Stills 10/52











Linking up with Em from the Beetleshack

The sun has been shining and we are soaking it up. We managed to pull ourselves together for a teeny tiny birthday celebration for Griffin. I'm so thankful.

Cake!

Leaving our (snowless) winter behind and welcoming spring - happy indeed.

Sparklers to cap off an excellent day.

New toys. Jared put together the hex bugs habitat. I did the hot wheels track this week.

Our garden is a magical place with the flowering plum tree.

Per Griffy's request, a bear cake :) Very hastily made, very very delicious!

There is a new article from Mother Jones regarding plastic. It's worth a read. We have decided that plastic is no longer a food/drink safe option for us.

The kiddos finally have enough energy and lung power to handle a few minutes on the trampoline. I'm praying we have a string of good health for a while.

Our little Griffy Bear...three years old in just a few days. I love you sweet boy.

Have a fabulous week xo
Devon

Stills 9/52






Stills from last week...a little behind as we were hit with a horrible FLU that knocked all of us flat. It has seriously been an unbelievable and humbling experience. It was awful because the kids and I had already been sick on and off for 3 weeks, and were just starting to feel better. We played with friends on Wednesday then went to the Karneval at the Kita on Thursday...by Thursday afternoon Bird was a mess, then zonked out. By Friday we were all miserable. It's been over a week and we are past the fevers but not out of the woods completely. Besides a really awful stomach flu many years ago, and the chicken pox at 16 years old, this has been one of the worst illnesses I've ever had. I hope hope hope we can have a healthy string of weeks/months/(whatever it is just please more than a few days) and actually do some more living rather than surviving.

The guys working on the playground left behind a few things while they took a break. When the cat's away...

Griffy and his stick

At the Karneval at our Kindergarten. I can see in the picture that Bird was already not feeling well. But they're oh so cute :)

The beginning of a really rough week.

Back soon with the current week of (slightly healthier) stills,
xo Devon

Stills 8/52









Stills...following along with Beetleshack.

Huge rosehips mingling with blackberry vines starting to waken.

The sleeping game.

Organizing all the crafty bits.

Phylo, who doesn't enjoy having his picture taken but shamelessly expressing his desire to go for a walk already.

Drowning in kids artwork...I love it all, don't know what to part with, have to deal with, it grows daily, hourly!

Back massages.

The animal doctor (Tierartz) at work.

First mini-daffodils. Rays of happiness.

This week...oh this week - and last week for that matter. Sooo sick...bronchitis, pink eye, hacking away, energy-less, head throbbing, why doesn't it go away??...hoping to turn a healthy corner in a day or two or I'm off to the doctor. It really gets me thinking seriously about my health...quitting sugar for good? Enforcing earlier bedtime? I think I really need to do myself some favors.

xo Devon

Stills 7/52








Linking up with Beetleshack :)

My silly gem...Karneval is just around the corner and the Kindergarten is gearing up. I'm loving seeing new decorations added each day. The theme appears to be "more is more"!

Coming up with her owns ideas, plans, strategies and telling me exactly how I can participate in them. Love her.

My new favorite shop downtown. I've been looking into essential oils for home and personal use and just bought a diffuser and a nice handful of oils to start with.

Fearless heart attack giver.

Every year the kids and I paint their upcoming age on the same canvas...#3 is just around the corner for Griffy and the work in progress has begun.

Me. Perfectly imperfect and happy. Germany has made my hair nearly black, my skin much more pale. A different version, still me. The ample supply of chocolate and bakeries does me no favors. But knowing myself more as I get older is fabulous.

Making family recipe noodle soup with Daddy. Note certain someone climbing into the action.

xo
Devon

Stills 6/52






Following along with Stills with Em from Beetleshack.

Snowdrops: I'm amazed and a little alarmed watching Spring flowers popping up. The purple crocus at the park are gorgeous. Last year at this time we were really deep in winter snow. Is it going to come?? Will the flowers be buried? This is almost too much for me to think about being from much warmer places.

Mini skate park without bike/scooter/laufrad...just running up and down the slopes when the big kids are off doing other things momentarily. Next time we'll be back with wheels.

Our little 5 year old Bird bought her first antique! :) :) We were at Tongeren last Sunday and she bought this super pretty tin box covered in butterflies and gold & red details with her own money. When the seller said "merci beaucoup" Bird skipped off with her tin box saying "merci mowcoo!". Heart melt.

Little curiosity shelf is all glued up and sealed since this picture. Loved making it, every bit of it. Took some time but I'm already loving seeing all the little things living inside - Hello Kitty, a random penguin, mini rubber ducky, race car, shell from Spain, etc etc. I think it will be a place for good imaginary play. I got the idea (and many more ideas) from the Creative Family Home book.

A beautiful morning here today. 

Rambles: Jared sprained his ankle at basketball practice last night and hobbled to and from the kindergarten with me. We had a decent German class and off he went to work. I put on an extra shirt and scarf and think I'm potentially getting a cold. Phylo and I took a short walk & picked up Griffin...he's napping in the stroller (he regularly naps on Tuesday) and it's nearly time to pick up Bird. Hoping it's nice enough outside to play with water and possibly glitter. Sounds exciting at least...can you tell I'm tired?

Love & sunshine,
Devon xo

5/52









I've been doing stills along with Em from Beetleshack for over a month now! That's definitely some kind of record for me. I already love looking at past weeks, and my mama guilt feels pretty subdued since this feels like a decent recording of our little ones' early years.

Looking down as we walk along...so many treasures...tiniest mushrooms, seed pods, all glistening with frost.

More block printing this week. One of the things on my "to learn in 2014" list is putting together a semi-complex quilt made entirely with my own printed fabrics.

A bit of first-aid training/play at the kindergarten. At pick up she came running to me with a bandaged head and wrapped wrist - the huge smile let me know everything was fine.

Ice and salt and lots of colored water in the afternoon. We also turned it into a mini-volcano.

Sink bath after cleaning up poop in the leggings. Sorry for sharing that.

She thought my belt needed a daisy.

Early frosty morning balloon launch. It was exciting, especially when the rising balloon nearly took out the tree a few meters from me. *Walked away quickly*

Turning a battered drawer compartment into a curiosity cabinet.

Have an excellent week :o)
xoxo Devon

Stills 4/52






Last bit of sun on a gorgeous winter day, perched up high with friends.

Starting to move in to freezing temps at night and yesterday we even had snow (for all of 5 minutes then it was slushy rain...I had forgotten how annoying that is to be in).

Enjoying Gaia Zoo again - this time we made it to the Dino Dome before they closed. The kids (and me of course) climbed all over spider webs of nets, houses and tunnels above the life size brontosaurus, after of course pulling our dugout canoe over the treacherous creature filled lagoon - multiple times. The Dutch really know how to do play parks.

Jared home and wiped out from his week in Taiwan and the 26 hours it took to get back.

Tulips from Aldi...at 1.99 euro a bunch I'll have to buy them much more often.

Have a beautiful week friends,
xo Devon

Stills 3/52

 

   




My parents visited over the weekend (MLKjr Day in the States so my mom has the day off as she works for the US gov). They brought random fun things to play with (thank you to the military base thrift shop) including a bubble machine.

Griffy was elated to show off for Gigi on his laufrad. He didn't disappoint and hit every hill with fierce abandon. I'm praying he has really strong bones. Just fearless. It tries my patience with every outing that involves sidewalks and streets but I'm working on a trust & reward system and secretly I am thrilled with his determination.

Watching the rope walker at the park take a rest and hoping he'll make another go of it.

Griffy with his pine needle 'hair brush'. Handsome boy.

And beautiful girl Bird making a new friend at the Spielplatz (playground). "Wie alt bis du? Ich bin funf!" (How old are you? I am five!). She likes to play with her helmet on :) And wow we have had many very mild days of winter through December and now January.

My daily path.

Gorgeous snowy owl at the Gaia Zoo. She was at eye level and didn't even flinch as Griffy came bounding toward her, hoping to get a reaction. Magical beautiful creature. The beavers were also so fun to watch as they kept swimming into their lodge to check if dinner was coming for them. We've started going to Gaia more often as it is very natural and open for the animals, really pleasant for visitors, and open all year round.

Dreamy morning sky in the neighborhood.

Jared is in Taiwan this week and my parents left today to resume work (mom) and retired "work" (dad). Kiddos and I and Phylo have entered the rhythm of a regular week. Kindergarten in the mornings, pool outing, German classes, Gaia Zoo, park walks, creating, playing, cleaning, cooking, etc. We are also working on potty training with Griffy and he is currently in throes of the terrible 2's...I am working on staying calm but firm with the antics. He has such a strong personality but is so sensitive as well. Bird helps me tremendously - she and him are really best of friends and their bond rescues many situations. She is a remarkable little girl. Today she pushed herself at the pool a bit more, trying to get past her fear of water in her face. She actually floated a moment on her back as I held her (until realizing there was water flowing into her ears, then that was that!).

Have a lovely week xoxo
Devon

Stills 2/52






A day in Maastricht. We go occasionally to an English speaking church in Maastricht. It's wonderful but a bit long (2.5 hours nearly!). So nice to wander around the city afterward.

Bird is looking so big. Love this age (5.5yrs).

Origami 6-pocket books I made using a Creativebug tutorial. Such fun.

Our weather has been truly unbelievable since December. I know Winter will come eventually but until then we will enjoy enjoy enjoy.

Phylo dog pre-bath. What a baby.

Have a lovely lovely week!
hugs, Devon 


Stills 1/52










Joining Emily at The Beetleshack for Stills this year. Hoping I'll be able to keep up with it. It's wonderful to look back at my old blog posts - always grateful I took the time for them.

A rare family picture with 3 out of 4 smiling faces. Scrambled portrait on the stage in between the St. Nikolaus train rides.

Our little beauty: Bird, 5yrs 6mths

The view from my parents dock in Florida. I spent 5 lovely days visiting my brother and his wife and their brand new 1st baby. It was a great experience to travel on my own for the first time since Bird was 2. I was able to focus on being Auntie and check all the boxes on my list - haircut, pedicure, clothes shopping, beach visit.

Sketching little ladies and curious seagulls on Palm Beach Island.

Back in Europe! We had a great time at a huge playground/park in Leuven, Belgium.

Packing it away till next year.

Hardly the winter weather we had this time last year. These warm days (11c today) are to be savored!

Much love & a very Happy New Year to you!
xo, Devon

Happy birthday to Phylo, my favorite pictures of 8 years.

Cozy boy #germanshorthairpointer #dog #owl #plush

It's that time of year again...Bird's birthday on the 8th, Phylo's on the 10th, and then Jared's and my anniversary on the 11th.

Today Phylo is 8! Technically this may not be his real birthday. I may have mentioned this before but Phylo came to us through a rescue agency that received him along with a brother and sister all the way from Cyprus. They were just tiny puppies when they were found by an American couple who lovingly cared for them till about 4 or 5 months of age then sent on a plane to California. Phylo was placed with a foster mommy till we adopted him at 8 months old. It's funny that we've brought him all the way back to Europe.

I also realized today it is important to mark this birthday of Phylo's on my blog not only because he's been my faithful buddy of over 7 years but also because it may be his last birthday with us. Phylo started sneezing and showing cold symptoms back in the Fall and we went through antibiotics and different meds until finally our wonderful German vet put him under sedation and looked in his nose. He saw a tumor growing in his sinus cavity - nasal cancer. It made perfect sense based on the symptoms. Dr. Bey said it was inoperable and after doing plenty of research about the aggressive nature of nasal cancer and how little time radiation/chemo would likely add to Phylo's life (not to mention the negative impact of these things) we've decided to treat Phylo with a steroid, antibiotics, and pain medicine when necessary. It is terribly sad and so cruel that our Phylo has this illness and that he is so young. The only consolation to me is that this time in his life has been so rich. Germany is a dog's paradise...endless fields and forest to explore off leash. Phylo's first year here has been the best gift we could give him. I can literally walk out the door with him and be on a trail in less than a minute, with Phylo running freely to each tree, weed patch, mole hill, and puddle.

So here are some of my favorite moments with Phylo over the years. There are some holes in the years with missing photos but these capture him and all of us together pretty well.

Phylo
Not long after purchasing our house in San Jose. Right before he did that crazy dog thing rolling all over the rug. May 2006

Phylo
In the kitchen in our California house. Pre-kids, post kitchen remodel. With my parents visiting from Okinawa. July 2007

Phylo
With Bird who has just learning to crawl and was getting herself stuck under the laundry box. November 2008

Playing with Phylo #germanshorthairpointer
2+ years later with a new little one to harass him ;o) Phylo and Griffin have a nice little relationship these days. December 2011

Who me?
No shame about curling up on the sofa. None at all. February 2012

#apartmenttour #germany #germanshorthairpointer dog enjoying backyard view. It's a shared space but we seem to be the only ones using it.
Looking out at his brand new view - Germany! March 2012

Thoroughly enjoying himself #germanshorthairpointer #dog #aachen #germany
Sniffing out the wood pile creatures. March 2012

He's just a big baby #germanshorthairpointer #dog
Sofa lover, Fall 2012

Fell asleep waiting for me :) #germanshorthairpointer #dog #myshadow
Patiently waiting for the evening walk, Fall 2012

Though could be a mouse. He's caught them before. #germanshorthairpointer #dog #garden
Hunter of small furry creatures, Summer 2012

Requesting a walk
Not so patiently waiting for the evening walk, Fall 2012

Headed home. Spot the Phylo dog :) #roadtrip #germanshorthairpointer #dog
Travel companion, Summer 2012

Planning #grannysquares #crochet #yarn #germanshorthairpointer #dog
Studio buddy, Fall 2012

Walking on a gorgeous Fall day. #aachen #germany #fall #germanshorthairpointer #dog #trees #autumn #sky
Loving life as a German dog :o) Fall 2012

Someone's getting chilly #gsp #germanshorthairpointer #dog #snow #winter #germany
Sitting on my lap to keep his feet off the snow. Winter 2013

Happy early Valentine's Day :) love, Phylo
More sofa love, February 2013

My happy companion after a late walk :) #aachen #germany #germanshorthairpointer #dog
Happy dog, post walk :o) Summer 2012

Little ball of Phylo dog waiting for me to get kiddos to bed. #germanshorthairpointer #dog
A pro at finding the coziest spots, Fall 2012

Magical place #forest #aachen #germany #trees
One of many forest walks, Fall 2012

Bird strung the necklace. Phylo dog models agreeably ;) #germanshorthairpointer #gsp #dog #crafty #kidart
Happy to help model the accessories ;o) Winter 2013

Pouting for a walk & maybe about having to wear his sweater. Phylo dog has the sniffles :( #germanshorthairpointer #gsp #dog
Pouting for a walk, and maybe about wearing the sweater. Winter 2013

Untitled
Such a good boy. Fall 2012

Sun seeker #gsp #germanshorthairpointer #dog #sun #sunlover
Sun seeker. Spring 2013

We've reached a rough stage in Phylo's illness. Last night with a hard sneeze he ruptured a blood vessel and has been sneezing/dripping blood since. This morning we went to the Tierartzpraxis and Phylo was prescribed pain meds. We'll go back this week if
After seeing the vet and a weekend of terrible health. A happy, beautiful respite in a blossom filled field. Spring 2013

Always on the hunt
Fresh weed patches to explore in depth. Spring 2013

Phylo in the wheat grass
In the new wheat grass plantings by my parent's house. Spring 2013

He knows I'm taking his picture. #camerashy #gsp #germanshorthairpointer #dog
"I hear you talking about me..." Spring 2013

Professional sniffer
Constant sniffer. Spring 2013

Jared's home. We're taking a breather. With prosecco.
Sidekick, always. Spring 2013

2+ weeks of no baths...happy stinky dog  Can't wait to wash him up soon.
Little love. You can see the pressure on his lower left eyelid from the tumor. Spring 2013
I can't close my front door. #sunlover #gsp #germanshorthairpointer #dog #foyer #june #aachen #germany 
Warm days popping up here and there. Phylo is happy to soak up all the sun he can. 3 weeks ago he tore the ligaments in his rear right leg and had TTA surgery to repair them. He's gone from walking on 3 legs to starting to walk normally again, bit by bit. We are walking with the leash for another 3 weeks and then will watch him carefully that he doesn't get too crazy and hurt his other hind leg! Unfortunately the 2 or so months of a pretty dried up nose (following the rupture of a blood vessel and sneezing out a lot of the tumor tissue) has come to an end and Phylo is back to sneezing, much of it bloody. Please keep him in your thoughts & prayers.

Much love & hugs,
Devon

Happy 5 little Bird


The sun didn't shine as I'd hoped but it didn't rain! Bird is 5 years old now! There is a picture in the left sidebar of my blog...Bird is less than one year old in the picture. Just amazing. What a girl.

Gigi and Grandpa drove up for the weekend and we had fun opening presents together. Flamenco dress from Spain, shiny red shoes, crocheted barrettes, toy cash register (instantly causing fights between the kiddos...oh well), & Hello Kitty dvd's in German.

We've all been a little sick with colds and Griffin has been getting up at night and also early in the morning. The party started at 10:30 (with some folks arriving even earlier...a German thing??) and he was asleep on my shoulder by 11:00. I tucked him in the wagon turned bench and he was so cozy and snug despite the sunless 50 degree weather (14 celsius) that he slept nearly 2 hours while the party went on around him!

Bird was allowed to invite 5 friends so of course she insisted on 6. They all have names that end in "a" or "e" (which is also the "ah" sound in German) and they were all adorable, well behaved little ladies. I was super impressed and we had a really great time. The trampoline was the hit of course. We got it for Bird as an early present back in April (the snow had JUST stopped) and have used it as much as possible in between all the rain. It is fabulous!! I think it was a great outlet for all the sugar consumed...& thankfully no one was (seriously) injured.

We had our new typical mix of languages. It is starting to feel quite familiar at this point. There was even Spanish spoken between my parents and one of the dads who apparently knows 5 languages. How neat that he and my parents found a connection through Spanish.

I've discovered that the children's birthday parties here consist purely of sweets...cake, cupcakes, candies, chocolates, juice, soda even. I can't do it that way! So we made sure to put out our usual fare - veg, fruits, pizza, sausages & bread, crackers, cheese, etc., and then brought out pudding, cupcakes and finally the birthday cake after a little while. Bird is quite a different kid when she's all sugared up. Can't say I'm a fan :/ !

It was fun to recycle bits of decor from year's past and add new stuff like crepe paper flowers (I became a little obsessed making them...). I also had a kiddie pool full of really used water beads and I scooped them into vases with pretty flowers (Bird's current favorite color is yellow, with a stated preference toward "light" colors - missing the sun much dearie?). I tossed the rest into the garbage bin. I can picture this Thursday when the garbage guys toss the contents of the bin into the truck, if they miss even just a little those bright blue beads will be bouncing all over the neighborhood. They may certainly take note of the number on the can belonging to the problem house.

Bird has some lovely friends at her kindergarten. She also has a bestie, little L, who is only 3 years old. But age doesn't matter and they totally have a connection. It is super sweet and I hope Bird remembers this time years from now and will enjoy these pictures.

All 7 little ladies in one shot! Success! Thank the cupcakes.

Hello Kitty is a favorite these days. I happily complied and put together the HK birthday cake with marzipan icing (my first time using it). I admit to getting more excited about birthday parties than probably my whole household combined. I totally use it as a creative outlet and feel I have every excuse to steal time to work on things for the current party in the making. Maybe I should use this attitude toward my own work in general...gets me thinking...

We sang Happy Birthday in English because that's the way the Germans do it too :o)

And shortly thereafter our lovely little Griffy awoke. Ready for a cupcake and trampoline time.

The sun never came but we still went for it and I'm glad. Complete with moving our sofa into the garden, along with half a dozen other indoor household items. This place is not California! But it is LUSH with greenery and so gorgeous.

Little 5 year old Bird, you are getting so much more beautiful inside and out every day. You show simple acts of kindness that make us so proud. You are so observant of your world and you take notice of every detail. The little things really matter to you. You are a lover of babies, swinging & jumping, reading books, and being in charge. You will try almost anything, especially if I (or Daddy) will do it with you. Little adventurer, always ready to go. Something new, something different, something else...you will find it, or you will come up with it. Determined, with a plan. And instructions (sometimes barked as orders) for everyone involved. Little General. I don't worry about you a bit. You are my beautiful babe. I still remember your fuzzy head on my neck as you'd hang out on my shoulder when you were so small and not wanting to leave my side. I always look forward to the mornings I get to snuggle with you. Cozy & warm...love love love you little Bird.

And today is Phylo's birthday!! Happy 8th birthday to our sweet boy.

Much love & hugs,
Devon


Happy 2nd Birthday Griffin

Happy 2 little Griffin :) :)

Dear Griffin,

Today you are two years old! We had a fun & noisy party surrounded by people who love you. New friends, your mom and dad, your Gigi and Grandpa, your sister who you kindly picked out a present for and made sure she got her present first before even realizing you were standing next to a new tricycle, firetruck, and frog backpack. You are a wonder to us and every day with you is a fresh adventure.

This past year you have often stretched me, as you have consistently amazed and impressed me. You still get up 3+ times a night (I barely remember that one time you slept all the way till morning) and you barely nap 30 minutes a day. I think you just don't want to miss out on a thing. You have your own agenda and make it very clear how you feel - usually with words (often full sentences), sometimes with force. Your strong sense of self is inspiring, if a little intimidating. Some days I think you have hit me more than 50 times, often a smack to the face. Those are usually the days I put up the baby gate to keep you away from me as I make dinner and loudly sing songs trying find a "happy place". It's lovely when you go from screaming hitting maniac to dance party Griffy in Bird's outgrown sparkly pink slippers. How wonderful that you live in the moment most of the time. Thank you for reminding me to not be so serious. To remember to be curious..."what's that Mama?" "where's dat from Mama?"...and to slow down.

You are so happy to be held..."up Mama, up!!" You love touch and comfort. You love your home and often ask to "go home". Bird always wants to go! - off for adventures. You are happiest to come home. You are starting a lot of imaginary play and your language skills are shocking. Yesterday you made a funny rhyme while eating your breakfast. We like to talk about colors - you love the word "violeta" (purple in spanish, and in our house pronounced loudly as VEEEOHLETTA!). You said "breakfast...not done yet-a! violeta!". You can count to 20 sort of, not perfectly in order, but in both English and German. You love animals and at the toy shops gravitate toward the animatronic animals that purr and bark. You are often fearless...rarely cry much when you get hurt (full superman flip off the swing, bellyflop onto face and tummy in the muddy mulch, 30 seconds of crying, bit of freak out from Mommy, then here we go off to the see saw...), though teething has been awful and we have gone through plenty of sleepless nights and ibuprofen. You starting getting out of your crib at 16 months old and have had a big twin size bed for a couple of months now. After reading books at night you can walk yourself to bed, climb up and tuck yourself in. You can also get yourself out of bed, out of the room, then sneak into our bed at any time of the night you want to. I hope now that you're 2 you will start to become a deep sleeper!!

I love how you engage other people. You are hesitant at first, but within minutes a charmer. You are impish but mostly because you want to interact. Just like Bird you are a go-getter and I feel confident you will grow up to be a wonderful boy, young man, adult, father, grandfather...how privileged we are to have you sweet Griffin.

Happy Birthday :o)

Love Love Love
Mama

Griffin is 18 months old

Apple with his pasta, why not? Happy one and a half year birthday to you Griffy :) #dinner #18months

I think with the excitement of his one and a half year birthday Griffin can't help but look forward to being that much closer to 2 and therefore is celebrating with plenty of "no!", full body tantrums, smacking Mom in the face while saying "no!" (for extra emphasis), and shaking his head "no!" whenever possible. Oh dear...

Interspersed between finding his new voice Griffy is hilarious, heart crushingly cute, cuddly, very interested in other people, and super excited about many things including anything that moves on legs (dogs! cats! beetles!), putting on big sister Bird's shirts and dresses (yellow is a favorite color), mixing all his foods (see photo above), climbing any and everything (heart attack for me), picking and smelling flowers, turning shoes into cars and trains, and playing peek-a-boo which has turned into a game of a very screamy mis-timed "Ooooo!!" to which we jump and look as surprised as possible and give him all sorts of enjoyment.

We love you little Griffin. Wonderful precious heart stealing boy.
Hopefully tomorrow we can do a proper half year birthday, assuming we'll all be in the mood for it ;o)

Love and hugs from Germany,
Devon

Monday Studio Night

Up late but so much fun :) #painting #illustration #birds #flowers #garden

I squeezed in an hour of studying for my driver's license test than got right to painting. I've forgotten how long it can take to carefully fill in delicate lines with color. So fun...and with the iPad it's even better! I watched "Life in a day" documentary - LOVE! So fascinating, inspiring, sad, hopeful, etc. Look for it on Netflix and enjoy. I also finished up the rest of "Chemerical" - documentary on a family who goes 3 months without chemicals in their home.

Happy Tuesday!
Hugs from Germany,
Devon

ps - Thank you to my lovely friends for your encouragement about our progress with life here...it means a lot to me. I'm so happy we're up for this challenge even if it's stretching us in very uncomfortable ways much of the time! Today I managed to bike downtown with Griffin to pick up a package that had unfortunately required a signature and we managed really well. We even picked up some groceries (like the bike wasn't heavy enough haha!). We nearly got creamed by a rude Italian guy in a fancy convertible sports car who barely stopped in time as we were (legally) crossing the street and he was attempting to turn right. He yelled at us and laid on his horn. I of course looked at him and yelled right back. Griffin was growling and waving his arms around. Too much. I had to laugh after shaking off the idea that we were nearly hit by a car! You'll find assholes no matter what part of the world you're in. ;)

Fitting in

Nest bench #aachen #germany

I'm trying.

I suppose we could sit at home and drive each other crazy and slowly venture out once we have better language skills and understanding of how things work here. But I can't. It's not in my nature to just hang out...I crave variety, something new every day, finding out what's over that hill, stumbling on treasures from a spontaneous outing. And besides, our kids are HIGH energy, life engaging little folks just like us, and they seem to like adventures too. After a full day at home we're all ready to run for the door, even if just for a walk in the rain.

Splash! #rain #play #aachen #germany

But it's hard sometimes.

I know lots of words in German so far. I do the grocery shopping mostly and manage our farmshare ordering so I know what all the fruits and veggies and grains etc are called. I interact with Bird's school and the parents and teachers. Day to day life and my own curiosity led me to learn colors and numbers how to order from the bakery, make purchases at garden centers and hardware stores :o) I've figured out how to bid on and buy items (toys!) on German Ebay and manage paying for them with our German bank account. I can translate everything that comes over email and type into Google translate program what comes in the mail (tedious but it works).

Real life connecting is challenging though! I feel like an outsider just about all the time. And we are really. Outsiders. We've never been in this place, and it's uncomfortable.

Aqua Fit with the German ladies was fun :) #aachen #germany #pool

But trying to fit in. I joined an Aqua Fit class that meets at a beautiful public pool in the center of the city. Marble, tile, mahogany, stained glass. Just gorgeous. And open to all! The class is filled with similar aged ladies who are pretty fit. I totally dreaded going however. The whole way there I self-talked. "It's okay, if you don't like it you can cancel..." etc. etc. I realize how little I enjoy being the center of attention. And that's what happens when you are the only one who doesn't speak the language and the teacher feels compelled to help you understand what they're doing. I would much rather have submerged myself under the water's surface with a straw for breathing and stay there the whole of the class than feel like I am inconveniencing the instructor.

But I will keep going. I need the exercise!! And I was invited out for a drink by a couple of ladies afterward. Nice right? I unfortunately didn't take them up on it. I was totally nervous about riding my bike home in the dark UPHILL ALL THE WAY, and couldn't imagine doing it after having a beer and it being even later. I'm a scaredy cat. Boo hoo. Next week I promise. The ride home wasn't awful except for getting a tiny bit lost and having my chain fall off in the middle of a busy intersection. ;o)

Trying a gym class

I also signed Bird up for an afternoon gymnastics class. Unfortunately it didn't go quite as expected. Does the picture above say gymnastics to you?? It was a terribly crazy day to start and this was just another twist. Griffy had slept fitfully since 3am, then I had to strap him in the ergo carrier on my chest to keep him from screaming (teething!) until nearly 9am. We walked Bird to school then walked to baby swim class. This has been a good sort of "putting myself out there" experience so far. It's something we can walk to which is always fabulous. There is another (very nice) mom from kindergarten in the group with her son who is Griffin's age. And Griffin loves the water so much that it was enough to get him out of his funk and bring back the cheer. When we got home after class I got Griffy a nap, Jared showed up (he needed the car in the morning for driver's license practice driving), we drove him back to work, drove back home, walked over to get Bird, hung out at the park trying to continue to make new friends, drove to the "gymnastics" class in a busy part of town, then got a text from Jared saying he had a last minute meeting lasting till 6:30. So we put ourselves out there once more and asked a local mom and her kids where to go. We ended up walking to and hanging out at a park we'd never been to before (top image in my post) and I got to teach Bird how to deal with aggressive boys on the slide. Because at the end of a challenging day this Mama does not put up with rude bully boys harassing my daughter. And Bird totally did not get pushed around because she stood up for herself. So empowering. Then it was off to get Jared, with two kids crashed in the backseat, starving for dinner. Which thankfully had cooked in the crockpot all day and was waiting for us when we finally got home.

I'm sure it would be easier to just do this.

Cozy boy #germanshorthairpointer #dog #owl #plush

But the hardest part of the week was the "back to school" night at Bird's kindergarten. I sat through an hour and a half of presentation and discussion all in German, with which I understood zero. The first part was actually okay. It was all the parents/teachers/principal in the big room and they were overviewing something having to do with a grant and fundraising. But then we moved to smaller groups into our kids classrooms and it was really obvious in our little group of 10 that I was the only one sitting there like a lump on a log, not contributing, understanding, participating. I actually had to hold back the tears. I guess I had expected one of the teachers to help me out with translation at least a little bit. I interrupted twice to ask about things like why do I have to sign this paper? What does this permission slip mean, etc. I could feel the other parents glancing at me and occasionally giving a "feel sorry for you" look. One of the dads came over afterward and told me (they all seem to speak fairly decent English!) a few things from the meeting which I really appreciated.

Then when I went to leave I realized it was raining. I shoved my bag under my jacket and ran home, feeling pretty pathetic that I forgot an umbrella in Germany where it rains so frequently.

Jared was kind and helpful when I got home. He suggested we find a German language class for me sooner than later. It's just something I need to get by here. I think I was most frustrated by the fact that back in the states I was so involved in Bird's school. I knew everything about her daily life. In this situation I have no clue what they do at school for the most part. I have to just hope and trust in the school and Bird's teachers and what she tells me in her 4 year old descriptions. I 'm trying to be okay with that.

Hugs from Germany,
Devon

Why I like Mondays

Off for a picnic #aachen #germany #wurmtal #summer

We had a super lovely weekend. It started in a way on Thursday when I pushed through an insurmountable wall of cranky fighting unhappy kiddos and managed to pack a picnic and get everyone in the car. We picked up Jared and went to the forest. It was like day and night. An easy dinner at a tree stump picnic table, playing chase and hide and seek, picking wild blackberries.

Wild blackberries! #wurmtal #aachen #germany #summer #berries

Friday sort of flew by. I tried a new technique with Griffin. Instead of heading out after taking Bird to school we just played here. He took a snooze around noon and was able to make it to the evening without as much drama. Phew! I can only take so much. Last week was punctuated with it and I was tired of being on that rollercoaster. Jared and I were able to have a lovely evening watching a movie with prosecco and popcorn. We've been reading the Harry Potter series books (yes, aren't we the last to do so!) and it's so exciting to watch the movies again.

Popcorn, prosecco, and Potter :) We finally are reading the HP series and it's so fun to watch the movies again.

And I was able to get going on an illustration that will eventually be a printed tea towel. It feels really great to be moving along on a simple project that won't take weeks and weeks to complete. I had to start somewhere and this seems like a good place. Afterward if all goes well with Spoonflower printing, stocking my shop, etc., I'd love to put together a tea towel calendar for 2013. Good idea??

I was able to chip away a bit more despite the million distractions tonight. #illustration #drawing

Off to pick up Bird!

Oh! Yes, quickly, why I like Mondays: I'm fresh from the weekend usually which is great, but also because Monday has become my STUDIO NIGHT. Jared gets both kiddos to bed and I can get started on work early and without distraction. It has quickly become my favorite night of the week :o)

Can't wait to share more about all that.

Hugs from Germany,
Devon

Ps: Here are some sunny shots from the morning.

It's lovely at the park #aachen #germany #yellow #flowers #shoes

My neighbors grow gorgeous stripey dahlias. #flowers #dahlia #aachen #germany #summer

Off to school, no training wheels or help from mom! #biggirl #bike

Bird is riding her bike all by herself!!! I'm so proud of her :o) :o)

Last week

I started this post last week and even though it's not much I can't bear to trash it...sometimes things like waking babies, door bells ringing, etc etc happen and I end up with these half posts. 

Better that than nothing :o) Here's from last week:


Sunset from the studio #aachen #germany #sunset #sky #clouds

When my mom was here last weekend she corrected me (as moms do) that Griffin was not turning 18mths on the 17th of August, but just 17 months. Uh huh, that's right, yes, do the math Devon. He seems like such a mature 17 month old I guess I just assumed he a month older :o) So I deleted the post about his one and a half year birthday and we will just celebrate that next month.

This week we've had super warm (awesome!) weather and today it is starting to feel chilly again. There are sprinklings of leaves across the lawn from the first appearance of Fall. It starts early here. Figures!

We were able to get to a local spring (actually 7 springs that come up together, so neat) and cool off a bit. No matter how hot the air temp, you can count of absolutely freezing your footsies in that water! It's refreshing to say the least.

Jared and Griffy cooling off :) #stream #aachen #germany #summer

Stream slug #stream #aachen #germany

I'm trying to find a balance with our new routine and it's been challenging. Griffin is down to one nap, early in the day. And with less sleep he has been pretty cranky. He's also got a little cold which doesn't help.

Bird is doing well with kindergarten (aka preschool) and has been happy to go in the mornings.

I'm starting a new project that I'll share pictures of next post. It's been awesome to have a little more time at night (which is what happens when your kids don't sleep much or at all during the day!) and I've been able to get in the creative groove more often.

More soon, xo
Devon


Official Residents

Official residents #aachen #germany

This morning Griffin and I met up with Heidi who is part of a wonderful twosome of ladies who assist with relocation details for newly arrived expats. Jared's work set us up with them when he first came over here last September. Heidi is a totally lovely international wonder, a grandma, and extremely detail oriented. Perfect fit for us :o)

We picked up our official residency cards! We are HERE now.

I was thinking just yesterday about when I'll feel like this is home. I know it took a few years to feel that way in San Jose. I think having kids puts you on a fast track. I'm normally a bit shy, slow to change, very very slow to put myself out there. A creeper. But with kids and being in a different country where so many things have had to be dealt with I've had to put my brave face on quite a bit.

Yesterday after preschool pick up we three headed across to the local playground and found ourselves surrounded by Bird's school friends. We are an oddity. English speakers. But kids are just amazing you know. Parents hang back, unsure of how to communicate with the language barrier. But kids don't care. You got sand toys? Can I use that shovel? My name is "____", this is my brother, he is 1. Etc, etc. All in German of course, but simple conversation and plenty of hand gestures :o) It was pretty wonderful. A welcome of sorts.

I let Griffin play in the fountains after picking up our cards. It's been a beautiful few days here!!

Trying to splash me :) #fountain #aachen #germany

With the sun out and afternoons free (no naps from Bird anymore!!) we've been playing outside a lot. I had an idea to tape paper on the wall and let them have at it with paints and tools. It was such a blast. And it quickly turned into a rendition of "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More". Thankfully it all came off in the tub.

Painting outside #kidart

Thoroughly enjoying herself, hope it's really washable #purple girl #painting

A mix of "look at me" & "I have to pee" #purple #paint

Thoroughly scrubbed

And this is how Phylo hangs out while we're playing. Goofy dog.

How Phylo dog hangs out #germanshorthairpointer #dog

Have a great day!
Hugs, Devon