Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Catching up 

When we lived on the east coast, it wasn't uncommon for our kids to have birthday celebrations that stretched over a period of several weeks. First, they would have a home celebration, which would usually be followed by small parties at their grandparents' houses. Fred's homecoming has been a lot like that, a veritable festival in honor of Fred. A Fredstival.

The Season of Fredstivus began with Fred's redeployment from Iraq and continued through his parents' surprise visit. Last week we all piled into the van and made an overnight trip to the Black Forest so that Fred could pick out a German clock, which was his promotion present from me.

We spent the night in Freiburg, where I had spent my last semester in college back in 1987. We did a little sightseeing in the town square and visited the huge cathedral:

It's pretty impressive on the inside as well, with lots of beautiful carvings and amazing stained glass:

Then we drove out to neighboring Littenweiler to our hotel:

We read, took naps, played with our Gameboys (OK, so that was just Mike and Annabelle) until supper. The food in the hotel restaurant was every bit as good as I remembered it, and we stuffed ourselves.

The next morning, we headed for Triberg to find the clock. Fred is a very speedy shopper and after about a half hour in the House of 1000 Clocks, he had made his selection:

As we drove out of town, we stopped and had our picture taken in front of what is allegedly the largest cuckoo clock in the world. I call this photo "4 Big Cuckoos and Their Clock":

Once we got home from the Black Forest, we threw ourselves into preparing for Fred's promotion ceremony and party on Saturday. We rented a huge fest tent and picnic tables for the back yard and hung our neighbors' enormous American flag from the balcony to act as a backdrop for the promotion. COL Jim Pohl did the actual ceremony and said a lot of very nice things about Fred. Then his dad and I pinned the eagles on his shoulders! In this picture, I am soliciting dares to pound the birdie into Fred's shoulder--just to make sure it sticks, you know:

Fred got a little choked up afterwards when he gave his speech and talked about how everybody in the Army exists for 1 purpose alone, which is to make sure that some young soldier who is charged with holding ground has what he needs to do his job. I got a little misty, too, but mostly I couldn't stop smiling, because I was just so darn happy. Fred surprised me with a bouquet of roses, which was definitely a sweet touch. Here we all are together right after the ceremony:

Once the formal portion of the evening was over, I was able to kick back and enjoy myself. The guest list read like "This is Fred's Life"--we had several of the captains who worked with him this past year in Iraq, and we even had someone who worked with him when he was in Germany as a captain. Old friends, new friends, red friends, blue friends. We all gathered together to share in celebrating Fred.

Happy belated Fredstivus!

Happy Fredstivus!! Wish we could have been there for the celebration. Enjoy the rest of your German tour!
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