Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bookish Sundays: Lullaby

Title: Lullaby

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Category: Fiction

Synopsis [c/o Barnes & Noble]: "Ever heard of a culling song? It’s a lullaby sung in Africa to give a painless death to the old or infirm. The lyrics of a culling song kill, whether spoken or even just thought. You can find one on page 27 of Poems and Rhymes from Around the World, an anthology that is sitting on the shelves of libraries across the country, waiting to be picked up by unsuspecting readers.
Reporter Carl Streator discovers the song’s lethal nature while researching Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and before he knows it, he’s reciting the poem to anyone who bothers him. As the body count rises, Streator glimpses the potential catastrophe if someone truly malicious finds out about the song. The only answer is to find and destroy every copy of the book in the country. Accompanied by a shady real-estate agent, her Wiccan assistant, and the assistant’s truly annoying ecoterrorist boyfriend, Streator begins a desperate cross-country quest to put the culling song to rest.
Written with a style and imagination that could only come from Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby is the latest outrage from one of our most exciting writers at work today."
Overview: If you were not a fan of Fight Club, then you probably shouldn't read any of the author's other books.  Since I happened to enjoy both the movie and the novel, I thought I'd give Palahniuk a go; and I was not disappointed.  Easily just as messed up and trippy as Fight Club, you'll read Lullaby with a sense of disbelief and awe.  A song that kills people?  It's a tragedy that leaves more than one unsuspecting character with a feeling of loss.  Thankfully, one reporter is willing to track down and rip out the page that holds this lullaby, and thus rid the world of one more evil.  Will he succeed?  No one knows.
You may think that I'm a tad loony for liking such twisted story lines; you may actually be right.  But in my defense, even if the novel had an awful plot, I would still love it.  Palahniuk is an amazing author, and writes in such a way that captures the reader from the get go.  If you're willing to try something different and decide to read the suggested novel, let me know how you enjoy it.  Or, if you'd prefer, pick up one of his other novels, such as Airplane, Survivor, Choke, or many others.  Some are pretty awesome, some not so enjoyable, but I'll leave the decision up to you.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Friday.  Every time you come around, the weather's gotten a little cooler and the leaves a tad brighter.  I suppose fall really is coming around.  Dear Husband.  You're such a trooper.  While my over exuberance on Sunday resulted in me waking you up a couple hours early so we could head to the pumpkin festival, you indulged my desires and didn't complain about lack of sleep.  And this morning, knowing we have two puppy guests over for the weekend, you sat in the car for an extra 30 minutes to allow me to sleep, and helped me walk them before heading to bed yourself.  Have I told you lately how much I love you?  Dear brother, sister, and mother in the photo above.  I love your mustaches, but I love your regular faces even more.  I miss you three [and the missing father & other brother] oh sososo much.  Can't wait until spring!  Dear Ninja & Sass.  I'm so proud of how well you two behaved at the pumpkin festival on Sunday...your first time in a huge crowd, and not too shabby!  It made my day so much better to have random people [Germans and Americans alike] stop to pet your pretty heads.  Dear Kaiserslautern high school.  I'm sitting on pins and needles, waiting to hear if I've made it to your final selections as a possible substitute teacher for the year.  I so badly want this job!  Pick me!  Dear weather.  I suppose the earth needs all this rain, but the hail?  And fog?  Are they really necessary?  Dear upcoming weekend.  It may not sound like much to others, but I'm beyond excited for the fall market on Sunday.  Apples, pumpkins, vendors, food, crafts...sounds like my kind of party.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Girl Behind the Blog

Yet again, I'm bobbling away in this month's Girl Behind the Blog video.  Are you participating?  I'd love to see what you have to say!  Leave a comment with the link back to your post :)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In Between

I realized that I had never finished showing off photos from our European road trip in August. they are.

Also see: LuxembourgBrusselsAntwerpEindhoven.

In Between

 Emerging after finding an emergency bathroom spot :)
 While driving toward Luxembourg, we spotted a castle in a tiny village.  Stopped to take a peek and it was gorgeous!
 Castle courtyard
 Tiny Belgian town the castle was located in.

 Visiting the Luxembourg Cemetery had me leaking extravagantly.  These brave men gave their lives for our soldiers, and have become my heroes in the process.

 Grave of an unknown soldier. 
 Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany.  Trier was on our way home, so we stopped to walk around a bit before our feet gave out on us.  This is an old Roman construction.
 Dom St. Peter is a Roman styled cathedral in Trier.  It was actually built by Constantine, but added to with Roman and Gothic designs.  I honestly thought this was a castle at first.  We found it fitting to learn that this is the oldest cathedral in Germany, unsurprisingly located in he oldest city in Germany.
 The organ is beautiful!
And that is the end of our road trip through Europe.  We arrived home footsore, eyes strained, and overwhelmed with the fact that we had visited countries, cities, monuments, etc., that had been toured by thousands of others for generations.  I'm so lucky to live in such a location, and to have such a wonderful friend to travel around with on occasion.  Next week, I'll share a couple pictures from our trip to Prague, Czech Republic :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend in Pictures

Next week, I'd love to see how your weekend went via photos.  Instagram, smart phone, point and shoot; all kinds of pictures are more than welcome!  Visit back here every Monday to link-up for Weekend in Pictures :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bookish Sundays: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Title: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Author: Jonathan Safran Foer

Category: Fiction

Synopsis [c/o Barnes & Noble]: "Jonathan Safran Foer confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination." "Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, and pacifist. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11." An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin.
c/o B&N
Overview:  Written in a style that reminds me very much of The History of Love, Foer's main character is forced to deal with an untimely tragedy that shakes his entire world.  While witty and charming, it is also heartbreaking to watch someone so young try to hold on to the memory of his father.  The growth and development of the characters are phenomenal, if overly unbelievable.  But each member of the cast in his/her own way helps Oskar in his search, and are in turn affected by his quirky personality and innocent purity.  Definitely a must read.  
Have you seen the movie? Is it worth watching?  And thank you, Talia, for recommending this to me.  Definitely as great as you said it would be!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Friday.  Everyone else celebrates you because you're the beginning of their weekend.  Mine doesn't really start until Sunday, the hub's first day off of work.  So to me, you're a Thursday.  No one likes Thursdays.  Dear Husband.  This week at work has been difficult for you, so I know it's really easy to stay in a bad mood the rest of the day.  But can you brighten up a little?  Your grumpiness makes me want to avoid you.  Dear pups.  A whole day of playing with friends yesterday while I got to sit and chat with some wonderful ladies.  You guys are spoiled rotten.  Dear new friends.  I'm so happy I found the Facebook page that connects me with other women in the area.  It's wonderful to be meeting new people!   Dear Husband.  Thank you for letting me take a couple evenings away from home to socialize.  I'm sure you were happy to spend time on the computer or PS3 without me interrupting as well.  Dear weather.  You've definitely gotten cooler, forcing me into sweatshirts and sweaters when I leave the house.  Ironically, the fact that my house is even more cold inside than outside already encouraged me to break out the fleece pajamas and feather comforter so I can feel fingers and toes throughout the day.  Dear tomorrow's photo shoot.  I have the privilege to take photos for an expecting couple!  My first foray into maternity photos, and I'm extremely nervous, but oh so excited.  Even better, they're bringing along their pup.  I can't wait!  Dear German people that fall in love with Ninja.  I'm constantly stopped by you all so you can admire my overly friendly boxer. Thanks for the compliments!  Well, I'm assuming they're compliments.  Since I can't understand a single word any of you say, I'm hoping you're not casting spells to curse me instead.  Dear Germany.  Every day I spend here makes me feel more and more at home.  The opportunities, the adventures, the people...if I never leave, I wouldn't mind.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How-To Count Down

A count down how-to.  Not something you'd think there'd be tips on, but as a spouse dealing with infrequent but overly long separations from the husband, there is definitely a technique.  So, if you are preparing to deal with a long term count-down, medium term count-down, or just have to be apart more often than you're together, here are some tips to help husbands/wives not go crazy for the duration.  And if you're looking for examples of my experience doing the day by day tick off, here's this: Husband [then boyfriend] deployed for six months in 2009.  I deployed for six months in 2010.  Husband deployed for six months this year, 2012.  No, it's not nine months or 12 months or however many years apart, but IMO, anything more than a week is hard to deal with.

Tip #1: No counting down day by day
Source: via Sara on Pinterest

I promise, it will just make it go by slower.  The daily trudge to the calendar to mark off yet another uneventful and unremarkable day.  Seeing the numbers tick down one by one, in absolutely no hurry.  It's depressing.  Don't make yourself go crazy by utilizing this method.

Tip #2: Count down using weekly or bi-weekly events

By counting down weeks, you're using a smaller number and therefore tricking yourself into believing it's a shorter time period.  For example: during this past deployment, Vampire Diaries was released on iTunes every Saturday.  I dutifully ignored the calendar all week until Saturday came around, watched my show, and then gleefully marked off yet another week.  Done and done.
Other weekly or bi-weekly ideas?  Trash days.  Your weekly coffee dates with the girls.  Church events.  Karate practice for your kids.  Etc.

Tip #3: Count down using major holidays or events

Looking forward to holidays or events sprinkled throughout the separation can definitely help speed up the time.  Instead of using weekly or daily activities to mark off the calendar, I would sometimes use specific days in the future to look forward to; then, voila, a whole month has passed!  Throw yourself into planning outings for these big days, or decorating for them, or throwing parties.  Even the tiniest holidays can be celebrated; so what if Labor Day isn't that big of a deal?  Who cares if my birthday was spent decorating the pups in hats and hanging streamer?  It made the time fly by that much quicker.

Tip #4: Get out of the house
Source: via Erin on Pinterest

As tempting as it may be to hide in your home alone with your depression [or alone with your kids, which could possibly make you even more depressed], you definitely need to get out of the house.  Go on a walk, take a road trip, have a picnic, head to a friend's house.  Anything to make it feel less like your life is on pause waiting for your other half to return home, and more like you're continuing with your daily life, just temporarily on your own.  This may be one of those points where you're thinking, "but children make it so difficult to leave the house ever."  You may be right...I don't have kids, so I don't know.  But is it that difficult to let them put on rain boots and hop in puddles?  Grab some colored chalk and draw sidewalk pictures for dad?  Head to a local park for a day at the playground, or to play fetch with the dog?  No need to make it some gigantic outing.  Just simply getting out the door for a bit will make it easier.  As a side note, see people.  Your friends should be there for you at this point in time, if only to keep you company for a few hours each week.  

Tip #5: Go somewhere or have visitors
Source: via Ivy on Pinterest

Being on your own can be daunting, even if you don't have children.  Instead of constant noise, imagine constant silence [although I'm sure that sounds nice to you moms]; there would be days on end where I possibly didn't say a word out loud.  Or I'd talk to the dogs, but maybe wouldn't talk to a human for more than a week.  How pitiful is that?  Instead of slowly going insane from either loneliness or from being forced to take care of everything on your own, invite someone to come visit for a bit.  Head over to the in-laws for a few days.  Go camping with some friends.  I managed to make a few different trips during this last deployment, and I really do think they helped speed up the time; madre flew out and we went to Venice.  A girls weekend to Garmisch.  A trip home to see family.  A best friend to road trip through Europe with.  Anything to keep you occupied.

Tip #6: Don't Skype daily

I know, I know.  How can you not talk to your husband/wife every day?  What about the children who want to see their parent?  I'm no expert on kids, so I honestly can't answer that one.  But do you honestly have important things to say to your hubster every day?  How about you just shoot an email with a quick daily update?  Talking to my hubby every day resulted in us staring at each other through the computer because we had absolutely nothing to say.  I already told him about that mouse Sass caught in the field; told him about my trip to the grocery store; my life isn't exciting enough to update him every single evening on what I did.  And I know he feels the same way about his own activities.  We made sure to Skype once or twice a week, but never more than that; we would just use email or some kind of online chat to talk throughout the day, joking around or making plans for when he got home.  We actually found that if we did video chat daily, we tend to get in more arguments.  So, if you can manage, try to cut it back to every other day or less so you at least have something to talk about when you get on.

There you have it.  Just a few tips to help a deployment, business trip, TDY, mission trip, etc. fly by a little quicker.  It's not as easy as it sounds, and I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but this could definitely help you out.  Do you have tips of your own to add?  What helps you deal with separation from your SO?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Today, I'm a guest on Talia Christine!  What a wonderful experience :)  If you'd like to learn how to read a book, or to just peruse her absolute amazingness, head on over and show some love.  Seriously, you'll be hooked by her blog; it's pretty spectacular!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Letters

Locks of Love on the Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic
Dear Friday.  You're here.  Damn.  Dear Husband.  Thank you so much for taking me to Prague this week.  Having a few days to ourselves without pups to take care of, work to think about, or photos to edit was absolutely wonderful.  Must happen again.  Dear feet.  You are bruised and blistered and unhappy...I apologize for abusing you the past few days, but at least you got to walk in a new place?  Dear Prague.  I love your sites and cuisine.  But I don't think I'll be going were a one time deal.  Dear Husband.  Please don't go back to work anymore.  Last night was lonely without you...time to become hobos and not have jobs.  Dear time.  Please slow down!  You're flying by awfully quickly, and soon it will have been a year since we arrived on this continent.  It can't have been the long already!  Dear super duper busy schedule for the rest of the year.  We can do this.  Right? Dear Steve Madden boots.  You are the cutest things I've ever owned.  I wish you actually fit so I could wear you; time to send you back and start looking for different ones :(.  Dear Germany.  Traveling your back roads to get home yesterday was an awesome treat.  I love you so.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Blog Awards

Who's the worst person ever?  Probably Hitler.  But I'm not too fantastic myself after procrastinating on writing about the blogging awards I've received recently.  There are at least four of them, but I didn't go back very far in my comments.  If I missed yours, please let me know so I can pass them along to other amazing women!

Since there are so many, I'm doing a condensed and slightly jumbled combination of all of them.  So, in no particular order, I have been so undeservedly given the following awards:
The Liebster Award
by Chelsea and Desirae and Becca

Sunshine Blogger Award
by Sarah

Thank you ladies so much!  It's a huge honor to have received these, and an even bigger honor to pass them along to other deserving bloggers.  
Now, there's a lot of questions to answer, facts to share, people to nominate, questions to ask, etc.  Oy vey.  I'm just going to answer a couple of the questions, list some random facts, and ask a couple questions instead.  If you'd like to see the correct format, visit any one of the links above!

Five Random Facts About Me
1. I have freckles inside my ears.  Talk about ginger.
2. In my head, I have an Irish accent.
3. I often think in a mixture of Korean, Spanish, English, and a tad bit of German.  It would make no sense if I said it out loud.
4. Getting rid of books makes me cry.
5. Someone recently visited our home to pick up a chair I was selling, and our curtain rod in the living room fell straight on her head.  I was mortified.

Five Questions for Me
A: Definitely reading.  It's my favorite hobby to indulge in.
A: When I was younger, there was a Christmas where my entire family had strep throat.  It gave us a great excuse not to go to any parties or family gatherings and just spend the entire day in our pajamas by ourselves.
A: I see us living in a new location and starting to travel there, and also with me having a degree. In something.  Who knows what.
A: Well, it wasn't that ugly to begin with, but I had a '94 Nissan Sentra that I completely destroyed.  Too many accidents :(
A:  Germany!  Best place to live EVER.

Five Questions for Others
1.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
2.  What is your superhero name?
3.  What's your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
4.  Summer or winter?
5.  Worst habit?

I'm nominating as many people as I possibly can for both awards, but if you'd like to just take one or none, that's fine with me!  All of these wonderful women have under 200 followers, and may have possibly been nominated before, but I really just can't keep track of all that.  Impossible.  I would love if you wandered over to check some of them out, they're pretty spectacular!
Joy from Joyness Sparkles [probably just going to start calling you Mrs. J from now on :)]

Now I'm off to notify them all that they've received an's going to be a very very long afternoon.

A Post About Nothing

I've mentioned it before, but I'm just having such a difficult time finding anything I consider worthwhile to talk about on this blog.  I mean, books and photos are great and all, but should they be everything that a website consists of?  Probably not.  And the ever decreasing number of views, followers, and comments on this tiny page are reinforcing that thought...but how to make a change?

This blog is not my life.  If anything comes up, it automatically gets thrown to the side until I have more free time.  Between traveling, homecomings, photo sessions, and the daily routine, that means that I have not been the most consistent or most enthusiastic writer in the world.  But things are starting to settle down; the husband returned to work this week, which means no more major traveling for quite a while.  No more guests coming to visit.  No more chaos.  And yet – my mind is still blank when it comes to topics to share.  So.  I need your help.

Blog posts that are sure to stay:  Bookish Sundays, Friday's Letters, and Weekend in Pictures.

Gots to go: Let's Talk and The Truth

Possibilities: Participating in a link up mid week, guest posts from sponsors, more in depth "get to know the blogger" posts.

Where do you come in?  Well, I'd like to know what you are interested in.  What do you expect to read from a military wife stationed in Germany?  What would you like to know about me?  About the dogs? About my hobbies?  About anything?

This may seem a tad ridiculous, but I'm grasping at straws.  I love this blog, and love how much it's changed and grown over the past few months, and want to keep it up.  So by asking you, and by making a few promises, I think I can stay motivated instead of discouraged by current lack of response. You can's okay.  I know how silly this all sounds.  But in return for your help, I do have a few goals/promises I would like to make:

1. Be a better page to sponsor.  If you swap buttons with moi, you'll get shout outs, links to my favorite posts you've made, the opportunity to guest post, etc.  This starts NOW.
2.  Have the most gigantic humongous over the top give away when I reach 200 followers.
3.  After reaching 200 followers, hosting a scavenger hunt link-up with all of you!  This thought has been in the works for quite a while, but the more who participate, the more fun it will be.  And there will be prizes!
4.  Be a better follower to other blogs.  I'm horrible at leaving comments, even if I thoroughly enjoyed a post.  <–Changing that.
5.  Be more receptive to you all!

So, if you're willing to guest post or willing to have me guest post [or exchange guest posts?], have any ideas about topics unique to my life style, have questions, critiques, etc. start emailing/leaving comments!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Truth, v1.2

My life is going pretty well right now.  I have a husband home, taking away the hours of loneliness and boredom that plagued me for six months; I will be starting school in a few months; I've started booking more and more photography sessions; I've lost weight; I've travelled, and will be taking yet another trip next week.  I couldn't be happier having my other half by my side and experiencing Europe together at last.

But there's an niggling thought that constantly tickles the back of my mind.

If we had it our way, we'd be parents right now.  At least have a one year old; possibly younger.  Maybe we'd be due any day.  You've read about my struggles in the original Truth post, and I not only feel the desire to keep you updated, but also to talk out some of the internal struggles I've been having since that day.

First and foremost; thank you to everyone who has been so supportive.  I wrote that post to help ease the burden I had been feeling, and received comfort, encouragement, advice, and empathy in return.  I couldn't ask for anything more than to know that there are others who may not understand what I'm going through but accept me nonetheless, those who have dealt with similar issues and overcome the barriers, and the few who are still struggling by my side.  You are all such amazing women that I have the honor of knowing.

Writing out my feelings definitely helped in some ways; it was great to hear that my personal feelings aren't ones that only I have, but are shared by women in similar situations.  At the same time, it was incredibly awkward to have strangers, family, friends openly discuss my emotions.  I'm not overly confident in talking about personal feelings, and this very drastic and sudden switch in social protocol left me reeling on more than one occasion.  As uncomfortable as it all was, I did feel better talking out loud to some people.  But let me update you on my feelings about our inability to have children up til now.

As much as I do desire to have children, I've come to the realization that I'm only 24.  I have plenty of time, I'm young, I'm in Europe, and I'm content with taking care of my husband and two pups.  I honestly don't have any desire to add to my responsibilities, especially whilst we have so many travel opportunities.  Children make things difficult.  I don't like difficult, at least not right now.

I've started contemplating where this need to conceive came from, and I blame the military.  Everyone around us marries young, starts having children young, and divorces young.  They're all in such a hurry; being 24 without a kid is an anomaly in the military world, for some reason.  Once I sorted that out, I realized that the internal pressure [while it does exist] is basically nothing compared to the external pressure that I was responding to.  It doesn't help when family [ahem, MIL] constantly asks about children.  Settle down, woman.  We'll get there at some point.

I recently had a doctor's appointment to start the battle of finding out what our issue could possibly be.  I'm already lined up for a multitude of tests, x-rays, future consultations, etc., all of which are overwhelming and a constant source of worry.  And while I'm no longer in any hurry to expand our little Brownderson clan, I'm also extremely curious to know what the problem is.  I'd rather find out now than in five, ten, twenty years when it's too late.

I'm not giving up my dream.  I do still want children, and if we were to find out tomorrow that we're pregnant, I'd be overly excited.  But at the same time, I realize that our position is unique and a great opportunity.  I suppose you could say that I'm feeling conflicted.  In one hand, it's a relief to have a game plan that I can control, but I also feel as though I'm abandoning my conquest.  I know whatever is meant to happen will happen, but I also know that sitting back and not doing a single thing to help the future will just leave me disappointed.

That's that.  I'm sure a future update will occur at some point, but for now, you can bet that it'll just be the four of us for quite a while.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Day One
Day Two
Day Three

Day Four: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Our hostel room was a mixed dorm...when we arrived, there were already people asleep.  One snored and passed gas LOUDLY all night long...miserable.

 The casemates are an underground tunnel system built into the city's walls for easier defense.  They go on for kilometers, and have little peepholes out the sides for shooting/arrows/whatever.  In order to go up or down through the levels, your forced to traverse incredibly narrow, steep, and slippery spiral stairs, and hope you don't break your neck.

 Luxembourg Aqueduct
 Panoramic view of the city
 An abbey

 Technically, Luxembourg was the last major stop on our trip, but there were a few in between places that we explored for an hour or two on our way to other larger cities.  I'll post those photos next week!