Sunshine again, so we packed a picnic and headed to a nearby park with wild animals local to the area. As I took us down the wrong track initially (thus not helping Elly's bad back - sorry), we decided to stop for a snack halfway up the hill (yes, there are indeed hills here) by a very well designed playground.
Sophie and Ciaran let their imaginations go wild, sailing on pirate ships and sitting in a bird house, while Elly and I soaked up the sun.
I was waiting for them to discover this reindeer in the woods bordering the playground for some good pictures.
Is it any surprise she is looking so battered?
Moving on to the animal park. The kids collected their own walking sticks, copying the numerous Nordic walkers, such as the one ahead of them on the picture.
There were little mice all along the sides of the trail much to our entertainment.
The long march was well worth it: the young boar were so cute. Munching away on our apples we brought. (You were allowed to feed them with certain foods.)
There was a steep downhill trail past the boar enclosure, where Sophie's knees kissed the asphalt. She is on the best way to have her knees look like her mother's. Fortunately, a very nice elderly lady had some bandaids for us. By the time we reached the deer enclosure, she was much better.
The deer walked right up to us.
Especially if we offered them food (again only certain foods which they normally eat).
After a long walk back to the bus and fueling up on a scoop of ice cream, it was time for a bath!
Sophie has been through the wars. That little bruise under her eye also happened on the playground yesterday. Mummy needs to keep her skills up after all. ;-)
On our way to the next excursion today, we passed the construction in our development. Ciaran and Sophie were mesmerized by the crane. One friendly worker (who has little kids of his own) let Sophie and Ciaran have a go at moving the crane to pour concrete. He was very patient with them.
This is the bucket they moved attached to a crane the size of the one in the background. Quite a unique opportunity, I say.
Yesterday evening, we picked up to very special visitors from the airport: Sophie's friend Ciaran and his mother Elly arrived for a three day visit. They are thus our first guests from the U.S.. Since they had flown from the U.S. to England a few days before, their jet lag should not be quite so bad.
Fortunately, the weather is still helping to show Düsseldorf from its best side, and Sophie and I were excited to show our new home to our friends. After a good night's rest, despite Ciaran refusing to share a room with Sophie, we jumped on the bus to go to Schloss Benrath.
Ciaran liked riding on public transport very much.
Who needs a playground when you can run around on the lawn?
Both displaying their new favorite t-shirts (thank you, Auntie Sandra!)
But a playground can't hurt. Or can it? Although this seesaw was the cause for a number of bruises on the kids' shins, it was still a major attraction.
Little princess and her pink palace.
All different kinds of chocolate ice cream! Heaven.
As it was our next door neighbor's birthday, we all had a good enough reason to open the 2012 BBQ season with a potluck and keg of cold beer. The kids have been playing all across our three lawns in the nice weather - sharing and fighting over toys. Perfect. Loving it.
Here is also Elly's blog link to the Benrath excursion:
We are back to Germany Sundays. That usually means a lazy morning in bed followed by Zumba, i.e. childwatch at the gym for Sophie. She enjoys the play structure inside the childwatch very much. The gym borders a large park, called Südpark with a big lake and a small petting zoo (see earlier blog). As the weather continues to be gorgeous, we packed a little picnic and rode the bike to the park after the gym.
Sophie really enjoys taking pictures. She took both of these shots.
As usual, Sophie only slept very little on the flight to Frankfurt. After we discovered that our suitcase decided not to get with us on the flight, we headed over to the DB train lounge to wait three hours for our train. Despite having this couch, Sophie still would not sleep and kept watching videos - big exception! The rocking of the train finally knocked her out.
It is our last full day in California, so we made the most of it. At lunch in Capitola with Sophie's one-time babysitter and our friend, Lalani, Sophie grabbed ahold of the camera:
Nanny "caught" finishing Sophie's quesadilla
Sophie's eye view
Oh my, the sun is so bright!
Then we drove over to auntie Shirley and uncle Lynn's house where the grown ups enjoyed one more bottle of California wine while Sophie had some time to play fortress with her beloved second cousin Chase.
Quick group picture with cousin Thomas, Chase, Nanny, auntie Megan and Sophie
Another Sophie shot of the "twitter sisters."
Karen, Shirley, and Denise
And we made one more stop at the beach. We had it to ourselves and were chasing after the foam that was blowing off the waves.
It was Pops' birthday today and unfortunately most of the party had to happen inside as the rain had really set in. During one break in the rain, we managed to go outside for a few minutes to go on a little Easter egg hunt for Sophie organized by Pops.
They were eggs filled with princess and butterfly tattoos. A big hit! Sophie already made it known that she would like more of these for Easter. Only problem: I can't find them here in Germany (...but we have kinder surprise eggs).
Now that Daddy is back to work, our friend Elly treated us to a very special place - the children's museum in San Jose. We used to have a membership, when we still lived here, and Sophie quickly remembered her favorite spots.
... such as the fire engine
The hat must go on like that
Lunchtime after the water play.
Face painting - a ladybug today
Serving veggie pizza.
(On another note: this room reminds me more than any other place of some very sleepy mornings trying desperately to stay awake after a busy nightshift)
In the story time tree.
Here is a link to Elly's blog on this trip for more pictures: http://babyblogging.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/the-cdm-with-sophie/