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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Backstage Pass

Every year we attempt to get the perfect picture.  Perfect for us means everyone has their eyes open and there are no bunny ears.  I don't set my expectations too high.  Maybe next year, we'll add everyone looking at the camera, but not this year.  Here's a sampling of what went into getting our pictures.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Holiday Traditions

Like any family we have some traditions around the holidays.  Here are a few of ours...

Getting a Tree
We get a Christmas Tree as early as we can.  This year we couldn't get one until December 13th.  Most Austrians don't put their tree up until the evening on the 24th.  I go a little crazy waiting that long.  We could probably find one if we were desperate.  We can't just go down to the local Home Depot, throw one on top of the car and head home.  1) We  don't have a car.  2) We don't have a Home Depot.  We could have found one if desperate, but Dan wasn't too thrilled about the idea of hauling one home on public transportation.
Here they typically sell trees at the neighborhood church.  Ours is just around the corner, where our middle two go to Kindergarten. Dan picked it up on the way home from picking up the boys.  I wasn't there.  I have very little requirements regarding a tree - it needs to be green and fit in our home.  Done and done. From there, Dan carries it down the block, up the elevator to our place.  Welcome Little Tree.

Advent Items
We have a number of Advent traditions.  We have two advent calendars that the kids get to open each day to help count down for Christmas.  They are both Nativity in theme.  The first is a Playmobile one.  The boys get to pick out a piece each day and by the 24th we have a fully functional Nativity set.  They also love to play with it too. And because it's Playmobile - they can! As much as I covet a beautiful hand carved or marble one - I know it would be broken by Day 4 and me heartbroken to boot.  This seems a better compromise.
Our second advent calendar is a magnetic one with little doors that have the nativity pieces.  Another play-able/interactive one.
This year, we received a gift that we added to the daily advent tradition.  The Advent Beer Calendar.  A wonderful gift from our teammates for Dan's birthday. The boys take turns opening all three. Worthy always acts as the middle man and is curious to discover what country the beer is from.

Tree Decorating
Everyone has a few special ornaments that they each get to personally hang up.  And hopefully this is the last year of having to hang ornaments out of reach of baby hands. Even the baby "helps".  He was on light duty.

Christmas Cookies
While Dan & Christian headed the Lights Committee. The other boys and I were on the Baking Team. We made some super yummy Christmas cookies. And the boys took it rather seriously.  They did the dough cutting, icing and sprinkles.  And of course the taste testing.  Don't worry - we didn't give these as gifts. We kept all our germs to ourselves.

Advent Wreath
Every year our church does an event where we make advent wreaths.  Advent wreaths are a big deal here - whether religious or not.  I'm not a super crafty person, but I really love making the Advent wreath.
and I love that we use it each week to usher in another week of Advent.  Each Sunday, we light a candle, read from the Bible and sing a Christmas Carol together.  It's become one of my favorite traditions.

These are a few of the things we do each year.  I love that our traditions are always evolving.  Can traditions evolve or by definition does that negate them as tradition?  Anyway, they feel traditional to me.  I love Christmas - it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

HGM Adventmarkt

This weekend we went to our favorite Christmas Market - and there are a lot to choose from.  This one is at the Military History Museum and it's only ONE weekend each year. Last year was our first time and now it goes on our calendar as soon as we see a published date. It's a medieval themed market and perfect for kids.  People come dressed in their best Medieval robes and capes.  A lot of the food is cooked over open fires and the drinks are brewed in large cauldrons - seriously it's awesome.  And on top of that - the museum is free and  they provide a ton of period music and crafts for kids.
There were some fun re-enactments.  This being one of them. 

Enough said.

Almost every time we go to a Christmas market, I make hot cocoa before hand and bring it in a thermos.  This means the boys can drink almost as much as they want, we save a ton of money and mine is just better (I add a little sugar, unlike most Austrian hot cocoa).

 Christian even enjoyed some.

Again - one of the highlights is how kid friendly it is.  Worthy & William were able to paint little tiny soldier mini figures.  They were really into this project which is cool because neither of them are super excited to paint and/or color things.

the ceiling where we were doing crafts
Dan took the younger three home and Worthy and I stayed a little longer.  There was this rather involved craft of making an advent calendar (which are really a big deal here!). The kids were to cut out doors with box cutters.  Honestly.  Part of me loves that they can do stuff like that here without threat of being sued.  Another part of me cringes and says... box cutters - really?!
After that, we moved to the next stage that involved the kids pouring molten zinc (I think it was zinc, but not certain...) into a mold and creating a shooting star.  Seriously - kids pouring molten metal?!  Thankfully Worthy saw the wisdom of letting the artisan handle that task.
All in all, he made a great advent calendar and came through with no cuts or burns.

Monday, December 2, 2013

USA! USA! USA! (they lost...)

Last month Dan turned the Big 40.  And for his birthday, the USA National Team came to play Austria in Vienna (ok - so it wasn't for his birthday, but it was really good timing none-the-less!).  We got tickets and went to go cheer on our national team in a Friendly (technical talk meaning this game wouldn't affect their standings).  We had planned to take Worthy & William along with us, but William was running a slight fever and chose to stay home... very un-William like.

Fortunately, we weren't there alone.  We had a number of friends also get tickets to the game which just added to the fun.  We sat in the American section and cheered on our team.
We had a great time being obnoxious Americans. 

Final score was 2:0 Austria :(
 Yes, kids can drink alcohol younger here than in the States, but not this young!  
He's drinking a ginger ale, but it so looks like he's drinking a beer at the game. 
Surprisingly, this is the one venue in Austria where they don't serve beer.  
Seriously - the One and Only place beer isn't served.  

Some things don't change...

Came across Calvin arranging cars and it reminded me how Worthy would do the same thing when he was about that age.
 Worthy at 4 and Calvin (almost 4)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New City Wien Fall Retreat

In the beginning of November we had a church retreat.  It was a wonderful time of learning, renewal and just plain fun.  We went to a small town called Bad Goisern which is sort of in the lower foothills of the Alps. We arrived rather late on Halloween night.  The kids had put together some Halloween costumes, so we just wore them to breakfast the next morning.

Sweet ninja moves

They each made their own weapon out of Tinker Toys.  They're big fans of Lego Ninjago so they had a fun time dressing up and pretending. Worthy made shurikens. I love do-it-yourself costumes.  
However, I also really love amazing store bought ones too...
our little Picard (we didn't shave him!)
I'm pretty sure who is Commander and who is #1
 Dan is making me include here that this shirt was a GIFT to him.  
He did not purchase it and he's never worn it in public before now... anything else dear?!

 We had a good amount of time together building and learning about community...not many pics of that, but we extended that into free time as well.  One afternoon we went on a walk through the foothills.  It was a beautiful walk overlooking the town.
And along the way there were tree carvings about Austrian folk stories. 
 A bit grim.

 It was a great hike and fun to share it with friends.

And we had more meetings and stuff, but the next day we went to Hallstatt, which is a nearby picturesque town on the lake.
picturesque, eh?
so peaceful, you wouldn't know they're arguing over the telescope...
and I'm fairly certain this might be the first ever American football game played here...

 enjoying the playground during the football game

making s'mores 
a wonderful time - made all the more wonderful because we were together