Saturday, November 10, 2012

Three Hungry Swimmers

Sophie and I met with some friends from our English-speaking playgroup to go swimming at Duesselstrand today. This place offers numerous pools, slides and all kinds of other fun distractions for small and big kids. 
After a good hour and a half of play, everyone was hungry for lunch.
We all went to a nearby Italian family restaurant. 
Here is a picture of Hugo, Sophie and Bo coloring while waiting for their pasta and pizza.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Saint Martin

In case you ever wondered who Saint Martin was. According to legend, he was a knight a long time ago who shared all of his food with poor people. When he had no more food left to share, he came across another cold poor person in rags. He then divided his cape with his sword and gave one half to the poor person to keep him warm. 
This act of sharing is celebrated every year in Germany in November. It is also the German festival of lanterns to light up this dreary season a little. There are numerous lantern parades, some with bands, all over the towns. Sometimes the kids will go sing from house to house to collect candy. 
The celebrations started for Sophie at her preschool with a little sing-along and role play. How very special for her: Sophie was chosen to play the poor man this year. She was so proud of having a big part in the play. I had to shorten the video a bit.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat

Today, the day after Halloween, is a holiday in Germany (surprise!) - All Saints Day. For us that is another day with everything closed. We were happy to see that some English-speaking parents had organized a little trick or treat get together at a park. Too bad it started raining just as we exited the subway. 
 We moved the candy hunt under the trees which provided some shelter. Sophie was dressed up as Belle today.
 But after some time, we were all ready for some hot chocolate or coffee to warm up.
 Somebody knew of a wonderful, kid-friendly, cafe nearby that specializes in home-made chocolates, cakes and ice cream. 
Bo and Sophie are enjoying their kids ice creams.
The big attraction was a brand new baby. 
Despite the rain, it was a fun afternoon with fun people.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Afternoon

Another Sunday with everything closed. The weather was nice for a few hours in the afternoon, so I grabbed my 111 Things to See in Duesseldorf book and suggested a quick trip on the train to the Stinderbachtal. It was described as being very picturesque.
 To make it more exciting for Sophie, we let her take her bike. There were some very hilly parts, which we did not know, so Andrew had his exercise for the day, too. 
 I agree it was beautiful. On our way to find the cafe.
 Found it and with surprisingly friendly service.
Weighed down with apple strudel, I could no longer manage to keep up with the two of them.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Celebrations

The American Women's Club of Duesseldorf had organized a few Halloween events. The weekend started out with a party for the adults. Andrew and I went as Peter and Lois from the Family Guy.

The next afternoon, it was the party for the kids. Sophie wore her brand new Snow White outfit.
The party took place at the International School. We arrived just in time for my volunteering time slot at the eyeball soup station. This is from when Sophie came to visit me and tried to find an eyeball in this pot.
There were so many activities for Sophie and the other kids. Here is a picture of Sophie making a spooky bracelet.
Upstairs there was a Hall of Fame with the wicked witch, Michael Jackson and among others another Snow White.
Sophie had been looking forward to this hot dog all afternoon. 

Arabian Nights

Oma brought this costume back for Sophie from Tunisia. Sophie put it on and started dancing. I think she has some talent. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Traveling In Style

Berit, Sophie and I took the train to Geldern today to pay Oma a surprise visit. While I returned some books at the library, Berit and Sophie went to Starbucks. This is where Sophie instructed Berit: "Berit, I order and you pay, ok?" How could it be any other way? Here is Sophie enjoying her kinder cappuccino (whoever started this?!).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Learn to Ride a Bicycle - ✔

After a summer of hard practice, Sophie finally got the hang of riding her bicycle, including the starting and stopping parts. Suddenly she is not our little girl anymore. But she is so proud - as are we of course.

Later that day she also managed to climb up (and down) the bigger rock at the playground with just a bit of guidance by me. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chocolate Face

Berit treated us to ice cream today. 
Sophie did not like it at all.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Brisk Morning

We definitely get to experience the seasons here (except for the lack of snow last winter). There is no ignoring that it is autumn.  As Sophie is singing her fall songs on the bike, we ride along some hobby gardens (allotments) to her preschool.
 Today there was frost on the ground.
 All bundled up again (i.e. calculate at least five more minutes to get ready before leaving the house).
Horses right by Sophie's preschool.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

We took a trip out to the country fairly early this morning to visit a little pumpkin patch. The American Women's Club of Duesseldorf had set up a tent there and organized a little crafts event for the kids. It was very well done and we are looking forward to their upcoming parties and events (such as Halloween).
 Here is Sophie painting her pumpkin.
Sophie moved from table to table and tirelessly did every craft offered. At this station she is creating a picture frame.

Friday, October 5, 2012

After the Rain

It has been raining a lot over the past few days. At least here is our reward for having to put up with all that gray:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cleaning Mice

Berit asked for Sophie's help to "clean her mice" today. Sophie was briefly disappointed when she found out that this did not mean giving the mice a bath, but cleaning their cage. 
 She quickly perked up when she was given the important task to watch them in their temporary housing and make sure that they did not escape. She took her job very seriously and the two mice never had a chance to go anywhere.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Royal Company

My brother with his two kids in tow has been visiting with my mum's for a few days. Today they came over to Duesseldorf to drill a few more holes into my sister's walls at her new place. She has done more with her studio in the last two months than we have with our place in the past year. ☺
Talea and Thore stayed at our house to play with Sophie while my brother Stefan went off to work on said project.
 Here is a picture of Princesses Talea and Sophie and Thore the knight at their dinner of cannelloni. 
Thore actually said to me that he did not like the meal at all as he was munching away. 
I put the hair clips in so that he could at least see his food.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Play Day

Today was already Nanny and Pops' last day of their stay with us. ☹
They decided to spend all day with Sophie. 
 They went for a trip to the forest playground and continued with their role play even though it started raining. 
Sophie rode her bicycle there and back. Once she got on, there was no stopping her. 
Afterwards at home, Sophie still needed to take Nanny and Pops on a (pretend) flight to Hawaii. Everyone had first class seats. 
It has been a fun two weeks with our visitors. We hope they will be back soon. In the meantime we are looking forward to returning the visit in February.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Night Out

Berit and Dennis came over to babysit Sophie tonight. Sophie seems to quite enjoy it when we go out at night. Maybe because Berit will buy her kinder surprise eggs for dessert or read her a goodnight story three times the length of what I would read to her. 
 Anyway, we had the evening to go out and enjoy Duesseldorf after sundown (not that it was sunny today).
The Altstadt was busy as it was Friday night and a football match with the local team.
We went to the Schluessel brewery for a real German dinner.
 We were not disappointed. While we kept the Altbier flowing, we had pork ragout cooked in Altbier gravy,
 marinated beef with potato dumplings and red cabbage, 
 and the classic pork knuckle.
It was delicious, although heavier than what we are all used to.
So, of course we had to have a Killepitsch (or what Auntie Sandra calls "like red wine") to wash down the food. 
Back on a low-meat diet in a couple of days. 

Big Help

The kids were collecting conkers by the playground today. They were very grateful for some big people help by Pops who was throwing sticks into the tree to help.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How About a Rhinefahrt?

After a fun evening of BBQing and playing card games with Berit and Oma, we all headed just south of Bonn this morning to meet with aunt Helga and uncle Ralph (our frequent visitors to California). We had a real German breakfast (I thought I had taken a picture of it). Then we headed over to Koenigswinter to board a ferry up the Rhine to the old medieval town of Linz.
 Here comes the boat.
 We all started out by cuddling up in the beach baskets outside, but most of us soon headed one deck down to the sheltered panorama restaurant.
 These are the Drachenfels ruins, which we visited two years ago. 

At this point I will be inserting a picture of what is left of the bridge at Remagen at a later time. Andrew took this picture and it is still on his camera. 
One of the remaining pillars now houses a peace museum. 

 We had a about two hours to walk around Linz. Fortunately it was staying dry so we were able to stretch our legs without getting soaked. 
This was a fountain created by an artist who is famous for building similar fountains in the city of Aachen. All the figurines had bendable joints to the amusement of not only Sophie. 
In one shop window we discovered these juke box puppets. Upon paying 1 Euro you could choose a song from a long list of tunes and they started playing away. The mimics were excellent including eyebrows raising to the swing of the beat. Oh, and Andrew chose Stars and Stripes Forever. 
Even the local street musician from a couple of blocks down came to join us watching the performance.

 Sophie was enthralled. 
Back on the ferry downriver Sophie received her hot chocolate with cream as promised. She has been such a trooper with all these day trips. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


We are taking a break from sightseeing today. Sophie is even taking a break from her swimming lessons today, as she is very tired from the weekend.

Instead, Sophie and Nanny are baking pizzas. Quite tasty.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

To Complete Our Tour of Southern Germany

It happened to be on our way home.
 We actually hiked up this hill, even Sophie. That was before we found out that the train rides up and down the hill were included in the admission ticket to the castle courtyard. On the plus-side, we burned off some of last night's dinner that way.
 While Nanny and Pops took a guided tour of the castle, we played prince and princess in the courtyard.
 My funny parents.
 Castle shots
 a lot of it in ruins, but still very impressive
 Sophie also spotted this dragonfly in the castle courtyard. 
Needless to say when we were done, we took the train back downtown.
View of the castle and Princess Sophie from the old bridge.
Then off to find a place for dinner. All that walking made us hungry.

Enough medieval towns for a couple of days.