Just Us Barkers Our Little Corner of the Web

Upcycling & Repurposing

About seven months ago I redid a couple of our dining room chairs. The craft shop on base was closing soon and I had no time to waste. I picked out fabric that was almost identical to the other chairs. I had two to redo and really didn’t want to do all of them if I didn’t have to. Prying out staples isn’t my idea of a good time. I completed the two chairs, the craft shop closed, and then . . . the fabric on two other chairs ripped and wore thin. Seriously? Are you kidding me? So, we had two ripped up chairs for a few months. I was weighing my options: (a) order fabric on-line, (b) buy fabric locally, or (c) start using the patio chairs. Option A just ended up being a waste of time. I searched stores, but you can’t really see and feel the fabric and that’s something that I need. I just couldn’t bring myself to do Option B. I cannot in good conscience overpay for something that I don’t want to pay for in the first place. And I  think the patio chairs might be too low for the table. Many months passed and I continued to live in denial. Trying to avoid the ugly chair dilemma. But, we had some visitors coming for lunch and I HAD to do something.

I quickly sprang into action and headed for the basement (where all my brilliant plans are hatched). I decided to just get them covered, even if it meant with little cowboys and Christmas fabric. I was looking for some extra fabric – you know all that extra fabric that you can’t bear to throw out. Hey, if I couldn’t do the chairs right, at least I would make a temporary cover. Immediately, I came across a failed project of mine. I had saved one of Matt’s old long sleeve t-shirts to repurpose. I brought it up stairs, separated the front from the back, and started stapling. When Matt got home and saw the chairs, he couldn’t figure out where I had gotten the fabric from or what type of material it was.

This is just a temporary fix. I do plan on redoing all the chairs once I can do a proper job and pick out the right type of material.

Running in Germany

Running in Germany has its ups and downs. I’m talking about recreational running, not running from a cheetah kind of running. That is a whole different sport. In Germany, for instance, I just love the infinite ways to get from point A to point B. There are so many paved paths that take you where ever you want to go and places you could never see by car. Plus, the countryside can be breathtaking. Like right now, the red poppies are sprinkled in the golden fields. IMG_0506

When running anywhere it is important to be prepared. For some it’s planning the route, distance, or time. Still for others, being prepared means dressing for the weather. Personally, I try on both counts. I usually have some idea of where my run takes me, how far I’m willing to go, and when I’m expected to return. But honestly, my legs usually do their own thing. My mind says, “Hey this is too much work. Let’s turn around and go home.” Whereas another part of me is saying “Shut up and run.” I’d like to think my legs have some say in the matter.

Dressing for the weather. Dressing for the weather in Germany. That one is a doozy. My standard uniform is Nike Tempo Shorts, a mis-matched tech shirt, a hat that used to be white, sporty sunglasses, and of course, running socks and shoes. My socks are so smart too. They tell me which is left and right, so I’ll never have to wonder. Continue reading



If you know me at all, you know that I am a very trendy person. I am all about what is and what is not hot.

Just foolin’. I had you going there for a sec didn’t I?

I am, however, superbly keen on some of the newest trends that are ridiculous, dumb, hideous, and nonsensical. The kind that make you laugh out loud or perhaps you hear a slight whimper and realize that it escaped from your own lips.

For example, when traveling a couple of years ago from Athens to Frankfurt, I actually saw a woman wearing “Hammer pants.” Let me refresh your memory “Du du du du, du du, du du. Can’t touch this!” Apparently M.C. Hammer’s pants made a small comeback in Europe that year. I saw them several times. Continue reading

The Last Week

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This was the 34th week of school for the Barker boys. Their mean old schoolmarm even made them do some work Friday – the very last day of school. They only had a few things to do. Earlier in the week they took their big geography test, which they have been learning all year. Tristan is still working on his country report. He wasn’t even assigned a report, but I thought he should do one. Aren’t you glad I’m not your teacher? Anyway, I got him started a little late. […]

Gavin’s New Thing

This school year has been eye-opening. I mean this in an awe-inspiring kind of way. Yes, there have been a few challenges, but not nearly as many as I had anticipated. I have had the privilege to watch my favorite little people grow and make significant academic progress.

Matt and I were blessed with having the option of choosing what the boys studied this year. They each had some input in the decision making process. I decided that among other subjects, Spanish would be beneficial for them both. Given that we hope to someday return to our native land and speaking Spanish is incredibly useful, we thought this selection was wise. Plus, Gavin had some Spanish last year and I was impressed with what he learned.

Fast forward from July to March . . . okay stop. I’m going to be honest here. Brutally honest. It may have seemed “wise”, but it was not a good fit. Ever try to force a puzzle piece into a puzzle shaped hole? Yeah. No.

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Update: Salty Science

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It took a long time, but it happened. The water from the salt water experiment finally evaporated. We were left with some serious salt formations. I have to admit that the boys were very patient with this experiment. They checked the progress regularly for many weeks. Honestly, I was ready to be finished two weeks into it. They continue to impress and amaze me. Good work little dudes.



Here are the sleepy pictures of the boys upon discovery of their Easter Baskets. They were getting ready for church, which explains why Gavin was only wearing his undershirt. It was also his idea to set out all the eggs that we dyed. He wanted a beautiful presentation. Now, a month later, we still have Easter candy sitting in bags on the kitchen counter.

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They’re Back!

They have returned from the abyss. Also known as Belgium.

Tristan and Matt made it back Tuesday afternoon. They had a good time, but they brought something home with them. Besides a mountain of laundry – they brought that too. They brought home something we have not had in this house for at least a year.

The suspense is killing you isn’t it? If so, just read the next line and you’ll be satisfied.

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Spring Break

Did you ever go to summer camp?

The only camps I went to were volleyball camps. They were painful, yet lots of fun. The conditioning was painful. The drills and friends were the fun part.

This year for Spring Break, Tristan is going to camp. He’s going with a ton of other middle school aged children. That had me freaked out a little bit. Okay, a whole lot. I thought this spring break thing was like a VBS for middle schoolers. You know, drive them in everyday, they play games, eat snacks, go home, and repeat. I did not realize it was an actual camp. Continue reading

Wrapping Up Russia

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We are wrapping up our study of Russia. The kids have learned about the country’s political history, language, people, culture, geography, and diverse landscapes. Let me be the first to say that I would not volunteer to go there. I am not tough enough. Plus, they probably would not let me in anyway.