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Month: June 2009

The only thing that could possibly save this post…

The only thing that could possibly save this post…

First, I have to apologize.

This post is probably going to bore you to tears.

But flower boxes were a big part of my trip to Italy.

Yes, I said “flower boxes.” Weird, I know. Like anytime I fell behind the group people looked back, there I was…taking a picture of more window boxes.

I became obsessed with window boxes.

Everywhere you looked people had such pretty flowers in their windows and I took lots and lots (and lots) of pictures of them.

I have no idea why.

I couldn’t stop myself.

I think the Italians take lots of pride in their windows.

And I noticed.

And I’m not a flower and garden kind of gal, but it’s just that these beautiful windows were everywhere.

This one below was my absolute favorite. I want to figure out how to reverse this picture (is that possible?) because I think it’s so cool. It’s like beginning, middle and end in the window box world.

Isn’t that so cool?

O.K., maybe it’s just me. And since I’m sure I have bored you to tears, I can only think of one thing that may or may not interest you.

The fact that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie went with us to Italy.

Or at least really, really good look a likes.

It was really Matthew and Lizie Bailey and I SWEAR Matthew is THE funniest person I think I have ever met. And that’s saying something because I think most people are funny.

And there is no way I could possibly describe how funny he is….although I will say that I think he should have his own show on the Comedy Channel. If you know him or ever meet him, ask him to do his imitation of the lady who gives directions on the GPS, or Mrs. Garmin as we liked to call her.

You will laugh until you cry.

And there is no telling what he’s going to say about my post about window boxes.

But whatever he says will be funny.

And him saying something funny could possibly be the only thing that can save a boring post about my window box obsession.

Sky Team Rolls … And so do the Baergs

Sky Team Rolls … And so do the Baergs

I’m about to give you a tip. A very, very important tip. A tip I wish I had paid attention to before embarking on a three flight trans-Atlantic journey.

Pack a spare pair of clothes in your carry on luggage.


Because otherwise you may end up with the same fate as five out of the six of us who unintentionally joined what from here to fore will be called…”The Sky Team”.

It’s not the kind of team for which you want to be picked.

Trust me, I know. I’m speaking from personal experience here.

We landed in Florence.

Our bags did not.

“No problem,” they said. “We’ll send them by courier when they arrive.”

Which just so happened to be three days later.

As a consolation prize they gave us a toiletries kit which included a white “Sky Team” t-shirt. Which we wore for two days.

Just please, never, ever travel without clothes in your carry on. Ever.

It was two very, very long days.

Until we called and they told us they would give us 100 Euros for some new duds.

By the time we found this information out, we had about an hour until the stores closed. And we found a store in a nearby town and raced in. Or as we said…”the sky team rolled.”

It was on the way in that we realized we (having not showered and looking oh so skanky in our matching white “sky team” t-shirts) looked like convicts. Escaped convicts.

And after we bought ourselves some Italian designer duds, I felt like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” who looks back at the store clerk and say
s “big mistake” when they didn’t help her. I actually almost ended up with no clothes because I couldn’t find anything and no one would help me, but with seconds to spare and the help of Bill and Cindy, I found something.

Here we are in our Euro duds:

In was hot in Sienne and Bill still had money on his Air France account so he stopped and bought these very cool Italian shorts. It was a long way from our “Sky Team” ensemble.

We raced back to the villa because we had hired a chef to come and cook our dinner. Natalie helped make it. It would have been fun to help make homemade pasta but not as fun as spending 100 Euro of Air France’s money to buy Italian clothes. I’m just saying.

Here was the appetizer spread – or the anti pasta portion as they like to call it:

And dessert:

It was all delicious.

We showered and wore our new duds the next day to Sienne. Every year this city is the site of a big horse race through the town plaza. Boys will be boys and our husbands decided to recreate this scene for us themselves. They had quite the footrace through the plaza.

And we wonder why they think Americans are crazy.

I do realize that in the last month we’ve been to Disney World and Italy, but the Baergs are rolling again and we are spending this week at Pine Cove/Crier Creek family camp. This will be our 4th year and we look forward to it every year. It’s a great time of recharging and renewal for our family.

With this trip we will have pretty much exhausted Bill’s vacation days as well as our budget so I think we’ll stay put for a while.

But you never know….cuz just like the “Sky Team”, the Baergs like to “roll.”

I’ve got some more Italy to share though so I’ve scheduled posts throughout the week.

But for now…Ciao!

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

But that is exactly how long we had to see it.

Fortunately Tommy and Cindy had spent several days there 2 years ago and so Tommy expertly guided us to all the hot spots.

Not that I’m calling the Vatican a hot spot.

But speaking of the Vatican, Cindy wasn’t allowed in. They told her that her dress was too short. Which it wasn’t…but I’m not Catholic so maybe I’m wrong. There were definitely people in there with shorter dresses.

You have no idea how much I’ve enjoyed telling people that Cindy was kicked out of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Almost as funny as when her husband, Tommy, freaked when our train was pulling into Rome.

The train stopped just before the station…I guess to get the all clear. We were all visiting when all of a sudden Tommy grabs his backpack and yells…”I THINK THIS IS OUR STOP!!!!” And runs to the front of the train.

Leaves the rest of us staring at each other in disbelief.

Then we laughed because Tommy had freaked.

And this is the thing about Tommy…he’s a very accomplish
ed attorney.

Like he’s so good at what he does they inducted him into some “smartest attorneys in the world” club or something.

But at that moment in time, he lost all that attorney bravado and had a moment of panic.

After all of us disembarked and Tommy calmed down,

we had a little breakfast,

got excited about the big day,

bought a ticket for a sightseeing bus,

and saw the sights.

Like the ancient ruins

The Colliseum

The Pantheon

The Spanish Steps

St. Peter’s Cathedral


Famous Fountains

Lots and Lots of Fountains.

And you should know…it was very, very hot in Rome.

And that means one thing.


Leeanna orders a cone of gelato.

The waiter asks if she wants the “big” cone.

She says “yes.”

He proceeds to COVER the cone with little wafer type crackers and a sparkler type thing poked into it.

It looked awesome and she loved it.

It was the perfect birthday treat.

So we took her picture with the waiter.
And I love this picture. She looks so happy.

That was until she realized they charged her $24 for the “big” cone.

This is what she looked like after she found that out.

I still think it was worth the $24 just to see that smile when Mr. Italiano kissed her.

Totally worth it.

Villa Sweet Villa

Villa Sweet Villa

It was amazing.

This was our room.

This is where I wanted to spend the next month. Or the whole summer.

This was where Bill wanted to spend the next..well, forever. There was a 3 hole golf course they enjoyed as much as I enjoyed the pool.

Unless he decided to ride bikes.

But he’d come cool off in the pool afterwards.
(He looks good, doesn’t he?)

And I loved when he came to the pool.
Please note: I have a very cute new bathing suit I bought just for the trip. I forgot the bottoms in Houston. I had to swim in ugly ole workout shorts
with the cute top. It wasn’t a good look. A definite Glamour Don’t.

I just remembered that I meant to play more ping pong at the villa. I did get in a few games though! It was hard to concentrate on the game when there were mountains all around.

This is Andrea (pronounced Ahndraya – but spelled Andrea….which turned out to be very funny when we were looking for a woman in the town square who was to take us to the villa.) Andrea is the owners son (Leeanna had only sent him emails so we didn’t know he was a man) and he came every morning to water the flowers and open the pool for us. And yes, I did keep asking myself if I was awake or dreaming. I really thought I was dreaming.

I mean, seriously….it didn’t seem real.

But then Leeanna would remind us that it was time to make lunch. And get this!!! Bill and Tommy would go to the garden and pick lettuce for our sandwiches. And then pride themselves on how they had “hunted and gathered.” Made me laugh.

Speaking of hunting and gathering…

This was my favorite thing I did on the entire trip. Well, that and swimming and laughing. I’m picking cherries for my breakfast. Delicious!!! And then I’d get raspberries…

They were like candy. I didn’t even wash them. I’d pick ’em and pop ’em in my mouth.

I thought they were beautiful.

And the strawberries…

best I’d ever tasted.

Sometimes we’d eat out here on the patio …

But most of the time …

here on the porch.

We rarely went in here …

because it was so nice out here …

Besides, Bill had to duck whenever he went inside…

We decided he was the tallest man in Italy.

But that will not keep us from going back.

I can’t wait!

Italy. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Italy. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

We are back.

Exhausted, but home.

Within 24 hours of coming home, we had unpacked (well Bill did anyway), driven 8 hours round trip to pick up the kids (I did that which is one reason I haven’t unpacked), made it to the final swim meet – with 22 minutes to spare, and tried to recover from jet lag.

We were so glad to see the kids swim in the last meet…even if we could barely keep our eyes open.

And this little guy was SO glad to see his daddy.

I still haven’t recovered because today included a grocery store trip, doctors appointment, end of the season swim team party, etc. and all I could think of was…”I sure miss Italy.” And Paris. And all the laughs and fun we had (except the part where our luggage was lost for 3 days).

There is lots to tell, but for now, here is a little of what I’m missing .

Looking out our bedroom window each morning…

And seeing this.

And this.

And going to restaurants where the view looked like this.

And having gelato every day. I really miss the gelato.

And I also really, really miss these people. Some of whom made me laugh so hard I thought I might hurt myself from laughing.

Tomorrow I’ll give you an insiders tour of our villa.

I really miss that too.

New Do, Part 2

New Do, Part 2

I have no idea what is going on with the Baergs. First I change the color of my hair, and now this….

Jacob’s new summer cut!

I LOVE it.

The fashion conscious teenager that lives in my house is probably gonna hate it, but that can’t be helped. In the immortal words that every parent has spoken…”when you grow up and have kids of your own”… you can cut your sons hair however you want.

Jacob loves it too.

Thinks it’s gonna make him swim faster. We’ll see about that. All I know is that I think it is pretty darn cute.

They “gelled” it for him when they cut it but after a quick swim the spiked look is gone. He says it’s “ruined.” Maybe he can talk me into getting some gel of his own.

And the other big news of the day …

Bill and I are leaving on a plane bound for Italy in a few short hours. We are so excited!! I never thought I’d be jetting over to Europe to vacation in a villa in Tuscany for a week. One of my friends turned 40 this year and her husband rented a villa for 5 couples for her birthday. Can I get a WHOO HOO?!?

So, I have no idea if I’ll be able to post for the next 10 days, but if I can…I’ll let you know how it is going.

For now…

Au Rivederci!

New Do…

New Do…

I have a new do.

Hair do that is. I went from blonde to brunette.

Lots of reasons…for starters, my very fashion conscious teenage daughter wanted me to do it. Then when I went to a new stylist she almost demanded I do it.

Those two are kind of pushy.

The funniest thing was when I came home and the a fore mentioned teenage daughter’s mouth dropped open I said…”Well, you told me to do it.”

Her answer? “Well, I never thought you really would.”

But I did, and this is my new look:

I took this picture on my Mac computer. Which, by the way, I love almost as much as my new refrigerator.

And that’s a lot.

The good news is that Bill liked my hair a lot too.

The teenager still can’t believe I did it.

And I love freaking out a teenager.

Summer Recipes – Week One – It’s a little fishy…

Summer Recipes – Week One – It’s a little fishy…

I have JOY when I go to the grocery store now.

Total JOY.

Because I can now buy food for my family and not have to worry about where I am going to put it.

Have I mentioned that I love having two refrigerators?

Because I do. It’s like a whole new world. That and the large capacity washer and I’m so happy I could almost cry.

But back to my recipe. Sunday night. I had defrosted some tilapia (because I can now see what is actually in my freezer!). I have never cooked tilapia before so I was a little hesitant.

I googled “Best Tilapia Recipes” and in literally 25 minutes I had cooked an entire meal. The recipe came from And the good news is that everyone liked it! A little spicy but I think I might have over done it on the cayenne pepper.

The recipe called for brown sugar and cayenne pepper (both of which I had on hand!) and my sister (the real foodie of the family) said sweet and spicy is always her favorite combination.

So here it is: Summer Recipes Week One

The Best Tilapia
5-6 tilapia fillets
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne or ground red pepper
1 dash seasoning salt
1 dash garlic powder

Rinse fillets and pat semi dry. Combine rest of ingredients in bowl. Rub mixture onto fillets. Place in greased pan (if using over) at 375 for 15 minutes. If grilling place on oiled grill rack or in broiler for 3-5 minutes.

I served it with:

Green and Yellow Squash Saute

1 med. sized zucchini
1 med. sized summer squash
1 medium size sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter

Cut in 1/4 inch thick slices. Heat oil and butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Press garlic into pan or add minced garlic and cook, stirring until garlic just starts to brown. Add onion, zucchini and yellow squash. Cook, stirring often, until squash in just tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Some rolls and sliced fruit and we had ourselves a summer supper.

Have I mentioned I love summer?

By the way…this is what winter looks like…

Enjoy your summer!!!

I had to post…

I had to post…

Because he was just too excited not to…

Today was Jacob’s very first swim meet. He has gone to swim meets and swim practices every summer of his life, watching his sisters swim for hours upon hours.

But tonight was his turn.

The big debut.

And in his first race…a freestyle medley with three other 5 and 6 year old little boys, his team came in first place. Just because it was a first place in the last heat of his age division didn’t matter in the least. He had a blue ribbon.

And he was SO excited. “MAMA…my FIRST race is a FIRST place. Get it?!?”

And the night only got better when he swam in the 6 and under individual freestyle and came in second. “See Mama…my FIRST race is FIRST place, my SECOND race is SECOND place. Get it?!? I’m counting!”

The only heart breaker of the evening was when I looked over at him as he was standing at the ready bench. He was about 3 races away from diving in. When my eye caught his eye, his little lip started to quiver and he held up his Crocs. He had accidentally worn his shoes to the deck. I got his shoes and the race went off without a hitch.

And I know to me and you it might just look like a blue ribbon, but to Jacob…it might as well have been Olympic Gold.

My name is Darla Baerg

My name is Darla Baerg

I was asked to speak in church this past weekend.

Three minutes they told me.

Three minutes to give what was called a “Christ Follower” testimony. I think Christ Follower is the trendier version of saying Christian. They asked me to do it right around the time I said on the blog that we should be prepared with a testimony.

So I kind of had to do it.

Really though, I was glad to speak, but the 3 minute limit…that was tough.

Here is what I said:

My name is Darla Baerg and I’m a Christ Follower. I made my public profession of faith when I was 9 years old at Vacation Bible School. Seeing how we are having VBS this week, this is an anniversary of sorts for me.

I think if I had to choose a phrase to sum up from then to now, it would be the line from the hymn that says…”The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.”

I have opportunities everyday to serve Him in my marriage (being the partner my husband needs), with my children, in the church and the community. And I honestly believe that when we serve others, we are serving Christ.

In my own family, I try to pray daily for myself and most days I pray over my children on the way to school that “everything that we say and everything we do will be a reflection of Christ Jesus.” When people come into contact with us, I want them to see Christ in us. I so want the “words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to Him.”

But please don’t misunderstand.

There were several times this week where my words and actions were not pleasing. In fact, a couple of times I thought I should call and cancel my testimony as I didn’t want to stand up in church and be a fraud. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought…”no, that is exactly why I want to do it”, because that is the great news of Christ…that we are forgiven of our sins and we can start over with a fresh slate.

I think keeping our relationship with Christ growing and vibrant takes prayer and also Bible Study. It is through God’s word, the Bible, that he reveals himself to us. His word, all these years after it was written, is still applicable to our everyday lives. We often just have to pray and ask Him how.

A few years ago I went to a neighborhood Bible Study that a friend of mine was leading. I don’t even remember that much of what we studied, but I do remember how intrigued I was by my friends Bible. It was worn. REALLY worn. The pages weren’t gold around the edges anymore, leather was ripped off the cover and it looked like entire chapters might fall out at any given time.

And I kept thinking how that Bible looked used. That it looked like it had weathered some storms with her. And then I looked at my own Bible … the one that had my maiden name on it…and thought it still looked pretty good.

So, that year, I decided as my New Years Resolution that I wanted to wear my Bible out. I wanted to read it and use it and write in it…I wanted it to look lived in.

And about two weeks into the new year, I sat down one day and opened my Bible. Somehow I simultaneously spilled a water bottle ALL over those thin, thin Bible paper pages. My first reaction was AUGH!!! I couldn’t believe it. But in that exact moment I felt God speak to my heart.

And this is what He said….”Darla, you can’t wear out your Bible if it’s not open. And more than that, I cannot spill out on you if you are not in my Word.”

And this is what I want more than anything in the world….for Christ to spill out on me and for me to be able to spill His love out onto others.

And that is what being a Christ Follower is for me.

Hopefully that took you exactly 3 minutes to read. 🙂