Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010: The Year We Make Contact?

Here we are on December 31st and it feels as if the year 2009 has only just started. While we could not expect the year 2008 to end given it has been laden with quite a lot of negative events on all different ends, this time round we almost have the opposite attitude. Even though the economic crisis casted very dark clouds early in the year we have seen a significant improvement from March onwards. For us the birth of our beloved son Jakob in July was the dominating event, which helped us leave the economic woes aside as our focus was on the enlargement of the family. Once Jakob has arrived our life has reached a completely different dimension. Things changed completely, and even though we did expect that to happen we were surprised by the extent of the change and the time from the first scream to the arrival of the first tooth to the first real meal went by extremely fast.

So what will 2010 have for us? More big changes have to be expected on the horizon on all fronts. We are pretty confident, that Jakob and all the other little babies that have popped up with the group of our friends will remain the main drivers of changes and will keep us all very busy throughout the year, but we better expect the unexpected so we are not surprised about changes also on other fronts. Obviously the most important thing we are wishing for 2010 is health for our little superstar as well as our families and friends and for ourselves. As long as we are in good form, everything else can be mastered.

In this spirit: A happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to all of you!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Rainy days at the end of December

One could almost interpret the weather the past two days like that: Heaven is crying for Sandra and Flo having left to Thailand. Their timing could not have been better to leave as it is almost constantly raining the past two days and it for sure is much nicer in Asia with 30 degrees rather than ca. 8 degrees and raindrops. Jakob, Kerstin and Markus were lucky enough to have used a dry window on Wednesday lunchtime for a walk to Bregenz allowing Jakob a good amount of sleep during the day and his parents as snack and some shopping in Vorarlberg’s capital. As both the weather was stable and Jakob still fast asleep they also decided to walk all the way back and so the junior only woke up once home has been reached after more than three hours of sleep.

Wednesday afternoon was spent inside improving further the sitting skills and keeping the parents busy entertaining little Mr. Sunshine. While Jakob was very much resisting to fall asleep in the evening once he did reach the land of the dreams we enjoyed a relatively good night which ended only at 0715 on Thursday, in sharp contrast to the usual 0515 wake-up time. Unfortunately the rain was persistent and even got stronger so that preparations for the New Years Eve celebrations are going to be focussed on the inside. Kerstin’s uncle and family will join for raclette for dinner and Markus has planned some fireworks for midnight. Fingers crossed, the rain stops as otherwise one has to fear the fireworks to be extinguished.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Laa gòn Austria - Sawasdee Thailand!

Monday was simply a lazy day and so no one of us really did much but waiting for the time to go by, eating and relaxing. Sandra and Flo were pretty exhausted from the snowshoe tour to the Burgl-Huette on Sunday and were far from nervous about their trip. One needs such days every now and then. On Tuesday morning though, Jakob, Kerstin and Markus got changed after the regular early morning snack and drove to Bregenz where a large breakfast with Sandra and Flo was on the agenda and Jakob received another present from his godmother before really helping them to pack the backpacks. The two were exemplary as they tried to keep the stuff they wanted to take on the trip to a minimum. Markus nevertheless still found a few items, which he proposed to exclude and leave at home. In order to get more and more into holiday feeling Flo showed a diving movie from Koh Tao of one of his friends and this movie definitely did its trick with all of us!

"Once the hat fits, I will come along as well!"

In the afternoon we all had late farewell lunch, which Kerstin prepared – her delicious spinach strudel, we gave the two backpackers some more off our hints and wishes as to what to do and what to buy and the excitement rose more and more. In the final hours before Sandra and Flo were picked up for Munich Airport by Flo’s mum Christine the whole Meier family stopped by for coffee and cake. Anja has arrived Monday night from Barcelona (bringing some more outfit and toys for our junior as presents!) and so they had 18 hours or “whole family” as Katrin has left early Wednesday morning again for Gran Canaria. Werner must have mutated into a shuttle service between home and several airports nearby.

Ready for the adventures in South-East Asia

When Christine & Norbert turned up at 1730 we were all very happy for Sandra and Flo that they finally get to see the land of the smile, but at the same time we all were very sad about their departure on the Thai Airways flight TG925. During the whole Tuesday (with packing the backpack, watching the diving movie and waiting for the evening departure to the airport) Markus built up a strong feeling of itchy feet especially as 3 and 4 years ago it was Markus and Kerstin who left for Thailand at this time of the year. We are sure that the time will come that the three of us will travel to Bangkok and the Turtle Island. By now Sandra and Flo have landed safely and on time with the Boeing 747 on Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport where they now are waiting for their connection flight to Chiang Mai probably having their first Singha beer.

Jakob, Kerstin and Markus

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Food, snow & beach

The past two days were characterized by the typical activities at Christmas: A lot of eating, playing games and playing with the presents, sleeping and not doing much else. Jakob was probably the most active of all of us as he was permanently in motion, attempted countless sit-ups, stood up with help of an adult and improved his balance and skills to sit upright. An ideal position to play with the wood bricks that he received as gifts. The young carrots, which Jakob has now every day for lunch, are helping him getting all that energy. Not only that our young one is now safe to sit upright, but he also has made a big move in growth which we realized in the fact that some of his trousers have become too short. Jakob has reached now a length of 70 cm while his weight has moved slightly above 8 kg.

Got no milk, but carrots

As Markus still has not fully recovered from his cold he had to skip the snowshoe tour to Balderschwang, which he was very much looking forward to. Flo has organized this tour of ca. 4 hours uphill, which was rewarded with the apparent best Kaesespaetzle – we always thought Heidi would be responsible for them? - at the top of the mountain. For Monday our agenda foresees packing a couple of backpacks for a trip to Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Tao and probably some other destination by the sea. Unfortunately it’s not us, who are going, but Sandra and Flo who leave for almost three weeks on Tuesday night. We are jealous, but in a few years we are going to do the tour again. Hopefully.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, December 25, 2009

Something new on Christmas Day

As Jakob was sleeping so well in Katrin’s bed Kerstin decided to not transfer home but spend the night at the Meierei and thus giving Markus the opportunity to recover during the night. In the morning though he decided to go and see a doctor as his coughing still hurt a lot and so he spent 1 hour with 10 other patients in the waiting room. Markus has been diagnosed with a throat infection and he got some medicine prescribed which relieved him from the pain. In the meantime Jakob had his second carrot meal and it got very obvious that he likes this kind of food. We also got a very clear signal from his digestive system in the form of a decently filled diaper telling us that he is ok with the nutrition change Once Markus was back from the doctor he set off soon for the Meierei again Heidi, Jakob and Kerstin for the usual lunch on Christmas day.

"With these cards we have to win!!!"

The afternoon brought a few premieres again for Jakob: Firstly he teamed up with grandma Heidi and played his first Jass game. The result was by far less important and interesting for our little Buddha than the faces and pictures on the cards but we are positive that in the coming years this preferences will shift. Later in the afternoon Kerstin’s dad Eugen visited us and grandpa not only had another present – self-made wood bricks and a new outfit – for Jakob but also had the first session of football practice with our junior. Jakob rounded the fitness afternoon up with a few successful attempts to sit up from underneath his green trapezoid toy. Not surprisingly after such an active and exciting day, Jakob fell asleep fast and allowed us some more time to chat with chat with Eugen.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Merry Christmas everybody

24th of December has been long awaited by all of us. We had a safe journey to Vorarlberg on wednesday and are now expecting the arrival of the Christ child. Unfortunately the warm weather the past few days has destroyed all hopes of White Christmas, but this will not prevent us from enjoying this nice and reflective time. Markus managed to somewhere pick up a cold and therefore has to skip the afternoon in Bregenz near the Esel with Flo and his friends and stayed in instead. Jakob got a long awaited present already before lunchtime as we fed him the first time ever fresh carrots. We have been hesitant to give him something else than breast or tee, but he sent out clear signals over the past weeks that he would prefer feeding with the spoon. The result was extremely promising. Jakob was eating properly and he obviously enjoyed the taste of the carrots. Now we have to wait and see what his digestive system thinks about the change in nutrition.

"Finally they give something else than milk!"

In the evening we were waiting for the arrival of the Christ child at the home of the Meierei as this year it was their turn. Jakob was well behaved, neatly dressed and was all excited when we heard the bell ringing in the other room indicating the arrival of god's child. When he saw the beautifully decorated Christmas tree with the lit-up candles his fascination was very obvious and he had lots of fun unwrapping the present he received underneath the tree - a bag full of wooden bricks. The bricks were immediately tested for being water proof and resistant to pressure and they passed Jakob's mouth test. After a while of playing with the new present and some dinner - mum's breast - our little one went to bed and slept to our all surprise for three hours. We used the time for the traditional dinner on Christmas Eve - sausages with potatoes and horseradish cream - followed by the annual general meeting of the Vorarlberger Wichtel Bengel Verein, where all members got a present. With the exemption of Markus' throat getting worse (painful coughing and loss of voice) the day was absolutely wonderful and enjoyable. A good start into this year's Christmas season.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Singing and driving home for Christmas

Usually we celebrate with Markus' family the weekend before Christmas with the world's best Schweinsbraten which his mum is famous for. This year though we had to change plans and therefore we met on Tuesday afternoon in our flat and had a nice evening together in Vienna. We left our kitchen partially to Stefan who prepared meat, fried noodles and vegetables and Kerstin prepared two trouts in the oven with lemon, tomatoes and thyme. Once all dishes were ready we were convinced that we would never be able to eat it all, but the seven of us - mum & dad, Stefan & Viki, Ines, Kerstin and Markus went all the way with the main course and also left hardly anything of the desert prepared by Ines, a yummy mascarpone cream with rapsberries. After dinner a flood of presents for Jakob swamped the place and we are seriously thinking about limitations to the number of presents for our little one for the coming years!

No way we could offer someone a ride

As Markus and his dad packed the car to a large extent Tuesday night before and after dinner it was relatively easy to leave early morning for our Christmas vacation in Vorarlberg. At 6.20 we set off with a car that was packed to the roof with outfit for three weeks for Kerstin & Jakob, some Christmas presents and lots of other stuff which we better use at least once to justify the effort of finding a place in the car. Markus even had a co-driver consisting of jackets, paper and plastic bags. Jakob was awake half the journey and wanted permanently to get out of his Maxi-Cosi, which obviously is a no-go while driving. In order to calm him down Kerstin was singing a lot of songs to him, he was singing back his song and one time Chris Rea was singing to the three of us. Driving home for Christmas. Thanks to good traffic all the way we hit the ground at 1200 in the most western part of Austria and are now ready for our first Christmas as a family.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One last time: Bella Familia in da house

Monday presented itself ice-cold again with temperatures far below the freezing point, but apparently this cold winter weather shall take a break the next days with temperatures rising again. As a consequence of the cold Markus had to leave his Vespa at home, the Italian lady was on strike for the low temperatures, and Kerstin only had a short walk with Jakob covered in a lot of layers.

Not only mummies were at our place. You spot the dad?

For the afternoon Kerstin has invited all our friends with their children to our place and so we have had full house yet again. The little ones – ranging from 3 months up to 6,5 years – had a good time and made our flat a very lively place while the parents had a last possibility this year to sit down and spend time together. When Markus came home around 1800 it seemed to him as if the noise level was highest as even an discontent Jakob, who in such case can be heard from a long distance, did not really stand out. The more the afternoon progressed the more fatigue spread within the juniors and thus marked the end of the get-together. We are all looking forward to more days with ouor friends like yesterday in 2010!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jakob has been Trip-Trapped

With Christmas approaching fast cold weather and snow is something one would expect and appreciate a lot and so the fact that temperatures started to drop below the zero mark mid last week and snowflakes appeared towards the weekend made lots of people happy, some annoyed and others very busy. When we got up on Saturday morning the roofs were covered in a layer of snow and so where the roads and just as if snow on the roads would be something very exotic, the traffic was chaotic and slow. Even main roads were not freed completely from the snows and therefore drivers were overly cautious and inner-city traffic was really bad. Jakob did not appreciate the snowflakes too much either as it meant that he had to be covered by many layers of clothes and blankets as well as the rain cover in his Bugaboo and this plastic shield disturbed his view up until the point he fell asleep.

Late Saturday afternoon we decided to put together Jakob’s newest piece of furniture, a
Tripp-Trapp highchair. While Markus was screwing and working on the chair Jakob watched very observantly and was most excited whenever Markus used the rechargeable screw driver which also helped to speed up the process. Once the chair was ready we positioned it by the table and decided to allow Jakob to test his chair. What happened then completely took us by surprise: Our little one was so excited about his new chair that he went absolutely crazy screaming, “jumping” in his chair and smiling. The fact that he can sit by the table, have a good view and in addition see both Markus and Kerstin must have provided Jakob with lots of joy. As he was joyful for another 20 minutes Markus even had the opportunity to take pictures and a video, whereas the first moments in the Tripp-Trapp are memories which Kerstin and Markus will not forget for sure.

Sunday morning we headed south to Oberwart for our by now traditional Christmas lunch with Nikolaus, Michaela and Klaus. While there was no more snowfall and roads were clean the temperatures of below –10 degrees in combination with blue sky and sunshine offered a beautiful winter setting. Having arrived in Oberwart Nikolaus showed us all his toys(a lot of large trucks, tractors fire engine) and presented us their Christmas tree which the Christ Child has delivered early to their house (given they leave for a Christmas break at Michaela’s parents on Monday) before we had delicious lunch with Tafelspitz & Schnitzel. Jakob yet again presented himself in good form to family Kojnek as well as to Andi who joined us for the lunch as well. Unfortunately the afternoon went by far too fast and we had to get on our way back to Vienna at 1645 in order to have a bath and spend some time in the highchair.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Una Bella Familia

The past weekend was exciting and eventful as firstly we had Spanish/Italian guests from Thursday onwards. Gianluca surprised us with presents for all of us, foremost by making Jakob an early fashion victim with a full outfit by Giorgio Armani, which is his (Gianluca's) most favourite designer. As soon as Jakob is grown into the latest Italian fashion trend, we will have a photo shooting and share the trends with you! Due to rather unfriendly weather on Friday Anja and Gianluca explored Vienna on their own while Kerstin and Jakob were hiding at home. After a late breakfast and a looong time in the bathroom the two set off for more sightseeing, visiting Schloss Schoenbrunn and the Christmas market there.

The Spanish-Austrian-Italian Trio Anja, Jakob & Gianluca in action

We skipped that as in the late afternoon we were invited to the traditional chilli-party hosted by Evi and Cristoph and our junior is not so keen on a full day of programme. When we arrived at the Jaeger's home at 1700 Cristoph has just started to prepare the chilli - just in time for a party that starts at 1900. Jakob and Anna who also came early had a very good time together while Christoph worked hard on the onions, garlic, chilli and minced meat, but at the end of the day he had to make a round of calls to let people know the start of the party was postponed by 1 hour. We having been looking forward to the delicious Mexican food quickly tasted it on the way out when we left for home at 1945. Christoph, who was still working on the food at that time resolved to start earlier next year. Bets are being taken if that happens.

One of our new favourite restaurants?

On the way home from Christoph and Evi Jakob was very unrelaxed and cried all the way, but after changing to the pyjamas and a good dinner he fell asleep peacefully and had one of the best nights in a long time allowing also us to relax. Sunday morning we had brunch with Anja and Gianluca before they left for Vorarlberg at lunchtime and in the afternoon we had the third big event this weekend: the Bella Familia Christmas get-together in the Praterfee, which is a very children-friendly restaurant near our home in the prater. While the mobile children Emma and Max (Valentin was missing due to illness – we wish him a fast recovery – used the restaurants playroom as well as the possibilities to play outside Anna, Leo and Jakob entertained the parents and presented themselves from their best side. As it has been quite a while that we all have met we had a lot of things to chat about and we all had a very good time time was really flying by and a wonderful weekend ended far too fast.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

A Fistful of Dollars. Eh... months!

Another months has flown by for Jakob who is turning 5 months today. Our little treasure has developed a lot and is regularly telling us stories which we are not entirely sure to understand correctly, he is working on a six-pack several times per day attempting sit-ups and loves to stand on his feet even though he is far from keeping the balance.

Anything I can do for you?

Jakob is still teething a lot, but so far he is left with the two bottom front teeth he got two months ago but whenever he sees us eating his eyes tell us: "Please let me have a bite". For the time beeing we keep him though on breastfeeding only and so he keeps on biting our hands and fingers, which hurts immensely. We are still making up our mind whether as christmas present we should feed him some carrots or whether we should wait with real food until he reaches 6 months.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, December 11, 2009

Will PIGS and a Darling go for a swim?

With Christmas approaching usually also the travelling activity for Markus is intensifying as around the end of November his strategy team tends to publish its outlook for the coming year and this entails many presentations and discussions with the clients. This time the strategists are pretty much bullish for Emerging European Equities in 2010 and expect a strong start into the year. Even though the past few weeks have rather brought up new risks and dark clouds on the horizon with the debt-troubles in Dubai and most recently downgrades of Greece and Spain as well as fears about more troubles within the PIGS the chief strategist is leaning out of the window with his strong call. Let’s hope he is not falling out.

While in London, there was also another big issue part of almost all discussions: The fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling introduced on Wednesday a special one –off tax of 50% on bankers’ bonuses exceeding 25.000 GBP caused uproar with the financial industry. Given that the remuneration in London is pretty much biased towards the flexible part, i.e. the bonus, this represents a significant cut in the annual payment. This move not only upsets the employees but also could lead to some banks moving their investment banking operations away from London and harming its status as financial centre. Future will tell whether the waves calm down again or whether we will see an of exodus of bankers.

Markus seemed unimpressed by the special taxation and helped the UK economy by hitting the high street on Wednesday evening and spent a few pounds on apparel and electronics. Back in Austria Jakob made his first experience as free-diver on Thursday as this week’s baby swimming session included also diving. Even though our little one was a bit tired due to the lack of sleep the night before, he obviously enjoyed the short time under water and as far as we can judge, he is looking for more under-water-experience in the coming weeks.

Thursday night, before Markus came back home from London, Anja, Kerstin’s cousin who is living in Barcelona and her Italian boyfriend Gianluca arrived and they are staying with us for the weekend. The two are on holiday in Austria, have spent some time with Anja’s parents, followed by a few days skiing in Tyrol and a weekend in Vienna which all of us have been looking forward to already.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Москва - Relaxing in the heart of Mother Russia

After three unsuccessful attempts and many doubts that the trip will really happen this time Kerstin and Jakob brought Markus on Monday morning to the airport as he was heading for his first visit to Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation. Not having used the three previous one-year-visas he applied for resulted in the embassy only granting a 30-day visa. Maybe he is qualified now again for a longer one. Upon arrival at Domodedovo airport Russia presented itself with for November very mild 4 degrees but grey and overcast. Having been warned about the bad traffic Markus was quite surprised reaching the Ritz Carlton Hotel, just around the corner from the Kremlin and the State Duma, after 70 min by car. As his client arrived 1,5 hours later Markus used the time top explore the area by walking around the Kremlin and Red Square alongside quite a lot of moscovites. The day was concluded with a nice dinner at Nedal'nij Vostok with some of his Russian colleagues and his Scandinavian client where they had excellent famous Kamchatka crab.

In case you forget what day of the week it is: the elevator will tell you!

Due to the 2 hour time difference the next day started very early (pick-up at 0830 local time means 0630 Vienna time) and kicked off a day full with interesting meetings, hours in the car and experiencing the famous Moscow traffic. The fact that police is omnipresent on the roads provide a strange controversial feeling as on the one hand it feels “safe” but on the other hand one has the impression to be permanently controlled. What also is striking is the sharp contrast of wealth. You have Bentleys, Hummers, Maserati, Lamborghinis and Rolls Royce (not to mention “cheap” S-class Mercedes, BMW 7 series, Infiniti SUVs, Porsche Cayenne or Audi R8) stuck in traffic right next to old Ladas or Moskvitch. Most of the cars – even the expensive cars of the rich – were covered in dirt as the roads were pretty dirty, car exhausts polluting the air and the wet weather helped to spray it all over the place.

Saint Basil's Cathedral - One of the most famous sights in Moscow

The meeting-laden Tuesday was concluded with dinner at Café Pushkin, on of the oldest and most famous traditional Russian restaurants with typical Russian food. Vodka consumption on Markus’ table was low as his two colleagues drove their cars and stayed off the wagon and his client is anti-alcoholic anyway. That also meant that the whole trip provided a certain level of relaxation as not much alcohol and no partying at all were involved. There are probably not many people who can claim they go to Moscow and return relaxed. Given the tight schedule did not allow for any kind of sightseeing after dinner one of the Russian colleagues did a city tour through rainy Moscow in his car and showed & explained the two Moscow-rookies the main sights like the Kremlin, the State Duma, Lubyanka, the former KGB headquarter, and the famous Red Square with Lenin’s Mausoleum and St. Basil’s Cathedral.

The Red Square and Lenin's Mausoleum during a rainy November night

Several meetings on Wednesday and a few hours on the newly built Domodedovo Airport concluded this first trip to Russia. Moscow left a very positive impression on Markus and he for sure will be coming back again. It is a fascinating city with a lot of very present history, with huge obvious contrasts and a place where wealth is shown very openly but at the same time a city which can be very tricky and where one really needs a lot of money getting paid in order to have good life. And yet one is not able to enjoy the standard of living that Vienna offers.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A new challenge

Earlier this week we have had another appointment at the paediatrician with the main purpose of additional jabs for the little man. The immunization has been taken with lots of courage but obviously also with a loud scream going alongside the injection, but luckily this was the last (programmed) visit to the doctor for two months and hopefully also the last injection for a while. With a size of 66 cm and a weight of 7520 g after 18 weeks our junior is still well in the upper end of the development range and its quite obvious that recent illness has not caused any harm to his growth.

On Thursday morning a new era has started for Jakob, when he had his first session of baby-swimming in the Dianabad, not too far from home. At home in the bathtub we already realized that he likes the wet element and is enjoying himself and therefore we were optimistic that he would also like the indoor pool. Apart from the fact that he is not so enthusiastic about lying flat on the water and relaxing - he has the permanent urge to sit up and raise his head - it was good fun and we understood that he is looking forward to next weeks session. The big question mark is how he will like the diving, as that part was skipped in the first session. What turned out a real challenge was for Kerstin to changing & towelling our active son and herself in a rather small changing area with plenty of other moms with their children and many strollers in the way as well, but she is confident that experience will make that task easier going forward.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brothers in arms

The group of friends and colleagues to play with in the future has grown again last month when Laurenz, Claudia & Oli's son was born on October 9th. After a rather hectic and less pleasant start with some additional examinations and special treatment in his first days of life Laurenz has started to develop very well and is growing in size and weight at decent speed now.

Laurenz & Jakob - the dynamic duo

Last week the two youngsters finally met when Kerstin & Jakob visited them on Thursday and it pretty much looks like, as if the two boys get along quite well (they obviously speak the same language) and we believe we all will have a lot of fun with the couple in the coming years!

"See ya later, folks!"

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A glorious weekend

We have started Jakob’s fourth month on this planet with a pretty busy weekend as on Saturday morning we decided to do some long overdue shopping. As the day started early anyway we could take our time and still headed off pretty early towards IKEA in the north of Vienna. It was the first visit to the Swedish furniture discounter but he missed it all the way as he slept all the time and missed the whole experience. Once finished we even forgot to pick up the obligatory cheap Frankfurter combo (a pair of Frankfurter + a bread roll + a drink with endless re-fill) but changed over to BabyOne a nearby store for general baby stuff and outfit where we bought some more stuff for our little one. This well assorted shop will most likely become one of our favourites in the coming months/years. Not only because it is easily reachable. In the afternoon, we ventured out for a stroll on Landstrasser Hauptstrasse where we finalized the weekend shopping food and vegetables.

It seems everyone tried to be outdoors on Sunday! Even the monkeys.

Sunday morning presented itself in the most beautiful way with sunshine and mild temperatures and so the decision was easily taken over breakfast to visit the zoo in Schoenbrunn again. The three of us have not been there yet together and we could not imagine a better day for this first family trip. Not only did the sun turn Vienna into a real golden autumn but also we have never seen the animals in the zoo so active and outgoing. While the elephants were trumpeting along celebrating a real concert all the giraffes enjoyed themselves outdoor enclosure, the white-hand gibbons played catch-me-if-u-can with each other outside and even the rather slow Orang-Utans were sunbathing on the trees in the fresh air. Jakob was pretty fascinated by the busy zoo, the many children and maybe also by some animals, even though we did not have the impression he was watching them a lot. But for sure the time will come when he will laugh just the way we did today when he sees the animals playing and enjoying themselves so much.

On our way out we realised how lucky we were as the queue at the entrance was pretty long and for sure the afternoon was extremely crowded in front of the enclosures. Yet again we realised how good it is to get up early in the morning. One definitely has more of the day.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, November 13, 2009

4 months, counting and audible

Today Jakob turned 4 months and the past weeks have brought a lot of changes and new things. The probably most obvious and at the same time most surprising is that the little man has got two teeth by now, one of which broke through more than a month ago! While the initial teething could hardly be relieved as Jakob has not entered the oral stage yet and did not use toys, fingers or anything else to bite on and get relief from the pain, he has in the meantime started to do so. This behaviour of chewing on everything/anything has probably been the starting point for another premiere, our first illness and stay in hospital due to an infection with the a norovirus. Quite obviously this one we could have done easily without!

Growth in size and weight continued as well, even though the few days in hospital and disruption in normal eating rhythm slowed down the growth a little bit, but we are at ca 65 cm and more than 7.3 kg anyway. The most recent developments make our lives a little bit more complicated and cumbersome again, as Jakob fell back to behaviour from his very early days: he does not sleep a lot, cries, or better said screams a lot and doe not like to be put to bed or lay him down in general. What makes things even worse this time round is that he is extremely focussed on kerstin and screams as soon as someone else holds him, plays with him or tries to entertain the prince. Even Markus has got no chance to calm Jakob down and so it is pretty difficult to allow Kerstin to relax and recover unless one wears earplugs. The "honeymoon" with our new neighbours definitely is over and now they have to realise that the area is not as quiet, as they might have expected.

A very rare picture these days: J sleeping peacefully

We are pretty sure though that the current phase will not last forever and that soon again Markus and friends and family will be able to spend time with Jakob but without Kerstin again in a calm way. Until we reach that again, we will be patient and keep on saying: "It is only a phase"

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We together and the virus

Premieres are an important part of our lifes and we are all excited when things happen the first time, but there are though certain things which we are not so keen on and ideally want them never to happen at all. Sunday afternoon, once Heidi and Sandra headed back towards Vorarlberg the three of us went in nice, yet cold weather on an extensive walk through the Prater and the 3rd district with Jakob sleeping very well in his Bugaboo and the later afternoon was also still very ok. We played a lot, had fun and the bath in the evning together with Markus was fun as always. When bedtime has arrived we have had no hints yet what could expect us and even when Jakob woke up around 2200 as he was spitting and lying on wet betclothes we were still not thinking anything bad. A bit more than an hour later though we realised that something was not normal at all, as he was throwing up in bed and all the milk he had in the evening was spread all over the bed. What followed was several cloth-changes and several times of throwing up and so we decided to go to hospital and have him checked in the emergency room.

We showed up at the Rudolfstiftung, a hospital nearby which can be even seen from our terrace, at 0230 and before adn during the check up Jakob was throwing up again. What fascinated us as well as the doctors was though that he was smiling and full of energy, even though he was really suffering. In order to prevent Jakob from de-hydration Jakob registered his first stay in hospital at the age of 17 weeks. While Kerstin stayed with our little one Markus went home at 0530, gort ready for work and brought some toys and clothes into the hopsital on the way to the office. Jakob was in the meantime supplied with an intravenous drip which meant that he could not be caried very far – his radius of movement was ca 1,5m.

In fairly good mood given the circumstances

When the infusion was taken away on Tuesday morning Jakob seemed to be well but anorectic. Towards the end of the day though Kerstin felt more and more bad and so she started throwing up in the evening as well. Markus got a special permission to stay in hospital and take care of Jakob in all matters apart from feeding, but unfortunately also he started throwing up by 0330 in the morning. So in the end all thre of us got a viral infection with the norovirus which means that we are currently highly infectious. Markus’ brother Stefan helped a lot on Wednesday taking care of Jakob & Kerstin at the hospital, bringing them home, shopping for us and cooking a delicious chicke-soup. Luckily we all, somehow still toxic assets, are feeling much better by now and are clearly on the road of improvement, have disinfected our flat and hope we haven’t handed over the virus to other people, especially Stefan.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Griaß Di!

With Sandra and Heidi arriving in Vienna on Tuesday evening after an odyssey (caught in a traffic jam just outside Munich and loosing another hour in Vienna basically around the corner from our place) we had a full house all week and Jakob has had a lot of entertainment. Long walks, shopping tours, a first visit to Starbucks and many games were used to keep our little treasure happy. With his two teeth the exercise of giving him our small finger to suck on has become a challenge as sometimes he has the urge to bite and that can really hurt. Kerstin, still fully breastfeeding, has had the joy of such an urge while she was feeding Jakob and her reaction - a pretty loud scream – seem to have made it clear to the little man that this action has hurt. By now the interaction has improved significantly and so one can really have a „conversation“ with him.

A family get-together on "neutral" territory in Styria

On Saturday we have planned a family get-together in Styria with a booking at Steirereck am Pogusch, a very fancy, yet original restaurant 1,5 hours away from Vienna. While a visit to this restaurant has become a tradition for us with Markus’ parents, sister and brother it was the first visit for Jakob, Sandra and Heidi. The food was delicious as always and all three rookies have liked the visit a lot, whereas Jakob clearly spent more time outside in the sun enjoying the fresh air, and the time was flying by. Hard to say whether the enlarged group will become a tradition as well, but we will for sure return to Styria and we are convinced that Jakob will also in the future spent lots of time outside watching the goats and geese or simply playing on the meadows.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, October 22, 2009

North and South

The first wave of winter with temperatures of close to 0 degrees even during the day, cold wind and first snow in areas of 400m sea level or higher is over and we are facing more normal weather conditions these days for mid-October. With Jakob’s second tooth having broken through at the beginning of the week him bein very unsettled and suffering from teething pain hopefully is over and therefore also our nights are might be coming back to some normality. Obviously there are more teeth to come, but for now we see no need for a rush.

On Tuesday Kerstin and Jakob drove south to Oberwart to spend two days with the grandparents as Markus was on his way up north to Stockholm for a conference on Wednesday. In the evening he followed the invitation of one of his Swedish clients to join them for the Oktoberfest, a big party where they served Wiesnbier, also available at the famous
Munich Oktoberfest, as well as Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. This event has become pretty much traditional by now, is “by invitation only” and therefore something very special. Due to the turbulences in the financial industry last year the event has been cancelled and so this year it seemed as if both the clients as well as the brokers were hungry for the party as more than 400 people filled up the place and thus genuine Oktoberfest vibes developed: It was hot, one could hardly move and the Maß-Bier had to be drunk fast if you did not want it warm.

Jakob and Kerstin in the meantime spent a lot of time enjoying the autumn weather with lengthy walks, did some shopping for the little one – we need to stack up Jakob’s supply of warm clothes – and had the car in the garage in order to put the winter tyres on. While the grandparents still enjoyed the presence of the youngest family member still on Thursday, Markus had an early start to catch his flight back to Vienna at 0705 but ended up waiting more than 1 hour for his departure due to heavy fog in Vienna. Clearly he wished to spend his time in bed rather than sitting on a plane waiting for take off, but then one can also sleep while sitting.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

3 months - and counting

It's amazing how fast 3 months are passing by. We still can remember very well the days and hours before Jakob was born as well as the first moment together. And now that we are a small family for 1/4 of a year it is incredible how many memories we do have. It is somehow weird as on the one hand it feels like yesterday that we went to the Semmelweisklinik on Monday morning our little son was born, and on the other hand the events we have gone through since then are so many that one could fill a whole year with.

"Hey! Wanna join me and my buddy Sandman on my sofa?"

Fact is though, that Jakob has developed superbly having grown by 9 cm and added 3190 g (probably even more by now!) since he was born. Long gone are the times when he was screaming a lot in the afternoons, when we had to carry him basically all the time apart from when he was feeding. By now we are able to play together, we can have him rest under his beloved fish-mobile or alternatively underneath the cat-mouse-dog mobile in order to give us some breathing time and allow to do some other stuff even when being alone with him. Especially Kerstin is very happy about that given she is at home alone now that Markus is back at work and on the road. These days Jakob is a little bit unsettled as he is still (or better said already given his young age) teething - it seems as if his second tooth could be coming soon as well - and therefore he is suffering from awkward pain alongside his still blocked nose. As also the current "difficulties" are only a phase and will pass by, we are very relaxed and looking forward to the fourth month together.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Countdown to the first sandwich has started

Summer returned this past week with temperatures reaching 28 degrees in the first half of the week and it was very hard to believe that we are 1/3 through October. On Friday though, when Markus was in Frankfurt still enjoying sunshine on a day meeting clients, the temperatures dropped significantly, it started raining and it seems as if autumn has now arrived. For the coming week temperatures are said to sink further and reach chilly 5 degrees.

Tooth #1 is still small and best seen when crying. You spot it?

It was not only autumn that did arrive last week, but even though Jakob is still less than 3 months old he has got his first tooth! It sounds incredible and we could not believe our eyes either, but our little one is ready for his first piece of bread. As his cold is still present and as he also has symptoms of further teething (the second front tooth looks like arriving soon as well) Jakob is a little bit unsettled, but that should not be a surprise. Considering his latest official measures from Wednesday are 62 cm and 6800 g one can imagine that it’s not so easy anymore to carry and pamper him. Hence Kerstin and Markus are working in shifts.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A weekend of running

Thursday late afternoon, after Markus returned from work, we packed our car and drove off to Vorarlberg for a long weekend and the Sparkasse Marathon in the Dreilaendereck on Sunday in which Markus participated over the half-marathon distance. The journey on Friday went by swiftly as Jakob was sleeping all the way and no pit stop was necessary and so we reached our destination in just over 5 hours. During the night we realised though that our little one has difficulties breathing through the nose as obviously he has cought a slight cold. On Friday Markus was chained to the computer until mid afternoon as the business activity was haunting him on his birthday which he actually wanted to spend with his family. So much about his plans. Kerstin in the meantime was searching for suitable medication for Jakob’s cold as his nose was running constantly and that gave him lots of difficulties to breathe. The medication luckily did work and so our son was able to sleep well and long during the nights again once the nose stopped running.

Happy faces after having reached the finish!

Sunday morning Sandra and Markus boarded the ferryboat from Bregenz to Lindau where for more than 5000 runners the start for the marathon took place at 11:11. Flo, who was also supposed to participate had to give in to illness during the training programme and so he decided to have one of his friends running instead of him and gaining a strong time in the name of Flo. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with blue sky and sunshine, whereas the temperatures were almost too high for a long distance run with the setting by Lake Constance and the course which even led through the festival arena and the stage of the Bregenzer Festspiele. The high temperatures and the fact that Markus was hardly following his training programme throughout summer as he preferred to spend time with our son took their toll and so his personal best was far out of reach and he ended his race with a time of 1:48:13 while Sandra managed to improve her personal best over the 21.097 km to 2:05:47. Sunday evening finally allows for a birthday celebration before we are heading back to Vienna on Monday morning.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Activity update

It is completely out of doubt, that Markus is more busy again and activity in the EME equity markets has picked up, as he is much more actively travelling again - this week the destination was Frankfurt. The improved environment is something we do like to see, but there is – as always in life – a flipside of the coin: firstly, to leave home and know to not see Jakob for a day or two is pretty cumbersome as each day brings something new in the young life and secondly, the practice sessions for the upcoming Sparkasse half-marathon at Lake Constance is pretty much disturbed. As for the latter: the training programme has been taken less serious all summer since Jakob was born for obvious reason and therefore Markus’ target for next Sunday is: get over the 21km and if the finish line is reached in less than two hours he calls it a real success.

Here the proof for Jakob's statement "I look just like daddy"

The past weekend, yet again with beautiful temperatures, featured a few premieres: In the morning Fritz, Markus’s boss by chance stopped by, met Jakob for the first time and also saw the flat for the first time. Jakob and Fritz understood each other immediately and had lots of fun together. In the afternoon we went for a lengthy shopping tour to

Mariahilfer Strasse with public transport rather than our car and in the evening Kerstin had a night out. Jumping into a beautiful red dress she left the two boy home alone and joined Andrea, our neighbour, for her 50th birthday party. Jakob & Markus did get along basically well, but it needed the help of Kerstin – who dropped in 30 minutes after she left - to get him to fall asleep. Once in the land of the dreams our little lucky Buddha did sleep though for more than 5 hours peacefully.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, September 21, 2009

An exciting and eventful weekend

After two nights back home Markus was picked up early Thursday morning again for the airport for a two day trip with company visits to Poland's capital Warsaw. The fact that the Polish basketball team was well on track in the European Championship tournament hosted by Poland was visible everywhere, but the local euphoria about a pretty impressive tournament was extinguished on Wednesday night with a clear defeat against Spain. The Spaniards, having started weakish into the tournament got really rolling in this game against Poland which they won by a 21 point margin, and cruised on to crowning themselves European Champion by winning all further games by an at least 18 point margin. The final on Sunday night against the young Serbian team which reached the final a little bit by surprise, was basically already decided in H1 when Spain, led by the tournament's MVP Pau Gasol, built a 13 point lead and dominated the game just as they wished.

On Saturday the three of us got into our car early afternoon and made our way to Stefan's birthday and farewell party. At the age of 24 he decided to end his career as active semi-professional basketball player in order to focus on his studies and life outside the court - a difficult step to make, as he was playing hoops for the last 16 years and with high intensity for the past 9 years. Not surprisingly the majority of his friends at the party were somehow related to the sport, including all his current as well as many of the previous season's teammates of the
Oberwart Gunners. Apart from Stefan also our "little Buddha" Jakob enjoyed the evening and the many guests a lot, made friends with Fabio, Viki's sister's son who is 6 weeks younger than Jakob, and we got even more convinced now that he is simply glad when there are many people around him.

6 weeks age difference are still visible

A late night on Saturday requested some additional hours of sleep on Sunday morning for all of us especially as we were invited for lunch with Nikolaus, Michi & Klaus. For Jakob that meant that he had to be fit for more attention that was guaranteed as Andi & Sissi also joined us with a delicious "Jakob" cake prepared by confectionery Kaplan am Kurpark. Lateron Anna & Clemens together with their son Nik showed up and while enjoying the food, excellent wines and the beautiful weather we somehow forgot about the time and therefore got into the weekend traffic on the way into Vienna. After all the weekend was though very nice and relaxing, but unfortunately it went by far too fast.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The economic engine is humming again

After a very quiet first half of 2009 and a summer without any business trip Markus returned to London on Monday morning again for another conference on Tuesday, this time in conjunction with the Vienna Stock Exchange and 11 Austrian companies. The two days in the UK capital showed yet again, that investors, companies and also the consumers are much more optimistic about the future again and that most likely we have seen the worst of the economic downturn. Even though unemployment is still at risk of rising further there are several other indicators that show green light and both equity as well as bond markets do price in improvement as well.

As the opening hours of the shops in London are very consumer friendly Markus did manage to exploit the still depressed EUR/GBP exchange rate further, supported the consumer industry and entered a real shopping spree. Not only he bought more clothes for Jakob but also he had a list of items to be gathered for little Anna and Emma at
babyGAP, a retail chain which is not available in Austria, and on top of that he also managed to get some new clothes for himself and Kerstin at Abercrombie & Fitch, probably one of the currently most impressive concepts for selling jeans and other casual outfits.

The A & F flagship store in
7 Burlington Gardens is characterised by loud club music, young, overly friendly & handsome staff and a intense cloud of the the signature scent “Fierce” which one even can smell around the block already. Spending 30 minutes in this shop situated in an impressive building makes you and your garment smell of “Fierce” for at least 12 hours but also can burn a hole into your pocket or bank account, but Markus luckily returned home on Tuesday night and therefore the damage could be limited.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A lot of reasons for joy

Saturday afternoon the three of us transferred to the 23rd district for a welcome party to the newest member of the Bella Familia: Anna, the 2 week old daughter of Lini and Peter. With Emma, Valentin and Max already very mobile on their feet and Anna, Leo and Jakob mobile on their parents’ arms the flat was almost dominated by children and it became very obvious to all of us, that times have changed significantly over the past years. While the main topics previously have been long weekends on deserted mountain huts we are now discussing the colour and smell of crap.

The two main acts united: Anna and Peter

It is amazing how fast babies develop in their early days as Anna, mere 6 weeks younger than Jakob, looks totally fragile and tiny compared to our little one even though she got a lot of real hair, while our son is still bald – just like his dad was at this age. We are very relaxed about the lack of hair as Markus these days almost suffers from his dense hair and feels at certain times like a sheep.

Cool! Only 214 more months and I can drive my own car!

On Sunday the wave of autumn birthdays started with Peter, Anna’s dad, turning 35 and “uncle” Flo in Bregenz celebrating his 31st birthday. But also we had something to celebrate that day, as our son turned the age of 2 months. We are fully aware, that in a few years time we won’t bother anymore to celebrate the 13th day of each month, but for now we don’t see a way around that, especially as we need to practice for further real anniversaries and birthdays lining up in the coming weeks and months.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, September 7, 2009

Coming home

The days in London, which presented itself in the second half of last week from its best side with no rain and sunshine, were pretty intense for Markus with late nights and early morning every day. While the conference was a big success the task to catch up some sleep was failed though miserably and the early pick up on Saturday morning at 0400 from the hotel to catch the flight back to Zurich did not help either. Hence he returned completely knackered and exhausted and a health- and fitness-check on Saturday afternoon turned out to be pretty useless as the results were distorted by sleep deprivation, stress and alcohol.

Jakob was all excited to see his Dad again who was a big-time baby outfit-shopper bringing back ca. 15 new outfits all from babyGAP for the little one. Saturday evening it then was Jakob who brought his Dad to bed rather than the other way around and the two boys fell asleep together early in bed in order to be fit and ready for the trip back home to Vienna on Sunday morning. A big family breakfast Sunday marked the end to our days in Vorarlberg this summer and departing was not easy as we all enjoyed the time very much.

On the road with the guardian angel

Our journey back home via Munich, Salzburg and Linz was smooth and fairly quick as Jakob has been sleeping again most of the time and only woke up once for a pit stop in Mondsee where he was feeding and was provided with a new diaper and fresh clothes as his nappy ran over and he was all dirty up o half his back. When we reached home in the afternoon Jakob needed to inspect the flat carefully and get used to his new old environment and the fact that there are only two people available for entertainment again.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Always look at the bright side of life

The first trip in quite a long time for Markus turned out to be some kind of odyssey. While the transfer to Zurich airport conducted by Werner was perfectly timed, the flight departure was already delayed by 15 minutes, which per se is not so bad. Unfortunately though the traffic situation above Heathrow caused further delay and 15 additional minutes in the holding pattern. As obviously many people prolonged their long weekend - Monday was a UK bank holiday - and returned only Tuesday evening, the airport was very busy and so Markus was happy to join a long queue for immigration and passport control, losing another 15 minutes. Once he has found his driver - which cost additional 5 minutes - he was hoping for a swift transfer to his hotel and it all started pretty well. His luck lasted for mere 5 minutes as the M4 inbound London was completely jammed due to lots of traffic and intense road works which lead to the driver using an alternative route which was - what a surprise - also blocked due to heavy traffic. After 1 hour and 45 minutes and a tour through areas of London Markus has never ever seen before and in which he would not have wanted to be kicked out of the car he finally reached his hotel shortly before midnight.

With such a start to the trip it can only get better or one simply changes the perception: Today it only started raining AFTER Markus reached to the office at 0645, he managed to take advantage of two rain breaks to dash out and grab some sandwiches WITHOUT getting wet and by the time he heft the office and went to Regent Street for some baby-shopping the rain has ended for the day. What more can one expect?

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No exemption to the rule?!

Why is it that the good times always go by so fast? Do we simply forget about time when we enjoy something very much, or is there more behind? Whatever the answers to the above questions are, the rule has been confirmed again with respect to Markus’s holiday which ended today. A beautiful day with more than 30 degrees and sunshine was the ideal farewell to time off-work, even though at the same time it became even more difficult to return to work. But not only that going forward he can’t spend weekdays with Jakob and Kerstin, he also had to fly to London for a conference and thus be separated from the little one for the first time more than 12 hours.

After lunch at Werner and Renate’s place and a short run he enjoyed the last hours sunbathing with Jakob and cuddled him big time. When Werner came to pick Markus up at 1800 to take him to Zurich for his flight there would have been a perfect excuse why not to leave: Jakob fell asleep peacefully on Markus’ shoulder. Obeying though to the call of duty, he handed over the sleeping boy to Kerstin and drove off heavy-heartedly in the hope that the remainder of the week will pass by fast.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Snoop Dog in da house

On Saturday the temperatures dropped and it was raining in the morning and therefore it was the right day for a lot of food. For lunch we went to Renate & Werner for a huge bowl of Werner’s famous Wurstsalat. Even though Werner was distracted from preparing lunch by a huge badger which haunted their backyard we not only had enough to eat but also the quality was as good as always!

In the evening we were invited to Sandra & Flo’s place in Bregenz for some Mexican dinner following by watching the large fireworks of the
Bregenzer Stadtfest from the terrace overlooking Lake Constance. With temperature significantly lower than the days before we decided for the first time to put Jakob into one of his pairs of jeans. For the first visit to his godmother’s flat we really pimped our son’s outfit including a pair of blue Chuck Tailors.

Yo man! Gimme a mic' and I rap you a rhyme!

The traffic into Bregenz was as always very bad – German and Swiss cars who want to avoid the highway toll take the route through the city and cause daily traffic jams! – and as we were not moving fast enough Jakob was complaining (=screaming) all the way and could hardly be calmed. Upon arrival though he stopped being noisy and by the time Markus has carried the Maxi Cosi up the stairs into the flat our little treasure was sleeping. What followed was almost spooky, as he briefly woke up when we took him out of the seat but fell asleep immediately again. During dinner and also during the fireworks he was sleeping peacefully in the arms of Renate. A brief waking period was used for feeding before we got on our way back home and he went straight back to sleep. Not even the transfer at home from the Maxi Cosi into his cot and a change of clothes disturbed the sleep and he only woke up at 0300 again, making it the first time with 8 hours of sleep with only 25 minutes break for food.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Further expansion step of the Bella Familia

Finally, more than 1 week after the expected date of arrival, the Bella Familia grew further as a new member to our group was born. At 1015 Lini and Peter's family luck received a real face when their daughter Anna was born with a size of 51cm, a weight of 4052g and loads of black hair. Both baby and mother are obviously exhausted but fine and enjoy the first hours together!

Anna - another new arrival

We still know very well how wonderful and at the same time strage it feels when the first baby is born, are extremely happy for the new family and can't wait to see her face to face for the first time.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, August 28, 2009

The first long-haul trip

After the ca. 1 hour drive to Aschau for Markus’ Dad’s birthday party last Friday Jakob took off for his first long-haul trip on Wednesday evening. While Kerstin was feeding our son for a long time Markus stuffed the car with pretty much all of Jakob’s clothes, most of his toys and only a few pieces of luggage for ourselves and left home shortly after 1900 heading west towards Vorarlberg for 1,5 weeks with Kerstin’s family. Following a brief stop at Lini & Peter’s place (still waiting for Anna) in order to wish them luck for the big day Jakob was pretty soon fast asleep in his MaxiCosi car seat.

A fully loaded car + a filled up Jakob = quiet drive to the West

The next 4 hours were very quiet and peaceful in our car and only shortly ahead of Munich Jakob started to wake up. A short 30 minute pit-stop in Munich with eating and pooping did the trick and as soon as we got back on the highway Jakob was again in the land of the dreams and only woke up when we arrived at grandma Heidi, who was still awake waiting for us. In our view Jakob passed the drive test and obviously we are very happy that he likes driving longer distances.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, August 27, 2009

60 years of ULK - the family session

After having surprised Markus’ Dad with our appearance on Friday we have planned for the family part of the celebrations a bike tour around Vienna and barbecue on our terrace in the evening for Tuesday. Eva and Kurt arrived at our place in the morning and around 1100 Markus and his dad set of for a tour on the Donauradweg along the Danube with perfect weather while Kerstin, Jakob and Eva spent the day in and around our flat.

The boys headed on the south bank of the Danube towards
Klosterneuburg, where they had lunch at the Dukes’ castle, and continued via Kritzendorf and Hoeflein to the hydroelectric power plant Greifenstein. The tour was pretty easy thus far, but once they crossed the river to the north bank on which they headed back towards Vienna, they were facing quite strong headwind given the cycle track was right by the water and not wind protected by trees or buildings. Hence the way back was much tougher, the heat was stronger and over time also their bums started to hurt more. The situation did not really improve when they reached the Donauinsel as also there wind was fairly strong. After three hours net cycling and 60km of tour they reached home again, where Markus’ brother Stefan and Viki also have arrived in the meantime. The two are double-uncle & double-aunt” since Monday as Viki’s sister Marina has born her son Fabio that day.

"How come you got hold of these pictures!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?"

In the evening Markus after we enjoyed delicious pork, turkey and a large salmon trout the birthday boy was surprised yet again with a movie that we produced consisting of old pictures and film material documenting the past 60 years of his life. As Kurt was not expecting something like that he was pretty much overwhelmed and could not believe how we got hold of some of these pictures and movies. The present – a two-day ski trip with him and a tour guide in Lech – was the icing on the cake and so we managed to surprise him 3 times. If that is not a guarantee for further luck! Speaking of luck: For Viki, whose birthday was on Monday, we put together a cornet filled with stuff for her days at school as she starts an education for primary school teacher in October.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus