December 25, 2009

Christmas...What does it mean?

I love this time of year...Christmas! No, it's not for the hustle and bustle, all the delicious foods we enjoy or the gifts we often receive. Unfortunately, most people are concerned about getting that "perfect" gift and often overlook the "Perfect" gift that was given 2,000 years ago. The birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Last Sunday the kids in our church were able to display the true Christmas story. They spent many weeks practicing lines, songs and even planning the costumes! We are so thankful for our church and all the families that share with us in the truth and the wonder of this Christmas season.

Madeline played Mary and Jack the first Wiseman.

December 22, 2009

Snow!'s been cold here this past week. The record temperatur was -16 C (=5F). We have found that using our kamin ofen (fireplace/woodburing stove). You can see the big green monster in the photo on the right. We have finally figured out the art of making a fire that will keep burning all day long. The benefit, we don't have to run our very expensive radiator heat. We are constantly fighting the old drafty windows and watching our Euros go out the window! Here are a few pictures of the kids enjoying our most recent snow. It seems like Jack has been held hostage....and Madeline is set on burrying him in the snow!

Christmas Cookies

Each year it is a tradition to make Christmas cut-out cookies. This is my grandmother's recipe. She made these cookies with all the grandchildren every Christmas and it promises to be lots of fun and very messy! This year we shared our tradition with some American and German friends. Afterwards, the girls found some time to play dress-up!

December 05, 2009

A New Smile

If you haven't read the post "Tooth Pulling 101" you must read it to fully appreciate Jack's new smile!

Jack's method of pulling teeth!
Here's tooth #1 Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Micah and Jack after tooth #1
The new smile! Tooth #2 Sunday after Thanksgiving.

December 02, 2009

Tooth Pulling 101

So.....Jack's two front teeth have been quite wiggly these past few months and I think he's been itching to sing "All I Want for Christmas are My Two Front Teeth"! He had this hair brained idea that he would use his Nerf gun to remove the first tooth. Pictures won't be able to do this justice, but I was able to catch a brief clip of the ....shall we say "show".

After several failed attempts, we had to resort to the old fashioned way of Mom pulling. He wanted to be sure he wouldn't have any trouble eating his turkey on Thanksgiving.

Well as you can see, Jack has a co-conspirator. These two are racing to see who will loose the left one first.

Micah beat Jack by just a few hours....using the preferred method - a Nerf Gun!


This year for Thanksgiving our family focused on "serving" rather than "being served". Every year our church, Victory Baptist, hosts a Thanksgiving meal for the missionaries in the surrounding areas of Germany. We had families come from as far as Romania and Czech Republic. The festivities began the week before for a church-wide cleaning day. We all rolled up our sleeves, grabbed a scrub brush and got to work. After a complete overhaul, the church was gleaming and ready to take on 125 pounds of turkey!

On Thanksgiving day we had a complete room full of all the traditional trimming and a few new ones (smoked brisket & Greek salad). Our church kids sang a few songs that they've been practicing to include on in German! Afterwards, we had a devotion from a guest preacher, sang a few hymns and the kids enjoyed the balloons!

Throughout the day we were able to fellowship with many of the missionary families and learn how they live. I found it humbling to speak with the family from Romania and hear about the daily struggles from yellow well water to mold in every room. It makes me thankful for the housing the Lord has provided our family here in Germany. Just last week we were without hot water and heat for 4 days, and thought we were having a hard time. We as Americans are so soft...we don't know what it's like to live without all the conveniences of heat, hot water, appliances, etc. I am truly thankful for those who heed the calling of the Lord to be missionaries!

Our church was able to supply these families with a huge box of American favorites that they all miss. I know that they were just as much a blessing to us and we were to them. The day after Thanksgiving, we all met at the church for more eating! Yep, a big hearty breakfast and then a day in downtown Stuttgart for the Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). The kids all enjoyed themselves and the weather was terrific! This truly was a wonderful Thanksgiving to remember.

Jack and Micah enjoy the rides and chocolate covered stawberries and bananas!

November 18, 2009

Skiing Stubaital Austria

Where, oh where shall I begin this story?

Once upon a time there was a family of 4 who needed a vacation of at least a week or more.

First was the challenge of packing the family wagon with everything from skiis to Jack's toy dragon.

Down the Autobahn we drove through the rain, wind and snow, packed to the gills wouldn't you know!

Upon our arrival at Pension Wasserfall, we realized the 4 hour drive hadn't been bad at all.

The process of unpacking to lighten our load, made us realized we had a long time to go.

After the last bag was unloaded we headed to town to find a ski school not run by a clown! We found the school but oh was it pricey, Brad' wasn't sure but it seemed a bit dicey.
What better instructors than good 'ol Mom and Dad. The kids were a bit fearful, but eventually glad!

The bunny hill was a challange for the first day or so, but due to bad weather they were ready to go.

Our backs were hurting from all the bending and pulling, by the end of the day we were dreaming of the ski schooling!

Day two rolled around and we started anew with the locals for breakfast and a brotchen or two.

Skiing all day sure works up an appetite, but time for resting there's more skiing in sight.
lunch on the slopes)

From the top of Tyrol, the view was amazing, but looking down the kids thought we were crazy.
There's only one way down....we told them so, follow me and now lets go.
You mean we have to ski through the thick cloud? Yes my kiddies so don't stop now!
You know these Europeans and all their signs, we had no idea what we should find.....
A black diamond we soon realized was our fate, but no worries the kids did great!

Two thumbs up from these guys who skied, they loved the sun and the afternoon treats!

The friendly blue monster was always around, to be sure you weren't acting like these two clowns! The view was breathtaking, always perfect for our picture taking!

Help! I'm frozen, not sure I can get up...quick bring me some of cocoa in my cup!

What an adventure always a thrill, Jack turned 7 this week while we skied this hill!

Are these Vickings or are these our kids? I don't know but I sure love their wigs!

On a serious note....we had a wonderful time, a much needed time of relaxation and time spent as a family! Stay tuned for more adventures!

Twins turn 1 month!

Filippo and Gabriella are doing well with their adjustment to being home! Jen and Angelo are enjoying parenthood x2!

November 05, 2009

Yes, We're Still Here!

Many of you have been concerned that we've fallen off the face of the earth. Well we haven't just a bit computer challenged these days. As I wrote a few months back when we moved into our old house the wiring was a bit faulty and therefore blew up our computer. We've been piecing together and rebuilding those parts that still work with an old computer. So at any given moment we don't have sound, USB capabilities and unreliable internet connections and at the moment the inability to post pictures. It's the "charm"! We often kid ourselves about all the "charm" Europe has to offer - this is one of them!

A brief update - Brad's sister Jen is home with both babies, Filippo and Gabriella. Now comes the tough part getting them on the same schedule! Hang in there Jen you can do it!

Madeline and Jack are cruising through school looking forward to a long break in January to visit friends and family for a belated Christmas. They are both excelling in their piano and it is such a delight to hear them play. Madeline is practicing a few Christmas pieces to play at church in December. Jack is still busy as ever playing German soccer and loving every minute of it. He will be switching to indoor play next month - yippee! We're tired of standing out in the freezing rain for 3 hrs of practice a week!

We are all looking forward to our ski vacation next week to Stubital Austria. Jack will also be celebrating his 7th birthday! Stay posted for some great pictures in about a week.

October 24, 2009

Going Home

Got news today that Jen will be going home today. Pray for the babies, they are scheduled to make it home next week, pending continued improvements with their health! Thank you all for your prayers!

October 22, 2009

Twins Update

Thank you for all who have been praying for Jen and the babies. Today Jen is feeling much better and looking like she'll be released by the weekend. Pray for Filippo and Gabriella, they are not able to digest their food and are still in the NICU with feeding tubes. They are however able to keep their body temps up and breathing without any oxygen. Please keep them all in your prayers! We hope to be able to post more photos soon!

October 21, 2009

Newest Addition!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009, Brad's sister Jen, and her husband, Angelo welcomed into the world their beautiful twins! And of course our first Niece and Nephew - born the day before Brad's birthday!

Please pray for Jen, she's had some complications with her blood presure. All hope to be home by end of week!

Gabriella Elena Grimaldi (on left)
wt: 4.11 lbs length: 19"
time: 5:56 am

Filippo Grimaldi (below)
wt: 5.2 lbs length 19"
time: 7:25 am

October 08, 2009

5 Minutes of Fame

Last weekend Jack had a once in a lifetime experience. His fussball team was invited to escort the players for the local Bayern Munchen vs. SV Vaihingen fussball match. Jack's soccer club has celebrated it's 100th anniversary all year this event was the close of the celebration. We arrived at the club an hour before the match. The boys suited up in their uniforms and had some time to kill before being paired up with the players.

We were able to introduce the team to trailmix. Many of the boys were curious as to what Jack was eating. Being the polite boy that he is, he offered some to his teammates. Kids are kids no matter the nationality, they all wanted to toss aside the nuts and raisins and only eat the M&Ms! I think we made many friends that afternoon! Of course as I was passing around the mix, I thought "Oh, no! How do I ask if any one is allergic to peanuts in German?" After the peanuts were already in every mouth, I quickly thought, "well I do have one Epi pen with me!" Thank goodness, no problems.

The time came for the big line up. In the clubhouse all the boys went. I quickly gave Jack the instructions to stay with his coach and just follow all the other boys; wave when they wave, run when they run...that kind of advice. I saw that he was paired with a local player for the SV Vaihingen team. The player was just talking away to Jack and then Jack looked at me a shrugged his shoulders. I walked over and said "he speaks English". The player nodded his head and said "Ja" (yes). That was about it. He took Jack's hand and they rushed the pitch (the field). Jack did great, waved and ran right on que!
We unfortunatley didn't get any great photos of the field line-up due to the size of the crowd and players. Hope you enjoy the ones we were able to catch.
Below are a few from last weekends game!

October 07, 2009

Drachen (kite) Fest

Last weekend we attended the Drachenfest (kite festival) in Ost Fildern, a nearby town. We had a beautiful day and the perfect amount of wind for flying kites....well that is if you brought your kite! The advertising for the event stated that there would be complimentary kites available for your use. When we arrived the kids were immediatly side tracked with the huge playground as were all the kids! After climbing, spinning, jumping and squirting water the kids were ready to explore the rest of the festival. We came upon an area where you could paint a poster. The kids enjoyed making new signs for their bedrooms.
After securing their artwork with a rock on the side of the hill to dry we ventured down towards the multitude of kites. There were acrobatic kites and kites that carried small go-carts across the field. Along the way were an array of musical sculptures. Madeline's favorite was the one made with rubber gloves and recorders. The gloves (handschue) were taped to the mouthpieces of the recorders so you could squeeze a tune! Jack wasn't too impressed, he liked the ones you could spin, spin and spin. There was a moment that I thought we would see the musical wheel flying down the side of the hill!
What is a
Borke adventure without the local fare? Yes, we sampled the schweinsteak, ledentopf (soup), and yes you guessed it...Jack's favorite the rotewurst. After a few spills of the apfelshorle and cleanup, we came across these bunnies. We still are unsure of what they represent or why they were here. The kids of course saw them as another opportunity to do some climbing. We really had a great day!

September 29, 2009

A Day in Stuttgart

We were so kindly invited by our neighbors the week we moved in to join them for a day in Stuttgart. They offered to show us how to use the public transit (U-Bahn, S-bahn and Bus), the local sights, and the best ice cream place in town. We had a wonderful time getting to know one another and learning each others language (with the help of a dictionary at times)! They have a six year old daughter who is very cute and Madeline and Jack enjoyed teaching her how to play, Eye Spy, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, and other english language games. She in turn taught them how to play Shing Shang Shung, a German version of Rock Paper Scissors. I think this relationship will be great for all of us.

On our adventure we toured the famous Schloss Platz, Theatre district, and upscale shopping. Of course you can't afford much around here with how weak the dollar is. We enjoyed window shopping the sale shoes priced at 250 Euro which = $375. Oh, did I mention that in our wet shipment all of my winter shoes were moldy? At these prices, you can understand why I'm enjoying my tennis shoes so much. I really do need to break down and buy new ones - online of course!

Here's a photo of the kids at the Schlossplatz.

Soccer vs. Fussball

Welcome to soccer the European way! What a road it's been to get here. Three weeks ago we were able to find a boys and a girls German soccer team for Madeline and Jack. After a week of figuring out where to be, which team is the right age group, I think we've hit the nail on the head!

Jack is playing on the SV Vaihingen club, right here in our town. The team has 12 players and they play 2 teams of 6. Jack had his first games this past Saturday. They played 3 games from 8:30-12:30 in the nearby town of Plinegan. He scored his first goal in the second game!

The boys on the team all seem to be very nice and somehow they all communicate with one another while speaking different languages. The parents are all very nice and speak english so this helps Brad and I out a bit! We've been invited to attend the team ski weekend in Austria later in December! A great group of people. Through this emersion I will at least be able to talk about fussball, now how that helps me asking my neighbor for a cup of sugar, I don't know!!!
As for Madeline, no luck. We quickly found out that girls are the 2nd class athlete in these neck of the woods. Madeline practiced with the SV Morhringen girls team and didn't enjoy it like her brother. Rightfully so, she was paired up with a group of girls the average age of 14. She noticed the physical differences right away! This team practices on a cinder field, not the nice grass or astro-turf fields the boys have! So, in order to play agressively you end up falling and yes...bleeding. And if you know my Madeline and her skin infections - not a good pair! So to make a very long, long story and long, long week short...she is now giving the CYS team on base a try. She's not very excited about the caliber of play, but enjoys the social interaction with the American kids! More to report later !!