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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea
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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea

Montag, 5. Mai 2014

Fasching: German Mardi Gras

One of the things we experienced falling on my blog absence is Carnival. Carnival is, well, unique. It's sort of like a German Mardi Gras. It's a celebration, a parade, a firm, a reason to drink - that is, if the Germans ever need a reason to drink.
This float  was throwing liquor bottles, not candy. 

 Hell, they have breakfast beer here. I don't think they need a reason, but I think they always welcome them. 

Seen at Velburg Fasching Parade

Anyway, the parades are great fun. The costumes are incredible. Many of them poke fun at or complain about various parts of the government and church bodies, at policies they disagree with, that sort of thing. 

It's like an open forum to air one's grievances. Superb.

Of course, there are Halloween costumes, too. All the stores sell them this time of year. Germans -- unless they live near and have been influenced by Americans -- don't usually do Halloween. Fasching is the time for costumes and candy here. As Americans living in Germany, we got to double dip. :)

My precious -- I mean wicked -- witch ready for the parade

And there's plenty of candy. The parade participants pelt the audience with candy. I do mean pelt. 

Some of the characters seen at the parade:

Leaving Germany

Time flies when you're having fun. I haven't been writing lately because I've been, well, having fun. We have just a short time left in Germany. Hub's orders are up, and we're moving to Alaska this summer. Neither of us really wants to leave Germany, even though Alaska's been on our wishlist of duty stations far longer than Germany ever had. We've grown to love it here, to feel at home here, and it's sad that we have to leave.

Still, it's not time to be sad yet. It's time to make the most of the short time (less than two months left now) that we have. It's time for cramming in travel opportunities.

So, we are doing just that.

Over the course of this week, I'll share with you our recent travels, as well as a new project I've undertaken recently.

Oh, and I'll update my 2014 goals list I wrote about in January. There's been progress. Not a lot of progress, but some.

Here's a sneak peek into my recent travels ...

I fulfilled a life's dream: Auschwitz. It was unforgettable. More on that later. I've got to wake up my daughter and get her ready to find more adventure. Seize the day!

Samstag, 22. Februar 2014

Edible Model Earth

Continuing our geology unit study, we built an edible model Earth today.

If you want to replicate this, you will need:

a maraschino cherry
2 cups of crisp rice cereal
1 T butter
13 marshmallows
8 Oreo cookies (crushed into crumbs)
and peanut butter

Also soap for your hands. Lots and lots of soap.

The cherry gets stuffed into one marshmallow. That's the solid core inside the molten core.

Then, you make Rice Krispy Treats (melt the butter on the stove, add the marshmallows, stir until melted. Remove from heat, stir in cereal. let cool five minutes.

You take your rice treat mix and you mold it into a ball around your core. Try to make it as even and round as possible.

Next, smear peanut butter all over the outside. This is the MOHO layer. You will be dirty now.

Finally, roll your Earth in the cookie crumb crust, and you are done. If you carefully slice it in half, hopefully you can see all the layers nicely.

We were able to see all the layers, although our core didn't end up dead center. It was a tasty project.

We are loving this Intellego unit study on Geology!

The full project instructions can be found here.

How the Earth was Formed

We're studying geology using an Intellego unit study, which we are loving. Today, we watched a documentary on the formation of the earth, researched rocks and minerals in daily life, learned some new vocabulary (and reviewed others), and completed a brief writing project.  Here is a short writing project about the formation of Earth:

Short, sweet, simple, to the point, and WELL UNDERSTOOD. :)

Vocabulary introduced and/or reviewed:

continental crust
mass spectrometer
plate tectonics
tufa towers

Really loving Intellego. If you haven't heard of them, I encourage you to check them out. Great stuff.

Freitag, 21. Februar 2014

Paris, Part Two

...continued from Part One

After breakfast, we set out to explore Paris some more. Would you believe that the shops don't open until nine or ten? Those Parisians like their rest. It was a surprise, being such a major city. It really didn't get hopping until ten.

 The city looks vastly different in the daylight. We walked around the entire Louvre.

It's huge, by the way. Did I mention that?

We felt so thankful to have visited the Eiffel Tower last night, because today, it was covered in clouds.

We wandered around, aiming roughly for Notre Dame, but taking our sweet time looking around.

The love locks on the bridge. Since this wasn't a planned trip, we didn't have a lock to put on the bridge. It's okay. We didn't need to. :)

We were just in awe of the old buildings, the river, the crazy drivers, everything. Paris is like no other place we've been to.

Oh, let me tell you something. People say Paris is diry and it smells bad. Well, it's not the cleanest city we've visited, but that is not for lack of effort. We saw street cleaners all over the place. And in the mornings, the workers open some drain things and flood the streets to clean them. There were people sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and picking up trash everywhere we went. It was still dirty. Too many people. There was also a large visible homeless population. As for the smell, it wasn't really anything we noticed except in the subways. In the subways, you got one of two smells: piss, or piss covered in soap. That was stinky.

The palace of justice

Hubs loves, loves, loves old churches. He was thrilled to see Notre Dame. As for me, it was cool to see it, but I think I was expecting something way more grandiose. We went inside, and it looked not much different from any other older Catholic church, except bigger. The incense smelled lovely, though.

It was a fabulous, whirlwind, once-in-a-lifetime weekend we had travelling western Germany, Belgium, and France. It was nice to see the sign bringing us back home to Germany, and even nicer when we saw our town on a directional sign on the Autobahn. Travel is heavenly, but there's no place like home.

Next on our travel radar: A trip to Poland to buy pottery with a friend of mine (girl trip), a trip to Poland to visit Auschwitz/Krakow, and a trip to Rome and Pompei. 

Paris, Part One

As I was saying, we were supposed to go to Luxembourg. But when you look at your GPS and realize Paris is only an extra 30 minutes of drive time away, you choose Paris, because your time in Europe is limited and you need to see Paris.

So, we got in our car, hopped online and found a last-minute hotel deal near the Louvre for 89€ a night (really great deal, by the way. seriously recommend for last minute hotel deals), and headed to Paris. It was late afternoon when we left Waterloo.

Traffic was fine until we got into Paris. Then, it was hellish. Oh gawd those Parisians! They swerve and honk and cut you off! It's terrifying! Thankfully, Hubs drove and I brought back my Bradley Method childbirthing class breathing.

We finally arrived at our parking garage, 1km away from our hotel room (we later learned that there was one closer, but by that point, Hubs was DONE driving in Paris, plus we didn't know for sure if we could park closer, so we didn't bother trying). We grabbed our bags and walked to the hotel. It was literally a block from the Opera House (below) and a block in the opposite direction from the Louvre. Could not have asked for a better location, especially for such a low price. 

Upon check-in, we dumped our bags in our room and looked up how to get to the Eiffel Tower. We wanted to see it at night in all its glory. At 10 p.m., we set off to learn how to use Paris public transportation, and we got to the Eiffel tower.

At first, it looks smallish. I must have taken fifty photos of it, stopping for a new photo every hundred feet or so.

 It's anything but smallish. It's enormous. And impressive.

As you can tell, I was super impressed by the Eiffel Tower.

Next, we hurried back to the train station to get to the Arch de Triomphe. Super cool, too. We had to hurry, though, because Parisian public transportation closes (closes!) around midnight.

After we admired that for a while, it was back to the train to get over to the stop near the Louvre. We could easily walk to the hotel after that, so we weren't rushed. The plan was to see the Louvre's pyramids all lit up, then get some dinner, and head back to the hotel to sleep.

I would have loved to go inside, but there was no time in our short trip for that, so we'll definitely be going to Paris again in the future. The Louvre is so gorgeous. Breathtaking. We must have spent an hour there, just walking around, taking pictures, admiring its glory.

Before we knew it, the time was past midnight, and we were tired. We headed toward the hotel, looking for a bite to eat along the way. Would you believe there was NO PLACE for us to eat? Paris totally shuts down at night. I was shocked. We went back to the hotel a bit hungry, downed half a bottle of room temperature Coke Zero, and went to sleep.

We hit up McDonald's (don't judge) for breakfast the next morning, where we had burger patties on English muffins with ketchup and some cheese on it. Strange breakfast sandwich, but it filled us up. Then, we hit the town again, this time by day. be continued

Mittwoch, 19. Februar 2014

Belgium Trip: Brussels & Waterloo

Continuing our Epic Valentine's Day Weekend Getaway, Hubs and I traveled through The Netherlands into Belgium. Our first (main) stop was Brussels. It was a gorgeous, vibrant city and we enjoyed our time there.

Traffic was no problem during our drive through Belgium. Parking was plentiful. We didn't encounter any toll roads, and there was no vingette required to drive through the country.
I just thought this was a cool tunnel. 

This translates to "less acid behind the wheel" 
Grand Place. The main square in Brussels. So pretty. So old. The dates on the buildings were in the 1600s.

We like to eat the local famous food. When in Belgium...

Mine was topped with Speculoos. 

What's that? You say you don't know what Speculoos is? In Europe, your coffee is usually served with small, tasty cookies. Speculoos is what happens when you turn those cookies into a spread. It is heavenly. You can buy your own here

Ahhh....Manneken Pis, the famous Belgian fountain we'd heard stories about. It's this relic that no one knows the origins of. No one knows when it was ...ahem...erected. No one knows who built it. No one knows why. All they know is that there is a peeing statue. And it attracts huge crowds.

Yes. I am a child. Potty humor still makes me giggle. 
They even make Manneken Pis milk chocolate. 

Spotted in front of a shopping mall. 

One last photo as we make our way back to the parking garage.

And now, we head to Waterloo, to the site of the famous battle where Napoleon was defeated.

There's a large monument (a monumental monument?) on a large hill with hundreds of steps to climb.

Once you reach the top without dying, you catch your breath, admire your hard work, and then look around.

Pretty great view of the Belgian countryside.

And this handy map made it easy to picture where the battle took place. We actually parked very near where Napoleon sat on his horse. Very cool.

The monument seen from the top of the hill. 
We shopped the gift shop and hoofed it back to the car, where we plotted our next move. It was supposed to be Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, but we changed our minds at the last minute. I'll tell you more about that adventure tomorrow.