Wednesday, August 31, 2011

bedtime shenanigans


I never know what I'm going to find when I check on the boys before I go to bed...  you'd never believe the room started out (mostly) clean.  All the things on the floor were evidence of the what they did while going to bed.  And Nathan and Jared even ended up asleep on the floor.  In this picture, Weston is asleep in the pack 'n play - he doesn't usually sleep in there, but when we have guests in the "baby room", they all go in one room.

And other times I find them together in the same bed:

I guess it doesn't matter too much as long as they go to sleep!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ray and Warren

We've enjoyed visits from family this summer - some for 2 hours, some for 2 days, some for 2 weeks.  No matter the length, we love seeing family.  Ray and Warren, Alex's aunt and uncle, stayed with us for 2 weeks - we hope you enjoyed your time here!  Thanks for making the trek all the way from Florida.  Ray and Warren are great with tech support, so they fixed most of our computers and gadgets.  They even set up wireless for us, which we hadn't bothered to do yet.  And (perhaps unfortunately)  :) they got the Leap Frog video game working again, and the boys are hooked to that.  At least I have a new motivator for chores, as they will be earning time on the game.  Warren also introduced Nathan to on-line chess and played several games with him, coaching him on strategy.  I thought the boys might run them off, especially since the boys don't understand personal space, but I guess they didn't mind too much having them constantly looking over their shoulder or playing with toys in their room.  I did take the boys on some extra outings for the good of all...

Ray & Warren did some of their own exploring, we took them to the beach a couple of times, and they took us out to eat at a yummy pizza place and a great Italian place downtown.  Alex did a few little trips with them as well.  We also enjoyed homemade dinner on our anniversary, the house special, "Ray's Rotel-Roni" (okay, I made up the name...) but it was a very tasty spaghetti with pepperoni and Rotel.  (They also didn't know it was our anniversary, but it worked out nice to have them make dinner that night.)  Thanks!  We hope you enjoyed our "bed-and-make-your-own-breakfast" with little critters running around.  ;)



(thanks for taking our picture Ray!)



on our 11th anniversary

Sunday, August 28, 2011

summer stuff

After our Europe trip, I had a chance to just hang out with the boys.  The rest of the summer we spent going to the library, the park, the zoo, and lots of playing.

The boys loved playing in the tree house papa built, but sadly (and a little to my relief) we had to take it down.  Our landlord was concerned about someone getting hurt on the property - I was a little worried about it too, so it wasn't too hard for me, but the boys were sad.  Nathan wanted to draw a picture of it before we took it down.  I actually had to get up in the tree to help take it down.  





The weather here is so nice all year round (I know many of you have had really hot yucky summers - sorry), but we have been taking full advantage of the beautiful weather at different parks.  I even let the boys ride a carousel, which sadly was their very first time riding one.  I have always rejected their plea to ride since the price to ride seemed a lot for the time they get to ride.  Even though it was $2 each for 5 minutes, it was worth it to see the joy on their faces.  I underestimated how much they would enjoy it and how it was the highlight of their day.

Weston LOVES being outside and he thinks he a big kid.  He's starting to climb and play on the playground equipment - this is the age that makes me really nervous.  He's big enough to get UP, but you have to watch him constantly so he doesn't come DOWN wrong.



I'm still the activity day leader at church.  One of our activities this summer was tie dye t-shirts (thanks Kaitlyn for showing us how to do it).  I did some for the boys (out of their stained white shirts).  Here's my tie-dye crew.



Another park... Weston toppled over on the pine needles and decided to just lounge around for a while on the cozy bed of pine needles.  Meanwhile, the rest of the crew decided to pile the pine needles on the slide and plow through them.  I love how easily entertained they are.



We had to see the dinosaur at the zoo - a few different times!  The boys didn't seem to mind seeing the show again.  My favorite is still the elephants.  The boys enjoyed the play area, where they could slide down a hill on cardboard.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

friends...

...come and go.


We miss you!  Jared's "buddy Tru" and his family moved this summer.  Carrie and Tyson have 4 boys and 1 girl (Taylee, the girl Owen's age, and the newborn boy Tripp weren't in the picture above.)  The boys had so much fun playing with this crew.  I guess it's a good thing they moved though... their boys had too much of an influence on our boys.  I remember one conversation Nathan and Jared had.  Jared said something like, "Tru knows everything." Nathan corrected him, saying Tru didn't know everything, but Trey does.   :)  Trey is the oldest boy, a couple years older than Nathan.  And the mischief they got into together... the time Jared and Tru found a steak knife in Tru's backyard and they were running around with it... and the time Jared got a bloody ear while rough housing on their trampoline... and the boys trying to ride tricycles down the slope in our backyard... and Trey getting cut while climbing over our barb wire fence to fetch a ball... and the boys rigging up a bucket swing in our tree and attempting to "pulley up" Taylee and Owen...  Nathan and Jared really looked up to these boys.  Yep, just too much influence, too much mischief, too much fun!  Good thing they moved.   ;)

Really though, I'm really grateful for this family - they have moved around A LOT (I think this was their 20th move in 11-12 years of marriage?).  I'm glad one stop was in our "port" because this family was just what I needed to help make a smooth transition from our move last year.  Carrie and I swapped baby-sitting quite a bit and we were also visiting teaching companions.  At times when Alex was out of town, Carrie watched the boys so I could go jogging or to the grocery store.  Their family was also a great example, particularly of service.  If there was a service opportunity, they were there. If someone needed a meal, they provided one.  There was one service project that our ward participated in that involved manual labor.  Carrie, about 8.75 months pregnant, was there with her kids (without her husband who was working that morning).  She would have had the best excuse not to be there, but not only was she there, but she never sat down all morning - we were there for about 3 hours.  Just amazing.

I think the one flaw with this family is that they only have one girl - only one chance of merging families... at least we have a few good men to choose from...  :)

It's good to have friends who just seem to understand you and put up with your flaws (I really am too busy to get to the phone most of the time....)  and friends who would drop everything if you ever needed anything (in fact, when Jared had to get stitches, I was chastised for NOT calling her to watch the other kids).  Thanks for your friendship!  We hope move #21 will be BACK to here...



Sunday, August 14, 2011

buzz!

I finally gave Weston his first haircut, although no scissors were involved.  It was much safer to use the buzzer on a moving target.  After dinner, he was headed to the bath anyway, so I decided to give him a haircut.  I should have at least washed off his face, since we were taking pictures, but didn't think about that.  He's just a mess.  He wasn't thrilled about getting his haircut, but I think it turned out okay considering he wasn't sitting still through most of it.  Nathan tried to entertain him by making faces and noises at his feet.  It was pretty much chaos, but we got the job done.  Although he did look cute with the longer hair that sometimes curled, it was just becoming a mess as he got food and dirt stuck in it.  I think he looks pretty handsome with his haircut.




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Thursday, August 11, 2011

hot dog anyone?



This is what happens when your 2 year old tries to warm up his own hot dog in the microwave...

Monday, August 8, 2011

souvenirs

We didn't bring back very many souvenirs from our trip, but we did bring home 4 wooden swords.  The boys were pretty excited.  Even Weston seemed to know what to do with it - poke things and people.  We may regret bringing these home...


Friday, August 5, 2011

Europe - day 10

We were hoping to "go out with a bang" - but instead it was more like a fizzle, a balloon deflating... we spent most of the day staring out the window of the Glacier Express at rain and clouds.  We had to make advance reservations for the trip, so unless we wanted to blow off the money we spent, we had to go.  We still saw some pretty landscape, but it wasn't nearly the spectacular scenery that it should have been.  The best part was probably our lunch - yummy soup and bread.  We had the goulash soup a couple different times, and it was really good.  Our Glacier Express began in Zermatt and ended in Chur (about a 6 hour trip).


We headed back through Zurich - we wandered around the city, pushed our way through the crowds.  Too many people for us.  We bought some really expensive chocolate from the famous Sprungli shop.  The 4 pieces below were about $7 - they were good, but I wouldn't buy them again for that price.  The whole city was VERY expensive.  


When we got back to Bern, we headed over to the bear park (Baren Park), which someone told us we had to see.  We didn't know about it previously, so we hoped we could see it before we left.  It started pouring just after we got there, but I snapped a few pictures.  The bear is essentially Bern's mascot, and bears have been kept in the city since 1513.  The legend is that a bear was the first animal to be caught by the city's founder during a hunting expedition, so that's how the city got its name (in 1191).  "Baren" is the German plural of "bears".  In 1513, a living bear was carried home with spoils of war in a triumphal procession of winning the Battle of Novara.  They kept the bear in a pit in the city.  From that time, bears have been in the city for all but about 7 years (when the French kidnapped them and moved them to Paris in 1798).  At times there have been 12 or more bears in the Bern Bear Pit, but they are no longer kept in the legendary bear pit.  In 2009, they opened up a park for the bears.  Pretty cool tradition and fun to see bears in the middle of the city!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Europe - day 9

On Friday, Alex was busy with his conference, so I had the day to do something.  I got up early and headed down to Zermatt.  I took the train to Gornegrat Station (a 45 minute ride up).  It was a beautiful morning and I enjoyed the views of the Matterhorn.  From there, I headed back to the Interlaken area, hoping the weather would hold up.  It didn't.  The clouds moved in and it wasn't worth it to take a cable car ride to any of the peaks.  I got a closer look at Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen and then headed back to Bern.



In the evening, we were able to go to the Bern, Switzerland Temple.  We really enjoyed it - of course it was in German, so we had to wear headphones to translate into English.  What was amazing was half of the other people also had to use headphones - there were at least 5 different languages - German, English, French, Spanish, and Italian.  And I think these were "locals" - there's quite a few different languages just in Switzerland and the area the temple serves.  It was amazing to think that the Lord was hearing each of these languages, and the covenants and promises are the same no matter the language.  The Lord hears us and loves us all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Europe - day 8

This day was supposed to be one of our most scenic.  We planned to see the Interlaken area and take a cogwheel train to the top of Jungfraujoch (the "Top of Europe") - but it was rainy...  the webcam at the top showed nothing but white.  We decided not to pay $200 to see clouds.  What we did see instead was  Trummelbach Falls, which were pretty amazing - glacier waterfalls inside a mountain.  We took a lift inside the mountain and then walked through the tunnels and out onto the platforms to see the falls twisting and rushing through the rocks.  Pretty cool.


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We weren't sure what else to do - we did get some peeks at the peaks. 


By lunchtime it was drizzly and yucky and you couldn't see anything, so I took pictures of wildflowers and birds and of Staubbach Falls.  And we ate.  Since we weren't spending $$ on the cable car rides, we figured we could spend $45 for lunch and dessert.  We tried Rosti, which is like hashbrowns with cheese.  This dish had a fried egg on top as well.  It was pretty good, and it felt good to have food in my tummy, since we'd mostly been scrimping on meals.    
  

It was still cloudy in the afternoon, so we decided to take a boat ride.  Turned out to be a really relaxing thing to do (and it was free, since we had a Swiss Pass).  It was a 3 hour ride (if I'm remembering correctly) on Lake Brienz.  We thought about getting off on the other side of the lake and taking the train back, but we're glad we stayed on.  Despite just going back the way we came, this time we saw a cool rainbow - one nice little benefit of the rain.  And what was cool was you could see both ends of it.   


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Europe - day 7

On Tuesday evening, the place we stayed at was actually in Austria, in a little town called Jungholz.  The GPS couldn't find the address we put in, but at least we got to the town and then a kind German lady who was out walking in the rain was able to point us in the right direction.  We were lucky to find it because we forgot to print out directions.  It was one of our more enjoyable places to stay - it was cheaper than any of our other accommodations and it included breakfast.  That was huge, since most of the places charged about $15 each for breakfast, which meant we didn't eat breakfast usually or had store bought muffins.  It was also run by a family, and the friendly gentleman had 4 kids, so we had something in common.  

Our plans to do the luge (on wheels) for Wednesday was spoiled by rain, so we decided to drive to the tiny country of Liechenstein.  Who can say they've been to Liechenstein?  The country is in between Austria and Switzerland with Germany to the north but not bordering Germany.  We visited the capital, Vaduz, and got our passports stamped in the Liechenstein Center.  We were only there for about an hour.  


We then headed towards Zurich Airport to return our rental car, but stopped at Rhine Falls on the way.  Rhine Falls is near Schauffhausen and not far from Zurich.  Pretty neat falls - nothing spectacular, but we enjoyed seeing them.



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From Zurich, we began our train travel.  The transportation system is really amazing in Switzerland.  It was easy to get around by trains, trams, or bus, and the Swiss Rail Pass allowed us to use any of those.  By Wednesday evening, we were in Bern, the location of Alex's second conference.  We walked around the city for a little bit in the evening.  At first I wasn't too impressed, but it does seem to have a certain charm to it and the lights at night were pretty.  We had a 7 minute train ride from the city center to the front door of our hotel, which was connected to a mall.  We were in for a shock when we went to get something to eat.  We wandered around the restaurants in the mall and everything was so expensive.  We finally settled on an italian place, and I ordered the cheapest pasta dish on the menu.  It was about 12 swiss francs, which was about $15 US dollars.  For that amount, I was expecting to get a lot of food.  Nope.  It was a small bowl of pasta with a couple of tomatoes on it.  Alex got a pizza for about the same price, which was pretty much like cardboard with a little bit of cheese on it.  We never ordered a drink anywhere - the sodas were about $5.75.  We ended up eating cheeseburgers from McDonald's a few times, because they were only about $3.25 (for the $1 menu burgers).  Luckily the grocery stores weren't as bad and we bought some things for breakfast.  I think we still ended up missing a meal every day we were in Switzerland, either for lack of time or trying to save money.   

Monday, August 1, 2011

Europe - day 6

While in Germany, we had to have the German autobahn experience.  In general, on the autobahn (freeway) they don't have speed limits, although they do post recommended speeds.  I think what happens is you don't get speeding tickets, but if you're in an accident and were going over the posted speed, insurance will not cover you.  The recommended speed in many places is about 80 mph - it's pretty crazy.  They drive SO FAST.  You don't want to get in the way either.  They don't go around - they push through.  Actually I think it's illegal to pass on the right most of the time anyway.  Luckily they drive on the same side of the road as us (it was tricky in Scotland for Alex to drive a standard on the left side of the road - I don't know how he managed the gear shift with his left hand.)  Anyway, we had about a 5 hour drive from Cochem down to southern Germany, so Alex had a chance to cruise along the autobahn.  He got up to about 120 mph in a few places.  Most of the time we were going the recommended speed, although in a few open areas, Alex tested out how fast he could go.  We made sure there wasn't much traffic around while flying down the road at 120mph.  It wouldn't go much faster and we were on a downhill slope when he got to 195km.  Really crazy and dangerous!  We were driving in this Golf VW car (without hubcaps) that had 6 gears.  You'll see he almost got to 200km.  


Our itinerary for the day was to tour a couple of castles in southern Germany, near Fussen in Bavaria.  We mostly wanted to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II (also known as Mad King Ludwig).  We also saw Hohenschwangau, which was Ludwig's boyhood home.  Both were impressive, but Neuschwanstein was just incredible.  It was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle and other Walt Disney castles.  We couldn't take pictures inside the castles, but the intricate details of the painting and architecture were just amazing.  The N castle was built in honor of and inspired by the composer Richard Wagner, so many of the paintings were characters from Wagner's operas.  The story of the castle and Mad King Ludwig is an interesting one.  (I had to go back and look up some of the details.)

Ludwig II became king of Bavaria at the age of 18.  He later began construction of the N castle, but it was never fully completed inside (I think he actually only lived there for about 6 months). Ludwig had gone heavily into debt with the construction of castle, and instead of halting work on it, he pressed on trying to force loans from all of Europe's royalty.  When threatening to dismiss his entire cabinet, they decided to act first and try to de-throne Ludwig by means of declaring him unfit to rule.  They succeeded and he was declared mentally insane (without a medical exam) and he was to be replaced on the throne.  Shortly after that declaration, Ludwig was found dead (at the age of 40).  He and the physician who had proclaimed him insane were found floating in a lake near Munich, a mysterious death (likely murder/suicide, but there were controversial reports).  

Anyway, whether he was actually insane or not is unknown, but his eccentric personality contributed to this incredible design of the N castle.  It's interesting - he meant the castle to be a private refuge, but only about 7 weeks after his death, it was opened to the public.  And now millions of people have been through there - I think more than one million visitors every year!  



Overlooking the N castle is a bridge, called Marienbrucke, which Ludwig II's father built as a present for his wife Marie (hence Mary's Bridge).  Ludwig later replaced the wooden bridge with steel. We loved the view of the N castle from the bridge.  (I have a picture of the H castle in this collage too - the small yellow blob, but you couldn't actually see it from the bridge.)