Monday, 5 November 2007

Postcard from Elmau

We usually like to go somewhere nice and warm for a week in October/November, but we broke with tradition this year during half term. We loaded the car to the brim and set out for the Eurotunnel, with southern Germany our final destination. We spent a few days in Mannheim before we headed to Schloss Elmau, which is a hotel close to Garmisch-Patenkirchen, which has been beautifully restored after a recent fire. We spent four lovely days there with our friends Guido and Nicole (and Luis and Isabella) in a relaxing atmosphere with plenty of activities for both young and old. I was mightily impressed by the hotel's very own 'concert hall' and an ambitious cultural programme to match it. Anika Vavic, a well renowned Bulgarian pianist residing in Vienna, gave a brilliant solo recital during our stay. The final piece was a Sonata by Prokofiev which totally blew me away; not in so much by its naked appeal to my own musical preferences, but rather by such a live performance of an incredibly virtuosic piece of the piano reportoire, performed for the first time in front of an audience by this pianist.



We left Elmau and continued to Traube Tonbach, a hotel in Schwarzwald, where we spend another four days; this time in company with Ursula, Tom, Leonie and Theo. Finally we headed back to Mannheim, where I managed to catch a Adler hockey game with Ida and Silas (together with Tobias and Tom), before we headed back through the Tunnel towards the British Isles.

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Friday, 7 September 2007

Cornwall

After more than 12 years in London, and after having heard sooo many times how beautiful it is, we finally made it to Cornwall. Most of us, that is. Steffi and the kids went down for the final week of the school holiday with Babette and her three children, while I stayed back in London. They had rented a house, right at the edge of the water, and enjoyed a week of good weather and beautiful scenery. I think the mums were a little exhausted upon their return, two adults and six children is after all not just a walk in the park. But it seems they had a great time nevertheless and the children loved it. Beaches, crab fishing, surfing, horseriding, boatrides; what more could you ask for? Maybe just a little time off for the adults every now and again?

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Ida's Disco Birthday Party

Last week-end, just before returning to school after the summer holiday, Ida and Hannah had a Funky Moves Disco Party to jointly celebrate their 6th birthday with friends from school. Uncle Magnus dug out his dancing shoes and came over from Oslo for the big occasion, joined by 14 girls from both classes of second year.

The girls rehearsed a show that was performed at the end - to great acclaim - for all the parents !

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3 Comments:

Farmor and farfar said...

Hi Ida,
It looks like a mega great birthday party! Congratulations!

07 September 2007 19:41  
Uncle Maggs said...

Great weekend! :)

09 September 2007 18:40  
makurpfalzstuben@aol.com said...

hi ida,

sieht ja nach einer tollen party aus. warst du die discoqueen?

grüße angi + oma

11 September 2007 13:10  

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Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Silas' First Day at School

Today is a big day in Silas' life, his first day at school! It is hard to imagine but right now my little boy, only four years old, is sitting in a class room with twenty or so other kids, drawing in his first impressions of his new life. He seemed very relaxed about the whole thing, more so than his parents I think, but he has of course the great advantage of his elder sister Ida being there, two years ahead of him.

He got the same teacher and assistant as Ida had in her first year (who we like a lot), and he is also in the same class as Viktor and Moritz, who he knows from before. It did not seem like a big deal to him at all (what's all the fuzz about!), and there were no tears or anxiety at all when we left, he hardly noticed!

I wish you all the best, lillegutt, and hope you will settle in nicely, do well and most of all enjoy yourself this year!

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Magnus said...

Glad to hear everything went smoothly, Silas for president!

04 September 2007 12:13  
Farmor og Farfar said...

Congratulations with your first day at school, Silas. We are very proud of you and wish you all the best, and many, many nice experiences!

04 September 2007 13:20  

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Monday, 3 September 2007

Moist eyes

I came across this story recently, which was originally reported in Sports Illustrated and subsequently referred to in countless blogs. It completely overwhelmed me. If this does not give you goose bumps then I am not sure there is a cure. The story is incredibly inspiring, both for aspiring parents and mankind as such, and left me with a strong feeling of admiration and - if I am honest - a degree of self doubt considering the domestic 'struggles' I sometimes face in my own family life with three (perfectly healthy) children under six. Read the article first and then watch the video at the end. The story was reported as follows:

Strongest Dad in the World
[Sports Illustrated, 20th June 2005, By Rick Reilly]

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots. But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck. Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars - all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right? And what has Rick done for his father? Not much - except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."But the Hoyts weren't buying it.

They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."
"Tell him a joke," Dick countered.

They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that."

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks." That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!" And that sentence changed Dick's life.

He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

"No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year. Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?"

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried. Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 - only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

"No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century." And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago."

So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life. Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day. That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

"The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once."

And here is the video...at the time of writing watched more than 6.7mn times on YouTube, which means there are still a lot of people who have not yet had their lives enriched by this wonderful story.

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Saturday, 25 August 2007

Summer holiday in France

We spent five weeks this summer at our house in France from mid July to mid August. We were lucky to escape the spell of bad weather in most of northern Europe this summer as we barely saw a cloud and enjoyed temperatures in the low thirties most days. As usual we had a good mix of friends and family visiting; Oma and Opa, farmor and farfar, Christopher and Lene (with Julie and Eline), Magnus, Angi and Theo, Tom and Leonie, and a weekend visit by Nina and Margot to coincide with Ida's birthday. As always it is a shame that such a bliss has to come to an end, but I have not had five weeks of holiday in a strech since I was a student and guess it would be unfair to complain too much. We already plan and look forward to next season but I suppose we must endure a period of rather indescript British weather before that time arrives...


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Monday, 2 July 2007

Provence Golf & Boule 2007

The fourth annual golf and boule week-end took place this year in the beginning of June, with eight of us making the trip from Mannheim, Oslo and London for a brief escape from the daily struggles and pleasures of work and family life.

From an organisational point of view things got a bit out of hand this year. Yours truly had planned for an excursion in the Ardeche gorge with abseiling down a wall of 180 meters, appearantly the biggest 'spider drop' (without touching the walls) abseiling in Europe. When it came to it we decided collectively to abandon the trip, I think it was a case of 'biting more off than you can chew'. It sounded like a really cool thing do to sitting at a desk in London but when reality kicked in it felt more like something we should have done a decade or more ago, before we all commited to families and parenthood. Or maybe the reason was simply that the departure time was far too early in the morning for us to come to terms with.

And there were more blunders. Firstly we failed to complete the annual boule competition this year, and secondly the table tennis tournament, this year's trial dicipline, was not finished on time. We did however host the golf tourney, which yours truly won (deservedly) for the first time, and we staged the annual pool quiz, where Tore et al restored their confidence - after last year's unprecedented defeat - with a clear victory.

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