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I have taken no new pictures since my peek into the mysterious world of the Narrenzunft (Narrenzunft) on Tuesday.  My world has been filled with little tasks that take ages to complete.

Most critically, our home phone doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked since the “big” upgrade on December 22.  I am most unhappy and my cable company is most unhelpful.  Today I received an email that they were “unable to reach me by phone to fix this problem”.  Um.  Really?

All three of our big boys have big going-ons in their lives right now, thank God for Skype & messenger so I can still talk to them and hold their hands and walk them through these changes.  Not that Christian will let me.  All I get is “No info” every single time I try to figure out where the Marines are sending him.  And when.  And for how long.  I even tried bribing him with boxes of German candy.  No info.  I hate deployments.

Nicholas, on the other hand, is finally making big strides to become a grown-up.  He’s a little late to blossom, but the realization has hit that he is an adult.  And it’s scary.  Luckily he’s got his brothers, his grandparents, and us to be there every step of the way.  I have fingers & toes crossed that he stays on this grown-up path (and half a Cathedral full of candles lit, it can’t hurt).

But the biggest news, my favoritest news, Soren is coming to Germany!  I get him for two whole weeks in February.  Him, and the new girlfriend Lindsay, and MY BABY SISTER!  Soren bought my beautiful baby sister a ticket to come to Germany to see me.  I’m not sure who cried more, me or Manon.  This is the best gift he could’ve given me. It’s been three years since Soren’s college graduation. Three years since I’ve seen her.  I am SO EXCITED!


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I just put the Golden Child on a plane.  My heart hurts.  I hate this part of living here.  We did have an absolutely wonderful visit, filled with gorgeous weather, lots of laughter, some yelling, sibling rivalry and amazing amounts of shopping.  Not so much me, but Soren.  He has inherited a love of shopping from his Oma and dad.

Last night he packed his suitcases (he had to borrow one of ours), and filled both with chocolate, candy, a couple shirts and a big beer stein for his tea at work.  I “knew” it would be overweight, and sure enough, at the counter this morning, it clocked in well over the allowed.  That boy flashed his grin, said he was military visiting his dad, and got the fees waived. That. Boy.

I’ve got more in my Personal Notes below…

He is 23. He has a job.  He works beyond hard. He frequently puts in extra hours, even on weekends. In fact, I think he works too hard.  He’s worked a whole year to save up exactly 1-week of vacation, something that has all my German friends dropping their jaws and going “Waaaaaas?”.  And then?  Then he takes that 1-week he worked so hard for and comes home.

Of course, home is currently Germany.  It is not that big a sacrifice on his part, it really isn’t.  Plus, we love him! And we spoil him, even if he is 23 with a job.  This year I dragged him all over Stuttgart, that panorama photo was taken at the home offices of the “chicken guy” (Göckelesmaier, turn speakers off before clicking!).  I had to go pay for the Frühlingsfest (Spring Fest) tickets.  Since the tent is only open during fest, and fest is not till April, I had to go to their home office.  Um.  I want a job there! Soren wants a job there!  What an amazing view.

We also went to Rubble Mountain, sometimes known as Birkenkopf, or Monte Scherbelino.  It is a permanent reminder of the devastation of war, and a memorial to the victims.  There is a great article in the Stars & Stripes by David Rogers that offers a little more history. It is a little sobering to think of the not-so-pleasant history of our new home, it is so at odds with our actual life here today.

Soren and I both enjoyed the beauty in the contrast between the old, the rubble, and the new of Stuttgart now.  He has my old Canon Rebel and we both spent time taking photographs.  I love when he loves what I love.  Of course, I still love to photograph my children the most.  Even if they are 10-ft taller than me.

I miss him so much already.


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My beautiful boy, my oldest, is 23 today. I close my eyes and I can feel him kicking inside. I can smell his delicious baby smell, or that incredible sweaty little boy smell. Like dirt and happiness. The best part is the feel of his little arm wrapped around my shoulders, his little hand on my neck. So trusting, so completely, 100% part of me. Becoming a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Of course I miss him. Of course it’s hard being half a planet away. But he is always in my heart, right here, and just a quick close of my eyes away. The first three years of his life it was just us, with a generous dose of help from my parents, sisters and closest friends. That builds an unbreakable bond, and to this day that remains unbroken. Even with the addition of a husband & father, brothers, even a sister, that bond is there. Now he is starting to build his own family, and that bond remains strong. His is just at the very beginning stages, I really shouldn’t jinx it, but Danielle is already starting to feel like family. A mother can have dreams too.

I was blessed to raise Soren in California, outside of San Francisco, a fantastic place to raise kids. Together, and later with Dave & his brothers, we travelled all over the amazing Golden State. We camped in Tahoe, Yosemite and the woods outside of Santa Cruz. We went to Kelly Park, the Childrens Museum and the San Francisco Zoo. We visited the San Jose Flea Market, Gilroy Garlic Festival and the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. An afternoon at the beach remains one of my favorite ways to spend a day. My dear friend Kristen took this photo of us after a long day on Half Moon Beach, at twilight, after the sun went down. Soren is just 1 here. And yet, again, if I close my eyes I can smell the beach. I can feel the fog on my skin. I can feel his small, warm body in my arms.

He’s 23 today, and almost 6 ft. tall. I’m the small one now, but my love is just as big. Happy Birthday baby! I miss you.


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Quit Baking a Cake!

by Toiny Westberry 13 April 2013
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Everything gets a little easier with time. Even being in a far away land without my big boys.  My life is slowly getting back to normal after Soren’s whirlwind visit, excepting the pile of snowboards in my living room.  We are getting back into our normal rhythm and that is a good thing.  Frequent phone […]

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by Toiny Westberry 10 April 2013
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by Toiny Westberry 22 August 2012
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by Toiny Westberry 12 May 2012
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Twenty-two years ago I missed my own college graduation, and instead had a beautiful, amazing, perfect little boy.  He changed my life forever.  Last Saturday my little boy graduated college.  The first in our family to do so.  I cannot describe the enormous pride, love, emotion pouring out of my body.  I have tears just […]

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