Friday, August 7, 2015

Belgium - Brussels and Bruges!

Our hotel was about a mile downhill (uphill back!) to the city center which made for a good walk each day hence the 32 floors and 17,000+ steps that day. 
Here we are on the way to the city center. 
In the interest of transparency, I'll just tell you that Caleb cried the whole way there that morning because he wanted to ride in the stroller.  Turns out 3 year olds are 3 year olds even in Belgium.  There was lots of drama over the stroller that weekend.  Lots of opportunities for character building for us all lol! 

On our walk, we found the most quaint little place to eat breakfast in.  Croissants, jam, hazelnut spread, eggs, and bacon and hot black tea. 
So wonderful (especially after our emotional and cold rainy walk there). 
Timothy also is in the little finger foods stage while still eating some purees to make sure he still gets enough food.  Its made restaurants soooo much better as he really could sit for about an hour eating little finger foods.

Some of the city

This is Caleb in the Grand Place - the old town square.  We forgot diapers and jackets and the first day it was rainy and cold so we bought this blue striped jacket for him. 

Without knowing it, we ate at the same restaurant in a different location on Sunday. 
Wonderful breakfast. 
On accident, I got the almond croissant.  Oh my - this is my new favorite pastry. 
It has some amazing almond yumminess inside and they have it here in Germany too at some of the pastry shops. 

Its hard to see in this picture, but this is the Manneken Pis which is exactly what it sounds like it is...a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain.  Yes its actually one of the main attractions of Brussels.

Family pic in the Grand Place!

Next up...Italy!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Culture Shock: Food edition

I remember when I went to other countries they warned us of culture shock.  I don't remember the details about the timing or the symptoms but I think I've definitely hit it.  While on the surface, it first seemed like Germany was very similar to Texas, I'm finding lots of differences in daily life.  Here's some food related differences I've noticed...

1. No drinking the tap water ever.  The Germans just don't do it.  Only bottled.  It's not unsanitary as far as I know and perfectly fine if I wanted to drink it, but its just not done.  And we don't have an ice machine so I'd probably have to drink it luke warm :/.  This means multiple purchases a week of bottled water large and small.  We also use bottled water for tea and coffee.  This took some getting used to.  I'm used to filling up my water jug with cold filtered water from the fridge (and ICE from the freezer).  This also means you pay for bottled water at restaurants.  No umlimited ice water. 

2. That brings me to the issue of Ice.  I haven't had one single cold icy cube since we got here!  I know I could freeze some but it would probably be from my bottled water supply and that just seems tedius to do on a daily basis.  Not something I miss really anyways but definitely different.

3. Bakeries everywhere!  There are multiple bakeries on every street and several in each train station.  They have lots of rolls, croissants, donuts, twists etc.  Yummy and cheap.  This is a good difference :).

4. Coldcuts for breakfast.  I see them at the breakfast buffets and I just can't do it yet. #imisscrispybacon

5. No gallons of milk.  We buy our milk in small 1 liter glass bottled every couple days.  Its very fresh and doesn't last as long so its sold in smaller quantities.  This necessitates a grocery trip every couple days.  Getting used to that too...

6. Sparkling mineral water.  Its the thing here!!  Medium gas, regular gas, or without gas.  At first I didn't really like it but now I love it!  It's so refreshing - like having an ice cold coke without the sugar and stickiness.  Caleb doesn't like it at all - he makes sure his water is "normal water" not the water with bubbles. 

7. The grocery store...a few differences here!  No baggers and no bags - makes the checking out process a little frantic with two kids.  How fast can I get all this into my fabric bags while keeping the boys safe and then also paying before the next person starts checking out.  Second, the water section is humongous, and the milk section tiny.  And eggs don't go in the fridge and are very very fresh - often the ones I buy still have chicken feathers on them lol. 

That's the main ones!  I've loved almost all the restaurant food we've come to.  Salads are great, schnitzels are yummy, and always paired with a refreshing mineral water!

Its been a pretty normal week so far.  I finally got all the boxes unpacked and now have 2 boxes of stuff that we just didn't need to bring or didn't mean to bring.  I brought just a handful of decorative items and I'm starting to put those out.  Now just down to some reorganization of some of the cabinets and we'll be set for a while until they move us again! 

This weekend, we're going to Belgium!  Brussels and Bruges each for a day.  We're riding the train because its preferable to not have a car there.  Look for pictures!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rothenburg ob de Tauber

This past weekend, we took our first overnight trip to Rothenburg ob de Tauber. 
It was a beautiful preserved old city with cobblestone streets, outdoor cafes, and a watchman's wall all the way around the city that you could walk.
We stayed in an adorable little old place called the Romantik Hotel.
Ben has been wearing Timothy in the Ergo carrier a lot on our little trips.  I'm glad they're getting a little bonding time since the sweet boy doesn't take bottles and therefore he and I are rarely separated.  
It gives me some time to walk around with just Caleb which I enjoy.

Walking on the wall - lots of stairs climbed that day. 
32 floors worth to be exact (according to FitBit).
Here, Caleb is pretending to be a soldier looking for the enemies!

We went to the Criminal Museum which was really gruesome and creepy.  Most of it went way over Caleb's head thank goodness but it was all about torture and punishment in the past of the city.
Not my favorite to say the least but maybe more of a guy thing?!

In the afternoon, Caleb, Timothy and I went back to the room to take a nap and Ben did some more exploring. 
This was glorious. 
It was wonderful to be stuck in the room with two sleeping boys having the really rough choice of taking a nap myself or reading. 
I did both and it was fabulous.

In the evening, starting at 8, there was a Watchman's tour in English. 
He had a great old timey accent and a sense of humor. 
He took us (and about 100 other Americans) around the city giving history and other interesting details. 
Towards the end as you can imagine, Caleb was uninterested so we stayed toward the back so he could walk around.  I met another mom there doing the same thing who actually is a mutual friend of one of the 3 friends I have here! 
God is so good to give me that encouragement and another potential friend. 


It was a gorgeous city that I would recommend to anyone!  This weekend, we are staying in Frankfurt and just being normal people.  Going to the mall for new work pants for Ben and maybe some Birkenstocks for me.  Eating in and finding some local fun maybe at a festival or the Palmengarten.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Burg Eltz: Our First Castle!

This past weekend, we went to our first castle, Burg Eltz! 
We were all excited, Caleb especially. 
Funny because he's never been to a castle but just the thought of it was cause for excitement.
We had to hike a little under a mile up the hill to the castle.  It was a beautiful hike. 
Caleb is doing great just walking and keeping up with us {most of the time}.  In Germany, you see very few double strollers, unless you have twins. 
There's just really not space - on trains, buses, sidewalks, stores, etc.  So it's expected that the older kid just walks.  We got a single stroller with all-terrain wheels and its been working just fine. 

Look at that smile!  Also #batmanshirtforlife.

Inside the castle

We started in on a tour and then it was just too stressful to keep both boys quiet so Ben went through and I stayed and walked around and up and down with the boys. 
According to my fitbit, I walked 22 floors that day. 
It was a fun experience and we had lunch at the castle afterwards. 
Caleb has discovered Apfel Schorle which is a drink here that's half sparkling mineral water and half apple juice. 
It's become our special "big brother treat" to encourage good behavior or just to treat him. 

Afterwards we walked down and played in the river and skipped rocks.
On the way back up to the castle, Caleb walked in the bushes and got stung.  And he was tired and had only a short car nap.  Not a good combination.
I brushed the same one a little bit and it literally feels like a bee sting.  Just a few days before he had been stung by a wasp so it was a bad flashback and he was histerical! 
Ben carried him up the stairs to the castle screaming. It was quite the scene. 
 While we were checking out his legs (looked like small bites all over his calf), a nice English speaking family stopped and gave us some lotion. 
She saw my Aggie ring and turns out they are Aggies who live in Fredericksburg!  Ha!  Such a gift from God to give us some English speaking people to encourage us. 

A stop on the way back

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Germany: The First week

We made it to Germany!  We flew out on Tuesday, June 23rd on the 3:55 flight. 
So we've been here just about a week.
Before we left, we sold our house, our cars, and the majority of our furniture. 
Over the past few weeks, we gave away several truck beds full of stuff and are storing mainly kitchen items, a few pieces of furniture, and just general décor and other keepsake items in our families' attics.  It was hard to let things go but now that we're here and all I have is what we brought in our {6 large} suitcases, I barely miss it.  We have a shipment of 1000lbs coming and there are several things I'm looking forward to having for convenience sake but other than that, really I don't miss the stuff.  It feels good and free.
The flight was interesting...Caleb did great for the first half but then was sooo excited to be on the plane, he didn't fall asleep until 6 hours in at 10pm.  He kept insisting that it wasn't a bed! 
That left only about 3-4 hours of sleep for him {and me!}. 
Timothy and Ben got about 6 hours of sleep.  We all were very tired when we got off the plane.
Every time we got in the car over the first few days, both boys were instantly fast asleep. 
One day this happened right before bedtime and it was disasterous.  Both boys up until 11:30pm. 
This was the first morning in Germany. 
Caleb and Timothy woke up and came and laid in our bed and fell back asleep. 
That would NEVER happen on a normal day.
We moved into our apartment on Thursday.  It was the least eventful move-in ever.  Just carried up our suitcases and started putting things away.  After we got our keys, we went to ikea and bought a crib, a high chair, a blanket, and some hangers.  Here's a picture from driving around the city.

And this is our street and our apartment building!  And that's my bus!

This is our new building, top floor with the balcony.  Caleb still doesn't quite understand that the whole building is not his house, just a part of it.  Its not put together yet inside so I'll post pics of that later but we are loving the space.  1000 square feet (100 square meters to be exact) is not feeling as small as I thought it might.  The boys sharing a room has gone fine so far mainly because Caleb is an amazing sleeper and sleeps through all of Timothy's waking up.  

The view from our balcony - it looks out onto a park and soccer field and in the distance are some hills/mountians. 
Beautiful at sunset!

Our first days in the apartment were busy and full with getting set up, going to Ikea and grocery store to get some essentials, registering with the city, and going to the immigration office. 
So nice to have our own space after several days of hopping around and after a month of living in between house showings and packing. 
Our apartment was new bed #6 in a row.  And the final one for a while!  We were in Katy, then Dallas, then Arlington, then the plane, then a hotel in Germany, then finally our German Apartment!  

Caleb in his new "brothers" room.  Calling the landlord at some point to make those into bunkbeds to give us more space!

This is from a few nights ago at about 10pm. 

It's 7 hours ahead here so our day is just winding down.  Daddy's about to be home and dinner's about to be cooking.  Another Germany day in the books!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Look and See trip (and I'm back!)

Hello again!!  Its been a 2 year hiatus of blogging and I'm ready to start again.  Caleb is now 3, and we now have our sweet Timothy who will be 8 months next week. 
And in case you haven't heard we are moving to Frankfurt, Germany for Ben's job! 
Two weeks ago Ben, Timothy, and I went to Frankfurt for our "Look and See" trip to look for housing.  It was my first taste of Germany and a good dose of reality. 
The 10 hour flight to Germany isn't too bad. 
You leave in the afternoon, make yourself go to sleep early by like 7pm or 8pm central time and then you wake up and you're in Germany and its 9am. 
Timothy slept well on me and although I didn't sleep that great (not helped by the man that was throwing up halfway through!) the excitement was enough to keep me up and trick my body into thinking it really was 9am instead of 2am. 
Maybe also helped by the fact that I haven't had a full nights sleep in 8 months so I've learned to function tired. 

 Our first stops were Heidelberg Germany (castle! below) and Strasbourg, France (above)

Timothy with us while looking for apartments and on the train
We looked at 4 apartments and chose one with 2 bedrooms (yay for baby/toddler room sharing!) (tips welcome!), one bathroom, up on the 6th floor with a covered balcony, heated flooring, a washer/dryer combo unit in the bathroom (in two of the others, you had to go down to the basement for laundry), furnished, stocked with kitchen supplies such as plates, cups etc, and a microwave (not included in most others).  Also its 100 square meters which is a little more than 1000 square feet.
  I'll post pics when we get there!

 The flight back was rough.  This picture happened in the last 20 minutes...of course!  I was by myself because Ben needed to stay an extra week and it was during the day.  Timothy slept very little and I was on the inside by the window which made it harder to get up and walk around.  At one point I tried to jump over the man next to me because he was sleeping and I bumped him in the leg and woke him up.  Awkward!
I learned many valuable lessons on this flight back. 
Mostly what NOT to do.
I cried when I saw Caleb waiting for me in the airport.  Partly just because I was so thankful to be off the plane and because I missed that little guy so much!
We leave Katy June 21st in the morning and then fly out of Dallas June 23rd.  2.5 weeks.
And then we live in Germany!






Saturday, May 4, 2013

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!!!

Today is my baby's birthday.  
Oh my he has blessed our life more than I can imagine.  
I know everyone says it but its hard to imagine life without him.  
He is joyful, silly, sweet, playful, loving, and has my whole heart.  

At 12 months, Caleb is...

Size: Caleb is 23 1/2 pounds and looking as big as ever.  
He's wearing almost all 12-18 month clothing with a few 6-12 and 18 month clothes thrown in there.  

Likes: Caleb likes sports balls, balloons, and bubbles and usually says "baaa baa" when he sees them.
  He loves almost all people and loves to be out and about making friends with everyone around us.  
Its quite sweet.

Dislikes: The usual baby/toddler dislikes...not getting to do what he wants to do and doing what he doesn't want to do...that and whole milk which we tried for the first time this week.

Working on/Milestones: Caleb is starting to stand without holding onto something more often now.
  He lets go of the table or wall and stands there with a toy or just balancing by himself.  
A first step is on the horizon I think!  
He also got in the top 4 teeth this month.  

Sleeping: Caleb is sleeping through the night wonderfully these days and hasn't woken up in a while.
  He goes to bed around 7 and wakes up around 7.  
First nap about 9 and 2nd nap about 2.  
Some days he takes a while to fall asleep but I think that's only when his first nap went too late or too long.  
I just have to be more careful now and wake him up sometimes from his morning nap.

Eating: We dropped one feeding this week and then when I was unsure and tried to add it back, Caleb refused it.  
Well ok then.  
So we're down to morning, before pm nap, and night time for nursing.  
He eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a few snacks.  
He's a good eater but I can tell that his appetite is slowing down which I have read happens around this time.  

Happy birthday my sweet boy!!!!