31 December 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all the best in 2012 from us and our friends!  Best Party Ever!

27 December 2011

Big Kids for Christmas

I might get around to posting about our other Christmas festivities, but at the moment I'll just share 3 things about my kids and how big they're getting.  Honestly, where did the time go?  Wasn't Sariah just 3?  Wasn't Bryson just born?  

First:  Sariah got a bike for Christmas.  She's very excited about it, while she was sad that it was Sunday so we wouldn't let her go out immediently, she has been out on her bike both yesterday and today.  (How fortuitous that its been a super mild winter so far here and there's no snow.  Doug has been teaching her the hand signals and how to brake.  If the weather holds up, she might ride her bike everyday.  I know she's going to love it once it gets warmer!

Why yes, there is a princess crown on her helmet, was there ever any doubt she'd need one?
 Other new things Sariah likes to do: 

Sing, she was front and center when the primary sang on Sunday, and she at least moved her mouth like she knew the words, I know she knew the first two lines.  

Sound out words, she's really close to reading those words herself.  Often if you pick out a word for her to find and help her sound it out, she can find it on the page.  Another favorite present for Christmas was 6 Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.  

Crafts, before 4K, she wasn't very interested in sitting down with me and making crafts, but on Christmas eve while Bryson was napping we did all kinds of paper and bead crafts.  Its fun to see her develop her creative side.

 In Bryson news, I swear he's picked up about a thousand new words in the last two weeks.  He'll repeat practically everything you say.  With Sariah almost ready to read, we've been able to help Bryson learn new words as well.  We're working on colors at the moment since he knows most the objects around the house.  He's still a big fan of the knock, knock joke, he even told the Interrupting Cow joke correctly the other day!

As a very early birthday gift (so my mom could sleep on it while she was here) we got Bryson a big boy bed. He's been running around the house telling everyone about it since it came the Tuesday before Christmas.  ("Bed! Bed!" means come and lay down on it with me.)  Tonight is the first night he's actually sleeping on it.
So he doesn't totally have a grasp on how this works yet...

I imagine he'll figure it out eventually.  I pulled the covers back up around him when I snuck in to take this photo.  Isn't he cute?  

The bed isn't the only grown up things Bryson did today.  He also got his first real haircut at Great Clips.  Both he and Doug needed a hair cut so we went in.  He wasn't totally happy about it, but he did sit in Daddy's lap and let the lady cut his hair without too much fuss.  I think it looks pretty handsome now (sorry about the ipod quality photos...)

I feel like I got big kids for Christmas.  Every time I turn around they're doing new things and acting older that I'm ready for them to be.  I'm proud of them, though.  They're pretty awesome kids.  I can't wait to see what they'll do next.

21 December 2011

Chicago Weinachtsmarkt 2011

One of my visiting teachers, who knows that Doug and I served German/Austrian missions, has been telling me for a couple of years now about the authentic German Christmas market that is held in Chicago every year.  Her husband also served in Germany, and his mom is German, so if they found it to be a good experience, we thought we'd try it out.  It just worked out that Doug has vacation till the end of the year and Sariah doesn't have school on Mondays, so we drove to downtown Chicago and checked it out.

You could tell that it is Christmas week, because even though it was a Monday late morning/early afternoon, the place was packed!  There was very little opportunities to sit down, so the kids and I took this spot under the big outdoor tree while Doug went foraging for food.  There were lots of amazing smells coming from the market, but there were lots of long lines for each food booth!
The kids with the Markt behind them
Doug ended up bringing back some tasty pretzels.  They were warm and soft and delicious.  The downside was we ended up being pretty thirsty and left our bottles of water in the car.  
Tasty, tasty pretzels!

What a cute couple!
After pretzels we wandered around for a bit and took a look at all the booths.  Most were from Germany and Austria, but there were some random central asia booths and a couple local Chicago ones as well.  I especially liked the honey/beeswax candle booth and the tablecloth booth right next to it.  The candles were carved into pretty designs, I really liked the nativity ones.  Doug and I both agreed they were too pretty to burn!  There were lots of things I liked at the tablecloth booth as well, but I already own 2 tablecloths from the Weinachtsmarkt in Bamberg, so we decided to pass on purchasing anything there.

These were some of my favorite booths.

After we walked all the way around, we stopped to rest at this nativity.  This might have been Sariah's favorite part, not because of the nativity, but because there were lots of little birds and pigeons around.  She asked a lot of questions about pigeons as we pulled her away.  I might have been secretly disappointed that with all the amazing German things around, she only cared about the pigeons.  I got over it quickly.
Sariah enjoyed the birds that flew in and out of the nativity, and the nativity, of course.
Next we walked over to Santa's Haus.  There was a small line, so Sariah was game for going in and seeing Santa again.  It wasn't very cold or anything (we must have picked a perfect day to go, sunny and about 53 degrees in downtown Chicago) but it was nice to go inside for a bit.  There was a toy train that rode the track around the walls and this pretty tree inside.  There was also a Santa Matic 3000, that builds toy trains if you turn a wheel, I think I posted a picture on my facebook page.
Waiting in line for Santa
Bryson was once again not amused by Santa and did not want to sit on his lap.  Sariah was a very good sport about it.  She had a nice conversation with the very nice Santa.
Sariah enjoyed seeing Santa again; Bryson did not.

After Santa, we decided to brave the food lines again.  There was a ton of options, brats, snitzel, leberkaese, struedel, potato pancakes, crepes, goulaush soup...  It all smelled great.   In the end we opted for simple brats.  Yum.  The kids and I took refuge with this Nutcracker while Doug got lunch.  Like I said, there were not many places to sit, so this was about it.
The big nutcracker was our lunch buddy
Doug was brave and stood in line for our Nuernburgers and Weiss Wurst.  With not really a great place to eat under our Nutcracker buddy, and the unfortunate very drippy (yet incredibly tasty) mustard, it was kinda a mess of a lunch.  It was good, though!  It also made us even more thirsty, so we could tell that our experience would be coming to a close soon.  

Doug getting our brats from the German Grill.
Doug and the kids hunkered over at the nativity again while I ran and picked up a couple of gifts for us and some sugar coated nuts (one of my favorite treats from the Weinachtsmarkt in Bamberg, Burnt Mandeln or toasted Almonds in English.)  Then we headed back to our happy home.  Everyone had a real good time!

Here's what we picked up.  These are ceramic, hand painted little German buildings.  When you put tea lights in them, the windows light up.  I don't have any tea lights at the moment, so I can't show you, but they'll make a great edition to our Christmas decorations.  We couldn't decide between the Post and the Bahnhof, so we got both.  I think they compliment each other nicely.  Plus they have the added edition of being important building when we were on our missions!

The spoils of our adventure!
I think we'll definitely go back again, maybe not next year, but sometime soon.  Sadly, when we got home, Sariah threw up about four times, all night long.  I hope it doesn't taint her memory of what was a really good time.  She is doing much better now.  Ironically (and here's the TMI, so feel free to stop reading) all that pretzel and brot came out of her tummy smelling like fermented yeast, aka, beer!  Another German staple...  No she did not drink any alcohol on our adventure, I promise!