Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sign of life!

It has been a looong time and probably you all considered us to have given up on updating you. Well. Not entirely. Somehow too many things have happened and that fact paired with lack of time to put it on the webpage led to an even bigger backlog of information. About time to break that vicious circle. Here in a few sentences, what has happened since our summer holiday in August: Jakob developed his biking skills further has been accompanying Markus and Kerstin on their runs in the Prater while Julia also started to fancy mobility, started crawling in October and made her first steps in the second half of November. She now is running around the whole flat. We also returned to Vorarlberg twice: Once by plane in September for the wedding of Barbara and Alex and late October for what was supposed to be our honeymoon. We planned to leave the kids with grandma Heidi and the big family while spending 4 days in New York. Unfortunately Sandy came in between and so our flights were cancelled and we stayed in Europe instead. Next attempt in summer 2013.

We already play together!

With that rough picture of the past 4 months, here is to the present: The whole family is very excited about Christmas which we will after last year’s “break” spend again in Vorarlberg. Jakob is seeing St Nikolaus almost everywhere (in the kindergarden, at the bus stop and at night in various books), yet he is still due to write his letter to the Christkind. He better hurries up, otherwise he might get something he does not like. At the same time anything to do with Knights, airplanes, cars or skiing should be highly welcome. The big boy is also taking utmost care of his little sister, sometimes cuddles her wildly and most of the times really enjoys playing with her. Julia not only loves to empty stuff (be it the laundry, any kind of boxes or “her” cupboard in our kitchen with the plastic containers), but she also loves to play with Jakob and his toys .Last night they cooked in their kitchen and served us a delicious soup, Julia also likes to “clean” the workbench or play with Jakob’s  cars and car parkpark. The latter is a sensitive issue however as “hurricane” Julia, as we call her, likes to dismantle the garage and destroy the traffic jam Jakob likes to produce. That sometimes ends in tears for the big boy, but at the end of the day, they do cooperate and fights are very rare.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A backyard full of excitement

Friday evening we set off for our three week summer vacation by Lake Constance which we all were looking forward big time given we did not have the pleasure of the beautiful lake last year due to our wedding. Good traffic conditions and peaceful children allowed for our arrival just before 0100 and our big boy was all awake and nervous when we arrived and Grandma Heidi. He helped Markus unpack the car, showed lots of stuff he brought with him and checked out the whole house before falling asleep again.

Flying high in the garden 

Saturday was a busy day for Markus and Jakob as they had to fillup Heidi’s backyard with a sand pit which Markus assembled as well as a large inflatable swimming pool so Jakob has an opportunity to jump around. By the afternoon everything was done and while the water was still too cold the first sandcastle was built instead. The coming days were dominated by swimming, jumping and digging in warm summer weather. Tuesday and Wednesday night Markus and Jakob spent the night in the tent Markus got as present for his 30th birthday. As if his friends had known, the tent was a real family tent which used almost every remaining space in Heidi’s backyard. Jakob liked it so much that he was really disappointed when due to the forecast of rain Markus dismantled the tent Thursday afternoon.

 Hi there - this is my new bike!
Thursday morning however Jakob’s dream however came true, when we went to Bregenz to buy his first bike. Following several clear statements that our big boy wanted a bike with pedals rather than his trainer bike. We were successful and found an ideal bike not only by “technology” but also by colour as it is green, Jakob’s favourite colour. The rest of the day he was either found in the pool or on his bike practicing and being very proud of his new vehicle. Not surprisingly he made big progress on day 1 and dropped dead into bed in the evening. More biking will be on the agenda, no matter what the weather is going to be.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hot summer in the city and on the roof

Last week Wednesday Markus's sister Ines has had her 30th birthday and we celebrated the day all together in our flat. Given the warm weather we decided to spend the day on teh terrace where a small pool offered kids and adults the possibility to refress and cool down. in the later afternoon we then had delicious barbecue before the birthday child made her way home again where an evening out with her friends was on the agenda.

On Friday afternoon Jakob had his first kindergarden summer party in the nearby Prater and the small kids had prepared songs and dance performances over the past weeks. Jakob was all shy in front of the many parents and friends attending and it took a while for him to "warm up" which surprised us given the summer temperatures were felt even underneath the protecting treet of the Prater. Our little butterfly did have fun however and when we returned home and jumped again into the pool the fun was even greater.

What sort of butterfly am I?

Over the weekend the summer has taken an even tighter grip of Vienna and the Eastern part of Austria with temperatures peaking at almost 38 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. The four of us spent most of the Saturday at home and only hit the Stadionbad in the later afternoon. Given the fact that both Jakob and Julia had a long sleep after midday a good decision, yet the heat was still close to unbearable when we got to the super-packed Stadionbad. Thanks to our season pass we did not have to queue at the entrance, but still the pools were massively overcrowded and the spots in the shade were also very scarce. Jakob did not mind as he was cooling himself off in the water, but our little one was just hot and uneasy.

Water - here I come!

We therefore decided that on Sunday Kerstin would stay home with Julia and Markus would hit the Stadionbad early morning already together with Jakob. This plan was a good one as Julia had much mroe fun in an airconditioned home and "jumping" into our pool a few times, and the boys had fun on the waterslide and the cool wet in a crowded but not overcrowded outdoorpool.The afternoon they spent almost exclusively inside our little pool on the roof in the shadow, the probably best place to hang out in such weather. Given the heat will stay for the whole week Markus has overnight cleaned the pool and refilled it with fresh water so the the fun can continue. He himslef knows what he will do right after work Monday evening.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What a shocker!!!!

When Kerstin's mom, sister and niece Ylvie arrived in Vienna Wednesday night we all were looking forward to some great time together during whih especially the kids could have a lot o fun. Both during the holiday on Thursday as well as Friday, when we kept Jakob at home from kindergarden that was th case and we spent a lot of time outside. With the weekend approaching however the troubles started as Friday night Ylvie got sick several times during the night and was far away from being a happy bunny all day Saturday. Saturday evening, right after Chelsea destroyed Bayern Munich's dreams to win the Champions League, Sandra went down the same route a her daughter and we all knew, that we would have a problem.

It was only a question of time when als the rest of us would be caught by the virus which kept Sandra all might busy and forced her into bed almost all day Sunday. By the time Heidi left with her taxi (Renate and Werner picked her up) in the later afternoon Sandra was back on her deet again and mo other casualties had to be mourne for. But come nighttime the horror continued when Kerstin got sick as well, followed by Jakob waking up, being very uneasy about his mum not feeling well a starting to cry which lead to also Julia waking up screaming and Sandra and Ylvie also being wide awake again. It sid nit tke very long that also Jakob had to vomit and the chaos was absolutely perfect and so we called in Kerstin's cousin Anja to help us handling the kids and being there in case we had to go to hospital with our youngest one. Several time being sick and few hours of sleep later on monday morning Markus decided to stay home and take care of the sickos who by then felt already much better. The recovery during the day was really good - especially with Jakob - and in reality we were all waiting for when also Markus and Julia would catch the virus.

It seems as if the two would have been either simply resistant to the virus o lucky as Julia was all fine Tuesday morning when Markus left the house very early to flee and fly to Frankfurt and then on to London in the afternoon. What he came across there suprised him a lot. Not saw he hot (28 degrees) and sunny weather unlike the past months when it was cold and rainy, but he also saw the frontpage of the Evening Standard:

Two shocking news on one front page. Brangelina don't have time to get officially married? How can that be explained? Lots of explanation one can get for the big headline and so the shocking part is rather that falling house prices in London only now make it to the headlines. The UK is officially in recession and London is probably the biggest real estate bubble in the country. In any case its very doubtful that the two frontpage topic are relate in any way.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In the summertime...

The past 6 days have been absolutely amazing and incredible as since Friday we basically got summer. The temperatures climbed towards and above30 degrees during the day, there were hardly any clouds on the sky and also during the night temperatures did not drop below 16 degrees. The only things that are missing in Vienna are the sea and a sandy beach. Markus was lucky as he has decided a while ago to take Monday off work so we can have a long weekend and thus the four of us could enjoy the early summer. While outdoor pools were still closed - they opened only yesterday and thus missed a break start into the season - we spent Saturday morning at Biohof Adamah north of Vienna and visited family Strutz in the afternoon. Jakob and Anna had fun in the backyard, Julia and Emil had fun inside and all of us had a great barbecue season opener for dinner. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday we spent most of the time on our terrace and our big garden, the Prater in shorts, skirts, flip-flops and tank-tops. What can be more relaxing?

Is it obvious, we enjoy that weather?

Our youngest one has enjoyed the heat in her very own way: Each day Julia was freed of her diaper for a long while and she used her temporary freedom to practice her turning skills - she is almost there to spin herself from the back to her belly - and to move around on the floor. Besides moving around and making her funny sounds she every so often also pees on the blanket we place her on. Julia also is by now very eager to listen to the people around her which was most obvious when grandma Eva and grandpa Kurt visited us yesterday and she almost lip-read what everyone was talking. Somehow she has grown up a lot in the past week. After all she turned 4 months on Saturday.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, March 12, 2012

We are still here...

It has been a very long time since the last update though quite a lot has happened ever since. Jakob was skiing together with Markus twice being both pulled up the slope with the stick as well as going up the lift several times, Julia is prospering perfectly and at the same time sleeping literally like a baby at night. It’s almost regular now that she is falling asleep around 2030/2100 and sleeping until 0300 or even 0400 without a break. This is in sharp contrast to how Jakob was doing at that age and makes our life much less tough than we thought.

The two siblings in general love each other two pieces. While Jakob shows is love for his sister by kissing her as often as possible (sometimes a bit too energetic than it should be) Julia is showing her love differently - rather by smiling and taking almost everything Jakob does with grace and dignity - be it in bed in the morning, be it in the bathtub or be it on the sofa when held by big brother. 

Aren't we cute?

Speaking of big brother – Jakob has grown up even more in the past 2 weeks. Having been very resistant to any talk about getting rid of the diaper and using then potty of toilet since Christmas all out of a sudden Jakob asked for underpants instead of diapers during the day 2 weeks ago. For the first few days that meant a lot of wet pants and extra-hours for our washing machine and us being almost paranoid asking our older one every 10 minutes whether he had to go to the toilet. Eventually it got better. When he demanded 1,5 weeks ago to go to bed without a diaper we were relaxed and agreed to his demand, yet we were pretty sure we'd need to get up at night changing the bed linen. Well - always expect the unexpected. We woke up the next day in the morning with Jakob in between us but wearing the same dry pyjamas he was wearing the evening before. As since that night he only had one overnight "accident", is by now getting up from sleep to go to the toilet and also calling during the day when he has to take a pee or poop we are happy to announce: Jakob got clean. That one definitely went faster and smoother than we thought and quite obviously, we are very proud of our big boy!

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Monday, January 30, 2012

All covered in DEEP SNOW!

While the majority of the family was celebrating Renate’s birthday and spending time with the relatives Markus enjoyed a few days up in the mountains of the Arlberg region with clients, colleagues and friends on the by now traditional skiing trip to Lech. Throughout January the region has received a lot of snow and when Markus drove up the Flexenpass road he was pretty impressed by the walls of snow left and right. The sheer amount of snow were however most obvious near the avalanche protection which to a certain extent have been covered in snow completely – and these steel constructions are between 5 and 6m high! As the main activity for the long weekend was anyway off-piste skiing the conditions were almost perfect. Snow-wise they definitely have been, the only covenant was overcast sky and not ideal visibility at times. The fearless group of people however was not backing off from exploring off-piste.

Not always has the sun been out like that

Led by veteran ski guide Harry, who has been taking care of the group for years now, the group spent hours out in the powder and they did not shy away from walking through the snow for 20 minutes, climbing up with skis on their shoulder or entering the helicopter in order to find untouched snow. The rewards, fantastic rides through deep powder, were much more convincing than the exertion and fatigue from the long nights that were also part of the programme. Markus,. Not having done any sports since mid-November felt pretty dead after the first day of skiing (it might have also had to do with the fact that he was skiing on his own on Wednesday and did not take any breaks) got stronger every day and did “survive the weekend just like all the others without injuries. Sore muscles could not be prevented, but the memories of fantastic skiing outweighed the pain big time

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Going the long distance

Tuesday evening it was time for Julia's first long trip: Markus had his annual skiing trip with colleagues and clients to Lech on the agenda from Wednesday until Sunday and took the opportunity to take the whole family to Vorarlberg to spend some time with grandma Heidi and cousin Ylvie, aunt Sandra and uncle Flo. Not that we were at all surprised, but our car was filled up to the roof and even the new roof-box Markus collected on the weekend was completely packed. Julia was feeling comfortable on the front seat while Jakob and Kerstin were in the back next to some bags and our jackets. With traffic reasonable we made quite good progress and only stopped once shortly as Julia was feeling hungry. Jakob was super patient while his sister was fed and soon after we continued our journey both kids fell fast asleep and allowed us to continue our journey without any further stops resulting in us reaching our destination just after midnight.

Happy Birthday Renate!

While Markus headed towards the mountain the next morning the others had quite some work to do: the final preparations for Kerstin's godmother Renate's 60th birthday on Thursday were due: Bakery Blaser was working all Wednesday preparing several cakes for the upcoming party, Flo had to finish and place the large billboard with Renate’s picture on her balcony and Jakob was working hard learning the text for his song. Thursday afternoon the party kicked off with family as well as neighbors, colleagues and friends invited and thus Meier’s home was packed. Anja and Katrin have prepared a crossword which Renate had to fill in and which granted her small presents with every correct line and with the main price having been a guided tour on a glacier in Tyrol. In order to qualify for that present she had to undergo a 6 x 60 seconds fitness test for a 60 year old. Having passed this test as well she got the bonus of two nights in a hotel in Tyrol before and/or after the glacier tour. Afterwards Jakob had his big appearance by singing “Happy Birthday Mamagota” together with all the guests. As our junior is singing the song permanently anyway it was an easy thing for him and he only had to take care of addressing it to the right person. Jakob enjoyed staying up much longer than usually and was yet again very fond of the older children that were at the party. Given he was behaving so well and not showing any sign of tiredness he stayed up as long as 2300 when however he fell asleep very fast joining Julia in the land of the dreams until late next day in the morning.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Strictly according to textbook

Jakob has reached an age at which children start reducing the use of diapers and use the toilet or a potty. Ever since he went to the kindergarten we started asking our junior whether he needed or wanted to go tho the loo or not without applying to much pressure. During the day, also enhanced by low riding, childfriendly toilet seats he (apparently) sometimes uses the toilet but at home Jakob was rather hesitant. Before christmas and also under the Christmas tree he got several books on the topic, but while he loved to look at them and likes it to have the stories read to him it seemed as if they had absolutely zero effect on our sunshine.

Hey! Close the door! I want some privacy!

The past few days however there was some development visible: Jakob regularly asks for underpants rather than diapers and he is trying to pee on both the toilet and the potty several times during the day. Yesterday morning he was half there when he spent a while on the toilet and in the end pooped right on his diaper which was sat on the floor - good boy!! ;-). Today in the morning he asked us to put the potty into the ground floor toilet, demanded a book to be brought to him and the door to be shut. We followed his demand and there he was: sat on the potty reading a book and waiting for things to happen just like in one of the books he received for Christmas. After a while we heard a loud yell, were ordered into the toilet and had to applaud our son for filling the potty quite significantly. While we are quite happy about that major step we at the same time were shaking our heads as ideally we don't want Jakob to get used to the potty as we don't really want to stir sh*t every day. But one step after the other. 

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, January 22, 2012

First contact

When Jakob unwrapped his skis and ski-boots underneath the Christmas tree he immediately wanted to try the boots on, get onto the skis and “walk” around in our living room. Back thenwe bought time and told him, that we would go out onto the meadows of the Prater as soon as there was snow . Given the spring-like winter in Vienna with temperatures far too high for December and also January and as a consequence no snow at all in the capital we still haven’t had a chance to do so. On Saturday morning Markus had to travel to his parents anyway and he decided to take Jakob along and on the way home stop by in Moenichkirchen, a small village with a few lifts on the Wechsel not far from where his parents live to establish the first contact between Jakob on skis and the snow.

 Ready to take off...

After a good snack and some playing with grandma, grandpa, Stefan and Viki the two boys headed towards the hill and Jakob used the 20 minute drive for his lunchtime nap. Once they arrived he was immediately switched on and ready to get into gear. In order to be able to show Jakob what to do Markus decided to also put in his full gear (including his helmet) and like that they set of for the children’s fun park. The few metres from the car to the slope were probably the biggest obstacle as walking in skiboots on heaps of snow is even more exhausting than walking in a shop or at home. Eventually they reached their final destination and Jakob was all excited. He however also realised that it's slightly different to walk on skis on a carpet at home or on snow and probably that was the reason why he very soon wanted to walk on the rubbermats slightly uphill in order to ski down. Markus had a deja-vu as also when it came to walking Jakob always wanted to jump one or even two steps ahead.

Hmm... We still need to work on how to stop...

It has yet again been confirmed that the big boy is a real fighter and thus he made it all work: putting his hand on his knees to get into the right body position and with a little help from his dad his skied down a few metres in order to walk right back up to the top. After several repetitions he started to talk about the next level as he wanted to get on the moving belt which carried the children a bit further up the hill and at one point Markus gave in. Jakob neither struggled to get on or off the moving belt nor did he have issues on the way down. He could not care less about making any turns or attempting to stop, but enjoyed the “speed” and was all laughing when Markus was to slow to stop him in front of the nets at the bottom. He simply asked for help to get up again and walked straight back to the lift. After approximate 50 minutes on skis he decided just after getting off the lift on the top that is was enough. Markus could convince Jakob to ski down to the bottom one last time but had no plan to argue for more skiing for several reasons: Firstly, there would be no point anyway. Secondly Jakob was skiing already much longer than Markus could imagine. And lastly Markus was completely drenched and exhausted himself.

 Well deserved and yummy!

The two boys enjoyed a decent snack and warm tea they brought all along from home just by the slow and Jakob was closely watching the other children going up and down. He was definitely done for the day with his first day of skiing and did an extremely good job. After a good rest on the comfy couch beside the children’s fun park the two set off for their journey home thinking and talking already about the next time they want to hit the slopes together.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Like father, like son

When bringing up children one sometimes feels like standing in front of a mirror and seeing oneself acting. Be it during lunch or dinner when the junior suddenly picks up the full soup-bowl just because mom does it to finish her rest, or be it when the young one is repeating what an adult is saying in the very same tone as the adult. Even more shocking, when such words or phrases are used regularly in the correct context. Maybe shocking is a too harsh word, but for sure it’s quite astonishing.

 No comment...

Early January, when Anna, Lini and Peter were visiting us, we all were really amazed by the way Jakob had a phone conversation with his godfather Stefan. While the content that has been discussed (eating) was not so far out, though maybe difficult to understand for anyone not familiar with our oldest one’s language, the real shocker was the mimic, gestic and whatever else Jakob did during the conversation. Markus did find himself copied in this behavior.

 You spot a certain similarity?

As amusing as it was to watch it also taught us some kind of lesson: We better watch out what we are doing and what we are saying as our juniors will apply as soon as they can.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year

The end of the year has this year for obvious reasons been very very different. With both Julia and Kerstin returning home from hospital only a few hours after giving birth everything at home was focused on the newcomer. Jakob has grown up big time during the past weeks and welcomed his sister just like a big brother does - full of love and care - grandma Heidi helped us handling both Julia and Jakob as well as our lives and Markus tried to as well to relieve Kerstin from any work apart from feeding and took care of lots of admin stuff as well. All that sounds absolutely normal when a family is growing and it was very similar when Jakob was born 2,5 years ago.

Julia's main activity: sleeping!

After our first visit to the paediatrician on the 30th and a visit from Markus' parents & sister on the 31st however it got really obvious that this year is different. While seemingly the whole world was preparing for a big party for the year end our evening was just like any other evening - playing, having dinner, getting ready for bed. There was not much feeling and excitement about the changeover from 2011 to 2012 and it was the first time since being a child that both Kerstin and Markus were in bed when the fireworks outdoors welcomed the New Year. The good thing however was that both Julia and Jakob had a very peaceful sleep and not only were not disturbed by the noise of the fireworks but also slept long and thus we all had a lie-in on January 1st.

Julia, Jakob, Kerstin & Markus