Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cruella DeVille, I get you.

Don't be alarmed, dear readers. I'm not about to hunt down a bunch of dalmatian pups and skin them for their spots. It's just, have you ever seen a color combination with fresh eyes before? You've seen the combo a million times, but suddenly you realize it just sits right with you. You want to surround yourself with as much of it as possible and get just a little bit giddy when you see it in a new place. No? Well, I'm not ashamed. I love color, and I am very stubborn about it, too. And for that reason I often reject certain colors—like Fuschia, my least favorite of all the colors—and tend towards neutrals. Mostly this means I go for the gray, but lately I've been enjoying the contrast that black and white offer. On Thursday we took Seb to his favorite park in Tübingen, and there was this one perfect black and white speckled pigeon in a sea of grayish blue ones, and I just couldn't get over how beautiful it was! I was also decidedly sad when Bruno good-naturedly chased him away and I was left with all the solid-colored pigeons.

If you're still reading, you're probably like, "Tell me something new, Mary. Everyone knows that black and white are a dynamite combo." Yes, but I don't just like black and white together like black and white stripes or a tiled floor, or a white top with black bottoms. What really gets me is when they're combined in a more organic way, like above in the form of a dappled horsea black and white photograph, marbled iPhone casedappled shoes and spotted dress, and if Warby Parker ever made black and white tortoise glasses I wouldn't know what to do with myself (although these in sea smoke tortoise come delightfully close). Even this buffalo plaid blanket and play dress, which are decidedly more geometric, get me!  I'm an organic kind of girl, and no matter what, I'll always feel more comfortable in shibori than stripes.

When I was 16, my parents bought me a cedar chest. There were two in stock, so my dad and I looked over both so we could decide which one we liked best. They were the exact same except for the grain of the wood. I wanted to know dad's opinion and he wanted to know mine, and we quickly discovered that we each favored a different one. We then figured out it was because my dad loves the look of smooth wood, without much grain. I loved the chest with all the knots and deep runs of dark reddish brown to creamy caramel. That's the one I picked.

Give me things that are dappled or mottled and I will be on cloud nine for weeks, I tell you. When choosing a plant at the greenhouse I worked at in high school and part of college, I picked the one with the most variegation in the leaves. I still have that plant 6 years later and it is my very favorite. Many thanks to my mom for keeping it alive while I'm in Germany.

So apparently this long-held love of things with mixed or marbled colors has gained a sharper focus, and I can't seem to get enough.

Do you relate at all? Do you love smoothness and clean lines? Or the unpredictable and organic like me? And of course, what is your favorite color combo to date? This is important stuff, people. Not really, but you don't really need me to tell you that.

P.S. This handspun yarn

Sebastian ist vier geworden

My sweet, peaceful, kind, thoughtful, and curious little man turned four on Thursday. I felt such a mix of emotions seeing him anticipate and then experience such a special day. He certainly liked his birthday last year, but this year was the real deal. He anticipated it for the first time, with no reminders from us. He knew there would be a birthday cake, and he knew there would be a party, and he knew there would be gifts. Suddenly I was experiencing what all mothers experience eventually: pressure to not mess it all up! However, no matter how much I tried to prepare for Seb's birthday ahead of time so that we could all have a fun, calm, and enjoyable day, one thing after another went awry, and I still ended up staying up way too late on Wednesday night baking his birthday cake, and iced it and decorated for his party within 45 minutes of when people arrived to celebrate! Our apartment literally looked like a tornado had ripped through it, and I was very thankful that my husband is observant and conscientious (or maybe just embarrassed?) and politely told our guests that they could just leave things on the table in the common room and that we would clean up later. I am also thankful that we had a room that was not in our apartment in which to have the party. There are some perks to living a dorm-like life, after all.

We kept everything very simple. We wanted it to feel special for Sebastian, but we were also aware that whatever we do now sets a precedent for future birthdays. We don't want our kids to get drowned in gifts, decorations, and huge bashes with so many kids that no one can see straight. It's a day to celebrate our boy and say, "We are so happy you were born!" For Seb's party we did a Fußball theme. Just balloons, plates & napkins, and cake. Bam. I have to thank my in-laws for sending Sebastian a helium tank for his birthday, because having balloons at his party that were afloat definitely made everything seem much more festive. (Is that not a brilliant gift idea?!).

A couple things that surprised me about Seb turning 4 were 1) how I anticipated and enjoyed his birthday almost as if it was my own, and 2) how not-sad I was that he is getting older. I certainly felt a wide-range of emotions, but I have to say I feel almost like I can imagine him graduating from highschool, or reaching some other milestone that tells me officially that he's not a baby any more. I know, he's only FOUR! But I guess I'm just saying that as much as I love each and every stage that he goes through, I also love seeing how he is growing and maturing and becoming more adult. I cherish how dependent he is, but at the same time still push him to be independent. I want him to be able to be the man God has created him to be. I long, just as he longs, for him to be "big like daddy," to have maturity and wisdom, and the ability to selflessly love those around him. I loved Seb's birthday because it was a reminder of how he is growing—a thing that makes my heart sing—but here's the tension: I also wanted to freeze time because it was a reminder of how he's just a little guy that wants nothing more than to play at his favorite park in the rain, get a full-size soccer ball for his birthday and have a really big big BIG geburtstagstorte*. I cherish that he is with me all the time. I get to snuggle him before bed, read him stories, take him places, and tell him I love him any time I want. It's that tension between innocence and growth. I don't want things to change, and yet I do want them to change. I want him to become more fully himself, and that is the joy I feel when like yesterday he says with an excited whisper, "Mama! Ich bin jetzt vier!"*

*birthday cake
*"Mama! I'm four now!"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


"Joining Jodi's 52 Project with "A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Sebastian | This is his last portrait as a 3-year-old. Every week he grows up in new ways. We've hit a sweet spot with him, and we couldn't be having more fun. Each age with him is my new favorite. Currently he walks or bikes nearly everywhere, uses German words we've never heard of (but that seem right), is obsessed with eating almond butter on bananas, bread, and if he's lucky, from a spoon. I bought him a set of 2 tanks from H&M the other day and regardless of the temps that's all he wants to wear. Just a minute ago he came up and asked, "Mama darf Ich dein Handy ausborgen? Ich möchte Dada anrufen, weil ich will draußen in diesem Kreis mit Gras spielen."* He's already asking to borrow my phone, guys!

Bruno | A few days ago Cody said, "You know, Bruno could conceivably tell people when he's older that his first language was German!" Maybe not quite, but as his verbal skills increase, we are hearing far more German than English. It's what he hears the majority of the time, so it makes sense. And let's face it, he's got to keep up on the hip Kindy lingo his brother teaches him. Kids these days.

*"Mama may I borrow your phone? I would like to call Dada because I want to play outside in that circle with grass."

Sunday, May 18, 2014


"Joining Jodi's 52 Project with "A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Sebastian | Enjoying the wide open space that only a field can offer. He can't wait to live the farm life again this summer.

Bruno | This was right after he told the waitress he wanted a beer, too. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The wooden anniversary

Yesterday marked 5 whole years of marriage for us. This number feels legit, guys. Cody said he still feels like we're newlyweds, and I still kind of feel that, too. But when you can say that you've been married for 5 years, and you have a child old enough to take your picture and make intelligent comments, compliment you on a new hairstyle, or ask you how your day was while eating a meal together, then you can't help but feel like your life contains a suspicious amount of something akin to adulthood.

We don't like to take ourselves too seriously, though, so we spent our anniversary traveling to a nearby village that boasts not much more than the home factory and seconds shop of Grimm's Toys. Maybe you've heard of them? They produce a myriad of exquisite, colorful wooden play items such as stacking toys, birthday rings, and puzzles, to name a few. (BTW We think it's awesome that we went to a wooden toy store on our wooden anniversary) I have long admired their collection of open-ended play things and dreamed of one day having a few items for our children. One day a couple months ago I decided to figure out where the headquarters were actually located and was pleasantly surprised to find that they are also located in Baden-Württemburg. It took us a total of about an hour to take a train to Plochingen, a bus from Plochingen to Hochdorf, and then walk to Grimm's (by car it would have taken maybe 30 minutes). The boys loved exploring and playing and made sure to point out their favorite things. Seb came up to me once with an armful of wooden balls and told me he wanted to get them. I told him he and Bruno could each choose one, so carefully balancing his original collection he returned to the basket and came back with just one—a blue one of course. Bruno chose purple. There was also an interesting looking monkey statue that the boys fell in love with. As we left, Seb said goodbye and assured the poor monkey that other children would come and play with him after we left. Bruno threw his blankie around him and gave him a good long snuggle.

The items Cody and I picked out are the large 12 piece rainbow (something I've been wanting to get the boys for years now), and a birthday ring with a set of numbers and an assortment of decorative figures. Soon after arriving in Germany I told Cody that one of the things I wanted to get before leaving was a birthday ring, and I can't believe we were able to get such a cool one! It will be something we put out on our table for a week before each of our birthdays. There are even little card holders that we can draw pictures on and write notes on for the birthday boy or girl. I am so excited about beginning this new tradition.

As for the rainbow, I have never seen Sebastian work so hard, so long, and so furiously as his mind exploded with idea after idea about what to do with the colorful arched pieces! I honestly feel like I would love nothing more than to buy one of these for each and every one of my mama friends. I have never seen children take to a toy like they have to this rainbow.

(Later at home)

After we wrapped up our shopping trip at Grimm's we explored a bit of the countryside surrounding Hochdorf. We found a sweet little Gaststätte called Hasenheim, talked to a friendly older man—who had been married for 44 years—about photography, children, and a myriad of other things, ate delicious German food and drank beer while the kids played in the grass, collected little flowers, and of course put their heads together to pick out the perfect ice cream treat. One of the more hilarious moments at the Gaststätte happened after Cody and I ordered two beers. Bruno looked at the waitress and said, "Auch!", which means also, or me too. The waitress got a kick out of it and Bruno got super giddy because we thought it was so funny. He was definitely serious, though.

Cody and I felt so blessed all day to be together, to have such beautiful, funny children, and to be spending life together in such a wonderful place. All by the grace of God.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gear | Rainy season

Lately we have been getting excessive amounts of rain. There hasn’t been one day in about a month that we haven’t been the recipients of at least one random downpour. On Sunday we took for granted that it was sunny when we left the house, and didn’t make it back home before a fierce rainstorm drenched us and left us shivering. Fortunately the boys stayed snug inside the stroller with blankets and rain covers. I love rainy days, or at least I used to love rainy days. They are perfect when your time is your own and you can snuggle up with a good book and hot drink. A fireplace also helps make these days covetable. Since becoming a mom, those times of relishing the cold rain on my window and a hot drink in my hand have become fewer. Cabin fever is real with toddlers and young children, and oftentimes, the threat of rain simply doesn’t carry enough weight to keep the kiddos inside all day. I am a huge believer in getting kids and adults alike outdoors (living in Europe without a car will teach you this real quick like), but it can be a bit of a challenge without appropriate rain gear. I have drenched my poor dear moccasins more times than I can say (my feet, too). Rain speckled glasses also aren’t my favorite. 

After our Sunday walk-turned-shower, I decided enough was enough. I am buying rain boots. I still don’t have a rain jacket, but I’d say shoes are a solid step in the right direction. (pun intended)

Do you have appropriate rain gear? Any favorite trusty pieces? It’s hard for me to put money down on rain gear, but the mobility it gives is invaluable, especially with a couple tiny pairs of restless legs in my home, waiting for me to give the time-to-go-outside signal.

P.S. Just a tip: when buying rain gear for your child, size up! The items will last longer, and since most rain gear has elastic around the ankles (and wrists, if applicable) they will still fit just fine. And definitely size up if you cloth diaper. Also, if you're handy with a sewing machine and don't want to put down the money for a pair of basic rainpants for your child, I would recommend looking into a simple elastic pants pattern and waterproof fabric. It might be just the ticket! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Home is where the heart (of Texas) is

This summer we'll be moving to Waco, Texas. Hello bluebonnets, heat, succulents, and southwest art and culture—just a few of the things with which I'm looking forward to becoming right neighborly. 

Why Waco? Cody is entering Baylor University’s PhD program in Religion! We’re very excited for him to begin climbing this last educational mountain before he can start his career, and feel terribly blessed that he has been invited to do it in such a great program and with great professors. Cody is ready to dive in. As a family, we’re also preparing for the tough job that PhD work will be for all of us. We’ve been working on schedules, routines, rhythms, and expectations, and are learning daily new ways that we can work together better, spend time together, and for us all to get our times of rest. We’re a work in progress, but... progress.

We leave Germany on July 16th, will spend a month living with our families, visiting a few friends, packing up for our cross-country move, and celebrating my brother-in-law’s wedding. It’s going to be a full and action-packed month, and we are so looking forward to reconnecting with the people we love most. I’m hoping that the excitement and comfort of it all will ease us out of Germany and soothe our broken hearts. We love it here. I mean, we really love it here. 

I am currently buckling down for the inevitable culture shock of returning to the states, and trying to embrace this upcoming opportunity to prove to myself that we can still live adventurous, active, and interesting lives elsewhere. Just because we learned it here, doesn't mean we have to leave it here. After all, it's like 90% attitude and 10% location, or at least that's my theory. Still, never in a million years would I have guessed we would be moving to Texas. In fact, when Cody was applying to schools I said, “You can apply to Baylor, but I’m not going there. I’m sorry. Texas is the one place I’m not going to live!” Well, you see how that turned out. By the grace of God, and the knowledge that one of the most beautiful people I know lives in Waco already, I’ve had a heart change. I’m still nervous about the transition, and have a lot of outstanding questions about what life in a Texas town will look like, but I am confident that God will take care of us and show me new ways to live better and embrace the differences that come with living in a new place. Again, 90% attitude. Plus, I've heard from pretty much everyone who knows a thing or two about Waco that it's a fantastic place to live, particularly if you have kids. 

So, Texas. We’re looking forward to getting acquainted with you.

P.S. With all of this upcoming change and moving, I'm starting to look forward to being stateside and having some of our stuff back. Living simply is excellent, but it doesn't mean no stuff (long term, anyway) it means the right stuff. A few things I'm excited to throw my arms around and fill our new Texas home with are plants plants plants and baskets baskets baskets. Two of my very favorite things to fill a home with and two things that I've almost entirely lived without this year. Hope you enjoy this mood board of some of my favorite home goods. Tell me, if you could choose just one thing to decorate your home with what would it be?

1// Bolga basket 2// Leather fly swatter 3// Wesco tea kettle 4// Five Hardy Hard to Kill Houseplants. 5// Wool blanket 6// Stelton pitcher

Monday, May 12, 2014


"Joining Jodi's 52 Project with "A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Sebastian | The energy of a 3 year old will never cease to amaze me. Also, he did not get his thrill-seeking tendencies from me at all. And even though he freaks me out with his monkey ways, I love his persistence and energy.

Bruno | This face this face. I sat down with him on this playground thingymajig and this was the reaction I got. I mean, hello beautiful boy. He certainly seems to be getting older by the day. Oh and he spoke his first sentences this week. English and German, and it's almost too much for me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Visiting Freiburg

Last weekend we traveled 3 hours by train to Freiburg. It is the largest city in the Black Forest, and is nestled next to France and Switzerland. It is absolutely beautiful and my favorite place in Germany to date. I would love to spend a whole weekend simply wandering the streets and popping into various shops. The outdoor market was great, and I came home with two small black and white bristled brushes, and wooden wine corks in addition to a few gifts. 

We also spent a good while in Münster Cathedral and soaked in the beautiful view of the city and the Black Forest from the church tower. Off to the side of the sanctuary was even a little kids table set up with coloring pages—monks of course—for the littlest visitors. Seb wanted to color but I knew everyone was waiting for us. I said he could, but he needed to be very quick. He sat down, grabbed a blue crayon, and scribbled his little heart out until he was satisfied with his solid blue drawing. "Ich bin schon fertig!"* Holding his drawing proudly on display. Goodness I love that little blue-lovin'-monkey. For lunch our hosts treated us to some famous Freiburg Rotwurst. Bruno particularly enjoyed them, and Seb ate them with lots of ketchup, of course.

But the most wonderful aspect of our weekend was the time we spent with our host family. It was an unforgettable experience to share in the everyday with a German family. I felt positively welcome and at home with them, and I know Cody and the boys felt the same way. We have spent so much time in Germany, but spending time in German homes is a bit more difficult to manage when time to build relationships is limited and difficult because of the language barrier. We practiced the language a lot last weekend, though, and spoke German almost exclusively, soaking up sponge-fashion as much as we could. At least for me, I am constantly hearing phrases and picking up on expressions, but it often takes multiple times hearing something for it to actually stick and become a part of my vocabulary. It was great to be steeped in the language for a few days. Bruno fell head over heels in love with Jonny, and both boys are still feeling pretty excited by the fact that they got to spend a whole weekend under the same roof as a gray parrot. On Sunday we went to church with our friends and then afterwards went to a family birthday party! We were so humbled to be so warmly invited into such a special family gathering. I left with my heart full, and eager to visit again.

So yea, Freiburg. You're my very favorite.

*translation: "I'm already finished!"