Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Yarn Along

On the needles:

A shawl for a friend. I am close to finishing the knitted part. Then there is a crochet edging. I am a little nervous since I rarely crochet and am not that confident in my ability to do so.  I was also worried about reading the pattern from a chart. That has been going quite smoothly, praise God. I am contemplating buying some actual blocking mats and pins for this project, instead of my usual haphazard method of blocking it on the mattress of my bed.

On the nightstand:

"So Big" by Edna Ferber. I actually just finished the book, which Ginny had recommended on her "happy reading" list, and I really enjoyed it. I have another of her picks on the nightstand, ready to start.


this is very close to the true color of the yarn, which a very happy vibrant purple!


Joining Ginny as usual.

Monday, March 23, 2015

peace of heart

From the Magnificat's "Reflection of the Day":

"The first goal of spiritual combat, that toward which our efforts must above all else be directed, is not to always obtain a victory (over our temptations, our weaknesses, etc.), rather it is to learn to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances, even in the case of defeat."

-Father Jacques Philippe

Umm. Yeah. I am a total and complete failure at maintaining peace of heart. I forget every single day to ask for the graces needed to stay peaceful amid the hardships. I forget every single day when faced with the smallest annoyance, to turn to Him. I start out with the best intentions. Then I get out of bed. I may even get the coffee made with a peaceful heart. But then my day starts in earnest and I falter, I flounder, I struggle. I am anxious like Martha. I desire to have the peace of Mary.

Father Philippe continues,

"It is uniquely the grace of God that will obtain the victory for us, whose grace will be the more efficacious and rapid, the more we place maintaining our interior peace and sense of confident abandonment in the hands of our Father in heaven."

As I pondered this reflection this morning, I thought in songs again. Music is a balm for my soul. I found the track I was looking for. Audio Adrenaline's "Get Down". If I was a savvy blogger, I would link you right to it, but let's be real. I don't know how. Anyway, it did help me find some focus. At this point, I had finished the breakfast dishes and was kneading the bread dough, so I just let the music play. Next was "My Favorite Things". Really, who can stay down when Julie Andrews sings about "Silver white winters that melt into springs"? Just that image alone brings hope. So, now I am thinking I need my own list of favorite things. One of them happens to be kneading the dough that is to become freshly baked bread. Another one happens to be how the aroma of that bread fills the house and heart with a cozy feeling.

Through Sousa's marches, bluegrass standards, and Roger Miller singing "King of the Road", I felt refreshed and lighter in spirit. I wish I could say that feeling stayed with me, but I would not be honest if I did. I left the dough to rise, walked into the classroom and poof, I turned back into the struggling, not so nice person that I detest. This is where I wish I could just give myself over to God with confident abandonment, like a giant Nestea plunge. Fall into His hands and let his grace stream down over my soul, washing away every little anxiety. Yet, here I am, on the edge, not able to let go.

It is so gray today. The leafless trees stand starkly contrasted against the too gray sky. No sun, and I am chilled from my toes to my nose. I am trying to find the courage to let God in and fill my soul with the sunshine and color and warmth that the grayest day cannot hide.





Thursday, March 19, 2015

Travel Log

Friday March 13, 2015

We prepare to leave for a four day trip. We have booked a small apartment through Homeaway.com and we I am hoping to save money by eating in as much as possible. I made zucchini bread for breakfasts and froze it. It will keep the other food cold in the cooler. So will the sweet and sour chicken I also froze. I brought along the crockpot too. I brought some things from our pantry, including my coffee pot and coffee, but since there will be a Commissary nearby, I decided to buy most of the ingredients once we arrived. Of course, food is part of the experience, but we decide for lunches rather than dinners.

We arrive in Garmisch and check in and then hurry over to our good friend's house to have dinner with them. After catching up, we head back to the apartment for some sleep before the adventure begins.

This is near Sembach, where Tony is stationed. It is mostly farmland and rolling hills.

The mountains suddenly appear through the fog as we get near to our destination.

There is a castle to explore up there and that line across the picture is a footbridge.

Those are people using the footbridge. I will not be one of those people. 

Saturday March 14, 2015

We spent a leisurely morning at the apartment. The kids played with the owner's dog. I admit I really liked having some little comforts from home. Especially the coffee pot. Somehow, it made it seem more cozy.

After eating a small lunch and putting supper in the crock pot, we headed out to see Neuschwanstein. It is better known as the Cinderella Castle. By the time we arrived, the only English tours left were the audio tour, in which you carry a little walkie-talkie type device and listen as you go room by room. This turned out to be a good thing, because trying to corral Peter put me last in the group. There was a person at the entrance of each room who activated your device, which meant that I didn't miss anything. There was a 40 minute uphill walk from where you purchase tickets to the castle. No buses were running this day, so walk it we did. Halfway up, there is a restaurant and snack bar. Hey, they aren't stupid! After snacking on some bratwurst and a mug of warm wine for me, we pressed onward and upward. No photography was allowed inside the castle.

We came home to the apartment smelling yummy. Dinner was ready and we shared it with our friends. 

Enjoying the morning

view from the apartment

There may still be snow on the roofs, but there are flowers bursting forth too!

Neuschwanstein

on our way up the hill to the castle


Notice that someone got more of a workout than others.

Happy for the lift

waiting for our tour to begin



Sunday March 15, 2015

Today is the reason we came to Garmisch. I was the Confirmation sponsor for my friend's son. I was honored to be asked. It was a small group of only five Confirmandi and the Mass was lovely. Their parish hosted a luncheon at a local hotel that was situated on a small lake/pond. The food was delicious and the day was just beautiful.




Monday March 16, 2015

Munich is our destination today. Sadly, the Egyptian museum that Anna was looking forward to is not open, so we plan to see some other sites and board the train. We arrive just in time to see the world's largest glockenspiel in action. And then we make our way to the HofbrÀuhaus, where we drink beer, eat lots of food and are serenaded by a German brass band. Except for our waitress, who is clearly having a bad day, we thoroughly enjoy the experience.

Next, we visit a church. They are so plentiful in Munich, that it is hard to choose. The first one we visit is the Heilig Geist-Pfarrkirche, or the Holy Ghost Church. I wish we could have found an English brochure since my German is still very limited. But beauty goes beyond the language barrier and I soaked it in.

In between churches, we make a pit stop at the Milka store and stock up on chocolate because everyone needs more chocolate in their lives.

The other church we visit before we call it a day and head back is the Frauenkirche or Cathedral of Our Dear Lady. It is the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Munich.




the glockenspiel



Anna got the kinder size plate of food. It was still huge.


I don't even know how she was doing that.







Jack loves all things antique.


Cenotaph of Emperor Louis IV

picture after the bombing in 1944-45

There is a legend of a devil's footprint


Jack also loves the accordion. This man was phenomenal. He happened to be playing Bach's toccata and fugue in d minor.





Thursday, March 12, 2015

breaking out of the ordinary

Have you ever witnessed something that left you speechless? Yesterday was one of those moments for me. Ever since we created the "dormitory", we have wanted our landlords to come and remove the very large, very ugly sectional sofa that came with the house. The landlords have always shown up at the most inopportune moments. Usually it involves me still in my pajamas, but not yesterday. Yesterday, I was teaching piano lessons.

So, imagine if you will, 10 kids and 2 mamas trying to keep some sense of order when the landlords pop on in. In the chaos that ensues, the decision was made to throw the couches off the second floor balcony. I was a little concerned, what with so many kids playing in the back yard and all. It was at about that time that my next family showed up. Four more kids and one more mama. Cars had to be moved, kids were running amok, and I was trying to get my student to the piano when "THUD", a piece of the couch lands inches from my laundry drying on the line on the back patio. I just stopped for a moment to take it all in. Tell me things like this happen to you too.

Today, I had lots to do, including speech therapy for Therese and much needed haircuts for the boys. We are going somewhere this weekend where I am pretty sure we will be in front of a camera. Peter's fear of haircuts has left him looking very shaggy and that is putting it nicely. I wasn't sure how I was going to get him to sit still until I looked back as we were driving. He had fallen asleep. Could I possibly carry him in there and keep him asleep while he got a haircut? Why yes, yes I could! With his little chin propped in my hand, the hairdresser worked quickly. Only as she was dusting him off did he awake, very confused, but looking very dapper. The hairdresser kept laughing disbelievingly at her sleeping client.

Sometimes I like it when things get shaken up. Sometimes. I really do like my nice little daily routine. But then, you don't get to tell about the time that furniture fell in your backyard if you never veer from the routine.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Daybook

Outside my window...
    
Cloudy, sunny, cloudy, sunny. Repeat every ten minutes.

Being a hater of the cold, I easily find excuses not to go outside. But the sun! It is trying so hard to break through the continuous gray of winter. Following the sun's determination, I have been making myself get outside for the last few days, even if only for a short time.

I am thinking...


about everything! My mind just won't settle on one thing. It is hopping from one idea to the next hither thither, never long enough to decide on anything. School, spring, knitting, sewing, children and their problems, my faith, and so forth and so forth.


I am thankful for...


...the fact that it is March!
...my family.
...Lent and the opportunity to grow closer to God.


From the kitchen...

The crock pot has been in pretty constant use lately. Anna and Jack have play practice two evenings a week, which puts us home after 6:30. I have never been a huge fan of the dishes that come out of the crock pot, though I very much like the idea of having a meal ready and waiting.


I am wearing...

...my well worn brown and green dress with a cropped cardigan and knee socks. Tony has never liked this dress, but any dress that is this comfortable and can be worn all the way through a pregnancy and still look good is a winner in my book.


I am creating...

...a hat for my husband, a shawl for a friend, a purse for myself and I am cutting out quilt pieces again after a long hiatus.

I am going...

to see a friend and explore a different part of Germany. No firm plans yet, but maybe the castle that inspired the Disney Cinderella one, maybe Munich, maybe go on into Austria. Whatever we decide, I am looking forward to it!

I am reading...

"Walking with God". The library received several requests from me this week too.

"All of a Kind Family" to the children at night.

Listening to "Rufus M." with the kids on Audible.

I am hearing...

...little birds chirping in the early morning when my alarm clock goes off. It makes my heart happy.

Around the house...

Still moving furniture around, though I think we are pretty close to being done for a while. The kids love living upstairs in the "dormitory", and I have a spare room ready and waiting for a possible guest that will hopefully stay for many months.

From the classroom...

The new arrangement is working well and moving the classroom inspired me to make things better in other ways too. I have been looking at ideas on other blogs for keeping Peter and Therese busy while we work. I took some wooden blocks and taped letters to them. We practice letter recognition in many different ways with those blocks. Building towers and knocking them down when the answer is right, making paths, etc. Peter loves to cut up paper, so I give him scraps and he sits quite happily for long stretches and then I just sweep up those little pieces of confetti when we are done for the day. I also made some play dough, and a little fabric color wheel with matching colored clothespins to practice his colors. I let him shove pipe cleaners in the colander.

I don't know about you, but I definitely go through phases where my creativity seems to dry up and I wallow in frustration when the kids won't cooperate. Thank goodness, the winter is coming to a close and I feel the stirrings of creativity once again, just as I see the promise of spring in the tiny yellow blooms that sprung forth from the earth in my backyard this week.









Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fifteen

Tomorrow is Ben's birthday. He would have been fifteen. My mind cannot fathom that. He will always be my smiling little seven year old. Today I am allowing myself to cry. I cry because I miss him and still grieve for him. I cry over the huge hole in our family and in my heart because he is no longer present. Looking out the window this morning at the German landscape, I wondered to myself how I have carried on for so long without him here. It still seems so wrong.

After my tears, I will celebrate the short life of a very special little boy with my family. We will break our Lenten family sacrifice of no meals out and we will find some place here in Germany that serves BBQ wings and we will get very messy and eat them all without wiping our fingers, just like he used to do. We will tell all the great stories that make us laugh and remember how lucky we are to have had Ben in our lives for seven wonderful years. I will order fresh flowers for his grave. I will have Mass said for him. I will honor him in the ways I know how. And I will look forward to the day when we are reunited in God's heavenly realm of eternity.