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Tessa

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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If you ask Tess what was the best part of our whirlwind trip back to the states; the answer is one word: “Becca!”

The dynamic duo was reunited and their unbridled joy at seeing each other had all of us, at least us mommies, in tears.  I could feel waves of warm happiness radiating out from them. The air literally quivered with their joy. They hugged, squealed, hugged some more & stormed off to a bedroom, not to be seen again except under pressure to eat or be photographed.

I’ll be honest, my own reaction to see our dear friends Emmett & Karen was pretty darn squeal-y, hug-y and happy too.  I’d missed them so.  You know you have friends for life when they will drive 5 hours, each way, to see you for 1 day.  And share you with family, family and more family.

The thing is, after so much time together, so many amazing experiences and the bazillion life’s-little-moments shared, they are my family.  The number one best thing the Army has given me is more family.  Yes, it is hard when they move, or we move, but without the Army they would never have been put in our path.  I would never have this big, amazing, family I have now.

Even Tess, moping in her room much of this week now, agrees.  The best day of her life was when Becca walked through our front door.  Nothing can take that from her, no matter how many miles we have to fly, ride trains, drive cars or walk.  Of course after I said all this to Tess, while having a heart-to-heart talk to help her cope with yet another good-bye, she rolled her eyes at me:

“Mom.  We have Skype.”

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I am a photo junkie.  It is a rare occasion that I leave my camera tucked away in its padded little bag. I love reminders of my happy  moments.  I really love photographic reminders of my happy  moments.  Thankfully my kids are great sports and almost always indulge my need to snap their picture.

That does not mean they cooperate and do exactly what I say.  In the past this caused me to stomp & pout & even yell.  During my happy moments.  And then I realized how truly blessed I am, not only are my kids in front of my camera, they are in front of my camera being themselves.  This is who they are & I will always be able to remember them on this day, just like that.

This day was our first day in North Carolina last week.  I was anxious to get some photo’s of the kids together and afraid that I wouldn’t have the opportunity again.  Before we’d even gotten to my parents house, still in the car after our long flights, the phones had started ringing:

“Is Tessa there?”
“Is Cole there?”
“Can Dane play?”

Our friends had missed us & playdates piled up left & right.  I didn’t even give Cole time to eat breakfast or brush his hair, I hustled my kids outside for a photoshoot as soon as everyone was up & no longer groggy.

The thing is, they were all so happy to be together, so happy to see Christian again, that I almost couldn’t take a bad photo.  This one is my favorite.  This one is my kids.

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Almost

by Toiny Westberry 7 December 2013
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Today is much better.  I can breath again, and tell random strangers “I’m okay” without bursting into tears, turning me into a liar.  Our friends made it back stateside, after an extra long day of travel, safe & sound.  Even their puppy made it, United Airlines treated her with extra care & love.  It is […]

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Naturally Beautiful

by Toiny Westberry 30 October 2013

Remember last week?  When I was complaining about gorgeous trees & totally-uncooperating kids (Fall Family Picture Day)?  We had another stunningly beautiful day over the weekend.  I tried again, this time with Tess & her best friend.  I could complain again, but this time it would be that almost every single one of the 300+ images […]

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Zwiebelkuchen

by Toiny Westberry 21 September 2013
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Exploring our town one day, we ran into the Mayor.  An ebullient, extroverted kind of guy.  After half an hour of talking, I found myself drafted into the town choir.  Hysterical because I can’t carry a tune. I can’t even carry a note!  Since then I’ve gone to several Tuesday night practices.  Everyone tolerates me, […]

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Tess’ First Day

by Toiny Westberry 11 September 2013
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Yesterday is a blur. It was Tess’ first day in secondary school.  Unlike American school with elementary, middle & high school, German schools have Grundschule (elementary school) and secondary school.  There are 3-4 different types of secondary schools, and honestly I’m still learning the difference between each.  Tess started the Realschule, the middle-of-the road school […]

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Adorable Dentist

by Toiny Westberry 14 August 2013
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There’s my beautiful girl with her beautiful purple teeth!  I miss her.  She has a best friend, it’s summer, and they are either at Becca’s or squirreled away in her room making Littlest Pet Shop videos.  I’ve been loving how happy she is, how adorable those videos are, and then, yesterday, I suddenly realized I’ve […]

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Lekker Vlaai

by Toiny Westberry 27 July 2013

One of the best parts of any visit up to Holland is visiting with family.  This time we stayed with my cousin Leny, in Schin op Geul, right outside of Valkenburg.  Anyone lucky enough to visit Holland, I highly recommend a trip to the “south” to see the beautiful rolling hills, farm country, Maastricht, cathedrals […]

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Fahrrad überprüfen

by Toiny Westberry 11 May 2013
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Tess is in the middle of her fahrrad überprüfen (literally to check bike), however, it turns out, there is an awful lot that goes with this.  I apologize to my German friends if I’m not completely clear in my understanding, while my German is good, my German-legal is abysmal. And Tess translating German-legal for me is […]

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