Monthly Archives: May 2010

Rosebud’s First Bicycle – A Laufrad, or Run/Balance Bicycle

Proud Rosebud on her new bike (a Laufrad, or Run/Balance Bike)

A popular way to teach children about bicycle riding here in Germany is to have the child first use a Laufrad, or a running bicycle. Sometimes it’s called a balance bicycle in English. Apparently, the idea is starting to catch on in the United States; here’s one website in the US where you can buy a balance bicycle:

If you’re quick, you can get an extra special deal on the Mamabargains website, for a wooden version that you can adjust as your child grows. (Special thanks go to my Mama girlfriends who pointed this one out to me, as maybe some reader here will benefit from this sale).

The Balance/Run bicycles don’t have pedals or gears and the idea is that a child first learns about balancing herself on such a bike. Then when the child is old enough to pedal, she would (in theory) have an easier time on a pedal bicycle because she’s already learned about the balancing part.

Rosebud’s Grandpa (my Dad) decided he wanted to give her a tricycle for her birthday. Rosebud’s Aunt K., an avid cyclist herself, as many of you know, sent Rosebud a super-cool bike helmet to go along with the bicycle theme (for now, Rosebud calls it her Bike Hat). As we looked around at tricycles, we didn’t really see too many tricycles that we liked and decided that a balance bicycle would be just as much fun for Rosebud. And the verdict? She LOVES it. Right now, she’s a little short for the one that we bought for her, but that hasn’t stopped Rosebud at all. She’ll certainly grow into it and will be able to use it for a long time.

Yesterday afternoon, we went over to visit Aby, one of Rosebud’s friends. Aby, who is three, recently got her own Laufrad. She was happily zooming about on her Laufrad, during one of the few moments of the day when the sun actually came out. Rosebud was tremendously jealous. She ran after Aby, crying, because she wanted on that balance bike so very badly. Then, when Rosebud saw me put the box containing her bike in the car, all she wanted was for me to open the box.

Once we got home, David put the bicycle together, while I worked on adjusting Rosebud’s bike helmet. She practically tore out of the house when I told her she was going to try out her own little balance bike. How did she do on her first try? Very well, I’d say, for someone who is just a little short yet for her Laufrad.

We made this video of her, a little more than five minutes long, showing Rosebud on her trial balance bike run:

As it was close to dinnertime, we let her play for about 15 or 20 minutes on her new bike. As you may have noticed in the video, she had no interest in coming back inside to eat dinner! And indeed, after we brought her inside, she had quite the toddler Wutanfall, or temper tantrum. Oh, the tears! The disappointment! This morning, all she wanted to do was go outside on her balance bike, despite the rain that has been falling all day. Clearly this gift is something she’ll really enjoy. I just hope that we’ll finally get enough dry weather this weekend to take her out again, because I know she is anxious and eager to play on her balance bike.

Daddy adjusts the Laufrad



Our little friend Christofer had his first birthday party, and friends of his and ours hosted the party at their Bavarian home in Vogelherd. The property is both stunning and inspirational. We all had a wonderful time, especially our little girls. They liked playing in the sandpit and running through the field. Rosebud got quite soaked but didn’t seem to mind, and I am incredibly grateful to my friend Veronika who lent us plenty of extra clothing! Next time, I will be prepared. I packed extra shirts and jackets, but for some reason, forgot extra pants and socks.

After tea time for Christofer’s birthday, we later had a cook-out and simply enjoyed being with everyone. I’ve mentioned before that one of my pregnancy cravings has been sauerkraut; I was quite lucky that the lady of the house made a fabulous homemade sauerkraut. I ate lots, and then she was pleased to send some of the leftovers home with me. Yum, yum! I am hoping she’ll share her recipe with me.

Photos from our evening at Vogelherd:

View from Vogelherd; the Benediktenwand mountains are to the left, and the Herzogstand is in the center.

Here’s the birthday boy!

Parma, Italy

On one of our vacation days, we decided to drive to Parma, a smaller but important city in northern Italy.

Parma, Italy

A church in Parma

Door to a church in Parma

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear Parma? Did you say…parmesan cheese? Why yes, indeed! The cheese Parmigiano Reggiano is maybe the most well-known speciality from this town and its surrounding areas. Parma is also known for Prosciutto, which in German is referred to as Parma Schinken, or Parma ham. I didn’t buy any Parma ham while we were in Italy, but I did buy Parmigiano Reggiano, as well as a few other cheeses. We can certainly buy authentic Parmigiano Reggiano here in Germany, but the kilo block I bought in Italy was definitely the best parmesan cheese I have ever eaten in my life. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more.

Parma is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Oriago. I really enjoyed visiting Parma for the afternoon. It’s got such a different feel from Venice. For one thing, it’s a famous university town and we did notice many college students getting around on their bicycles.

And being such an important gastronomical capital of Italy, we made sure to take time for a leisurely lunch. We found an unassuming but fabulous trattoria off the high street. Rosebud thoroughly enjoyed her pizza Margherita, while I had a lovely roasted veal and potatoes entrée, plus a mixed salad and then lemon tart for dessert. Rosebud helped me eat the lemon tart, of course! I think that David had the best meal of all, an amazing ossobuco with Parmesan risotto.

We went to Parma partially on a whim in that it had been recommended to me by a friend, but we didn’t do much research before arriving there. As we walked down the high street, we kept following the signs for the tourist office but never found the tourist office. That didn’t really matter, however, because there are so many beautiful buildings and churches that we enjoyed simply sight-seeing.

This tower is the Baptistery of Parma, fashioned out of a beautiful pink marble.

Baptistery Tower of Parma

Carved Door to the Baptistery Tower

It’s next to the Parma Cathedral.

Duomo in Parma

Another view of the Duomo

This photo is especially for Professor Hildegard, a friend of ours who just received her PhD in Medieval Studies. I’ve long enjoyed looking at her photographs and close-up details of medieval architecture and was inspired by her to take this photo.

Detail - Baptistery Tower in Parma, next to the Duomo

I think that I’d like to go back to Parma. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, and there is so much more to see and do. I didn’t realize, for example, that Giuseppe Verdi was from the region, born not far from Parma. One of my fondest college memories was performing Verdi’s Requiem at Lawrence University and it would have been great to see his birth house.

Another great of the music world born in Parma was the conductor Arturo Toscanini. Had I realized there was a museum where Toscanini was born, I would have liked to visit it.

I was amused by this street name:

Ciao, bella! Via Cardinal Ferrari, Parma, Italy

I just couldn’t help but imagine a cardinal zooming around Parma in his Ferrari, yelling “ciao!”

This is the Governor’s Palace:

The Governor's Palace, Parma, Italy

And finally, I love this picture of David and Rosebud, along the Parma River:

Daddy and Rosebud along the Parma River

Venezia, Part 2

The Bowman Family in Venice

For our first week in Venice, we purchased HelloVenezia travel cards and made excellent use of them, visiting many of the museums included in the cards, as well as traveling on the vaporetti water buses. As I wrote in my first post on Venice, we especially loved visiting the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) and the Piazza San Marco:

Piazza San Marco - Basilica and Duke's Palace

and the Correr Museum. Although I posted our complete photo albums previously, here is a selection of photos from Venice that I thought I’d share here:

A view of the Venetian Laguna from the public gardens

Rialto Bridge, along the Grand Canal, Venice

Daddy and Rosebud on one of the many little bridges

A different view of the Rialto Bridge

Piazza San Marco

Daddy and Rosebud

Gondolas in Venice

Santa Maria del Salute

A Venetian villa along the Grand Canal

For our second week in Italy, we did return to Venice a few times, but took a slightly more leisurely pace.

Rosebud rearranging sugar packets in a Venetian café

One of my favorite mornings was spent near the Mercato, or open air market. Although the market was close to the Grand Canal, it seemed to attract more of the local population. The fish displays were especially impressive, and it was fun seeing what types of produce were being offered.

Delicious fresh fish

Fresh fruits and vegetables at the Mercato

A fish display at the Venetian Market

Mercato in Venice

One of my friends commented on my previous entry on Venice that he was surprised to come across a Disney Store in Venice, and he mused, “Who goes shopping at the Disney Store in Venice?” Who indeed? As I unintentionally discovered, one of the answers to that question is parents of toddlers who need some diversion! As I commented to my friend,

I can shed some light on the Disney store. Yes, I have got a story!

Because, you see, during one lunchtime, Miss Rosebud got particularly fussy and simply wanted to walk around (plus, she ate little of the cheese pizza I ordered her and instead stole my lasagna!). Rosebud was, overall, great in all the restaurants on our vacation, but by this point she was just tired of having to be on her best manners, I think, and ready to walk around some.

She started to throw a toddler tantrum, as they do, and it just so happened that we were close to the Disney store. I walked her there, and that did the trick. When we walked in, she was delighted to see the rack of Minnie Mouse dolls (her favorite Disney character). She wanted to touch each one, she instantly calmed down and was happy.

So, there you go! Parents of toddlers throwing a tantrum go to the Disney store in Venice.

As you can see from the images, Venice is a gorgeous place to visit, with a beautiful sight almost every direction you look. It’s also historically such an interesting city, because of how it developed and its commercial importance as a seaport. I’m grateful that my husband picked this destination for us and did all the fantastic planning. It’s a vacation that we won’t ever forget.