Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guest Post: Week in Germany on Tour

Forgive (once again) my out of order pictures... I started my new job yesterday and I am thankful I found energy tonight to even post this... LOL.  (Wow, I never use LOL... that felt really weird to type.)  The new job is going well so far (today was only Day 2), but I am wearing down in general and very much looking forward to having our Daddy/husband back home again.  In the meantime, we have a great visitor who's been a great help... Auntie Christine.  Enjoy Adam's post!
Adam, you better not have gotten bed bugs on any of your travels.  Seriously.
Went on a beer rockstar tour this week!  Well, we had a bus driver and our own hotel/hostel rooms.....but no roadies to carry our luggage. [caution: this is a long post, since I have a lot to cover]

We started out at 8AM and went to Freising (I mentioned before as the location of Weihenstephan) where Steinecker (now owned by Krones) is located.   Steinecker mades brewing equipment.  They have for over a 100 years and made the Ayinger Brewery, the Doemens Brewery amongst thousands of others.  This set the tone for most of our visits that start with a presentation about the company, history and products. This is then followed by a tour and then a light lunch....and a beer, of course.

We then went over to the HQ of Hopsteiner, the world hop supplier.  They have most, of Germany's crop as well as a lot in Czech, US, China, etc.  They were extremely hospitable and gave us tours of the storage facilities, the pelletizing, the unbaling, the isomerization process, the lab, the hop extract facilities, etc.  They even let us do a full evaluation of about 14 different hop varieties (you know the fancy way you lift some hops into your hands and rub them together to release the lupulins and oils, then smell them....awesome).  After all our presentations and tours they took us out for supper and beers at a semi-abandoned restaurant and biergarten.  I guess this place closed down and they only open it up from time-to-time for special events/weddings.  We had one waitress who successfully delivered all our beer orders and brought out a three-course meal for us, she was good.

The next day we headed to Bamburg.  I loved this city...if I had only one city that I could re-visit again, it's definitely this one.  We found out that there are 600+ breweries in Bavaria and 300 of them are all within a one hour radius of Bamburg.  Also 100's of artisian bakeries as well.  Our first stop was Krones HQ.  10,000 workers world-wide with 5000 at the HQ (I likened it to Pella in size before the downturn) Krones is only about 50 years old but is already the highest quality beverage equipment in the world (read: expensive too).  They became famous for beer bottle fillers but have really taken off with PET bottle for filling of juice, water, etc.   After presentations and tours we got to eat in their cafeteria which was about the size of my university's dining hall.  It wasn't free for the employees but the price was about 1/2 of normal and you would have a hard time packing your own lunch for these prices.  The company was really cool in other ways too, letting employees pick their own hours for instance, and I just got a sense that company cared a lot for their employees.

We next headed to a brewery owned and operated by a church called Bischofshof.  It was newly revamped (by Steinecker, of course) and was about the size of Bell's or New Glarus in volume sales.  After a 2 hour tour we got an early supper and more beer for tasting.  Hard work, I tell you.

Bamburg is also the home of a famous brewery called Schlenkerla which makes a Rauchbier (smoked beer), as do most of the 10 breweries in Bamburg (pop~70,000).  I used to like rauchbier but drinking it fresh in Bamburg is a treat and they go down really good...I actually preferred the other local called Spezial a little better for it's drinkability...equally as smokey though.

The next day we visited Kaspar-Schulz who has been around for 334 years!  They also make brewing equipment but on a smaller scale and specialize in brewpubs and microbreweries systems.  Some of their systems are completed covered in hand-shaped copper cladding....as some of my classmates called it....brewing equipment porn.  Ha.  We finished the tour with lunch in their backyard biergarten and got to try Spezial on cask.

Then I heard we were going to Weyermann Malting next....I was all like "boring, we just saw a small malthouse in the US and now we'll see a big one, ladddy dah...."  Oops, I judged it too soon, turns out this was my absolute favorite stop on the whole trip!  Considerable young by German history standards (1879), they have been constantly and consistantly growing.   They are still family owned and operated and really know how to make a job fun and a good place to come to work.  We started in their bierstuberl with presentations, then a really cool tour that took us to their brewery (the biggest one in Bamburg) they only brew one batch of dark wort that gets evaporated to make Sinamar.  I've known about this product for some time, but didn't realize that it was so popular (all natural barley coloring for making dark beers that still is in accordance to the Germany purity law).  We then went to the R&D department where their head malster got to experiment with all sorts of roasting, kilning and candy-making (their candy coated caramalt was really good).  They also had a professional bakers oven for their full-time baker to experiment (yes, they employee a brewmeister and professional baker).  They want to learn everything they can about the bread industry and apply it to malt and also for pairing with foods/beer, neat stuff (her experiments are given to the employees every thursday). We saw the normal stuff like Saladin boxes, kilns, and packaging and then we went to the musuem.  After that we saw the pilot brewery where another brewmeister makes small batches.  These are put on draft in the bierstuberl and also bottled for the employees.  About once a month the employees learn about a new style of beer (some belgian and american) and then they get to take 2 cases home (if I recall this correctly).  We saw their fanstore (gift shop) and I thought about buying some swag, but we had already learned we were getting some free stuff like pens and hats and pins from them already, so I withheld.  Afterwards we ate cheesecake and drank beer and I met the daughter of the owners who is enrolled in Weihenstephan (so she can take over the operations).  They even took a group picture so they could have us posted on the wall, what fun people and a fun company.

The last day of our Germany we visited Schneider Weiss brewery in Kelheim.  This place was big.  320 HL batches and they used exclusively one yeast strain and all open fermentors.  Schneider is known for being founded by the dukes and was given exclusive rights to brew wheat beer in Germany for many years (starting about 400 years ago).  Eventually others were able to brew wheat beers but when lager yeast was isolated, everybody abandoned them in favor of the clear, crisp Pilsners and Helles beers.....much to the chigrin of their competition, Schneider hung on and is still the leading brewery of weissbier in Germany (wheat bier makes up about 20% of all beer drank in Bavaria)  One other cool thing they had us do was visit their bottling line museum which had a working device for filling single bottles.  So they had us fill swingtop bottles, then hand-glue/apply the labels.  (I opted not to take my souviner home as it wouldn't have traveled well.)  They had a really cool biergarten on a little stream that they had us sample their 7 main products  (including Aventinus) as well as a meat, bread and cheese tray for snacking.

The last place on the list to visit was Kuchlbauer (another wheat beer brewery).  Kuchlbauer is fairly small relatively but still uses a 100HL brew kettle.  My uncle Bruce was going to take me to this brewery/museum when I visited him, but when I discovered that our class was visiting here later, I opted to wait.  In terms of a brewery, this was very unnoteworthy in terms of beers and production, but what really put this brewery on the map is their art-loving owner and his relationship with the late Hundertwasser (a famous European artist/architech....think Frank Lloyd Wright).  Shortly before his death, the brewery owner asked him to design a house for his dwarves of lore that "make his beer."  So there is this 35meter tower (originally designed as 70m but it can't be taller than the church in town...) There is also a museum and the brewery has been "detailed" to match the look of the tower, so everything sort of "flows."  (see pics)

After we got back on Thursday it was laundry night and "catch a few zzz's" before getting up at 4AM to catch our train to Belgium.  We arrived in Brussels around 1:45PM and found our hotel.  The hotel was a dump and there wasn't even anybody there to check us in for 1hour.  The streets were covered with garbage and everyplace smelled.  We were in the shady neighborhood (read: red light district) but even the nice parts of town were extremely dirty....not like Germany at all. We explored the city and found Cantillon as well as Delirium Tremens on the first day.  On Saturday we caught a local train to Bruge, finally a nice, clean, beautiful city in Belgium (I didn't want to go back to Brussels).  We walked around and enjoyed the good weather, found one brewpub called De Halve Maan (1/2 moon).  My only complaint about Bruge (all of Belgium, in fact) is that service is slow and everything costs about twice as much...(4 lunches cost us $144euro and over 3 hours, I guess it made up for how cheap Czech was).  On Sunday we took in more sights and found the Manneken Pis as well as Jeanneke Pis statues that make Brussels so famous.  Easter weekend really isn't the best time to travel Europe unless you plan on just chilling on the beach because everything except restaurants and public transportation are closed. (forewarning anybody who had Easter travel plans to go to Europe.)  As you can tell, I didn't much enjoy Belgium (aside from Bruge) and my only positive experiences was the chocolate, the waffle I had, and Hoegaarden witbier.  (The rest of the Belgium beers didn't have the magic that I thought they would).

Monday was just lunch (the cheapest menu item is usually a $9euro bowl of soup or $10euro Croque [fancy grilled cheese sandwich]) and waiting for our train, we did have one hiccup on our transfer to Munchen at Frankfort, but we made the best of it.

Tuesday starts out with another partial week brewery study tour of Austria. 
What the heck, I never heard a Rhapsody when I was in Bohemia nor saw a Sprout when I was in Brussels....oh well, at least I can say I saw a hot dog in Frankfort. lol!
Until next time...


Sunday, April 24, 2011


Well... of course I would miss someone in my list of whom I'm thankful for and I also want to add my friend Chrissy who flew out here with me the 10th - 12th to help me find daycare and an apartment... were it not for her, I might still be sitting in a daycare parking lot crying my eyes out... *love you*, C!
(I'm sure I've missed additional people as well... thanks to everyone who has been so helpful these last few months... the list goes on and on!)

Easter Morning

I thought I'd start this post off with some pictures of our cute and beautiful girls.  They were both SO happy to be allowed to put these dresses on this morning, and they both took to twirling and all sorts of other dressy nonsense.  Julia also perfected (what I call) her debutante seated pose -- she very much wanted to have her dressed puffed out just so when she was sitting on the ground.  Too precious.
Adam, precious.  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
(That's right.  I just threw an inside joke into the middle of a blog post.)
I'm thankful for today.  Today we celebrate the Risen Savior, the reason for joy, hope, peace, and love.  The reason to find contentment no matter our circumstances.  The reason for everything we do and say and hope for.
I positively love the Scripture from Matthew... that one simple verse... He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  (Matthew 28:6 NIV)  Every time I hear it... every time I read it (and that's been a lot in the last few days what with people posting on Facebook like crazy)... I get a tingle and a warmth that spreads through my body... our Savior not only came, but He did what He said He would do... and because of that, we may have everlasting life in Him.  How awesome!  Honestly... the best day of the year each year!
And, that one verse is what is helping me hold it together today... I woke up at 1 AM to Julia telling me she needed to go potty (thank God she told me instead of peeing in her bed)... and then at 3:30 AM, I woke up to noises that after clearing the cobwebs, I knew immediately was Raven throwing up.  Sure enough, I found her in her bed sick as could be... her first time ever by the way... and I fell apart.  I was so tired after days of not sleeping well... and this... this was not part of my plan.  But, then I remembered an email my dear friend Alecia and I shared earlier this week (re: Mary Magdalene post I noted yesterday?), and I knew something would work out somehow. 
I took Raven to bed with me and she fell back to sleep (yes, I remembered to lay down a towel), and I laid there... praying... thinking... wondering... hoping.  At 5:30 AM it started all over again and that is when I got up and got on the phone.  All this while I had a back-up plan of sorts... one I was hoping not to have to implement... one in which someone would come if I called if I needed someone to watch the girls this, my first week of work... two different people had told me in the last couple of weeks that they'd be willing to clear their schedules and come... so, first I called my mother-in-law and crying, I told her what had happened.  Thank God for the Internet; in a flash I knew that I could fly her out here today if need be.  However, my Aunt Chris had also offered, and we decided I should call her as well.  Aunt Chris jumped at the chance to call, and by 6:15 AM, I had booked her a one-way ticket to Denver.  She will be arriving tonight.  I will be able to go to work tomorrow, and God-willing, Raven won't get anymore sick than she already is and here's hoping that Julia and I are able to stave off this bug.
How to find joy and peace in this...?  Well... I'm thankful that it happened today and not tomorrow.  Tomorrow... well... that would have been worse.  Yes, I know, I could have called work and told them I wouldn't be there on my first day of orientation, but I would prefer not to start off that way.  Regardless of what anyone tells you, there is still a slight stigma surrounding working mothers, and it wouldn't look good for me to miss my first day due to a sick kid.  If I can help it, I won't start off my career with Raytheon that way.  So, I am thankful for family and friends who will drop everything and take vacation when asked (my parents to help us move, Angela who helped us move, my in-laws who have watched the girls a bunch in the last two months so that I could interview and travel and make plans, and my Aunt Chris who so willingly offered to come and help... even my cousin Dru who, had I not found daycare, would have been willing to watch the girls this summer).  I am thankful that I have these wonderful, selfless people in my life who don't require an I.O.U.  Because I can't offer one.  All I can do is be grateful for the gifts they offer.
And isn't that what so much of today is about?  Our friend, our brother, our God... being so willing to offer himself for us, to save us from ourselves... and there is no way we could ever repay Him... all we can offer him is our thanks and devotion and worship... our focus and our hearts and our thoughts... dedicating ourselves to him, over and over, falling to our knees in awe of WHO He is and WHAT He has done... how AWESOME is our God!!!
I hope you all have a blessed Easter Sunday!  Since we are no longer going to our Jesus Party (this is how I explained the Easter Dinner to J last night), I will eat a Cake Pop or two for you all.
ps.  I want to make a note here... I heard a great radio interview about a book called Shocked by the Bible by Joe Kovacs and I purchased it immediately.  I cannot wait to read it and review it here!  I have lost my ability for words in book reviews anymore, it seems, but I want to make a solid attempt because it seems so intriguing to me and I want to share.  I also have been reading a number of other Christian books that I'd love to share with you as well.  God Bless!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

No Swimming Today

The apartment complex is in the process of heating our pool, and I told Julia this morning (who was very excited to see that the pool was full) that we can go swimming once daddy gets home.  (I cannot imagine trying to swim with both kids... okay, I can... and it just involves standing there while trying to keep them both from drowning -- much easier with two adults.)
Ha, we definitely will NOT be swimming today - the forecast for today was rain but maybe you can see in this picture that instead we are getting snow.  Fantastic!

I think Raven is ready for a nap.

I really didn't know what to title this post.
In an effort to practice getting out the door "on time" for the next couple of weeks (I need to have the girls in their rooms at "school" by 7 am so that I can be to work by 8 am), I have been waking the girls up earlier than "normal".  They seemed to have adjusted to the time difference without issue and were easily sleeping in until 7:00 - 7:30 am, but on Thursday I had them up at 6:30 am and yesterday at 6:00 am.
Apparently they did not get the memo that today is Saturday.
I am very glad I went to bed at 10:00 pm last night.  (This cold is *really* kicking my butt and just when I think it is letting up, it gets worse.)
This morning we have already... watched two shows, spilled our cereal everywhere, played on mommy's bed, played on Julia's bed, played out on the balcony with bubbles from Grammy (WAY TOO CHILLY for that but the girls didn't seem to mind -- Raven screamed insults when I made her put socks on)... at some point today we'll dye Easter eggs but I'm not sure where as I don't want there to be the slightest possibility of Easter egg dye on the carpet... I'm seriously considering throwing the girls in swimming suits and putting them and the egg dye in the tub -- at least I can bleach that sucker?
Maybe we won't dye eggs after all.
I still need to hard-boil them.
Did I mention that I feel terrible?
I'm trying very hard to find beauty in this weekend; it's our last weekend together before another "big" change occurs (I start my new job on Monday) and it's the first weekend in a long time that we've actually been able to spend together without packing or driving or some other nonsense involved.  I am so thankful for this weekend that we have, but sometimes it is hard to be thankful when one feels so cruddy.  I really wanted to get out with the girls today and do something special with them, but the thought of even showering makes me want to crawl back into bed, let alone getting the girls dressed and into the stroller or something.  Oooh, we will walk to the mailbox today!  Heh!
Add to that, it is Easter weekend.  I was really blessed to read a great devotion by Max Lucado on Mary Magdalene this last week; it touched me so much.  (If you are in need of good devotion material sent to your email inbox, Lucado's is a good one.  He writes so beautifully.)  Yes, how awesome that God the Father sent His Son to die and suffer and experience hell for us, and yet I have always felt it is even more awesome that he rose from the grave.  For without his return, without the fulfillment of the prophecy on that end, the suffering and death would have been for naught.  How awesome.  Oh, HOW AWESOME!
I am thankful to have met a new friend, Lisa, who has invited our family over to her husband's family's house for Easter Dinner tomorrow.  She is the daughter of a Pella quilt guild friend that I was so grateful to have met before we moved here.  I've only met her once and our girls played together, and she invited us to join them this weekend.  How fun!  I'm trying hard to think of something special to bring.
The girls have some beautiful little Easter dresses that I found at Marshall's with Chrissy last week for $10 a piece.  I love a good deal.  For sure I will be posting pictures!
I suppose I'll rest in the fact that we are simply spending time together today and tomorrow... we don't need to do anything grand to make it special (even if my grand idea was simply a walk)... just the fact that we've already gotten in two hours of snuggling this morning is pretty awesome... and we have many more hours ahead of us before bed time!
I think I have pretty much talked myself out of my less-than-happy mood this morning.  *grin*  So I don't feel well.  So what?  Forces me to sit and cuddle and read and knit and watch movies today, right?  Right.
I think I might need a nap today too.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Post: Last Week in Munich

Last weekend Adam was off in the Czech Republic, and I'm not sure where all he was this week but I know he's off in Brussels now.  This post was sent to me a little earlier this week but I have been busy with moving us to Colorado and unpacking and whatnot, and I wanted to try and get pictures in their rightful place for once.  So... let's see if I can do that and post this before I pick the kids up from daycare!

Last full week in Munich and except for food words, I haven't learned any more German. I find that 90% of Germans know some English and especially around Hauptbaunhof (main train station). Munich is actually more safe than I expected. I found out that our hostel is in the roughest part of town, but it doesn't scare me like sections of Chicago did.
This week we had a lot of hands-on modules. The class was split into thirds and my group started with an awesome lecture and demonstrations about draft systems. Great beer + bad draft = bad beer. (And this is a case where two negatives don't add up to a positive either.) Tuesday we brewed another batch of wheat bier and did the calculations ourselves this time. The batch went without a hitch until it came time to cool it. Somebody had turned off the chiller for the cold water and we couldn't chill the beer, so they pumped it into the conical instead and used the jackets to cool it. Wednesday we spent the day learning to use the kieselgur and depth filter. We filtered the wheat beer that we made last time, then we added speise (more wort/food) and fresh yeast. (Yes, some German breweries actually use this method to get consistent products...the yeast is typically a lager yeast for bottle conditioning.)

On Thursday, all 38 of us spread out throughout the bottling line and helped bottle 4 batches of beer. This bottling line is capable of 4000 bottles/hour, but we slowed it down to 2000. We finished in about 3.5 hours! After lunch we just cleaned up and grabbed a few fresh bottles of beer and headed to the train. Each night I spent time preparing for our exam that was on Friday. They didn't do a good job to let us know what was going to be on the exam. All we knew was it had mostly to do with brewing beer, so a lot of the students were anxious and worried about the exam.

On Thursday we decided to go back to Ayinger for an evening tour. This tour rocked. There were two people from Holland who spoke little English and preferred the tour to be in German (because they spoke that, at least), but our guide did a good job to field questions from both them and our group in our respective languages. This tour lasted 2 hours and ended with three beers and a free bottle opener. Highly recommended. Afterwards we hit the Liebards Restaurant which is an Ayinger beerhall (owned by the family of Ayinger) and we ate and drank. I decided to have the Mega veinershnitzel along with my buddy Ziggy. This was by far the biggest thing I ever ate.

It was the size of my large plate and was seated on a bed of fries and came with a side salad. I finished it except a few fries left on my plate got the best of me.

This week was wet and cold and so we didn't do much stuff outside, except for Monday afternoon. Since our professor had other commitments in the afternoon we actually got out of school on Monday at 1PM! So I went down to the Viktualienmarkt in downtown Munich for shopping. I found mead, cheese, Oktoberfest shoes and vest. I also had bought some stuff for my daughters.

One night (that was cold and drippy) my Colombian roommate, Adrian, dragged me out to get a beer. Since he was buying, I gave in. We went to the Augustiner Keller which was highly recommended by our classmates. When we got inside, the guy pointed to a really small set of spiral stairs that took us about 3 stories down and into the old cellaring caves. These have been redone and look very new as seen by the picture, but was very cool, nonetheless. When we were done we headed back towards the stairs and found the elevator instead. Sweet.

Friday morning was our final exam. It was 5 essays that we got to pick out of 7 and we had 3 hours to complete it. I was more anxious for this exam than I would have expected (UWP was a long time ago), but I feel I did well. Michael, who is taking us on our study tour the next two weeks will be grading our exams during this time, so we'll find out how we did at the end of our study tour....we are all relieved that it is over.

Friday afternoon five of us got on an international train for Prague, Czech Republic. We got there around 11PM and the taxi guys were trying to get 5 times the recommended price that we studied about, so we walked to our hostel instead (2km) and got there around midnight. The Czech Inn (get it? check inn?) was really well run and had lots of showers, bathrooms, towels, internet, free maps, and everybody spoke English....again, highly recommended.

Praha (as the Czech call it) is a beautiful hilly city, and also cheap, as long as you aren't in a touristy part of town. This bill shows us paying over $1000 crown for a meal....

That was like $10Euro a piece for 3 rounds of beer and food. Most 1/2 liters were about $1US (awesome compared to the $4-5US for each beer in Munich). The pictures cannot capture it like some of the postcards I snagged did (yes, Erin, I got you more postcards). We found the faux Eifel tower, Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle and the John Lennon wall.

We also accidentally stumbled upon 2 brewpubs as well on Saturday. The beer was cheap it was only $30 for each 1/2 liter (well, czech crowns actually and thats about $1.45 in US$). On Sunday we hit Old Town (which had lots of food vendors, musicians, artists, etc). Then we found 2 more brewpubs and a beer garten (with awesome Zlatopramen 11° Plato beer) before heading on the train back to Munich.

This week we begin our study tour in Germany via group bus and led by Doemens instructor Michael Eder....the big German, will have way too many pics and stories to tell, but will do my best to summarize.



New Project: Sweater with Shoulder Buttons

When C and I came out to Denver last week (yes, that was only 12 days ago that we flew out here -- how insane how much has happened since then), we checked out a yarn shop in Denver -- The Lamb Shoppe.  Maybe you know and maybe you don't, but C and I had taken to meeting once a month (and eventually our friend Ang joined us) for a stitching night in Coralville.  Because I was moving, we had to check out a yarn shop together one more time... I don't want to say we'll never knit together again in Coralville, but I can't project when that might happen again.
While there, we both perused and picked out a new project -- how could we not?  I settled on easy kid knits by Claire Montgomerie.  I love this book for many reasons, one being that there are a lot of really cute and easy patterns that are simply gorgeous.  Another reason is that this book is for kids aged 3 - 10, and it's hard to find books for kids that age (for knitting).
In the book I fell in love with a pattern called "Sweater with Shoulder Buttons" (see picture above).  The gal at the shop helped me pick out some yarn that would be suitable and I settled on a pale pink sock yarn.  I'm not sure which child the sweater will fit; I started the sweater last night after the girls went to bed and didn't have their measurements, so I picked a size and got started.  Who knows; maybe it won't fit either of them!  But, I'm enjoying the process and the opportunity to sit and knit again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Follow Me

Hi, all!
I hope this email/post finds you well.  The girls and I are settling well into Colorado and are anxiously awaiting Adam's return from the far reaches of the European countryside.  It's safe to say that we miss him dearly and that these last two weeks (and some change) cannot go fast enough.  I've been emailing some and blogging some and generally trying to stay in touch with folks, but I have to admit that there's a lot on my plate right now and really I'd rather be taking a nap than even writing this email.

I'll admit right now that often I get lost in my own day-to-day that I don't always think to email about things going on in my life or the girls' lives or Adam's life, etc.  I talk to some people every day and some people once a month and some people less frequently than that.  I talk on the phone, I talk via text, I talk on chat, and I talk via email.

But, for the last three-and-a-half years, I have also communicated via our family blog.
My blog has never been meant to replace regular communication, and there are people that I talk to constantly and regularly.  Often I post my blog posts to Facebook as well, since Blogger only allows 10 people to receive email updates when blogs are posted, and as talked about below, I don't use a Subscribe sort of thing or otherwise because... see below.  Some might think it impersonal to be expected to check on our blog to hear the latest happenings of our family, but writing to the blog absolves me from forgetting someone on the email list or from forgetting to communicate at all.  I tend to use the blog to "track" our kids' lives (for lack of my ability to keep a baby book for them) and I like to blog about thoughts I have and things we've done.

Now that I'm starting my new job, I plan to blog more often again; there was a lot of stuff going on in the last couple of months that I couldn't talk about and now that those things have been determined, I feel freer to chat atcha again.  Thankfully Adam has been filling my void with his weekly recaps about school.

However, some of you might not know how to check my blog or don't think to check it often or… fill in the blank.  So, below I've compiled a couple different ways of how you can "follow" us and keep up on what's going on in our lives and doing this absolves me of any guilt for not having been more direct in communicating with you (or rather, more often).

Tangent:  Of course I want to know how you are doing and of course I want to talk, but let's face it, with email and text and chat and how fast all of that works these days, it is hard to keep up on everyone and everything all the time and still feel like you are paying attention to kids/spouse/home/self.  I almost wish we would go back to writing letters (gives me an excuse for taking some "downtime" from constantly talking).  Anyway, so that is another reason why I blog.

So… ways to "follow".

Adam clued me into this fun tool:
1. Visit http://www.feedmyinbox.com/2. Type in the website
3. Type in your email address
4. Click "submit"

You'll get an email letting you know when I've updated my blog.

Don't want to get 400 emails a day?  (Ha, ha, ha!)  Another way (if you have a Google/Gmail account) is to use Google Reader.  Go to reader.google.com, and you can "subscribe" to my blog by typing in the blog address above.  When you have the hankering to read my blog (or any number of other blogs you like to read), you go to Google Reader and bam, they are right there for you.

Forgive me for not having a "Subscribe" button on my blog or for not telling you how to set up a your own RSS feed (without using the above service).  I don't want to manage that sort of stuff and I have never done my own RSS feeds other than using someone else's service.  After all, my blog was never meant to be some crazy big thing that everyone in the world would find or follow.  And I'm all about saving time and using things other people have created (technology wise - ha!) so that I can focus my energy elsewhere.  So, please don't email me with a "how-to" on that whole business – as much as I like technology and the convenience, my brain is reaching capacity and I need to save room for new work stuff this coming week.  Unless you want to do a guest post for me or something.  Then, by all means email me a multitude of other ways that people can follow my blog.  I'll post that.

And… please don't email to tell me why you don't want to / won't use one of the services listed above because it allows Big Brother to watch you more, etc., etc.  That is your prerogative… and… well… just don't.  *grin*

Anyway… I'm sending this now because I'm beginning to blog more again now that everything with my old work and new work and old home and new home and everything else is getting settled.  Hopefully I'll be posting more pictures soon and updating you on life here and providing a little backstory on how we ended up in CO at all.

Love and hugs to ya!

ps.  Off to take that nap.  Ha!

New Resident

The picture may be hard to see, but on the left is my Escape with Colorado plates. (The Colorado Green plates matches my vehicle so much better than the Iowa Blue... hee, hee!  Of course, Adam's truck is blue so I don't know what to say about that.)  To the right, you can see the mountains.  This is the view from our apartment parking lot.  (Much prettier than the picture; I was trying to get my car plates AND the mountains in, and then I was interrupted by a gentlemen who was wondering what I was taking a picture of and why.)
This morning was productive and thought-provoking.  I dropped the kids off wicked early at daycare to time my drive to work and had today been Orientation Day, I would have been 15 minutes late.  Hmm.  Not sure what to do about that; I can't really drop the kids off much earlier and it would not be impressive to arrive to work 15 minutes late on my first day.  Tomorrow I will try again and see if I can be at daycare right when the doors open and hopefully the send-off will be easier and quicker (Julia was not a fan again today, although she didn't cry this time).
After driving to work, I turned around and drove to the Vehicle Emissions Test Station close to our home and had my vehicle tested.  Yay -- PASS!  Then it was off to the county vehicle registration site -- one thing I like about Iowa more is that you can get your license AND register your vehicle at the same place -- not so here.  Anyway, after sitting for some, I met a most pleasant gal who was pleased as punch at the research I had done (I had all of the correct documentation with me, including my title, yippee!), and she had me on my way with new plates in no time.
I am "done" with the important things I wanted to accomplish before work starts on Monday, and so now I'll work on organizing the apartment a bit and trying not to stress about driving to work on Monday morning.  I think also that I'll take a short nap, as the cold I have had now for over a week is seriously kicking my behind and I'm not sleeping well at night (insert LOTS OF COUGHING here).
More pictures and more blogging to follow soon, I hope. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good Start

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.
Today was a big day.  Even though I didn't start work, there was a lot happening for us today.
Mom and Dad left and headed back to Wisconsin (by way of Council Bluffs, IA, tonight)...
My friend, Angela, who also drove out with me and the girls, headed out with her sister today...
The girls started their first day at Goddard School.  Raven was an "easy" drop off and Julia started out well, but when she realized I wasn't staying, she wasn't very happy.
After Angela left, I went to the Licensing Station to obtain my Colorado Driver's License.  Holy cats.  I took #497 at 11 am (they were serving #472) and at 11:30 am, they were only on #475.  So, I decided to leave for a bit.  For starters, I was concerned I didn't have enough cash to pay for my license, and I figured that if my number came up while I was gone, I would just go back in the morning... rather that than sit forever.  So I went and bought a few more things and got some cash, came back to our apartment, and then went back to the station at 12:45 pm... and they were on #488.  FINALLY, at 2 pm, I was on my way.  I decided to drive over to work and get my badge taken care of -- the drive was 45 minutes (accident on I-270), but the badging only took 5 minutes and I was back in Westminster by 3:30 pm.
I came back to the apartment and relaxed for a little bit, and then I picked up the girls at 5 pm.  They both had a FANTASTIC day.  Raven's teachers really enjoy her; she is "soooooooo cute" and smiled a lot.  They asked if she had been in a daycare before because they were amazed by how well she listened and followed direction (way to go, M'Amy!).  She also started to make some friends in class and took her very first nap on a mat.  Way to go, Ravie!  Julia also had a good day despite the rough start.   She told her teacher when she had to go potty (No accidents today!  She has been potty trained for a while now.).  She ate all of her grapes at lunch.  And, she giggled and chatted with a little boy who was "napping" next to her instead of sleeping - ha!  She made friends, enjoyed painting, and overall had a good day, and she is very excited to go back tomorrow.
One sad thing... Julia kept saying on the drive home that she wanted to go to her BLUE house... NOT her brown (our apartment) house.  After some chatting about the mailbox, though, and getting to use Mommy's mailbox key to check it, she was excited about the new place again.  She knows how to get from our car to the mailbox and from the mailbox to our apartment.  She wants to be a big girl and use the key.  And she was very excited to play with her sister and eat pizza and bananas and play with her toys.
All in all... I would count today a success.  Tomorrow I will take the girls to daycare early and time my drive to work to make sure that I won't be late the first day, and then I will get my emissions test done so I can register my vehicle.  Then it's back to the apartment to do some more organizing.
Something fun... Adam's cousin Stacy is in town and called tonight to see if they could stop by to visit.  So, they should be here soon!
Ta ta!  Until tomorrow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Quick Note

Just a note to let everyone know that the kids and I (along with Mom & Dad & Friend Angela) are safely in Westminster, CO, we are moved into the apartment, we have most everything unpacked, the U-Haul trailer is back, and we even have internet.  It has been an amazing and good day.  The kids have done wonderfully as well and even went to bed lovely tonight.
So... all is good... one of these minutes when I feel like my brain is more intact, I will write out some more of the story.  Or... maybe when I feel like I'm not running at full speed for a couple of days...
love ya!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

All My Bags are Packed...

... I'm ready to go...
I think.
Wow, what a day.  Today I watched and participated in packing a trailer that is going to take me and the girls to Colorado tomorrow to begin our life there.  It is still hard to grasp that this is happening; I kept telling myself that "this will be real when..."... but it still hasn't hit me yet that this is real, and I'm not sure when it will.  Maybe the kids' first day of daycare this next week?  Maybe my first day at my new job?
I have so much to write about... So. Much.  However, it's been an emotional and busy and overwhelming and exciting and all sorts of things couple of weeks and so I'm doing my best to keep on task and on target and to get us out the door... I finally feel ready, but it is so hard to leave... so hard to say goodbye.  There are people I was really hoping to see last night or today and it simply didn't happen.  On the other hand, there were people I didn't expect to see today that I got to see so that was really wonderful.
By this time tomorrow, we will hopefully be snuggled into our beds in our hotel in Colorado, if not almost there.  We have a long drive tomorrow but we are determined to make it the entire distance so we're fresh and able to move in right away Monday morning.  I'm not thinking about the fact that the kids will be strapped in their car seats for a very long day tomorrow... there isn't much way around it, so it needs to happen, and we'll ply them with movies and fruit snacks and hope they nap more than normal.  (Why, oh why, didn't I take five minutes to pull out my sewing machine and stitch Raven's paci clip shut or buy a clip to clip her sheep to her car seat?)
I am so thankful for the family and friends I have in my life... this week my friend C flew out to Denver with me to help me find daycare and an apartment (Success!!!), my parents and friend Ang are here to help me move out to CO, and out of the blue, our friend Jane stopped by today and helped us load up the trailer for over an hour... completely unannounced, but what a blessing!  We also had offers for help from another friend and it was a good feeling to be able to tell her that we were okay that way.  It seemed we made quick work of what needed to be done.
For those that don't know, a 6' x 12' trailer holds A LOT OF STUFF.  So much so that I spent a bit of time just trying to figure out what else to take.  We ended up taking an end table and an extra dresser that weren't part of the original plan, and I am excited to be able to bring my sewing machine and some other fun stuff as well.  Our apartment will be well stocked, at the very least.
Yes... an apartment... we are moving into an apartment until our house in Pella sells and we're able to buy another in Colorado.  My new company provides relocation which includes moving of household goods, however, we weren't sure how long we'd have to store the goods so we opted to leave the majority of our stuff here until an undetermined future date.  Even though we didn't like to, we lowered the price of our house a good chunk again this weekend and it is almost as low as we were hoping to ever have to go, so this is a good lesson for us in a number of ways, one of which is accepting that we may not make much money on this house, if any at all, and it serves as a reminder that this move and all of these changes wasn't about money to begin with.  We both agree that it's more important to sell our house soon instead of holding onto it wishing for a higher price for a longer amount of time.  So we'll see.
I think the kids are doing okay but after a long couple of weeks that were out of the ordinary for them, they were both very clingy today, especially tonight at bedtime (though it was later than normal).  Julia near broke my heart when she cried and cried that she wanted to sleep in her bed and not with me... she is seemingly okay with the idea of moving to Colorado but I'm not sure she is handling the leaving of some things behind, one of those things being the lower part of her bunkbed set.  She seems to understand that Papa packed her "Princess bed" in the trailer tonight and that she'll see it again in Colorado, but that didn't keep her from wanting to sleep in her own spot one more night.  I guess I can't blame her... I'm sure going to miss the king-size bed for the next while here...!!!
Anyway... that is what I know for now... a lot of randomness, I guess.  We are moving into our apartment on Monday and should have internet sometime Monday afternoon.
lots of hugs to you all!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Post: Week 2 in Germany

Good weather = open bier gartens.

As you can see by the collage of mugshots (get it, "mug" shots?, I crack myself up) I frequented a lot of bier gartens this week. (Another shot of the Augustiner Bier Garten at night.) The two warmest days we made it to the English Garten which is HUGE and also hosts a lake, lots of trails and bier gartens. I didn't bring any shorts with me because I had researched the weather conditions for this month and, get this, the web was wrong! So I went looking for a pair of shorts. Germans must never wear shorts or something, I could find a pair of lederhosen for $99, but shorts, I had to pay $25Euro, which was the cheapest pair I could find. At least I got good use of them this week as most days got to the 70'sF or at least upper 60'sF (See pic at Ayinger, I'm wearing them here.)

I found a brewpub in Munich. Here is a pic of me at the Unions Brau Keller next to their wooden fermentors. The copper kettle and system was old and wicked cool looking. The beer wasn't as pure as the big breweries Helles, Dunkel, Bock, etc, but it was cool to drink it in the ambiance of a brewpub/keller (basement).  I bumped into a flight attendant from Sully, IA (meerly 16 miles from Pella, IA)  when I was dining here.

This week at school we covered a lot of topics like chemical analysis, yeast flavors, brewing operations, acidifying mashes and studied the German Reinheitsgebot (which is a lot more complicated than saying just malt, water, hops and yeast, btw) To give you an idea: hops cannot be used after boiling, so no dry hopping. But minerals and bacteria can be used to treat the water ahead of time. Rye and Wheat can be used with top-fermenting yeast, but not with bottom-fermenting yeast. Apparently there are dozens of loopholes but functionally it is very restrictive and the brewers at Doemens wish it was opened up for more innovation. Before 1987, only beer that was made according to the Reinheitsgebot could be sold in Germany. That means that Belgian beers weren't allowed to be sold here, nor most American beer. The European states complained and they passed a law  that allowed beer to be brought into the country, but if it is made in Germany it still needs to follow  the purity law. The country wasn't (and still isn't) ready for it, you have to look extra hard to find any beer that isn't German, Austrian or Czech here. The distributors do not want to chance that they'll sell these other beers and most Germans would be too set in tradition to try them so there isn't much available. I saw a Guinness the other day, that's like finding a four-leaf clover!

Styles tastings this week covered the history, brew techniques and flavor profiles for ales: Kolsch, Alt, Weiss, Dunkelweiss, Berliner Weiss, Kristallweiss.

We had a group project that split the class into four groups. Our group needed to describe our fictional brewery and our flagship lager and how it was microbiologically stable. Then we needed to describe our "functional beverage" which is like an alcoholic drink that provides something else (eg. caffine) as a benefit to consumers. We chose a milk lager that would be rich in vitamins and chemicals so it provided retardants for hangovers and tryptophan causing sleepiness so you can "sleep it off." Totally ridiculous, but our group had fun putting together our presentation. I think we called it Drunken Cow Sleepytime Milk Lager. We then had to make changes to the product such that it would be microbiologically more stable. After two days, we presented and the instructor told us that it wouldn't be graded, but if it were, all four groups would have gotten A's.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, our product was made according to the Bovineheitsgebot.

On Thursday we had an in depth tour of all the equipment in the filling room. We will be bottling our wheat beer that we made last week this coming Thursday (16 days later) and so this was a way to introduce us to the equipment that we'll be using and subsequently cleaning.

This weekend was pretty awesome for checking out new places. A bunch of us took the train to Aying after school on Friday and walked into the Ayinger Brewery (pic at the brewery and my new shorts!). They were closed but the receptionist let us walk around a bit. It was a very new facility, modernized and very clean.  Afterwards we walked into the center of town and found a bier garten that sold only Ayinger and relaxed in the sun.

On Saturday, Cade (from Birmingham, AL) and I rode the train up to Freising to visit the historic Weihenstephan monastery (see pic), brewing school and brewery. It was on the top of this ridge that overlooked the town of Freising and was really gorgeous (this pic doesn't do it justice). There were flower and tree gartens all around and a bier garten, of course. I tried a barley schnapps (distilled barley liquor. It was sweet, not dry like a whiskey).

We then visited the original Paulaner brewery which is still brewing on a pub level. Afterwards we headed to another Paulaner biergarten where they held Starkbierfest, which was a large biergarten and fest hall. Starkbier is another word for "strong beer", which is what they call their doppelbocks. A liter of Salvator is all I needed. Wow, this was like a mini Oktoberfest, but in contrast, 90% of everybody was dressed up....I regret not bringing my lederhosen now. There was a 14-piece band that really got the crowd going inside the hall, and outside the temp was perfect and there was plenty of Gemutlichkeit going around.

On Sunday, Cade and I took an another train up to Dachau which is the site of the very first concentration camp in 1933. (see pic) This was preserved and turned into a free museum for anybody to walk the grounds. All the placards were in at least German and English, but sometimes in 6 different languages. We hit everything pretty fast but still spent nearly 3 hours walking the grounds and reading the literature. Very interesting and I appreciated the fact that this was put together by Germans....they respectfully tried to give the history of everything that happened even though it was pretty much self-damning. I suppose a parallelism would be the Americans and slave-trading though.

Will have to put more effort into studying this week as our written essay final will be this coming Friday. If we pass this, we'll receive our brewing diplomas!



Sunday, April 10, 2011


An added note... Adam actually just finished his second week in Germany... that is how far behind I am!  I will try to do better this week of posting his post as soon as I receive the email!
Have a good night!

Guest Post: Adam's First Week in Germany

Yet another poor attempt to blog Adam's posts, but at least I am posting them for historic value's sake!  *grin*  It's been a busy couple of weeks here since turning in my resignation and readying ourselves to move.  So, please excuse the late posts and the lack of trying to put the pictures in any discernible place/order.  -erin

Munchen. Munich. (see pic of downtown Rathaus)

This week was full of a lot and I don't have enough room to share it all here. I think I may include more pictures this time and less narration.

There are a lot of big breweries in Munchen including: Spaten, Paulaner, Hacker Pschorr, Augustiner, Lowenbrau & Hofbrau. We have been to several of the Augustiner Brauhaus's as well as Lowenbrau (see pic of outside at night) and the most famous Hofbrau Haus, of course (see pic of live band that plays nightly). The beer at these places is quite expensive aound 8 Euro or $11 for a mass krug (liter). We did find a local grocery that has cheap beer in PET bottles and even sells pre-mixed Radler. (see pic, 0.25 euro deposit per bottle!) Radler is beer (lager/weiss) and lemonade mixed together and is quite popular in Germany because you can drink several without getting tipsy.

Doemens is actually in a suburb called Grafeling and which we commute by train which takes 20 minutes and another 13 minutes to walk. It is much larger than Siebel and some days there will be 25 staff and 200 students there. Doemens building (see pic) has a 6 hl brewhaus, small malthouse, full bottling/kegging, fermentation (see pic of 9 mini horizontal fermentors & open fermentation), filtering, laboratories, classrooms on site. Also a cafeteria with really good food that we can purchase daily.

We had a full week of content and they like to mix it up a lot here. Nearly daily we are doing a styles tasting, but in a much more detailed format that covers: history, characteristics, how to make that particular style and other important information for understanding it, then we taste. On Tuesday we split the class and my half went to the 3rd floor for microscopy. We looked at nearly two dozen different yeasts and bacteria that were pre-grown on agar. We got to prepare our own slides which was good practice. Here shows a yeast that was grown and deliberately stressed so that it started to sporelate (4 acrospores circled in red...can you believe this pic was taken with an iphone looking down the gullet of  microscope...luck shot!). The microscopes we were using we wicked cool, but probably way too expensive, I had a lot of fun preparing, smelling and viewing the cultures. Megaspherea and E. Coli were probably my least favorite to smell (vomit/rotten feet and feces, respectfully).

On Wednesday our groups switched roles, so we got our turn at brewing a German Hefeweizen. The system was nearly fully automated, so with the exception of putting the grains and hops in, and turning one or two valves, most of the valves and all the heat and pumps was controlled via the computer console. This setup is mostly for teaching brewers how to control the BIG systems and they just have it all the same on a small scale. The only thing that went wrong was the mash mixer stopped working and the expert was on vacation that day, so I got to scoop out the lauter tun by hand. We then ran out of empty tubs, so Andy and I (our instructor) went 1 mile down the road to feed a dozen cows at a small farm in the city....yes, in the city, then I could re-use the empty tubs.

Thursday and Friday had more lectures on styles and tasting as well as chemical analysis and yeast flavor contributions. After class on Friday I bought a train ticket and headed up to see my uncle and family up near Meitingen, Germany.

Friday night we just ate supper and hung out at my uncles motorcycle clubhouse. On Saturday I had asked if there were any local breweries we could visit, there was one nearby in Wertingen called Schwanenbrau (Swan Brew). Braumeister Carry is a 4th generation brewer that graduated from Doemens Institute back in 1980 and he took over the brewery from his father that has existed since 1416 (their family bought the brewery in 1880). It is a 100 hl (~80 barrels) brewery but the demand has been shrinking and he only brews about 17 batches a year now.  He also had a small museum setup that he created from items that he found around the brewery.  This was really cool too, he explained to me the process of wooden casks  (see pic) from a first-hand experience....anytime I've asked questions in America about this practice, little is known, but in Germany they still use actually wooden casks each year at Oktoberfest.

On Sunday I had 4 meals before 4PM. Pancakes for first breakfast. Weisswurst, brezen and Pils for 2nd breakfast (we went to neighboring town that had a motorcycle shop and was having a spring fling to stir up business for the cycling season). We went to my uncle's in-laws (who live in the same town as he) for bier and braun (we had cakes). Then we had an early supper at 3:30PM that was kartoffel (potato salad) and home rotisserie chicken. It was all good, I didn't eat much for supper, just snacks and more bier of course. I suppose 1/3 of my daily calories might come from bier. I definitely need to start a diet when I get back to the states. Until then I will enjoy the food and beverage while I can.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Night, Night!

Raven said, "Night, night!" to Julia tonight as I put her to bed... SO CUTE!
I was taking Raven to bed and I told Julia to say "Night, night!" to Raven.  Instead, Raven said it to Julia!  (She's growing up so fast!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Good Byes are Hard

In case you didn't already know that.
Today was Raven's 18 month checkup with our fave doc, Dr. C., and Nurse Joan.  It had been scheduled for next week, but I moved it up to this week because of all of our activities next week.
(Turns out that it was a godsend that I did because Nurse Joan realized that I would need a bunch of papers -- physical reports, vaccine reports, etc. -- to enroll the kids in a new daycare, and since that is my goal next Monday, well THANK GOODNESS that we now have those.  She is a rockstar and went and made copies of everything for me.  Yay!)
Raven is doing well, even though both kids have colds.  Raven was 24 lbs 8 oz (~45th percentile), 33 inches tall (~80th percentile), and has a nice-middle-of-the-road head.  Because she is super laid back, she was awesome with her weight and height checks and generally tried to tear up the doctor's office.
However... the point of my post comes to this... I had no idea that it would be so hard to say good bye to a doctor and a nurse.  While I love them both dearly, we don't see them that often -- I have maybe taken the kids in a handful... okay... less than a handful of times in the last 3.5 years.  So our main visits have included pregnancy checkups and baby/kid checkups, etc., but even those are only every so often.  But, they know us.  They have been a part of our lives for some time, they have known my children from the day of their birth... and it feels like the end of something good.  That part was very hard.  Knowing that.  Hugging and crying and saying good bye.  All of that was very hard.
And it is hard explaining to a 3 year old.  Julia is known for taking on my phrasing, and as late, she says, "See ya later!" a lot (because that is what I say!).  So she said to Nurse Joan today, "See ya later!" and I said, "No, you need to say good bye because we are moving."  Wow, moving is such a big concept for a kid.  Anyway.  I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing today, but suffice to say that my heart broke a little bit today and I know it's only the beginning.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hello, Old Friend

Last night my friend Janice and her daughter Hazel came over for a quick dinner and to hang out for the evening.  They arrived ~6:30 pm and stayed till ~11:30 pm.  It was great to watch the girls try to impress Hazel and to generally act nuts because Someone Besides Us Was In the House, Hallelujah! 
After we put the kids to bed (girls in their room, Hazel in a Pack 'n Play in the guest room), Janice suggested that she whip out her current hand project and that I knit. 
Knit?  KNIT???  Knit.
Along with not blogging much for almost two months, I have only knitted ~4 rows on a hat in the last two months.  Much of this is due to being busy.  Okay, ALL of this is due to being busy.  Single mom, working full-time, but still taking Fridays "off", looking for jobs, working on resume, looking for more jobs, interviewing... that results in busyWhelmed.  Very much so.
What a great idea Janice had!  Knitting!
(Side bar: You should see Janice's project -- a super fabulous applique quilt with her own version of "Hawaiian" flowers and volcanoes... it is simply fantastic!)
So, last night I pulled out this fabulous royal blue/purple/somewhere in between yarn that Chrissy and I had picked up at Crazy Girl some odd months ago.  Like, MANY months ago.  I'm pretty sure the yarn is Malabrigo, something ridiculously expensive, to which I was drawn and could not remove myself.  I decided that such a fantastic yarn should be used on a project for yours truly, something I haven't done in a very long time.
I had found a pattern for fingerless gloves or wristlets or whatever you want to call them.  The pattern gave me the general idea, but honestly, after casting on the number of stitches required, I just went off on my own thing.  Today I need to count/figure out what I did so I can make a second one!  Ha!
I cast on 35 stitches, which was for a L/XL, but about 1/3 of the way up I decreased 4 stitches because it was obvious that the glove would be too big for me.  I'm still trying to decide whether I want to put a thumb "sock" on it; the original pattern didn't call for one and I didn't think I would want one, but I think it would make them look classier.  *grin*
The first one took ~3 hours while chatting and my stitches, while even, are a little rusty... time to get back at it!  :)  Looking forward to pumping out another one very soon so I have a pair.


This was on my bed at midnight last night, and after considering picking all of the hangers up nicely for about a nanosecond, I started grabbing handfuls and depositing them on the floor next to the bed.
Wow, she has a lot of hangers, you might say.
Yes, my husband has a lot of clothes.
Yesterday began the multi-day journey of packing clothes and kitchen items and other things to move us initially to Colorado.
Yes, we're moving to Colorado.
I know, I haven't blogged in a while and this is probably backwards to start with a post about packing when I haven't even divulged here what has happened, but I realized this morning that if I try to post about that stuff first I might never find the time and for now you'll get what I have the capacity to post and hopefully that means I will be posting more.
As it is, we do have a relocation company that will be moving our household goods eventually, but dudes, our house hasn't sold yet.  So if you have put a hex on it, please remove it.  If you know someone in search of a cute 3-bedroom/3-bathroom older home in downtown Pella, send them our way (or really, the realtor's way, 'cause I have a signed contract, you know?).
However, because the house hasn't sold, we are moving ourselves into a 2-bedroom apartment in Aurora (or thereabouts) and the key to that is we are moving ourselves (or rather, my Dad, Mom, Grandpa, friend Angela, the girls, and I are moving our stuff to Colorado in mid-April).
So, that involves some packing, and some informative packing -- I only have so much room, can only take so many things, but also have an idea as to what we'll need.  Sewing machine going?  I hope so, but if there isn't room, I know I can at least fit a few balls of yarn in the back.  Adam's clothes?  We'll see, but he's following a few weeks later and may have to sacrifice clothes for musical instruments the first trip.  (That didn't stop me from packing up all of his clothes yesterday; ah, it is good to see a nearly-clean closet.  I don't want to put anything back into it ever.)
Part of my packing includes giving.  My goal is that for every tub/box that I pack, I pack up a box to give away to the thrift shop.  So far so good... we'll see if I'm able to meet that goal when it's all said and done.  There is a lot of stuff to go through in this house yet over the next two weeks, so I think it's doable.
Oh, yes, and two weeks.  We are leaving for Colorado two weeks from tomorrow... crazy, isn't it?