Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year thoughts

I'm starting to think ahead about the New Year and what I'd like to do different. I don't want to call it New Year Resolution, I like goals for the New Year.......

Everybody's favorite -Lose weight....aka get healthy

Realistic -Learn German....aka understand my neighbors

Read more.....Knit more....aka stop wasting time on playing Free Cell online!

That's all I have so far, how about you? Started thinking about it yet?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Luggage where are you?

Chicago airport has commandeered our luggage .............! We have been in Utah without luggage starting day two, they promise we would have it Sunday morning. The United counter lady is a liar, I know its a harsh word, but I really believed her when she cheerfully said it would be on the next flight and delivered Sunday morning.
It's great to be home and thank god for my favorite place in the world "Target" because of them I'm not in the same clothes I wore two days ago. I really want my luggage though, I'm sick thinking about all the authentic German gifts for family and friends. My favorite shoes .....basically all my favorite things I pack to come home. All Craig and Katelyn skis and ski clothing etc....yes all replaceable but at who's expense.....mine! Ugh!! Not the way I pictured the start to my Holiday in Utah...but we are home and it is a WONDERFUL life..........!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mini Bremen Christmas

We did a mini Christmas today before heading back to the States for Christmas. We really didn't want to buy too much here, considering the exchange rate, quality and selection. We both got each other something authentic German and I'm really excited to have started building our showcase of German goods aka Knick Knacks!

Nutcracker for me

Skier Smoker for Craig

Katelyn received some nice German ornaments but she mostly wants American clothes! It was fun to open a couple gifts before we head out of town. The best gift is boarding the plane tomorrow and heading home....Home is where the heart is true!

What can you recommend?

Looking for some suggestions for good books to read? I'm heading back to states for Christmas and need to stock up. English books are hard to come by here in Germany, and it is very expensive to ship. I love all books and I'm guilty of following Oprah's book picks for many years. Out of touch with whats new and popular since summer time, hope you all can help!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bremer Weihnachts Markt 2008

Last night at the Christmas Market for the West Family before heading back to Utah. Despite the weather being cold and misty rain tonight, we still enjoy ourselves. It is so festive, with the lights and happy Germans, drinking their spice wine, eating and shopping.

Craig and Katelyn in the City Center

Here comes the Gluiwein (Hot spiced wine)

Warms you inside and out........

We finished up some last minute shopping and enjoyed a Bratwurst and these little donuts. I can't pronounce or spell the name, but I call them "little pillows of love". One of our purchases tonight was one candy cane, it cost one Euro! Candy canes are hard to come by in Bremen, the market is the only place I have found them. But one Euro for a single candy candy and it's not even Bob's Candy Canes!

OMG The Fitness Team is looking for me!

Okay I know it's been a couple weeks since my first "training" session at my new German gym and I haven't been back. But its because it is the holidays and I told myself I was going to enjoy them and focus on the new year! All very logical conversation me and my mind had, and we totally agreed with each other! So today I received an email from The Fitness Team......panic OMG what do they want ....Of coarse I could not read the email because it was in German, so my handy Google translate language tools guided me to the answer!
Here is the email:
Hi Kathy,
after your successful first training deadline are now a powerful and an endurance test. (what no one told me there was a test! I haven't studied )We want you with a muscle measurement and a heart check, so we find the optimum conditions for an even zielorientierteres(OMG the word doesn't translate what the heck is it ) have training. Join with us, please 0421/2760001damit we have a suitable date for you can find. (could damit mean something else in German or are they swearing at me because I 'm not in optimum condition)
Your team Fitnesspark
Okay Google translate is not the best, but that is kinda how there English sounds! I'm nervous they said damit call sounds kinda demanding, what have I gotten myself into ? What kinda Gym is this....? Seriously how many of you have Gyms emailing saying damit make a date for a test on Fitness! Ah!!!!!! maybe damit is part of the phone number? You know how business do that ....maybe they aren't yelling at me for not having optimum fitness!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa comes early for Sophie

Sophie received her special gift from Santa early this year, since we will be apart on Christmas.

She played and played with it some more.........

Getting tired........fading........fading.......fading.......

Out like a light...............!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Katelyn's Christmas Cookies

Katelyn stayed home sick from school today, she is starting to get a cold and was in need of some rest. But as the afternoon came, boredom set in, so I put her to work making cookies.

They turned out so yummy, and it was a really nice afternoon. Katelyn said it felt like she was baking with the paparazzi ! I have to say, I'm not glad she is getting sick but I was really glad to have the day with her.

Count down begins and the stress is starting....

Four days.......until we leave to go home for Christmas, the excitement is building, and the stress is starting! Christmas season this year is particularly special to us, we have been living apart from family and friends, and everything familiar and constant in ones lives, for almost six months.
Can you even Imagine.......our excitement to pack our bags and head to the airport for our long journey ahead! I really do feel like a child on Christmas Eve...I can hardly sleep !
But in the back of my mind the stress is building....I'm not done shopping, I haven't wrapped a present and then there is all the people that we want to see.....! Will there be enough time in the day to do it all, who's feelings will be hurt? Will I have jet lag for very long? Please nobody get sick....!
Its all so stressful lets hope it doesn't take away the joy of the holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2008

No white after Labor Day?

Okay I know I have lived in Germany for five months now and really have been without real media, like a TV or magazines. But everyone here is still wearing their white jeans....maybe that rule doesn't apply past the Atlantic Ocean? Or has there been a fashion update that hit the streets this winter and I'm totally unaware...White Jeans and boots are okay!
First of all I'm heading back to the states for the holidays and I have no intention to rush out and look for white jeans, way to muddy here for white anything! Secondly I don't think white will look good with the extra beer,chocolate and bread weight I'm currently sporting BUT I will stop shaking my head at every German girl I see wearing white jeans! And applaud them perhaps!

Friday, December 12, 2008

O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree la la la la la.......

(Not my tree)

Did you know Germany is responsible for the Christmas Tree aka Yule Tree? I told you they discovered Christmas ...okay maybe it was the tree, but what is Christmas without a tree?! According to tradition of the Christmas tree, you can date back to 16th century Germany, so there you have it! In some accounts, Martin Luther is credited with coming up with the idea after seeing the night stars through the branches of a pine tree on a walk home, and decorated a tree with his family with candles and silver and gold tinsel.

I find it interesting how different cultures and countries decorate their Christmas trees. Katelyn and another American, Andrew are the only kids in her class with a tree up already!

In Germany, traditionally the tree is put up on the 24th of December and taken down on the 7th of January, though many start one or two weeks earlier, leaving it outside until Christmas eve. Many still decorate with real candles on their tree! I opted for lights that look like candles and they look very cool, and not a fire hazard at all! Traditionally the trees are decorated with apples, candy, nuts, cookies, cars, trains, angels, tinsel, family treasures.

Really not so different from many of our traditions today other than the timing. I think for Americans, if you are putting up a fake tree, its the weekend of Thanksgiving and for real trees somewhere around St Nikolaus day December 6th. According to custom here in Germany it is bad luck to put up before St. Nikolaus Day. And the Evergreen tree represents a fresh start to a new year!

What ever your tradition may be, I so enjoy sitting in the dark most mornings, with my coffee and Christmas tree glowing, with Frank Sinatra's Christmas music playing in the background!

Happy Tree Decorating everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Follow up to St. Nikolaus Day

On St. Nikolaus Day in Bremen, it looked very much like the U.S. Halloween, well except all the kids were dressed the same, as St. Nikolaus. Katelyn came home from school on Friday and said she was told not to be surprised if kids came to her house tomorrow dressed like these two pictured and if you give them candy they will sing Christmas carols! I listen to what she told me and thought okay this well be fun to see. I could not believe my eyes our block was covered with young kids like these pictured running around carry stockings full of candy. All the stores had a St. Nikolaus out front giving out candy to the kids and hot drinks to the parents (wine?).
It was really something to see but sadly no one came to our door...Which was probably good. I had already ate any candy we may have had! Maybe next year!

Thinking about getting this hat?

My cute cable knit beanie isn't cutting it for the cold humid weather in Germany, what do you think about this hat? Is is too young looking for a 40 ish mom to wear? And I'm thinking about the orange, my coat is black and I don't want to be a Garanimal girl anymore and worry about matching! Feeling with the lack of sunshine. I need something bright, it was either orange or bright pink! Would you be embarrassed to take and walk with Sophie and I wearing this hat?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the eye of the beholder......

To me this is every artistic but does it belong on a building?

Graffiti is it art or not? When we moved the Germany I was shocked how much graffiti there is. Bremen is such an old historical city and it's covered in graffiti. In the states, well Utah at least, graffiti is painted over very quickly and little can be found.

When my parents came to visit, in October, my dad kept commenting on all the graffiti and I kept calling it " German Art". I want to say you get use to it and maybe it has become art to me, the beholder. But is it really sad to see it from my tram rides into the city, what once was a beautiful house or building is not a canvas for whom ever.

Not art to me!

German Art?

This stone block is, I believe, art work for a five star hotel in Bremen yet someone has added their touch to it. This is how it sits ....hundreds of people walk by this every day ....hello people not pretty anymore! What do you think, is graffiti art?

Photos by J. Dethman

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bremen lights up

I have to say Bremen does an spectacular job at lighting the city for Christmas. Craig and I went down to the city on Saturday night to take pictures of the lights and Christmas Market. We arrived 8:30 ish to find everything all ready closed for the night. So we only had the city streets to photograph and again pictures never do justice to how pretty is really was. My favorite by far is the chandeliers, they were down several of the streets and looked amazing. We ended the night with some hot spice wine I think Craig might have had one too many or at least the picture portrayed that! To be continued...more pictures to be had!

Workout with my German Trainer

(Not my actual weight..I only wish!)

I joined a brand new gym that opened up not far from my house, when I say not far I mean a bus ride and two tram stops and a 10 minutes walk away. I have to say I was really nervous, barely slept the night before. Sure I have belonged to Gyms before, yes its been awhile since I've workout, beyond taking Sophie for a walk but we are talking about a gym in German. When I signed up my nice tour guide said oh everyone knows "a little" English you will be fine!

After my brisk walk to the gym I walk in to find two very nice German girls working the front desk, and some great techno dance music in the background. I'm thinking ya I can do this ! Then they started talking to me....uh? What? Did my German version of do you speak English? Ya Kerstin with an e speaks "a little" ! Hooray we are in business!! Kerstin kindly issues my card, gives me my complementary T-shirt wants to know if I'm size M? I said better give me an L she gives me the once over and said maybe that will be a target to be a M! Ya! Ya! Skinny girl hand it over and lets move then she gives me my water bottle and instructs that is the only water bottle that can be used in Gym NO other....really! Okay I will mark it with a Big K and keep it safe. She also offers me today only free "weight loss water" all you can drink. I'm thinking bag the training, let me bellie up to the bar and down some of this! "Weight loss water" Germany has "weight loss water" the same country that made me fat with their bread, chocolate and beer has a "weight loss water" wow I'm never leaving!
Kerstin with an e takes me to the locker room and shows me how to use the lockers and said okay it is best if you bring your gym clothes not wear okay! Good ! And she leaves me there to I guess get acquainted with my locker and locker room. First road block couldn't find my way back out of the locker room, first door was the steam room, going for door number two it was the showers finally a nice girl said second door on right! Okay I'm on my way, here I come Yvonne.

Yvonne is my trainer she knows a very little bit of English but is armed with a cheat sheet ....with things like" nice to meet you" and every body part and goodbye, please and thank you.
She was really nice and tried really hard. I didn't want to correct her when she kept referring to my legs has feet. I knew what she meant was a game of charades I have been playing for five months. SO!(with a Z sound) she instructed me on a circuit, we did the circuit finishing up with the elliptical which she instructed me to do with "hardiness" I don't even know what that is or means! I think she meant vigorous because after a couple minutes she came over shook her head and bumped up the speed.
SO! we are done she says you can now go do group training ...? I'm thinking wow I've advanced ...I don't now if I'm ready to group train just after one session! No Group train is classes duh! Like yoga and body pump....oh today right now yes it will be good..Ya! No I think I'm done for today but what about the other circuit right there ? The one with inner/outer thigh machine etc.. the machines I really need! She said in month 6 you can do that circuit if really good and strong and how you say lose fat! So basically my inner/outer thighs are gonna have to wait six months to be work!
Okay bye bye have some more "weight loss water" !
So me and my "water" leave, walk the 10 minutes which now take 15 minutes to catch my tram and miss the bus so I start walking home past the store that sells my yummy chocolates, past the bakery with the fresh bread all the while my thighs are rubbing together. To bad they have to wait six months to get worked, in the mean time drink the "water"!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tonights big event, here is the lowdown!

Celebrating St. Nikolaus in Germany

Each December 6, German children celebrate Nikolaus. Why does the Santa look-alike come so early and why do all the children place their shoes outside their front doors on the evening before?
Is Nikolaus the same as Santa Claus?
Though they have similar outfits, Nikolaus is not to be confused with Santa Claus, who Germans call the Weihnachtsmann, or Father Christmas. They are two different people. In fact, many religious families try to focus more on Nikolaus earlier in December to insure that Christmas is actually about Jesus’ birth, and not presents from an Americanised and commercialised Santa.
Who is Nikolaus, then?
Each year on December 6, Germans remember the death of Nicholas of Myra (now the Anatolia region of modern Turkey), who died on that day in 346. He was a Greek Christian bishop known for miracles and giving gifts secretly, and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students. Known as Nicholas the Wonderworker for his miracles, he is also identified with Santa Claus. Beliefs and traditions about Nikolaus were probably combined with German mythology, particularly regarding stories about the bearded pagan god Odin, who also had a beard and a bag to capture naughty children.
Why do children set their shoes out on the night of December 5th?
Doesn’t he have any?Of course Nikolaus has shoes. The custom began because the historical St. Nicholas had a reputation for leaving secret gifts, such as coins, in people’s shoes overnight. Kids traditionally put out their boots, though shoes or stockings will suffice for those without boots.
What does his outfit look like?
He is usually pictured with a long white beard, a bishop's mitre and a red cloak, sometimes with a sack over his shoulder and a rod in his hand.
Does Nikolaus come again on Christmas Eve then?
No. Santa Claus, or the Weihnachtsmann, usually comes to German homes – often in person – on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

I know this is not only a German tradition, many people I know celebrate St. Nikolaus. This is the first time we have ever celebrated. Being in Germany now we are trying to embrace all German customs. I can hardly wait for Katelyn to check her boots tomorrow morning...heck I've been pretty good this year I might put out mine too! Wait it's only for kids......! Bummer Happy St. Nikolaus Day to all!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To the market we go......

This picture is from the German Christmas Market we went to in London but I wanted to add to this Blog as a welcome to the Christmas season.

There is one thing Germans do right and that is their Christmas Markets. Someone once told me the Germans think they invented Christmas....I think they did! Right now every square inch of the City Center is covered with vendors selling various German items and lots of food and rides for the kids. It is such a site to see, if you are not in the Christmas spirit after visiting it then something is wrong! Which is you probably didn't stop for a hot wine drink and should turn around and do that. I'm looking forward to going at night and take pictures of the lights and all the action.

I try to collect Nativity Scene from everywhere I go if possible so I set my sights out for a nice authentic German one, the following picture is the one I bought and I'm so excited. It is one the the famous German would not believe the choices I had, I have never seen so many beautiful pieces of handcraft gems.

My only complaint about the market is the Santa, oh my that was some Santa. I'm not going to go on and on about him because after all its Santa and who am I to judge BUT......?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Ornaments

Like most people I have been collecting Christmas Ornaments since I first got married. I love receiving ornaments as gifts and buying new ones from every place we visit. But my favorite ones by far are the ones Katelyn has made over the years...the hand print one when she was three, the circle one with her picture in 1st grade, the star with picture fourth grade and there's the Grinch McDonald's ornament representing the many days in the play land leaving there smelling like french fries. Don't get me wrong I'm a theme girl through and themed living room, Americana Office, french country kitchen but when it comes to my Christmas tree it's a modge podge of memories that sparkles the Holiday !

Our Germany Christmas Tree 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008


Back from London today, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Our trip was amazing and we had a good Thanksgiving, it was nice creating new memories together as a family. It was very cold and rainy in London, a cold I have never felt before. Here is a picture of Katelyn in Kensington Gardens the wind was so strong it blew her umbrella inside out. We walk and walk and walk some more there is so much to see, despite the weather we covered alot of ground. I love London it reminds me of NYC so much. The history and fashion and mix of it was a joy to hear so much English ...I love British accents!

Paddington Bear bracing the rain

One of the many fountains at Trafalgar Square

Katelyn in front of Buckingham Palace

Me waiting for Prince Harry or William at Starbucks for afternoon tea!
They totally no showed rude uh?

Night picture of Big Ben Westminster Abbey