Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Baseball, Over Already?

Baseball season flew by this year.  The last game weekend, Brian was out of town.  The games were back to back, but at different locations making it impossible for me to make it to both.  A friend of ours is on Isaac's team and was able to take him to the last game.  I was sorry to miss it as his games are more interesting, though slightly less comical than the 5/6 yr olds.  As a result, I was not able to get pictures of him.  They took a team picture though so whenever that comes around I'll post it.

Warming up!

He may throw like a girl still, but he's too cute for it to matter.

Although this is not the catch, he finally caught a ball that actually stayed in the glove for the first time during a game.

There was a boy on his team that was being called two different names by his parents.  I thought at first maybe I was mistaken, but I asked the mom and she said that he is now going by his middle name, but his dad still calls him his first name or something like that.  Anyway, it gave me a glimpse of what is to come for Judah.  Two parents rooting on the sidelines for him, but one calling him Ben and one Judah.  Add in the siblings (Genevieve is the only one calling him Benjamin) and we're really going to mess with some people's heads.

Playing "pitcher" in t-ball is the best.  Almost all the balls get hit off the tee directly to you and you don't have the stress of having to pitch.

The trophy was super exciting for Drew.  This is the first time that he has ever played on a team sport and so it was the first trophy.  He didn't even know it was coming.  I think he thought he was super cool for getting this trophy.  He kept telling me all day how happy the trophy made him.

I love Bob's tongue sticking out in the background while holding his banana.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Under the Knife

Isaac has been undergoing orthodontic care for about a year now.  I've mentioned before his palatal expander, his head gear, and his braces.  Well, he has broken a few of the devices.  He clenches his jaw at night and on several occasions, things have broken or come apart while he was sleeping.  Eventually his expander broke for good.  They had to take it out and make new molds for a temporary one.  However, they messed up the molds somehow and the temp didn't fit right.  So they ordered a new one.  (They take a long time to get over here.)

While that was off, the doctor wanted to go ahead and have his oral surgery to remove the baby tooth that disappeared back into his gums.  It really was out and then it was slowly disappearing and during our move here, it completely was covered by the other baby teeth.  The oral surgeon was able to take it out and the tooth in front of it since it was wiggly already.  This was the surgery he went under the knife for.  He was nervous, but he did really well.  I was very proud of him considering how scared he'd been about it at first.

I was concerned it was going to be a major recovery with a long term liquid diet, but he bounced back quickly.  It was a very fast surgery, and he was able to go home within four or so hours of walking into the hospital.  I spoiled him with ice cream and movies that first day.  I'm glad that's completed and we now are waiting on our appointment to get his expander back on and one to get his teeth cleaned.  Hopefully, they can give him a night guard to help with the teeth grinding.

Happy Birthday to You, Genevieve!

Genna wanted to hang out with friends and go to Paris for her birthday.  I told her that May was too full for a trip to Paris, but that we could fulfill her wanderlust in June possibly.  St. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris which is why she so desperately wants to go.  As for the friends, we picked two girls and invited them to come over after daily Mass on the day before her birthday.  One was able to stay for dinner and a movie.  Both girls' families came to have lunch and cake to celebrate Genevieve.
The night before Genna made and decorated the cake with minimal help from me.  She tells me two days before her birthday that she wants a cat cake and she wants it to be black.  I had no black dye and I have had trouble with the black dye that I got from the German store.  I did have some black fondant that I had ended up not using.  I helped with the fondant because fondant is a whole 'nother ball game, but otherwise, Genna did pretty much all of it herself.  It was late when we finished and so I hurried her off to bed thinking we'd get a picture the next day, but guess who forgot to even get her camera out?

It was a pretty black cat face cake.  Oops!
Th next morning we took a picture of what was left of it.  She ended up with lots of gifts because a couple of siblings bought her gifts this year.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing her new game, Mexican Train as a family.  That is a long game, people.  Luckily, Judah and Bob were happily playing together.  Drew watched for a while and then he was able to join in.

That night, Genevieve chose a newly opened Mexican restaurant for her birthday dinner.  (As I type, I am just now realizing the theme of the day here.  Mexican Train.  Mexican food.)  The service was a little rough around the edges, but they had literally been opened 2 days.  The food was good, but still lacked the spice that we Texans prefer in our Mexican food.  

Next to our table was a kid's table with coloring stuff.  After Judah ate his food, he asked to go sit there.  After he'd been there a few minutes, another American girl came and sat with him.  They sat there together just chatting it up and telling each other all kinds of stories.  It was very sweet.

Genevieve is now 11 years old.  Her privilege this year is that she gets her own phone (with no service) mostly only for music, camera, email, and Duo Lingo.  We always give them old phones.  In addition to that we have a rule that the internet, email, etc. can not be used in bedrooms.  It has to be in common areas only.  So far we have had no problems with the girls respecting these rules, but I am thinking that the boys will most likely have stricter rules in this case.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Culinary Hike with Family and Friends

Sunday morning we all went to Mass.  Then we quickly hopped on the train to go to the culinary hike that we went on last year.  Last year it was horrible weather, but this year it was amazingly perfect.  It is a beautiful hike with breathtaking views, but it was also a challenging one. The very first part of the walk was a steep incline that gave Nanna a run for her money.  About station number three there was a short cut back to the main square, and so she ended up taking that option when she looked up and saw the groups walking across the valley on the other side of the town.  

The station with the smoked salmon is the most popular, and also the one my children most look forward to.  The line once we got there was really long, a wait of almost two hours altogether.  We saw many friends at this station since it was like a dam, collecting people in it's line.  I sat and watched the kids play while the others waited in the line.  Can I just say that I don't even like salmon, so that long of a wait was hardly worth it to me?   

After that we were actually running short on time in order to catch the 7 o'clock train.  We ended up backtracking to station three and taking that short cut (which isn't so short when you have to backtrack to it.)  We picked up a couple pizzas and ice cream for the children on the way to the square to find Nanna.  Then we had just a little time to spare and stopped at the Denk Mal, a hundred year old bar that literally leans, for a quick drink.  We crammed onto the over-stuffed train, and 15 minutes later we were back in our village.

Baseball on the Home-front, Race Cars and Castles Abroad

Nanna and I were off to baseball and t-ball games Saturday morning.  We brought blankets and camping chairs because it was a cold morning until the sun came out, and even then, a blanket was nice to have.  

Drew is #6 with the black jersey.
Drew's game was, well, what you can imagine a bunch of newbie 5/6 year olds would be on a baseball field.  All I could see was the long road ahead of him to really master this game.  It was humorous to watch though.

Isaac's game was a big improvement, but there were still many kids that couldn't hit a coach pitched ball, and they would bring out the tee.  They at least get people out and such, but still a very soft game.  I guess that's what we are going to get over here since there are no Germans playing the great American pastime.
During Isaac's game

While we were playing Baseball Mom and Nanna, Brian, Uncle James, and Julia were having the time of their lives.  The day before they were near the Czech border visiting a castle that is still owned by a relative in Julia's family.  They knocked on the door and got a private tour.  Then they drove all the way across Germany to go into Belgium to stay overnight at a place Brian loves.  The next day they drove to Stuttgart to fulfill my brother-in-law's dreams of seeing the longest race track in the world.  Here's some pictures of their trip.

James and Julia

At the racetrack 

He said it was one of the best days of his life.  That's the least we can do for someone who holds such a special place in our hearts!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More About Bob: About 22 Months Old

Bobby is fast approaching two years old.  :(  Where does the time go?  He is a very meticulous little guy.  He loves to stack, line up, and organize things.  He frequently asks for toys in his highchair after his meal so that he can play there.  He loves dirt, but hates to be dirty with food on him or his tray.

I took just him one day to the girls' basketball practice when we had visitors to stay with the other boys at home.  I sat on the floor of the sidelines because they had pushed the bleachers in.  He sat right next to me, playing with his cars, the whole time.  Every once in a while he would lay down like this and play with the cars or just watch the kids play basketball.  Tough guy to keep up with, huh?  If anyone remembers Drew at this age (I was very pregnant already, by the way,) it was a very different story...polar opposite even.  Thank you, God, for this calm boy!

Bobby loves blocks now and will help his brothers build things.  He's really pretty careful about not breaking their Lego creations, and if he does break a piece off, he immediately brings it to someone to fix.  Another difference between him and Drew at this age.  Even Judah destroyed Legos at this age.  The wooden blocks are somewhat a different situation.  They knock their own creations down sometimes, and Bob has caught on quickly to that.

Bob's eating has actually improved.  I read/skimmed a book called The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution.  I was doubtful, but wanted to see if there was anything in there that I hadn't already tried or hadn't thought of.  There were not new ideas really in this book.  It is mostly the same old stuff you always hear.  Don't force a kid to eat.  Don't force them to clean their plate.  Don't make food emotional.  The one idea that I really liked was organizing your pantry where healthy foods are at kid level and all snacks and candy put away inside cabinets.  Bobby has just recently been introduced to candy and he quickly learned that it was on the top shelf in the pantry and every time he went into the pantry he would start saying, "Candy."  I reorganized my kitchen and pantry to have all our chips and candy in the corner cabinet of the kitchen that is hard to access anyway.  I put most of the snacks (like goldfish and cracker types) in closed tupperware on the top shelf in the pantry.  This has been a good change.

Another thing the book suggested was something I have done in the past with other kids when they were going through a picky phase...hiding vegetables inside things that look tasty.  I always try to sneak in carrots into my spaghetti sauce,  vegetables into my taco meat, and those kinds of things.  The end of the book had more recipes that I hadn't tried before.  So I tried a Garden Dip that was delicious to the adults only.  It had foods like avocados, spinach, and sour cream.  Flop.  I tried Banana and Black Bean Treasure Triangles which were in a flaky pastry.  They were also amazing, but...flop.  Bob wouldn't even taste these things.  Judah didn't want to taste them, but I talked him into trying them.  Without detailing all my failures, it went something like this:  Flop, flop, flop.  However, on the up side, Bobby has recently decided that green beans are a favorite, and he will actually eat the carrots now instead of sucking off all the hummus.  In addition to that big achievement, he is eating so nicely with a spoon and fork now.  He's always slow on the motor development, but he gets there eventually.  Next goal is conquering the stairs.

Drew and Bob are looking more alike these days.  I accidentally dressed the two of them in similar striped shirts.  

Fits when getting buckled into the van have started.  He has always loved to go places, but suddenly he wants to go, but doesn't want to be in the car seat.  I have to pin him down to buckle him and he is strong.  Just a phase, I am sure.

Bobby was all into books and then he just wasn't.  That used to be nearly the only thing we had out for him in the living room was a box of books to look through.  Lately I haven't had but a few out because he seemed all about the cars, trains, and motorcycle toys.  However, he is getting back that loving feeling for books.  Yay!

And just because he is cute to listen to...

I have another video that I'll get up soon of him singing.  His favorite songs right now are Fireflies and Moon, by Laurie Berkner.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

More visitors!

A couple days and a bunch of loads of laundry later, my mother-in-law, AKA Nanna arrived bringing Uncle James and his girlfriend with her.  Nanna had a nap and then immediately began doing puzzles with the children.  It is something they have come to expect.  The little ones associate it with her.  I can see inside Judah's little mind:  Nanna's here.  Must get puzzles.

Brian had to work most of the week, but he took off Friday and went on a mini road trip with his brother and his brother's girlfriend, Julia.  Nanna stayed with me to get in more time with her grandchildren.  On Friday at lunch while the boys were at kindergarten we went and had a nice lunch at one of my favorite restaurants around here.  Brian and I have been here several times and never been seated in the wine cellar before.  We always comment on how cool it would be to sit down there.  We wondered if you had to ask or what.  Well, we were seated down in the cellar which turned out to be just as cool as we thought.  I immediately took pictures of us and messaged them to Brian to a jocular way, of course.

This display was right behind Isaac's seat.
There was a set menu with about four or five choices for the main course.  Each meal came with Lentil soup and a small dessert.  We all chose either schnitzel or sausages.  It was delicious as always.  I really loved the potatoes and the soup the best in spite of it all being wonderful.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Hut

Our village hangout in the summer is only open on Sundays.  It is a collection of huts with a small menu, a playground, some picnic tables, and some bathrooms.  I'll have to take better pictures of it next time we go.  If we are home on Sunday afternoons, then we always go to up to the hut.  The walk is somewhat long because we have to walk all the way down our steep hill and then back up the other big hill that I see the horses on out my kitchen window.  I can almost see the hut from our windows, but for the trees in the way.  So one might think it is a short walk, but it's a decent walk away.

Brian's godson (and the rest of his family) can with us to the hut the day after our Pilgrimage to Otterberg.  The girls were not in the mood for more sausage and kraut so they stayed home with a sleeping Bobby.  It was a lovely and restful afternoon.  We had beers, brats, and frikadelle (a kind of breaded meat patty) and chatted about all sorts of things.  I embarrassed myself pretty good when I made an off the cuff comment about how I am a sleep Natzi with babies in an entirely too loud voice.  My face proceeded to turn ten shades of red.  References to Hitler or Natzis is something us Americans are normally careful to avoid.  

Judah had insisted on wearing a superhero costume to the hut.  He came over a few times to take care of the baby in his gentle manner.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Easter: Ready or not, here I come!

Oops!  It looks like a left this post out of its order.  I was trying to at least keep things in order with all these late posts, but I missed this one.  This was from the middle of when my uncle was here visiting.  We took Sunday off from all the sight-seeing to have a relaxing day with family and friends.

My Easter gifts all kind of didn't work out so I had to run out one night during Holy Week and throw some baskets together last minute.  I had these grand plans about making each child a canvas with a decorative quote from a book they love or reminds me of them.  I had the best of intentions and bought the canvases from Amazon before Lent.  However, what I didn't think about was how much of the time of Lent I was going to be out of the country.  I was here only 2 weeks of Lent and one of those we had visitors.  So, I'll shoot for Christmas for those to be completed.  

Easter Baskets on Sunday Morning just before rushing out the door to Mass

When we first arrived at Mass, Bob had pooped out of his diaper and on his pants.  Luckily, I had a spare pair of sweat pants in my bag.  I had been lazy about keep extra clothes since we don't need them often, but I've been trying to redouble my efforts.  A few months back, Bobby threw up in the carseat and had to wear Drew's undershirt (that I actually took off his body for this purpose) and a pair of the Baby Leggings (I always keep those in the van during the winter) because I had nothing else in my bag or van.

After Mass were Easter egg hunts and a brunch.  The Easter egg hunts were all separated into age groups.  They were rattling off where each age should go to during the announcements after mass, but I couldn't keep up.  All except Bob and Judah were in different age groups.  I leaned over to the big kids and told them I hopes they were listening.  I only caught where the youngest three were supposed to go.  Brian went with Drew, I went with Bob and Judah, and the big three were on their own.  As a result, I only have pictures of the youngest three during the hunt.

Drew's age group

Judah and Bobby hunting.  Bob was a rock star with his egg hunting.  He was out there and had grabbed three eggs before Judah even was on the move.

But he quickly slowed down and started watching other kiddies find eggs.  One boy's dad was telling him to go get some particular egg.  Bobby beat him to it, but I made him give it to the little boy.

He made up for his slow start.

Bobby and his friend were having a silent conversation.

In the buffet line with friends

I think this was our best attempt at a family picture outside our friend's house before lunch.
The only other thing we did that day was go over to our friend's house for a late lunch and another Easter egg hunt.  The moms had stuffed the eggs, and the dads were in charge of the hiding.  I brought a new dish that I was a little nervous about, but it turned out super least the adults liked it.  I had pantry limitations, as well as allergies, to consider.  So I made Cracked Out Cheesy Grits that I found on Pinterest.

Brian with his godson on Easter
He is risen!