Monday, September 27, 2010

Three days - three different activities

Last week was a pretty busy one for us: On Tuesday the three of us attended a small playgroup in the nearby "Kreativraum" during which a group of 10 little ones between 10 and 15 months were singing, dancing, drawing pictures and playing music. After a slow start into the one hours session Jakob was warming up and really enjoyed the course and luckily another 8 sessions will follow over the coming months.

On Wednesday morning Markus' parents and brother came by and after coffee an cake on the terrace Stefan, Kurt and Markus got on their bikes heading out west. The three guys followed the Wiental bike trail towards the Vienna Woods. In the meantime Viki joined Eva, Kerstin and Jakob for some shopping on Landstrasse whereas the main target was warm shoes for autumn/winter for our junior. After a 2,5 hour gentle tour with some ascent towards the end of the journey the three sports-men reached their destination: Gasthaus Mirli, a nicely set restaurant in Tullnerbach with pigs, sheep and other animals nearby. While refreshing with apple juice the four shoppers as well as Ines & Peter arrived and we all managed to enjoy
the sunshine together on Mirli's terrace. The scenery is great and with all the animals nearby this is a great place to spend an afternoon with children followed by good food not too far out of town. We concluded the family day with nice dinner inside and reached home at 2200 with Jakob fast asleep in his car seat.

Next day in the morning we got ready for some splish-splash as Jakob joined the baby-swim course again. Due to our trip to Mallorca he has missed the first lesson, but in Spain he was able to practice a lot and so he was all eager running and jumping into the 32 degree warm water in Dianabad. As one could expect Jakob was yet again the loudest and most active member of the group, enjoyed himself in the water and tasted the water several times. But as long as he has fun, we don't really mind and given he is sleeping well after having lunch right after the course we managed to do some shopping in the city as well.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meat, bones and stairs

Since our return from Spain we have settled again at home after several rounds of washing, re-filling our fridge and getting into the Viennese rhythm. On Sunday we met with Markus uncle Peter and his partner Hedi, Markus cousin Peter jr. and Viki & Stefan in the nearby Schweizerhaus, a beer garden which is an institution in the Prater and famous for its Stelze - a rear pork knuckle. As to our all surprise the weather was very nice warm and sunny we had a table outside which allowed us to enjoy the real Schweizerhaus atmosphere. For Jakob this meant loads of broken stones to play with, many people to greet and a cool playground ion the middle of the beergarden. What it also meant was a new experience. After having eaten together with Kerstin half a grilled chicken he surprised us all when he tried the real stuff and really liked to chew on the pork knuckle which was half as large as himself. There is no doubt anymore that our junior is able to eat EVERYTHING.

No worries: Its a pork knuckle and not a human bone!

After the "power lunch" on Sunday Jakob did make another leap in his development of skills on Monday when not only he for the first time walked (on all four though) up the whole flight of stairs in our flat, but he also for the made his way down without holding on to neither Markus nor Kerstin but only by holding on to the handrail or moving down backwards. Once the new skills were learned we spent a wonderful afternoon in the zoo visiting the tigers, lions, seals and elephants, including the elephant calf Tuluba and enjoying the sunshine and nice late summer weather. When we came back home the first thing our sunshine did was to train his new skills over and over again and thus making us move up and down a lot as well.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mallorca - There and back again

For the past 2 weeks we have been offline. During that time we have enjoyed our first family summer holiday and experienced a great time on the Balearic island of Mallorca. We left for the airport in the morning of Monday September 6 and Jakob was clearly excited about our departure as he did not sleep at all that morning and also during the 2 hour flight there was no sign of being tired. He explored the airplane, had fun with the crew and entertained the people in the front rows with his sounds (some would call it screams), laughter and other activities. After the arrival at Palma airport though our sunshine got very quiet and soon after having left the airport in our hire car he was fast asleep in his car seat.

An airplane features lots of interesting stuff.

For our 10 day holiday we have booked an apartment at Apartamentos LEO in Port de Pollenca, in the north-east of the island which is approximately 50 minutes drive from the airport and the main city Palma, both located on the West Coast. Our apartment was very nice and calm (there were hardly any other guest in the complex during our stay) and so had the small pool which was located right in front of our terrace all for ourselves. While one normally would be very happy about a pool in which one can jump into in the morning from the terrace, we were not so comfortable with the situation, as we were afraid our nosy junior would fall into the pool. Even though Jakob was indeed very often very close to the brink, he never fell into the water. It seemed that he had enough respect of the wet element to not get too close.

The pool was interesting, but no hazard.

Our activities on Mallorca were not predefined only vaguely: we wanted to spend time on several beaches throughout the island (hence the hire car) whereas we decided rather spontaneously where to go. Our "home beach", Platja Port de Pollenca was ca 15 minutes walking distance from the apartment and never too busy. Once Jakob was there though, the noise level increased big time as he greeted almost everyone who passed by with a loud "Ahhh" and luckily both the Spaniards as well as the large amount of Brits on the beach (most of them also with children) were very responsive and did not seem bothered by our junior. The same was true actually on the other beaches we went to. Apart from meeting and greeting many people Jakob also got to know both sand and salt water and he loved them both more and more the longer we stayed. Swimming, digging sand, destroying anything mom or dad built, sipping the water and eating sand were the most loved activities on the beach.

Water is fun. Especially if dad is underneath.

Before leaving for Spain we were most concerned about Jakob's reaction to the food and drinks and thus had taken along all sorts of drugs for him in case of diarrhea. Fact was, that Jakob ate huge portions, filled the diaper sometimes three times a day, but never "soft" and thus we were glad to take the drugs back home again untouched. We also learned during our holiday, that we can feed our sunshine pretty much everything: He loved to eat olives with anchoas, grilled octopus, jamon iberico and the peak was when he ate half of Kerstin's gambas al ajillo (prawns in oilve oil and garlic!!) at Meson Ca'n Pedro. The gambas were followed shortly after by the bottle of night milk and yet Jakob neither threw up nor had any digestive problems. We probably can say, that we are safe now.

Just before the gambas arrived on the table

While after a week we felt that the holidays are going by slowly the last three days flew by so fast that the whole holiday suddenly felt like having passed by extremely quick. On our flight back home which was late - departure at 2055 - Jakob again greeted everyone getting on the plane and tried to fight sleeping, but as he was so tired he had to give in after what felt like hours of screaming. Our pilot was luckily well experienced as he apparently could hardly hear anything on the radio communication given we were sitting in the first row and Jakob's volume was pretty high and so we arrived safely at home just after midnight.

"I dont want to leave from here!"

While we are sad to not have sun, sea and beach anymore but autumn temperatures we are quite happy to be back home again but are going to return to Mallorca for sure again in the coming years.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, September 3, 2010

A new gem on the roof

Entering the last third of his gardening leave Markus got some inspiration from his youth: When he was a teenager and also as student he used to spend a few days during his summer holidays doing some DIY together with his granduncle Adolf - applying wooden wall panels, laying of paving stones or tearing down walls and redoing whole rooms. It was always hard work, but fun and great to see something new being created with one's own hands.

The lessons he learned many years ago now paid back when Markus decided spontaneously on Monday to tackle a long awaited project: a wooden floor on the terrace. During the morning he drew the sketches of the terrace with exact measures, calculated the necessary wooden beams for the substructure & the bars - we decided to go for larch rather than tropical wood like bangkirai - and In the afternoon of that rainy day he headed off towards one of his beloved stores - OBI - and took along Jakob, Kerstin and Heidi who wanted to pick some stuff up at Ikea next door. More than one hour later Markus left the store as large client (which meant that he got the VAT back!) and his three passengers a little bit shocked as Markus brought along a huge trolley full with the beams as well as screws and some other tools. The question that arose at this point was: One of the three passengers or half the beams? Not surprisingly the beams stayed back in the store and were picked up half an hour later. Tuesday morning Markus went back yet again to pick up the larch bars which have been cut to size in the meantime and spent the late afternoon transporting the wood upstairs onto the terrace. At night, when Jakob slept and Kerstin had her girl's night out - she is on the road a lot these days - Markus moved all plants and furniture from the terrace-to-be-transformed in order to be ready to kick off next day morning.

Wednesday late afternoon: If only all the bars would be fixed already

Monday morning the weather was glorious though chilly and thus perfect for construction works. The first hours were dedicated to building the substructure in order to make the job of fixing the bars onto it easy and smooth. As Jakob was quite keen to wander around the terrace and find out what's underneath the beams the job took a bit longer and so Markus could screw the first bar onto the beams early afternoon. The first few lanes were pretty difficult as they had to be properly straight but at the same time the substructure was still fairly loose. After the fourth lane everything was pretty stable but unfortunately Markus has killed already two drill bits and thus he was scared that he would soon have to stop soon if equipment keeps breaking at that pace. While Jakob liked the terrace with the substructure he was absolutely crazy about helping when the power drill or screw driller were in use. Markus had to regularly stop and let the junior "work" with some tools as otherwise the little one would have gone crazy and so by the evening ca. 1/6 of the terrace was done.

There was someone who helped Markus. Sometimes.

Thursday morning, Jakob's first way was all the way upstairs to the terrace where all the tools were parked and when Markus started working again he had to shut the doors and work as quietly as possible in order to not get too much of Jakob's attention. When Jakob and Kerstin left after lunch to visit Doris, the signs for Markus were all on "GO" and so he worked his way without further damage to any drill bits all over the terrace on his knees only making occasional breaks to drink something or to give the screw driller some time to get recharged. When Jakob and Kerstin came home at 1900 Markus was finished physically, has finished the flooring and fell into bed soon for a good sleep. Friday morning some detailed finishing work was done as well as moving plants and furniture back to the re-designed terrace and in the afternoon our new "lounge area" was open for business.

The result of some hard work.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus