Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas;

We had the most wonderful Christmas this year. Every year of our marriage we, have driving for many hours and spent a few day with our families in Boston Mass. Both sides of the family live with in a few minutes of each other, which makes visiting a little easer. On the flip side however, Christmas day has always felt rushed and hectic. It always seemed that as soon as we had settled at one house, opened gifts, and had a little conversation, we had to leave to travel to the next house. It is a lot of fun seeing everyone, but exhausting. We would wait until we returned home to open our gifts to one another.

Well this year we have our Christmas at home. We decided not to travel back to the states for the holiday. We have only been here for five months and we could just not justify the cost of the flight. We bought and sent all of the families gifts back in October, and they sent our gifts to Norway.

To get our tree we walked a few blocks down to a tree lot, and pick out a small tree. Together we carried the tree home, set it up, and decorated the tree with ornaments I have been collecting in the countries we have visited. We bought a few bulbs to fill in the extra spaces, as well as lights and a silver star.

On Christmas Eve, I prepared dough for us to make cookies, and for cinnamon buns in the morning. We filled the stockings and arranged all the gifts under the tree. We lit the tree, set a fire in the fireplace, snuggled under a blanket and watched a movie. At midnight we kissed and were blissful in the moment. The night was cozy, warm, and relaxing.

Christmas morning we got up about ten, made tea and cinnamon buns, and sat down to open stockings and gifts. Ben and I took our time and enjoyed exploring each gift as it was opened. When everything was opened, we cleaned up the wrapping paper, and organized the gifts back under the tree. The rest of the day was spent playing with all our new “toys”. Ben got me “Dance, Dance Revolution two”, so I spent most of the day with that. Ben had fun playing with a marble game that goes on the refrigerator. He also explored the new camcorder we had received. Later in the day we both called our families to exchange thank yous for all the gifts.
I made a roast for dinner with all of our favorite side dishes. Ben and I spent some time baking sugar cookies together for dessert. After dinner we sat in the living room reading some of the new books. I played my game a little more, and Ben tried it out as well. All and all the day was exactly what we wanted, relaxing and calm. It is very likely that we will be returning to the states for Christmas next year, so it was nice to have Christmas ourselves this year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Germany

Ben surprised me last week by telling me we were going some place for my birthday. All he would tell me was that we were going to another country and that he would give me a hint every day until Thursday. His clues included “We can uses our Euros there”, “we will be gone for three days and four nights”, “we have never been there before”, and “it is not France”.

Finally Thursday came and he revealed that we would be going to Germany. He had been invited to a company called “Frog logic” to discuss issues with a computer documentation system. He would be busy with that for two days, but we will be staying for an extra day to go sight seeing together on my birthday. He divulged that we would be leaving Friday night, and would return Tuesday morning. I ran around packing, getting together all the travel papers, and buying film.

The next night we were off. The flight only took about an hour and fifteen minutes, so before I knew it, we had landed. Simon and Harald, who come from Germany, had also been invited to join in the discussion. Having them with us was extremely convenient. They spoke to the cab driver, and the man at the hotel’s front desk.

While the boys went to the Frog logic offices, I explored the city of Hamburg. There were many churches and towers exemplifying a broad range of architectural design. My favorite was St. Nicholas, which had been bombed in the Second World War. The city never rebuilt the church, so only the tower and a bit of wall remains today. Even though the church was destroyed, the remaining bell tower an inspiring example of rococo design.

One of the popular churches to visit is St. Michaels, which offers an observation deck atop the bell tower. You have a choice of riding in an elevator, or climbing over three hundred steps to the summit of the church. For some reason I still cannot fathom, I chose to climb the stairs. The views were amazing from any point on the three hundred and sixty degree platform.

I visited a museum that was featuring the history of image entertainment. It began with original shadow puppets from the 17th century and continued to how television and 3D pictures work. The exhibit also showed an amazing collection of picture boxes from the 18th century. In the main gallery a man was creating siluets of the patrons, not with light, but by cutting the profiles directly in to back paper. It was amazing to watch him snip the paper with tiny scissors, never even sketching an outline.

Throughout Hamburg, the city was celebrating the holiday with a Christmas market. Booths were set up in all the squares selling merchandise, food, and glugg. Glugg is a traditional hot drink served at Christmas. It is a liquor based drink, mixed with orange and a plethora of spices. Christmas music was being played in many languages throughout the markets. There were lights and decorations everywhere including large nativity sets, hand carved out of logs.

On Ben’s day off (my birthday) we wondered the city enjoying the sites I had located earlier. We took a boat tour of the harbor, and adjacent channels leading in to the city. We saw the “Queen Mary Two” as well as the old brick warehouse’s that line the city’s harbor. We were also able to go to some local malls to pick up a few things. We had a great time on our second trip to a new country. It was an amazing and wonderful birthday surprise!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christmas party;

Trolltech recently had their annual Christmas party. It was located at the local pub and was a lot of fun. The party started with the “master of ceremonies” Trenton, discussion what a “Julebord” was with Jason. A “Julebord” is the word for a Christmas party, and Jason wanted to know what you eat at a Norwegian “Julebord”. Trenton described all the foods that Norwegians eat at Christmas, like salted, dried and smoked lamb ribs, cod with its liver, lute fish, and a ribbe-rib roast of pork. Jason asked if these were some of the foods we would be sampling tonight, to which Trenton replied, “ Oh god no! That stuff is disgusting! We are having Cajun tonight.”
The Cajun menu included catfish, spicy potatoes, chicken wings, and other typical Cajun dishes. During dinner every table was expected to sing Christmas carols. The words were provided on each table for carols from Germany, Norway, and America. Our table took the easy way out and sang, “Deck the Halls”. Dessert was a plethora or sweet treats. They served chocolate pie, cheesecake, carrot cake and a fruitcake.
Through out the night we played a game to see how well the company knows the new employees. Five flyers were made up for each table featuring images of the new employees. The only thing was that the images went through Photoshop to combine four photos in to one odd looking face. The point of the game was to correctly label the twenty new employees to their respective feature. Our table came in 2nd place after getting 16 of the 20 features correct.
Some other entertainment was a skit put on by the employees, jokes preformed separately to win more drink tickets, and the president of the company doing the “Can Can” (yes sober) in full “Can Can” girl dress. The entertainment ending in the “Golden Troll Awards” which was awards to employees who best fit the made up humorous categories. The awards were troll figures spray painted gold. The atmosphere was light and fun. The night felt like a big family gathering.