Thursday, December 27, 2012

green eggs and ham

Sarah is learning to read in English. She reads very well in German but now in English too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I don't know how to rest

Juergen and I are almost done with our book.  Now what?  We have 2 weeks vacation. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to you!

I'm just finishing last min. cooking for our International Christmas party. I cooked a Thai Shrimp soup. It smells so wonderful. We have students from Myanmar, China, Germany and Brazil coming tonight. A total of 9 guests. And I’m so happy! Merry Christmas Everyone! God Bless You with his joy and peace.

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
-Albert Einstein

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thai Tom Kha Soup

I'm going to make this soup with shrimp and Thai rice tomorrow.

Chris Tomlin - Emmanuel (hallowed Manger Ground) (with lyrics)

Juergen gave me 3 Chris Tomlin CD's for Christmas. The Christmas CD is so beautiful! I also got a new MP3 player and docking station so I can hear my music and audible books in the kitchen and the car. Perfect! The kids all seem happy with the gifts they got. We have 2 more students coming to our party tomorrow. I have some cooking and cleaning to do.

Sad faces

One thing I've observed  about my adopted kids is they get sad around birthdays and Christmas.  They want so much not to be disappointed, and they don't really believe they will get the gifts they hoped for.  Thomas was always the worst.  I would have to ask him exactly what he wanted, buy it, wrap it, show him the box, and still he did not believe he would get it.  He was almost 7 years old when he was adopted.  In that time of waiting for a family, he suffered allot of disappointed hopes.  It is so hard to hope.  And for me, it's hard.  I want to surprise them, and not disappoint them, but not spoil them with 100% of everything they had been dreaming of.  Philip and Thomas have gotten better about holiday expectations.  But Sarah had such a long face at breakfast today.  It was like she was already trying to comfort herself because she did not really get what she wanted.  I don't ever recall feeling that way as a kid.  At least not before the gifts were opened.  One year I got a new bath robe and slippers while my brother got a football uniform and a new football.  Boy was I disappointed.  But that was after the gifts were opened.  My hope was pure. It's sad when you think about what they lost growing up in a state run orphanage.  It takes allot of work to rebuild trust, to teach them they can hope, that they can really dream for good things to come.  But I find myself walking a tight rope of not raising their hopes too high, but assuring them it will be good.  I told Sarah she will absolutely get some of the things she wanted but not everything.  And there are birthdays and the money she earns to buy whatever is missing.  So today we will open our gifts (one day early).  Tomorrow we will host International students.  And I'm excited about our Christmas party.  God knows how much I love students!   

Saturday, December 22, 2012

last min stuff

I just spent 4 1/2 hours shopping with Nicole.  Now Juergen is out shopping with the kids.  He always takes them to the Hardware store for my gift.  I guess its the only store he knows his way around!  It’s the last day of the Heidelberg Christmas market.  I never got around to going.  I think that's kind of sad.  People travel from around the world to see it, and I just found myself too busy again.  But I am getting excited about the vacation!  Juergen has 2 weeks off, and I am so happy about the break.
We did get a reply back on our Christmas party.  So far we will have 4 students from Myanmar  (Burma)  and one friend from Germany.  We may have a few more guests, but with our family of 7, 5 guests is a good number.  And I'm finally getting excited about things.  It's no fun to work hard cooking, cleaning and shopping when you don't know anyone is coming.  So our family Christmas is scheduled for tomorrow, and our student party is Monday.  We don't think we will go see Richard because it's too much for him.  Instead, Juergen wants to go with Nicole in January for a long weekend.  And so the good news is we will be home for 2 weeks.  And that sounds like rest!  And I am so glad! I should cook some shrimp and rice for my student guests.  I'm sure Philip and Sarah and Nicole will not mind having some shrimp. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Trying to plan

I have a party planned for December 24th (Christmas Eve) but I'm still not sure anyone is coming.  I'm not really sure what to do about that.  I may end up canceling the party?  And we had planned to go to Juergen's dads house on December 25th.  But now Richard is feeling stressed about having us there (all 7 of us).  I have to admit I was so surprised he agreed to our coming.  So it's no surprise to me he is having 2nd thoughts about the plan.  We are now thinking about going the first week in January when the kids are in camp.  Then it will be 4 of us instead of 7.  But if that is still too stressful, Juergen will go by himself.  The kids were looking forwards to seeing their Opa, but we want to bless him.  If it's too stressful for him, we will do what ever he wants.  He is getting very old.  And it's easy for us to adjust.  Today the kids had their last day of school.  The vacation is 2 weeks long.  Juergen also has 2 weeks off.  As long as we can sleep in, and enjoy each others company I can be flexible about the other stuff. God can surprise me with the details.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to Make Stuffed Collard Greens with Tzatziki Sauce

are you ready

If the world ends tomorrow, what will you do today?  I'm going to clean my house, cook lunch for my kids, and keep getting ready for Christmas. I’ll taxi my kids around all afternoon.  And do laundry.   If it really all ends I'm just happy with who I am. I love my man, I love my kids, I love my house and every good thing God has given me.  I’ve seen the world.  I’ve done great things.  It could all end and I would be at peace! Jesus is my Lord and King.  I don’t think it’s going to end tomorrow but I’m ready.

God bless ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay

Juergen hired a van and picked up the sofa and 2 chairs I bought on eBay.  The boys helped him move everything.  They both failed to put something in my advent calendar, so I said they could help Juergen and that would be my gift.  And it was a gift!  Gifts are funny things.  Some people are good at gifts, and others have challenges in this area.  I'm afraid my dear husband is gift challenged.  But really only on the "special" days like birthdays and Christmas.  He never really knows what to give me when he has to give me something.  But if you know him, you know he is very generous.  He is always doing stuff for me.  Like renting this van to pick up my stuff.  This year I've made Christmas even more difficult for Juergen.  We are having our family Christmas on Sunday Dec 23rd.  We are doing it a day early so we can open our house to International students on Dec 24th.  And so normally Juergen would do his shopping the morning of Dec 24th, and he has to be ready Dec 22 instead.  Oh the pressure.  And he will be missing the fellowship of all the other men Dec 24th.  Maybe he should go to the mall on Monday, just to offer his support?  I have tried to introduce my husband to the miracle of online shopping, but he will have nothing to do with that modern way of thinking.  It takes the trill out of the hunt!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2 chairs and a sofa

I wanted to buy Jessica a new TV chair for Christmas. I found 2 leather chairs and a sofa for 1 Euro on eBay. Someone in Heidelberg is moving this week and needed to sell these things right away. So now Juergen needs to rent a truck and pick them up. But the sofa and coffee table will go in Sarah's bedroom. She can read on the sofa, and color and play Lego on the table. And Jessica gets 2 over stuffed leather chairs for her TV room. Pretty good!

Monday, December 17, 2012

givers and takers

None of us is perfect but some of us are givers and some not so much. I'm having trouble teaching one of my boys how to give. He sits around expecting the world but does not consider me at all. Maybe that’s normal for the age but I can not help seeing it as a bad thing. And it's not like I need anything. I am worried about a lack of character. I want my kids to be happy. You can not be happy if you are only a taker. So I demand they give, but that is only leading to rebellion. But I'm praying some level of understanding will enter the mind of my thick headed son. It's better to learn this lesson now. I don't want his wife walking out on him because he is a selfish jerk. I'm not sure how much responsibility a parent can take for selfish kids. But my kids are spoiled, and maybe this is my fault?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Promotional Video 1997 (UK)

We are thinking about a used car for Nicole & Jessica to share. This is an old ad for the A class Mercedes but gives good detail about the car. It is the safest older small car on the road. You can not find a 10 year old car that is more safe. And because we live in Germany there are allot of these cars for a pretty good price.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jessica at the workshop

You can tell I'm very tired. I spelled workshop with out the k. Jessica's wonderful teacher took these pictures today. Jess is doing wonderfully at the workshop. She even saw 2 new born sheep today. They were born very late in the season & must be kept inside all winter. Jess also eat lunch with the others today. This was a first. She gets stressed out in crowds, and doesn't like being in groups. But today she eat with the group. Little by little she is happy there. Her new teacher is wonderful with her. Sadly for Jessica, there is a very long Christmas break. So I am guessing there will be some ground to recover in January. But her teacher is talking about working with the I Pad. That could be exciting as Jessica learns how to communicate. I'm excited because Juergen is on his way home. God willing we will see him first thing in the morning. It will be such a relief to have him home. I have not slept well at all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Food That Kills - Full Documentary

Time is money

Nicole’s professor was complaining about the cost of everything in Switzerland. And everything there is very expensive. He said, "Nicole, why don't you paint something about that". I don't think he was serious, but she did anyway. It's sort of the old conman on the street corner "hey buddy you want to buy a watch". All these watches are Swiss. It's just a joke, but I think it's pretty cute! Comic style. And her Star wars sculpture of Greedo is nearly finished too.

Mary did you know

When I was a kid I wanted to be a football player or a lawyer. I wasn't very good at sewing things . And my sewing machine has been borrowed by lots of people, hardly used by me. Sarah has the role of Mary (the mother of Jesus). I got a note saying that I should make her a costume. I'm thinking "what"!!! Who do you think I am? I'm not my mom, or my sisters. They are good at that. I'm good at other things. Should teachers assume parents have sewing skills? And I got a 3 days notice. So I dusted off the machine and started to tear up an old sheet. Thank God Sarah looks good in anything. I'm sure more then one grandmother, and mother will shake their head at my poor work. But I must say Sarah looks sweet anyway. Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new, This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod, And when you kiss your little Baby you’ve kissed the face of God? Mary, did you know Mary, did you know The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again, The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb! Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day rule the nations? Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? And this sleeping child you’re holding is the great „I Am“! Text: Mark Lowry Melodie: Buddy Greene

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What GLUTEN was doing to me...

Nicole and I are trying to eat gluten free. I feel better. I would like to get my whole family g free.

I missed Christmas

My Mom, Dad, sisters and brother and their families got together for an early Christmas last night. Sadly I wasn't there. It would have been nice to have been there or even skypet them. I'm going to have to set up skype on our big screen TV so we can have a video chat. That would be really cool! I guess that's one goal for the next year. I have not heard from Juergen yet. I have not read any news of airline crashes so I'm guessing he got to America OK. It was a very long trip. He flew to Chicago then had a 5 hour layover before flying to Arkansas. He works there for 3 days then travels home. 2 long travel days for 3 days of work. We miss him! I got all the kids off to school. We have some fresh snow. I had to scrap the windows off the cars. All the little things Juergen generally does. He really is so wonderful! But now the house is quite. Nicole is still asleep. I should get some stuff done. I have a dirty house, loads of laundry, and no food to cook. But I think I'll go back to bed. Nothing is ever right when Juergen is not home! God willing he get's home on Saturday. Then it will almost be Christmas.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Snow and gingerbread

It's snowing. Philip is walking around like someone has died. He wanted to go swimming with the youth group at church. But now the road is so icy, Juergen will not drive the kids to church. The swimming was canceled and the kids are playing board games instead. But we are staying home. It's not a good night to drive. It's certainly not worth risking your life for board games at church. Instead we will have pizza and movies. And I built gingerbread houses with Sarah. Mine didn't turn out well. The frosting was too runny. I ran out of powdered sugar. We used Nutella. It was messy but fun! I'm not eating gingerbread or pizza (sadly) because of the gluten.

My Christmas tree (s)

Juergen, Thomas and I bought a live Christmas tree last night. It is a Abies nordmanniana, the Nordmann Fir. Our tree is about 4 feet tall. I think we can place it on a small table and decorate it for this year. Then I'll transplant it, and use it again for a few more years. When it grows too big, I'll either cut it down and donate it to our church, or just keep it in the garden. We don't have many trees. And in the mean time, I am ordering a few seedlings of this same tree. I'll plant my own small tree farm. In 4 to 5 years I'll start using trees I planted as seedlings. I can get 4 year old seedling for only 1 Euro. A cut tree cost 35 Euro. So God willing, I will get 10 years worth of trees for less then the price of one cut tree. And when my trees get too big, I'll have trees to give to my church. The angle on the top of my tree is from the 1900 Nuremberg Christmas market. The Christkindlesmarkt "Christ Child Market" is the most famous Christmas market in the world. It began in the year 1610. It is famous for gingerbread. I’ve been there once about 6 years ago. Heidelberg also has a very nice Christmas market. My favorite market is in Strasbourg, France (about 2 hours from us). This market is from 1570. The Strasbourg Cathedral is really beautiful dressed in Christmas lights. And I know a very nice guest house where you can eat wonderful food for lunch. I’m going to have to get down there if I can. We are expecting snow (lot’s of snow) today. It isn't far to France, but you don't want to drive in the bad weather.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Nicole's Art

History of Saint Nick - History of real Saint Nicholas - St. Nicholas do...

Sankt Nikolaus day

Today is "Sankt Nikolaus" day in Germany. The tradition is to put a boot in the front of your door. If you are good you get cookies and candy, and if you are bad you get a tree branch. We put plates of cookies and candy on the kitchen table along with one gift. Sarah and Thomas both got trading cards. Thomas collects soccer cards, and Sarah collects Star wars cards. Philip got a ucalaly. It's not a toy, but a very good instrument. So maybe we will be hearing somewhere over the rainbow very soon! Jessica gave a gift to her teacher. She was so excited to give a gift. And she went with the others at the workshop to visit a small zoo. And she pet the goats. Trust me, that is a huge step forward! I spent the morning with Nicole shopping. And for me that was a nice

Philip and Thomas are both home from school now. Philip thanked me for his gift when he walked in the door. Thomas didn't thank me, but maybe he will someday? We all have areas we need to grow in. But anyway, the boys are downstairs playing with the ucalaly and guitar. I think Thomas is teaching Philip. And they are both playing worship songs and singing. Juergen only just started to teach Thomas guitar, but he has also had some lessons in school. He practices all the time. He really is very talented. And Philip wants to learn now. I think they would spend every afternoon practicing music and writing songs. They aren't very talented with words, but that doesn't seem to discourage them. We don't have a TV, only DVD's and computers. And we don't allow very much computer time. And so they are finally getting creative with their time. If they aren't playing with nerf guns or playing soccer, they are trying to be a band. And because it's so cold, I think we will have band practice all winter long. Don't you just love it! I do! Sarah also get's an instrument for Christmas. I have to pay for some real lessons. And I hope they keep it up. Nicole took lessons for 8 years and she plays very well. For awhile I thought she would quit, but I'm so glad she stayed with it. She now leads worship for the youth group.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

my baby redwood tree

Today the mailman delivered my baby redwood tree. It's only 1 meter high, but it will grow. There are 3 kinds of redwood trees. The giant sequoia , The coast redwood, and the Chinese redwood or Dawn redwood. The first 2 get a little too big for my garden. The Dawn redwood will also get very big , up to 60 meters high (but most likely 30 to 40 meters high). We are so excited about our new tree! I wonder if I should keep it in the house until the spring. I lost 2 trees last winter because of the cold. I wouldn't worry about it if it was established. It's a rare tree, I don't want to lose it.

Son of Perdition - Chronicles of Brothers - Book III

Juergen and I are rereading this book. Juergen gets the 4th book "The Pale Horse" for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Christmas coffee

I went to Sarah's school coffee. Juergen lost the invitation, and told me it was at 2pm. So I got there at 1:45 to find out it started at 1pm. And Sarah was in the Christmas play, as Mary. I missed it! But she wasn't upset about it. She was just glad I came. I'm glad she was not upset. I had a good talk with her math teacher. I'm still not sure she is making it in the 3rd grade. I told her teachers we will decide in January if we will put her back in the 2nd grade. The homework is just so stressful for her. There is just so much stress a person can handle. I think her weak foundation in German just hurts her. I don't feel it would be bad to get more grounded in math and German. She is a smart girl, and we think she will go much farther in the long run if she really understands the basics. It snowed today but nothing stuck to the ground. I think I might be getting a cold. I feel very tired. I need to drink more juice.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I am going with Sarah to a Christmas coffee at her school tomorrow. We baked some cookies. Nicole and I are trying to go gluten free, so I'm also baking a pumpkin cornbread. It smells pretty good in my house.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Advent calendars

The origins of the Advent calendar come from German Lutherans who, at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century, would count down the first 24 days of December physically. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day, beginning on December 1. Some families had more elaborate means of marking the days, such as lighting a new candle or hanging a little religious picture on the wall each day. I made advent calendars for everyone in the house. The boys are getting candy, and some money to buy music for their iPod. Sarah and Nicole get Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck magazine’s from 1989-1991. I bought a very large stack of them on eBay. I also bought notebooks and plastic folders to hold them in. I was going to give the magazines to Jessica, but she wasn't interested in them. Jessica picked out a candy calendar in the store. So Jessica gets gummy bears. And I wrote 24 days of "things I Like about Juergen". So each day Juergen can read one nice thought or memory I have of him. Nice words are free. If you are looking for a nice idea (that is free) write good thoughts, tips on gardening, jokes. It doesn't need to cost you anything. The kids have to fill an advent calendar for Juergen and I. Yesterday Thomas gave us a song on the guitar, I would have recorded it, but he didn’t want me to do that. Today, Philip brought me coffee. Pretty cool!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

dawn redwood

I was thinking about buying a potted tree for Christmas that I could plant in my garden. So I looked at 2 stores today. I didn't find anything I really liked. Then I looked online at trees. I found the Chinese tree dawn redwood or Metasequoia glyptostroboides. It is a very cool tree! It is a smaller redwood then what you would find on the coast of Northern California, but still it gets pretty large. And it drops it's needles in the winter. So it's bright green in the spring, dark green in the summer, and red in the fall. And the branches are really interesting. Sort of like a giant bonsai tree. I have the spot for one giant tree in my garden. So I bought this tree on Amazon. The tree I got is one meter (3 feet) tall. It can get to be giant 50+ meters high and 3 to 4 meters around. And it does not mind the cold. I don’t think we will be using it for a Christmas tree, but I just got myself an early gift.

The Christmas decorations

Juergen and the kids are bringing the Christmas decorations down from the attic. I have more decorations then I need. I'm hoping to put up the things I want to keep, and give the rest to the secondhand shop. I'm also thinking about buying a live tree this year. We have a spot in the garden for one large evergreen. So now I need to find the right tree. Something on the blue side I think!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

power ball

There is a 550 million power ball lottery jackpot in America tonight.  I asked my mom to buy me a ticket (just one).  I figure my chances of winning are pretty poor, but I would love to be a part of this anyway.  What would you do with that kind of money?  I personally would get a lawyer and some good advise.  I think money can really mess you up.  So I think I would give each of my brother and sisters and parents a little money in a trust that gives them an income of 2 to 4 thousand a month.  That way they can keep working, or retire.  But know one would have enough to buy private airplane.  And I would give myself the same amount.  Enough to make life easier, not enough to ruin things.  I would set up education money for my nieces and nephews and  my kids. But I wouldn't give them cars of houses.  It's hard enough to get them to work.  They need a reason to learn , and I'm not going to give out cars and houses. The rest I would place in charity that helps causes I already support.  So I would give out adoption grants for special needs kids, and support programs that encourage people to be self sustaining.  I like shopping at 2nd hand stores and eBay.  I don't think I would change that.  What would you do with 550 million dollars?


Nicole and I collated seeds from our baby pumpkins today. I now have more seed then I can use in 20 years.  But I'll plant some plants in my garden, and maybe some to sell.  Maybe I can set up a stand in the front of the house to sell plants , flowers and vegetables.  We will see! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Newsletter 2012

Sarah's advent calendar

Philip and Thomas in Italy
Nicole in Italy
It’s almost December and I’m busy making advent calendars and ordering Christmas gifts on eBay and Amazon. I don’t actually have the time to go shopping at the stores. I personally hate the crowds and the stress. And it’s so stressful shopping for a big family. I made myself sit down and buy everyone’s gifts in one day. And now I just have to wait for those gifts to arrive in the mail. I do love eBay! And now I have the time to think about our Christmas letter. I guess a Christmas letter is a good way of looking back on what you have managed to get done in the year. And we have done allot. I won’t bore you with all the details. But we grew! For example Thomas was in another school last December.

And we moved him to a local school so he wouldn’t need to travel 2 hours a day. It took awhile for him to feel good in his new school. But I think he has turned the corner. And he looks happier and more at ease. He gave up the soccer team, and now spends more of his time on music and archery. He and Nicole have joined an archery club that meets once a week. Soccer was a 3 afternoon per week commitment. He plays soccer with some local kids , but doesn’t feel the stress of being on a real team.  
Last year Jessica had no teacher, or school. She ended up being home until August (12 months home). But now she has her own private helper. And she just began attending a disabled workshop. She feels safe enough with her teacher. And with help she can be slowly integrated into the workshop. Some things take longer then you think…but we still see great progress!   
Nicole is in her 2nd year at Art school. She had very good grades last year and showed her work in a summer art show. I see amazing progress. She is really going to be a good artist! Right now she is working on a sculpture and a drawing. Today Juergen  picked up a professional drafting table he bought for her (used). And I’m giving her some clay tools for Christmas. She will move from doing papier-mâché sculpture to clay and metal sculpture.  
Philip has been working at the school store. He seems to love business. He attends art class once a week. He also loves dancing. He will be attending another dance camp during the Christmas vacation. We need to give allot of attention to Philip’s future career training. There are 3 different levels of education in Germany. The students that are University bound, the technical track , and the students that will eventually be doing more manual and vocational work. If you can not be a doctor you should try to be a plumber. That is the sort of thing we need to help Philip with because he is never going to attend University.
Sarah attended summer camp for the first time this year. She also began the 3rd grade. We weren’t sure she would be able to manage the 3rd grade. But so far she is keeping up with the work. And she has lots of friends,
and also loves to play with her brothers. But more and more she also loves hanging out with her big sister Nicole. She love art, and watching cartoons on you tube.
My big thing this year was my garden. I grew thousands of heirloom tomatoes from seed. And I also canned hundreds of jars of tomato sauce. And Juergen and Nicole built me a beautiful greenhouse. It isn’t 100% finished. You can only plaster walls when it’s warm. And we will need to finish this project next spring. But it’s the coolest greenhouse I’ve ever seen. I also got to help with the English Alpha course. We had international students from a half dozen countries in this basic Christianity course. And it was an awesome privilege to get to know some of these amazing students. We also hosted the graduation party for the International health department at the University of Heidelberg. That wasn’t so much work. The University paid for a caterer I only needed to clean the house and set up the party tent. It was an awesome evening! And I felt honored to be with these special people who are such a huge gift to this world. They are the answer to HIV, Malaria, and food programs for the poor. I am just a stay at home mom, but I still dream of changing the world. I also lead an English small group from January until August. And we had great fellowship. I am considering another small group next year. Maybe another January to July group?  
And my Mom and Dad got to visit us for a few weeks last spring. It was a nightmare for my dad to travel, but I’m hoping he can manage the trip again. If I come to America to visit them, I can only stay a short time. We have much more time together if they come here. But if he can not travel, I’m sure I’ll come to America next year. And Juergen and I got to teach a 4 week seminar on End Time Prophecy. That was awesome. I found the topic exciting just for my own information. We dug into the topic, and often studied until 2am for 2 whole months. It’s nothing I could do all year long, but I would love to teach again next fall (if they want me to).
Juergen is working very hard at work. And he had such a long list things to do for our house in Leimen, and our house in Bad Schönborn. We tried to sell our house in Leimen until May. And every week Juergen would paint walls and put in new flooring. We put in a new front door, and a kitchen, and a new heater. The roof was repaired, and the garden cleaned. It was so costly in money and time.  
But finally we found a good renter(the house stood empty 11 months). And we would have much rather have a buyer, but in the present housing market we are grateful for a good renter. And Juergen also put insulation in the attic in our big house in Bad Schönborn. And we are also getting a new natural gas heater. This should cut our heating bill in half. I also want a wood stove. But this may need to wait until next year.
We did go on vacation this year. We spent 2 weeks in Italy. The first week was on the Riviera near the French boarder. And the 2nd week was in Tuscany near Florence. I loved my day trip to Florence with Nicole. We saw Renaissance Art and modern art. We also visited a Renaissance garden. The kids just loved hanging out in the pool, and playing soccer. I think Juergen loved seeing Monte Carlo. What a view! I would love to return to Italy in 2013.
We also took Sarah and Jessica to Disneyland Paris for a weekend. I could easily go on and on. In a family with 7 people there are allot of stories to tell. But the most important thing to tell is we are well. We love God, we love each other and we are all healthy and happy. We will be spending Christmas eve with International students (God willing). Christmas day we plan to go to Juergen’s Dad's house. We should be home for New Years Eve. And I don’t know if we will be having a party yet. The kids go to camp on January 1st. So maybe we will just have a birthday party for Philip. His birthday is January 1st. We will see. I hope I will see many of my friends and family in 2013. And I pray God fills your heart with joy. We are grateful for all of you. Merry Christmas and God’s blessing in 2013. 

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you.”
A.A. Milne