Sunday, December 25, 2011

Frohliche Weihnachten

we haven't done a thing today except, sleep, eat, open presents, play and talk to loved ones.

the kids woke up at 8am. we turned on the lights, opened the blinds, turned on the christmas music and let the kids open. theo slept in.

we started a new tradition this year, the kids only got three presents plus their stockings. we made the decision last year and have spent the year reminding them, to soften the Christmas morning shock...
the kids got a kinder "uberraschung" (surprise) egg in their stocking. they were chocolate with a little surprise in a capsule in the middle. oddly enough, both boys got a different car and ryli got some kind of shark thing.
everything went swimmingly. not one explanation was offered, not a complaint was made, and somehow, the kiddos spent the entire day busily playing with their new surprises. that alone was a gift indeed.
we were able to talk with friends and family, and were constantly reminded how far away we are.
in turn, it made us recognize how close the six of us are, now that it is just us. one of the biggest reasons we made this decision in the first place.
theo is moo-ing away at his new farm animals. cannon has already completed his lego sets. ryli is making sure her calico critters are tucked safely in bed- with the real working lights in the off position. ty has barely given his ds a break from pokemon black, and shane and i are stealing their delicious german chocolate every chance we get.

Happy Christmas, from our new home in Deutschland.

a scotch tape christmas eve

we woke up later than we wanted. we can't seem to kick the time difference thing.

we left the apartment later than we wanted. our kids tried to talk us out of going anywhere. they hadn't left the house in two days. we forced them out.

 we needed to run to the PX (a store on base that sells a little of everything, american and tax free- kinda like a mini-walmart), we were also planning to sign up for cell phones and open a bank account.
(theo hearts germany)
we only got one thing accomplished and that was getting to the PX. everything closed early. my kids fought the ENTIRE time we were out, i tried not to hurt them, or myself. ryli was even reprimanded on the train by a sweet old lady for putting her shoes on the seat. she was really sweet, and i was glad that she did it.

we got home from the worst christmas eve errand running trip EVER, and tried to reclaim the holiday spirit. shane told the kids that those who wanted to have a grouchy christmas could go to the grouchy christmas room- which was the kids bedroom- and that was our tactic for the rest of the evening.

(that's right, our stockings were hung with scotch tape)

they each ended up in that room at least a few times, except for theo. he's too young for the grouchy christmas room.
(our make shift tree in the corner on the right)

so i made spaghetti, baked cookies, did a puzzle, spruced the place up with a little personal christmas cheer, and the kids participated when and where they wanted.
they played our charlie brown christmas game, wrote a note to santa, set out the milk and cookies and called it a night.

they were ready for bed earlier than 10pm for the first time since we've been here. which, was glorious.

theo stayed up to help us wrap presents, the only rule i gave him was that he couldn't touch anything meant for him. and he didn't.

then, shane and i were ready for bed earlier than we have been since we've been here...3am. theo tried to squeeze one more hour out of us to no avail....

Thursday, December 22, 2011


i house hunted. theo kept me company. this was taken about midnight local time. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cannon's 6th & Weihnachten Markt

We woke up to snow on Cannon's 6th birthday. Pretty fabulous for our first morning in country. Shane had to get up for inprocessing. I think the rest of us slept until about noon. Poor Shane.

At one point I heard the kids toast their hot chocolate to the snowy first morning in Germany. A  moment forever burned into my memory.

When Shane came home, we packed up the kids around 5pm, and our new friends lead us to the Heidelberg Christmas Market. We knew we had to do something pretty special for our Cannon. Unfortunately for all parties involved, Cannon threw the tantrum of a lifetime because a.) his pants weren't tight enough, b.) he didn't want to wear his snowboots, and c.) because I wouldn't tighten his belt before I made him put his dreaded snowboots on.

Seriously, life changing.

 We ended up carrying him to the train stop (1/2 mile), in his socks. his will finally caved and the snow boots were strapped on. By this time he'd forgotten all about his pants not being tight enough (they were sufficiently tight).

Anyhoo. We got off the train at Bismarckplatz and started our first authentic German experience. It was pretty darn spectacular.

As we strolled we discussed the many dinner options, and when left to the birthday boy to choose, Pizza Hut was the winner. Shane and I saved our appetite for the local fare.
In defense of the German Pizza Hut, it was unlike any American Pizza Hut. We were seated. We ordered water and got sparkling water, pretty common I hear. The menu was loaded with options, and the service was very nice.

Oh- and the toys that came with the kids meals were wooden, not the plastic made in china garbage. That was my favorite part.

After the kids ate, we met back up with our friends (shane's co-worker and wife). We ventured further down and found some dinner for ourselves. We tried kinderpunsch, a spiced non-alcoholic wine. Very tasty! We also had kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) with applesauce, schweinebraten (marinated pork steak sandwich), and nutella crepes (heavenly). Certainly not a healthy, well-rounded meal- but it was great to indulge in the traditional foods...

Heidelberg Castle illuminated

The kids rode a little train, and watched the iceskaters.

After all of the eating and perusing we headed back to the train for "home".
We stopped to listen to carolers sing "angels we have heard on high" in german. It gave me chills, it was  magical. Another one of those moments.
Cannon and I had a snowball fight by moonlight on the walk home, another one of those memories.
Once we got back to the apartment and warmed up we let Cannon open a few presents, then I was assigned Lego duty.
Shane and Theo crashed, so the kiddos and I popped some popcorn and stayed up until 2:30am building Hogwarts Express.
When I tucked the kids in, we prayed together, then all told Cannon our favorite things about him. It made him feel special. He is such a sentimental guy.

And that, was our first real night in Heidelberg, Germany.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

auf weidersehen

we said some hard goodbyes, loaded our belongings, and hit the road- just like a circus.

first stop- adams field/ little rock national airport. we managed to get all of our luggage checked for free, the cost, however, was breaking the printer. we wreaked all kinds of havoc at the continental counter and we hadn't even gotten our boarding passes.
 not good.
our handmade luggage tags were a gift from holly, they worked perfectly!

for the first time in the history of our family we cleared security without setting off any alarms. a miracle.

we found our gate, boarded our prop jet, and headed to houston. all was well.
in houston, we had to skip over 4 terminals to get to the international terminal. we grabbed a quick dinner, pizza for the kids and charley's for the adults.

before we knew it our flight to frankfurt was boarding and it was time to say so long to american soil.

we occupied almost an entire row, and we realized after we sat down in our seats that ryli was either sitting next to an open seat- or she would be sitting next to a stranger. the flight was sold a stranger it was. it lasted for about 60 seconds, when she got up and approached us with giant crocodile tears and begged us not to make her sit by a STRANGER!!!!!

logistically there was no way around it. i had to be next to theo and the boys needed a little supervision. the final solution was for theo to ride on my lap (for 10 hours) and out ryli in the middle seat, between me and shane so that he was still able to watch the boys.

we finally arrived in frankfurt around 11:45am local-4:45am little rock.
customs was a breeze, we located our bags fairly easily. the trouble came when we had to figure out how to get all of us, a stroller, and three luggage carts out to our shuttle. that meant me, shane and ty were pushing carts, ryli was pushing the stroller and cannon had two free hands because he didn't want to pull his carry on. booooooo.

we were all incredibly tired and grouchy at this point.

it 45 minutes to realize that out shuttle driver was on a bench right next to us. he finally pulled the sign that said "Herr Shane Sharp" from behind a phone booth. i almost told him where to put that sign...but  he wouldn't have understood me anyway.
it took us about an hour to get to heidelberg. driving through frankfurt seemed like any other big city, except that all of the signs were in the other language.
we all slept until heidelberg. i'll never forget when i opened my eyes. it was the most quaint little place, right out of a story book. the houses were in rows, bicycles everywhere, roads made of cobblestone. i instantly fell in love.