Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Family Tree

On Thanksgiving morning, we traveled to D's parents' timber and selected and cut down our Christmas tree.  Kale watched anxiously as Papa cut it down and as it was coming down, Kale threw his arms in the air.  He said "it's big and tall!"
 We loaded it into the back of the Kubota RTV and slick as a whistle, drove back up to the house and loaded it into the truck.  It totally beat any tree farm or parking lot tree excursion :)


During the month of November, we had a piece of butcher block paper up in the kitchen.  I drew a tree trunk and then Justin, Kale and I traced around our hands to make leaves.  Every few days I would ask Kale what he was thankful for.  Without prompting, we would say things like "our food, church, people, Cedar, my shirt."  We talked about what it means to be thankful.  We also worked on memorizing the verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Be joyful always.  Pray continually.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  By the end of the month, Kale was saying the whole verse by himself.  Proud of our little man and what he's learning!


(Playing a little catchup...) We enjoyed the rather balmy month of October.  Kale was very interested in the pumpkin patch (our garden) this year.  Each day we'd wander through the patch and check on our growing, round friends.  After a frost, we harvested them and let them hang out on the deck to "orange up" in the sunshine.

 Then came carving time (he wanted to carve one that wasn't so orange...).  We have the book "The Pumpkin Gospel" in which it relates cleaning out a pumpkin to how God cleans out our heart.  It talks of "scooping out the mushy gooshies like God cleans out our sin."  Kale talked of "mushy gooshies" several times while we cleaned.  Darn cute.

 Halloween night arrived and we had a little marathon runner on our hands.  I decided to DIY this year after seeing the idea in a Parent Magazine.  He wore my running bib and medal from the Chicago Marathon in 2003.

 Papa was a good sport and dressed up too.  And he was truly dressing up cause we all know Papa don't like to run!
 While out trick-or-treating, we stopped at a little firestation that was handing out treats and let the kids sit in the fire engines and ambulance.  Pretty cool!

Kale was a real trooper.  At each stop he climbed out of the car and grabbed his pumpkin and went up to the door.  I think he got the hang of it quickly!  Was a fun night for all of us.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Germany-Day 4-Mannheim, Heidelberg

We started the morning taking in what we could see of the John Deere facility.  Because it was on a Sunday, everything was locked down but I could at least get a visual of where Justin works when he travels there.  In the picture below, we are just outside our hotel looking up the street to the facility.  The tower in the background was part of the original artillary and amunition factory before World War II.  Up close, you can still see bullet holes in the tower.

 The building with the circular windows is where Justin sits when in Germany.

 After we toured the facility, we hopped on the train to Heidelberg.  When we arrived, we took a tour of the castle there.  It was magnificent and offered amazing views of the city.  This is a city that was not destroyed during the war so it held its old flavor and beauty.  As information on the castle reads, the earliest castle structure was built before AD 1214.  The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.

 We also toured another church in the heart of Heidelberg.

 And more shopping and wandering through the main thoroughfare of the city.

 Seeing the man play the accordian on the street reminded me of my Grandpa Max who grew up in Germany and played accordian almost every time our family saw him.
 I was once again in heaven in the Christmas store.  Oh my, oh my.  AMAZING.
 The coffee houses were also a fun treat.
I was back on the plane on Monday morning while Justin stayed back in Mannheim to work for the week.  It was an amazing trip; one I feel fortunate to have taken.  Hard to believe, but in just a few short weeks, Justin will be headed back. 

Germany-Day 3-Mannheim, Speyer

We traveled to Mannheim on day 3.  We checked into our hotel, only about one block from the John Deere factory where Justin spends his time, and then we were back on the train headed to Speyer.  The Speyer Cathedral is one of largest and most significant Romanesque edifices in Germany.  Construction began around 1030.

 After leaving the cathedral, we ran into the main business/shopping district of Speyer.  Once again, I was amazed at all the people out and about.

 We enjoyed some shopping.  One store, in particular, caught my attention.  It was a shoe store that had three floors.  I was in heaven and Justin found himself a comfy "egg seat" while I browsed.
 The amount of bicyclists really caught my attention too.  The Germans are on to something here...
 And of course I had to take a picture of the amazing German chocolates!  And yes, we sampled too!
 We ended the evening back in Mannheim in a restaurant called "Faces" atop a mall.  The atmosphere was really awesome and we sat outside enjoying the weather.  Our waitress that night spoke broken English and struggled trying to find the words for some of the menu items.  One of the items she couldn't think of the word for and simply said "maaaaaaa!" while turning red.  We guessed "lamb" and she giggled and said "yes" and we said, "we'll pass on that!"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Germany-Day 2-St. Goar & Bacharach

The train station in Frankfurt was right outside our hotel which was perfect for starting day 2.  We got very familiar with the trains while on this trip as that was our main mode of transportation-that and our footsers.

 We traveled to St. Goar where we spent day/night 2.  St. Goar is what I pictured a traditional German town to look like.  It's located on the Rhine River and had quaint shops and restaurants and a large castle on the hill overlooking the town with a few others across the river nestled in the trees.  We were definitely not in "Kansas" anymore!

 We took a boat ride on the Rhine River which was a great chance to see the German countryside.

 We landed at another town on the river called Bacharach.  It was also a beautiful, traditional German town.  We set on foot and again roamed the streets taking pictures of lots of doors and cobblestone streets.
 We also trudged up a very steep trail to a castle with amazing views.  We love history and thinking about the amount of time it took to build this massive structure.

 Thankfully we found a different walking path back down to the town that didn't involve cables to hang on to!

 Upon returning to St. Goar by train (we missed our boat ride...long story...), we toured yet another castle.  This one was equally taxing to get to as we took the wooded trail path.  Just call us adventurers.
 This castle was amazing.  We were able to take a self-guided walking tour.  Justin only got us lost a couple of times...lovies, dear!
 Along this whole trip we kept meeting neat families and individuals as we'd take one another's pictures.  The family that took this picture was German.  The husband spoke English rather well and his wife did a lot of smiling.  Their two boys made my heart hurt for Kale.

 During our day in St. Goar, I had asked a few of the locals for their recommendation on restaurants and they each gave the same recommendation so that is where we went.  It was an awesome meal after we fumbled through the all-German menu.  Our waitress was a good help but we got lots of laughs from the locals around us that evening!