"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad
the little family three
grandmother and granddaughter
I had the pleasure of celebrating my 29th birthday with my mom in Heidelberg. She came all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia to celebrate with me. (Oh, and she came for Christmas and New Year's too).
'The father' gave me some local chocolate delicacies (you can never go wrong with chocolate!), and my mom brought me a nativity scene made from bamboo by a local artisan in Jakarta. (Like all people born close to Christmas, I tend to abhor mixing my birthday with Christmas, but I decided to let it slide this year because I immediately fell in love with this nativity scene.)
My favorite part is this animal. I think it is intended to be a lamb, but it resembles a wiener dog more than a sheep.
After opening presents we went for a walk along the Neckar River and enjoyed the newly fallen snow.
It was so cold (15 degrees F), that our feet were immediately numb and it even hurt to breath the frigid air. We tried our best to keep Penelope warm. If you look closely, you can almost see her beneath all the layers of clothes and blankets.
Trudge, trudge, shiver, shiver...
We then walked over to the Neuenheim Market. The stalls were covered in plastic to keep the produce from freezing. We bought some fruit and lettuce, but by the time we got home the lettuce was frozen solid.
Here we are 'kissing' under the mistletoe for sale.
After spending a few hours back at home defrosting our limbs, we ventured back into town for a Christmas carols sing-a-long concert at the Providenz Kirche (church). The words were in German of course, but we managed to follow along as best as we could from the song sheet and pretend like we knew what we were singing. We did at least get the chorus of "O Tannenbaum."
We snapped a few photos of the town all lit up for Christmas while walking to the church. Here is a view down the Hauptstrasse (main street/pedestrian walkway).
Grandma arrived on the train today all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia. Penelope and I spent the afternoon at the train station waiting for her train to arrive. When we left for the station it was just starting to snow. By the time Grandma arrived the ground was covered in snow, and it was a bone-chilling 17 degrees F.
After all the waiting, Penelope's eyes lit up when she finally spotted Grandma coming off the train.
Penelope is used to seeing Grandma on the computer screen while Skyping, so she had to reach out and touch her to see if she was the real thing. Yep, 100% Grandma.
Grandma was pretty excited to see her granddaughter as well.
Then it was time to face the cold and snow. We couldn't help but stop for a mug of Gluewein to sip during the walk home.
Lebkuchen is the original gingerbread. It's a little spicier than gingerbread as it contains a bit of pepper. The texture is a little different too--hard on the outside and spongy on the inside. It can come in different shapes and usually has almonds pressed on top.
The University Guesthouse, where we currently live, organized an afternoon of making and decorating gingerbread houses for the children. Penelope and I decided to try our hand at it. Let's just say that making a gingerbread house while entertaining a baby isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. Here's the pathetic result:
I intended to add a top to the house, but I ran out of patience. Penelope wasn't very impressed with the overall result either.
We did manage to heap on lots of candy--isn't that the point of making a gingerbread house anyway?
Let's just say that 30 seconds after this photo was taken there was no gingerbread house. Just a pile of candy pieces and cracker crumbs.
Penelope is 8 months today. Time sure flies when you're having fun! In honor of her eight great months of life, here are eight of her quirky characteristics:
1. Instead of crying like a normal baby does, she grunts with her mouth closed. It sounds something like a cross between a seal and a dying dog--very ladylike.
2. For the first several months of her life we were convinced she was going to be a thumbsucker. Now she wants nothing to do with her thumb and only cares about the pacifier. She has an uncanny ability to find them around the apartment. Just when we think we've hidden them from her, we turn around and she has another one in her mouth.
3. When she is tired, she tells you by head-butting you and then burying her head into your chest.
4. She will eat almost any food you give her--parsnips, cauliflower, prunes, you name it. And when she is full she tells you by spitting out the entire mouthful of food and smiling.
5. She can do amazing things with her tongue. As I documented in the October post "The Tongue", Penelope has an extrememly long tongue. Lately she has fingured out some new uses for this extra appendage of hers. She can use it to make an extremely loud clicking sound. And she can concentrate much better on what she is doing when she sticks her tongue out halfway. Yes, so very attractive.
6. She disovered her two bottom teeth. This has enabled her to break off pieces of crackers and rice cakes, which I have discovered buys me a few minutes to do something for myslef while she is preoccupied. Unfortunately this has also led to some very, very painful nursing sessions. And when I cry out in pain and say "NO!", she looks up at me and grins. The nerve!
7. She loves getting into her crib for nap time. I'm pretty sure this is because of her pacifier collection that lives there. When I set her down in the crib she immediately puts one in her mouth, grabs another for each hand and then smiles and claps them together with a look of pure glee on her face. She plays quietly with them for a few minutes in the dark and then conks out, still grasping a pacifier in each hand.
8. She can now say her first word: Dada. And even better, she finally made the connection between the word and the person! (This isn't exactly a 'quirk', but just me bragging what a very intelligent daughter I have.)
And off he goes with his gorilla
Penelope went on her first carousel ride.
The lights were a bit overwhelming for her.
Nina and Maarti tried it out too.
The chilly temperature gave us an excuse to keep the Gluewein flowing. Here is Kathleen trying out the Feuerzangenbowle (mulled wine with carmelized sugar and rum). Tasty!
That's right. It's BATH TIME!
Penelope still loves bath time just as much as ever, and she is still inseparable from her rubber duck, Gossie. But the latest development is that this little one is no longer afraid of the water hitting her face. In fact, she rather enjoys it.
See, look how proud she is of herself. "Hah, water! I laugh in the face of water!"
Now she's working on figuring out just where the water comes from.
She'll have to get back to you on that one....