The Book

Simple. Colorful. Effective.


This is The Book. As I remarked in my previous blog post, it is currently the secret to my sanity.  Well, that and a bottomless pot of coffee.

It’s really just a big binder with numbered labels that I bought at the local office supply store. I already owned those plastic, brightly-colored pocket folders (purchased in Germany more than 10 years ago, actually), and I was so pleased to see they match perfectly with the labels. There’s also a three-hole cloth pencil case in there, and it will eventually hold all the small receipts we’ll be collecting during our journey. Continue reading

Watch Your Step

Got these gems during our trip to Disney World.

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]I[/dropcap] blinked and it’s already October.

At least, it seems that way when I look at my kids and see how much they’ve grown this year alone.

Doesn’t it always, though?

Martin and I are in the midst of a few home projects, such as re-doing our bathrooms. For the past few weekends, we cordoned off sections of the house, forbidding our children to engage with us, forcing them to fend for themselves when it came to food and entertainment.

So, fueled by a diet of cereal, milk, cheese cubes, slices of bread, chocolate-covered pretzels, and soda, my children got creative with their Legos, emptied their closets and toy chests, and re-organized the family room making blanket forts.

My oldest also created this using one of her Lego sets and her digital point-and-shoot camera.

It’s called “Watch Your Step.”


Shopping Selfie

While working with Martin on the bathroom yesterday, I was reminded of this photo from our trip to Florida.

The story: as we hurried to get ready for Disney, I realized my purse was too full and unorganized to carry around the park all day. But I was busy getting the kids and myself dressed. So I “searched” my purse for something, essentially dumping it all out on the table, and explained, “Don’t worry about this, Martin. I’ll just clean this up later tonight when we get home!!”

A mess that needs organizing? It’s like catnip for Germans.

PS – My purse was neatly sorted and organized, and he put aside just the stuff I needed for the single backpack we ended up taking, by the time we left for the park.


Martin and I are busy updating our bathroom with a new floor, new sink, new toilet, and new paint. Let me clarify: Martin is peeling away old paint, replacing floorboards and dry wall, removing nails and screws, and I’m watching and bringing him drinks and tools when requested.


Selfie in a vanity mirror display at Lowes.

Third trip this weekend, but the first sans kids. My friend Jennie showed up at the house and said, “Hey, I got the kids. Go!”

So I think we will finally be able to get all we need to complete this bathroom today.

PS – Paint stains on hands and limbs are a “thing” this season. Trust me.


To the best of my knowledge, there is no English or German word to describe — for better or worse — the emotions or qualities of a partner/spouse revealed specifically during remodeling/home repair.

Sort of like “weltscmertz” or “torschlusspanik” … there should be words to describe the surge of emotions felt when a spouse drips paint from the brush … or demands that every corner be taped … or picks the same exact shade of flooring as you do at the same time … or makes inappropriate jokes while drilling new holes in the wall. There should be a name for all of that.

Trip to IKEA

2:08 p.m. – I never realized before how aimlessly people move in IKEA. I’m here for something specific, and being by myself without chasing children, I could move with a purpose and take a direct route thru the maze. But wow! It was like being in the midst of bored, yet friendly zombies just sort of bumbling along and into each other. Fascinating.

2:20 – Waiting for my number (above). Nobody’s complaining about it either. 🙂 #momcation

2:50 pm – As Martin can attest, one of my secret talents is the ability to get huge, unyielding pieces of furniture into small vehicles. I’ve done this in both in Europe and here in the States. I’ve stunned my husband, my father, and skeptical warehouse workers. We are talking washing machines, sofas, bookshelves, etc.

Today, I had twin-bed mattress slats, which are super easy; I just put the seat down and slid them in from the back door. It took less than a minute. Yet the lady who offered to help me was impressed. “You figured that out pretty quick,” she said. To which I answered, “Haven’t you ever had a small purse crammed with everything you need? We figure these things out everyday!”

Laundry, Yoga, and Other Things

As Jaz and I were waiting for Martin to join us for a web chat, Jaz was using my back as a speedway for his toy cars. The sacrifices I make for these kids…


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]A[/dropcap]s I mentioned in my last post, Martin is away from home again, fulfilling his annual two-week Air Force Reserve obligation (called “annual tour”) at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

Once again, it’s just the kids and me at home, but this time feels a little different than the previous times Martin’s been away from home. Maybe it’s because we just did this less than two months ago, maybe it’s because it’s only for a short period of time, or maybe it’s because we knew about this one for a long time and everything fell in place according to plan, but in any case, life at home has been pretty breezy, if not the usual controlled chaos.

Martin and the kids on the morning he left.

And for proof that things are, indeed, going swimmingly, I was able to leave the house without the children on Friday night. Ashley came over the hang out with the kids while I ran off to play bunco with my friend Yvonne. I’ve never played the game before, but it wasn’t hard to pick up, and I got to meet several new ladies who all lived in Germany at one time or another, or who had a connection to the military or government work. I had a blast.

Other things the kids and I have done while Martin is gone include:

  • Going to the Native American museum in downtown DC.
  • Taking up yoga. For real. Every day. Our smart TV offers an easy yoga app and the kids love doing it with me.
  • Sorting and purging all our clothes, books, and toys.
  • Got caught up on laundry. Yes. You read that correctly.

As for Martin, he’s doing well down there in Little Rock. He was immediately put on “swing shift” which means he starts working in the middle of the day and doesn’t get off of work until late at night, which makes it a little complicated trying to catch him for a web chat or quick phone call, especially since he’s an hour behind us.

He and the group of Airmen he’s traveled with all went on a road trip to Graceland in nearby Memphis, Tennessee. He was especially pleased when he learned that I’ve never been there myself.

He also had lunch with Livvi, who is the youngest sister of my high school best friend, Jessica, back in Northern Kentucky. The last time I saw Livvi was right after my high school graduation, and she was Lola’s age and still in elementary school. Now? She’s grown up, married, and also serving in the Air Force as a loadmaster stationed at Little Rock. The world is really that small, and I love that we can really go just about anywhere and bump into people we know.

The family that stretches together…

Anyway, he is scheduled to be back next week, and it’s a good thing. From where I sit right now, August is already looking to be a very busy month for us. The girls will be heading off to spend time with family for a few weeks. We will celebrate two birthdays.

And we’ve also heard that the Princesses have returned to a certain wonderland, so we just may have to pay them a visit sooner than later, too.




Flashback Friday: Commissary Run

That’s a lot of groceries, right? And nary a coupon back then in 2010.


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]M[/dropcap]artin, Jaz, and I visited our old stomping grounds this afternoon: the Fort Myer commissary which is where we did our grocery shopping when I was still active duty in the military. For those who aren’t familiar with them, military commissaries usually aren’t as expensive as civilian grocery markets, and we always found good deals there. Since it’s a good 30-to-40 minute drive (at least) from our home, we only went shopping every other month or so, filling two shopping carts full of goods to last us.

However, we stopped doing the commissary runs once Martin became a full-time stay-at-home dad and active couponer who shopped more frequently at the stores near our home. Even when he joined the military, (which allowed us commissary privileges again), we didn’t return because he was able to stretch our dollars much further through local couponing. Even when he was gone all those months for basic military training, he had shopped and planned ahead of time, so I didn’t need to go shopping (except for the fresh stuff) while he was away.

Unfortunately, this last trip of his was so last-minute, he didn’t have time to prep our cupboards and food pantry, at least not in the way he did before. Of course, the kids and I were totally fine and not wanting for anything. But I don’t coupon like Martin does, and I refused to go shopping in his place. So, we just used up what we had.

After he came home, he resumed couponing to replenish our pantry, but it takes time since not everything is on sale at the same time. Yesterday, as we used up the last can of red beans and the last box of rice, and as Jaz walked past us clutching the last box of cereal, Martin and I looked at each other and admitted, “We gotta go to the commissary and resupply now.”

So, off we went and it was a wonderful trip down memory lane as we passed my old office building, familiar restaurants, and other places we haven’t seen in awhile.

We had Jaz all to ourselves, and it was the sweetest, easiest shopping experience in a long time. It wasn’t crowded, and Martin and I were in agreement for almost all of the purchases.

“…Yes, I need THIS brand of coffee creamer. Yes, I know that costs less, but this is MORE delightful…”

The commissary still looked the same, and as we walked through the aisles full of elderly retirees and servicemembers in uniform, I couldn’t help but think of all the times we were there with the girls, when we went shopping as a family, as chaotic and overwhelming as it was.

Crazy times. But sweet memories, too.

For today’s Flashback Friday, this was a post about one such commissary run.

You can read it HERE.



Spring Cleaning

Miss C took this fabulous photo of her sister dancing in the backyard.

This weekend was a good one. Miss C had a sleepover with a bunch of girls from her class, which went pretty well, but left a pile of blankets, pillows, crumbs and general disorder all on my first floor. Martin was away for his Air Force Reserve duty, which means I don’t leave the house with all three kids because just getting them to the driveway and funneled into the minivan fully-clothed and well-tempered exhausts me, so I tackled my housekeeping to-do list with gusto while I let the kids do whatever the heck they wanted.

Because the weather was so amazing, this meant a lot of my chores were done outside. And because I was outside, the kids were outside. Continue reading

Exercise in Futility

It’s a gray, rainy day, but I’m glad to see buds on my tree and the temps are nice. Spring is finally here!

Trying to spring clean with three children in the house is a massive exercise in futility. I do pat myself on the back, though, for pulling myself out of bed with the idea I could be successful and get stuff done today. One should never lose hope, right? Continue reading