Thursday, January 28, 2010

A whole week on the go

The first week back in Vienna after more than three weeks in Vorarlberg was characterised by adaptation back to the “normal” life as a small family. Jakob got soon used to his bed again (even though we lowered it in order to reduce the risk of him falling out), enjoyed the while range of his toys and the walks in the Prater. On Saturday he tested the sport-seat of Valentin’s Bugaboo and as our little treasure enjoyed the view and was much calmer than in his bassinet. Hence we changed his setting as well and from Sunday onwards he is being pushed around in his cool seat in which he already on the first day slept for almost 4 hours. Markus did only heard about that, as he disappeared on Sunday morning for a whole week first attending his firm’s 15th Austrian investor conference in Kitzbuehel and spent the days from Tuesday until Sunday with some clients and colleagues skiing in Lech.

This view could only be enjoyed on Wednesday

The event in Lech has after 9 years become traditional by now and is always a great fun and experience as ski guides (one of which is Harry who he was with to weeks ago) lead the bunch of crazy skiers to undiscovered slopes off-piste. The small group that arrived already on Tuesday night was luckiest as they enjoyed a perfect day on the slope on Wednesday with blue sky and sunshine. Wednesday night it started snowing and so the Thursday offered fresh powder, but fog and continuous snowfall spoiled the party cutting visibility significantly. The weather forecasts indicate improvement for Friday and thus the whole group is hoping for great off-piste skiing that day. They for sure will finish all their food today in order to guarantee good weather.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An almost jeopardised trip

Having spent more than 3 week in Vorarlberg Jakob and Kerstin were due to leave for Vienna again on Saturday afternoon. Knowing how hard it always is for the two to kiss and say goodbye to the family Markus was trying hard to prevent the trip back home by breaking down the car. He simply ignored the warning light of the fuel gauge, drove on the highway to Dornbirn and when he was just about to overtake another car it happened: Another warning light appeared and a warning sound indicated a problem with the exhaust system. The cars performance dropped significantly, it soon afterwards stopped completely and could not be restarted. As all that happened at exactly noon on Saturday when all garages were closed already so that there was no obvious way to get the car repaired again. Interestingly at that point everyone was more upset about the broken down car than the fact that we might have to stay longer in Vorarlberg and the search for alternative to get back home has been started.

Given no car hire companies were open at the time and as alternative only Heidi’s Opel Corsa would have been available (which would have made it difficult to even bring Jakob’s stuff at home leaving our gear in Vorarlberg) Markus called the
OEAMTC, even though no member. Once can become a member at the instance and being part of the club one gets a Clubmobil, by coincidence a Peugeot 307SW – exactly as ours, to remain mobile in case they don’t get the car running immediately. Against all expectations the “angel in yellow” arrived 10 minutes after calling and diagnosed that there has to be air in the exhaust system (caused by the lack of fuel in the tank). Without laughing visibly about Markus humble mistake to drive the car literally empty the technician filled the tank and managed to get the engine started again, cleared all the electronic error reports and enabled us to drive home in our very own car.

"Even I know, that a car needs fuel in the tank! I better tell Dad."

The journey in the evening in a car that was yet again filled up to the roof went very smooth and we reached Vienna in less than 5 hours before midnight. Upon arrival in Vienna our son he demanded a tour through the flat as he quite obviously wanted to check if everything was in good order and nothing was missing. On Sunday we managed to settle again at home, did the laundry and spent a nice day together before Markus had to go back to work and leave Jakob and Kerstin on their own again.

Jakob, Kerstin and Markus

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More powder and a birthday cake

The second day of Kurt’s outdoor experience started better than expected. The three boys went to bed early having been completely exhausted from Tuesday’s tour, but in the morning the muscles felt less sore than feared. Maybe the blue sky did help to forget the pain. After a strengthening breakfast they set off again with Harry for some off-piste adventure whereas the destination on Wednesday was Warth, a neighbouring resort to Lech which can though not be reached with lifts. While the ascents were a bit shorter than the day before the descents on again untouched slopes were again breathtaking. Unfortunately around lunchtime the clear sky got covered with clouds, the visibility become more diffuse and the strength in the muscles got drained again so that the journey back to Lech felt much more like hard work but the 4 hour tour was still enjoyed by the three – the impressive views, untouched slopes and exciting descents outweighed the pain.

"Why eat cheese, meat and potatoes when I can have hard breadcrust?"

The journey back to Hoerbranz in the afternoon was used a sightseeing tour through the Bregenzerwald as the road connection between Lech and Warth was opened due to lack of snow and so Kurt and Stefan could also see this part of Vorarlberg. Once they reached home there was already a large group of people waiting for the skiers as the evening was dedicated to Jakob and the celebration of his 6 months birthday. On the menu was Raclette – a premiere for Kurt and Eva who liked it actually – and Heidi has prepared a cake with marzipan topping indicating the occasion for the junior. Jakob himself did join the adults by the table and fancied the food, but he was happy when he received some breadcrust to chew on. With that dinner a few nice days for Eva, Kurt and Stefan conclude (they return Thursday morning) and it was great that a large part of the family could be together for Jakob’s “half-anniversary”.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Half term!!!

Another milestone has been reached today, when Jakob turned 6. Exactly half a year ago our lives were enriched with plenty of joy, a lot of emotional moments and happiness alongside a significant change in what we had to and could do. The past month has been another exciting one with not only the first Christmas for Jakob but also big steps in his development. It started with the introduction of the highchair which allowed our son a completely new point of view into the world, continued with his first real meal on Christmas Eve – pure young carrots – and with sitting upright alone. Jakob also makes moves crawling (though moving backwards still) and is “talking” quite a lot these days.

Having grabbed a piece of the cake Jakob foundout is is delicious

For the completion of his first semester something special was arranged: Thanks to the skiing trip to Lech a family get-together could be arranged and so in the evening both Kerstin & Markus’s mom and dad as well as Stefan and the Meierei will celebrate “6 months Jakob” with Raclette and a birthday cake. Of course everyone is very curious what the coming month will bring us. One thing is for sure: Excitement will be part of it.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Outside the secured territory

Monday afternoon, after a cumbersome and long trip due to snowfall all the way Markus’ parents and brother arrived in Hoerbranz coming for the first time to the Laendle for the long awaited birthday present for Kurt: two days in Lech with a ski guide and lots of off-piste skiing. Before heading up to the Arlberg the travellers were strengthened with Heidi’s famous Kaespaetzle and potato salad (prepared by Werner) which obviously hit the taste spot on, as Kurt ate three portions. When Markus, Stefan and Kurt got on their way to the exclusive ski resort it was still snowing in the lower areas of Vorarlberg, the first snow in more than a week, and the hopes were rising that also the mountains would get a fair share of the white stuff. The hope were fulfilled and while sleeping at nice Hotel Sandberg, right in the centre of the village, snow was still falling preparing the slopes ands even more so off-piste areas for the first ski day.

Three men on a mission - just before the descent from 2811 m

Tuesday at 0930 with the sky still overcast they met their guide Harry, a Carinthian who is a well known guide to Markus as he also used him, alongside some more of his colleagues at the Alpincenter Lech, during the ski seminars for Markus’ clients. Equipped with avalanche beeps the four set off up the Ruefikopfbahn towards Zuers and soon after leaving the sky showed signals of clearing up. Less than an hour later, when they were just walking off-piste, with skies on and off, the sun came out completely and made all of them sweat big time. The consolation though came soon when an untouched slope appeared in front of them. Heaven for every off-piste skier. The further route led them to Tyrol where they went up the Valluga to a height of 2811 m above seal level in order to ski down the Valluga North route, a route which can not be skied without a guide. Also here the conditions were absolutely amazing given the snow situation is rather unusual for the Arlberg region. On their way back to Lech via Madloch Harry did not leave out another famous off-piste area: The Stierloch. On this last bit they all felt the exertion of the day and were glad when they finally reached healthy the Rud-Alpe where after more than five hours on skies lunch could be taken. In order to relax for day two the late afternoon was spent in the hotel’s wellness area before dinner – another local speciality: Fondue – and an early night in bed in order to have the batteries recharged for Wednesday’s quest.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, January 8, 2010

Moving back = a step forward. Really?

The past week, a week of separation with Markus being back in Vienna working while Jakob and Kerstin stayed in Vorarlberg enjoying the company of the family, not only brought fresh snow in most of Austria, but mainly the eastern part of the country, but also saw further developments in our little boy’s life. These days it seems that the pace of development is increasing as Jakob adds almost every day a new feature. Sitting in the meantime as a “normal” activity by now and Jakob is by now eating a whole glass of carrots with potatoes. We have also offered him the first portion of fruit: a glass of apples. Judging by his facial expression the sour taste of fruit (relative to the vegetables) is not his favourite one, but the fact that he was already chewing on a piece of apple and even took a bite makes us comfortable that he will like apples soon. We also believe that rather soon we will have to give him some bread crust to chew on.

"Hehe, soon I will get food to chew on!"

Mobility is another area in which a lot happened the past week. Jakob is still moving backwards rather than crawling forward, but while on the weekend he was moving in a short range he is now making his way through the whole room, as long as one removes any obstacles from his route. That said we already know what we will need when we are back at home: safety guards for our staircase! Like father like son: Also Markus came back to some mobility as he used the spare time he had to go for a run on both Tuesday and Wednesday in the Prater after more than 3 months of inactivity and thus he paid the bill with sore muscles. Luckily he did get away with all the Christmas decoration in the flat before the muscle ache became a bigger problem. He has got a few more days to recover before going skiing with his father and brother to the Arlberg. Whether in the light of the heavy snowfall his journey back to Hoerbranz tonight will be a possibility to relax or whether it will be an exhausting trip he will only find out later on.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, January 4, 2010

A new pace has been set

When Kerstin and Markus started to regularly travel from Vienna to Hoerbranz back in the late 90ies of the 20th century the road connection was already pretty good as the majority of the 630 km route was on highways – from Vienna straight towards Munich on the A1 in Austria and the A8 in Germany, a few kilometres on the Mittlerer Ring through Munich and then via the A96 straight to the German-Austrian border. The trip still lasted ca. 5,5 hours as at that time the A96 was not fully completed yet. It was interrupted by 4 short stretches of federal roads and these passages usually cost a lot of time as congestions were normal at the points where the 3 lanes of the highway merge into the 1 lane of the federal road and as trucks and sleepers tended to hold up traffic.

Ongoing construction of the missing links on of the A96 was going slowly and it felt as if it never would end, but in Q4 2009 finally the last stretch of federal road disappeared. When Markus last night got on his way back to Vienna on his own as he has to go back to work while Jakob and Kerstin stay for another two weeks with grandma Heidi he had close to perfect weather and traffic conditions as well as no reason to stop at any service area and so he breached for the first time the 5 hour barrier by a wide margin when he finished the trip in 4 hours and 33 minutes door-to-door. Suddenly the journey feels not so long anymore and a trip by plane can not be much faster (on a door-to-door basis obviously). Further time improvements might be possible, but a significant reduction of travel time can only be reached once Austria abolished or raises the speed limits on the highways. And the latter as highly unlikely to happen

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A slow start leaves room to improve

2009 is history, but kept well in our memories. In order to celebrate the beginning of the new decades we did plan a nice evening at home with Heidi, her brother Manfred and his family (Lissi, Barbara & Monica) and Markus has gathered some pyrotechnical gadgets in order to shy away any evil spirits. While New Year’s Eve is probably the most horrible night for animals kept in homes, be it cats or dogs, as the cracking of fireworks makes them feel very uncomfortable. Heidi’s cat Tom for example disappeared undiscoverable in the cellar late afternoon of the 31st and resurfaced again in the early hours of the New Year when the cracking died off.

Not a hangover, but recovering from a stressful night

Kerstin and Markus did somehow expect and fear that Jakob might have issues with the noise as well, but were completely surprised by the peaceful sleep he had. The junior could not even be bothered by the bangs while he was feeding shortly before midnight. What was concerning though, was that the peaceful sleep seemed to have found an end once Kerstin and Markus went to bed. should they be worried?

"No need to be around me all the time anymore."

The first days of the year were on the one hand lazy as apart from a walk with the stroller allowing Jakob a good set of sleep in the fresh air and watching the ski jumping events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck – part of the 4 hills tournament - not much else was on the agenda. Jakob was the most active one of the family as he started attempts to crawl (albeit backwards) and perfected his sitting skills. By now the little sunshine is sitting completely on his own playing with his wooden bricks, balls or pillows and to a certain extent does not even need company or interaction from anyone. It feels like Kerstin and Markus regain some sort of freedom again in small steps.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus