Sunday, May 30, 2010

Getting rid of the fleas

It is amazing how much stuff one is buying throughout the years and either not using it at all or not using it anymore while very often the items are in ok to good condition and it’s a shame to throw them away. Hence we are collecting such treasures in boxes and every two/three years we are selling the stuff on the most busy flea-market in Vienna – the one at the Naschmarkt. The slots are being sold 6 weeks in advance and during the high-season (April-September) they are usually sold out within minutes of the opening of the online registration on Monday morning. Maria managed to get us a spot six weeks ago for the past weekend and hence Mirko, Geri, Stefan, Viki, Oliver and Markus met at 0430 in the morning starting to sell all our “unwanted” goods to interested buyers. The first few hours are probably the most stressful as professional traders are immediately surrounding the cars, browsing through the boxes and are more or less acting like vultures over a dead animal in the desert.

We did almost everything to get rid of our stuff!

The good thing about that early appearance is though, that a large bulk of our stuff – ranging from clothes, shoes, bed linen, toys and dishes to more demanded good like bikes or electronic equipment – within the first hour. As we were lucky with the weather – it was sunny and warm – we saw a beautiful sunrise at ca 0630 having a healthy breakfast with sausages and beer and that was also the point when we started the more aggressive mass-sale process where pieces of clothes were offered at between 0,5 and 2 Euros in order to get rid of them. By lunchtime, after a final push in the “Happy Hour” (1 plastic bag filled with whatever fits in for 1 EUR) we finished, went for lunch in Kunsthalle Cafe at Karlsplatz with our revenues and enjoyed the rest of the warm early-summer afternoon. Judging by the relieved faces of our neighbour sellers they were glad to see us price-dumpers disappear as we probably destroyed their market pricewise. As we won’t be back for at least two years we have had no hard feelings though.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not in bed with Madonna, but close to the king & queen

While the Austria was pretty wet and countries like Hungary, Slowakia or the South of Poland are drowning from the rain, the Nordic region presented itself in perfect condition and so Markus was enjoying sunshine and mild temperatures throughout his roadshow. When leaving Tallinn on Tueday evening for Stockholm the group did already say "Good-bye" to the sunshine as the forecast for the Swedish capital was far less promising. The surprise and joy was big when a warm breeze welcomed them and they realised that the early summer temperatures have followed them across the Baltic Sea.

Can you spot the king?

Upon arrival at the Hotel, the traditional Grand Hotel in which celebrities like Madonna tend to spend their nights in Stockholm Markus learned about another surprise: an upgrade to a room with view of the bay, Royal Palace and parliament. After a delicious dinner in nearby Wedholms Fisk, one of Stockholm's best fish restaurants, Markus had a perfectly relaxing sleep and was woken up by sunshine - again. This was an excellent start to a busy day at the end of which he finally could cuddle Jakob and Kerstin again back in Vienna.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reaching a new destination

Sunday was a cold, rainy and windy day in Vienna which we spent all day at home. Our guests hit the road just before lunchtime after lengthy breakfast to get back to Vorarlberg. Due to an accident in Germany which caused them spending more than 4 hours in a traffic jam they did reach home safely, but obviously exhausted. In the evening also Markus left the Vienna for a three day trip to the Nordic region visiting clients in Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Sweden leaving Jakob and Kerstin on their own.

More hair than our junior but the sound is missing

While Markus has been travelling to most of the countries already in the past, Finland was so far a white spot on his travelling map and so he was quite happy to be able to finally tick also that box. The further north he travelled the nicer the weather and so Helsinki welcomed him with sunshine and warm 20 degrees – seems like a good omen. When he entered his room in the funky GLO Hotel right in the city centre a wild creature expected him in his bed: The GLO Beast, a fury merchandise tiger. Immediately he was reminded of our little sunshine and his animal like sounds he tends to make all day long.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Do we smell freedom?

On Thursday after lunch grandma Heidi and the Meiers have arrived in Vienna for a long weekend with us. Werner’s initial plan was to cycle all the way from Hoerbranz to Vienna in several stages as a test run for a bicycle race in a couple of months time in Italy, but due to the weather forecast he ditched it and so the three came by car for a few days in the Austrian capital. Jakob was delighted to have company on his 10 months anniversary and the following days, and was on top form clearly enjoyed the extra attention he received.

Hey! There is three more people playing with me!

Friday night Kerstin and Markus took the opportunity and went out for the first time in more than 10 months together in the evening. Once Jakob fell asleep we got ready for having a few drinks in the Rochus, a bar/restaurant within 5 minute walking distance on Landstrasser Hauptstrasse. Having three babysitters present it seemed like a perfect opportunity and after Kerstin got rid of her initial nervousness we did enjoy the 90 minutes on our own outside our flat. After two drinks and no emergency phone call from home we decided to return home and there we found Jakob sleeping peacefully in his bed. As he fell asleep in our bed it was quite obvious that he was awake in the meantime and could be put back to sleep by grandma. Whether that has been the first step to more freedom for us parents? We shall see!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finally double digit! 10 months

We have finished another month and are now already in double digit (months) figures. During the past weeks Jakob has made another leap in his development as he is now crawling very fast, standing up regularly, standing pretty securely and even walking already when he has something to hold on to. Given Jakob is already very mobile we have several security gates installed in order to protect him from injuries (the many stairs in our flat turn out to be not so ideal) and yet he is surprising us very often with the pace at which he reaches the risky parts of the flat like stars, drawers or open doors.

Climbing is fun. Without a shadow even more so!

As our sunshine has also become pretty confident and secure in climbing up the stairs (usually with one of us right behind him) he sometimes surprises us on the second or even third level of the staircase if we are not preventing him for a second from approaching the stairs. Even though Jakob is a very jolly fellow he has developed his own personality further and is now sometimes pretty angry when we disallow him to play with certain items like speakers or power outlets and is trying several times from different angles to approach them. As obviously we try to prevent that as well we every now and then hear an outburst of anger. We are entering the phase of education!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Sunday was our real first mother’s day with all necessary ingredients present as a year ago Jakob was still well hidden. Given that we arrived late on Saturday the preparations for Kerstin’s big day were rather limited and needed improvisation. Markus and Jakob got some help from the weather as Sunday morning was sunny and warm and thus the two gents left home for a walk together and picked up some fresh bread and newspapers for breakfast on the balcony while Kerstin could rest and get fresh. With Jakob sleeping well and long we could really enjoy a peaceful breakfast and by the time our little sunshine woke up we were finished and we could dedicate our time 100% to playing with him.

Jakob used the time on the terrace to play and work out

Later on we relocated to the terrace, which we laid out with a green grass carpet, pillows and blankets, protected junior with some sun crème and provided him with some toys. Jakob enjoyed himself up there and explored the terrace while he luckily disregarded most of the plants and focussed on child friendly toys and we enjoyed the setting as well with refreshing Aperol Sprizz. When it was time for Jakob’s afternoon sleep we dived into the sea of “mother’s day tourists” who flooded the Prater just as every year. It’s very obvious why this area of Vienna is so popular on a sunny weekend given the fresh air, peace due to no traffic and numerous possibilities for children to play. When we returned home we realised again how lucky we are to live so close to the Prater as we were not stuck in traffic on the way towards the city. The traffic chaos and sometimes even aggressive behaviour of some drivers can destroy a lot of the recreation gathered beforehand while we can have a drink on the terrace and watch the chaos develop. As we locked the chaos out the three of us enjoyed a calm and nice Sunday evening ending a great long weekend together.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Easy-going saturday

Saturday was rainy in the morning and as we have been pretty tired from Friday’s tour we were happy to take it easy. Hence we had breakfast, went for some food shopping to the alimentary nearby and started packing our stuff. Given we were the only guests the hotel granted us a very late check-out in the late afternoon which was very generous and gave us the opportunity to get ready for our journey home without stress.

Warm water and the bubbles are not smelly

Around lunchtime the rain did stop after all and Sandra & Flo decided to go for another hiking tour, which the three of us declined though to participate in. Instead we went for a walk after Jakob had his lunch and allowed him a good rest in the stroller before heading to the Spa area again in the later afternoon. Jakob yet again loved it in the Jacuzzi and showed us all his skills which he learned at the babyswim course. The activity made him properly tired and hungry and after having his dinner in Sandra & Flo’s room it was time to say goodbye to them (they stayed for another night and finally had the opportunity for some romantic time together!) and so we headed back towards Vienna which we reached shortly after midnight.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Climbing up in a watchtower

Friday morning the mountains where hidden behind fog, but there were signs of blue sky breaking through and so we had extensive breakfast anticipating a hiking tour as planned by Flo. When Jakob has finished his morning sleep and once we have bought some food and drinks for the tour we got ready and at 1100 we set off. Sandra and Flo carrying “normal” backpacks, Kerstin with a normal sized but heavily loaded backpack (someone had to carry Jakob’s food) and Markus with Jakob + some more stuff for the three of us in a Jack Wolfskin Watchtower Pro child carrier, borrowed from Lissi & Geri.
Ready for the nature

Jakob loved his rising seat which not only provided him with a decent overview but also gave him some thrill as he was shaken like on a rocking horse. As Flo has selected the direct and very steep route towards the Santa Croce, several hundred meters above our hotel Markus was very glad that Jakob did motivate him with some funny sounds. Maybe it was not motivation but rather complaints about the slow pace, but we wont find out. After an hour of ascent we almost reached the cable car’s middle station from where our goal was not too far away, and where we planned to provide our sunshine with his lunch, but Jakob demanded food at matter where we were and so we stopped and had lunch/picnic in the woods.

Nothing is better than a good sleep after a hard day's work

Once the lunch was eaten Jakob wanted to explore the area, but the snowmelt made the rather steep place not very child friendly and as a consequence he was rather upset and annoyed. Thus we decided to let Sandra & Flo continue the hiking tour on their own and the three of us started the descent via a longer but flatter route. Shortly after separating from Sandra & Flo Jakob got very quiet and ultimately fell asleep in his high-seat. The fresh air at 1800m did its work and made our sunshine very tired even though he did not have to climb any rock.

The spa area in our hands

While we enjoyed coffee and Aperol Sprizz in the hotel bar Sandra & Flo returned from their tour and we soon headed to the Wellness area of the hotel which has been opened especially for us (a deal Flo struck with the owner when booking). Hence we had the Jacuzzi, sauna and steambath as well as the relaxing area completely to ourselves and we used that to the limit for almost 2 hours. Jakob enjoyed the Jacuzzi as well as the relaxing area and we al had some good sauna sessions which is one of the best things after a day of skiing or hiking. Given the exhausting day we decided to have dinner again at the local pizza place and fell dead into bed at 2200. Another tough day is ahead of us.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, May 7, 2010

Surprise, Surprise!

This weekend we have planned our first holiday on a very special occasion: Jakob’s godmother Sandra turned 30 on Thursday and she wanted to celebrate it away from home in a surprise location selected by Flo. But not only that she was not aware of where they would spend the long weekend, she also did not know that we planned to surprise her there too. And so Kerstin and Markus got up early on Thursday morning transferring a sleeping Jakob into his car seat and set off towards South Tyrol at 0300. After having breakfast at the service station Hochfelln in Germany Jakob used for the first time the borrowed proper car seat instead of his MaxiCosi and clearly enjoyed the new visibility. Shortly after Innsbruck we stopped at McDonalds for some activity for our junior before we crossed the Brenner alongside many lorrys and headed through the puster valley towards our destination: Alta Badia.

One needs some action and activity during a long trip

Flo has booked the very nice family hotel
Cavallino just by the church in Badia and as currently there is no real season (winter season is over and summer season has not started yet) we turned out to be the only guests which makes us feel like a part of the family here. The rooms are large, nice and newly decorated, the bar is open and offers both good espresso as well as Aperol Sprizz and we are enjoying a stunning view from our rooms. Once Sandra and Flo have arrived we did surprise her with a champagne, a cake and flowers and spent all Thursday afternoon together before heading across the street to the only restaurant that is open these days – the local pizzeria. We hit the bed early as our plans for Friday foresaw a hiking tour in the Dolomites.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A nosy & fast omnivore

The past weeks have been pretty busy and yet enjoyable. While Markus was increasingly active again travelling and visiting clients both in Vienna and abroad Jakob improved his pace of crawling, his ability to stand up and is even walking already when we give him a hand. That said, our living room looks more and more empty as we had to remove almost everything that is not fix attached to the floor or the wall. Our junior also loves to dig the potting soil in our flowerpots and also tends to taste it. Given that the temperatures have increased to an early summer level we did spend some tome on our roof terrace and Jakob always used that opportunity to indulge on his passion.

The stroller race between Serik (Markus' ex-boss' son) and Jakob

Jakob seems to love mother nature as he really enjoys himself outdoors – be it on the terrace, be it racing in the stroller through the woods or be it on the meadows of the Prater. He is not sitting quietly in one place but crawling around in order to explore the surrounding area, chasing ants, picking up leaves and plucking flowers and grass or playing with any shoes left unattended. As he is still right in the middle of the oral phase he is trying to taste everything and it is one of our main duties at the moment, to prevent him from feeding himself with soil, leather, rubber or sand instead of freshly cooked meat and vegetables, fruit and his beloved evening porridge.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus