Friday, March 27, 2015

A Weekend in Heidelberg

We had a wonderful time exploring Heidelberg, Germany with fun friends of ours  -- the Sanfords -- who live here in Luxembourg.
We made the 2 1/2 hour drive on a Friday afternoon and got into Heidelberg with enough time to walk to a traditional German restaurant, where we ate dumplings that looked like giant meatballs, bratwurst, schnitzel and pan fried potatoes, all washed down with a German beer. That night, it took the kids until 11pm to finally drift off to sleep -- they were wired and having so much fun sharing a room all together in our rented house.
The next morning, John, Elizabeth and I explored the charming farmers market a block away. Next, our group -- Leanne, Matt, Nolan (6), Stella (4) and our crew of six drove into Heidelberg's Old Town to visit Heidelberg Castle, which was built in the 13th century and was hit by lightening twice in the next couple of centuries. We rode its funicular railway (which uses a pulley system) up 280 steep feet to the castle, then hopped back on and rode up higher to a lovely cafe, where we sat with blankets on our laps and enjoyed a snack in the sunshine.
Here come the funicular!
A tour director ran over to tell us that the fountain would turn on in 3 minutes! Ha!
A beautiful snack at the top of the steep incline overlooking the city
That afternoon, we went to Luisenpark in Mannheim, where we took a boat ride (the kids laughed and screamed at the giant carp in the water), played on the playgrounds, and walked through the bird sanctuary with flamingos, penguins and parrots.
Our confidence traveling in Europe with a large family, including an infant, grows with each trip. Not only have Rob and I caught the travel bug, but so have the kids

Bitsy, John and I had a quiet morning
The kids were climbing up the ruins....ah!
Rob loves history
Riding the funicular back down!
View of Heidelberg
Love this shot. Traveling with kids.... They run EVERYWHERE!
Leanne and I jumped on the trampoline too!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lovely Madeline Turns Eight!!

Madeline's birthday flowers from Rob
Lovely Madeline made us parents when she was born eight years ago! She's creative, kind, helpful and hardworking; stoic, daring and a generous big sister. When she was a toddler, I used to always ask her, "Do you know what you are?" And she would answer "delightful." And she is.
I love this girl!!
Madeline's party was the weekend before her actual birthday. She chose a camping theme, celebrating with a handful of adorable girlfriends from around the world (and special invitations to each of her brothers)! We set up an entire camp scene in our living room with a borrowed tent and artificial Chrsitmas trees! The girls (and boys) roasted S'mores, filled out a camp-theme Mad Libs by flashlight inside the tent, played Critter Toss and Pass the Parcel (unwrapping layer after layer of wrapping paper), and of course, bobbed for dangling donuts!
Dangling donuts!
Madeline begged for her ears to be pierced. I thought it was very sweet that Rob wants to keep her little as long as possible, and as soon as he said those words, I knew I agreed. So instead of actually piercing her ears, I took her for a special mother-daughter shopping trip to Claire's (I couldn't believe Lux has one!) and bought her several pairs of magnetic earrings, as well as a bag full of other sparkly lip glosses, eye shadows and nail polishes.
Madeline's first ever trip to Claire's!
On the night of her actual birthday, she chose shrimp and grits for her special family dinner! We opened presents -- a gymnastics mat -- and ate homemade almond raspberry cake that John and I baked earlier that day.
Birthday morning french toast!
Rob came home with birthday flowers for his little girl, just like he has every March 19th since she was born!

We love you SO much, Mimi!!
Making s'mores in the fireplace!
John helped bake Madeline's birthday cake
Madeline was so excited to receive some special packages!
She loves art