Friday, December 25, 2009

Fröhliche Weihnachten

One of my favorite things we did this Christmas was let the kids buy presents for one another. It was a bit last minute with the move and ideally I like them to try to make something for one another, but they had a lot of fun picking something out and giving their gifts to each other.
Here are some of the highlights:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pajamas and Books on Christmas Eve

Another tradition in our house is that Santa always brings a pair of pajamas and a book for everyone the night before Christmas. The last few years the books have been pop-up books by Robert Sabuda. There is a list of books we own in the sidebar if you are interested. The kids LOVE them. The kids are usually in the middle of doing something when the doorbell rings. This year they were just getting out of the bath! Please don't look to close at the wrap, our wrapping paper didn't arrive and our choices were very, very limited. Those of you that really know me know how I feel about this!

Here are the kids putting out Santa's cookies and beer.

A wonderful night!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cookies

It's become a tradition in our family to make Christmas cookies every year. Here are a few pictures of this year's attempts:

Here were our favorites:





Taylor (it is a note for Santa in cookie):

This was a present from Brooke to everyone. She made a special stocking cookie for each person. It receives an honorable mention!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Market at Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany

To celebrate St. Nicholas Day we attended our first German Christmas Market at Porta Nigra in Trier. Trier is about an hour from our house through the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Wine Region. Although the weather was less than perfect, we had a wonderful time!

Porta Nigra (which means black gate) was the Roman gateway into Trier. It received it's name in the Middle Ages because of the color of the weathered stone it is made from. The gate was built in the 2nd century. Porta Nigra is the oldest German defensive structure. In the 12th century, it was made into a two story church and used that way until the 19th century. I realized when posting this that the picture I took of the whole gate didn't come out (it was raining) but here is one of the kids and Cameron to show you the relative size of the structure. Please check out the following website, this gate is impressive and I can't believe I don't have a good picture of it!

Walking to the market.

Here are a few pictures from inside the market.

Here we are with our first Gluhwein and Kinderpunsch.

I have had spiced wine before but never Gluhwein in Germany at a Christmas Market. It was delicious. The kids loved the Kinderpunsch (a non-alcoholic version of Gluhwein) as well. I am making it my goal for the rest of the winter to make a great Gluhwein. Try them both, they are really very good. There are recipes listed on the sidebar.

We have pictures of the kids all over the States and Japan so it seemed fitting that their first ride would be on the carousel!

If you know our Taylor, she isn't much of an eater. Every once in a while we find something that she can't get enough of and she found a dream come true at a stall that said Schoko-Fruchte aus reiner Schokolade.

At this stall were all types of fruit covered in chocolate and we discovered that "aus reiner Schokolade" translates to "from pure chocolate". The kids all picked strawberries and they loved them. Especially Taylor.

D decided right sround then that he had to use the bathroom so Cameron took him and here are the girls devouring what was left of his pure chocolate covered strawberries.

I think they may have tasted even better to the girls because of it. Luckily, he never even noticed.

We walked around a bit and found another alley with another section of the market. On the way down to the stalls and rides there was an accordian duo from Minsk. They took a liking to D when he tried to throw his Euro in their case and missed.

They were fabulous and we watched them for a very long time.

It was beginning to get late and very crowded so we didn't shop but just wandered around enjoying the rest of the day.

We did buy the kids some candy and I got some spices and the most beautiful fresh mistletoe.

Our last look at the Christmas Market.

This is a picture right outside the gate. We can't wait to go back.

Sankt Nikolaus

We have always celebrated St. Nicholas Day in our house since my oldest son's name is Nicholas. We usually celebrated by having the kids wake up to a small present left out with breakfast and it was always fun in the spirit and anticipation of Christmas.

How lucky for us to be in Germany this year and be able to celebrate the somewhere that also celebrates St. Nicholas Day! Here is a great website if you are interested in the history of Sankt Nikolaus in Germany or anywhere else around the world.

At our house, the night before, the kids left their boots outside on the porch.

The next morning, this is what we woke up to:

The kids found their boots on the kitchen table with candy (chocolate coins and a chocolate St. Nicholas to be exact), dates, pumkin seeds and some clementines. They were so excited!

There was also a small gift. These wooden toys are attached to a spring on the top of their heads and while they were not supposed to be used as toys (it says so on the box) the kids loved using them as yo-yo's and had the greatest time with them.

Lucky us, not only was there a beautiful sunrise but we got to watch half a rainbow grow into full one.

We celebrated the rest of the day by attending our first Christmas Market.

It was a great day.
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