Libraries are Magical


How did we learn as infants?  Ask your parents.

I used this technique in teaching beginning German.

We first listened.  Then came learning to speak.

Finally, to read.  Write too.  Thus parents are


our first teachers.  The language of love knows

no bounds.  We made silly expressions.  Sang

songs.  Danced.  Wiggled and clapped hands.

Smiled. In German classes, we produced sounds


not in the English language.  The Umlaut.

We are a trilingual family:  German, French, English.

Starting foreign languages when young is so

beneficial. Children learn easily.   Our daughter


recorded me singing Brahms Lullaby in German

just as I had sung to our children daily as they

grew up.  It was not unusual for my classes to

sing together in German.  Daily for the nine


months in the womb, our granddaughter heard

me sing in German.  In the hospital at birth, my

daughter asked me to sing the lullaby to comfort

her with familiar sounds and words.  Now the


next generation of parents will teach. New

songs.   Music is food for the soul.  Libraries offer

a wealth of programs for the little ones and their

parents.  We often took our children to a story hour.


Music and gestures were involved.  One of our

favorite libraries was downtown.  The highlight

was the elevator which a man operated by

closing the first gate and then the door.  He


asked for floor numbers before the elevator climbed

upstairs to the large room for story hour. Sadly, that

library closed, but we discovered other branch

libraries.  We allowed our children to select


their own books in the children’s section.  They

checked them out too.  Such grownup activities!

We had new books to read aloud.  Songs to sing too.

And best of all, libraries became a weekly adventure.


Posted in Brahm's Lullaby, learning German, nursery rhymes, parents as teachers | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Nod to Green


Another spring snowstorm hit and left

about ten to twelve glorious inches to

blanket the ground.  We celebrate the

wearing of the green this St. Patrick’s Day.

And, yes, corned beef and cabbage.  The

Irish side of my family with Mooney, Ryan,

and Connor probably celebrated the day

with food and storytelling.  My Dad did a


family genealogy of the Niemczura side

which he claimed was Polish even though

Poland was not on the map for about

one hundred years.  My husband and I

muse that our European ancestors must

have known one another since our family

histories converge geographically.  My

German colleagues during my first


Fulbright year were convinced I had

German ancestry.  I think more Austrian.

I found more fascinating the meaning

of my last name: the German girl.

My Polish grandmother used to walk

over the border to work in Germany

before coming to this country.  Thus

our family story and history went.


One of my sisters traced the Irish side

of our family.  A favorite pastime is to

peruse old family photos and look

at hair and fashion styles.  Apparently, I

had an Aunt Julia who was a teacher.  I

inherited her pocket watch.  Female

teachers were not permitted to marry;

otherwise, they had to leave teaching.


Fortunately, that was not the case during

my teaching career.  I glanced today

at some of the documents in the family.

A story for another time is how our

marriage certificate reflected the

wrong date.  We were married before

we were born it seems!  It is now

corrected for future generations.


Posted in corned beef and cabbage, family history stories, genealogy, St. Patrick's Day | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

If Enthusiasm Could Be Bottled!


A school administrator after observing me

teach in German, remarked that she

wished enthusiasm could be bottled.

This trait came naturally in my classes.


I had a passion and joy for my students

and subject matter.  My glass remains

half full.  Watching eyes light up when

they understood what I had just said


was a wonderful teaching moment. 

Our whirlwind family visit came to

an end much too soon. From far and

wide, our family came together for


our granddaughter’s Baptism and

less importantly Grandma’s birthday.

Our daughter managed to be the

winner in our Scrabble game.  How


did she manage 95 points on the

first play?  Well, she was an English

major.  We take our game very

seriously and intently.  In between


feedings, and diaper changes, our

granddaughter slept long enough

to allow for the game.  What is said

about grandchildren being wonderful


is true.  They get to go home with their

parents afterwards.  Stepping out

for an ice cream, our daughter and

son-in-law left us in charge.  Trying to


settle the baby took ingenuity.  My

husband had some tricks up his sleeve

as he remembered the vacuum cleaner.

White noise. Clean rug.  She fell asleep.


I closed my eyes for a few moments. 

Our daughter and husband knew what

we had done when she saw the vacuum

cleaner.  We are exhausted and hear


that she wants to visit again.  Easter?

Maybe by then, we will have caught up

on sleep.  We hope.  So, bottle enthusiasm,

love, and hope!  And lots of hugs!


Posted in birthday and Baptism, bottled enthusiasm, classroom memories, family | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Who Rules the Roost?


She calls the shots.  Baby time.

Eat.  Sleep. Cry. Diaper changes.

Wardrobe changes throughout

the day.  Sleep deprivation for parents.


Glancing out the windows at the bird

feeder suspended by a chain and

wrapped around the pine branch, we

have had a few breaches recently.


We wondered how the feeder lay

on the ground or in the snow. My

husband patiently put the feeder back.

Ah, I saw the culprit:  Mr. Bushy Tail!


How dare it!  I observed as

it scampered out the limb; then

upside down to the bird feeder where

it positioned perfectly for the feast.


The thief!  My husband reassured me

he has filled the feeder with hot

seeds which supposedly deter the

bushy tails!  Supposedly!  The birds


returned.  The ongoing dance at the feeder.

We returned to our indoor theater:

a living room full of baby items. Our

star of the program is now awake.


We take turns holding her when she

needs us.  Waiting on the front

step was a package and a BIG

surprise inside:  a beautiful locket


in the shape of a heart and complete

with a photo of our angel.  It was a

well kept secret!  Beautiful.  So

thoughtful. A thousand thanks.


Must run. Our little one has awakened.

She rules the roost!  She melts hearts

with her smile and glances.  Life is

grand!  Indoors and outdoors!


Posted in Mr. Bushy Tail, Petra Eimer books in German, ruling the roost, snow | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Festive February


As luck would have it, snow and ice returned.

The big visit is interspersed with snags.

Vacuum cleaner parts needed replacements.

Check engine light further altered plans.


The birds are happy enjoying the replenished

bird feeder.  They vie with one another for the

prime real estate spot at the feeder.  Fun to watch!

Less amusing were the icicles hanging from


power lines and delicate tree limbs.

We lost a big portion of a favorite of

our birds:  the beach plum branch lay

broken on the snow-covered ground.


Precious cargo is now on board and

en route to a very festive arrival in

snow country.  From two birthdays and

Valentine’s Day midway, the month of


February has been a series of celebrations.

Some quiet.  Others full of noise.  From hither

and yon, family is traveling to our neck

of the woods.  Birthday and Baptism.


Untold laughter. Hugs. Kisses. Stories await.  A

game of Scrabble or two. Home cooking or

restaurant, or order in.  Spontaneously done.

Singing, reading aloud, smiling, and talking


with our grandchild.  Teaching moments to

warm the heart!  This is family time.  Treasured

family time!  Another festive February.

Savor, relish, and may time stand still!


Posted in family, festivities, snow, teaching moments | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Life’s Textures


Pondering the water’s mystery, a boardwalk

beckons us to meander and reflect on life’s mysteries.

Springlike temperatures called us to be outdoors.

Remnants of Valentine hearts remain.  Nursery


school children, crayons in hand, followed

the teacher as they started a maze.  I suppose

one could equate their creativity with the maze

of life from start to finish.  Little hands create fun.


It is adult hands that find life a labyrinth.

Mom was perplexed by the latest artwork to

be hung on the wall.  I thought I saw a witch.

Confirmed.  Hammer, nail and hang it up.


Only years later did our daughter inform us

that the artwork had been hung upside down.

Maybe we adults feel that way sometimes.

Silly Mom.  Upside down.  Oh well.  Laugh.


A beautiful bouquet of flowers complete

with butterflies arrived to grace the table.

Made of paper!  What will they think of next?

It is practical to mail like a card.  Assemble.


It had to happen with our weather too!

Two days of spring.  Then some rain which

turned to snow.  The salt truck confirmed

my suspicion that it was cold outside.  Just


another change to ponder.  And dress for.

As is my custom, I step outside each morning to

feel the weather even if it snows.  Upstate NY

offers all variations of weather.  Stick around!


Textures can be abrasive, coarse, dry, soft,

smooth, grainy, metallic, patterned, shiny,

matte, dull, or wooden.  More than four

hundred textures.  Do you have a favorite?


Posted in boardwalk, hearts, maze, snow, textures | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Passing the Torch


Passing the torch: one generation to another.

My, how times have changed as I glance at our

family photo albums!  What has not changed is

the love we feel for one another. Hair and clothing


styles are different.   With the upcoming

celebration of Valentine’s Day, I took note

of the handcrafted artwork of our children

hanging on the walls. Our daughter made


paper, shaped it into hearts, a cupid, and a

meticulously handwritten note in cursive handwriting.

The underlying message was one of love. We end

phone calls with “ich liebe Dich.”  Passing the torch


means giving the gift of music and the gift

of learning foreign languages. As our two children

grew, it was my custom to sing to them in German.

Mornings meant the song Guten Morgen, liebe Sonne.


At bedtime, the nightly routine was singing Brahm’s

Lullaby in German:  Guten Abend, gute Nacht.”  At

our daughter’s request, I sang while she recorded my

voice and played it to our unborn grandchild.


The very best time to teach foreign languages and

to play a musical instrument is when children

are young.  It is simply child’s play then.  Our little

Isabella is off to a great learning adventure!


Grandma thinks she heard her say her first

word as she carefully formed her mouth to

mimic our daughter saying “Hi” to her.  In

return a “Hi” back.  Not impossible at


almost two months of age.  Parents around

the world delight in watching their offspring

learning to navigate the world.  A family

friend in Germany just sent three children’s books.


Passing the torch in teaching German means the

satisfaction felt when former students become

German teachers and engage their students with

the same projects such as illustrated Haiku poetry.


Posted in learning a musical instrument, learning foreign languages, passing the torch | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Challenging the Brain


Dubbed a philologist during one Fulbright

Year of teaching in Germany, the term stuck

with me. Learning foreign languages

fascinated me and was facile.  Words were fun.


One of our favorite family board games

became Scrabble.  It is a tradition when

we come together as a family to get out the

game after dinner.  Mainly we opt for English.


If you listen to most stories of childbirth, the

discussion most often centers on how long labor

was.  I wonder who else enjoyed a game of

Scrabble as we did?  I venture to say – few did.


Our firstborn became an attorney and loves

words and stumping us at every chance. We

phoned and sang our traditional birthday

song to him this morning for the occasion.


Soon we will come together to enjoy

challenging our brains with the game.

We love to leave past game scores in

the box along with the current weather.


To whet the game appetite, I even

acquired a Scrabble calendar with daily

tear off pages.  Chuckle all you like, but

we take this game seriously!  Who else


modifies  the rules to include the use

of dictionaries and devices?  This is our

great bonding experience as a family.

Happy Birthday, Tom.  Get ready! 


Posted in board game, challenging the brain, learning foreign languages | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Ears That Hear!


Deep roar of engine motors and squeaks of brakes.

Shouts, banging and clamor of refuse cans against

the back of the garbage truck signifies Mondays.

What neighborhood noises do you notice?


Delivery trucks have distinctive motor noises.

Then listen to the sliding truck door followed

by footsteps and the ringing of the doorbell.

A package delivery.  Most folks probably


don’t notice these sounds if they are busy

with home tasks.  As a musician, sounds are

important and our ears are attuned to them.

Speaking of sounds in the neighborhood,


laughter and directions shouted from

one child to another signify a game being

played, a snowball fight or building a snowman.

A mother’s ears are especially attuned to


their babies.  Ask our daughter and son-in-law.

Or as empty nesters used to the peace and

quiet of our home, we have a visit and instant

noise.  Even when a car comes into the


driveway in the wee hours, I hear it.  As

a retired teacher used to correcting pronunciation,

my ears were constantly attuned. Interesting

how our sense of sound is fine-tuned over a lifetime.


This week, Isabella’s bathtub away from home

arrived.  We await her first visit after a very long

drive.  Grandma and Grandpa will now enjoy

quality holding time.  We have experience!


Posted in experience, musician, sounds | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Seven Place Settings


My research for today’s blog evoked

memories of where we met and

married.  We blinked.  Fast forward

to more memories in another state.


Funny how life happens.  Two

beautiful children who later

married.  Our family grew to

six place settings for meals.


We blinked again.  Empty

nesters.  Then many

Scrabble games when the

family visited.  We blinked again.


Isabella Rose made her grand

entrance.  Life has changed. Seven

place settings.  Highchair too.

Soon a big family reunion.


We blinked and blinked and

blinked again.   Now we celebrate

forty years of wedded bliss. Lots of

place settings later.  Laughter. Love.


Posted in Forty Years, laughter, love, seven place settings, wedded bliss | Tagged , , | 14 Comments