Friday, October 20, 2017

Another weekend in Denmark

We really enjoy Copenhagen.  Plenty of people will say it's not as great as Amsterdam, why not Bruges, really we should go to Hamburg, and Montenegro is charming.

Ian goes for work to Copenhagen, so that's where we've gone :)

He likes to tell people it's where my "hair person" is.  I don't have a "hair person" but last time I went a woman kindly took me with no appointment, and since I was going back I asked if she had room, and she made room. OK, she opened on a Saturday. For me.

So I guess I kind of have a "hair person."

She gave us a recommendation for dinner, a son-in-law or someone has an assortment of restaurants, so we went to Pluto.  The dishes were small, expensive, but tasty. We followed dinner with a wafflen dessert in Nyhavn, because why not?

Museums are closed on Mondays (and sometimes Tuesdays), so for Sunday we checked out the Genetically Altered Little Mermaid, and then the Hirschsprung Museum. The Danish and Dutch artists are phenomenal.  We would have liked to go to the modern art museum Louisiana, but not enough time this trip as it's out of town.

For our evening entertainment, we arranged to do an escape room. TimeQuest is right off Nyhavn and has a linear room for 2-people. That's a little unusual and we jumped on it.  When we finished we had the fastest time, and with no given clues.  It's a perfect First Escape Room.

That night we went to a place called Tight. The dishes were bigger, less expensive, and just as tasty. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, we were seated next to a table of young 20-somethings (one was Scottish, one was Swedish, I think the last was English) who had profound questions to ask of each other - a lot of meaning of life stuff - and all the answers to those profound questions. They were also kind of loud.

Monday was a day by train north to Helsingor, the home of Hamlet's Elsinore Castle, correctly known as Kronborg Castle. Right next to the castle is the Maritime Museum constructed inside a ship dry dock. No time for that on this trip! We checked out the castle, took the tour through the Casemates, and rode the ferry across to Sweden's Helsingborg for lunch. Because you do that kind of thing. We stopped in to Redimat (apparently this was the trip for single word restaurants). Redimat serves three meals at lunch time. As it was described to us - a salted meat, a fish, vegetables. Ian's salted meat was an amazing ham steak, my fish was either a halibut or a flounder, and both were complete meals with salad, dessert, and coffee.  Highly recommended.  We still searched for a Starbucks after, to no avail.

Back in Helsingore, we made it in time for our second escape room.

This time we tried a 3-4 person room with a 75-minute time limit.  We just squeaked under, but feel pretty strongly that we would have finished faster if one of the puzzles had moved easier (the pieces stuck instead of slid), one light wasn't burned out in the dark room, and another puzzle had all it's pieces (one was missing). Excuses? Perhaps. But hey, we did get out, even with a handful of clues.

It was a lovely weekend with Ian, just the two of us wandering around a slice of Denmark, having some fun and eating good food. He had to stay the rest of the week for work, and I went home and prepared for a quick trip to the States. I do enjoy that time away with just him.

Until the next time.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Race Around Mainhattan

Yesterday we held the "Race Around Mainhattan." Ten teams went out with 37 clues and ran around to take photos of themselves in different areas of the city - some just markers or plaques, others were tasks of various challenging degrees.

I don't have permission to put up their photos so here are the photos of the scores :)

And bummer I didn't get a photo of the prizes!

Logo by Becca :)

We've spent the past few months walking around the town and talking about interesting or fun places to send our teams. It was advertised for a long while, and wouldn't you know it took until the last few days before the teams were all signed up. I should know by now that no one commits to anything until the very last second, but you also know how challenging that can be when arranging for prizes. Can I justify purchasing prizes that don't have potential winners?

It all worked out and they seemed to have fun.  One team took to their bikes, the rest used their feet and the UBahn. One of their tasks was to track the number of Starbucks they passed... FYI there are a lot of Starbucks in Frankfurt. Clue points were weighted by the challenge, of course.  From finding a particular lock on the Eiserner Steg to dressing up in Dirndls and Lederhosen, from riding the Bull and Bear to getting a photo with Angela Merkel. Creativity is key. As judges, when the teams returned Ian and I were free to give extra points for creative photos, because, you know, judge power!

All in all, a successful event.  Maybe we'll even do it again next fall.

New year, new activity

Nicholas is going out for the Marksmanship team at school.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Last day of summer for the last kid

Nicholas starts his senior year of high school tomorrow.  Katherine starts her senior year of college tomorrow.  It's all sorts of crazy.

Yesterday Nicholas had his formal informal photos taken for the yearbook.

They were taken at the Kurhaus field in Wiesbaden.  Nicholas often has a lollipop in his mouth and I told him he should have his photos taken as such.  He declined.  We compromised and took some of our own.

Why do they make girls take these kinds of poses??

"Contemplating the Future"

He doesn't seem to know how to lollipop.

Duck poop and all.
One more year of having this kid at home.  We're so glad that boarding school isn't where he ended up last year.  Now if we could just get him to complete his ROTC scholarship packet!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

He's 16!

Clopfers at the Apfelwein Fest

Dinner at Jamy's Burgers

Spaghetti eis dessert

A Working Summer

Becca had a busy summer.  She was full-time in the summer hire program at the Consulate.  She had dog-sitting jobs. And she took a 10-week summer 3D art class.

The last project for the summer was a clay piece with the goal of creating an anthropomorphic animal/insect/non-living items as a toy/logo for a children's store

Ideas were tossed around and the two final contenders were a ballerina mosquito and a corgi Queen.

The piece that resulted is quite remarkable IMO.  From the beginning when it was a drawing then a wire skeleton, to when it started taking corgi shape in clay, and finally the finishing painted details, it was amazing to watch. I've said several times that if we saw this in a store in a London, I'd buy it for Rebecca because she's all about the corgis, and this is a fabulous piece.

A royal shelf wave.

Working up to this piece, she started with a wire seahorse for an imaginary aquarium. This one she brought with her to work on while we visited Dublin.  Jeffrey was her carry-on:

It's about 18 inches, not the mammoth it appears.

A foam core "Bat Shramp" (not sure what location this was for). The task was to combine a macro-creature with a micro-creature:

Just missing whiskers.

And a tea light tree sculpture for the head office of an imaginary organic food company. The task was to pick any single item and build it up. This was her least favorite result, but I think it still has a certain charm:

And now she's back to Savannah, a couple weeks early to get her RA training before the rest of the kids arrive to school. She has a long 12 weeks ahead of her and we already miss her.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Muddy Angel 2017

Today was another check mark on the list of "do things that make you uncomfortable." The Muddy Angel follows the pattern of a Tough Mudder, but much (MUCH) tamer.  There's very little upper body strength needed and the 5K is broken up by low key obstacles.  The idea is fun (and fundraising), not overcoming fears and pushing yourself like the Tough Mudders and Spartans do.

We didn't even have a team name, much less a uniform!

Katherine went for eye makeup but there was no time
for the rest of us.

That yellow blob in the back is me. 

The muddiest part of the mudrun.

So happy the girls did this with me!
I was, by far, the slowest member of our team as I have no cardio endurance at all and a 5K is FAR for me, but I finished and even jogged some parts of it.

Thanks to my girls, Brandi, Alaina, and Jonette for saying Yes to doing this too!

Saturday, August 5, 2017


Last night Becca and I hit the Main River on stand up paddle boards.  A friend sent out an invite to a group of folks, 26 said yes, and off we went.

The Main River goes through the center of Frankfurt, and we paddled our way through part of it, and we paddled through sunset.  It was a beautiful evening.

And I only fell in once.

I don't think SUP is something I'll do again unless it's through a nature reserve of some sort, for while the city was lovely the big working ships passing by were a little less so.  And the folks sitting on the banks whistling. And it's hard.  Sleeping was a little tough as all those arm and leg muscles did their spasm dances from over exertion.

But yeah, it was fun and I'm really glad I went.  Another thing off the ever-growing bucket list.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Quick trip to Dublin

Katherine is nearly finished with her internship in Dublin, but about half way through we took a quick weekend to visit her.

Our apartment was a little smaller than I remembered booking. Probably because I wasn't sure if all of us were going, and I thought the couch looked a lot bigger in the pictures and could work in a pinch for one of the kids.  Well, turns out not so much.  My comments to the landlord included suggestions for a pull-out couch and some food in the pantry.  One box of oatmeal, a half stick of butter, and some freezer-burned ice cream aren't really satisfying when arriving 90 minutes late (delayed flight) at midnight. Nicholas and Rebecca shared a room. Really shared. Jonathon got the way too small couch. It was only for 3 nights.

Dublin is a very walkable city. Our first day we poked around the Temple Bar area, saw where Katherine is doing her internship, and went to the Leprechaun Museum. Leprechauns aren't real (shhh) so there's nothing in the way of what you'd see in a regular museum, but stories about leprechauns and fairies have been around for centuries, and that's what this little museum is all about.

Three big guys on a tiny couch - manspreading

This bust didn't have a name. No Name Bust.
The next day we visited Trinity College, saw the famous library, and accidentally took photos of the Book of Kells (actually Katherine did, she was properly tut-tutted.) I'll tell you a secret though, I think the Book of Armagh is better. We visitied the Little Museum with the best tour guide (If you're lucky, you'll have Ronan) where one of Katherine's roommates worked. The Little Museum is a 30-45 minute run-through about the history of Dublin and well worth a visit.  We walked through part of  St Stephen's Green, a beautiful park. Saturday evening we did an Escape Room (see my Escape Room blog entry) and were flying through but for one puzzle that we all stared at each other for 10+ minutes.  That was embarrassing.

Lunch at TripAdvisor recommended Sheehan's Pub.

A little birthday shopping!

A little birthday dessert!

Sunday we had some time before our flight so we walked past Christ Church Cathedral and St Patrick Cathedral (no visiting... it was church time and the entrances were all guarded to allow church-goers only!), and tried to book a Viking duck tour but they were booked. So we did a second escape room we happened to walk past and they had a head-to-head room open right then.  Lucky. Boys vs Girls, and the Boys won by a few seconds (I'm pretty sure they got more clues than we did). We'll get them next time.

Once again, we're in love with Ireland. I think we're building our case for moving there permanently one day.

And Katherine comes home in a week :)