Saturday, July 31, 2010

The true story of American vacations

Some days I think to myself..."Am I really living the way God intended for my life?" And before I persist any further in that thought process I get lazy because even trying to figure out the way that God thinks of how He wants me to live, and figure out whether in most circumstances I have pulled through for the Big Guy I get my panties all twisted in knots. Then it came to me as it has before but then I forget again and again. It's almost like watching a great movie with an intense ending and coming back to watch it years later happy that you have forgotten what happened and the whole experience is new and exciting once again. That's the feeling I mean when I open up the Bible, and read the mind of God and the people He spoke through and somehow I had forgotten how yes, I should love my enemies, and yes I should be patient and kind, and yes it's not all about me, and yes I do need to trust God. All of these things I have learned over many years and still everyday God reminds me in His word that no matter how hard I try to live how I think God wants me to live, all I have to do is surrender to Him and He will do the rest. Well, first you surrender but that doesn't mean you sit at home waiting for God to physically make something happen in your life. I have to move forward, trusting Him with every step even if that means I could stumble from time to time.

I am eating frosted mini wheat's while I am writing this and I am very disappointed in myself because I know better, eating them at a slow pace causes the white delicious sugary side to disintegrate into my milk. All I have left now is sugary milk and soggy wheat blocks.

I am sometimes mad at myself for not writing down in the moment all of the funny and interesting things that happen in my life. I forget so easily. But here is one, or rather a series of some events that mostly include my parents visit to Europe. While they so kindly visited us and slept in our living room for one week in Germany, we also had the pleasure of enjoying a wonderful short trip to Italy just the four of us. You know how I feel about Italy so I don't have to explain it again. The only part I would like to repeat is the "Stripes of chicken's chest" translation of good ole plain chicken strips. We went to the same restaurant where I first saw this. Entertainingly enough the German's are also at fault for this "Lost in Translation" series of words. Whenever traveling through Europe you must pay attention to the translations, they are priceless. So we ended up taking my parents to Lake Como, knowing that since that had never been to Bella Italia this would be a wonderful first experience for them as it has always been for us.

Now, if you know my parents you would agree with me in describing them as "True Americans," straight down to the two large SUV's they drive and the American flag proudly flowing in the wind on their front porch. Once I caught my dad marching around the house, flag in hand, yelling the Declaration of Independence. Just kidding, but I did see him walking around with it in the house and it looked very much like he was marching....anyways. Now that I am older and MUCH more mature I can say that things like this make me love my parents all the more rather than embarassing me. Except when my mom fake's a German or Italian accent. Well, even that is pretty great. I love that they are "True Americans."

Welcome to Italy. One of my favorite parts of going to Italy is the amazing drive through the Swiss and Northern Italian Alps. It will take your breath away. Four hours of this, and you will almost be looking forward to the drive back already. We got to our hotel, and while the gentlemen waited in the lobby for our room's availability, us ladies got straight to it and soaked up the sun on the lakeside pool. You had the option of cooling down in the hotel pool, or bading with the fishes in the crystal clear mountain lake that was the perfect temperature. Another thing about vacations that I love is people watching. We were mostly surrounded by Dutch people, which is a language I am not used to hearing and before Christoph told me who they were I was straining my ear in confusion hearing an English word, then a German word thinking..."what the? Are you English or German, figure it out!" Apparently that is exactly what Dutch is, a mixture of the both. Silly Dutch. If their personalities are also a mixture of the two, I would like to get to know some Dutch people.

After the poor guys waited in the lobby for a couple hours they soon joined us, and like little boys they jumped right in the lake in the most dangerous way possible. Every vacation I can ever remember growing up, my dad has in some way or another tried to kill himself (figure of speech) in doing something stupid. If we are on a water vacation it usually has to do with swimming to the most dangerous place possible like the middle of the ocean, and swimming back. If we're on a mountainous vacation he would be jumping across cliffs having all the bystanders staring with jaws dropped, calling him crazy. He likes it. My dad is neither Micheal Phelps nor George Mallory (He died trying to climb Everest and yes I just googled that) but he thinks he is.
So that's "Vacation Kelly" in a nut shell, and "Vacation Josh" (my brother) was always following right in his footsteps. Of coarse since then my brother has probably exceeded my dad's series of stupid events by one thousand. My brother is no crocodile hunter but very very close. He once caught a 100 lb snapping turtle and kept it as a pet, so I guess we could call him turtle hunter.

That night we enjoyed a delicious meal or should I say series of meals, 3 coarse, my dad had it in his mind it was a 5 coarse but he got over it. We enjoyed the Italian wine, Italian music, and Italian servers. 3 hours later, because this place was no Texas Road House, we were wined (well not me I am prego), dined and to finish it off my husband ordered the snops to settle his food (Apparently it's good for the digestion process) and my dad was a big fan of that so he tried some too. I don't know if it was the wine or the fact we were in Italy but my dad did a wonderful "Vacation Kelly" thing that night. We had a beautiful candle on our table, and my dad as he is trying to stomach this snops had a bright idea to stick his finger in the snops and then proceed sticking it into the candle starting his finger on fire. A four or five star restaurant mind you, and my dad the American is lighting his finger on fire. We were all laughing hysterical and I said. "If Josh were here he would take a drink and blow it on the candle." Totally true fact, I wasn't even kidding. I think the more Christoph hangs out with my family the more he can understand me. I once at a very nice place when we were with his parents at a furniture fair in Milan, thought the flower decorating my desert was edible. Christoph's mom caught me eating it and trying to hold in her laughs told me to just spit it out. There I am while we are making some important decisions in what furniture we are going to buy from our Georgetti sales guy gagging on a flower and spitting it out. Hopefully no one noticed. I felt like what's her name form Princess Diaries. It's not like I do it intentionally though, it's genetics of an American father.

The next day in Italy we roamed through the city of Lake Como and enjoyed the day just laughing and spending time together. It was wonderful, not only to have a little piece of America with us but to have fun with my parents again. They are so easy to hang out with. I miss that so much. Oh and they were so kind to get Christoph and I our very first baby stroller. When everyone got together, the Germans an the Americans we all tried it out before we had a lovely dinner together. I think our baby is going to be pretty spoiled by it's grandma's and grandpa's:)

I love you mom and dad!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Time is quickly fading and memories are being made that no pictures could capture to be put in a frame, but rather tucked away in the many treasure chests in my heart. I could write Hallmark cards.
But yes it's true for two reasons. Our camera broke from me (or Christoph, we don't really want to say who it was) putting an open water bottle in my purse for all the water to spill out and ruin our camera among a couple other things. So no memory capturing with pictures. The second reason is completely tangible, at least in my opinion. Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you know there is no way a picture could ever capture the essence of the memory? Well, living in a place like Europe and traveling to places like Italy for instance, I feel this way so many times. I find myself trying to capture the smell, the touch, the light, the food...everything, call it a name, and put it where it belongs to be treasured forever.

Last week was full of doing such things as my parents visited us for the first time in our new apartment.
It started with my mom coming on Saturday and later my dad meeting up with us on Tuesday after he attended a work meeting in Bremen. Having some quality time with just my mother was just what I needed since finding out I was pregnant and going through different things that are so new and uncomfortable at times. I was pleased to take her along to our new church so she could experience what I experience in my German world. This Sunday church was particularly heartbreaking as I struggled to translate to her the testimony of a man who's wife died just days before of breast cancer. The attitude of this man, who was our pastor's brother -in-law was that I have never seen before of someone who has just accepted the fact that the mother of his two children at the ages of 8 and 6, and his loving wife was never to be seen again on this earth. Among some of the many beautiful things he said, he explained with tears withheld that who is he to say when his wife should pass away, and he is nothing but grateful to God for the beautiful times and memories he had while his wife was still alive. The last hours of his wife's passing was so peaceful because she was nothing but accepting of leaving this world and going to meet her Savior.

As I was intensely listening, not understanding every exact word, I found myself realizing something which I am sure many others realized at that same moment. Life comes at us with so many unexpected circumstances, and to not enjoy our marriage for what God has given us is to deny ourselves of a beautiful blessing that was meant always by God to be some of the happiest times of our life. This man and his heart was such a beautiful memory of what it means to be married and to enjoy every minute of our lives for what it is. The little fights about whatever, the memories ruined because of selfishness, all of these things have been given to us to make a choice in the matter to give up our right and to choose our battles wisely. Everyday I have to remind myself of this, and of coarse everyday I struggle with it. My heart gets hard once again because for some reason I feel that I deserve to be right. I loved this man's attitude, and little did he know that through his wife's death if not only me, but many people would see that there is always something to learn in your marriage and to never take advantage of the time you have together.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The little things that make you go crazy

There's something about seeing an ant floating in a pool on its back, struggling for life that you just can't help but feel sorry for it. When I was little, wherever I would walk I would particularly pay attention to not stepping on and killing ants. I don't know what it is about ants more than any other bugs that you just want to let them be, building little ant hills, making the queen happy. Maybe it's because their so cute, and maybe I think their so cute because of the movie A Bugs Life. I'm not really sure. I'm also not really sure why I am telling you this. Sometimes in my pregnancy as I'm sure many other women feel, like I am high on the little things, just enjoying life. Then you have someone like your husband who comes along and takes something very special from you and all of the sudden your life is over.

Let me explain. The other day I went to a decorations fair for store owners with my mother-in-law Hannah. Christophs mom and I ventured to Munich to take a look at the halls packed with gadgets and gizmo's a plenty, and found some very wonderful things for the store and also for an event I am running in October. Anyways, on our way there we stopped and went to the bathroom at some rest stop off of the autobahn. I later after going to bathroom searched for a delicious cold beverage and discovered something wonderful. A Nescafe Ice cold Caramel Macchiatto. I hadn't had or found something as wonderful as this since I lived in the states. This particular day it was about 30 degrees C out, which is about 95 F and an ice cold coffee drink was just the thing to wet my thirsts appetite. So we both got one, Christoph's mom not so sure of this new thing she had never heard of before. She absolutely loved it by the way, and within seconds our 2,50 Euro tiny little European sized sips of coffee had disappeared into our not quite satisfied bellies. I think at the very moment we finished them we both had the same thought. We wanted another. It was planned, we would get another on the way home later on that day. I have never seen anything so cute as to seeing my mother-in-law enjoy such a thing as a cold American coffee drink.

After much walking and decision making, we were on our way home and the Nescafe coffee drink had probably not left our minds the entire day. First stop, gas station. I went to the bathroom and by the time I got out Hannah had already bought me another along with a delicious ice cream bar. This is where the disappointment started. It was warm. And if you have ever tasted a warm nescafe caramel macchiato, you know that it is NOT very good. I was upset, but I decided with much self control in not gulping that whole thing down right then and there that I would wait it out, put it in the fridge when I got home and have it the next day. At least I had the ice cream bar to distract me. I did that very thing, and after setting it on the shelf very proudly, thinking of how wonderful it would be after a cold night in the fridge I quietly uttered to myself as my smile turned to a scowl...'If Christoph drinks that'.....I won't tell you the rest of my though process.

Later that night Christoph and I were at home getting our stuff together to go swimming at his parents pool. I was standing at the kitchen counter talking with Christoph about something funny, I don't remember what it was, but as we were talking he opened the fridge, took my Nescafe coffee out, opened it and before he got it to his lips I yelled at the top of my lungs something I will not repeat and you can imagine what happened from there. CHristoph was only laughing at me as he was threatening to drink it as I was screaming and yelling trying to grab it out of his hand. I was out of control at this point thinking to myself, 'I must look like a crazy person...I think I am a crazy person but I don't care, I want that coffee drink'. He got a kick out of it, but little did he know how much that little coffee drink meant to me. I was enraged by now and seeing that he finally realized he had better put it back in the fridge and I am sipping it at this very moment of writing to you, savoring every ice cold gulp of sheer tongue delight. I bet you go buy one right now.

Later that night we go to his parents place where of coarse Hannah had done the exact same thing and put hers in her fridge. Christoph, just like a little boy opens the fridge to see what he can find and immediately takes out her little coffee drink and proceeds to guzzle it down. I start yelling at him again, and Hannah walks in and says, "Oh, it's ok if he has it." It her German little accent. I felt like a selfish fool after that. I'm sure she is used to giving up food she has saved for herself raising four boys who raid the fridge every time they come home, even to this day. I guess I have a lot of patience and selflessness to learn. After all, I could have just bought another one the next day. I guess to me, growing up and having my dad eat all of the cookie dough I had prepared for an event later on that week had left me scarred with wanting to protect my food at all costs. I was always putting labels on my food living at home, "Dad, if you eat this I will eat you."

Monday, July 5, 2010

No title today

As much as I love spiders and how they creep and crawl and are always in places that surprise you, I never ever again want to find one in my bed ever again. They've been in my shower, on my lap while sitting at a nice restaraunt, in my clothes, my towels, my hair, but today was an entire new surprise when I had one dead in my bed! I must have when I was sleeping subconciously known that I needed to kill a spider. They have been everywhere on and around me, finding me wherever I am. Every time I get scared about a spider, Christoph say's, "They don't bite in Germany, they wont hurt you." I know that by now thank you darling husband, but I still don't like them. They are evil and every time I see one I will have Christoph kill it. The one in my bed I killed but only because I didn't know it was there. Stay away spiders. It's bad enough Germany has horse flies that attack and bite you when you get out of any sort of body of water. You have to rush to dry yourself off because apparently they like little beads of water. Creepy little b.........

Can you tell I love the bugs here. They are a delight.

I've started my new job, and I must say I think I am going to like it. I am the new events planner for the Gruener company. This is a big step for me going form the cleaning lady to the events planner. I am pretty excited about it. I only work two days a week, and when I have my baby I can even work from home. It's creative and just up my alley. You're probably wondering what happened with the whole kitchen business we were going to begin? Well, at the moment we can't find a building so that part is on hold. We are trusting that everything that has happened is for a reason only God knows. We found ourselves in a place that was out of our control and sometimes that makes you take a step back and look at why and for what reasons did this happen. It could be that God is protecting us from such a disasterous thing, and that we need to wait on it. That's what trust is about right? To make a decision in the direction that not knowing what will happen or how it will happen, give up control and let it be. I need to do this in many areas of my life. I must say this has been a year of lesson after lesson in how to trust and I still feel like I want control and don't want to let things go. What makes us as humans so reluctant to just live and let go? I think it is a mixture of many different things in our life that we have taken credit for. If something wonderful happens you think, 'I've got this under control now and if I am just always in control then everything will turn out ok. You forget that the One who actually made it happen was not you but in fact God. This is why I think God sometimes let's us fail, so that we can examine who we are, broken and in need of something greater than us. So we can come to the understanding once again we are no more in control of when we live or die, than we are in control of what happens in a day. I will give you an example.

Yesterday we went to church and I have been pretty down about church lately. That part doesn't really matter because I was being selfish anyways. I was expecting something, the same old thing, and something completely different happened. The moment I arrived to church I changed my mind set. I disregaurded the fact that when I cannot say everything I want to say to make my personality and who I am come out because of the language barrier. I thought, I'm just going to say as much German as I am capable of and if I sound like an idiot I don't really care. You get to the point when speaking a different language that you just have to go for it and be open to making mistakes. So I did this trusting that God was in control. Normally I just wouldn't say much. Funny thing happens when you do that. I go in expecting one thing and come out amazed at what God does. This goes for everything in our lives, this thing called trust. I know I will never master it but I can sure grow in it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bilbo Baggins

The last time we were in Italy at a restaurant the English translation of the menu read things like 'Stripes of chickens chest' and 'Scallops' that were not actual scallops but rather veal. It's what I ordered of coarse. my mouth watering for scallops. I love the Italians and how they translate English.
This time in Italy the restaurant we visited was a bit different, including the company. Let me explain.

Christoph and I were sent from the Gruener company to go on a 2 day tour of the Giorgetti Italian furniture in one of most beautiful places in Italy....Lake Como. Did you know that the people of Como are so nonchalant, that when Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie visited they could have cared less of who they were. George Clooney has a Penthouse there because he likes to be treated like a normal person. One time his motorcycle broke down, so he went to a repair guy by where he lives. The guy let him in, and didn't have a clue who he was. The repair guys daughter eventually came in and dropping here jaw knew exactly who he was. He plays basketball with his Italian friends in a special spot up until the paparazzi got hold of it. I was told all of this by our Italian entourage from Giorgetti sitting on the lake for a fancy dinner, thinking he was George's best friend or something. I asked him how he knew all of this, and in his Italian bouncing flare he answered. "Wella youa knowa, the newspaper, anda the worda justa get a rounda." There was about 7 Germans total, all male have you and me, one little pregnant American girl who had no clue up until now what Giorgetti produced and how they produced it. I found it very interesting, not just learning about the furniture going through the production factories, but also being the only woman there among older business German men who all were so happy I was having a baby. It's funny, once people know you are pregnant they treat you completely different. It's like I could do or say whatever I wanted and they wouldn't care less because after all..."She's pregnant." I could fart as loud as I want and no one would care. I could start swearing uncontrollably and they would just say..."How are you felling? Ok?"

We were picked up by a large van that contained three of the men we would be seeing the tour with and later we would meet up with the lot. There was one particular guy that CHristoph and I didn't quite understand. His last name was Mutta which means 'mother' in German. He was a doctor, so we called him Doctor Mutta. Completely translated it means "doctor mother." Sounds like a swear word to me. He was a strange little man, grey hair with a white fluffy frame around his face. I finally after two hours of studying him came to the conclusion he was the spitting image of Bilbo Baggins. That about sums up his physical appearance. As for his mannerisms. He sat in the back of the van and said a total of about 4 words the entire 4 hour trip. That's about one word per hour. We drove by a strawberry stand and he yells out, "Strawberries!" The next stop of coarse he found himself a fruit stand and bought himself a bag full of different fruits which would later cause him more stress than good. Every time we got in and out of the van he came running and yelling. "My fruit! Don't sit on my fruit!" Now if we were to actually sit on his fruit we would have to be a couple of things. 1) blind 2) stupid 3)downright mean. Now, thinking of normal business doctor men, you would think they would be a bit prestigious, usually ellude that if they don't know everything they are certainly close. Well, not this guy. He was....well a hobbit to be quite descriptive. We would neither say much nor do much other than scurry from furniture piece to furniture piece, touching, sitting, smelling, smiling. I swear if he took off his shoes we would be sure to behold a hairy forest of hobbit feet. Extraordinary those hobbits.

Now on to the tour. From the beginning I was always curious of how exactly people make furniture. Now I know and find it absolutely wonderful how a small piece of maple, tropical, oak, cherry, olive wood can after many stages be transformed into a beautiful piece of furniture. This particular company strives for a classic ritzy antique who cater mostly to VERY well to do people (A dining table running you to up to 30,000 Euro) in areas such as Russia and Africa. A small but good percent attracts the Germans as well as many other countries. Giorgetti himself is a very Italian man who looks and sounds like he came straight from the Godfather. His son even got killed by the Italian mob! I could of met him but right as I went in the ladies room, he walked by and of coarse Christoph got to nod his head at him. Stupid bladder. He is the Godfather in the furniture world.
9:00 in the evening rolled around and finally we were on our way to dinner. I was starving. We were taken to a fantastic restaurant on the lake, where we had great conversation, mostly with the Italians because the German guys didn't have much to say. Italians always have something to say which I find absolutely wonderful. Finally our night ended at 12 with yet another dessert after about 2 and we were off to our hotel room. The next day was completely the same, included with tours and lunch.

There's something about Italy, something in the air that makes everything seem like it's gonna be ok. My experiences there have always been wonderful and surrounded with wonderful people. It was truly an experience to remember. I love Italy.