E&B 2011 Highlights (a.k.a. The Christmas Letter!)

2011 has been another exciting year for us here in Hohenfels, Germany. I’ll just jump right into the details!

January

The year got off to a rather bad start when our townhouse neighbor turned off her heat before leaving town and her pipes froze. We spent most of the first few weeks of the year dealing with fans, dehumidifiers, and the general mess that the water left behind. Thankfully, nothing of ours was damaged.

I started my second year at the Hohenfels Tax Center on January 10th. Two days later, Brandon deployed to Afghanistan. He was in Kabul for five months as the Liaison Officer for the Joint Multinational Training Center.

I also finished the coursework for my Masters in Accountancy at Stetson University. After a year of intense online classes, it feels great to be done with papers and group projects!

February & March

While Brandon was gone, I stayed busy preparing tax returns, fulfilling my Treasurer duties for the Hohenfels Community and Spouses’ Club (HCSC), providing services as the Catholic Musician, and spending time with friends.

Meanwhile, Brandon found life downrange quite boring. He spent lots of time researching the new Home Theater PC that he would assemble when he got home!

April

With the warmer weather, life definitely started getting busier! My parents came to visit for about 10 days right before Easter and we traveled to Heidelberg and Colmar, France.

May

Brandon came home from Afghanistan in May! To celebrate, we traveled to Marostica & Nove, Pisa & Lucca, and the Cinque Terre in Italy. This trip was one of the best we’ve taken. We loved the scenery, the people, and the delicious food & wine!

June

After our trip to Italy, Brandon started his new job as the Executive Officer (XO) for the Badger Team, the Counter-IED training team. Taking this job kept him out of the Plans shop!

I also started something new, playing clarinet with the Symphonisches Blasorchester der Stadt Regensburg. In English, that would be the Regensburg Community Band!

July

July turned out to be another super busy month! We had planned to travel to Hallstatt, Austria, over the July 4th weekend; however, we learned that my Grandma Lamb passed away on July 1st. We quickly made plans to fly back to Iowa for the funeral. While the reason for flying home was to mourn, we were celebrating the birth of our newest niece at the end of the trip. Emma Renee Fasse was born on July 8th and we were able to meet her before we had to catch our flight back to Germany.

We couldn’t spend any more time in Iowa because we had visitors coming! Brandon’s sister & brother-in-law, Gillian & Ryan, their one-year-old daughter, Elena, and Brandon’s mom, Linda, arrived in Munich two days after we did. They were with us for two weeks and we showed them a lot of Bavaria! In addition to the Hohenfels area, we visited Neuschwanstein, Regensburg, Munich and the BMW factory, Bamberg, Rothenberg, and Kelheim. Along the way, we also got to spend several days with Ryan’s college roommate, Dan, and his fiancée, Ines.

August

Since the spring, I had planned to go back to Iowa in August for Emma’s baptism and Hannah’s 4th birthday. I enjoyed being home for happy reasons this time. It was also fun for this former 4-H’er to attend the Iowa State Fair again! I was also there for Hannah’s first day of 4-year-old preschool.

September

Over Labor Day Weekend, we took our postponed trip to Hallstatt, Austria. We had a wonderful, relaxing weekend in a gorgeous setting!

Brandon started traveling more for work doing site surveys and observing international trainings. In September, he traveled to Slovakia and Macedonia.

The end of the month was also busy as I volunteered countless hours at the HCSC Community Bazaar as the Silent Auction/Raffle Co-Chair. My beautiful custom-ordered dining room table also arrived the same weekend. Then, September 30th was my last day at the Tax Center for the season.

October

Brandon traveled to Spain at the beginning of the month to observe some training and I was able to join him in Madrid for Columbus Day Weekend. We had great weather and took the opportunity to attend a bullfight…it was definitely an experience!

November

It seems that the end of the year is always our busiest travel months! At the beginning of November, Brandon went to Latvia for work. Then he had to attend a conference in Brussels, Belgium. Since I wasn’t working, I took the opportunity to go with him and enjoyed four days exploring the city with another spouse that had also accompanied her husband to the conference. We came home with a car full of beer and chocolate!

At the end of the month we were in Budapest, Hungary. We were pleasantly surprised to find a restaurant serving a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving; although it still wasn’t the same as a home-cooked meal! We also enjoyed the thermal baths and the start of the Christmas market season while we were there.

December

And finally we made it to December! My parents came to visit us for another two weeks in order to experience the Christmas Markets themselves. We visited more than 14 markets in Amberg, Nürnberg, Regensburg, Munich, Rothenberg, and Dresden. We became quite the glühwein experts!

Now we are preparing for our last two trips of the year. We are going to Mallorca for some sun before Christmas and we’ll be learning how to ski in Garmisch-Partenkirchen between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Be sure to check back to read about those adventures!

Thank you so much for reading my blog throughout the year! The New Year will surely bring us new experiences as we move to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2012!!

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Coming Soon…

Our 2011 Year-in-Review will be posted soon!! It’s been an eventful year, so look for the executive summary (aka the Christmas Letter) within the next few days.