Monday, July 25, 2011

more goodbyes

The Crandalls have been part of our lives for the past few years here in Germany.  We've loved their family dearly.  Simon and Noah seem to share the same brain AND they even look alike (except the eye color).  Sarah and Leah have recently discovered that they two are completely on the same page when it comes to music, games, movies, snacks, and life!  We're so, so sad to see them go.......
We took these pictures on their last day in Germany when the kids came over to hang out for a few hours.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

goodbye friends

This spring/summer was full of goodbyes, including our Pastor and his lovely family.  These pictures are from the goodbye dinner for the family that our church put on.  Sarah with the three girls that she has babysat their whole lives. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Irish Dance Camp Week

the kids look on as the beginners show their stuff
One of the highlights of summer is always the Irish Dance camp week for Sarah and all her dancing friends.  This year was especially fun since one of Sarah's friends from the Munich school, Amy, came to stay with her for the week.  The girls had a great time helping teach as well as learning new steps and improving old ones as well as hanging out with movies, dinners, sleepovers, and shopping.  Sarah worked hard while trying to really soak up the fun, too since it's her last camp with these wonderful teachers. At the end of the week there is a party on Friday for all the teachers, dancers, family and friends.  The kids show off what they've been working on, the teachers give away prizes and gifts, all the families bring food and we dance the night away.  All these pictures are from the Friday night party held in the dealership that Mary's husband owns.

Sarah's group lines up for a dance
Mary presents all her assistants with a thank-you gift

Sarah with her beloved teacher, Mary, and with the other teachers who traveled to the KMC for the camp, Shane and Paula.
Sarah with her friends and the a group of all the dancers that we could find.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter 7.2 Movie Release Party

Love him, hate him, or claim indifference, no doubt you've heard of him.  He's this generation's "Star Wars", but because of the controversy he insights and the world wide web / social media, Harry Potter exists on a much grander stage. Yet, at the heart of it all, without the fandom and aside from the scale of its popularity is the REASON Harry didn't go anywhere and probably won't for a long, long time.  Seven excellently crafted novels with a story line that spans generations and has woven itself forever into our hearts and minds.  When is the last time you've heard of people sleeping outside for a BOOK RELEASE!?!?  In my day I did that for Guns N' Roses, but was never excited enough about a book.  Everyone has an opinion on the boy who lived and so to those opposed I will just have to say skip this blog post as agree to disagree with me. 

The sign on the door greeting the guests as they arrived. (created by Sara G.)

The release of the final movie in the series was anticipated with mixed emotions in our house.  As much as we were looking foreword to seeing our favorite characters come to life on screen in some of their most thrilling moments of the series we were also dreading the end, which made us look back.  Our family's Harry Potter story doesn't really begin until 2002, about 5 years after the first book was published.  Before 2002 there was the controversy, and we heard it - tended to side with people from our church who were against these "horrible" novels without really knowing anything about them or researching for ourselves.  The narrow-minded reason being that our kids were still too young to be reading novels anyway, so it didn't really apply to us and was just easier to parrot beliefs than forming our own opinion.  Now, BACK to 2002 when Sarah was attending 4th grade on Whiteman AFB and Rob was about to leave on his first deployment to Kuwait.  At school most of Sarah's friends were reading the Harry Potter series and highly anticipating the release of the movie based on the 4th book and the release of the 5th book.  Still only forming our opinions based off of other pious attitudes we had not allowed Sarah to read the books, but she didn't seem to care at all and really had little to no interest in reading much of anything.  One day she came home and with a much smarter argument than I'd have thought possible for a 9-year old explained to me why she wanted to read the 1st Harry Potter book.  At this point I realized that I knew NOTHING about the books for myself and began my own inquiries.  After sharing all that I'd discovered with Rob we said that we would let Sarah read the 1st book ONLY after Mom had read it first.... about 10 days later I'd read the 4 released novels and was anxiously counting down the days with the rest of the world to the release of the 5th book.....
    ...... needless though it is to say: the rest, as they put it, is history.  Sarah and I were fans for life and got to share in the excitement of midnight book releases for the 6th and 7th books and opening night in the theaters for 4 of the movies. For Sarah it also spurned a love for reading, especially fantasy fiction, that lives on to this day.  She devours the written word and has a passion for writing that she will tell you was borne after the first chapter of Philosopher's Stone.   As her little brothers grew we got to bring them along for the ride.  Noah started reading the books shortly after the 7th book came out and Micah shortly before the 6th movie came out.  The boys were allowed to see the first 3 movies before reading the books, but after that had to wait until they'd first read the books - which explains why they're a little younger than Sarah was when they started.  We even MADE Rob (who is not a fan of reading) finish all 7 novels before he could see the movies as well and it has been fun for him to share in this excitement and anticipation with us.  Thank you JK Rowling.  You've gained 5 life-long fans and taught us more than you will ever know. 
Along our journey we've met many other family's who share our love and like to "play" with us.  3 of these families came together with us to celebrate (and mourn) the FINAL release of a Harry Potter movie.  We got advance tickets one of the first showings in Europe and planned a whole party to go along with it.  The parents and kids all made costumes, decorations, and planned games, crafts, activities and WONDERFUL food based on the novels and movies.(Sarah M. made the banners you see in the picture above)
These 2 cut-outs were made by Sarah M. and Libby G.  All the kids had their pictures taken in them, but I used Micah and Noah as my examples because they are both dressed up as the characters who belong in the signs.
We played "guess your patronous", potted mandrakes, and made sorting hats.  A couple of the other crafts had to be scrapped because of a shipping snafu with Oriental Trading Co. and a few of the games has to be canceled because of the cold, wet weather outside.  The kids still had a great time and we ended up watching the first part of the seventh movie all together.
The food in the Three-broomsticks (sign by Leah C.) was AMAZING.  We had an official Hogwarts pastry, bangers and mash, Bertie Bott's every-flavoured-beans, rock cakes, chocolate frogs, licorice wands, cockroach cluters, roast turkey (all pictured) and butter beer, gilly water, pumpkin juice, fever fudge, and..... I know I'm missing something..... I'll fill it in when I think of it.

Above - (Gabe, Harry 2nd yr. - Libby, Pansy Parkinson - Ben, Ron Weasley - Alexandra, Hermoine - Micah, Harry 1st year - Simon, Ravenclaw boy - Noah, Sirius Black 3rd year - Leah, Luna Lovegood - Sara, Fleur DelaCour - Baylor, Gilderoy Lockheart - Clara - Hogwarts student)

(Julie, Madame Hooch - Karen, Prof. Trelawney - Krissie, Mrs. Weasley - Bob, Mr. Weasley - Bobbie, Bellatrix LeStrange)
Dressing up was an amazing part of the festivities.  I'm so proud of all the kids and moms who made their own costumes!  Even though most of the adults were great sports and dressed up I'd have to say my favorite was Bobbie.  
FINALLY, it was time to head to the theater to catch the movie.  Sarah and her friend, Amy (who is staying with us this week from Munich) have had dance camp all day every day this week and so weren't able to join us for the party, but did get to come to the theater.  Sarah is dressed as Susan Bones and Amy is random gryffendor girl.  I won't write a review of the movie here (isn't this blog post long enough already?) but it's gooooooooooood.  It was made better by the huge group of us gathered, in costume,  among a sold-out theater full of other just-as-excited fans.  Before and after the movie several people stopped to beg a picture with all the kids in their costumes.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime night and we were thrilled to be a part of it!  A fantastic way to celebrate such a bittersweet moment.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gartenschau Gig

Sarah and her dance school had a gig at the gartenschau in Ktown (which frequent readers of my blog will reconize as "the dinosaur park" - 
You can NOT take pictures of the girls when they're competing at a feis, and usually gig conditions do not allow for very good action pictures with my limited skills... however... the open-air stage, slippery stage (so the dancers were dancing a little more carefully = read: slowly), and extremely overcast conditions let me grab quite a few great shots of the kids dancing... yeah!
Sarah and Hannah pose in between dances.
Their teacher, Mary, takes the stage during the encore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Camp Alpine - Kanderstag, Switzerland

Noah spent July 3rd - 9th in Kanderstag Switzerland for his Camp Alpine Boy Scout week.  I'm hoping to get some better pictures from some of the other adults who went since most of the pictures on Noah's camera did not turn out, or their of strange, random things.  Like eyes.  Or unrecognizable objects.  Which have nothing to do with Scouting.  Or Switzerland.  Or anything for that matter.... BUT if I ever get a hold of better pictures THIS is the post reserved for them!
all packed up and ready to leave Ramstein

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July

We spent the afternoon with our church family at our friend's, the Browns, house.  They have a large backyard and live within walking distance of a lake that you can swim in which is attached to a cool playground for the kids.  Jennifer arranged some really fun games for the kids and we had a blast playing, grilling, eating, and hanging out until late that evening.  Noah is missing because he left for Switzerland on Sunday morning.
Most of the kids that were there
Rob manning the grill
Gabe had a star wars costume that Micah got to try on... because what storm trooper wouldn't want a little relaxing time on the swing?
Sarah spent the better part of her time at the picnic helping a young mom with 4 very small children (including a newborn) whose husband is deployed.  She traded off responsibilities with several of the teens from our church and all the kids had a GREAT time and the Mom was able to sit, socialize, and relax on her holiday.
Micah and Gabe competing in the 3-legged race
Eating a doughnut tied to a string hung from a tree with your hands behind your back game (or how can you fit 42 prepositional phrases in one sentence?)
Krissie posing with the lovely hostess and game organizer, Jenn.  We were under her patio canopy (which is orange) and so we look a little strangely colored in this picture!