Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Developments

Recently we've had a few new developments, and by far the most exciting (especially for Tristan) has been that the little guy is now eating solids. For quite a while Tristan has been oohing and awing over our food, but it was his enthusiasm Monday morning (and the thought of Paul leaving) that made me expedite the process. Since we didn't have any rice cereal in the house we tested his taste buds with some mashed banana-which he loved! I have since bought cereal which isn't as much of a hit, but he still gets very excited about eating from a spoon.
The little guy snarfed down the bananas like he'd been doing it all along.

It was fun to see how excited he got over having his first batch of non-milk food.

He looked up at Paul as if to say "Thank you so much Daddy". I was so glad Paul was able to experience this before he left for the States again.

Tristan has been scooting and rolling everywhere trying ever so much to crawl. One afternoon as Tristan hung out with Paul in the office, he managed to get himself stuck under the futon. At first he was really enjoying this new spot, but after one last roll he had become wedged into a spot where you could only see his little blue eyes peering out. The poor little guy shrieked as he was horrified at what he had done. I'm embarrassed to say that Paul and I had a good laugh at our little guys expense and didn't let this incident pass without getting a few pictures.

This is when he was still enjoying himself.

The next few pictures show the progress that is taking place with the crib. The little guy is sleeping in his crib now and this particular morning had woken up without crying. Paul and I heard him giggling in his crib and was and still is picture worthy. He may have only done this twice thus far, but now I know its possible. I was so excited to wake to a happy boy that I had to take a few pictures.

Check out his mad scientist hair and humongous smile. This was definitely the highlight of my day!

I think the poor little guy got a little freaked out to see the camera so early in the day.

The next bunch of pictures don't have to do with boy wonder and his amazing ability to develop at lighting speed, they just document today's trip to our local Dinosaur Park. These pictures are posted especially for my brother Ben, who growing up was the biggest dinosaur lover. To this day, he's the first person I think of when watching Jurassic Park or simply driving by these large beasts. As funny as it sounds (because he is now 19) I would still want to take him to this park upon his trip to beautiful Germany.

One of the funniest parts of this park was that they had some dinosaurs that I had never seen or heard of. I joked that these were German dinosaurs and that's why I had never heard of them. This first one was really peculiar looking. It looked like a cross between the horse and giraffe. The Germans say its in the rhinoceros family. I don't really get that, but I'll have to trust the experts.

The next German dinosaur is this freakishly weird beast. As I walked among these odd creatures I felt as if I was in bizarro land. There really was the most odd "dinosaurs" and I couldn't help but feel a little ignorant. "Why hadn't I heard of any of these dinosaurs?"

This German dinosaur looked to me like a relative of Big Foot but the experts say that he is in the sloth family. Once again it was weird to see such a new dinosaur this late in the game. At my age I thought I was pretty up to date on my dino knowledge, but I guess not.

I was starting to get worried, but when things were looking bleak... finally, one I know! Don't most little boys have a version of this scary guy? I'm pretty sure Ben did.

Another famous (American) dinosaur.

This guy's my favorite. Whats really neat is you can see him from the nearby highway.

One last dinosaur for Ben. I hope you like it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Burg Eltz and Koblenz

Yesterday, our little family took a day trip to Burg Eltz (a nearby castle) and the city Koblenz. This was a trip that has been on my to do list for a while, and yesterday definitely met all of my expectations. The day was beautiful and I was spending the whole day with my two favorite men.
One of the best parts of the trip was just driving through the quaint little towns along the river (I'm sorry and very embarrassed to say I don't remember if we were driving along the Rheine or the Mosel). Along the river through numerous towns were vineyards. They were so gorgeous and made me think how wonderful it must smell in the fall. I'll definitely have to come back for that! In this picture you can see a small vineyard to the right side of the river.

This is Burg Eltz. You have to experience this beautiful castle in person to understand the grandeur and fairy tail-ness of it. It really is very smart what the people in charge(whoever they may be) have done : you have to park maybe a mile away and hike in. In theory it doesn't sound so great, but in actuality when you experience it its fabulous. Hiking in allows you to see the valley open up and all of a sudden you see this fabulous castle nestled in between forests of lush green pine trees. There's a stream that flows at the base of the castle and a feeling of utter tranquility that goes along(minus the other tourists and the feeling would be hard to top).

I know I know this picture looks just like the previous one. This only supports my theory that when your in a beautiful place you don't realize how many pictures you take (of the SAME thing), because everywhere from every angle it looks so beautiful.

Here's my two traveling partners. Tristan (I think) enjoyed the trip, but unfortunately ended up with a face full of battle wounds(for some reason he buries his head in your chest and rubs his face on the carrier's clasps). So many of the pictures I took show him chewing on his carrier, I'm pretty sure he's ready to move on to solid foods.

Before leaving the castle we made sure to have a picnic lunch while exploring the stream and surrounding areas below. It really made for such a nice afternoon and I highly recommend it, for any of you travelers interested in Germany.

Our next leg of our trip took us to Koblenz, which was on Pauls to do list. He wanted to come because it is here that the Mosel and Rhein Rivers converge and create an absolutely fabulous river front (to one direction there's the Mosel, to another direction is the Rhein and then another is both).

This picture shows exactly what I was talking about (again I'm embarrassed to say I don't know which river is which, but you can see the two come together at the end of this beautiful slab of concrete).

I had to put these pictures in because I just love how they make the little man look so grown up.

Maybe I take that back, if he wasn't chewing on his carrier then he would look like such a big boy.

Koblenz was really a beautiful city with so much to see. We enjoyed just walking around the city and taking in the sights. One of our favorite and most impressive things was the massive rose gardens. Paul was astounded by them, as they were the largest we'd ever seen and they were grown so that they looked like forests of roses.

This was one of the greatest fountains I've ever seen (when I say great I don't mean beautiful, I mean crazy, detailed and absolutely humongous!). One of the greatest things about this fountain was what we saw along with it. Can you see that head to the left of the fountain?

This fountain was filled with kids playing in it! As you can see they were in their bathing suits(or underwear, I can't really tell) just frolicking in the water.

This city was full of cute little squares and plenty of gelato shops (ice cream Italian style) to go around. Everywhere we looked we saw people with ice cream, so we couldn't resist -we had to have some. We chose a triple scoop on a cone with lemon, strawberry, and melon. Now to many that may sound less than desirable, but you would be more than wrong. That gelato stood up to any that I have had in Italy, and it would take allot to surpass it. It really was the most fabulously smooth concoction I've ever had. I'm still thinking about it, and craving the next batch!

The city was old without feeling old, in fact it felt very clean and bright.

Koblenz was filled with flowers and cute little statues.

This is a painting on the side of a restaurant.

Some half timbered buildings...

and intricate art in the neatest places.

At the end of the day, it was nice just to sit down. This was the perfect place, along the river and across from the Koblenz castle.

Again I would recommend visiting Koblenz. Whether you drive here or come via a river boat, its a great city with plenty to see and do-or just come and enjoy not doing anything at all!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Our Trip to Belgium

Last week Paul had a few days off and so we decided to take a trip to Belgium. We spent a day in Brugges, a day in Ghent, and a day in Brussels. We enjoyed all of Belgium but our favorite city had to be Brugges. With its canals and intimate feel it reminded Paul and I of Colmar (a French Alsatian city we visited this past Christmas season). The city was so unique as there was an obvious British influence (we were just across the channel from England), but also blended gothic and byzantine styles as well.

This is view of our hotel, which was on a picturesque boulevard with several other hotels and cafes. Many of the hotels advertised having tea rooms, this I'm sure was borrowed from the Brits. The location was wonderful as we were able to walk into the center of the town in mere minutes, and easily come back for an afternoon siesta. The city was filled with lush gardens and numerous parks tucked away in little nooks, so it seamed you were always finding new and beautiful places around every corner.

Our hotel room had a great view and this is one of the churches that we could see from our window.

Paul got a kick out of this little scene. If you blow the picture up, you can see that one little boy is about to stomp on a frog and the other one is trying to stop him.

A little English garden tucked away from crowds and tourists.

You could hear the clip-clop of horses all over the city, and this only added to the charm and ambiance.

The canals made for picture perfect scenery.

Tristan traveled in comfort as Paul carried him in the carrier. Tristan loves the carrier, as he can peek out of the top and see everything as well as sleep comfortably whenever he wants.

Many of the houses had these puzzle piece topped homes.

Belgium: land of fine chocolates! Paul and I made sure to get our share while still leaving room for Belgian waffles(they were both soo delicious!).

This is one of the larger squares in the Brugges. It's full of cafes, colorful homes, a clock tower, and plenty of tourists.

This is the same square just kitty corner from the statue and colorful homes. The woman who took our picture was a part of a tour group from Alabama, that seemed to be everywhere. These were the nicest people, and later on that night we ran into them again and shared some waffles and cream.

This was a really neat spot with a really strange name that I can't remember (when I say strange I mean it sounds like a persons name from one of the Lord of the Rings movies). Really it was this grove of trees in the center of an abbey, where nuns lived in small little homes on the outside. All of the trees seemed to grow sideways, but this was one of the most calm beautiful places in the city.

This was one of the homes that the nuns lived in on the outside of this almost mystical grove of trees.

This was one of the clock towers in the city of Ghent.

Another neat building in the center of Ghent, which was built on the corner of a street and the harbor.

Ghent was a really cool and very interesting city. It also had canals and crazy puzzle piece houses, but felt nothing like Brugges. It had a big city feel and the canals were very large in comparison which made for a very unique atmosphere.

This was a castle in the center of Ghent.

A family picture in the castle courtyard.

FYI: Never enter a guided tour in a castle with dozens of school children (this must have been the day that everyone in Belgium and France went on a field trip to a castle)when...your little one may be hungry. I didn't realize what time it was and that Tristan would soon be hungry. I won't go into it but believe me, it was not a pretty picture -there was a zillion people crammed into the torture museum and Tristan was screaming. You can only imagine how enjoyable it was for everyone!

The main canal in Ghent.

Our last city was Brussels, which we found feeling very much like D.C. We were able to enjoy nice weather, nice parks, great Indian food, more phenomenal waffles and well just an overall good time.

The peace arch in Brussels.

Paul's favorite part of Brussels was the Military Aviation Museum.

The Grand Place in center of Brussels, was really very awesome with its intricate architecture and towering rooftops.

At the end of our little trip we thoroughly enjoyed Belgium and encourage all of you to visit if possible. There is one tip though that I would like to pass on. That is, don't get your hopes up and think that you'll be able to communicate with these people(crazy us, we thought Paul would be able to speak French with them since it is one of their national languages). You won't be abl to speak to them unless you speak jibberish-thats right jibberish(it's a combination of French, Geman and English, that sounds crazy enough like Scottish)-or otherwise known as Flemmish. This is the language we found most of the people speaking (Belgiem not so much). So go ready to see cool things and be able to communicate with very few of them!

Lastly, I hope you enjoyed the pictures of Belgium and if not, well I hope you just scrolled to the bottom and saw that I posted some pictures of the little man.

Speaking of the little man...Thankyou to all of you out there who gave advice on getting him to sleep in the crib. Its a work in progress but it is getting better-slowly but surely.

Here's some recent pictures of little T, I hope you enjoy!