Saturday, March 16, 2013

An American lost in Europe....

Hello Dear Readers,

WOW! I begin with apologizing for not keeping you up to date.

It is always a struggle with the balancing different perspectives;  As a parent keeping my children happy but safe, enjoying life but being responsible, budgeting but not controlling, getting tasks done but relishing the down time, working and playing, being a friend but not being nosey, giving but not being taken advantage of, not taking advantage of others with giving back.

 As a military wife, one of the hardest things to balance is informing others of what is going on in our lives with national/personal security. Always being cognizant of our surroundings, that we are not indicative to living here but are just guest in this country and that the web is truly a worldwide forum for information, we must always be asking how much is safe to share. Anyone, anywhere, can read this blog and gather intel about us and about who we work for and what Dude does. We grow comfortable in our daily lives that we forget to look out to what may be occurring around us. Not that I am trying to scare anyone, but the reality is OPSEC! At all times!

We fail to realize how much we give away with small tidbits.

For example: I started a new job. A full time job. In trying to connect with my co-workers and the clients, I was making small talk about one clients first name. I began with a friendly greeting and he quickly and happily replied. I then asked, "So is XXX a family name?" (His first name).

"Yes, it was my grandfather's name. But my parents didn't want another 'common' name to go along with the last. Why? Is it your husband's name?" (indicating my wedding rings) he replied.

"No, you spell it the same way my maiden name is." I smiled at him and went about the completion of the task at hand.

It dawned on me at the end of the day what I had done. D'OH!! I had just given away a very important piece of information. Most of you would not even blink that this was an issue. But think about how we speak to other people, 'So, are you almost ready for your big trip? How are the kids doing with Daddy gone? I was sorry to hear about your mum, are you going to make it back in time?' These kind of innocent questions asked to other 'guests' here open the door for others to overhear and take advantage of the situation.

This has occurred frequently over the last four months here. Because of the information out on the web for all to see and read and get a foot hold into our daily lives. Some one posted on a popular web site that has personal pages and EVERYONE is on it except me that "the kids are not sleeping well since dad left" and it was read by a friend of a friend of a friend whose not so nice boyfriend's friend read since the computer remembers passwords and can be accessed by anyone. They broke into her house while she was sleeping. With the children in the house. The police were not real pressed to do anything. Again. Different laws and understanding of personal property and security of homes. Yet, the intruders confessed to choosing that house because the recognized the photos on the web site that she posted when she moved in. It was all there for them to read. She demands that she had the security settings the most stringent but those fail safes failed.

This all comes into play with my children. How much freedom do I give them in regards to the web? Do they understand how much of themselves they are putting out there for everyone to see and read and act upon? Do they realize how permanent the web becomes?

So- all this long rant to say- I have not posted much in these last few months because I am hesitant to put out there things we have done, in that it might create a pattern for others to notice. Yet, I do miss you all greatly. I would love for you to come and visit. So I leave you with a couple of photos of the latest travels. Yes, it is Italy again. I don't know why, but I love that place. I guess it reminds me a lot of the States. So many different regions all within one country, the love of family that permeates every decision, the strong faith that still reaches into every part of the country, and one cannot forget the food. Such diverse variety! Oh- I love going to Italy.

Enjoy! And until next time- happy knitting.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Not-so-quick Summary

I apologize to anyone who actually takes the time to check this blog. It has been a couple of months since the last post, but I am sure you are aware of that. I believe I left off in September and here it is now the end of December and you are wondering where I might be. Maybe?

So, here is a quick summary of the last couple of months:

The beginning of September had Dude and I travel to Stockholm just the two of us. The au pair came and stayed with the kids and played taxi driver/homework monitor for a long weekend. Sweden is not a cheap place to visit. It is one of the most expensive, if not THE most expensive, place to see in all of Europe. Yes, even more pricey than London and Paris. I've been to both of them too and can vouch for it. It was a lovely place though. Incredibly clean. Everyone is friendly. The food was great. A great amount to go and see. Dude's favorite was, of course, the Vaasa Museum. We were in there 4.5 hours. If he doesn't understand how much I love him to stay in there that long, than he is a fool.

 Mine, of course, was the Nordic Museum; so many examples of traditional textiles and everyday living over the course of hundreds of years.

It is definitely a place I would encourage you to visit. I would go back in a heartbeat if given the chance. 

At the end of the month, the girls and I went to Berlin to participate in a swim meet. Both girls are swimming competitively and are enjoying the opportunities. We went a couple of days early to do some exploring of the city and took a tour with our group. It was very interesting to see the city that I had heard so much about. My father in law is from there as was most of his family. Family we will never get to meet as the war made sure of that. But to hear the stories and have the addresses to look at when we walked by made the city seem all that more important to the kids. We did visit the iconic sites. We received some not nice glances while posing at the Brandenburg Gate, youngest daughter says, "Wow, this isn't all that big. Paris' gate was MUCH bigger." Yikes. Snap the picture, quick! and get back on the bus.....

I have been out and about a bit. In October, when I should have posted, the family and I had been a couple of places but were in the midst of the school's fall break. A week long holiday that proceeds the end of the first quarter so the entire school takes off. Nice. If you are not working and have the flexibility to jaunt all over Europe, it is definitely the bee's knees. As most Europeans do, they all take off to some holiday home/resort and enjoy the break. We did a little bit. We went hiking in Luxembourg. Beautiful weather. Beautiful trails. And a royal wedding the same day and we didn't even realize it. That would explain why everyone was so incredibly decked out and we looking like, well, like dirty hikers who have no clue that the royal family was celebrating anything. Tourist.

I did manage to get started on the Christmas knitting. I made up 7 knitted advent wreaths. Nope. Didn't take a single picture of one. I will try to go back to a couple of the recipients and beg for the opportunity to snatch a couple before they are put away for the year. Otherwise, you will have to take my word for it. I also did start a pair of socks. I've had the yarn marinating for several years in the stash and felt it was time to actually make something with it. Plain vanilla socks was just what the striping called for. Cruised right along with the first and was busy knocking out the second when I broke not just one needle, not two needles, but a total of three needles. Yes, you read that correctly, three needles within a week of each other. UGH! I was so upset. Especially because they were the really nice rosewood double points. So, the second sock is just sitting there laughing at me. And I am okay with that.

This brings us up to November. With two birthdays, Thanksgiving, and starting a new job, the month really flew by for all of us. The youngest child hit the first double digit. We really struggled as to help her celebrate the milestone in a significant way we were doing for the other two. (All three kids this year had significant milestones. Middle child we took to Paris to help celebrate. Oldest we took to London to help celebrate. Youngest felt as though Berlin was her celebrating so it was okay.) Anyway, back to Oldest- he turned 18 on the 18th. We asked him what he would like for his birthday. He replied with wanting to see London before leaving Europe. Without sisters in tow. So we did. We arranged for the au pair to come for the girls and the three of us flew to London for a long weekend. Boy, did we pack it in too. London Eye, Big Ben, Crown Jewels, London Bridge, London Tower, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guards, Jack the Ripper Walking tour, rode a double decker bus, the Tube, the Train, went to the Aquarium, Spamalot in live theater, and best of all- Skyfall. Oh, how I want to go back. I could read all the signs and understand all the tours....

So, now it is December and we are fast approaching Christmas. We have not gone anywhere this month. We were supposed to go to Malta, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea after Christmas, but since I cannot due to full time employment, the trip has been postponed.

With that in mind, please come and visit when you can. We are officially half way done with our assignment here. This is the first forewarning. There is only 1 year left for visitation. Once the 6 month mark hits, we will not be able to accommodate late comers for housing or time off to take people places. There is too much stress involved with packing out for stateside relocations and car shipments back to take on the additional stress. Movers come even earlier. Please consider the trip sooner than later. We miss you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!