Friday, August 20, 2010

Coming to an end

Summer that is. We have been waking up the past few mornings positively shivering because we left all the windows open and the house is freezing. It gets cold in the evenings in August every year, and every year I am surprised. I am an old dog and no, you can not, in fact, teach me any new tricks.

The trees are laden with ripening apples. They aren't ready yet, but the deer and bears should have no problem putting on those last few pounds before winter. I feel a sudden urgency to go pick blackberries and see if my sister has any blueberries left.

We finally had a rainy day and I got the house almost totally clean. The weather has been so glorious this summer, I haven't wanted to spend even an extra second inside. When we have these perfect, Vermont summers, I go into fall and winter joyfully, because I have spent every summer moment soaking up rays, getting sun-burned, eating too many s'mores and hot dogs, watching shooting stars, hiking, fishing, camping, getting sweaty and hot, riding the horses, picking fresh veggies and fruits from gardens and lazing around. I start to crave the cold so I can get some things done. I start to want to hibernate and cook heavy, sustaining food.

The pond has gotten colder now that the nights are getting chilly. The first trees have started turning. Just a patch here and there, but it is the start, or the end, depending on how you look at it. But first we have a little left of August and the glorious, beautiful September which, year after year, proves to be the most spectacular month of them all.

School starts on Wednesday. I am not a big fan of starting before Labor Day, but the kids are beside themselves with excitement. Kai is going into 1st grade. He has a new teacher, a beautiful woman with two daughters who we know a little bit (flat out THE nicest little girls I have ever met) and if she teaches anything like she parents, Kai will have the best 2 years of his life! That's right, two years. We have combined 1st and 2nd grade at our school which I love. Not only do the kids get to keep the same teacher for 2 years, but they get to both have mentors and then be mentors. It's awesome.

Grace heads off to Kindergarten and will have the same fabulous teacher Kai had. We are very excited.

So, Noah and I will be on our own for a few hours Monday through Thursday. Something he has never experienced. My goal this fall is to make sure I have a little one-on-one time with each kid, because people, the time it surely does fly by.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our summer so far, Part II (Austria, Germany and The Wedding)

We all packed up and flew off to Germany at the end of June, where we stayed with my very first BFF, Myriam, who is still the soul of awesome. We met and fell in love when we were 7 and my family was living in Stuttgart. We did many things during our weekend with her, but remembering the camera was not one of them. Some of the things you can't see are: a trip to the Munich Zoo, hilarity on the biggest and coolest swing I've ever seen, and watching Germany beat England in the World Cup while in a Biergarten surrounded by, literally, thousands of screaming Germans decked out in red, yellow and black. We remembered the camera 5 minutes before we pulled out and got a few pics of us girls.
We also forgot the camera during most of the first week we were in Linz hanging out with dad before the wedding, when we went to Salzburg and the Salzkammergut and when we hit the city of Passau on our way back to Germany. Passau, which is my new favorite German town. So cheerful and cute and beautifully situated!

We DID remember the camera when we took a gondola up into the mountains. It was HOT while we were there, which is why everything was so hazy, but beautiful nonetheless. What you can't hear in this picture is the sound of cowbells in the distance as dairy cows meander through their summer pasture, and the almost breathless whirr of paragliders passing overhead. It was lovely.

It was so hot that we had to rest often and the kids took this opportunity to learn how to tie their shoes. REALLY?? THIS is the place, and THIS is the moment you NEED to learn to tie your shoes? OK. Weird, but they both learned.

An aside. While we were up there, we had lunch at one of the huts that serves hikers food and drink. At the table next to us was a gang of men having a day out. They were aged young to old and in varying degrees of in-shapedness. They were all polishing off large steins of beer when the waitress brought over a round of shots. I assumed they were done hiking and would soon stagger over to the gondola and hitch a ride down. I was wrong. We finished eating and got up to leave at the same time they did. We all headed down the trail together, but they soon out-stripped us, even a drunk Austrian being faster than a 5 year old. I wished them happy hiking as they passed. LITERALLY 300 yards after we started we came to yet another hut that served food and drink, albeit it, not quite the variety of the first. By the time we got there, the gentlemen were already ordering their first round, and it dawned on me: we were witnessing an alpine pub crawl! When we returned by the same route 45 minutes later, they were paying and pointing to yet another hut that could be seen in the distance. They were going for it. These guys were not in shape, a few of them had not seen their toes in quite some time. They must have made it despite the heat and liqour because we didn't hear anything about a rescue of 15 drunk Austrians from the alps.

Saturday, July 3rd (wedding day) dawned beautiful. We took a train to the wedding hotel. At the station, Zach took a picture of a train heading to a famous Austrian town (the other one being Fucking. Swear to God, that's how it's spelled!) When in Germany we saw signs for Pupping, which is spelled harmlessly but pronounced "Pooping." Zach and I have an infantile sense of humor, we giggled for miles.

Waiting for the train.

Wheeeeee!!!!! Watch out for branches!

When we got to the hotel (which they rented in all it's entire, awesome, cool, glory,) there were several hours to unwind, swim, play raquetball whatever, before the ceremony.

Below is my 1/2 sister Isabel. She's 9. Dudes, my next post is about my family, it's make-up and why the people who fight for the supposed "family values" have no idea what they are talking about. We are about as twisted a family tree as you can get, but you cannot tell me we are not awesome! I think that will be my next post.

Isabel and her adorable and sweet friend Unji, whose name, I realize, I have no idea how to spell. Any Koreans out there familiar with that name? (pronounce Yuunji)

Getting the flowergirl ready.

Dressing the ring-bearer.

The blessing- water-carrier hugging the flowergirl.

Now, it should be known that I adore my father and that, furthermore, he is clueless when it comes to pop-culture. So please know, it was not his intention to dress as Doctor Evil, but it was, alas, the result. The man is one hairless cat away from world domination! He, of course, has never seen the movies.

Maki, his new wife, is lovely, and talented and sweet. She nursed him through cancer and all the kids adore her.

This picture makes me very, very, happy.

Maki's mom came from Tokyo and sang several beautiful Japanese folk songs. She speaks neither German nor English (I speak German with Maki as do most people, dad included) but she sang beautifully. Maki translated the words. Then dad spoke to her in Japanese, which made me cry because it was very sweet and clearly meaningful to her. They will repeat the ceremony at a temple in Tokyo later this summer so Maki's family can be there.

My gorgeous sister provided the music.

word about the reception. The FOOD!!! Dear God, the FOOD! They spared no expense. It went on for hours. There was a different wine for every course. It was amazing.

The next day we walked from the hotel down to the Danube, about 7 miles away, on a path that followed a lovely stream.

Once there we were hosted to delicious coffee and cake at this castle, where my father's dear friend Heribert lives (in an apartment, not the whole thing.) His girlfriend Ula made all the cakes. They were amazing. Then we took a boat back to Linz on the Danube, about a 3 hour ride, which was great, but a little too long for those of us with 2 year old trying to fling themselves into the river. Fortunately they served beer onboard.
We were done taking pictures by the time we got on the boat. We were fried by then, but the kids loved it.

Anyway, the weather was great, the trip was awesome and the wedding was beautiful and thoughtfully planned. We had a wonderful time and wish Dad and Maki every happiness.

Some thoughts on family coming soon........

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer so far, Part I

Here is a heavily pictorial view of our summer to-date. It has been a bit nuts, but we are loving every hot, steamy minute.

We have been fishing, a lot...

We have been going to concerts of all kinds.....

and at those concerts it is imperative that one wrestle with one's siblings...

and then sit upon them in victory!

We spend an absurd amount of time bombing around grandma's place in the Toro...

and having cookouts with our cousin.....

who has perfected the art of marshmallow roasting.

We went on our 2nd annual "Summer kick-off Campout!" with 9 families for a total of 18 parents and 20 kids. It was awesome. Kai caught and cooked his own small-mouth bass. He was so proud. His friend Jamie caught and cooked a pretty little rainbow trout.

Some of the handsome and cool dads of our town. Yes, Zach is one of them.

The view. That was on night one, the next 2 days were full of glorious sunshine.

The hot tamale mamas and my awesome friends!

My friend G made a school-bus pinata for the kids to destroy in celebration of the end of the school year. They really went after that thing.

Some of the big girls painted faces......

and so did some of the little guys. Noah is also teaching himself to drive.

I made this dress for Grace.

Comfort and the ability to turn cartwheels in it were design essentials.

Grace was a frog in the end of the year dance recital. The stage make-up freaked me right out, but they go up on an actual stage with lights and they get totally washed-out without it. The eye make-up was unnecessary, but once she saw other girls putting it on, it wasn't worth the fight to say no. It's really hard to see a little girl in grown-up make-up.

Here she is warming up with the ladybugs, bluebirds and butterflies.

The kids have been practicing their self-portraits.

Kai, Grace and cousin Aldwyn decided to make instruments, one rainy day

Now they have a band called, naturally, the Rubber Band.

Noah may actually be turning into a hotdog.

There is so much more. I still have to upload all the pictures from Austria, which are awesome, but I thought I would just start posting again with these so you all can see why there hasn't been much time for blogging.

Back soon!