Taking the Scenic Route

Steve – The Arrogant Worms group I was talking about

12th January 2010

Steve – The Arrogant Worms group I was talking about

I am Cow (obviously not an official video, but I couldn’t find one)

History Is Made By Stupid People (the words are funny, the pictures don’t always make sense…clearly not an official video)

Carrot Juice is Murder (I think this is the actual group)

posted in Music | Comments Off

19th May 2009

Performance on the Mantle

Zora insisted Mom and Dad sat down in front of the mantle, asking for me to get the camera, and sang several songs for us standing up on the mantle, occasionally going down into the “audience” for emphasis.  One song included a verse about a tail, which I couldn’t understand, but when a certain refrain came, she would turn around, stick out her little tush, and shake it back and forth.  Her “microphone” is a spray thing for the end of the garden hose.

Trying to decide the next song to sing.

Rock on baby girl!

posted in Music, Zora, project 365 | Comments Off

30th September 2008

Sunday at Church

First, gotta say, I love this new church. Sort of sad that I post less about church now that I am happy. Human nature I guess.

This Sunday the children’s choir sang. I was debating up until the last minute whether to go with Zane to the front or stay in the back. I want him to be able to handle it independently, but it really isn’t fair to him to have his first “being up front and singing” (well, on purpose at least) on the Sunday the church is as packed to the gills(the church’s 25th anniversary and they had special speakers, etc…there were people standing in the lobby when the seats ran out). So, I followed the group up there. Zane was on the end of the front row, so I could sit right up front (there is a banister in front of the front row of pews) that can sort of hide me, plus, the kids were up on the steps, so even when I was sitting down there, I wasn’t blocking anybody at all.

I wish I could say that all the work we did on the music (and all of hours of earworms for Zach and me) meant he just stood there and sang like everybody else (a mom can have fantasies, can’t I?), but I will say he didn’t run away, he stopped trying to blow out the alter candle once I told him to stop doing that (and the breath taking moment when he used the sheet music to “point” to the candle and was within an inch of catching it on fire…that caused my stealthy movements to change to a quick jump up. lol), he stayed in the same spot and only turned to the side a few times, and he did actually sing every once in a while (big YEAH! to that). He also didn’t flap or screech that I can recall, which he doesn’t do a lot normally, but can when he is overstimulated…so it was a big possiblity in this situation. He also smiled and seemed to really enjoy it, which made the whole thing worth it to me.

Overall, a success. Not a fireworks exploding success, but a great step never-the-less. I was literally dripping sweat by the time the kids walked back out of the church to their Sunday School from nerves, trying to remain unobtrusive to the people behind me, and the constant juggle of trying to decide if something is distracting enough to cause further distraction by refocusing him.

On a very cool note, I was approached by one of the Sunday School people who said there was a teen daughter of somebody who works with kids of SNs professionally who asked if she could come help out in his Sunday School classes and was putting out feelers wondering if I might need a babysitter. WOOHOO! The young lady who does the kid’s music is getting her certification to work in intergrated classrooms, which, combined with the relatively small group (there are 15-20 kids ranging from Pre-K to 5th grade instead of 20-30 kids the same age as Zane) really makes it a much better experience. I am SO glad we changed to this church. Not only are the adults enjoying it so much more, both of the kids seem to be doing better too.

posted in Autistic Life, Church, Music, Zane | 3 Comments

18th August 2008

A relaxed walk back to the car

Some more amazing architecture

There was an archelogical dig of an ancient Roman site and an old Synogogue.  It was closed, but surrounded by a glass enclosure.  Too reflective to take a picture, but we stood there for a while and looked in.  As we walked away from it, we traveled down this old Roman road that had been uncovered by the archeologists.

Another pass through the Plaza around the Cathedral

This time we had time to linger in the plaza and soak in the sights a bit more.  The pictures start at the other side of the Cathedral from our first set of pictures.


Kölner Dom bells sounding…

This guy was in the middle of the plaza, at the front of the Cathedral, playng piano.  Earlier, when we were being driven around the surrounding areas we saw a similar type set up on an island in the middle of the street, but couldn’t grab the camera in time to snap a picture.

Sidewalk Chalk artists.  (notice the doggy companion in the suitcase)

Front doors

We think these are cabs, but not sure.  These little bicycle things were all over though.

Living Statues and Street performers

Random Silliness as we left the plaza.  First, a group of guys enthusiastically chanting as they crossed the plaza, second, a bunch of drunk guys chanting as they opened beer.  lol.

posted in Art, Cologne/Koln, Germany, Music, Travel | Comments Off

18th August 2008

On to Bonn, to search for Yarn

We did not discover until partway through our trip home that if you set the automatic navigation system to “short route” it is different than “fast route”. To us, shortes route is the fastest route, so we didn’t think much of it when we set it initially. What we ended up taking was truly the scenic route, weaving through the countryside and small towns. It was nice and showed us that Attendorn is a pretty typical smaller town here in Germany. We went past lots of old churches as the roads wound through the rolling countryside. We enjoyed watching small town life as we puttered through the streets. At one intersection, we saw a bridal party being chased and honked at by a line of cars. (it was cool to see they do that here too and it isn’t just an American thing to do) There were trees everywhere. My biggest impression of Germany is probably how green it is and how many trees tower over the roads and countryside.

Eventually, the architecture started changing slightly and the towns along the way became a little denser and gradually looked more and more urban, until we found ourselves driving in a large metropolitan Bonn.

One of the more unsettleing things is that the road share the same space as the trains in places. There wasn’t any choice but to follow the roadway, but dang, it made us nervous. As we got into town, the lanes of traffic split, with the rails in the middle, so you were right up next to any passing trains. The trains were really short too. I am used to freight trains, miles long at times. This is maybe two up to six cars long, painted brightly with advertisements.

Our first blip with the navigaton system came when we were in the middle of heavy traffic in downtown Bonn. The voice suddenly announced “You have reached your final destination area” with no further explanation and we were like “Where?” We are in the middle of traffic and no sign of the specific store we are looking for. We decided it might be on one of the side streets and maybe you can’t drive there. (a weird phenomena we have noticed around here. On the older, super narrow streets, they often block off all automobile traffic and you are only able to walk). We found a parking garage just before the train platform (and what appeared to be a giant outdoor escalator) and went down into that, hoping we would be able to figure out how to pay for the dang thing. lol. Faced with multiple directions we could go, pointing to, presumably, different streets above, we kept going left. We ended up finding a parking space about 5 spaces away from one of the exit doors down a level. I had to get out of the car so Zach could park because the space was so narrow that I would have not been able to get out.

We ended up next to an elevator, and when we came up to the street, we discovered we were across the street from where we went down. lol.

That was odd. It was the first time I can remember being in a group that big crossing a street. It was a wall of people and bikes pushing forward to the other side. We walked away from the train platform, trying to figure out where exactly it was that the navigation system abruptly announced we were there. As it turns out, we overshot it a few streets, but we did eventually find the street we were looking for.

Along the way, Zach was amused by the fake birds on the sign.

The shopping area itself was really amazing, although the crush of people made me know this is not a place I would ever want to come with Zane.

Zach is the one who spotted the place first. I was dazzled by all of the shops and not looking up at signs, but suddenly there it was, the meca of German Yarn: Wolle Rodel. (I don’t know how to put those little circles above letters, so pretend they are there) Oh.My.Goodness. Now THIS, my friends, is a yarn store. Whoa. The selection was dizzying. I read someplace on the internet that their in store brand is pretty good, but I ended up picking out things like Regina, and Lana and other magnificent brands. It was about half the price that I would pay for it in Kansas, and considerably more than the dozen or so various colorways I have ever seen IRL before. It was Yarn Nirvana. I had fun. They had all kinds of yarn there, but I was focused on the sock yarn because I don’t feel like spending the kind of cash I would need to if I were to make my plus sized body a sweater, but socks I can handle. lol (I will take pictures of the stash later, but they are in the car trunk at Zach’s work right now)

After the yarn, headed back to the street, we noticed Beethoven’s house and museum. We stopped there to look in the shop and at the building, but didn’t really want to spend the time going through the house, and especially not pay to do it when we had plans of going to the art museum in Cologne. (Had it been Bach, or Vivaldi, or especially Mozart, we would have spent more time there despite our other plans, but the desire to see a Monet and Rembrant IRL was overwhelming my desire to see Beethoven’s house on the inside)  I did, however, pee there. So, I can now say that I peed at Beethovens house. lol.

So, for those of you who found this blog searching for where to shop for yarn in Bonn, Germany, find Beethoven’s house and on the other side of the street, a few shops up (away from the main driving street), you will see Wolle Rodel.  On the street we drove in on, there was a big McDonalds on the corner across the street from the walkable shopping area.

We grabbed a quick snack and cup of coffee before going back to our car, with my wool sitting at my feet.  We had cheesy bread and some pastries with bavarian cream in them.  We decided that “hey, I think these are what toaster pastries are supposed to taste like”

Along the way we came across a group of American (by the accent) college age girls all giggly trying to shuffle around and take pictures of eachother. I asked if they wanted me to take a picture of them all together and they were giddy. lol. I think afterwards it might occur to them…”hey…she spoke English”, but they were so focused on what they were doing at the time I don’t think it registered.” lol

Getting out of a parking garage is sort of weird. The “out” bar area isn’t manned. On your way to retrieve your car is a vending machine type thing. You put your parking ticket in there, then start putting in Euros until you have paid it. It stamps it and spits it back out at you. Then you find your car, follow the Ausfahrt signs (our nemonoic, of sorts, to remember which is “exit” is “the Fahrts exit out the Aus”) and find your way to the street. When you get to the exit bars, you slide the stamped ticket in and the bars raise up (and you sigh in releif that you figured it out)

This is where the navigation starts getting weird and you remember why you need to bring a map, a compass, your common sense, and a sense of humor with you on the trip. Right outside the parking garage we set the navigation for Cologne/Kohn.

Since the parking garage exited out onto a side street, we had to first get back on the highway and followed the instructions of the lady in the machine as we wound around the streets. At first, all seemed well, but as it kept telling us to “turn right/left at 100 meters”, then “turn right/left NOW” and it was directing us to turn into buildings, we first thought it was because we don’t have a really good feel for what “meters” is because we think in feet and yards, not the metric system. It seemed like it had us going in circles, and then, we as we pulled up to the exit of the parking garage, we discoverd it had, indeed, directed us in a circle, we pulled over and laughed heartily and tried to reset the navigation system again. It did it again. We decided maybe it thought we were on the highway above, so we pulled farther away and reset the system again. When it tried to take us back to the parking garage, we rebeled and found our own way back to the street. At this point, the navigation system is having her own little meltdown because she thinks we are lost, lost, lost, and keeps insisting that we are “off road” and “New Route, Make a U-Turn” in a sing-songy voice. After hearing this a while, when we are clearly back on track, we decide the lady in the navigation system is autistic, and very happy Zane is not in the back seat to pick up the phrase “New Route, Make a U-Turn” in a sing-songy voice over and over again when we pass something he wants to go to. lol. Eventually we get the navigation system reset and all seems well for the trip to Cologne. It still has us taking side routes instead of the Autobahn, which confuses us, but we can see on the map and with the compass that we are going the right direction, so we live with it.

On to Cologne/Koln

posted in Autistic Life, Bonn, Food, Germany, Knitting, Music, Shopping, Travel | Comments Off

17th August 2008

The Only Saturday we are here, and What a Saturday it was!

When we walked into the hotel room at the end of the day we decided that it was the fullest and most fun day we have in our lives, with the exception of our wedding day and the birth of our children. Wow, what a day!

We got a late start, at least later than we have been waking up since we got here. We were up late talking to people online back home, and went to bed later than usual.

We left the hotel room intending to just find an ATM to get some cash, grab a roll from a bakery, and get on the road to Bonn and Cologne/Koln.

When we walked towards the bank, we discovered that Saturday is Market day. Lining the shop filled streets (no car traffic any time) were vendors of all kinds. Everything from fruits and veggies, to sausages, to flowers and plants, to garden ornaments, to clothing, to suitcases and purses. It was amazing.

When we went to the bank, we were amused to notice that one of the other people there, looking almost as confused as we were at the multiple type of atm machines (and trying to determine which one to use) was speaking in French. 

While we were struggling with figuring out the bank machines with our phrase books, a choir formed outside.  We stood and watched them for a while.  They appeared to be a high school or college singing group. Pretty good too!

We sat down for some breakfast at one of the many outdoor cafe/bakeries.  I was really excited to notice that they had a version of poppyseed rolls.  Although they resembled the flavor of my grandma’s poppyseed rolls, it feel short for me.  Still very good, excellent in fact, just not like Grandmas.  It was still pretty neat though.  Zach enjoyed his croissant with fruit filling too.

Walking back to the car still parked at the hotel, we saw a chalk drawing of a house on the side of a building.  We enjoyed seeing a display like this…reminded us of our favorite son.

 We filled the tank up and Zach showed me two quick sites on the way out of town. 

First, the jail.  I wouldn’t want to spend any time there, but a really nice looking jail, as jails go.

And, just down the road, the restaurant his coworkers took him to the first day of work

And, with that we were on the road for a day of adventure.

posted in Attendorn, Food, Germany, Music, Shopping, Travel | Comments Off

3rd July 2008

A Good Day at VBS!

As I predicted, Zane would do a lot better at VBS about the time it was going to end. lol.  He had a good day today.  He loves the singing and doing the actions to the songs, had a great time participating in a game of duck, duck, goose, fed a goat, played with some clay and generally had a good day. 

Speech therapy this afternoon was like the same old Zane again too.  The ST was prepared for another meltdown, but he was back to normal again.  A good thing.  In ST he did an experiment and participated well in the games and such.  When we went to pick up Zach, both kids chanted “DADDY!” in the back seat every time we drove past his building (I had to make loops waiting for him to appear because the loading zone was occupied by other cars). 

The only meltdown of the day was the quick diaper change after picking up dad and before going to his evening speech.  He also unbuckled his seat belt on the way there and I had to pull over to refasten it when he refused, but even though he was complaining about the seatbelt, he was mostly fine once we got there, and in a good mood again once in the ST’s room. 

We are all now home and happy.  I am glad he had a better day, but I am also very glad the week is over.  I think I am going to order the CD from the VBS program because he really seemed to like them. 

I couldn’t possible manage my regular camera during the bible school, but I did have my phone camera and would occasionally remember that it existed and take a picture.  So, here are a few pictures, although none of them are great.

Doing actions with the singing

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Waiting with the group for the game activities to begin

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Playing a game (the one I talked about yesterday)

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Watching the weavers and spinners

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posted in Autistic Life, Church, Music, The Kids, VBS | 1 Comment

1st July 2008

Randomness…Christian Kid’s songs

There are two Christian kid’s songs that just drive me batty. 

The first one, “Old Time Religion” (the Cedarmont Kid’s version that I hear a lot).  The lines that really bug me are:  “It was good for the prophet Daniel…it’s good enough for me” and “It was tried in the fiery furnace…it’s good enough for me”, “it was good for the Hebrew Children…it’s good enough for me”, and then “Paul and Silias”.  Now there are a few verses that are fine (because they are generic…good for our mothers, etc.), but all of the aforementioned verses are talking about the religion being “good enough for them, it is good enough for me”, but for all of those people, the religion is Judaism, not Christianity.   (of course, the verse about Paul can be argued, because he was following Christ, but at the time, Christianity was a Jewish Cult, not “Christianity”.) Not a problem if you are Jewish, but I see it all the time in Christian circles and it just makes me twitch in the utter stupidity of it.

The other one that bugs me is “Onward Christian Soldiers” because it seems so wrong to me to pair an institution meant for killing as many people as possible with Christianity, where Jesus calls us to LOVE our enemies, not kill them.  I know am probably not in the majority on this one, because Pacifism is generally seen as a character flaw, but it still bugs me and makes me feel a little ill when I hear the song.

posted in Church, Music | 2 Comments

24th March 2008

Easter Day and a miracle just for us.

Although the day started ENTIRELY too early,  (the kids were up before 5am…ugh) the day was really good.  We went out to my home church for the service.  It was a fun, interactive service and the kids both did well enough that we were able to stay in the pews (about 5 rows back) the whole time (until the little ones were dismissed for the sermon after the children’s story).  My dad did tech for the service (pretty normal) and my mom was in the praise choir, so she was up and down a lot as they performed. 

One rather amusing hitch was when the pastor called for the children’s story.  What he meant was children’s choir.  (the children’s story was to follow the choir) but he said “story”, so I picked up Zora to take her to the front, and sent Zane on ahead.  About the time Zane clears the pew and is headed up front, I catch the eye of my mom (standing with the praise choir up front) who is motioning me to sit down.  I was sort of confused, but went back to my spot assuming that maybe the story was too “old” for Zora.  (which was not the normal routine for children’s story, but oh well).  A moment later I realized that it wasn’t children’s story, but choir, and Zane got shuffled in with the other kids standing in the front of the church, front and center.  Zach and I both had the realization of what was happening at the same moment, but were in the middle of the pew and just sort of looked at eachother in shock and “what the heck do we do now?” look on our faces.  As my mouth stood open, in a semi panic, the choir began to sing.  Zane, instead of freaking out or melting down, started smiling the biggest smile and looking around at the kids surrounding him.  By the third verse he was (sorta) singing along.  Amazing.  Our own little Easter miracle.

We went to the farm for Easter dinner.  Grandma (mom’s mom) and Steve and Joy joined us.  It was a fun afternoon.  The kids got another basket filled with goodies from Grandma & Grandpa, and played on the farm until they were so worn out they fell asleep in their tracks.  At that point, we scooped them up and took them home.  A very nice day.

The photos and 3 videos

  (I didn’t start taking pictures until after changing them out of their Easter clothes, so I will need to dress them up again to get some pictures of their Easter cuteness)

As the grownups finish eating, the kids find their way to the piano.  (next to the dining table)

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And a video of them playing: 



The highlight of the day for Zane…Grandpa showing him how to work the backhoe.

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A video of him taking the controls: 



Zora spending time with Grandma while Grandpa and Zane are going for a walk.

The cat (Barnum, our old cat) was curled up in the planter and Zora kept bringing things to her.  (the white planter was the only thing there before Zora started moving things)

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A video of Zora discovering the eggs have treats in them: 


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Grandpa & Zane return, Zora shoots out to meet them.

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Zora snags Zane’s basket when he sets it down.

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Zora shows me that she can drive too.  (the truck was not running, btw)

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The kids help Grandma put birdseed into the feeders.

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Hope your Easter was as joyful as ours!


posted in At the Farm, Autistic Life, Church, Easter, Extended Family, Music, The Kids | Comments Off

14th December 2007

Driving Soundtrack

Tonight, while driving home from Target in the snow, we had the radio tuned to listen to Christmas music.  As we pull into the last leg of the journey and feel the car sliding just a little bit, the song “Ava Maria” comes on.  After a bit, we both get quiet, listening.  After a moment, Zach chuckled and said just what I was thinking…that this is not a good song to come on when you are driving in bad weather because it all of a sudden feels like the soundtrack to a very, very bad crash.  lol.  A beautiful song in every other context, but both of us got nervous wondering where the semi truck/train/out of control large vehicle/tree was going to come out of.  lol.

posted in Music | 2 Comments

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 22 years, 5 months, and 2 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 18 years, 5 months, and 6 days old
  • Random Quote

  • Jesus didn’t send his disciples out as “Christian soldiers marching as to war.” He sent them out as peacemakers, who would form circles of friendship and thereby enable people to connect with one another. That is still the primary Christian mission: better living through better circles of sharing. — Tom Ehrich

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