Here’s some photos!

Rob and JD having fun

Sign for culinary hike

Deployment hazards

I’m glad Rob is no longer in Kabul…this office is exactly where he worked while he was deployed.  Let’s hope he doesn’t go over there again any time soon.

Attacks on Kabul…up close and personal

Our 24 hour ordeal is over in Kabul. No injuries just alot of tired people now ready for a good night sleep.

I usually walk over to the ISAF (NATO) HQ for lunch (better food and shorter lines) along with a nice green zone walk…yesterday that proved to be fateful as when I was finishing up around 1330, we got the word we were under attack. That usually comes in the form of a loud yell “Listen up!” Yesterday a German had that honor.

That means lockdown, you are going nowhere, and you never know for how long.

ISAF was attacked yesterday afternoon by a few insurgents with RPGs and a nice high building to fire them from. But as Ambassador Ryan Crocker said today an RPG fired from over 800 meters away is harassment not an attack.

Harrassment for us turned out to be a lockdown of about 21 hours but being in a chow hall we at least had plenty of food. There were about 200 hundred of us there and I was told over 500 in the ISAF gym not to far away. Lockdowns were in effect on my base at Camp Eggers and my housing area as well.

When you are on lockdown you realize quickly you have little say over your life for the time being. So think happy thoughts, read the paper and most of all support the young people who are out on the missions, guarding you. It rained here yesterday not making their day any easier.

It became clear pretty fast this was going to be home for the night so you just settle in. As night fell we learned there were still 2 insurgents holed up in the building not too far from us and many of the RPG rounds that were fired did not explode thus we had unexploded ordinance laying around out there. Not the kind of stuff you want to mess with in the middle of the night. So we had dinner and then tried to catch some sleep.

At dawn, the final assault on the insurgents began. As we stood outside we could hear a ton of iron being delivered upon our insurgent harassers.

Yes, that 20 minutes did not go well for them. Soon quiet was restored, breakfast was made and we got the all clear. We made our way back to our offices, told our respective stories and then searched for ways to get some real sleep.

As I watched the news stories from here today, talking about violent attacks, I tended to agree more with Ambassador Crocker. 27 Afghans died today, thus nothing funny about this but 7 insurgents are not going to do much damage to a HIGHLY guarded embassy or military HQ. Just the harrassment of days wasted, offices unmanned, soldiers now in harms way.

But this is a no alibi business. It only takes only one and for you to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, due diligence is a constant here.

As always you can be proud of the young people who represented you today. Outstanding performances no matter what their duties. Even inside our chow hall a young MP named SGT Mike Stone took charge, stayed in charge kept the gossip to a minimum, got us fed and all the others on guard post or in that gym fed as well. Not easy when 80% of the room out ranks you or is from another country. He was calm and in charge and thus so were we.

Americans working with Macedonians, Brits, Italians, French and who knows how many other nations kept the rest of us safe and out of harms way. They know their business and did not hesitate one moment to act.

Today was far from just another day in Kabul, you are always on edge until you learn the extent of the damage and injuries, you’re tired and heavy small arms fire is not what you normally wake up to even in Kabul.

The Taliban got another front page story…their goal in all of this…but all they really got were a bunch of dead foot soldiers which really insults the term soldier.

Mike Stone won’t get any headlines nor will the dozens of others who stood post all night last night and into this morning. But, tonight they will sleep well knowing they led when leaders were needed. Thus, we had no dead or injured.

As I always say there are two sides to the Afghanistan story. Far from the politics and debate of stay or leave (the why are we here) are young people who do not have ONE VOTE in that discussion but do vote everyday in the duty column…duty, what a neat four letter word

Parlez-vous Francais?

I just spent an hour trying to figure out my dishwasher.  The manual was translated into two languages, French or German.  Well, that’s not true; the manual was translated in Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Greek, Russian, Danish, Italian and Spanish.  My closest shot at reading it was in French.  Glad to say I didn’t have to look up too much on Google translate – I knew there was a reason for those six years of French classes!  Germany really has no bias toward English as a dominant world language…even when things are translated into English (not too often) it’s GB (Great Britain).  I’m seeing it as an opportunity to brush up on my language skills.

Now on to my dryer…

Stilles Wasser

Guten Tag from Germany.  We are living here now and at the moment I am trying to translate all the functions on my washer/dryer/microwave/oven…all the manuals are in German.  But on the good side, I can order still water (Stilles Wasser) say Thank You (Danke Schon), and say Wonderful (Wunderbar).  I also know that there are 5 different bins for disposal/recycle that are absolutely mandatory for each household in Germany…and they only pick up these bins once every two weeks.  Makes for a bit of a stinky side yard (there’s a composting bin…eeeewww).

Pictures up soon!

Signs as word puzzles!

Ok, so today Rob and I drove by one of the funniest signs I’ve seen.  It gave me a good laugh and made me wonder why a traditional sign wasn’t posted that said “please pick up after your pet”?  Are most pet owners now illiterate?  Did the dire warning that’s on the traditional “pet sign” about fines and city ordinances not work?  Is the city now, in desperation, implementing rebus puzzles?

This is certainly a new angle…maybe it will work, maybe not.  But it sure is hilarious.  Can you imagine trying to become familiar with traditional signs: “lets see, this one is yield, this one is watch for pedestrians, and THIS one is please don’t let your dog take a dump in that field”…

If at first you don’t succeed…

So, I tried the other day to make use of some wonderful fresh pumpkin that a friend of mine gave me.  I tried the first time and foolishly omitted the egg yolks.  I did have good intentions, but neglected to double the egg whites – as a result, the bread I cooked for an hour did not rise fully.

I tried a second time, and just used the entire egg which worked!  Great news because the bread was for a funeral – a great young soldier who worked with bombs for a living.  As I drove up to the chapel on base to deliver the bread, many of the guys were standing on the side of the road in uniform waiting to salute their wonderful friend and co-worker.  It’s just the day to day reality that we deal with during this war.

Little JD and I needed a break from all the chaos on base and so we are visiting my parents for the Thanksgiving holiday in Eugene.  It’s been such a nice break.  Each night, John Daniel crashes into bed exhausted from his full day playing with Nana and Papa.  He suddenly has more of an audience than just mama.  He is chatting more and more and today we went to an open play time at a place here called Bounce.  Yes, you guessed it: trampolines galore and he loved it.

A few photos from our recent visit with cousins Lainey, Max, and Cal while a visit up to Portland.  It was like a madhouse and will probably be again over Thanksgiving, as we’ll all be together at Sunriver!

Lainey and John

Lainey, Max, Cal, and JD

How much do you eat?

JD has never been one of those tykes that overeats.  In fact, most times I have to cajole him to get any food down.  Don’t get me wrong: once and awhile he will eat a tremendous amount of food…as he did yesterday.  Here’s what he ate for dinner: meat and cheese sandwich, cottage cheese, melon, milk, water, carrots, peanut butter sandwich, and cheerios.  This was after his mid-afternoon snack of: strawberries, green beans, goldfish, and cheerios.

Not surprisingly, he let loose on the way to the bath.  I heard him fussing as he was walking into the bathroom with his Elmo doll and as I looked he pointed down to his toe saying “uh, uh, uh”…he had just a little bit of vomit on his big toe and the rest all over poor Elmo.   He didn’t get any on the carpet, amazingly.

Just a typical day.

Sports Mania!

Well, I haven’t blogged for awhile and it’s probably primarily because Rob is gone.  I just don’t have the extra time…except now I do. I’m on vacation here in Eugene, OR at my folks house and it’s wonderful!

JD and I are being pampered and I get to watch as much sports on tv as I like. French Open? Check.  NCAA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field? Check.  US Open(Golf)? Check.  NBA Championships?  Check.  Wimbledon? Check.  We even have DVR’d Dora and Thomas the Train for JD so he’s been pampered too!

The Lakers just won the NBA championships and I got a real kick out of watching the post-game trophy ceremony.  It’s all about self-love for the Lakers…the entire time David Stern is introducing the winning team, Kobe is behind him pumping his fist, pointing up to the crowd, yelling, chatting with the other players, etc.  It’s just disrespectful.  Then Jerry Buss got up and extolled the great organization, the great players, the great coaches…and the greatest player of all time: Kobe Bryant.  Keep in mind Bill Russell is standing not two feet away from him while he says this.  Oh!  Sorry, Bill, present company excluded of course!

Here’s some new photos from a recent visit by my mom and dad at Vandenberg.  JD loves having his Nana and Papa visit and now he is loving visiting them in Eugene.

Papa and swing

Slide with Mama!

JD all smiles!

Parenthood Issues

For those of you who are not yet moms or dads, you’ll find this story funny.  And a bit disturbing.  For all the rest of you: don’t judge.  You know you’ve done this.

I’m hiding in the closet right now.  It’s a 4-ft by 4-ft little space and almost totally dark.  The only sounds I can hear are JD crying and the constant hum of the a/c unit on the wall.  The dogs are out on the back deck occasionally letting out a deafening bark.  My mom is down in the lobby waiting it out.  The bottom line is, I’m desperate.  We’re in an unfamiliar city, he’s in an unfamiliar (and totally age-inappropriate) packnplay trying to sleep.  If you would have asked me 3 years ago if I’d ever be hiding in a closet praying to just lay down with peace and quiet, I’d have said you’re crazy.  But here I am.

Tomorrow we should get to Eugene and I should get to some uninterrupted sleep at my parents house.  Last night/early this morning I was out in the parking lot, no coat, barely conscious, trying to get the dogs to go pee.  At 3:45am.  Just to top it off, Kona ran after a cat who had decided to set up camp next to the car right outside our door.  Poor thing was probably minding it’s own business when this big hairy beast materialized and chased it into the adjoining Carrows restaurant parking lot.  I barely blinked an eye when she took off into the night.  I just looked at Zoe and shrugged.  After about 10 minutes she came zooming back as if shot out of a cannon.

I have to admit that I’m starting to relax tonight and hope to get a full night of sleep.  There were a lot of things to get done before we left, and I think I’m still unwinding from all of that.  One fun event we attended a couple days ago at the Golf Course on base was the volunteer appreciation dinner for all the chapel volunteers.  Sylia Clouse was kind enough to send me photos she had taken of me, my mom, and John Daniel.  They turned out pretty good!

We also had ‘tea and testimony’ for MOPS the night before we left.  Regrettably I had to leave early to go pack and get JD down for a good nights sleep before our trip.  But it was good to spend time with dear friends who share my crazy motherhood life.  Angela and Ann brought over a basket full of goodies for Mother’s Day a few days before our tea and testimony.  Thanks a million!  MOPS has been great to me and I love all the gals.  Can’t wait till we get started again next fall!

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