Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!

So there are some people who say they're bad in the kitchen... and then there are those of us who are truly bad in the kitchen. A week or so before Christmas I tried to make fudge and had a horrible incident where there was chocolate all over my kitchen- I won't go into detail. Fortunately, a second attempt yielded slightly better results.

You know, I largely feel I am taking on a completely new career right now. I finally felt like I was "getting" the whole teaching thing. Trying to be "domestic" and take care of things on the home front is all new to me. Whereas those people who chose to be home from the beginning of their marriages may have struggled at first, they seem to have it down now. I am experiencing this at nearly 34, feeling as though I never learned how to do any of this stuff before. I do feel very inept at times. Now Gerard would likely say that I'm being too hard on myself... my cooking not being that bad, etc... but I beg to differ. Sure, I can follow a recipe (although even here they don't always come out these days), but to me real cooking is being able to look in the kitchen cupboards and assemble a meal based on random ingredients and spices you have. That, is definitely not me. Yet another goal for me while I'm here. My list of things to work on while here is never-ending.
A view of our house with some light snow
Our street
A little neighborhood park near our houseGerrit rugged up for the weather
Willem rugged up for the weather
And when you leave the warm sleeping sack to
brave the cold on the outside... this is what you have
to look forward to. Poor Willem looks like the
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters
(Anyone else remember that?)

Christmas was a lazy, relaxing day. We stayed in our PJ's the entire day and vegged out, slowly opening gifts and stopping to admire or play with them as we went. Since Gerrit isn't at the age just yet where he feels a need to rip something open, shove it aside, and grab for the next toy, we thought we'd savor this time by letting him examine and play with things AS he opened them. This made for a LONG day opening gifts. We went so slowly that we didn't finished until well after lunch. Actually, I rather enjoyed that. Apparently, I've been told by many parents that this is likely the last year that will happen, and that when their kids were much less able to contain themselves once turning three.
Mommy and Gerrit play with a new Christmas toy.
(Remember that women like men who can
cook, and all the world's best chefs are men!)
Daddy makes sure Gerrit also remains
firmly connected to more "manly" activities
Although Gerrit's getting really good at assembling
train tracks, I think this time daddy helped a bit. :)
"I'm an expert with fish toys.
See... Willem... here's what you do..."
Mommy's very unfashionable but very warm winter hat

Gerard had the 26th off as well so we decided to go to the Deutches Museum, a large science and technical museum in Munich. The place was enormous and each display was quite impressive. Having Gerrit with us meant we only really focused on the trains, airplanes and kid area. The train display was enormous. The pictures I posted don't really do it justice, and Gerrit was in absolute HEAVEN.
Trains...Planes...and Automobiles!
(the firetruck in the kids' play area)Willem waits patiently while we get rugged
up and ready to brave the cold again

We made it back to the public swimming pool one evening- the first time I've been in the pool since having Willem. Of course Gerrit had a blast and tried out his first water slide. We rode with him, and he loved it and kept saying, "More."
Fun in the Water
Gerrit's First Water Slide
Willem slept while we splashed

New Years was spent with a few friends and their children. We had a burrito bar set up and a few small boxes of fireworks. We assigned 7pm as the designated kids' midnight, popped champagne and sparkling cider, and went out to shoot some fireworks. The home fireworks kits here are NOTHING like I'm used to in California. They were downright amazing here! First off, there are few places in California you can even still shoot off your own fireworks and for the last several years I've only seen big public displays. The kits we bought here shot the fireworks a couple hundred feet in the air before exploding in color. It was incredible! We actually were a bit freaked out by how close it was to the house so we only shot one of our boxes that had 15 or so right after the other and left the other two boxes. Then we let the kids use sparklers. Everyone left by 9pm and Gerard fell asleep at 10pm putting Gerrit down for the night.

At midnight, the noise and light started. Seriously... for a good 45 minutes you could see a ton of fireworks being shot in the air- HOME displays- being shot high in the air for all to see. The smoke in the sky was so thick from all the fireworks. The dogs were going crazy, but Gerrit and Willem slept through the entire thing. I've never seen anything like it. It was AMAZING!!! Guess people don't care about shooting things close to their house. The next day there was firework remnants, packages, etc. literally all over the sidewalks and streets throughout the town. Firework litter. I wish I had photos of it. If this is what the home displays are like in small towns, I can only imagine the hoopla in the city.

Gerrit is still cautious with the stuff he has learned might pose potential hazards for him, but he
doesn't always know what things may be potential hazards. Here is our latest dilemna. He has learned to open the front door and enjoys running out toward the street. We've taken to locking the deadbolt now, which you need a key to open so that's a bit of a pain. Obviously Gerrit's safety far outweighs the inconvenience, however.

Gerrit amazes me every day with how he takes in new things. He is starting to use fuller sentences and pick up new words, which means we have to be much more careful now. He loves putting together his train tracks, working on puzzles, and reading books. He is now starting to mimic some of the things we say when he attempts to read. He likes to try new things but is still somewhat cautious. He says, "I did it!" whenever he does something new and exciting. He is at such a fun age and I'm truly enjoying him.

My sister-in-law said that a New Year's resolution of mine should be to try something that scares me every day and then blog about it. Hmm... pretty much everything right now scares me so I sorta feel I'm already doing that. But... I will try to attempt several new things each week. I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but this year I'm trying to take things more in stride, stress less (yes, I know that's a big one for me right there), and just continue to work on this crazy language while I enjoy my time here and my kids. This is a positive experience (even though I may not always feel that way) and I will regret it if I don't try to make the most of my time here. So there... I have goals.

Okay, so rather than go on and on (as we all know very well that I can do so well), I think I'll stop and post some more pictures and videos for you to enjoy. Here's to posting a bit more often with more exciting and positive things to write. :)
Gerrit with his favorite male (aside from his dog, Jake, of course)
Gerrit with his favorite female, Ella
"I think she may actually finally be warming up to me, mom!"

Bosom Buddies!
Clearly past our bedtimeStarting off the new year with a family
walk on a very brisk afternoon
All tuckered out.
Gerrit didn't even make it through the story.

Videos: Touchdown & Gerrit's Famous Banana-Eating Technique


At January 4, 2008 at 10:38 AM , Blogger Stephan said...

Your new winter hat may be warm but it makes you look like a muslim. Just an observation.

Love the pics, as usual. And the videos are a nice treat.

I think Gerrit is enjoying the texture and "mouth feel" of the banana as much as the taste.

Your description of the firework displays are reminiscent of those we used to be able to experience in the states (including Southern California) when I was a kid. The regulations gradually crept in, especially in the residential areas, in the name of protecting our “safety.”
I remember the sights and burnt out smells of the mess left on the street and sidewalks the next morning, as you described. At that time we used to search through all the discards hoping to find one that hadn’t yet been used, occasionally we’d get lucky.

I'm glad that you are thinking more positively about your experience in Germany.

It is an opportunity that few Americans have. If you have the mindset that "I may never be here again and when I do finally leave I want to make as sure as I can that I don't regret not having done everything that I had a chance to do," I think that will help you savor the moment better.

When I was in Alaska, the real Alaska, I was almost constantly aware of what a wonderful opportunity and treat that I was experiencing. It almost pained me that time was so short and there was so much to see, do and learn.

I wanted my memory bank as full as it could be when the time came for me to leave. I never dreamt after I finally found my 'paradise' that I'd be away from her so long. Those memories have helped to sustain me while I've been away.

Here you are in Europe. Almost the center of Europe. I know that you are strapped down with kids now, and that you've been to Europe before, as a visitor, but now you are there for a sustained period as a 'resident.' What a wonderful opportunity. Rather than keeping to your former American routines, why not immerse yourself more into the various cultures around you. Go native. And whenever you can, you and Gerard and the kids should spend time traveling to the countries around you. See and do the things that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to as a tourist with time limitations. Network with locals that know the areas and speak both languages. Make new friends in those places. You are an ambassador for all of us who would like to be where you are but can't right now. Trail blaze for us.

Anyway, that is my advise.

Love Dad

At January 8, 2008 at 9:34 PM , Blogger kaproberts said...

Love the pics of the kids. The boys look happy and healthy. Steph, you are doing a great job. Kathy


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