Author Archives: Andrea

Moving Forward/Standing Still

We are already a week into July, and I feel like summer has just begun.  We returned from Europe, and were home for five days, before we packed up and left for Arizona for a bit over two weeks.  My summer is just beginning, and it is already half way over.  We downsized our Missouri home as much as we can at this time.  We have to leave some of the things in our home until we finally sell our home.  Once our home sells, we can do round 2 of downsizing.

IMG_4444We live in a beautiful home on a beautiful piece of property.  I know it will sell, and I am praying that just the right buyer come forward and makes an offer.  The problem is that I like my timing, but it is not always God’s timing.  I have had to learn that lesson over and over in my life, and I’m still not good at that.  I don’t have to have instant gratification, but I do like things to move in my favor quickly.  That has never been the story of my life.  When I look back, I can always see the why of delays and rejections, after my desired outcome occurs.  One example is job hunting.  I always seeking my “dream” job, and for some reason it never came to fruition, and then looking back, the new job I received fit what I needed more.  Having that significant other in my life took a long time, but when it happened, it was right.  I cannot make things happen.  If I try to force things to happen, it never has a good outcome.  I have to learn to be patient and wait on the right timing.

IMG_4887We downsized our home a few months ago, because we knew if we sold it then, it would take forever to move out!  We had two adults coming together with our years of stuff, and it all fit well in an almost 4,000 sq. ft. home.  We cleared out books, and I mean thousands of books, and donated them.  Don’t get me wrong, we still have books.  We held on to just a few—the few that have real meaning for each of us.  We removed the rest.  Have you tried to sell books?  They don’t go for a lot of money, and they are heavy to ship, even if there is a special book rate.  The number of books we had would have taken forever to dispose of.  There are many places that will take donations of books, DVD’s, and records, because these organizations hold used book sales.  These are nonprofit organizations, and therefore, one can receive a tax deduction for the book donation.  We found the organization, rented a trailer because we had so many books, and delivered them.  In some areas, such as St. Louis, the organization is set up to pick up books at your home.  We were okay with the fact that we had to deliver the books ourselves.

cleaningWe went through every closet of the house.  I realized the only things that I wanted to try to sell on eBay, were things that were easy to box, and had a great value for its size.  There is a lot of work to trying to sell items online because there is the posting and waiting for the sale, the packaging and shipping.  It’s all a lot of work.  Research has to be done on what the value may be, and all of this takes time. That is good if we have all the time in the world, but when you have 4,000 sq. ft. to clear out, that could take years.  Our best option was to find a great nonprofit organization that would be happy to receive our stuff, big and small.  We took detailed inventory of what we donated, and found its value in several ways online, in order to come up with a value that we could use for tax deduction on our upcoming 2018 tax returns.  I kept spreadsheets where each item is listed, with the value of each item, name and address of the nonprofit, and what means I used to find the value.  I wanted it as detailed as possible so that there would be no issue with our tax returns if we were questioned (this such a nicer term than audit)!

So, now our home is cleared out.  If I could just remember what I donated!  Yesterday I was looking for an item I was sure I did not donate, but to no avail.  It is nowhere in this house.  Hmm, I guess I could go over to the thrift store and rebuy it!  No, I don’t need it for salethat badly.  We also had a big sale of extra furniture and other items.  My husband sold a lot of tools and tool boxes.  Then shortly after that he needed to fix something, and discovered that he had the electrical tape in one of the toolboxes he sold, so off to the store he went to replace what we gave away!

It is hard to have one’s house on the market.  It must be clean at all times.  Not that my house isn’t usually clean, but I cannot leave things out if I’m leaving the house, just in case we get a call that someone wants to view the home.  In some ways it is hard to relax because one can never let down their guard of any housework or yard work that needs to be done.  Let me express that I have gone house hunting and have viewed several homes that drastically needed cleaning.  I could not figure out why one would put their house on the market and not clean it.  To me it says that if they never cleaned their home, they also probably never maintained their home, and that would be a red flag for me.  I don’t want to inherit someone’s home problems, and in the same way, I don’t want to sell my home problems.  If it needs a repair, do it!  

happy family clipart Elegant Happy Family Clip ArtI really want the right family to live in our home next.  We have loved this home.  When I met Dennis several years ago, he was already living here.  When we got engaged, I told him that this home was too big for just the two of us.  It is a home that is made to welcome people, and if just two of us were going to live here, we needed to be willing to open our home to friends and family to enjoy.  Otherwise, I felt like it would be just a big house and two people.  I want to be a good steward of all our resources, and if we are to live in this large of a home, we must be willing to share it with others.  (No squatters please)!  In the last five years we have hosted our children, other family members, and friends for various get-togethers.  When we move to our 1,600 sq. ft. home in Arizona, we will have a different lifestyle.  It will be simplified, and we will love having visitors, but we will also go explore, take time for ourselves, and relax.IMG_3324

I am itchy to continue my downsizing, but I must wait for an acceptable offer on our home.  In the meantime, I want to enjoy this home to its fullest, but I am really looking forward to simplifying my retirement years.  I want to serve in other ways.  I am not sure yet what that will look like, but God always puts ideas and opportunities before me when it is time.  So, I will do my best to be patient. 

Life is moving forward, but I feel like I am at a standstill until our home sells.  We are going to stay in Mid-Missouri once we sell our home.  My husband’s mother is 99 3/4 years old.  We will not leave Missouri permanently while she is still with us.  Dennis spends a lot of time with her at her nursing home.  Selling our home will free us up from maintenance and care taking of the home to spend time with her and to find our next “mission.”

I just wonder how to balance all this—I am really anxious to get back to the Arizona home.  I want to take some of the things from this home, but cannot do it until it is sold.  Such a dilemma (I know, it’s a first world problem)!  I just feel like I am on hold.  

It took a couple weeks to get back in sync after all our traveling.  The first couple days, I sat in the house and wondered what it is I do here!  Now I am pretty much back to normal, and am waiting on the new normal.  I’m so ready to move forward.

Crossing the Pond – Part 2

My dream vacation was always to go to London, but now that I have been there and to Germany, I have changed my mind.  I fell in love with Germany the minute I arrived in Frankfurt.  Germany did not disappoint.  The main purpose of this trip was to attend a wedding celebration party for my son and his new wife who is from Seligenstadt, Germany.  My daughter-in-law’s parents picked us up at the airport and drove us to their town of Seligenstadt, about a half hour drive from Frankfurt.  As we drove into this quaint village, my eyes just moved from one building to another.  This village sits on the River Main.  It is picturesque.  I immediately noticed as we got into the city center that all the streets are cobblestone, the homes are quaint, and you feel like you are walking through a fairy tale town.

Seligenstadt was founded in the year 830.  There were homes that are over 300 years old.  They have been restored and modernized, but they have such unique architecture. I noticed that in Germany, you will see a very large Catholic church that stands above all the other structure.  We stayed at an Airbnb and had a lovely hostess who tried her best to show us everything there.  She was one of the few folks we encountered who did not speak English.  We were there for four days, and we walked around and took in all the beauty of the town.  I would go back there again. 

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Our Airbnb

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Our Airbnb

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One of the entrances to the city.

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The city center

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This is put up in the city center every May.

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The local pharmacy.

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These plaques we in the cobble stone on front of homes that had been the homes of Jewish people who were sent away by Nazi Germany. It honors these families.

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In our few days there, we visited a couple castles, an ivory museum, and the biannual fair in the town, and we just walked around exploring this beautiful town.  This just a glimpse of the photos I took.

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This lady is making a rope.

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It was fun to watch this magician. He had my daughter-in-law come up to assist with this trick. She looks like a pro! Too bad I didn’t understand a word that he said.

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A young lady with an owl.

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This carousal is powered by people.

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Why did Dennis and I giggle when we saw this sign? We are such children.

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Such a unique downspout to the gutter on one of the homes.

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The church bells were ringing and when I looked up, a family walked out with their baby in its baptismal dress. I had to capture this sweet moment.

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One of the homes with a moat.

One of the days there, Alex’s parent took us site seeing.  We visited a couple castles.  I did not realize how many castles are in Germany.  Some are massive, and others smaller and on grounds that are well manicured and landscaped.

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This is the only time it rained on our whole vacation to England and Germany, and it lasted only a short time. We had perfect weather.

We stayed on for four days that included these great places to see, and for the wedding party for Ben and Alex.  Then we moved on to Frankfurt to begin our tourist part of the vacation, with the first day taking a train to Cologne.  It was Monday, and when we arrived we immediately saw the Dom, a huge cathedral that took over 600 years to build.  It was free to go inside and see it’s beauty.  Not only is it a church, it is also a burial ground for many who served the church.  Their crypts are all around. We learned that on Mondays the historic museums are closed, and the only museum open was the Chocolate Museum.  Oh what a shame!  The Lindt Chocolate Company has a museum telling the history of chocolate manufactured in Germany.  It was a lovely day to walk and to see the beauty of the town and the river.

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The Frankfurt train station is busy all times of the day.  Trains are coming in and out continually. Our first mishap was getting on the wrong train.  To make a long story short, the train turned around and returned us to the station just in the nick of time to board the correct train.

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Homes along the river as viewed from our train.

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The Dom in Cologne.  It i a huge tourist attraction.

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This is the tomb of Saint Engelbert the Martyr.  I found it fascinating that he is not lying in repose like the others in the cathedral.  His likeness is in a rather casual stance laying on his side.

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This church began building in 1248 (700 years before my birth)!  It took over 600 years to build. Look at the people up near the building to get a perspective of the height of this building.

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The pristine and colorful buildings along the Rhine.

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The Lindt Chocolate Museum.  It sits on a pier on the Rhine, showing the history of chocolate in Germany, along with an actual small chocolate factory, and free chocolate to taste.  During WWII, Hitler stopped all chocolate production.  When the allied troops came into Germany, they gave chocolate bars to the children.  The chocolate industry picked up again after the war.

The following day (Tuesday), we took the train to Nuremberg.  I had read the book, “Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis.”  I was hoping to see the prison and where the trials took place.  The funny thing was that on Tuesdays most of the museums are closed in Nuremberg.  Had we known this, we would have swapped days with Cologne so we could see the historical museums.  On the other hand, the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds, which is a museum in Nuremberg, was open. It is in the north wing of the unfinished remains of the Congress Hall of the former Nazi party rallies.  It documented the rise and fall of the German Nazi party under Adolf Hitler.  It was a very sobering experience.  After we toured the museum, we decided to walk and find Zeppelin Field where Hitler held his rallies.  The staging area is enormous, and it is also quite sobering to realize the size and scope of this historical site.  We then caught a bus to find one of the castles in Nuremberg.  It was a bit of a challenge because the bus driver did not speak English, and he must have had a bad day. We showed him on a map where we wanted to go, but he was no help in letting us know our stop.  Fortunately, someone on the bus spoke English and told us where to depart.  He was the only unfriendly person we encountered in Germany.  Everyone else was friendly and delightful.

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This is the Nazi Documentation Center, the museum that tells about the rise and fall of Nazi Germany.

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This is the grandstand at Zeppelin Field where Hitler spoke to the throngs of soldiers and Hitler Youth.

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This grandstand is so huge.  My husband is standing behind the fenced speaker’s stand where Hitler would stand when he gave his speeches.  Look how tiny he looks against the massive size of this grandstand.

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A calm, beautiful site right next to the Documentation Center–what a contrast!

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One of the old castles in Nuremberg.

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On our last day in Germany we were given a special walking tour by Daniela.  She was a young lady we met visiting with Alex’s family.  She is dating Alex’s brother.  Since she attends the university in Frankfurt, she offered to stop by and give us a tour.  It was a contrast of new modern buildings against the old buildings.  It was so scenic and such fun as she shared with us about this city.  She took us to an authentic German restaurant for lunch—funny how it was hard to find German cuisine in Germany.  There is no problem finding a hamburger and a Coca-Cola!  Our tour with Daniela was the highlight to end our days in Germany.  IMG_1359

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I am not good with heights, but this view of Frankfurt was awesome.  I would not get anywhere near the edge like Dennis did, but I was good looking from a distance and taking his photos overlooking the city.

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The Old Opera House.

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The Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

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A close up of the the decor on the Stock Exchange.

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We discovered this church on the tour, and I wanted to go in to see it.  What a beautiful structure.  This is what the Germans call the Protestant Church–we call it Lutheran.

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Across from City Hall.

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City Hall

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The padlocks of love as we walked the bridge over the river.

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Our authentic German restaurant

Here are the observations of Germany that I jotted down while there:

  • The villages are very clean.
  • German people like to drink bubbly water.  When I asked for what I consider regular drinking water, they called it “dead” water.
  • The people in small villages do not look at you as you walk past.
  • Most people in the villages either walk or ride bikes everywhere, no matter their age or their size.
  • Nothing in the United States is old.
  • In Germany, many people speak English, and in Frankfurt there are many billboards in English.
  • The Germans eat a huge breakfast which may include cold cuts, cheese, big rolls, along with fruit.
  • At restaurants, if you use a credit card, the waiter brings the credit card reader to the table to make the transaction.  (That is a great idea).

I absolutely loved Germany.  I wish I knew more words than the few simple words I learned as a child listening to my grandparents and my dad.  I would love to take a riverboat cruise through Germany.  In the meantime, I have many photos to look at and reminisce of the lovely time we had across the pond.

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I loved seeing the airline people wash the windows of the plan before we left to go home.  The pilot does want good visibility!

Crossing the Pond

I am finally back from all my traveling.  It has been a long six weeks.  We traveled to London, England and Seligenstadt, Germany.  Then we came home for a week, and left for two weeks to finalize the purchase of our new home in San Tan Valley, Arizona.  So, I thought I would tell you about my European trip, since it is the first time I have left this country for a vacation.  I realized that there are a lot of words, and I wanted you to see what I experienced, so I am going to give you a pictorial tour with words as explanation.

We flew to London via Chicago and Dublin.  When we arrived at our Airbnb in the suburb of Hammersmith, it made total sense why it was called the balcony suite.  It is the very top of this very tall house.  My bum knee was not happy to see we have almost five flights of these narrow steep steps to take to get to our room, but what a view we had.  At the end of our street was the Thames River, and in this area are rowing clubs and pubs.  There was  a lovely little park, and people walked, ran, biked, and skated along the walkway next to the river at to the pubs along the way.IMG_6276IMG_6626IMG_6268IMG_6267IMG_6269IMG_6281

As I stood on the balcony and took the picture across the roofs, I imagined Bert the Chimney Sweep singing and dancing along these rooftops! Yes, my inner “Mary Poppins” peeked through.

We took a tour that was supposed to include Windsor Castle, but since Prince Harry and Meghan Merkle decided to get married the weekend we planned to be in London, they switched out castle tour to the Hampton Court Palace.  There one of those red phone booths outside the gates–not thinking that’s an original with the palace!  The original palace was built by Cardinal Woolsey in the early 1600’s.  He later gave the property to Henry (probably trying to save his head from rolling)!  It has the largest working kitchen of the castles, but I sure would miss my modern appliances. Queen Victoria opened the palace to the public in 1838.  We moved on to Stonehenge and viewed this odd conglomeration of rocks.  It is thought to be an ancient burial grounds dating back to around 3000 B.C.  As we took our bus ride there, we passed fields and fields of canola–who knew they would be so beautiful.IMG_6332IMG_6333IMG_6338IMG_6341IMG_6339IMG_6324IMG_6407IMG_6389

After Stonehenge, our tour continue to a small village where we had lunch at a pub, The George Inn, that had been established in 1361.  Then the bus continued to Bath, England.  We passed through the rolling hills of England, enjoying the view, of rural tranquility.  The city of Bath became a spa  in 60 A.D. when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although hot springs were known even before then.  The Roman bath is still in operation.  Dennis and I walked around the old city–most picturesque, and enjoyed the village and the people-watching.IMG_6413IMG_6427IMG_6441IMG_6429

One day we took the train to Southampton.  It was a lovely two hour train ride.  Our sole purpose of this trip was to have lunch with Dan and Dishi.  Dan is my youngest son’s best friend from college.  He married a young lady from Southampton, and they own an amazing coffee shop called The Docks.  The food was fabulous, the company great, and we even got to meet Dan’s parents who live only 80 miles from us in Missouri, but we met them for the first time in Southampton!IMG_6513IMG_6512IMG_6518

Our trip continued in London, first visiting the Tower of London.  My knee was killing me that day, and moving around was very difficult, so I didn’t tour around as much as I wanted.  This is the infamous place where Henry VIII imprisoned and beheaded wives.  On the good side, it is where the Crown Jewels are kept.  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to take photographs of the Crown Jewels.  I can tell you, though, there is a room where we stand on a conveyer to pass and are awed by the quantity of bling!  I did not realize that each monarch has their own crown and scepter, so there were a variety of crowns.  It was pretty amazing!IMG_6469IMG_6477IMG_6485IMG_6478

We had lunch at Harrod’s.  I was greeted by a very kind and friendly doorman.  We sat on a $30,000 sofa and looked at a really neat $14,000 dining table, of which the salesman wanted to ship to our new home in Arizona–don’t think so!  Lunch, though, was reasonably priced and very good.

Our last day in London included a tour of Winston Churchill’s underground war rooms.  This is where he and the other British leaders worked and lived underground when the Nazis were bombing England.  Living in Fulton, Missouri, we have the National Winston Churchill Museum on the grounds of Westminster College.  This tour rounded out our learning from the museum in Missouri.  We were also supposed to tour Westminster Abbey, but there was some confusion in the time, and we missed the tour–something to do the next time.  Also, we were unable to use our tickets for the London Eye–being newbies to these sites, our tickets were on our phones, but they required them to be printed on paper–well, we had not printer, so we just got photos, but no ride.IMG_6598IMG_6608IMG_6609IMG_6599IMG_6613

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Last but not least, we saw the Changing of the Guard.  I loved all the pomp and circumstance.  I will leave you with the video, and next week I will let you know about my favorite part of the trip–Germany!

Who’s Crawling In Your Brain?

This is my last week of traveling. Next week will start a new round of fresh blogs. In the meantime, here is another oldie but goodie. Stay tuned–next week, new blogs!

Andrea Unsinkable

What do you do when you are lacking confidence?  We all have times we feel unworthy, lack the confidence to step outside our comfort zone to do something new, different, or challenging.  I couldn’t figure out what was holding me back.  Why did I know I could do something, and yet some little small voice was speaking in my head that I couldn’t, or I didn’t deserve more, or I wasn’t smart enough, or not enough of something.  You know those little voices we listen to when we know we shouldn’t?  Those little voices that are the negative feelings we have?  Now, just to make sure we are on the same page, I am not talking about audible voices.  I am talking about the seeds of doubt we have from time to time.  

A few years ago I was working with a…

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Accidents Happen

Still traveling and sharing some my favorite past blogs. This is my family history–the event happened 83 years ago this past Sunday.

Andrea Unsinkable

When I was a teenager my mom wouldn’t let me ride in cars with another teen driving. She never said why. I could go to an activity at school with my friends — if she drove. Was it because they were teens? Or was it because she felt more in control if she drove? About a year before my mom died, I interviewed her about her life. I then printed her story and made copies for our family. There are many more questions I wish I asked, but the stories I have will have to suffice.

So, back to riding in a car. When my mom was 16 years old, she was in an automobile accident that has become a legend story in the family. Let me set it up so you know all the players.

Dorothy Tomich Nothum – my mom, age 16
Pauline Vrazsity Tomich – my grandmother…

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