Weihnachtsmarkt in Stuttgart

Zyc just turned 7 yesterday and his celebration was way far from what I have planned. I guess it won’t happen either if we were in the Philippines. After we’re done with the Museum visits, we went straight to the city center and roamed. As usual we bought toys for the kids after seeing this toy store just as we came out from the basement parking.

As it was getting dark I realized that the Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market of Stuttgart is still there (I thought they’ll close it after Christmas). I was so excited as we were nearing the area where it is. From afar I was already seeing the lights that lit up the market. “Finally I will see another Weihnachtsmarkt aside from Allen’s”, the thought that ran through my mind.

Weihnachtsmarkt
Weihnachtsmarkt from afar

It’s true what hubby told me, Weihnachtsmärkte are all the same. Same food served, same gimmicks as we would say. However, since Stuttgart is a big city, it offered more choices of stores and I could say that the atmosphere was more alive. Being the state’s capital, we expect people from different cities coming here.

 It had an ice skating rink which I think was the most popular attraction aside from the traditional food offered by the stores. For a fee, kids and adults could enjoy skating. Unfortunately, none from us know how to ice skate so we just settled on watching the people have fun with Christmas music on the background.

After checking out this Weihnachtsmarkt, we just went to some appliance stores and of course I will not miss this chance of getting a sip of my favorite frapuccino so we headed to Starbucks. I was so happy because I didn’t miss one of their flavors offered only during Holiday Season, the Toffee Nut.

It was a tiring day but I know my kids had fun, especially Zyc with his simple birthday celebration.

Our Christmas Celebration

Our day started by rushing to the supermarket to buy last-minute items we need for dinner. We even checked out the appliance store in case they already got the model of oven we wanted but to no avail. But I’m still hopeful that we could complete our kitchen before the year ends. We also dropped by the mall to shop for my clothe. When we came home, I started calling our families from the Philippines thru Skype. Unlike last year when I was so sad because we were just the ones celebrating here at home, I didn’t feel that much sadness this time. Maybe because I started to get used to living here and celebrating with them occasions like this only thru the internet.

Being a former student of Catholic schools, I know I haven’t been good especially in fulfilling our obligations lately. Since I came here I just established my own personal relationship with our God. I’ve been in a Holy Mass here for just a few times understandable because of the language. So now you know that attending Mass on Christmas day is just fulfilling an obligation for being Catholic. Anyway, as a product of Catholic schools, I may have become so familiar with the Holy Mass knowing almost every word that the priest utters and the commentator’s answers. I know when to kneel, stand and sit. One thing I observed here when I hear Mass is not all people are coordinated which makes me confused. Haha! With so much familiarity I don’t need to understand what the priest say but I still know when is the time to sit, stand and kneel. I was wondering why the Germans don’t. It seems they are waiting who will sit first and some follow. 🙂

The kids behaved in the church, as usual although I saw in their eyes that they were bored and sleepy during the homily.

When we get home, we prepared our food and started our feast. The thought of not cooking for dinner on Christmas day came to our minds when hubby and I saw this Raclette grill on sale in a supermarket. Although hubby doesn’t expect me to cook like a pro in celebrations like this, I feel like I’m “obliged” to cook a decent dinner which the birthday celebrator just deserves.

Christmas

After dinner is the usual opening of gifts. The kids gave me their gifts which, I wonder why, are both candles. Remember, they are not together in Kindergarten anymore. They were proud that they have made and designed the candles by themselves. 🙂

Next is opening of our gifts to them. The first gifts are decoys. We told them these are our gifts to them and not what they truly wanted.

Notice the not-so-happy face of Ryz?

The toys that they’ve wanted were just in front of them but without names. I just wrote it while they were busy with the other gifts.

With all the smiles and excitement!

Indeed we just had a simple celebration and despite all these material things we don’t forget that it is our Savior’s birthday. Merry Christmas to all!

Going Green on Carpet Cleaning

Living in a foreign country has never been easy most especially if you have a family to take care in an environment that all of you in the household are still trying to adjust and familiarize.

Being new as a stay at home mom, doing household chores is one of the things I had to make adjustments for. Though most chores are common for me, carpet cleaning is something I’m not used to getting done back home. We didn’t have a carpet at home as dust easily accumulate in our very well-ventilated abode. Having a carpet here in Germany seems like a necessity. Aside from its aesthetic purpose, it helps maintain the floor warm especially this cold season. But maintaining a carpet is not that easy. You should keep it free from dust and dirt. My kids usually sit on it when playing or sometimes lay on it while watching their favorite TV program. So it is important to maintain its cleanliness and is advisable to vacuum our carpets daily to keep soil from embedding in it.

For me, it could be easy vacuuming it in a daily basis as my carpet is only an area rug placed in the living room. What if your home is fully carpeted? It would be tedious to do it everyday especially if your home has a wide floor area. Hiring professionals to do the cleaning for you could work to your advantage. They have better equipment that could clean up to the smallest corner of your home and have methods that is safe for the environment. Searching through the internet I’ve stumbled on this site that offers eco-friendly carpet cleaning services. They use all-natural cleansers and not those chemical-based which are harmful to the environment and could be a threat to one’s health.

Now, who wouldn’t want this kind of service? Aside from keeping our home clean, taking care of the environment is of great importance to them. Lucky for the residents of Maryland in the US, they can just type “carpet cleaning MD” and look for Green Choice and they can avail of this eco-friendly cleaning service. They not only offer carpet cleaning but also rug repair, area rug, upholster, leather and mattress cleaning to name a few.

A Gift He Deserves

For days I’ve been thinking what gift should I give to hubby. A pair of boots for the cold weather, wrist watch, new shirts were some of my choices. Since he loves to play PSP I also thought of giving him a PS Vita although I know Zyc will be the one who’ll play with it more. Hubby also loves to watch movies. Actually, I could say that he’s just the one using the TV we had just purchased. I even thought of giving him a new mobile phone but he doesn’t want a new one. He would always ask me what will he do with it. He’s already contented with what he currently has. So I thought, what could I give to him this Christmas?

This morning as we were doing our weekly grocery, we saw this chair we have been seeing in some furniture stores which we really like. We thought it would be perfect in our living room while watching our favorite shows. Without second thought I told hubby that this will be my gift for him this Christmas. He asked me if I was sure coz it’s a little expensive. But I said yes, I’m sure. So we wasted no time and took the huge box and put it on the shopping cart.

Christmas gift

Many thought this is a lazyboy. I said, no it’s not! I couldn’t afford a lazyboy. This is a simple swivel chair designed for relaxation. Just perfect for him who loves watching.

While we were shopping around, I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. As far as I remember, this is the first time I had given hubby such a gift. Thinking back, I wouldn’t be able to give him a gift like this if we are still in the Philippines. I was burdened by my credit card debt, although it’s not really that big. Also, with the support we’re giving to my parents, we couldn’t afford such luxury. This time as I earn on my own and hubby letting me keep my income, I think he just deserves a gift of value. I know when giving gifts to our love ones we should not measure its value based on its price but sometimes I couldn’t help but think about it. He gives so much to my family, he provides us with almost everything and yet he forgets to reward himself. So this time, I take it as my turn to reward him for his deeds.

Oh, Christmas Tree…

Eleven days before Christmas and it’s only now that we decided to buy our Christmas tree. One thing I like here is we are having a fresh tree inside our home. I could still remember the first time we had one last year. I liked the fresh scent it brought so much I wanted to sniff on the tree all day. Hahaha!

It took us almost 30 minutes to choose on what tree to buy. It was faster compared to last year when it took us I think almost 2 hours to choose. It’s hard you know when you’ve got lots and lots of trees in front of you. I guess it helps when you buy the tree when it’s only a few days before Christmas. It could be not overwhelming with lesser choices but most of all, the stores tend to offer discounts on their prices.

There are also different types of Christmas trees which makes it a little harder to choose. However, we don’t choose those that are way cheaper as they have “imperfect” shapes and have sharp leaves. They also have lesser leaves making the tree look like it’s in its skeletal form. Hahaha! Of course we would want our tree to be lush and almost perfect.

After choosing our tree we gave it to the sales assistant for her to trim the trunk. We asked to do this so that it would fit in to our tree stand.

christmas tree

After this process the tree was inserted in a cylinder where it was wrapped in a net for easy transport. I didn’t have the chance to take a photo of this process as it was so fast and it seems the man didn’t want his photo taken. Hehe…

The tree costs 40€ or $53, discounted from its original price of 50€.  One can say it’s a bit expensive but I would prefer buying this yearly and not notice its price than buy an artificial Christmas tree which costs ridiculously 200€+. I know it can be used in a long term basis but I think it’s nicer to have a fresh tree scent here inside my home at least once a year. I don’t want also to deprive myself and the kids of the fun choosing a tree from the hundreds of them.

A Christmas tree will always be a symbol of the merriest season of the year. Its lights and decors bring joy to every person who sees it and I think having a Christmas tree in our home adds up to that joyous atmosphere we should have this holiday season.

What Winter Brings

Snow has been falling continuously for the past few days. Comparing the amount of snow falling now to that of last year, there’s much more to our delight. Although I’m not really a fan of temperature dropping to -5, I found myself playing with the kids and laughing out loud realizing I haven’t laughed that loud for a very long time. Walking home from school, I throw snow balls at Zyc which ends up in ball fights. Sometimes I would envy them being able to sit carelessly on the piles along the street. Wearing no snow pants I would just settle on taking pictures of them lying down and trying to make snow angels.

Armed with my boots, I take satisfaction on walking on those thick snow beds. I feel like a child every time I step on those soft, white, cottony ice. I would even initiate walking on it luring the kids to follow me.

snow

Using my phone, I once took a shot on my foot to remember how thick the snow was. It reached up to where my boot is. I suddenly remembered the day we arrived here in Germany. There was a snow storm then and I thought if this is how thick the snow is now, what more on that day that we arrived.

snow

I would want to lay down on this bed. This is my favorite area and I would prefer walking on it than on the sidewalk. 🙂

Sure it is such a delight watching the snow falling thru the window, especially when I see how the kids would shriek in the sight of it. Because of  them I get to appreciate this season and I guess remember how it brings out the child in me.

Weihnachtsmarkt 2012

For the first time, I’ve been to our Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market here in our city center at night time. Yes, it was only my first time since we don’t usually go out at night especially during winter because of the kids. But this time I requested hubby to let me see it so I would know what it would look like with its light decors turned on.

Shopping hours were extended that Saturday night up to 10pm so we first went to the mall. Some stores were on sale and we checked out if we could buy something. (Un)Fortunately we didn’t see any. 🙂 There was a festive atmosphere when we came as Christmas songs were played and there were still many people shopping. Christmas trees and decors adorned the place. We took this opportunity to take a picture with them. Sooo… Pinoy! Hahaha! Anyway, who cares? People wouldn’t know if we’re here as tourists or not. 😛

Weihnachtsmarkt

Our Weihnachtsmarkt, called Aalener Weihnachtsland is incomparable with the other big cities’. Due to limited space and small population we don’t have that grandeur as what other cities have. But I liked it when I saw that the place was still jampacked with a lot of people and even with their kids in tow. Small stores were set up around the place and mostly offer traditional German delicacies. The different grilled sausages especially the most famous currywurst and the most sought after drink during the season, the glühwein.

Weihnachtsland, Weihnachtsmarkt

Zyc, chopping my face…

Hubby bought a glass of glühwein and compared to what we had last year, this is sweeter. I could have also bought mine but I still didn’t think I could finish a glass of it.

A glass of glühwein to warm yourself up

 

Our Weihnachtsmarkt may lack that luster and grandiose as the others but for me it doesn’t matter. This is still a place where people share laughter and company over great food and drink.

Decorating Small Bedrooms for Children

Space can be at a premium in a home these days and children who share a bedroom can fight and bicker over which parts of the room are theirs. One solution is to use a box room, or a smaller bedroom, which is found in many houses and is normally just used for junk and clutter.

This space can be transformed quite easily to make a usable and cosy bedroom for children of all ages. It will give children their own private place and they can also have fun decorating and choosing a theme for it.

Firstly, make sure a bed will fit into the room and decide where to position it. You can often make the best use of the available space by using a bunk bed, cabin bed or loft bed. Bunk beds give the child the option of having friends over to stay and the top bunk can also be used for storage. If it is a cabin bed or loft bed, the underside can be turned into a study area or play den, depending on the
age of the child.

Themes
Talk to your child to come up with a theme for the room. Ideally, you should first paint the walls a bright base colour as lighter colours make the room seem more spacious. When choosing a theme for a child’s room, you need something that will grow with them or can be easily altered. Your child might be crazy about a certain cartoon character now or madly in love with a pop star, but that can soon change. A bedroom can be themed by using inexpensive wall stickers which can be easily removed. You could also put up framed posters as they will also be easy to replace should fads wane after a few years. Make sure there is also a mirror in the room as this adds to the illusion of space.

bedside cabinetStorage
Storage is a key part of any child’s room. Shelves can be placed above doorways and high up on walls to keep items which are not always needed out of the way. Of course, adult help may be required when getting these down so make sure you don’t put much-loved toys on them. Corner shelving and canvas storage solutions can provide space for clothes and toys.

Lighting
Lighting is a key aspect of any room. An overhead light will fully illuminate it and a brighter bulb can create the appearance of more space when its light is reflected off mirrors. Because you do not want the bedroom to be brightly lit at all times, you also need a secondary lighting system to create a calm and peaceful environment. Using small desk lamps as bedside lamps or putting up a set of fairy lights can be a cost-effective solution.

With a little creativity, you and your child can create a fun bedroom out of a small space. Just remember that keeping it tidy is very important because small rooms can get cluttered very quickly.