Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Bruges

While my parents were in town visiting, we took a weekend trip to Bruges, Belgium. Perhaps many of you have not heard of Bruges...or maybe some of you have seen the Academy Award-nominated movie In Bruges. If you haven't seen the movie, I strongly recommend it -- it's a dark comedy that had me in stitches at times.

So having seen the movie, we decided to take a visit because, according to the movie, Bruges is a "f---ing fairy tale." With that sort of endorsement, how could we not go?

Unfortunately, we didn't have the best weather. It was cold and rainy nearly the entire weekend. However, it is a charming historic city which is probably why it's a UNESCO World Heritage City. One of the highlights was The Chocolate Museum. Because of the weather, the museum was rather crowded. At one point when there was quite a back up in the flow through the museum, Carter said rather loudly and with such disdain, "These French people are getting in my way!" It was a struggle to hold back the laughter and later Ben and I were wondering where he learned this dislike of the French. Perhaps this is normal playground conversation here in Germany.

Another hit was the abundance of chocolate shops. After dealing with the cold and rain, we decided to take a break in a chocolate shop for some cocoa. We were escorted to a living room type space over the store and we were served the largest mugs of steamed milk I've ever seen. They the provided you the chocolate shavings/chips to stir into the milk. It was the best hot chocolate I've ever had. The cup size was rather ridiculous though. As you can see in the picture, you need to hold it with two hands.

One of the more beautiful and quieter spots in the city is the Beguinage. It is is a group of white houses around a little garden covered with large poplar trees. This is now a monastery for the Benedictine Sisters. And, yes, the trees are all growing at the same angle.

We didn't take the time to climb the steps of the famous belfry to see the view of the historical town square. But we did take a nice horse drawn carriage ride through the city...probably Carter's favorite part of the trip. He was really fond of our horse, Lady. Every horse he saw after that he had to ask us if it was Lady.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tigger Costume - The Rest of the Story

The place from where I ordered Carter's tigger costume never shipped it. I called them to find out what was the issue...especially given that I had paid through the nose for overnight shipping. Apparently they are out of stock...despite it clearly stating on the website that this costume was in stock. She nicely offered to ship me the costume in November. Ha! She clearly doesn't have a 3 year old. Obviously I demanded that my order be cancelled and my money returned.

So what do I do when they are desperate for something Halloween related? I call my friend, Alana Goldberg. Not only does Alana get stuff done, she LOVES Halloween. I called Alana and told her my dilemna...she told me that she would call me back within the hour. When she did, she had located the costume in the appropriate size and it was on hold at a Toys 'R Us near my parents' house.

Fortunately my mom was able to zip up to the store and pick it up before she and my dad had to catch the plane to come here to visit us.

Thanks to Alana and my mom for saving the day. Here's Carter looking adorable in his costume.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Friends Call Me Daddy

I was putting Carter to bed tonight and he gave me a kiss. I said, "you're such a good boy, Carter."

He said, "Actually my friends call me Daddy."

I nearly died trying to hold in the laughter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tigger Costume = Bad Mommy

Weeks ago I was talking to Carter about what he wanted to be for Halloween. It was a tough choice between Bob the Builder and Tigger...but after viewing examples online, Carter selected Tigger. I promised him I would order it for him and have Nana and Grandpa Gary bring it with them when they come to visit.

Given the "housing crisis" that we've been going through and the "potential prison time for tax evasion," I somehow forgot to order the beloved Tigger costume. I just remembered this tonight, Tuesday. My parents are flying over here on Thursday. In a frenzy I searched the web for Tigger costumes in Europe. Nothing in continental Europe or the UK. AND, in the US, Tigger is either sold out, backordered, or outrageously expensive. Feeling like a bad mommy, I sucked it up and ordered the costume and paid for overnight shipping. Ah, the power of guilt.

Fingers crossed that it arrives in time so Nana can shove it into her suitcase before hopping on the plane. Otherwise, you may see one extra Tigger costume on eBay next month.

Oh, and the tax evasion thing...I wasn't kidding. But, I'll save that for another post.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Finally a Family Photo

Somehow a decent family photo has alluded us for the past 2 years. Yesterday at the zoo (yes, our favorite Sunday hangout) we had a friend snap this photo...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Soon to be Homeless

OK, so it's been a month with no posts. You guys are probably wondering what the heck is going on with us.

As you are well aware, we've been looking for new housing. We had found something that was in the same neighborhood as a classmate of Carter's. It was new construction, it was closer to work and to Carter's school. It was essentially perfect. Except for the landlord. As it turns out, after a month of negotiating, we were unable to come to an agreement on the terms of the lease. The landlord continued to change his requirements with each passing week. Today we finally called it quits. Ben and I gave our final offer and if the landlord didn't want it, then we were through. So, now with 8 weeks until we MUST be out of our current house, we have to start the house hunting exercise again. The issue isn't that we won't be able to find a house in the next 8 weeks, it's having the new house ready for us to move into by November 30. We may end up in temporary housing for a couple of months which is really not something we want.

On a happier note, a good childhood friend of mine came to visit us. She lived in Frankfurt for 2 years and so she came back to Germany to visit her friends their as well as us. This was our first real non-family visitor (not including a friend who stopped by for 12 hours while he was in Germany for work). It was really wonderful having a visitor (Hint, Hint!).

October brings us a weekend trip to Strasbourg, a visit from my parents, and Halloween. November brings a visit from my brother and sister-in-law as well as a potential Gale-Whiteson European Thanksgiving. And then mid-December we are heading back to the States for 3 weeks. It's always so amazing how this time of year just flies by. It's almost as from Labor Day it's warp speed to Christmas.

Of course none of you wanted to read any of just wanted a picture of Carter. So here it is...chilling in his undies in his tv-watching chair.