...a blog for the friends and family of dan, jen, worthy, william, calvin & christian

Friday, December 31, 2010

Calvin's 1! The World Parties!

So much to celebrate in one little day!

Today our sweet baby turned One! This year has flown by. It's hard to believe Calvin's only been in our family for one year - it seems like he's always been a part of us. I love seeing his personality develop. Already, I enjoy his easy going personality, his love for the outdoors, his quickness to laugh, his adorable cleft chin, his love for his brothers and his love of all things bread and those big blue eyes!

We celebrated with some chocolate cake.
which was a big hit!

Earlier in the evening, we went downtown to check out all the other people celebrating Calvin's birthday on New Year's Eve. The lights and live music were amazing.
Bundled up, enjoying the night.
Since we've been here, people have been telling us that New Year's Eve would be CRAZY. We kept hearing there would be lots of fireworks all over the city. Honestly, I thought this was a bit exaggerated. I was SO wrong. We began hearing fireworks around 7pm and then they continued mostly non-stop until about 1:30am. We're temporarily staying in our teammates apartment, while they're in Florida. They live on the top floor and have access to the rooftop. Their neighbors below us invited us to welcome in the New Year with them. So, they joined us on the top of the building with a bottle of champagne. Here is a shot of the panoramic view, about 15 minutes after the New Year.

FYI - private fireworks are illegal here.

Afterwards, we enjoyed some homemade Gluehwein, homemade Austrian cake and great conversation with our new friends downstairs.

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday Calvin!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

IKEA Creativity

We've spent a lot of time at IKEA over the last week. The first time we went, we didn't realize that William could go into the kid's play room. Ever the creative kid, he came up with ways to entertain himself. This was in the Rug Section.

Technical Museum in Vienna

This past week we needed to get out of the apartment and have some fun together - as a family. It's been quite cold this week, so thankfully there was an indoor option. On the recommendation from a friend, we checked out The Technical Museum in Vienna. We were surprised to hear that they had a great children's exploration and play area.

You could build the top portion of this house with foam bricks. Of course, it didn't stay built for long.
They also had a large fire truck with (quiet) siren & lights.
Of course, William was enthralled.

Something for everyone...
Then there was this super cool impression wall. This is Worthy leaning into the wall. Reminds me of Han Solo frozen being carbon froze.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, Christmas Time is Here

Our first Christmas in Vienna was relaxing & worshipful. We woke up (unfortunately a bit earlier than hoped for...) and made some French toast. After gobbling that up, the kiddos were ready to begin present opening. They each opened up a few gifts and thankfully, proceeded to be entertained for the next hour or two.
Soon after, we had a new friend, Julie, from our church and her American friend, Christian, who lives in Graz, Austria come over and spend the day with us. It was such a tremendous blessing to have them here. Not only because they're both delightful people, but also because Julie volunteered to cook dinner. The hostess in me was mortified to accept her gracious offer, but the frazzled mother in me was so appreciative and thrilled - the latter side won out. It was so freeing to be able to set my pride aside, which doesn't come easy to me, and be a gracious receiver.

We all finished opening presents, had a lovely meal overflowing with wonderful conversation. And to cap off the evening, we sang Christmas carols together. Julie & Christian are both professionally-trained musicians on violin and viola respectively.
(I had a baby on my lap during filming...sorry...)

And we got another wear out of Worthy's "My First Christmas" jumper.
This was the first year in awhile that I wasn't pregnant or had a newborn during Christmas. I didn't have the easiest pregnancies and my memories are still rather fresh. There's something about pregnancy that really drives home the Incarnation to me. Dwelling on the reality of God being made Flesh completely blows my mind. Thank you Emmanuel, "God with Us".

Hoping your Christmas and holiday was filled with the reality that God (is) with Us.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Worthy's Weihnachten Program

This past week, Worthy had his Christmas Program at his new school. I was a bit wary of him starting school prior to the Christmas program and feeling left-out because of the rehearsal they would have already done. Well, no fear, they hadn't started any rehearsal until 2 days before the program. It was a fun night and I was thrilled to see him feeling comfortable enough to be a bit of a ham.

It was also neat to see him recite a verse.

I was also able to meet some of his new friends and classmates. He seems to be fitting in well, despite his lack of Deutsch. His teacher told me that all the kids want to sit with him - they like to speak English with him. And he seems to be enjoying school. I keep saying "seems" because he doesn't talk a ton about school. He's never been very excited about recounting the events of his day - either here or in Florida. However, we're all really excited about the Christmas break ahead. It's been a busy adjustment and we all need a bit of time to relax and have fun together.

Christmas Eve-scursion

Today has actually been just the first day we've had to slightly relax and take in some sights. So I took the oldest two boys out to ride some trains (Will and Worthy's favorite activity) and see some things I've wanted to see.

I went to look at the Looshaus (built 1911) which I had read about in Paul Hofmann's The Viennese. I remember reading how scandalous it was; per his belief that architecture should be devoid of most/all ornamentation, he designed this building to be built directly across from the imperial Hofburg palace, which, as you can imagine, has quite a few "ornaments."

The Looshaus

The Hofburg

We took the tram across town to see the Hundertwasserhaus. As quirky as it is, it seemed to me to fit the urban fabric better than Loos' monolith.

We continued on the "1" to the Prater, a huge park that was once the Habsburgs' private Imperial hunting grounds. (There is a giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater on which was filmed a scene from Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday William!

Today William turned 3! On one hand, it's hard to imagine he's only been in our lives for 3 years - it seems like he's always been part of our family. And on the other hand, it's inconceivable to me that he is already 3 years old.

We spent a wonderful day together - doing all the things that William enjoys most. First that meant, going outside. He's a Florida-boy by birth, but he's adapted quickly to this record-breaking winter in Vienna. Secondly, it involved riding a tram - which he also loves!

This morning we headed to the Sch├Ânbrunn Christkindlmarkt.
There we basically did some window shopping and enjoyed some warm beverages. William really loved the Kinderpunsch.
After that he got to take a ride on the Polar Express Kiddie Train.
Sidenote... this is Calvin all dressed up for a morning on the town...
In the evening, we celebrated with some cake. Lindsay (our teammate & friend) introduced us to these crazy candles. They were a huge hit!

And of course - the presents. He loved his Big Truck!

Cookie Helpers

This week we did some Christmas cookie baking. I'm not quite sure WHY, because we're inundated with cookies and sweets as it is. For some reason, at some point in time, this seemed like a good idea. And we honestly had a fun time. The boys loved doing the cookie cutters and the sprinkles.
They worked together really well - taking turns with the sprinkles and the cookie cutters. It was nice to hear them team-up. But of course the best part, was enjoying the fruits of our labor.
And the worst part... cleaning up :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Kinder Hospital Visit

On Tuesday, a group of us from church, went to a nearby children's hospital to sing Christmas carols and bring some presents to the kids. Throughout the day, I was debating on whether or not to go and bring the kids or if this should be an event that Dan should solo. It had been snowing most of the day and I wasn't excited about trudging through the snow with the stroller - getting on and off trams (some with steps...) As the departure time neared, everyone seemed in a rather decent mood, so I decided to go along and bring the Boy Crew. I'm so glad we all went!
We went to a smaller hospital in the area - one that's usually overlooked during the holiday season. We sang some Christmas carols (with some lovely violin & guitar accompaniment).
And incidentally, they love American Christmas carols here. It's what you hear when you're in stores, etc. Funny, eh? We also did a wonderful story reading time (our friend that read it was so good, I was entranced, even though I didn't understand the words) and passed out some presents.
And of course, we had some dancing. Well I should say, William did some dancing. And in typical William fashion, he had the kids, parents & nurses grinning from ear to ear.
(Pictures taken by Daniel K.)... I had forgotten my camera as we walked out the door.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Bookmarks

Dan has the camera now, so I can't upload any pictures. So, I thought I'd do a quick post about our new Bookmarked Websites. (If you open these up in Google Chrome or Microsoft Explorer, they automatically translate it from Deutsch to English...)
  • Google Translate - I basically use this all the time. To translate paperwork or to interpret a note from Worthy's teacher. I type in the message and it spits out the English.
  • WienerLinien - This is the site for the public transportation in the city. It's been tremendously helpful. We just type in our destination address and it lets us know which U-bahn (metro) and S-bahn (tram) lines to take. A true lifesaver.
  • SCS - Shopping Centre Sud. Enough said... Tis the Season, eh? :)
  • - Ok, so this isn't a new bookmark, but we've changed the location and we actually check it since the forecast is no longer "82F and sunny with a 20% chance of rain". For us there has been a difference between manageable cold and don't-go-out cold.
  • New City Wien - This is our church's website address. And we've actually had a busy week with church events, etc. (hoping to blog more about that shortly).
  • IKEA - A great place for Apartment furniture!
  • Freecycle - Believe it or not, there is actually a Freecycle for Vienna! As I type, Dan is out picking up a FREE lamp, clock radio and mixer. Tomorrow we've arranged to get a wardrobe and some more lamps! Yeah!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vinter Vonderland

We had another great day today. We're still in process of acclimating to the time difference. I had to actually wake everyone up at 9am today - unprecedented before this trip - with the hopes that they'd get to bed at a decent hour. It's 10pm here now, so the "plan" seems to be working... we'll see how the night goes.

We're beginning to feel comfortable with navigating around the city and using public transportation. Yesterday I escaped from the apartment (and the kids) on an adventure to find a European cord attachment for my computer. I was going nuts without my calendar. I was able to figure out how to take the tram to the U-Bahn (Vienna's subway system) and go to Saturn (sort of a Best Buy/Buy More kind of store). One of the things I was worried about was exiting off the U-bahn and going in the wrong direction of the store. But as the train pulled to a stop, I saw a big advertising sign with an arrow and the store name. It's little things like this that remind me that God hears and answers those silent prayers that I often throw up haphazardly. It's great to remember that He's in the details of my life. And this morning Dan got to go out running around the city. Maybe he'll blog about that later.

Later this afternoon, we took the kids out to the Rathaus Christkindlmarkt. It was a madhouse - jam packed with peeps.
The kids took a pony ride and Dan took them on a kiddie train ride. Btw, Worthy has his hat in his hand... he just took it off for the picture.

After that we went to a gathering with some new friends. And afterwards, we went into downtown to see some of our new friends doing Christmas Carols.
It was right near St. Stephen's Cathedral. The lights around the Square were gorgeous and made me ready to go out and get a tree. We had a great time enjoying some holiday singing and hot chocolate. And William especially loved it. After all, he is our "Party in a Box". Seriously, he was dancing most of the time we were there, with occasional breaks for cocoa or water - gotta refuel. He even had a sweet Asian woman take his photo :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kiddie Fun

Worthy is generally a Florida-boy. He's acclimated to the heat there. So we were a bit unsure of how he would respond to the snow, cold and slush that we've come to. He's done great - as have William & Calvin too. Our goal for the first couple weeks, apart from adjusting to the time difference and finding a place to live was to help the boys fall in love with their new home. Here are some things we've done the last few days.

On Monday evening, we went over to a Christmas Market at Karlsplatz. There are Christkindlmarkts all over the city. They all vary a little bit in terms of what the sell or offer. The one we went to had many fun activities aimed at kids.

We all enjoyed some nice warm drinks

There was a cute train ride that both Worthy & William got to enjoy

They also got to take pony rides around the square.
Before William went to bed that night he said, "I rode a pony". It was wonderful to hear!

Another highlight: Cheerios. Go figure. Some things are unpredictable.

Dan & Brad took Worthy & William sled riding today. There is a small hill right around the corner in a nearby park. They had a great time.