Sunday, January 29, 2012

Düsseldorf Boat Show

Another Sunday trying to find something fun to do. Since having worked for Messe Düsseldorf more than ten years ago now, I have been wanting to visit their boat show just once. People have told me how impressive it is to see the superyachts being hauled in to the exhibit halls. This year,  I had a chance to see it for myself. I knew Andrew would not object to scouting out our future yacht. We strung Sophie along on stories of the fabled kids area which in the end turned out to be rather mediocre. In fact, Sophie was far more interested in giving us her opinions on which boat we should purchase; preferably one with three bedrooms, one of which would be hers, one of which would be ours, and one for guests. She also liked big kitchens, bathrooms with showers, and flatscreen TVs. 

At this point I was ordered to remove a particularly unflattering picture of Andrew.
 Not wasting any time - straight to the superyachts.
 For some boats, one needed an appointment or invitation. We had neither. Their loss.
 One of Sophie's choices (her shot). It was actually quite reasonably priced.
 No expense spared on this exhibit - even carted in some real sand.
 Nice little boat, inspected by Sophie.
 The police boat.
 So much for the kids area.
 Canoe test track.
 A definite favorite, along with the waterslide paddle boat next to it.
The magic of 3D glasses - making everyone look like an idiot.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Date Night Followed by Sophie Night

Yesterday, Andrew and I had our first proper date night in a long time and hopped on a train over to Cologne to see the symphony play Bach and Mendelssohn, while Sophie was cared for by Berit and Dennis. (Thank you!)
We arrived early enough to have a pre-concert Koelsch beer or two.
 In return for us going out we had promised Sophie a "Sophie Day" today: swimming in the afternoon, home-made pizza, and a movie.
Sophie was absolutely enthralled watching "Mary Poppins." So much that we had to keep reminding her to eat her pizza. While I was snoozing on the couch by the time the kids went to the bank with their father, Sophie watched the entire movie. It made a nice change to all those princess movies.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trains and Dolls

Sophie had our next door neighbor Andrés over for a play date. They are interested in very different toys, but I think they enjoyed the company. Sophie was also fascinated by Andrés' baby brother Adrian and spent quite some time entertaining him.

Nelson among the row of dolls. Who does he think he is?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Snapshots with Daddy

Someone is jetlagged - guess who?

 Visiting "Das Uerige" (beer hall) during a brief shopping break.
I'm seeing ghosts. Shopping for Carnival costumes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ice Cream Date with Tiger

While waiting for Andrew to make his train journey home from Leipzig, Sophie and I took Tiger out for ice cream. 
 Chocolate was the flavor of the day.

Tiger enjoyed it, too. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cousin Kiron's Birthday

It was Kiron's third birthday, so we headed over to Gütersloh for a quick overnight trip to help celebrate. Sophie and Kiron play very well together and they are always happy to see each other. 
 Sophie helped unwrap presents.
 Birthday cake at the kids' table. Note the miniature snow shovel and broom. All Kiron needs now is a lawn mover. He wants a pink one.
 I don't know what it is with Sophie's male friends to always want to try on her dresses. Kiron almost did not want to let go of this one. Very handsome.
Chilling in front of the TV at the end of a long day. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

All Bundled Up

It's cold here and Sophie is having to get used to wearing many more layers than in California. 
I think she looks just like a fluffy Elmo on his tricycle with this snow suit and the helmet. 
I love to watch the little kids wobble across the playground in their snow and rain suits. 

By the way, despite near freezing temperatures, Sophie insisted on having ice cream today. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunny Sunday at the Park

The rain is taking a break and we fueled up on Vitamin D at the large park behind our gym. I had just bought a guide to 'Düsseldorf with Children' the day before and it pointed out that there was a small petting zoo in one corner. 
 Sophie even dug out her sunglasses for the occasion. 
 These geese survived the holidays.
 As did these rather skinny looking ducks.
 I think they were called Indian Running ducks or something along those lines. We just found they looked hilarious.
Muffins, rhubarb cheese cake and café au lait al fresco in January. We are growing a thick skin.
Just too bad that these blue skies are not meant to stick around. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back to Ballet

As most of you know Sophie used to enjoy her dance and ballet classes back in Mountain View very much. So with the move, the holidays etc. over it's about time to sign her up for a course here in Düsseldorf. Our health club offers classes for kids including ballet and swimming. There may not be many kids in the class (which has its pros and cons), but it's a start. 
 Sophie was learning the first position, about which she later told me that it hurt her legs. Well, as far as I know ballet is not about feeling comfortable.
 Galloping like a horse.

She was very enthusiastic about the lesson. I think we'll be back for more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now I'm Four!

When I woke up Sophie this morning and told her that it finally was her birthday today, she said: "Now I'm four. Just like Lina. Lina is my best friend." - Lina is the neighbor girl two doors down, with whom Sophie had played once so far. Life seems so much simpler for kids.

We had a big day ahead of us!
 This is what a four-year old looks like.
 One present before preschool.
Then it's off to celebrate there. The birthday girl was greeted appropriately. While she treated her classmates to muffins, Sophie got to wear a crown with the number 4. 
 Back at home, wearing her new outfit from Granddad and Debra, a few presents were waiting for her. Oma and Berit had come the evening before to join the party and help prepare. I would have been lost without them! Sophie received a Princess Lillifee bike helmet, a Snow White barbie and a sled from Oma. Mind you, Sophie had probably never seen a live sled before, but she immediately exclaimed: "I did not wish for that!" It took some explaining that it might still snow and how much fun a sled could be then.
 While Sophie was busy undressing her Snow White barbie, the rest of us were in the kitchen drinking champagne (and doing some baking and cooking). I have to say it was quite tasty (not just the bubblies). I also made brownies for the first time - believe it or not - from scratch. 
 I'm impressed how many neighbor kids about the same age as Sophie came after less than two months of us living here. I think there will be no lack of playmates for her. 
 Sophie's birthday brownies cake. 

 The kiddos played very well together. Still no need for having to entertain them with games.
 It was quite a multi-national crowd again.
 California Princess
 Last but not least: one round of dress up with her new best friend Lina.
The aftermath.
Cheers and good night!

...and for her fifth birthday she wants a raised bed with a slide. Arrgh!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pre-Birthday Breakfast With Daddy

After about three weeks off, Andrew had to head back to work today. Somebody has to...
Since he will not be here for Sophie's birthday, we had a little pre-birthday breakfast with muffins and candles. 
 Andrew also gave Sophie his present: an easel just like a number of her friends in California have. Now we have the space. 
 The two artists set to work immediately.
Here is Andrew's creation. He loves drawing portraits of the Royal Family. Anything for Sophie, right?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Granddad Visiting - Day Trip to Cologne

Granddad and Debra hopped on a quick flight to come and visit and see our new place for a few days. Sophie very much enjoyed the extra attention - and extra rations of chocolate, cake, and ice cream. The weather was not in our favor. There was even a big thunderstorm one morning with hail and rain blowing sideways on the way to preschool. Luckily we had rented a car for the visit. We still managed to show our guests a little bit of the area we now live in, including the ice cream parlor next door. 

On one of the days we headed to Cologne, only a thirty minute drive from us. It stayed mostly dry for our excursion.
 Our first stop was of course the massive Cologne Cathedral. Inside, Sophie was full of questions:
"Why do people go to church?" "Why are we here?" - to look at the artwork; take a look at the beautiful windows. "Oh yeah, there's a princess! And a dead man. Mama, why is he dead?" (Jesus being taken from the cross). Then she continued on with Daddy and Granddad and could not believe how many dead people were there and why. 
 OK, time to do some shopping now. 
 Important stop at one of the many cafés to refuel with chocolate cake and a warm drink. Sophie loves Granddad's sweet tooth!
 Not too much later, time for something savory and a Koelsch for Mama and Daddy. Granddad and Debra were almost kicked out of the brewery (Malzmühle) for ordering coffee and tea!
Walking off the pounds in the alleys of the Altstadt. 

It was nice having Granddad and Debra here - please come visit again soon.