Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Two Year Old Gang

These four kids are best friends... as are their moms. :)

They are the most innocent little people you have ever seen huh?? HA! They are tiny little monsters, each in their own special way! Don't let their cute innocent smiles fool you. They are probably secretly planning their next escape from the house to chase the cats.

Each one has a special skill which the group as a whole utilizes.
From left to right...

- Quinn is in charge of the entertainment. He works any buttons: TV, iPod, DVD player, Microwave, Oven, Dishwasher, Fondue Pot... He'll make it light up, don't worry.

- Krista heads up the deception department. Her random hugs and cute little chatter makes you believe all children can be nothing but sweet and innocent.

- Andrea is the scary one. Beware of the scowls. They can scare even the bravest of moms.

- Ben is the muscle. He special skills include opening doors and front gates. He is also in charge of helping anyone up who falls.

Andrea will be three in August.
Quinn will be three in September.
Krista will be three in October.
Ben will be three in November.

I'm so thankful for my little group of American moms I have here. I didn't realize how much I missed Americans until now. In Denmark, I was the only American. It was fun to have international friends of course, but it just wasn't the same.

It's been so much fun to have American friends to joke around with, be sarcastic with, and talk fast and use contractions with... People that you can just be normal around because they totally get you. I don't have to watch what I say and they understand how hard it is to live here even, especially with a family which includes a two year old.

I'm sure I'll make other American friends whenever we move on from here, but it will NEVER be like this; NEVER will I find four other moms like this. I don't think I'd be very happy here in Germany if it wasn't for them. I'd go crazy-nuts within days without them.

I talk to them everyday, our families hang out, we go out as couples, our kids go to school together, do sports together, we grocery shop for each other and babysit each others kids.

...and when one of us reaches a breaking point and finds herself under the kitchen table silently rocking back and forth with a Rusty Butter Knife, it's a given that the others will quickly step in and save her. I've been saved. I've saved them. It's just how it works.

I love my Rusty Butter Knives! :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Michaela and 47 Countries

Michaela had a school assignment to memorize all 47 countries in Europe AND their capitals!!! She got a 6 on the test, which is basically an A. 7 is the highest.

Did you know there was a country called Andorra? It's right between France and Spain! I had no idea. When Michaela told me I didn't believe her... :) Andorra sounds kinda "star treky" to me

Let's play a game with Michaela... She can, impress us/make us feel dumb, with her vast knowledge of Europe.

She's sitting next to me.
I'll ask her questions and write them down with her answers and then we'll check them. :) I won't even waste my time with the boring "What is the capital of France?" questions... they are too easy for her. :)

What is the capital of Andorra?
Michaela: Andorralavella
Mom: (Michaela just called me a dummy for spelling "Andoralavella" wrong. So... New Idea... I will type some questions, hand her the computer, and she will type in her answers. I'm obviously too dumb to participate.)

Spell the capital of Andorra correctly Little Miss Smarty Pants...
Michaela: Andorra la Vella (My own mother is a dummy)
Mom: Correct. Don't call your mother a dummy.

What is the capital of Estonia?
Michaela: IDK
Mom: Tallinn, duh ...but it did take me a minute to figure out IDK means "I don't know."

What is the capital of Moldova?
Michaela: Chisinau
Mom: Correct

What is the capital of Croatia?
Michaela: Zagreb
Mom: Correct

What is the capital of Iceland?
Michaela: Reykjavik
Mom: Correct

What is the capital of Romania?
Michaela: Bucharest?
Mom: Correct

What is the capital of Malta?
Michaela: Valletta (not sure about spelling) XD (Of course at least I knew Malta was a country, see how ignorant my oh-so-smart-European mother is?)
Mom: Correct. Don't call your mother ignorant.

Michaela: In my defense this was like forever ago. I learned it in one night and a half of a history class.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Big Car + Small Parking Garage = Bad

Hee Hee.... This is funny now. This was NOT funny then. (Well, I kinda thought it was a little funny then...) :)

Both in Brussels and Paris, at both hotel parking garages... our car was too tall. I guess technically our car plus the roof top carrier thingy was too tall. Minor detail that I've never thought about before, but you can be sure that from now on I will check hotel parking restrictions. What a pain!

We were told that our car would not fit and that we would have to take the carrier off. I decided that maybe we could make it, I thought maybe the "restriction height" was more of a "safety precaution" or a "suggestion". :) Nope, turns out the "restriction" height was pretty darn accurate.

It was just that the thought of unattaching the roof top carrier sounded so miserable so we thought we'd try to fit anyways. We got into the parking garage by shoving the garage door up a bit as Paul squeezed his Giant BMW in. We felt pretty hopeful... WHOO HOOOO!!! ...but not really. That got us in, but then we were surrounded by concrete overhangs and there was no way we were squeezing those out of the way.

So at 11:00pm, after driving seven hours, with four tired children we are now unloading the whole roof carrier and taking it off the roof. Then Paul got to carry it to the -4th parking level, which was the EASY job because, I had to drive.

This parking garage had the tightest of spiraly ramps on earth. I got to the -2nd floor and got stuck in the spiral. I couldn't go up, I couldn't go down. I was just stuck. By the time I was done, I had wedged myself into the worst position possible and I was pretty irritated. The car is beeping at me from every direction because both bumpers were within inches of the concrete walls both in the front and back. I was seriously stuck. So I just sat there and waited for Paul to save us. I still don't even understand how he got us out. I happily carried the roof top thingy the rest of the way down.

Once at the bottom of the parking dungeon we had to manipulate the car into a spot in which we had centimeters to spare on either side of the car. That was also fun.

I won't talk about scraping the corner of our front bumper on the last spiral OUT of the evil Paris Parking Garage. It's not a laughing matter quite yet and therefore off limits for making fun of. However, if I was going to mention it, I would have to mention that I did NOT do it.

Oh, more Roof Top Carrier fun...

As we were leaving Hamburg the car was loaded and ready to go. All we had to do was lock the carrier closed.

Long story short... the key broke in half and it ended up locked closed on top of the car. Fine, but we needed to open it when we got there so we had to deal with it. My engineer figured out how to use half of the key in combination with some big pliers and a screwdriver. Using this ghetto method we were able to lock and unlock it with some consistency so we thought we were all good... Off we went, with half a key and some other tools/weapons in case we had to pry it open at the hotel ...which we did.

On our last day in Paris, our half a key trick finally wore off. So Paul, with sincere hatred, beat the roof top carrier until it opened. It was now "unlocked", but had a hole where the lock thingy used to be. Hmpf. We had some straps so we strapped it closed and went about our travels. I'll happily say goodbye to it.

Fun Times...

Vacation Report: Paris

Paris... Quickly because it's self explanatory.

We went to the Eiffel Tower again, but this time had bought tickets ahead of time... (Good Job Happy). We made it to the top ...the very, very, very top.

We will see the Mona Lisa next time. I didn't feel the need to do it so we decided not to push it. Ich habe four kids remember?

We visited the Montmartre area where the Moulin Rouge is and ate a WAY overpriced meal. FYI: Rooster does not taste like chicken... it's yucky. See, girls are better than boys. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vacation Report: La Rochelle

Brussels was really just our half way point between Hamburg and our "real" destination, La Rochelle, France.

...Brussels know, the friendly city within the magical country of Belgium... Right Hilde? :)

FYI- Our travel times
Hamburg to Brussels: 6 hours
Brussels to La Rochelle: 7 hours

La Rochelle to Paris: 4 hours
Paris to Hamburg: 9 hours!

However... When you travel with kids you are supposed to multiply the number of hours actually driven by the number of children you are traveling with... This is what the travel time "feels" like. Kinda like a Wind Chill Factor. It's something I invented... it's the "Whiny Children Factor"

This entire trip had an actual drive time of 26 hours!! Calculate this using Whiny Children Factor and it felt like 104 hours. That's why I looked like this.

Anyways.. La Rochelle may seem like an odd destination for us, especially considering how silly-far away from Hamburg it is, but as I have mentioned, we went to see Paul's friend's parents.

I was surprised... This part of our trip was by far one of the nicest vacations we have ever been on. I think it was even the first time Paul went four days straight without working! Look for the upcoming picture of Paul on the TOP of the Eiffel Tower on a conference call for work. :(

Our time in France reminded me of when we went to Poland with our real Polish friends... :) We were in France with REAL French people! :)

I don't even know where to start, but I probably won't even really try because it's nothing you can really put words on... The people we stayed with lived took such good care of us. When we arrived, they were in essence strangers, with the exception of a common link through their son, but they welcomed my ENTIRE family into their home. They cooked us authentic French meals, gave us tours of the area, took us to a small "real" restaurant, baked French Bread with my daughters, kept the fireplaces going for us, took me to a grocery store for a lesson on cheese and wine... Our new friends are awesome!

When we moved here in Europe, friends and family told us, "Oh, what a great experience for your family." It was a common phrase we heard over, and over, and over ...and from everyone.

This was a great experience for our family. No way to explain it, other than... I tried to put it into words, but kept deleting... it's impossible. We felt French and we took some of that home with us.

We also took home quite a bit of cheese, bread, and wine. :)

I can't believe how much food and wine we were offered ALL DAY LONG. In France, eating and drinking is an all day event! ...all the way until the giant plate of cheese comes out after dinner. :) I feel so FAT. :) Paul assures me I am not though. I've never eaten so much cheese before in all my life!

It's my blog so I can put all the pictures up I want. Here is Pèrè, France. Pèrè is the tiny town where we actually stayed.

These tiny "stone towns" are one of my favorites of Europe so far ...right up there with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. :) We drove through tons of these little tiny towns, each one looked similar, everything was old and made from rocks. I thought it was so cool!

There was one place where two big stone towers fell over. People took the rocks and built houses with them ...and Whalla! A new town! :) Some houses are nicer than others on the inside. The house we stayed in was very modern inside... LOTS of work had been done. :)

These get their own pictures.

Look carefully...

See the nose and teeth? AHHHHHHHH!!!! It's a BUNNY RABBIT!

This is just the entire animal. I ate one. Just to be polite. I almost lost it. I sucked it off the shell with the plan of swallowing it whole. But then it got stuck on my tongue... just sitting there. I had four adults staring at me. I remember thinking... "Can I spit it out? Would that be really bad? What would they think?"

My kids were watching so I decided spitting it out was not an option. I don't care if it was in the ocean that morning... It tasted like salty slime and it was just sitting on my tongue for what seemed like FOREVER! I swallowed it and nicely declined the next one. I didn't make my kids try one. I hope they appreciate that.

I did not eat this. It is moldy cheese and I took a piece of bread and didn't even mention the cheese. I think everyone knew I had already been traumatized by the mussel.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Vacation Report: Belgium

Yes, we survived another road trip through Europe. :) It was fun. Well, parts of it were borderline torture, but for the most part the kids did awesome.

So here is Belgium. We have technically been to Belgium many times. Once we even stopped for lunch there. But it's always been, "Let's see how fast we can drive through Belgium". This time we power drove six hours straight to Brussels and actually stayed to check out the town for a day.

I now feel kinda bad for zooming through little Belgium in the past, irritated that it was just in our way in getting to the "cool countries". Belgium is a nice little town, full of friendly people who gave us free chocolate to try.

Belgium was an easy place to visit. Maybe because there wasn't tons of things I was supposed to drag my four kids to see. The highlight of Brussels wasn't even the capital building of the EU, although I think we walked past it. The main tourist attraction seemed to be a small statue of a boy peeing, "Mannequin Pis"... and a big, strange, ball building... The Atomium.

I think Belgium will be a place that we put on the "Repeat When Warm" list. :)

Hotel: :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails