Thursday, June 28, 2012


We visited the Luisenpark in Mannheim.  Seriously the biggest park I have been to so far in Germany.  It had large open areas, a few playgrounds, a water play area, animals, a lake, restaurants, and more.  

 some 'art' along the path
We went for a boat ride in one of these.  They seemed to run along a track from one end of the lake to the other.  I was a bit disappointed that we had to pay extra for the ride, but it definitely save us a lot of walking!  The people in the boat ahead of this one wanted their stroller to come along for the ride as well.

 These huge fish followed all the boats, apparently hoping for a handout.  Christine liked to stick her finger in their mouths and bop them on the head.  

 It was little disconcerting to see them come swimming toward the boat in groups.  Some were 2-3 feet long.

 The bird section had quite a variety of large birds, some of which were roaming freely around the park.  Big signs warned us not to pet the penguins though!

 This flamingo looked so funny 'sitting down'

 For some reason, this tree was covered in pacifiers.  

 Near the entrance, we found extensive flower gardens.  Gorgeous!

 (see the owl?)

Here is how Nicole spent her day. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


We visited a Wildpark in Kaiserslautern.  A large area was fenced off with different enclosures for the animals native to this area.  Most were very friendly so we had a lot of fun hiking around and feeding some of them.  The enclosures were quite large so we spent a couple of hours walking around and enjoying the beautiful forest as well as observing the animals.  
 I liked the deer.  These were bigger than the ones I usually see.

 Ally had a lot of fun feeding the goats.  I accidentally bought a bag of unsalted pretzels so I figured this was a good way to get rid of them!

 Nicole does not look thrilled.

 wild boar
Many of the boar had babies so we heard a lot of squealing from the little ones.

these looked like bison, not sure if they are the same as the North American ones.   

 a wild cat, it looks like a lynx.  You can see it peeking through the bushes.

Our favorite were the deer and goats.  They were very gentle and friendly, it was almost like a petting zoo.  

One of my usual problems with visiting places in Germany is the lack of information available.  I never know where to park, where to enter, how much it will cost, etc.  This park was easy to find, free, and with a good parking area (also free) with lots of signs so we couldn't get lost.  We will definitely be going there again!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

photo shoot!

 Sister love

 my little soccer player

 happy girl

 missing her daddy

baby in a basket 

the family (minus 1) 

so peaceful 


A friend of the family came to visit, and brought all his photo equipment.  We had fun posing Nicole (and Ally) for some fun shots.  Too bad J is gone ;(

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I love my garden!!!

When I moved into my new house, I asked the landlord if I could build a garden:

I picked a spot and J tilled it for me (I was very pregnant at the time).  The day I delivered Nicole, I decided it was time to rake out the grass and break up the clumps of dirt.  Hence her delivery at 39 weeks ;) I fenced it in so nobody but me can access my 'plant coop'.  I even have a bird net over the top.

I also have some fruit trees in the backyard that I am excited about.  Here are some pears, just starting to show.  

 My little herb garden.  I have basil and cilantro (pictured), dill, oregano, rosemary, chives, parsley, and mint.  Conveniently located right outside my front door.  I love having fresh herbs on hand for cooking.

 My first pea pods!

 Zucchini plant growing nicely.

 corn as viewed from above

 My little tomato plants which started as seeds in the windowsill.  

I am so proud of my little plants.  I check on their progress every day and I love my garden!

Barefoot Park

This week, our outing was to the Barefoot Park (Barfusspfad).  It is about 45 minutes away but so worth the drive!  We walked along a river on a trail with many different materials.

 Here is Christine, walking through the mud!
 Ally and I walking across a swinging bridge (notice the mudlines on my legs).
 squishy, oozy, gooey mud!
 corks (yes actual corks, looks like someone drank a lot of wine...)
 obstacle course
 and much more!  I was very impressed that Ally could walk on a tightrope.  Nicole just hung out (literally) in my baby carrier and slept the whole time.  We finished up with a picnic and left right before it started to rain.  Perfect day!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Things I miss in Germany:
central air
automatic garage door opener
interior walls that are not made of concrete
carpeted floors
huge trash cans
wide roads
neighbors who speak English

Things I love:
my fireplace
roladens (exterior blackout shades for all the windows)
trying new food
European chocolate
the bakery truck that stops at the end of my driveway with fabulous fresh pretzels
my garden
the Autobahn
the cultural exposure for my children
opportunities to travel

Fun Summer!

Since J is deployed for the whole summer and more (hopefully he will be back by Thanksgiving), I 'hired' my sister to come stay.  By hired, I mean that I purchased her international plane tickets.  So far I have really appreciated all the help.  I am able to shower, mow the lawn, weed my garden, talk on the phone, cook dinner, etc. without worrying about a 3-year-old or the baby.  It has also been really nice to have someone around to talk to during the day and especially once the kids are in bed.

We have big plans this summer.  Since Nicole does not have her passport yet, we can't leave Germany, but we have found plenty to do in and out of the house:
Homemade everything!  So far we have made: bagels, cheese (mozzarella and ricotta), granola, jam, and yogurt, and are looking for new ideas.
Picnics at various parks and playgrounds.  We really liked the dinosaur park, but it was a little pricey
Going for walks around the village, to the little store, with the dogs.
Fitness!  Since we both enjoy food too much, we have started Insanity.  Week 2, going well.
We purchased a pool pass, which both girls enjoy.
Gardening and strawberry picking.  I am quite proud of my garden and check on it every day.  I am hoping to harvest something soon (probably peas!)  Today we picked 10 lbs of strawberries and enjoyed eating them (some covered in chocolate) and making jam.
Travel.  Heidelburg, Rudesheim, Berlin, and Garmisch are on our list to see.  Possibly Italy, Spain and France as well if we get the passport soon.

Baby update: Nicole is growing rapidly and learning new things every day.  She smiles a lot and can roll over (she now sleeps on her stomach, by choice) and is on a pretty good schedule.  She sleeps well at night, which allows me to sleep (but I spend too much time on facebook!).  She hates her carseat though, which has been very frustrating.  I purchased the most expensive, most highly recommended infant carseat and had quite the hassle getting it shipped to me (and it only arrived 2 days before Nicole).