What wonderful senseless invention
Not big enough to be called an oven
Not really for toast like a toaster
Too slow in comparison to a microwave
Perfect to melt that cheese
Just for that!
I never know how to spell you.
You center around a famous hot dog stand.
You are ridiculously expensive.
You are well run by women.
Your coast is a beauty.
Your lagoon is touristy.
Your 2 airports suck.
Your fairy gardens rock.
Sparked by an offline and online concern about Smartphones used at Tim's school:
Teenage brains are very fragile. They gets completely rewired and what is happening in this time is actually the blueprint for how the brain is wired for adulthood. Whatever you want them to do and become as adults, needs to be introduced in this time. Our brains are still fragile too, a little less, but still, and most of us are doing a lot of damage by giving in to the endless instant gratification. We rewire ourselves and many regular experiences won't be enjoyable anymore because we are used to this faster, easier way,... It makes us all depressed. Learning more about all this, I put myself on a media diet and still experiment with it. I have an app monitoring my usage and how often I unlocked my phone. I also set my screen to black and white, which is less engaging for the brain, so it's easier to put it away. I watched 'Screenagers' with my family and we talk about media use and what is healthy behavior and what is not. I tell them how frustrated I am with myself if I use my phone too much. My hope is that they see my struggle and know it's real. I hope they will be able to judge and control their own behavior better when they get older. I know they can't do it yet. We tried. The temptation and peer pressure is too strong, so my kids don't have smartphones anymore. It was really scary to see them struggle and miss out on so many great things in life. They were easily frustrated and unappreciative but constantly checking for updates, messages, chests, likes, points. All they talked about was stuff that happened in these apps. Other than as a convenient 'pacifier'when I needed them quiet in an adult setting there weren't many benefits to having moody kids around. I was shocked when I found out they get to use smartphones at Madison during instruction time. And for the parents that want them, if your message is important enough to disrupt their learning, you can call the office and get the message transferred to your kid the old school way. If not, it sure can wait til release.
Calm. Unity. Within. Happy. Curious. Excited. Overstimulated. Aware. Appreciative.
Some of the words I associate with my nature exercise of sitting in my sitspot taking in all sights, sounds, smells and thoughts. It is hard to describe, if you haven't tried it, but many many people all around the world have this practice. It builds Nature Connection and promotes healing.
Tugged in between my bees, the big and the little maples.
Alte Schachtel! translates into 'old box', German for 'old maid'.
This year was very long and entertaining in many ways, not always easy. I think I grew personally and know much more about myself than ever before. I know lots of things I don't like - about me and others. I learnt a lot of things I do like a lot - about me and others.
Besides making friends and community even more a focus over the last months, we really discovered new grounds as a family. Both kids are old enough to really grasp our values and think and question why we do the things we do. It's really fun and rewarding seeing them grow up and forming more and more into their own creations.
We really became 'DoGooders' the last couple of months. ;-) Between Marco's Food Bank volunteering, Plant for the Planet, helping with the Unitarians, Marching for Women, Climate, Science, standing up for social justice and equality. I'm really proud of my family.
I question the way we live in 2017. So many things feel so wrong. Social isolation. Displaced elders. Greed. Power of corporations. Food chain. Life balance. My Hippie heart wants to stop all this madness and nonsense and become Captain Fantastic. The last 2.5 years we tried to live more up to our values. I won't work for any organization or corporation if I don't believe in it's mission. I want to make the world a better place, not worse.
I want to eat less meat (maybe even no), spent more time outside, enjoy nature more intensely, learn more about plants and birds, I want to stand up for myself and my beliefs. I want to help the underdogs and fight for what feels right.
I want to be more patient, kind and giving. I want to enjoy, listen and learn. I want to be less judgmental and more open. I want to be thankful for all the great adventures, experiences and memories I got to enjoy in my lifetime.
Sarah is looking forward to celebrate her Bunny birthday with her friends.
She likes animals and nature and is happy to receive used things for her birthday, like books, doll accessories, dresses, leggings, plants, or any extra soccer balls, hula hoops, baseball, basketball equipment you might have for the Sports Library we want to open this Spring for Fairmount Park - but her all time favorite gifts are experiences (going to the movies, bowling, picnic, ice cream, PacSci, SAM,...). A homemade craft to hang on her rooms wall is another great gift she would enjoy. No need to buy anything. Our house is filled with toys.
We will celebrate Tim's 11th birthday this Friday 1/6 after school at Camp Long.
The plan is to walk over to Camp Long for games (soccer, frisbee, maybe snow) on the field - with a bonfire afterwards. It might be very cold so wearing warm coats and bringing hats and gloves is recommended.
Tim does not need any gifts. He already has plenty of toys and as a Climate Justice Ambassador he appreciates if you don't buy anything new for him. Tim loves experiences (sports games, museum, movies, ice cream...), music, audio books, Garfield and fantasy books, card games, bacon and gummy bears (last two not used :-) or used sports equipment (balls, frisbees, baseball gloves,...) as we want to start a free gear library for Fairmount Park playfield this Spring.
Party ends at 5:30PM. Everyone will have to leave the parking lot before 6PM as Camp Long is closing at that time.
Tim and Family
Very grateful and still excited about our December celebration.
8 and 10 years are great ages to enjoy the Holidays. Last year we travelled to Europe and our vacation/family visit was mixed in with Christmas. It wasn't quiet or cozy as we moved to different locations, while jetlagged, mainly rushing and without the freedom of laying out every day as freely as back home. Just the usual for a family visit.
This year we stayed home. Thanksgiving kicked us off with a great potluck at the Unitarian congregration. Then we got to decorate the church sharing lunch together and making new friends. The kids started opening their Adventscalendars in excitement every morning. We also started an Adventscalendar where each day we where challenged to do a good deed. It was a wonderful addition to slow down our daily life. Marco and Tim took a trip to school camp together and Sarah and I had a couple of days to embrace in Mommy-daughter activities. We went thriftshop shopping, to the movies, read and baked together.
We started decorating our small plastic tree with colorful lights. We glued together Gingerbread houses that were very hard to keep upwards, but we managed. We baked a variety of cookies my Mom and my Grandma made. I also made chocolate truffles, which turned out great for going with 'cheap' baking chocolate instead of the really good stuff, I usually got in the years before. We hosted a nice Holiday party for the Office Junction with lots of yummy treats and happy guests.
I made several trips to Goodwill for gift shopping to stay within our tight budget and also to offer sustainable gifts. The first time Sarah picked a couple of baby outfits for her dollies. The second time I found some puzzles, a game and books. The third time I picked new outfits for the kids and found a great cast iron tea pot for Marco. The perfect gift as had great fun taking a tea ceremony workshop together this summer. Overall I spent way more money as planned, but way less than any previous years, with less regrets to giving in to consumerism and thoughtless giving.
The kids had a Holiday choir performance. Marco had a choir performance. We resisted to host another Holiday party and instead went to Seattle Center for dinner, Ice Skating and a Daft Punk Laser Show with friends. The next day we were invited to a Holiday party of friends but that evening Sarah feel sick with a bad cold and wanted to be held and leave, which we did a little earlier then planned. The next party we had to cancel as Sarah was way to sick. Just before Christmas I caught Sarah's cold and a day later Marco got it, too. So we had to keep it low from then on, which was still a challenge with work and all our traditions and Holiday preparation going on. I had a couple of moments where I rather wanted to crawl in bed instead of getting everything ready, but we made it for our annually Christmas Light scavenger hunt.
On Christmas Eve Tim played Ultimate Frisbee in the morning, then we went to see the movie 'Sing' together, Marco took them out for lunch and a brief stroll in the park, then the kids read the Christmas story and Tim and Marco played an Hawaiian Christmas song on the Ukulele at the Family service, we dropped of candied nuts at our friends house on the way home. At home we had a great Nordmann-Tanne in the living room replacing our third couch with wonderful lights and lots of gifts underneath. The kids were very excited. We sung some more songs, had Rostbratwuerstl and Kartoffelsalat and then started unwrapping presents.
We use reusable paper giftsbags and little felt bags for the last couple of years. The only things I had to buy new where photos for our Holiday mail, baking ingredients, candy and chocolates and some gifts for relatives and the gifts I was asked to get for the kids from relatives. It was really nice to barely have any plastic waste. Just a couple of Amazon boxes.
On the 25. we called all our family members and opened the gifts they sent. We skyped with Munich and Schongau, played and sung each other Christmas songs and shared what we did to celebrate. We made Schnitzel and Spaetzle and took a nap to help our weak bodies recover from the cold, while the kids watched some TV. Sarah wanted to take a bath in our new inflatable bathtub, but setting it up, a fitting at our bath sink broke and we had a minor leak which made us panic for a minute or two, til we shut off the main water. No celebration is perfect without a bit of drama. Once all was dry again we calmed our nerves with some more cookies.
The 26. I went to my Deep Listening group which was a nice way to reflect and get to enjoy what just happened. It's lots of excitement and activities leading up to Christmas. And once it hits, it's over so quickly. And often I don't even get to enjoy it as deeply as anticipated. I went to the office for some clean up which felt nice just to be by myself for a little bit tending to the ordinary. At home the kids had lots of opportunity to catch up on play time with friends. We assumed they were deprived from it by hanging out with us. In the evening we went Ice Skating in Bellevue which was not as fun as hoped. Marco felt too sick and the ice was terrible. The skates hurt. We had some Asian food nearby and went home to play some games downstairs. Tomorrow work needs tending. And the Holiday blizz is almost over. We might keep it up a couple more days to save it over to the New Year. Still being grateful everything worked out so great. Thankful for family, time together, harmony and traditions. Lots of traditions.
Sorry for skipping our yearly Holiday mail last year, but we were all around Germany for Christmas. That way we could celebrate Tim’s 10th birthday on the 30th of December in Munich and visit Paris and London. After that Marco went to Thailand for 3 weeks with a college buddy.
In Seattle school, work, moving, and remodeling our new home (5228 38th Ave, Seattle WA 98126) was waiting for Christine and the Kids. In spring, we celebrated Sarah’s 8th and a little later Marco’s followed by Christine’s 40th birthdays. Almost every weekend we invited friends over for Coffee and Cake on our new garden terrace.
We spent the long (compared to Germany) summer break from June-Sept mostly outside in nature and in our ’83 VW Vanagon. We went to an art festival at Granite Falls, biked 200 miles (320km) to Portland, camped with friends and attended wilderness courses at Tolt River and went to summer camp at Big Lake, OR in August (Horse riding, Swimming, Sailing, Climbing, Surfing, and Hiking the PCT).
In September Tim started his new soccer season and 5th grade at Fairmount Park Elementary. He has two very nice teachers and math is still is favorite subject (after recess). His soccer team made second place in their group and he’s looking forward to the start of the next season in spring. Tim just got back from a 4-day overnight trip to “Islandwood” (Bainbridge Island) where he spent time with 70 of his classmates and his dad as one of the chaperones: doing nature learning about teamwork and science experiments.
Sarah attends 3rd grade in the same school and has a great teacher as well. She loves reading and writing and playing dolls with her friends. She also makes fabulous sugar cookies and goes to a circus/gymnastics class every week.
Marco left Amazon after 12 years in Nov 2015 and is slowly recovering from the pressure that kept building up. He tried many new things over the last year, volunteering at the kids’ climate organization “Plant for the Planet”, the local Food Bank, his Amateur Radio Club, and our new Unitarian Universalists church. He loves singing in the choir there and enjoys being able to spend more time with the kids.
Christine just started a new part-time job as a bookkeeper, still manages her coworking space and works on her internet startup “Stuffmapper”. She organizes many activities and is learning about nature connect, society and culture in her spare time. She loves to help with neighborhood projects.
The election of Trump was quite a shock for all of us. We are very aware of how nice we had it during the last 8 years under Obama. Our engagement for the environment and social justice causes and our wish to bring up our children as responsible citizens of the world are being tested. We are thankful for all our friends and everyone who stays positive and works for bettering the world – we see this as our mission. Having sad that, “we really do just want world peace” and a lovely Holiday and Christmas time for all of you and we are looking forward to seeing you again soon!
Letztes Jahr gab es leider keine Post von uns, da wir Weihnachten 2015 in Deutschland unterwegs waren. So konnten wir Tim’s 10. Geburtstag am 30. Dezember in Muenchen feiern und einen kurzen Abstecher nach Paris und London machen. Marco ist anschliessend mit einem alten Studienkollegen fuer 3 Wochen nach Thailand geflogen.
In Seattle wartete schon die Schule, Arbeit, Umzug und die letzten Renovierungsarbeiten am neuen Haus (5228 38th Ave, Seattle WA 98126) auf Tini und die Kinder. Im Fruehling feierten wir Sarah’s 8., dann Marco und Tini’s 40. Geburtstag und hatten fast jedes Wochenende Gaeste zu Kaffee und Kuchen im Garten. Die langen amerikanischen Sommerferien von Juni bis September haben wir viel draussen in der Natur und in unserem 1983 VW Bus verbracht. Erst waren wir auf ein Kunstfestival in Granite Falls, dann auf einer 200 Meilen (320 km) Radtour nach Portland, dann beim Zelten und Wilderness Training mit Freunden am Tolt River und Ende August dann am Big Lake in Oregon, wo wir Reiten, Baden, Segeln, Klettern, Surfen und auf dem Pacific Crest wandern waren.
Im September startete Tim’s neue Fussball Saison und die 5. Klasse. Er hat 2 sehr nette Lehrerinnen und sein Lieblingsfach ist immer noch Mathe. Sein Fussball Team hat den 2. Platz in seiner Liga gewonnen und er freut sich schon auf Fruehling, wenn es wieder weitergeht. Er war auch gerade im Schullandheim ‘Islandwood’ mit Marco wo er mit seinen Klassenkameraden viel ueber Natur und Biologie gelernt hat.
Sarah geht in die 3. Klasse und hat auch eine tolle Lehrerin. Sie liest und schreibt gerne und spielt am liebsten mit ihren Puppen und Freundinnen. Sie geht zum Turnen und backt gerne Kekse.
Marco hatte im November 2015 nach 12 Jahren bei Amazon gekuendigt und erholt sich langsam vom Dauerstress. Er hat dieses Jahr viele neue Sachen ausprobiert und ehrenamtlich fuer unsere Kinder-Umweltorganisation ‘Plant for the Planet’, die lokale Food Bank, seinen Radio Club, unsere Unitarian* Gemeinschaft und ein paar andere Projekte gearbeitet. Er singt im Chor und die Kinder geniessen es das er viel Zeit fuer sie hat.
Tini hat gerade einen neuen Teilzeit-Job als Buchhalter begonnen, fuehrt ihr Gemeinschaftsbuero und arbeitet an ihrem Internet Startup. Sie organisiert die zahlreichen Aktivitaeten und lernt in ihrer freien Zeit ueber Natur, Gesellschaft und Kultur und freut sich wenn sie sich fuer Nachbarschaftsprojekte einsetzen kann.
Die Wahl von Donald Trump hat uns alle hier sehr schockiert. Wir sind uns sehr bewuesst darueber wie angenehm unser Leben in Seattle die letzten 12 Jahre dank Praesident Obama war. Unser Engagement in Umweltschutz, soziale Gerechtigkeit und unser Wunsch unsere Kinder als verantwortliche Weltbuerger zu erziehen wird durch Trump auf die Probe gestellt. Wir sind dankbar fuer unsere Freunde und jeden, der mit Optimismus und Einsatz die Welt verbessern will und geben unser Bestes unseren Beitrag zu leisten.
In diesem Sinne wuenschen wir uns allen Weltfrieden und eine besinnliche Weihnachtszeit und hoffen Euch bald wiederzusehen.
*Unitarians glauben an die Freiheit den eigenen spirituellen und religiösen Weg zu gehen, die angeborene Würde des Menschen, den Einsatz für Frieden, Freiheit und Gerechtigkeit, die gegenseitige Akzeptanz und die Unterstützung für spirituelles Wachstum sowie das Einstehen für eine freie und verantwortliche Suche nach Wahrheit und Sinn.
Optimistic, curious, human bee.