Finally I Can Blog =)

Hallo again everyone! We are finally back on-line so I can now update the blog! We have had a busy two months. As I posted earlier the trip to Germany was interesting, but we made it smiling. I figure the easiest way to break it down is by weeks. I will try and add pictures as I go...
The plane ride into Germany

The bus trip from the airport to our hotel

When we arrived in Germany, our baggage was missing! Thank the lord, Lani was fine and Michael carried on all of his paperwork. We were lucky to have ran into someone at the airport who was in-charge of helping all of the families get to where they need to be within Germany, and he helped us find our way to pick up Lani, report our lost luggage, and get us on the bus headed out of the airport-or else we would have been stuck at the airport until the following morning. Needless-to-say all of Michael's scheduled items had to be pushed backed, since we arrived here 1 1/2 days late.
The first week here was a whirlwind. Amaya got sick-high fever-we spent the night in the emergency room...luckily the hospital was a stones throw from our hotel...not so lucky that there were 4 ambulances that pulled up right as we walked in...6 hours in the ER is no fun. Good things is-Amaya was fine.
We found a house our first week here, which is a HUGE feat, because most people need at least 30 days. The house was the 1st and only house we saw, but it met all of our needs-so we took it. It also helped that I scheduled the appointment earlier than the 6 other families that wanted to see the house-it is true here-if you snooze, you lose!

This is our front yard
Front patio looking in from the yard

Back patio from our kitchen window with a view of the field and one garage

Our kitchen before Michael and I peeled/scrubbed/scraped/cleaned off the horrible tacky paper on the wall
The vibrant clean tile backsplash that was hidden behind the horrible tacky paper
Our living room looking out into the front yard

I will post more pictures of the house once I have them...I need to clean up again before that happens though =) We have an 17 month-old with alot of energy and we are still working on the whole "pick-up after yourself" thing...What am I talking about, I am still working on that concept with my 29 year-old too =)
Michael had a wonderful 2nd Father's Day here in Germany-can't remember exactly what we did, but I am sure it involved beer and brats-not a bratty kid-but bratwursts! Michael also passed his driver's test, which was super exciting because we could drive around on our own now-he did this the second day we were in Germany. I took mine the 2nd week and passed as well, which of course made Michael happy because now he could order the "big Boy" beer instead of the "wussy" beer.

Father's Day Lunch

We officially moved into our house on June 30th. Lani moved in with us as well (we could not keep her in the hotel, but she was really living it up-the animals laws here are VERY strict-which is great-people are taxed on their animals and must have insurance on certain breeds. No matter what your beliefs-people take care of their pets in Germany-and they make sure you do too!) All of our boxes were here from the States. We were very lucky how it all worked out. We went without on the front end by living in the furnished apartment, and then we received all of our things immediately when we moved here because we sent them so early.
We started venturing out by visiting Burg Nanstein, which is a castle not too far from Landstuhl.
Michael in front of the castle
A hotel right under the castle
Tree carvings lead all the way up to the castle

View from the base of the castle looking down onto Landstuhl
The first week in June, we used our trusty Garmin (Lucy) to get us to the Black Forest. It was absolutely beautiful hiking and wandering the streets. Michael and Amaya loved the food (I am still struggling to find food I can eat while we are out and about-I am still relying on my Detour Bars to get me through). There is an amazing ropes course that we hope to one day do with family or friends. We also hiked to the tallest waterfall. Then we drove to Triberg to see the "greenest" city in Germany. It was great fun-lots of action in the streets due to the FIFA World Cup. On our way home though, Lucy broke and we were in France with NO idea how to get home and NO map...We managed about an hour later than if Lucy were helping us...we bought a map the next day.

Walking down the beautiful vine covered pedestrian streets
The next weekend, we took a tour to Strasbourg, France. It was a beautiful city. We took a boat trip and saw the old town and of course the Cathedral. It was a hot day-over 100 degrees. On our way home our tour bus broke down and we were stranded for 2 1/2 hours in France on the Autobaun....notice a theme with things breaking down in France...

In 100 degree weather-there is nothing better

Astronomical Clock in the cathedral
The cathedral from the boat tour

Pretty girl on the boat tour
Hitchhiking on the side of the road...hoping another bus will be arriving soon!

We did make it home safely and the next morning had our first picnic here in Germany.

Family picnic at the park

We welcomed Michael's brother Chris and his girlfriend Justine the next weekend. We had a blast with them here. It was so wonderful to have family visit-it was much needed! We spent time locally, but also went to Frankfurt to sightsee. Amaya was in heaven with two men at her beckon call.

Amaya with Uncle Chris
The boys enjoying their beers
The fountain at the City Center

The boys treated us with dinner (cheese, brats, 3 kinds of mustard, veggies, and portabellas)...and it was fabulous!

The following weekend, Michael, Amaya, and I went to the Annweiler Lion Heart Festival. We toured the castle and then went to the fest. We had a wonderful time. Amaya especially loved the 'unicorn.'

The last weekend in July, we went to the farmer's market here at home. It was full of fresh fruit, veggies, eggs, flowers, meats, cheeses...just about anything you would want. It was not cheap though. We walked around and bought a few things...I made a delicious crab fried rice that night (not exactly your German fare, but there were all the right ingredients). All pictures are taken around the town.

As the weeks pass by, we miss having a dog as a part of our family. After much discussion, Michael and I decided to add a new addition to the family. The laws here in Germany are VERY strict in regards to pet ownership. We were so lucky to find a wonderful family that let us have one of their miniature schnauzer puppies. When we first met our puppy, he was only 4 weeks-after alot of thought and a couple name changes, we decided to name him Kaiser. We look forward to having him the beginning of September. Both Amaya and Lani (our cat) will love chasing the little guy around.

Isn't he precious!!!

The first weekend in September, we decided to make the 2 hour drive to the Stuttgart zoo and botanical gardens. It was a beautiful day. Amaya LOVED the zoo. We stayed for nearly 5 hours (Michael is a trooper for wearing Amaya that long-hiking up and down the hills). Every animal Amaya saw, she made a WOW face and said, "WHOA!" It was priceless!!! Her favorites were the big cats (same as her daddy's-momma likes the bears).

The WOW face
Lilly pad pond
Amaya with the animals in the petting zoo. She loved letting them eat from her hand.

Wow! If you are still reading, I am impressed. This has turned out to be the blog post of all posts. Before I post the most current weekend, I will update you on all of the other going-ons =) Amaya and I needed to get out of the house. Not that I don't like being home with my daughter all day, it is just being stranded here with no car, no phone, no internet, and no tv...I was running out of crafty ideas. I did try and teach her some self defense:

We also discovered pushpops (she eats with one hand and cleans with the other):

We took trips to the Japanese Gardens where we fed the koi and kissed Buddha:

So we bought another car: a BMW wagon. Michael loves it-goes quick on the autobaun, has decent gas milage, can hold alot of things, but best of all...we paid cash =) My good ol' buddy Dave would be so proud.

Once we got the car, Amaya and I suddenly became busy bees...we started swim lessons two days a week, we take a toddler reading class once a week, and we have joined a play group. I went from being so bored I was ironing the sheets-to busy, busy, busy.

Amaya at the pool 1 year ago with grandpa.
Amaya loves to sing and splash
She will also dunk her head to pick up the toys at the bottom of the pool
She is practicing her splashing and bubble blowing-she would rather be dunked than try and blow bubbles

Amaya and mommy going down the waterslide

We are loving getting out and meeting people. Amaya enjoys being with the other kids. She is growing at lightening speed. I cannot believe how smart she is (I am sure all parents think this about their kid). She knows how to distinguish between recyclables and trash! She loves to help mommy clean and do laundry. She chases Lani around the house trying to brush her and also trying to play with her by throwing hairties so that Lani will fetch them. She loves to read stories to us.

She is a shoe girl, who loves to pick out a matching pair of shoes and wear them around the house all day. She recently sat still so I could paint her toenails a pretty pink-it is the same color I wore to the hospital when I had her. She also found a pair of boots I was saving for her-they have become her favorite to wear.

Pretty pink toenails
First thing in the morning...she loves to read-of course with her boots on

She loves rockin' the sparkly Lelli Kelly's

She has a mind all of her own. Today she saw the Dora bandaides and pointing to them, and in her little words told me that she wanted them. I explained to her that we only need them when we have an "owie." She walked away (I thought, "wow that went well") then she turned back around, walked back up to me, pointed to her finger and said, "Owie." I was cracking up (on the inside-of course), but I caved and let her choose her Dora bandaide for her "owie." She wore that thing all day-she even tried to keep it on during her nighttime bath.

Hiking at Burg Nanstein
4th of July
Hanging around town

Out to dinner at our favorite restuarant (which happens to be our landlord's). Amaya loves Chupa Chupps...I have yet to buy her any-she gets them from the store/restuarant owners everywhere we go =)

At lunch on our trip around Kaiserslautern
Dinner at our favorite restuarant-Amaya decided to eat the cranberries straight from the bowl
Driving the ship while watching the other kids play
Shopping at the local German mart-she loves having her own cart

I guess this brings me to last weekend!!! Yeah! It might not seem like it, but this post took me over 4 hours to complete...even Michael has gone to bed. Last weekend was our anniversary weekend. Six splendid years together. I wish I had wedding day pictures to post, but I have yet to scan any. That is one of the things on my "todo" list, but first I have to set-up the scanner... We had a wonderful anniversary in Trier. We went to their Roman Days festival. Last week, we met a great couple from California (who live a few blocks away from us now) and we all went together. They have a little boy about Amaya's age-it is great to see them interact with one another. We spent the day touring the town of Trier, walking through the Roman festival, and trying 120 wines from Germany. For 15 Euro we were given free reign of the wines-it was surreal. Of course we had the kiddos with us, so at least 2 of us had to be responsible parents-but we all had an outstanding time and tried some really delicious wine. Then we ventured off to see the gladiator fights-this was fun, but we were so tired and a couple of us had a lot of wine-during the show, I had Amaya asleep in my arms and Michael sleeping on my shoulder...can you guess which one of us was the 'responsible' parent =) We finally made it into bed at 3am, which is about 6 hours passed my normal bed time...and Amaya was up at her normal 5:30am time. Gotta love it!

Porta Nigra-the Black Gate (2nd century AD)

Roman Baths
Wine tasting: 1st wine

Amaya loved the live piano music and being chased by her newest buddy

Hard to believe that we have accomplished all of this in exactly 2 months...we have many more adventures to come. We love and miss you all-remember-open invitation to all-COME AND VISIT!!!