01 June 2009

Update On The Locals ;)

We're doing just fine here in Germany!! We're looking forward to visiting with my dad as he comes TDY to Europe over the summer... and getting to do a little traveling of our own!! In just 2 short weeks we're heading off to Rome for a couple days. It will be a short trip, but one we'll treasure forever. The Eternal City is not one to be missed, and not one you can experience just once! We've both been to Rome before, yet never together... so we're making it happen. We're diving into the culture, the locale, and the history that is stockpiled in the Eternal City.

On other matters, we're looking ahead towards Gabe's upcoming surgery date. The Army is finally taking care of their soldier; it only too 11 months. Gabe is doing well, and enjoying the new unit! As for me, my elbow is healing up just fine! I've been given a great opportunity to practice some of my ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) skills this summer, which will be a great use of my Spec. Ed. background! :)

The Rest of Venice...

We took a photography tour one early morning, which ended up being a wonderful walking tour, and a great opportunity to learn a few new skills! Both Gabe and I enjoyed our tour!! We spent each day finding new places to experience, unique foods to try, and beautiful art to adore! We found sites where our favorite movies were shot, and thoroughly enjoyed Venice as a whole. Though there is not a ton to actually go and see in Venice, it's a thrill to experience. Venice is all about the atmosphere! From the watertaxi ride into town, to the quaint bridges, constant gonalier cries, and general hustle and bustle of things, it's a wonderful city to experience!!

14 April 2009

Venice! Part 1

Venice is the one city in Italy that I save for Gabe!! We wanted to experience it together!! My favorite movie of all times is The Italian Job, which starts out in Venice! While we were there we visited the areas where the movie took place, and also stumbled across the courtyard where the last scenes of Casino Royale were put together.

As our first trip just the two of us since the end of the deployment we decided to take it slow. In Gabe's words "I vacation, you travel". In other words, he loves to go at a more relaxed pace, and when traveling alone (or with similar travelers) I can go for 18 hours a day exploring new places! This trip became a compromise of styles.

We drove the 8 hours from Mannheim to Venice (the cheap way to go!), and found it to be a gorgeous ride!! The scenery was breathe taking! When our little adventure started it was sunny in Mannheim, and as we drove south that sun turned slowly to gray overcast, then light rain, then torential downpour! Despite the rain, there was still snow in the Alps which provided a sweet relief from the dismal day outside. Upon arriving in Venice the rain let up to a slight sprinkle, which allowed us to get safely to our hotel without incident. That evening we walked around the area surrounding our hotel, got a feel for the neighborhood, and ate dinner in the corner of St. Mark's Square. A perfect beginning to our trip!

Our first full day in Venice we had no agenda really. We knew the sights we wanted to see, but we also knew we had 4 days to see them!! So, we spent the morning in St. Mark's, and then took the rest of the day to walk the city. We spent the day window shopping and enjoying the atmosphere.

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

We haven't update everyone in a while... so I guess it's about time, huh?!

We are doing well and getting back into a routine finally. Gabe has been home for 6 months, and work on his end is finally normalizing. He found out a couple of weeks ago that their first diagnosis downrange was right on, and had they no ignored it when he was medevac-ed to Salerno, things might have been fixed by now. Currently though, Gabe has stress fractures in both of his legs, and has compartmental syndrome in his right leg. The Army is working slowly to take care of these issues.

I am about half way through recovering from elbow surgery. Occupational therapy just ended, and I have my full range of motion back. At this point, it's time to work on getting my strength back slowly! Tomorrow marks my first day back at work since the surgery. Gabe and I have agreed that the 2 jobs I hold right now will be the jobs I stick with until we move stateside. They provide the flexibility and availability needed to get things done on the German economy, and allows me time off whenever Gabe is able to take leave.

We are planning to travel a lot this year, and hope that if anyone wants to come visit that you contact us soon... we'll only be here another year!!

04 March 2009

Are Wii Fit?!

Gabe and I have just started our Wii fit program, and though it can not take the place of true physical activity, it's a great place to begin, or even start at! It does give you a work out, and you can focus on different areas! The games are fun, but you can also go for a run, do yoga, and do strengthening exercises.

Once we're both back up and running in full physical health we're hoping to find the bike path that leads from our house to Heidelburg!! It's about a 20km ride... so we're looking forward to getting out in the German countryside!!!

We'll keep ya posted!!! :)

One Step Closer!

Yesterday we went to Landstuhl for yet another appointment. This time it was for my 6 week check-up. As the appointment went on my (LM) dr. decided that it was time for me to work on getting my full range of motion back. He wants me to fully extend and flex, as well as rotate my arm! Conclusion... I am no longer robotic!! They took my brace and kept it, so I have significantly fewer restrictions!! Time to explore the world of possibilities!! :)

Today was my first day of PT since getting it off yesterday. My PT peeps have decided that they can now be more aggressive in making my arm extend/flex/rotate... so it's game on!! To say the least, I'm quite sore, but it's progress!! No pain, no gain... right?!

01 March 2009

Our German Family.

One of the greatest blessings of living in Germany has been to get the know Bill & Pia. They are the owners of a wonderful, family-run, typical German restaurant. A friend found the restaurant just before Gabe arrived here as a single soldier and it became an EOD staple. When you come visit us in Germany you must visit. You are welcome in their restaurant and become a part of the family.

A typical evening out is 4 hours, at least. Within those hours though you are blessed to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Bill, and wonderful conversation with both Bill & Pia. Talks can vary from politics to German history, sports and education, to typical German behavior versus American behavior. It's always entertaining, always a blessing!!


A little slice of our life here in Germany!!

23 February 2009

Help A Family Adopt!!

Those of you who've known me for a while have heard about Kanakuk... a Christian athletic camp that I was a camper and staffer at .... and here's what one of the directors is up to:


Calling All Bloggers....LETS ROLL!
Ok everybody, here's a GRAND opportunity to do something AWESOME!!!
Most of you know, Jamie Jo and I are involved in an adoption fellowship group. It meets every month, and we've had an incredible journey getting to know families from around our area that are interested in adoption.

Well, one of the families that come each Thursday are the Gillmans. Bryan, Kim, and Jenna have been coming faithfully, as they've been waiting on their referral from Ethiopia. Bryan is a police officer working to help keep the city clean from crime, and his heart is as big as Texas. They both would love to open up their home to help the global orphan problem, and they've been on the the long journey waiting on that referral call.

Well, guess what?

They got the call.

Every family that's been involved in Adoption knows that the referral letter is the call you wait on, so you can go over and pick up the orphan child that's waiting on a mom and a dad. It's a moment of anticipation, and the Gillman's have been waiting a LONG TIME. Finally, there is a little orphan child that's going to have the chance of a lifetime to grow up in a loving home.
They waited forever...Got the call...Expecting to go and help One orphan...But Guess What!!

Last week, They got a referral for TWO!!!

So, as our group sits around to try and find ways to help people raise the money to fulfill their God given desire to help orphans, The Gillmans came up with a Wii raffle idea.

Starting tonight at 5:00, you can buy a raffle ticket on their website to win a Wii game system.

They wanted to do something that reached out and seemed more like they were taking financial risks as well as people who were willing to give. So this raffle is going to be for the game and all the proceeds are going to go to helping them raise over $10,000.

If you're interested you can participate on Facebook, just Click Here , or you can go to their website A Blissful Heart to buy a raffle ticket.

1 Ticket is $105 Tickets for $2515 Tickets For $50

What a great opportunity to pick up a game system for your kids, the neighbors kids, or whoever; while helping this family help kids from around the globe.

So I was thinking...


What if the people who read andybraner.com blogged on their own sites for the Gillmans this week?What if we created a cyber movement to help them pay ALL THEIR BILLS to get these kids back to the STATES?What if the news media picked it up?What if a Church decided to sponsor them?What if there were people out there that used their own networks to help the Gillmans?


If you have the desire to reach out and help this family, let's put together a network of people who take James 1:27 seriously, and can help the Gillmans bring their kids back home.
Let's make use of this blogosphere!!!! Blog on for the Gillmans sometime this week, and LETS ROLL!!!
Will you help?

18 February 2009

Awarding the Bronze Star to...

Gabriel Burkman!!

Actually, I had the honor of pinning Gabe with the Bronze Star he earned through this last deployment.


Sorry there aren't many pictures. We did the ceremony at the shop this morning, just the unit was there.

In Gabe's acceptance speech he honored our true hero: SSG Brian Studer, who was killed in action during this deployment.

15 February 2009

Armed Forces Network: Purple Heart Interview

Here's a link to the video link shown on AFN Europe, our "hometown" new! ;)

We are briefly in it after Gabe had been presented his 2 purple hearts. N. Williams did an interview with AFN, and did a great job!! He represented EOD well, and clearly described the feelings the ceremony brought about. This is not the ceremony that you hope for when you climb on the bus to head off to war; it's not the phone calls you want to receive as a spouse .... but nonetheless, it's an honorable and noteworthy medal that was well deserved by these men.

N. Williams (Willie) was Gabe's team member back in SC... and he was in JERRV with Gabe during the 3rd IED hit (in Feb). We're all glad to have them home safely!!

February 12, 2009
We're in the 2nd story, so it takes a few minutes to get to it.

12 February 2009

A Day To Remember!

Today was a day that I shall not soon forget.

Early this morning Gabe and I headed out to Coleman Barracks here in Mannheim, Germany, for a special awards ceremony. Today our 720th EOD soldier's were honored for their sacrifices... 4 of our soldiers were issued the Purple Heart.

This award brings a whole new realm of emotions to the table. This award is not something strived for, and yet is a great honor. It was a little awkward, no one really knew what to say.

Gabe was presented with 2 Purple Hearts.

All in all, during the deployment, 6 of our 28 soldiers were unfortunate enough to earn this distinction. The 4 soldiers that were present today, as well as Ryall and Studer. Ryall was injured and sent stateside in August (and has made a great recovery!), and Studer was KIA on the same day.

On Tuesday Gabe will receive the other awards earned during the deployment. He will be presented with the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge.

10 February 2009

Eady is off to Ft. Carson!

Well, I got to talk to one of the greatest women today... Eady!! Roy, her husband, joined the Army in Oct 2008, and he's just about to finish up AIT. They just found out that they are heading off to Ft. Carson!!

Both of them are from the South, so this will be a great experience!! Unfortunately though, Roy will be heading off this year for his first deployment too. Please keep them in your prayers!!

Roy & Eady... CONGRATS!!! I hope you take advantage of all the great opportunities that will come your way!! Dive in, and explore your new community!

31 January 2009

A Tid-Bit More...

I'm deleting the youtube videos from the side bar, but if you are interested... here are the links.

2 videos from deployment #3: Afghanistan (round 2)


Gabe at work!

It's Been A While...

Garmisch, Germany: Edelweiss Army Lodge & Resort
Ski Week and Gorge Hike

Rothenburg, Germany

Over the last couple months we've had family come to town and travel with us twice. Most recently, LM had surgery on her elbow. So currently, we're trying to get in the groove of normal life before BNCOC in April... while still taking it easy recovering from surgery.

Gabe is headed to the states for a few months over the summer. We're not sure if LM will be coming back since we're moving back stateside just a year later.

We have not reenlisted, but we have decided that we're going to do the career Army thing. It's the best decision, even though it does mean more deployments. It guarantees Gabe at least his bachelor's degree while in the service, and though it presents career challenges for LM it just means we'll have to be creative.

Right now we're hoping to move back to the states in 2010 and get stationed at one of the EOD school houses (Huntsville, AL; or FWB, FL).

That's all for now..... we'll keep you posted!