Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It feels so good!

I feel like a real person again...I'm finally exercising! It's been a long 9 weeks to not do any sort of physical activity (although, I did do quite a bit of walking in Paris), so I'm happy to be back. I especially missed my yoga class while I was recovering. I've already been back 3 times - I went last Thursday night, then Monday night, and again this morning. Also, I'm doing this thing I found on It's the 4-week Total Body Makeover. And there's a Mom & Baby class at the base that I might start going to, as well. Hopefully all this work will pay off soon. Because it'd be nice to wear something other than the one pair of jeans that I bought to fit this transition period.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The End

So, we were back at Ramstein, hoping to go back to the States on Monday. Well, that didn't happen. As Tim said in one of his comments, flying on a C-5, we were lucky to make it to Germany only a few hours later than the original time. On Monday, there was one flight that only had 2 available seats on it. They got taken up right away. Then, some of the other flights just completely disappeared out of the system. They just didn't happen. We would have to try again on Tuesday. We spent the bulk of the day hanging out at the BX, going to the Commissary, and repeatedly going to the terminal to check on flights. We actually had fun, though. It was interesting seeing how people lived on a base overseas.

So we figured we could stay at the terminal. The USO had this really nice family lounge set up with a nice big couch, cribs for babies, a TV with all sorts of movies to watch. There were showers in the terminal. Everything we needed for just a few hours stay (the first fly we were going to try for in the morning was at 4:30). Here's Grant and Kendall chillin on the couch in the family lounge. And then there's Kendall trying to stand on her own! Okay, maybe we were trying to get her to stand...but it's such a cute picture, isn't it?

Well, after making ourselves at home, and hanging out at the terminal for a few hours, we were told that the entire terminal closed at 11:30 pm. So we had to get another night's stay at lodging.

Learning our lesson from the day before, we thought it would be best to call the terminal before we physically went there. So around 3 that morning, Grant called. Found out that the 4:30 flight got moved back to 6:30. Then around 5 he called, they said it got moved back to 8:30. Around 7 he called, and they said it was still on for 8:30. This was good news! So, we got packed up and made our way to the terminal.

Everything was going smoothly - we got checked into the flight, even got through security, and we were waiting at the gate. While we were waiting, we were told that it would be delayed for about another hour and a half. That time came and went, and we were still sitting there. They kept telling us, "Oh, just a few more minutes." I was starting to become very skeptical. Sure enough, they said the flight wasn't going to leave until 5:30 the next morning! At this point, I thought I was never going to leave Germany!!

The good news was that there was a commercial flight (a flight on a regular plane, instead of a military plane) scheduled to leave later that afternoon. We were able to get confirmed on that flight, and we felt much better knowing it was a commercial flight. Well, that ended up getting delayed a bit, too, but we did finally board the plane and leave. We boarded that plane along with a couple hundred troops coming back from deployment (I'm not sure where from).

Now comes the part that was what we call, a very low point in our lives...

So, we arrive in the Baltimore airport late on Tuesday night. We go through the passport check, then get our baggage, which we got very quickly, and then made our way through customs. Since we got our baggage so quickly, there had only been a few people to go through customs ahead of us. As we were walking past customs, about to go through the door to the main terminal, there was a girl in front of us who was coming off of deployment. She was maybe a couple hundred feet in front of us.

As she went through the doors, we heard a lot of clapping and cheering. I thought, "How sweet, she had family here waiting for her." Then I started thinking that it sounded like an awful lot of people for just one person. What if it was a welcoming committee? That's going to be a little awkward if they clap for us, since we're just coming back from vacation - not deployment.

Sure enough, we walk through the doors, just the 3 of us, the clapping paused for a second, like the crowd was a little unsure, then started up again. Let me just describe the scene - Grant has a scruffy beard. We've both been wearing the same clothes for a couple of days, so we're looking a little run down. I'm pushing a baby stroller. We're NOT wearing BDU's like the ones who were coming back from deployment were.

People were yelling, "Welcome home! Thanks for your service! God bless the USA!" etc. They were handing us goodie bags and girl scout cookies, shaking our hands. One guy, which I avoided, was giving out hugs. Grant swears that some of the old men that shook his hand had tears in their eyes as they thanked him from the bottom of their heart for his service. I heard one lady say as she saw me pushing the stroller, "Oh, bless her heart."

This whole thing seriously felt like it came straight out of a Seinfeld episode! What were we supposed to do? We couldn't silence the crowd and explain to them that we were just coming off of a lovely vacation in France and Germany. We also couldn't avoid getting all the handouts. They were literally shoving them in our hands. I did manage to say "No thank you" to a goodie bag, because Grant already got one. They kept trying to get me to take it, and I just kept saying No over and over again. They thought I was just being humble, while I was really just trying to make sure a more deserving person got that goodie bag.

Anyways, we got through this whole mess, and about 50 feet away, we just started cracking up. I mean, what else could we do? So here's a picture of us, holding all of the goods that we just received, feeling like the lowest people on earth.

To make matters worse, when we opened up the goodie bag, there were hand written notes from people going into great detail about how proud they are to be an American, thanks to our service.

All of this was put together by the USO. So to ease our guilty consciences, and after being so impressed with their family lounge at Ramstein, we've decided to donate to them. The only way they operate is through donations, and I think they do a great job at keeping up the morale of the soldiers. They also have some really good specific things you can donate to. Like this one, where they tape a soldier reading a children's book out loud. Then they send the tape of the reading and the book to the soldier's child, so the child can see and hear their mommy or daddy reading a book to them. If you're looking for an organization to donate to, I greatly urge you to looking into donating to the USO. So that's my little plug for them.

Anyways, we got a hotel room near the Baltimore airport, and found some cheap airplane tickets to Dayton that was leaving the next morning.

While we were in the airport waiting for our flight to leave, guess who we saw?! Jon and Kate Plus 8!! If you don't know, this is a show on TLC, about this couple who were having a hard time conceiving. So they used fertility drugs and got twin girls. Then they decided they wanted more kids, so they used fertility drugs and got sextuplets (3 girls and 3 boys)!

So, I was feeding Kendall, and I was sitting in a chair, facing away from the main corridor. All of the sudden, Grant walks up and says, "I just saw the Professor." To explain, one of the sextuplet boys, Jon and Kate call him the Professor because he wears glasses. He's my favorite one. (Photo taken from TLC's website -

So when Grant said he saw the Professor, I was just thinking he meant he saw another cute kid wearing glasses. So I was like, "That's cool." Then he told me to turn around, because I was about to miss him, so I turned around and see Jon and Kate, 8 little kids, a nanny, and a camera woman! I have to say, for a group of 12 people - 8 of whom were little kids - walking through an airport, they were so quiet! At one point, I heard Kate say, "Aaden!" That's the professor. Other than that, they didn't make a sound. I was very impressed. But because I waited so long to turn around, I only saw the back of the Professor's head. So anyways, that was just something cool that happened.

A couple hours later, we were back at home. We did it - we took a relatively stress-free European vacation with a 2 month old. It can be done!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


After we left Paris, we made our way to the Bavarian region of Germany, which is southern Germany, specifically in the Alps close to the Austrian border. We were going to be staying at this NATO school's lodging in a town called Oberammergau. We arrived very late that night, so we didn't really see any of the scenery until we got up the next morning. It was so gorgeous! I looked up pictures on the NATO school's website before we left for our trip, so I kind of knew what to expect, but it still gave me goosebumps when I saw it in person. This was the view right outside of the lodging.

The main thing we were doing that day was to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is probably the most famous castle in the world. Our drive to get there was beautiful!

I thought this picture was cool, because through the haze, you can just barely see the castle towards the bottom middle.

We finally arrived at the area to park for the castle. It would be about a 30 minute walk to get up there to take our tour. Along the way, we would look up and see the castle towering over us.

We made it to the top, and took the tour. The inside of the castle was very elaborate, to say the least. One of the rooms was made to look like the inside of a cave!

Kendall was feeling left out of all these pictures!

Once we were done with the castle, we made our way back to Oberammergau. Since we were so close to the Austrian border (the castle was maybe 5-10 minutes away from the border), we took a drive into Austria. We're so glad we did, because it was absolutely beautiful! The road that we took was just a small road, but it wound around this beautiful lake (which I now know is Lake Plansee) with mountains around it. Out of all of our travels, this was definitely one of the most beautiful places we've ever seen.

Once we made it back to O'gau, we had dinner at this cute little German restaurant (Mr. J would be so proud). Grant got a schnitzel, and I got grilled trout. We were very impressed with German food!

The next morning, it was time to make our way back up to Ramstein. But before that, we wanted to go into Oberammergau and look around. This town is famous for their Passion Play that they do every 10 years - they've been doing this since the 1600's! They're also known for woodcarving, and having beautiful frescoes on most of their buildings. It was such a cute, quaint little town!

Then we drove to the town of Ettal, which is know for their beautiful monastery, and their beer, that they've been brewing for 700 years.

On our way back up to Ramstein, we went through Munich, then to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. The only thing I can say about seeing a former concentration camp, is that it made me sick. We all know a little about what went on in those camps, but to actually see where it happened made it so much more real.

We stopped to eat at a Burger King outside of Stuttgart (yeah, yeah, I know...but we were hungry, and it was the only thing around), and Kendall decided to get very vocal. Actually, she talked alot this whole trip. She bacame more alert and more responsive to us, which is so much fun!

We made it to Ramstein pretty late that night. Which means our trip was almost over. More on the rest of the trip later...

Friday, February 22, 2008

I should've written this stuff down...

As I was replying to Tink's comment, I remembered some funny things that happened with regards to Kendall. French people typically don't like Americans. And vice versa. However, when you're a dumb American with a baby in France, they love you!

I can't tell you how many people would come up to us and talk to Kendall. Which she loved, by the way. We think she thought it sounded like baby talk.

There was this elderly couple in Versailles that was sitting on this bench in one of the rooms of the palace. They saw me standing there holding Kendall, and made me sit down on the bench. They proceeded to talk to her, and laugh at her, and ask us questions in French, to which we replied with dumb smiles and nervous laughter and head nods. Kendall was totally eating it up! I really wish we would've gotten a picture of them with Kendall, because it was just so sweet!

Then, after I got done feeding Kendall underneath the Eiffel Tower, this little girl came up and started saying "Bebe! Bebe!" Then her mom lifted her up so she could kiss Kendall. Now, if you're not a germaphobe pre-baby, you definitely become one after you have a baby. All I could think about was all the nasty germs this little girl was giving Kendall, but what was I supposed to do?! It was sweet, in a germy sort of way.

We did encounter the stereotypical snobby French person every now and then. But for the most part, they were very nice. But like I said, I think alot of that had to do with our cute little Bug. She's irresistable.


I just realized I forgot to mention something that happened once we got into Paris. We parked our car in this parking garage that was very close to our hotel, but we really didn't know where the hotel was. So we come up the stairs to the street level, and just kind of stood there, looking around with really dumb expressions on our faces. This woman walked by and kind of looked at us...kept walking, then looked at us again. Then she said something in French. We replied "Parlez vous anglais?" (which became our favorite phrase to say), and we found out that she was an American. She pointed us in the right direction (we were headed in the opposite direction), and chatted with us for a bit. We found out that she had been living in Paris for about 20 years. Can you imagine? A random American walking by us right when we needed help? We called her our angel - because it was totally providential that she was there right at that moment.

Anyways, Wednesday morning, we woke up (later than we wanted, but we were seriously jet-lagged and Kendall-lagged, but more on that later), and got ready for the day. We walked out of our hotel, and saw this street vendor that had a very fancy stand, and he was making crepes and paninis, and all sorts of goodies. We ended up getting some nutella crepes for breakfast (Grant's was nutella and banana), and some ham and cheese sandwiches - which was this really long baguette with ham and cheese on it - for the road. This is where we ended up eating every single meal. We figured, that was expensive as it was, a restaurant would be way more expensive. Plus, it was really good food! The guy started to get to know us, and every morning he would point to me and say, "Nutella crepe?" and then he would point to Grant and say, "Nutella Banane crepe?" We were so predictable. So here I am waiting for our delicious food, and then there's Grant eating his crepe.

We made our way down to the metro, which was also right outside of our hotel. We eventually got to the train station, so we could catch a train to Versailles. After alot of confusion, we finally got our tickets, and took the train - which was maybe 20 minutes our so. Here we are on the train...and look, Kendall can stand already!

Once we got off the train, it was about a 10 minute walk to the Palace. On the way, I saw that Watley was watching us! Okay, so his face is white, and he's reading a newspaper and wearing a suit, but it reminded us of Watley.

We finally arrived at the Palace, and I was just so excited. I've always
been kind of obsessed with everything French, and always dreamed about coming here. It did not disappoint.

Just a side note, breastfeeding while traveling is a very interesting thing. It's not like you can just go back to your hotel every time you need to feed. So Kendall got fed in some really cool places - in the gardens of Versailles, underneath the Eiffel Tower, along the Champs Elysses, in the Louvre, inside Notre Dame - and thanks to the Hooter Hider that Jasmine got for me, Kendall ate in style.

After Versaills, we were off to the Louvre. We heard that after 6 pm, there was a discount. So being the "frugal" people that we are, we waited until after 6, which we actually unintentionally timed pretty well. We got there about 5:45, so we didn't have too wait long.

The next day was Valentine's Day, and I just thought it was so cool to be in Paris on that day. First we went to Concord Square, which is where the guillotine was set up during the French Revolution. But to me, the coolest thing was that when we came up from the Metro, I got my first view of the Eiffel Tower! It was breathtaking. It was also the first time we saw the Arc de Triomphe.

Then we walked down the Champs Elysses toward the Arc. We came across the Pont Alexandre III bridge, which was just beautiful.

After a lot of walking, we finally made it to the Arc. It was much, much bigger than either of us had pictured.

After the Arc, we got back on the Metro, and headed towards the Eiffel Tower. After waiting in the freezing cold in several lines to get to the top, we made it! It was a little hazy, but still - what a view! Please excuse the messy hair, it was quite windy.

Then, we went to the Notre Dame. Simply amazing! All the stained-glass windows, the architecture, everything about it was just amazing.

After such a long day, it was finally time to go back to the hotel and get some much needed sleep. Which reminds me. If any of you are wondering how Kendall did while travelling - she did awesome! Except for sleeping. We have this little travel bed for her (we call it her box), and for the first 6 weeks or so, she slept in the box on our bed. When we got back from Florida, she went in her crib. We took the box with us on this trip, and our first night in Paris, we quickly learned she didn't like her box anymore. Oh, and she also didn't like being swaddled. So, even though I was opposed to it at first, she slept in bed with us. After losing almost a full night's sleep the first night, I felt like I didn't have a choice. Thankfully, now that we're back home, she's gone back into her crib with no problem.

The next morning, it was time for us to leave Paris. I wished we could've stayed longer, but was kind of glad as far as the weather goes. We had 2 gorgeous days, and the day that we left, the typical Parisian winter weather returned.