Tuesday, June 30, 2009


This snapshot of Flower was taken while she and her schoolmates from Heidelberg International School were out providing community service; they were picking up rubbish along a bike trail. Clearly, she found this little gem and put it to good use - I think it's a fun shot and composed just right (wish I had the information to credit the photographer properly).

While I find it oddly unsettling, I'm drawn to the image.

Performance art as a recycling mechanism is where it's at.

End of School Year!

I can't believe we're at the end of another school year. Joe and Flower are home for the summer and I'm super excited to have them! I know that they'd have been out of school if we were back in the states, but the international school they attend schedules a week-long break about every six weeks (go visit Europe!) ... which means we're in school until the end of June.

Of course, we have taken advantage of those extended breaks and enjoyed traveling and spending time together. That doesn't give us a free pass on taking care of the day-to-day chores of life nor can we abdocate our responsibilities. I guess, it's all about finding balance and being ok with your life.

Flower, Marie, & Joe - on our way to church
Today was the end-of-the-school-year picnic - everyone invited. We took my dad, enjoyed some hotdogs/hamburgers, and got to listen to the student garage band (it's an after-school activity for anyone who wants to join). Fun times!
School picnic celebrating another full year - glad Grandpa could join us

Marking the seasons of life with kids you love is where it's at.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June in Heidelberg

It's been another great week in Heidelberg. Heaven help me if I get complacent about where we live or my family (I'm crazy about'm!). At the same time, I feel as though I am getting used to doing things differently.

For example, I think I'm fully integrating the producemeister's schedule into my meal prep. He's only open from 11-1 and 4-7 during the week, but is not open on Wednesday afternoons. Which means, remember to get an apple and a pear before he closes on Wednesday in order to have it available for Thursday morning's lunch sack. Ok, that might have been a bad example, but I hope you get the picture.

My dad arrived this week for an extended visit and we are so excited to have him here. On his first day, we went for a brief walkabout and had to stop for an eis (ice cream/sherbert). Here's a snap of him, Marie, Flower, and Joe. Way fun.

We went for a bit of shopping on the Hauptstrasse, this is my dad and Marie walking just ahead of John and me. Doesn't my dad look cute in his new hat?

One of our favorite Young Single Adults is moving with his family back to the States - we snapped this photograph just after Institute. Jeff has all of his missionary paperwork completed and will be submitting it as soon as he's back home in Iowa. Of course, we're dragging my dad along in all that we do - expect to see him frequently on the blog while he's here.

Joe is finishing up the Golf Merit Badge with his troop - all 18 rounds. Joe is third from the left in ball cap and shades. My dad, designated ball chaser, is standing next to Joe and looking ready to take on the day.

Everyday life with my family is where it's at.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fun Times

This past Thursday evening was the Heidelberg International School Summer Performance Night. Sounds like a mouthful, but essential it was an end-of-school-year evening to see what the students have been doing the past few months.

I have come to appreciate some of the performances as the distance from Thursday night increases. A young grade presented a piece by simulating a pond. It may sound a bit abstract, but with a narrator, a ball of yarn, and passing it back and forth - the idea of habitat and the web of connectivity can be made. All I know is - there were plenty of video cameras capturing the moment.

One of our favorites was the classroom of "clowns." They were brave and funny. An alltime classic:

Clown 1: Do you have holes in your underwear?
Clown 2: No! How rude of you to ask.
Clown 1: Well then, how do you put them on?


Flower was in the improv group of grade 7. Who knew she had that in her? The class did well and we were very impressed with the effort.
Flower is center stage (long brown sleeves)
Joe perfomed in the grade 9 garage band - he was on bass guitar. His teacher said he took to it "like a duck to water." *sigh*

Anyway, typically after this type of event, we'd take ourselves to the Dairy Queen. Of course that isn't possible here, so we walked up to a nearby eis haus and then continued meandering about town for a few minutes. I took the following pictures to show you the beauty of where we live and perhaps entice a couple of you to come visit us.

Marie, John, Joe, Flower

John, Marie, Flower, Joe

In this photograph, taken on the alte brucke (old bridge), you can see our building (over John's right shoulder - white building, red roof, attic windows) and you can also see the castle in the upper right hand corner. You can't see the Neckar River - the trees just on the left side of the frame are on the river bank.

Taking time for ice cream and snapshots with my family is where it's at.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Schnitzel Wednesday, Protests, & Fat Quarters

Wednesdays are generally pretty calm around here, but yesterday proved to be interesting.

Near John's office is a small canteen that offers a limited daily menu, but once a week it's Schnitzel Wednesday! Woo hoo. Oh, mercy it's so yummy. His office is only about 18km from home, but an hour by streetcar or 20 minutes by BMW. Yesterday, Marie and I took the streetcar out to his office, enjoyed a wonderful lunch together, stopped at the bookstore on base, and made our way home afterwards. Thing is - yesterday, that roundtrip took 4.5 hours.

We opted to ride our bikes from home to Bismarkplatz (1.1km) away and the nearest stop for the streetcar out to Mannheim. However, we literally landed ourselves in the middle of a massive student protest as we attempted to ride through Universitätsplatz. I love an awesome student rally complete with makeshift drums, bullhorns, whistles, cowbells, chanting, a couple news crews, banners, plackards, handbills, and dressed up clowns (literally, complete w/red noses) directing the bus and bike traffic. The Polizei were milling about the fringes, but otherwise seemed to be in a 'watch and wait' posture. It took us 10 minutes to navigate maybe 80 yards - good times in Heidelberg!

Later in the day, Marie went on line to figure out what the students were striking against. It was a perrineal favorite - tuition. The twist is ... German university students don't pay tuition (it's covered with sky-high taxes). The government wants to charge 500€ per semester. From our perspective, if all of college cost approx $700 - it would be time to party not time to protest. A favorite slogan we learned - "Money for education, not banks!"

But hey, I'm not going to be the one to rain on that parade .... Power to the People.

Finally on the way back home, I had to stop at the fabric store in town. After finding the fabric corner in a base hobby shop, I've been shopping only there - the price is about half of the price of cotton in town and it's good quality stuff.

As I posted a couple days ago, this outta-control representation of Barcelona has taken over the dining room table, 4 chairs, and part of the laundry room. Anyway, I couldn't wait for Fat-Quarter Friday at the hobby shop (a fat quarter is approx 1/4 of a yard, but more of a square shape, and FQF at the hobby shop is... buy 4, get 1 free). I needed more terra cotta! I bought retail, not on sale!

Anyway, all things turned out. Flower made the spaghetti sauce for dinner, Marie got the 100% whole wheat noodles done, and Joe weighed in at clean-up time.

Student protests, quilting, or dinner clean up with the people is where it's at.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Morning in Barcelona

I've often said that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, but I may have bitten off more than I can reasonably accomplish.  Perhaps if I stopped to really think things through before running off and committing to it, I wouldn't be in such a pickle.

It all started when we visited Barcelona.  The city was sooo beautiful - full of energy, color, shape, art, and life!  This was the first place that I've visited to have this type of impact on me; this was the first time I would say "I am must quilt this."  

A full two weeks was required for designing a quilt that captured what I had to record.  Even now, I still tweak some things as they come to me (adding four metro stops throughout the design - each stop measuring 1" x 1").  Generally - it's a 100" x 100" quilt comprised of 2.5" finished squares - which amounts to roughly 1600 little squares.  And, because I was outside my mind, I decided the trees about town would look more like trees if they were tiny pinwheels (8 separate pieces of fabric in a 3" square) instead of a lovely piece of green fabric.

Here's the thing - I love working on this piece (and sometimes it's frustrating working on this piece).  It'll take several months, too much money, and we'll have a near constant debris field of fabric trimmings and dust.  At the same time, I can't disregard how inspired I feel after having visited Spain.... waking up each morning looking out over the Med, my husband with me, kids running around, ... sigh.

As things progress, I'll try to stay current with updates of its progress.

Being free to express oneself through design and textiles is where it's at.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I feel like it's been forever since I last blogged, but it's just been about two week or so.  I haven't been sitting around doing nothing - that's for sure.  And, thanks to those good friends who reminded to get my blogging self in gear!

Let me share about a quick day trip the girls and I took to München/Munich, Germany.  It was fantastic!  The boys couldn't go since Joe had an important scouting event on Saturday and John stayed behind to make sure he made it there and back safely - shout out for dads!

We headed over on the train - took just under three hours and was a real smooth travel event.  After arriving, we took the metro to our a stop near our hotel - when we climbed up to street level we arrived in the middle of the original Town Square.  It was beautiful!  The old city hall was just something else.  It felt very much like Heidelberg except much bigger. 

Marie & Flower - Munich Alstadt 

There was also a small quartet (of a type) playing lovely Chopin (after that number they switched to Elvis) - in this small group were some strings, accordian, beat box... they really had a good vibe.  The sound was good and nothing else matters.

After much drama, we wound up at a perfectly nice hotel, lots of room, and breakfast the next morning.  We had planned on a visit to the zoo, Olympic park, and some casual shopping.  It's a good thing we had Plan B.

First, the Tierpark Hellabrun was outstanding.  It's one of the first geo-zoo which focuses on an environment and the species that live there instead of each animal inside a specific enclosure.  Oo-la-la the animals are co-habitating.

Rhinos, Flower, & Marie

Can you believe these colors??

Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate and a thunderous downpour started about the time we had planned to transition from the zoo to Olympic Park.  We opted out of that all-outdoor event and instead headed to the station to take an earlier train back to Heidelberg.  Fortunately, there was some shopping to be done at the hauptbahnhof (central train station) and we each came back home with new shoes.  Whew!

I can't wait to go back and spend a few days there -- with the fellas this time.  

A day trip with my beautiful daughters is where it's at.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Great Equalizer

I've loved traveling the past fews months and haven't forgotten how fortunate we are to be in Germany - all together (well, except for Jack who has literally been transferred to Siberia - he reports that it's still quite cold "in the middle of nowhere").  Anyway, ...

We have been to some truly remarkable locations, some quite famous and others less so - but all worth the trip.  The train through the Alps - mercy - took my breath away.  Even now when I remember it in my mind, I recall the beauty and grandeur of it all.  People plan and dream for years to visit the places we've seen over the past few months: Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Zurich, and this weekend we'll be in Munich.

Here's the thing... in every place we've traveled I've been reminded that we're all pretty much the same.  Without exception, I see evidence of families working hard and doing the best they can to take care of life on life's term.  It is my observation that laundry drying on the balcony is the great equalizer.  

I don't know why I'm fascinated with laundry and the absolutely creative and ingenious systems we've developed to wash and dry our clothes, linens, etc.  I remember being pregnant with our youngest and living in Florida.  The electric dryer was broken; we had no money to fix it, but the Air Force housing office gave us two free umbrella-type clotheslines.  I loved those things.  Perhaps it reminded me of those summer afternoons helping my grandmother hang laundry out on her line.  We'd talk, I hand up clothespins, and so much was simple.

This is one of the views outside my living room window in Heidelberg, Germany.

Took this shot as we left Milan, Italy.  

Below, this snapshot was taken just outside the Museu Picasso in Barcelona.  I was struck by two things at the same time:  1.  How could anyone hang their undies outside the museum?!   2.  Ohmygosh - how ingenious to hang a sheet of plastic over the drying clothes... in case of rain.

These photographs seem to capture some of the dissonance - the impressive old-world architecture of a city that was established 700 years ago ... and the sheets out on the line.

Saw this handy expanding version of line drying in Barcelona, Spain.  I'd love one of these!

Same style - just empty.

As we traveled into Barcelona, I noticed that many clotheslines strung across the patio were typically connected on one end to the satellite dish.  When given a choice between an automatic dryer or television with hundreds of channels ...

I learn so much traveling with my people and discovering small ways in which we're more alike than different is where it's at.