Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

James' birthday is today! We celebrated yesterday, and had lots of fun. Here are some pictures!

All of the presents, ready to be opened. We somehow ended up with clear cellophane instead of wrapping paper (it looked exactly like silver wrapping paper!), and since we celebrated on the holiday weekend, when no stores were open, we had to make do. I used packing paper from our amazon packages to wrap the gifts. It worked out just fine, good thing kids aren't picky.

James playing his new guitar from Conga and Poppy, we got David a little guitar as well so James would be able to enjoy his!

Playing with a play-doh pizza kit on their new table and chairs!

Building a block tower with new duplos from (great) Aunt Vicki!

Playing with his playmobil fortress from Uncle Brendan! (the cannon really works!)

Pirate ship sand toy from (great) Aunt Judy! We took it to the lake and let him float it in the water. So fun!

Thanks everyone for the wonderful gifts!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Alles gute zum Geburtstag!

James' third birthday is on Tuesday. He's really excited, we been talking about it for months. We don't really know enough people here to have a party for him, so I wanted to take a cake to his "school". Of course, they are having vacation (it seems like every other week over here is school holiday!) next week, so we brought a cake to the kinderpark today. He was so proud of his cake, and was very excited to share it with the other children. The teachers (though they aren't called teachers in German, they're called something else that means roughly "child minders") Made him a special little crown, and lit three candles for him, and they all sang lots of birthday songs to him during snack time (I think they were birthday songs, because they would periodically have his name, or the word geburtstag in them). Including "Happy birthday" in English, apparently they know that song, even though they don't speak English. he kept telling me that it was his favorite birthday party ever. I'm pretty sure it's the only one he can really remember, but still, so cute! I meant to bring my camera and get some pictures, but of course I forgot, so I took this one when we got home. (David did not want to be left out of the photo!)

Baking over here has been quite an adventure for me. Luckily I'm used to baking things from scratch, because they do not have the same kinds of boxed mixes and pre-made frosting tubs that we have back in the US. I still have a hard time though, because I don't have American measuring cups, or baking pans. I went to the store yesterday to find a standard 9x13 pan, or really any largish rectangular pan, but there was nothing like that all. There were lots of long skinny pans kind of like bread pans, and then tons of round ones. I wanted a rectangle though, because I wanted do the classic sheet cake that you leave in the pan with frosting only on the top (so much easier!). I lucked out yesterday, because I ran into a Scottish friend, who has an assortment of pans, and let me borrow her 9x13! It always kind of a guessing game using the european measuring cups (they're in mL), but it seemed to work out ok this time, the cake was really good! Last week I made some really delicious lemon cookies, and then I went to make some more when they were gone, and they turned out completely different, so I guess it's just kind of the luck of the draw when your estimating your measurements with baking. 

Anyway, we're doing well (and are still alive!). I'll hopefully post an update about James' birthday celebration after his actual birthday next week.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May day

The first of May is a big holiday over here. Apparently in the North it means riots and protests, but down here it's much calmer. There were lots of maypoles, and parades of people all dressed up in traditional outfits. Everyone got a day off work, and since it fell on a Tuesday, Dylan got Monday and Tuesday off work. Over the long weekend we went for a little mini-vacation with our friends Jeff and Sara who were visiting. 

We stayed on a lovely little farm in the Bavarian countryside, and while we were there we visited Salzburg (birthplace of Motzart), Chiemsee (a big lake with a cool island and a castle in the middle) and some small country villages. It was a really fun time. Jeff and Sara took some awesome pictures throughout the weekend.

We did a fair share of riding regional trains, and the boys were great sports!

There were sheep, goats and horses on the farm where we stayed. David LOVED the animals and would point and grunt (what he does instead of talking) whenever one came within sight.

It was so beautiful where we stayed, and the weather was fabulous, exactly what you imagine when you hear "Bavarian countryside".

Walking up the streets of Salzburg to the fortress.

Marionette museum inside the Salzburg fortress.

Sound of music! That's me and James as Maria and Kurt :-)

Salzburg fortress.

View of Salzburg from the fortress.

Dylan and David watching the parade on May day.

May day parade.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bye, bye binky's

The time has come for James to be done with pacifiers. We planned a big day to celebrate this new phase of his life. The day was full of fun things, the museum, presents, the playground, movies and special treats. At the end of the day James fell asleep without crying or asking for a binky at all. It was a huge success!

No more binkys smile!

Putting all the binkys in the mail box to send to some other (imaginary) baby.

Breakfast treat!

At the museum - David and James were holding hands all over the museum. It was so cute! But very hard to get a picture of because David would stop and run toward the camera the second it came into sight.

Presents! (we're on a bit of a sword/pirate/viking/knight/etc. kick)

Going to sleep with all his special things, he got a new stuffed dog, and just couldn't put his sword down, even for sleeping!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


In German, a stroller is called a "kinderwagen". I got mine back in the US. Mostly because they're a lot cheaper in the US, and I didn't want to get over here and then have to figure out where/how to get a stroller in the middle of the winter with no car. I love my stroller, it's been really fabulous for us. The boys sit stacked on top of each other. I've gotten tons of comments about about the "double decker" aspect of it, both in the US and Germany. It's one of the smallest double strollers (with two actual seats) I've ever seen, which makes it great for loading in and out of elevators, riding the subway/train, and getting through small  door ways and shops.

Taking the stroller with me everywhere has many advantages. I have a place to store my groceries, the kids can nap anywhere, and I don't really have to edit myself when deciding what to bring on outings (why not bring that extra jacket? We've got the space!) There are however, a few drawbacks to the stroller. It really doesn't do well with stairs, and the subways are typically many flights of stairs underground. I've gotten fairly adept at taking escalators, but I prefer to use an elevator when possible.

Riding the elevator here can be quite a trick. If you hang around a little bit away from the elevator door, you will basically never get to ride it because people will just step right in front of you. Today I really didn't feel like taking the escalators, but I had so much trouble finding and using elevators! I waited three cycles to get on one elevator because it had such a long line of people with strollers all waiting. That doesn't really bother me though, I'm ok with waiting my turn and the kids were at least happy. When I went to get back on the U-bahn (subway), I found the elevator and patiently waited my turn. The elevator came up, the three strollers in front of me got on, and it went back down. I was now next in line to ride the elevator. I then realized the man next to me was planning to get on the elevator with 3 large rolling cases of bread (each one was as tall as him and maybe two or three feet square). I was pretty sure he and I could fit so long as no one else tried to cram their way on. Of course while we waited a number of middle aged German women came up and positioned themselves to attempt to squeeze their way onto the elevator (this is sort of what they do, I don't know why they don't just take the stairs or escalators, but they don't, and they don't like to wait their turn either). The bread guy looked at me as the elevator ascended, said something and made some motions which I'm pretty sure meant, "Let me put these three cases of bread in the elevator and then I'll hold the door for you." Against my better judgement, I nodded my agreement. No sooner had he gotten the third case unto elevator then one of the middle aged women started pushing her way into the elevator. The bread guy started yelling at her about the kinderwagen, pointing from the stroller sized spot in the elevator, and back at me, but it was no good, two more middle aged women were squeezing on to the elevator, and the bread guy was overruled. To his credit, he was pretty good at defending me, and I could still here him lecturing the women as the elevator descended. Finally with the next elevator I was able to get a spot. After all of that, I ended up taking an escalator from the mid-level of the station because the elevator from there to the subway was out of order!

Our stroller on the U-bahn:

All snuggled in for a walk!