WHAT have we doing since Leif was born?  Right now we are living in a hotel, but more on that later.  After saying goodbye to Aleida and Joel, who had to get back to the US all too soon, we at least had more visitors to look forward to.

We have had the good fortune to have lived near our good friends the Osterhouts all of our married life. Relatively near, if one would consider Yorktown to Maryland, then Northern VA to Maryland and now Germany to England as being near to each other.  We have visited England several times to see them, we have taken trips together outside our “home countries,” and they have also come to see us.

Sadly, it is only this LAST visit that I am actually getting around to documenting here…and in terms of sights and doing things, it wasn’t that exciting, so we made up for it with BABIES and FOOD.

Nell & Leif

BABIES: This time, instead of admiring fields of tulips in Amsterdam, abbey ruins in Yorkshire, old German castles or ancient mosques in Istanbul, we spent our time admiring our newest creations, and feeling very thankful that we got to see each other’s babies before life takes us in different directions.

FOOD:  I guess we were all trying to drown our sorrow in food…(and specifically cookie dough), because although food is usually a highlight for us when we get together, it seemed like this trip we took it to new extremes.

It all started when Devin and Melinda asked us if we had ever heard of a pizookie.  We hadn’t, but then when they deconstructed the word and told us it was a “pizza cookie” and involved a pie dish or similar circular baking pan, cookie dough, and ice cream, we said that we were game to try it!

It should be a general rule that when eating a dessert is harder than actually making it, it is probably not good for you.  But that incident didn’t stop us, because then another night Melinda reminded me of something I forwarded her a while ago..the Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie.  This time the title is less enigmatic, but the concept is just as decadent.  Why not, we all said!

An unnecessary (but delicious) extreme

I’m getting ahead of myself though, talking first about dessert.

Of course we had a big German breakfast–except for poor Jonas, as German breakfasts contain unfortunately pretty much everything he is allergic to.  At least he hopefully enjoyed the camaraderie as he gnawed on some sort of gluten-free baked good, as seen in the following picture:

Sponsored by Landesliebe and our local Backerei

We also enjoyed the nice summer weather and grilled up some steaks and vegetable  kabobs.  The best part was the grilled pineapple however and we tried out a recipe similar to this one using coconut milk and cinnamon sugar.

Last Lessingstrasse Balcony Grillfest

Note the grilled pineapple is stationed right next to me!

Melinda and I also went downtown on our own.  Here is the “BEFORE” picture, although we forgot to take an “AFTER” picture.  We did come back with a few purchases…for our daughters of course.

While Melinda and I were out together, tending to our newborns, or otherwise occupied, Rijen and Devin were in charge of the rest of the kids.

What do Germans call "foosball," anyway?

This often led to them doing things that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten away with had we been around, such as “swimming” in the neighborhood fountain and getting extra treats from the bakery.

You can't exactly tell here, but they returned from the fountain sopping wet!

I didn't even know German bakeries did donuts!

I’m not sure what else the guys might have let the kids get away with, but I do know that Nell is not telling.

Nell & Rijen sharing a conspiritorial glance

After all of that fun, I decided to put the kids to work cleaning:

No breakfast until the windows sparkle!

Actually…the cleaning (half the fun as it turned out) was due the massive mural masterpiece created with the window crayons. Out of all of our visitors who used our window crayons,  Clara took it to a whole new level. I was quite impressed.

A Beautiful Mind

Jonas Pollock

Jonas also displayed his creative side when he showed Fiona different ways of playing in the sand at the downtown park. She was quick to follow his lead.

Jonas wasn’t the only one teaching Fiona new things.  Clara is quite the natural teacher and Fiona a very willing student.

Although as I look at this particular photo a bit more closely, I think it is Fiona who is showing Clara her way of “coloring” in her coloring books, which is to trace her hand and then scribble on the page.  I am sure that Clara gave her some pointers on coloring though.

By the way, have you noticed that Clara and Fiona are matching? It became very clear to Melinda and me that our daughters both wanted to be wearing the same thing every day. (To be honest, I can’t speak for Melinda, but I thought it was cute too and didn’t mind encouraging the twin look).

After several days of trying the best to come up with matching or at least coordinating outfits (sometimes augmented with matching hair styles), Melinda and I made it easier on ourselves by buying them the exact same shirt and then matching nightgowns. Thanks H&M!

Another thing that Melinda and I attempted to finagle with less success was new family pictures.  Since we both have new additions to our family, we thought we would at least try to take a nice walk to playground in the park with the REAL motive being to take family pictures along the way.

Unfortunately, it was even more difficult than we realized (and we went into it having low expectations of success anyway, given our amateur photography skills and sometimes uncooperative children) and practically all of the MANY shots taken had someone doing something strange:

I know this one isn’t the kind of picture you frame on the wall, but this may be my favorite picture of their family I have ever taken:

Melinda, Jonas, Nell, Clara's arm and Devin the mannequin

I know I am going to get a lot of emails from families asking to book photography sessions with me after that example!

We did actually both get some decent pictures though:

We seem to all look better from a distance!

Melinda and I got a taste of our own medicine when we vowed to have more pictures taken of us on this get together, since we are usually the ones TAKING the pictures..

…but when it came time for US to be the models, we had a hard time taking it seriously!

I think we finally felt more comfortable holding our babies….and this picture encompasses the whole meaning of the visit anyway.

 While we were getting our pictures taken, Fiona and Clara started playing down on the grass in front of us, which led to this picture. So the unplanned photo turned out to be the best of the day.

I can just imagine their annoyance when we try to stage this exact picture 10 years later à la Irina Werning.

It is always hard to say goodbye to friends and family not knowing when exactly you will see one another again.  We have had to do that a lot lately.  However, I am sure that we will get together at least a couple times before Nell and Leif’s wedding.

Nell, I cannot bear to be away from thee!

Ok, that was supposed to be my closing statement, but I couldn’t resist pointing out to those of you who know Fiona well, that it is HER hand inspecting Nell’s toes. She has somewhat of a toe fetish. Fiona, not Nell.

After having this blog post partially written, images loaded and saved, I saw that Melinda had done a post on their blog on the same visit…and of course we had the same pictures selected! So for their take of the same visit, it is here.

Till next time!


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