When we (Dan, Mom, Renate, Chuck and I) pulled into the Dubbe's driveway, I all of the sudden felt this nervous excitement.  I told everybody as I climbed out of the back seat, "Geez, I don't know why I'M nervous!"  When we walked in the front door, there began the trail of pink rose petals.  That pretty much confirmed my suspicions, but you never know.  I stopped by the little girls room (AFTER I took my shoes off, of course ;) as soon as we got back though so I missed the big announcement!

When I went into the dining room, Anni (Tim's girlfriend) and Tim were out on the porch so I followed them to see what they were looking at.  When I glanced over the railing, there was a huge German sentence dug out into the snow, all lit up with candles.  I was so excited and frustrated all at once.  Practically jumping up and down I said, "WHAT DOES IT SAY?!"  Timmy beamed at me and translated, "It says 'Will you be my wife?' "  (Commence screaming.)  AHHHHH!!  I flung my arms around Anni and we hugged and laughed and teared up and did all the girlie reactions that could be expected.  She immediately showed me her left hand and we squealed and laughed so more.  CHUCK'S LITTLE BROTHER IS GETTING MARRIED!!!!  (The 2nd to youngest brother.  Have I mentioned Chuck is one of 5 boys??)

When the whole fam finally met back up in the dinning room we all stood in a circle (I don't know why, I guess we were just so excited!) and Anni burst into tears.  So, of course, I burst into tears and we all started laughing.  Anni said (in German) "Group hug!" and hug we did.  

It was really, really amazing to be there to celebrate with them.  We all sat around the big dinning room table (I love their dinning room table) and ate pizza.  Side note:  Germans serve hard boiled eggs on their pizzas and their "pepperoni" which isn't the kind we usually have, is fantastic!  I think I can leave the egg pizza in Germany, though.  ;)  So anyway, we all sat there for a long time just talking, and laughing.  We were all so excited you could just feel the buzz in the room.  What an honor to be able to spend those precious moments with them.  It really was....what other word could I use but this....SO SPECIAL!  

So yes, Michelle,  you are correct!  Someone DID get engaged!  We can't wait to watch them get married this August....back to Germany we go.  WHOO HOO!

Congrats Timmy and Anni, we love you both very much!


For Sat 1/22

Can anyone guess what the mystery night turned out to be?!
P.S.  Your guess doesn't count if you already know the mystery! =)

Mysterious Evening

During our second week in Germany, Chuck's 2nd to youngest brother Tim asked if the whole family could leave the house on Wednesday night.  We all, of course, had our suspicions but upon interrogating Timmy, he wouldn't crack.  So on that particular night we all trooped out of the house, except for Jamie who was allowed to stay in her cage.  Dan, Mom, Chuck, Renate and I all piled into the car and went to visit Bad Kissingen.  This is another town they used to live in.  Though the night was frigid, the coldest night that stands out to me, it was impossible not to enjoy the evening.  What with being around family while exploring an adorable German town, it was the perfect way to "kill some time" while we waited on Timmy and his secret plan.

Our first stop was a bakery-cafe.  Thankfully it was warm so we were able to thaw out a bit.  Plus Dan treated us all to hot drinks and pastries.  Now I love Starbucks, and you all know where my loyalties lie, but Starbucks pastries don't hold a candle to pastries over in Germany.  Chuck and I shared some sort of flaky, gooey, nutty ensemble that went fantastically with my loose leaf hot tea, and his espresso.  The hot tea came in this clear, double-walled cup thing that was super cool.  Yes, I do realize that the majority of my posts are about food, but can you blame me?  It was all too good not to talk about!

After the bakery, we sauntered over to this huge building that is popular in that part of the country.  It's a place that people come to use the spas, find healing, attend a concert, or theater.  We walked by this interesting fountain that was flowing with "healing water".  It was just pouring freely and looked so enticing.  My family suggested I try it.  I should have been a little bit more in tune that I was the ONLY one curious about tasting the "healing water".  I leaned over very carefully, stuck my tongue out gracefully, and this putrid liquid washed over my poor, unsuspecting tongue.  I gagged like crazy.  And I don't even feel healed!  My oh-so-supportive family found this to be quite humorous.  I'm a fool.

After that it was finally time to order pizza, pick it up, and head back home.  We were all so curious and really excited as we anticipated what we might find upon arriving back at the house....

Cool sleigh at the spa/theater building place.

It's Worth It

The Doener.  It's worth 2 posts in a row.  Plus Renate is way too cute in this picture.  =)

Date with Renate

One fun afternoon Chuck, Renate, and I went out for lunch so I could experience a Doener Kebab.  Though actually Turkish in origin, Doeners are still a yummy German must-try.  Just thinking back on our little date makes me want to eat one again right now.  This was also where I got to try Schwip Schwap, a cola/orange drink.  I would liken a Doener to an enormous pita-type bread (so delish!) stuffed with meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and this fabulous white saucy stuff.  Oh and when I say enormous, I mean enormous.  Just my style.  This girl does not like to go hungry.  =)  While the three of us chowed on our meals, we just chatted the time away. 

Afterwards, we proceeded to shop in the quaint town of Bad Neustadt.  Since this is the town near where Renate lives, she was able to show us all the fun places to stop into.  Mueller was one of my favorite stores.  I think Renate giggled every time I tried to pronounce it.  We had many giggling moments over my horrible attempts at speaking German.  So Mueller is a 4 level Target type store, but it has much more unique items.  It was just fun to wander around in, smell a ton of perfumes, check out the chocolates, admire the expensive dishes, and chat along the way.  Renate is very easy-going and a joy to be around.  We have such a great time laughing and shopping.

Here we are in the middle of town, lazily wandering the streets....what could be better on a cold, snowy, German day?

Meet Wido

Wido (pronounced "Vitto") is the friend that Chuck has known the longest.  They met in 4th grade, which I find completely adorable.  We made arrangements to meet up with Wido and Lisa (his girlfriend) at Wido's parent's house.  The same house Wido grew up in and where Chuck spent many hours playing as a kid.  It was really fun to drive by the Dubbe's old house as well.  Finally all the stories Chuck has told me began to take shape in my mind.  Experiencing this quaint little German town was wonderful.  I have to admit, I never usually get car sick, but driving around in German villages brings car sickness to a whole other level. 

But back to Wido and Lisa.  Chuck and I were both pretty nervous to meet up with them.  Wido claimed to speak English well, but I found other people's definitions of "speaking English well" to vary a whole lot.  When we arrived in the town, Chuck was so excited, like a little boy going to an amusement park.  He was proudly showing off this old building and that old building, pointing out places they used to play or reek havoc, and happy to find Wido's parent's house the same as it had been all those years ago. 

Wido answered the door right away with a huge smile on his face, arms extended for hugs.  Very sweet.  Very friendly.  So easy to see why him and Chuck were best buddies.  My heart was just instantly warmed by his openness and obvious guy-bond with Chuck. 

True to his word, Wido DID speak English very well.  He introduced me to his parents and girl friend with flawless English.  I was thrilled to be able to communicate!  A unique German custom is that they all take their shoes off at the door.  People often wear "house shoes" (slippers) around.  True to the custom, Wido's Mom gave me a pair of slippers to lounge around in.  I have to admit, there is something about wearing my own shoes that gives me comfort.  Taking my shoes off at the door gave me a little sense of vulnerability for some reason.  I don't know why, but I like keeping my own shoes on!  Still, I found that custom to be very cute.

It was really enjoyable meeting Wido's parents.  Though I couldn't communicate with them, it was clear on their faces they were so happy to see Chuck and his Frau.  They even gave us a bottle of Gluhwein, whoo hoo!  The parents chatted with us for a little while, and then left us 2 couples to talk on our own. 

We all sat at this cute little nook table, that was already set with little dessert dishes and coffee mugs.  Another common German tradition is to have "coffee and cake" in the afternoon.  Now THAT tradition I could get used to!  The 4 of us sat around talking, laughing, and getting to know each other for a couple hours and had a fantastic time.  I LOVED learning about their culture, jobs, schooling, home life, relationship, and all our differences and similarities.  It was fascinating.  Lisa also spoke English well and was such a sweet girl.  What a special afternoon.

Fun facts you might not know about Chuck.  A lot of his life he was called "Charly", so Wido found it hilarious that he is going by "Chuck" now.  Germans  can not pronounce Chuck well, so Charly it was.  I loved hearing them say "Charly" all afternoon.  I also learned that little Charly had somewhat of a mean streak in him.  HaHa!  I suppose being one of seven kids, being mean to other kids was his way of getting attention.  Wido said he was never mean to Charly.  ;)

Like I said, it was a fantastic afternoon and I look forward to the day we get to hang out with Wido and Lisa again! 


It's fun to be silly.  Especially in Germany.  =)

For Day 7

The craziness of Sunday kept me from remembering to post yesterday.  Here is my "Sunday post"...

Chuck and Renate at the Christmas market.  This was such a cool place I just had to post another picture!  I thought the church in the background was beautiful and authentically German. 


On Wednesday, December 22, while we were in Germany, Chuck's oldest sister, Becky had her second baby.  Before we left for Germany, Chuck and I were totally packed and ready to head to the hospital (2 hours away) where Becky planned to give birth.  Becky had asked me to be in the room with her when the time came and I was so honored.  I really wanted to be there for her.  Obviously her husband, Dave was going to be with her, too but I wanted her to have my woman support.  God had other plans.  So it goes when it comes to babies.

So little Jaden came into this world on our third day over there.  The whole family was constantly checking Twitter and Facebook for updates.  When Dave first posted pictures we were all squealing, ooing, and awing over our precious new family member.  (OK, maybe just the girls were squealing...)  Then on Christmas day we got to Skype and actually see the new guy.  He is such a doll.

After we got back Chuck and I went down to visit for a couple days.  Thought I would post a picture from our time there.  Even though it wasn't taken in Germany, Jaden was very much a part of our Germany trip with lots of thought and love. 

The Boys

Growing up, I always thought it would be fun to marry a guy with brothers.  I had no idea I'd marry a guy who was one of 5 boys (as well as 2 girls).  As it turns out, it's a lot of fun having Chuck's brothers around.  And it's even more fun watching Chuck with his brothers. In this picture, Adam is holding the dog (Cute Jamie), Tim is standing behind Chuck, and Dan (Chuck's Dad) is the back left guy. 

Dan is one of those "Guy's Guy" kind of guys.  Know what I mean?  He likes to hike and climb mountains, work on cars, fix things around the house, ride motorcycles, and in his opinion, there is no worthy computer if it's not a Mac.  I appreciate that Dan has passed on some of those skills to Chuck.  Chuck has learned how to fix a lot of things around the house, including car stuff.  He is handy with tools which means a lot to me because so is my own Dad.  Chuck also has learned to be a strong leader because of his Dad.  He is a take-charge kind of guy and I love that about him.  I'm thankful for the things his own Dad taught him. 

Adam, the youngest brother, attends Liberty University and I've probably gotten to know him better than the other brothers.  Obviously because I've spent the most time with him.   He has stayed with us a few times and there have been many family gatherings together.  I enjoy Adam's humor.  He is also a great shopping buddy.  Adam is a talented artist and quite creative.  Most time spent with Adam consists of laughing and goofing off, which comes in handy during boring moments- waiting for certain family members to finish talking after church, for example.  Oh, and he always smells good, too.

Tim is older than Adam and most of the time they're like 2 peas in a pod.   Tim lives in Germany and attends a University there.  The Germany school system is confusing so I won't bother to try and explain it.  He is aspiring to be a teacher- physical education and English.  He spent lots of hours in the attic lifting weights (in the freezing cold, might I add), drinking gross protein shake things, and of course with the love of his life, Anni.  Tim is also very creative and won the award for wrapping the prettiest package on Christmas day.  He has a very sweet spirit and is a natural spiritual leader.  It's been awesome to see God work in his life since I've met him.  Oh and he spent about 9 hours in Frankfurt patiently waiting for Chuck and I to arrive (THANK YOU Timmy!).  More to come on him later...

I love the boys in Chuck's family, including Mark and Matt who we hope will be there next time we're all together! 

Frohe Weihnachten

This means "Merry Christmas" in German-  a phrase I came to know well.  Christmas day was really quaint, just how you would imagine Christmas day to be.  Lots of snow and all.  First thing in the morning, Chuck shared that his Mom had set out "Kristollen" which is another super yummy traditional German cake thing.  It could be described as a type of fruit cake, but in the States that would be considered disgusting.  Let me just tell you, this was no American fruit cake.  Kristollen is like a dry pound cake with some chunks of yumminess in it.  (Raisins?  Nuts?) Then it's covered with loads of powdered sugar.  Oh happy day. 

Chuck's Mom really is the ideal Mother-in-Law.  I love her so much.  I've learned recently that Christmas happens because of the MOM of the house.  I've seen it with my own Mom, and then I witnessed it with my MIL as well.  She was working all day to make Christmas happen.  From breakfast, to snacks, (She was always whipping some new snack item out of the pantry!  How do Moms do that?!), to drinks, to all the gifts she gave, to making the main meal, to dragging out the left overs later, and then off course, all the clean up.  Whew.  There is so much work to be done for Moms on Christmas day.  They really do make it all happen.  THANK YOU MOM! (And even though I wasn't home, thanks to my own Mama for all those years of making it happen.)

This was my first Christmas away from my family in 28 years.  It really couldn't have been more wonderful.  Opening presents with the family was truly tons of fun.  I absolutely loved seeing what gifts people gave to each other.  I love the thought that goes into each gift.  I guess that's why gifts is my main love language.  Gifts mean so MUCH to me and I enjoy watching others receive gifts.  It shows how much the family loves each other.  Since Chuck and the majority of his family are perfectionists, you should have seen the packages they created.  It's like a profession for them.  Unlike my family, we're ALL about the wonder of the GIFT BAG.

One of my most treasured gifts from Chuck's parents was a gift bag (I think the ONLY gift bag used that day, haha!) full of ornaments.  Each ornament had a story.  I so enjoyed hearing Chuck's Mom describe to us why she gave each one.  Some she hand-crafted (Poor Chuck, his wife does not have crafting skills like his Mother!), some were uniquely German, and some were made by another person.  Oh my soul.  That's right, ornaments that little Chuckie made himself as a child.  My heart just melted to the ground when I pulled out what is now my favorite ornament.  A clear plastic Christmas tree that Chuckie had colored himself, and the icing on the cake- his little Kindergarten picture glued to the front!  I could cry at how cute he was.  It was incredibly sweet, thoughtful, and generous of his Mom to give those ornaments to me.  I will treasure them always.

One final thought about Christmas day.  Tim (one of Chuck's younger brothers who lives in Germany) had his girl friend, (more to come about this topic) Anni join in the festivities with the family for the first time.  It was neat for Anni and I to share our first Christmas with the Dubbes together.  Though there was a lot of German/English translating going on throughout the day, it didn't stop us from growing more in love as a family.  Frohe Weihnachten!

Me, Mom (The Christmas Super Hero), Renate, Anni- the girls! =)
P.S.  The sweater and necklace I'm wearing is from Chuck's oldest sister, Becky.  She has amazing taste!  More to come on her later, too. ;)

Christmas Eve

Another very special evening.  I should probably stop saying that as pretty much every day we spent in Germany with Chuck's family was special.  It is worth mentioning that Chuck and I did not "sight see".  Sight seeing was definitely an option, but those types of outings don't particularly interest me.  What I desired to do was spend time with Chuck's family, doing their usual life things.  Sitting around the dinner table was my most treasured time.  We went to Germany because that's where Chuck's family happens to be from, the fact that it was a different country was just icing on the cake. 

Christmas Eve was my first visit with the church Chuck grew up with.  People that have know him since he was very young, and people that have watched him grow up.  It was really sweet to meet them.  This is the church where Chuck's dad (Dan) is a Pastor, the reason why the family is in Germany.  Chuck and I established a routine.  He would speak in German to them and I would listen for when he said "meine Frau".  On que I would say "Ich heisse Abby".  They almost always laughed in surprise that I was attempting to speak in German.  I also knew how to say "Merry Christmas" and "Thank you" which I said about a thousand times because that's pretty much the only German I was capable of.  I think they appreciated it.

So the Christmas Eve service was a "short" service- only 3 hours!  Yes, I jest.  Just wait til you hear about the following "regular" services.  =)  Anyway, this particular evening was interesting as it was my first time sitting through a German only service.  I found myself smiling and nodding like I actually knew what was going on.  HaHa!  I pretty much wandered around with a big grin on my face a lot because I wanted people to think I was friendly, even if I couldn't talk with them without an interpreter. 

What I really loved were the people that practiced their English on me.  One man in particular was absolutely adorable.  German through and through with the typical Lederhosen pants and all.  He came up to me, with his face just inches from mine and said, "  Merry....Christmas."  So cute.  I loved that.

After the service, the fam trooped back home and Chuck's Mom (Tricia) made a fantastic, traditional German dinner.  Oh how I love the food over there.  You may be able to tell in the picture, but we had German potato salad (MMM!!), Bockwurst- German version of a hot dog (totally opposite of an American hot dog!) with Broetchen (those fabulous crispy rolls) and this yummy mustard stuff.  Another wonderful thing is that Germans do not use ice.  They put out the cups, and then put the drinks on the table, making it much easier.  Every body just grabs what they want.  No one has to put ice in the glasses, or take drink orders.  And, almost every drink has fizz.  Apfelschorle was one of my favorite drinks- basically sparkling apple juice.  Even the water has fizz (that I was not as big a fan of).  Then, the Dubbe tradition is to have a birthday cake for Jesus, and sing to Him.  I really loved doing that. 

We had lots of laughs, good conversation, and just plain bonding time sitting around the Christmas Eve table.  I loved it.  Dan took this picture and I'm so glad he did. 

(Left:  Chuck, moi, Adam, Timmy, Jamie (the dog), Renate, and Mom)


Our first 2 days in Germany are a blur in my memory.  I realized during this venture that sleep is more important to me than food.  Never would I ever have come to that conclusion had I not been withheld precious hours of sleep the way we were traveling over there.  Of course, Chuck was snoozing away on the plane while I sat straight up in my seat fidgeting around like crazy desperately trying to find one possible comfortable position.  I kid you not I had a melt down somewhere around 2 in the morning, body clock time.  I was seconds away from bursting into droves of tears, ripping angrily at my cheesy airplane blanket, stomping my feet (yes I did) and about to scream (yes I felt like that) when a new movie started.  I resolved then and there that I was never going to be able to sleep again and I might as well deal with it.  Thus I realized sleep is more important to me than food- lack of sleep makes me a crazy person.  I believe this is actually a psychological and scientific fact. 

So onto happier days, once we finally got to bed in Chuck's parent's beautiful home, I slept for 13 hours straight, I believe.  Germans use these fantastic window covers called "rolladen ".  Thanks to them, not an ounce of sunlight was able to enter our room.  Blissful sleep indeed.

Our first outing was to the infamous Weihnachtsmarkt!  These Christmas markets live up to their reputation, and more! What a festive, fun, quaint way to enjoy the Christmas season.  We had a blast wandering around, stopping at tons of little stands selling German goods, and ate plenty of authentic food as well.  Including schupfnudein (potato noodles thingies), sauerkraut, bratwurst, brotchen (crispy roll), and gluhwein (spiced wine).  The gluhwein at the market was the best I tried.  They give it to you in this cute little mug.  You can return the mug and get some money back, or you can keep it- which we did.  We also ate roasted almonds which were unbelievably delicious.  We really wanted to try roasted chestnuts, but the stand had sold out.  Who knew there really were roasted chestnuts?  I thought we just sang about them for no reason. 

Since Chuck and I had been saving our pennies for quite a long time, we had the freedom to purchase little things that caught our eye.  There were stands that sold jewelry, ornaments, clothes, nick knacks, soaps, lotions, home items, and truly so much more.  It was a blast buying cute little things to remind me of such a unique cultural experience with the fam.  We found this one booth that sold items that were hand-crafted.  It was, by far, my favorite booth.  I think it was Renate's favorite as well.  We both found cute little items that we loved.  Chuck bought me a little felt flower pin that goes perfectly on my winter coat. 

This was definitely a special night.  The whole family (of those who were actually in Germany) was there together, but we split off into little groups.  Chuck and I walked around with his younger brother Adam (Sibling # 6, who will be staying in Germany until next Fall, taking online classes through Liberty), their friend Robert (who is the brother of our soon-to-be sister-in-law, Anni), and Chuck's youngest sister, Renate.  Renate and I always have fun giggling and shopping together.  She is such a sweet girl, which is fitting, since we just recently celebrated her Sweet 16th birthday.  I love spending time with her.

I am posting a picture that Chuck took of our little group right before we met back up with the rest of the fam.  I would say this night was one of the top most special nights.  It really just felt like Christmas...magic. 

2 Weeks

Our two week trip to Germany could never be captured into one blog post.  Our trip may, however, be captured in a blog post a day for two weeks.  I thought it would be fun to focus 14 posts in a row on our special trip, as well as 14 different pictures.  This is also a great way for me to stretch my writing muscles as they have been super dormant lately. 

Our journey started off pretty rough.  We realized on Sunday night (Our flight was scheduled to leave on Monday at 5pm) that my passport still had my maiden name on it.  Ugh.  After having checked and re-checked my passport's expiration date, it never occurred to me to check my own name.  As Chuck was checking our bags in online, he realized the name debacle.

God provided one solution after another and totally took care of the passport issue.    That is really an amazing story in and of itself.  Needless to say, about 3 and a half hours before our plane took off, I officially received my new (EXPENSIVE) passport.  Our Monday had started off at 5am.  We were just looking forward to "crashing" on the eight hour flight. 

Well one thing led to another and after about 7 hours we landed in Munich instead of Frankfort.  The snow was pretty bad so we were forced to wait on the plane for two hours and anticipated flying on to Frankfort.  Instead we ended up being told to exit the plane as our flight was now canceled.  LONG story short, we took a long, slow bus ride to Frankfort- which is where this picture was taken.  It is also where we did not receive our luggage.  Mine did come three days later, while Chuck's arrived less than a week before we left to come back home.  Poor guy.  He really did have the most amazing attitude and my admiration for his positive spirit grew even more.  All in all, from the time we landed in Munich until we actually reached Chuck's parent's was about 12 hours.  This picture was taken on our bus ride.  We hadn't slept for hours and our bodies were pretty miserable.  BUT, we were thankful we had each other and God certainly gave us a lot to laugh about!