Christmas 2007 Newletter

Friday, December 14, 2007

Here is the Christmas newsletter that I composed for 2007.Merry Christmas everyone! As 2007 draws to an end, we thought that we would have a look at what happened to the Heron family this past year.

We were very happy that Grandpa and Aunt Betty paid us a visit in April/May. We were glad to be able to spend some quality time them in addition to show them our home and the “new” neighborhood. Darryl went with them to Scotland and Paris. Aside from wanting to see Scotland, Darryl has wanted to go to Paris for many years, so he was pretty excited about both trips. They were here to witness our new stone patio being put in. Darryl’s father had a heart attack in October and ended up having a double by-pass. He has since returned home and appears to be doing well. Darryl was able to fly back to Michigan to be there for the surgery, so he did get to see his sisters and their kids briefly as well. On a sadder note, Darryl’s Aunt Helen passed away last summer.

Our family did some smaller trips this year. We went to Zurich to celebrate the first communion of Felix (Christine’s godson) and visited Europa Park on the way back. Anna was really excited about the rides and Sarah was a little more apprehensive. They both look forward to going back next year when they should be able to do even more rides. We visited Ute and her family in Holland as well as visiting former neighbours of ours from when we stayed in Belgium. The girls really enjoyed both of those trips.

The girls have adjusted well to their kindergarten and have made some friends in our neighbourhood. Both girls are attending a local dance class and are currently working on a Smurf dance to be performed as part of the Carnival celebrations next year. They’ll be angels in a nativity play performed by their Sunday school group at the Christmas Eve service. They just recently joined a church choir. Anna is looking forward to starting first grade next year. Sarah is still very much into princesses. Anna started wearing glasses a few months ago and likes them a lot (some what of a fashion statement I think). She also recently got here ears pierced. And for those you who were wondering, Anna’s new pink diamond ear rings go well with her glasses!

Christine started teaching again last year and it continues to go well. She decided to participate in post graduate program on Teaching German as a Second language, so every six weeks she spends a Saturday in seminar. In addition there is an online component to the class, complete with a forum. Christine should be finishing it up early next year.

In January, Darryl found out that he has type 2 diabetes, so while he doesn’t take insulin injections, he does take medicine and has to watch what he eats. He has been busy with the family blog. He regularly updates it and posts pictures to Flickr and videos to YouTube. He also started up a productivity blog and is trying to make a go of it at the moment.

We’re looking forward to 2008 and hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season and a great new year.

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One Year of Blogging

Thursday, December 6, 2007

November 27th, 2007 marked one year that I have been blogging. My first blog post was about getting our first house. Most of my earlier posts have been pictures with some description sprinkled in. Later I started to put more emphasis on writing. Earlier on I saw my blogging as a good chance to show some pictures of the girls. As time has gone on I saw more of an opportunity to really write about things in my posts. When I look over the past year, my blogging has really evolved.

In September I started Systems-Overload, my newest blogging effort. I decided that a lot of the things that I wanted to write about didn’t really fit into the dcheronfamily blog, that it would be too much of a stretch to put these post there. I decided that I wanted to post more about productivity, organizing, and some other topics more removed from our family. The new blog is a more serious attempt at blogging than the dcheronfamily blog has been.

Why do I like blogging? I’m sure that question has been asked by a lot of bloggers (if not openly, at least there has been some thought given to the topic). One of the dreams that I had as a child was to be a writer. There have been several periods in my life where I have kept a journal solely to write. I wrote several short stories and like many others I have wanted to write the “Great American Novel” (who knows maybe one day?). For me blogging is a natural extension to my writing. It provides a lot of opportunities that conventional writing just doesn’t offer. In traditional writing, if you’re published, someone can pick up your work many years after you have passed on, and maybe there will be a connection to what felt or thought when you wrote it or to your message or they can even spin the ideas into a whole different direction. While traditional writing does still exist, Blogging seems to be a natural evolution. You can create a post and due to the magic of RSS, search engines, and various other things that would probably have seen totally foreign to Jules Vern, the post can be read immediately by anyone on the internet. Unlike newspapers and magazines that have a short shelf life, your posts can be found on Google months after you wrote them. Ideas that you write about in your posts can be taken in totally different directions by people that you have never met (and maybe never will) in other posts. It also gives you the chance to let your feelings and opinions be known that didn’t really exist before. It has brought a common man element to writing that hasn’t really existed before. You can also write about what you want to write about. If you want to write about the color, shapes, and sized of your button collection, you can.

With my new blog I have wanted to be more of a professional blogger (or at least a more serious one), this has been a lot of work that most people don’t see, not would they understand the effort put into it. As I’m not a trained web designer, coder, marketer, and so on, these are all things that I have had to tackle (and in many cases am still tackling) by myself. This has taken a lot of time that isn’t always visible to the average reader when they see a post. I have always liked learning new things, so it is interesting to learn about all the things that you need to run a successful blog (or one that I hope to make successful). When you create a post, you do want an audience, that it to say, that you do want someone to read what you wrote. How do you find an audience for your posts has become a challenge of many bloggers, one that has led many to market their blogs.

As I embark on my second year of blogging, I look forward to what life will bring. I look forward to what I will learn. I hope that I will be able to interact with my audience more and am able to continue to grow. I hope that you will give me comments on what you liked and what you didn’t and how you think that I can improve my writing. If like what you read be sure to let others know about it. Please come with me on my journey.

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St. Martin's Day

Monday, November 12, 2007

Friday, November 9th, was the St. Martin's Day celebration at the girls kindergarten. St. Martin's Day is officially recognized as the eleventh of November. At 11:11 am on the eleventh of November is the kick off of Karival season in Germany (and other parts to the world as well).

St. Martin was a Roman solder who later became a monk and it is his good deed of sharing his coat with a begger during a snow storm that is most known. Many kindergartens and pre-schools celebrate the day (often on other days, so that parents can attend more than one!) by creating decorative latterns and parading around singing songs about St. Martin. There is often a bon fire, with various food and drink sold available that warms the body on this cold time of of year. The fire department built and oversaw the bonfire, but because of concern about it being too rainy for the little kids, the singing of songs was done in the kindergarten this year. The kindergarten taught the kids some new songs, so they didn't sing the couple of songs that I remember from the past. I have posted some videos on YouTube.

Carnival (Karneval) season kicks off on November eleventh at 11:11 am. Karneval (the Rheinland area of Germany), Fastnacht (around Mainz) , or Fasching (around Munich and Austria) are all differnt names given to it within the German speaking areas of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The season is a celebration before the quiet period of lent, prior to Easter. The high light of the season is Rosenmontag, which is usually occuring the 42nd day before Easter. Although many German cities have their own parades and celebrations, the most famous are held in Mainz, Colonge, and Dusseldorf. Venice, Italy has a well known costume ball, but many of the German cities have their own costumed gatherings (especially for the kids). We've taken our kids to several parades and activites related to Carnival. The kids really enjoy being able to dress up.

Here are a few links where you can learn more about St. Martin and Karneval...

Anna is outside in two of the pictures while the other two pictures are of new dresses that we recently bought for the girls.

I recently did a post on the other blog on the Thanksgiving Review.

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Halloween 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

We celebrated Halloween last week. This is the fourth time that we have taken the girls trick or treating. It still amazes me to see the kids dress up and that houses have candy to hand out. The surprising thing about this is that while I believe the holiday started in Ireland and came over to the U.S., where they kind of made it their own. Halloween is a huge holiday in the U.S., while the candy and stuff produced for this holiday is not a much a Christmas, I'm sure it has to be up there with some of the other holidays. I don't believe that kids have been trick or treating on Halloween for that many years, but it does seem to grow every year. The first few years that we did this we made a point of only stopping at the houses that were decorated. This year we went to all the houses in our little neighborhood, and most everyone handed out candy! Since it was rather cold and the housed outside of our immediate neighborhood, didn't seem to be into it as much, we didn't get too far away.

I showed the girls "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" a couple of times to get them in the spirit of Halloween. Anna designed a pumpkin that had chicken pox, a unique idea I thought. I now realize that I didn't take any pictures of it. Christine found a nice recipe for making pumpkin seeds and they turned out rather tastey. Here are a few pictures that I took of the girls. Anna was a Snow Queen, while Sarah was a unicorn. I posted several photos on Flickr account, I have created a folder for them here.

Darryl's Dad...
Darryl's dad returned home from the hospital on October 22nd after having a double heart by-pass surgery. They originally wanted to do a quadrupple but two the artaries weren't wide enough to do them, the doctor had said that they might not have taken and might have done more damage than they would have done good. He has an irregular heart beat, which apparently happens to 25% of the people having by-passes, of those, 75% tend to correct themselves within a couple of months. They have put him on a blood thinner and are monitoring his progress. I wrote a post about signs of heart attacks and what to do at my other blog, you can find the post here. I recommend that you read the post and prepare for the possiblity of a friend, loved one, worker, and so on having one, as it is critical to act quickly in such an event.

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Things Kids Say

Friday, October 12, 2007

Last week Anna and Sarah recieved a package with a couple of letters written to them by their Aunt Heather. They were both so exicted about getting the letters that they both went on a spree of wanting to write letters. Many of us are familar with the expression that kids say the darnedist things, so I thought that I would include some of what the girls dicated to me.

Sarah told me in her letters that "I want to water the plants with you. I want to make a toy for your cats with you. I want to draw you a pumpkin. I want to fluff up the pillows on the sofa with you. I want to pick some flowers with you."

Anna told me in her letters that "I want to eat with you again. I want to help you in your garden. I want to learn to tell time with you. I want to make tea with you. I want to make tortellini with you. I want to sing with you. I still remember “You Are My Sunshine”. I want to draw a cow with you. I want to eat a tomato with you. I want to eat cereal with you. I want you to read me a story. I want to make an arts and crafts eagle with you."

We recently went to the Netherlands and Belgium on a long weekend. We visited Ute and her family in South Holland. Axel is currently assigned in that area (not too far from Maastricht). We visited former neighbors from when I was working in the Netherlands. We also visited a former colleague from when I worked in the Netherlands as well. The girls really enjoyed themselves and had fun playing with all the kids. It was interesting see the girls playing and interacting with kids that don't speak German or English. You sometime hear that children playing is an international language understood by all kids, it was interesting to see this in action.

Here a couple of pictures of the girls dressed as what else (princesses)! In was a nice mini-vacation and nice to see some friends that we don't see so often. I started a blog about productivity, organization, and other topic called Systems-Overload, feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.

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In Honor of German Reunification

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

This October 3, 2007 marks 17 years since the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) were reunited. This is a public holiday throughout Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is certainly one of a chain of events that set history on course for the German Reunification. With all the crazy things going on in the world, I think that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Reunification of Germany are two events that we can all marvel in. They both show that anything is possible. In man's short time on Earth and in many people's memory, World War II and the Cold War happened only yesterday, making all of this that much more incredible.

In his June 26, 1963 speech delivered in West Berlin shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall, John Kennedy said, "Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'...All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'" While I wasn't alive then, I have heard the "Ich bin ein Berliner!" many times and I know that it is probably one of his most famous quotes along with the "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country" from his Inaugural speech in January 1961. Ronald Regan also delivered his famous "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" in his famous Brandenburg Gate speech of 1987 words that seemed to foreshadow the fall of the Wall.

The Cold War Era is full of stories of families separated by the division of Germany and of the people that tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to escape from East Germany to West Germany, some even died in their attempts. For people living in Germany, many can tell stories family members their efforts to escape to West Germany. While Checkpoint Charley (the name given to crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War by the Western Allies) has been portrayed in many books and movies, this doesn't convey the feeling of knowing that you have loved ones trapped in East Germany and you don't know if you'll ever be able to see them again or not. Conversely, you don't feel the desperation of the people living in East Germany not knowing if and when they will see their loved ones again. For those people living in Germany today, you don't need to go far to hear of extraordinary stories of escape attempts, as many have family and friends that made the attempt(s).

Regardless of if you are a fan of Angela Merkel or not, you have to marvel at the fact that she was raised in former East Germany and is the leader of one of the world's most powerful nations, this is something that many people would have never thought possible even twenty years ago! Some of our world's best fiction writers would be hard pressed to come up with something of that magnitude.

As you might imagine, reuniting East and West Germany has taken a great deal of effort. A lot of taxes have been spent (and continue to be spent) on building up cities and infrastructure in the former East Germany (a point that isn't lost on a lot of people in the former West Germany). In a sense Germany is a giant laboratory for how things might happen in reuniting a separated nation, since this hasn't happened on this scale in recent times. Much of the politics in Germany is a result of incorporating the former East Germany back in.

I've posted a map of the divided Berlin and Germany divided between the Allies after World War II, and a picture of a sign appearing at Checkpoint Charley, all can be found the Wikipedia entries on the Berlin Wall (mentioned earlier in this post as well).

I didn't get to experience life in the two German nations of the Cold War era first hand, but I have lived for over six years in the Germany that exists today. Often times in living our daily lives it is easy to forget that it wasn't that long ago that Germany was divided. I see the German Reunification as something that the free world should celebrate. It gives up hope that we can close some of the sadder chapters in history of mankind.

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Germany Wins the Women's World Cup

On Sunday the German women's team beat Brazil in China to win the FIFA 2007 Women's World Cup. The German team won the title in 2003 as well. The German team is the first to go through a major competition without giving up a single goal, this hasn't been done by any of the World Cup men's team, quite an accomplishment! They have not given up a goal in 619 minutes of World Cup play, the last goal scored against them was in the finals against Sweden in 2003. Germany is currently bidding to host the 2011 games. The are top four finishers are Brazil in second, the U.S. in third, and Norway in forth.

Last year Italy won the FIFA 2006 Men's World Cup hosted by Germany. The final was one of the most watched events in sporting history. It was fun to be in living in the country hosting the World Cup last year. While women's soccer isn't as popular as men's soccer, and the names of star players aren't as recognizable as Ronaldinho and David Beckham, there were an estimated 20,000 plus people to greet the team at their arrival in Frankfurt, Germany on October 1st. I wonder how much exposure the 2007 Women's World Cup and this German team will bring to the women's sport and how many girls will influenced to play soccer as a result or will be inspired in other areas to excel.

Here is a story on the history of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Here is another account of the game from yahoo sports. The picture is on Anna painted up in honor of the 2006 World Cup hosted in Germany. Let's hear it for the 2007 German women's team.

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Teddy Bear Hospital and Frankfurt Auto Show

Monday, September 24, 2007

Teddy Bear Hospital

Sunday we were at a street festival in Trebur. We ran into several people that we knew and hadn't seen in a while. We met up with our former neighbors, Ruth and Dianna at the center stage. The Red Cross had a Teddy Bear Hospital. There was an admission desk, where the kids were asked what was wrong with their stuffed animal. Sarah's little squeak dog (which we had just bought from one of the stands there) had chicken pox. Anna borrowed what looked like a hamster (we forgot to bring stuffed animals)
and it had a broken leg. Sarah's animal had an EKG done, while Anna's hamster went right to x-ray. Then Anna took the hamster to get bandaged. Of course all the animals had to go to the pharmacy for prescriptions (m&ms, naturally). At the end they took a picture of every kid with their patient. It was pretty neat.

The Frankfurt Autoshow

I went to the Frankfurt Autoshow, commonly know as IAA, on Friday. Before moving to Germany I had attended several autoshows in Detroit with my friend Kurt. This was the second time that I went to the IAA. I went with the Alex, father of one of the girls that my daughters to to kindergarten with. We took the train from a nearby village into Frankfurt. One of the first things that we did was to do an off-road test drive. I wanted to go in the Hummer but the line was pretty long so we ended up riding in a Hunydai Tuscon. It was interesting going up and down the dirt hills at grades and angles most of us wouldn't normally attempt.

I have loaded all my pictures at my Photobucket account and have included a couple of them here including the 2009 Chevy Camaro Concept and an old Chrysler 300. On the smaller side there were the Chevy Beat, Groove, and Trax concepts. There was a Hummer all decked out for rescue. Citroen had its Cactus Concept. Mercedes had a very elaborate display, with a light show and you could tell that they spent some money on it. Some of the more popular exhibits were harder to get to (i.e. Ferrari) but I did have a good time. It is too bad that the IAA is only every other year.

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Anna's New Glasses

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last week Anna received her new glasses. We found out a few weeks ago that she needed glasses and she got to pick them out. Since Christine and I both wear glasses, it guess it isn't too surprising that she needed glasses. The doctor said that it could be that she wears them for a few months and then might now need them any longer. Anna was excited about getting glasses and said that she wanted to have glasses, even if she didn't really need them.

I took the girls to a police open house in a nearby village last Sunday. Since the girls had spent the previous night at with Oma, I picked them up from Oma's house and we arrive about 30 minutes before it was to close. Unfortunately, they had started to tear down most of the things that were set up. I did manage to get a couple of pictures of her on a police motorcycle.

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September Eleventh 6 Years Later

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Here it is upon us, September Eleventh, six years later. While most of us have certainly heard and seen a lot about this day, it is a day that has and will forever changed the world. There have certainly been some other significant disasters and tragedies since the big events of that day Huricane Katrina the Tsuanami of 2004 come to mind, however the events of that fateful day continue to effect us. This was one of those days that the world was united, we could all feel the sadness and the outrage at the loss of human life. For a while we were all connected. So many of us were in disbelief that something so awful could be done by men to men. I have to think about the families that lost a loved one to the events ot this day. I feel a special connection to those families and to this day, because as the second plane hit the World Trade Center, miles and miles away, my mother passed away, losing a battle to cancer. Because this date is mentioned so often, I think of her often.

To the families that lost loved ones because of the events of this day, I just want to say that my heart goes out to you all. Thinking about the young children that lost one of their parents and will never get a chance to know them really makes you sad. The victims on this day were firefighters, policemen, flight crews, passengers on the planes, people working in and visitors to the World Trade Center, and any other group that I might have forgoten. People that work in high risk jobs such as firefighters and policemen kind of know that something could happen to them everytime that they go to work, certainly none of those firefighers and policemen had any idea that they were getting into this! For the people on the planes as well as those working and visiting the World Trade Center, they had no idea of what was about to come. Everyone of these people had a story, who they were and why they were where they were at the moment. Here is a guide to website tributes, this is not by any means an all inclusive list, but there are some tributes by families of the vicitms as well as those that felt compelled to comment with some ssort of tribute. The Writers Voice is another site of tributes. Wikipedia created a memorial wiki it is now read-only. Project 2996 was set up in honor of the fifth anniversary in 2005, the idea was that people could select one of the victims, do some research on them, and write about them. Here is a statistical look at Septmember 11th by numbers. From the New York Times comes this demographic info of WTC. Here are various victims lists from CNN. From the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui at Wikipedia comes this image of the victims photos put together. Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization of the victims' families, I must warn you that they are political, so keep this in mind if you check this site out.

A lot is written about firefighers, policemen, and the kinship that these two groups have. What boy doesn't pretend and dream about being a firefighter or policemen at some point in their childhood? Watching to work that these groups of people did, you couldn't help but be proud of them, they both brought a lot of respect and admiration to their professions. Here is the Wikipedia entry on FDNY. Here is the Official FDNY website. FDNY Firezone is an unoffical firefighter website as well as this unofficial FDNY tribute. FDNY Tribute is a nice slideshow with commentary (note I could only get this to work with Internet Explorer). The Bravest sells various merchandise from the FDNY. NY NJ Port Authority Police Deparment and Remembering the Heros are two sites dedicated remembering the policmen that have died.

I'm sure that many of you have wanted to known what happened on this day. Here is the 911 FAQ, it answers some questions and provides some interesting links. The 9-11 commision report is the "official account". From Wikipedia, here are some consipiracy theories of September 11th, these are certainly not all of them and you find a lot of sites dedicated to these theories if you look around. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the September 11, 2001 Attacks. Here is the BBC site on September 11th. This is from National Geographic, This is from PBS. From the New York Times here is a graphic on WTC structure (I needed to use Internet Explorer for this to work). Here is an animation showing the flight path taken by the two planes hitting the Twin Towers. This animation shows the flight path of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. The Washington Post has provided this info on the Pentagon attack.

There has certainly been a lot of discussion about rebuilding. Here is an interesting site about rebuilding from the New York Times (I needed Internet Explorer for it to work). From the New York times, this site provides virtual tours for different proposals (I needed Internet Explorer for it to work). Also from the New York Times, this site provides plans for improving downtown transporation (I needed Internet Explorer for it to work). From the Washington Post, here is some information about rebuilding the Petagon.

Here are some other sites about September 11th that I have gathered...
Ground Zero Memoirs
CNN tribute
September 11th victims
theCat Gallery
memorial from the Library of Congress

If you feel compelled to do something maybe you could...

  • Let your loved ones know that you care about them
  • Live the Golden Rule and treat others the way that you would like to be treated
  • If you personally know a family member of one of the victims, you could reach out to them
  • Make a new friend
  • Reach out to someone today show your support to someone that needs it (longer term would be better still)
  • Help to show the world that mankind is good.
  • Check out some of the links that I have provided
  • Give your time and money to charity
  • Here is the site for the United Way NYC

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Lady Di Ten Years Later

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

August 31st marks ten years since Lady Di died and much of the world is looking back and remembering upon this occasion. In honor of this event I thought that I would write a blog entry a little bit different than my normal format. As our internet connection had been down for a few days, I hope that I'll be able to put this online soon and that it will still seem timely.

JFK's Assasination, 911, and Lady Di's Death are all definitive moments that people remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. As the years go by, people seem more and more disjointed from the rest of mankind and it is these moments that connect people from the far flung corners of the world (and your neighbors as well). People from all over the world watched television and listened to radio coverage of these events. These are events that weren't just experienced by British and Americans but most of the world. These events were all sad but they brought us together, maybe people that might not have ordinarily talked to each other were able to share these moments, these were uniting moments, in times where there is so much that divides us. While I wasn't born at the time of JFK's assination but I have heard and read it discussed enough to know that this is one of the biggest events in lives of Baby Boomers and the other older generations. With such definitive moments, you may not have liked or known that much about the people involved, its impact was of a large enough and memorable scale that you remember where you were when you got the news.

With the definitive moments that I have mentioned, there are no shortage of conspiracy theories. Was there a lone gun man? While I can't say who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory, a great many of us do seem to enjoy discussing them and speculating on what happened and what caused the event? Part of human nature is to question why things happen and with such definitivee moments a conspiracy theory can help us make sense of what happened. It is some how comforting to believe that these events weren't just random and that there was in fact some conspiracy behind them. From the BBC show the Conspiracy Files here are the questions that are often asked about Diana's death. Also from the BBC is an interesting article about the nature of conspiracy theroy. Here is a timeline of events from Diana's death. LondonNet took at look at three of the major theories behind her death and assigned a likelihood to the plausibility of it actually happening. The theories discussed included that her death was faked, that the MI6 Killed her, and that Dodi was targeted by enemies of his father and himself.

Lady Di was many thing to many people, but whatever you might want to say about her (good or bad) she was a lighting rod to the Royals (British and others) and most anything that she did in her life after becoming Princess of Wales. While most English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh people have definite opinions and feelings about the monarchy, prior to Lady Di, most people elsewhere didn't really think too much about the Royals. She seemed to bring a celebrity status to the Royals and there are those people that would say that this wasn't a good thing and that she was in the spotlight too much. There is a famous expression in public relations, which is that there is no such thing as bad publicity since even that gets a buzz going and people talking.

A few weeks back I rented The Queen on dvd. The movie focused on the events leading up to the memorial service for Diana. While I don't wish to give away too much of the movie to those that haven't seen it, the movie shows the Queen struggling to deal with the death of Lady Di and the unexpected public reaction. As Tony Blair just recently stepped down as British Prime Minister, it was interesting to see his character at work in the movie. I would have liked to see more about the relationship between the Queen and Diana. The Tabloids spent a lot of ink proclaiming that all wasn't well in this area, but many people would like to know what it was really like. I remember thinking when Princess Charles and Princess Diana got divorced that Royalty was now in modern times and that Henry VIII had been married six times but in the past there really wasn't divorce and some terrible fates were met by queens that fell out of favor with their kings.

While it is expected that Royals don't have just ordinary bloodlines, those that marry into royalty usually have some sort of notable pedigree and Lady Di was no disappointment here. On her father's side she was related to King Charles II of England through 4 illegitimate sons. She was also related to King James II of England through an illegitimate daughter. Other famous ancestors include Robert I (the Bruce), Mary Queen of Scots, Mary Boleyn, Lady Catherine Grey. Through Henry Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge, she is related to Sir Winston Churchill. Through William Anne Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarie, she is related to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Through William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, she is related to Charles, Prince of Wales (yes, Prince Charles). She is also related to Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford and regarded at the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. Other notable relatives include actor Oliver Platt (a second cousin), as well as cousins Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and Rainier III. She is also the first cousin six times removed to American Revolutionay War hero Nathan Hale.The New England Genealogical Society published The Ancestry of by Diana, Princess of Wales for Twelve Generations by Richard K. Evans in August 1997 goes into exhaustive detail about most of her notable relatives.

Lady Di was well known for her charitable work. She was one of the first high profile celebrities to get behind the AIDS cause. She was also concerned with landmines and especially the injuries that they cause long after the conflict that put them there was over. Included as beneficiaries at the Concert for Diana website are The National AIDS Trust and The Leprosy Mission among others.

Most everyone has heard the Elton John song "Candle in the Wind 1997" or maybe better known now as "Goodbye English Rose". The song was originally recorded in honor of Marilyn Monroe, now you have to wonder if the newer version will eclipse the original. As the song goes "Your candle burned out long before your legend ever will." So here is the memory of Lady Di.

Here are some web sites that I found when putting together my post... There are some nice pictures here.

In other news...
I posted two new videos at our YouTube Channel. One is about the girls and bikes (as promised a while back, in honor of Anna learning to ride her bike without training wheels). The other is of Anna's sixth birthday.

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Anna's Sixth Birthday

Monday, August 27, 2007

It is hard to believe that Anna is now 6! On the 26th, Anna celebrated her sixth birthday. I suppose that every birthday of your kids seems bigger that the ones before and that they're more and more grown up. First they don't seem to be so much of a baby and then less and less of a child. Christine and I have been excited about this birthday for a while and Anna has been excited about it too. For the past week weeks, she would always ask how many days to her birthday.

For Christine and I six is the biggest birthday for Anna yet. Within the German school system, she is now old enough that she could go into first grade, but she would be one of the youngest kids, so we decided that it was best to wait another year. She is now what is referred to as a pre-school kid, meaning that she is in her last year of kindergarten. In many cities and villages within Germany it is possible for kids to start kindergarten at 3 years of age.

This year Anna wanted to be more involved with the preparation. She helped us blow up balloons before the party started, in fact she blew up all the balloons. I must say that this is most welcome, since in the past it would have been me blowing them all up! She did try to help with making the pinata but I don't think that she liked the feel of the paste and newspaper or so. She told Christine that she wanted peach and manderin cakes, so Christine made a Fanta cake and a manderin cheesecake. Anna also decided that the guests would like to have pasta with a choice of tomato or white cheese sauce. She also helped in picking out the decorations.

You can tell that Anna is getting older. Taking a break from the party preparations, we went out to lunch. When we were driving, I looked over and saw Anna crying. When asked why she was crying, she said it was because grandpa and aunt Betty weren't going to be able to be here for her birthday. Seeing her cry and knowing that she was now really starting to realize the distance that separates my family in the U.S. from her, almost made us all cry.

Anna invited 7 girls to her kiddie party. She invited 3 from our old village, Lina, and some from her new kindergarten. In all there were 5 additional girls at our house for this party. I was really amazed that the 7 girls were not louder than they were! They played hide and seek in front of our house, but I must admit that it looked more like running than anything else. The pinata was quite a hit, literally. I settled on the girls using an old badminton racket to hit it and after several attempts (and even a round without blindfolds) I took a metal pipe and broke it open. The girls were so excited when all the candy came flying out (just as I had remembered as a kid). It seems that pinatas aren't very common around here. If you'd like to make a pinata, I used the instructions from The girls seemed to have a good time at the party.

It seemed like the girls had a good time.

In the evening some family and friends came to celebrate with us. This was nice for Oma as both of sisters were there and they doesn't get to see each other that often. Anna really enjoyed it when everyone sang Happy Birthday. Since most of the lights were turned off and our house was lite by the candles on her birthday train, it gave a really nice mood to the singing. Besides the commonly known Happy Birthday, they sang a German birthday song that many people seemed to have forgotten the words, but was fun anyways.

Some Fun things about Anna's Birthday...

Also sharring Anna's birthday (from
Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984 and the first female vice presidential of the U.S. from one of the major parties, Geraldine Ferraro. Jazz musician, Branford Marsalis, and "Home Alone" star Macaulay Caulkin.

Popular songs in 2001 include: "All for You" by Janet Jackson, "I'm Real" by Jenifer Lopez, "Again" by Lenny Kravitz, "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys, "Drops of Jupiter" by Train, "If You're Gone" by Matchbox 20, and "Independent Woman Part 1" by Destiny's Child.

Anna was born in the Chinese year of the Snake. Her Native American Zodiac is the Bear. If she were a dog she'd be 0.856360078277887 years old.

Anna is 24.8 Mercurian years old and 9.7 Venutian years old. On Jupiter she is 5339.4 Jovian days old and 0.5 years old. On Pluto she is Plutonian days old and 0.024 years old.

I have posted some pictures from Anna's birthday at flickr. Flickr is part of Yahoo and they allow you to post and share photos on the net. They're doing some real interesting things there with pictures (I plan to to a post on them in future) .

It was a nice birthday. Our Anna is now 6!

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