Cooler weather and Lantern Festivals

Eva likes this cooler weather and an excuse to wear her gloves!
Indoor play means more playing with pillows and blankets.
We still make it to the parks when we can.
These are my favorite two pictures from attempting new passport photos for both kids.
And November means St. Martin's Day and Lantern Festivals!
Waiting to see the puppet show about St. Martin, performed by the Kindergarten teachers.
Preparing for the Lantern Festival march around the neighborhood
Time for punch!
All the rest of my photos from the festivals didn't turn out.  It was simply too dark, and Nathanael and his friends were a little wild. :)

So thankful for this birthday girl

My mom has a birthday today.

This is the woman who taught me about sacrificial love, servanthood, patience, and prayer, to name just a few.

In her two and a half weeks with us this month, she and Nathanael read six chapter books!  I'm not sure which one of them loved it more. ;)
She indulged Eva and baked in the kitchen with her regularly!
She bravely assisted Nathanael in painting his wooden car.
And she attended both children's Lantern Festivals for St. Martin's Day, even though the language and culture were unfamiliar.

Thanks for sharing life with us, Mom/Grandma!  We love you and celebrate you today!


The Task of Healing

It's been over a month since my last post.  We've had an unexpected last few weeks, beginning with a Sunday morning trip to the emergency room for me.  We were so grateful for two friends who dropped everything that morning and afternoon and took shifts caring for our kids.  I was experiencing severe pain and was quite nervous about what may be wrong.  It turned out to (just?) be a herniated disc in my lower back, not due to a specific injury but the culmination of genetic (hyper-mobility) and occupational (motherhood) issues.  Apparently, it was inevitable for me.

What has this meant for us?  Until I heal, it means drastic life change.  I can not pick up Eva.  I can't play on the ground with the kids for more than a couple minutes.  Sitting for longer than a few minutes is uncomfortable and means pain later.  Walking more than 10-15 minutes is difficult.  The bending and lifting that goes with normal life tasks (grocery shopping, using the dishwasher, making a bed, etc.) is not advisable.  As you can imagine, Gregory dropped everything for nine days to care for the kids and me until my mother could arrive to help.  The two of them have made an amazing team, and I have been able to rest and recover well thus far.


I admit that I am a bit nervous about how I'll do while my mom is gone for two weeks.  (She and my dad return in early December for a couple weeks here, a trip they'd planned months ago!)  I am sure it will be a humbling and stretching couple weeks; I wonder what the Lord has in store for us.


Autumn and Illness

Autumn has come and today seems ready to give in to Winter.  Brrrrr!  In the midst of lots and lots of not-so-fun illness, we've managed a bit of fun.

We collected a huge bag of walnuts at one of our favorite parks.
Sadly, most were not so tasty. :(
Nathanael and I visited his grade school's Open House a week ago.
He was a bit nervous at first, but by the time we were ready to leave, he walked into one of the classrooms and shook the teacher's hand.  I was shocked and celebrated the victory!
Do you see a trend with Nathanael's "picture face"?
A colleague heard about our family's illness and brought over blue jello!  How sweet!  Nathanael LOVED it!
Feeling better (for one week) and off to school in winter gear!
Finally, another "sick" weekend, but at least he's sporting a cool hoody.
Eva is not so sure about all this illness!  What are we going to do, Mom?!


Time for another train date

Nathanael and I had so much fun on our accidental train date to the Czech Republic in June that we decided to have an intentional afternoon train date.  We rode four trains to various parts of the city and stopped for snacks as well.

Time for cute kid pictures

This blog has become a strange mixture of family photos, spiritual musings, and stories from our life in Vienna.  Given the last four posts, I think it's time for some light-hearted kid photos.  My only problem is narrowing down which ones to include.  I haven't posted photos of my littles since mid August before we went on vacation!
Fun with friends from Kindergarten
We switched Eva to her "big girl" bed after vacation, and that meant putting the bunk beds together!
Nathanael showing off his tattoo
Snack time in the park!
Nathanael began receiving an allowance, and he was so proud of his first two purchases.
While I was doing dishes one evening, I stopped and caught this treasure of a photo.  Dad is the best.  He helps diaper Eva's doll while spelling words for Nathanael to write.  I love these three!
Our family loves Autumn in Vienna.  We especially love evening walks as a family.  They've taken on different moods along with the different ages of our kids.  It seems Eva has entered a new stage now of being okay riding in the stroller (as long as we stop at a park once along the way), and since Nathanael just walks everywhere, it is working well right now!
We often walk to the Wienerberg, or as we named it when we first moved here, the "Far away park."
This girl LOVES to slide!

Headed to Holland

Our last family was a large group of seven:  Young parents, Ahmet and Riva, with a five-month-old son, Hamudi, and two-year-old daughter, Canan.  The mom's sister, Rama.  The dad's brother and his pregnant wife, Samer and Omay.
From what we could piece together in their broken Turkish, two of them had been in Istanbul for quite some time, very likely working to save money for the trip to Europe, and all of them had been traveling from Turkey for about a month.  They were incredibly grateful for showers and beds and blankets, for privacy.  For undergarments and socks.  For lotion and soap and deodorant and razors.  Of course, for food as well.

The three ladies and I sat around the table late at night sharing social media profiles, smiling at photos, and just connecting as women.  When Gregory went to bed, they took off their scarves and relaxed.  One of the women showed me a picture of her in Syria and pointed out her nice long coat in the photo; I think she was a bit embarrassed about the shorter coat she was wearing out of necessity (a donation from the train station).

I spent about an hour with them back at the train station the next morning, helping them get medical care for the little ones.  Once again, the clinic was impressive.  I was thankful.
I got to stay with little Hamudi while his sister and parents were in the clinic.
They were all headed to Holland, they thought.  From what I can see on Facebook, I think they may still be in Germany.  I can't help but wonder how their story has continued to unfold.  And I wonder if they have continued reading the books we gave them...  They are in our thoughts and prayers.