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Way back in the dark ages, I was a high school cheerleader.  Back then I loved football! I loved the smell of fresh grass, the energy of the crowd, hot dogs, cheering. I loved night games under the bright lights, those are almost magical. I loved football.

As the years passed, and we left California shortly after Cole’s birth (and my beloved 49ers), we watched less & less football as a family.  There wasn’t enough time in a day to shuffle 4, 5, 6 kids to school and all their activities and watch football.  Maybe because of that none of my kids played.  Until now.

For two years Cole has been begging me to play football.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love football! But Cole had severe asthma when we moved to Germany.  I had fear of him rolling around on grass. It has been two years since he’s truly had an attack, after talking to his doctor, and clearing him to play, I signed on the dotted line.  Cole is on the football team!

OMG! Football is not cheerleading.  Football is a way of life.  There are daily practices, diet changes, meetings, fund raisers, emails flying left and right…. aaaaaaaaaaah! I’m dizzy from the demands of being a football mom!  Cole, on the other hand, is glowing. Usually with exhaustion, but also with pride. He loves being on the team.  I have never seen him work harder at anything in his life.

Friday is his first game.  It is a night game.  I can’t wait!


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I’m not sure I’ve mentioned, but Cole is in American High School on base.  We pulled him out of German school when he started his freshman year.  Life is filled with enough challenges being a military brat. We wanted to give him as an easy-as-possible opportunity to complete all the right credits for college.

Having kids in both the German & American school systems, living under one roof, means very little overlapping vacation time.  So when it is vacation time, we let our hair down & let schedules go.  I love vacation time!

We are all night owls.  Leave us to our own devices and we are easily up past midnight, preferably till 2 or 3 am, sleeping till noon or later.  I’d hoped we’d be magically cured moving to Europe.  That maybe our night owl-ness was really my European genes passed down to the kiddo’s and we were innately on an European schedule.

But no. As soon as jet lag was over (6+ weeks!), we lapsed right into our night owl schedule.  When needed we have grumpy mornings at least 5 days a week.  Those first hours are a bear, even with pots of coffee.  Getting the kids out of the house, especially Dane & Cole, is a fight each & every morning.

I now have almost 4 weeks of NO SCHOOL! No early mornings.  No fighting. No bears.  I’m in hog heaven!


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As you open this newsletter, I’m in my VW bus driving my dad to France.  I know, I know, poor me.  But I’m dreading it all the same.  This past week has been such an incredible whirlwind, I think life always is, but this week has been extra whirlwind-y.

It started with one of those phone calls, ones no one likes to get. My uncle (Kees, age 82) had passed unexpectedly from a massive stroke.  82 is not normally unexpected, but Oom Kees was very active in mind & body.  As Dane said at the funeral, looking at his photo,

“He looks so young.  Why did he die?”  Regardless of age, death is a loss and I miss him.  He will always be in my heart, he was a kind, gentle man.  The kind of uncle always willing to stop & play, to read a story, to climb the cherry tree out back with us.  He was the uncle who explained the tough stuff, who answered endless questions about life, and death.  He was the uncle I needed last Friday to answer all of Dane’s questions.

The phone call was hard.  The drive up to Holland was long (Dave was out of town, and it was just me & the younger kids).  The funeral was beautiful, and sad.  Seeing so many of my family members in one spot was a wonderful, treasured bonus.  My dad flew out from North Carolina, and then drove home with me and the kids on Sunday.  When he leaves tomorrow to visit my sister in France, my house will have a very empty spot.  Having him here, staying just down the hall, even for only three nights, makes it feel like home.  I’m going to hate driving back without him.

His visit is much shorter this time, partially because it wasn’t planned, and partially because my mother is having a birthday next week.  Celebrating a birthday alone is no fun.  How I wish we could all fly back with my dad and surprise her!  Thankfully we did spend a wonderful day in Maastricht shopping for her birthday.  She’s getting a fantabulous statue of Saint Servatius, patron Saint of the city of Maastricht.  I got a clock!

I got a wonderful, kitsch-extraordinaire, faux French clock that says “Rue d’Antoinette” on it. I’m in love.  I don’t care it’s faux, I care it says “Antoinette” and fits perfectly on my wall.  And my dad bought it for my birthday (in September LOL).  And that Cole got stuck lugging it through Maastricht for most of the day in exchange for a pair of real, Dutch, yellow, wooden clogs.  Clogs he wore down the streets of Maastricht, while busloads of tourists snapped his photo. Saturday was a perfect day.


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by Toiny Westberry 19 December 2012
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On Sunday we ran out of tape.  A pretty big deal when you are stuffing all your worldly possessions into boxes.  Boxes that are going to be driven through snow, sleet & rain to a brandnew (to us) house thirty minutes away.  I really needed tape!  Luckily I also needed a break, and thankfully we […]

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by Toiny Westberry 20 November 2012
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I got some absolutely beautiful fall pictures during our long weekend in Holland, but this one below tells the best story.  Each of the kids are in a different country: Tess is in Holland (the Netherlands, NL); Cole is in Germany, and Dane is in Belgium.  We took a little bit of a tourist break […]

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About Trains & Soccer

by Toiny Westberry 13 June 2012
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I can’t believe I’m late again.  I completely blame Cole.  After three years in Germany, with trains as his main means of transportation, he really shouldn’t be getting on the wrong train.  It never crossed my mind that this would ever happen with him.  Christian, sure.  Tess, of course.  Even Soren.  But Cole? Cole rides […]

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Puntbroodjes are for Ducks

by Toiny Westberry 19 April 2012
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I have lots of beautiful photo’s of my kids.  I love them!  But I also have some awesome shots of the wildlife at Beekse Bergen over Easter Break.  My favorite, of course, are the giraffes, I still get giggly like a schoolgirl when I look at those images.  I also have a beautiful one of […]

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GQ Cole

by Toiny Westberry 4 April 2012
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Between the changes on the site, and the changes on the home front, it’s been an absolutely whirlwind two weeks. Luckily I thrive on excess energy and being spun about is my favorite state of being. That doesn’t mean I get everything right! Far from it. Not only have I not taken a picture in […]

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Cole in Black & White

by Toiny Westberry 1 February 2012
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My newsletters tend to be filled with stories & photos of my two youngest, Tess & Dane. They are the two I spend the most time with, share the most moments with, and the ones who like to pose for photos. I really do like sharing photos of my crew, it brings a little life […]

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The Perfect Light

by Toiny Westberry 30 March 2011

Ever have the absolute perfect light?  You can see it through the view finder on the camera.  You can see it just by looking around you.  And inside you are just bursting to take that perfect picture.  This happened to me this week.  Perfect light.  I so wanted the perfect picture.  For me the perfect […]

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