Wednesday, February 29, 2012

California, Here We Come!

The big day is here: Sophie and I "hopped" on an ICE train to Frankfurt Airport in the afternoon and checked into a hotel to split up the journey. Sophie was so excited to be doing exactly what Daddy does at work. In fact, he had previously overnighted in the same hotel. 
We hiked over to a nearby Italian restaurant on a campground. Sophie confessed that she would not enjoy camping, because she was afraid of the animals, and would prefer to stay in a hotel instead. Daddy's girl, what can I say.
 Enjoying her pizza.
...and where exactly am I going to sleep?
 Luckily, the air traffic controller strike that had been planned for this morning, was averted at the last minute, and our flight took off only about an hour late. On good old United. Hey, it was on Daddy's airplane, that's all that counts.
 While waiting by the gate, I was becoming quite a geek, spotting my first 787.
 And the taxiways were teeming with A380s.
 A new way of stretching out.
This is not Sophie sleeping, but Sophie throwing a fit when she found out bad Mummy had traded our two seats by the window for FOUR seats in the middle. She kept complaining about not having a window seat throughout the flight, did not sleep for one minute either. At least she was past the age of wanting to cruise down the aisles and was happy to watch videos instead. We make an exception on flights for everyone's sanity. 
Pops picked us up and after Sophie had devoured her obligatory cookie, she passed out before we even got on 280. 
It's good to be back.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Berlin

While Oma came to our house to watch Sophie, Sandra and I went on a quick trip to Berlin to visit her nephew and Andrew's cousin Eddie and his girlfriend Dyan who have been living there for a year now. Berlin was a first for both of us.
 Once we were on the right train (don't ask!), we were headed for the capital at racing speed.

That night we had reservations at a dark restaurant (pitch black) called unsicht-bar (invisible) www.unsicht-bar.com. Needless to say there are no pictures of me eating with my hands, licking my plate clean, and pouring my wine with one finger in the glass to measure how much.
 So much to see: Checkpoint Charlie, Stasi-Museum, Topography of Terror, ...
 ...the site of Hitler's bunker (I would not want to live there, despite its central location)...
 ...the Holocaust Memorial (very well made in my opinion)...
 ...Sandra, Eddie, and Dyan at the Brandenburg Gate...
 ...at the Reichstag... 
time for a cup of tea Unter den Linden before we kept walking...
the GDR Museum was very interesting as well...
...ran into Pinocchio. Is my nose getting long? 
 Before we headed back to Miss Sophie the next day, we trekked out to Charlottenburg to the Commonwealth War Cemetery to find the grave of a colleague of Sandra's uncle. 
Shot down at age 21. 
Berlin's history is everywhere.

I am sure we will be back here before too long. There is so much more to see and do and it was fun to visit with Eddie and Dyan. 

Four hours later, I was a mum again. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rosenmontag in Düsseldorf (The Day of the Big Parade)

After five days of Carnival celebrations, this was the last time we were getting dressed up to go and see the big parade in Düsseldorf (1 million visitors, 5 tonnes of candy, over 100 floats, 40 bands, and 5.5 kilometers long).
 I found another costume in my sister's costume grab bag. Sophie is dressed up as a princess for a change.
 We went with our next door neighbors, Andrés and his family.
Sandra could not believe how absolutely everyone was in fancy dress on the bus and train. I told her that it is just a normal Monday in Düsseldorf.
 We found a pretty good spot right at the beginning of the parade. Finally a sunny day.
 Despite loud "Helau's" on Sophie's end, the candy collection turned out to be quite meager today. But that was okay: we only have two full bags at home already.
After about 50 minutes Sophie had had enough and we went home to have some ice cream instead.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carnival in Geldern

To my family's surprise I pulled another fancy dress costume out of my sleeve for the parade in Geldern today.
 The nice wicked witch

 Robin (aka Berit) and Belle with butterfly face painting (aka Sophie)
 While we watched the parade from Berit's balcony, my mum celebrated on the balcony across the street.
 dm - my favorite store (it's a drugstore) giving out sponges and soap instead of candy
video
Catching the mood

 Belle's boyfriend is a munk
Bellerobin

- one more day of Carnival with the big parade in Düsseldorf tomorrow, then off to Berlin

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Little Miss Sunshine

While shopping for glasses for Auntie Sandra, I caught a couple of shots of my little Miss Sunshine. She was just looking too special to pass up.

(As it is Carnival until next Wednesday, she gets to wear fancy dress everyday until then. How perfect is that?)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ladies' Night

WARNING - not a Sophie post exactly.
Andrew is back at work, Auntie Sandra has arrived, and so has Carnival. 
We actually managed to find a kind babysitter (Dennis - thank you) so that we could head out to Old Town for Ladies' Night.
 Cowgirl Berit, Minnie Mouse, and Medieval Queen Sandra I ready to roll.
 "What is Schnaps? Is it like red wine?" - at the Killepitsch bar.
 Schnaps, Altbier (local Düsseldorf beer) and some oompah music: must dance!
Sweet dreams, Sophie.
By the way, it's Auntie Sandra's first trip to Germany. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Helau! - Carnival Parade #1

We took the train up to Geldern today for my mum's birthday. Shortly after we arrived, Berit suggested we check out the Carnival parade in a little village nearby called Kapellen. Even though the big party does not start until Thursday, they stagger the parades out a little bit.
We quickly donned some silly hats and off we went. Too bad Andrew decided not to leave the Lederhosen on.

 Like I said, this is a very small town, so the floats were nothing like the ones in Düsseldorf or Cologne, but still quite cute.
 I always caught the floats from behind because I had to help collect the candy they threw first. Here is a bunch of Elmos and Cookie Monsters.
 Classic.
 So Sophie figured out quickly that the louder you yelled "Helau" the more candy they would throw at you.
 Andrew learned, too. 
We returned with a grocery bag full of candy and two plants. Who would like some? 
 Back at my mum's, Sophie continued digging through the fancy dress box and found the hula skirt.
Must have been an exciting day. Kiss goodbye from Daddy, as he left to go back to work. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Neanderthal

Since an annoying bug had me confined to the couch today, Andrew took Sophie on an excursion to the Neanderthal Museum in the next town over. It is pretty cool to think that the Neanderthal remains were found almost on our front door step. Currently they also have a special Lego exhibit with themes spanning through human history. And of course a Lego play area for the kids. 
Unfortunately, most photos are on Andrew's camera and he is back at work, so I will add more soon. I thought this was a really cute sample the two of them sent me, however. 

On another note, Andrew and Sophie have had some very valuable bonding time over the past few weeks. I love to see the two of them play together. Having to say goodbye when Andrew goes on a trip keeps getting harder for both of them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Is Here

It has been crispy cold here over the past week with record setting low temperatures. Now all we are hoping for is a bit of snow. Sophie still keeps asking every single day. We spent a day at my sister's house in Gütersloh, where we at least had a dusting of the white stuff. 
 We keep hearing: "Well, you should have been here last year..."
I much prefer this over the rain we had in January though. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Airventure at Düsseldorf Airport

Found another thing to do every first Sunday of the month: the airport puts on an event for children with arts & crafts, plays, miniature trains, a discount to the viewing platform and free tours of the airport, etc. 

Even though Sophie had caught a little bug and was feeling a bit under the weather this morning, she absolutely insisted on going to the kids event at the airport. It was a nice day, so we gave it a whirl and hopped on the bus after a relaxing morning on the couch. And of course Andrew did not need much persuading.
 Outside on the viewing platform. It was a bit nippy, as Andrew was showing Sophie the ropes (tugs, steering bypass pin, packs, wave-off). Sophie was nodding politely, until suddenly she felt just too cold.
 Especially for all of you who had seen the 'youtube' video on bumpy landings in Düsseldorf recently - we do have nice days here.
 That's the type of airplane we flew in on from San Francisco in September (A 330).
 Back inside, in the dress-up section, i.e. Sophie heaven.
Spotted a creepy guy in the children's corner
 Pom-poms!
 Crafting a mask for the carnival costume. (There is that creepy guy again!)
 Topping off the afternoon with a train ride through the shopping arcades.