Saturday, August 27, 2016

Before the fall

Poor Peter. His birthday was going along just nicely until his mother interrupted the fun by breaking her arm at the actual party.

 A couple of days before, Jack and I went shopping together for gifts. I always like those rare days where I get time to focus on just one kid. Jack and I had fun searching through the German toy store. He also made note of several items he wanted for himself. We brought home our stash and hid it away. On the morning of Peter's birthday, I let all the kids wrap the gifts for their brother. I was hoping to avoid that moment when another kid gives in to jealousy by getting them involved in the giving. It worked.

I simply cannot fathom how my baby, my youngest is all of a sudden four. His bright eyes, and the dimple on one cheek when he smiles melt my heart every time. He amazes me with his insights and attention to the little details of life. What a blessing he is! Happy fourth birthday Peter!

"I'm four!"

Now he has his own scooter to keep up with his siblings.

best euro I ever spent!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yarn away

Well my friends, I will be carefully packing away my current knitting projects for the foreseeable future. Which is unfortunate in many ways, but mostly because it is my anxiety reducer. And right at this moment my anxiety level is mighty high.

Sunday was Peter's fourth birthday. He asked us to take him to the skating rink. So I bought him a pair of cute roller skates that fit over his shoes, along with lots of other little trinkets. Sophie has been here with us and it has been a joy to have all my kids together under one roof. So we all loaded up into the van and went to the skating rink. The big girls and I took turns shuffling around the rink with Peter. Anna and Jack are quite good skaters and Therese almost matches them in ability. So, when Peter took a break, Therese asked me to skate alongside her. We were having such fun, coasting around the rink. Then, I lost my balance and went down. Hard. I heard the bone break. I looked at my arm. It did not look like my arm because it was in such a funny shape. At the ER it was determined that even after reducing the fracture, it would require surgery. So, that is what I will be doing tomorrow. I am filled with anxiety and I cannot knit! Prayers are most appreciated.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

where we visit a castle

Today we did some cleaning up in the morning in preparation for a houseguest arriving tomorrow. Then, we packed up and headed out to the city of Cochem to enjoy a festival at the castle.

It was a good thing that we invited Olivia's friend Aaron along and that he accepted our invitation. My GPS decided to conk out about halfway there. He let us use his phone to navigate us the rest of the way. Note for next time...I am printing out written directions, just in case.

We spent our first hour in Cochem cruising around looking for a parking place. We ended up very, very far from the castle. But it was a beautiful walk, and one of the prettiest days weather wise in a long time. I chose to purchase some ice cream for our walk up to the castle. Wise choice, if I do say so myself.

After paying the entrance fee, we wandered and meandered and observed and tried our hand at things. It was a good, good day.

view of the castle from where we parked


getting close

inside the castle

I wish I knew how to draw on a photo because at the bottom of that vineyard is our little van. That is how far we walked.

making giant bubbles

even bigger bubbles

They each got three shots at a wooden target shaped like a boar.

He really got into shooting the crossbow.

These guys were quite entertaining in their dueling. There were also musical acts and jugglers.

We took a tour inside the castle too.

From the bridge on our way to the car.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Where I think about life, death, and how to make the most of our time

As summer slowly draws to a close and the new school year looms on the not too distant horizon, I have been in a somewhat contemplative mood. I am hopeful that the changes being implemented in our curriculum this year will naturally lead us into a life I wish for us. I want to foster a lively curiosity in my children in the world around them, how it works and how it came to be what we see today.

This week has been most out of the ordinary for our family. We have been up early, packing lunches, and heading out the door for VBS and theater camp. While I think it has been good in some ways, (the older kids have been most helpful getting the little ones ready and helping to pack lunches), I look with longing to the return of our mornings that are ours alone.

Realizing that we were low on bread, I got ready for the day and then walked down to the bakery to procure freshly baked bread. Have I ever told you that our village very much reminds me of my father's small home town in West Virginia? The landscape, the smallness, the slowness are all so similar, I find myself reminiscing quite frequently of my childhood summer visits to my grandparent's house.  As I walked down the hill this morning on the single lane road that is used as a two-way street, I drifted back to the summertime in West Virginia, sauntering down the gravel alleyway with my grandfather. With his pipe in his mouth, he never walked, he sauntered. The alley had well-worn tire ruts, with lots of potholes strewn about, usually holding a small amount of muddy water. We kids would either walk beside him, or maybe try walking along the top rail of the white wooden fence on the side of the alleyway. We would eventually end up at the small brick post office, and then, more often than not, would stop at the local ice cream shop.

Life was slow and it was all mine. We didn't have to tell anyone where we were going. We just explored. I remember standing with my eyes closed by the crick, just listening to the water run over the rocks, breathing in the smell of moss and old railroad ties that formed the footbridge.  I would lie in the damp, cool grass searching for a four-leaf clover. I would be hard-pressed to recall with such vividness any of my days in the classroom. That is why I am planning to spend less time at a table and more time experiencing the world around us.

We returned home this afternoon, tired and worn out. I had pictured myself relaxing for a bit before starting dinner, letting the kids just chill out too. But Anna's shrill cry of "Mama! I think Marlin is dead!" made me dash down the stairs.  Her fish was indeed no longer living. Little coincidences are seldom lost on me. On the drive home, we had listened to the chapter in the Ramona books where they had to bury their pet cat. After discussing whether to bury or flush, she decided to flush. But she just could not do it herself. I really had a hard time too, but I gently laid him in the toilet, closed the lid, closed my eyes, and hit the flusher. I hit it again for good measure. Then Peter lifted the lid and confirmed that Marlin was on his way to a better place.

And now, I think that tonight is definitely a 'mustgo' night for dinner. As in 'everything must go that is in the fridge'. That way, we have easy cleanup and can go on a walk and talk or explore or just contemplate life in the fields of rural Germany. Too bad I don't smoke a pipe ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yarn Along

I am late to the yarn along this week, but I hope you will forgive me. Jack had Altar Server Boot Camp this week, which meant I had to have everyone ready to be out the door by 8:15. I realize that doesn't seem like a big deal to most people, but to this mama, it is. We have been getting to bed late because the sun doesn't set until sometime around 10:00 pm, and I can't blame the kids, for my internal clock is just as confused. So early rising is quite the challenge.

But onto the knitting. I am working on my "Heathered" cardigan. I always try to learn some new knitting skill with each project. This time, I tried "spit-splicing" my new skein of yarn to the old one. It worked beautifully and there are no ends to weave in! A big plus in my book. I will try to link to the Youtube video I watched to learn this amazing technique.

I just finished reading David McCullough's "The Wright Brothers". I really enjoyed this book. I was so inspired by the incredibly good character of those men. They had integrity, something I truly admire in people. Not being swayed from your moral compass by those with more power and wealth. I can only hope to instill such good character in my own children.

Joining Ginny, as usual.

The spliced section is on the tile, the new section is on the wood. You can tell that it has been felted together, and I was a little worried about how it would look when actually knitted into the garment.

The spliced stitches are on the joint of the needle.

I have divided for the sleeves and am working on the main body of the sweater.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Lazy Days of Summer

The weather finally has decided to act like it is, in fact, July here in Germany. Up until this week, we had not broken 80 degrees. Most nights were in the 50's.

Today, the sun was in abundance, with nice puffy white clouds dotting the brilliant blue sky. And we went above 80 degrees! With the promise of a trip to the Dinosaur Park, the kids quickly did their morning work and right after lunch we headed out. Tony even called to say he could join us there in the afternoon. The kids splashed in the creek until Tony showed up. Then we headed over to the miniature golf course. The last time we tried, there were many tears over the lack of skill. This time, though no one's skill had improved, the mood was cheerful and lighthearted and we had a great time.

working on his form

A perfect day

The first of many water shots, some accidental, some deliberate.

"Where did it go?"

"A little help please!"

"I will do it myself."

I kept thinking of Tom Hanks in "You've Got Mail" when he took the kids to the amusement park.

Keeping score.

Rescuing another water shot.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yarn Along and other things

With all the recent travelling we did, one would think I had a lot of time on the trains and planes to knit. One would be wrong. Travelling without a husband with four kids means you are on call all the time. I think I knit something like 5 rows of a sock in two weeks. Oh, well. I made a baby gift once I got home and finished that up a couple of days ago. That left me with that partially knitted sock ( I don't know when I will finish that. It could be an UFO for quite some time). I bought some yarn on sale over six months ago with the idea that I would like to knit myself a cardigan for the fall that would be soft and warm and be my go-to sweater on chilly evenings. It had to look good paired with jeans, too. After much searching for the right pattern, I think I have found it. I cast on yesterday and so far, I think I made the right choice.

Baby gift

Newest project on the needles, my cardigan.

As for reading, well...I have tried several read alouds with the kids that have not captured our attention. For myself, I have been reading David McCullough's "The Wright Brothers" at approximately one page a night, which is as far as I get before falling asleep! Not because it is boring, on the contrary, I really like it, but because I am so tired when I finally get everyone in bed. It does not get dark here until well after 10:00pm, and their little bodies just can't seem to fall asleep if it is still bright daylight outside.

In other news, we all caught something while travelling. Anna was ill on the trip, but since returning, Tony and I have succumbed to a  horrid cold with a hacking, annoying cough. The kids seemed to get a milder version, except for Therese. She has developed a rash that looks way too much like Chicken Pox. She has not been vaccinated for that yet, so it is a very real possibility. We are currently awaiting the results from the lab.

Tonight, Tony had a gig and was not home for dinner. I have been so bored with our usual cuisine that I sat down for a while on Foodgawker to see if I could find something new. Tony hates rosemary, calling it sticks and twigs, and promptly poo-poos any dish that mentions the stuff. I love it, though, so our dinner tonight was deliciously new and amazing and had tons of rosemary in it! Here are the links to the chicken dish and the potato salad. I changed up the potato salad a bit. We did hard boiled eggs instead of soft. We added feta instead of blue cheese, only because it is what I had on hand. Anna has made a lovely dessert that we will enjoy in a bit, after our dinner has digested a bit.

The baby gift. Isn't she adorable? I will have a hard time giving her away.

That is about all for now. Go check out Ginny's blog for more knitting and reading or just go soak up the sweetness of her new baby!