Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Now, about Flickr. I have been asked a few times to explain myself so here it goes. Flickr is a photo sharing website owned by Yahoo. At its most basic, it is a site where anyone can sign up, upload pictures and then share them with just your friends or the entire world. If you look up you will see a slideshow of our pictures. If you click on the slideshow it will link you directly to my Flickr site. So, Flickr is the site where I upload our photos.
But there is really so much more to Flickr than just its basic function. I like to think of it as a constantly changing photographic art gallery. Everyday I can walk through it and find hundreds of new and beautiful pictures. In fact, I have learned a lot about photography by doing this, and I think, learned to take better pictures because of it. So, on Flickr there is a page called Explore. This is the daily 500 photographs. From the little research I have done it seems that no one knows for sure how the daily list is compiled but is done with some kind of computer program/alogorithm. On each and every photo on Flickr a member can 1) view it 2) comment on it and 3) add it as a favorite picture. Somehow, Flickr takes all 3 of these pieces and compiles a daily list of the top 500 photographs. And I want to make that list!
Here is an analogy (I didn't come up with it on my own, I read it from another Flickr member): Remember little league baseball? When your coach would remind the team that winning isn't everything? Well, its not. There is a lot of fun to be had playing baseball. Wait, let me change the analogy. Everyone knows baseball and fun cannot go together! So, your water polo coach says winning isn't everything. Face it, you had fun. You got to play. You worked hard. Maybe you even scored a point. So even though you didn't win it was still worth your time. But, as everyone who has ever played any kind of game can attest to, winning is still fun. So here is how this applys to Flickr. Flickr is fun. I enjoy posting my pictures and I enjoy viewing the pictures of others from all over the world. When I'm about to go somewhere new, the first thing I do is Flickr search that place and view pictures of it. So in its own right Flickr is fun, but it would be so much more fun, an added bonus, to make it onto Explore one day. There you have it. An explanation of my craziness. Laura is about to cut me off of Flickr since I kinda became a little obsessed about making Explore. But she gave me good advice, just keep taking good pictures and one day it will happen.
So for all of you who have been checking out my pictures, thank you. I hope you have enjoyed them. I certainly know I have enjoyed taking them and I am very proud of many of them. And just so the whole world knows, Laura is often a huge behind-the-scenes help, even when she is in front of the camera. My latest set of pictures, with Laura in the red dress on the snow covered hill was all her idea. She is also the one that has to wait for me while I stop again and again and again to take pictures.
I think that about covers it. I hope my explanation helps everyone understand just a little better. And I will be sure to let you all know if I ever make Explore! cross you're fingers!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
1...bottle of Kandern red wine
1...baguette from Heiber's
1...ofenkase (oven cheese...yummy!)
1...lunch for the two of us on Christmas!
We slept in, we made waffles, we seriously considered calling our families at their 1 in the morning time, we opened a few gifts (most of which were very generously shipped over to us-thanks everyone who sent us something!) and then we hung out. In a little while we are going to The Shuman's, a BFA family, for Christmas dinner. A good holiday. A hard one to be away from friends and family, but a good day nonetheless.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Need I say more?
We get such a nice long break because so many of our students travel so far to get home for Christmas. We have fewer days off throughout the year, and longer Christmas and Easter breaks. I guess it makes sense to forgo Thanksgiving and have 3 weeks at Christmas so the kid travelling to Timbuktu doesn't have to just turn around and come right back.
Monday, December 22, 2008
At each market there are Christmas lights, hundreds of people all crowding around the Gluhwein (hot mulled wine) booths and of course, bratwurst. Even chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
4 of us girls, ladies, whatever, (I never know the appropriate term. I don't really feel old enough to be a "lady") got together on Friday to bake in my big classroom kitchen. We made buckeyes, known to us West Coasters as peanut butter balls, toffee nut bars, and sugar cookies. I attempted twice to make almond roca but I was a terrible failure. The girls assured me it must be the German butter or the German sugar, and not me that was the problem. Regardless, I threw out a lot of ruined butter sugar. Big ol' bummer for me.
I only took a few cookies home since it is just the two of us this Christmas. I didn't figure we needed 30 peanut butter balls. Because honestly, then we would eat them all and would have to climb a lot of stairs to not have that have a lasting effect.
However, the best part was that Adam earned a nickname... the Sugar Vacuum. Due to his unnatural ability to consume LARGE amounts of anything containing sugar.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Children practice poems and songs for Sankt Nikolaus and make little presents for him.
Friends and neighbors come to share in the fun. Candles on the Advent wreath and the big Christmas pyramid with a nativity scene in the center are lit. Stories are read or songs sung as everyone waits for a knock on the door. When it comes, they all know it is Sankt Nikolaus, who comes in with his big book, golden crozier, and a big heavy sack. One of the children gets to hold the golden staff. Each child stand in front of the saint. Nikolaus asks each child, "Have you behaved yourself?" "Do you do your homework?" "Do you keep your room tidy?" "Do you help your parents?" Then he opens his big sack and gives presents and candies and treats for all to share. Nikolaus leaves quickly as he has many places to visit.
Friday, December 19, 2008
and not a cent in international shipping! Necessity breeds creativity. We rocked online shopping this year. Even our Christmas cards were all done online!
We had stuff shipped to family of friends who are going to hand carry it to Germany! We sent packages back to the States in friends' luggage to be mailed once it is only a domestic fee. And other packages are flying home in a duffel bag to be picked upin person. So much more work than just throwing it in the back of the Jeep!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Makes it difficult to pick up the phone, well, click on the icon in Skype, and call when you think of something funny or have a random question... because most likely anyone you want to talk to is either sleeping (and I have had to hang up mid-call because I realized a 3 AM phone call from your daughter probably means someone is dead!) or at work when we are up and at home. It's a crazy thing, these time zones! Germany is in Time Zone A below. CA is U. Cute, U are CA.
But, on the flip side Skype is free. Can you imagine? Talking for as long as you want without worrying about the cost? Free international calling. What's next? Flying cars?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Adam here-The end of the semester is upon us and pages and pages of student writing is falling down on me like an avalanche. Fahrenheit 451 tests to grade, research papers to grade, and the now infamous Sono Libero. Whew, I finished that today. The Sono Libero is the creative writing class' short story journal. My class wrote, collected, edited, printed, copied, cut, and bound 100 copies of pages filled with creative short stories. And even though my students did a lot of the work, I ended up doing a whole lot of it myself. But gloriously, we finished today!
Now I just need to finish grading everything else so that I will have time to grade my final exams! Yeah for the end of the semester.
As for the snow, it is just cold here. How long will it stay snowy on Mission Peak? 2 hours? It hasn't actually snowed for over a week but it has been so cold that the snow hasn't melted. I've made dozens of snow balls to throw at Laura from the same pile of snow. It just never gets old. Well, she thinks its old.
Anyway, let the countdown to Christmas (break: 3 days!!!!!!) continue!
Monday, December 15, 2008
My question is: if we have that much Christmas music on the Zune, why does the shuffle always seem to land on the annoying Christmas songs like Dominick the Christmas donkey and not the always enjoyable Carol of the Bells?
We have yet to find a German all-Christmas-all-the-time radio station. Actually, I think I have only heard one Christmas song on German radio and it was Santa's Coming To Town, so Adam burned a CD of our favorite festive tunes to listen to while we drive through the snow to school in the morning.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I bought my bags and started the walk back. I stopped to buy a Christmas ornament that I saw in a store window. She wrapped it up like a gift for me, complete with ribbon. Then I made another stop at the florist where I bought three pointsettias. Each of the plants was individually wrapped and taped closed. As I walked back in the snow, with my arms full of Christmas, I couldn't help but sing to myself.
This must be what it is like to live in a Christmas song.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
It's a good day here in Kitchen Stadium! Independent Living has officially started the much anticipated Cooking Unit. *wild applause* When I announced that we would be starting this unit, one of my students sat up in his chair, clasped his hands together and proclaimed, "Mrs. DeClercq, words cannot express how excited I am!" If that doesn't warm a teacher's heart, I don't know what would.
We have successfully made trail mix, baked granola, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Everyday my students want to turn the lesson into a reality show- Next Top Chef, Iron Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Survivor, Weakest Link. You name it, they've mentioned it. They wanted to "vote people off the kitchen island".
Just to placate them, I always taste each team's food and proclaim a winner. They love it. I think they might be keeping score.
Pictured above are the plates of cookies we made today. Beautiful, huh? And although you can't try for yourself, they are DELICIOUS. Way to go Independent Living!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Literally, I finished it a couple of hours ago. And for those of you doing the math, it is 3 AM here. I am wide awake and thought I would share my thoughts on the book.
I am not one who is easily swayed by public opinion. I read the DaVinci Code when the Christian community was afraid you would lose your salvation simply by beholding its front cover in line at Costco. And I was reluctant to read The Shack simply because everyone was talking about it.
But read it, I did. And in about 24 hours, too.
It was a great read. Very enjoyable. With tons of food for thought. I filled journal pages with quotes and hmm.... moments from my reading. If you are on the fence, I say read it. What have you got to lose? Except maybe a couple of preconceived ideas about God.
As with anything you read, especially a novel that deals with spiritual issues, there will be things that cause you to raise your eyebrows. If a book keeps you confortably where you are right now, what is the point? This book will not leave you comfortable. You will be uncomfortable; I think that is the point.
There were things I loved, things I vehemently disagreed with, and things that I'll have to chew on for awhile. But one of the quotes I scribbled into my journal is the following:
God on being God
"I'm not like you....
the problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I
am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can picture, which often isn't much, and then call that God."
I know that I am thankful God is so much more than merely the best human I can imagine. I have an active imagination, but it's not that good.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
When I did get up I did look out the window and it was rather beautiful. My experiences in the snow are so limited though that I was a little afraid and very stupid. I am still desperately trying to hold on to my sandals and shorts. I don't want it to be so cold yet. So when I didn't put on my winter coat this morning (the one we specifically bought for Germany's winter) Laura just rolled her eyes at me and reminded me that I am probably going to freeze. I remained stubborn...and cold. I guess there is just no getting around it at this point. We are just in for a cold winter and the cold, wet, and snow are now a part of my life.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I know that if I make cookies for Adam's small group, they are going to truly appreciate them. Same goes for when I make 100 brownies at the dorm. Those boys are going to fall over themselves to get a brownie.
The funny thing is, I am just now starting to learn that when you bake for boys, especially high school boys, you have to make A LOT. I made 3 dozen cookies for Adam's small group. I thought, well, there are 6 of them, plus Adam, that makes 7. They'll probably eat 2-3 each, and that will leave us with some for the rest of the week. I realize now, that was poor planning on my behalf. Not only did they inhale all the cookies in a matter of minutes, they drained our milk and possibly licked the plate. Luckily, I hid two for myself.
Now, I never expect to see left overs. And I will remember to buy 2 liters of milk on Wednesdays.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
This here is Spencer (to the right)
I really don't know what he is doing.
I think he took this photo himself.
Here we have Sam and Ben. Sometimes we
hang out in Laura's classroom. She has plates and
cups. Cups because we are thirsty after running
around and plates because she makes us special
This is Phil. David is sitting behind him. David is an MK who lives in Zurich. He drives over an hour to be with us on Wednesday nights.
Ben (left), Josh (right) and Sam (behind) are hanging out. You can see the brownie dish pretty much cleaned out in the foreground.
Those are my guys. They are a great group of guys and we are really starting to bond together. It took a few weeks (I knew it wouldn't be immediate) but we are starting to become friends. Thank you, if you were praying for us. This last week was only the second time for the whole group to be together. Between school and being sick, it has been tricky trying to get 7 Juniors together from all over the Kandern area.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
As we walked out the door Saturday afternoon, I asked Adam "Should we take the camera?" He said "No, we are just going to Lorrach, it's not anything new." Famous last words.
When we got to Lorrach, we stumbled upon their Herbstfest aka Fall Festival. Now, that isn't all that original. It seems like the Germans are always looking for an excuse to eat bratwurst so this was just another festival. However, at this particular festival, there was something new. An entire cow on a spit. You read me right... a COW on a SPIT. Turning like it was a chicken or a pig in Hawaii. Needless to say, we were wishing that we had our camera so you too could experience our disbelief.
Then, on our way out of Lorrach, we got trapped in the parking garage. TRAPPED! No, there wasn't a cave in or anything. Just a car backing up and then running into another car... Again, not that new, except there was no one in either car. It all happened literally feet from our car and was the result of not setting the emergency brake. As we stood there wondering what to do with the car crash that happened before our very eyes, the owner of the runaway car miraculously came back, probably to set his E-brake. Instead, he just swore.
So, on our routine drive to Lorrach we missed two photo ops. So, you'll just have to use your imagination! And we'll try to remember to take our camera next time.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I thought I would post about Paris, too. It's not everyday you get to spend a weekend in Paris. So, once we arrived in Paris, we jumped in with both feet and did a whirlwind tour. Here's what we did:
Notre Dame: we picnicked outside and then a sudden rainstorm convinced us to admire the stained glass from the inside. After the rain cloud blew over we soaked up the fall colors.
And Adam likes a good castle. Here he is next to a preserved moat wall in what felt like the basement of the Louvre...
Pantheon: church/monument to the Resistance and final burial place of Vistor Hugo (author of Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables) and Alexandre Dumas (Count of Monte Cristo).
Catacombs: down below the water mains and the Metro system we walked a labyrinth filled with the bones of 6 million people. They are piled 5 feet high and sometimes 80 feet deep! It was sobering and a little creepy. Can you imagine priests bringing cartloads of bones down into this maze in the middle of the night by the light of a candle? This is my creepy shadow falling on the bones... Some cheese shopping...
Then back on the train and on to Mulhouse, and then Kandern.