Beach Days

Calm seas and dolphins in South Bethany in August. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Calm Atlantic seas and dolphins at South Bethany Beach, Delaware in August. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I was offered the use of a Bethany beach house for a few days this week. I love the beach even though I sunburn when I get near one.

A beach lover for a long time. In the 70's I used a t-shirt to avoid bad sunburns. I remember usually burning the worst on the backs of my knees.
A beach lover for a long time. In the 70’s I used a t-shirt to avoid bad sunburns. I remember usually burning the worst on the backs of my knees.
These days I hide under a hat and umbrella. Photo by Glenn Davies
These days I hide under a hat and umbrella. Photo by Glenn Davies

There is some magic thing about being near the ocean. Maybe it’s the extra ions in the air that make people feel relaxed and happy.

The view from the beach house. Lots of birds and strange animal sounds at night. Is it racoon mating season? Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view from the beach house. Lots of birds and strange animal sounds at night. Is it racoon mating season? Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Early morning visitor. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Early morning visitor. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My beach going friend Glenn and I enjoyed our stay. Andreas the Oceanographer stayed home. he doesn’t appreciate the whole beach scene with the crowds and traffic. Sitting on the beach bores him.

South Bethany Beach at North 1st st. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
South Bethany Beach at North 1st St. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Glenn and I did our own things. He went to the boardwalk and floated along the canals in his inflatable kayak.

Glenn floating along a canal. He saw an egret and a heron. No snakes or alligators. Photo by Glenn Davies
Glenn floating along a canal. He saw an egret and a heron. No snakes or alligators. Photo by Glenn Davies

I went to my brother-in-law George’s favorite coffee place and caught up on some magazines a friend gave me.

Drifting Grounds in Bethany Beach. I recomend their dark roast.
Drifting Grounds in Bethany Beach. I recommend their dark roast.
The "Friends" sofa in Drifting Grounds.
The “Friends” sofa in Drifting Grounds.

We spent time at the beach swimming and walking. We also met my Aunt and Uncle who live locally for dinner and caught up with them.

Yes, I got some sunburn, even on a cloudy day.

We had a great time. Thanks to Christina and George!

Here comes the storm. We made it back to the house just as the rain started. Photo by Glenn Davies
Here comes the storm. We made it back to the house just as the rain started. Photo by Glenn Davies

OK, back to work.

Bremerhaven Germany with Kids

We recently had the pleasure of hosting my freshman college roommate and her family for the weekend in Bremerhaven.

Stefanie and family. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family. The younger kid could have chosen a larger stuffed animal at the zoo but she told her dad that this one was all alone on the shelf so she chose him. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My friend Stefanie and I met thirty-one years ago when we were matched as roommates at LaGrange College in southwestern Georgia. Stefanie was a foreign student from Germany and I was a crazy girl from Delaware.

Stefanie and Dragonfly. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Stefanie and Dragonfly. We both became high school teachers and had a lot to talk about.Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Surprisingly, I was already friends with her cousin who was studying at the University of Delaware. (Small world) I only attended LaGrange for a year, but Stefanie and I kept in touch. When I was studying Art in Wolverhampton, England in 1991 I visited her and her family in Germany on my spring break and Andreas and I were able to visit her during our travels in Germany Christmas 2017.

Luckily, she is not too far away in Bonn and was able see us with her husband and two girls ages five and eight. The older one loves all animals, especially horses and the younger one loves speed and sport.

Swashbuckling on the dike. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Three kids swashbuckling on the dike. Andreas’ way of keeping the kids busy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.

We had a wonderful weekend seeing the Harbor through their eyes. The Harbor area was so fun for them we never made it to town.

Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they're wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they’re wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sisters sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Waserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Wasserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' Birkenstocks, sticky from and earlier Sprite spillage at the Waserschout get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ Birkenstocks, sticky from an earlier Sprite soda spillage at the Waserschout, get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mike burying the kids.
Mike burying the kids.
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share in the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weserstrand mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weser River mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas' secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year olds sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas’ secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year old’s sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When the sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When they sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven Zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama's book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama’s book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Definitely mystery gummies.
Definitely mystery gummies.
Best gift of all.
Best gift of all.
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don't know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can't wait to visit with all of you again!
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don’t know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can’t wait to visit with all of you again!

Minimalist Wardrobe Expat Style

How do you know how many clothes you’ll need for a year in a different country? If you only want to move with a suitcase and a backpack which pieces are most important? These are hard questions to answer. Andreas and I wanted to bring the minimal amount that we might need with us to Germany. We had to plan for three seasons, a month in the Arctic and other travel. (The institute Andreas is doing research with provided us with cold weather gear in the Arctic. We didn’t expect that)

Off the coast of North West Greenland in a borrowed jacket and trusty sweatpants. Andreas saysI shouldn't wear these pants in public because they're too American. I wonder what gives them away? Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Off the coast of North West Greenland in a borrowed jacket and trusty sweatpants. Andreas says I shouldn’t wear these pants in public because they’re too American. I wonder what gives them away? Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Today I took a photo of everything we brought to wear and then a second photo of what we’ve actually needed from summer through winter.

Andreas, being a guy and having a job that doesn’t require a lot of dressing up, was better prepared to pack with less choices. He only owns two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants to begin with.

Andreas' winter gear. A fleece jacket under a wind breaker with a hat. He says he's warm enough... Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ winter gear. A fleece jacket under a wind breaker with a hat. He says he’s warm enough… Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I on the other hand had more options to choose from. Even though I try to have only the essentials in my closet, my life required a few “costume” changes during the day. I used to begin my day as a teacher in a business casual costume, then come home and change into jeans and a t-shirt to go shopping or for a walk. If my private art students were painting or if I was going out with friends I would change again in the evening.

Layers and rainbows is how I roll. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Layers and rainbows is how I roll. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In Germany I can work from home (sweatpants and a t-shirt) and when I leave the apartment, I trade the sweatpants for jeans. Still a costume change but an easy choice. I tried to only pack the minimal amount of clothing I would want physically and psychologically. I figured that if I really needed anything, I could go shopping. I was mostly afraid of boredom from wearing the same clothes every week. This is why I brought fourteen t-shirts and eight scarves, so I would have variety. Honestly, I’m so happy to be able to wear comfortable clothes everyday that I’m not bored at all by limited choices. My husband isn’t bored looking at me in the same clothes everyday because he’s not paying attention to those things.

All of the clothes that Andreas packed for a year abroad. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
All of the clothes that Andreas packed for a year abroad. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So, what did we bring and what did we need? Andreas brought: shoes 2, sweaters 3, jackets 4, t-shirts 9, dress shirts 8, pants 2, shorts 4, biking rain gear 1, gloves 3, scarf 1, hats 3. What he actually needed or has worn: shoes 2, jackets 3, t-shirts 9, dress shirts 4, pants 2, biking rain gear 1, gloves 0, scarf 0 and hats 2. So, he was pretty right on. The only things he over packed were dress shirts, sweaters and jackets. He doesn’t feel the cold so much.

The clothes that Andreas has needed and worn this year minus 1 pair of pants, 1 t-shirt, a fleece jacket and a windbreaker. (Things that he wore to work today) Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The clothes that Andreas has needed and worn this year minus 1 pair of pants, 1 t-shirt, a fleece jacket, Birkenstocks and a windbreaker. (Things that he wore to work today) Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
All of the clothes that I thought I would need for one year in Germany. Photo by Dragonfly LeathrumAll of the clothes that I thought I would need for one year in Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
All of the clothes that I thought I would need for one year in Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I brought: shoes 3, jackets 4, t-shirts 14, pants 3 (1 jeans, 1 sweatpants, 1 leggings) shorts 2, skirts 4, biking rain gear 1, gloves 3, scarves 8, hats 4, bathing suit 1. What I’ve used: shoes 3, jackets 3, t-shirts 10, pants 3, shorts 1, skirts 1, biking rain gear 0, gloves 1, scarves 8, hats 2 and bathing suit 0. Pretty close, but I could have packed less and been happy. We also packed seven pairs of underwear and socks each. The socks are wearing out fast because we walk and bicycle instead of drive.

The clothes that I've actually needed and worn in eight months. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The clothes that I’ve actually needed and worn in eight months. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So, how much do you need and which pieces are important? I’d say enough for a week and of course, everyone has different needs. When we travel around Europe, we bring a t-shirt, underwear and socks for each day, a pair of pants and a jacket. We’ve never wished that we had brought more.

When in doubt go rainbow. Easy matchy matchy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
When in doubt go rainbow. Easy matchy matchy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I wrote this blog as a reminder to us that we don’t need to pack so much and that we are just as happy with less. I hope that when we return home, we (we mostly meaning me) will continue to live with a smaller wardrobe and cut down on shopping. Also, a reminder to our traveling friends to relax about packing, and that it’s easier to travel with smaller lighter bags.