Friday, September 30, 2011

Busy Week of This and That

Just noticed that is has been a few days since our last post. Sophie has had a fairly busy week of going to preschool, eating spicy ice cream (I think every day this week - they should start a reward program for us), enjoying the warm and sunny weather, playing with her dolls and just doing this and that. 
 Here we are in the morning off to preschool. I love my bicycle, and Sophie loves her bike seat.  Andrew named it Stuka, as it says Junckers along the frame.
 Doing a show with Berit at IKEA. 
 Cleaning windows in her witch costume.
 Ladybug rain boots (in 80 degrees temperatures) to complement the wings which I was carrying by that time.
 Ladybug girl fighting the big monster.
 One new favorite activity is listening to stories on CD, some of which are Berit's (Bibi Blocksberg, the little witch, is one she enjoys).
Her big reward for this week was to stay up and watch a princess movie (she chose Snow White) with snacks to go along. Fletcher is dreaming of his prince, too. I think this was during a sad part of the movie. 

Tomorrow we are off to see Mama's castle. Pictures to follow.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All Creatures Great and Small

Andrew is back in California for a few days, so we decided to take a Sunday excursion to the Kleve Zoo today where they had a special naming event for their baby animals. The weather is still gorgeous by the way. 
 We saw all kinds of different animals. After Sophie freaked out when a fly landed on her arm by the honey bee exhibit (Thanks, Andrew!), we quickly moved on to a special birds of prey exhibit. This was an eagle owl. Sophie and I got to pet it (as did a bunch of other kids) and Sophie got to keep a feather!
 While we checked out the birds, Oma was sitting by the campfire roasting "stick bread." That must be the ultimate German equivalent to roasting marshmallows. It tasted delish!
 Around the corner we faced arguably the biggest cow (bull) we had ever seen. He seemed friendly - other people were petting him. Hard to believe that they are herbivores. Holy cow, I'd better start eating more spinach!
 The meerkats had four offspring called One for All, All for One. They were too cute.
 We saw another species there in abundance: little creatures that were jumping around, squealing, screaming, running all over the place - not sure where they got their energy from. 
At the end, a pony coach ride worthy of a little princess.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An "Autumn" Day in Düsseldorf

Though the summer must have been terrible here in Europe, at least that is what EVERYONE has been saying, this weekend is promising to be absolutely gorgeous just in time for Oktoberfest. So in honor of Oktoberfest, I had Leberkäs' and Brez'n with the traditional Düsseldorf Altbier (old beer). This was at "Bastian's" in the Altstadt for our celebratory meal for finding our house. I apologize that everyone had their mouths full.
 Sophie enjoyed a "Princess Plate" full of fresh bread rolls, jam, Nutella, and Gummibears (No, I didn't steal one of her Gummibears bags, I'm just rationing them.) We also stopped at the tourist information bureau to gather plenty of reading material on what to do in D-dorf.

 I just had to take a picture of this bread counter! Yummy!
 From the Golden Gate to the Rheinbrücke - could that be our container?
 Sophie in front of another Sleeping Beauty Castle (i.e. the city hall).
It is as if this Dutch band played just for our joyous occasion in D-dorf today. Sophie did not want to leave.

German Efficiency at Its Finest

After our strenuous day of house hunting, it looks as if we have actually found our future home. And best of all (in addition to Meike's garden and Andrew's Hawaiian-themed cellar bar), we finally get to live in a proper city, not just a 'burb! It is located in the east of Duesseldorf (Vennhausen) in a brand new neighborhood, i.e. lots of other new families to make friends with. We should be able to move in around the middle of November.
 I love that climbing structure on the playground! This is the mums' hangout.
 The front of our future house. Sophie's room will be the right window on the second floor.
 The obligatory German bathroom picture. Notice the towel warmer already built in.
 The top floor guest/library/play/cozy hangout room.
 The site of Andrew's future bar (and pantry and laundry rooms)
Finally, look what's on the street corner - I hope they serve spicy ice cream.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Royal Wedding - Again!

Daddy arrived and has already been put to work in his favorite job: play prince and marry Sophie. Sophie has been practicing her lines and is becoming quite a pro at this.
 While the music was taken from Diana's wedding, the vows were copied from Kate's wedding. Note Prince Charles and the Queen were in the audience as well.
 One of Princess Sophie's first charity events was helping local senior citizens with their gardening work.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meet the Pediatrician

Sophie needed a physical exam for her preschool. This exam is not covered by any insurance, so the staff apologized that I would have to pay a whopping €10 for it. ☺ Sophie really enjoyed the waiting room. The examination table was a fire truck! How would you like that, Nico? Maybe Sophie would have preferred a glass carriage.
 We went to the biweekly market in Geldern today. I'm very pleasantly surprised by the prices for groceries and impressed by the size of these cabbages.
 More from cat heaven: Fletcher and Nelson got to take a closer look at Berit's mice. Better than any movie. By now they have become so brave that they are venturing beyond the garden.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Train to Hamburg

For our first full weekend back in Germany we received an invitation by my brother Stefan and his family to come and join them in Hamburg (where they live) for Talea's (Sophie's cousin) 3rd birthday party. 
So Sophie went on her first really proper train ride (about five hours one way) - and believe it or not, our train did not run on time! There was a medical emergency en route. 
 And even though Mama's eyelids became very heavy as soon as the train started rocking, Sophie never slept. But thanks to Dora and Caillou, she behaved very well. On the way up she even made a friend in the row in front and they played with her princess figurines for a while.
 Cake with Smarties for breakfast!
 Sophie and Talea. Please sir, can I have more?
 Thore couldn't wait and started chowing down on his plate.
 On Saturday before the big birthday bash in the afternoon, Sophie and I took the S-Bahn to visit my old childhood friend Britta (well, she is not old of course, but we've known each other forever) and her five-year old daughter Hannah. When the girls had lost all patience with the language barrier (Sophie still answers a lot in English), they cuddled up on the couch for some Barbie princess movie and snacks.
 On the way home on Sunday, Sophie and I were being silly with what was left over of her pretzel and pretended we had mustaches. Sophie took the picture of me. Notice that I am wearing sunglasses as it was actually sunny again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ice Cream, Pancakes and some California Blue Sky

As the weather has actually been okay here over the past few days, we made daily trips to the ice cream parlor. After Sophie finished her own portion of spicy ice cream...

 ...she started an eating competition with my friend Birgit. Birgit is visiting for a few days from Australia. I can't deny that little Miss Center of Attention (Sophie) was jealous at times. After all, Birgit was everywhere Mama was. But nothing a few ice cream treats couldn't fix.
 On the last night of Birgit's visit with us we drove to Holland for pancakes. Sophie's was topped with ham and cheese. She was very disappointed she couldn't have my sister Berit's and my mother's drink, after all it had such an attractive name in Dutch (translated Snow White - a beer mix drink).
Here is the proof - California Blue Sky spotted in Landstuhl  (okay, southern Germany) on 9/14
PS. Sophie decided today that she wants to be born in Disneyland.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Ladybug Group

So here is our report on Sophie's first day of preschool (or Kindergarten as she calls it now). 
She was assigned to the Ladybug Group, as if they knew that we have a ladybug girl. It's a Catholic Montessori Preschool. We are amazed they accepted her even though we filled out 'Atheist' in the religion column. Pretty much all preschools are sponsored by the Church in Germany (especially in the countryside), unless you go to a Waldorf preschool. I guess we'll deal with the question of who Jesus is, when she asks us. On the other hand, I'm excited with the Montessori part of it. There is so much for her to explore, good discipline, but not too much structure yet. A lot of freedom. 
And thank goodness, they have more than a chest full of dress-up clothes!
 Sophie eating her snack. Fruit is sitting out all morning for the kids to eat, and they can eat their breakfast when they want anytime before ten (with a few gentle reminders by the teachers).
I left her there to play after about an hour. She seemed very excited to come back tomorrow.
 In the afternoon we walked into town. It was a busy day for the munchkin. She was actually dozing off in the stroller on the way home but only after she devoured her spicy ice cream. (Yes, they have peppermint/chocolate flakes ice cream). for the boys, still in cat heaven!
On a mission to find more long sleeve/warm dresses for Sophers, as she refuses to wear trousers. She is such a princess.