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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): September 2010

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Drain Just ......Stinks!

I debated whether to even talk about stinking drains...I am such a meticulous housekeeper and cringe at the smell of my kitchen and one of my bathroom drains pretty much every morning when I walk by.  You see, I finally figured out that Belgium doesn't quite have the same plumbing building codes let's say we had in Germany....or the US.  As far as I know, there is no code saying you need to have an S-trap, U-trap or any alphabet trap in your plumbing that traps water and prevents the sewer smell from coming back up into your home....or for that matter, bathroom venting is unheard of mostly, so you open up a lot of windows, even in air your place out (and to keep the mold and moisture at bay...yes, Belgium is a wet and clammy country)...what is going on?....sigh.  So, here I was...burning candles....motion detector Air Wick sprays (yes, the PX over here has these)...and seriously CLEANING out the sink with bleach and such before we went to bed every night (no, you're not supposed to pour pure bleach down ANY drain)...not something I would normally do, this daily intensive cleaning regimen....but now that I understand it better, barring getting the landlord to redo the plumbing, I've come up with this.

I gathered from some other hausfraus that since bacteria will grow in your drains and collect over time, you have to regularly get some enzymes down there, that eat this bacteria and also regularly have some kind of water flow (so use your sinks daily to keep sewer gases from coming back your way).....once you get the bacteria under control, you'll only have to do this task about once a week.  I had already tried the vinegar (or lemon juice)/baking soda trick, but it only lasted so long.  So, of course I looked for products in our local French....deciphering which ones can be used for this purpose.  It turns out there is a whole slew of them, even some no-name the GB...and they do work.

My favorite that got rid of all the smells and turned my drains into shiny white is called "Destop" OdorStop.  Try two capfuls once a week, and don't run the water for thirty minutes after pouring the gel into your drain...and that's it!

What quirky cleaning things have you found over here?  Anyone want to talk spiders?  I'll save that for another post...

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

They got my back (and yours too)....

I just watched some mindless drivel action know the ones where the guys are running through wherever with their guns and the one guy says to the other "I got your back"....and it got me thinking (please continue to follow along here) about a blog I was reading the other day.  It was a blog about a young Christian American family that took a leap of faith to come over here to live in Belgium.  I read about all their trials with their "it's not possible" Belgian bureaucrats and talking to three or four different people and getting a different version of what you are to do next (and even though the wife is an American, her husband is a Belgian citizen...guess that doesn't help him either apparently!).  So, it got me thinking....

As much as we....or speaking for myself, I....complain about things around here and it NOT being like the US and NOT being like Germany or anywhere else I've lived, we have the absolute certainty to know that our military spouse WILL have a job and that we DO have a support system here on SHAPE and Chievres Air Base.  We even have a team of military lawyers who give us "free" advice and translators at ACS and elsewhere that will translate our documents for all the services available on base.....our support network with our coworkers, not just from the US, but also from other NATO European countries....what is there ever to complain about?  AND we can even buy American products tax-free on base....we are spoiled.

This particular post I read on this blog really hit home for me and made me realize I'd better be thankful for what I have going on here AND to really look up to other Americans, over here on their own and doing their own thing too. 


Monday, September 27, 2010

Sometimes, I don't like it when they are so smart....

I still remember when my then 7 year old showed me he was smarter than me....humbling is an inappropriate word.  Anyway, I thought I was pretty computer savvy, and he again pulled one over on me.  You know how the schools have site blocking software on all their computers?  For the most part, most kids don't seem to mess with it, but I guess there are always a few that don't leave things alone.  I'm guessing my son is one of them but with good intentions only.  My son ended up being able to access most of the sites he access at home....which is why I let this one go....he tells me he checks email and does his stories on Fan Fiction....but I still let him know I am watching him!  Here's how to access your favorite sites when you really need to.

Amazingly enough, most of these site blocking software packages do not take into account the mobile version of the website.  So, if you want to check your mail at Yahoo or Hotmail, and your work or school computer won't let you visit those sites, type in the mobile version of it (find the link on the homepage of your favorite site) or type in "m" or "mobile" after the "www" on the address.

No, I'm not telling you to do something dumb, immoral or illegal or go to sites you probably shouldn't go to or use up your employer's time....or your schoolwork time (please ask mom or dad first)....just sharing a little something to make you...hopefully...more productive in the long run!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chateau for Sale.....Cheap!

Chateau at Attre

There it is again....every time I go to the commissary, I pass it by...and every time, I try to get a good peek through the big wrought iron little dream chateau....that happens to be for sale.  Why is it that every village and every so often in the middle of nowhere, a big imposing wall hides yet another chateau, straight out of some fairy tale?

Coming from Germany, I know've got the Rhine and Mosel River castles perched on cliffs, many now tourist attractions...the palaces in some of the older German cities and of course everyone's favorite castle, Neuschwanstein, which Walt Disney used as a model for his castle....but nothing prepares you for driving through a country that looks like it was left in the last century (at least Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium looks like this).....bumpy pot-hole filled roads and ditches as deep as your car is high...and then turning a corner and almost driving off the road at the absolute stunning beauty and outright richness of the chateau that just appeared out of nowhere!  I love it!

I can just take a day, driving in the countryside....our SHAPE map of the area BTW, also has each chateau marked, so even if you don't know where they are, you can quickly find them.  Most are still in private hands.  I can think of one near Chievres Air Base, Beloeil, that has been in the same family....many, many centuries ago, since it was first built!  Wow!  Many of these former nobles are also into preservation and sharing history and will open parts of their chateaus to tourists and locals on Sundays and public holidays, such as Chateau Attre, also by Chievres.  This one even has the original furnishings from the 1700s, and I believe it's the only one in Belgium that can say that.

Why are there so many chateaus?  Germany doesn't have all these chateaus or castles....France...yes, to an extent, but not so much as Belgium with the highest concentration of castles per square kilometer....why?  Mostly during the time of Charles V of France, there were tons of nobles and rich counts and dukes of the court and since the massive stone was readily available, imposing castles were built to impress all the neighbors.  Many of these chateaus were built during the 17th and 18th centuries and remember...there was no Belgium or the Netherlands...this area was known as the Low Country with tons of dukes and other nobles who ran their own city states and villages.  In our area of Belgium, I believe you can count almost two chateaus PER VILLAGE...that's some statistic!  Isn't it wonderful that most are still standing?  AND that you can visit at least 400 of the 3,000 chateaus in Belgium, as they are open to the public.  Hey, our church is even having the youth group do a lock-in at a local chateau, and it's not unusual for organizations and units to rent rooms for events...I just went to a wives coffee at a chateau (where else can you say that?)....or you can even stay at them overnight, B&B style.

Even with all this access....I can still dream of my own chateau, so take a look at this one that's nearby....if you can afford 1.2 million Euro....why not?

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