Friday, 31 January 2014

A common question

So, what're you doing here?
That's how countless of my conversations start here.
My response generally varies between "being a house-wife", "being a Wohnung-Frau", "supporting my husband", "looking for work", "absolutely nothing", "on an extended holiday", "staying at home", "exploring Marburg", and sometimes "enjoying my free time". 
It depends on my mood, really.

 

Malcolm's conversations are often a little more interesting. He gets to tell people he's doing his doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry, which usually gets a rather impressed response. The response is a lot better than the year before last when he could tell people he was making drugs. 
(He really was, but they were anti-cancer drugs)


Then he gets asked one of the following two questions a variation of "why Marburg/Germany"?

The response is quite simple, until you try explain it awkwardly in German. 
"A professor at my previous university was the supervisor of my current supervisor when my current supervisor was a student in South Africa. And he does the work that I'm interested in, which isn't done in South Africa."
Studying in Germany has been a long-standing dream of Malcolm's which somehow fell into his heart.
Let's say, it was God who laid it there and who leads us on this adventure.

However, another question that I wish more people would ask, is
Why is Malcolm doing a doctorate at all?
Isn't 7 years of studying enough? Is it because he's just a genius? Is it because he wants to jump up when somebody shouts "is there a doctor on this flight?"?  Is it to become rich? Is it because he's afraid of the real world? (I wouldn't blame him - last time Malcolm was in the 'real world' and working he was dealing with stinky waste water and anaerobic sludge.)
None of the above.

Thursday night we went to a talk on Faith and Science, which was very well attended and really interesting to listen to, as various professors spoke about their research and how they see God in their studies and lives. It was great to see them stand up for what they believe in, and they handled some challenging situations in the seminar. But, it reminded me how important Malcolm's work is.

We both believe in God. Not only do we believe in god or some sort of power that created the world, but we believe in the God of the Bible. We see evidence for the authenticity of the Bible and an all-knowing, all-powerful God wherever we look, and the more we look, the more evidence we see. 

I look forward to the day where I get to stand behind my husband as he stands for what he believes in, in an area of study where he will be criticised for it. He's studying to not only gain deeper understanding in his field, and develop some cool technology which will potentially help many people, but to have an influence and have the opportunity to stand up for Christ in an arena where not all will. I pray often that Malcolm will have the grace, the love and the courage to do what he feels called to. 

The debate on creation versus evolution can be a complicated one, and I avoided it for a long time, believing that I didn't understand enough to form an opinion of my own. But the question on whether you exist because people were created or evolved, and your stance on whether the Bible is true or not, and to what degree, has consequences and far-reaching effects into many aspects of your life and how you understand things. 

"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened" But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil". [1 Peter 3:14-17] 

"Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." [Ephesians 4:14-15] 

If you're curious about intelligent design and where we get our evidence for it, or are interested in forming your own opinion on the creation vs evolution debate and need the evidence contrasting that of evolution, go ahead and check out this site.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Rejoice

Although it was a quiet weekend, we filled it with celebrations anyway. I like celebrating little things as much as the big things.

On Friday was Malcolm's mum's birthday! Hooray! 

Saturday marked 4 years since our love story began. 
Yep, 4 years ago Malcolm asked me if I wanted to move in. He's not usually so forward. Actually, he just knew I was potentially looking for a new place to stay, and he'd just moved into a digs that still had rooms available, and he thought of me, with no romantic interest at all. Awww. I said no, thanks. But, since we now had each others phone numbers, things could get moving! 

Saturday was also a lot like Christmas. 
A parcel from mum and daddy arrived! Hoorah! I was so happy to be reunited with some of my dance-clothes and my Bible (we brought Malcolm's along), and to once again taste the wonders of Niknaks. They've been really appealing because there is nothing like them here, and absence makes the heart grow fonder. And Jelly tots! And popcorn! And we got some sweet Christmas cookies and some decor, which we then displayed that evening with the apartment lit by candle light, it felt like Christmas all over again. 


south african care package

It was also a lot like Christmas because the girls from the Nachhilfe that I help at redeemed their "girls' day" voucher that they got for Christmas, and we spent Saturday afternoon with face masks and nail polish and chocolate. 

And finally, Sunday came all too quickly. 
But, it came with snow! It wasn't all that much, but we haven't had any since December (besides a couple brief flutterings of snowflakes that melted instantly), so it was exciting! 
Richtsberg snow

We had a really cool church service where all of CT's services were combined in a bigger venue. It was such a fun time with a rather interactive Bible story, time to discuss things with people sitting around us, dancing along to a video, and worshiping our Lord.

marburg tabor church service

Now, it's Monday and I'm not all that excited about it. But, as it says in Philippians 4:4... "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!"
and so Rejoice I shall. 
Wishing you all a most wonderful week ahead! 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

I'll save you the trouble.

Yesterday I was looking around my stats page for the first time in a while, and was rather amused at how some people found this little blog of ours using Google searches.

In the last month, people have found us via the following...


I'm pretty stoked that a lot of you are actually searching for this blog in particular! As for "moms in embarrassing gym wear"...? Maybe it's because of a post I once wrote about what I've come to appreciate after watching way too many episodes of Dance Moms.

Overall, these are the most popular search words...


I'm amused that people are searching for German sausage jokes, Thanks, Malcolm, for that one. Care bears, well, I re-read this post about anxiety quite often to remind myself where my security comes from. And Marie Taglioni, a famous ballet dancer, is mentioned on this page.

As for German culture... I'm not sure how much of German culture I actually write about. I'm especially reluctant because, as with most countries, the cultures vary so much. This place isn't just Lederhosen and Bratwurst! Perhaps suggestions on my Youtube page yesterday will show you what I mean. (blink and scroll down quick if blood freaks you out...)


Anyway. Since I'm linking up with Cheers not Jeers, hosted by Casey from The Aslans Auspicious Albany Adventure today, I thought I'd save you some Google searching trouble and send you on your merry way to some of my favourite blogs. If you're looking for...

A South African buried under beautiful snow in the USA (her instagram makes me wish it would snow here again!), check out Lanlettie.
Really cool crafty things that are affordable for those of us on a budget, Saxon at Let's Drink Coffee, Darling, is the place to go!
A warm fuzzy feeling and motivation to do something kind today, head over to Jennifer at the Apartment Wife.
Inspiration or information for your next travel adventure... I love reading the blogs of Shannon, Casey and Melanie.
Info more specifically on Germany, Alex has some really cool posts too!
For random entertainment and insight, encouragement to buy crazy socks or hang out with a bear, then Rachel is your girl.
Recipes that will make you want to run off into the kitchen, Amy-Lee always has something good going on her blog, Club Narwhal!

Wasn't that easier than a Google Search? I thought so.



Monday, 20 January 2014

The lop-sided wife.

Our weekend was a goodie. We hung out with friends, went to church, continued watching a series on the fall of Rome... and then Sunday night Malcolm asked if I wanted to watch a chick flick. (He knows I'm not all that excited by the ubiquitous head-chopping-off-scenes in the series, so a chick flick might send me to sleep with better dreams.)

BUT then I thought of a better idea! Let's cut my hair! Remember I alluded to this plan last week?
Malcolm, the perfect blogger's-husband, offered to photo-document the process.

Now before we get started, you should know I've had a small obsession with my hair, about growing it long. As an act of rebellion against my mother who often encouraged me to cut it short, I grew it long. So while I don't spend a fortune on hair-products (I bought my own shampoo and conditioner for the first time in Germany this month... I've just been sharing with Malcolm since June.), and I don't always brush it every day (I'm not the only one, am I?), I do take care not to let anybody chop off too much. Until last May, when I finally went the shortest in a long time and actually kind of liked it.

This also put an end to my notion that long hair=pretty hair, and I realised it looks okay shorter too. (probably more sophisicated?) Which made me brave. Also, I realise now that I was wearing the same dress on the day of my last hair cut. Fate, I tell you.

So... onwards!

A before photo...
hair cut at home

I then trimmed the edges and got quite excited at the progress. (can we also ignore the ikea-not-hair-scissors, I know I should have really sharp ones. But if this turns out terribly and I never use them again, why buy scissors especially?)

hair cut at home

Then came the big step... following my pinterest instructions, I brushed my hair into a unicorn-tail to get "long layers". I wasn't sure how much to cut off, seeing as I wanted to keep the length but also trim the layers from my last cut. Plus, I think layers are pretty. So, in the name of adventure and scientific-experimentation, we decided (yes, Malcolm is included here), to cut quite a bit off so we could actually see the difference... and, as Malcolm pointed out quite correctly, it'll grow back.
So I snipped off about 10cm, and then thought "was this a dumb idea?"

hair cut at home

I took out the unicorn-tail, and was actually quite pleased with the result... nothing too drastic at all! 

Except... the fringey-part of it was awfully blunt and was a really weird layer that just didn't blend. 
So, without thinking, I grabbed the scissors and, in a scene that can only compare to this, fixed it myself while Malcolm watched in horror. 
Okay, I didn't actually do as much damage as Marshall in the clip, but I didn't really know how to fix it and it's still much the same. 
I think it's probably most noticeable because I part my hair to the side, as with a middle parting it isn't as profound. Fortunately, my usual hair-style involves the offending bits of hair clipped back anyway, so I'm not too heart-broken, just wiser. 

hair cut at home

The after photo isn't all that different... my hair looks a little shinier and healthier, but that might be because it's actually brushed ;)

At the end of it all, after Malcolm assuring me it isn't hideous, I asked him if he's sure he doesn't mind having a lop-sided wife, and he assured me he did not. Strangely, I then found him Google image searching "lopsided wife", and the images that came up certainly made me feel better. And a spoonful of Nutella helped too. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Discoveries Lately

I feel like I've learned a lot lately, discovered some interesting things. Some of these things excite me so much I want to share them with you... 

1. Net curtains
If I'm an ailing old woman one day with terribly bad knees, I won't blame ballet. I won't even blame Marburg's merciless hills. Rather, I'd blame all the time I spend kneeling on the floor with the laptop on the couch. Why? Because we live on the ground floor and people constantly walk past - with all the different nationalities that live here it's like the whole world is passing me by. Now I love that friends can stop by and say hullo, but I get so distracted by trying not to make eye contact with anybody else. That is, until we found net curtains discarded by somebody. Washed and hung up, I'm back at the desk!
I'm not sure I love how they look, but they might save me some knee trouble.

2. How to cut hair 
I happened to be on pinterest and came across "5 DIY haircuts to try today!" I doubt I'll try all of them in just one day, but I'm pretty keen to try at least one. I am not prepared to pay so much for somebody to cut my hair... though if this goes wrong I might eat my words.

3. How to get change! 
I've never particularly enjoyed laundry. I've often contemplated which step in the process I dislike the most... sorting, loading, unloading, hanging, taking it down, ironing or folding. Ironing has been removed from the problem since it's winter and nobody sees if Malcolm's shirts are wrinkly or not. And we have no ironing board and I quite like it that way. BUT what I have decided my least favourite part of it all is, is the getting 3x50c coins. It takes ages to collect, and I'm never entirely sure how to ask a till-person if I can get change for a couple euros. Hence my excitement at discovering that one can get change from a machine at the library. No human interaction necessary!

and finally... 

4. The potential in 36 hours. 
Malcolm and I have been dreaming of travelling lately. We've been looking at bus lines and train lines and where to go and how much it costs. (bearing in mind we want to visit Koln when my parents visit and may need to go to either Berlin or Munich to vote sometime between April and June). But anyway, we were fiddling around on Google maps and discovered that IF we had a car, we could visit the Swarzwald, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Monaco, Marseille and Barcelona in a 36 hour drive! How cool (and unrealistic!) is that?!?


Hope that everybody has a great weekend and that you discover something wonderful, albeit small! :)

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

On my mind.

Just a few things that have been on my mind lately...


  • Facebook still advertises South African things to me. Like Nandos. *sigh*. This makes me dream of readily available fudge (ie. that I don't have to slave over myself). And Ouma rusks. Actually any rusks. And Wedgewood's Angel biscuits and nougat. And popcorn that I can make freshly at home, not the microwave stuff. And Ghostpops, sweet chilli Dorritos, Niknaks. And Chocbits and Vanilla Mmmilk. And various kinds of chocolate that isn't around here (Tempo!). 



  • I miss English: going out, opening my mouth and allowing my tongue to be free. On the other hand, I am getting better at German though, I think.



  • I'm excited for friends of ours who are expecting a baby! So, when Malcolm found himself holding this sweet little one, we got to see how a baby looks on us. Personally, I think we look far too excited and she looks way too cool for us. I think we'll just wait. (Thank you, Nicole and Hans-Markus, for taking the photo for us to see)



  • A flight for Malcolm and I to South Africa and back is about 1500euros. Yikes. We're saving though and hoping to visit. Though we're also hoping to see a bit more of Germany, too. Venice is also a dream.



  • I'm hoping to start baking a little more. Between baking flops and uncertain electricity costs, I have hardly baked much. And baking makes me happy and I miss it... so I'm determined to start again. Hence my Pinterest board. I'm also really excited to bake Malcolm's birthday cake, which is 3 months away, so fortunately we have Valentines Day and our Wedding Anniversary before then to look forward to. 



  • I'm excited that one blank white wall had been conquered. It warms it up and I love seeing photos of people I love. Also, we finished the heart collage with a part of 1 John 4:18, "Perfect love drives out fear" written beneath it. It's good to remember, God's love for us makes us not need to be afraid. The verse in entirety is amazing too. 



  • I went back to ballet last night after a month of Christmas food and no dancing. SO glad I've been stretching and walking a little so it actually wasn't too hectic and I enjoyed it. 

And finally... 


  • I'm hoping that it either snows or gets warm. This in between grey and miserable weather is back. 

Hope everybody is having a good week so far!

Friday, 10 January 2014

A Pinterest Wife?

We're ten days in to the new year, so is it still new?
I still have no resolutions, and Malcolm's only one seems to be to use his Facebook account. But, it's been a pretty good start. The start of the new year is extra-special these days since it was on New Year's Day that Malcolm proposed to me.


This last week Malcolm went back to his research, and things seem to be going okay there. Though he always comes home smelling like chemicals and I often wonder how good that is for him. I guess it depends on what he's working with. 

So since I'm hoping to get a job this year and will then have less free time, I decided to get creative this last week and actually DO some of the things I've pinned on Pinterest. I started with a heart-shaped collage inspired by the one that Jennifer made. 

After sorting through many, many photos of Malcolm and I together since 2010, we eventually chose some to use, which I then got printed. I also bought a 50x70cm glass frame for it to go in (I was originally going to use canvas but wanted the photos protected), and grey cardboard as a backing. 

I soon realised that I had a LOT of photos and that it was going to be tricky to fit them all into the heart, let alone into the frame.

valentines love craft

Each photo was 7x5cm - I used picmonkey to collage two photos together onto one 10x15cm print and then cut them apart. But to make them fit and easier to work with, I cut each photo again into a square. The floor looked like a photo-massacre-crime scene.
I also cut a larger photo into a heart shape and mounted it on some grey cardboard as a sort of focal point. I then arranged them on a heart I'd cut out of newspaper.

DIY wall hang picture

I then had to shift all the photos off the heart so that I could trace it onto the grey backing paper. Then started the really tedious part of replacing and presticking (yes, I found prestick!) back into place on the paper. I could then slowly trim the photos and glue them into place. So scary. I ended up using all but 9 of the photos.

It worked out quite well though and I'm quite happy with it. However, my "perfect pinterest wife" status was put in jeopardy because...
1. I had no gourmet supper ready for Malcolm when he got home (as my pinterest board might suggest), in fact, I had nothing ready.
...and...
2. I then cracked the glass of the frame (because I prefer working on the carpet than the table but needed a harder surface while glueing... so stupid.).

Anyway... here's how it turned out, hanging skew in a half-glass-frame and all ;)

DIY wall hang picture photos

I still need to think of something to write in the blank space at the bottom... not sure just what yet. But, I cannot wait to buy a new frame, finish it off, and get it on that big blank white wall! The blank walls are driving me nuts especially since all the Christmas decor is gone and especially since my living spaces have usually been quite colourful...

exhibit A: my calender in 2010

exhibit B: my room in 2010/2011



At least the sun is shining though. (YES!)

Oh, and... it's thanks to our super-cool wedding guests that I could make this... yep, we still have wedding money left, and I used some of it to print the photos :) (don't worry, the broken frame comes from the "personal spending money" part of our budget).

So, that was my attempt at being a Pinterest Wife... not sure how successful it was, but I do enjoy making pretty things.

Anyway, wishing you all a super happy weekend! 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Great Whirlwind of 2013

It's the 4th of January (Happy anniversary, mum and daddy!), and the excitement of the new year may already be wearing thin, but I'm feeling nostalgic for 2013 and the great memories it contains. 

It was a year that made very little sense. I mean, summer, autumn, a few weeks of winter, summer, autumn, winter...? I started the year as a Bentley, speaking English and surrounded by family, and said goodbye to the year as a Bartlett, speaking German in a country not my own, and surrounded by new friends and so many fireworks it made me a little afraid.

So, some highlights...

January: 


Wedding planning kicked up a notch and I started the year excited to no longer be a student but working: I was officially a ballet and French teacher and I loved it. (Why don't I have any photos with my entire French classes?)
At the end of the month Malcolm got a job too, which was a serious answer to prayer.

February: 


I was super-surprised by my kitchen tea party, and Malcolm was kidnapped and taken sword fighting for his bachelor party.

March:


8th: We found out that Malcolm got the funding to study in Germany.
16th: Malcolm's crushed finger incident... At least I have an x-ray so I know that the left hand I took in marriage has good-looking bones.
23rd: our wedding and then our honeymoon.

April: 


Malcolm's birthday, his master's graduation, our first Easter alone...
God answered and provided many, many times in the process of visa applications etc...

May:



We booked our tickets, sorted out all our stuff in our flat, said goodbye to our friends and family, boarded the plane, and arrived in Frankfurt and then Cologne.

June:


Malcolm started his language course and I started this blog and completed an online TEFL course.
It was rather surreal and idyllic as we explored Dunnwald and Koln, got given bicycles to use, made some friends, and connected with a Church.

July:


We booked tickets to Paris, figured out some things about Germany, went to the zoo, visited a museum and generally just enjoyed Summer in Cologne.

August:


My best friend got married and we celebrated all the way over here, I got some serious home-sickness, we explored Bonn and spent some time at the Hammermuhle, enjoyed the company of Margaret, visited the Roman-Germanic Museum, had fun at the "beach", and finally made it to the Rhine Park.

September:


we spent my birthday in Paris, explored the Drakenfels, Malcolm finished his language course, we finally got our love-lock on the bridge, we got things ready for our move, and made the most of our last month in Cologne.

October:


We moved to Marburg (Malcolm's 4th home this year, and my 3rd), we spent lots of time settling in and figuring things out, and explored the town. We enjoyed the kirmes festival (as small as it was), and the beautiful Autumn colours. Annnnd, while I was getting ready to get back to ballet, Malcolm started his doctorate - such a dream-come-true-opportunity!

November:


I got back to dancing, Malcolm got back into the Chemistry-groove, we learned about the cold, the first bit of snow fell, and things started looking a lot like Christmas!

December:


We Christmas-i-fied our home to match the Christmas-y town, kept snug as Marburg was blanketed in pretty snow, Malcolm got a break from work, we visited Frankfurt (hmm, no blog post about that!), and we celebrated Christmas here, and then New Years Eve too.

-------

It's been one heck of a year; one filled with so many emotions and probably the most tears since I was a baby. It's also been the year where I've learned for real that I cannot control my world, I'm learning to trust and have faith that God will look after me. It's 7 months since either of us have had a job, yet the money that Malcolm gets for his studies somehow just seems to stretch. We've been blessed from every direction as we've taken this chance for Malcolm to study here. 

Since getting married we're also learning many, many important lessons. Though we're not entirely there yet, we're learning to take care of each other, how to celebrate both big and small things, how important hugs are, and how unimportant being "right" is. 

It feels strange when I think back on this year - how vivid some memories are and how other things seem to be so far away already. Driving in the PMB heat to go meet Malcolm or go teach a class. Or Malcolm picking me up to go on a date, and standing in the driveway to say goodnight. I think back to standing at the alter vowing to love Malcolm until death, to all the stress of figuring things out for our move. Of the way he held me close after we'd walked through the check-in gates and my legs just didn't want to go. To the elation we felt as we finally walked out the airport in Frankfurt. How crazy-blessed we were when we saw our home in Cologne. And how God has carried us through all the trials this year. 

I'll also take this chance (for those who reached this point with me...) to say the BIGGEST THANK YOU 
to those who've supported us in so many ways.