Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things I miss about living in the U.S

Pin It Now! I love living in Germany.  I really, really do.  But I've lived in the U.S my entire life and there are things I miss.

What really made me miss home today was having to take baby Wright to the pediatrician.  I definitely miss the choice of health care providers.  The language barrier is a bit worrisome to me as well in the event anything drastic were to happen.  It's just a matter of being afraid of the unknown I 'spose.

I miss Target.  A lot.

I miss Chipotle and all its deliciousness.

Whole Foods.  There are bio markets here, but I've heard conflicting stories from people.  I've heard that organic is not certified here like it is U.S.D.A certified organic in the States.  From what people have told me, when buying bio (organic) in Germany sometimes you're just paying a premium price for basically the same thing.  There are so many different definitions of organic, natural, all natural, etc.   So I miss just knowing that the food I'm buying is truely organic and that the animals are treated humanely.  I could look into further though.

I miss having double sinks in my bathroom.

I miss having a walk-in closet.  The majority of houses in Germany don't come with closets.  You have to buy your own wardrobe.

I miss having a garage.

I miss not having to plug my vacuum or steam mop or kitchenaid into a transformer to make it work.

I miss shopping on Sunday.  Everything is closed on Sunday and I have to cram most errands into Saturday.  I'd prefer to split it between two days.

I miss using a debit card everywhere.  I'd say most places here take cash only or at least strongly prefer cash. 

I miss being able to communicate freely.  I still feel slightly insecure and modest when out in public.  It's much harder to ask simple questions.  I need to learn German.


I really really really really really really really really really really miss having a garbage disposal.

I miss pay at the pump gas stations.

I miss drive-thru Starbucks.

I miss Nordstroms.

I miss Craigslist so much.

I miss chinese food delivery.

I miss Pandora.  Can't listen here in Germany....phooey.

I'm sure I'm missing a few.  Though I miss soo many things, not having all of that in my life for over a year is something I've gotten used to.  I don't dwell on the things I miss.  I focus on my new life and have learned to adapt.  It has definitely made me think different about immigrants and foreign people in general.  lucky for me the people here are incredibly wonderful!



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preschool Autumn Paint Project

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When Little Wright went to preschool back in the states she would bring home artwork nearly everyday.  For Earth Day she made a tree with the trunk as her arm and the branches/leaves was here green handprint.  It was adorable. 

I thought since it's fall it would be fun to do a variation of that same project.  I used brown paint and painted her arm for the trunk.  The only colors I had on hand were red, orange and tan.  I think yellow would have been a nice color to have, but c'est la vie.

What you'll need:

-Fall ish finger paint colors (red, orange, brown, yellow)
-Construction paper

Simply paint an arm for the tree trunk.  Then paint your kiddo's hand in alternating colors for the "leaves/branches".  Have your kiddo use their fingertip to create "leaves" on the ground.

To make it more of a learning experience you can talk about fall, how the leaves on trees change colors and how the weather gets cooler this time of year.




Mini photo session at home

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Well it's definitely fall in Germany and though fall is a gorgeous time of year for photography, it's just too cold and dreary to be outside today.    I really wanted to take some photos of the kids today, so I set up shop in my living room

I'm no pro. And I don't really know what I'm talking about.  But I do know what I like when it comes to photos.  With a little rearranging and creativity I was able to create a simple space in my living room for taking photos without it looking like the setting of a living room. 

Here's what I had to work with:

Nothin' fancy here. 

If you'd like to create your own mini home studio here is my non professional advice:

Be as close to natural lighting as possible.  A nice large window is great place to set up. 

Look around your house for things that can be used as props.  Couch pillows, cushions,a ladder, chairs, wicker baskets.  You get the idea.  Think about the purpose of your photos and what type of look you want.  Clean and simple?  Thematic?  Play around with different things.  Move furniture around if you need to.

Use household decor as props.   Books, bowls, clocks, blankets, even kitchen utensils could make for a cute scene. Get creative.

Enjoy :)



Monday, September 27, 2010

Halloween Spider Craft

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Isn't he cute?!  Unlike the real life creatures that have been taking over every corner in our house lately.  This little guy is super easy and doesn't require many supplies. 

You'll need:

-Styrofoam balls (whatever size you like)
-Black pipe cleaners
-Google eyes
-Push pins in various colors (for the nose)
-Black craft paint
-Wooden skewer
-pom poms for the legs (optional)
-fishing wire if you plan to hang these guys
-Sponge paint brush
-Wire cutters (to cut the pipe cleaner in half)


1) Take a styrofoam ball and poke a skewer into it.
2) Using your foam paint brush and black paint, paint the ball.
3) Volunteer your kiddo to hold the skewers while they dry.
4) Depending on the paint you use the dry time could be anywhere from a few hours to overnight.  I let mine sit overnight to dry.  I poked the skewers in a grapefruit!  (using a sharp knife cut off just a tiny bit of the bottom of a grapefruit too help keep it from rolling)
5) Once the balls are dry, glue the eyeballs one, stick the pushpins in for the nose and then poke in the piper cleaner for the legs.  I cut the pipe cleaner in half since my styrofoam balls were smaller.  If you are making a big spider you could probably just use the entire pipe cleaner for the leg.  Glue on pom poms to the legs as variation.

The only spiders ever allowed in my house!



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Canvas hand and foot artwork

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What better gift to give a family member or good friend then a homemade piece of artwork?  Not only is it sentimental and thoughtful, it can be personalized.  For DH this year I wanted the kids to do something special that would remind him of how tiny they were in 2010.  I wanted the artwork to be displayed in our living room, so I chose neutral earth tones.  I love canvas because no matter what you do to it, it somehow still looks artistic.

[caption id="attachment_682" align="aligncenter" width="575" caption="Canvas Art Gift"][/caption]

  For this project you need:

-4 canvas of the same size.  I used 8in. x 8 in. square canvas because the kids have such tiny hands and feet and I didn't want a bunch of empty space.

-2 paint colors of your choice.  I used acrylic paint because the craft store here in Germany has a very limited choice of colors for canvas paint.  It worked just fine :)

- Sponge paint brushes


1) Paint 2 of the canvas chocolate brown and 2 of the canvas tan (or whatever colors you choose).  Let them dry and add a second coat.  Mine actually needed a third coat.

2) Once completely dry, paint a hand an alternate color.  So for the brown canvas, paint the hand tan.  Press the hand down firmly and hold for at least 5 seconds.  Slowly remove. Repeat for all 4 canvas.

3) Once all the canvas are dry, add touch ups if needed.

Note: I used 2 feet because getting a 3 month old to open his hands was impossible.  Do all feet, all hands or alternate like I did.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mini Oktoberfest

Pin It Now! [caption id="attachment_640" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Town center"][/caption]

What a beautiful day in Germany today.  The sun was out, the air was cool and my town was hosting it’s own Oktoberfest this weekend.  I’m assuming the festival in my town is nothing like the well known Drunkfest Oktoberfest in Stuttgart or Munich.  Much smaller.  Much more calm.  And much more family friendly.  And no Bierleichen (beer corpses a.k.a people who pass out from drinking too much).  Just good food and good beer.  My kinda scene.

[caption id="attachment_620" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Town Square, festival"][/caption]

Hubby wanted to stay home today, so I left the kiddos and a friend and I decided to enjoy a few hours of well deserved mommy time.  This is my friend, Mama with Flavor.

I love my babies.  And she loves hers.


It is nice to enjoy adult conversation and my sanity every so often.

Adult conversation and this...

[caption id="attachment_622" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Paulner"][/caption]


The bartenders told us beer is 90% water.

Ha!  Silly Americans.  We believe anything :)

There was a band playing in the center of the square.  Would you believe me if I told you this band of flutes, clarinets and trombones suddenly went from square dance music to playing Thriller?  Seriously.  They did.  In our small German town on a quiet Sunday afternoon, a band played Thriller to an audience of old people.

And for this guy.

He knew how to get down.  I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time.

Until we saw this!

Bumper cars!

We were both feeling spontanious and thought what the heck?

Oh my goodness.  

It was sooo much fun.  To feel like a kid again and just laugh and be in the midst of excitement was a really, really good time.

It will probably be the last time I go on a bumper car though.  I’m getting old.

After our beer and bumper car ride excitement it was time to eat.  There were two very strong, succulent aromas consuming the air.  Any festival I’ve been to in Germany has crepe stands.  They smell like warm sugar, vanilla, chocolately heaven.  

The other savory smell was of onions and steak on the grill.  

This too smelled like heaven.

And it tasted like heaven.  It was delicious.






Of course all good things must come to an end.  It was a wonderful day and this is what I got to come home to

My milk drunk baby.



And my silly little diva.

And my new cuddly litte....wait.  That's not mine!  But gosh isn't he so darn cute??  I want him.

Until next time.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Weekend trip to Bruges and Oostende, Belgium

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One of the best parts of living in Germany is being able to travel to other countries.  We are within driving distance to several very cool places.  Three hours to Paris, 5 hours to Prague, 5 hours to Bruges, and hours from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy.  I’m so grateful we have the opportunity to visit and experience different cultures.

[caption id="attachment_546" align="aligncenter" width="344" caption="Bruges"]Bruges, Belgium[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_568" align="aligncenter" width="412" caption="Streets of Bruges"][/caption]

Over Labor Day weekend my mom was in town and we decided to stay in Bruges, Belgium.  We visited Bruges back in March, but it was freezing and I was 7 months pregnant.   Bruges is often referred to as “The Venice of the North” because of the canals throughout the city.  With the cobblestone streets and old buildings it’s a very quaint and picturesque town. 

 What we didn’t know last time we were in Bruges was the beach is only an extra 15 min away!  So we booked a room in Bruges for 2 nights and spent an entire day in Oostende, a charming coastal town along the North Sea.  Trying to find a hotel room for 4 people and a baby is challenging in Europe.  In the States you can request a room with 2 queen beds or one king.  And generally speaking most hotels have the same types of amenities (parking on site, room service, choice of beds, private shower/bath, etc). 

In Europe you have to read the fine print.  Most rooms are made up of 2 single beds or one double bed (which btw is just two twin size mattresses pushed together).  I would find a hotel that had 2 double beds, was free for kids, had a great location and reviews, but no elevator.  Another thing to look for is parking on site if you drive to your destination.  Normally it won’t be a big deal for us because we can share beds, but since my mom was with us it was a bit more challenging.  I used because people give detailed reviews.  I ended up booking at The Aragon Hotel and our room was a 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchen located in the center of town.  Location and hospitality was 10 out of 10.  Cleanliness I would give a 7.  Overall I’d recommend it.

[caption id="attachment_562" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Hotel Aragon"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_569" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Early morning view from hotel room"][/caption]

Normally it would be a 5 hour drive, but with two crazies with us everything takes longer and it took us 6 hours to get there.  There is an Esso gas station in Aachen, Germany right before the border so we filled up on gas there, did a potty break and were on our way.  We drove through The Netherlands for about 15 min. and that prompted a debate as to whether The Netherlands is the country or if Holland was the country.  Clearly geography class served a purpose.  Technically The Netherlands is the name of the country, not Holland.  Short history lesson-

Holland refers specifically to two provinces in the central-west Netherlands, North Holland and South Holland, which still encompass the largest cities in the Netherlands. Although Holland is considered by many the "official" unofficial name for the country of the Netherlands, some Netherlanders take offense at its usage.  Always learning something new.

After arriving at our hotel and checking in we were hungry and ready for a cold Belgian beer.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, but Belgian beer is just so good I can’t help myself. 

[caption id="attachment_547" align="aligncenter" width="201" caption="Ahhhhhh"][/caption]

So far my favorite is Leffe Bruin. Though the beer is superb,the food in Belgium isn’t my favorite.  Mussels, rabbit and escargot are traditional of the region.  Variety isn’t much of an option, though there were enough Italian restaurants to get us through.  And there is a Chinese restaurant close to the Church if Our Lady that isn’t bad.

Here is a list of my favorite things to do while in Bruges:

1. Drink a beer in the Market Square

[caption id="attachment_548" align="aligncenter" width="576" caption="Market Square"][/caption]

 The Market Square (Grote Markt) is the heart of medieval Bruges.  In the center of the square is a statue celebrating the heroes, Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninc, of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302 when a French Belgium was forced to recognize the Flemish emancipation.

[caption id="attachment_553" align="aligncenter" width="430" caption="Hubby in front of Provencial Court"][/caption]

 The  Provincial Court is one of my favorite architectural buildings I’ve seen so far in Europe. Built in the neo-gothic style this captivating building indicates the change that took place in Bruges architecture during the 19th century.
Adjacent to the Provincial court is the Belfry tower and on the east side are charming hotels with various restaurants on the ground level.  The history and sound of multi language conversations in the background make for a wonderful ambience to enjoy a yummy Belgian beer and people watch.

2. Visit the Belfry Tower

The Belfry Tower (Belfort) was built in 1220, with additions in 1240 and reconstruction after it burned in 1280, 1491, and 1781.

[caption id="attachment_554" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="The Belfry Tower"][/caption]

The final touch was a stone parapet added to the roof in 1821. The building served as a bell tower, watchtower, and market during the thirteenth century when Bruges was coming up as a prominent center of the Flemish cloth industry. Standing 83 meters high it is well worth the 366-step climb to view the entire city.

3.  Stop in the various chocolate shops

I love chocolate.  Before I knew anything about Belgium, I knew Belgian chocolate was my favorite.  The flavor is pure and succulent.  There are so many different varieties like mojito chocolate truffles, pecan cream filled chocolates, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate sauces, chocolate suckers and so much more.  Most of the shops don’t add preservatives to their chocolates so there is a 2-6 week period in which to consume it.  Unless you’re me, then it’s usually gone within a few hours.

[caption id="attachment_555" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Chocolate!"][/caption]


Chocolate boobs...only in Europe

[caption id="attachment_571" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Dragon made of chocolate"][/caption]

4. Visit the Church of Our Lady
Churches seem to be a dime a dozen in Europe.  There are so many and even though they are all beautiful they all start to look the same.  However each has its own history and story.  In Bruges the Church of Our Lady houses the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime.  It was bought by the Mouscron family and given to the Church of Our Lady.  It’s really cool to see such a famous statue made by one of the greatest artists to ever live.  To be that close to something so old and historical is just a neat experience.


[caption id="attachment_559" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Madonna and Child by Michaelangelo"][/caption]

5.  Walk along the canals

And if you don’t have little ones to disrupt the peace, then take a boat ride too.  It’s a very romantic and unique way to see the city.  And there’s something about water that makes everything more pretty and calm.

[caption id="attachment_561" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Canals in Bruges"][/caption]

6. Eat waffles

Enough said.

[caption id="attachment_563" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="We had these for breakfast one morning. Yum!"][/caption]

7. Drive to Oostende

It’s a short 15 min drive from Bruges and is such a cute little town.  Just being near the water is enough to make me happy.  We laid on the beach for a few hours, drank a beer on the boardwalk, had ice cream and all was good and well in life.    It’s a peaceful place and great for people watching.

[caption id="attachment_564" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Oostende"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_565" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Many people there rode around on these funky bikes."][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_567" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Oostende Beach"][/caption]

Bruges and Ostende is a perfect weekend getaway.  Next time we go I think we'll add on another night and drive to Amsterdam which is 3 hours from Bruges.