Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Salvation in the Form of an Indoor Playground

A few weeks ago, someone mentioned to us that there was an indoor playground in Stuttgart.  It's open three days a week and is operated inside a church completely free of charge.  The first week we could check it out was last week, but it was closed due to the Fasching break.  That meant this week was the first time we could actually go.  Unfortunately, we found out about it a little too late and it's about to shut down for the season in two weeks, so we'll have to take advantage of it while we can.

Our plan was to meet up with some other moms and that was a good thing since the locals also frequent this playground and outside the other moms, no one else was speaking English.  It was a really great open space with lots of different types of toys for kids to play with and areas for climbing.  Needless to say, Brady was in heaven, and it was nice for me to be able to sit back and watch him expend some energy.  He gets crabby at home because he's confined in a small space and only has the same toys to play with.  This place allowed him to run and jump. 

Of course he would go for the cars first.

A great ball pit with a slide leading into it

Brady got a kick out of the trampoline.  He's so busy jumping that I couldn't even get a clear picture.

He loved the seesaw they had at Gymboree and they had several different types there for him to rock on

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fasching Parade


In parts of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Fasching is the carnival season that lasts from November 11 to Ash Wednesday.  It's called the "fifth season" and is celebrated from the Thursday before Ash Wednesday to Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  Here it is a school holiday and many businesses shut down (Bosch not being one of them).  It is celebrated by costumes and many parades.  One person likened it to Halloween, in that they are wearing costumes to scare away winter.

There were parades and celebrations in the many sub-areas of Stuttgart, but the city of Stuttgart held theirs the day before Ash Wednesday, which was this past Tuesday.  We planned to go to the parade, pending weather, with some of the other moms and kids we've met since we've moved here.  Thankfully the weather was nice, so we made it downtown.  

We met up at a department store downtown, that had a large a la carte restaurant on the top level.  There was a nice area in the corner that had toys for kids to play with so this was perfect for us.  We grabbed some lunch, and when Brady got restless sitting with us, he could go and play.  He was really good about coming over every five minutes of so just to check that we were still there.  I kept my eye on him and was really impressed that he stayed in that small area unless he was coming back over to our table.

About an hour before the parade, we decided to head down to the streets to scout out a good spot to watch the parade.  We chose an area that was a little further down in the parade route, so we could be in the front row. 

 Brady hanging out in his stroller, waiting for the parade to start.

 Some of the moms and kids

 Some of the moms

 Kids dressed up for the celebration

We watched the parade for about an hour and a half before calling it quits.  We started in the front row since we got there early, but like in most places, parents just let their kids push in front of you.  Before you know it, those parents are pushing their way past you, thinking if their kids can do it, they can too.  It's really frustrating because the parents at least should know better.  Brady was getting upset that he couldn't see anything anymore and the kids were so dense around him, he couldn't get any of the candy that was being thrown.  We had a really good time overall, and were glad we could experience one of the celebrations here, since we will miss the big ones of Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets.  Everyone (not Americans) says we should ask the company if we can stay longer so we can experience them, and we just smile and nod, but we will definitely be coming home on time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Master of Destruction

Brady made the transition from crib to big boy bed overnight.  It was really easy, and we never realized that maybe it was a little too easy.  He was so good about staying in his bed after he woke up and calling for someone to let him out.  He knew how to get in and out of the bed and would do it when we came and got him or put him down.  This lasted for exactly one whole month.

The day before his birthday, we put him down for a nap and started to notice some noises coming from his room.  I went in to check on him and the stand with the TV on it, was moved so far out of place that the cords connecting it to the wall had come out.  His lamp was on (not the one controlled by the light switch) and his brand new night light was completely broken.  We tried putting him back down, but he would get out and start messing around with whatever he could get his hands on.  We figured he just wasn't tired and that this wouldn't happen again, since he'd been so good for so long.  We were wrong.

The morning of his birthday, we slept in to about 10:30am.  Andy was a little shocked that Brady hadn't woken us up before then.  When he opened the door to his room, he saw that Brady was indeed awake and had found a new way to amuse himself in his room.  The picture at the top of the post is what we found.  He had emptied every single article of clothing from every drawer.  We knew then that we were in trouble and I immediately started to verbally reenforce that he needs to stay in his bed until mommy or daddy comes to get him.

At naptime that day, he did the same thing, emptying the drawers instead of taking a nap.  We were getting to a point where he hadn't napped in three straight days and we were getting a little nervous that he might never nap again.  He was certainly overtired and needed the naps, but wouldn't take them.  

Monday (the day after his birthday), I woke up to his hamper emptied.  That wasn't as much to deal with as all the drawers being emptied, but I continued with reenforcing that he should stay in his bed.  That day, naptime was a definite challenge.  For the first two hours, I probably went into his room about 15 times, each time something was amiss.  Either the TV moved, the hamper emptied, or one particular time where I opened the door to all the drawers emptied and Brady nowhere in sight.

  I found him behind the door completely inside his hamper turned upside down.

Eventually, he went to sleep, but because he'd stayed up so long, he was still tired when he woke up.  Tuesday and Wednesday, there were only a few things amiss in his room when I went to get him in the mornings.  Both of those days, we were busy during the morning and afternoon, so he took good naps.  This morning, I slept until about 9:30am because we had nowhere to go and I never heard him.  I was dreading what I would find.  He was still in his bed!  I made sure to praise him and he seemed pretty pleased.  During nap, I caught him sneaking out, but he climbed back into bed and took a good nap.  Unfortunately, he woke up with some sort of stomach bug and has been sick all evening.  He will be on the BRATT (bananas, rice, apple sauce, tea, and toast) diet for at least the next 24 hours. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Birthday Bowling for Brady

I love a good use of alliteration and just couldn't resist with the title of this blog post.  We had Brady's little party the day before his actual birthday (post to come when the charger for my camera battery arrives), due to the fact that there was an event for Bosch ex-patriots and their families on his real birthday.  The event was for bowling and dinner, so all the ex-patriots could get together and compare notes and get to know each other.  It was for ex-patriots from a lot of different countries, such as France and Mexico, to name a few that we encountered.

We thought this would be a fun family activity (although Brady didn't actually partake in the bowling), where no one would mind that we had Brady with us and there would be other kids.  We made sure to pack lots of snack and his LeapPad and a few other toys to keep him occupied.  We played in a lane with a family from France and had a lot of fun.  The food there was what you would expect of bowling alley food.  I had a burger that was pretty tasteless and Andy had a pretty gross looking pizza that wasn't very good, but the chicken nuggets we ordered for Brady were really tasty.  Andy pointed out later that the Germans have schnitzel down.  Basically, schnitzel is any battered and fried meat.

We talked to some other American families and the first thing everyone asks is how long you've been here and how much longer you have.  Surprisingly enough, we were not the newest ones to Germany.  We met a family, who also came from Anderson, who has only been here two weeks.  Of course, we have the shortest assignment, whereas most others have three years minimum.  A family that has been here for eight months said that it got really hard after six months.  They said that's when they got past that "vacation" stage and it started to sink in how long they'd be here.  When we heard that, we were really glad we have such a short stay (that's a little more than 1/6 over, I might add), and I don't think either of us would have agreed to come over here for several years.

I found it interesting that we met several families where the wife was the Bosch employee and the husbands were along for the ride.  They left behind their jobs and were watching the children that weren't in school yet.  That's some serious dedication.

There had been a lot going on over Brady's birthday weekend, so he hadn't had a nap in three days.  When we got home from bowling we put him down, and we think he was asleep for about an hour, when we heard him screaming.  He was covered in sweat and pretty inconsolable.  He only calmed down when we put Cars 2 on for him.  He was really sedate (which never happens), and just laid on Andy while he watched the movie and skyped with my mom.  He was happy to see Kiro, my brother, Alex's dog, who was visiting at the time. Below is a picture of him just laying on Andy.  Can't believe he's two!  We'll have to stop calling him a baby ;) 

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Disney Cars Birthday

The new battery charger for my camera finally came, so now I can write about Brady's birthday party.  I first got the idea of a Cars themed birthday about a month before Cars 2 hit the theaters.  I got a Fisher Price catalog in the mail and it was filled with Cars toys.  The theme of Cars 2 is the World Grand Prix and the toys said it all.  Since we knew at that point that we were headed to Germany, it was perfect that there were toys that would tie into that perfectly.  I took Brady to see Cars 2 in the theaters in July (although it wasn't his first movie), and he didn't really care too much about it.  By the time it came out on DVD, he was all about any type of cars and would watch the original Cars as many times as we'd let him.

All the presents lined up for Brady to open

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.  He wasn't too happy that there were presents to be opened and I wanted to take pictures of him.

 An awesome singing Cars card from Nana and Dubby

 And the first present is . . . roller skates!!! Just like the ones we had when we were kids that go over your shoes.  Thanks Nana and Dubby!

Next up a Cars helmet and bell (from Nana and Dubby).  There were also Cars elbow and knee pads.  It's important to practice safety while learning to roller skate ;)

 A fun learning giraffe bike from Nana and Dubby.

 Sitting with Dennis while he opens his gift.

 Whoa baby!!! Duplos!!!  Thanks Dennis!

 Brady excitedly showing Dennis all the cool blocks on the box.

 Opening Gertrude's gift.  He got a book! Thanks Gertrude!

 Now onto the presents from us wrapped in the super cool Cars paper.  These caught his eye immediately, but we wanted to save the best for last.

 A remote control Cars 2 race track!

 A Big Ben add-on for the track!  So cool since we'll be headed to London in April.

 The second the track was unwrapped, Dennis was so excited, he wanted to open it immediately.  He insisted on putting it together, but got a little more than he bargained for.  He doesn't have kids and didn't know how complex a simple race track could be ;)

 A stuffed Lightning McQueen from us

 You can see the Eiffel Tower add-on in the background while he opens another present.  We'll be headed to Paris in June.

 Opening either Cars or Cars 2 on Blu Ray.  He's seen both before and it's difficult now to keep him from watching them both every single day.

 A Cars potty seat!  We hope to attempt potty training while we're here.  We'll see how it goes.  He needs to start communicating a little better before we can start.

 The loot

I had asked Gertrude when we first moved here if she knew of a good place to get a birthday cake for Brady.   She told me that in Germany, they don't have what we typically call a birthday cake in the States and that to get one could cost as little as 50 Euros.  That was ridiculous and out of the question, so Gertrude offered to help me make a cake for Brady.  It turned out that she made the whole thing and I "helped."  Pictured above is the cake.  Gertrude told me that it is a cake that was typical for birthdays in the 1950s when she was a young girl.  It was a no-bake cake that consisted of a melted down crystallized coconut fat (not available in the States), eggs, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar.  Once that concoction was made, we poured some into a pan, then layered butter cookies, more concoction, butter cookies, and so on.  It had to chill and then we flipped it to get it out and decorated it with chocolate wafers.  It was really delicious and I was so grateful for the help.

 Brady had two candles.  The one with the number 2 and another one that Gertrude brought up that actually played the Happy Birthday song when it was lit.  It was pretty cool.

 Brady was too excited to play with his race track to eat any cake.

 Sitting with Dennis while the adults had some coffee and chatted.

 Lining up all his cars.  One of his favorite things to do.

 When everyone had gone home, Andy set up the giraffe bike for Brady to ride.  He has a little trouble figuring out the pedals.  He ends up pushing one forward and the other back so they stay in the same place.  We're working on it though.

 Birthday morning playing with Daddy.

 I was so excited to get the Big Ben and Eiffel Tower add-ons that I didn't realize that I need to purchase extra track pieces for them to fit.  I'll have to get those when we get back to the States.

 Brady loves his stuffed Lightning McQueen.  He carries him around by the spoiler and takes him to bed with him at naptime and bedtime.   He knows him by name, because when we ask him to go get Lightning, he always comes back with him.

He thinks Lightning is going to give him a ride if he sits on him ;)

Brady had a really great birthday and definitely is a spoiled little boy with all the people who love him.  I can't wait until next year when he can have his first real birthday parties for kids and his family.