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?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Strawberry Time

One of my favorite June activities is strawberry picking.  Growing up, my mom always had a bed of strawberries.  It was such a luxury to simply walk out to the garden and pick fruit for our dessert or snack.  Although we have a garden (just 10 minutes from our house by car), we haven't managed to establish a vegetable/fruit garden.  Actually, my goal for using the garden is simply having a one or two BBQs there each month of the summer, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Anyway, when I moved here to Frankfurt, I discovered strawberry fields located on the edge of the city.  This is a perfect activity with small children: there's a fence, the plants are smaller than the kids (so they can't disappear=), and there's strawberries!  We typically go a few times during June and enjoy making lots of strawberry desserts and jam.   It is so worth it!

 This trip we picked 10 kg (about 25lbs) of strawberries.  I'm glad they don't weigh the kids, to see how many kilos of strawberries they eat while I'm picking:)

And now, I'm off to make a batch of jam - I love June!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sitting and Running

As I mentioned earlier this week, the European Championship has started and with it, Igor's schedule has become very busy:)  Last Thursday was a perfect example. 

Igor spoke to me (very earnestly) Sunday night about how Thursday would be a busy day.  After work, Croatia played Italy at 6pm.  The JP Morgan Corperate Challenge started at 7:30pm.  Spain played Ireland at 8:45pm.  It would all flow so he could see the games and run, but he needed to be disciplined to be able to watch-run-watch as he hoped.  So he reserved at table at a pub close to the start of the race and after the game, ran to the start, then ran to the finish, then watched the second game.

The kids came along (it's all about teaching them important things at a young age: soccer is important. Make complicated arrangements to be able to see the game), which meant that I spent the first half of the game trying to keep them in the restaurant without breaking anything.  The second half was rescued by the restaurant staff, who brought out boxes of toys, set up a play corner for them and played with them - amazing!

One of the many bands that played outside
After seeing Croatia tie Italy 1-1, we went outside to the street to watch the runners.  Again, here is an example of how fun it can be to live in city: this business run (which takes place around the world in cities like New York, Sydney and London) has about 70,000 runners from various corperations in the Frankfurt area.  Although the 5k run doesn't provide too much room for actual competitiveness (unless your in the first top group), it does provide a fun atmosphere and a chance to leave work at a reasonable hour to get some exercise and fresh air.  About 5pm, the streets downtown are filled with runners, fans and bands.  After the race, most businesses have after-run parties for their employees; it's always a highlight to see what special events are planned for these parties - this year, showing the Spain-Ireland game was a requisite:)

Igor raced by (I'll put in a pic our friend took of him as soon as I recieve it) while our kids were being entertained by their uncle.  It was so cute to see them racing about, playing with their mini (Croatian) soccer ball.  Soon afterwards, Bubba made a new friend: Charlie.

It was very relaxing to have the children playing on this blocked off street (because of the race), enjoying the longer daylight we experience in summer.  Finally at 8:45 (even though it still looked like 7pm because of the light), I headed home with 3 happily tired kids.  Igor, of course, had an important game to watch and a party to enjoy:)
If you get a chance to experience Europe during a soccer cup time, do so!  I find the atmosphere of games being shown on big screens at most cafès or at live-viewing arenas set up by the city to be a unique and fun experience.  It seems like everyone has an opinion about the games and how they were played or how they will turn out, and I find the comaraderie shown between fans to be very special (even if I don't always understand it).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hello, Monday

So, we'll see if I can re-enter the blogger world with another Hello, Monday link-up with Lisa Leonard.

The past few weeks (in keeping up with this past amazingly-crazy spring) have been pretty incredible.

That said, there have been lots of moments of laughter and crying, resting and dancing, so we'll see if I can be a bit more regular in updating this blog about life in Germany.  Also, May 21 my laptop died, so I'm typing on Igor's (and haven't yet started uploading pics on his computer...).

Hello, week after having 3 weeks of vacation!  It was a very full time and we're actually feeling a bit exhausted. But we are super-thankful for living in Germany, where we have many holidays (like 3 in the last 3 weeks!) and where Igor can take many more days of vacation than if he worked at a bank in the U.S.  We're going to miss him, though!

Hello, week of being a bit more business-minded (lots of sewing to do!).

Hello, hoping to keep our bedroom big - Igor cleaned our bedroom when I was away last week (and it practically doubled in size! a bit embarrassing that it came to that state, but I am loving the extra space now that it's finally picked up!).

Hello, week of sunshine and thunderstorms.  The plan is to spend as much time as possible outside while we can - there are enough cold, rainy days during the year.  I want to enjoy the warmer days while I can.

Hello, returning to choir.  I finally returned to singing regularly with my choir, which is so nice!  We've had two lovely concerts (English Cathedral Music - think Elgar and the like - and Mendelssohn's Elijah).  It's nice to be back:)

Hello, EM - European Meisterschaft (Soccer Championship).  Igor's schedule is already revolving around the Croatia and German game plans:)  It's always a fun atmosphere to have so many people united by a common interest.  Our church is having showing on the big screen for the Germany games and Sunday games, which is lots of fun for the whole family.  So far, Germany's off to a good start - we'll see how Wednesday goes.

What are you saying hello to this week?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello, Monday

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

Hello, warm, cloudy (rainy?) weather - I love spring!

Hello, week without Igor. He's in the Schwarzwald hiking and fasting (weird but it's good for him), so we're realizing just how much he does at home (a lot!). And I am super-thankful that my brother-in-law is bringing Monkey to kindergarten most days this week (what a huge help!)

Hello, choir rehearsal (concert next Monday), German-American-Namibian Sewing Club (love!), friends visiting and just hanging out with the kids.

Hello,  more time sewing and blogging (hopefully...maybe). Oh and I shouldn't forget to say hello to taking care of myself, mainly by resting (something I find so challenging to actually do!).

What are you saying hello to this week?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We're Going to the Opera!

The past few weeks, as well as being extremely busy and tiring, have provided me with several opportunities to appreciate living in a city.  Frankfurt is a relatively small city (approximately 600,000 - the size of Seattle).  And in this small city, we have 7 different companies that offer opportunities for children to experience opera - that's amazing!  There are many other cultural opportunities offered each night of the week, from theater to musical concerts to art exihibitions and other forms of creative expression.

The other week, Monkey was able to see the production (for children) of Strauss' Die Fledermaus at the Frankfurt  Opera.  Although his report was different than what I expected ("we saw Star Wars! And they sang!"), his teachers said he and his classmates were spellbound throughout the event.

Later that week, Igor and I were able to attend an English comedy, The Foreigner, performed by the Theater Language Studio.  Because Frankfurt is such an international city, there are many opportunities to experience theater, music and other arts in one's own language.  The International Theater offers regular programs in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, with special events in other languages.

Last week, Sissy, Monkey and I visited the Musical Zoo at the city radio station (home to the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra).  This program focusses on one instrument family each concert  and provides children the opportunity to learn about the instruments and then experiment with playing them while supervised by local music school students.  The program we attended focussed on the Strings family.  We are excited to meet the other instrument families in the next months.

So, all this to say that, despite the negative aspects of city life that I so often call to mind, there are many wonderful advantages to living in a city.  The fact that we can easily attend such cultural events is a great blessing, that many people can only do once in a while and after travelling a long way.  When I remember my time on the Navajo Reservation and how I would drive to Flagstaff (3 hours) to attend a concert or to Phoenix, if I wanted more of a selection, I am very thankful to be able to take the train for 10 minutes to the local symphony hall.

Do you have something in your town/area that has been an unexpected reminder of the blessings of where you live?  If so, what is it?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hello, Monday!

Linking up with Lisa Leonard and greeting another week.
Hello, Monday!  I'm so glad you're sunny!

Hello, week after two markets - lots of fun and lots of prep work (last week was very busy!).

Hello, trying to corral all my Sissy Sue things into one organized area in our house (ha!).

Hello, German-American-Namibian Sewing Club - I love this group!

Hello, visiting parks, riding bikes, having picnics - there's a lot of outside activities our family is looking forward to this week.

Hello, being appreciative of this month, with its many holidays and with Igor's vacation in just 1 1/2 weeks!

What are you saying hello to this week?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hello, Monday

Saying hello to the week with Lisa Leonard.

Hello, April weather.  It's been rainy and sunny, windy and calm, cold and warm the past few weeks, and I'm expecting that to continue this week.  Makes for difficulty planning outings with the kids, but I love seeing the amazing colors of the clouds, sun and rain.

Hello, preparing for the US Consulate Bazaar in Frankfurt and Kaufladen in Darmstadt- I'm excited to participate in these events (and hoping to accomplish much this week!).

Hello, cute kids!  I am really glad to be photographing more of our life since beginning this blog.  It helps me remember how many really great moments we experience as a family.

Hello, choir - it's been so nice to be back singing!  Hello, Grapevine (English-speaking Bible study in Oberursel) - I'm looking forward to returning (with healthy kids!).  Hello, being thankful for the many, many things that I have and experience.

What are you saying hello to this week?