Sounds of a "seal"

Funny how little translations can be SO important.  Within two hours of landing back in Germany, our little man had a fever, was yelling in his sleep and coughing all night like a "seal."  I figured he had conjured up 'The Croup' without any previous symptoms, so I phoned the 'Artzin' (doctor) first thing in the morning after our sleepless night. 

Let's just say (real loud) I STRUGGLE WITH INITIAL CALLS TO GERMAN DOCTORS TO MAKE APPOINTMENTS here in Germany.  I am finding that the person you first speak with, explain the symptoms and hope they grant you an appointment, usually does not speak English.  So, it turned quite humorous as I was trying to explain that Cooper had a fever, was bitten/stung by a bug while swimming that gave him a  rash in Barcelona, AND was coughing like a seal.  Note to self-  Your German is bad when you end up having to imitate a Seal on the phone.  However, as good as I thought my imitation was, I don't think that got us the apointment, I think it was when I mentioned ''bug and 'Barcelona' in one sentence. 

It has been a long time since our little Cooper has been non-energetic and I am deciding I don't like it!  He has been laying on the couch for a few days now as he temperature plays games with us dropping and then rising again.  These are the things that make you grateful in life and yes, teach you a lesson.  My lesson;I WILL NEVER GIVE HIM PRESCRIPTION COUGH MEDICINE AT 2;00 AM---THIS LEADS TO HIM BEING WIDE AWAKE AND DECIDING TO TALK MY EARS OFF FOR THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS...as I try to sleep. 

Kids get sick and kids get sick when you are living in another country.  So, I guess it is a good thing that I have my Seal Cough and other sound affects mastered since this "sounds" translate the same in all languages.  This sickness just a blink in our long life but it has taught me a life long lesson-There is ALWAYS a way to communicate! 


Boundless Barcelona

 Statues saying, "Here come the Hoff children!"

Touring a Major European City with a 5 & 6 year old is definitely a different experience than the ones we had during our 'pre-children’ days.  Not that one is better than the other; I just don't think I wobbled into our hotel room like a 99 yr old at the end of the day when it was just the two of us.  But I must pause to show a little ‘motherly pride’.  Our children have been troopers listening to endless audio tours, visiting numerous cathedrals, touring most attractions and walking around this large city in very hot temperatures most of our day with minimal complaints.  Also, Katie has been a trooper being constantly talked to, hugged, pulled-on, tickled, woken up early, and splashed. Not to mention more than one time she had an exhausted child riding her piggy back.

After day one, we did begin to notice that there weren't many other young children their age touring Barcelona...either we are really brave or really dumb?!?  Some of the new things I took note of that were different touring with them... making a quick stop into McDonalds before your three hour tour of a cathedral, continuing to ride the open air tour bus for a second time on the route since both children have fallen asleep, audio tours take double the time since they are paused often to answer questions, more than one trip daily to the ice cream store (yes, bribery works!!!) , pulling out that forgotten ‘happy meal’ toy in order to stay longer at the cathedral, having to explain what a crypt is, watching many games of hiding seek and playing many games of “I spy”, having to "test" every drinking fountain spotted, and most importantly...noticing the small things in Barcelona that were pointed out by them that I would have missed otherwise. 

Since there are so many "professional" writers that have touched on Barcelona, I am just going to 'not' things I saw or overheard from our kids (and Katie’s) as we toured this marvelous city!

  • “yes it is pretty-can we go to the pool now?" As we were about to enter another of Goudi's architectural marvels
  • “Sure I will share the Sangria with you…what is Sangria?” (Katie)
  • “I spy with my little eye... something green” while looking at the Cathedral stain glass windows
  • "Wow, this Cathedral is huge-Karina do you want to play hide-n-seek?”
  • “why is that man asking us for money mommy?”
  • “look…there is another ice cream shop….look…there is another ice cream shop”
  • “daddy…mommy said there were a lot of naked people on the beach when she was running” (Once again, I was able to stumble on a nudity during a run”)
  • “that lady is just standing there talking like her boobs aren't just hanging there for everyone to see” Katie as we realized that many of the beaches are ‘topless’
  • “How many treats can we get since we tasted all the tapas?" (Kids after tasting most of our Tapas dishes)
  • "can we go play in the square now with our light-up rocket while you keep eating?”
  • “why are there bones in all these “boxes”? (after tour many cathedrals)
  • “why do you always want spr-esso mom?”
  • "This is the life" Cooper as he was swimming in the Mediteriannen Sea at 8:00 PM"
  • “OMG-Did you just fall?” Katie in between hysterical laughs as I fell UP the stairs at Casa Batllo’
  • "Are you scared?"  Karina asking Katie & I as we nervously stepped into the cable car to ride over the sea. 
  • "gross...that fish still has the head on it"(as the waiter served our sea bass for dinner)
  • “I am ready to go to dinner-I have on my light up ring” Karina
  • “the audio tour said we could ride this elevator” as Katie talks me into the old lift in Casa Batllo’
  • “daddy…try to find us” as the kids found a hiding spot during our tour of La Pedrera
  • “My feet hurt…can you carry me?” 
  • “Are there jellyfish in this sea?” Cooper
  • “Is Alabama this hot?”  “Honey, Alabama is hotter than this right now!”
  • “Look!  There is another drinking fountain!”

Casa Batllo

Sagrada Familia

Asleep listening to tour

Katie in Barcelona Cathedral

Love the fountains

more ice cream

K buys great painting

My feet hurt

View from Montjuic Teleferic Cable Car



"are you scared?"

8:00 PM

Font Magica de Montjuïc

now my feet hurt



Big Barcelona bangs

I can’t believe how many times I have run into “festivals” or celebrations that prior to my stumbling into them had no clue about.  It has happened again in quite the loud manner.  Tonight in Barcelona as we strolled on the beach trying to find a spot for dinner, we noticed things seemed like they were being set up for some big event.  Maybe our first clue should have been the fact that as we were all napping this afternoon (after a long day of walking the old streets), firecrackers kept going off. (Enough to put an end to my napping and MADE me head up to our roof pool for a little peace and vitamin D)  As we now know, have seen, and are still seeing hearing at a very loud volume, it is to celebrate “Saint John’s Eve”.  The celebration is lighting up the whole sky and every street.  And from what I understand, these fireworks and parties last thru the night.  As we walked home on the Boardwalk by the beach watching fireworks in the sky and by our feet, I wasn’t surprised to see a firetruck and an ambulance wiz by us.  EVERYONE of ALL ages were setting off fireworks of every size!!!!!!!  Cooper was in heaven and Karina was terrified.

There were numerous exciting things that happened today as we made our way via taxi, airplane, bus, and finally subway to downtown Barcelona.  I guess the biggest lesson learned (or reminded of), do as you tell your children to do…Like me always telling Cooper to “hold on” in a train or bus.  You just never know when they may slam on breaks.  Let’s just say his mother was so intrigued by the bus in front of us being stuck on top of a city trash can, that she forgot to hold on and crashed her leg into a very pretty sight. (Funny that this is day one of wearing a bathing suit on a sunny vacation)  Then there is the lesson I have been trying to explain to Katie;hold onto your personal items tightly-there are pickpockets in a big city.  Funny that it was my I-phone that the panhandler tried to sneak off our dinner table.  (I knew immediately what he was up to and rescued my phone-but it had Katie’s heart racing and Cooper asking a million questions)

Otherwise, our day was filled with much Tapas, walking, shopping, swimming, napping, and firework watching or rather, dodging. 



Katie @ Barcelona Cathedral
Tapas lunch..


Practice what you preach

roof pool



beginning of firworks

Champagne Sangria

Katie &Cooper aren't scared-they had fun doing "fireworks"


deep breath....

ok...I'm just going to breath....and write a quick blog.  It has been a whirlwind at the Hoff house the past three days.  A VERY GOOD whirlwind....School plays, lots of company from the states which of course means late nights with good conversing, (Katie, Bob, Erica and Felyicia), school days are still in full swing, dinner with friends, lunch with friends, (did I mention I have had a nasty cold), dinner with kids, bathtime, kid time, not to mention Katie getting a new hair style at my hairdresser (notice there was no "studying German" listed) etc.etc. etc.... 
And now that all (except Katie) gave me their last hug goodbye a bit ago, I need to pack for our trip  to Barcelona in the morning...which departs at 5:15am!   (Did I mention how we were so lucky to find a great person to house/dog sit for us here in Germany-that's another blog story for later)  Here are a few pictures, cause this cowgirl doesn't really like when the rooster cock-a-doodles too early in the morning so I must hit the pillow.
Katie getting a new "do"

gorgeous new color
Erica & I ate at ReisKorn (look closely)

We all went for a walk/ride together

dinner at Pro Arte
More clicks.

Pictures of food

Cooper's musical
FJ watches me pack...and laughs at all the chaos at my house




Learning how to make our Schultute

Hard at wor
Where is the candy?
Today, I headed off to Karina’s school  to begin making her Schultüte.  The first problem I ran into when making this German tradition, which started in 1810, was calling it a Shoe-lulu.  I was quickly corrected…as usual.  Even though I didn’t have the pronunciation correct, I thought it was a great German tradition we were going to experience.  It is a large cone that parents make together with their future 1st Grader.  When they enter the school on the first day of ‘1st Grade’ this Schultüte will be waiting for them filled with toys, chocolate, candies, school supplies, and various other goodies.  

I am not sure if the tradition calls for the mom to make the Tüte while the child plays with her friends…but I don’t blame her as my weaving seemed to take an exceptionally long time.  I guess I didn't practice much  weaving in Alabama.  But the reward was big, once this mom finished, my little girl showed me her thanks with a Big ole kiss!

After the tüte was finished, I was off to show Katie and Erica the “Market Hall” in downtown Stuttgart.  Since I seem to be visiting the same places with our guests the past few months, I have discovered a ‘new entertainment’- taking pictures of them taking pictures.  I am also finding another great plus to having good friends comes over…they bring good items I have requested from the Good Ole’ US of A! (note my new shoes, Goldfish, instant oatmeal, new nail polish, ..etc-THANKS KATIE & ERICA)  



My new walkers thanks to Erica's suitcase!

About Me

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Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
We are living as non-military expats for a second time in Stuttgart Germany. The first time, we moved from Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany in December 2010 for three years and now are back after six years.. This is a great adventure for our whole family that we enjoy sharing.