Thursday, July 24, 2014

If there is a short end of a stick, is there a long end too?

I am just wondering.

Take, for instance, the seemingly simple task of booking a doctor's appointment for a child. I called this morning, all cheery, and tried to get Therese in to see the doctor, as she has been having frequent nose bleeds. The one yesterday at the pool, during her swimming lesson, lasted almost half an hour. The also cheery voice on the other end told me there were no appointments available, but she would put in a request to our clinic and they should call back within 2-4 hours. Fine. I really think they should just book appointments and not play this game, but fine. So I waited. Seven hours later, and close to the end of the business day, no call back. I called to see what was going on. They tried directly connecting me to the clinic (why didn't we do that this morning?) and once it began to ring, the line disconnected. We tried again. Same result. Apologetically, she offered that if I really felt she needed to be seen immediately, I could go to the ER. No, I just would like you to book me an appointment!

There also was the problem that I wanted to get Peter seen as well. He fell hard on his face yesterday and I am worried about his nose. Not that they do much for broken noses, but I would still like to know. They never gave me the chance to request another appointment.

Everyone else's noses seem to be fine, in case you are wondering. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


A few weeks ago, we came back to our car after shopping to see that someone had scraped the door while backing out. A nice, long red scrape down the left side of the car. At the time, I thought it looked terrible.

In our village, along the sides of the street are little blue poles that mark the walkway for pedestrians. I have mentioned before that there is not enough room for two cars and when two cars meet, one pulls over to allow the other car to get through. Well, I pulled too close today to one of the poles to put it mildly. Now, to go along with the red paint on the left side, now I have a nice blue dent on the right! And I thought it looked bad before!

But to keep it all in perspective, no one was hurt (except my pride) and as Tony always refers to the little scrapes and dings, I have added a little more custom detailing to our vehicle.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yarn Along- Up Close and Vague

So I decided to knit something for my firstborn who turns 22 tomorrow. Umm...I don't know how that is possible because I really don't feel like I have been around long enough to be the mother of someone in their 20's! It is true enough though. I will try to give a sneak peek without giving anything away.

I think the second picture is truer for the colors. I am looking forward to giving it to her in person in about a month if all goes well with our first space-a flight.

We have been reading and listening to audio books. At bedtime, I am reading the third "Mysterious Benedict Society" book. The kids have really enjoyed the other two in the series. In the car, we are currently listening to "Nim's Island". I just finished "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly. I am about to start Willa Cather's "Death Comes for the Archbishop". That is a lot more reading than we typically get accomplished. We are not reading in bed every night because it is summer and it doesn't get dark til nearly 10 o'clock and we play and enjoy the outside and daylight while we can. I am dreading the long, dark winter ahead, and then there will be plenty of time to snuggle under blankets by the fire and read and read.

I am posting this late for the link-up at Ginny's. Life keeps happening!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday morning musing

I experienced one of those rare times that I am alone in the car today. It was so quiet and therefore my mind could focus on the beauty surrounding me as I neared our village. The distant mountains were veiled by a thin, gray, misty fog. Their deep, dark green was still visible and gave them a mystical appearance. Our village, with the clay colored rooftops breaking up the sea of green of the fields and mountains, felt like home. It was a good feeling. Just as I entered our village, the rain began again. The main street is brick and I could see the raindrops splashing upon the street, while several people tried to seek shelter under the awning of the bakery.

 I love the quaintness of the village. When I began my morning trip, there was a break in the rain and one old gentleman in particular caught my eye. He was riding his black bicycle down the center of the street, smiling, clearly enjoying the moment, not a care in the world. All the little shops had their doors wide open, which feels like an invitation to come in and see what there is to see.

 In the middle of the leaving and returning home, I had the pleasure of spending the in-between hours with a friend over coffee and croissants, and then a visit to a yarn store. I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to get back to the routine of life.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rainy Days

It has been raining steadily for about 48 hours now. No heavy downpours, just a steady, drizzling, cold rain with the sky varying in shades of white and gray. It is July, and the high temperature yesterday was only 56. It most certainly does not feel like the middle of summer!

On days like this, I seem to get to pondering things and so I think I will just let these tumble out onto the screen as they come to me.

Tony was gone for five days to Latvia and he returned home on Monday. It seems that he will be taking these short trips fairly frequently. I find it hard to adapt to a different schedule for only a few days and then try to return to our 'normal' life over and over. When he is gone, I find I don't feel like cooking full meals even though there is only one less person. We 'snack' for meals, simple things like apples, crackers, salami, and pickles. I end up with more kids in bed with me during the night, even those that don't normally show up. It is good to have him home, I feel safe and settled.

These rainy summer days have brought back memories of childhood summers at my grandparent's house. There is no air conditioning over here, just as it was at Grams' and Grandad's. There were box fans in the windows during the day and the windows were left open at night. I can remember half waking up to see my grandmother quietly closing the windows just as I was recognizing the fact that I was chilled. The windows are open here too, and the outside sounds find their way to my ears as I fall to sleep. Little birds chirping away. The sound of tires on wet pavement. The rain on the roof. I used to love sitting outside under a porch or an umbrella on rainy days like this.

I battle to stay upbeat on days like this. I found out a couple months ago that my vitamin D levels were extremely low. The doctor prescribed a mega-dose of vitamin D once a week for 12 weeks. I am honestly not seeing any difference in my mood. I know it is not as sunny here, but I wonder why my levels plummeted so quickly. Of course, we are also approaching another year of not having Ben with us here.

I signed Anna and myself up for a writing class on Brave Writer. We are taking the basic class. I have been very negligent in writing assignments this year. We have stayed on top of math and reading, but writing got sidelined during all the upheavals of the move to Germany. I knew I needed something to keep me accountable and not lose steam. The cost of the class should keep my motivation strong! This is the first week of a six week course, so I will let you know how we liked it when we finish.

I also tried to sign the kids up for swim lessons before we take a trip to the beach, but it has proved to be less than simple. No one at the pool seems to know what is going on. We are not allowed to sign up for classes until tomorrow because people that have already taken a class previously have priority. Plus, they have to give Anna an assessment to see which class she belongs in, yet no one can tell me when the person who does this will be available. They also failed to mention when I was there yesterday that we could not sign up until we filled out a liability release. Organized? I think not!

Lastly, my dad is currently undergoing chemotherapy, so if you would be so kind as to offer up a prayer for him, it would be most appreciated!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Heartache and Remembrance

It is coming. The time when he will have been gone longer than he was with us and I am overcome. It is the most ordinary things that catch me off guard and send me into a mess of tears and longing for my son. I need to order the new schoolbooks for the kids. And then I remember. I am sitting there packing up his books to send back because he will not use them. He had looked at them and was excited to begin second grade. Second grade. Those are the books I need to order for Jack. Jack, who was a baby when Ben looked at those books.

I found this picture among my holy articles one day not long after Ben died. The boy in the picture is definitely much younger than Ben was, but it is how I imagined our Lord greeting him as we said good-bye. Those words at the bottom? Oh my goodness.  I keep this picture where I can gaze at it and ponder my own gift of life. Am I truly appreciative of all that that means? I try, and I fail. And I try again.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Orval Abbey in Belgium

I'll admit it, I have a lot of things that trigger anxiety. Some rational, some not so much. Going someplace new, and not speaking the language is one of my larger anxiety producers, so I guess you are wondering how I am still functioning over here. I am getting used to the German thing, but this weekend we were in a different country with a different language.

We ventured out of Germany, through Luxembourg, and on into Belgium on Saturday to visit Orval Abbey, a Trappist Cistercian Monestary. Now, sitting back here at home, I am so glad we went. At the time, I wasn't so sure we had made a wise decision. We had our passports, we had food and water, the diaper bag was stocked. We typed in the address in our GPS and we were off. And until we neared the Abbey, all was well. We got to a roundabout that had a sign directing us to the Abbey, yet the GPS was telling us to take a different route. We were already a little behind schedule to meet our friends there. We decided to take the road with the sign and hope the GPS would reroute. It did not. On a little one lane road, we wound our way to the Abbey. (And this is Europe people. When I say one lane road, I mean, pray some continuous 'Hail Mary's' that you do not meet oncoming traffic.) It was already misting pretty steadily when we arrived, which did not bode well for us. (We must get ourselves some rain gear, pronto!) We could not find our friends, so we sat under a porch and ate our simple lunch we had packed. Just as we were finishing, our friends arrived.

Our tour was short but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Except maybe the rain and the cold. I did not enjoy those two things at all. The kids did not listen to the tour guide very much. They explored on their own, and that is OK. We bought some beer, we bought some cheese, we bought some cookies for the ride home. Our GPS would not work at all when we were leaving, so I am grateful to have been able to follow our friends back into Germany. There is something to be said for good old-fashioned maps and I intend to purchase those very soon.

In the foreground, the herb garden used for medicinal purposes. In the background, the ruins of the Monestary from the 1100's, which were burned by the French, I believe.

The current grounds.

more of the ruins. This door led to the old cemetary.

She was freezing. I let her have my sweater, since we couldn't find hers. Then I was freezing!

I like that he was drawn to the same flowers as his mother. I had been photographing them earlier.

In case you are wondering, those little black animals are sheep.