Rotterdam: Nate Smith Concert

We chose to go to Rotterdam the last weekend in May because there was a concert by one of Rob’s favorite jazz drummers. He mentioned it online and two of his colleagues met us for dinner and the concert. It was super fun to get to share a meal and music with new people.

Clare, Alice, Dave & Ellen go to München

Our whole family plus Clare’s parents were supposed to go visit München together, but a few days before we were supposed to leave, Rob and Spencer got sick and tested positive for COVID. Luckily it was not a life threatening case, but they were both sick for close to a week. Luckily, Clare and Alice were able to avoid catching it and we were able to travel with my parents to stay away from the apartment until the boys tested negative.

The (grand)parents arrived at Frankfurt airport and we travelled together by train. There was a delay due to a medical emergency on the tracks. It was annoying to be delayed, but not the worst day of our lives like it was for someone else. We did get a train an hour or two later and even found seats together, so it could have been much worse. We walked from the train station to our apartment in the Altstadt and saw many famous sites on our way into town.

Spencer’s birthday weekend part 1: a bass guitar


Spencer has been asking for a bass guitar for probably half of his life at this point or more. He might have started asking for one at 5 or 6. We said, “Wow, that’s a big instrument for a little guy.” We always told him that maybe when he was older and had some musical foundations, then maybe. He took piano lessons for a bit in Kindergarten, then sax for a bit, played trombone in school band (5 & 6th grade), and switched back to sax at school this year.

Spencer turns 13 on Monday, and we are celebrating this weekend, even though Germans usually consider it bad luck to celebrate things (like birthdays) early. Today, when he got home from school, we asked him to practice his instrument. He went in his room, walked right past the bass Rob had set up to get his sax. We had to ask him to come back and look again for him to even see it. But once he did see it, he was so surprised and excited. We got it out and plugged it in and tuned it. Rob showed him some musician stuff that he knows. Spencer recognized right away that he can use his trombone music for the bass and went and got some music to start picking out. So making him get some musical training did not hurt.

As we enter the teen years, we will all need a lot of patience, but we are so proud of the young man he is becoming. I like having him around and am looking forward to a home filled with even more music.

Frohes neues Jahr 2022!

To welcome 2022, we stayed up until midnight and watched fireworks from the balcony, slept in, had breakfast together, and enjoyed the unseasonably nice weather in a local park. Then the parents went on a bike ride and the kids went home to plug back into their screens. Still, a relaxing and warm welcome tothetzt new year. May we greet what lies ahead refreshed and together.

Malta: main Island tour


Today we took a guided tour of the main island. Our stops included Mdina, Hagar Qim, and Valletta.

Mdina is a walled city, the ancient fortress capital with winding streets. They were on a high point to keep an eye out for invaders coming to steal people into slavery. They would light a bonfire on a high platform and the surrounding villagers would come inside the city walls. We enjoyed the car free streets, gas lamps, and charm.

Hagar Qim is an ancient temple from 5700 years ago that also functions as a calander by aligning with solar and stellar events, like solstices and constellations.

Valletta is the modern day capital built in the 16th century by the Knights of St. John. in contrast to Mdina, it is a port city on a grid. The wealth of Malta, collecting something from all the civilizations that have come and gone, are apparent here.

It was a good day. Thank you to our hostess, Joan from

Malta: exploring Valetta together

This morning, we watched the sunrise. After breakfast, we took the ferry to Valletta. There was a morning downpour, so we ducked into some shops for a bit. After it cleared up, we took the ferry into Valletta. We had lunch and wandered around. We stepped into St. Paul’s cathedral, one of the characteristic spires in our view from our vacation apartment. The view back to Sliema does not suck either. Spencer entertains himself with his Rubik’s cube in any downtime.

Garden Party

Our friends had a party in their Garden and we used it as an excuse to wear our Oktoberfest outfits. So fun to dress up as a family!

Clare’s Carrot Cake

Every year, Clare has carrot cake for her birthday. Clare likes more carrots and more spices than most, so ideally, she can bake her own cake each year.