Thursday, August 30, 2012

Long time coming...'s been over a month since I've posted anything on this blog.  A month full of kindergarten break (love the relaxed schedule!), opportunities to sell my Sissy Sue products, two very special birthdays (Bubba and Timmy), figuring out what I can and cannot do this pregnancy, and trying to enjoy this season of life.

I wanted to share some of my favorite events of summer in more detail, but for now, just a short list will have to suffice.

Summer in Frankfurt means to me:

Playing in Marshall Fountain

Opernspiele - one of the highlights of the summer, now that I have kids.  Organized by the "adventure play ground club", the park next to the old opera building in downtown Frankfurt is transformed for three weeks of the summer school break into a giant playground - complete with boating or building a pipe system in the two fountains, face painting, bungee jumping (for the big kids), trampoline jumping (for big and little) and many other fun activities.  I find it so fun and relaxing to go there with the kids (especially now that they're a bit bigger).  And the best part - it's free, so we can go for 30 minutes or several hours:)

Sissy and Monkey at our local pool

Swimming pools - I love the pools here!  I find the indoor pools so inviting and refreshing throughout the year.  In the summer, I love spending time at the various outdoor pools in Frankfurt and also pools filled with spring water in neighboring towns, like Kronberg and Bad Soden.  These pools are fairly inexpensive and usually offer 11- or 12-visit cards for the price of 10 visits, which can be used for several years.

roasting marshmellows with friends

Cook outs in our garden - since we don't have yard of our own at our home, I'm very thankful that we can rent a garden within the city limits.  It definitely takes much more effort to go there than if the garden were located just outside our door, but it is worth the effort:)  Since our garden is next to a nature preserve, it really gives us a chance to forget about the normal noises of the city.

climbing the walls doors

A bit slower pace....since many people are on vacation, life naturally slows down, which is really nice:)

Right now, we're experiencing wonderful weather - sun, warmth (80s) with occasional evening thunderstorms.  (usually we have lots of cooler weather (60s) and rain...but summer usually gives us several groups of warm days and the fall tends to have more sunshine and warm temps).

I'm not sure how often I'll be able to share about life in Frankfurt (hopefully more than once a month!) but I am thankful for the way that blogging about living here reminds me how blessed we are:)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hello, Monday

Another week of linking up with Lisa Leonard as we greet a new week.

Hello, Monday...this morning is a bit different: both Monkey and Sissy are away, just me and Bubba:) 

Bubba's so amazing to see him standing in one place!
Also, Igor told me to pick him up from work at 6pm - he has a surprise family dinner planned.  I love surprises!

I love this guy:)

Hello, one more week of kindergarten.  I am really looking forward to Ivan's summer break!

Monkey and Sissy playing in a fountain at our local pool

Hello, trying new outfits...I'm in that can't-fit-into-regular-clothes-but-too-small-for-pregnancy-clothes phase.  After wearing the same two outfits the past two weeks, I'm ready to try a few other alternatives...mal schauen (we'll see).

Hello, week full of potential! I love starting the week out, thinking about the various activities there are ahead of us. I am learning to limit my activities and do much less. It's not an easy lesson, but it is necessary, and I'm hopeful for a week of living within my new limits.

What are you saying hello to this week?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fourth of July

First off, Happy Belated Fourth of July!

Celebrating Independance Day outside of America is certainly an experience.  First off, there is no rush to buy the normal picnic supplies, since no one else is preparing for a large picnic (or very few others).  This definitely makes my life a bit easier:)  However, finding guests who can come to your picnic can be rather tricky, especially if the Fourth is in the middle of the week.

Since having children, holidays that are unique to America and also family traditions on other international holidays have become very important to me. This year, we baked blueberry muffins and I sent them to Monkey's kindergarten group, along with a map of the U.S. and a letter explaining the Fourth of July and how it's celebrated.

My amazingly supportive husband has been making a habit of leaving work early to help me feel like we're really celebrating this holiday.  The past few years we've had picnics in our garden, some large, some small.  This year, we celebrate with good friends from a German-English family (although the Englander couldn't come since he was working).  As well as getting once again comfortable with grilling over our fire place, we were able to enjoy fruit salad (one of my favorite things about summer!) and smores (again, high on the "favorite things" list).

Because we're not here with an Ex-pat group, there's no larger organized gathering. It's up to me to decide how big or small to celebrate. As far as I've understood, the firework display that's offered from the US Army post in Wiesbaden is only available to us if we're escorted by someone with a goverment pass (either who works for the Consulate or is in the Armed Forces). Bummer. But since it doesn't get dark until 10pm, driving 45 minutes to a fireworks display at such a late hour with our kids isn't really an option I'd like to explore.

Igor's favorite food from the picnic
Instead, we're  happy with hamburgers, fruit salad (can I mention again just how good this is in summer!), and smores.  I've needed to become a bit creative with smores, since we don't have graham crackers.  However, chocolate covered "butter keks" work perfectly and marshmellows can be found in several larger grocery stores.  We end the day with our annual "give the kids a bath because they're covered in marshmellow, chocolate and dirt" activity.

If you're American, I hope you had a lovely day celebrating our freedom as Americans.  I'd love to hear what you did or what traditions you have.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hello, Monday

Linking up to say hello to another week with Lisa Leonard.

Hello, summer weather!  We've enjoy sunshine, warmer temps and a few thunderstorms - I hope this keeps up! (especially the sunshine and warm weather)

Bubbles are a big part of our outdoor fun:)

Hello, Fourth of July!  I have way less energy/strength than previous years, but I'm very happy to be having a simple Fourth of July picnic on Wednesday - I hope the kids can get at least a small taste of American holidays through our family celebrations.

I'm still amazed at this guy - he's taking off early to celebrate July 4th:)

Hello, saying good-bye to good friends.  I'm so thankful, though, that they're moving within Germany and not across the world - finally, we have friends to visit who live in the country! (most friends live in larger cities)

Hello, week of accomplishing more "outside" work (by that I mean, not just the basic housework)....we'll see. I've been hoping to have much more energy since the beginning of June....guess I just need to keep being patiently hopeful:)

Hello, almost kindergarten break!  I am counting down the days until Monkey can stay home with us - although there is some extra work when everyone's home, it's really fun having us all together (except Igor who needs to work during Monkey's break).

Igor teaching Monkey and a friend some soccer basics

Hello, being patiently hopeful. I like the sound of that and hope I can apply it to my daily life.  There are quite a few "construction sites" in our life right now, and I want to keep working on them and not simply resigning myself to being disappointed.  "Patiently hopeful" sounds like a good attitude for me during this time.

What are you saying hello to this week?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Food Friday - Strawberry Salad

As I've mentioned before, I love strawberries!  This is one of Igor and my favorite summer salads.  I usually make it with fresh spinach, but I didn't have any on hand, so I just used "Roma herz salat" (not sure what it's called in English).

The salad dressing is a recipe that I don't feel at liberty to give away, so either buy vidalia onion salad dressing (or some other sweet-tangy-creamy dressing but not ranch!) or visit Camp Susque's website and order their cookbook - I used their dressing recipe for the bacon-lettuce-egg salad and added 2 Tbsp poppy seeds.  Background: the dressing is from the camp cook Mabel, who used to shut herself in a closet to make some of her secret recipes.  Since she passed away years ago, Camp has been able to use her recipes with more freedom, but I don't think it's my place to publish one of my favorite dressings from Mabel on the world wide web.

Anyway, the super-easy, super-delicious salad:

2 heads Roma herz salat (green salad) or 2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
4 sliced mushrooms

Tangy-sweet-creamy poppy seed salad dressing.

Wash and tear salad into bite size pieces.  Add sliced strawberries and mushrooms.  Top with dressing.  Enjoy!  It's kind of a strange combination but it tastes so good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Little Outing

So, in the interest of establishing good habits, Monkey (5) and I took a short trip together last week.  Igor and I have tried to consistently (2-3 times a month) take the kids out individually for little dates.  It can get a bit hectic, trying to have one on one time in our house and sometimes an hour or two just isn't enough time to really get to know what a child's thinking/feeling/experiencing.  So we're hoping to start having occasional day or overnight trips with each child, starting with Monkey.

Early in June, we took the train to Speyer, about 1 1/2 hours south of Frankfurt.  The train ride alone was fun - all the different landscape to look at, questions to ask/answer, books to read or games to play.  Since Speyer is a very small town, it was easy for us to walk from the train station to our hostel.  We took our time, visiting a few parks and other landmarks, as well as having ice cream (of course!). 

One landmark Speyer is very proud of is their Imperial Cathedral, which is on the Unesco World Heritage List.  The cathedral was founded in 1030 by Conrad II and was elevated to the rank of a minor basilica by Pope Pius XI in 1925.

Can you find Monkey?

One of Monkey's favorite parts was the Bademax swimming complex directly next to our hostel.  We had a lot of fun splashing around in several of its pools.  I'm not sure which one of us enjoyed it more!

For both of us, though, the highlight was visiting the Technik Museum: planes, trains and automobiles galore (with a space ship and submarine to boot!).  We spent over 20 minutes in the submarine, turning each knob and pushing each button.

One of the many planes you could walk in and explore.

What has been great to experience is Monkey's excitement over this trip weeks later.  He told me the other day that he dreamt we were still in Speyer - awesome!

Do you have similar traditions in your family?  If so, I'd love to get more ideas on making special memories as a family.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hello, Monday!

Greeting another week and linking up with Lisa Leonard.

Saturday we attended a lovely wedding, where Sissy gathered several ideas...for her birthday party - this girl has high expectations! (including releasing doves, having a gospel choir sing and enjoying a carriage ride)

Hello, changeable weather - we go from beautifully, sunny mornings (between 5 and 10am it's lovely!) to cloudy, rainy afternoons...this is what makes me nostalgic for Arizona sunshine (and crazy but dry heat) or Pennsylvania heat waves!

Hello, final week of the European cup.  Hopefully we'll be watching Germany play next Sunday (in the final) :)

Hello, week of feeling better and having a doctor's appointment.  I'm 14 weeks pregnant (due date is Christmas Day...great timing:) and have been thankful for a healthy pregnancy but am ready to get back to feeling healthy again.  Slowly but surely I'm getting a few hours in my day where I feel normal:)

Hello, summer!  Monkey's kindergarten group had its Summer Festival Friday.  He was a flower in a play - so cute!  This was a new experience for me (and now I can totally understand feeling super-proud of your little one uttering a few lines - love this feeling!).

What are you saying hello to?