Black Forest Getaway

Gabe continued his awesome streak and watched the wee ladies so Scott and I could have a grownup weekend.  In Germany.  Nestled between the Black Forest and thermal spas.  Life is just so full of lovely sometimes :-)

We started our Saturday with a drive through the Black Forest to see some castles.

As predicted, my rapidly expanding belly quickly grew hungry and we had lunch in a castle listening to a fairly great band.  I think they were local high schoolers, and we were serenaded with Rolling in the Deep, Another One Bites the Dust, and other surprising-in-a-castle selections at Burg Hohenzollern.
the aforementioned rapidly expanding 6 month belly
Castle lunch (ps 'clouded apple and elderberry juice' just tastes like cranberry)
We stopped at Schloss Lichtenstein on our way back, and it had a beer garden and ropes course!  Well done, you!  Followed up our castle voyage with a trip to Caracalla Spa.  I want to describe it.  I wouldn't do it justice.  It's kind of like the best pool day ever... in thermal water at varying and awesome temperatures... with little kiosks containing juicers... and an array of saunas... or dampfbad... just delightful.  Evening concluded with dinner served to us by people in lederhosen that went until 11:00.  I dozed off at the table around 10:45 :-)

Sunday we went to Freidrichsbad spa, which was a borderline religious experience. According to Mark Twain:
"After 10 minutes at Freidrichsbad, you forget time. After 20 minutes, the world."

Again, I'm not going to do this place justice.  I'm certainly not going to outdo Mark Twain :-)  However, it was like being brought back in time, and once you arrive, finding that you're an aristocrat... or super back in time, a Roman senator.  The spa as it stands today was built in 1877 and was made to cater to the aristocracy and royalty of the time.  The original spa, Acqua Aurelia, was built in 69 AD, and the ruins are still recognizable and open for touring.  

At its most simplistic, Freidrichsbad is a series of thermal baths, saunas, scrubs, and massages.   The first eight stations gradually raise your body temperature (with an amazing soap and brush massage midway through), then stations 9-13 lower your body temperature back to normal.  The experience ends with a cream massage, being burrito wrapped like a newborn in a quiet room (we both fell asleep) and a leisurely tea and reading time to re-acclimate to the world you forgot existed.

The rest of the weekend was spent strolling through the tranquil town enjoying life, but now that we're back in sweaty Naples I'm getting too jealous of past-me to write about it, so here are some pictures and I'll caption them for you and call it good :-)

The little stream that ran through town

fountains everywhere

Germany: you're clean and efficient and lovely.
Leave fashion to other countries.
Don't recreate the Red Wedding in a shop window.

This entire country looks like a fairy tale

pictured: Scott enjoying a fountain
not pictured: the adorable old french couples,
ladies with parasols, men with berets

Oh, Germany, even your barns are efficient!

Seriously, guys, not your forte

Black Forest cake at Cafe Konig, as
recommended by Tolstoy.  Cared for neither
the cake, nor the Cafe.  In future, will
not take food advice from deceased,
depressing authors
Far nicer experience at Kaffeehause.  How every day should begin :-)
And now, for your viewing and educational pleasure, some awesome German words courtesy of Ryanair:

tantenverfuher: young man of good manners you suspect of devious motives (literally 'aunt seducer')
kummerspeck: excess weight gained from emotional eating (literally 'grief bacon')
drachenfutter: gift/ peace offering guilty husbands give to their wives (literally 'dragon fodder')


Hurricane Ava

 Oh, Avalon.  My lovely little hurricane of a child.  You are three years old today, and it's wonderful and devastating at the same time.  Somehow in what felt like a few weeks, another year went by.  Last night I told you, "this is the last night you'll be two!" and felt like my Nana.  Last night your dad said, "you'll never be two again" and I wanted to cry.  There's so much about you right now that I wish I could freeze in time.

You're dazzling, little one.  Everywhere we go, you sparkle and charm and people love you.  You love them back.  You're so smart and roughly 93% of your brain is devoted to animals.  Every day you choose a new one to emulate, and spend your days barking like a puppy carrying things in your teeth, galloping like a horse, or flapping your wings like a dragon.

From the depths of your soul you believe you are a princess.  You go days without taking off your tiara.  You wear your princess dress to the commissary, the beach, and the movie theater.  Your imagination is incredible, and whatever world you happen to be occupying at a given moment, we're all drawn in, too.  If you're Wendy, Dad's Captain Hook.  If you're Cinderella, Kylie's a handsome prince.  If you're a baby scarlet macaw, then I'm your momma bird building us a nest.

You are our little Italiana.  If we'd allow it, you'd start every day with a cappuccino.  When you speak, your hands tell stories.  Everything you feel, you feel deeply and passionately.  When you're disappointed, your wail would put a dirge to shame.  When you're happy, your laughter pierces every corner of the house.  When you're feeling lovey, you catapult yourself onto us clinging like a baby koala.

You bring us so much joy.

You're Shirley Temple and a cherub and a naughty little imp rolled into one.

At some point, your shamelessness will probably disappear.  You will no longer proudly announce you've poo-ed yourself adding, "ta-da!"  You'll call them 'pajamas' instead of 'pajamins'...  You may even realize that the gate guard is waving the next car in, not waving to you because "he thinks I'm so cute!"

I'll really miss my firework of a two year old.   If the past 3 years are any indication though, growing older just means you're going to fill our lives with even more awesome.  We love you, Ava Rain.