Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bound and determined to make me speak German

This is Alfred and Gritt. They are wonderful neighbors who live below us and are the parents of Frederick and Felix. They are also bound and determined to teach me German! They used to speak to me mainly in English, then slowly started speaking German and then translating it in they pretty much ONLY speak German to me! I wish I could say I understand most or even half of what they are trying to tell me. Usually I can figure out what the gist of the conversation is just based on hand motions, facial expressions and the few words I do know. It really is sweet and I appreciate how they are trying to be creative in helping me learn the language.

Last week Gritt invited me over to make Buchteln mit Marillenfruchtfulle. This is sort of like a yummy yeast roll filled with apricot filling and served with a vanilla creme sauce. It is absolutely delicious!

Tonight Alfred stopped by and introduced a new game for the boys to play...we show them an item and Levi says what it is in English and then Frederick says what it is in German. I think Gritt and I will have to start playing this as well!:)

So, with Abby understanding and even translating at times for me, I think I'm off to do a Rosetta Stone Lesson!

auf Wiedersehen!

Please read carefully...

You might have to click on the photo to enlarge the fine print...

This form came home yesterday from Luke and Abby's school. We were instructed to read it carefully and then sign and return it. We didn't know if we should be terrified, or laugh hysterically!

A boy and his love for chocolate

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That time of year for this too...

This is what my calendar said for November 28th...

Ich nehme in diese Jahreszeit immer zu.

I always gain weight at this time of year. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas card creativity!

It's that time of year again! Writing the annual Christmas letter. I had no idea how important this tradition was in Brad's family when I first married him. Little did I know that his mom had been creating the most fabulous Christmas cards for over 40 years! (can't remember the number in the series Neena, sorry) Brad has certainly wanted to carry this tradition on in our family, and we usually have a fun time reminiscing about the years events and writing about them in our letter. In the past we have been known to rhyme our letter, put it to song lyrics, and we have even attempted a limerick. We try to mix it up and get creative. Last year we did a little "scavenger hunt" in our photo. I think I got the idea from Family Fun.

So much has happened this year, that it is difficult to know where to begin. Any ideas to spur me on?

I WILL write a shameless plea to all of you reading this, that I LOVE TO GET CHRISTMAS LETTERS AND PHOTOS OF YOUR FAMILIES!
Please don't let us moving overseas keep you from sending them to us. I will gladly give you our address if you need it, just e-mail me.

Also, if you go to St. Andrews, our home church, there will be a box at the back of the church where you can put your card in and it will be sent for you! How easy is that! So please, send me your cards, letters and photos!
Ok, I'm done begging!

I'll leave you with one of my favorites.
I think this is one of Neena's most creative...even super-imposing camels in the backround!

How do you like Abby as an angel? Or Levi as baby Jesus? I don't know which is harder to believe!:)

Friday, November 23, 2007

More firsts...

So we survived our first Thanksgiving without our family and the traditions we were used to. It actually wasn't so bad. It helped that we received phone calls, e-mails and even a few care packages this week. We are so grateful that people took the time to let us know that they were thinking about us! For that we are grateful!

Now we start a few more "firsts". Today Luke and Abby are going to hort. This is an aftercare program at the church we worship in, where they get help with their homework, eat lunch, hopefully learn even more German and make even more friends. Brad and I plan to take advantage of 2 less kiddos in the house and actually try to finish what we start. So much of our day is spent on public transportation and broken up because our kids finish school so early...either 12 or 1pm. They will only be going on M,W & F, but we still plan on seeing an increase in the amount of work we get done!:)

Another first for us will happen this evening as we go to a Heuriger with all of the students in Abby's class and their parents. We are looking forward to getting to know some families a little better, and actually seeing Abby interact with her classmates.
I'll try to get some good photos to post.

One more first...this weekend I am going to attempt to make chocolate ice box pudding. Go here for the recipe.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So Thankful...

I stole this idea from a woman serving in Vienna.

Alphabet of Thanksgiving:

Arriving in Austria...finally!
Bilingual school for the kids
Cola Light (Euro version of Diet Coke)
Drasche Park
Eis (Austrian ice cream)
Friends, old and new
Glam Grams (Neena and Memoo)
IKEA (I can't believe I'm saying that)
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection
Kindergarten for Levi right across the street
Learning a new language and culture
Mein Mann, Brad
Nice Neighbors
Oncology report that Neena's doing great
Potential teammates and current ones
Quellenstrasse, where we attend church and Luke and Abby go to aftercare
Relationships with sending churches and supporters
Terrace overlooking the city
U-Bahn (the subway)
World Harvest Mission
X-ray to check Levi's head when he fell (he's fine now!)
Yoghurt with granola
Zoo at Schoenbrunn Palace

My list looks very different from what it would have been a year ago, and for both worlds I am thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! (A little early)

You can't have a "real" American Thanksgiving without the Publix pilgrims, so they were sure to grace our table as we celebrated our Thanksgiving a little early. We decided to celebrate when our friend, Joanna visited from Budapest.

We ate a whopping turkey breast (marinated in Shannon's mother-in-law's MoJo recipe),
mashed tators, corn, green been casserole, stuffing, corn bread muffins and a chocolate chip/pecan pie for dessert. We did miss the cranberry sauce and sweet
potato casserole...but otherwise we had all the trimmings! It was really fun to share our first Thanksgiving overseas with another American, who also would not get to be with her family.

Before dinner, we watched "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and during dinner, we continued the tradition of sharing what all of us were thankful for. The line of the night went to Luke, who said oh so sweetly...
"Mom, these mashed potatoes taste different than normal, what did you do different?"

I not so sweetly replied, "They are from scratch...NOT from a container in the refrigerated section of the grocery store."

To that he sweetly said, "I like the other ones better!" Ugh!

A few staples from America


We were surprised by how informative "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" was. It actually gave the entire history of Thanksgiving!

Trying to get the timer to work...with all of us in the shot!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Vienna Christmas Markets

Four days of straight snow and an abundance of Christmas markets is ushering us into seasonal life here in Austria. The markets are a great place to take in the sites, smells and tastes of the holidays. Lots of yummy treats, punches and great gift ideas. Just make sure to wear warm shoes and socks, as it gets really cold walking around!

Joanna, Abby and I

Das Rathaus (City Hall)

Beautiful and breakable...

Joanna couldn't resist

Abby and Brad couldn't resist the cotton candy either

Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter Wonderland

No school+6 inches of snow+new sleds= LOTS OF FUN IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hellos and Goodbyes...

Since we have moved here, we have had a steady stream of visitors. We are grateful for that. It has been a rich blessing to our family as we get adjusted to living far away from those we love and miss. Already however, I am already seeing that "saying goodbye" to others is taking on a deeper meaning to our kids.

Usually from the moment someone arrives, they ask the question "When do they have to go?" From what I have learned so far, this is pretty common for kids who live overseas. A quote taken from Third Culture Kids says this:

TCK's usually develop a wide range of relationships as they or people around them habitually come and go...

Many TCK's know how to get into relationships fairly quickly simply because they have to start so many. They have learned to observe the dynamics of a situation, ask questions that can help open a door, hopefully be sensitive to cultural cues of what is or is not appropriate for this group, and respond appropriately when others approach them...

Obviously there are many good things that can be taken away from all the relationships they get to be exposed to, but it can also lead to pain and even the refusal to let themselves care about others, because it hurts too much to say goodbye. We are just beginning this journey of many hellos and goodbyes and know that as our roots continue to get placed in this new soil, the hellos and goodbyes will most likely only get harder...

Please pray that Luke, Abby and Levi's hearts would stay soft, that they would always want to invest in the lives of those who come through our doors and that we would learn healthy ways to say goodbye to those who come in and out of our lives.

Last week we had visitors from our sending center. Ward (not pictured here), Meredith here with Luke and Paul is with Abby and Levi. It was a great time of sharing, encouraging, praying, worshiping and dreaming together.

Along with encouragement from our friends, usually goodies are included as well! These were brought just in time to make a chocolate pecan pie this weekend for our friend Joanna. Yes, another hello and goodbye...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lantern Party

Levi's kindergarten had a "lantern" party. He and his classmates helped make lanterns, then once the sun set Monday evening they lit their lanterns (with real candles) and they carried them around the garden outside while they sang songs.
would never happen in the States, as it is a total fire hazard letting 3 year olds carry real fire!)

It was a celebration honoring St. Martin. I don't know what he really did and everyone I asked didn't seem to know either, still the kids had fun showing off their creations. Afterwards, there was punch (one kind for the kids and one for the parents...with a little zing if you know what I mean!) and pretzels!

Frederick and Levi

Levi with his classmates and teacher marching around the garden

Abby and Frederick's brother, Felix

Monday, November 12, 2007

My new favorite...

If I were still living in Florida, I would want to see her in concert!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Quote of the morning came from Levi, "Can we go get our Christmas tree now?"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"All I Want for Christmas..."

Abby seems to lose her teeth in sets of 2. This extraction was accompanied with many tears :( but Abby survived and is looking forward to another visit from the Tooth Fairy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Tooth Fairy is coming tonight!

For months, Abby's 2 front teeth have been loose. She has been trying to hold out and wait until her Grandma Memoo comes to Vienna in January, but she just couldn't wait any longer! Memoo has pulled out many of the kids loose teeth [Click HERE for proof!], so it is sort of a tradition on our family. Abby's other front tooth is still pretty loose, so hopefully Memoo can have a crack at that one!

Here is Abby admiring her "new look" in the mirror! And to think that school pictures were this morning...too bad!

Guten Morgen Vienna!

After a really windy and rainy night, we awoke to find the sun spreading it's warmth slowly across the city once again! Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Here is a picture of our friends, Ruth, Mario and Anna. They are from Vorarlberg, but came to Vienna to visit some of their family here. Since the kids didn't have school on Friday, they invited us to Minopolis.

Minopolis is like Wannado City, but I think a little better! You can work at the grocery store, as a firefighter, the bakery...(you get the point) or get a service with your pretend money. One thing that is a little cooler than Wannado City, is that here they have a real driving school! Luke was big enough, but intimidated by the fact that all of the instructions were in German, so we just watched.

Here at the bakery they get a bit of dough and instructions on what to do

Anna waits for her instructions

The end product of what the kids made

Abby at the salon...she paid 50 (pretend) Euros for this

Abby could hardly wait to get her hair colored "blau und rot"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thanksgiving Help!

This month I am trying to work on the history of Thanksgiving with the kids...would any of you teachers out there have any websites that you have found helpful or remember any tools that you might have used in your classrooms? Anything would be appreciated!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Mission Accomplished

stitch out
no tears shed
cut closed
hair washed...after 7 days
Mission Accomplished!

Ties that bind

When I was in college, I was a youth sponsor at Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL. A youth sponsor was someone who basically hung out with the kids, participated in their worship service (as it was separate from the adults) and I led a small group with a few girls. Amy was in jr. high during this time and also attended ECC. Even though I didn't really know her during that time, our paths crossed.

It was this summer when us "midwesterners" met up again at MTI. It was an intense time for Brad and I, as we had just said good-bye to all we had known and loved and were in the final weeks before leaving for Vienna. It was a gift from God to reunite with Amy and meet her husband, Joe. We quickly bonded and shared memories of things we loved about the "midwest". She and Joe embraced our kids, helped watch them at MTI and have even written them since we have moved to Austria.

Now it is time for them to finish saying goodbye to those they love and board a plane on Saturday for New Zealand. Please join us in praying for their final sessions of goodbyes, their travel and of course that they would depend more and more on our Savior as they enter a new culture and begin a new chapter of their story.