Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

We had a great Christmas this year, although we missed our family back in the states.

Christmas Eve family gifts!

The boy's talked us into opening them in the morning. We are such suckers.

Eric was super excited for his toy's.

Jacob never disappoints with the happy faces!!

Switch and go!! We had to order this from the states because the ones here speak German, of course. Which isn't bad, just not what they wanted.

Happy Camper!

Sarah wasn't sure what to think.

Then we went on a walk with Santa. The sun was shining!!

Cookies out for Santa. Check

Waiting, semi patiently, for mom and dad to head
downstairs to see if santa brought presents or coal.

They must have been pretty darn good because they got lots of goodies. 

Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year,
from our family to yours!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

LEGOLAND Deutschland

Our second big outing with the van, once it arrived, was LEGOLAND. The boy's loved it the first time we went 3 years ago but this trip was even better!!

The boy's were super excited to check out the Ninjago Village!!

 First ride they all rode! 

Why do I have feeling that the picture above and below are foretelling the future. LOL

The boy's LOVE Chima and had a great time watching the 4D film!!

Eric got his Driver's License!!

This is just a photo op roller coaster car. Jacob did actually ride the roller coaster and let me tell you, it scared the beans out of him.

Pretty sure they have no idea what the names of any of these characters are.

No comment

Wow, he's red and in a dress, are their thoughts on this.

There were a million other things the boy's got to see and do there but I didn't get many pictures of it because I was in the LEGOLAND hospital with Sarah who got stung by a nasty bee. Poor little baby cakes.

Differences between Germany and the U.S.A.

Obviously there are big cultural differences between these countries and I was ready for some of them and had already experienced a few of them on our previous travels here but I thought it would be fun to compile a list of the good, the bad, the annoying and the downright disgusting (tuna fish pizza . . . really Germany what are you thinking)

Nothing is open on Sundays (NOTHING)
I thought this one would be more annoying but I like that it makes you think ahead and gives you a day to totally devote to your family and faith. Good stuff. Although all the shops in down town Weil der Stadt close at noon on saturday and 5:00 monday-friday (which is why I have never been to one). Stores have incredibly short hours. 

By law, no loud noises on Sunday, you can't mow your lawn or hammer or play loud music and there are also quiet hours during the week from 8:00pm to 8:00am. Shhhhhh!!
Again, thought it would be annoying but with 3 kids I appreciate the quiet (although don't kid yourself my kids are loud all the time).

Again I say, Tuna Fish Pizza? Paprika chips?
Ick and Yuck, nuf said.

Priority roads and the other 8 million road signs.
Hard to keep them all straight so I just drive a million miles an hour like everyone else. LOL
Obviously this is a big joke because you have to take a million question test before you can even get your license. Because of the speed limits, or I should say lack there of, Germans take driving very seriously. 

Germans are out and about no matter the weather.
These people are hard core. It doesn't matter what the weather is like, the bike and walking paths are busy and toddlers are out in full winter clothing or rain gear tromping away too.

Bike and walking paths EVERYWHERE
Seriously, there is not a single place you can't go on a walking or bike path. Every town, city, village, lake, you name it and it's connected to a walking/bike path. There are bike paths here that will take you all the way to Switzerland.

If you don't walk your dog at least twice a day your neighbors will call the Polizei on you.
Germans love their dogs. We don't own one, thank goodness.

Germans also LOVE children
Although they don't seem to have many. Sometimes I feel like our family of 5 seems enormous to Germans. And, If I had a nickel for every time people have stopped us to comment on Sarah's cuteness I'd be a millionaire. Plus, I have never seen so many gray haired women pregnant in my life. Seems like they got to the second half of their life and said, "Oh, I forgot to do that earlier, We'll just take care of that now" 

You can't warm up your car.
In America you go out start your car, let it run until it is nice and warm and the frost is melted off. Again, the neighbors will call the Police on you.

Great public transportation
Although being from small town America I suck at using it. But I'll get the hang of it. Eventually.

They recycle EVERYTHING!!!!
I love this one. In fact it is pretty hard to find a place to just throw things away. We have a garbage service and they only pick up trash 2 times a month and the trash can lid has to be able to close and you can't sit bags next to it. You have to recycle everything or you will drown in your own trash. 

You have to provide your own reusable bags at stores and put a Euro in the handle of a cart to use it.
Again LOVE it!! Plastic and paper bags are so wasteful and carts get put away because you have to return them to get your Euro back!!

19% Value Added Tax on purchases

Refrigerators and Freezers are tiny
Not so bad because the food here has very little chemicals and preservatives so when you buy it you need to use it up so you don't need much room to store food.

German sweets aren't really very sweet.
Probably good since I have a sweet tooth. Their idea of cakes are made with fruit and custard and I've never seen anything with American buttercream frosting on it, or any kind of frosting for that matter. 

Kinder Eggs!!
The kids love them and they are illegal in America.

We asked our Landlord if there was a Homeowner's Association in our neighborhood.
There are so many laws in Germany they don't need them and he didn't even know what they were. LOL

Gas is outrageously expensive
A German driver filling the 14.5-gallon (55-liter) tank of Europe's most popular car, Volkswagen's Golf hatchback, pays $115.42, compared with $47.71 for the same fill-up in the U.S. The average cost of gasoline at the pump in Europe is more than double the price in the U.S.
(courtesy of


Stores are open all hours of the day and night
I guess it's a benefit to the shopper but not to the worker who has to work on holidays or overnight.

Americans would never serve you Tuna Fish Pizza
Wow, I'm really bothered by this one huh.

Americans are (usually) super friendly
I guess Germans think American's can be annoyingly nice. I don't think Germans are rude at all. They are just very to the point. BTW we have amazing neighbors that even speak a good bit of English. Wow, was that ever an answered prayer!!

If sunday is the only day my hubby can mow the lawn he can!!

I'm sure a lot more will be added to this list the longer we live here but these were the things that really popped out at me.

New Ones:

Public Restrooms
There is a HUGE shortage of Public bathrooms in Germany and if you find one you usually have to pay to use it.

Christmas Trees
They are very fat at the bottom with one big stick coming out of the top. Odd!

Cash Economy
I LOVE this one too. Most places won't even take any sort of credit or debit card. If they do, most likely they will not accept Visa or Mastercard. You pay in Euro or you don't buy it. Even IKEA won't take Visa or Mastercard here.

They don't touch your fries
I know that sounds weird but I really appreciate that. Any place that sells fries has a stack of napkins by the fry area and when they get you a bag of fries they put a napkin over the top so they will not touch your fries.

Car repairs
The car repair businesses are highly regulated. If an auto shop is believed to be doing unnecessary repairs they will get shut down. Therefore they are very honest and do computer diagnostics on your vehicle at no charge.

My Favorite Views

 Bebenhausen Monastery

The Monastery is beautiful around every corner!

Hohenzollern Castle


They were even having their Christmas Market at the castle while we visited. Extra bonus: my mom got to go with us!!! Yep, she has already been out for a visit!!! If only there was a way to kidnap her so she could stay forever!! I'm working on it mom ; )

Notre Dame in Strasbourg, France

Inside Notre Dame de Strasbourg, France

Little Italy in Strasbourg, France

Dornstetten, Germany
Troy's Family is from this beautiful town.

View from the park in Sindelfingen

Random town that took our breath away as we came around a corner. The picture doesn't even come close to doing it justice.

The view from the top floor in our house.

Another view from our top floor window.

O.K. this one is not one of my favorite views. Waaaaaaaaahhhhhh. The movers broke my favorite Pottery Barn bowl that I took a newborn picture of Sarah in. Darn it : (


We FINALLY got our van!!!!
It is so cool seeing it with the big German license plates.

So, we hit the Chocolate Factory . . . What? We know what's 

Learning about how the chocolate is made.

Push the button and a little truck comes around and drops a piece of chocolate in the dispenser. 

The chocolate store!!!
Jacob is holding up some of the caramel filled goodness.
So many flavors to choose from!

The family after the walk through!
Smiles for all the chocolate we left with!!

Bye Ritter Sport!!


This is the indoor fun park that we walked 1 hour and 5 minutes with 3 kids to go to. It was worth the walk though!! The boy's played and played non-stop for about 4 hours!! It has all kinds of different areas: tree houses that are 3 and 4 stories high, Castles, Space Ships and Science and water areas. Super Cool!!

King Eric

King Jacob

Shooting the balls in the Jungle Area

Making a tornado

Nice shoes Jacob. You may want to size down a bit.

Ahhhh he has been captured by the aliens.

Eric shooting balls from the Pirate Ship.

A little harp anyone?

Such a cool throne room!

Fishy swimming in the tub

Eric and the wacky room

Ballroom with a night time sky

Nice shoes Eric, Perfect fit. (Don't you love his headphones?
It was so loud in there he needed a buffer)

Super Slides

There's that kid again. She keeps following us everywhere . . . Oh hi Sarah!!

After the hour walk there and then running around for 4 hours we were pooped for the walk home but we headed out and about 2/3 of the way there it started raining on us. By they time we rolled back into the hotel we were a mess. Hot showers and Big naps for everyone!! The boy's still talk about our trip there so it must have been worth the effort!!