March 31, 2012

.girls night out.

My blogging has been non-existent this week because I came down with the nasty cold. It got me good. I went to work each day – you’re welcome, co-workers! – but came home at night exhausted and worn out. I’m finally feeling better and was ready to get out of the house and have some fun!

Lucky for me, Jessica, Amy, Kate, and I had a girls night planned! It was a great way to kick off SPRING BREAK! Kate and I met Jessica, Amy, and Emersyn at the Quilt Show to start the fun. I love the quilt show – so many quilts and inspiration. So many quilts I would NEVER EVER make – but fun to look at! Add in a good dose of quilty shopping – so many options all in ONE place!

Amy, Kate, and I went to Twigs for dinner. Appetizers, dinner, dessert, AND drinks – along with lots and lots of laughs makes for a perfect dinner out. Makes me realize how much I love my friends and I’m so thankful for them!

We dropped Amy off back at her car, then Kate and I went to a late showing of “Mirror, Mirror” – the new Julia Roberts Snow White movie. I’m not sure what my problem was (maybe the BIG meal right before?!), but I could NOT stay awake. I felt so sorry for Kate sitting next to my restless self, trying to keep myself awake. The movie wasn’t great, which didn’t help!

This was such a great way to start Spring Break. Can’t wait to do it again very SOON!

March 29, 2012

.kamryn, paint, carpet, and Lowe’s.

I got to spend some fun time with Kamryn and Kate yesterday! Kate had a volleyball meeting during lunch at the high school, so I grabbed Kamryn and took her to my office. She likes to play with my rubber band ball and immediately spotted my flag. “Cheese?” “Picture?!” She didn’t have to ask me twice!
karmyn (3)
After school, Kate, Mom, Kamryn, and I went to the Tri-Cities so Kate could help Mom pick out carpet, paint, and tile for the basement and bathrooms.

First stop: Starbucks! Kamryn loved the big chairs and tried them ALL out!

 Kamryn was a trooper at the carpet store. She loved the carpet sample displays and we counted them over and over and over….first in English, then in Spanish. That girl is so stinkin’ smart! :)
We went to Lowe’s after that…Kamryn did really good through the paint section. She found another flag, so waving that around took up a good 15 minutes! We picked out different colors, played peek-a-boo through the paint samples, and waved the flag some more. 
karmyn (4)
karmyn (5)
Through the mirror and toilet departments, she got a little more restless.
Mom to the rescue! Rides on this cart are SO fun!
karmyn (1)
Around the corners, back and forth….this girl has got balance!
     photo 1
We finished the evening by going to Chico’s Tacos and Albertson’s. Watch out. :)
I taped up some of the paint samples in my bathroom…I’m leaning toward the middle color. It will be a great improvement over the dated wallpaper, yes?!
photo 2
And the tile in that same bathroom.
 photo 3
Thanks for the expertise, Kate! Such a fun evening!

March 22, 2012

family photos…part 3: the Koch’s.

This is the last one for a while…this is all of the pictures I have right now!

This is about my Dad’s parents,
Ernst Koch (1917) and Mary Jean Larkin Koch (1921)



They were married around 1940. Ernie joined the Army in early 1942 and my dad, Robert Ernest Koch, was born July 12, 1942.

Ernie got a short leave to see my Dad when he was born, and then he was stationed in the South Pacific for the majority of the next 3 years.  My Dad was born in Santa Barbara, CA, where my Grandma lived while my Grandpa was overseas. She eventually moved back to Minnesota to be closer to her family.


This is my Dad!


Grandma Jean and “Bobby” on his 1st birthday


We found many photos that had inscriptions on the back from Grandma Jean to Grandpa Ernie while he was overseas – this was one:


She had this professional photo taken of she and my Dad to send to Grandpa Ernie.


My Dad around age 3?


My Grandpa Ernie received a purple heart for being injured by stepping on a land mine. We found this telegraph in the box, informing my Grandma that my Grandpa had been injured.


Grandpa Ernie returned not long after that. Shorty after that, Richard “Dick” joined their family in 1946. They lived in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. My Grandpa worked for car dealerships and gas stations. My Grandma eventually went to work for Weyerhaeuser in St. Paul.


My Dad graduated from Stillwater Area High School in 1960. That summer, the family relocated to Tacoma, WA with Weyerhaeuser. My Mom always points out how interesting that the family would move halfway across the country to follow the woman’s job in 1960, which is true!


Dick graduated in 1964 from Lakes High School in Tacoma. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident in 1967.


I have this photo framed in my bedroom. My Mom said it was Grandma Jean’s “official” Weyerhaeuser photo.


I just like this one too.


This was Grandpa Ernie and Grandma Jean’s house in Tacoma that I remember going to as a little girl. Our family lived a few blocks away until I was 3 1/2.


I love this one too!


Grandpa Ernie and his BFF Elmer Dittman.
They were back door neighbors in Lake Elmo. My parents would stay with them when they went to Minnesota until Elmer and his wife Hilda both passed away.


My parent’s wedding picture – 1977
Spokane, WA


This is me with Grandpa Ernie and Grandma Jean, around 1981.


Christmas 1985: Grandpa Ernie and Grandma Jean with their grandkids:
Bobby, Tara, me, and Melissa


Bobby’s senior picture – 1983
He passed away in 1987.


Tara’s senior picture - 1988


Grandpa Ernie also passed away in 1987 from cancer; Grandma Jean in 1996, also from cancer.

My Dad is now the oldest living member of his Koch/Larkin family, as the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family.

There you have it – the Koch family history in 3 parts!
Now, onto my Mom’s side: the Heiders, Sackmanns, Gusts, and Lobes!

.family photos…part 2: the Graf’s & Koch’s.

 koch family tree
This is about my Dad’s Dad’s family. I love the story of this family!
Let’s start with my Dad’s grandma. Her name was Anna Graf. She was the oldest daugher of Arnold and Anna Handschin Graf. She had 2 younger brothers and 6 younger sisters. They were from Rickenbach, Switzerland.
I believe this picture is of Anna, her mother, and sisters.
This is Anna Graf Koch.
The wedding picture of Johannes (John) and Anna Graf Koch. There are no family pictures of the Koch family prior to this that I know of. John Koch was an orphan, raised by relatives in Bavarian Germany. We know his parent’s names were Andreas and Anna Feyer Koch. John studied in Basel, Switzerland to become a minister.
They were married in the 1910’s. History during this time tells us that World War I was on the horizon. John, as a German citizen, was not welcomed in Switzerland and so they became missionaries and went to Australia.
While in Australia, Anna Maria (1916) and my grandfather Ernst (1917) were born.
This is them – aren’t they adorable?!
They returned to Switzerland when the war was over and lived in Rickenbach with Anna’s family. While they were there, Siegfried (1921) was born.
Not long after that, the family went to Brazil as missionaries. (I think it’s amazing that they did all this world travelling in the early 1900’s when it was so difficult to travel!) While there, Anna (the mom) and the new baby girl fell ill to typhoid fever and both passed away. John was sponsored by a church in Wisconsin to come to the United States as their minister.
When they came to the United States, “Grandma Anna’s” (how they distinguished between the mother and the daughter) sister Emma came from Switzerland to help John settle in and to care for the children. Four of Anna’s younger sisters never married and lived together their entire lives (Emma, Ida, Liesl, and Martha). The sisters always kept in close contact with their niece and nephews. When the last sister passed away, they left all their combined “fortune” to John and Anna’s children – Anna, Ernst, and Siegfried. Since my Grandma Ernie (Ernst) had already passed away, my Dad received the inheritance money. We used it to go to Switzerland in 1999 to see Rickenbach, the famed chalet where the sisters lived, and to meet cousins from the Graf family. I loved that experience!
Back to the history: John relocated to Lake Elmo, Minnesota and put an ad in the newspaper for a nanny. Katharina () answered the ad and as a true love story goes, they fell in love.
John and Katie were married and had a child, Walter. This family photo was taken before his birth.
They lived in Lake Elmo until their deaths, his in 1976. He was the minister of a small church. This is a portrait of them in their later years.
This is a family photo in the early 1970’s. I don’t remember what the occasion was. John and Katie are seated in the middle, their children on either side of them:
(from the left) Walter, Siegfried, Anna, and Ernst.
Their families are standing behind them.
I just think this a great picture. This is my Dad’s cousin Dennis and his wife, Sharon, at their wedding in 1972. Dennis is the son of Anna Koch Hooley. We usually stay with Dennis and Sharon when we go to Minnesota. Of all the Koch family, we’re closest to Dennis and Sharon and their family.
We are lucky to know so much information about the Koch family because my Great-Grandpa Koch write a book “The Story of My Life.” I read it as a teenager, but I haven’t for quite a while. He had such a unique life for the time period he lived in; it’s fascinating to read about his experiences. I am so proud of my family history. I wish we could find more information out about the Koch’s from Germany, but since we don’t know John’s parent’s names, my searches on hit a dead end.   

.family photos…part 1: the Larkin’s.

In the midst of cleaning things in the basement, my Mom recovered a box of photos that were my Grandma Jean’s. We spent an evening after dinner going through them the other night. Most of these I had seen before, but decided I wanted to put them on my blog for documentation purposes! This may start a series…beware. :)
Here is the part of my family tree that these pictures are from…
(I have to say here….my Mom has always been interested in history and genealogy…and as much as I tease her for it, I do appreciate her passing that on to me. I know the family names of my ancestors and pieces of information about each of them. That is something special.)
koch family tree

I'm starting with my Dad's side of the family. This is about his mother's family.
This is Reuben Larkin, my great-grandfather, holding my Grandma Jean, circa 1921. My Grandma Jean was the oldest of 4 children. She had 3 brothers: Reuben, Harold, and Russell. They were from Minnesota.
At the bottom of this picture it says “Affectionately Mary Jeanne and Daddy”. I’m not sure about the spelling of her name. She always spelled it “Jean.” She always told us that she wasn't expected to live as an infant, so she was baptized "Mary Jean" in the Catholic tradition. She hated "Mary" and always went by "Jean."
This is her mother, Mae Barrett Larkin. We don’t know much about her or her family. She died in 1947 and my Grandma didn’t talk much about her.
We found this amongst the photos. It’s hand painted silk, signed by Mae Barrett in 1910. She would’ve been 15 when she painted this. I was excited to find it – I love seeing that my craftiness is inherited!
I want to mat and frame this so that it’s preserved properly.
I just love this picture. This is Russell’s family – my Grandma Jean’s brother.
He was married to Shirley Francois Larkin. She started the Larkin Dance Studio in the basement of their home in 1950. It grew into a very successful dance studio, now in Maplewood, Minnesota. We loved watching Star Search as kids and seeing dancers from the Larkin Dance Studio. Shirley passed away last summer, but her daughters still run the dance studio. We love to visit the studio when we go to Minnesota! My favorite memory of Shirley is one time when we stopped by the studio unannounced. She was smoking and talking on the phone in her office. She looked up and saw my Dad and said, nonchalantly, “oh, cousin Bobby is here.” As if it happened every day.
Shirley, Mary Kay, Patty, Michele, Nancy, Kelley, and Molly Larkin
My Grandma was so proud of these nieces and talked about them often. Pictures of them and their families decorated her refrigerator. I felt like I knew them before I even met them!
Next time, you’ll get to meet the Koch family!


Snow on March 22?!


Please spring…come soon.
I’m so over winter.

March 18, 2012


The Koch gals and Gramma Marcial went to get our nails done today….we go to the same place (LA Nails and Spa on Gage Blvd across from Costco) for about 4 or 5 years now. I like the familiarity and they do a great job! We’ve become “friends” with the nail techs…I’ve ordered pizza over the phone for them, helped explain their daughter’s report card for them, and gave them advice about when to take their daughter out of school to go visit family.

Their son, Tom, has grown up in the nail salon, from being in his exasaucer , to toddling around, to now playing his DS and shooting “guns.”

and he LOVES “Gran-MA”. Loves her. L.O.V.E. LOVES her.
If she doesn’t come with us, they all ask, “where’s Gran-MA?”

He thinks her hair is something amazing and wants to touch it…and says, “What’s that?!”

Today we went in there and he barely left Grandma’s side.
He sat on her lap while she got her nails done…

photo 1

and while her nails dried.

 photo 2

So funny! 
He gives her a BIG hug and barely will let go!

She just loves it – and it makes the nail experience more fun!

.disaster strikes again.

I went down to the craft room on Thursday night and found water on the floor and rain coming from the ceiling.

photo 1

This is where it was coming from. I quickly got towels to put on the floor, tried to take a bunch of stuff out, saved some fabric that had gotten wet, and called my Dad to figure out where to turn off the water.

 photo 2

This ceiling tile was ready to burst at any second, so I moved everything away from under it and placed buckets under it for when the inevitable happened.

photo 3 

These drawers were full of water…there was water EVERYWHERE!

photo 4

My Mom called the insurance company on Friday morning and by Friday afternoon, restoration experts were here and a plumber came to fix the problem. There was a malfunction in a piece of the pipe coming from my Dad’s bathroom.

The water leak was above a wall separating the craft room from the main area of the basement, so there was water damage on both sides of the wall plus in our freezer room. The restoration company cleared everything out along the wall (including 2 sets of shelves and 2 desks)  and in the main area so they could pull the carpet back. They moved it all into the living room area of the basement. When I went down there yesterday morning, this is what it looked like:

 photo 1

 photo 2

Mom and I spent 3-4 hours on Saturday purging and cleaning out a bunch of this stuff. It had needed to be done for a LONG time. We took a pickup load to the garbage and have a load to take to Goodwill today. It feels really good to finally have that done. There is still much to be done before we can move back into the craft room. Part of the drywall has to be replaced, for one. We’re planning to get some new shelves at IKEA that I’ve been wanting for a while, so that part is exciting!

Today, I’m going to pack up my sewing machine and bring it upstairs for a while. And look around Pinterest for craft room organization…time for some inspiration since we get to change it up a bit! :)