Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How I made $4 buying pants

I love how my brother never lets his wife get away with saying that she saved him money by buying something.  He always says, "Cool, let me check the bank account and see how much it went up!"  Obviously, you don't save or earn money while you spend it- except for me!  Yep, that's right, I have a gift!  If only I used it more often, we would be rich!
While we were in Garmisch- oh so long ago- we went to the PX there and they were having a sale on their Jack Wolfskin and Columbia summer things.  It was the end of the season, after all.  I found some Jack Wolfskin capri's that were originally $58 for 30% off- not bad.  We also bought Emma this Jack Wolfskin hat (I think it was also 30% off and originally around $30).

We got a whole bag of other things like shampoo and candy.  Our total was right around $50.  Hmm, I thought.  I looked at the receipt and there were no pants on there.  I took it back and the lady thought I was changing my mind about the pants.  "No," I informed her, "I didn't pay for them.  I need to pay for them."  She was duly impressed that I took the time to bring them back and pay.  She looked over the receipt and said, "No, you did pay for them.  They are right here, see?"  Sure enough, there was the number code from the pants on the receipt next to some thing that said $8.  Now I am no mathematician, but I can tell you off the top of my head that 30% of $58 is not $8!  I tried to argue with her, but then she explained with some complicated assumptions that if I wanted to return the pants, I would get $4 back.  I can't even imagine how she came up with that number!  So, in the end, I walked away with a pair of very nice pants and at least $4 more in my bank account.  I'm telling you, if it happens again, I am dubbing it my super power!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It was a Niece Visit

How do you fit Rothenburg, Ramstein, Hohenzollern, Triberg, Stuttgart and Munich all in a nice long weekend?  You have a niece visit.  Cramping their style is a bonus!
Curtis and Jordan visited and we visited with them.  We ran to Rothenburg with Max and Joseph

while Emma stayed home and made tons of money bagging at the commissary and Sam had football practice.    We started by coming in the wrong entrance- at least according to Curtis and Jordan. 

It looked like the main entrance to us.  Their entrance looked like the main one to them.  Hmm... I wonder if anyone knows which one is the main entrance?

  We walked the wall and noted all the names on it. 

They were people that had donated money to rebuild parts of Rothenburg after World War 2 ended.   We went to the crime and punishment museum
Joseph throwing vegetables at Max 
Max getting him back 
Now it's time for Jordan and Curtis
and got tired of seeing instruments of torture- which was perfectly acceptable to help the guilty admit their wrong doing.  After the witch trials, it went out of favor, because people were...wait for it... confessing to stuff they didn't do, just to get the torture to stop.  Shocking, I know!  My favorite, though were the shame masks!

  I really think we need a few more shame masks! 
 We also visited the church,


Joseph and Max showing you on of the hobbit doors that were all over the town
 and Christmas house. 

We tried the Schneeballen that Rick Steve's described perfectly as bland bits of pie crust dusted with sugar. 

 It tasted more like "Taco Bell cinnamon twists that have stayed in your closet for 2 weeks" as Jordan put it!
Saturday while Curtis and Jordan toured Nurenberg we had Football at Volgeswey 
 Sam on the tackle in the backfield!
Rob got roped into helping!  Sam lining up to receive kick-off.
which was beyond heartbreaking as they lost in the last minute of the game!  We went to Ramstein afterwards and indulged in Chili's chips and salsa, buffalo wings, entrees and Molton Lava cake.  All the things we don't usually get and hate Ramstein for having- while I couldn't even get hamburger or 1% milk at my commissary! 

That's right, we hate you Ramstein!!  But man do we love you when we get to come over for a visit!

Sunday we watched some conference and then headed to Hohenzollern castle.

It was shrouded in fog.

You couldn't even see it when you were in the top parking lot.  The climb up is steep, but it was well worth it.

Hohenzollern is an amazing castle!  It is quite medieval and has wonderful military advantages!

It did get successfully sieged once- after 10 long months of starvation.  Only 32 people survived in the castles.  They let us take a "royal stroll" inside with red capes on and very large shoes to help with preserving the floors.  They let the boys try on the chain mail shirt and try to fight with wooden swords.  Very cool day! 
 We give it two heel clicks- way up!

The kids had to go back to school Monday, so Rob and I took the visitors down to the Ritter sport museum and watched the truck bring us chocolates

Come on little truck, bring papa some chocolate!
Oh man!  Marzipan?  I don't like Marzipan!
Luckily, Jordan and Curtis do!  Don't worry, it brought us some other kinds as well!
and fed them cocoa beans (yuck!) and then loaded them up with chocolate to eat the rest of the time or take home (None of it would make it home, if we had bought it!) We then went and saw the pumpkin festival and gardens at Ludwigsberg palace.
This year's theme was sports
 Look at that alien pod and those snakes!
 So cool!
Translation of sign:  Germany's largest Pumpkins

The marchengarten (fairy tale garden) is an amazing place.  It's meant for children, but we are children at heart.  We rode the swings and the boats

and played in the maze and crossed over ponds with spitting frogs.

We also wandered in beautiful gardens and into fake deteriorating castles to yell at Rupenzel to let her hair down.

Rob was going to climb up and get her

Tuesday we ran down to Triberg in the black forest. 

It has the largest waterfall in Germany which was beautiful!

It has the largest cuckoo clock in the world, which we never found.  And it has lots of cuckoo clock sellers! 

Jordan and Curtis bought one from Oli who is the best.  Us- no way.  I am not a big cuckoo clock fan.  I like the non-traditional and non-traditional runs a pretty penny!  Of course, because of Oli, I can now tell you what is a good cuckoo clock and what isn't!  They also have red squirrels everywhere, but we never saw any of them.  Curtis even bought them some nuts, but they still wouldn't come out and see us.  But we did get to see an actual nutcracker!

We found out his limits of how close he was willing to come to us and get a nut!
Finally we took them to Munich and bid them adeiu after totally cramping their style there.  The parking situation was horrible!!!  Never, ever drive and expect to park in Munich- take the train!!  We followed one sign that said there was over a 1000 parking spaces free.  We expected it to be a parking garage.  After following the signs around and around we finally decided it was all a big joke on tourists! There were no parking spaces and no parking garages. It took us an hour and a quick turn around over 3 lanes of traffic to secure a spot after we saw someone leave one.  Then it cost us 50 cents every 12 minutes.  Not much time.  We wandered around the Marianplatz, saw the outside of the Residenz and saw the Glockenspeil- do absolutely nothing!  Don't know if it only goes off at noon or what, but it sure didn't go off on the hour or the half hour!

We also saw a beautiful church all done in white and gold with amazing 3d details!  What we saw, definitely didn't make up for the drive and the stress of trying to park, however.  I think we will avoid Munich in the future!
These are a few places I have been meaning to see, some of which I would have had a hard time convincing my family to go to (Triberg for one!) so in the end, it was definitely a Niece visit!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What's Up with Us?

What have we been up to, lately?
  Same as usual in the Fall:



Sam lost his position as slot back because he couldn't practice on Sundays when all the running backs and receivers are suppose to have an extra practice.  He is now on the kick-off team, punt team and corner back or outside linebacker.  He comes home with a lot more bruises than he ever did before!  He has had swollen fingers at least 3 times this season.  I am not happy about this coach!  I told him he has to practice his catching the rest of the year so that he can play receiver or running back in high school.  No more of this defense stuff!  He says he likes defense.  He got three quarterback sacks in the last game so I guess he does a good job, but I'm not happy about it!


Joe decided to do flag football this year.  It may be his last year of sports.  We might try some tennis or golf with him.  He just doesn't seem to like it that much once he gets going.  He always says he wants to and then he never wants to go to practice or anything.

And new for this year- Cross Country!

The volleyball coach decided that Emma was too old and too short for his Junior Varsity team (her skills were exactly where they should have been for the Junior Varsity), so he cut her.  Luckily, she had a friend there that day that encouraged her to join cross country and even brought her over to eat with her cross country friends, so that she could meet them.  In the end, she has stuck with it and we are very proud of her for that!  She wants you to know that she beat that girl that is right in front of her.  This is the second to last turn in the course with only about 300 yards to go to the finish.

It keeps us busy!

I went with Sam on a Field trip to the science museum. 

It was pretty cool.

I took the advice of someone who said, "go on all your kid's field trips while you are here- it helps you get to know the area."  It was fun!  And I don't know if I would have gone to Heilbronn if I hadn't gone on the field trip, but it was a really charming German city!

We helped Max with his rocket ship.

He only lost to the space shuttle which is right above his and to the right.  His is the silver and blue one.

We made up a science experiment that involved cookies- those are the best kind of science experiments.  

We tried out different times of egg substitutes and then had people rate them on taste, appearance, moisture, firmness a couple other things. 

We tried vinegar and baking powder, soda pop, oil, applesauce and bananas. 

The banana chocolate chip cookie was not very good.  The soda pop one tasted fine but just crumbled.  The oil one was really dry.  The others tasted almost the same as the test one.  It was a fun experiment.   His teacher talked to me at the science museum and told me that he is the class leader and elevates the class to a whole new level with his comments and observations.  It's always nice to hear good things about your kids!