Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hi, my name is Julia!

After first examinations by the pediatritian we are soon setting off home in order to meet Jakob and grandma Heidi who are waiting at home and are very keen to meet the young one already.

Shortly after entering the delivery room at the Ignaz Semmelweisklinik in Vienna and after around three hours of labor our beatiful daughter Julia has been born at 11:17. Given she stayed six extra days in her mobile home she had plenty of time to arrive absolutely ripe and well developed. With her size of 53 cm she is as large as her brother but with both her weight of 3760 g and the amount of hair she outpaces her brother Jakob already.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

We have just entered the Hall of Fame....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tim Taylor instead of Cinderella

Christmas was very different this year as we spent it for the first time NOT in Vorarlberg with Kerstin's enlarged family but instead celebrated this special day in Vienna together with Markus' parents and sister. It was however not only due to the premiere of celebrating Christmas in Vienna a very different feeling this year round, but also due to the fact that we did not really know whether we can follow our master plan for the day or need to quickly re-adjust everything in case our daughter decided to join us. With her calculated due date of December 22nd it really could kick off any day and thus planning was very tricky and when Markus' sister turned sick the night before Christmas Eve the whole situation did not really get any less complicated. As a consequence it was only his parents who arrived in Vienna late morning. After lunch they went for a long walk with Jakob who after awhile fell asleep and slept peacefully in his push chair providing Markus and Kerstin with plenty of time to finish the last preparations. When they came back home our sunshine was (not surprisingly after a long sleep) in very good form and we had coffee, cocoa and cookies in Jakob's room, played a lot got Jakob into festive outfit and waited for the ominous pinging of a little bell.

The last time Jakob saw the tree it was only a green tree...

By the time the dusk set in we suddenly could hear that special sound and all out of a sudden Jakob was very anxious and nervous about what would happen now. Slowly we made our way upstairs and four ourself in front of a beautifully decorated and illuminated christmas tree. Jakob's eyes were all shining and he was truly impressed by what he saw and it took a fews minutes until he dared touching any of the presents underneath the tree. What followed was a very uncommon behavior for a child as Jakob started to pick up the presents from one side of the tree and made his way present by present to the other side. While he claimed each present for himself - pretending he can perfectly well read already - he accepted our objections when it was not the case but helped the respective person unpacking. Once Jakob has unwrapped one of his presents he took his time examining and watching (like the books or hard hat & safety goggles he received), trying (like the ski boots or his skis) or playing with them (like the puzzle he received) and as a consequence the whole procedure took about 1 hour. Only at the very end our junior tackled the largest present which also unraveled the mystery of the hard hat, ear protector and safety glasses - a Bosch mini Work station perfectly fitting the tool box he already has. Tim Taylor and "Tool time" is on now in our flat every day and no more screw is safe. 

"No rushing - I test it all before we can move on!"

As Markus parent's had to go back home right after dinner due to Ines being sick we agreed with Kerstin's mom to travel to Vienna early and so she arrived i the late afternoon on Christmas Day in order to be available to look after Jakob when things are getting serious. So far our princess however is taking her time and seems not to be willing to join us. While Jakob was born on the 5th day after the due date there are no such signs for the second one yet. We are still waiting.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting for ...

The advent season 2011 is a very special one for us for several reasons. Firstly, it’s the first time Jakob is undergoing the lead time to Christmas (almost) fully aware of the meaning of it as both in the kindergarten as well as at home he is learning why we are celebrating this special time and he also made the first acquaintance with the Nikolaus last week Tuesday. On the past weekend the three of us tackled the project "Christmas cookies" with Jakob both rolling out the dough as well as cutting out the shapes. Not surprisingly his endurance is still rather limited and thus we focussed on cutting and baking the gingerbread cookies as well as preparing the short crust on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning Anja joined us to bake the short crust cookies and Jakob was all happy to play around with dough, flour, his rolling pin and the cookie cutters and even more glad he was about "tasting" the dough before reaching the oven as well as the finished cookies as soon as they came out of the oven and have cooled off a bit

Making cookies is big fun and tasty!

As this Christmas we are not only awaiting the arrival of the birth of Jesus the advent time is lived by us in real. Any day our daughter could join us, whereas currently everything is calm still. Obviously we are a little bit nervous and also curious as to whether she is going to be born on the estimated date (December 22nd) or whether she will be a real "christkind" born on December 24th. In any case - we are ready and prepared - on the weekend the boys finished the last necessary bit and assembled - and whenever she is ready she can come. Let’s see when that is going to be the case - we are looking forward to her.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, November 13, 2011

St Martin's Day

On Friday late afternoon Jakob had his first big event at the kindergarten – the annual lantern festival marking the celebrations of StMartin’s Day. Following the tinkering of the lantern a few weeks ago the three of us made our way towards a park nearby our son’s kindergarten together with the lantern at dusk. We arrived shortly before 1630, had the candle in the lantern lit by one of Jakob’s educationists and soon after we strolled through the park altogether. The older children were singing the classical songs “Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne” and “Ich geh mit meiner Laterne” while the Rookies like our sunshine were rather just walking along and looking around what was going on there. It must have been even more funny to watch from outside than it was for us being part of the ceremony.
This is serious stuff!!
After a round in the park the oldest group of children performed a play in English language telling the story of Holy Martin who was a soldier and helped out an old homeless man with half his coat on a cold and snowy night. The children did an excellent job as it is already a challenge at that age to perform a play in generally, but even more so in English (especially as none of them is an English native speaker). The play was followed with one more song before the warm tea, croissant and open sandwiches were served. On our way home Jakob insisted on having the candle lit all the way long and thus Markus had to lighten-up the candle over and over again. That evening Jakob also could only fall asleep with the lantern, sitting on the window board, lit.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, October 24, 2011

A feast with Gruffalo

Sunday afternoon Jakob was invited to his friend Serik's 3rd birthday party. Serik, Fritz & Jade's son, has picked the offices of the Astria Kids Academy as location for his party with 15 of his friends. As usually Jakob was rather shy and quiet in the beginning and it took him a while before he joined into the musical programme the team of the kids academy has prepared. But once the hand puppets have disappeared - our sunshine is not very much into anything that is in disguise - and real instruments as well as balls came into play Jakob was all fired up and enthusiastic and danced, played piano and jumped around.

 Jakob and music go along well

Later on a few parent s performed a little play and we were prepared already to leave the room with our junior as all the characters were disguised. Some more. Some less. Interestingly Jakob was all fine to stay, even when the terrible, terrible Gruffalo - Fritz portrayed him almost perfectly - appeared. Most likely the fact that the Gruffalo was afraid of the "mighty" mouse took away a lot of its scare.

Jakob was respectful, but not scared of Gruffalo
After the performance it was time for pizza and cake and Jakob obviously was all excited about that, taking the seat right next to Serik and sharing a piece of cake with mom and two slices of pizza with dad before playing with the other children (aged between 2 and 6 years) on the slide, improving further his piano skills and collecting the sweets and mars bars that were raining over the children (alongside lots of confetti) from paper buckets as grande finale for the party.

Finally - Food also for the children!
When we reached home at 1800 Viki and Stefan as well as Marina and Fabio were already waiting for us and they joined us for cold dinner and gave Jakob the opportunity to continue playing with a friend in a however more  calm way than at the birthday party and thus conclude a very nice and exciting Sunday.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tinkering a lantern

Thursday started like a normal day for our little sunshine when went to the kindergarten as every weekday with mom and continued as usual with being picked up again after lunch and a nap around 1400. He was however somewhat confused when Markus was back home and in the later afternoon Jakob, Kerstin and Markus at 1600 got dressed and left for the kindergarten again. Never before has Jakob been to the kindergarten in the afternoon and never before dad was coming and staying there. The afternoon got even weirder when Jakob realised that all his group-mates were there as well and all of them had one or two of their parents with them - he has never seen the room so full. The reason for this get-together was easily explained however: It was time for the annual tinkering of lantern for the upcoming "Laternenfest" - Jakob's first big group event in the kindergarten.

I have a job to do! Don't disturb!

We joined the other kids and parents handcrafting, painting and stamping and Jakob had lots of fun applying the colours on the stamps, the paper and bottom of the lantern as well as himself and once the colours have all dried Markus had the honourable duty to assemble all parts together and finish the lantern. By that time Jakob had forgotten that is was late afternoon and a rather uncommon time to be in the kindergarten. He had already eaten 5 slices of supplied cake as the handcrafting obviously was exhausting and he played with his friends just like every morning. Our sunshine was also very proud to show us parents around in the room and present us with all the features - toilets and washing basins in the right height for children, the cupboards for their dishes and the loads of toys the little ones are playing every day. It seemed that he really enjoyed his time with mom and dad in the kindergarten but was very happy when we left for home at 1800 again. After all it was dinner-time!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, September 25, 2011

O'zapft is...

The Oktoberfest in Munich is an institution since 1810 and attracts millions of people each year to come to the Wiesn for singing, dancing and drinking loads of Maß-Beer. This year also Vienna is hosting first time something similar: The Wiener Wiesn on the Kaiserwiese just by the Riesenrad has opened its doors on September 23rd and offers until October 2nd  a similar programme like its big brother in Munich: food, music and lots of beer.

The boys are ready for the Wiesn

As Peter invited us for an afternoon in one of the four tents and so we had a perfect opportunity to get our Lederhosen out of the closet and get dressed up. For Jakob it was the first time ever to wear his leather trousers and after initial doubts he very soon started to like it. Both boys looked almost Bavarian in their outfit when we got on the way to the other side of the Prater. Both Anna and Jakob were initially a little bit scared (or were they overwhelmed) by the larger number of people out- and inside the tent, but after a while they started to enjoy themselves, enjoyed the (sometimes awful) music, danced, chased each other and had a lot of fun.

What a cool ride home!

Several hours and a few Maß beer later we left the Kaiser-Zelt and got on the giant ferris wheel. Even though Jakob has not yet enjoyed this Viennese landmark he was less impressed with the great view over the city but he was more fascinated by the roller-coasters next to the giant ferris wheel. Once we touched ground again his first way led him closer to these roller-coasters and it became pretty obvious to us, that fairly soon our little dare-devil will be going on one of these. We rounded the nice late-summer afternoon up with another premiere: we rode the Liliputbahn ratehr tah  walking the whoel 1,5 km home. Both Anna and Jakob loved it, waved to the people nearby, laughed a lot and were smiling all over. The perfect end to a lovely Sunday afternoon.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jakob's main summer activity: jump around

Since yesterday, when Markus returned to work again, our honeymoon is officially history.During the past two weeks however we probably have seen the best of the best of this summer in Austria: sunshine and warm weather returned just before our wedding ceremony started and remained with us until past Saturday afternoon when it cooled off with a heavy thunderstorm. In between we had almost countless days of ideal weather for the beach or outdoor pool with temperatures reaching up to 39 degrees and very mild (not to say hot) nights. As a consequence we spent almost every day a few hours by the water - be it in the nearby Stadionbad, the Neusiedler See or the St. Martins Therme in Frauenkirchen. Who needs to fly away for honeymoon if tropical weather comes and visits you?

What would we do without the waterslide?

Our junior not only loved the fact that both mom and dad were available for him but also enjoyed the hours we spent outdoors in and by the water. We could quite clearly recognize a certain preference towards pools where he can jump into the water rather than poools or lakes where one has to walk into the water. His enthusiasm about jumping around has been there for a long time - since months Jakob is jumping around at home on and off our sofa like on a trampoline - and this enthusiasm was further fueled by trampolines in the Stadionbad, in Weiden/Neusiedler See as well as in Geri, Lissi & Emma's backyard. Our sunshine used all these occasions to jump around like a rubber ball that seemed to never get tired.

Falling over on the trampoline is sooo much fun!

As mentioned earlier Jakob loves to jump into the water and that was his major exercise at the baby-pool in the first week of our holiday. Over time that was not exciting enough anymore for him and so in the next step he looked out for higher jumps and urged us permanently to join the queue with him for the 3m diving board in the Stadionbad. Not only that the diving pool was massively overcrowded and none of us really ken to jump of the 3m board on our own we clearly vetoed his wish. We had however to strike a deal with him and agreed on a compromise: the starting block 50m pool which is also used for official swim competitions. This block offers a ca. 1m jump into 2,5 m deep water and was just enough for our little crazy water-rat:

While this year the 3m board definitely is a no-go, we are somehow curious and worried about next summer as we are not sure if we can keep him away from that beast in summer 2012.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, August 19, 2011

We gotta feeling

When we woke up on Saturday morning everyone knew its gonna be a special day – not only the adults but also the two juniors Ylvie-Marie and Jakob sensed it. At 10.00 the flat was taken over by the ladies and Markus was kicked out from home. He drove through the rain to pick up his best man Peter and they then moved on to his brother’s flat where the boys had vintage champagne with pizza (unfortunately for all of them the pizza-service added garlic for free and made the experience of the food last longer). When the boys left for the Lusthaus, the location for both the wedding ceremony and the party, the rain has stopped and they could drive through Vienna with Markus’ open convertible. Upon arrival at the Lusthaus, where Sandra, Heidi and Flo have finished the decoration already, some guests have already arrived and thus the 45 minutes to the ceremony flew by very fast.

When Kerstin and the girls – Evi, Lini and Lissi – together with our sunshine Jakob approached the Lusthaus in a horse carriage not only the clouds disappeared but also Markus left. He did not run away but went upstairs where he was awaiting the bride. A few minutes later Eugen, Kerstin’s dad accompanied his daughter into the room accompanies by live guitar music by Kerstin’s cousin Katrin and handed her over to the husband-to-be. The ceremony was personal yet pretty much straight forward and after 20 minutes Markus was allowed to kiss the bride. When a short while later the new family left the room the sky was clear blue and the backdrop could not be more perfect. While we accepted congratulatins from all our wedding guests the impressive Nebuchadnezzar bottle of Veuve Cliquot has been opened, served and enjoyed very much by everyone.

"You now may kiss the bride" - no need to say that twice

For us the afternoon went by extremely fast thanks to a walk through the Prater in order to find the right spot for wedding pictures and it seemed that our friends and family did not get bored while we were away as they all were still present when dinner was served upstairs again. Each table had a little guest in the middle – a beautiful butterfly was circling over the table flowers – and made the whole experience even better: delicious food, sunshine on the balcony, good wine and most importantly a bunch of cool people. Before the party kicked off our group of closest friends – the Bella Familia – presented a lip-dub video of “I gotta feeling” in which they wished us all the best of luck. It was hilarious and moving at the same time and definitely provided the hymn for (at least) our wedding and the first part song our DJ played was – surprise-surprise – ‘I gotta feeling’.

The party started relatively early but lasted long, the dancefloor has never been empty and both the delicious wedding cake as well as the late night goulash soup were highly appreciated by the party-people. Just after 0300 in the morning we closed the shop and we left the Lusthaus. We dropped off Viki and Stefan at their flat before heading to our room for the night – the Romeo & Juliet Suite in the Triest which has been organized by Kerstin’s cousin Anja. As the bar was closed already by that time we had the strawberries and water that was waiting for us in the room before having a wonderful first night of sleep as married couple.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, August 12, 2011

The final countdown

The clock is ticking louder and louder ahead of the big event tomorrow: our wedding. While one would immagine that after 12 years the ceremony is something like a formality, slowly but surely some sort of nervousness appears.

In order to cope with that we have family and friends who are coming to the wedding from outside and arrived already today in town as well as our witnesses Mary and Peter for drinks and BBQ at our terrace. The party weekend is starting!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Typical behaviour in untypical weather

The past 1.5 weeks the weather was anything but summer-like as temperatures dropped into the mid-teens and it was raining a lot. As a consequence we not only could not use our season ticket for the nearby Stadionbad and had to look for alternative entertainment for our junior. On Saturday we initially wanted to do some shopping at a Swedish furniture chain in the north of Vienna, but a combination of construction works and an early morning accident on the A23 made us postpone the trip to the afternoon . When Jakob woke up after a more than two hours long lunchtime nap we got into our car again and wanted to follow an alternative route to Ikea. However the inner city routes were clogged by that time as many drivers used this detour to avoid the still completely blocked A23. Hence we changed plans again, returned home and went into the Prater instead - Jakob was riding his bike and we tried to keep pace with him. We spent time on the playground on the large slide as well as the flying fox and our junior, who is currently ion the phase of “I can do that on my own” ordered us several times to stay away from him and not get near him to help. The following movie is evidence for that:

Sunday was a carbon copy of Saturday with weather not having improved at all, cloudy skies and temperatures below 20 degrees. We decided to go the zoo in the morning before lunchtime as we haven’t been there for ages and only last week Saturday had to call that plan off due to rain. We watched the feeding of the seals which as always has been a highlight. Jakob for the first time watched the whole procedure very concentrated and was laughing lout whenever a seal jumped out to grab some fish. The less than 1 month old newborn seal also used the morning feed to present itself to the public. It was clumsily getting in and out of the water and even made the typical seal-noise the animals make when the demand something (at least they do so here in Schoenbrunn). We afterwards went to the elephants as it started drizzling and hid in the indoor compound until it stopped raining , moved on to watch the white-hand gibbons playing outdoors in the trees and took a glimpse at the newborn giraffe. By lunchtime we were back at home again and spent the afternoon chilling and relaxing before getting to work and to nursery again on Monday morning.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Girls aloud - the story of a hen-night

Part two of our “farewell-to-singledom” took place this past weekend and this time it was the ladies’ turn. Hence Kerstin was picked up from home on Saturday just after lunchtime by her maid of honour Maria in order to kick of a weekend themed “Mad Women”. While Jakob was initially not too impressed with the fact that his mom would be leaving him behind – he tried several times to take off her shoes and make her stay – he soon after the ladies have left could be effectively distracted by playing with grandma Heidi, cousin Ylvie, uncle Flo and Markus. A total of 18 ladies congregated to celebrate Kerstin’s hen-night and gathered at Motto am Fluss for a warm-up and afterwards Kerstin checked into her hotel room, a stylish master suite in Le Meridien by the ring road. The girl’s plan to have drinks in outside the Moet Bar of the hotel but the fact that the funeral procession of the last heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Otto von Habsburg, was just passing by the hotel was a bit too depressing and so the drinks were in the outdoor-loungearea at the back of the hotel. Time now also was ripe for Kerstin to be properly adjusted for the night amongst other stuff with a little black dress and phenomenal high-heels which she was wearing for the rest of the evening.

So close, but no-one dared to jump...

For dinner the group had a reservation in Holy Moly – situated on the Badeschiff, a floating pool on the Danube channel – and they left the restaurant after midnight to hit the dance floor of Platzhirsch located right next to the Meridien. Kerstin not only endured dancing in her high heels for a very long time and only by 0300 decided to shrink by 10cm but also managed to have fun and enjoy the night without any drink while the girls around her had drink after drink after drink. The visit to the sausage stand at dawn however was a must and the sausage tasted similarly good with or without a drink. Having hit bed by 0600 Maria, Evi, Doris and Kerstin had nice breakfast/lunch in Palmenhaus on Sunday morning while Jakob was impatiently waiting at home for his mom and asked in regular intervals about her whereabouts. When the doorbell rang around 1400 and Jakob heard Kerstin’s voice on the intercom one not only could see his joy about hearing mom but also his relief that she returned. Our sunshine was awaiting her by the elevator and embraced her tightly as soon as she left the elevator. We are not sure, when he allows her to go out again without him!

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jakob turned 2 - that has been celebrated!

When Jakob woke up on Wednesday morning he was well aware already that the day would be special as a chocolate cake was "parked" in the air-conditioned bedroom and as a consequence our junior asked for some cake for breakfast. By the time Jakob reached the kindergarten he was confronted with more evidence of a special day: Kerstin took along a (different) cake for J's comrades and he was immediately decorated with a crown and placed right in the centre of a children's circle. Our sunshine seemed to have been fully aware of what all that was about and put forth his hand to every child around him in order to accept compliments and afterwards they all had the delicious chocolate cake. At 1030 both Kerstin and Markus - who took the day off - picked up Jakob from the kindergarten and made their way across the bridge home where grandma Heidi, aunt Sandra and cousin Ylvie were already waiting for us. There was also something else waiting for Jakob: a fully assembled brand-new Duplo deluxe train set - the present from grandma and godmother. Jakob's excitement was so large and he liked playing so much that he completely refused to go to bed for his lunchtime/afternoon nap which we did not like too much given the programme we expected for the rest of the day.

Cool!! I've got my own railtracks!

Just after 1330 the doorbell rang and Markus' family - grandma and grandpa, godfather Stefan and Viki as well as aunt Ines - joined us to celebrate Jakob's 2nd birthday. The weather was very similar to July 13th 2009 with hot temperatures (reaching 35 degrees) and thus we spent actually most of the afternoon in the air-conditioned living room. After the birthday cake - a delicious Sacher cake decorated with a train made of marzipan which Jakob ate straight away - it was time for the second round of presents. This time our junior was allowed to unwrap and he very much liked doing that. He took his time for each present and celebrated the unwrapping procedure and to all our surprise spent some time to play/look at and show around each present before moving on to the next parcel. He is now proud owner of a few pieces of clothing, two more books, a carpet with roads and buildings for playing with cars and a basketball set with a height-adjustable basket and a ball in order to one day follow the steps of dad and godfather. The latter present was tested by all party guests and Jakob was all joyful whenever someone scored and exclaimed a loud "NOOOOO" whenever the basket was missed. Guess what we heard most?

Practice for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest 2032 has started already

Later on we moved up to the terrace where the children's pool was waiting, but for some reason Jakob was less excited about swimming and playing in the water and thus it was mainly the adults - Stefan, Viki and Kerstin - who cooled off in the water. We did not find out whether it was due to Jakob being a bit tired, the water being too chilly or because of the many presents one floor lower. When Anja, Lini, Peter and Jakob's friend Anna completed the round of party guests junior could unwrap yet another present - a "travel highway" with a few toy cars made by Lini which impressed pretty much everyone. The day was concluded with a big barbecue whereas we did eat inside due to the heat that was still intense after 1800 and when bedtime came Jakob was fast asleep within a very short period of time. The excitement of the second birthday was obviously very tiring.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, July 11, 2011

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Past weekend it was time for Markus' stag weekend which was organised and coordinated by Peter, Markus' best man. As it is tradition, the groom has no idea what would happen to him and had to be "ready for take off" Saturday morning at 0830. After a breakfast in Do-An at the Naschmarkt Peter and Markus together with Flo, Stefan, Bruno, Mirko, Geri, Christoph and Oliver got into two cars to drive on to the destination of the bachelor party. Markus, still not knowing where they would end up and what he had to expect, could only guess and was extremely confused when the convoy was split (unintentionally) with one car following the A2 southbound and the other one the S6 westbound. After the re-union on the A2 at the Pack however he was sure that the destination would be the Woerthersee in Carinthia. The guys checked into a hotel in Reifnitz - famous for the annual Golf GTI meeting - the wolf pack, joined now also by Christian, made its way to the lake where they enjoyed the sun, had several beers and did some watersports - wakeboarding and waterski. Markus' 4 wakeboard attempts anded all abruptly after a few metres whereas his 4 water ski attempts at least took him a total 100 metres into the lake.

Markus' outfit for during the day

In the evening the 10 boys met up with Fritz in Velden and Markus got the instruction for his evening's job: an accelerated bookbuilding of 50 useless shares issued by himself and signed by his honorable supervisory board consisting of Mr Madoff, Mr Strauss-Kahn and Mr Kulterer. Via speedboat they crossed the lake to reach Lakeside, a nice restaurant in Reifnitz where Andi and Klaus joined and completed the party guests. After dinner the majority of shares has been placed with other restaurant guests and at midnight the guys crossed the lake by speedboat again to Poertschach where drinks at teh bar of Schlosshotel Miralago and party at Anna W followed. Even though are mostly remembered but remain private.

Sunday was for some people slower than for others, was spent again by the lake in Reifnitz before drinving back to Vienna in the late afternoon.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back in the box

Almost 20 years ago, in March 1992, Markus travelled for the first time to London for a 1 week Easter city break organised by a teacher of his high school. At that time they travelled to Budapest, boarded a British Airways airplane and stayed for 5 nights close to Hyde Park in a pretty shabby hotel on Inverness Terrace. The city left however a great impression on though Markus thinking that he would ever live in London for a while he was sure that he will come back at one point of time.

That is how the City of London looked like in 1992 from Tower Bridge

A few hundred flights later Markus did travel to the airport again o Sunday night – this time it was though the airport in Vienna – and boarded a flight to London again for a whole week of meetings with clients. The weather on the weekend was just fabulous and so we spent all Saturday and Sunday outside on our terrace protected from the sun by our new Soliday sunsail which has been mounted Saturday morning as well as in the Prater where Jakob practiced and further improved his skills on the trainer bike. Given the summer weather and similar forecasts for London Markus decided to leave jacket and umbrella at home and travel light and appropriate for summer. When the plane touched down with an hour delay in Heathrow Markus could not believe his sleepy eyes as it was raining cats and dogs outside and it was pretty cold – at least if one is wearing only a polo-shirt and is used to 30 degrees.

Just larger than a shoe-box - Markus' room for the week

Due to the rain he jumped into a cab at Paddington station to take him to the hotel he was booked into for the week. For any unknown reason London was pretty booked out and so there was no room in any of the usual hotels Markus usually stays, but it turned out that he would not be staying in a new hotel: When the taxi stopped and the cabbie indicated that they have reached their destination Markus yet again could not believe his eyes as he was standing right in front of the hotel he stayed back in 1992! The hotel has got a new name – Grand Royale Hyde Park – but did not change much otherwise from the outside. Inside they seemed to have redecorated and renovated a little bit, refitted the rooms, but the changes can rather be called “cosmetical”. The “big” slap came however when Markus entered the room and found himself in a shoe box. The single bed took 40% of the bedroom, the shower did not allow to turn around and overall the room had an estimated 8 square metres – more memories from 1992 returned to his mind.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A lovely funday afternoon

Following a few colder and overcast days with several rainshowers sunday was again full of sunshine and warm temperatures. When Jakob woke up from his lunchtime nap Valentin, Maria and Mirko have already arrived in the prater and we had agreed to join them and so we did not loose much time and collected all the sand toys, a ball and for the first time we also took along the trainer bike. When Jakob got it for Easter it was just too high by a margin and thus we have hidden it under the staircase and on Sunday we gave it a try. On the way to the prater Jakob struggled to get on well and in order to not spend 1 hour for the 500m we decided to carry the bike and train lateron. Valentin was already heavily engaged playing and Jakob pretty soon joined in chasing the ball, running around and exploring the area.

Arghh!! We forgot the helmet at home!!!

The visit to the sandpit took the afternoon from good to great for the juniors as the warm weather allowed for water to be used and that meant: wet clothes, mud and lots of fun. The fun continued afterwards when the two boys were allowed to run around naked and we were both amused and impressed when Jakob was standing up and chasing all naked and face covered in chocolate to three older boys who were playing "Knights". Only when they started a fight with wooden swords (Jakob liked that a lot!?!?!) Markus intervened and saved the three boys from the fearful duo Valentin and Jakob. On our way home then Jakob was already much better on the trainer bike and he showed yet again a lot of will as he declined all our help and got on the back whenever he fell over again. His attitude in that respect is amazing and we definitely hope that he will keep that also for other issues (like at school).

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Stag night with a 22 months old

No, this entry has nothing to do with the movie The Hangover and the sequel that started in US cinemas this weekend but its about the first evening and night that Jakob and Markus spent together without Kerstin. The teamwork on Saturday afternoon when Jakob helped his dad to fix the bed bonded the two and so the stage was set for a harmonic saturday night and Sunday morning which gave Kerstin the opportunity to spend some time with her cousin Anja, do "normal" stuff like going to the cinema and sleeping in Anja's flat without being disturbed at any time by our junior. The three of left left home on Saturday afternoon to buy some new shoes for Jakob in the first district, Jakob did chase pigeons in the pedestrian zone Kaerntner Strasse and lateron we seperated. While Kerstin moved on to meet Anja after she finished her work in Le Meridien, Markus and Jakob made their way home along the ringroad and through Stadtpark, where our sunshine again used the opportunity and chased pigeons and crows.

Once they arrived home it was football time. Not as a build-up for the Champions League Final in Wembley between Barca and ManU but as game in our living area - Jakob loves to kick the ball and perform his "Tooooorrr" cheer. Dinner for our junior was easily made - the soup and noodles just needed to be warmed up there was no disruption to the fun and there was also no issue getting ready for bed and when the two boys went to bed. Jakob was briefed once more before bedtime that it will be only dad and him that night, he was ok with that and everything went smooth. Shortly before midnight - more or less the usual time - Jakob woke up and was looking for mom insistingly so that for a short second Markus was fearing the worst. But it did not take too long that our sunshine could be reminded of the terms of this night and fell asleep peacefully next to Markus until 0530 in the morning.

When Jakob has woken up Sunday morning he was pointing at the empty space next to him and did say that mom was missing there, but it was more a statement than a scared question. He was all happy, accepted that Markus needed a bit more time to really wake up and was full of energy for the new day. Jakob even declined the morning bottle (or better said mentioned that he does not want one) and was focussing mainly on playing. shortly after 0700 then he indicated that he wold be ready for breakfast and like that the day continued. It does seem that the two boys work well together as it was very harmonic and cooperative, both had lots of fun and Jakob was full of joy when his mom called in. Kerstin enjoyed a long sleep - getting up only at 0830 - after a night at the cinema watching Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and took an easy start into the day. When she arrived back home Jakob was obviously very happy and showed her everything he learned and improved in the past 12 hours. What is however the best takeaway from our "experiment" is that there is a glimmer of hope that Kerstin can leave our junior "alone" overnight with someone else and as Jakob has also significantly improved his bonding to Markus.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Like father, like son

There is countless evidence that Markus very much likes to perform some DIY and mount lamps, assemble furniture, lay wooden floors, build beds etc. There is also evidence however that he has a certain talent but still messes up things every now and then and therefore he probably will never build a house as he is scared of the roof falling on his head. Jakob seems to have a similar stance towards the art of handicraft and prefers a screwdriver or hammer over every toy. The toolbox he received for Easter is still one of the most used toys, there has been a time when it was the first and the last thing he used and played with.

Two experts tackle a problem

The sight Kerstin was confronted with today afternoon was absolutely hilarious. Markus decided to fix a screw that loosened at our lath floor and crawled under the bed. As soon as Jakob realized that a real toolkit was used he got on the floor as well, joined his dad under the bed and provided him with his view of the situation, his idea of how to fix it and also handed him the necessary tool. Like that the problem was solved much faster.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Friday, May 27, 2011

Two premieres within less than 12 hours

Last night it was time for the showdown in the Austrian basketball league with the decisive game 5 in the finals series in Gmunden. While Markus’ brother Stefan and some friends travelled to the Traunsee to watch the game live Markus, Kerstin and her dad Eugen, who visited us late afternoon, watched the lived broadcast on Sky. During the first 10 minutes the Gunners were not really present, Gmunden controlled the game and built up a significant lead and winning the first quarter 24-11. At this point Markus was not concerned at all as so far in the finals the team which has lost the first quarter could win the game in the end. During the following ten minutes the Gunners finally arrived in the game and managed to cut the lead slightly. Whatever coach Asceric told his team in the locker room at halftime, it did the trick and Q3 was clearly won by 16-26 and the lead almost disappeared. In Q4 the Gunners took the lead and to many people’s surprise The Swans’ reaction was unusual for an experienced team like them as they tried to go primarily via their two strongest players, Ian Boylan and veteran D.T. Mayes. The Gunners on the other hand played real team-basketball - the scoring was spread fairly evenly with 6 players scoring in double digits. The result of all that: after 5 unsuccessful attempts the Oberwart Gunners crowned themselves for the first time Austrian basketball champions. Finally. And well deserved.

At a time when most probably the party was still ongoing in Oberwart our day started again with Jakob waking up just before 0600 and making both Kerstin and Markus get up as well. Its truly amazing how fast our sunshine gets up to speed in the morning. Within minutes he is all over the place, ready to play and have fun. Hence Markus had to soon prepare the morning bottle which he prefers to drink together with Kerstin, followed by some cooking in his play-kitchen and some football in the living room. While Markus got ready to leave for the office in Bratislava Jakob got rid of his diaper and indicated to us that he wants to/has to go to the toilet. We have been trying that several times already without any success. Today however we saw a premiere, as our junior for the first time ever took a pee on the toilet. He was very proud of himself and so were we and that’s we we went one step further: Given Jakob just took a pee, we did without a diaper and just put on short pants and told him to let us know again when he need to go the loo. Less than half a minute after that the second wave came and the floor was all wet. Next time we try that again when we are outdoors.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, May 23, 2011

A perfect weekend

Past weekend was spent in Oberwart where Saturday night the Oberwart Gunners were fighting to prolongue their season by 5 more days and to keep the chance for the first championship alive. In Game 4 of the Finals series in which they were trailing the reigning champions – the Gmunden Swans – the team not only was with its back to the wall but also without one of their key players who injured himself in the loss of game three on Wednesday night. After having beaten Gmunden in the first 5 games this season – Oberwart won all 4 games in the regular season as well as it dominated Game 1 of the Finals – the past two games were unfortunately lost by a narrow margin and so it was quite obvious that the Sporthalle Oberwart was packed with supporters pushing the team to tie the series. A relatively nervous start into the game in Q1 which ended 12-18 for Gmunden was followed by an outburst of probably the most enthusiastic player in the Gunners team and the whole league – Hannes Artner. Within 4 minutes he scored 4 three pointers, turned around the game and injected massive self-confidence into the whole team. Great work on the defensive end, nervousness on Gmunden’d side as well as a few additional three pointers Kelvin Parker for the Gunners resulted in the probably game decisive score 28-7 for Q2.

Whoever has thought that the game was over was proven wrong
as Gmunden did work itself back into the game and quite clearly was keen to take home the championship and won Q3 16-22. Also in the beginning of Q4 Gmunden was able to make the game even closer and when Enis Murati dunked the ball on a fastbreak to cut Oberwart’s lead to 65-56 the momentum seemed very much on the Swan’s side again. The following timeout taken by the Gunners however did its trick and the Gunners managed to take control over the game again both on the front as offensive as well as defensive end keeping the lead in the area of 10points and controlled it until the end. When the final time ran out after 40 minutes and the score was 78-67 the whole arena was reliefed and enthusiastic. The fans were chanting “Gmunden wir kommen” and one can rest assured that the traffic between Oberwart and Gmunden will be quite dense this coming Thursday when the decisive Game 5 of this series will tip off at 1930. Fingers crossed, the Gunners can seal the first championship, which would be well deserved for the team, the management and the fans.

Sunday afternoon was very relaxed - as one can see

Sunday morning we spent some time in Markus’ parents backyard playing with Jakob before visiting Michi, Klaus and Nikolaus for barbecue. We were a little bit uneasy as Jakob did not take his lunchtime nap and were worried that our junior would be “difficult” but we obviously underestimated the effect a playing 4.5 year old playing partner and a large backyard would have. Jakob was super happy running around, jumping on the trampoline, climbing up the climbing scaffold, going up- and downhill on the Bobby Car and one could not tell that he has not had a nap. Given the weather was so nice and both our juniors were so happy we stayed until late afternoon and had a second round of delicious BBQ for dinner before putting Jakob into the bathtub and making him bed-ready and, as expected, shortly after we set off towards Vienna Jakob fell asleep – the perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The burden of the Easter Bunny

With Easter being very late this year the chances for nice and warm weather very obviously quite big and we all were lucky as the last 2 weeks have indeed been full of sunshine and warm temperatures almost like in late spring. Even though Jakob picked up some fever, a heavily running nose and strong cough he did take most out of the beautiful weather during his 1.5 weeks with Kerstin at grandma's place in Vorarlberg. He spent a lot of time outdoors, feeding the ducks, playing sand in the backyard or sitting in the newly attached swing on Heidi's terrace. In the meantime Markus back home in Vienna fitted the terraces with new wooden panels as the ones we had laid out turned out to be unsuitable for a terrace which one walks on with bare feet and crawls around. Hence we now ended up with some tropical, but very nice wood on bothg roof terraces. Thursday afternoon after work and after having picked up and registered our new car he set off to follow Jakob and Kerstin to Vorarlberg and spend the Easter weekend with family.

Ready to shoot a new season of "Home improvement"

While the early summer weather continued on Friday and Saturday when we met Mirko and Maria on Bregenz, played and enjoyed ourselves while still fasting Sunday morning was overcast and featured a light drizzle and therefore we expected the easter bunny to hide presents and sweets for Jakob and his cousin Ylvie indoors. The bunny must have had a huge basket on his back as the presents he left behind were quite large - a whole box of lego bricks, shoes and some pacifiers for Ylvie, a trainer bike, helmet and a child-toolbox for Jakob. We knew that the trainer bike is currently just on the limit (Jakob just touches the ground and might need to grow another centimeter or so to really do well) and so we were not too worried about him not using it all Sunday long. We also knew that the toolbox was the perfect gift and ever since he is fixing every screw in the house. Not only has he tightened all loose parts in grandma's place but after our nightdrive back home to Vienna Sunday night he also did some extra work on the terrace and tightened all screws which Markus obviously has not tightened enough when he laid out the wooden floor.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

No sign of pirates in the Caribbean

Over the past years Markus has established a certain tradition by going usually for a weekend long for a sailing trip with his former boss – who is co-owner of a Swan 82 sailing yacht – and friends. While the past trips took them to Sardinia, Sweden and Mallorca the trip in 2011 has been scheduled earlier in the year and to a more exotic destination: the Caribbean. Hence Markus boarded a plane on Thursday morning to Paris and from there on to St. Marteen where the group of 7 got on the Astro de l’Est. Even though the new main sail has not arrived on time for the trip the Swan, a racing yacht, travelled at pretty good speed – more than 9 knots - with only the jib sail for the first three days.

The beaches on Prickly Pears Cays are far from being busy

After a swim in the Caribbean Sea early morning and a healthy breakfast on board they headed on Friday to Anguilla, an Island close to St. Martin where they enjoyed the peaceful bays of Prickly Pear Cays and Sandy Island, an island which consists of nothing else but sand, a bar with a few tables and 5 palms. On Saturday the crew travelled back to St. Martin where the new main sail was picked up and continued further towards St Barths, a mountainous island with a crazy airport – the short runway starts right after a hill and ends on the beach – and some of the most exclusive hotels and clubs. The whole island was preparing for a 5 day regatta - Les Voiles de Saint Barth - and so the marina in Gustavia, the capital, was full with large sailing yachts as well as huge private motor yachts which could be mistaken for cruise ships.

Turquoise sea viewed from Nikki Beach Club

On Sunday the crew was working all afternoon to put the new main sail up – tough work even for the whole crew of 4 people – and so the passengers decided to spend the day in St Jeans in the Nikki Beach Club. The club in St Barths is apparently the most scenic one in the world, not only as it is next door to the Eden Rock Hotel, and thus frequently visited by lots of celebrities who spend their holidays on or off St Barths. The lunch with cocktails served into the sea, delicious food, lots of french Rosé and fine tunes mixed by the DJ lasted all afternoon and the group only returned at 1800 back to the boat which was finally fully equipped thanks to the hard work of the crew. The next destination for the Astro is Barbuda which is reached after an approximately 12 hour trip and thus the yacht set off at 0230 in the morning but beforehand they dropped Markus off in the Marina as his sailing trip ended according to plan on Monday. He spent a night out on the road, had and early start and soaked up a lot of sun at Nikki Beach Club again before enjoying the experience of flying the short 15 min trip to St. Martin and then onwards via Paris to Vienna again where on Tuesday morning he finally could hold Jakob and Kerstin in his arms.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ylvie in da house

Last weekend we had full house as Jakob's cousin Ylvie -marie had convinced her parents to drive her all the way from Bregenz to Vienna in order to be able to spend some time us. At the age of 2.5 months a 630km journey is like a "round-the -world-trip" - we very well remember our first long distance journey! The little lady - similar to Jakob at the time - was well behaved and thus the three reached us after a not too long trip safely. Ylvie has developped very well in the past month, added decently weight and is well behaved as well. There are some similarities to our sunshine as also the little lady prefers to be walked around rather than sitting down with her.

Its not a toy - Its my cousin!

Jakob liked the company very much and from the very morning all we heard from him was "Ylvie" and his first way in the mornjing was to go to the guestroom, open the door and see if she was still there. As if she would have threattened to run a way overnight! But he also liked the Vorarlberg tradition of extened breakfasts every day. One reason why we believe him to like that is that there was always a time when he managed to snatch a bite or too of a roll or bread with delicious Nutella. Even though the weather could have been better we also spent a lot of time outside walking around, playning in the mud and shopping and were not bored at all. With Anja and Gianluca also in town who visited us as well on Saturday evening we have had a really crowded place and all enjoyed ourselves. We were all sad when Ylvie, Sandra and Flo left Vienna again on Sunday morning driving back home and jakob ever since states "Ylvie - brrruumm", telling us that she left by car. As Easter is approaching however we soon will see them again, whereas this time we will be the ones traveling.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, March 10, 2011

2 nights with Sunny Bunny

One should not be mislead by the title of this blog-entry: We did not visit Hugh Hefner's bunny ranch but spent the past days in the Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg, a thermal spa for babies and children 120 km south east from Vienna. When Kerstin left for her maternity leave almost two years ago her colleagues gave her gift vouchers as farewell present and we now finally managed to use these vouchers. The mascot of the Sonnentherme - Sunny Bunny and he is omipresent both in the thermal spa as well as the attached Hotel Sonnenpark which we stayed in and which offers pretty much everything a family with children needs. pushchairs for in- and outdoors, numerous Bobby Cars and Bikes as well as large free space to use them, all sorts of baby food as well as a special buffet at breakfast, lunch and dinner for children, several playing areas for children of all ages and much much more.

Lets get ready to rumble!!

When we arrived on Tuesday afternoon Jakob was fresh and full of power as he was sleeping all the way from Vienna and after a few minutes of acclimatization and getting used to the many children dashing around on the Bobby Cars he soon got into it and was almost unstoppable. Wile speeding around and changing cars every so often he was greeting everyone and by Wednesday morning he was well known in the hotel - the waiters and waitresses, members of the Sunny Bunny Club as well as other hotel guests knew him already. He was nicknamed "Schumacher" for his speed on the cars and invited to the Bobby Car race on Friday - unfortunately though he has to miss that one.

Ready - steady - GO!!!!

Given the excitement within the hotel we almost had troubles to convince Jabob of coming to the thermal spa, but once he was there we could hardly keep him out of the water. At the begining he was playing with cups and borrowed watering cans or trucks but soon he ventured out to the water slides. There were 4 levels available in the spa with the first one, a tiny elefant-slide being an easy hurdle. Soon Markus was not needed to help up the stairs anymore and Jakob sometimes seemed dizzy from running back to the stairs and sliding down. Once that level was accomplished we moved on to a lightly bigger and longer slide, but Jakob did not like to slide down on his bum and turned head forward all the time. as a consequence he started off head forward already which did make a few people uncomfortable it seemed. But when they realised that a) he liked it and b) he was perfectly fine diving into the water at the bottom the nervousness disappeared.

It can't be fast enough...

After several runs on this slide we all had to climb up the long water slide which Jakob did not tackle on his own though. He headed down together with Markus or Kerstin and was laughing from start til finish and did not really want to stop. Even though it became quite obvious that Jakob is a wild one the two major water slides - Speedy and Twister - with 145 and 205 m length were left out this time and it was only Markus and Kerstin conquering the two beasts a few times. There should be a challenge for the nex visit for our junior.

Can't get enough!

With all the activity in the hotel and in the thermal spa it was amazing how much energy Jakob still had in the evening staying up a bit longer than usually at home. The nights however were great and he slept very well in his own bed and joined us only around 3am. Although we were quite active we also managed to relax these days and very much enjoyed the Sonnentherme and will definitely be coming back. Not only because Jakob has to conclude some unfinished business.

Jakob, Kerstin & Markus