Well. We managed to celebrate us some Thanksgiving. It started out small (two families) and ended up being a sort of accidental, last minute four family extravaganza. In the end, I am very happy with how it turned out. We managed to fit and feed 9 adults and 7 kids. In our little house. Quite comfortably as well. Sweet.
In other news, the littlest is growing like a weed. Well more like a pumpkin. Much more out lately and not so much up. She's finally getting some real weight on her. She's a cute little fatty. The middlest has just gone through a growth spurt, and she has lost (for the most part) her cute little pot belly. While it is nice to see her t-shirts staying near her pants, it's sad seeing that she has become a girl and won't continue being a little girl. Sniff. The biggest just keeps on staying stick thin. He continues to look like a concentration camp victim. And yet he eats like crazy. He gets the skinny little boy syndrome from his mom's side of the family.
This next part might come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. Or appreciates growing up in the south where it only rains in the winter with the occasional short freezes and maybe a sleet storm. We have succesfully kicked off our winter sport season. We (here I really mean "I") have vowed to stay as active as possible while it sucks outside. To that end, the kids and I all have new, cheap-o ice skates, and Sarah and I each have a set of used cross country skis. We bought the skis at a winter flea market, and I managed to get skis, boots, bindings, and poles for both of us for a total of €30. Sarah's boots are too small, though, so I will have to get her new boots and bindings once the season closes out and everything is getting clearanced. She won't be able to do much skiing, though, with C in tow. I'm not really sure I will be able to coax her out even then, since it is cold out where the snow is. See, she complains about the thought of going to sit in a ski lodge with a book and a baby, but I know for a fact that she would complain just as much should I be the one to sit there and let her out to ski. ;) She doesn't quite see eye to eye with cold.
So our true season opener was a trip to the ice rink up in Waldbronn (http://www.eistreff-waldbronn.de/eistreff_waldbronn_das_ultimative_eislaufvergnuegen) a couple of weeks ago. We rented skates and suffered through a couple of hours there. At that point I decided that I wasn't going to fight rental skates any more. Up until two years ago, I had only been on the ice two or three times, so owning ice skates never crossed my mind. Since we moved here, I have been skating eight or ten times (and it looks like it will only be getting more common). All of my previous sessions have sucked, though, because I have had crappy rental skates. I have decided that the risk to my body isn't worth it. To that end, I picked up some super cheap skates a the local Lidl (think Aldi, for those who know Aldi). I have dtermined that the cheapest of cheap, discount-market ice skates is roughly a factor of 100 times better than the best of rental skates, from my experience. Wow. My feet were comfortable. My feet were warm. The blades have edges and don't move side to side as well as (or in some cases better than) they move front to back. Incroyable!
We got to use the new skates at the open-air rink here in Karlsruhe on Saturday (http://www1.karlsruhe.de/bilderbogen/weihnachtsstadt_2009/index.html). It is the largest open-air, multi-use ice facility in Germany. It is also subsidized by the local utitliy, so the whole family can skate for a pittance. Unfortunately, last weekend was pretty warm and somewhat sunny, so that pittance included about 3/4" of standing water on the rink. That was an interesting experience. While it sucked for any who didn't happend to have water proof clothing on. There were some wet kids there. Fortunately, they didn't belong to me. We planned well this time around.
So, it turns out that really warm, wet ice is sticky. I have never encountered sticky ice. Sticky ice combined with brand new skates makes for a very controlled skating experience. It was much more like roller blading and much less like ice skating. To the point that even the middlest was able to wander around a little bit without her little helper penguin ice skating support. The biggest looked like he has always owned skate. I flailed around like I always do, but with much less side to side footing flinging. The littlest ended up going shopping with the mommiest, who grumbled about it but decided she might as well fight the crowds since we were in town. We are looking forward to more time there this season.
As a bonus, I got to explain the heat transfer process used to freeze the rink because the heat exchanger piping (this would typically be referred to as the chiller piping, I guess) runs along the ground at one end of the rink, and A asked why one pipe was frozen and the other wasn't. He doesn't really get as excited about that stuff as I do. He didn't want to hear about the Carnot cycle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot_cycle), though. I was kinda disappointed.