Monday, January 31, 2005

It's snowing still 

It has been snowing for about a week now, just keeps on coming. It will stop for a while, then all of a sudden it's snowing again. Usually just long enough for me to shovel the walk and then it's back. Never really huge amounts, but since it hasn't gotten above 30 degrees lately it's hanging around. We are having as much fun with it as we can. Kenny and Jacob built a snowman

Jacob has gone sledding a few times, increasing hill sizes each time. I took him to a mini hill in the playground behind the house, Kenny took him to some farm fields with much bigger hills. He loves sledding, just doesn't like walking up the hill. I think it has something to do with being in 2-3 layers of clothes and a snowsuit. Pretty much has no agility when he's dressed like that!

We have a good time watching Heidi snuffle around in the snow, she really likes it. She plows paths for the other dogs to follow, although most of the snow balls up in her fur. It takes her a good 10 minutes to thaw when she comes in.

So far driving hasn't been too bad, just a little slow sometimes. It seems if you can get to the next decent size town, the roads are better from there. They really seem to have a different view on clearing roads out where we live, and we seem to get more snow. Last time we lived in Germany, our windows overlooked the city of Ansbach. I would see the snow trucks out at 4 am getting started on the roads. Here, a tractor with plow equipment shows up lunchtime or later, and does a quick drive by.

One day last week he came and really took his time, clearing everything and piling all the snow up on the edges. We watched him, he's pretty skilled with the plow. Somehow he dislodged one of the boulders on the edge of the parking area (decorative) and managed to put it back by rolling it all around with the plow. If he could have heard us, we would have clapped.

This was this morning, about 8:30 a.m.

It was really snowing, but stopped about an hour later. We are lucky that we have some basics in walking distance, so if the snow got too bad and we didn't want to drive down the hill, we could always go on foot. A baker, a butcher and a grocery/drug store. We really don't mind all the snow, it is very pretty and fun to play in. But at some point it has to stop!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Pictures of Disney 

There are some more pictures of Disney up on the Photo Album site, just click the link in the left sidebar. Also, I started a new "Everyday Pics 2005" album, there are a few pictures in there. Just in case you want to check them out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Last Day/Trip Home 

Monday morning was gray and very foggy, almost felt like a light rain at times. We had prearranged to have our breakfast in the park, instead of at the hotel. Same breakfast, you are just able to eat at a restaurant in Fantasyland, before the park opens. Which puts you in the middle of things about 15-20 minutes before everyone else. Some of the rides are open, others are just getting ready to open. Breakfast was in Pinocchio's restaurant, it was very quaint. The usual European breakfast, with a little more variety. Fruit, yogurt, cereals, deli meats and cheeses. And of course bread, with yummy french croissants that were outstanding. The coffee/hot chocolate comes from a machine, I've heard people complain about that. I think it's great, you push a button and get whatever you want, including cafe au lait which tastes basically like a latte. After we had some breakfast we bundled back up and headed into the park.

We went over to "It's a Small World" first, it was just about to open. We got to enjoy their version of a glockenspiel, it was very cute.

It's a Small World entrance

Once we got on the ride, Jacob was very excited. He loved all the kids singing, there was so much going on during the ride. It was definitely better than the one I remember in Orlando, but maybe they have updated it since we were last there.

We actually rode it twice, certain rides you could do that on (a special promotion for the weekend.) There was plenty to notice the second time around, really great. The park was deserted, maybe the weather or just an early Monday morning. From Small World we wandered over to Snow White's ride, and then back to Pirates of the Caribbean. Jacob insisted we ride it again, so we went around twice on that too. We did a little shopping, Jacob finally settled on a souvenir that he wanted.

Really enjoying Disney!

We asked Jacob if there were anymore rides he wanted to go on, and he said "no" so we seized the opportunity and headed back towards the hotel. We loaded up and headed back for Germany, around noon. The drive back was fine, very foggy even though it was the middle of the day. We saw some of the countryside, and some huge farmhouses. We are able to use gas vouchers in Germany so we can pay our "on-post" prices for gas. But in France we aren't able to, so although we filled the tank at the border, we did have to get one tank of gas in France. No complaints from anyone in the U.S. about gas prices, we paid $71 for 3/4 of a tank. Not exactly sure how many gallons, everything is in liters here. But it used to cost me about $22 to fill up in Clarksville before we moved. Once again, we are very thankful that the military post provides fuel to us at U.S. prices.

We really enjoyed Disneyland Paris, and I'm not sure why I heard so many negative things about it. It was more crowded on Saturday and Sunday, practically empty on Monday. But even on Sat/Sun we didn't spend more than 15 minutes in any of the lines. The restaurants weren't too crowded, we never had to wait for a table. So that is the high point of going in the winter. But the weather was really cold!!! I would say between 30-40 degrees, sometimes the sun would peek out. Monday morning was worst day because it was so damp. We only had a few things planned, and wanted to be on the road for a trip back by early afternoon. So we really weren't too disappointed in the weather. We just had to stay bundled up, and go inside shops, or indoor rides every now and then to warm up.

So, that's the trip! Now maybe I can post the next time about all the snow we are having...

Saturday, January 22, 2005


We headed for Disney Studios after breakfast, it is right next door to the main Disney Park. Both are an easy walk from the hotel, about 10 minutes. There is a shuttle bus available, but rather than wait the 5-10 minutes to ride we chose to walk. Disney Studios doesn't have a lot to interest the little kids, but we did go to a car stunt show. It was pretty interesting, Jacob enjoyed the cars jumping and the motorcycles. It was a pretty long show too, around 45 minutes.
Car Stunt Show

After that, Kenny went for a ride on the "Rock-n-Rollercoaster" which he said was fun. Jacob and I made use of that time to look around at some of the movie displays, and get some hot chocolate. We walked around the park a little more, they have some big props from movies and other interesting things. Quite a few shows, and lots of shops. We checked out some of the shops as well, and by then it was time to head back to the hotel for nap time. We liked Disney Studios, but will probably wait to go back there until Jacob is a little older and can enjoy more of the attractions.

After nap time we headed over to the Hotel New York which was next to our hotel. They had an outdoor ice skating rink (to resemble Rockefeller Center) that was open in the afternoons and evenings. Jacob and Kenny put on skates and hit the ice, I decided to watch instead of skate. Jacob thought it was the greatest thing ever, even though he mainly sat on the ice. Doesn't quite have the hang of it, but really likes it.
Trying to skate

While waiting for Kenny and Jacob to finish up, I met some really nice British ladies who were there with their kids, we were all standing by the ice rink. They had been to Disneyland Paris at least 4 other times, and were hoping to get a trip together to the Orlando one eventually. There were so many British people there, it is a very popular family destination for them. The guys tired out pretty quick, although Jacob really wanted to keep skating. When we had taken the skates off and bundled back up we decided to grab an early dinner at Planet Hollywood. It wasn't too busy so we were able to get in, eat, and get out pretty quickly. Then we went back into Disneyland, we were planning to see the illuminated parade. We had enough time to go on the Pinocchio ride, it was really cute. We finished up and got great curbside seats for the parade, and only had to wait about 10 minutes for it to start.
Waiting for the parade

It was a really nice parade, all the floats were covered in lights, with most of the popular Disney characters on them. Great music, and they would stop every so often and have a little show.
Fantillusions Parade

We all really enjoyed the parade, even in the freezing cold! After the parade it was already 8pm, so we were ready to go back to our room and relax for the night. As usual, once you get in the hotel it is really a happening place, lots of kids and people everywhere. The shops are nice, there is an arcade and coin-operated rides ($3 for those!!!). Of course a few restaurants and a huge bar/lounge. It had everything from pints of beer for the Brits to hot chocolate for the kids. Really nice place to stay, because there is plenty to do right there in the hotel if you don't feel like always going into the parks. We didn't stay downstairs too long, we were all ready for bed after our busy day.

Last day and trip home coming soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


We left our home around 4 pm and headed towards France, our map gave us an estimate of 6 hours to Disney. Traffic wasn't bad at all, and we made a stop in Mannheim (at the Army post) for a quick dinner. After that we got back on the road and crossed the border into France. France is one of a few European countries that have tolls on their highways, and they aren't cheap. We ended up paying almost 30 Euros ($40) just on the way to Disney, and then the same amount on the way home. But I must say the roads were quite nice, and hardly any traffic on them. It was dark when we entered France so we didn't get to see any sights driving through, which made for a boring drive. We did see lots of "points of interest" signs for things that we would like to return and visit. For instance the Maginot Line, the city of Reims, which has a magnificent cathedral, and Verdun. We are really interested in visiting the battlefields at Verdun, and plan to try to do that this summer.

We finally rolled into the hotel (the Sequoia Lodge) about 10:45 pm, and checked in. The place was very busy for that time of night, and huge. Our room was really nice and comfortable, and we had a great view over Lake Disney into Disney Village. We finally got settled and to bed a little after midnight, and woke up the next morning ready to go.

We brought some snacks and had breakfast in our room, instead of heading down to the dining room. Then layered up for the cold, and started towards the park. Before we even got out of the hotel we saw Chip and Dale (the Disney chipmunks) so we stopped and let Jacob take a look. He was happy to see them, but didn't want to get too close so we went on our way. It was a nice walk along the lake, past another hotel and then into Disney Village. In the village are shops and restaurants (Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, and many more), a very lively place. Just beyond that is the entrance to both Disney Studios and Disneyland Parc. We made our way in and really had no set plan. Just started walking around and checking it all out. I really thought it was just as nice as the one in Orlando, clean, friendly etc. Just a little smaller, but not so much that you noticed it too much. Still plenty to do!

Main Street

The castle is really pretty here, and in the warmer months you can go beneath it into the "Dragon's Lair". There are also rooms open inside in the upper levels, I believe they tell the story of Sleeping Beauty (it's her castle)through various displays. We didn't make it up to that attraction, there were quite a few things we just ran out of time, or decided to save for another trip!

In Adventureland

We decided to ride "Pirates of the Caribbean" next, Jacob kept asking to see the pirates. It was toasty warm while we waited in line, maybe 10 minutes. The ride was fun, and had a few places where your boat went down a small hill (the picture makes it look much steeper than it is). We usually don't buy these pictures from the rides, but had to when we saw Jacob's face. Just keep in mind, he loved the ride. And made us go on it 2 more times later in the weekend. Really - he was having fun!

After that ride we headed on over into "Fantasyland" where we rode the Peter Pan ride, Jacob is a big fan of that. He loves the movie so was very excited to see everyone, especially Captain Hook and the crocodile.

Kenny also took him on Dumbo, and we just looked around at all the pretty gardens and shops. It was about nap time for all of us, after the late night. So we walked back through the village, grabbed a quick lunch and went back to the room for a nap.

After the nap we went back into the park and went on a few more rides, like Phantom Manor. Then we watched a really cute show called Mickey's Winter Wonderland, which had all the characters singing winter songs and clowning around. Jacob really liked it, and it was a good way to end the day.
Winter Wonderland Show

We were ready for dinner and went back into the village to the Rainforest Cafe. It wasn't too busy as the park still was open for another hour or so, we were seated right away. We had a good dinner but it was super expensive, between being at Disney and the euro rate. Jacob's "kids meal" was so expensive we are still in shock, 14.50 euro (apx $18). It's always expensive at Disney, but with the euro/dollar rate so bad it's crazy. It was a good thing we brought lots of drinks and snacks with us, so we were able to get by with only going out for two dinners while there.

After dinner we went back to the room to relax for a bit, Kenny and I watched a movie and Jacob fell fast asleep.

to be continued....

Here is the main entrance to Disney, I'm working on my post right now but thought I would put up a quick picture. It's much prettier in person! It is also a hotel you can stay in, but pretty pricey.

Main entrance to Disney Parc

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Back from Disneyland Paris 

We have made it back safely from our trek to Disneyland Paris, we had a wonderful weekend. I think it is great, and so much fun. Obviously not something you would do when visiting Europe for a few weeks, but for those of us who live here it's super. We are still amazed that we can drive to Paris in 6 1/2 hours, it seems so strange. I will post some pictures and give you a "play by play" in the next couple days, I have to sort through the pics and organize them a bit. Also have to try to scan in a picture of Jacob on Pirates of the Caribbean, it is hysterical. (He loved it!) So check back soon, and I will try to get it posted as soon as I can.

For the record, it appears that slush is falling from the sky tonight. We decided it resembled a Slurpee from 7-11, for those that are familiar with that. Yuck, glad we are inside!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Time can really slip away and then I realize I better post something soon! We have been busy this week, back to our bible study group and getting ready for the trip this weekend. Jacob is super excited, I can't wait to see his reaction to everything. I also got him set up to start German kindergarten (like pre-school) in the beginning of February. I'm not quite ready for it, but he is! We haven't had any snow, mostly just rain sprinkles here and there. If the sun peeks through the clouds we rush out for a walk or bike ride, just to enjoy it. I'm sure we have more snow coming, it snowed plenty last February when we first arrived.

Last year I made an attempt at a vegetable garden, in containers on the patio. Didn't go so well, and I was a little disappointed. This year I am trying again, and it will be better. We have to start the seeds indoors and all that, so I am already in the planning mode of this. I have taken the first step, and already placed my order with Burpee so we can get the types of tomatoes, peppers etc. that we want. Not just a generic little plant that says "tomato" on it. I found some that are supposedly better suited to container gardening. It is going to be my mission this summer that we get some great tomatoes out of this garden. Hopefully as good as the ones we grew in Tennessee, but I just don't think we have enough heat here to do it. I will keep you posted on the progress, I know everyone will be anxiously awaiting!

We will be gone until Monday evening, and will try and post about the trip as soon as I can.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

A glimpse of spring! 

Well, after a terribly gloomy week we had the most beautiful weather today. It is now almost 50 degrees outside, and the sun has been shining all day. We have had peeks of sunshine through December, but nothing like this. We took advantage of the good weather and went to Playmobil Park, and had a really nice time. It was a good way to spend some time outdoors, and then Jacob had a great time with all the toys inside. After we left there we drove over near Nuernberg, where at one time there was a really big American Military Base (Darby Kaserne). All of the property has since been given back to the Germans, and they are changing it all over into apartments and office parks. It was an enormous area, and even with "make-overs" the military housing units still look the same, only in flashier colors. We had lunch in a Pizza Hut that has been there since the Americans were there, and finally drove through the countryside to get back home. We plan to get out one more time this afternoon for a walk, although the sun goes down before 5pm here. We don't want to waste any of that sunshine. It was a great reminder that spring is really not too far away!

We have a trip to Disneyland Paris planned for next weekend. Although it will probably be pretty cold, it shouldn't be too crowded. So we can take our time and enjoy the park without fighting through the crowds that show up in the summertime. We haven't heard a whole lot of good things about it, but decided to see for ourselves. And Jacob is going to think it is the greatest thing ever anyway, he's pretty easy to impress when it comes to those sort of things. He's just excited to be going on a trip and staying in a hotel -- like I said, easy to please.

That's really about all that is going on here, a little limited in recreation when it is 30 degrees and windy outside. If we aren't doing anything, I don't really have anything to blog. Things should start getting busier, all of our playgroups are starting again, and hopefully Jacob will be heading off to German kindergarten in the next month. That should be interesting for sure!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year! 

The New Year started off with a bang here, literally. Every country has to have a holiday that allows average people to play with explosives, and here it is definitely New Years. All the stores sell them, no need for those tents on every corner like in the U.S. And the fireworks they sell here make everything we do in the U.S. look like duds. We watched out our top floor windows and it was like seeing a small 4th of July display. Although we had to keep looking in every direction, they were coming from every house it seemed. Then we watched our neighbor across the street haul out this large, flat box shaped thing. He set it on the edge of the street and lit it. It was like a mini professional display in a box! Very cool, Kenny wants to go shopping for some of this stuff next year. We woke Jacob up to watch everything, we were surprised he was even still asleep. He was impressed, and then went back to sleep a little while later. The explosions continued on until about 2am, or at least that was the last I remembered hearing them. The next day as we were driving, we would see debris areas in every little village. But most were swept up on our return trip through the villages. So, we didn't get to watch the Times Square thing, but we did get to watch some great fireworks in our PJ's from the warmth of our home.

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