Monday, November 24, 2008

Get 'er Done, or, Chores with the Gutsy Dad, Part Two

Riding high after the success of his silver polishing ("honey, this should totally go on the blog," said he), the Gutsy Dad moved on to yet another favorite chore around here: breaking down the cardboard boxes that periodically grow into large mountains in our garage. In my defense, I did do this on my own several times during the RLBT, but the last few months of the RLBT were riddled with spastic rounds of retail therapy, so Mount Cardboard was rather high again.

Zephie, who despises any activity that has to do with boxes because it surely must mean that we are going to pack up the house and leave without her, found this chore the least enjoyable. She quickly found a spot to plant herself, proving that she takes quite seriously what my father calls Golden Rule Number One: don't get left behind.

Jillsie seemed to enjoy herself the most, even though she got in trouble for ignoring Papa's warnings about dumping out the boxes. "Sorry I dumped the nuts on the ground, Papa,"said she.

"What? I'm innocent."

Zephie is skeptical about "helping."

Lastly, here is our latest attempt at an entry into the "Cutest Wistful Golden Retriever Pose" photography contest.

Out & About

With Sieby on the way, we've been doing some gear testing (Chris, for example, went for a bike ride using the Chariot stroller and loved it) and this has led to more outdoor adventures for us as a family. Recently, we went on a family hike in Pottenstein with a bunch of friends and kids and dogs. (Good thing, too, since we now have three inches of snow and this particular hike would've been tricky for me with snow... but never fear, we've got snow shoes on the way for future snowy hikes!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random Updates

Here's a long overdue summary of "what we've been up to" since the happy reunion a few weeks ago. I can't say there has been anything Tres Exciting, but there have been many, small, wonderful moments. Let us start with this one: Yes, that is my husband polishing silver. He hadn't even been home for a week. Many of you know that since we moved to Germany I have been using my grandmother's silverware as our everyday, whatever-you-need-it-for flatware. Why, you may ask? Well, my Grandma used it every day--for her cereal in the morning and for her ice cream at night and for everything in between. She once explained to me that she didn't see the point of saving beautiful things for special occasions only; if you have something beautiful and you are not using it, then that is wasteful. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this philosophy (I try to apply it to my whole life) and how much I have been enjoying using her silver--every day.

BUT. Those of you who have visited have seen that I have adopted a rather "shabby chic" approach to maintaining the beauty of the silver. Using it makes me happy, polishing it not so much. Truly, I had been intending to polish it for well over a year. I even bought two different polishing aids to make it "fun." So imagine my surprise when I busted my not-so-domestically-inclined husband polishing the silver one morning in his pajamas. He had purchased gloves and two more polishing aids OF HIS OWN ACCORD in order to do it.

The result is beyond beautiful: And, well, since he was doing that, I figured I better make myself useful (or at least do something to make myself feel deserving of polished silver), so I cleaned out the "scary cabinet." Only some of you know what this used to look like, and trust me, that's a good thing. Now we move on to the "history repeating itself" portion of our summary. It has two parts.

PART ONE: Happy Dogs

PART TWO: St. Martin's Fest
You can google the German tradition of kindergartners celebrating St. Martin if you want the full history of this folksy, religious tradition, so I'll just share with you the parts that mattered most to me last week. When I was six, I participated in this fest with my parents when we lived in the Black Forest. With the other children, I made a lantern out of an old coffee can, covered in construction paper, and with a pattern poked into it via hammer and nail. I believe there was a stick to hold the lantern out in front, and a real-live-flame tea light involved. We walked through the town at night, singing St. Martin hymns and promising to keep our lanterns lit.

I remember doing that all these years later, so imagine my delight when Jillson's kindergarten sent home the flyer announcing it was St. Martin's time. Unbeknownst to me, Jillson and her 2-year-old classmates had made lanterns in "class" and it was requested that I pay 1 Euro to cover the cost of her battery-operated tea light.

Jills, the Gutsy Dad, and I showed up at the church in town at the appointed time (5pm) to watch and participate in the short, kinder-centric St. Martin's "Andacht." The older kindergartners had been preparing songs for weeks. Upon seeing them up front performing, Jillson ran up to join them, and then stood in the middle of the performance, swaying and dancing, and whispering to her teacher, Nadine. (At one point, she apparently hissed to Nadine, "I need a change!" That's my girl. Announcing to the teacher, God, and the congregation that she had a poopy dipe.) I worried whether Jillson's taking center stage was cute or annoying, but then I decided to stop worrying because to remove her from the scene would have meant mucho shrieking in the very echoey Baroque church. After the service, we followed "St. Martin" who was on his real, live horse through the darkened streets of town, singing songs, swinging our lanterns, and serenading the good people at two old folks homes.The parade ended at Jillson's kindergarten which served wurst and kinderpunsch and gluewein, with parents huddled around bonfires. As for the other pictures from this special event--most of them are just blips of light in the dark night, but this is okay by me, because I am not likely to forget.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alive & Well

Just a quick note to say that we are, indeed, still here and doing well, even though I haven't been able to update the blog in ages. I'll get back to you soon with pics and stories, I promise. In the meantime, here are two recent favorites.