Christmas Greetings from the Farm!

 

We started 2003 in Germany at my sisterís house. In Germany, the start of the New Year is celebrated with lots of fireworks at midnight which were fun to watch. We visited many friends, some of which we had not seen since our wedding. My sister lives close to the river Lahn in Limburg and after a very heavy rain the river came all the way to her garden fence and flooded the whole street. We had to crawl with our suitcases through bushes at the top of her yard to get to the car that we had parked on a high spot. With her car we toured Northern Germany. It was snowing in Hamburg where my brother Horst lived (he has since moved to Munich) He took us sledding at night in a city park that leads down to the river Elbe. The city lights, the snow and the river made this a very memorable sledding trip. David and I enjoyed being back in Hamburg where I had worked for 2 years and where David had worked for 3 months as a medical student.

 In January we celebrated Cecileís 5th birthday with a princess dress-up party that was enjoyed by all the girls. In February, David and I wanted to go to Mexico for a short vacation and leave the kids with Grandma, but things turned out differently. Davidís mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy. Luckily, the chemotherapy did not make her too sick and she is doing well now.

 We were rewarded with a beautiful spring here in Kansas and planted two big gardens. I grew almost everything from seed and therefore had too much of everything that came up (tomatoes, squash, zucchini, summer squash, lettuceÖ.) and missed out on a few flowers and vegetables that did not want to germinate. I also took long bike rides with Max, our Labrador who was by then a very big dog who did not have any trouble keeping up with a bike.  We also hatched chickens in an incubator and loved to cuddle with the little chicks. Muffin, our calico cat, had 6 kittens and she let us watch her giving birth which was very special.

 We were distressed about the Iraq war and saw another side of the American story by watching German TV to which we have a satellite subscription here.

 My friend Mark Gard whom I have known since my exchange year at McPherson College came to visit us for spring break. We had just purchased our piano and his playing impressed Christina and Cecile so much that they have been making good progress with their lessons since.

 Easter was a challenge this year since we answered Christinaís question about the Easter bunny truthfully and made her very, very upset. Many tears were shed on this holiday and I think David and I were ready to cry ourselves at the end of the day.

 School was out after Memorial Day and after a few weeks here that were spent with Vacation Bible School and lots of trips to the swimming pool in Kensington, the girls and I took off for our second trip to Germany this year. We interrupted our trip in Boston and spent time with our friends Robert and Elizabeth. The kids were happy to be able to play with Owen and Pippa, their children, and were delighted to see their nanny Kathy again. She is the person that they have missed the most from Boston and I think she will always be a second Mom for them.

 In Germany, Christina went to school with her cousin Holger, also a first grader. She did very well in a German school and switched completely to speaking German. I was extremely proud of her.  Cecile resisted the idea of visiting a German kindergarten and stayed home at my sisterís house with me. We traveled less this time, but spent more time with my parents as well.

 David had stayed home in Kansas to take care of our farm. He had a very bad first week. Muffin, our mother cat, got run over and her little kittens then got sick. Thanks to Davidís great healing skills, he only lost one of the kittens and the other five are now very healthy and very big cats. On top of cat trouble, our dog Max was so distressed when David left with us to take us to the airport in Wichita that he ran away, got lost and was killed after a few days on his own.

 David and I then connected in Boston again and together went to the carriage house in Annisquam where we then spent our 5th Annisquam summer vacation. This house has become very special to us and we love the close beach and the ocean view. This year, it was especially fun because we could entertain many of our Boston friends whom we had not seen for a whole year. Our friends Alice and Steve, through whom we had originally found the house, then let us stay for 4 days in their Charlestown home while they stayed in Annisquam so we were able to visit our church, see old neighbors and do a little shopping in the city.

 We were back in Kansas in August to experience another few weeks of intense heat. The kids took swimming lessons and were at the pool every day. My nephew Lars also arrived in August to start his time as an exchange student at the Kensington high school. I was very busy with harvesting all my garden produce and had my first experience with canning. I also made salsa, pesto, tomato relish and wild plum syrup and admired people in years past who had to provide for all their food in these very time-consuming tasks.

 School started again on August 18th and it was Cecileís first day of Kindergarten. She did not want to go to school and kept imploring not to grow up.  Luckily, she grew to like school after the first week already and is now a great student. Her class only has 10 kids and a great teacher, so they are off to a good start. Lars is a junior in high school and Christina is now in second grade, but doing a lot more advanced work in reading and math.

 Cecile only has school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. David works on Mondays and Fridays, but on Wednesdays we are actually home without kids. What a new feeling!

 Now that I have more time for myself, I have started to spend more time with my yoga practice and have actually started teaching a class with 12 students here in Kensington. I was able to go to a Yoga Conference in Estes Park, Colorado, in October and brush up on my skills.

 David spends his time restoring a 1965 Ford Pickup, the truck that his father bought shortly after he was born and also the truck in which he first learned to drive. He has taken this pickup completely apart and is now putting it back together piece by piece with a lot of replacement parts garnered from all over the country. He also helped his parents put down oak floor in their bedrooms and has spent time hunting for pheasants and deer.

 In September we went to the Humane Society to get a new puppy. Lilly is a good-looking mixture of Irish Setter and Husky and is very independently-minded. We have not made a lot of progress training her although she toilet-trained herself and learned how to walk on a leash. We also adopted another female cat so that we can have kittens again next spring.  Tabetha, is determined that she needs to be a house cat, and will try to sneak in the house at any opportunity. We keep throwing her back out, but she is very persistent. At last, we also added a horse to our farm. Phantom is a 4 year old black and white gelding that belongs to Davidís cousin Mandy. We have borrowed him for the time being, but have not dared to ride him yet.

 In October we celebrated Christinaís 8th birthday with a hayrack ride and supper around a camp fire. Although the weather wasnít too great, the party was a great success. We spent Thanksgiving home, having Davidís parents and his brother Eric with his girl-friend Melissa over for a good, old-fashioned, country-style turkey dinner. This year we will also stay here for Christmas and New Yearís and enjoy the holidays with family here since we most likely will be back East next year.

 We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!