Thursday, December 31, 2015

Local Christmas Market

We went to all these Christmas markets that took hours to get to and from and which one did the kids like the best?  The local one that was a 20 minute train ride into the city took first place in their hearts.  Hannah and Genevieve were able to use some of their German when we decided to let them start ordering for us, and I thought of questions for Hannah to ask people.

Never too old for a car ride?
We had some pretty tasty Bratwurst, Dampfnudeln, Gluhwein, Heisse Schokolad, Pom Frits, and I tried a frikadelle for the first time.  A frikadelle is almost like a meatloaf patty that they put on Brotchen.  It's probably not something I'll order again, but it was alright.

As it got dark, it grew very cold and near one group of stalls there was a nice warm fire by which we warmed ourselves.

The girls are pointing at all their friends and family in the USA.  Notice the sign!

The train ride home was warm and toasty after a cold day in the city.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Strasbourg Not So Christmas Market

Tuesday we got right back in the car and van to head to Strasbourg, France.  It was supposed to be one of the few places still doing a Christmas market for the whole week.  However, when we arrived well after it should have been underway we found it suspicious that none of the stalls were open yet.  They were all boarded up.  As we walked around looking for signs that we weren't crazy and there really was supposed to be a Christmas market there, we saw people taking down some of the stalls.  All the signs (and online) said it still was going until the new year, but I guess they decided to close up several days early.

Here's the closed up carousel.
Sooo, change of plans.  We wandered the streets of Strasbourg looking at the Christmas decorations and trying to find a place to eat.  We stopped at a bakery to get the kids a little snack until we could find a restaurant.  They had giant brioche gingerbread men that my kids loved.

Very pretty style of buildings
For our late lunch we ate flammkuchen, an emmentaler cheese (a kind of swiss) salad, and gluhwein to warm us up.
And, of course, a beautiful cathedral is in almost every big city in Europe.

Famous and old clock in the cathedral

Good news though, the carousel did eventually open and Drew got his promised ride.

Does it get any better than those cheeks (Bobby's, not mine!) and a cathedral in the same picture?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Metz Christmas Market

Our first adventure began with the L family by heading to Saarbruecken to eat at a gin distillery/restaurant.  It was interesting because we had to take both our vehicles on all these day trips since we were 14 total and only have 12 seats in the van.  Then the restaurant had seating for about six people inside so we had to stand at tables outside.  Luckily, there was a pizza place across the walkway that had tables.  So we bought pizza for the children so that they could sit.  I had kaese spaetzle and Brian had currywurst.  

After that adventure, we hit the road to Metz.  This is our arrival shot while walking from the parking spot to the Christmas market while it was still light outside.

We went in the beautiful cathedral with amazing stained glass windows.

Here we were waiting for a turn to use the bathroom.  It was a self cleaning port-a-potty.  After someone came out, you had to wait until it closed and cleaned itself before you could put more money in and have it open for you.  We tried to get more than kid in with me to make this whole thing cheaper and faster.  There was barely enough room for the girls and I to stand in there, so it was...umm...crazy.

All the sudden, right about come time to eat fest food, I started feeling very nauseated.  The smell of the food went from making my mouth water to making me sick.  It started to smell overly creamy and buttery.  I got a toasted sandwich that I ended up giving away.  The rest of the night I felt yucky.  Luckily, it was a passing thing and the next morning I was feeling much better.

I was feeling super bad by this time.  Don't know why my husband got me in this picture.

Bobby screamed for 30 minutes on the way home while everyone else slept.  He never screams like that, so I don't know if he was just done with the whole thing or what, but he eventually went to sleep with the rest of them.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Yay!  Christmas is here, and so are our dear friends!  I'm always missing my family back home in Texas during this time of year.  I really miss seeing all my extended family and their families as we have longstanding traditions that I have always loved.  I haven't been able to go back to my childhood home for Christmas in seven years.  This was originally going to be the year we made the trek, since we were supposed to be moving to Germany in June, but things got moved way up.  This would have been an especially hard time for me, considering that and the fact that we knew very few people here since we just got here.  That is why our friends' visit couldn't have come at a better time.  I was completely distracted and had no time to wallow about not being in Texas for Christmas this year. I even got to cook the Christmas dinner for everyone which is always a favorite part of the holidays for me.  I made a ham with green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, and cornbread casserole.  For dessert I made chocolate cherry fudge, chocolate oat bars, and a Samoan cake.  The fudge was the winner this year.

Bobby and his godparents

All Ten!  Boy! I just noticed how tall Hannah looks in this picture.
We got up and headed straight to Mass on Christmas morning.  When we returned, we started taking all those pictures in front of the tree.  Then it was time for presents.

Opening Presents
Our godson was trying to tackle the giant kinder egg we gave him.

After everyone opened everything under the tree, we surprised the kids with their gift from us in the backyard.

I hate trampolines.  They are super dangerous in my mind, but some kind of crazy mommy guilt must have kicked in when I moved my kids away from friends and family, across the ocean for the third time and in the same breath told them no dogs until we get back to the states.  In addition to the net  giving me some comfort, I am always trying to find more ways to get the kids outside.  So far the only injury has been to an adult who shall remain anonymous.

Dessert Time:  We don't have a dining room table yet, so we had to make do with these tables pushed together.  A new dining room table is going to be our late gift to each other this year.

The rest of the day we relaxed and enjoyed the company and made calls back to the states.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Boys in Red (Outtakes Included)

How many pictures does it take to get a winner with four little boys?  We always have a series of pictures like this for every good or decent picture I post of a group of kids.  For example, our Christmas card this year has a funny picture in it because Bobby grabbed Genna's veil right as the picture was taken.  Our Christmas cards, by the way took so long to here that I even called and cancelled the order getting a refund the day after Epiphany since the Christmas season would be long past before I got them addressed and in the mail.  I am writing this post on January 19th (and backdating it) and am actually mailing them out today.  So if you get our Christmas card during Lent, you'll know why.  I ordered them on December 3rd which I knew was pushing it, but I totally thought I'd have them back in the mail by Christmas day at the latest.  Lesson learned!

Ornery Two Year Old

Two year old's trying to decide if he wants to cooperate or not.

Daddy made him laugh and forget his woes.

Now the baby is distracted.  Who am I kidding?  The rest of them are distracted while the two year old cooperates with a winning smile.

Finally, they are all looking.

And that's as good as it gets, folks.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Decorating the Tree (at the right time this year!)

Normally, I am one of those who likes to decorate the tree when Advent begins.  But this year we didn't even have our stuff yet so it wasn't possible.  Brian got a tree as soon as we had keys to the house since we had sent ahead our tree stand with our linens and necessities.  Once our household goods did arrive I had a lot of important unpacking to do.  So the tree decorating was easy to put off until the day before Christmas Eve.  

We have high ceilings finally!  No tree trimming down this year!

The tree was a little sparse though, and, therefore, many ornaments were left in the boxes this year.

Our Advent was extremely toned down this year with no Jesse Tree or Advent calendars.  We did read Destination Bethlehem which I highly recommend.  Plus, Brian led the O Antiphons during prayer time.  And don't forget all those Christmas markets!  I think we went to 5 or 6, although I missed a couple of them.

Isn't that a perfect place for Mary?  My little grotto was another highlight of this house for me.

And just for grins, here is a picture of what each stairwell looks like.  This particular view is from the 3rd floor/main level looking up onto the 4th floor/Bobby's and master bedroom level and looking down onto the 2nd floor/office/school room level.  This is how the stairs are all the way up in the center of the house.