Christmas is in the Air

On the day we left our car in the workshop we had no choice but to go to the city center on foot. Although it was only a less than 15-minute walk I still “enjoyed” that moment. The comfort of having our own car sometimes make me forget to appreciate simple things. Looking at my kids and their dad playing around while walking was a pleasant sight. Just a thought, walking TO the city center is different from walking IN the city center while there are not much you can see along our main road.

No car…

We went to our mall here and passing through the center I saw that preparations for the annual Weinachtsmarkt or Christmas market is ongoing.

weinachtsmarkt2012, weinachtsmarkt Aalen

weinachtsmarkt2012, weinachtsmarkt Aalen

I can’t wait to see this at night when glittering lights lit up the place and see people enjoying the taste of gluhwein to keep their bodies warm.

Anyway, we went to the mall to shop around for clothes for the season. Hay… The change of seasons just kills our budgets! πŸ™

Aside from the preps in the city center, our mall already have their Christmas decors. You could really feel that Christmas is in the air.

mercatura weinachts2012

Apologies for the photo, I only used my phone on this shot. πŸ™‚

As it was almost getting dark (at 4pm) we started to head back home. We checked on the schedule of the bus but unfortunately 3:35pm was the last trip. With no choice we had to go home on foot. Nevertheless, we passed by a supermarket and went for our groceries good for just a day or two. With the shopping bags we had, we can not add more weight with our groceries.

Heading home was a drag especially for the kids. Poor them, they had to walk uphill. I could still remember Ryz’s sleepy eyes, tired body and dragging her feet to walk. I just hope this will not happen to us again.

Towed

Saturdays are very important for us. It is the day when we go out and go for a drive somewhere and of course do our weekly groceries. Without a car, these wanderings will be tiring. Have you experienced your car being towed because it broke down in the middle of the road? We just did!

Yesterday, we were supposed to go to a nearby city, Heidenheim to do our shopping. It is approximately 30 mins from our location. We’ve been traveling for a little less than 10 minutes when hubby suddenly reacted. The accelerator and brake pedals were not working. I almost panicked but I can’t show it to the kids as I know they will get scared. Good thing we were approaching a shoulder and made a stop there. We were a little relieved but surprised at the same time. We were wondering what’s really wrong with the car since we just had it fixed the other day. Last Monday, we brought it to the repair shop because it didn’t startΒ  all of a sudden that morning. We were thankful that happened already here and not where we went last Saturday. It was a city, 2-hour drive from our place and I couldn’t imagine what we’ll do if our car stopped working there. πŸ™ I’m still thankful we were still near our place when our car didn’t function yesterday. I called my classmate whose husband is the one working on our car. They went to our location and pulled us with their powerful Volkswagen Toureg.

volkswagen toureg

Notice we’re not in the center? That’s because our mounting bracket is located at the right side. The tow bar was connected and off we go. Honestly, I was a little worried because we really didn’t have any controls except for the stirring wheel and the handbrake. I feared of anything that could happen. It was still a long drive going to their shop and the streets had uphills and turns on them.

towbar, mounting bracket

At last we arrived at the shop and I felt like it was the longest 10 minutes I’ve ever had. After some tests, they discussed on what happened and what could have gone wrong. It was really technical and I didn’t bother getting the details. And also, it was in German. Hehe…

Hubby’s planning to buy a new car next year since the cost of repair of our car has already exceeded the cost of the car the time we bought it. But with the current happenings, it looks like this plan for next year will take place sooner than we expect. Now there goes our budget.. πŸ™

What Are You Thankful For?

It is Thanksgiving Day and though it’s not celebrated here in Germany, I still want on this day to remember the things I am thankful for. You may find some that can be shallow for you but for me, these are tidbits of what makes me happy and sane for almost two years that I have stayed here in Germany.

This is in random and not necessarily in order of importance. πŸ™‚

  • I thank my kids for giving me that unconditional love every mother would hoped for. For those hugs, kisses and I love you’s I receive everyday.
  • … hubby for always being there and ready to help especially to my family
  • … my landlord for the free internet. πŸ˜› Because of them I’m able to communicate with my friends back home.
  • … my family back home. For being patient with me when I’m talking to them. They are the reason I open my mouth and talk aside from the kids whom most of the time I only give warnings to.
  • … my friends, my former colleagues for not forgetting me despite the distance. I could still feel their warmth even only on chats.
  • … my online friends for those almost endless chats, exchanges of hahahas, LOLs and LMAOs. For sharing their knowledge in the blogosphere and of course the DAs. πŸ˜›
  • … my laptop for keeping me busy and for being my companion
  • … my parents for the way they brought us up. For the discipline and teaching me the basics in household chores. I really don’t know what would happen to my household if I didn’t know any basic chore.
  • … blogging for getting me out of that misery of missing my life back then. Although sometimes I still hope to go back to what I used to have which is a life full of laughter, this is now my new life and my laughter will echo together with my kids’.

But above all these I thank the Lord for continuously giving me the strength I need everyday, physically and especially emotionally. Despite my shortcomings I know He will forever be my source of strength.

Household Chores: Which One Do You Hate the Most?

When I was growing up I could still remember how our parents slowly taught us to be responsible even in small things. The simple duties like washing dishes, obeying their “commands”, making our bed and many others. That was when we didn’t hire a househelp. My mom was still strong that time and could still wash our clothes. Dad was the one who irons them since my mom can’t stay long exposed to heat due to her heart condition and big brother and me clean the house. When my mom had a stroke, that’s when we hired a househelp.

Ever since we started living here in Germany I’ve done every chore in the household. It was a little hard for me in the beginning since I was not used to doing them when we were still in the Philippines. Like I’ve said before, we lived with my parents and had a maid who’s in charge of every chore at home. I had a career though there were a few times when I had to do my share everytime our maid goes on vacation.

Doing the household chores was one of the big adjustments I made since I became a stay at home mom. Cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes (I did some hand washing until we bought a new washing machine), ironing, and so on. I don’t do all the chores especially the cleaning part. Hubby does them. He’s better than me when it comes to the cleaning aspect. πŸ™‚

folding clothes, ironing, household chores

But of all the household chores I have to do, you might not believe what I hate the most… it’s folding the clothes after they dry up. Funny, right? Yeah, that’s so easy but I don’t like doing it. I might as well hand-wash clothes or iron for 5 hours but not fold them. You might wonder why? I really get bored doing it. πŸ˜› I dislike the monotony. I feel there’s no challenge in doing it and it makes me want to sleep. I remember when I was in my teens and started to iron clothes, I got bored with only doing the t-shirts. I asked my dad if I could iron the more difficult ones and that meant our uniforms. Since then I already “enjoyed” doing it. It seems I enjoy challenges even in simple things. Hehe..

Knowing this, you can just imagine what my kids’ closet looks like. Haha!

Planning French Holidays for the Family

Paris, France is one of the top destinations for tourists worldwide. This romantic city of lights is teeming with sights and activities that attract people of different ages, culture, and social status. But once you get a taste of Paris, it becomes quite hard to resist exploring other French Cities that also offer a unique experience to their visitors. One French destination that piqued my interest was Nice, France. This cosmopolitan tourist destination in the French Riviera boasts of beautiful beaches, picturesque scenery, lovely promenades and artistic landmarks. The combination of modern conveniences, old age structures and natural scenery is just perfect for a French holiday with my whole family.

Booking a Nice Holiday for the whole family is easy when you have online travel sites that provide complete and accurate information. I simply had to look at package holidays to France and pick out tours that may interest the whole family. With rest and recreation as our objective for the trip, our itinerary options were centered at the beach, special events and cultural experience. The beaches in Nice are quite popular in the French Riviera because of the pleasant beach weather and the relaxing view of the sea. However, the pebbled beach may be a downside for those who have tender feet or those who are used to fine sand beaches. It is best to be prepared with comfortable flip flops or French beach shoes before strolling along this pebbled landscape. You may also bring your own parasol and padded mats if you intend to use the public beaches. Those who would like to lounge in comfort can rent the facilities of private beaches along the coastline. Food and refreshments on the beach are within reach with the numerous bars and restaurants that are located along the seaside.

Mardi Gras, Nice, France

A holiday will not be complete without experiencing the culture of a city which is why I always check for holidays or events before booking a tour package. In the case of Nice, France, one of their biggest events every year is the Mardi Gras Carnival. The 10 day festivity is highlighted by street parades of people wearing masks and costumes based on their theme for the year. Aside from the events, we would also like to visit popular landmarks like the Promenade de Anglais, Vieux Nice, Cours Saleya, Colline du Chateau, and the Nice Museums.

Plotting the itinerary and mapping out our vacation plans is the fun part of vacation planning. Preparing the budget and matching it with the right tour package can be tedious when you are working with a tight purse. Nevertheless, the effort is well worth it especially if it means giving the family one of the best vacations that they could have.

Image Credit: thedaily.com

All I Need Now is a Mic

All of my friends know I love to sing. I love to sing sentimental songs especially when in “emo” mode. Old songs by the Carpenters since I have a slightly deep voice. But once in a party mood, I could sing anything. A little of rap, upbeat, R&B and even try to reach the high notes sung by Mariah or Beyonce. But my favorite… Better Days by Diane Reeves. πŸ™‚Β  Company and location are very important to me when singing. πŸ˜› I need “supportive” friends to be able to sing and the location should be private. No audience except us so I can sing (read: shout) to the top of my lungs. πŸ˜€

Since I came here in Germany I’ve never had that chance again. I content myself singing along from the songs saved in my old mobile phone. I could not “shout” here, well I’ve done it once or twice but that’s it. I didn’t want the police come knocking at our doorstep because a neighbor reported a noise coming from our house. πŸ˜€

As far as I remember it has been weeks since hubby and I are contemplating on buying a new TV. We were giving it a hard thought because considering that I seldom watch TV and the kids use the other laptop and watch programs from Youtube, you might say it’s impractical to buy a TV set. The one we were using was an old CRT which was given to us by our former Filipina landlady. We just bought a satellite receiver to be able to watch TV programs based mostly from UK. Hubby was the only one using it most of the time as I usually fall asleep while watching with him at night.

We were eying at the latest trend, the smart TV’s. Hubby wanted a LED TV for it’s energy-saving feature and of course because of its internet capabilities. Who also wouldn’t want to watch movies in High-Definition? As for me, as long as the picture is so clear is fine.

smart tv, samsung, samsung series 5, samsung smart tv
Hubby, during one of our trips to the store.

After those many trips to the appliance store we finally decided to buy one. Another consideration why it took us long to decide is the size but I told him we need not a very huge screen. Our home is not that big and unless we want our kids to go blind, we go buy the smaller one. πŸ˜›

So here’s our Samsung Smart TV E Series…

samsung, samsung smart tv, smart tv, samsung E series
My first song… πŸ˜€

Hubby being the techie one has gone exploring the Smart TV’s features and one application he showed me is the Red Karaoke. πŸ˜€ Yes, there is a karaoke where I can choose songs and sing with it. Yey! Finally, I can sing and with the number of songs to choose from I know my vocal chords would be so stretched before I could sing all the songs I missed singing. Now I don’t have to ask hubby to buy the Magic Sing available in our country. All I need is a microphone but I guess I can’t have that “concert” here… πŸ™

We have bought accessories of this Smart TV like the camera and the wireless LAN adapter to fully maximize its features and so far we are enjoying it. We also use the TV when we chat with our family back home through Skype. Now they have a better view of my kids and their every move.

But I suddenly miss our home theater back home… πŸ™ Oh well, may next time when we’ll have a budget, a better sound system would be perfect for this smart baby…

Cold Feet

I am having cold feet, literally. It’s been getting cold lately that slippers and thick socks aren’t enough for me. I even once wore leg warmers here at home. They say carpets help the room get warm as floors get cold during the season. Sadly, our carpet is not wall to wall and situated only in the living room. I work on the dining table (yup you read it right… dining table) and spend most of my time there so I could really feel the cold from the floor going up to my legs. I don’t know why we still have cold floors despite being in an attic… So I’ve decided to look for a footwear that could protect my feet and legs from cold and at the same time keep them warm.

Gladly there are house shoes available to keep up with the cold. Actually, I’ve seen many kinds of house shoes fit for the season. They are made of fleece, wool or fur perfect to keep the feet warm. Slip-ons or a thicker version of ballerina shoes are the most common. You can even see designs like Cars and Homer Simpson’s face on it. They are really nice and cute but I’d rather choose something that will keep not only my feet but my entire leg warm.

Good thing I saw this one..

keep feet arm, house shoes, fur boots, wool boots, boots for home, boots for winter

Although they’re not long enough to cover my entire leg, I could still feel warm inside. Of course it’s soft inside having its wool material, the kids even love wearing them. I’ve also seen something like these and a longer one but they’re knitted and the wool inside were kind of thin. I thought they re not enough to keep me warm and even not worth the price.

Keeping your feet warm during this cold season is important as this will prevent you from getting colds and having a flu and lowering your immune system.

The Importance of Kinder Bazaar

What’s a Kinder Bazaar? A kinder bazaar is basically a rummage sale. Most items sold here are children’s items, that’s why the word “kinder” :P. One can find old clothes, shoes, toys, books, accessories and many others here. These bazaars are mostly organized by schools and/or parishes churches.

So, why do I think kinder bazaar is important here in Germany? A kinder bazaar is a perfect venue to sell one’s children’s belongings which are not of use to them but may be to others. Old toys kids grew tired of playing; books not already apt for the kid’s age are found but most importantly clothes; clothes which are timed with the season. Biggest kinder bazaars happen during the end of the 3rd quarter where many parents try to dispose of the kids’ old jackets, snow suits and other accessories used for the coming cold season. For a practical mom, a kinder bazaar is a big help in containing her budget. Like me, I try to buy jackets in bazaars since I find them expensive. Knowing they will only be worn for just a few months and kids grow up so fast, it is but practical rather than buying a brand new one which I don’t know if it would still fit them when winter season comes the following year. (Yeah, I thought of buying bigger sizes so they would still fit for next year but they really don’t look good on the kids. πŸ™ )

kinder bazaar

The kinder bazaar in Greutschule. This was only at the lobby and I only took a stolen shot coz I didn’t know if taking pictures was allowed. There were I think, more than 10 rooms that were selling just about anything.

Like flohmarkts, selling in kinder bazaar is also a way of making money out of one’s home’s clutter. Instead of just throw these items to the trash, why not sell those that are still in good condition. Recently we went to a kinder bazaar held at a primary school and I was able to buy just a few items for the kids.

north face jacket

barbie books, uno cards

A set of Uno cards which we play as a family, two Barbie books for Ryz which really looked like they’re brand new and a North Face jacket for Zyc. All were just for 7.50 Eur. Not bad, right?

50 and the Shades of Greying

As life expectancy increased we have families that are becoming top heavy, with more elder members than younger ones. We also need to distinguish between younger old and older old, since the younger olds may have children and grandchildren to care for as well as parents. As an aging population we are becoming diverse in terms of roles and functions, and this is impacting enormously on the pathways available to us as we age.

Changes in the lifestyles of families have meant that greater numbers of people are entering their mature years as single, or as part of a couple without children. Even where couples have successfully launched their children into the big wide world, they may have another 30 years together. With almost half of marriages ending in divorce, it is also increasingly likely that people will have remarried at least once in their life, making a reconstituted family the norm into today’s modern society.

couple, senior couple,So if you have just started dating again or are thinking about it, children might also be part of the deal. Think about your role carefully, it is to be a partner, and not necessarily a parent? What do the children understand about their parent dating? How can this be explored positively, since it will be influenced by past events. Young children or adult children will need time to get used to new people and changing roles within their family. Also think carefully about the role you want to take on. Being a partner of someone with two married children is very different from being a partner to someone with two pre-teen children and an angry ex-partner on the scene.

If you are single again after a long time of being a couple, or if you are a couple whose children have just left home, relationships are also going to change. You must remember that you will be a very different person from the person you were when you first started dating, and partners will be too. Changing the way you relate isn’t going to be easy, and the more entrenched habits you have developed the more difficult it is going to be to build new or better relationships. Loss of status is also something that couples need to come to terms with, so if your status was wrapped up in your parenting role, or in your job title before you took early retirement, these things are going to need exploring.

Sex is also something you need to consider as you age, or perhaps it is something you have never stopped thinking about. Remember, you have reached middle age, you are no longer Spartacus in the bed sheets, minds and bodies don’t always age at the same rate. Your sex life is only partly determined by your relationship with your partner. Culture also impacts upon how we deal with intimacy, so if you are comparing yourself to young couples you need to stop, and think about films/books/magazines that explore relationships in older years . Watching films together with sex scenes in, is a fantastic way to talk about it. You can ask questions about which parts seemed exciting, disgusting, boring, or exaggerated, and you can offer your thoughts too without offending anyone. This information should provide you with the ingredients for a hot recipe in the future.

Aging is pleasurable, and provides many opportunities to do things better than you may have done in the past! Grow older, happier and wiser.

Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net