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Baby got lag…

27 Aug

Yes, that is to the beat of Sir Mix-a-Lot.  That’s what lack of sleep does to you.  It makes you CRAZY.  We are just back from the U.S. and until Quinn figures out we’re not on Central time anymore, we must all bow to her schedule.

It’s been so long!  How is everybody?  I’ve got SO much to write about, many pictures to post, and who am I kidding- laundry to do.  But for now the main task is getting back on schedule.  Today the Gummersbach family slept until noon.  Yes, 12pm.  Uh, I haven’t slept that late since I was a teenager.  But, when your kid is awake between the hours of 11pm and 3:00am wanting to romp around and play, and eat and play, and read and watch “ELMO!”, well it takes its toll on you.

Let’s see, in the last 6 weeks we’ve had my parents visit, my sister visit, and been to the U.S.  Throw in mini trips to London and Zurich in the mix and that makes for a very full summer!  It’s been great and there is so much I want to share.  For now though I just want to say hello, let you know we’re alive and there are more blog posts to come!  At this very moment Quinn is screaming- torn between going to sleep (like she should!) and thinking it’s only dinner time…thank goodness for husbands who take their turns with restless kiddos.

Hopefully within a few more days we’ll be heading into our normal routine again and I will be able to organize photos etc. so that I can get this blog updated with everything that has happened over the last several weeks.

Hope everyone has had a lovely summer!

Bracing for the storm…

9 Jun

Of Hessentag.  Every year in the Bundesland (state) of Hessen there is a party, festival, outrageous number of people herded into one particular city- whatever you want to call it.  This year it’s in…wait for it….Oberursel!  That’s right everyone, we will be the lucky recepients of over a million (anticipated) visitors between the 10th and 19th of June.  I mean Bryan Adams and Roxette are performing.  Need I say more?

Preparations have been going on for quite awhile now to bring the city into it’s most shining, glorious state for all others to see.  There has been roadwork, painting and a renovation of the train station, among many other improvements.  And now the town is literally buzzing with the constant movement of people setting up booths, building stages, and finalizing all the details that have been planned for months.  You can practically feel the frenzy of activity as soon as you open our front door.

Here are just a couple pics I took on my walk to the bank this morning:

This huge ferris wheel is right down the street from us.

We will probably hear the screams of thrill/ fear all day and night even in our house.

Huge sand replication of a castle in nearby Eppstein

I was trying to get the castle, not all the signs and protective fencing...but basically if you destroy this sandcastle, you're in BIG trouble!!

This sandcastle is literally under video surveillance.

I actually watched part of this being made which was pretty amazing.  It took several days and the man doing it had a paper with a picture of the real castle on it and a shovel.  Seriously.  And maybe some little pics or something for the finer details, which my lousy pictures just don’t show.  He literally just looked at a picture and sculpted as he went.  Pretty impressive.  Sandcastles were never my forte.  I mean, I could barely get enough sturdy molds of sand to make the most basic of structures.  This guy had some serious skills.

We will undoubtedly enjoy some good food and entertainment over the next week and a half, but ultimately I’m sure we’ll be ready for things to go back to normal.  You know, no porta-Johns across the street, no driving restrictions, and a quieter hum that normally fills the air.

Board books are sooo boring…

17 May

Like most kids her age, Quinn LOVES books.  In fact, “reading” by herself is one of the things she does to stay entertained while I make lunch or clean up around the house.  That and throwing things in the toilet.  You know, both equally entertaining.

She often takes her books to a large floor cushion we have and plops down to enjoy the printed word.  Ads, newspapers, and discarded letters (if they’re written in German we just pass them on to Quinn!) all qualify as interesting reading material too these days.  But apparently Quinn has a yearning for something deeper…more meaningful.  

This Max Lucado book was sitting on the end of the table the other day as Quinn was finishing breakfast.  She HAD TO HAVE IT.  You know, the kind of stretching and reaching that kids do to get their hands on something….the kind where you’re afraid they might pull a neck muscle.  As if their heads can reach further than their hands.  Anyway- Quinn wanted the book.

Sorry “Pat the Bunny”…you ain’t got nothing on 223 pages of Max Lucado.

Dream kitchen

14 May

Today we went furniture shopping.  Which, by the way is super fun with a toddler.  Seriously if you are ever low on excitement you should just take your kid (preferably around 19 months- you know, long on patience) to a ginormous furniture store.  The kind you need to be a cross country endurance athlete to make it through.  The kids LOVE it.  And so do the sales associates and other polite, self-controlled shoppers.  I promise you won’t leave wanting to jab your eye out with the blunt(er) end of a spoon.  Really.

Anyway, this post is about the kitchen…my dream kitchen.  I found it today.  I’m keeping the pictures I took so that when we move back to the States we can have this exact same thing put in whatever house we buy.  I think it’s perfect, and this way Joe and I won’t have to spend countless hours discussing the various tile options for the backsplash or  hashing out whose fault it is we went over budget.  From the start we’ll know the plan and we won’t stray- because this is perfection.

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No peeking too soon….

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Take one.

Take 2. Same kitchen.

Take 3. Still the same kitchen.

So, did you notice the standout feature?  Yes, the counter top edges change color!  Genius.  All the Jones’ will be trying to keep up with us.

Are you all jealous?  Don’t worry- we’ll have you over.

Good Friday

25 Apr

We have been very blessed to have wonderful neighbors all around us.  From the families living right next door, to the friendly people across the street, to the neighbors one building over, we have met lots of great people who we are getting to know better as time goes by.  On Good Friday some neighbors of ours with a daughter Quinn’s age invited us over for breakfast (and actually again for dinner) which made for a really nice day.  The weather was gorgeous and we were in great company.  In true Quinn fashion she had no trouble making herself at home:

Don't mind if I do...borrow your chair. And your hat.

I'm outta here, I've got shopping to do.

Now you may not have noticed but that’s actually two different blue hats above…neither belonging to Quinn.  Yup, she helps herself.

Pieces and parts…a recap of sorts

20 Apr

I realize I’ve let a little time go since I blogged.  How and why could this happen!?  Haha-well, turns out life is getting pretty full around here.  So, I thought I’d give you a little rundown of what’s been going on.  This is a pretty random hodge-podge of what has happened as of late.

*This week I bought myself some flowers.  The yellow ranunculus and orange poppies just spoke to me and I had to take them home.  There are so many flower shops here so it is nearly impossible to go anywhere without passing one.  Having these little friends on my kitchen windowsill this week really brought me some added cheer: 

*Quinn’s latest words are “danke”, “nein” (the joys of a toddler being able to say no in TWO languages!), and “umbrella”.  Yes, umbrella.  The weather lately has been requiring an umbrella (at least be available) upon going outside and since keeping Quinn indoors is like keeping sand out of your swimsuit at the beach we spend a lot of time outdoors.  Being outside with an umbrella alone would probably not be enough to convince her to say the word (she’s stubborn like that), but being completely OBSESSED with how it opens and shuts and wanting to use it even when it’s NOT raining somehow pushed that word into the category of “necessary vocabulary”.  Not so she could politely observe its presence in the room with a sweet “brella”;  no- so she can scream “BRELLA” in the midst of a tantrum because we don’t want her playing with it and poking out her eye or pinching her fingers or just wanting help opening and closing it for 20 minutes, because yeah–that’s a fun game.  And yes, Joe has spent time outdoors with the umbrella up with not a drop in the sky.  I’m sure people think nothing of it.

*I discovered the best place to buy kid’s clothes here is H & M.  In general I find clothing and shoes to be more expensive here than in the States.  I’m sure there are places to go for the bargain hunter but I consider buying the right kind of milk and tracking down lightbulbs in the correct wattage to be successes (if not challenges), so I just have not graduated to the status of savvy shopper *yet*.  It is just as it is with so many things, you don’t realize how the simplest of tasks can be so much more difficult when you are a foreigner.  Without most of my mainstays such as Target, Gap, Carter’s and OshGosh, I’m left wondering where to go to get even just some basic onesies.  The weather is changing and Quinn is growing (again, she is so defiant), so it was time for a major wardrobe update.  I hit the mall and my first stop was H & M.  While shopping there for myself is about as fun as putting a fork in my eye, buying kids clothes there is the bomb.  Everything is very cute and very cheap.  Since these clothes aren’t going to see many seasons of wear, they aren’t exactly investment pieces.  I think I was able to pretty much get Quinn’s entire spring/summer wardrobe for under $150 euros.  Yay me!  This definitely goes into the success column.

*We continue taking German and um, how can I put this nicely–sucking.  Really it is a very difficult language, especially coming from an English speaking background.  Every noun has a gender and therefore you must know the gender of every thing you are talking about in order to get your sentence correct.  Let’s be honest here, I feel lucky to know that Zwiebel (oh yeah, ALL nouns are capatalized–cannot get used to that one) is onion, I have no clue whether onion is a boy, a girl, or neither.  There are also several “cases” in German so depending on whether your noun is the subject, direct object, indirect object etc. of the sentence you must adjust accordingly.  So in order to say “I went to the store for a loaf of bread”, I have to know whether bread is feminine, masculine, or neutral AND I have to quickly figure out what part of the sentence bread is before I can put my sentence together.  Do you know how hard that makes it to be able to speak a sentence period, much less without taking an eon to do it?  So, yeah when it comes to German I know lots of words and pretty much don’t have a clue how to put them together.  Very useful.

*Quinn continues to demonstrate her love of strangers.  I know lots of kids this age haven’t really developed “stranger danger” yet and welcome attention from people they don’t know.  It amazes me though how much Quinn goes out of her way to interact with people she has never met before.  In fact we are starting to be recognized by people we don’t know at all just because of their experience with Quinn.  Women she visits with at the bakery will pass us on the street and stop to talk–to Quinn.  Or a neighbor across the street will step out onto his balcony to wave to Quinn because he has seen her on our last few outings.  She will stop to wave to someone and seriously wait until she gets their attention, staring at them until they have no choice but to acknowledge her.  She will sit on benches next to complete strangers and put her arms up asking to be HELD by people she has never seen before.  There are so many of these exchanges I wish I had captured on film.  Here is just one little glimpse into Quinn’s apparently very extroverted personality:

"Hi, Ive never met you before but would you like to read my book?"

"Well, if there is no one to read with, I might as well sit here to finish this page-turner."

*I’ve joined a couple different playgroups and am starting to meet lots of other moms with kids Quinn’s age.  And actually, I’ve been lucky in that I have met a few people on my own just in our neighborhood who I have been hooking up with to have coffee and playdates as well.  Socially, it is a slow process when you start all over, especially in a different country.  So, it has been really nice to finally get aquainted with some other people and feel a bit “normal” again if you know what I mean.  Joe too has met a few people; in fact he gets along really well with the husband of one of my friends in town.  He even has played soccer a couple times with a group of guys and he is the only American!  Romanians vs. Germans…plus Joe 🙂

*We have added deer and scallops to the list of foods Quinn has tried and liked.  Now, I’m not judging those that eat deer (I know it’s common to eat), but let’s just say it’s not on our family’s menu…ever.  But, we were invited over to some friends’ house for dinner and the husband is a chef.  And he was serving deer.  Hmmm.  I wasn’t sure how I would manage, but in the interest of being polite I put on my big girl pants and dug in.  Actually it was delicious!  Quinn despite having some social skills that leave something to be desired, is not  a picky eater.  She is easy to please when it comes to food…put it in front of her is pretty much all you have to do.  So when the first course was served she dove in (literally) to the white asparagus and bacon-wrapped scallops.  She loved all of it.  The main dish was braised deer meat with red cabbage (big German side dish) and spaetzle.  Again, no complaints from Quinn.  In fact I could barely keep up with cutting up pieces for her to eat, and instead of waiting for me she took things into her own hands (again literally) and grabbed a fistful of cabbage and anything else she could reach to eat.  Our compliments to the chef!

Life here is going well.  It’s starting to feel more “normal” and we are enjoying meeting new people and trying new things (food, language, ways of living etc.)  But, we miss our family and friends back home very much!  We love hearing from all of you and knowing how you are doing in your lives too.  Happy spring everyone 🙂

Dumb idea

10 Mar

I have mentioned before that closets don’t really exist here.  At least not the built in, don’t cut into the space of your room kind.  You pretty much have to buy a wardrobe or a schrank as they call it to house your clothes, shoes, and anything else you don’t want on display.  Most of the time people just move their “closets” with them when they change houses.  We were very lucky that this house actually came with closets in the bedrooms.  The previous owner had them built in instead of using temporary ones that would be moved when he left.  So we inherited the ones he had professionally installed…yay us.

This unfortunately did not apply to the entryway.  There is no hall closet!  We do have a little “nook” with a mounted rack to hang coats on.  Above it is a shelf that up until very recently is where all the scarves, hats, mittens etc were being tossed.  Of course being blessed with legs similar to those of a pot-bellied pig means I need a step stool to reach.  Actually I need more than a step stool.  I need a mini ladder.  The problem with this is two fold: a) I HATE having to drag out a flippin’ folding stool every time I need to reach something on the shelf.  Sort of makes getting out the door quickly…well, not so quick.  And b) it’s a mess up there.  Everything was literally being thrown up there, making finding a particular item sort of like a little scavenger hunt.  Several times a day.  So fun.

I decided that the most frequently used items should be stored in a more organized/accessible way  and we could keep less important things up on the shelf in the hard to reach area.  Determined to  finally get “one room, please just one room, can one room look normal?!” in order, I set out to find something to hold our cold weather necessities.  I found a perfect three-drawer wicker unit that would fit neatly underneath the coats.  Yes.  Mission accomplished.

Sort of.

Don't be mislead- This stool will NOT help me reach "the" shelf.

DUMB IDEA.

To market to market…

6 Mar

To buy a fat hog.  Just kidding.  NO hogs were purchased.  We did however take a lovely walk through town yesterday which included going to the local outdoor market.  On Saturdays there is a small market set up in town with lots of different produce and fresh meats and cheeses available.  There are also flowers, unique spices, and lots of baked goods as well.

The weather yesterday was cool but gorgeous.  Since everything is closed on Sundays it seems like EVERYONE is out on Saturdays doing their shopping for the weekend.  The town was buzzing with activity.  We took a stroll, stopping at the market (eating a few pastries) and just enjoying the sunshine.

A couple buildings alongside the market square.

Market Square

I love all the fresh produce.

spices galore

Tulips!

Here is some more of our walk through town:

There are so many cute little side streets.

The sky is almost the same color as the blue building!

Notice the large pretzel sign on the right.

Love the festive pendant banner!

The main pedestrian zone...bustling.

I love the street musicians. This accordion player is out about once a week!

 

 

Home…soon to be sweet home

1 Mar

Okay friends, many of you have been curious about our new place.  Due to our prolonged time without internet I found myself very behind on uploading photos.  I found some pictures I took right before moving in that I can share with you.  Nothing fancy, but at least you will get a sense for where we are.  We are so NOT organized here yet.  The rooms still need pictures hung and decorations put in place to make it feel really cozy and homey.  But, we have reached a point of basic functionality which is good for now.  It looks pretty boring in these photos (because the place is empty) but we are gradually transforming it into our little Gummersbach oasis!

Some things I love about the place:

  • So much natural light!  You won’t be able to tell in these pictures because it was already getting dark outside, but the sun just beams throughout the place.
  • Lovely wooden floors.
  • A finished guest suite in the basement….hint, hint visitors.
  • A garden- yes, it’s small and no, I don’t really “garden” persay…but I love having at least some outdoor space to use.
  • Steps away from the train and a very quick walk from all the daily necessities and shops.

Some things about the place that I am still getting used to:

  • Microscopic cozy kitchen.
  • Stairs everywhere.  I personally don’t mind going up and down, but with Quinn here the place has practically been transformed into our own mini Alcatraz.
  • Overall less space.  This is fine but it creates a challenge when arranging the furniture we already owned.

Conclusion- We like it here and are happy with our choice!

part of the entry way...the kitchen is on the right

living and dining space

When the dishwasher and oven are both open they greet each other.

Wintergarten as it's called here; looks rather dreary but it's actually quite lovely.

Every parent of an adventurous toddler's nightmare.

part of guest bedroom

one of the two second floor bedrooms

third floor loft/studio space

more loft

So, let me ask- how long did it take YOU to really be settled into your last place?  I go back and forth between feeling really impatient to have the place fixed up and “perfect” (which will never happen) and having a more realistic attitude about it all.  Isn’t there a version of Mary Poppins for this sort of thing, you know a song that could magically put my house together?!

 

 

Defense…a letter from Quinn

19 Feb

In response to some of the bad publicity I’ve been getting lately (e.g. drawing on the walls and shredding the toilet paper; thanks Mom for going public with those) I wanted to submit my own version of things.  I am a delightful 16 month old who provides much joy on a daily basis.  Yes, I will admit I am very curious and tend to act on my impulses but I mean no harm.  It’s simply not fair; adults get all the fun.  I mean they get to touch everything and go everywhere.  Why can’t I?  I need to explore, express myself…be free.  Ugh, sometimes being a one year old is so stifling.  I submit to the jury that I am an innocent, sweet child who is being misrepresented.  Since I don’t have anyone who can be a character witness (except my mom, but geesh) I submit these pictures as evidence of my “true” self.

Awww....shucks. You make me blush.

I mean, I have a really big head. And really small feet. I have other things to worry about besides ripping toilet paper and defacing property.

See, how sweet? I'm like this ALL the time, I swear.

So ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I implore you to search your hearts (and review the evidence) and decide for yourselves…who do you believe?

Yours,

Quinn