Doing the Lasts

The last week in New Zealand had come. We were doing all the things we usually did, but for the last time. It was fun; full of laughter and smiles, but with a foreboding feeling of “this is ending.” Of course, we had an exciting trip home to look forward to, with a lot more new firsts, but the truth was, we were really going to miss New Zealand.

So we filled the last few days with things we wanted to do again, or even for the first time, like touring the Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory. It was a really fun little tour, with the best tour guide ever. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures. :(



Following the factory tour we had to have fish and chips one last time at the beach. Of course, with more L & P to drink.



The following day was Saturday, and the last chance to visit Nelson’s Farmer’s Market. It turned out to be a lovely day and Maria and I got some shopping done for gifts and such to take home.



We tasted the carmalised almonds and crepes too.





We had walked past this bead shop many a time, but had never gone in. Oh my goodness…thousands and thousands of beads of ALL types in there!



It was coming to the end of the winter poppies, but they were still beautiful at the base of the Cathedral’s hill.




Back home, I decided to try a new recipe for supper and of course, needed about 4 more hands to get everything done in time for our company. Good thing there were 4 extra hands ready and willing to help.



Our company was Steve and Sharon, who we met at church many weeks before. It was another fun evening with Kiwi friends.


An Afternoon in Stuttgart

{September 12th}

When we invited Maria to come with us on this little European adventure, our main countries to visit were France and Germany. (France consisting only of Paris… we still want to see southern France and more of the countryside, but it will have to be another trip.) But anyway, at the time I didn’t realize that France and Germany are the two countries that Maria’s family have had exchange students from! Micha is from Germany, and Pierre is from France. We didn’t get to meet up with Pierre while in France, but we DID get to see Micha and his family! Turns out Eibelstadt, where we’re staying for the month, is only about an hour and a half drive from Stuttgart. They generously invited us to spend the afternoon with them, and we happily accepted.

Before we drove to their home, I had expressed my desire and hopes that Micha’s family would fix us a nice German meal. I was not disappointed! We had Maultaschen and potato salad made with a more vinegar base versus mayonnaise. For dessert we had apple cake with sliced almonds on top. I loved it all.

For the afternoon, they planned a great sight seeing adventure for us: The Mercedes Benz Museum of Stuttgart!

Of all the museums I’ve been to in my life, this one trumps all for the best laid out touring plans! You ride a very special elevator (Micha’s Dad works for the company who designed it) to the top floor, then walk down in a circle, stopping at each floor below to see various models and categories of cars. No where to get lost or waylaid…just walk in a circle and you’ll see it all. When you reach the bottom, you know that’s the end! It was so simple and easy. Museums at their finest, folks!

Naturally, the top level started off with the oldest models and they got newer (basically by the decade) as you went down.


Maria and Miriam, Micha’s sister:


There were two displays that you were allowed to get in, and Natasha loved driving the bus:



Here’s the one I would have taken home:




After finishing up, we had snacks and headed to Königstrasse for some shopping. One particular department store entertained these youngsters while I picked out a few gifts for family back home.



A delightful supper was laid out for us when we got back to Micha’s home, and there we met his Dad. We all enjoyed sitting around the table, laughing, sharing stories and eating homemade bread, sliced meat, fruit and cheese. For dessert? More cake, with ice cream and an added treat of various chocolate bars from the nearby factory, Ritter Sport. Do you know how to properly open a Ritter Sport square of chocolate? We do! A fun, fun day indeed. :)


Catching up on Summer

Folks, it’s almost September. Not that I mind…I love fall and if it was an extremely hot summer I’m more than happy to say goodbye to summer’s heat and humidity. Thankfully this summer has been practically perfect in every way for me. Not many miserable days and cool evenings. Anyhow…fall is coming.

These are a few fun times we spent on July 4th with the family, while waiting for fireworks. :)



The pyramid didn’t last too long…



And these crazy fellows are always trying to do human flags off of anything. Including fellow humans.



Next we tried dips:



Daniel said, “You guys are as steady as jello!”



The Children’s Garden

We took a few days earlier this month and went down to see my parents, and shared some smiles at the local children’s garden.


It opened years ago when I was um…more of a child…and they had a grand opening ceremony. We attended to hear to band play, and for the finale of “Stars and Stripes Forever”, a lady grabbed my hand along with another little girl and we led the parade of children around the gazebo waving flags. It was all very momentous, and it’s really fun now to take MY little girl to that very garden!

Aren’t child-sized benches simply the cutest thing?! Especially when a child is sitting on one?


From her smile, you’d think we were at Disney Land meeting the “real” Snow White!




This is a typical conversational pose these days. Walking Natasha through whatever phrase, word, sign, or unknown something or other. This time, it was a gumball machine. It makes me think of Daniel’s patient explanation to a younger Natasha on a different subject, but in a garden as well.

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We had a lovely meal at Applebees afterwards, and I continue to smile about how we ended up there. Daddy had announced earlier that day that, “We could eat out at Applebarrel or Crackerbees.” :)













The next day was warm. Natasha kindly asked her Grandpa to fetch the hammock from the chicken house-turned-store-shed, and he obliged. Then even pushed her till she fell asleep.




A perfect weekend getaway, I’d say.

Early Birthday Celebration

It’s birthday month around here! Daniel’s Grandpa had a birthday the 12th, and Natasha was born one day before my Grandma’s birthday! We couldn’t be two places at once, so we missed the family gathering for Grandpa Bob, but we did have a little early party for Grandma and Natasha with my family this past weekend.

This was her first decorated cake! Please tell me you can tell it’s a panda. :)



So, she will be 3 on the 21st…



And Grandma will be 90 on the 22nd!!! Yes, I said 90!



The age difference is noticeable, but precious. It’s easy to see similarities though. They each need help doing basic daily things, and each one is headstrong and wants to be independent. But, one is nearing the end of life, while the other has her whole life ahead. May God bless the moments ahead, however long, for each one. It can be rather sobering…so we’re treasuring all the memories and times we share.

Happy Birthday my dear daughter, and my dear Grandma. We love you!