Tuesday, November 24, 2009

a fairy is born

"When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be one fairy for every boy or girl." - Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

Last Thursday, Axel laughed for the first time!!

He developed a little giggle that was really just a quick exhale when he smiled sometimes. But Thursday evening I was watching something on TV and Karl was in Axel's room changing his diaper and singing to him and I begin to notice a giggle between Karl's singing. By the time I make it into his room, that giggle has become a full out laugh!

I grabbed my camera and made a little video of Axel laughing for his very first time...

Friday, November 20, 2009

favorite shop friday: letterary press

Personally, I feel the slow death of the hand written word a sad one. I appreciate the ease and speed of the digital age, but there was always something about finding a letter in your mailbox that makes you feel that someone out there really loves you...and you have tangible evidence of your friendship.

Letterary Press offers cards with quotes from great writers to inspire us to in turn write and preserve the most important and intimate words to each other.

You'll find great literary minds such as Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and many others to help you communicate your thoughts...

Marty of Letteraery Press uses only soy based inks and salvaged or recycled papers for her cards and they're all beautifully letter pressed.
Find all her lovely designs and inspired words at http://letterarypress.etsy.com/.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

henry and my slightly simplified life

"In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness." Henry David Thoreau

Many people have asked us why we wanted to remain in Germany. Aren't we happier back in our familiar home in the USA? There are many things I miss in Germany including our friends and the chance to travel but there's just something about the lifestyle we had there that tips the scale over our life in America.

Of course, taking weekend trips to Paris, planning vacations to see castles even though we can see castles out our bedroom window, the daily sound of church bells and summer evenings in a Biergarten...yes, all of those things are wonderful. But when Karl and I discuss what we really love about living in Germany it's always the lifestyle we had there that is near impossible to duplicate in the US that tips that scale. And I believe it is actually a quote from Henry David Thoreau that may best sum up what I loved about our life there: "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity."

In Germany it just seemed much easier in many ways to make our life simpler. To enjoy the simple worthwhile things about life every day. About 5 months before we moved back to the US we got rid of our car. We wanted to cut some living costs and also wanted to see if we could comfortably live without a car. And you know what? Between the car costs and gas we saved about 300 euros a month and found life so much more enjoyable without a car!

Strangely, going without a car was great for our marriage. Even though we could previously chat while we drove places together, we found that chatting while on a train or on bikes was much more meaningful when weren't stressed with traffic or needing to pay attention to signs. Getting places took a bit more planning sometimes, but the getting there much more fun: watching the beautiful Black Forest flash by, reading books, having conversations, listening to pod casts. Often trains took much more scenic routes than the Autobahn. We rode our bikes a lot more which was great exercise and a lot of fun. And, because Germany has such a great public transportation system, we rarely felt trapped or unconvinced with getting anywhere. I even found I took more trips to nearby cities and sites just for the fun of it. Somehow it was just easier to explore without the car. But, unfortunately, going car-less is near impossible in the States. But hopefully we can build a life here that only needs one car...

One of the big selling points of this house we bought is it's location. We are two blocks from our church, a block and a half from the library, two blocks from a great park, three or four blocks from Axel's future elementary school and a walkable distance from old town Katy's city center with fabric shops and antique stores and restaurants. I love being able to walk to church every week, load Axel into the stroller and head up to the library once a week or so (I find I've been getting a lot of reading done as I nurse him!) and I look forward to when Axel gets a little older and we can walk up to the park to feed the ducks and have a picnic and someday walk him to his first day at school. In other words, I love the opportunity to be outside as I get to places and to live somewhere compact enough that I don't always need a car!

And I like not being dependant on something and being able to simplify my life just that much more.

A replica of Thoreau's simple cabin home in the woods at Walden Pond.
Photo by Steven Erat at TalkingTree.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

henry's journal

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Henry David Thoreau

A year or so ago I found a great blog: This Date from Henry David Thoreau's Journal. I love reading what Thoreau was writing 150 years ago today.

Not only do I love to read his truely poetic descriptions of nature and observations of humanity, but I get inspired to write myself. I've been a journal keeper most of my life. Lately, though, I've been pretty bad at it. A baby is keeping me busy. Which is exactly why I should be writing now, too, and recording my adventures of new motherhood. In fact, I've started (started but not doing a very good job of keeping) a journal for Axel as well. I want to record his milestones, his precious and funny moments, significant things that happen in his little life that he'll forget. I'm a keeper of two lives right now and I really need to stop typing this post and start writing in some journals...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

henry books

"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.” Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was writing for adults, philsophers and transcendentalists, but author and artists D.B. Johnson has proven that his ideas are for all ages, young and old!

D.B. Johnson has created books about Henry David Thoreau for children. I love these books! Read about Henry hiking, building, walking, climbing, and working. All with gorgeous artwork!

I don't own them yet, but you can bet I will soon and Axel will learn about Henry a lot sooner than I did!

Monday, November 16, 2009

walden, henry and me

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book." Henry David Thoreau

I first read Henry David Thoreau's book Walden back in high school. It was the first time I ever read a book (that wasn't a textbook or scriptures) and marked it up with a pencil. I remember reading about three pages in, grabbing a pencil, and immediately went back to page one and started marking passages. I love this book. It's a book I can pick up and just open randomly and start reading. What a gem!

I think the book and Thoreau's experiment of living in the woods, alone and largely self-sufficient, is often misunderstood. It seems many people assume that Thoreau wants all of us to return to a life close to nature, living off of nature, and isolating ourselves from society and machines. I don't think this is at all what he wanted us to understand from his experiment. I think he wanted us to simply some take time to examine our individual lives in our society and evaluate how we can simplify our lives to live, as it puts it, more "deliberately".

Thoreau wants us, I think, to find a balance in our lives and to ask ourselves what things are getting in our way of enjoying life and the people in it? What kind of schedule have we committed ourselves to that keep us from family and home? What kind of debts and financial decisions are keeping us trapped?

Cumbering our lives is so easy to do and I certainly have been guilty of it. As Thoreau himself said, "Our life is frittered away by detail."

Reading Walden, or skimming through the marked up passages of my copy, always helps me to remember to realign my life to what is most important and to loosen up my ties to things I really don't need nor ultimately want.

This week I'm celebrating Walden and Henry David Thoreau with a series of posts on Thoreau and his influence on me.

By the way...the photographs in this entry come from a photographer, Smári, who has spent a year creating a gorgeous album of images of the pond in all seasons. I've never visited Walden Pond in Massachusetts but these photographs truly take me there...

All images copyright © 2008 Smari

Thursday, November 12, 2009

my little guy

Monday, November 9, 2009

go, trabi, go!

Unlike my husband, I don't have much interest in cars. I just want my car to get me where I'm going. But I do have a dream car...the East German Trabant.

I fell in love with this little guy when I was a missionary in Berlin, lured by its cute car shape, its dirty looking colors, a body you could rip apart with your hands (Karl did once, too), its loud "putt-putt-putt" engine, its tiny interior, the multi-year waiting list to own one and the fact it can't go over 55 mph. What's not to love!?

A year and a half after the Berlin Wall fell and 6 months after the renuification of Germany produciton on the Trabi stopped. For perhaps obvious reasons.

The city of Berlin is my favorite place ever for many reasons. One of which is how it is a city constantly changing. History continuously makes it's mark on Berlin. And the little Trabants still putting around it are one more mark of history on Berlin.

On this anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall it seems even those bits of Berlin that seem to remain part of it's past are still changing the face of its city...the Trabant is coming back! This time with a little less Communism and a little more class...

Friday, November 6, 2009

favorite shop friday: joom

Joom is known for her pillows and the birds that adorns them. But she adorns her birds on many more things.

Enjoy the birds of Joom!

soft birds...

printed birds...

baby birds...

and birds to carry...

Find Joom and her birds at http://joom.etsy.com/.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

seriously cupcakes in cyperspace

Remember how my sister Susan makes the best cupcakes ever? No, really... Best. Cupcakes. Ever.

Her business, Seriously Cupcakes, is still booming and she just opened a website! Go to http://www.seriouslycupcakes.com/.

If you live in the West Houston area you can order her yummy cupcakes (like Pumpkin and Italian Cream and Boston Cream and Triple Coconut) through her website and Susan will personally bake, decorate and deliver them!

And if you don't live in the West Houston area...well, you can drool over the photos.

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