Monday, March 29, 2010

Seperated, deprived and yet all smiling

On Sunday after the christening our families separated again into all possible directions – to the Burgenland, Vorarlberg, Spain and Poland. While Kerstin and Jakob started their Easter vacation early and joined Sandra and Flo on Sunday evening driving to Bregenz, Markus stayed at home in order to fly to Warsaw for exciting two days visiting companies with a client and returning via Frankfurt where he met some clients.

Hey, what is better than eating outdoors?

Jakob enjoyed the spring weather dining outside on the terrace in the sunshine and going shopping with the ladies which he seemed to like as well (hmm – may one of the reasons for that be, that he joined all the ladies in the changing room??) Markus in the meantime went to work, tried to get the flat sorted and followed the Sweet Sixteen round of the March madness. As a result of watching the games Washington vs. West Virginia and Xavier vs. Kansas State until 0530 Friday morning as the latter game was only decided after 2 overtimes and the fact that there was no junior who woke him up he overslept and was late at work. Obviously all his colleagues knew that he was home alone and he could only save himself by buying all of them coffee.

There is one thing: in the first row in front of the catwalk!

As on the weekend already the Elite Eight round was played there was more college hoops to watch, but luckily Markus could sleep in both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night though his bet on this year’s college champion was lost as the Butler Bulldogs managed to fend off mighty Kentucky Wildcats after an early lead of UK and advanced to the Final Four on the Easter Weekend in Indianapolis. With clocks being put forward Sunday night due to the change to European Summer Time, we all were “stolen” one hour which is compensated though with brighter evenings. With the time having been shifted Jakob’s sleeping rhythm has changed (actually his rhythm is unchanged and its only 1 hour later that he wakes up and goes to bed!) and we are not entirely sure yet if we want to bring him back to the usual times. We are still thinking about that – Markus in the office in London and Kerstin in Bregenz and a decision will be taken soon though.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Joining the club - Jakob's christening

The past weekend was a very big one for Jakob as Thursday night the first family members arrived in Vienna from Vorarlberg for our son's christening. By the time the big day came not only we had full house with Kerstin's mom and dad as well as her aunt Renate and uncle Werner staying in our place, but godmother Sandra and Flo stayed with godfather Stefan and Viki and Anja & Gian-Luca stayed in a hotel. On Saturday morning we all met for brunch in our flat at 1000 and one could tell, that it was not a normal day as everyone was a little bit nervous. Markus parents and sister joined us around lunchtime just as well as our neighbors Stefan and Andrea.

The sun was shining and heated the air to mild 20 degrees when we got on our way at 1300 towards the 19th district where the Jakob's christening was scheduled in the Weinbergkirche and once we have reached our destination the first thing on the agenda was to change Jakob's diapers as also he had to pay tribute to the nervousness and filled it on the way in the car. Once he was fresh again, Markus uncle and godfather has arrived and when the priest, one of Markus' teachers back at school, was ready the ceremony got under way. Jakob, neatly dressed in a white shirt and dark blue trousers, was very calm and focused when we the organ was playing and we were all singing but was talking and active whenever the pastor was preaching. Luckily Werner was filming so both Kerstin and Markus can re-visit the sermon as the parts that we could pick up were very nice and moving.

A large group gathered for Jakob's second big day after his birthday

When the highlight of the ceremony was approaching Jakob got a little bit more unsettled as it seemd that he wanted to play with the water rather than only having it poured over his head. Sandra almost struggled to hold him steady and as soon as the first drop of water touched Jakobs still hairless head he started complaining loudly. Somehow we were not really surprised about the scope of the reaction, even though we were optimistic that he would not mind the water as he loves babyswimming and bathing. But quite obviously its something completely different.

The moment of truth

Lateron there were a few more very moving moments in the ceremony like when Heidi wanted to recite a short poem for our sunshine but choked and had to ask her sister Renate to step in for her or when Sandra, Ines, Stefan, Markus' dad and Markus recited their intercessions. At the end of the service Jakob was all delighted again and was very pleased once the worship was over and he was allowed to "play" with the water while Flo took some pictures.

Finally allowed to have some fun!

After the Agape in the foyer of the church we made our way to nearby Heuriger Kroiss, which is run by one of our friend's brother where we had booked the back room for food and drinks. While Jakob slept for more than an hour after the exertion of the christening the rest of us enjoyed the delicious homemade food, wine and grapejuice. Once Jakob was awake he received lots of presents from all the guests - some for right now (various toys) and others for later in his life (cutlery or a savings plan for his first iPhone) - he was in a good mood and had a lot of fun with the gifts and guests. The early dinner was rounded up with delicate cakes prepared by Markus's mom and Andrea before we headed back home where the big day was concluded with a large bottle of champagne we had on the health of our little sunshine.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Its time for bracketology again

Thursday night the US College basketball was moving back into the spotlight with March Madness, the annual tournament of the 64 best teams for the national title kicking off. With the crowds in the arena being noisy and loud to a level it hurts and the players on the court being fully motivated the nickname of the tournament has a very strong fundament.

Markus has been following the season relatively closely thanks to the subscription to
ESPN America and realised that the NCAA Division I was lacking key characters in the season 2010. After a very strong class of 2009 a lot of players left college hoops behind and either finished their college career or opted early for the big money in the NBA. Some of them like Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry managed to become important players in their Rookie season in the world's best an most spectacular league while highly ranked players like Blake Griffin(out due to an injury), Tyler Hansbrough or Hasheem Thabeet have not taken off (yet).

The destination each of the 64 teams wants to reach: Indianapolis

While the NCAA tournament will for sure be a very intense and interesting set of games where players like Sherron Collins and Marcus Morris (Kansas Jayhawks), John Wall, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky Wildcats), Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler (Duke Blue Devils), Andy Rautins and Wes Johnson (Syracuse Orange) will have to do their best to reach the Final Four in Indianapolis in early April. Markus believes that Kentucky, albeit the team is very young yet talented, has best chances to crown themselves national champion with John Wall being the Naismith College Player of the Year. The next weeks bring clarity and Markus will be there to follow the developments.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stories of a weekend

With Markus being very busy travelling again a lot for business purposes weekends have become very important again for all of us and so we try to spend as much time together as possible. During the week its sometimes only possible for Markus to spend some time in the morning with our junior as he is coming home only late and due to the fact that Jakob is making huge steps in his development he does not want to miss any minute. Our little energetic sunshine is doing a lot of workout these days crawling already through the whole living room and using any possibility to stand up. Not only that we have to secure the stairs and flowers but Markus also bought and mounted glass doors to the TV rack so that the Playstation 3, surround system and HD-Box are safe.

Gosh! I was supposed to practice in secret!

The past weekend was clearly dominated by friends and family as Stefan and Viki joined us on Saturday for some shopping in the city whereas Jakob was wide awake in the pram up until the point where we have been so hungry that we wanted to go to Burger King, eat and return home. As we approached the entrance to the restaurant he fell asleep and so we scrapped the food-plans and Kerstin dived into the shops for some outfit for the upcoming christening. Unfortunately she came back after more than 1 hour (J still fast asleep) very frustrated and without outfit. She is thinking of a Plan B now. Saturday evening Ines stopped by after her massage course and stayed with us for the night.

Sunday morning Markus took care of Jakob while Kerstin visited family Moelzer in order to pick up the "cage" for our little one and in the afternoon family Strutz joined us for a walk in the Prater, lunch that Markus prepared and a nice and easy going Sunday afternoon. Anna and Jakob discussed a few things in a language we did not understand and us parents discussed a few things which we assume our kids did not understand. That way we all had some benefit. And after some fun for Jakob in the bathtub a nice weekend found an end followed by an early pickup for Markus on Monday morning for a 1-day trip to Frankfurt followed by meetings in Vienna on Tuesday and two days in the polish capital Warsaw. But the next weekend is coming soon.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, March 13, 2010

8 months - Tropic of cancer

Today we have reached yet another level with Jakob reaching the age of 8 months. The past weeks have been very exciting and interesting as one could really see development on a daily basis. Slowly but surely our junior developed some more independence by learning to sit himself upright, turning over and since more than 1 week now to crawl.

Not holding a speech (yet) but practising for the next step

With Jakob now being mobile he is trying at any point of time to follow his curiosity and explore the surrounding area. Electronic equipment (preferably iPhones) are topping the list of "most interesting items" followed closely by flower-pots and toys. Apart from crawling the little one has also improved his ability to stand up and is trying permanently to find someone or something to hold on to and get into the standing position. Alongside the mobility the dangers have increased aswell and so we now have to be more alert than ever.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Top of the Rock

Saturday morning Markus was woken up by a warm ray of sunshine at 0615 even though the night before was a rather long one. From his bed he could see a blue sky and that view provided him with so much energy that he got himself ready and went for a run in the Central Park. By no means was he alone with this thought. Not only was the Park crowded with many runners but there was also a bicycle race going on in the green lung of Manhattan. Markus did almost reach the very north end of the Park when he turned around and after 50 minutes he reached the hotel again. Not tired, but rather fresh. After a warming shower he crossed the street for a large Latte at Starbucks which gave him energy for his last day in New York.

It was far too nice to enter the Museum of Modern Art

As most of the shopping (damage) has been done already on Friday Markus targeted the nearby Rockefeller Center for a view over the city. The Top of the Rock viewpoint is probably the best place to overlook not only Manhattan but all the five boroughs and more. Within less than a minute he reached the 67th floor of the Rockefeller Center – which is home to TV channel NBC and famous for its Christmas tree every year – and once he stepped out from the elevator he was stunned by what he saw. Pictures of New York from a bird’s eye view are not uncommon, but seeing it with the own eyes is by far more impressive. The clue sky and sunshine enabled a wonderful view even in the distance and surprisingly it was less windy and warmer than at the bottom. Hence Markus spent more than an hour on the top, enjoyed sunshine and the great view of the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty in the distance, Queens, Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn , Staten Island, the Hudson and the East River.

Sunshine, no wind and THIS view. Just perfect.

Once he was back down in the streets of Manhattan he did some m ore shopping, had a Big Mac meal for lunch on Times Square and sucked up as much of the atmosphere of this vibrant city as possible before heading back to John F. Kennedy Airport in order to board his flight back home. After dinner on the plane and helped by a few glasses of red wine he slept for several hours waking up just in time for breakfast. Vienna welcomed Markus with a hint opf winter again - temperau=tures below 0even managed to get some sleep before landing in Vienna where he finally saw Jakob and Kerstin again. One thing after all is very clear though: "Markus and the City" will be continued. Most likely he will not be alone in the second season.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Who wants to be smart and who stupid?

Thursday started very early for Markus as the conference registration started at 0700 and due to the jet lag he woke up, but felt rather bad. The reason for the horrible feeling was definitely the sleep deprivation and not the fact that the New York Knicks used DJ Oetzi’s “Hey Baby” to get the crowd going the night before (which actually worked and the whole Madison Square Garden was noisy!). As the day progressed and the conference went well Markus felt better and better. For the late afternoon, when all meetings were over cocktails in the top floor of the hotel were planned giving a stunning view over Central Park and before they started Markus went top the room to freshen up and relax a bit. Unfortunately the next thing he remembered was waking up in his suit at 20.45 when the drinks were long over. He overslept. With almost 3 hours sleep on his account he was fresh and decided to go out for a walk, explore the city and have dinner somewhere.

Based on that, what is your answer to the initial question?

Friday morning Markus was top-fit and took more meetings than he initially planned until the conference ended at 15.30. He then got changed and walked down south towards lower Manhattan. And once he has left Midtown he saw a completely different New York. The streets got narrower and a bit dirtier, the fire-ladders (famous from various movies) suddenly appeared everywhere and the mix of people was completely different. After one hour of walking down 56 blocks he has reached the first destination of his “journey”: the Hollister store at 600 Broadway. He spent another hour inside the store of this new brand of Abercrombie & Fitch browsing through the three storeys of the store for numerous pieces of clothing that he has been highlighted by Kerstin, Lini and Peter.

Q1 sales of the A&F Group have to be strong after Markus’ visit

As he has been rather successful the next part of his walk towards the south tip of Manhattan was a bit more of hard work as Markus had to carry three shopping bags as well. By the time he reached the financial district not only the sun has set but also Markus was pretty tired. Nevertheless he wanted to see the building of the New York Stock Exchange in the famous, yet tiny Wall Street (it is rather an alley) as well as the 9/11 site. This huge hole in the middle of the Financial district has brought back the memories of the horrible events back in 2001 which he saw live on TV in his first months working in London and made him reflect and remain silent for a moment.

The twin towers are definitely missing here. As well as the lives of many!

The long journey ended first in an Irish pub in Greenwich village for a pit stop and a refreshing beer before crossing the street to a small Italian restaurant in Spring Street called Giorgione in which he had dinner with some colleagues. After the dinner they moved on to a small bar nearby for a few more drinks and they hit ground in the hotel at 0200 very tired.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, March 4, 2010

TMac blows out the Rip

Markus’ flight took of with approximately half an hour delay at 11.56 and was very smooth and did actually go by quite fast, even though Markus did not manage to sleep albeit the flat bed Austrian offers in business class. So he enjoyed the food, listened to lots of music and watched “Up in the air”, a movie with George Clooney about a frequent traveller (does that sound familiar?) as well as a few episodes of CSI New York to be prepared for the Big Apple. Upon an on-time arrival the Markus adrenaline level jumped as he could not find his passport and immigration documents anywhere. Only after a search for ten minutes and all passengers exiting ahead of him he found it well hidden in one of the storage compartments.

Somewhere over the Atlantic

As immigration into the US in the end was unproblematic and also the taxi-ride to the Parker Meridien Hotel, just by Central Park, was smooth and quick the stage was set perfectly for the first highlight of the New York trip: Markus has bought tickets for an NBA game in the Madison Square Garden. Together with a colleague he walked the few blocks south towards MSG and picked up his ticket for the matchup of the New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons.

The gladiators are being introduced to the crowd...

As the game was not sold out it was no problem for Robert to buy a ticket in the same block and so they enjoyed a good American show with beer, hotdogs and a highs-coring game. As both the Knicks and Pistons are not really part of the strongest teams in the NBA this season the game quality was not outstanding, but there was quite a few spectacular moves and a lot of room for American showtime. In the end the home-team around Tracy McGrady beat the Rip Hamilton’s Pistons by 24 points. After the game Markus and Robert walked back to the hotel via Time Square and Markus soon fell asleep with a view over Central Park in order to be ready for the conference

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To the five boroughs

Wednesday morning it was time to say „Good Bye“ again when Jakob and Kerstin drove Markus to the aiport for yet another business trip. While the two moved on to visit Anna and Lini at their flat Markus boarded a plane to a new destination. Unlike the most recent trips he this time headed for a long-haul trip to New York where he was attending the largest investor conference for Emerging European Equities in the United States. It is his first trip ever to the financial capital of the world and so the excitement was quite big when after thorough security checks he finally sat on the Boeing 767-300 waiting for pushback and take-off for the 10 hour flight from Vienna.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, March 1, 2010

A moving weekend

While Markus spent 2 days in London visiting some of his clients in the UK Jakob and Kerstin did enjoy the spring-weather in Vienna as much as they could and the junior has made some big further developments during the past few days. Thursday was a really busy day as firstly the last session of the baby-swim course took place and after another 30 minutes in the warm waters of the Dianabad Jakob received his “diploma” for successful completion of the “pollywog”. As the little one liked the swimming so much he continues already this week with course #2 and he is now aiming to become a sea horse. After the course Jakob slept well in his pram and in the afternoon Anna and Lini came to our place and both Anna and Jakob enjoyed the sunshine on the floor of our living room. Later on that afternoon Fabio and Marina stopped by for a visit and the two boys did check out in detail the educational and musical toy which Jakob stresses very often.

Are they playing or fighting?

On the weekend the nice weather remained and so we spent a lot of time outside on Saturday and did visit Heuriger Kroiss where we will have the lunch for the family after Jakob’s christening in 3 weeks time while on Sunday we walked all the way from home to Laurenz, Claudia and Olli’s place – that way Jakob managed to get some 90 minutes sleep – for a brunch at which we were also joined by Maria, Valentin and Mirko. The three juniors were very peaceful (when Valentin turned the sofa into a piece of art with a painted heard he was very quiet) and the afternoon went by very smoothly. As Jakob did not sleep for more than 4 hours – he was nevertheless absolutely easy going – we also walked all the way back home allowing again for some sleep. Once we reached home our junior did what he was indicating every so often the past few days: he crawled forward! Accompanied by a lot of noise he moved a few metres (or was it less?), really enjoyed himself and it seems that the door is open now for more mobility I our house. Apart from crawling our sunshine has also perfected to get up into a standing position, whereas he still has to improve to sit back down again. Currently he is reaching that goal only by letting the hands go and fall on is bum. Due to the diapers the drop is cushioned though.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus