Tuesday, April 30, 2013


On the agenda for this weekend is a casual trip to....

Thats right! Tomorrow morning I head to America for the first time in five months (that is, if the sketchy airport transport service picks me up in the morning....its a holiday in Germany so the buses aren't running!). Excitement would be a major understatement...the whole Carroll family will be reunited for the wedding of Eleanor and Kevin! I have no doubt that the weekend will be an amazing celebration...and I can't wait to spend time with so many people I love!

Also, I took some amateur engagement pics of them back in the fall, but they recently had these beautiful ones professionally done. The one above is my favorite, but they are all stunning.

I can't wait to play like the old days this weekend...Although I promise Alison and I will both refrain from making these faces.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mannheim Mai Markt

Yesterday I went to the May Market in Mannheim which is a bigger town was quite the experience. It felt like the state fair meets Oktoberfest meets an international festival meets a car show...and it had a museum vibe going on too. It was quite the mix of events, but it was entertaining to explore. Unfortunately it was rainy and gross out, so I didn't stay super long, but I got a feel from the melting pot of booths.


One of things I have absolutely loved about living in Europe has been the abundance of markets. My favorite part is always tasting all the foods! But, seriously, I love buying fruits and vegetables at markets, experiencing the cultural ones, and getting in the holiday spirit at the festive ones. 

Mai Markt, however, was not my favorite. It was massive, for one thing. It really just had too much going on for my tastes. One cool part, though, was that they were celebrating 400 years. This market began in 1613! And while that seems young compared to last weekend's historical sights, this exact market was going on before America was even a country. Wow.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Drama on the Homefront

Recently, my dad decided he wanted to get rid of his normal car (from this decade) and start driving his baby blue truck that is older than I am. That was fine with everyone, but since making the switch, his truck has been broken into not once, but TWICE in our [normally] safe Nashville neighborhood. 
I mean, seriously, THIS car?!!
I can guarantee you that this 1986 Nissan truck is the least nice car in the entire neighborhood, so I am not too sure why this robber keeps going back to it, but the e-mail my dad sent out recounting last night's events is absolutely hilarious. Enjoy.
Thursday night at the Carroll house and all is well. Old people go to bed early so Jane, Carlyle, and the youngster Aunt Bea were all neatly tucked under the covers reading our favorite books by 10:30. By 10:45 the three of us were sacked out and ready for what we thought was a full nights sleep.

At exactly 12:30 a.m. Aunt Bea let out a ferocious bark that shattered the night and sprang Jane and I to full attention.  The award winning dog leaped toward the window and continued the howling until I struggled out of bed and stumbled over to the window to see what all the commotion was about.  Squinting in the darkness, I made out a human figure sitting in my truck and the dash light on.  Something inside of me said "run" and so I dashed down the stairs, flung the back door open and started screaming at the top of my lungs in an all out race with the "unsub".  As I bounded up and down the stairs of our back patio, I saw a man dressed in all black with a face covered by a ski mask.  The final thought did not register and I took off at a full jog in pursuit of the villain

Aunt Bea led the way as we sprinted up the driveway, yet she stayed just behind me like any valiant canine would.  As the thief turned out of our security gate,  I in my extra large polo underwear and my Dunder Mifflin t-shirt picking up the pace.  Taking a right out of house meant I was running barefoot on Gardendale and chasing a much younger suspect....much like what happened just one week earlier.  As the criminal dashed down the street, I yelled out, "You can't outrun me." The absurdity of that statement seemed to stun him somewhat and he turned around stopped to get a good look at me.  The brief interlude shocked me back to reality and I myself halted and questioned the intelligence of chasing a potentially armed robber with no defense other than the deadly Aunt Bea who continued to lag behind.

The thief then seemed to put it into high gear and started distancing himself from me.  The thought in my mind continued to be that I would catch him over time, but the blistering gravel under my feet and the fact that I had only been awake 45 seconds played it toll on me.  The distance between us lengthened until he was quickly out of sight and I dejectedly walked back to the house.

After calling my neighbor and the police, we searched the area and came up with quite a stash that the villain had accumulated. Skate boards, dop kits, car chargers, cash, clothes, and running shoes,  etc were neatly placed in a wooded area near the street and our mailbox.  The policeman
thought he had a hiding place in order to come back later in case he was uncovered.

Today I have a scratchy throat (from yelling at the unsub) and a wounded ego.That makes Two times in two weeks I was soundly thrashed in a foot race.  I guess I'm not getting any younger, but the mind has not quite successfully delivered that message to my feet yet. I suppose there is always next week and next wiser side tells me the results may be the same...


Thankfully everyone was safe and sound, but it does make for an entertaining story!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Turkey 2.0

This is how Kate and I felt about our weekend in Turkey together!

We kept joking that we were going to be Turkey's new advocates, but seriously, I would recommend anyone and everyone taking a trip there if at all possible. It has amazing beaches, but also beautiful mountains where you can ski nearby. The culture is rich and the people are known for their hospitality. The historical sights are amazing, the food is delicious, and the overall experience is spectacular. Kate and I both agreed that Turkey would be an incredible honeymoon spot, but really I cannot think of an occasion where I would not want to vacation in Turkey! (Although I will add that being with a Kate, an amazing trip planner and turkish speaker made it so much easier :)! )

I arrived in Izmir on Friday evening, and we went straight to dinner at a wonderful kebab restaurant that overlooked the water. After that we got a little taste of Turkish nightlife, which was hilarious to say the least.

Saturday we traveled to Selcuk, which is a town near Ephesus, and we stayed at the cutest ivy-covered hotel, Bella Hotel. The staff was incredibly accommodating, driving us to the nearby wine country and taking us to Ephesus the next day, cooking us a wonderful Turkish dinner. And the best part was that the whole stay was very, very inexpensive. Another great reason to visit Turkey!

The hotel conveniently had a store attached that sold Turkish rugs and other beautiful, handmade crafts. Kate bought a beautiful rug that will be a good lifelong memory from Turkey, and we both bought some fun, colorful pillows.

Sunday we spent the morning in Ephesus, before heading back to Izmir for the night. In Izmir we stayed in an incredibly nice hotel (thanks to kate's hotel points!), so it felt really good to get pampered, sleep in a comfortable, king size bed, and lay by the pool in the sun!

On Monday, we met up with a friend of Kate's turkish friend, who took us to breakfast, showed us around the water and pier, and gave us a good view of Turkish culture. It was such a fun morning.

And all too soon it was time to say goodbye to Kate and head back to Germany. It has been SUCH a blessing having one of my best friends nearby and also experiencing the ups and downs of living and teaching abroad, so this was sad that this was Kate and I's last trip of the year together. But we will be reunited in America all too soon!
its hard to believe this picture was less than a year ago!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Biblical History in Turkey

I was honestly blown away by the biblical history that we encountered this weekend in Turkey. I knew we would be seeing Ephesus, but I was surprised that we were able to literally walk down the same roads used by the Ephesians, admire the homes in which they lived, stand in the place where the apostle Paul stood to deliver a speech, and sit in the place where John is believed to have written the book of John. It really was amazing, to say the least. Kate and I could not stop staying how incredible it was that we were in the same places that events of The Bible took place over two thousand years ago. And although photos never do justice, I will share what I took. 

Another take away from this trip is that I want to learn more details and background on The Bible stories that I have known all my life. For example, I did not know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, along with the apostle John traveled to Ephesus a few years after Jesus' death and lived out their lives there. This beautiful hill is where John sat as he wrote his gospel, as well as where he is buried (left).

This is an overhead view of the city of Ephesus, which I love because you can see the main road but also the beautiful mountains that surrounded it.

Part of what made the experience so real was that we were simply allowed to explore all of Ephesus. We had headphones giving us the facts, but basically we just walked all over taking it all in. The Terrace Houses were one of my favorite parts because it was mind boggling to see how advanced these people had been...with ornate decorations, piped in water, and even a sewer system. We are standing on the main marble road (right), the pots inside one of the terrace houses (middle) and the original mosaic floor in one of the homes (left).

I have never done this whole tourists taking pictures of tourists before, but I couldn't help it in Ephesus. It was hilarious because the place was overrun with wild cats and aggressive tour groups. Kate and I nearly got trampled by a herd of matching-outfitted tourists at one point, but luckily we made it out alive!

The stadium was incredible, partly because it was in amazing condition, partly because it held 24,000 people so the architecture was amazing, and partly because it was the exact place where the Ephesians gathered to hear to apostle Paul speak.

This is the library of Celsus, which was amazing to see and also showed how advanced the Roman empire was in the early days!

Although the Church of the Virgin Mary was probably the part of Ephesus that was in the worst shape today, it was amazing to see the place where they worshipped. This was also the location of the first meeting of the Council of Nicea, where they decided that Jesus was, in fact, the son of God.

And this was a little cheesy, but we did see an reenactment of the gladiators, which was cool just to imagine what it would have been like the 4th or 5th century!

More details to come on the rest of the wonderful, refreshing, and absurd trip!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Turkey Round Two...Coming Right Up!

I am so excited for my travels this weekend for a variety of reasons! I am headed to Turkey to meet my dear, dear friend Kate, which will be a blast in and of itself. We are spending a few days in Izmir, relaxing at the beach and maybe even taking a dip in the Aegean Sea if its warm enough! We will also be visiting Ephesus, home of the Ephesians! I am really excited to walk in the place where so much Biblical history took place. I can't wait to report back on this trip, but I have no doubt that it will be incredible on so many levels.

In preparation for seeing Ephesus, I have been reading Ephesians and Acts, and I came across this verse that I wanted to share. It is a simple reminder of how we are called to live our lives, despite anything that may be going on around you.

Have a wonderful weekend. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Raw, Real Day

I recently read this article "Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life" and it's been on my mind lately. I never want to make my life seem perfect. Especially this year, as I have gotten some incredible travel opportunities, I want to make it clear that anytime I'm not posting on social media is probably because I am bored out of mind. Or taking a nap. Maybe this was just my justification to myself, but no one wants to see pictures or read blogs about the lonely days I spend in my apartment in the sticks of Germany.

Well, today, you get to hear about one of those not-so-ideal days. It was just an off day. I rolled out of bed exhausted, just minutes before I was supposed to be at school. Not many dragons wanted to come to my offers. The boys were misbehaving and pretending like they didn't understand me when I was talking to them. And I was super tired all day, but knew I had a long staff meeting to sit through this afternoon. Sidenote, one tricky part of my job is that I essentially have three bosses that I answer to. I had taken the dragons on an outing that Nicole had recommended to me, but in the meeting Georg went on and on reprimanding me saying I should not have done that. Katha went off on this long tangent about how the dragons can't read my handwriting, which should not have been a big deal at all, but by the nature of this school, it turned into a thirty minute conversation involving all eight staff members. The meeting dragged on and on, and about four hours in, I decided to count and see how many more of these horrible staff meetings I would have to endure. TEN. Ten more meetings, at a minimum of five hours each, which means at least fifty more hours of my life will be wasted sitting in an uncomfortable chair straining to understand their German which is rarely even anything worth my while. That's a little disheartening. Today was just one of those days...

The only bright spot was, when I finally asked to be excused from the meeting after almost six hours, I went for a run and saw this beautiful sunset and listened to this encouraging sermon. I hope your Wednesday was more exciting than mine.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring in Odenwald...

I honestly will not be sad if I never experience another winter for the rest of my life. Here in Wald-Michelbach, there was snow on the ground when I got back from Istanbul in October and it was there pretty much non-stop until I returned home from Spring Break last week. A solid six months of winter. Long, cold, depressing winter. So, naturally, it is with great excitement that I can finally say...

In honor of the warm weather, I took the dragons to play in the creek nearby. I like doing this with them because I LOVED playing in the creek behind my house when I was their age. And today, as I was sitting there trying to make sure none of them drowned, I realized how beneficial the Montessori School idea is. I do not agree with it fully and I do think its missing some important educational aspects, but I love that the kids have the luxury of enjoying being kids in a world that constantly encourages busyness and growing up too fast. 



And I can't resist sharing this picture that basically sums up the past nine months of my life...dragons and trains!