30 March 2011

Relay for Life Participant

 My friend and I signed up for one of the relays for Life that is organized by the American Cancer Society. She blogged about it here: C. Beth Blog.: Relay for Life (subtitle: Can you spare $10?)

And I just want to pass the word around for me and for her.... Here is the link to my website - in case you DO have some spare money that can go to cancer research. As you all know, I am a cancer survivor myself - so personally, I would appreciated the support. Every penny will help to do good....

It will be fun to do this relay - on Friday, May 13th, we will be walking or running for twelve hours. Okay, not just me, but our team. One member has to be on the track at all times, so I hope to get in some mileage for myself. The Relay will start with a Survivors Lap - so I will be one of the first ones on the track! How exciting.

Ladies Tea @ church

I have been very busy these last couple of weeks.... and for a good reason.
This past Saturday morning, something special took place at our local church. It was organized by the ladies from the Woman's ministry. A Ladies Tea - to bless our lovely girls and their girlfriends...

And here are the pictures - all the tables looked fantastic:

We even had singers, a testimony, and a play during the tea. I believe all the ladies had fun and were abundantly blessed to be there.

I loved doing the frames. It was a challenge and it turned out so beautifully. I am kind of proud.... Also I loved being a table hostess - it was fun planning it, decorating it, and serving the girls on our table.

22 March 2011

Three Cups of Tea

This has become less of a monthly thing than I thought it would have when I started it. But I want to get back to a good habit. So when my laptop broke at the grandparents' house, I had alot (!) of free time.... to read. My sister-in-law gave me this book that she had liked. We exchange books very often. The book was:Three Cups Of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Here is a link to Amazon, in case you have heard good things about the book already, and if you would like to purchase it:
Three Cups of Tea.

If you remember, I will not write a summary because you can read that on the back of the book or an Amazon - all by yourself. I will just tell you what I liked about the book.

First of all, I like that the book is not a fiction, but a real life story. The guy, Greg Mortenson, who wrote the book actually lived through all these ordeals. Amazing. The very first page is captivating - climbing the K2. If you know, the K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, and it harder to defeat than his single major rival, Mount Everest. On top of that, Greg, tried to go up the more dangerous route; the route starting in Pakistan. And this is how his adventure starts - building schools in very remote areas of Pakistan. It is an extraordinary story, really. It shows perseverance, human strength, and what I would call faith.

I find it especially essential for Americans to read! You can learn so much about what is really going on over there, I mean Pakistan and Afghanistan, and even other Muslim countries; stuff that politicians don't tell you. The media is not telling you what the people are going through. But this guy has been there, lived among these people, the nicest people he claims he knows! That is a statement to dwell on....

None of us can change the world, single-handedly, but we can all do small steps at a time, to change someone's life - in Greg Mortenson's case, the life of children in remote areas of Pakistan that never went to school. He provides something that is so 'normal' over here: an education. He didn't want to change the world and yet that is exactly what he is doing-- one cup, one student, one school, one village at a time.


Oh, by the way, if you want to learn more about the author, here is his website and his blog. There is also a page just for the Three Cups of Tea Mission here. He wrote a second book about his adventures in Afghanistan, the book is called Stones into Schools.
A friend of mine actually met him twice, at her local college. She said: "I am building a school in Afghanistan." Now that is something to be proud of. And she actually knows where her money is going - not to the military, but to little schools in order to educate them. So cool.

Also,after reading the book, I wanted to know what 'remote' is. And what the landscape looked like. Living in the western hemisphere of this world, it is hard to imagine under which circumstances these people have to live. So I found this website, it's a blog, and the person that wrote the blog actually climbed and succeeded to climb the K2, from the Pakistan side. There are lots (!) of pictures on this blog, exactly what I was looking for. So amazing and striking - it makes me wanna go out there to see the beauty of the landscape!

Keep Reading.

Post Update: a month later:
I bought the book for myself. What I didn't realized at the time is that I bought the young readers edition from 2009. Not that it makes a difference. The text is supposedly simplified and there is an interview with Greg's daughter at the end. I read that, and it seems that this young lady is very remarkable as a twelve-year-old, stepping into the footsteps of her daddy....
This edition has more pictures, especially colored ones - something that I had missed in the original. I am a person that needs visual aids.... that's why I had found that one website I talked about.
Here is the link to this edition on Amazon.
In the interview, the little girl, her name is Amira, mentions that she loves to sing and that she actually co-wrote a song called 'Three Cups of Tea' that was then recorded with a singer in Nashville, Tennessee, Jeni Fleming. Here is the link for the CD also available on Amazon. Selling the CD helps raise money for her Dad's mission, still building schools halfway around the world where pupils are eager to learn and are waiting to learn in an actual school house.

Disclaimer: I am not a representative from either Greg Mortenson or Amazon - the guy just totally rocks in living his life's mission, and Amazon is just where I thought everybody shops these days.... So no, I do not get points for mentioning it here!

20 March 2011

I won something!

Yes, I can't believe it, but I won a .... book!

My blog friend Bethany Kerr (from Happy to be Called Mommy) wrote this book about miscarriage. What it feels like. How much it hurts, physically and emotionally. The books contains her own testimony as well as those of so many others, what to say and what not to say, and pictures of her own baby. It is a book of encouragement; encouragement to grieve in this time of loss, and encouragement to heal. I loved every page of it.

When she finally received her printed copies, she had a giveaway on her blog and I won, here. It was the cutest way to draw the winners. Great idea, Bethany, and thank you so much Ian.

So what have I done this weekend? I read the book. Yep, cover to cover. It's a great book and I highly recommend it to anyone who has lost a baby by miscarriage or knows someone (close) who did. It brought back memories and I decided to write my own story/ies down within the next week or so. I am too emotional right now, but I wanted to get the word out. Hopefully it can help someone, as I only know how alone one can feel during that time.Be strong.

Here is a link to her blog post about the book and within her post, you can find a link to buy the book.

Thank you, Bethany

18 March 2011

Why I want to homeschool

I want to home school.
The moment we were expecting, it was clear as day, to me, that I wanted to home school them.

The day that Coqui would start Kindergarten is approaching slowing, but steadily. So I felt like, even though we have been doing 'school' for over a year now, that I needed to get more serious about it. Meaning, of course, what does the state requires me to do, or not to do in my case. Furthermore, I need to find a curriculum that I want to use starting September.

During my research these last couple of weeks, one thing to get ready was a mission statement, or rather an answer to the question from people around us, of why I want to home school.

Before I do that, I want to say that we are blessed in such a way that I can stay at home with the children. Homeschooling and working - I don't think I could do that.
Recently, we ran a class at our church, an identity class. The purpose was to find out each others identity, skills, just what makes us 'us'. So I "found" out that I am blessed with the ability to teach - I love teaching, I have been a tutor in many stages of my life, in school, at college,... etc. I love to see the eyes sparkle when something is understood. I love to see the progress, with baby steps sometimes, and  sometimes with big leaps. Also I am blessed to be organized, love to catalog, analyze, and so on..... all skills that are great for homeschooling.

There are multiple reasons, of course, but here are mine:

We home school because I want to have a close relationship with my children. I want to be with them and see them grow up. I want to be there when they ask questions they can't ask at school. About everything, but mostly about religion, or inappropriated questions. I want to correct not-so-good behavior on the spot, not after school hours, from a stranger. I want to help them be molded into great adults.

We home school because we can use our influence to direct them to God. Nowadays, religion is taboo in schools. But it is a big part of our family life and I feel like it should be a big part of the schooling as well. 

We home school because I want more control of the friends and peers who influence them. I don't want them being bullied around. I want them to learn and have nice friends.

We home school because it gives us freedom. In so many ways. Freedom to be the human beings we are, I as a mother, and my kids as children. Freedom to integrate religion in our daily routine. Freedom to do scholl whenever and wherever we want. Really.If we are traveling, I can do it on vacation - especially if it is 'only' to grandma's house.And traveling can be part of the teaching progress. There is a saying in German: "Wenn einer eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzaehlen.", which is something like this in English: "Traveling gives you something to talk about." or "Travel broadens the mind." or something similar. And it's so true.
Also it gives us freedom to ride on one subject (of interest) for a long time, while flying through another quickly, at least for one year. If Coqui is real interested in learning how to read right now, why pushing the Maths - he can pick up on it next year. I find that specific freedom so liberating: custom-tailored curriculum. It seems it would be so less frustrating to the child. And shouldn't learning be fun? And I don't mean that we make a game out of everything, but if you mix their own curiosity with interest and the schedule at hand, than I strongly believe that results will be outstanding.

We home school because I can give full attention to what is being taught, what they understand, and what not, or what needs to be done in order to make it more understandable for my children. We all learn in different ways. I truly believe that we can cover more material in less time than the regular school, because there are less children. Also I can teach in German, or add some Spanish, Latin or even Russian.I don't have to push them to meet class requirements or state tests.

We home school because I believe that my kids will have a better socialization. Yes, they are home (or not) to learn the basics, but that doesn't mean they are stuck there. There are field trips. They are co-ops. There are sport groups. There is church every Sunday. There are lots of opportunities to interact with others, children and adults. We will join a support group that will provide all that. We still have friends that are not home schooling and they will play with those friends. I personally like the idea of co-ops and teaching in a small setting, so I am not the only teacher, and/or my own children are not my only students. There is so much interaction, they will never get bored.

There are many more reasons, and I have talked about that before here.

I am looking forward to a journey together that we will all love.

16 March 2011

The Mami I want to be...

It's been a little crazier around here than normal -but then again, what is normal? Last week, I had to prepare for the baby shower at my house. Then I had to clean after it as well. Now my focus is on the Ladies' Tea that is coming up at the end of the month. So it feels like I am running around alot. Dragging the kids with me, of course.

So when my plans for today got canceled, it was kind of.... nice. Because I could stay home all day! Yep, you heard it right, all day. No make-up-day, I call it. So my face gets a break, and so does the gas budget.... (hahaha). Well, but there is an even better reason to be happy about today:

I could spend quality time with the kids, or at least, majorly, Coqui.

Homeschooling has been pushed to the side a little, so we picked up on that today, with two sessions instead of just one. I had bought books and workbooks while on vacation, and we are using them now. Phonics, Reading, Maths, .... etc. Yes, I am even trying the book "Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons". So we started today... let's see if it really works.

But after all the work he had to do, I just simply played with him. Anything he wanted was fine with me. I just wanted him to feel like I am still his Mami, still loving him, having time just for him, even if I am a little busier than usual. I don't want to be the mom (in his memory) that had never time, that always rather cleaned than played with her kids. I don't want to be that mom. I want to be the fun mom that actually was around her kids. I want to be the mom that played with them, that did impromtu picknicks on the kitchen floor, that laughs out loud with them, and yes, that gets all messy (once in a while) and has lots of fun. That's who I want them to remember me by.

Cleaning is necessary but one or two days later will be just the same. And it was the perfect day to prove that to him. 
Even at bedtime, when he asked me to stay a little longer, after I read to him and sang to him, I did. It could always be the last time... no-one knows.... so I just wanted to be there for him. Today.

I know that he liked his day, because he listened better and he was more cuddly at bedtime.

10 March 2011

Life List or Dream List

I saw this list at someone's blog, and I knew I had to "steal" it and use it here. I always had a list of short-term and long-term goals, just not a name for it, like Life List. It's fun to see what I have accomplished already - it makes me feel less of a failure. The lady had some rules to it, I don't want to do that. But I actually came up with two lists instead, one of accomplishments, the other of dreams and goals for my future.

Also, she called it a Life List because she wanted to make a point as to have dreams come true in a lifetime, not working towards death. I agree. Bucket List is also not a very nice title. So I go with Life list, or maybe Dream List. I can change things if I want to, like when I think something is not that important to me anymore, I can remove it and add something else. Life is ever so changing, so my list can be as well.

So without further ado, here is my list:
  1. Write and publish a book - not sure if that would be a children's book or a more serious one
  2. Go to the Olympics - summer or winter
  3. Put my feet in each ocean
  4. Start my own business
  5. Talk with a homeless person and help out
  6. Get over my fear of public speaking
  7. Visit each of the 50 states (of the USA)
  8. Train and run in a race, preferably a half-marathon, or even a marathon
  9. Anonymously pay for someone else's meal at a restaurant
  10. Sit on and drive a motorcycle
  11. Learn to play the piano (correctly!)
  12. Swim with dolphins
  13. Go on a helicopter ride
  14. Hike up to Machu Picchu
  15. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  16.  See the Pyramids in Egypt and ride on a camel
  17.  See the Taj Mahal in India
  18. Go to Rome and see the Colosseum
  19. See the Hagia Sophia (in Turkey)
  20. Go to Jerusalem and the Holy Land
  21. Visit Australia
  22. Go snorkeling - preferably at Great Barrier Reef
  23. Learn to say "hello" in 50 languages
  24. Have a library in my house (one room just filled with books!)
  25. Reach and maintain my ideal weight for the rest of my life
  26. Ride a gondola in Venice
  27. Go sailing on a real sailboat, maybe even around the world
  28. Be in a hot-air balloon
  29. Make a huge change in someone's life
  30. Go on a cruise (a real one, not just the two-hour sunset cruise I did already!)
  31. Visit every continent
  32. Be a mentor to someone
  33. Plan and execute a 365-day photo shoot
  34. Have my portrait painted
  35. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  36. Teach German in a foreign country
  37. Cross a glacier on foot
  38. Make a Family Tree at least four generations back
  39. Write some kind of biography
  40. Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela
  41. Learn Hebrew
  42. Have my own Photography Exhibition
  43. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Africa)
  44. Go to a Fashion Show
  45. Read ten thousand books
  46. Host a dinner party
  47. Visit Stonehenge
  48. See a Highland castle (in Scotland)
  49. Go whale-watching
  50. Donate money and put my name on something like a bench or brick
Okay, after that wish list, I have come up with a list of things that have happened already, so it's more of an accomplishment list. Things I have done so far:
  1. Survived Cancer
  2. Danced in the rain
  3. Driven across the United States from coast to coast, and back
  4. Skipped school
  5. Eye witnessed an historic event (the fall of the Berlin Wall & 9/11)
  6. Gone skydiving
  7. Lived in more than one country
  8. Flown a kite
  9. Watched the sunrise / sunset 
  10. Visited Ground Zero
  11. Sang Karaoke (in New Orleans on 9/11)
  12. Be in NYC on New Year's Eve
  13. Seen a falling star and made a wish
  14. Attended a Wine Tasting at a winery
  15. Visited the Grand Canyon
  16. Placed a bet in Las Vegas
  17. Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
  18. Been horse back riding - with the Navajo Indians through Monument Valley
  19. Traveled by train through three countries 
  20. Been in a rainforest
  21. Gone to school in a different country
  22. Swam in the Mediterranean Sea
  23. Been White Water Rafting
  24. Sewn an actual garment (here, and here, and here, and here)
  25. Climbed the Eiffel Tower
  26. Witnessed a solar eclipse 
  27. Slept under the stars
  28. Seen the Tour de France live
  29. Planted a tree
  30. Wrote my will
  31. Spent a whole (!) day reading
  32. Drove the Autobahn - no speed limit
  33. Published one of my photographs in a magazine
  34. Be a mom
  35. Bathed in a hot spring
  36. Learned how to bake bread
  37. Ran a 5K as a timed runner (in NYC)
  38. Seen a child being born
  39. Drive along Route 66 (USA)
  40. Drove a convertible with the top down 
  41. Seen Mont Saint Michel (France), Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur 
  42. Dyed my hair red
So this list is a little shorter, it makes me feel like I have done some things in my life. I guess, once again, I can say that I feel so blessed. Now I have to work on some of those goals....

What about you? Do you have dreams and goals in your life? What is it (if you want to share)?

    09 March 2011

    Home Sweet Home

    We are back home! Yeah....

    After a long day of flying and a long say of settling in, I am back online, ready to write of our adventures. But first, I feel I need to update you on things what my kids are doing these days:

    Coqui was a good boy, doing school (almost) every day at grandma's house. I also got to spend some money at the closing Borders in Jersey, for some homeschooling books - yippy!
    He had so much fun with Mema, Buelo, and Tia. He also got to see some of his cousins, and some of my friends' kids. So he had plenty of time to interact with lots of different people - such a social bug!
    He got to play in (a tiny bit of) snow - made snow angels and a micro snow lady. he got to go to the beach, on the coldest day we were there - 28 degrees - but he had fun making "snow" angels in the sand and built a sand castle.

    Peanut has been talking up a storm and learns new words every day - some come out pretty clear, others sound pretty funny (or awful). Coqui is still her best friend and she is so lost without him. She could care less about all the other people she met - even though she got pretty attached to her Mema.
    She can climb up and down stairs now, all by herself, like a big girl. She loved to run around in circles with Buelo, right before bedtime.
    But the biggest change is that she is not having her night bottle anymore! Yeah, for me. That was one of the two things I needed to work on, but she is so stubborn. So one night, she didn't listen and I had to "punish" her in putting her in her bed, standing up, until she was doing what I asked her to do. Nope, she had no intentions of doing so, so I told her she will go to bed without the bottle. Apparently that was not important enough to say sorry to her aunt after throwing toys at her. So she went to bed without that stupid bottle, and the night after and after that too..... she is still asking for it but there is no way I give it back to her! Enough.

    So yeah, that's pretty good. I got to run alot, and train for my first official 5K. I got to go shopping without the kids. There was even a sleepover at Tia's house, without the kids. I got to see some of my friends, the closest ones and the most important ones! So I am happy. But I am also happy to be back home, in my own house, in my own bed, and with my husband.

    Home Sweet Home.

    04 March 2011

    A Prayer For Today

    Today, I got disappointed. And while I don't want to remble why and what, I just found this prayer that says it all (here) and I just want to pray instead of reliving the disappointment.

    O God, you know me better than I know myself
    and you know how disappointed I have been at this time.
    The things that I had set my heart on
    were not for me.
    The friends I trusted proved untrue.
    I honestly tried so hard,
    and yet I failed.
    Help me, O God,
    To accept things as they are.
    Help me not to waste my time
    on vain regrets and unhappy memories.
    Help me to begin again
    and to try again.
    Help me always to look forward
    and not back.
    Help me to forget the things
    that are behind and
    Ever to press forward
    to the things which are ahead.
    This I ask for your love’s sake, Amen.