Easter 2017

I was pretty exhausted after my day out with the kids on Saturday, and ended up taking a five-hour late-afternoon nap, waking up in the quiet and dark with a flash of panic because I have done *NOTHING* to prepare the house for tomorrow. Continue reading

April, April

We woke up to a winter wonderland at the end of April. 

I intended on packing away the snow gear this past weekend, but didn’t get around to it. Good thing! As the saying goes, “April, April, der macht was er will.”

Don’t Have a Cow, Man

 

Spring Break is over, and it is back to school and work for us. This one is kicking off her week with some cappucchino and vintage Bart Simpson.

Also, we discovered this “underachiever” had two A+ spelling tests stashed in her bookbag, too.

Rosenmontag

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]T[/dropcap]oday was Rosenmontag, which is German for “Rose Monday.” Rosenmontag is the highlight of Germany’s Fasching, also known as Karnival, celebration.  With a name like that, I imagined a beautiful, floral event similar to America’s annual Rose Parade, but I could not have been more wrong. In this case, a rose by any other name is not just as sweet.  Here in Germany, Rosenmontag is celebrated with ugly witches, trolls, and devils, all smelling of burning branches, beer, spiced wine, and smokey wood.

Not an awful smell.

But definitely not floral.

We ventured out and attended the Rosenmontag parade in a local village, our first excursion since moving into our house. After nearly two weeks of nonstop unpacking (since our household goods arrived early – yea!), Martin and I were ready to ditch the clutter and cardboard boxes, and do something fun. Fortunately, it took no time at all to dig up our Halloween costumes, and the kids needed little convincing to dress up again, too, even though they really didn’t understand why we were dressing up in February.

Until we moved here, the kids knew very little about Fasching. Admittedly, I never made much effort to introduce them to it, either, having never experienced it myself.  During my Catholic childhood, the time before Lent was spent deciding on what I was going to sacrifice in the weeks leading up to Easter, and memorizing the local Fish Fry schedule. Martin rarely spoke about Fasching other than mentioning it was the closest he came to celebrating Halloween as a kid in Germany. Though it takes place in the dead of winter (early February), costumes and candy from strangers are involved … and that was pretty much all we knew about it.

But in the past week, I’ve learned that all of Germany observes Fasching in some way. A lot of people refer to Fasching as the German-version of Mardi Gras, and there are a lot of similarities: parades, people in colorful costumes, a mash-up of Catholic and pagan traditions, and it all takes place before Lent. But the way it is celebrated is very much a regional thing.  And we now live in a region of Germany that really, really gets into it, so much that it gets its own Wikipedia explanation.

Rosenmontag is, essentially, the day when all the evil spirits of winter — the incarnations of the winter blues, so to speak –are cleaned up and chased out of town just in time for spring. People dress up in the most severe costumes. Every monster, troll, witch, or evil spirit you’ve ever read about in  Grimm’s Fairy Tales … or maybe saw at a Gwar thrash metal concert … comes out into daylight and walks through town, playing tricks, causing mischief, and getting in some last-minute fun before they are banished away for the rest of the year.

This can all seem very overwhelming and intimidating, right?

But it wasn’t.

It was truly one of the most festive and colorful events we’ve attended so far.

Needless to say, I took a ton of photos.

Jaz spent most of the parade on Martin’s shoulders. He had the best view.

 

This was the crowd along the main street.

 

Each group of trolls and witches followed a theme. Some were trolls that protected the forest. Others were witches that made things dirty with their brooms. Some costumes were very distinct and made it clear of the group’s background. Even more left us asking, “What the hell is THAT?”

 

 

 

There were many variations of the Perchta, or Berchta, mask, which is based on an Alpine goddess. No, really!

 

This was the most colorful lady. Her entire costume was made out of grocery bags. I called her the Goddess of Upcycling.

 

I snapped this picture just as this witch was handing a lollipop to Lola, who was also dressed as a witch, which resulted in a LOT of attention and a LOT of candy.

 

I think this guy is just really sensitive, and who doesn’t like a dude in touch with his emotions?

 

That expression is very similar to the one Martin makes whenever he’s around marzipan.

 

Many local bands performed with musicians of all ages. There were also floats playing techno music. And a lot of the witches and trolls carried wooden noisemakers.

It is my understanding that these fellows may represent some German politicians, but I have no idea who …

 

 

It wasn’t uncommon for one of the witches to jump and “attack” a pedestrian, usually an older child or teenager. Then, with help from the other witches, the person was wrestled to the ground so the witches could pull off the person’s shoes. Those with laces were definitely at risk. This little girl pulled her shoe back from the witch, and I snapped this picture just as she was sticking out her tongue in protest.

 

I snapped this photo as these witches were talking to each other, and that got their attention. They started pointing at me, and one of their devil friends came over and dumped a huge “heuballen” — hay ball — on my hair. Apparently, my hair looked too clean for their liking.

 

This guy noticed Lola and decided she needed some color on her face. Almost all of the spirits carried sticks of face paint to randomly draw on spectators.

Miss C got some color, too.

 

Not even the police officers were safe.

 

We were able to meet up with our new neighbors at the parade, and of course, the tween girls had to compare the photos they got of the event.

 

This was how the street looked after the last group of trolls and witches went by us.

 

And this is how it looked right behind them: the street cleaner.

 

Spring Cleaning

Miss C took this fabulous photo of her sister dancing in the backyard.

This weekend was a good one. Miss C had a sleepover with a bunch of girls from her class, which went pretty well, but left a pile of blankets, pillows, crumbs and general disorder all on my first floor. Martin was away for his Air Force Reserve duty, which means I don’t leave the house with all three kids because just getting them to the driveway and funneled into the minivan fully-clothed and well-tempered exhausts me, so I tackled my housekeeping to-do list with gusto while I let the kids do whatever the heck they wanted.

Because the weather was so amazing, this meant a lot of my chores were done outside. And because I was outside, the kids were outside. Continue reading

Bright Awesome Sunshine

Sunshine ahead!

 

It was such a wonderful spring weekend. Did you get some sun, too? Did you get to go outdoors and sit in some fresh, green grass? We did and I’m telling you, all five of us have been more upbeat and energetic. It’s been a long winter, but now it’s over and we really believe it. Continue reading