Brave and Resourceful with a schultüte

 Last night Jason and I watched the movie “True Grit” (thanks to our beloved Apple TV).  It was a great way to take our mind off the fact that our children would be starting First Grade and Kindergarten the next morning.  After battling to get them to sleep for the night, we settled into our movie.  As I watched this story about a 14-year-old girl that was very independent, brave, and resourceful, I couldn’t help but wonder if our children would be that strong, brave, and resourceful when they are that age.
Karina is presented her Schultüte
But they aren’t that age....so I'll worry about that one later.  Karina entered the first grade today, she was able to experience the German tradition of receiving her "Schultüte".  She was presented this goodie filled cone (that was as big as her) during a special ceremony for all the first graders.  I was amazed that like many of the castles around here, this traditional “bag” filled with gifts such as crayons, pencils, and small toys leads back to the early 1800s.  I was also amazed at how loud a bunch of parents armed with cameras can be when put together. 

Cooper to Kindergarten and Karina to 1st Grade

  This morning, as I listened to the speech about this class of 2023, I realized that our children are already like the brave girl in the movie last night.  They have already demonstrated strong, brave and resourceful…They have moved to a new country, are hearing a new language, playing with new friends, eating new food, living in a new house, and going to a new school all with a brave face.  So I think the next time I find myself thinking I may not be doing things right as a mother, I will try to remember that I must be doing something that is working since our children are approaching most things here in Germany in a brave and resourceful manner including the beginning of Kindergarten and First Grade! 


jump back in....

I figured out a good way to jump back into the 'German culture'...jump over to a good German festival.  Last nigh,t I put on my warm fall outfit including my German boots (which baffles me since it is only August) and headed down to the Stuttgart Wine Village.  According to my favorite encyclopedia, the World Wide Web, it is one of the largest and most beautiful wine festivals in Germany.  This also means for the next week and a half, Stuttgart city center will be transformed into a traditional wine village.  I guess it shouldn't surprise me since we live right smack in the middle of many gorgeous wine vineyards.  Why not jump right back into the culture???  



My friend has been urging us to join their family on an outing to Tripsdrill the past few months.  Truth be known, I had been holding off on this excursion since the day she explained that she had gone to this German theme park when she was a little girl which made me question if those nuts and bolts were still holding on good after all these years.  Each time she urged, I had visions of my old County fair playing in my head. 

Of course, we decided to give it a try and headed to Germany's oldest amusement park, which is still owned and managed by the same family since 1929.  I loved it!  Not only are the rides for young and old, but also the park is very well “themed”.  I felt like I was walking thru an older version of Germany…well, I guess I was since it was built in the 20’s.  There was not one sign of my old County Fair here! 
I am not sure what my favorite thing was…the wooden roller coaster or the long winding slide inside the windmill that once you settle on your piece of burlap your are sent flying to the bottom.  I am sure Cooper would tell you that his favorite ride was the Bathtub flume he rode a few times with daddy.  Seems Jason failed to tell him it was one of the tallest flumes in Europe and traveled about 35 mph as it dropped.  Guess it didn’t bother Cooper since he back for “more”.  Karina would tell you she loved the roller coaster that looked like a caterpillar. I think she her screaming in my ear was the same in number as this insect has legs. 

I guess when I really think about it, I am sure of what my favorite thing was; watching my children have so much fun or enjoying another piece of German history I never would have experienced as a tourist.    

Looks like my laundry!

Bathtub Water flume

That looks like a fun RC-too bad we were too short

Water Barrels

ha-ha-mom sat in the 'most wet spot'

K and I did the "little" Flume

Good friends...


Seeking my German Brain

I will be so happy when my German brain catches a flight over here to join me.  I am not sure if it just didn’t want to be a part of our very bad week of jet lag upon our return to Germany or if it was just enjoying some of the luxuries of the American lifestyle that I guess I have always taken for granted. 

I beg you, my German brain, please return for you know…

  • Better than to buy a ton of groceries at one time and then suffer the walk home.
  • Not to scrape food off plates into the sink since there is no such thing as a disposal.
  • How to speak to neighbors in German without sounding silly-it is hard after four weeks of English only.
  • It is better to do a little laundry everyday because it will not all fit in the washer or clothesline in one day.
  • Not to expect air conditioning-anywhere- even though the temperatures are soaring. (you could have warned me on this one)
  • Not to take it personally when someone doesn’t return my “hello” but rather looks at me like I’m crazy.
  • To remember to answer the telephone, “hello, here is Hoff”.
  • To sweep our portion of the sidewalk every morning.
  • Not to plan to cook more than one item in the oven for dinner.
  • Most importantly, do not put the jeans/sweaters away because the weather can change dramatically in one hour flat.
Yep, my German brain is a pro for this very different lifestyle I live in Germany and makes me forget that it can be a little more challenging at times than what I was used to in America.  But my American brain is pretty helpful too, it gave me a great piece of advice this week; When it gets too hot, just head to the pool!!!


Photoshop not needed..

As I was cropping our pictures from the past week at Rosemary Beach, the thought occurred to me, too bad there isn't a "Photoshop" for life.  Wouldn't it be great if we could just click on "sharpness" or "enhance" that would make life's memories just a tad clearer (or maybe 're-touch' for those parts we would rather forget)

I guess my love of the beach came from the many trips I took with my family down to Salter Path, NC- but the specifics of what we did on those weekends seems fuzzy now and I can't click on "Highlights" to clear it up.  I do remember watching (not very patiently) as my parents and brothers set up our Pop Up Camper with the urge to take off running to the ocean.  I also remember the night my brother and I awoke to them knocking on the camper door from the outside because their bed had collapsed rolling them nicely to the ground.  I wish I could click on "sharpen" to remember exactly the look on their faces as we let them back in that ole camper!

 I don't need Photoshop to help me with this beach trip... it is all crystal clear (today). We have sat on the beach many nights until "the sun swims in the ocean"' (as Cooper says),  napped to the sound of kadima being played in the background, listened to the boogie board hitting the waves with a smack as the kids laugh exclaiming ,"that was a good one", gone "crab-hunting" at night with flashlights in hand with more screaming than catching going on and ending the night swinging on the big porch swing (and maybe falling asleep for just a bit) as I listened to the ocean waves crashing. 

Yep, no Photoshop needed this week for the pictures or my memory.   I am also pretty crystal clear that our kids will never find Jason and I knocking on the front door because our beds have fallen to the ground... because this chick has had enough of pop up camping and prefers concrete or wood these days.  But I am sure Karina and Cooper's memories will become fuzzy at some point in their life and they will need to click in order to "sharpen" some of the memories of our family trips to the beach, but hopefully when they do, they will remember all of the fun we shared together during our sandy days down at Rosemary.
Play ball-or just hit your sister with the ball

 no castle we have toured...

Where are those crabs?

My favorite site

Till we see you next time!


Rosemary Charms....

House for the week
I love Rosemary Beach! We have spent many vacations at this little paradise that sits a little over 4 hours from our (former) home in Alabama.  I wish I could bottle up the charm it offers with the long wrap around porches, hidden courtyards, wood plank sidewalks and all the laughter you hear as you walk home from the SugarShack or any of the quaint restaurants.

 I love it even more when our friends are able to enjoy it all with us.

many wishes come true!
 Not only were our good friends the Gambrell’s down here with us for a few days, but one of those “strange” meetings I have been having lately happened again, right here in Rosemary Beach.  As Karina and I were renting our bikes for the week, I hear, “Missssss KIRSTIN!!!” I am not used to hearing my name called in public places in Germany, so I hesitated before slowly turning my head towards the buttery Cajun accent.  I guess I was in shock because I didn’t move one inch as I stared at the smiling lady under the big brimmed straw hat and dark sunglasses.  After she called her name out, I began acting like a child hugging her, hugging her, hugging her again and then dragging she and her family to our house. 

Here is the irony of this story; We met Connie and Barry Boudreaux in Guatemala six years ago during our adoption process and quickly became friends with this New Orleans family.  We have gotten together numerous times over the years in Alabama and down here on the Gulf.  I’ll chalk up the odds of us being on the same spot on the same day to just another one of Rosemary’s charms. 

This morning, the Gambrell family and the Boudreaux family gave us those last goodbyes as they headed back home and again I feel the tears trickling down my cheeks.  But I have decided that these “goodbye tears” are worth every minute of the laughter I have enjoyed with all of my family/friends over the past few weeks.  So, I think it is time to head down to the beach and let the ocean hit me with it’s big hug and wash away these tears until the next “goodbye”.  

Nothing better than beach with old friends

boogie boarding

we have our own two fish!  look closely

he doesn't fit in our net

catching up quickly-time flies

where are the waves?

Do you do this in Germany? HA!

Does this water feel cold to you?-HA

Kids favorite place-1st time trying "poprocks"


It's all a blur...

What is better than a good Mexican meal with great friends
I must say our visit to Alabama seems all a blur to me.  I am not sure if it is because my vision was blurred from the tears that came as soon as I began hugging someone with joy as we said hello, or the tears I seemed to shed as we were just as quickly hugging them saying goodbye.  I didn't realize our visit to Alabama would be so emotional.  I guess I have spent the last 8 months transitioning to our move to Germany, and had not really let myself "feel" how much I miss my friends in Alabama who are more like family after almost 19 years of living there.  But boy did I 'feel' it the last two days.  I am one lucky girl to have such good friends, but am an even luckier girl to have a husband who squeezed my hand tight as we drove out of town today to let me know that he understood my blurry vision.
Rosemary Beach

   We are now sitting on the porch watching the moon shine on the ocean as the warm breeze seems to be pushing the tears away as it welcomes me back to my "other home".  We have made it to Rosemary Beach-the place where I feel most at peace, the sand is soft between my toes, the ocean is music to my ears and the laughter will flow freely.  I will miss my friends dearly when we return to Germany, but instead of tears, I will walk around with a big grin on my face because I know I am a lucky girl to have them all!

Karina's best friend-she shed a few tears too

Instead of touring a castle...we toured Costco!
Good food and great friends
we picked right up where we left off!

Our little Cooper was excited to turn 6 in Alabama!

More like big sister

Little game of Pool baseball...we don't do that in Germany

And we met a new friend that was born after we moved.


Mountains, cool air, and a bite on the butt

Since we moved to Germany, everyone always asks, “what is the hardest part about living in Germany?”  I think I finally have an answer; Traveling to the states to visit family/friends and all of a sudden realizing we are in the last hours of our visit.  That is exactly where I am in our ‘Oregon leg’ of our U.S. visit.  It STINKS having to start our goodbyes-Period.  So, Yes, that is the hardest part about living in Germany-we live across the ocean from most of the people we love.    

Five days ago we made it to Grandma & Pops Hoff House in Central Oregon for the 2nd leg of our vacation.  Instead of being embraced by a hot hug as we were in Georgia, we have been kissed by a crisp, cool air, and have snow topped mountains winking at us while we sit on the back deck playing numerous games of Yahtzee.  I also somehow managed to land a pitchfork in my hand within the first two hours of our arrival and was helping grandma Hoff shovel horse “stuff.  I didn’t even mind that because I knew I had made it to my “other home”.  I did mind Porter, one of her Tennessee Walkers, biting me on my butt and leaving a big ole bruise.  I guess horses have a different way of telling someone they live too far away.

We have always enjoyed our extended summer visits out to the “Hoff ranch” in Oregon.  This visit isn’t quite the 3-week stay since Germany is a tad further than Alabama.  The kids love all of the activities at their grandparent’s house;

  • Numerous rides on the gator-especially since Pops decided Cooper was old enough to drive this year
  • Helping feed the horses
  • Swimming in the Jacuzzi
  • Swinging on the tire swing in the barn
  • Cooking cookies and Apple Pie
  • Riding on the tractor
The parents always seem to enjoy all the activities too;

  • Grandma & Pops taking care of the kids
  • Grandma & Pops taking care of the kids
  • Grandma & Pops taking care of the kids
I personally missed having the time for Grandma’s and my “Big escape” which involved Pop’s taking care of the kids for a whole day while we trailer the horses and head up to one of the mountains in the area to spend the day riding up to enjoy a scenic picnic (and one of us enjoys a quick skinny dip). 

That is one thing I am learning as I live with the title ‘expat’; enjoy every minute you have with family/friends...because that ocean will come between you again real soon.  So as this trip comes to an end, I sit on the porch in Oregon and wink one last time back at the mountains, take a deep breath of crisp air (since we won’t be able to breath at all in the Alabama humidity) and try not to shed one tear as listen to the  zip of the suitcase for our next leg.  Goodbye Oregon-till next time.  

I'll miss you too!!!

Can I go faster Pops?

I missed Pops..and his glasses

Grandma's new horse-Cole.

ANOTHER gator ride

Where are the kids-hee-hee

In Oregon, we take turns being the skinny girl-or cowgirl

skinny or cow

Really-who naps at a coffee house?

Darren, When Pops isn't looking, grab a jelly bean.

helping grandma

Pops gave us the keys to the convertible

About Me

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Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
We are living as non-military expats for a second time in Stuttgart Germany. The first time, we moved from Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany in December 2010 for three years and now are back after six years.. This is a great adventure for our whole family that we enjoy sharing.