Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Vatican Museum and Kids?

The Vatican for kids? YES!!!!

When I was planning our trip to Rome for my 5 and 7 year old, I contemplated how easy (or lack there of) it would be for us to go to the Vatican and actually enjoy ourselves. I did lots of research, asking around, and planning. This is what we came up with and it went great! 

First, I went to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel official website:  Here
We purchased our tickets online in advance. We chose the beat the queue tickets and I decided to splurge on the optional kids audio guide. I’m so glad I did! 
The tickets were as follows: 
Full price ticket: Euro 16,00. Reduced ticket: Euro 8,00. Every ticket reserved online has a reservation fee of Euro 4,00. 
Audio guide (optional): Euro 7,00. 
Audio guide for children between 6 and 12 years old (optional): Euro 5,00. 

We chose these tickets because we wanted to go through the museum on our own time and not be weighed down by being with a tour group. I chose not to buy the tickets from a 3rd party site because of my suspicion on authenticity and legitimacy, plus I didn’t see the children’s package offered on other sites. 
The extra planning that we did, booking online, paying for the beat the queue tickets and for the children’s package (map and audio guide) worked out great and we were so glad we did all that planning. 

When we arrived at the Vatican museum we were able to walk straight in, past about a 3 hour waiting line of tourists. It was such a great feeling to walk past everyone and know that my kids wouldn’t be complaining about waiting for such a long time and we never felt like we were wasting our entire day in a line.I had printed up the vouchers prior to our arrival, showed the print outs to the guards and went straight in.
Vatican Security Entrance
The entrance is similar to an airport security point. 

You can only take in a certain size bag (a little larger than a purse, but smaller than a backpack) and women mustn’t wear sleeveless shirts or shorts or short skirts. 
This was what the website stated, but a saw a couple women with sleeveless shirts on. You have to go through a metal detector and a guard goes through your bag. No biggie. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

How to Install Screens in your German windows

It’s officially SUMMER! 
If you live in Germany, then it’s time to open up those windows and turn on the fans.  This may also mean that your house now has a welcome sign for flies to come into your house! 
This is a big problem here due to most housing in Germany having gorgeous, wonderful, large windows that open nice and wide…however, almost no houses come with screens on the windows.
You may be asking why is this a problem?  Just turn on the A.C. you say?  Well, we live in Europe and in Europe; air conditioning is not really something that houses have.  If you want an air conditioning unit it costs a few hundred euros. 
My household lives off of fans and open windows and we are fine in the summer time.  It does get super-hot here,don’t get me wrong.  But, it’s bearable.
Have no fear!  I’m here to give you my #1 summer tip for keeping those pesky in bugs out of your German house.
At almost ANY German hardware style store (Globus, Toom, Hela, etc.) you can find inexpensive screens.  They come in white or black and a variety of different sizes (just remember they are measured in cm-so don’t make the mistake of thinking a screen will fit your size window if you measured your house window size in inches and then you grab a screen that is too small). 

The back of the box has simple instructions so you can get the idea of how to install the screen.  Each box comes with one screen, and the screen ‘tape’.
This screen cost me 199 euro (about $2.25)
Here are the steps:
Clean off the perimeter of the inside of your window-I use a Lysol wipe.  The reason you want to do this is to make sure to get any dirt and dust off the edge where you will be applying the screen tape.  This way the tape adheres well to the window.  Otherwise it will constantly fall down or come undone when you close and open the window. 

See how I'm cleaning the 'middle' of the window seal
***Make sure that you are cleaning off and applying the tape to the inside panel perimeter of the window.  If you apply it to the wrong part then you just bust out the screen every time you close it.  This will be clearer with my pictures and as you get further into the steps, so don’t worry). ***

Let the window dry.  The screen tape will not stick well if the window perimeter is still wet from wiping it down.
Meanwhile, unfold the screen and hold it up to the window to ensure it will fit the window opening.  It’s best if you leave about ½ inch extra on each edge.  This is because if the window is too taut and you shut the window sometimes the screen will come loose on an edge.
This is what happened when I didn't allow for some extra on the edges of the window and I made it too tight and then closed the window-it came undone.
If you install the screen with a little give, then you will NEVER have a problem.  Once you have estimated the size of the screen, if it is too big, simply cut the screen to fit the size of the window.  Just use a simple pair of scissors.  Super easy! 
Put the screen aside for the next step. 
Take your screen tape and remove a small section of the wax paper overlay. 

Notice the small flexible plastic 'teeth'
Do not unroll all of the screen tape or remove too much of the wax paper overlay or you will have a sticky mess.  Press the sticky side of the screen tape to the window perimeter that you previously wiped down.  Go a few inches at a time in order to make sure that it is a nice and neat (not a sticky mess) application.  Cut the tape to fit.
***This tape is a great little invention.  One side of it is sticky (this is the window perimeter edge) and the other has these little flexible plastic grippers on them (this is what the actual screen sticks to).
After the tape is installed all around the edge, it’s time for the last step-installing the screen.
press the screen to the plastic grippers on the sticky tape you just installed

This is super easy.  Just hold the screen up to the window opening and make sure to leave about ½ inch extra on all edges.  Press the screen to the grippers on the tape and voila!  Do this on all 4 edges.  Once again, make sure not to make the screen too tight.  If you have too much extra for your liking over the edges you can trim them off.  It’s all up to you.
Here's a picture of the screen I installed in my daughters room to illustrate the extra screen to ensure it's not too tight

That’s it!  5 simple steps to be bug free in the heat of summer. 
Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll help the best I can.
Prior to installing the screen
WITH the screen installed-you can barely tell it's there:)
 Happy Summer Everyone!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Coach's gifts

Soccer, Basketball, T-ball, Gymnastics...Any and All kids sports have one thing in common-a coach.  In most cases there are more than one coach.
Any of us with kiddos who play sports, knows that it takes someone with extreme patience, eyes in the back of their heads, and a sense of humor to coach children.
At the end of the season it's always nice to thank those who have volunteered their time to help introduce our children into the world of sports.

Themed baskets are nice, gift certificates, things made by the team-these are always good ideas.
One year my husband got a gift card for a free game of golf when he coached our little ones soccer team.  He LOVED that gift! 

This year my little girl played on a T-ball team.  We had 3 dad's that were wonderful enough to step up and volunteer to coach these 5 and 6 year olds.

I put together 3 thank you baskets for each coach.  Nothing too fancy-but fun.  I went with a baseball theme-of course:)

I searched endlessly for big league chewing gum-but could not find any at the stores on our base or out on the German economy.  So...I improvised.

I included a framed team picture, beef jerky, sunflower seeds, baseball cards, and a gag gift-giant coaches whistle.  I also went to our local craft store and got supplies to make thank you pennants for each basket.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

What do  you all get for your kid's coaches?