Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcome to Our Flight to Hawaii

It is about time that I write about Sophie's favorite game with Daddy. She is (almost) stepping in his footsteps by wanting to play airplane with him. I have heard that he used to play the same thing when he was little. Her room serves as the airplane. Then Daddy has to don his full pilot regalia including his old hat while Sophie gets the airplane ready. 

Some popular destinations are Hawaii, Disneyland, Hawaii, New York, and Hawaii. Oh, and India once.

Sometimes I get to be the passenger (first class, of course), but recently I have been degraded to cleaning personnel. Andrew has been bringing back everything you could imagine from his flights: magazines, boarding cards, napkins, plasticware, drink stirrers, you name it (talk about clutter).

I am sorry that the pictures are so fuzzy, but I had to sneak into the room and be quick. There was also a really cute video, but Andrew refused to let me post it, as he was not prepared to be caught on film. I will need to try again next time. Andrew is also concerned by what the neighbors might think when they see his head staring out the window wearing his pilot uniform. Then suddenly the blinds go down when the airplane flies into the night. 
 Pre-flight briefing or flight attendant taking the pilot's order for dinner?
Andrew keeps trying to persuade Sophie to become a pilot, but she insists on wanting to become a flight attendant. Well, she still has a couple of years to think about it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Revisiting Bambi

Sophie and I met with our friends Tali, Jonathan and Lia at the wild animal park in Grafenberg today. Even though we still have so many places to explore in Duesseldorf, we make regular trips back here because it is so close and a fun place to quickly escape into nature. 
 Jonathan and Sophie on the seesaw.
 This time we brought the right food: potatoes for the boar and carrots for the deer.
The carrots were gone so fast!
 Lia being silly with Sophie
And a final ride on the seesaw.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Taking Daddy to the Lake

As it felt kind of warm during our morning run in the nearby forest (the one you can see in the background of the pictures below), we had a quick change of plans for the afternoon and decided to go to the Unterbacher Lake in the afternoon rather than taking a trip to the city. Sophie loved the idea when we told her after preschool.
 It was perfect this time. Enough kids for Sophie to play with, but otherwise pretty empty even though it was sunny and warm. 
Plus, finally Daddy had the opportunity to join us.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Quick Visit from a Hamburger

Berit is moving into her new studio about 2 km from our house and our dear brother Stefan came down from Hamburg to help her. He brought along his son Thore. Sophie was happy to practice being a "big sister" to him. She even read him a story at one point. Really cute. 
Here is a picture of the two of them eating some ice cream at the playground.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Piñata

Yes, a piñata in Germany! Not only did Andrés' and Adrian's Abuela help to build the playhouse in the back garden, she also transported a piñata in her suitcase. Our neighbor Gabi choose one early evening for the kids to have a go at that Elmo face. The closest birthday was little Adrian's, so that was more or less used as an excuse.
 Gabi giving instructions. For some reason, Lina and Sophie thought that they needed to get changed into their princess and fairy outfits.
 Andrés went ahead and showed the girls how to do it.
Then Sophie had a rather feeble go.

 And here is Lina with the piñata still intact.
 The final blow with the goodies spilling out.
 Followed by a mad hunt for the candy and various little toys.
Lina and Sophie found some Elton John-type sunglasses in the fallout.
Thank you, Abuela, please come again. We all enjoyed your visit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last Ballet Class For Now

It was Sophie's last ballet lesson today - at least for a while. Next week she will be starting music classes. I am impressed at how much she has learned over the past year. But unfortunately there was very low participation in the class and there were times when Sophie ended up with one-on-one instruction. Even though that might sound good, I know that our little social butterfly missed the company of other kids. 
A quick Mary Poppins performance for Mama.

Monday, August 20, 2012

One Cat Down

Saturday night (of course), I heard a scream from outside that sounded like that of a baby. I ran into the garden only to find Fletcher (of course) hanging upside down in our mesh wire fence struggling to free himself. While I was back inside looking for a flashlight and some gloves, he did manage to free himself, but back inside I noticed a limb claw/toe hanging off his back paw. As he did not seem in pain and the actual flesh wound was minimal, I waited until Monday morning to take him to the vet who luckily has his office just across the street. Well, I bet he was happy to see us!
He immediately put him under general anesthesia to examine him and found that the toe had completely dislocated from the little joint. It would be easiest to amputate that part and while Fletcher was snoozing, the vet looked at his mouth only to find two more rotting teeth that needed to be pulled. 
 Fletcher in the PACU after his surgery. ;-)
 Not feeling too hot.
We gave him the nickname Captain Ahab as you can hear him approach from far away with that bandaged foot.
So for the next two weeks we will be back at the vet's for regular dressing changes only to try to avoid the dreaded lamp shade. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

It is possible even here, if only for a couple of days a year: the temperatures hit a toasty 99° F / 37° C and no clouds in sight. I am not complaining.
Here is what the kids where up to after some indoor play time during the greatest midday heat.
(Actually this shot was taken a few days ago; today the kids were naked.)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Everyone Had the Same Ideas

The hottest weekend of the year. 
We decided to cycle through the forest for a cool down at the Unterbacher See together with our neighbors Mark, Andrés, and Adrian.
 However, this was the line to enter the beach park. These must all be people who had circled in their car for ages to find parking only to be standing in this line now. 
 There was no way I was going to stand in that line, so we headed to the nearby playground in the forest to stay somewhat cool.
 Andrés and Sophie playing frog.
 After a couple of hours in the woods, we gave the lake another try as we were desperately longing for a dip in the water. The line was much shorter, it was still very busy inside, but manageable and above all the kids had a blast and wore themselves out. 
See if you can spot Sophie in this picture above.
There's a good way to handle the heat. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Outdoor Theater

We have been seeing the poster for a nearby outdoor play of "The Adventures of Pettersson and Findus" all over town this summer and Sophie has been begging to go. So today was going to be the day. We packed a nice picnic, change for ice cream during the break and hopped on the bike. It was a 13 km bike ride through the hinterlands of Duesseldorf (one way) with some mean hills (never realized it could be so hilly here). But now we know where the rich people in Duesseldorf live. 
 The theater was in an old quarry and the stage looked very picturesque. We managed to get seats in the front row near a lone duck that was scavenging for food from the audience. 
 Here are Pettersson and his cat Findus trying to lure the hens into laying some eggs for their pancakes.
 Pettersson and Findus fishing on the lake that even housed some turtles.
 The promised ice cream during intermission.
 The grumpy neighbor Gustavson chasing the fox on a tractor. Gustavson ended up falling into the lake three times during the play! There is no better way of keeping the younger crowd entertained. They are full of Schadenfreude. What a good thing it was just above 20 degrees today.
 Autographs from the stars after a brilliantly entertaining show: Pettersson.
 Findus the cat
 For Sophie from Sophie the hen
... and hen Henni and rooster Caruso

After the first uphill on the ride home, I felt that my legs felt too tired to make it all the way, so we decided to take the train home. However, the return trip took just as long if not longer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A New House for the Kids

Big changes are happening in our neighbor's back garden! Could that be a play structure?!
While the neighbor boy, Andrés, is visiting his grandmother for a few days together with his dad, his mum Gabi and her mother (abuela) visiting from Mexico have been working almost around the clock to set up this fantastic play house for him. It needed to be done by this afternoon when Andrés was coming home. It was an incredible amount of work and I admire the two ladies for having been so disciplined to follow through so diligently. 
 Apart from having had the pleasure of watching little Adrian for a couple of hours here and there, this was the only time we were all asked over to help put the roof on. 
Adrian busy supervising.
 I think Andrés was really happy to discover his new toy. 
 ... unfortunately, I'm afraid he will have to share it with the two girls as there is no fence between our gardens.
This is a very quick slide and even faster when wet. 
Who needs to go to the playground now?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jump Around the Paddling Pool

Cousins Thore and Talea are visiting Oma in Geldern this weekend. Sophie went ahead with Berit on the train on Friday night to join them. This meant that Andrew and I did not only have an evening off (and we did not stay at home), we also got to sleep in the next morning before we also headed for Geldern 20 hours later.
 Oma had bought a giant paddling pool for the kids. She must not have been thinking because she does not have a garden hose. It took innumerable trips to the kitchen sink with the watering can. 
 One - two - three...
 ...everybody jump now!
And time for a break in true Thore-style.