Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Halloween isn't really celebrated/observed here.  The younger generation is beginning to embrace it but it's not terribly popular.  We did have four trick or treaters ring our buzzer but it was pretty low key.

Ben wasn't really sure what to make of this activity.

Oh, the pumpkin slime!!
Our kids really enjoy Halloween, mostly for the candy but we enjoy finding/making costumes and I like trying to find fun food to eat for dinner before we go out trick'o'treating.  Several weeks ago, Hannah asked if we could have a party.  The kids were really understanding about the lack of costumes and cultural observance so we planned a little party.  

The final Jack'o'lantern and our bones for dessert.
We put up decorations, everyone made a hat, or mask, or had one made for them and we bought a pumpkin.  Monday, Hyrum came home a bit early and helped the kids with the pumpkin carving while I made dinner.  We enjoyed lunch meat and cheese, dressed up as mummies, "Pumpkin Potion" (orange colored fruit punch with Sprite), "Invisibility Potion" (water), and pumpkin carrots.  (I cut the carrots to look like pumpkins.)  I also made meringue bones for our treat.  We were suppose to have apple monster mouths but I ran out of apples.  It was a fun meal especially since we all put on our hats/masks. 

After dinner, we played a few games.  Charade, Halloween guessing game and Halloween-basket-upset.  The kids got candy for participating.  There was also a special song by Hannah, Jonathan and Charlotte and a dance party.  I think we were able to satisfy everyone's Halloween itch and best of all, there is no giant bowl of candy begging to be eaten!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Zugspitze--The Top of Germany

Saturday we had a family adventure to Zugspitze, the highest point of Germany and a mountain in the Bavarian Alps.  We took a train south to a city called Garmisch-Partenkirchen where we transferred to another train that took us into the mountains to another small town called Eibsee.  In Eibsee we boarded a cable car to go up the mountain.  The views were incredible.  There were a lot of clouds but it certainly didn't affect the beautiful scenery around us.

Train ride there.  So much beauty and all they wanted to do was read.

The cable car took us up and up until we plunged into the clouds.  The cables looked like they were taking us straight up.  It was a little disconcerting.  A couple of the kids were really bothered by the cable car but we made it.  The views from the top were almost non-existent.  The clouds were thick and murky while we were there.  It was also really cold.  There was snow and ice on the pavement at the observation tower.  After looking around a bit in building on the German part of the mountain, we walked over o the Austrian building.  It was kind of fun to think we could just walk across the border like that.

After that we took another cable car down beneath the clouds to an area with a restaurant, toilets, and sleds.  There was a toboggan run and sleds for people to use.  The kids had a blast doing that.  Hyrum even went down once.  The sledding made up for the cable car ride.  Ben took a nap while they did that and then ate lunch when he woke up.  The views were amazing and we were all in awe as we looked around.

I love that foliage.
The ride down the mountain was long.  We decided to take the train since the kids really didn't like the cable car on the way up.  We spent about 25 minutes cruising through a tunnel.  I dozed.  We caught our train back and eventually made it home around 6 that night.  It was a great day even with the bumps along the way.

Mountains and lake as seen from the cable car on our way up.

Toboggan Run

The star marks the top of the mountain.  We couldn't get there as the
path was closed for construction and also required better gear than our sneakers.


The view from the top at one moment.  The clouds came and went all day.
They broke pretty good as we were headed home.
We didn't think the kids would let us drag them beck to the top for a really good picture though.

Welcome to Austria! We got a new country by walking down the walkway behind us!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Birthday time!

Happy as a clam with her vanilla, vanilla cake and M&M 6 on top!

We've had a birthday!  Miss Charlotte turned 6 last week and we loved celebrating with her.  For weeks she's been correcting us when we say she is six and now that she really is, she can't seem to remember! Charlotte is sweet, spunky, talkative, funny and the life of the party.  She's a great kid.  We celebrated a couple of days early since Hyrum would be out of town on her birthday but she loved it all the same.  I made a cake, we had pizza for dinner and she opened a few presents.  We sang a few times through out the day as well.

The craft set was a huge hit.  Now our kitchen table is tinted yellow : (

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Deutches Museum

Last week we visited the popular Deutches Museum.  It is a museum of science and technology.  There are 8 floors of exhibits.  We were there 4 hours and only made it to the bottom floor.  We stopped for lunch and several bathroom breaks but the museum itself was very interesting.  We bought a membership pass so we look forward to exploring the remaining museum over the next couple of months.

Cool ships.  We didn't stop, it's on the agenda for our next trip.

We saw the mine, marine navigation and oceanography sections.  There were enough buttons to push and things to do the kids were all interested.  We did spend a bit of time in the children's play area where the kids built houses of huge lego-like pieces.

The ropes are pulley systems with various numbers of pulleys
for the kids to explore the physics of the pulley.

Again, everything was in German so we didn't get a lot of the minute details.  We had names of objects and in some places there were more detailed explanations.  We all enjoyed the mines and the marine navigation.

There were a lot of people at the coatroom check in but I didn't feel overwhelmed or crowded.  We stopped in museum shop and they had a lot of really great educational learning toys (pricey but cool).  It was good day out.

The Fall colors are coming out.  This was just outside the museum.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tierpark Hellabrun (Hellabrun Zoo)

The King of the Jungle x2--My kids asked interesting questions about
lion mating habit since there were no females. The zoo is good for so many things. 

Today we went to the zoo.  We've tried really hard to do things that are different, that we can't do at home, but I knew the kids would love it.  The weather was great, a bit cool thins morning but perfect for being outdoors and walking around.  I feel like another benefit of going when it's cooler is that the animals are more active because they aren't trying to survive the heat.  (It could be my imagination and trying to transfer my dislike of heat to the animals, though)

There were 4 giraffes.  They were cool, Ben especially loved it.
I couldn't tear him away.

I told the kids this morning we were going to the zoo there were a couple of cheers.  We hurried to get ready and were out the door by 9.  We rode a bus, the U-bahn, and then another bus, but it was just our luck that we arrived at each transit location just as the vehicle we wanted was pulling away so it took a bit longer than expected to get there.  Once in, we were off.  It is a large zoo but I think we saw everything.  We even made time to stop at two playgrounds.  We spent at least 5 1/2 hours there today.  We saw lots of different animals that we'd not seen before unfortunately we didn't always know what they were since most of the placards were only in German.

These pelicans were really fun to watch.  

This was a portion of the Maus Haus.
Too cute to watch the mice scurry around the little houses,

Coral reef with shark.  Jonathan was in heaven.

This rope bridge led us to the second playground of the day.

This baby seal was really cute.  It saw the crowd forming to watch the others
swim and I think he wanted to do a show, or maybe just food.
He got up on that rock and then the platform next to it and just did his thing. 
I felt like the enclosures were well kept and good sized.  The animals looked healthy too, though of course I know nothing about what would really be appropriate.  There weren't a lot of people there either so I could relax a bit as the kids ran and exclaimed to their hearts content.  We had a good time and I think they were a little worn out by the end.  They were even, pretty good while we did our daily shopping : )

The kids were a little turned off by the baboons pink bottoms, but we were all a little freaked out when they started screeching and pointing in our general direction, even more so when they started running away.  We're not sure what scared them but it was an interesting experience.

As you can see this is the Bat Cave.  I just love the German though,
a direct translation is Flying (fleder) Mouse (mouse) Grotto (grotte).

R.O.U.S.--not really sure what it really was
Playground #1 and lunch spot.

These statues were everywhere.
 Charlotte loves to climb on them and pose, so does everyone else.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Our First Foray into the City

Today we ventured further than the grocery store.  Hyrum took us to some of the places he's been over the past several years while here on business.  We got off the tram at the Karlsplatz and wound our way to St. Michael's Kirche (kirche=church in German), Frauenkirkirche and onto the Marienplatz and a look at the famous clock tower and glockenspiel.  We popped into Peter's Kirche for a few minutes but there was a worship service going on and Ben wasn't cooperating with the call for silence : )

Karls Tor

I just loved the flower boxes.

We found catfish to play in, stones to climb on, wonderful musicians on every corner, pretzels, surfers and playgrounds.  It felt good to get out the apartment to do something besides grocery shopping.  We spent several hours in the Englischer Garten (English Garden), the largest urban park in the world.  It was so peaceful and green.  I forgot I was in the city.

This clarinetist was awesome. 

Catfish statue outside the hunting and fishing museum.

Fountain, pool thing near Peterskirche.  The kids loved the stones they could scramble on.

Hyrum shared historical information with us and I look forward to learning more.  My experience with Germany is largely what we learn in school about WWI and WWII but there so much more to the country than that.  Bavaria, the state Munich is in, has such a rich cultural heritage and I look forward to leaning more about it.

New City Hall at the Marienplatz.

This gentlemen was very good too.

This was probably our favorite musician.  He was playing water glasses, really well.

Surfers at the Englischer Garten.

Sunset from our apartment.

I forgot to add that people occasionally ask to take pictures of and with our family because of our hair color.  Today, we had a three oriental women each take turns posing with us.  The kids were totally wigged out but we smiles anyway.  Talk about cultural experience! 

Some Days . . .

 . . . You just have to dance!

The kids wanted to the song "It's all about the Bass."  I'm not a fan of the original lyrics so we turned on the baseball edition and a dance party was born!

Our playlist:
It's All About that Bass. Baseball Edition!!
Hooked on a Feeling
The Numa Numa Song
That Thing You Do
Joy to the World

Good times were had by all!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hallo München!

We arrived in Germany on Monday evening and went through the initial meltdown phase in trying to establish our household in yet another local.  This post has actually been really hard to write.  I am well aware of my limitations in preparation for this trip and in no way think the American way the only right way to do things, but yet my emotions and experiences over the past few days have left me feeling quite homesick and uncomfortable.  While coming to terms with the language barrier and the difference of life around me, my feelings when written on paper seem to convey a bit of entitlement mindset, I really don't espouse.  My efforts to write about our first week here have been a bit futile, but here it is now.

Colorful houses across from the park.

I listened to an interview this evening about traveling as a family.  The woman in the interview mentioned the challenges and discomfort that comes with traveling with children as one of the great rewards or benefits of travel.  I have felt the challenge and discomfort this past week.  It is such a lonely feeling to walk into a store where you can't read a single label, and where the culture isn't an overly friendly one.  Add to that there are not many people that will openly admit to speaking your language and it is really hard to feel comfortable in such a place.  Grocery shopping here had truly been a cultural experience from the lack of cold cereal to the large refrigerator compartment of different sausages and the fact that Colby Jack cheese doesn't exist here (my kids are dismayed).  So many things are different, I have found it hard to see the similarities and joys of the experience.

One of the sidewalks we will be come familiar with.

Our time here has been spent primarily in our apartment.  We were blessed to find a great place in the city, close enough for Hyrum to walk to the office.  There are several stores and parks near by as well so location wise things are great.  I have been to the grocery store everyday and a trip takes quite a while since I have ti try to decipher food labels and put together decent meals.  Yesterday we ventured out to a fabric store, that led us on a grander quest for balloons and glue. (We had a craft project today, more on that later)  We ended up in a department store which was a secret blessing.  We bought a few toys for the kids to help keep them occupied as it gets colder here along with our needed supplies.  Today, we made it to the park after our box of winter coats arrived.

I love Fall.  These leaves were stunning on the side of this building.

It is certainly an adventure and I think it will be a good one.  We're settling in and hopefully next week we'll get out a bit more and explore this city we call home for the next few months.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weekend with Prophets and Apostles

General Conference was last weekend and was different this year than other.  Mostly because we are 7 hours removed from Salt Lake.  It was strange to spend Saturday and Sunday doing our normal things. (Sunday we had friends over for lunch instead of dinner)  We ate dinner a bit earlier those days since Conference started at 5 pm.  Saturday, after a bit of deliberation, Hyrum and i did watch the Saturday afternoon session.  I am so glad I did.  It was an answer to prayers.  The Priesthood session was a little late for Hyrum--1 am--so he watched that Sunday morning instead.

Play video

It was a great weekend and a good time with our family and friends.  I am so grateful for living prophets.  I learn something about the gospel and myself every time we watch and listen to their words. Today I was pondering 2 Nephi 32:3.  I believe that the men and women who spoke during conference are those angels and they speak the words of Christ.  Their words will draw us near to God and a happier life now and in the life to come.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Giant's Causeway and the Carrack-a-Rede

Our morning started a bit earlier than I wanted but all's well that ends well as they say and we were up and out the door by 9:20 this morning armed with jackets, snacks, lunch and water.  Our first stop for the day's adventure was the Giant's Causeway.  This is a basalt rock formation in Northern Ireland from a volcanic eruption many tens of millions of years ago.  Through the millennia erosion has caused these rocks to weather in a geometric pattern of 3-9 sided figures, always forming Y connections where rocks meet.  We all had a ball scampering around on the rocks.  first down to the sea then up on a larger formation then back down again.  One of the highlights of the day was watching a pod of dolphins swimming out at the mouth of the bay.  We watched them for probably a good 15 minutes.  It was fun to hear the stories of the giant, Finn MacCool and his feud Scottish giant that required him to build the causeway and the other stories about different parts of the area.  The kids were enthralled.  It was, yet again, rugged and wild but awesome!!

After Giant's Causeway, we drove up the road two trips and a stagger as they say here to the Carrak-a-Rede Rope Bridge.  It is a rope bridge to an island used by salmon fishermen not so long ago.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it across but thankfully, I had to be strong to get Spencer across.  He only thought I was talking to him as I encouraged us both just to keep watching Hyrum's head in front of us.  It was gorgeous though.  The views were great and it was well worth the time.

The water was so clear and blue.
It was like being in the tropics but we knew the water was freezing.

We had a good day on our last adventure here in Ireland and the United Kingdom.  Monday we move on to Germany and our adventures on the Continent.  Stay tuned for our Germany adventures!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Away to the North

Today our road trip took us north to Northern Ireland.  That makes our country count 4 for those keeping track at home.

We wound around through the mountains, past lakes and fjords, through pasture land, forests and barren deserted brush land.  Time after time we could see the sea to our left.  Mostly we just enjoyed the drive an talked about what we saw.  Every bend in the road brought another beautiful and interesting site.  We made brief stops for lunch at a playground and Donegal Castle.  The kids did a pretty good job looking out their windows, talking, singing and playing together.

Donegal Castle
A seat made out of a tree trunk at the castle.

The cross commemorates the hardship the people of Louisburgh during the Potato Famine.  600 people walked 12 miles from Louisburgh to Delphi Lodge to find relief from their starvation.  They were turned away and 200 of them died on the way back. 

Conemarra National Park and the Farm

We woke up Thursday morning to a brisk wind with just a bit of a chill to it.  We were staying at a farm and so as soon as they were dressed the kids went out in search of fresh egg for breakfast.  To their chagrin, they didn't find any so it was cold cereal and toast for them.

After a bit of an emotional breakdown, we loaded the car and drove to Conemarra National Park.  We were ready to do some walking and Hannah, Hyrum and I all secretly wanted to climb Diamond Hill, maybe Jonathan too, but it was too windy with the little kids.  We did a walk just shy of two miles.  We hiked through bog land and loved the views into the mountains and out to the sea.  The kids enjoyed it as well though Spencer was afraid of being "winded over" because of the wind and Ben spent  about a third of it crying.  He really hates the wind.  I turned him frontwards in the Ergo though and he calmed down and even fell asleep.  Jonathan kept a look out for wildlife so he could pass off cub scout requirements.

Diamond Hill 

After our hike, we stopped at the playground for some running around and lunch.  The kids love teeter-totters and we all had fun with the ones at the playground.  They also had these tilted-spinning-bucket seats that the kids love playing in.  Even Ben got in on it this time.  He loves being able to navigate the playground on his own.

We made our way back to the cottage we were renting via the Sky Road Drive, again, gorgeous.

When we got back the kids wandered around the farm outside.  They played in the tree house, fed pigs, chased chickens, pedaled the go karts, fed/terrorized the cats and dogs and just thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Our hosts have six kids so our kids and their youngest two kids quickly bonded and spent at least a couple of hours playing together.  Their older kids spent some time practicing their horse jumping and riding.  We spent a few minutes mesmerized by that.  It was nice to lay low and just enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.  We enjoyed talking to our host and swapping stories about our lives.
The day stayed cool and windy but the kids loved it.  We put them to bed and they were sound asleep within minutes.  It's amazing what a hard day of playing can do for the mind and body.