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.

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

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

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

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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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

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


Crazy great playground #tongeren #belgium

On Sundays most all the shops are closed in Europe. Grocery stores, hardware stores, etc, etc. There will be some bakeries & restaurants open and often special events that occur, but other than that Sunday is like an official "rest day". I like it. It was inconvenient at first but you learn to organize yourself accordingly and then go with the flow.

On Sundays you can take a drive over to Tongeren, Belgium, to their famous flea market. It's huge and FULL of eye candy. Amazing never before seen things await you and your pocketbook. Beware! They also as we've discovered, have an amazing playground and park area that is as much a destination as the flea market. We had a great day yesterday enjoying a bit of both.

I would have loved to have brought one of these home had we a purpose for it. They would fantastic faucets for an outdoor sink. My mom also thought it would be a fabulous pot filler mounted over a cooktop. Talk about a statement piece.

Giant duck head faucets #tongeren #antique

My find was a gorgeous blue folding iron table. I had spotted it there over a month ago and happy joy it was there again yesterday! It wasn't pricey and it fit in the car - even better! I love it against the (way too pale) yellow of the house. It's a delicious slice of color and so practical. I can imagine using it for years to come and I'm sure it will be a part of future craft sale set ups.

My new old iron folding table from #tongeren #antique #market

Jared is a lighting geek. He has been amassing little lanterns for future projects. I'm wondering when the "future" is...but he has time ;o) Yesterday he saw the ultimate lantern. It was not cheap, but worth the price (much better than ebay!) and so so pretty. It's an antique copper ship's lamp. Complete and fully functional. After getting it home Jared and my dad checked out its insides and found lots of wick still left. My dad suggested we actually use it at parties for lighting. That would be fun. Right now she lives on top of our office space. Shiny, pretty thing she is.

And Jared's find: #antique #copper #shiplamp He's giddy about it. Fully functional too.

After the market we hit the crazy good playground. The weather was so warm and sunny, we filled our solar cells well....ahhh. Bird enjoyed the bikes, Griffin climbed all over the play structures and practiced his sliding, then we all jumped in a paddleboat and experienced the best part of our day. It was so nice to float around in a sunlit lake, with soft thin clouds in the sky, ducks and geese swimming curiously by, people to wave to on the benches. I was more than happy to pedal us around while Jared sat with Bird and Griffin in the front and munched on snacks. It really was the nicest way to end the day.

Biking #tongeren #belgium

#tongeren #belgium #pond

#paddleboat #tongeren #belgium

Now we're back to a mostly regular week. My parents are still here but are away for the next two days to explore Brugge and Gent on the coast of Belgium. My mom goes back to work next week (she is a school teacher with DODDS) so she is using her time well. Bird is back to kinder/preschool and every day is still a challenge but it's going okay. Jared, well, he's in a new position today. He received a promotion of sorts (a job shift, to something that seems will be preferable, or more effective as they like to say here) and also gets a new boss today. I haven't heard from him yet. Hoping all is well. This is life here for us. So many changes!

Griffin and I are creating new routines with our time together and I'm planning out my next project. I'm working on illustrating and printing tea towels that I'll sell in my Etsy shop. I'm just in the illustrating phase but getting excited about colors and trying to just focus on this one little project. My mind can wander so quickly and then I'm getting ahead of myself and accomplishing almost nothing. Focus is the word of the moment. Bigger things come from chipping away at little things right?

Have a lovely week!
Hugs, Devon

Marvelous Metz

Metz, France

We took a couple of days off last week and headed for my parents house (~3hrs away). We had originally planned on finding a "cabin in the woods by a lake or river" or "quaint French beach house on the coast" but it proved to be pretty difficult to do. In the end, we had a pretty fabulous four days of vacation. Seeing my parents, getting out for an evening just me & Jared, hiking in the Eifel forest region, and exploring the town of Metz in France.

#eifel #germany #yellow #flowers

The Eifel is a really neat densely forested area not super far from us. So nice for getting away and being in nature. We realized it was the first time we had actually hiked together as a family of four! We found & munched on wild strawberries & blackberries, got stung by nettles (poor Jared!), made it up to a good look out point and had a picnic, and just kept encouraging Bird & Griffin to keep going. Haha, that took up a lot of our hiking time.

Top of a hill in the #eifel #germany

Griffin & Bird really enjoy my parents house. My mom has it stocked with toys & books and they just go nuts with the big open spaces. Our homes here in Germany are so much bigger than they were in the states!

Our crazy kids love my parent's house

My mom and I enjoy walking Phylo at night after Jared and I have put kiddos to bed. It's been gorgeous most evenings. My parents home is surrounded by farms and the wheat is in the middle of being harvested. I love seeing the changes every time we visit.

#schwedelbach #germany #moonrise

On Friday we drove to Metz, France. Our tactic with kids is to drive directly to a playground that we find the night before using google maps satellite :o) It's the best way to get their energy out before we do something that's not so fun for them. The first thing we saw was the Moselle River. SO PRETTY! It was a beautiful day in general and the river was sparkling, full of swans and fish, and a few people wading in with fishing poles. Containers full of colorful flowers line the railings and bridges.

We ended up not actually finding a playground where we thought there was (!!) but were happily surprised by an empty mini-golf course.

Mini golf #metz #france

The cathedral in Metz was so amazing. Huge and mesmerizing. Because it was a sunny day the color streaming through the stained glass windows was fantastic. Griffin tried out all the chairs he could while Bird crashed for a few minutes in the stroller.

#metz #cathedral #france

#metz #cathedral #france

#chagall #metz #france #cathedral

Griffin loves trying all the chairs #metz #france #cathedral

We found a gorgeous garden in front of the opera house. It was so inspiring. I really could have spent hours there :o)

Magical garden #metz #france

Blooms #metz #france

On Saturday we did a little flea marketing with my parents. That afternoon we all took naps - even me, the most resistant to napping! Then out for some time to enjoy the sun (which you know by now is something not to take for granted here!!) with some bike riding, hay bale "rolling", and later out for Thai food with just Jared (thank you to my mom).

Sunday we hit the road with a really really packed car. We picked up more treasures in France and Phylo barely had any space ;o) We stopped on the way home for a picnic in a field and got to stretch our legs.

Bike for two #bike

Those hay bales are heavy! #hay #farm

Headed home. Spot the Phylo dog :) #roadtrip #germanshorthairpointer #dog

Painterly clouds #sky #clouds #germany

Bird and Griffin have been playing "sleeping games" lately. They're ridiculously cute. Our little guy is so easy going for his big sister it's amazing. When we got home from traveling Jared and I got swept up in cleaning, laundry, etc. while kiddos chilled out in the living room. I took this picture after Bird had convinced Griffy to lay on a bed she'd made him, then tucked him in, and was "reading" him a book. Love!

She made him a bed, tucked him in, and is reading him a story. #love #sisterandbrother

Thanks for reading this long picture filled post! :o) I'm hoping to get back in the blogging routine again. Especially with living here and all these amazing places we're visiting. It seems a shame not to document it all! Hope you have a lovely rest of the week.

Hugs from Germany :o)

The three month check up

Following Phylo dog in the rain #germanshorthairpointer #dog #aachen #germany Hello hello! I've had friends bugging me to get back to it with the blogging. I'll start slowly but consider this my re-entry :o)

Germany life is going okay. Ups & downs. I have nothing to compare it to really as it is a completely new experience for us. But I'm reserving judgement until I've been here awhile. It has been very rainy lately...this "sun girl" is definitely weather challenged!

Nancy, France #nancy #france #reflection In newsy news, Bird turned FOUR on Friday. Hooray for 4!! We had a lovely long weekend with my parents in Kaiserslautern and did some traveling & thrifty shopping (the best kind) in parts of Germany & France. Bird helped make cupcakes and we did singing & presents & celebration with just our little family and my parents. It was very different from birthdays past but totally enjoyable. Sometimes low key is okay.

Good morning! I'm 4 today Birthday treats Nancy, France #nancy #france #villamajorelle Jared and I celebrated TWELVE years of marriage yesterday. Woot! We actually celebrated last Thursday night with a yummy French dinner out while my parents babysat.

Dinner for two ☺ #celebration Phylo dog turned 7. It's hard to believe really. He's still such a puppy in many ways. I think he loves it here (when it's not raining and he misses his walk). He gets to be off leash for walks so he's getting much more exercise than I could give him in California. He also loves the house I think. It's roomy and there's lots of cozy places for lounging :o)

Phylo has claimed this spot #germanshorthairpointer #dog My studio. We moved all the tables to the window wall for the light and also to block off the door (3 stories down!). #studio #attic #cozy I've been setting up my studio. It's such a great space. I'm the luckiest girl. Bird has started a few days a week of "kindergarten" (they call it that here but it's really preschool). So far so good. She's iffy about it some mornings but I think she's going to ease in and enjoy it. The best part is that we can walk. Yep, just 5 minutes walk. That's totally life changing. And good too, because we still have just one car. Our van is still in CA DMV limbo. Ugh.

Kinder. Back at it. I want to do what they're doing! Griffin is our Griffybear, almost 15mths old...he's teething hardcore these days and keeping us up at night. Painful. Like 2-4am not sleeping. Or wide awake at 3:45am. Nutty. He and Bird share a room so it can be complicated. But I remember this phase with Bird. Teething is hard for our kids. And for us. It will pass eventually... He's still such a sweetie. He's starting to say lots more words. Books, car, thank you, this, dog, tons of animal sounds. He wants to be a big boy so badly. We have him out of his high chair and he climbs by himself into a Stokke like chair with no straps. He wants real sandwiches he can hold in his little mitts. No cut up pieces for him, no thank you.

Tantrum. Hates being told no :) And what am I planning for my time? A mix of everything. Being mom, squeezing in art & textiles whenever possible, trying to take better care of myself. This is a big adjustment and I'm trying to not apply too much pressure to myself. I've been thrilled to have this beautiful space at the tippity top of the house (3 stories up, like a treehouse!) and have lots of little projects lined up. Painting a pair of mid-century side tables discarded on the street (why thank you!), revamping old lighting finds, framing up artworks. On my desk are fresh illustrations ready to be painted. And after our trip to Nancy, France, my head is spinning with ideas for textile designs.

Painted background. All for now, night! :) #watercolor #painting #rabbit #flowers #blue I'm on Instagram every day...I need to get better about Twitter, and only very occasionally check facebook. But I'd love to see you on Instagram and if you want to keep up with me and what we're doing that's the best place to be. My Instagram name is devonholzwarth.

#poppies #aachen #germany Outside the cathedral #aachen #germany Hugs from Germany!

Griffin is ONE

Today is St. Patrick's Day but more importantly to us, it's Griffin's 1st Birthday!!

Birthday boy! Griffin enjoying his 1st birthday :)

See saw! #aachen #germany

Leg hugs :)

Before leaving San Jose, we had a big fun party with friends and celebrated our boy's upcoming birthday and our impending departure. It was so amazingly great to spend a few moments with many of our friends and have the chance to give last hugs for at least a little while. Griffy had a lovely time being passed around (still not really walking!) and squeezed, then enjoyed handfuls of chocolate cupcake after we sang him the Birthday song (Bird obligingly blew out his candle).

Walking practice w Griffy

Dear Griffin,

You are the sweetest little one...I smile every time I think of you. You can play and find fun in just about everything that crosses your gaze. You're cuddly and ferociously affectionate at times (full body hugs, often in the middle of the night). You are who I expected you to be in that you bring a lightness to our family, a sweetness, an attitude that life is better when you're having fun. You don't get mad at your sister when she's less than gentle with you. In fact, you call her in your own unique way when you get up in the morning and realize she's not there. You love our Phylo...maybe a bit much. But he doesn't seem to mind you. You have an appetite for life, and also for food! You love all sorts of things but especially food with real flavor. Spices, olive oil, almost anything off our plates :o) You want big hunks of things and you want to feed yourself. Yesterday you were putting your food on a spoon and attempting to eat with it. You're really into mimicking us and enjoy copying our random sneezes and coughs, then laughing about it. You were almost able to blow out your birthday candle tonight. I know you'll get it soon.


Homemade #cookies brought from San Jose. We have a pretty decent food stash.

#apartmenttour #germany #aachen So happy to have found this 7€ rug in "as is" at ikea yesterday! That and the laundry basket are big hits.

Things that move get you really excited. You love hide and seek. Trains are fascinating. Dogs are intriguing (and you bark quite well). You've taken 3 or 4 steps at a time and practice at random moments. You still try to eat little rocks at parks and playgrounds (sigh). You love to be held and you love snuggles. Diaper changes are a waste of your time apparently. You have the grabbiest fingers I've ever seen on a kid (disastrous!) and you're loving our crazy tiny table here at the apartment in Aachen as you can reach everyone's plates :o) You love books & when we read to you. You're starting to babble on and on and have little conversations. You still don't sleep well at night but we're getting ready to move you in with your big sister soon anyway (you two will work it out).

Beer and baby :) Down the street from our apartment in #Aachen #Germany

Ikea in The Netherlands

This past year with you has been amazing Griffin! What a journey it's been. A year ago today I never would have imagined we'd be moving to Germany and you'd have your little childhood here. What fun for you and Bird and for all of us to have together. Can't wait for many adventures ahead with you.

All my love, Mama

A few pics from before the move :o)

(early) Birthday boy and his balloons

Waiting for bites of dad's cereal

Crazy town at our house #moving

Mattresses on the floor! #moving

Done for the day #moving

On the way out

Packing up the #vintage #fiestaware #dishes

10 days left till the big move.

We've painted the house
found a property manager
found renters
installed gutters
fixed the landscaping & watering issues
sold/given away much of our stuff
rehomed our cat Sanguine
sold Jared's car
set myself up with great art materials until our stuff arrives in Europe
purchased an indoor swing for our kiddos (!)
bought our tickets & reserved a spot for Phylo
sold our Bob stroller and got a used double
secured temporary housing
started searching for a house to rent
cancelled magazine subscriptions
scheduled the packers/movers for next Wed/Thurs
ordered our last Amazon items (replacement pedometer Griffy flushed down the toilet)
planned a trip to Nice, France for 3 weeks after we get to Germany (!!)
removed everything from the walls & patched
rehomed large art & sold the huge tv
reupholstered my favorite chairs
taken every one to the dentist
stocked up on probiotics
researched German language teaching programs
scheduled monthly maintenance with landscaping service
scheduled painters to finish woodwork painting after we're gone
etc etc

Still so much left to do...lots of walls & trim to paint, mulch to lay, prepping for packers.

We're going to be so tired of working we'll be so excited to go.

I'm easing my anxiety about the whole thing by telling myself it's a long vacation. That way it feels temporary and fun and gives me a sense of adventure about the whole deal. Everything's mental, and everything is about attitude. I'm trying to keep mine upbeat and positive. I mean, how lucky are we to have this opportunity?

Hugs, Devon

ps: I'm on Instagram almost every day - my name on the site is "devonholzwarth". However, once we're over in Germany there will be a lapse in my iPhone use since I'll need to get a new European phone contract. I'll keep in touch via my macbook as best as possible :o)

Auf wiedersehen!

Griffin is 11 months

Griffin, 11 months old

Griffin is 11 months old + 2 weeks :o) We are actually having a 1st birthday party for him this weekend since we'll be in Germany when he turns 1 officially. It will be nice to have both experiences I think: loud, kids, friends, backyard fun here in California & simple, just mom & dad/Bird/grandparents, maybe a picnic with cupcakes over in Germany (and maybe inside because it'll probably be rainy & chilly!).

He continues to be such a delightful lovebug who doesn't sleep well at night. We joke that he's a perfect baby so it's inevitable he needs a flaw, such as screaming for 2+ hours last night between the hours of 1:30 and 4:30am.

 2 more teeth are coming in, that will make 6!

 So far he has said "car" and "go" and quite a bit of "mama" - makes me happy :o) Griffy also likes to mimic barking dogs.

Over the weekend he took his first steps!! He's been able to balance on his own for a while now and seems to be interested in the next big thing. Exciting, scary. Griffin also is in the phase of putting absolutely every tiny little thing in his mouth. In the house, outside, in the car, wherever. It stinks. Especially as we're prepping the house for renters and packing up for moving. And there's the climbing...I have a feeling he'll be on the table tops before we know it.

 Hugs, Devon

Griffin is 10 months old

Caught (!) with the black marker

Griffin turned 10 months old on Tuesday. It's amazing that he is just two months from turning ONE - where did all the time go? It's so true all the things I've heard about it going by so fast. Of course the memories from certain things are still intense (the reflux through 6mths comes to mind).

Griffy you are such a treat. You are not the best sleeper but I don't mind so much these days. I know there will be a time when you will sleep well on your own and you will no longer pull yourself up to the side of the crib and bounce and jiggle with complaint that I'm not picking you up fast enough.

Sleeping Griffin, 10 months old today

Today you stood for a good 10 seconds on your own and clapped your hands. Yes, bravo, little man - bravo! You also figured out how to remove the caps from your sister's markers and really enjoyed the black one for the 3.5 seconds before I pried it from your extremely firm grasp. You were not so happy to give up the marker and of course went looking for more. And I of course handed you a screw top variety - try that one kid. And you probably will. I'm scared.

Eating the alphabet book

You love books - we read with you before every nap and bedtime and you talk along and grab the pages and fuzzy parts. At other times you wrestle them, gnaw on them, and simply enjoy the heck out of playing with them. I don't usually intervene, unless you're actually ripping pages and then attempting to eat the paper.

Bird requested a photo with Griffy and recommended "orange" as the filter (toaster)

You love your sister...you look for her when she's not around and when you hear her voice you call out so sweetly. "Deh?" She's not enamored with your hair pulling loving enthusiasm, but often remarks on how cute you are. So far you've not held any grudge toward her toy stealing, biting (less of this lately thank goodness), "accidental" bumping into, etc., etc. She can do no wrong in your eyes. I love watching you guys play together.

#janphotoaday - close up - Yay! Griffy's passport arrived. We can officially move to Germany now :)

We finally got your passport...so little in your picture. Now we are all ready for Germany. So many adventures ahead.

#janphotoaday Childhood - sister and brother

In the morning you'll happily hang out in your high chair for a few minutes (we did have to recently fashion a seat belt - whatever happened to the other one who knows) and eat a rice cracker while morning busy-ness in the kitchen takes place. Bird often wants one too and you're happy to "feed" anyone willing to offer a mouth.

Messy finger licking good

You enjoy feeding yourself and especially like blueberries and tomatoes, just like your sister :o) I don't think you've turned down anything we've offered you.


You are such a delight. At 10 months you are really showing so much of who YOU are and it's a joy to watch. Playful, determined, curious, engaging, and so very sweet. We love you Griffybear. :o)

Hugs and Kisses, Mama

The eve of a New Year

2012 is minutes away...I write this knowing that the year ahead of us will be so different than this past one. Not necessarily easier, but definitely different. That's been a huge lesson for me this year. That so much of our own life is beyond our control, and maybe it's a really good thing.

Tomorrow Jared leaves again for Germany for two weeks. It'll be the 4th trip he's made since taking the new job and he'll have two more trips after this one. Being a single parent to a 3.5yo and a now 9mth old has been something that has changed me more than most things. I have so much respect for single parents!! Being on my own with our kids through our typical daily grind plus managing our Herculean effort toward readying our house for renting out, and preparing to move everyone to Germany...I've been completely pooped much of the time. I can't even imagine if I were trying to work right now too.

I'm so excited to go...and so hesitant to leave.

I hope for a fresh perspective on many things, especially in my art and related pursuits. I can't wait to set up a new super sweet studio space that has me inspired to paint & illustrate, design fabric & sell my work both small from my shop & on a larger scale as well.

I hope for our family that we will cherish this time together in a new place. Knowing that all you really need when you go someplace new is each other. And with no almost 100yo house to work on, we should have more time to enjoy on other things like travel (4hr drive to Paris!) and biking and cooking and making things.

So right now I'm looking ahead with a smile but bracing myself for the next two weeks and all the busy-ness ahead. Griffy has been having a terrible time with teething and we are up for hours at a time at night with him screaming :( It's been going on for days. Bird has been a lot of fun lately (3.5 is very interesting, & cheeky!) but also has been pushing buttons as fast as she can. I found myself saying "if she didn't push the boundaries, she would never know what they are" - that was when I realized someone was praying for me to have a good attitude ;o) We watch more movies & live more simply when Jared is gone but I'm not letting myself feel guilty for this strange bit of time between California & Germany life.

It will all get done...and we will look back and be proud of how we got through what has definitely been the most stretching time in our lives so far! I'm thankful for how we are being shaped, even though it's often painful. Being a single mom for weeks at a time has taught me to be a better mom and I've never had to be more responsible for so many things at once before. Because of this my confidence level has grown tremendously - I really feel like I can handle so much more! I'm so excited to inject this new confidence into my business in 2012 and hopefully into taking better care of myself as well (exercise and eating well has not been the biggest priority - this needs to change!). I also hope to be as sincere & honest as possible...with you, with me. There's no reason not to.

Hugs & well wishes for a New Year 2012!!

Happy Halloween!


Bird was the cutest cowgirl this year...she practiced a lot of giddyup's! and yeehaw's! and had been wearing bits and pieces of her costume for close to a month. We had so much fun last night :o)

Cowgirl Cowgirl Cowgirl Cowgirl

No pics to share of Griffy in his stegosaurus costume - it was super cute. There are some pics on my phone but it was getting dark and he is a wiggly 7 month old. So you can imagine how not so great the shots are. I was a woodland fairy (sort of)...holding a whining/screaming baby in one arm while trying to paint leaves on my cheek with the other. Then he nursed and promptly fell asleep. I was going to feel so guilty getting him into a costume while asleep, then thankfully he woke from a 20 minute slumber and was good to go :o) Trooper.

We went with my lovely friend Mrs. Potato Head and her furry friend Hans dressed adorably in a sailor coat.

Happy Halloween everyone, and now on to November and December and other fun things ahead!

Hugs, Devon


Cereal box kids

I sent these pictures to family yesterday and the response I got was they'd be perfect on cereal boxes :o) Especially Bird's picture - can we say animated?? What a ham.

I've started Griffin on the baby led feeding thing...basically he eats real solid foods instead of purees. He doesn't mind the occasional puree/smooth baby food, but wow does he get excited for spears of sweet potato! It was really fun. I've ordered these bibs based on another mom's review and can't wait till they arrive (backordered!).

It looks like it's going to dump buckets of rain out there. I feel like Fall is arriving. Just in time for us to get a bunch of exterior work done on the house...oh well, can't always have the best timing. I'm dying to get to Lowe's (w/o kids would be heaven) so I can get paint samples. I'm leaning toward an artichoke heart green for the house body color, a firey orange/red for the inner sash trim, and a creamy white for all the larger main parts of trim. I'll also add an eggplant color in there (probably paint it myself to save cost) on some detail trim parts for extra fanciness. What fun! Can't wait to get this house painted. Now to line up the contractor for exterior rot fixes, and the gutter guy, etc.

Have a lovely afternoon & Happy Columbus Day, or Native American Day - whatever's your choosing!

Hugs, Devon

Sticky milky clumsy monday morning

Phylo doing his best & loving every second
I have no one to blame but me...what a crazy mess. Not a terribly great start to the week. Just before this Griffin bit me while nursing. I suppose his new 2 bottom teeth still feel sensitive. Add those things to a night of 4 hours of sleep and another week ahead with no Jared (till Saturday, this has been LONG 2 weeks), and a nanny who found full time work last Friday so she cancelled with us this week...sigh...I'm just grateful we have plans with friends this morning and preschool 2x this week so there are things to do. I need to get over myself and ask for help more often. My lovely friend Katie offered to walk Phylo for me. I feel bad accepting because he's so badly behaved on walks (think constant squirrel hunter). But I think I need to just say yes!

I'm also grateful Jared made sure there was lots of roasted coffee for me (he roasts our own), that my Bird is so sweet that she comforted me after the bite this morning (her comforting consists of hugs and kisses and pats and saying "sometimes...yeah, sometimes" which is how I often start a message of consolation), and that even though Griffin doesn't sleep so great he's such a happy little guy. When he wasn't napping yesterday, I was starting to get frustrated as Bird was napping and I was hoping to sleep too. I was hanging out on the bed waiting for him to relax in his crib. The little bugger kept cooing and chattering at me and pulling himself up as high as he could to catch my eye. He's so amazing to me - Bird was not like that as a little babe. There would have been lots of crying and whining, not playing and flirting. I'm so happy for the differences.

Gotta run...I'm still half dressed from the milk incident this morning and Bird is starting to get buggy. It was nice to vent for a few minutes. Have a lovely day!

Hugs, Devon

It's official :: Auf Wiedersehen!

That's right...I just said goodbye, in German ;o)

We are moving!!

Not forever, just a 3 year commitment and we're keeping our house and doing storage and such. So we're definitely coming back (can you hear my relief?). Jared resigned from his job of 11 years and took a new one with a company in Germany. We will be moving in March. Until then (and maybe then too?) things are going to be tough...Jared will travel for 2 or 3 weeks at a time every two weeks :( But the pay off will be living right on the border with the Netherlands, 4+ hour drive from Paris, quick trip to Belgium, 3 hours from my parents (they're by the Air Force base in Ramstein), with 30 days vacation a year, oh, and Ikea (Netherlands) just 25 minutes away which is the same amount of drive time it is for us here ;o) It's the important things right?

Mostly, it will be a new experience. A fresh start, a paradigm shifting maybe. I think we've been needing it. I've been trying to accept my current situation of having so little time to myself and being so busy with two young children. I may as well go focus on that in a different country right?

Speaking of no time to myself...I'd better publish this now before it takes me a week to come back to it.

Hugs, Devon