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fraidy cat



Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 | 8 comments

Every time I walk out of my front door alone, I am afraid.

Bobbie's boy

It's not that I fear for my safety, nothing like that.  Leaving my little apartment, the one place I know in a foreign country, means journeying among the unknown.

It's uncomfortable.

It's unnerving.

And I'm always at a disadvantage.

The murmer of words that envelop me are foreign; what is white noise to me is symphony to everyone else.  

When I gather a full enough cup of courage, I try their words on.  They never fit.  I wear them shyly, reluctantly, childishly, but they usually earn a sympathic smile from a stranger.

Bless my heart bless my heart bless my ever-lovin', Southern heart, in the ways that reek pity and deserve a tongue's cluck and a head shake. 

I'm a toddler, a pre-schooler, speechless and wide-eyed; but I'm also an old dog, and new tricks are so very hard to learn. 

I'm lacking the pre-schooler's bravado.  Have you ever considered the courage it takes to be three?  I haven't.  EVERYthing is new!  He has to learn everything from scratch.  How to walk and talk and feed and clothe himself.  Letters and numbers and how each one holds hands to mean something more!  How to behave, how not to behave, what matters to whom, and how to play games…and how to play life

Learning is way of life for a little.  She accepts it, she embraces it, she doesn't resist it like an old dog.  I bet Jesus said "Let the little children come…" because of this; learning, accepting, embracing as a child is as natural as breathing in and out.  Wearying are the ones who curl up and turn deaf ear because they already know enough, or everything they think they need to know. 

New sponge, porous and thirsty, ready to do its job; soaking up all that is poured out.  Sponges are born learners; I always relegated them to lowly cleaning accessory but now I want to be a sponge.

I can't count.  Never have I realized how important numbers are!  I'm an easy mark inviting swindler's gain, but no one takes advantage.  Time, cooking, weather, dining out, shopping–numbers stalk me at every turn.  Stupid numbers.

"Stranger" and "alien" keeps coming to mind, it's how I'm called to live, right?  Earth is my home for a wink and a blink, yet tight fist, white knuckled, I clutch it like it's forever.  There's this eternal kingdom that's mine now and for always but I prefer digging my feet in this mud and mire.

Ludicrous.  It doesn't make a bit of sense if I believe what I profess.

Fear not…!  Right?

We turn to each other often and declare, "It's a gift!" and we mean it.  The new job, fresh challenge, world travel, starting over.  But left unsaid (but known to marrow and bone) is the cost to get here ~







Shadows reveal sunshine.  Shadows are worthy cost to see the sunshine; to feel and cherish and appreciate and savor the sunshine.  Shadows magnify the sun.  Without shadow wouldn't we take the sun for granted?

I'm learning some things about fear; it has two sides:  

  • It is Deceiver, seeking to confuse or defeat me.
  • It is Compass, reminding me of my own limitations while pointing to the strength and sufficiency of God.  

I don't mind being afraid. 

I may not like the way it feels, but it has purpose, meaning. 

It means my slumber has shaken and I'm a l i v e .  

Dum vivimus, vivamus!


photo credit:  diana parkhouse

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Blinded by the white ~ a rare, Bavarian winter spectacular



Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 | 12 comments

It has occurred only twice in one hundred years, during the winter of 1911 and again during this winter.  The first was in a non-violent protest of sorts; the second a celebration and commemoration of the first.

SchneeKirche, translated in English, Snow Church


Ex-pats visiting SchneeKirche, aka Snow Church, in Mitterfirmiansreut, BavariaIts singular beauty might have gone unknown to us had Deede, a fellow ex-pat from Tennessee, not invited us for a road trip to Mitterfirmiansreut, Bavaria, a small alpine town that shares Germany’s border with the Czech Republic.  About two hours away, it was more than worth the drive and price of admission. 

Snowdrifts-taller-than-meCamera strapped on and rivaling the Abominable Snowman or Pillsbury Doughboy, I was ready.  Tad paid the €5 for our tickets and we were on our way…

…if we could have only seen where we were going!



Visibility was about 25 meters.

We were told not to touch the ice sculptures and I thought, “WHAT ice sculptures?!”  As our eyes adjusted to the thick fog, they seemed to appear when we were within touching distance. 


Snow SculptureMitterfirmiansreut, Bavaria, February 2012.  My best guess is this is a representation of God protecting SnowKirche; that seems to be the little shape on the pedestal.

Snow sculpture outside Snow Church

Snow sculpture near SchneeKirche

Snow Church’s welcoming committee, my favorite snow sculpture.


As our eyes carve through the fog, SchneeKirche comes into view.



SchneeKirche entrance signage

In 1911 when the original SchneeKirche was constructed, villagers built it in protest because officials wouldn’t build a church in their town; they were deemed too poor and rural.  In order to worship, they had to travel a ways to a nearby town.  During December of that year, Mitterfirmiansreut had heavy snowfall, preventing townspeople from traveling.  They decided to take matters into their own hands, and constructed a church from the only materials available to them:  snow and ice. 

The winter of 2011/2012 marked SchneeKirche’s 100th anniversary, so locals decided to construct a modern snow church in commemoration of their history.  It opened in late December and they hope it remains intact through March. 



DSC_0983Snow Church’s interior, February 2012.  My loose translation,
“Show some respect–stay off the stinkin’ alter!”


LeAna. Robin & Molly at Snow Churchl-r, LeAna, who works with Tad, me, Molly, a translator.


Close up of Snow Church "bricks"A close-up of Snow Church’s icy “bricks,” oddly my favorite picture of the day.


DSC_0996Learning a bit more, at least Molly is because she’s fluent in German.



SchneeKirche was funded in part by local sponsors and cost about €70,000 to construct, so I’m not sure if this money is used for locals in need or somehow to maintain the structure. 


DSC_1006Evidence we were here…at least until the ink melts into paper. 
A nice little touch.

DSC_0019Hot, mulled wine, the perfect companion to our chilly tour.  Not only is this the first time I’ve tasted Glühwein, it’s the first time I ever HEARD of it!  Apparently it’s very popular during the winter in Germany (Europe?), especially during their famed Christmas markets.


DSC_0017I think our furry friend could have used a sip,
bless his little snow-faced heart.


Because it got crowded by the time I thought to video the interior, this isn’t the greatest quality, but at least you get a three-dimensional idea of SchneeKirche‘s interior–

Currently, there are no plans to construct a snow church in future years; which makes it even more special to have discovered it and had the chance to visit!


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A butcher, a baker, no candlestick maker



Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 | 7 comments

Before arriving in Germany, the only experience I had with a local butcher was Alice's long-term love interest, Sam, on the The Brady Bunch.  He visited many a Friday night during my tween and teen years. 

But drive through the Bavarian countryside, and you'll see a metzgerei ~ the German word for butcher ~ on every corner, around every bend…and sometimes in between. 

Germans take their meats seriously. 













If someone could please diagram and label the above, I'd be most appreciative. 


And then, there's the bäckerei/konditorei…bakery and pastry shops.  Otherwise known as "I died and have gone to heaven."

Bread grains and flour

The second day we were in town, we were treated to a bread tasting.  There was lots of information we never actually got to (umm, if you look closely, explanations of the grains were in German and we were TASTING more than we were being educated….).


Assorted bread samples

Customers at a German bakery

Breads in a bakery case
Seseme bread

German assorted breakfast pastries

The local bäckerei/konditorei is not limited to assorted breads…their desserts will make you weep with joy.  Visual feasts, scrumptious eats. 


Meringue thingies

German desserts

And though I took this at another bäckerei, buttered pretzels are a very common German snack.  And they're delicious.

Brezen, buttered pretzels & latte macchiato

I'm kinda in trouble…aren't I?

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Words will never hurt me…?!



Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 | 2 comments

rolling coins with paper wrappers
I'm embarrassed to admit it, and its truth pains me, but I'm almost certain the people to whom I've spoken most hatefully are my own children and husband. I've wondered if I'm the only one who does this.

Why do the people I love most receive the worst treatment I have to offer? Thankfully, mean or impatient words are the exception, but with my upcoming extended separation from my children, I'm acutely aware of my propensity to speak in a less than loving manner; ironic, because I have such thin skin myself.

Two recent occurrences with my teen boys drove this point home–

• After my oldest son cleaned his room, I opened his closet door; it was no surprise his version of clean didn't match mine. Irritated, I began organizing and cleaning out the war zone, only to be discovered by him mid-way through. He braced for mama wrath, instead caught off guard by my calm (not typical) response. Before all was said and done, we were finishing the work together–happily. I hadn't even asked him to join me.

• My husband gave our youngest a jar of pennies he's been saving for years, along with a stack of coin wrappers. Sitting at the kitchen table while I was making my way through a mile-long To-Do List, my son struggled to wrap the pennies without them collapsing; it was the first time he's rolled coins. My initial response was frustration–why was he having difficulty with such a simple task?! "I knew how to roll coins since I was in grade school!" I thought, but thankfully stopped before those words made their way across my lips. Instead, I stopped what I was doing, sat beside him and showed him the best way to roll coins. I watched his frustration melt into understanding.

When children reach their teens, it's easy to think they're unaffected by harsh words. Don't be deceived—your words and tone can wound them deeply.  Consider the following:


Thump on the head to ME!  I forgot to link to my most recent Simple Mom post, most likely because I was airborne when it went live.  I hope you'll click through to continue reading; it's relevant to parenting teens/tweens whenever you have time to finish.

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Just when I thought I knew everything about him…



Posted by on Feb 15, 2012 | 8 comments

In November, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, which makes a recent revelation about him all the more surprising:

He's very German and must've been switched at birth unbeknownst to his mother, father or an entire hospital staff in small town Nevada, circa 1963.

We learned this about him while attending cultural training prior to our temporary move to Germany, and I must say, this explains a lot.

Christian Höferle (Höferle Consulting, highly recommended for inter-cultural training in the tri-state area) conducted the content-rich sessions, and early on we made the remarkable discovery based on Herr Höferle's characterization of German values:

  • efficiency
  • punctuality
  • organization
  • thoroughness
  • method
  • logic
  • consistency

Hello???  Is this not Tad Dance to a "T"???

So, it makes perfect sense that he would quickly experience a breakthough, and acclimate to a new job, culture and country with relative ease. 

What I didn't anticipate (but in retrospect, should have given his newly-discovered German descent) was how committed he would be to The German Way.  Since we arrived two weeks ago, the temperature has languished in single digits like it forgot how to count past ten!  Since his first day at work, Tad has ridden a bike about 5K to his office. 

Below-freezing temperatures aside, it also snowed last Tuesday; that snow was still on the ground when it began snowing yesterday, and though there have been brief respites, it has continued through today. 

Only today we have freezing temps, a wet, sometimes heavy snowfall…and 30 mph 50 kph wind gusts!

A year from now I might just be married to a hard body….


Can you hear the howl of the wind?

Blustery snow




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