Landesgartenschau Schwäbisch Gmünd

We took many field trips while in Germany last month. Here is one that I would like to share with you. My words won’t do it justice, so I will post a few pictures.

Every couple of years, a particular city in our home Bundesland (kind of like a state) of Baden-Wuertemberg, gets to host what is called “Landesgartenschau.” This is a garden, flower and plant expo, that utilizes big parts of the city, including structures, city parks, surrounding forests, you get the picture. It is quite a production and the vast variety of plants and flowers is absolutely amazing:

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This tower was at the top entrance of the expo. It was built specifically for this event and each of the nearly 200 steps was sponsored by a particular business or family. We were able to get a general grasp of the layout and decide from there what we wanted to see up close!

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This was taken from the tower. It is to give you an idea of how creatively the flowers and flower beds were arranged!

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Aren’t these stunning? I wish it wasn’t quite so hot in Georgia to allow for some summer gardening, but also to be able to grow some of these species here!

What was also really cool, is how the kids were engaged along the way. There was an enormous water play ground, with wooden floats, sprinklers, sand, gravel, you name it. We had a terrific lunch picnic while J was busy playing.

There was also a marble track that ran through the forest. This was brilliant! The walk down into the city was about 1.2 miles or so and to keep the kids moving, they had built a marble track that ran along most of the path. Both J and P were entertained and I never heard one of them complain about walking!

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At the end of our walk, we arrived at the Limes. Did you know the Roman empire expanded all the way into Germany? The Limes is the approximate line of how far into Germany they penetrated. Periodically, you can find remnants:

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Once in town, we went into an exposition hall. While the whole expo runs for several months, through October, the expo hall features weekly displays of cut flower arrangement. We were privileged to see a rose exposition.

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This was my favorite display. Doesn’t it just look yummy?

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Here is the website to the event if you are interested and want to find out more:

http://www.gmuend2014.de

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Welcome back!

It has been several weeks since my last post, and there are still a few excursions in Germany that I want to write about. First, I have to catch you up on some of the goings-on around here:

1) Little Bit has his first (and now second) tooth!

2) Little Bit has learned to consistently roll over and has expanded his circle of playtime in our living room. Obviously, leaving him on my bed or even taking my hand off him on the changing table are no longer an option!

3) GERMANY WON THE SOCCER WORLD CUP! Oh yeah, that was a biggie at our house. I remember being 13 when they won it in 1990 (yes, I did just give away my age!) and this year my oldest is 13. It was providential that they should win… and it really was TIME!!!

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4) P is absolutely HOT for tennis these days. Last week he played every single day of the week, this week he had to “miss” a day, due to the inconvenience of being taken to Six Flags by a friend…:-) Next week, he and his team will be playing at the USTA State Championships in Macon, GA. They have all been working so hard at their game, I am excited to see, what Macon holds for them this year.

5) J is happiest when in the water or with a friend, or preferably, BOTH. He has had the great experience of jumping off both the 3m board and the 5m tower in Germany, and he did repeated flips off the 1m board as well. Sometimes I wonder if he would be better served on a swim team than tennis lessons….

6) I am coming to the realization, that we only have a few more weeks before school starts back and have begun some minor planning. At some point, I will need to kick that into a little higher gear. We have taken the entire summer off, not even done any formal reading. I have ENJOYED it as much as my boys have. We have not been bored and have had the freedom to do some other things, such as finishing Little Bit’s room (it only took 7 months….), reading a novel- actually, two!, and I have rediscovered homeopathy and have immersed myself in studying more about different remedies that fit for the individual members of my family. (More on that later!)

7) The Man is keeping busy with his bees. He has his first batch of honey harvest put away, which was very exciting to him. He ahs grown his bees from 1 hive to 3 this year, 2 of which are doing well. His third hive he calls his “experiment hive.” It has some issues and he is trying different techniques to help it thrive. I am working on having him write a post or two about his endeavor.

What have YOU done this summer? Please do share in the comment section. I would love to hear from you!

Ravensburger Spieleland

My boys have been blessed with a few pretty cool uncles! Last Tuesday, my fantastic brother-in-law A. took our eight year old and his other eight year old nephew to the Ravensburger Spieleland. You may be familiar with Ravensburger games and puzzles- they have the blue corners on their boxes. Spieleland is a theme park based on these games and particularly geared towards 4-12 years of age, although thirty-something year old uncles will be entertained quite nicely as well!

Their awesome day began with a sleep-over with aunt and uncle, and was further preceded by a pretty incredible soccer match between Germany and Portugal the night before. Not only that, but uncle A.  bought croissants and pretzels for breakfast, packed a delicious picnick, and crowned the outing with ice cream. And the just-as-awesome aunt J. made their favorite spaghetti dish for dinner! Here are a few pictures from their day:

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Germany scored their second goal.

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The boys are putting out a fire together.

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What do you think? Does somebody deserve the Incredible Uncle Award???

Wimsener Höhle

Field trip time!

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A few days ago, we went on a lovely little hike to a charming little cave. The cave is a water cave, meaning it is only accessible by boat. In fact, we were only able to see the first 70 meters of the 900 meter cave, as for the rest you need to go on a 12 hour dive….Um, no thanks! It was quite fascinating though- our boat guide assured us that there was no risk of rocks falling on us, as the cave is washed out by water of a solid piece.

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Wimsen cave is one of the main attractions of the Geopark of the Swabian Jura. It is also known as Friedrichs cave and it is a natural monument, representing the only “active” water cave in Germany named after the Elector of Wurttemberg Friedrich. Frederick I William Charles of Württemberg was the last Duke of Würtemberg, then briefly Elector of Württemberg, and was later elevated to the status of King of Württemberg, by Napoleon .

A plaque at the entrance to the cave is a greeting and dedication to Friedrich. Can you tell what it says?

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P. was super excited at the chance to practice some Latin live:)

“Grata tuum preasens numen mea nympha salutat.

Laetior unda tibi nunc Friderice fluit.”

At the “Backhaus”!

Learning doesn’t stop for us just because it’s summer. Especially right now, being in a place that is relatively new for my boys. Saturday we had a fantastic opportunity to observe and participate in baking bread in a large wood burning stove at the local Backhaus.

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A large fire is made approximately 2 hours before the official baking time. The glowing coals are spread throughout the stove.

Prior to “Einschiessen”- the “shooting in” of the bread loaves, the coals/ashes are completely removed and the stove is wiped clean with a wet rag. The bread is baked completely with the remaining radiating heat, no fire burns during the actual baking!

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The loaves are quickly formed by hand and placed onto a flour coated board. This board, which is affixed to a long pole, is used for the Einschiessen process.

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Finally, 2 pans of a thin cake, a salty and a sweet one, are placed into the stove. The temperature today was 300 degrees Celcius, around 525 degrees Fahrenheit.

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After around 25-30 minutes, the thin cakes are removed and consumed, while we wait on the bread to be done. Yum! Yum!

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Another 30 minutes later the bread loaves a lightly brushed with water and removed from the stoves. The remaining flour and occasional ashes are brushed off the bottom. Altogether we baked 32 loaves.

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We took home these two!!!

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Backhaus history:

Some towns had communal baking houses as early as the 14 th century. The wide spread building of them dates back to the 17 th century. Individual ovens in private houses were uncommon, and often against the law, due to fire danger. Official baking days brought towns together in community, as the work load was shared, and the waiting on bread and cakes gave people time to visit with one another. This practice was widely used until the 1960’s. Today, functioning Backhauses can still be used, they may also be used by groups or school classes for fun and educational field trips!

The Art of Assisted Check-in or Air Travel at its Finest

We arrived at the airport with over 2 hours to spare before our flight. Yes,yes, I am aware, you’re supposed to be there 3 hours before an international flight. I now know just why that is:

1) the self check-in kiosk will not recognize a foreign passport- GO STAND IN THAT LINE!

2) when flying stand-by, an infant ticket is NOT easily issued. This takes upwards of 45 minutes at the counter and several phone calls to a magic genie ( whose first quote for the non-rev infant ticket was higher than the buddy pass I purchased for myself- um, try again, Genie!)

3) if you are trying to list for a flight within the hour of departure, you have to be listed by the gate agent, not the check-in counter…more phone calls!
4) a print- out of the flight itinerary DOES NOT qualify one to pass through the magic gates of security…back to the counter, please, M’am. (Mind you! at this point we are 30 min away from departure time and still in the wrong terminal)
5) once one finally holds all necessary papers to pass through security, you must travel via train to the other (domestic) terminal…hmmm….That one I still can’t figure out. Why again did Atlanta build an international terminal? International flights leave from domestic terminal, but check-in is at the international terminal, which you have to access from an entirely different interstate…That makes SO much sense!

We made it though. What’s air travel without a little excitement? The bright side? We got 4 seats and we were on the plane a mere 5 minutes before it pushed off the gate. No unnecessary time spent there! And: recent upgrades to our plane now offer individual flight entertainment. Both older boys were in absolute heaven!