Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 2011

A sunset view from our balcony. View while hiking above the Greifensee.

Is it really February already?

Andy and I visited Munich in early January. How we love Munich! It's our home-away-from-home while here in Europe. We went to the Andrea Bocelli concert and the kids stayed with Oma & Opa. It's been a dream of Andy's to see Andrea Bocelli live, so when I saw he was performing in Munich, I realized I had stumbled upon the perfect Christmas present. It really was amazing. He sang in a small venue, 2500 people. It was incredible to hear him live! We were also able to catch up with one of our former KPMG colleagues, Kazuko, and her family. It was so great to spend time with them. And, they introduced us to a great Indian restaurant that will now be on our list every time we visit Munich. We finished up the weekend at my favorite restaurant in the world, La Fiera, and enjoyed some time at Mr. B's jazz bar too. Perfection attained!A little music at home.

Every day, Sara is more and more communicative. She says a few words, "Hey, mama, ball, yea" and finds other ways to express herself. If she's eating and doesn't want any more, she'll shake her head "no." She will say "shush" and put her finger to her mouth, or more often my mouth, when I'm trying to get her to be quiet as we sneak down the stairs if she wakes up before Jonas. She loves reading books and brings them over to me and crawls up into my lap. So sweet! Animals are her favorite thing at the moment. We went to to zoo a couple of weeks ago, back when the Spring-like weather was still here. Both kids had a great time. Sara will growl if she sees a lion and moo if she sees a cow. She takes my finger and points to anything in a book that she wants named. When she's done with her snack, she likes to feed it to me. Sara loves to "feed" her baby dolls too and even pretends to be eating and drinking when we have tea time with the tea set Grandma gave her for her birthday.
Sara starting cutting her first molar in January. Thankfully, teething has never been an issue with our kids. Today, at 14 months exactly, she stood on her own for the first time! She was so pleased with herself that she started clapping once she sat back down :-). Won't be long now before she takes her first step. She loves to climb! The other day, I caught her trying to climb onto her little piano. And, she spends a lot of time under the kitchen table climbing around it. Bouncing/rolling all over the couch is great fun for her too. She has almost catapulted herself off a few times. I really have to watch her!

Jonas was glad to return to preschool after the long Christmas break. Last week, Sienna was moved up into his class. So, he's a happy boy! He spends a lot of time with his best friend, Jack. So glad to have him around! This month we also joined KinderCity, a scaled down Discovery Place. It's only 2 exits from our house and is a great way to spend a cold winter morning. They offer a variety of classes there, so Jonas will soon learn how to make chocolate, repair cars, etc.
Jonas also wrote his entire name for the 1st time recently. Caro & Daniel, you're the lucky recipient of the Valentine documenting this feat.

We added another country to the list of places we've been: Liechtenstein. We enjoyed roaming around one Sunday and Jonas and Andy went sledding while Sara and I played in the car. We also booked a summer vacation to Italy with Andy's mom and step-dad. Can't wait! We'll be staying 10 miles outside of Florence, my favorite city in the world!

I've been trying to cook a little more. It's taken me a few years, but I'm finally hitting my stride with home cooked meals and all the house chores :-). Thank goodness for Jamie Oliver and Giada. Jamie has become such a household name that Jonas recently asked, "When can we go visit Jamie Oliver in England?" Also, thankful to have met another American in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago. She showed me where to find cheddar cheese and hummus!

Before busy season kicked in, Andy had been coming home at a normal time (6ish) more often and was able to eat dinner with us and help get the kids to bed before continuing to work from home at night. That was so nice! Good for me and the kids. Hopefully, he'll be able to do that again once year-end work slows down. Tonight he's going out for dinner with a client. I'm so jealous! Somehow, meals taste better to me when I'm not the one that had to cook them :-).
I took the kids to their first music class here this week. Mini-Minstrels. It's similar to KinderMusik and Jonas was so excited to be back in music class. Sara loved it too. I could just see the awe and excitement in her eyes as she explored all of the fun instruments. So, we have a fun Tuesday activity lined up now.

Andy & Jonas got geared up for winter sports last weekend. Jonas now has a helmet and goggles for sled-riding and future skiing. Andy picks up his skis this weekend and is super-excited about hitting the slopes with Oma & Opa later this month. I'm not a snow-skier, which is a good thing since we have 2 toddlers that need to be watched anyway. But, I told Andy I could use a spa day sometime soon!

Uncle Toby found out that he was accepted to a study-abroad program in the States. He'll be heading to Appalachian State University in the fall. A little bummed that he'll be there while we're here, but excited for him to have this opportunity. My family is looking forward to seeing him too :-).

I'm still trying to figure out how to operate our new camera so I get the amazing pics I see some of you all posting. Might help if I would sit down and diligently read through the user manual :-).

A few quotes from Jonas:

1) When he heard our neighbors were going on vacation in Canada: When can I go to Canada? I want to go to lots of countries: Canada, Ireland, Winston-Salem, Austria, India...
2) When I grow up I'm going to grow horns and be Ramses (UNC mascot).
3) In the car after visiting a new friend, who has 4 kids: J: Mom, why don't I have 3 brothers? M: Because God gave us you and Sara. I think that's enough, don't you? J: No. I want more. A few seconds later he enthusiastically cried out, "God!?" (Before he had a chance to finish that prayer, which I assume was for more kids, he got distracted by Sara. Whew!).
Hope you all are doing well. Let us know when you'd like to come visit!


Monday, January 17, 2011

December in Review

Wow! I better hurry and finish 2010 before January 2011 is over!

We had a wonderful December. First, we got a car! To this day, we aren't "legally registered" in Switzerland, so we gave Oma money to buy the car in Germany and have it on her insurance. They delivered it on Sara's birthday. It's a 2000 Toyota Avensis. Silver, leather interior, heated seats, sunroof, etc. Only 60k miles on it b/c an older man owned it and didn't drive it much. I love it and wish we could bring it back to the States. In fact, it's my favorite car I've owned, which is amazing considering that we bought it without seeing it in person or test-driving it ourselves. Oma & Opa did a great job car-shopping for us. Thanks!!

Having a car makes life so much easier! Especially since the winter weather is upon us. Now, it's so much easier to get Jonas to preschool and to do grocery shopping. Sara moved up into her "big girl" car seat and likes being able to see a little more of what's going on around her. We got a navigation system too, so the kids and I can venture out on our own without getting lost.

Jonas was absolutely thrilled with all the snow we had in December. We went sledding with Oma & Opa the weekend of Sara's birthday. Jonas loved it! Sara had quite a different reaction. She hated it and went screaming down the little hill with Opa. She much prefers being slowly pulled around.

There was no shortage of presents in December! Between the Advent calendar, St. Nick's Day, Christkind and Santa, the kids certainly stocked up. Then of course there were packages arriving from the States too. They were so happy! And a bit disappointed when all the gift-getting ended :-) Then, Jonas decided he wanted to send a package to his friend, Keegan. When I told him that we'd first have to go buy something to put in it, he replied, "We'll just send Sara's toys."

We attended the Christmas party at Jonas' preschool. Santa was there! Jonas was shy at first but then so excited to have met Santa. Sara screamed the entire time she was in the same room with him :-) This is Sienna. She's the daughter of Jonas' first, and favorite, preschool teacher, and the first girl Jonas has had a little "crush" on.
On December 10th, we finally got our Christmas tree. I much prefer to put it up the day after Thanksgiving, but they aren't available here until mid-December. Jonas enjoyed helping Andy decorate the tree. Really, he was so incredibly into Christmas this year. It was so cool to experience it through the eyes of a child.

Jonas spent much of December pretending to be Santa. He'd dress up in all sorts of things and deliver the toys. Our couch was the sleigh. He even said, "When I grow up, I'm going to be Santa." When I asked him what Santa would think of that and suggested that perhaps he could be Santa's helper, he replied, "Ok. But I'm going to drive my own sleigh."

Every night we'd read Christmas books. Jonas basically memorized 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. In case you missed my facebook post during Christmas, here's the video:

Jonas learned a lot of Christmas songs. When I sang Away in A Manger to him, he said, "No! We can't put baby Jesus asleep in the hay. It's too prickly!" We also learned Silent Night in English and German. One night, after singing it as a family, Jonas commented that it sounds better in German. A very good point, considering that it was initially written in German :-).

We went to visit Ur-Oma and Ur-Opa in mid-December. It was the first time they
met Sara. Both kids warmed up to them very quickly and Ur-Opa even commented (in German, of course), "They know their people!" Andy's aunts, uncles and cousins also stopped by to see us. We had a lot of delicious food and Oma sent us off with a bunch of Christmas cookies.
Our Christmas holiday was just fabulous! It was the first time in 8 years that Andy's mom had all of her boys with her for Christmas. Plus, we had snow - and a lot of it, which always adds to the magic of Christmas. Sara was quite the little princess in her Christmas dress.

Jonas got a new sled for Christmas, but Sara took ownership of it. And, you can see that they're getting ready for the marching band. Jonas loves his new drum, which can be carried as either a bass or a snare, and Sara has figured out how to play the trumpet.

I gave Andy tickets to Andrea Bocelli for Christmas. More on that in the next posting. He got me a new camera. Here are a few great shots he took:

So, Andy and Oma's neighbors created a snow bar with all the snow they shoveled over Christmas. We enjoyed warm gluehwein outside a couple of nights. Jonas and I decided that the only thing missing was Marshmallows, and Opa had some! The Germans got a little chuckle out of us roasting our marshmallows.

We visited with some of our German friends from the German preschool Jonas attended in Charlotte. Julia was visiting her parents, who live 20 minutes from Andy's mom. Petra and family had moved back to Germany in the Spring and came down to meet up with all of us. So cool to see some "Charlotte friends" in Germany! Jonas was happy to see Benny and Elias again!

New Year's Eve was rather uneventful for me and Sara. We both stayed home sick. Andy and Jonas had a great time celebrating at the Kelly's house!