Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Tori!

Tori’s actual birthday has come and gone but not her party.  To be held later this year, due to conflicting basketball games and swim meets. We happily continue our "holiday season" until her Beach Birthday Party at the end of January. Funny to think that in Hong Kong we could have had this party outside on a beach. Here in Germany, the snow is coming down and we will celebrate at our favorite water slides, thankfully indoors!
This year, Tori’s actual birthday fell on a Friday. She emerged groggily through a balloon garland on the bedroom door and had a strawberry shortcake breakfast with birthday candles.  Our birthday traditions. Another one is bringing cupcakes into school. This year, as I was putting the cupcakes in the oven, I wondered if grade eight still did this? Tori wasn’t sure she wanted to this year.  And I wiped away tears for the little girl who used to have specific ideas on what the school cupcakes would look like, what the swim team cupcakes would look like, what the party cupcakes would look like. As it turned out, Tori decided to take cupcakes in and a friend also brought in cupcakes for her lunch table. Never fear, lots and lots of cupcakes!
We’re all feeling a little wistful and nostalgic as the years go by, even the birthday girl herself! As I tucked Tori into bed, she said she wanted to write down all the things that happened on her birthday so she could always remember turning 14. As a busy teenager, she has not gotten to the journal entry yet. I decided to do it for her.

Tori's day: We all waited for her to exit her bedroom in the morning, just as excited as she was. She was sleepy but beautiful and wore a favorite sweater to school. Friends sang Happy Birthday to her throughout the day. After school she went to her cello lesson without complaint. After that, we walked in the fields behind our house, looking at the mountains and trees and river and talking about life. We ate homemade sweet and sour chicken and a chocolate celebration cake. We drank honey tea. We opened fortune cookies and Tori  was happy. We watched a new movie based on a book Tori loved. We tucked her in at midnight, marveling at how fast it is all going. Just yesterday she was a tiny baby keeping us up many late nights in Romania. Now we keep her up, trying to spend a little more time with our sweet kind happy reading swimming teenager.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A White Boxing Day!

The kids have long dreamed of a white Christmas. They have not gotten one yet during our Germany time though we had a least two white Easters. This year, like the past two previous ones, Christmas day was mild enough for a walk through the nearby forest with sweatshirts only.  But grey clouds ominously filled the sky by afternoon and we woke up to a sparkling white Boxing Day!
Actually we awoke to a noise, an unfamiliar noise; the scrape of the kids shoveling the sidewalk in front of our house! That is how long it has been since they had seen snow- they’re excited to shovel! We shoveled and played and sled. We got out to a friends’ house for brunch, admiring all the white fields and snow crusted pine trees along the way. We drove to a nearby little town for our annual watching of the Nutcracker. We enjoyed the ballet but playing on the snow piles in the parking lot was just as entertaining!
The next day we drove an hour to the small Memmingen airport for a quick trip to London. We navigated that tiny airport like pros, blowing through the short security and immigration lines. The kids unpackedtheir new Christmas Apple products and we waited. And waited. Until they announced the flight was cancelled. Our plane could not land due to snow on the runway and had diverted to Basel instead. We were to board buses to Basel and fly to London from there. Thankfully only a four hour bus trip. We were sort of hurried through the Basel airport, making our flight and ultimately just missing a day of our stay in London. Very grateful Santa brought some Apple products as Tori finished all her books before we left Germany.
London is and was fantastic. We enjoyed the Hampstead neighborhood, including a fun park and great bookstore. We ate British food that we remembered from Hong Kong days. The kids, growing older I suppose, pushed back after a couple museum days and requested a day at the Mall. Reluctantly, we went and it was great. The highlights: kids spending their own money and an afternoon spent watching a movie in English! A lovely holiday break that ended with us watching yet another movie: Trains, Planes and Automobiles. We laughed but it was still a little painful.