Abby and Amelia went trick or treating with Katie and Lucy and Brinna. I joined up with Matt and Tina and Dorie and Eric. We had a great time and it was a beautiful night for walking around through the hood.
Highlights included Amelia being scared at a well decorated house. Abby being scared at one a few doors down, but showing resilient spirit when we challenged her to become a dragon and scare the house and its decorations back. Finally, being offered spiced wine was a nice gesture from one of our neigbhors, it was a cold night.
Lowlights included Amelia falling after stepping on her princess dress, recognizing that we don't know as many people in the neighborhood as our friends (they get out and walk at night a whole lot more than us), and having Susan stay at the house as opposed to walking the neighborhood with us.
Abby plays soccer for Team Canada of the Southeast Soccer Leauge. The games are Saturday mornings at Berkeley Park in the Eastmoreland neighborhood (SE 39th & Bybee Boulevard). They play 3 on 3 and we don't keep score, although today I heard some of the kids counting goals in the second half. I believe this is the first year that they have organized soccer and it is fun to watch the kids. The games started out four weeks ago and seemed more like recess then actual soccer matches with an actual objective. It is amazing though how quickly the kids are picking up on the concepts and getting more heavily engaged in the activities. There was a little pushing and positioning for the ball which is good to see from a competitive perspective, but also somewhat like a loss of innocence from purely a parent's perspective. Dad and Chris came to this game and it was a nice morning. Abby got a little distracted knowing that grandpa was on the sideline and as usual, she didn't want to go in during the second half because she was a little bit tired and generally less interested as compared to the first half, where Susan said she almost scored a goal. Our neighbor Tina coaches the team and her daughter Katie is a really good dribbler.
We have been having a lot of fun with our new neighbors next door. Mike & Sara have two daughters Natalie and Julia who are both just a bit younger than Abby and Amelia. It seems like most days when I get home (on normal days) they are playing outside with them, which is great fun for them and nice for Susan too. Over the weekend, our neighbor Natalie came over to play dress up. Her sister Natalie must have been sleeping. On this particular Saturday, grandpa dropped by with grandma to read some books and have a quick visit. Susan and I hadn't seen them since our trip to Europe, so it was nice to be able to spend some time with them. Chris shared with us some more about her experience with the girls and she mentioned how much fun and how hard it was at the same time, don't we know it! It was fun to see them with the girls, we hadn't spent as much time with them as the kids had, so it was nice to catch up with them. We also had a chance to say thanks for taking care of the kids while we were in Europe. For Abby's soccer game, we were in charge of snacks. So rather than packaged goods, Peter decided we should make something. Susan wasn't sure of making cookies, so we looked up a "healthy" cookie recipe. They turned out pretty good and it passed the kids licking the beater test. I think we may be able to puree vegetables and put them on a beater or spatula and they would still think they are getting a treat. Ah, the fun you can have as a kid!
We made it back to Amsterdam after Jochen's wedding and rented bikes from our hotel and set off to Waterland East and Marken, which is north of Amsterdam by about 20 km or so. We had a great ride in a crisp fall day, that started out navigating the streets of Amsterdam, followed by a short ferry ride from Centraal Station and then a quick transition to a very rural area.
We didn't really have an agenda, other than what the Guidebook we borrowed from the hotel had information on, which was fine for our purposes of getting out to see a few things other than the Red Light District and the Coffeeshops :)
We had visited Berlin in 2005 on our first trip to Europe and when we got there Peter Lubrich met us at the airport and took care of the cab and the translation. It was really nice to have a tour guide that came to help us out on our first day there, taking the train from Hamburg no less. Well, this visit was a little closer to home for Peter, and we were lucky to have such a great friend in such a wonderful City. The City Hall building was beautiful and we enjoyed the square adjacent to it in the heart of the City. Peter works nearby so we took a nice tour of his office and the rest of the downtown. We walked from City Hall to St. Michael's Church, which was a beautiful building with an outlook at the top of the steeple. We almost didn't make the trip up to the top, but we turned around because we thought it would offer a great view of the City, which didn't disappoint. The views of the City were very nice.
There are more pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/peter.koonce/080925Hamburg#