Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Christmas Carrolls!

It has been a lovely, lovely holiday at home...I have enjoyed spending it with family, friends, and english speakers! But I feel like words will not describe it here are a few pictures to see a glimpse of what we have been up to this christmas!
My dad was sporting a musical christmas tie...which was a big hit with friends at church and dinner!

We went to Christ Pres for the Christmas Eve Service...and fortunately did not light anyone on fire with our candles.

Petey and I snapchatting all my friends!

Aunt Bea was extra excited for christmas morning...she got to wear a bow, received two presents, and this is the three year anniversary of when we got her!!
We have a tradition where the first child that finds the hidden pickle ornament on the tree gets an extra mom did an amazing job of hiding it this year so it took us forever to find it but Jamie finally did and scored a Chick-fil-a gift card!

Sadly Ali and Jonny spent Christmas in Abu Dhabi this year, but even though they're millions of miles away we still got to Skype to wish them a merry christmas!

My dad's favorite present are these signs to hold up at other drivers on the we are practicing with our favorites!
This is my favorite present and a mom had a tshirt quilt made out of all my old favorite shirts! I absolutely love it!

Unfortunately both boys have to work on the 26th, so this was our parting photo as they both left tonight! We had a wonderful holiday though!

Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Home Sweet Home...

After being unexpectedly sad to leave Germany and a solid 20 hours of flying, you might think I'd be exhausted and miserable, but I have actually never been happier to set foot on American soil. From the moment Adelaide and I stepped off the plan in Dallas, I could not wipe the smile off my face. We took welcome shots in the Dallas airport as we happily used our American phones for the first time in months. We hopped on the short (especially compared to the 11.5 hour one we'd just been on!) flight to Nashville. We were greeted by our parents and my best friend Emily, complete with a welcome sign, fruit tea, and my car! All of those were things I was ecstatic to see after nearly six months! We laughed as we told stories and shared hugs, but I really cannot describe to you how blessed I felt by the love and excitement that was shared. Emily, my parents, and I feasted at my favorite mexican restaurant, the one type of food that is actually nonexistent in Europe. 
all smiles as we walk into the good ole U. S. of A.!
The feeling of joy and blessings continued as I came home, got to see my precious pup, and saw all the christmas decor. And even this morning, I woke up (at 6 am...hey jet lag!) and my dad gave me a foot massage, I listened to pandora as I drank my fruit tea and talked on the phone (yes the normal phone!!) to one of my best friends...all luxuries that I cannot enjoy in Germany. I literally cannot get over how great it feels to be home. And as much as I have been enjoying Germany lately, nashville will always be home sweet home!

home is where your pup is...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nashville on my Mind

It has been exactly five months since I left America, saying goodbye to the comforts of everything I knew. The past five months have been a fun adventure, both challenging and entertaining. I am glad my time in Germany isn't over BUT I am ready for hugs from friends and family, english speakers, mexican food, and fruit tea. Tomorrow, I will be nothing but excited as I board that flight back to the good ole U.S. of A. I just can't wait to spend a few weeks at home, enjoying time with family and friends!
 I love this quote (and want a print of it!) but I feel like today, more than ever, it rings true for me.

I'll be home for christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My First "Real" Visitor...

Not to downplay my mom's wonderful visit, but my friend Adelaide got in town last night and I would classify her as my first official visitor in Wald-Michelbach! She's the first person that I've been able to show around town, take her to see the beautiful views from the hills behind my house, introduce her to my students, and, of course, just have fun catching up! And, to add to the list of positives, we are flying back to America together on Thursday so I won't have to make that long trip alone!

Adelaide was a huge hit with the dragons...they were literally ecstatic when I told them I had a friend here and couldn't wait for her to come downstairs. They jumped on her back and gave her a very warm welcome!

This was on our lovely tour of town, which was short considering how small my town is, but it was fun to see the views. Sadly for Adelaide (but lets be honest...I was happy), the snow melted when it rained this weekend so there is grass showing for the first time in weeks! The weather is warming up a little to prepare me for my arrival in the soon!


Monday, December 17, 2012

"All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth..."

Merry Christmas from my toothless dragons, Dario and Tim!

I specifically remember being angry as a kid when I lost my two front teeth in the summer, meaning I would never get to sing this song and have it make sense for me. But I still love the when I noticed two of my little boys here at school were missing their front teeth, I seized the opportunity to teach them the song "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth". Tim (on the right) was not so into it, but Dario (left) learned every word and performed it for his mom when she came to pick him up...It was SO adorable!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Deck the Halls...

As I am anxiously awaiting my return to America in a few short days, I have been realizing how much I appreciate all the Christmas spirit here in Germany. I've been to a billion Christmas markets, but more than just those, almost every street in lined with lights and every store has cute, home-made displays in the windows. It is nice because it feels like Christmas is more community based here, with everyone gathering at the markets and taking the time to decorate themselves rather than hiring a company or just slapping up some tacky decorations. Not to hate on America (I honestly have never been more excited or enthusiastic about coming home!), but it seems like Christmas is more of a production there. People are often caught up in the busyness of preparing their house for the holiday, what they're wearing to various christmas parties, or making sure they have a gift for everyone on their list. It has been nice, here, to watch people really slow down and spend the holiday season investing time in others. While the decorations may be less, they are done tastefully and thoughtfully. From crafts my students make, to advent calendars, to the lights strung over the streets, all the decorations are really simple. Less really is more. And, of course, I have enjoyed all the beautiful decor and the contagious christmas spirit. 


But as the song says, "But the prettiest sight to see, is the holly that will be, on your own front door"...

 See you soon, Nashville!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Student Becomes the Teacher...

When I asked my sassiest student, Linn Sophie, if she would like to do an English lesson today...she promptly responded (in German) that she didn't know why I always asked her to learn English if I didn't even know German. Touché, Linn Sophie.
This is me and Linn Sophie...clearly not recently because we are tan and not wearing 5+ layers of clothing!

So...we made a deal. She got to teach me a German lesson today, if I got to teach her an English lesson tomorrow. She recruited Eva, who speaks a good amount of English, so they could make sure I understood the directions. So, I'm sitting there with two nine year olds teaching me a lesson....I guess thats what I get for teaching at a "free school" :) Linn Sophie was impressed when I read her whole mermaid book in German, even answering most of her questions correctly. Then, we moved onto a vocabulary game where they laughed endlessly at my horrible pronunciation of every German word...then decided I should complete two vocab exercises for homework! (It's extra funny that they gave me homework since the dragon school doesn't believe in homework....)

Working on some of my homework!

This whole situation was pretty entertaining...and my German does need some work. I will say that my it has improved exponentially since I arrived here...but I still have a looooong way to go. Unfortunately Linn Sophie is not the only one who has noticed my lack of German skills. My cab driver the other day told me, "I can tell you know a lot of German, but your pronunciation is horrible." (Gotta love the directness over here...)! I will say that Kate and Erin were very complimentary of my German skills, but that was probably just because they are my friends and understand the whole moving-to-a-foreign-country-and-trying-to-learn-the-language thing. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Travel is exhausting. Exhaustingly worthwhile."

This quote is from my cousin, Carlyle, from his wonderful closeout post about his European adventures this summer (like this one we did together!). I would highly recommend reading his post because he talks about a lot of worthwhile lessons learned from traveling and seeing the world. The reason that I bring up this quote, however, is because it is exceptionally descriptive of this past weekend.

Kate and her roommate Erin, who both have Fulbrights in Turkey, decided to hop over to Germany for a quick trip. It ended up being extremely quick. They were on the ground in Munich for a solid 25 hours, so we knew we had to make the most of the time! And that we did, christmas markets, shopping, international festivals, a borderline sketchy hostel, exploring Munich, a delicious brunch, more christmas markets...and plenty of hot spiced wine the whole time! It was so refreshing and fun to see Kate...and they were wonderful sports about all the traveling!


After saying goodbye to Kate and Erin midday on Sunday, I went to Regensburg, a cute little town where my mom spent a year abroad, and enjoyed a snowy afternoon exploring. 

When it came time to go, I got on my train like usual. And then we got stuck for five hours. That right, five hours had passed and we were hardly out of Regensburg. And then when I finally reached my next stop, the train I was supposed to take got "lost". How do you lose a train? Ask Deutsche Bahn, my new enemy. So, this left me in tears in the Frankfurt train station at 1am, with no trains leaving there til 5am. Finally, after several long lines and thanking God that I spoke as much German as I do (which is NOT much!), I was able to convince them to pay for a taxi for me. Its not as good as it seems, it was me and three random German men...and the ride home took over two hours. So, my travel time was tripled from what it should have been, and I finally got home at nearly 4 am. Like Carlyle said, travel is exhausting. But, at least I am safe and I can honestly say the weekend was worth it!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Old, Old, Old Food...

After my fabulous weekend in Munich with Kate and Erin, and before my day took a turn for the worse, I stopped by the town of Regensburg where my mom spent a year abroad. It is an adorable place, decorated carefully for christmas, and filled with cute shoppes and markets. The one place that I remembered from my mom talking about it and our visit there over ten years ago, was a restaurant called Wurstkuche. It is located just off the river, famous for sour kraut and brat wursts, and has been serving food for 860 years!

And, as it should be with 860 years of experience, it was delicious! The restaurant has also flooded quite a few times in its they have all these little stone markers on the wall showing how high the water came up. Apparently just last year they had a pretty bad one! But, despite the water and everything that has transpired the last 860 years, this place keeps on serving wonderful, authentic German food!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Wald-Michelbach Weinachtsmarkt

This weekend is the Wald-Michelbach Weinachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, and the town is looking very festive! The cute white lights with big yellow stars are strung throughout the town, with almost every store having their own tasteful christmas display! So, seeing all the decor, I was excited to see what the market would have to offer.

My first stop was the crepe stand, which never disappoints! But I also got some delicious dinner and tried several other holiday sweets! 

Thankfully it stopped snowing just before I got to the market, but it was still frigid. Luckily they were serving mulled wine in cute glasses that had a sketch of Wald-Michelbach on it! And it was delicious :)

My students told me they would have a train there, and as I was watching all the enthusiastic children ride the train around, I heard these two sweet students of mine, Feli and Alise, calling out and waving to me from the caboose!

The only part of the market that was indoors was in the old mill building, which is not heated at all, but they had a lot of neat handmade bags, leatherwear, and ornaments for sale inside!

The market was full of families and friends, both chatting and checking out the crafts and snacks for sale! It was fun to see some of my students and their parents as I wandered through the markets...I felt like this was the epitome of a small town festival. I met an exceptionally sweet lady who invited me to go to church with her and wants me to meet her daughter who is my it was nice to witness people in the christmas spirit! It definitely made me ready to be home for the holidays...which luckily will be happening very soon!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

27 Never Looked So Good...

Happiest of birthdays to my wonderful sister, Ali!
I am thankful for your love for me, the stories you'd tell me til I fell asleep at night, your style advice, the way you always included me with your friends, introducing me to good music, the wonderful example you set for me in so many ways, breaking the ground so I never had a curfew, the clothes you always let me borrow, and the way you understand me when no one else does...

And I am a little less thankful for the way you rarely answer the phone, the time you threw up on me, the fact that you never want to straighten my hair for me, and always accusing me of copying you...

But in all seriousness, I love you Ali and I hope that you have a wonderful birthday!

P.S. Check out Ali's awesome new company Lydali...It's a great place to shop for Christmas presents!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Snow Dragons!

When I returned to Wald-Michelbach yesterday, it was literally covered in snow. The entire town was white. I have terrible estimation skills, but I'd say we have around six inches of snow...and the dragons literally could not have been more excited about it today.

I took this picture from my window this morning...what a view!

I'd be lying if I didn't say I was frozen to the bone and had to take three separate breaks to come inside and warm up...but we basically spent all day enjoying the snow! Snow ball fights, building snowmen, sledding, making forts, and just enjoying the beauty of it. 
Unfortunately it wasn't great packing snow, so we settled for making a little baby snowman. These girls were still really enthusiastic about it!

Since I was the only teacher playing, the snowball fight quickly turned into me getting pegged with snowballs by all the boys so I quickly put an end to that!

Here I am making a snow angel...which I immediately regretted as the snow soaked through my jeans!

This is Carlo working on their snow fort.

Me and Janna...who seemed completely unfazed by the freezing cold snow.

The kids had these awesome sleds that looked like dustpans...and you held onto the handle and slid down the hill. I want to bring some back to America because it makes it nearly impossible to fall off the sled (which was a common problem in my neighborhood sledding days...)!
 Needless to say, we all had a wonderful day in the snow. And I have promised the kids that we can make snow ice cream tomorrow, so I'll keep you all posted on how that goes (and how crazy they think I am when I tell them we are going to eat snow...)