Sunday, February 26, 2012

Growing up German - My Little Sister

Luckily, this post is not by Max or Noah. I am not having a girl. I am not pregnant. If you have been reading this blog for a couple of years, you will recognize this post. Because I pretty much published the same thing for her 28th Birthday! Lame, I know. I don't even have a very good excuse for not writing a new one but I did edit this one!

This post is about my little sister Emily
who is turning 30 today!

Happy Birthday!!

She is 16 months younger than me, which means that I am turning 32 in October! Crazy!

It has been really fun having a sister that close in age. Growing up we definitely fought a lot but we have always been very close. She is the best sister I could have asked for. She is also my only sister. Only sibling, as a matter of fact.

I don't know how my mom did it. But I know it was hard. Look at us. One (Emily) screaming, one (me) pouting. We were born in the early 80s and I love the style. You should see us in our early teens. In my opinion the early 90s are pretty ugly. I wish I had pictures. When in Germany this summer, I will scan some and show you just how ridiculous some of our outfits were!

Spring 1982

I credit some of my athleticism to the early arrival of a sibling. At 16 months I had to pretty much walk everywhere. We are not talking about walking from the car to the house. I mean German walking, i.e. to the butcher, the baker, the Grandparents, the train station, the play ground on the other side of town. Did I mention we lived on a (rather large) hill? As you can see, I have been building up my endurance for a long time. No double-strollers back then. But they did have bike seats for kids. My mom had two on her bike. One in the front and one in the back. I am not sure how she managed to put one of us on her handlebars and one on the luggage rack and actually ride her bike without all of us crashing every 2 feet. She is a strong woman!

We actually still live on the street that this picture was taken. At the time, we just went to see my Grandparents. Later, we moved into the same house which is in a small village called Ispringen with about 6.000 people in it. There is a big city only 3 miles away though. It was a great place to grow up.

Summer 1982

Emily and I were both on a swim team about 10 miles from our home to which we rode the train and/or bus. I am pretty sure we did so by ourselves at age 7 or 8. One time I left my bag on the bus. I just stood there and cried: "My bag is still on the bus!" But Emily was already sprinting next to the bus, caught the driver's attention and rescued my bag. Things like that happened all the time. She is my hero.

One day, when we were about 7 and 8, we told my mom that we were going to bike to the playground. Little did she know that the place I had in mind was about 6 miles and 3 villages away. Emily wasn't very excited about my idea but I could pretty much always talk her into anything and off we went. I definitely took advantage of my persuasiveness.

Christmas time 1983

Can you tell that this little toddler is going to turn into one tough girl? I remember countless times in our youth when guys would have arm wrestling matches and then Emily would come along and easily beat the winner! So fun to watch and I sure am proud of her. I haven't dared to arm wrestle her in a long time and here is why. She is still just as buff.

She is going to kill me when she sees this picture.
Especially since I cut myself out of it.

We can't wait to see our favorite sister and aunt this summer when I take the boys back to Germany. It is going to be so fun, I can hardly contain myself! Sometimes it is hard to be missing out on all of the family fun back home! Emily's girl, Lynn, will be almost 3 by then and should make a great playmate for Max. Emily is expecting again and we are thrilled to have another baby cousin!

With Max in October 2008

Having lots of fun with Noah

We love you lots!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Everything but a Date with Karl

We had a great Valentine's Weekend around here. Karl and I have yet to go on a date this year but we spent quality time with the kids and as a family. Quality time is definitely my language of love! Karl knows that. This year I am counting his trip to the post office in order to send my Garmin in for repair and his putting my new (i.e. borrowed) cranks on my bike as my gifts. But Karl is so nice, he would have done both without it being Valentine's Day. Thank you! 

Friday evening was Noah's long awaited Kindergarten Valentine's Dance. I was his date and couldn't have been more proud. He chose a dress for me, I actually blow-dried my hair, and he put on his Sunday clothes. It was a big deal. But, of course, we did not take any pictures. Karl took Max on a little date and then they came and joined us for sugar-cookie decorating. What a fun night!

Saturday morning, while I was out training, Karl and the boys went to the local ski festival downtown. There clearly was not enough snow, but they had some stored in different places that they brought in. It sounded like a lot of fun except for the part where Max ate 4 hotdogs! 4?!?

In the afternoon it was time for the Agassiz Uphill Race. Always a lot of fun and Karl took 2nd overall. 
More about the race here

On Valentine's Day Karl was gone from 8am - 9pm. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and take the kids ice skating. They had free everything: skating, rentals, cake, and hot chocolate! Sign us up! We picked Noah up from school early which turned out to be a good move since putting skates on all 3 of us took about 15 hours. 

We took them once last year and once in January, so by now they are Pros. At least with their little walkers...

Of course Max skates kamikaze-style. I am lucky if he is going in the right direction and does not knock over more than 5 people per lap! That red helmet sure came in handy more than once! 

Mama! Look at me! I am as fast as a flash! 

Max wears himself out rather quickly. After 40 minutes he was ready for cake and hot chocolate. 

Noah, on the other hand, could've kept going forever. After cruising around with the walker for a little, he ditched it rather quickly and was determined to figure out how to skate on his own. 

He is usually not very patient with himself but today he surprised us all. He just kept falling, getting back up, falling, getting back up... while having a blast! It's great to see him so excited about learning new things that he did not think he could do!

As if skating forward in a straight line wasn't enough, he was working on his pirouettes and jumping skills. That's my kid! When I asked him if we should look into signing him up for ice hockey, he said: No, Mama. I want to be a figure skater
He's been wanting to go back every day since. 

Afterwards we enjoyed the little snow there is in Flagstaff right 
now, while hoping and praying for more! 

I successfully wore the kids out and they were in bed by 7
Apparently, I wore myself out as well because by the time Karl got home at 9, I was in bed too! 

Hope you had a great Valentine's Day as well! 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sundays Around Here

(All of these pictures were taken on Sunday a few weeks ago.
Except the first and the last. 
Those are courtesy of Max.)

If we are lucky, the kids sleep in until almost 7. 

When I have been lazy/busy all week, 
I get to wake up at 5:30 in order to get ready 
and prepare Sharing Time lessons. 
I am not complaining about 8 am church though! 
Such a nice change from 1:30 pm! 

Max is now a Sunbeam
All of our little Sunbeams are transitioning so well 
and are super cute. 
Max being the cutest, of course. 
I can't believe that he is actually sitting in his chair, 
listening, and making comments. 
He is so excited to be one of the big kids!

After church he was goofing around at the house, 
getting into trouble as usual, 
and when I asked: 

Max, what are you doing? 

He says: 

I am making right choices

What a crack-up!

I love to bake on Sundays. 
Today I made cookies and gingerbread cake
Considering my lack of self-discipline when it comes to food, 
that wasn't such a great idea. 
So I am making Karl take the rest of the cake 
to school tomorrow morning.  
(The cookies are all gone already.)

We always go for a hike or a bike ride
Depending on the weather our outing might last
all afternoon or just a few minutes. 
Today, however, we did not leave the house 
again after coming home from church at 11:30. 
I am still surprised. That is an accomplishment for sure. 
I think it means the boys are growing up 
and are easier to entertain at home. 
They have a blast together (most of the time)
 and can come up with pretty cool projects. 
(Today, I have to admit, Karl did most of the entertaining.)

Noah was having a really hard time 
on this particular bike ride 2 weeks ago.
Nothing was going his way 
and he pretty much complained and whined
the entire time. 

He refused to look at the camera. 
After trying to deal with it for over an hour, 
I decided I was done and just started laughing

That, of course, did not help the situation. 
He did lose steam though after a while, 
mellowed out, and decided to have some fun

Karl and Max were having fun all along...

Before going to bed tonight,
Noah told me that today was his favorite Sunday 
because we never went anywhere 
and everybody was home together. 
I think all-day Kindergarten is wearing him out a little. 
And it is true, Karl and I play tag-team all week along, 
so it is nice for a change to just all chill together at home. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Little Bit of Summer in February

After living in Flagstaff for 1.5 years, 
we made it down to the Valley of the Sun
It's not that we have not wanted to go, 
but we've never had a good excuse to pay for gas and a hotel. 
(Any relatives or good friends are more than welcome to move there
and host us occasionally!)

Wednesday night Karl mentioned something about a conference 
down in Phoenixthat he would've liked to attend this weekend 
but had not found out about earlier.
Looking for a warm place to get in a nice outdoor ride, 
I perked right up. 
The Valley? This weekend? A hotel with a pool? 70 degrees?
Count us in!

Karl was rather surprised.
I am anything but spontaneous 
especially while training for a big race. 
But, as luck would have it, Friday was a recovery day. 
Thanks, Coach!

My conditions
Either all of us or none of us are going. 
The hotel needs to have a pool. 
I am swimming Friday night. 
Saturday afternoon is mine for a bike ride. 


So off we ventured into the big city on Friday morning. 
After dropping Karl off at his conference, 
we could not wait to get to the zoo

The boys' favorite animals: 

The African Wild Dogs

The Cheetahs 

We also found some appropriate food for Pandy:

We were having a blast for 4 hours straight. 
I had to drag these kids out of the zoo 
after it had already been officially closed for 25 minutes. 
A very successful day!

And, yes, believe it or not, I actually skipped my swim workout. 
Well, I postponed it until early the next morning. 
I did not even stress out about it!
It seemed like some family fun was just what the doctor had ordered. 

Saturday morning was all about swimming
After a very nice workout in the YMCA outdoor pool
we hit the hotel pool at 9am sharp. 
Again, we could not get enough and the noon check-out time came way too early. 

Noah insisted on jumping into the pool with the camera in hand
and take pictures of me underwater. He was not very successful 
but this camera was one of the best purchases we've ever made! 

My boys are quite the fish and it makes me happy. 
I only had to save both of them from drowning once. 
Unfortunately, it was at the same time in different places. 
I am happy to report that both survived and jumped right back in. 
Oh the freedom in pools with no lifeguards!