TBT: Julie and Martin in 1999

I’m certain I’ve shared this photo at some point before, but nevertheless, here’s Martin and me taking a selfie while waiting in line at Kings Island amusement park in Ohio during his first visit to the United States in August 1999. We did this with his big SLR camera and had to wait for the film to be developed a few days to see if it turned out okay.

Prince and the Pageant

My sister Jill in the mid-80s wearing her Ohio Miss Teen pageant t-shirt.


Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, my parents were involved with the Ohio Miss Teen pageants. Every year, my sisters and I got backstage access to ALL the drama related to pageants.
One very clear memory is the spectacular meltdown pageant officials threw backstage after one of the girls performed to ‪Prince‬’s “Batdance” as part of the talent competition. Continue reading

TBT: Soda Fund

Today’s #TBT photo is from 1996. I was 15 years old, spending the weekend with my Dad up in Fairborn, Ohio. We were in his office after visiting the local Sam’s Club so Dad (an Air Force civilian and Reservist) could buy the items needed to stock the 445th Airlift Wing’s soda fund, which he ran for decades.

I have no idea why I’m scowling. He had all kinds of stuff for sale, and of course, being his kids, we could pull whatever we wanted, thanks to the family discount. At that time in my life, I usually pulled a Snapple, an ice cream bar, some Pop Tarts, and a Hot Pockets.

It didn’t dawn on me that more than a decade later, I would be standing in that same spot as an Air Force Reserve NCO for the wing’s public affairs office, waiting for my coffee and Pop Tarts to heat up in the toaster, making that same face at my Dad who still worked there, but no longer gave family discounts.

Martin the American

Martin is now an American citizen. 

His naturalization ceremony took place yesterday in Cincinnati, Ohio in the beautiful Union Terminal. About a dozen friends and family attended to show support.

This happened exactly 16 years, 5 months, 28 days after Martin first met me. Whereas I was simply born on Texas soil, Martin’s path to citizenship featured lots of twists and turns, and countless delays or pauses that stretched on over the years, spanning three countries. Continue reading

TBT: Air Force Museum

Today’s #TBT photo was taken in 1988 during a visit to the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

I’m in the center of the group in the yellow sweatshirt, and those are my cousins Holli, Brad, and Matt, and my sisters Jill and Jinger.

Of the whole group, I was the only one to fall for the indoctrination and join the service, although Holli did end up marrying an Air Force officer.

Brunch, Lunch, Snack, Dinner

I think I gained at least five pounds during our farewell tour in Cincinnati last week. And at my height, five extra pounds are so unforgiving. It was, without a doubt, the most unhealthiest visit ever. Not only did we intentionally feast on our Cincinnati favorites — cheese coneys, Graeters ice cream, etc. — but nearly every single gathering … and nearly every single meal … was out on the town for brunch, lunch, snack/coffee, or dinner. With people to see all over the place, it was just easier for work and school schedules to meet at meal times.

I guess I could have ordered salad all those times, but who in the world wants to do that?

(I don’t.) Continue reading

The Train Station

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]D[/dropcap]uring our farewell tour in Cincinnati last week, my boys and I paid a visit to Union Terminal. It opened in 1932, and was one of the busiest locations in the whole city as all the train transportation for this area passed through it. And as all superhero and comic book fans may recognize, it was also the inspiration for the “Hall of Justice.”

These days, it doesn’t receive nearly as much train traffic, and is known as the Cincinnati Museum Center since it houses three separate and distinct museums. The place is amazing, and while we were there in Cincinnati, voters in Hamilton County overwhelmingly supported an issue that will raise taxes to pay for the upkeep and preservation of the building.

We were so excited by that news! Not only did I work there in high school as a performer in the Natural History museum, but my Dad is now an official volunteer there, too.

That place feels like home.

So, Martin, Jaz, and I paid a visit while the girls spent time with Nona and Aunt Jill. 

Once we got there, we went straight to Tower A, which wasn’t open to the public when I was younger. You can see all the train tracks from there, and they’ve restored a lot of it. The views are amazing, and Jaz loved the toy train sets set up there for visitors.


After hanging around there for a little bit, we connected with my Dad who invited us back down into the main hall. The whole building was constructed in the Art Deco style, and it’s half-dome is amazing. It’s bright yellow, and there are colorful stone murals depicting the early days and evolution of Cincinnati. The acoustics are spectacular, and every now and then, an organ plays music to echo in the halls.

As soon as Jaz walked into the room, the organ began to play “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss — also known as the theme to Space Odyessy: 2001.

Now, you may know that Jaz is a huge Superman fan and more often than not, he’s wearing his Superman (or some superhero) shirt. It happens so often, I don’t even realize it anymore. I swear to you, his shirt didn’t dawn on me until I bent down to take a photo of him in front of Union Terminal and remembered the “Hall of Justice” connection.

So to have that music play as he entered the hall?

Perfect. Just perfect.

After the song ended, my Dad gave us his official tour, which included a pass by the various miniature train sets set up in the Cincinnati History Museum. Having him as a guide was so amusing and we tried to trip him up, but he stuck to his guns and relayed a lot of information. I think you could wander those halls for years, and still learn something new each time.

This is one of the dining halls that’s been restored. Had we married in Cincinnati, I would have totally picked that place as the location.


One other thing we accomplished that day: our son’s first visit to a hair salon. We were getting family portraits taken and I wanted him and Martin to look their best. Normally, I cut my men’s hair in the kitchen with clippers, but I didn’t bring them with me to Ohio. So, we did a walk-in and it was also pretty amusing. Jaz was not interested in any of it, which surprised me. Normally, he’s pretty tolerant when I cut his hair. But I think a new environment (and a much-needed nap) overwhelmed him, and he just didn’t enjoy it all.

His first haircut in a salon. Despite the tears, he walked out with a blue balloon and lollipop.

And it’s not that I like seeing my son distressed … but I found it pretty adorable. The hairdresser was super fast, and he was done in less than five minutes. He left there with a sucker and a balloon, and was fast asleep by the time we pulled out of the parking lot, looking dapper as always.


Our Day in Eden Park

The girls feeling the spirit with Pinocchio in front of the Cincinnati Art Museum


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]D[/dropcap]uring our visit to Cincinnati last week, the girls, Martin, and I went to Cincinnati’s Eden Park. My sister Jinger went with us. We visited Krohn Conservatory and the Cincinnati Art Museum, and enjoyed lunch at Mount Adam’s Bar and Grill.

As for Martin and me, this wasn’t our first trip to Eden Park. Back in August 1999, during Martin’s first visit to America to see me, we spent a full day up there.  At the time, I was not yet officially enlisted in the US Air Force, though I was scheduled to go up to MEPS the day after Martin flew back to Germany. I also had quit my job due to my impending departure, so this meant I had all the time in the world to show him around my hometown, and that day up on the hill in Eden Park was a lot of fun.

So returning there with the girls was really cool. We actually recreated some photos at certain spots, too, and they liked to hear my stories about the days I used to perform at nearby Playhouse in the Park. In the midst of all the family visits and brunches/lunches/dinners, I’m glad we made that time to sightsee and create really sweet memories with Aunt Jinger.

The Krohn Conservatory has a waterfall in it.
And birds. Some in cages. Some flying free.
Martin took this photo of me in 1999. We weren’t able to find this exact nook.
But we did find these!
They are already decorating for Christmas. The holiday displays are amazing, by the way. If you are local in Cincinnati, plan some time to go see it.

Caught taking a selfie … Usie? Yousie? You guys-ie?
In case you can’t tell by the bowl cut, I took this photo of Martin in 1999.
They didn’t have the right kind of cactus in the right location, so we improvised in nearly the same spot.
Martin had his doubts about it. So did Lola.
As he leaned down for the shot …


He realized he misjudged those spikes and actually got himself.
Miss C exercised a bit more caution, but a lot more drama.
And Lola decided the small fuzzy cacti worked just as well.

The girls completed a scavenger hunt throughout the Cincinnati Art Museum. This was our first stop.
Lola really liked the modern art exhibit. This was a multimedia piece on a loop projected on a white wall.
I loved this chair! We sat on it and became a piece of performance art as the artist intended. I want a chair like this. It forces either awkward silence … or conversation. You can see how we engaged.


The girls and I trying on different ancient Chinese hair silhouettes


We found a sculpture of Lola.


And a relative of Cleopatra.


Sorry, Kim. Ancient Romans were doing it first.
Lola producing her own artwork at lunch.


The Farewell Tour

The kids in downtown Cincinnati


Miss C and I tried to calculate how many times we made the trip out to Ohio since we first moved back to the United States in 2005. We couldn’t come up with a number, just an estimate. Between the family trips, the individual visits, and all my Air Force Reserve travel, we think the trip (from DC and back) was made between 40 to 50 times. Maybe even closer to 55 if we include the times I traveled by air. Continue reading


When I told them it would take about ten minutes to upload all of yesterday’s images on my laptop, they snuggled up next to me and waited. But obviously these exhausted pups couldn’t last that long.

Can you hear them snoring?