Similar to Spencer’s birthday, we celebrated Meg’s birthday first at home, and then with friends. For her birthday dinner, she decided on French toast and fruit salad. To celebrate with friends, she picked a place in the Netherlands called Clip n Climb, which was the location for one of her friends’ parties last fall. This year she requested a galaxy cake. Two of her friends asked for the recipe, so it was definitely a hit. That’s another notch on Clare’s cake-making belt. Even though she claims to not be good at it, she has a track record of some pretty incredible cakes.
One of the climbing adventures was a timed one – Meg did it about 10 times in a row, getting faster each time. I think her first one was over 40 seconds, and she eventually got done to about 15 seconds!
This year we didn’t really celebrate Spencer’s birthday directly on his birthday, because his birthday was over Carnival weekend, and we instead went to Berlin for a long weekend. Instead we adjusted the schedule a bit, but kept some of the traditions. We had Spencer’s family birthday dinner of Schnitzel, Käsespätzle, Broccoli and ice cream cake with Dave and Ellen on the 18th. Then on Friday the 28th Spencer and most of his soccer team, plus his best friend from school Andre celebrated at the local laser tag place. It was legen — wait for it — dary!
After a great 3 week vacation in the USA, it was time to come back to Germany. We spent most of Sunday morning packing, then enjoyed lunch with Drew, Haewon, Grandma, and Grandpa, and then Drew drove us to the airport. We said our farewells, got on the jumbo jet, and had a mostly uneventful flight. We all got a little bit of sleep even. We sat near the end of the plane where it curves down a bit, which meant we had 2 rows of 2 seats per row instead of 3, so we had a little extra room to stretch out, which was really nice. We caught our train at the airport with 20 minutes to spare, and were back in Aachen before we knew it. We managed to stay awake the whole day, to unpack, go grocery shopping and such, and watch an episode of Modern Family before heading off to bed.
Tuesday Rob went back to work, while Clare bravely took care of the tired and cranky kids, getting them prepared for the first day of school on Wednesday. Meg started 3rd grade at a normal time, but since Spencer is starting a new school for 5th grade (Gymnasium), he started at 15:00 with a special celebration put on by the older kids. It is a tradition in Germany to get kids a Schuletüte on their first day of 1st grade. It is a big paper cone which you fill with candy and other goodies. Since both of them did their first day of 1st grade in the USA, they missed out on this, so Clare decided to get them some mini ones this year. They liked them.
Another interesting occurrence on Tuesday was that our next door neighbors moved out. The moving company built a mini-elevator / electric ladder up to the balcony to move a bunch of their stuff. Much easier than the way we did it – trudging everything up 51 stairs of the winding staircase.
No, not the Akropolis in Greece, the one in Aachen! it is on the Lousberg, a big hill in the middle of the city. Apparently the columns known as the Akropolis used to be part of a restaurant which was destroyed in WWII, and they decided to leave the columns as ruins. It was really beautiful and peaceful there. You can not tell that you are in the middle of a city at all.
Meg’s scout troop celebrated its 5 year anniversary recently, and I was fortunate enough to be able to join in on the festivities, and even stay the night, which was a treat, since usually the parents are not invited on campouts with the scouts in Germany. The last time I was camping with the scouts in Germany was about 20 years ago, with my guest brother Emmi. Not much has changed it seems. They still have great big tents called Kohte (from native american “Dakota”), and Jurte ( English Yurt). The tents are canvas and built in modular sections which you button together. This design means you can button several together to form a really big tent. They had Jurte together for the main gathering tent, which included a stage for the kids to perform skits and songs, and a firepit, around which we sang songs until 3 in the morning (well, Meg and I went to bed around 11, but many stayed up later).
I am really proud of Meg for being such a great scout, and thankful I got to share the experience with her.
The kids both made projects for mother’s day at school. Spencer’s project, a heart made from buttons, says “moms are like buttons. They hold everything together.” I agree. Happy 10th mother’s day Clare!
Yesterday we celebrated Spencer’s 10th birthday and Meg’s 8th at the local pool – Aquana. I think everyone had a great time. We ended up with 6 girls and 6 boys total, plus Clare, Rob, Dave, and Ellen. Meg had requested a rainbow cake. She and Clare spent quite a bit of time researching recipes, and even made a practice cake. The final result was quite stunning. Spencer wanted an ice cream cake again, and we also had to do experimenting with ingredients and different types of ice cream. His turned out quite nice too. It was a little tricky to figure out how to transport the cakes. We eventually decided that Clare would drive back home quickly to pick up the ice cream cake when it was time to eat, since it is only a few minutes away. That ended up working out really well. As usual, Dave and Ellen were really helpful. Thanks for making the long trip from Colorado!
The kids have lunch everyday at an after school program. Elementary school here gets out about noon, but the after school program helps with homework, has enrichment courses, and includes a hot lunch. One of the kids favorite lunches has been pfannekuchen, which translates to pancakes. Pancakes here are more egg-y than American pancakes, somewhere between what we think of as pancakes and crepes. We used this recipe: www.oetker.de/rezepte/r/pfannkuchen-eierkuchen.html They turned out great and were a big hit!
Last weekend there was a festival in Aachen called September special. It was free, and they had bands playing all weekend on 5 different stages. Of course they had other obligatory festival attractions like food and beer, balloon animals, and even about Ferris wheel. Meg and Clare went on the Ferris wheel, but Spencer and I skipped it. We listened to a fun rockabilly band. The bass player played his bass above his head a couple times, which was pretty impressive. We took the bus there, which takes about 30 minutes. A little longer than driving, but nice not to have to worry about parking, and I can take Clare and the kids along with me for free on the weekends with my monthly bus pass.
It was a nice way to forget our worries for a bit. Especially since I had just broken the shower drain shortly before the festival that day. I called our super Monday morning and she arranged for a plumber to come fix it that afternoon, which was good, though we still need to get one tile replaced, which had to be broken in order to get access to the drain. I did learn from the plumber that you can get products like liquid plumber in Germany. I had assumed that they didn’t have such things, since in general it seems that Germans don’t use as many chemicals as in the USA. So next time the drain is slow, I know am easier solution.