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I frequently get little notes from readers, friends, colleagues; “Wow! I love that picture!” or “Great picture today!” Like most moms, I take a LOT of pictures. Like most moms, I keep my fingers & toes crossed there is one good one in the bunch.  Sometimes, no matter how many pictures I snapped, or how long I kept fingers & toes crossed, there is not one good photo in the bunch.

We are in the prime of Fall over here (Black Forest, Germany).  It is absolutely spectacular and breathtaking.  For weeks I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for the perfect spot to take gorgeous Fall photo’s of my kids.  I needed the light to be just right, because I am just a mom, I can’t create magic light with a fancy set-up and I needed the trees to be in their full autumn glory. Yesterday was the day.

Under protest I packed all three little ones up into the van, nobody wanted to go hike around a farmers field so I could get my perfect photo.  I bribed.  Shoot me, it’s wrong, but I was willing to pay for a perfect photo.  It’s rare I get all three on a perfect day, with perfect light, and perfect trees.  I was willing to pay.

I want to take a moment here and comment on farmers fields.  There is a reason farmers wear sturdy, plastic, boots.  This lush, beautiful, green field was, in reality, ankle-to-knee deep mud.  When  you walk on it & look down, it’s not so much green as brown.  That green?  Total optical illusion. I haven’t figured out yet how they do it. I also haven’t figured out how to clean my favorite walking clogs, or three pairs of tennis shoes whose owners blame all the mud on me.

Remember where I said I was willing to pay, after 200 shots, a lot of hollering, screaming, running away, weird faces, upside down bodies, sideway bodies, magical flip kicks and posing only by the daughter, I gave up.  No paying happened. This is the best photo of the bunch.  I told you our trees are stunning right now.


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It is no secret they do things differently here in Germany.  We are here as a guest in their country, and I’m doing my best to adapt.  Some things are easy (ahem, beer), but some things are hard.  The hardest one for me is letting my kids go.

In the last year of Kindy (preschool is three years, including at age 5, our kindergarten year), the kids are expected to learn how to walk home from school alone.  The police came and taught them how to safely cross streets, be aware of their surroundings and stay on the sidewalks.  The parents teach the kids the way home from school and home.  Now that the snow has melted I see parents walking their kids 4/5 of the way to school, then 2/3, then 1/2 way and now, I’m assuming, waving from the door as these incredibly small & young kids walk to school alone.  Walk home alone.

Frau VestberrY has had some gentle encouragement from Dane’s teachers to let Dane walk home alone.  I’m pretty sure the general consensus is that I’m overprotective, or even, gasp, a helicopter parent! The peer pressure to let Dane walk home alone is enormous. I want so much to integrate but every bone & fiber in my body is screaming that he is much, much too young.  Heck, it’s only been 3 months since Tess has been allowed to walk to & from school alone.  Thankfully in a big herd of kids, but my heart still races when she’s a minute late coming home from school.

Yesterday I decided to compromise.  I let Tess walk from her school, to Dane’s school (the elementary school & the kindergarten are two different schools) and pick Dane up.  Kindy has no problem letting 5-yr-olds leave with 11-yr-olds.  And while I really, really, really wanted to be all German about this. I just couldn’t.  I had to play spy mom.  Since I don’t have a helicopter, or even a car LOL, I followed at a great distance on my bike.  I am a bicycle mom.


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Last year I promised that I would figure out how to better use my camera at night.  Sigh.  Thank goodness we’re stationed in Germany another three years, because a whole year later and I’mm still having issues taking night photo’s. I also didn’t learn how to cook the traditional goose.  Again, thank goodness for another three years to get this right!

We celebrated St. Martin’s Day with Dane’s kindy again this year, read more about the story in Min’s product description for our DOTD: Lantern Parade.  We had “bastlen” two weeks ago, and all the kids made their own lanterns (you can’t see Dane, he’s hiding behind the little girl with the white hat).  On Tuesday we all got together for “laternelaufen”.  We wait till dark, then everyone lights their lanterns (many still with candles, including Tess this year), and we walk through our little village, stopping occasionally to sing.

This year we did it a little different and started at our local nursing home, ending up back at the kindergarten.  It was absolutely wonderful to see the town elders not just enjoy the kids, but enthusiastically join in on the singing.  It is obvious the songs haven’t changed in many decades and it was a joy to hear the young & old voices mix together.  I now have a sudden yearning to see my Oma.  The weather is mostly clear, we have a long weekend, if everything else cooperates I hope to be by her side in Holland tomorrow.

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Losing your Legs to Italians

by Toiny Westberry 24 October 2012
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Saturday was an incredible day. After my morning NL, we went out for a drive to the new house and wound up making an offer! It’s been accepted and now we are wading through the next steps. It is an incredibly confusing journey, but I’ve got some wonderful people holding my hand, and I’m 100% […]

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I Miss My Big Boys

by Toiny Westberry 30 June 2012
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We knew all along it was a possibility, and honestly I am not ready to leave Germany let alone pack-up and move.  Earlier this month we got our orders.  Not an extension, but a full consecutive tour.  We are in Germany another three full years. Most of me is really, really happy.  I love my […]

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A Perfect Morning

by Toiny Westberry 24 September 2011

Ever have a perfect morning?  Thursday Dane & I had one.  It started way too early, that part wasn’t perfect, but it did all get done and that’s pretty awesome.  I got the kids off to school, had a little time to finish up loose ends at work and then it was time to meet […]

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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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Tummy Bug

by Toiny Westberry 26 February 2011

We are on the tail end of the tummy bug.  It’s not a big deal when Christian, 18, or Cole, 13 have it.  They are big and can take care of themselves.  A little hot tea, some chicken soup, a sympathetic look and I’m done.  But when the little ones, Dane and Tessa, get sick… […]

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Trick or Treat

by Toiny Westberry 6 November 2010

All the Halloween chocolate is gone.  And right now, I really, really need some of that chocolate!  We had such a wonderful Halloween.  I had no idea it would be so great.  My cousin, his wife, and their two (adorable) girls drove down from Holland to celebrate their first ever Halloween.  They are now ready […]

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