Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Eve

Jan and I have hosted all the Christmas Eves which we have spent in Germany.  It is always great fun pulling out the table decorations and planning the menu.  A fun twist this year was that instead of Jan's family being in the majority of our guests, mine was!  My cousin Kim's sister, Lisa, came over this year to visit and spend the holidays in Germany.  So, of the 9 guests we had at our table Christmas Eve, 4 of them were my family - 2 cousins (plus Kim's boyfriend, Bill) and my parents.  We also had some friends and Jan's step-brother, Oli.  It was a fun round of people.

Before the dinner festivities began, we went to Mass at 3:30 at St. Ignaz because they were having a children's Mass.  I found it very condusive to children since it was in the afternoon - no tired and hungry babies to cry through church!  It was very nice and included a little nativity play, the music was also wonderful - they had an orchestra and the closing song was Silent Night, for which they turned off the lights - very dramatic.

I have been holding out telling you guys something:

Blaise started sleeping through the night about the second week in December.  He didn't every night, but even the nights he didn't, usually just a pop of the pacifier back in his mouth would do the trick.  About December 22nd our sleep-hell started up again, and it was back with new found fury.  Fortunately, since the 26th he seems to have fallen back into the sleeping through the night phase - I was really starting to get worried!  We had a few nights where he was awake for 2.5 hours in the middle of the night - but we at least cuddled and he wasn't screaming.  We had raclette for dinner, and even though Jan missed about the first hour and we could hear a screaming baby in the background, it turned out alright.  Anyway, here's to being back on track! :)

Blaise proved to be a master at opening presents.  It was pretty fun that he was so "old" for his first Christmas - he was able to really enjoy it.

The German Christmas Eve tradition is having dinner after church, then the children are distracted while the presents are put under the tree.  The "Christkind" brings the presents and when she leaves she rings a bell letting everyone know that she has been there.  The formerly distracted children then are allowed in the living room to check out their loot.  The translation of Christkind is Christ Child, so you'd think that Jesus would be the one bringing the gifts, but actually it is always a picture of a young girl angel, as in the link above.  If you figure this out let me know, I still find it a mystery.  The Christkind comes to the Catholic (southern) part of Germany - and I suppose the Weihnachtsman (Santa Claus) visits the others?  We'll have to figure out what story to tell Blaise, though I would think a child growing up with two different holiday traditions will figure out the real truth sooner than later.  I don't think I will be able to convince him for too long that a girl angel comes to deliver presents on the 24th in Germany, but Santa Claus takes the US route on the 25th.  Either way, it will surely be good fun in the next few years.

Playing the "Water in a Cup" game with Lisa

Shyly beginning to unwrap presents

Checking out the tree

'This one's for me too?'

Gettin' into it!

Really getting into it!

Oooooooooooooo, a new car!

Bill, Kim and Jörg clearly mesmorized by the Baby

Grandma Rose

Playing with his loot

Playing with his nativity with Lisa

With our friends, Kathy and Christian during dinner

We got some good pictures, but I am already looking forward to next year and some improved photography skills.  I really like using natural light verus a flash, but it is really hard during the evening, so some of our pictures are underexposed.  I actually lightened them up with Picasa, but I couldn't get the edited photo to upload here, any idea why? 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten on Tuesday(-ies)

So, this is the ToT that I stared LAST Tuesday, but never finished.  Oh well, here you go:

1.  I hate vaccines.  Poison, I tell you.  My baby had a fever for two days.  Don't try and give me reasons why they are a good thing, I will still hate them.

2.  Every Advent the theater hosts their own special kind of Advent calendar.  For the past three years I have enjoyed going there at 6 in the evening, enjoying a drink and about 30 minutes of musical or literary enchantment.  I look forward it to every year.  This year has been a disappointment.  I have only been twice, but they moved it from the warm cozy atmosphere of the foyer with tables, chairs and a bar to outside.  They stand on the balcony for about 6 minutes and that's it.  I need to go back and give it a fair shot, but all in all it definitely isn't the same anymore.  I am all about change and things remaining dynamic, but this change just seems to go against what they were trying to acheive.  A small moment of peace in this fast paced time of year.

3.  During my time at IU an a cappella group took over campus: Straight No Chaser.  I have to admit I felt pretty cool, because I knew one of the members personally.  Not like we hung out or anything, but Kelly and I spent summer of 1995 with Steve in Krefeld, Germany, as high school students.  Most of you have probably heard of them in the meantime.  Last year they became a nation-wide sensation, gaining unexpected exposure on youtube.  They brought out Christmas CD last year, also with our friend, Steve, and this year they have released a new CD, this time however without Steve.  (Who I am guessing left in order to be close to his growing family and start of his new career - anyone know for sure?)

Anyway, check their current Christmas hit:

4.  I was thinking about making this point its own post, but i don't have too much to say about it.  I just felt the need to get something off my chest.  While travelling in the US for a good 7 weeks, I felt encountered by racism more often that I would like to admit.  It really came from many sides and I was rather shocked and also ashamed.  When I travel at home I am travelling with my German husband and of course would like to have him see my home country in all its glory, hence being ashamed when that doesn't happen.  I am not without fault when it comes to being judgemental or stereotypical, but it really is something that I try and be aware of, and that is what I am asking of you this season - be aware of what you are saying and the message you are sending out. 

5.  Blaise loves clapping!!  He does it randomly, when he sees others doing it, when he hears others doing it, when you say "clap clap" and after songs!  :)

6.  I finally got back to working out last week.  It felt good and I'm looking forward to being on my schedules especially through the holiday season!

7.  My friend Kathy and I went to see a theatrical production of Peter Pan last weekend.  It was really great and we got a kick out of the kids in the audience!  They were very interactive and great at cheering on Pan and rescuing faires!

8.  After having watched the 6th Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I decided to go back and read the book.  It seemed like the movie was different in a few places and I thought I remembered some things that the movie didn't address.  It had been two years since I re-read all the books before the last book came out (something I am really glad I did).  Anyway, after re-re-reading the book I was pretty disappointed in the movie - it had some redeemable parts, but all in all there were some (I feel) very important parts missing and I am wondering how they are going to tie it all together in the next movie.  Thoughts?

9.  Grandma Rose and Grandpa Lynn safely arrived last Friday.  They will be staying with us for Christmas, New Year's and Blaise's 1st Birthday.

10.  We have been playing a lot of uchre in the evenings after Blaise goes to bed.  Michelle/Jan: 4  Grandma/Grandpa: 2  :)  (not that I'm counting...;) )

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pears for Breakfast

Hold the cereal, Mommy, hand over the pears!

I swear Blaise would have said this this morning if he could have.

He is becoming more independent and more communicative. Which, really, is great! - I just need to keep reminding myself of this. Normally I mix his cereal with fruit, mostly pears or bananas, and sometimes apples. Pears and bananas I find easiest because they are so soft already. Plus, we've (and by we, I obviously mean Jan) found the most awesome pears (butter pears) ever, and I like eating them too!

Because of his newfound love of trying to become independent, he MUST hold a spoon while eating. He is really good at spooning his food - sometimes. Other times it is a free for all. I've read that at this stage it is okay, even encouraged, to let babies play with their food. This is a time of learning about textures and tastes. Okay, I can deal with that, but with cereal? Yuck. So, I came up with this brillant plan - two bowls! One of cut up pear that he can spoon and one of cereal where only I have control. Until he starting crying and pointing at the pear bowl after I gave him some cereal, as if saying:

Nooooo, Mommyyyyy, not that bowl, this bowl!

Seriously? So, I tried to be tricky, and "hide" the cereal under the pear pieces. That seemed to work. Until the pear ran out. I mentioned I like these pears, right? I have to keep myself under control and not eat any of the pear, until the bib comes off - the signal that he is done. Today he eat the WHOLE pear and was quite upset when he saw the empty pear bowl...luckily we had another one. Note to self: never have only 1 pear left.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas Day

I grew up celebrating St. Nicholas Day - it is a holiday celebrated by Catholics and some other Christian religions.  St. Nicholas was a bishop and got a name for giving children gifts and so the tradition of Santa Claus began.  Every year on December 5th, I would put my shoes outside my bedroom door and in the morning they would be filled with all sorts of goodies.  I specifically remember Christmas socks and Christmas watches.  Nikolaus is also celebrated in Germany, so we had some fun with it this year.  Nikolaus visited our local mall on Saturday with gifts for the children, as you can see Blaise was more interested in his angel sidekick. :)

We set Blaise loose this morning to discover his St. Nicholas Day treats, a book and CD (the candy cane was only for show):

Gunflint Trail Trapdoor PJs from Grandma and Grandpa

Getting ready for bed tonight in his St. Nicholas Day gift from Grandma and Grandpa - Santa PJs!

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

St. Nikolaus kommt

Thanksgiving Dinner

We hosted our Thanksgiving Dinner this past Sunday.  We had about 25 people on the guest list, but ended up having "only" about 19.  Every year is a huge discussion on how big the turkey should be.  Every year we say, next year we need a smaller bird.  You must realize that our oven is small(er) compared to the standard US oven.  This year we ended up with a turkey a bit over 35lbs.  Not our biggest yet, though I think it earned the silver medal.  In order for it to fit in the oven we have to take out the rack holders on the side.  You know what I mean?  So you couldn't put a rack in anymore and the turkey sits on the bottom of the oven - on a cooking sheet of course.  We have to be pretty vigilant about sucking out the turkey juice with the turkey baster (had to look that word up :) ) or it will start running out of the oven.  Yummm...  Jan needs to collect it anyway to make his famous gravy.

We actually considered either not having Thanksgiving Dinner this or perhaps doing it on a smaller scale, since, you know, we also have Blaise to take care of.  But, in the end, tradition won, and honestly it is a nice gathering of people, and who I am to turn down an opportunity to show off my baby?

Given the number of people that attend, we have to do some trickery to fit them all comfortably into our apartment.  We have a nice dining room table - that sits 12...clearly not enough.  What we've done every year since Thanksgiving expanded to its current state is take out the couch in our living room and borrow two long picnic tables from the wine bar downstairs.  It makes our living echo a bit, but at least we all fit into one room instead of spread out all over the place.

Blaise also shared in our Thanksgiving Feast.  He got some sweet potatoes earlier in the day and then ate from my plate later.  He needed the Thanksgiving Pants afterwards! :)

I've often wondered if the foreign relations actually get the meaning of our American Thanksgiving, and short of doing some research, conducting some interviews and then holding a lecture, I'm not sure I could really explain it very well.  The concept of celebrating the harvest isn't soley an American tradition, that part is clear, but the part about how we take the time to appreciate our blessings is what the holiday means (to most people) today, uh, right?  The historical factor with the Pilgrams and Indians is a little less heartwarming: let's break bread together, but then we're going to organize ourselves to try and wipe you out.  I think as I raise my son, we'll focus on being thankful for what we have, while keeping in mind what was taken away from the Native Americans and vowing to not allow something similar to happen under our own watch.

This gives you an idea of the size of the turkey.  Blaise weighs about 22lbs, the turkey over 35.

Clearly a tight fit

Contemplating the meaning of Thanksgiving - surely it can't all be about the persecution of the Native Americans

Daddy and Blaisey

Adrian - 4 years

Mommy and Blaisey

Babi feeding Blaise his pre-Thanksgiving Dinner of sweet potatoes

The Seimetz Family - Martin, Jen and Jonah

Baby Jonah 13 weeks

Blaise with Tante Andi and her boyfriend Andreas

Jan's Uncle Georg, Uwe, Jörg and Aunt Ivana

Martin, Jen, Jan's Mom Noemi, Jan's Aunt Ivana

Jan's cousin, Renata, with Blaise

Cousins and significant others: Sebastian, Jörg, Oli, Jana and Caro

Blaise "helping" Adrian with his puzzle, i.e. taking the pieces OUT for him :)