05 August 2010

Lorraine American Cemetery

We spent Memorial day in St Avold, France at the Lorraine American Cemetery. It was somber, and dreary. There were lots of dignitaries from both the American and the French militaries. The ceremony was held on the grassy area and the stairs. My children did not want to pay attention (of course), and we were way on the left by the flag. They were able to run around a bit with out disturbing anyone.

It is hard to describe the feeling that I had. Looking at all those crosses (stars of David too) gave me such a feeling of sorrow. I think that we all must remember and be thankful for all those soldiers that have paved the way for our freedom. I am the wife of a soldier, and to think about what it would have been like to be in this situation during WWII is almost unimaginable. It is difficult in today's climate to bear deployments, but to have your loved one gone for such a long time must have been more difficult. At least we now have phone and internet service.

In total there are 24 American cemeteries abroad. You can find out a little more information at the American Battle Monuments Commission. Of course you can always go here. If you ever get a chance to visit one of these sites I encourage you to go. Some memorials are in The Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy and Tunisia. On our must-do list is Normandy for a D-Day ceremony. More on that later.

28 July 2010


I spent a long Saturday in Prague. It is ssuch a wonderful city. There is just so much to see and do every time I visit. I especially love the funky vibe it has. Just a little off beat and cool. The sculptures and art are just soooo interesting. More on that later.

We started our tour just behind Prague Castle. It was very beautiful with guards that don't move. There was a whole group of Asian tourist taking pictures with them. The guy kept looking around like he was annoyed. Totally comical. The castle now houses the presidential offices.

The oldest part is St George's Basicilica. It was built in the 10th centry. It is almost too much to fathom for an American. We have nothing that old. Our history is only a couple hundred years old. This is the one place I regret not visiting. There is something alost wrong about going into a church as a tourist. It is something they do here in Europe.

After we left the castle we went down the hill to the Senate. The gardens we just amazing. They were perfectly groomed, and there were peacocks running around. There was one with 5 babies. In the corner by the stage there is this stlagtite was that was built in the 1600s. I didn't really get it. In the owl enclosure it was very difficult to find the birds against the wall. Other than that I think it was just for decoration.

We walked across Charles Bridge, and found our way around the city. I have to tell you that my favorite part is the sculptures. When I was there 5 years ago there was one of Superman crashing into the ground. There was also one of the shoes left over after the holocaust. That one was very moving. This trip I found a few more. The boy on the ledge, the cubist lightpost, the keys, and the Dancing Building.  This building fits in to the landscape. It sits next to some really old buildings, but does not look out of place. It is affectionately called 'Fred and Ginger' because it is supposed to look like them dancing. I'm not sure about that one. I know there are scultures and arcitecture waiting to be discovered.

However, I think that my favorite sculpture was the one of KEYS. It is made of thousands of keys. This was a controversial work that has a great backstory. The Velvet Revolution (which overthru communism) was started when the masses on people in Wencelas Square started to jingle their keys.

The rest of the afternoon I didn't really do much. I walked around, and looked for a few second hand shops. I did find Bric and Brac. I believe it is a chain around Europe. There is one down the road in Veinheim. Anyway, he had some good treasures, but way overpriced. Normally, you would expect higher pricces in a tourist area, but there is such a thing as too much. I left sad I didn't get the street sign I was looking for.

Afterwards, I was excited to see where Tycho Brahe is interred, Our Lady Before Tyn.  Alas, it was closed. I thought for renovations, but upon a little research the tomb is being opened to preform an autopsy on the remains. 400 years later? He may have been poisined! So, all I had to do was walk across the square to find Astronomical Clock. Not too far from someone who was a pioneer in astronomy. Fitting.

The last thing I did was to find a market near Wenceslas Square. (really just a big rectangle) I wish I had written the name down. They sell lots of touristy stuff. Little clocks, painitings, and wooden toys. I bought my boys a few toys there when my oldest was a little guy. This time I found them some more treasures. My oldest got a slingshot. I don't have a picture because it is already lost! My little guy loved his octopus puzzel with letters on it. He cost less than 4 Euro. I also bought a Witch puppet that is a little scary. She will fit into my collection nicely. (Sorry I don't have any pics)

The last thing I did was to just grab an icecream and people watch around Wencelas Square. It is always interesting. Also a great way to relax your feet! This may not seem like a whole lot, but I was so tired. I did learn a few things though. 1. Don't wear cute shoes for a whole day of walking. Wear tennis shoes. 2. Don't put a six pack of water in your backpack. Way too heavy! The drinks I bought were less than 1 Euro, so they were cheap. All in all it was a wonderful day.


19 July 2010

Hello, Again

Hey to everyone! Wow, it has been a long time. Soooo much has happened in my little corner of the world. The main reason I have been away is that my youngest child got hurt. Badly. He seems to have made a full recovery, but he still needs an EEG to confirm. That will happen in 2 weeks. I believe we were extremely blessed! 

We were in Heidleberg (about 15 min away), and it took an hour for emergency services to take him to the hospital. The DRK (German Red Cross) got there in half an hour, and then they got an ADAC helicopter to take him to the children's hospital in Mannheim. We had a very good experience. Almost all the staff who took care of our son spoke English, and the Dr on the helo stayed with me until he was taken to a room.

I know that this is a bad picture. The one on the left is the entrance to the klinikum. It is very ornate and has huge gates. I will have to go down there to get a pic to re post. It overlooks the Nekar River. Beautiful.

Since May we have been to St. Avold, France, to the Lorraine American Cemetery, Prague, London, and Lusienpark.I will catch up on those posts later. I will participate in ThriftShareMondays over at Apron Thrift Girl. Her blog is about thrifting, reselling, and also about living healthy. On Mondays she post about what she discovered over the weekend. I will post about my finds at the market in Prague. I am about 10hrs ahead, so that will be tonight for me. 

I also want to post about learning German. Maybe a word or phrase at a time. A little is better than nothing. Maybe it could be a weekly Wednesday thing. 

I hope all of you have been having a wonderful summer. It has been such nice, warm weather lately. I can't wait for my veggies to start producing! It should be soon. They got in the ground about the 1st of June! It is crazy to plant that late, but the weather here is a trip for this southerner! 


21 May 2010

A Sunny Weekend

Hello again. It has been raining here for what seems like weeks!! It makes me want to....huhm, procrastinate? The forecast calls for 4 days of sunshine! whoo hoo! Last week I was the recipient of a beautiful new bike and a bike trailer for the little people. We went out one day after school and got drenched b/c I lost my keys and we were searching forEVER for them. They were at the police station. I had actually left them in an office I had visited. Haha. Back to the bikes....Hopefully we will have the nice weather promised to go on a trip! I am thinking maybe to the Vogelstang lake. It is about 2 miles on the trails. The only concern is the uphill to get over the Autobahn. My fingers are crossed that I make it without embarrassing myself having to get off and push the bike and kid in tow.

There are amazing bike trails around Mannheim and Germany in general. Every place that we have visited has them, and they are extensive. I am thinking that you could pretty much get anywhere you want in this country on bike/trek trails. Germans take their health a lot more seriously than Americans. I have a map of the Rheinland-Pfalz area, but am unable to find one for Baden-Wurttemberg. That will have to be my mission. The Army's OutDoor Rec center usually have them, but the services in this community are seriously lacking. Not only have there been many cuts to programs all together, but the ones that remain are limited, have absolutely no customer service (bowling alley), or they just don't care about our families anymore. I digress.

We might just pack a lunch and go explore. That is one of my favorite things to do. You never know what you will find when you aren't looking. I want to find my way to the Neckar River. The confluence with the Rhine is right here in Mannheim. One trip on my must do list is to bike the whole length of the Neckar. It is more than 200 miles, but will make for a great vacation adventure. That will take some more planning. Maybe more on that next time. I hope everyone reading this has a fabulous weekend!! Tschuss!

10 May 2010

Whoot Whoot for the internet!

Hi! I am so thiankful that the internet is working in my apartment again. 4 days is a long time. I had a wonderful weekend. My guys started swim lessons on Saturday. The oldest wants to be on the city swim team, so he needs technical instruction. My little one is just getting used to the water. He cried all morning not to go, then he cried not to leave. I think we have a convert!

On Sunday I had the pleasure to bring a group of women to a spa in Bad Orb. Evelin of Evelin's Wellness Paradise is a wonderful lady who went out of her way to make sure we were happy. The site is in English or German, and she speaks fluent English (as does her staff). I typically do not care for spas, but she has changed my mind. It was so relaxing and rejuvinating. It was such a treat.

Bad Orb is not too far away from Frankfurt, maybe half an hour. It is a spa town. Any city name in Germany that starts with 'Bad' means that it is a spa/wellness city. i.e. BADen BADen. There is no industry, and it is a small town. There are three natural springs here. There is also a new thermal pool (also fabulous). It is the Toskana Therme Bad. When you check out the website, look to the right column and click on 'Sprache/Languages' if you do not speak German. There was a framed NY Post article about the bad. Everyone enjoyed the pools. The Sauna is mixed male/female and is all nude.

If you want to have a weekend getaway, Evelin has packages for couples that includes the spa, a bed and brakfast room (with a private bath), breakfast and a dinner. I this is an incredible deal. You could spend the weekend, and go home with no more stress. It is worth the drive. Evelin has been hosting Americans for more than 25 years. Tuchuss!! Jill

04 May 2010


Louisiana is my home. It is where I lived for 2/3 of my life. No matter how many times I have moved or how far away I am, it is home. I grew up in the coastal region by  Texas in Lake Charles. I had plans to move back in Nov of 2005, but a hurricane derailed that. Now there is a catastrophe in the gulf. This shook me immensly. I know a few people who work offshore, and this is something that just isn't thought about. It is something that you file away in the back of your mind, but you never actually think that it will happen. Lake Charles has a lot of industry...oil refineries, plastic plants, lots of chemical plants. When I was about 18 I was working in a Waffle House, and there was an explosion at an oil refinery about 5 miles away. It shook the windows. It took a few minutes to think about the refinery. I believe there were no fatalities.

About the gulf. What is the long term effect of this mess? The map of the projected spill goes from Corpus Christi to the Atlantic. It hurts my heart that this has happened. Venice, Louisiana is a commercial fishing town. That is all that people do there. What are their livelyhoods going to be now? How will they survive? What about the children? What about the fishermen all the way in Hackberry? How will this effect them and their families?I hope that the industry takes a hard look at itself.  I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I don't think that we will ever understand why this has happened, but there is a lot to be learned. I just don't even know what else to say.

03 May 2010


Hi! I am a mother in a typical American family (wife, husband, 2 kids and a dog). We recently relocated from Savannah, Georgia to Mannheim, Germany. This was some what our decision. We have lived here, in Mannheim, before. We always have considered this to be our home. I am a Southern Belle (maybe). He is a Yankee. This is the first place we lived after our marriage.

I am a SHAM (Stay at Home Mom) for the time being. I want to be able to bring my kids to school and pick them up as well. So far we have been blessed enough to have this situation. I try to earn money when I can. I am a tour gide (I am bringing a group of women to a Baden Baden spa on Mother's Day!!), mystery shopper, and ebay seller. Not really much. I am always on the look out for great oppertunities. If you have any ideas......

I feel fortunate to be able to live abroard. We get to walk where history has been made. Not only will my children get to learn about what happened in the past, but we can actually go to the place. Our first 'history trip' will be to the St. Avold (France) American Cemetery on Memorial Day. I am so excited.

I can not be certain of the 'topic' of this blog. Does it have to have one? My thoughts are a mish-mash of a lot of different things. I want to write about my life, as an American living in a foregin country. Good idea?? Hopefully! Any suggestions are welcome!!

Tschüss (Bye), Jill
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