Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh, Oktoberfest? Um… JA!

When my Dad and Michelle sent me an email several weeks before our departure asking if I was interested in attending the large Oktoberfest celebration on the base I believe it took me about a nanosecond to say, “Um, JA!”

The first "Oktoberfest" was held on October 12, 1810, in Munich, Germany. Originally it was one big wedding reception, celebrating the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The event was so successful, that they decided to do it again and again and again. It has since become the largest festival in the world, with some 6 million visitors a year.

Although, the festivities on the base in Geilenkirchen are considerably more humble than the fanfare in Munich, the elements are still the same. Lots of traditional beer, lots of traditional food, lots of traditional music and lots of rip-roaring-foot-stomping-gut-busting good times.

Germans have been perfecting the art of throwing a good party for over 200 years and believe me when I tell you they are now full fledged “Masters of the Fete”.

Arriving as the doors opened on the big night, priority number one was to secure a table. Traditional Oktoberfest tables are long and skinny, with long benches on either side. The idea being that everyone, whether they know each other or not, sits side by side, drinks in hand, to laugh and toast and celebrate TOGETHER! Even if the person sitting next to you isn’t a friend, they will be by the time the night is over.

Settled into our seats and surrounded by current and soon to be friends, the next priority of the night was food, and of course, DRINKS! Traditional drink at Oktoberfest is a stein of beer, and when the German’s serve you a beer they don’t mess around! Here are Michelle and I ready to start the night right!

(In the spirit of full disclosure, this was not actually my beer. At the time of this picture I was actually drinking some REALLY excellent German red wine. But since I didn’t want to look like a wimp with a teeny tiny glass of wine, I posed with my Dad’s beer. I promise that later on I did consume TWO of these massive mugs of ale, and as you can imagine, I was feeling no pain by the end of the night!)

So… seats? CHECK. Drinks? CHECK. Now… FOOD!

When at Oktoberfest, I feel like there are only two acceptable food choices, regardless of what is on the menu. Bratwurst or Schweinshaxe, also known as Ham Hock or Pig’s Knuckle. Since I can get a bratwurst in most any place in the U.S., there was only one choice for me,

YUM!!! It’s like your own little delicious pork roast! Jeez, my mouth is watering right now just remembering the flavor and tenderness! Given the size of this mammoth meal, Michelle and I shared, and then when we couldn’t eat anymore Dad ate what was left.

With a full belly, and a drink in hand the rowdy merriment began!! Being that my parents rarely get to spoil their children who all live half way around the world from them, my money was no good on this night. So often you would find my Dad at the end of the table pantomiming to Michelle and I, trying to ask if we needed another drink. There was a lot of “Three words? Sounds like… I, you, us???” Quickly realizing that as a family we really suck at charades, I made this extremely effective sign in the attempt to make things clearer,


It worked like a charm, and for the rest of the night whenever my glass was empty I would simply hold up the sign and more beer would appear.

Yes, I am fully aware I am living a charmed life. Please let me enjoy it while I can!

As the drinks flowed the Band played louder and louder and the night moved into full swing. At every German festival such as this that I’ve been to, the Band plays a large part in directing the merriment. One popular custom by the Band is to lead the crowd in a toast. As a traditional Oompah-pah song would come to a close the band would yell “Zigga Zagga, Zigga Zagga, Oi, Oi, Oi!” and the crowd would join in. Raising their glasses and standing on benches, toasting to friends, family, country and GOOD TIMES!

Prone to being wallflowers, it took a little persuading, but eventually I got my parents up on the benches.

Enter sarcasm……... HERE! My parents are ANYTHING but wallflowers. They love a good party and can often be found leading the chant, song, dance, toast… WHATEVER!


CHECK!!! At one point, my Dad hauled me onto the dance floor for a traditional German ditty. A word of advice to you all, dancing to Oompah-pah in heels it HARD! I’ve never felt so uncoordinated in my life. But it was okay, cause later I felt pretty,

OH SO PRETTY!! But not as pretty as this guy,

They had these cones all over the base. Blocking off areas guest were not allowed to roam. Somehow this guy got a hold of one and decided it would make a fantastic headpiece. I blame the giant mugs of delicious beer.

Finally, one of our group received this,

This is called a Lebkuchenherzen. They are very popular at German festivals and gathering. They are gifts between friends and lovers in order to express their feeling for one another. After receiving this one we checked with the Germans we were sitting near to verify what it said. We were told it had two meanings,

#1: The name for a dog


#2: The word for someone who has perpetual, unmanageable, sticking up everywhere bed head.

Okay... how is that a term of endearment you want to give your loved ones???

About seven years ago I attended this festival for the first time with my hubby who was then my fiancé. Here we are,

I can’t get over how young we were!! Anyway, he gave me a Lebkuchenherzen, and for the life of me I don’t remember what it said. But now I am starting to wonder…

I hope it said “I love you” and not “I guess you’re alright… for now”.

Off to Paris this weekend in search of delicious edible treats instead of inedible cookies with bizarre messages on them.

Au Revoir,


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

City Baby in Deutschland

Alrighty, so in my last post “And then…” you heard the nightmare trip we took to get over here. Well, despite our jetlag and exhaustion, the next day we jumped right in with both feet, eager and ready to start enjoying time with my parents.

My Dad and Michelle live in a cute little German village called Harzelt. It’s situated in what is known as the Tri-Border region. So named, it’s the area of Europe where Germany, Holland and Belgium all butt up against each other. It is not at all uncommon to drive around in this area and continually pop in and out of each country without even realizing it.

The village my parents live in is surrounded by multiple other little villages, which are ultimately clumped around the NATO Base where my Dad works. It’s a beautiful little area, which perfectly personifies what you would imagine European Country to be. Little red brick houses, quaint churches in the middle of village squares, twisting narrow cobble stoned streets and of course fields of animals and agriculture which have been tended by the same families for centuries.

In short, it’s like living in a postcard. Here are a few pics to give you an idea.

These were taken today, while Dad, Madeline and I were on a bike ride around the nearby villages. My parents are BIG TIME cycling enthusiasts and Dad couldn’t wait to get the Munchkin into an infant seat on his bike.

We got this one a few villages over in a larger city called Sittard, located in the Netherlands. It’s my Dad’s opinion that if you need anything to do with cycling, you go to Holland. He’s sure that the Dutch are born able to ride a bike. He often says first the bike comes out, then the baby.

Backing up a little, on our second day here we went for a walk around Harzelt, so Madeline could see all the local farm animals. I mean what is more exciting to a toddler then farm animals? Especially a City Baby like Madeline.

Although, Madeline saw lots of animals this year at the county fair, that experience could in no way compare with seeing cows and horses and ducks and chickens, and even emu in the fields. Running around, mooing and neighing and quacking and clucking and…. well… whatever emu do… Madeline was in heaven.

My Dad had a blast seeing her delight and reactions to the animals. She would point at the cows and exclaim, “Oooooooooo!”

This was both an utterance of awe, as well as what she believes a cow says. My daughter can manage to yell “MO!” at the top of her lungs, but when it comes to the sound a cow makes it’s “Ooooo”, not “Moo”. So, now whenever we are driving down the road and we see a bunch of cows (not a bunch, a herd… that’s just for you Dad), she squeals “Oooooo” until someone acknowledges, the cows. Needless to say, this happens quite frequently as cows are EVERYWHERE over here.

The day after our farm animal safari, it was time for my little City Baby to experience some real country playtime. Where better to have a little down and dirty fun then, in the dirt!

My Dad purposely left his garden unattended at the end of the summer, so that Madeline could have some fun playing and digging away to her heart’s content.

She dug…

And helped Grandpapa dig…

And looked at worms…

And eventually gave up on a shovel, cause her hands worked better.

Then she ran up and down the hill in Grandmaman and Grandpapa’s back yard.

Get a load of that dirt! I always thought I had a girly girl on my hands, but I guess she’s a little bit city and a little bit country.

And I think I like that…

I think I like that A LOT!

No better way to tell your kid had fun then this,

Good Times,


Monday, September 27, 2010

And then...

After days of next to no sleep, last night I finally got 10 straight blissful hours in dreamland. Between Miss M’s jetlag and my own, sleep has been hard to come by since we arrived. Throw in a night of Oktoberfest debauchery for good measure (the post on that one is on its way I promise), and you have one seriously exhausted me. Barely able to function let alone write intelligent and witty blog posts.

But today I am feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed and eager to begin documenting our adventures. In order to begin recounting our outs-and-abouts thus far, I must first recount the marathon it took to get here.

Our journey started out right on track. We arrived, checked in and were through security by 4:30 am, immediately followed by a much needed visit to Starbucks.

Had I only known what the travel gods had in store for me, I would have asked for a triple shot in my White Chocolate Mocha.

Our flight from PDX to Salt Lake City felt like a dream. Madeline’s eyes grew wide with wonder as our plane left the ground. Sitting on my lap in our window seat she babbled away excitedly as the cars and houses grew very small and the clouds flew past. In this age where travel by air is no longer the modern marvel it used to be, seeing her delight and awe was inspiring. Reminding me of a time when I used to find air travel exciting and new. Soon after we reached our cruising altitude, she grew very still on my lap. Our early start had finally gotten the better of her and she’d fallen fast asleep. She slept the remainder of the two hour flight.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the end of the idyllic, fairytale portion of this tale. Please prepare yourselves, cause from here on out things get messy!

Very shortly after arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport, all hell broke loose. While sitting happily at our gate, the one announcement most dreaded by all travelers was made. Our flight was delayed.

Having a connection time in Atlanta of a mere 50 minutes, this delay was a big BIG problem. After what felt like forever, but was actually only about 5 or 10 minutes we got the final verdict. Due to a hydraulic leak, our flight was cancelled.


Cue instant panic and pandemonium. As everyone around me wiped out cell phones and clamored to get in line, another announcement was made that headquarters would be automatically rebooking each passenger for a new flight. Oh, did I mention this was a full flight?

Yup… good times.

Following the desk attendant’s simple instructions, I walked across the concourse, scanned our old boarding pass and received two meal vouchers and a new itinerary. So much for the food vouchers, our new itinerary had us on a flight departing for Newark in about 3 minutes!

This is when Hollywood would cut to the scene of Madeline and I making a mad dash through the airport in order to make our flight, right?

Save it. I promise that scene will make an appearance later in this tale.

Thanks to a stroke of much needed luck the gate for our Newark flight was a mere twenty feet from where I stood, and Miss M and I were rapidly boarded. Five hours later we landed in Newark, a bit tired and seriously hungry, but all in all not too much the worse for wear.

According to our new itinerary we had two hours til our next flight to Charles De Gaulle, so priority number one was to find some food. Since I was travelling with a toddler, McDonalds was the order of the day. A piece of cake to locate in an airport, right?


What I really needed to keep the Munchkin fat and happy was some Chicken McNuggets, what I ended up with was some sort of weird cheesy flatbread thingy, with a sweet type of sauce on it that no self respecting almost 2 year old would deign to put in their mouth. I had packed a ton of nibbles that Miss M normally can’t get enough of, but of course wanted nothing to do with at this point. So…

Cue the mini Oreos.

Not the most nutritious lunch there ever was and maybe not the most brilliant choice when you are about to be stuck in a flying tin can for 6 hours, but hey sometimes you just gotta do, what you gotta do.

With my toddler once again sweet and happy, we made our way over to the gate to get our new boarding cards. We still had at least 20 minutes til our flight was scheduled to board, so I figured we had lots of time to have new cards issued. I mean our original cards only took about 5 minutes to issue, so this couldn’t be that much harder, right?


Because Madeline was travelling as a lap baby during this trip, she needed to have paper tickets issued. Of course the tickets we originally received in the mail several weeks before our journey began were now useless, so new tickets needed to be issued. Apparently infant tickets are NOT easy to issue.

So, we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Eventually the plane was fully boarded, except for us. We were still waiting for the Munchkin’s new paper tickets. Luckily, our gate was right in front of where the planes take off. Miss M was pleased as punch to watch and announce with a point and a “Mama! Mama! Mama! Pane!” as each plane took to the skies.

Finally, with paper ticket in hand, the attendants hustled us on board. The reward for our wait…

One pair of “Preference” seats. The most coveted, spacious, and awesome of all seats with the exception of Business and First Class. Our seats had a ton of leg room and were located on the plane’s bulkhead, meaning there was no one in front of us. Plus, the most amazing of all attendants on the planet, was sure to book our “preference” seat with an empty seat next to it. For the next 6 hours it was like Madeline and I were ensconced in our own little private space. Very nice.

The HUGE downside… because we waited so long to board, my stroller could not be gate checked and had to go in the hold with all the other luggage, to be collected at our final destination, Dusseldorf.

So when we arrived in Paris, I was without stroller. Of all the times throughout the whole trip when I REALLY needed my stroller, this airport was it! With Miss M. strapped onto my front in the Ergo Carrier and both our carry-on bags strapped to my back I walked as fast as I could, huffing and puffing to the transfer desk to get my final set of boarding passes. My connection time in Paris was extremely short, so in an effort to cut down on wasted time, I shoved the important tickets and things they had issued me in my back pocket, for easy access.

This move was almost my complete undoing.

I arrived at the transfer desk sweating like crazy, completely exhausted from the long flight and almost run from my arrival gate, carrying about 45 pounds, only to reach into my back pocket and find NOTHING! My tickets had fallen out.

Near to tears at this point I walked/ran back the way I had come scanning the ground for my tickets. About a ¼ of the way back the way I had already walked, I found the tickets. Walk/run again, back to the transfer desk to stand in line, to wait for my boarding passes.

And wait, and wait, and wait.

By this point I am near to hysterics. All I want is to make this flight. It’s the last one! A mere 55 minutes and I would be on the ground in Dusseldorf. My long day would be over!

FINALLY!! I got up to the desk; the attendant issued my boarding passes and told me my flight was boarding at 9:05. “What time is it now?” I kindly asked. “Oh My!” she responded, “It’s 9:05 now.” “How far do I have to my gate?” I asked. “Oh not far at all,” she responded.

Okay, I think maybe the European definition of “not that far” and the North American definition are TOTALLY different.

Cut to the “race through the airport” scene I promised above. I hustled as fast as I was physically possible with my load, through security checks, up escalators, down moving walkways, declaring “Excuse moi!” the whole way until at LONG last we arrived at our departure gate.

This is when we were told, the plane was delayed and to take a seat as they were not boarding yet.

Yup, the powers that be love me THAT much!

Should I also mention that we then boarded a bus that took us to our plane, that was located right back in the same location the plane I had just disembarked and run halfway across the airport from, was parked?


Approximately 55 minutes later, we landed in Dusseldorf. I think I could have kissed the tarmac. After a brief visit with the lost luggage department…

What? You actually thought after all of that my luggage would have made it with me? Ya, sure. Not likely.

Anyway, after visiting lost luggage we excited out into Germany were my Dad was waiting to greet us. He took this picture…

He made sure we were standing in front of the lost and found sign. After everything, it seemed entirely appropriate.

And now you know why it has taken this long to get my feet under me again.

Glad to be in Deutschland. Until next time,


Monday, September 20, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

Our flight leaves at o'dark and way to early tomorrow morning, so in an attempt to sleep just a little bit longer, my sweet husband called Delta Airlines to see if we could check in tonight. After a quick discussion we were assured that customers are welcome to check in up to 24 hours in advance of their flight.


Cue to us quickly scarfing dinner, loading our luggage and Miss M. into the car and hotfooting it to the airport. After parking, unloading and heading to the Delta desk, we were told that although Delta Airlines does welcome it's customers to take advantage of early check in, at Portland Airport they are not equipped to hold luggage overnight, so...


At least we are ready to go at 3:45 a.m... (no that is not a typo, you read that correctly) we are leaving the house at 3:45 A.M. tomorrow morning. Ugh!


You better meet me at our gate on Wednesday morning with a GIGANTIC cup of coffee.

Anyone know where I can buy a coffee I.V.?


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Victory is Mine!

I closed "I want Fashion!Function can kiss my..." on the hunt for an umbrella stroller to compliment my beautiful AND functional carry on bag.

After a long search filled with strollers WAY outside my price range... I mean really people, it's a STROLLER not a CAR!! I finally lucked in.

I'd like to thank the lovely Craigslist seller from Battleground, Washington for my beautiful, extremely gently used and ridiculously functional UPPAbaby G-Luxe stroller. I got this amazing stroller for HALF the retail price and when I say gently used, I'm not joking. I think she used it once, maybe twice.

It contains every feature I could ever ask for in a travel stroller. It reclines, hopefully enticing Miss M. to take a few naps while we are on the move. It has a little storage basket, perfect for all our fun souvenirs. A cup holder for Mommy's Starbucks during our long journey. Large wheels for better shock absorption and handling on European cobblestone streets, and best of all, it weighs an astonishing 11 pounds! The lightest reclining umbrella stroller in the U.S.

*sigh* perfection!

No more hefting my monster of a jogging stroller in and out of my car trunk... I can lift this beauty with ONE HAND!!

So that clinches it. We are officially ready to go.

Watch out Europe, here come the Allen girls!!!!

Three more sleeps,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Toddlers on a Plane!

You want a scary concept for a movie, forget snakes on a plane, just load the plane with tired, hungry, anxious and seriously bored toddlers. Now that is a guaranteed freak fest!

In an attempt to avoid this chilling scene I’ve been avidly researching toys, games and tranquilizers to help my darling daughter get through the 15 (yes FIFTEEN) total hours of flight time ahead of her. A challenge for any mature adult let alone a little person with more energy then the average worker bee.

In my search (yup lists and research, it’s always a party at my house!), I found this amazing site. If you are planning to travel with your children it is a must visit. Delicious Baby is a site dedicated to tips and gear for travelling with children. I found fabulous lists of toys, games and tips for keeping my Munchkin busy on our marathon journey.

Here is the result of my research. A busy bag any toddler would salivate over.

A new dolly, books, pipe cleaners (suggested by Delicious Baby, fun for twisting and making bracelets etc.), crayons, a little flashlight (fun for turning on and off), a fan that lights up… FUN FUN FUN!!

And of course a few surprises made by Mommy.

My little girl LOVES to look at pictures. She loves pointing to the people in them and talking about who they are. So I made her a little flip book filled with pictures of her family. I’m hoping it will be good for a least a half hour of fun time!!

Ms. M also loves looking at faces and pointing out the features. Eyes, nose, mouth. So I cut a bunch of each out of magazines and mounted them on magnets. Combine with a simple metal circle and you have a fun face building game. I also included a few buttons and flowers to play around with.

All in all, I think Ms. M will be delighted. Starting with the dolly I will dole out all these fun goodies a little at a time throughout the trip. Best of all, it packs conveniently into a cute little pink backpack that I got at Office Max for $10. As you can see the dolly didn’t fit, so in a moment of genius I grabbed the leftover shoelaces my Mom bought for me when I walked in the Breast Cancer 3 Day last year and strapped her on.

Cute as a BUTTON!

One more piece of gear to obtain and we are ready to go.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life's Little Pleasures

Not much out there on the job sites these days, the dreary Fall rains of the Pacific Northwest have returned and Miss M was up all night last night. An early trip to urgent care this morning confirmed that my tingling mommy senses were correct; the dreaded toddler ear infection rears its ugly head.

Here’s your amoxicillin and have a nice day.

All in all it’s been a pretty CRAP day. So in an attempt to bring a smile to my face, I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to things that… well… bring a smile to my face.

Enjoy, and if you’re having a crap day too, I hope this helps.

My favorite time of the day is when my hubby puts the Munchkin to bed (and not for the obvious reasons known to all SAHMs). Bedtime in our home is Daddy Daughter time. Each night, Madeline blows me kisses goodnight and her Daddy takes her upstairs. They snuggle into her rocking chair, with her favorite blankie and chosen book, and her Daddy reads her a goodnight story. While they have their special time together, rocking and cuddling, I sit downstairs and listen to the man I love reading to our precious little daughter. I can hear them over the baby monitor. I can hear Colby lovingly acting the story out with enthusiasm and silly voices. I can hear his little girl squealing and giggling with delight over her Daddy’s cleverness. Then, when the story is finished, I can hear Colby carry her over to her crib, give her kisses and hugs and whisper “I love you Princess”.

Every night it brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is reading in the bathtub. I am a voracious reader. I love filling the bathtub with scalding hot water and reading until the water turns cold. Then I love filling it with hot again so I can read some more. While some children spent their allowance on candy and frivolous trinkets, I could often be found at the local bookstore looking for the latest installment of “The Babysitters Club”, or newest horror tale from Christopher Pike or R.L. Stine. My parents can attest to finding me many nights hidden under my covers, flashlight in hand, pleading to be allowed to finish one last chapter.

Not much has changed since those days. I can still be found hidden under the covers, with my book light, trying not to disturb my husband, while I finish that one last chapter.

I read for relaxation and enjoyment. When I pick up a new book I want to loose myself in the story. I want to laugh out loud when it’s funny. I want my heart to race when it is scary or action packed. I want to cry when it is sad or heartfelt.

While on a camping trip when I was thirteen, everyone else was asleep, and as usual I was awake with my flashlight finishing just one last chapter. I was in the middle of a particularly suspenseful scene in the story. I had completely lost myself in moment. I was so absorbed in fact that when finally the climax arrived I physically jumped in surprise.

It’s because of these types of stories that I am a slave to the written word.

I love life’s little pleasures…

• Sneaking tastes from the peanut butter jar while I’m waiting for my toast to pop.

• Watching “Wizards of Waverly Place”, “Sonny with a Chance”, “Hanna Montana” and various other Disney Channel shows meant for tweens, regardless of the dork factor.

• Using the excuse of having laundry to fold so I can lock myself upstairs to watch old episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on Netflix.

• Occasionally spending my daughter’s naptime doing absolutely nothing but surfing the internet, watching TV and daydreaming.

• Video conferencing with my parents and seeing the love in their eyes as they interact with their granddaughter.

Finally, I love reading my past blog posts. I know there are lots of writers and entertainers out there who can not stand their own work, but I love remembering when and why I wrote each post. I get a thrill ever time I see my writing “published” for the world to read. I am thoroughly enjoying experimenting with this new creative outlet and I hope you are all having as much fun as I am.

What are the little pleasures in your life?

Trying to remember to find joy in the little things,


Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to My Littlest Sister!

Today my baby sister turns 23 years old. I can’t say I know that many 23 year olds, but I’m pretty sure she is the coolest one out there. We met when she was 5 and I was 12. My Dad and her Mom were dating and it was time for the kids to meet. I’d love to say we hit it off instantly, but that would be a SERIOUS lie.

Only having a brother I hade no idea of the complexities of a sisterly relationship. I soon found out when I was put in charge of babysitting Myriam and her 8 year old sister Emilie, that sisters have WAY more to butt heads about then a brother and a sister. They fought about everything!

At my wits end as to what to do about the never ending squabbling, I asked my Dad for advice. His solution was for me to immediately send them to their rooms whenever they fought. No matter who started it, what it was about… no excuses, no exceptions. And so I put it to the test. One night they began to bicker about a set of markers and I nipped it in the bud, sending them both to their rooms.

Soaking up the silence I went into the kitchen to tidy up from dinner. Suddenly I heard something, a quiet, whispering giggle, followed by a door closing. Putting down the dish I was washing I went into the hall to investigate. The giggling got louder as I approached their closed doors, and then I saw it. A yellow post it note on Myriam’s door. Here is what it said,

“Mandy has big boobs”

Please keep in mind that this insult was coming from a 6 year old. To this day I can’t recall this moment without laughing out loud!

Myriam is my beautiful, talented and creative little sister. Her creations inspire me all the time. I love seeing the things she imagines.

She is quick to laugh and that laughter is infectious. Her smile is always genuine and heartfelt.

She's a little bit crazy,

And a little bit quiet.

She lives her life outside the box, always looking to be a little different, a little quirky, and most importantly having a little fun!

She bucks trends for trends sake. She is rarely a sheep, always being true to her own personal beliefs and style before following the crowd. She might not know 100% who she is yet, but she is definitely working on it! Searching for what makes her happy and then making plans to chase it with all her heart and soul.

In short I think she is pretty amazing. She is full of dreams and ideas, and I seriously can’t wait to see what direction life will take her.

So here’s to my sweet little sister. I really can’t believe you are 23! I still picture you as the little girl begging me to watch “Grease” or “Thumbelina” with you for the 100th time. Wherever the time has gone it is chocked full of amazing memories. I wish I was there to have a glass of wine with you to celebrate the day, but since I’m not, be sure to have an extra one for me.

Happy, Happy, Happy, Birthday Sweets!



Thursday, September 2, 2010

I want Fashion! Function can kiss my...

19 more sleeps til our big adventure across the pond and prep has already begun.

In my youth I was a card carrying member of the Procrastinators Club. I was always the student up all night before a project was due. I could be found busily knocking it out, often with unhealthy sugar infused food fueling my efforts. One time I ate an entire bag of Oreos while finishing an assignment. Just before dawn the assignment was complete, and I was experiencing a sugar rush that could easily rival any drug induced high on the market.

Any questions concerning how I gained my “Freshman 15+” are now answered, I’m sure!

Now, lists are my world. There is honestly nothing more satisfying then crossing something off of a list. I have lists for EVERYTHING! Needs, wants, to dos, don’t forgets… I’ll write a list and then re-write it. Condensing and expanding. Expanding and condensing.

I can see you nodding in ecstatic agreement Michelle, I know you would give me a high-five if you were here. Save it. I’ll be collecting soon enough!

So the lists for Germany have begun, and at the top for me was to find a great carry on bag. I wanted something big enough to carry all the paraphernalia I’d need to keep the Munchkin occupied, uber functional so I could grab and go whenever I needed and, perhaps the hardest part of all, SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT!

I know when you are a mom about to travel an enormous distance with a soon-to-be-two-year-old, fashion should not be your #1 priority, but I just can’t help it. It physically hurts me when I have to settle for something that is functional, but ugly as sin. Is it too much to ask to have fashion and function without having to slap down a mortgage payment to get it?

The first stop in my search was, a fantastic marketplace for crafters, collectors and those searching for something just a little bit different. I figured maybe I’d get lucky and find a bag handmade to perfection, or maybe something vintage. As with my crafting, in fashion I love to be unique. My favorite haunt as a teen was my local Salvation Army Thrift Store. I’d spend hours combing the racks, looking for something different, vintage and one-of-a-kind.

After hours of searching I hit pay dirt. I found it in a shop called BrightWall. OMG! It was just too beautiful for words! I could instantly picture myself, chic and sophisticated travelling momma, with this vintage bag hanging over my shoulder.

Be still my beating heart! I showed it to my hubby, bubbling over with glee from my find, expecting a husbandly, “Whatever you want.” Instead I got a great big rainstorm drowning out my parade.

His questions of practicality and functionality made me want to scream! Couldn’t he just read my mind and see my vision. Me, posh and pulled together, serenely pushing our precious daughter through the airport, carrying THAT bag! Ultimately, the endless questions finished with a compromise. He said we would look at the mall that weekend, and if I couldn’t find anything else I liked, then I could get the DREAM bag.

Determined to prove him wrong, the next day I hit the mall with my partner in crime and soul mate in all things esthetically pleasing, Jessica. I knew surely she would commiserate with my plight, help me stage a search of the mall, thereby allowing me to skip home and order the bag I was meant to have!

Except… my fashion guru, my style icon, my lover of all things artistic and beautiful, is NOT about beautiful handbags where function is concerned. As our search began she confessed that although a big part of her world revolves around fashion, she is unabashedly about function when it comes to bags for hauling her kiddo’s stuff. Her diaper bag is a simple black Eddie Bauer model, and although it has zero going for it esthetically (except maybe being black) she loves it because it makes her life easier.

As we walked into Macys, she advanced on a display of luggage on sale for 50% off. I wish I could describe the bags on display in beautiful flowery terms, but the only thing I can say about them is that they were definitely functional. Pictured below is not the exact bag presented to me by my dear friend, but really, they all look the same to me, so it will do.

UGH!! It’s just so plain and uninspired! On our search we must have found a million just like it. “Dude, it will be so functional. It will make your crazy long trip so much easier. You won’t be tearing your hair out. Dude, I don’t want a bald friend…” Jessica reiterated all the reasons Colby had given me (and then some). I knew they were both right. But, MY bag. My beautiful, vintage, Kelly green duffel, perfect in its uniqueness and character, was calling to me. Pleading with me not to cave. Not to give in to the modern and mind numbing. Urging me to be inspired and impulsive for once. Screw function and practicality, just buy the gorgeous bag!

But in the end I caved. I listened to my friend, and my husband and did the practical and responsible thing. I bought the ugly bag.

Being a responsible adult really sucks sometimes!!

In a mope I spent the evening staring at the offending bag. The bag I KNEW I would never use again after my trip. Colby said he really liked it. It was perfect. I’d be able to fit everything I needed in it.

“FINE!” I snapped “When I get back it’s yours!”

I know, all this over a bag, grow up, right? What can I say, I’m a SAHM, and I can’t help but leap at any opportunity to feel stylish. Mac and Cheese, snot and diapers just aren’t sexy!

So, I bought the ugly practical bag and that’s the end right? Nope. My goddess of the shopping find came through for me!

The next day Jessica called me, so excited she could hardly contain herself.


So sometimes you can have your cake AND eat it too.

One beautiful Sojourn Style Croco Weekend Duffle Bag in Merlot red, courtesy of Target for $39.99.

Now the search is on to find an umbrella stroller to match.

Wish me luck,