Monday, January 30, 2012


We all have obstacles in our life everyday that we find a way to maneuver around. I ran into some (minor ones) on my way to pick up my daughter from school the other day and it got me thinking about my new years resolution (which I totally forgot to post here by the way!) 

Do you ever feel like once you get past one a whole new set crop up?

My resolution this year was to not let fear or anyone else's opinion get in the way of doing what I want to do. I want to be a photographer. Right now it's still a hobby but I'd like to make it more someday. Am I afraid? Definitely. I'm worried I won't be good enough. I'm worried people won't like my work (which is actually part of last year's resolution too, don't worry about what anyone else thinks of you.) There are many obstacles in my way. We're not allowed to accept money for pictures while we live here in Germany, it goes against the SOFA agreement. I also don't have many options for taking photography classes while we are stationed here. Of course money for equipment will most likely continue to be an obstacle even after we leave but I will keep practicing and keep learning all I can online.

 I'm just hoping I can stick to my resolution so I won't end up being the obstacle and if I keep climbing, eventually the sky will be the limit :)

Of course the next day when I went walking the same direction I found that the army had decided complicate things even further....

Thanks! Just what I needed ...
but then that's how life is right?  Just when you think you've figured out your path life throws one more hurdle at you. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future has in store. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy 29th Birthday Cathy

Today is my friend Cathy's birthday :) I got to thinking about how we had a birthday party for my mom who we couldn't be with this year. What if we had birthday parties for ALL our friends that are far away? An excuse to make cake? How could this be a bad idea? 

My husband used the new stand mixer I got for my birthday for the very first time and he whipped up a German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting. He's helped me out this week while I've been sick; cooking supper, letting me sleep late. He pretty much rocks. 

Here's the proof:

Happy Birthday Cathy!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The future of Baumholder

With the recent speculation in the Stars and Stripes that 2 major units are slated to be leaving Europe the Baumholder community has been questioning what is going to happen. 

To see the article click here

This comes after a mayor's luncheon December 12th where Lt. Col. McAdoo reassured local mayors and German military officials that "Baumholder is going to be a thriving community." He named an array of construction projects and quality of life projects in the works for Baumholder that come to an investment of half a billion dollars. (See the write up for more details on the projects)

USAREUR spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday that no official announcements have been made “about which units are leaving” or about “which units may be coming to Baumholder.” But, he noted, Baumholder is also one of the Army’s “enduring” installations in Europe. 

This contradicts information given at the mayor's luncheon by Lt. Col. McAdoo that "Baumholder is also planning on receiving three additional units that will boost the garrison civilian and military population slightly. The 720th Explosives Detachment, the 51st Transportation Company and the 421st Medical Battalion Headquarters are expected to arrive this summer. "I think that's a total of maybe 175 Soldiers and their family members."

Despite the speculation, “nothing has been announced,” said Command Sgt. Major Augustus Wah, the command sergeant major for U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder.
“At the end of the day, we’re here to support and execute any decision that our senior leaders at the Department of Defense and Department of the Army make.”

So where is this rumor coming from that the 170th will be leaving Baumholder? Why can no one say for certain that it isn't true? 

To quote from the Stars and Stripes article, "The military community in Baumholder numbers roughly 14,000, including families and civilians, according to base officials. Of the 4,500 soldier authorizations for the garrison, 3,800 belong to the brigade, according to USAREUR. It’s possible Baumholder could host rotational units in the future, or be home to Army logistics units from elsewhere in Europe, since USAEUR’s logistics hub is right down the road from Baumholder in Kaiserslautern, Anderson said.

So what does this mean for the town if the majority of soldiers and families are sent back to the United States? The local community's economy  depends heavily on traffic from the base. In a report published in 1995 it was estimated that the economic dependence was somewhere between 16.1-20.3 % but Sigrid “Ziggy” Zimmer, 52, manager of the base’s Rheinlander club estimates many of the 4,000 or so Germans living in Baumholder that rely heavily on Americans for their livelihood, from renting Americans apartments to shuttling them around in taxis would lose about 70 percent of their business. Some are worried that if the families all leave and Baumholder is left only to rotational units that it may fall way to bars and strip joints. People are left wondering why is the government investing this money in a base that will be reduced to a training facility? Why are the people affected by these changes the last to be notified? 

I'd like to point out that this isn't the first time this scenario has played out in our small town. Take note of these articles from 2004 and 2007 which question the fate of  Baumholder, and yet here we are again 8 years later....


Perhaps the media should stop the rumor mill until official announcements have been made. 

I'm pretty sure that my family will be able to finish our full tour here and we would be unaffected by these changes but I do feel bad for anyone who just arrived and are frantically trying to enjoy what they can of  Europe while the have the chance. There isn't anything any of us can do about the situation but "hurry up and wait." To quote a fellow Army wife stationed here with us, "Que sera sera. What Army wants will be..."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Prayers needed

I don't really feel up to a full blog post today (or the last couple days as you can see.) I caught a cold and it's been kicking my butt. I'd just like to ask that you take a minute and say a couple prayers for my friends and family.

My friend's daughter is having brain surgery tomorrow and their family has already been through hell. This is her second surgery in a very short time and her mother (my friend) has been in and out of the hospital the last few months with Leukemia. She is on chemo and is waiting for a bone marrow transplant herself. All this came about just after her husband had barely finished a tour in Afghanistan.

Also for  my sister in law who found a blood clot in her leg last weekend is now in the hospital with more clots in her lungs. Please pray for her and my niece and nephew and her husband to come through this. They have been through a lot lately too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Frank Gemeinhardt

After I posted my photos of Franz Jansen's home, I was searching for more information online and I stumbled across a website with the most wonderful photos! They are gorgeous. I love the website design, I love the pictures and turns out the photographer is a nice guy as well. I left a comment to let him know I liked his work and to get permission to write about him. In his reply he told me about an app called instagram. I loaded the app on my iPhone and started following him (like twitter, not in the scary stalker like way.) I started uploading some of my own photos and now I am totally addicted!  If you'd like to follow me on instagram search for hborstad ( But we'll come back to that another time. 

Here is the website I was telling you about.
Find him on instagram: search for "gemeiny"

Below are a few examples of his beautiful photography. They truly make me want to work harder and keep practicing. He has photos from all over Europe with a great eye for beauty in the abandoned and dilapidated. 

Eiche im Hambachtal

Photo license: © All Rights Reserved Frank Gemeinhardt

Gulls in Galveston Texas

Photo license: © All Rights Reserved Frank Gemeinhardt


Photo license: © All Rights Reserved Frank Gemeinhardt


Photo license: © All Rights Reserved Frank Gemeinhardt

Please check out his work and if you like it sign the guestbook and let him know. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mother's birthday and since we couldn't be there, we had a birthday party for her here. We made the ugliest cupcakes ever, little h drew her a birthday card, we made a pennant banner, blew up some balloons and donned our party hats. My four year old loved it!

Happy Birthday! We love and miss you!

Army wives, give thanks

Today's Army wives go through a lot and have a lot to complain about, but we also have a lot to be thankful for. We complain during deployments that we haven't heard from our husbands for a week or for a few days. It wasn't that long ago that wives had to wait for letters from their soldiers. They might go months or years without hearing from them. We complain when the internet is out and we can't Skype or our phone bills are high. I think we just need to stop and think about how lucky we are.

Those of you that know me, know my husband hasn't been deployed during the last 2 1/2 years. We got very lucky when we PCS'd to Germany that he got assigned to the unit he did. However, prior to us moving here we did our fair share of time apart. We were married before he went through basic training and AIT. That was the hardest 5 months of all for me. I wrote to him every single day and he wrote back as often as he could. (Somewhere in storage he has a box full of letters that is much bigger than the box I have from him, but my box is prettier! :) Then we moved to Texas where we spent a year together before his first 12 month deployment to Iraq. When he returned home we had almost a year and a half before he deployed to Iraq the second time.  I felt terrible for him having to leave not only his wife but his baby. He missed our daughter's first birthday. He was home a few short months and then he went back to AIT to reclass to a different MOS. (That took 5 more months.) As soon as he was done with his schooling we moved to Germany. At that point we had been married 5 1/2 years and we had lived together for 2 1/2 of them. This time in Germany has been such a blessing. It is the longest we have been together without a training mission, or a deployment, or TDY coming between us. It is even more important to us now that we have a daughter. I know how lucky we are right now. 

I sometimes wonder if spouses are as strong as they were in the past. I can't tell you how often I hear someone complain that their husband isn't home for lunch, or that they are going to miss valentine's day, or some holiday that most people don't even get the day off for. No, they are not going to let your husband come home for your birthday, or anniversary (unless you manage some awesome planning for R&R) You're lucky if you can schedule R&R for when you're giving birth. One of my best friends had their first baby while her husband was deployed. I can't imagine what that must be like. Her husband also came home wounded. I can't imagine how that feels either. She's got to be one of the strongest wives I know. I think instead of complaining about every trivial thing maybe we should just be thankful. Some families heroes don't come home.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tax time...

My facebook status the other night was that I kinda secretly like doing taxes. It got me thinking that since I'm secretly kind of a mean person (there goes the rest of my secrets!) that maybe I should have become a tax adviser or an IRS agent. That probably wouldn't work out though. I don't know if I could deal with all of the really dumb questions that people ask. 
I don't do my taxes long hand anymore. It's been a long time since I have done that! Anyone that sits and does the paperwork version I have to give you a high five. The new tax programs that are available make it so easy I don't understand why anyone puts it off? They ask you about every question out there and then do all the work for you. All you have to do is gather all your paperwork, input it correctly and answer the questions that pop up. Bing, Bang, Boom. Taxes filed, refund in 11 days. 

© Jcpjr |

I've seen a lot of questions popping up since our W-2's have become available. I have gathered a few links to help those of you with questions.The two biggest issues I have seen so far I'll save you some time and just give you the answers:

If you our your spouse is in the military you can file for free through H&R Block. Log into and then click on the link H&R Block at Home. You can always decide not to submit the return if you don't like the results. You also have free tax preparation available to you on base but you may have to make an appointment or wait in line. 

Did you know if you're deployed to a combat zone you automatically receive a 180-day extension for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refunds, and taking other actions with the IRS?

You may also qualify for additional benefits like excluding certain pays from your income, deducting non reimbursed expenses like moving expenses, travel expenses, or uniform expenses. 

Did you know if you move overseas and pay to move your family pet that you can deduct those expenses on your tax return? Make sure to keep all of your receipts. 

Here are some more tips for military members at tax time.

Once you have filed you can check the status of your refund here
Below is a chart showing when you can expect your refund based on filing date.

**update...I've been getting reports that you can expect a 1 week delay from the posted dates but have not found info online to confirm this or not. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Never Fail Banana Bread

For some reason I always feel more like baking when my kitchen is clean! Today we decided to make banana bread and use up those brown bananas sitting on the counter. This recipe comes from my mother in law.

Cook time: 30-35 min
Preheat over to: 350 degrees F

You will need: 
3 Bananas (mashed)
1 C Sugar
2 1/2 C Flour
2 Eggs
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 Tbsp Water
1/2 C Butter 

Melt together sugar, eggs, water and butter. Add remaining ingredients. Grease 2 loaf pans and bake 30-35 minutes. Bread will be golden brown on top when done. Check with a toothpick. If toothpick comes out clean it is done. 

The recipe says it makes two loaves, but they were pretty flat. I think next time I'll try putting it all in one pan and cooking it longer?

(We were out of toothpicks so I had to check with a butter knife and it looks like it got stabbed to death)


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winner time!

It's Saturday! Do you remember what's happening today? That's right. I announce the winner of the hat giveaway. Even though I didn't win the photo package I want to thank all of you that took the time to vote for us. You are the best.

Drum roll please.........

and the winner chosen by is ..........


I will be in touch with you to find out the specifics on the hat you'd like. For the rest of you, keep reading and maybe I'll do another contest in the future. I guess it's time for me to break out my knitting gear. It's been awhile and I might be a bit rusty at it so please be patient. 

Have you seen the lake?

I went for a walk today around the lake and I was quite surprised to find that it was gone! Someone stole our lake! 
This is what it looked like in October when we went to feed the ducks...

...and this is what it looked like today!

This was in October....

...and this was today! (see the mud?)

Where you would normally look over the edge and see a duck...

...just mud!

Not that there weren't still beautiful things to be seen..

p.s. don't call the polizei, I hear the lake was drained because of a contaminant. I was going to post the news story my friend sent me but the link was broken ;)