Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Tidbit of Home

We always enjoy seeing things that remind us of places and people we love.  Sometimes it's the Eiffel tower decoration in a shop window, a familiar cookie package, a recipe that I can find all of the ingredients for, or a bumper sticker.  We saw this one on our way home from church on Sunday and Hyrum had to have a good picture


Neuschwanstein Castle

Saturday after our Thanksgiving feast we were all out the door by 8:20 to catch a tram, train and bus to see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, also known as Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  The castle was really amazing inside.  We weren't allowed to take pictures, so do a google search to see inside.  The interior is richly painted with large murals in every room. The architecture is amazing as well.

The tour is only about 35 minutes which was enough for the kids.  We ended up hurrying to meet Ian and Charity on the bridge so we didn't see the courtyard or really anything other than what is on the tour.  I didn't even realize we had missed it until Sunday after we got home from church.  I hope someday we back go back in the summer or late Spring.  It was a good place to see.  The crowds weren't too bad and we were able to get tickets just right for our timing.   We walked up and down and even carrying Ben, it wasn't terrible, just take it slow and enjoy the walk up the hill.  It was strange because there were a lot of Americans there.  It was strange to hear English again as a primary language spoken by people other than my children.


Everyone but Hannah and I enjoyed the views from the bridge.  There were a couple of boards that were a little too rickety for my comfort especially considering I'm not a fan of heights in the first place.  We found a secluded path through the woods for our walk back to the village.  It was quiet and smelled of Fall.  I loved it.

Thanks to Charity and Ian's selfie-stick we had all of us in the picture!!

We rode back on the top of the double-decker train.  After getting home we took the U-bahn home by way of the Christmas Market nearest our apartment.  It was fun to feel the Christmas Spirit as the brass band played and we were surrounded by happy people and the sights and smells of Christmas--spiced nuts, nutella and sausage.

We got home and started the bath process while Charity and I heated up our Thanksgiving leftovers.  It was a good day.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hyrum's brother and his family celebrated Thanksgiving with us this year.  The London Wrights were a little late arriving since Ian got slammed at work a couple weeks before they were scheduled to arrive.  We observed Thanksgiving on Friday since they didn't arrive in Munich until late-ish on Thursday night.

Friday morning Charity and I mixed, chopped, sliced, crushed and cooked with help from the kids.  We enjoyed a bit of monkey bread for breakfast and then prepped the pies--apple, pumpkin and vanilla cream  After they were mixed and baking, we chopped and prepped the food for dinner.   Charity and the kids cut up potatoes-regular and sweet, as well as the stuffing ingredients. 

I worked on the turkey. This turkey was quite an adventure.  We had to order it at a market and we picked it up on Thursday.  I usually brine my turkey but since we didn't have a bucket or a place to keep it overnight, I did some research and opted to dry-brine the bird.  Before picking up the turkey, I took inventory of our supplies and decided to double check the bag I had bought.  After opening if I discovered a 3 meter long bag that was open on both ends and not very wide.  It was clearly not for roasting turkey in.  We had a good laugh over that.  Then once I was ready to rub the turkey in salt and seasoning i pulled out the foil pans I had ordered from amazon to find the turkey looked like a toddler lounging in a toy bin, half in and half out.  I laughed but kind of panicked because I wasn't sure how we were going to cook this bird.

I went ahead and rubbed in the seasonings and Hyrum asked around at work to see if anyone had a large roasting pan we could borrow the next day.  There were no takers, so after dinner on Thursday I ran down to the shopping center to see if I could find a decently priced roasting pan that would fit our 15 lb bird.  I found a great one that was large enough for the turkey and small enough for the oven.  There may have been a happy dance involved : )

So, Friday morning I rubbed it with some butter and more fresh herbs and added some carrots, celery, garlic and onions to the chest cavity, then into the oven it went for 3 1/2 hours.   It was interesting getting a fresh turkey.  There was no plastic package of giblets, they were just sitting the in chest cavity and the heart was even still attached.  Pretty great for an anatomy lesson, not so good for whetting appetites.


After our morning prep session, Ian, Charity, Moses, Hyrum and our boys went out to see the glockenspiel at the Marienplatz and check out the Christmas market while the girls and I watched the turkey, finished up the desserts and got a few more things ready for our feast.  And feast we did.  We had a true Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.  We had ingredients from Germany, England, and the US to get us through.  We enjoyed sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, carrots, rolls, gravy, salad and of course, turkey.  We enjoyed the food but laughed as we barely ate enough to make a dent in it.


After dinner, we enjoyed a presentation the kids had put together.  It was in part for Cub Scout and Faith in God requirements but they had fun and enjoyed putting it together.  We sang songs, played games, watched an original skit, and listened to an original poem too.

It was great to be together as a family and be able to celebrate a day of thanks. We have so much to be grateful for and it was nice to spend time over the past few weeks to talk and reflect on it.  

*Special thanks to Charity for capturing and sharing most of these images.  My hands were usually a bit too gooey for picture taking.  : )

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Verkehrszentrum - Deutsches Museum

Saturday, with Hyrum, we visited another extension of the Deutsches Museum.  This one focused on land transportation.   We saw modern and early cars, motorcycles, trains, buses, trams, bicycles, horse and buggies, race cars, model trains and so much more.  The kids were in heaven, so was Hyrum!  As we were leaving, they started up the steam engine so we could see how the wheels move on the rails.  The train whistle tooted and Ben loved that.  It was a great activity for a rainy Saturday!

The Wright Brothers' (and Sister) airplane!

Deutsches Museum--Visit #2

Coming "home" and then realizing that is doesn't quite cut it is hard.  Monday this past week was terrible and I knew something had to be done.  There were some things I needed to take care of and once they were accomplished, Thursday was already here.  I decided it was time to return to the Deutsches Museum and see how many floor we could visit this time.  

Stainless Steel flip panels.

Wind and water mills.

We started on floor 0 and checked out the Foundry, Metal Works, Machinery and Electricity.  The kids were really interested in the metal.  I thought it would be a quick stop but we spent probably 30-40 minutes there as Hannah and Jonathan read every plaque.  There was a display on stainless steel including flip panels of different samples and where they were used.  It was quite interesting.  The Electricity section was probably the most excitement we had all day.  As we were wandering around we heard some crazy loud electric sounds and looking around we could see electricity arcing in the air in another room.  I think electricity is pretty cool so of course I suggested we go in for a closer look.   Well, I neglected to think about my current company and we passed into the dark room where the demonstration was going on, an even louder, crazy electric noise happened.  Ben burst into tears on the spot as did the other boys.  The girls and I were scared as well but instead of crying we laughed.  I may never know exactly what the demonstration was about but there should have been a serious warning and ear plugs.  Wow, it was loud.  

After we recovered from that shock ; )  We headed upstairs (Floor 1) to see the aviation stuff.  We'd already seen the big planes at the Flugwerft site in Schleissheim but they had a toned down version here.  There was model of one of the planes we walked through at the Flugwerft.  It was connected to piloting controls so the kids sat down and using the steering wheel and the foot pedals were able to see how the controls affect the trajectory of the plane.  We watched a short video about the first successful man powered flight in the 70's and the subsequent flight of the same team across the English Channel.   The kids loved the fact that they had seen the English channel. 

Flying practice.

Lots of flying things.

Our longest stop by far was the physics room.  There were tons of hands on displays and experiments.  I'm not the scientist like Hyrum is so I couldn't explain everything but we spent hours turning every dial, swinging every pendulum and twisting every gear.  There was another section that just happened to be open on Thursday so the older kids "painted with light"  while the little boys played with a fancy marble run.  The marbles were metal and there were lights and different electrical connections set up so the marble would complete the circuits and turn on the lights or start the propeller as it went through the run.  Ben, especially loved it. 


We spent another 5 hours there this time and we still have Space to explore!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Paris--Church and Munich Bound

Sunday rolled around and we were ready to go "home".  Our trip was wonderful but we were full and ready for something more familiar.  We got up early and had a great phone call with Hyrum's sister as she hadn't gone to bed yet for the night.   She announced her engagement so that was a great way to start the day!  We cleaned up, finished packing our stuff back up and headed off to church.

Our stuff.
It looks like so much for only 5 days but then I remember, there are seven of us.

We went to church at a ward in Paris.  The language, French.  It was nice though because they have a pretty steady influx of English speakers so there was a separate room with a closed circuit tv set up so we could watch and they piped in the translation of the meeting.  Unfortunately, halfway through, the speakers stopped working so they handed out what headsets they had.  I ended up without a headset so I spent my sacrament meeting reading conference talks which was actually really great.  Sister McConkie's talk on prayer was stellar and something I needed reminding of.

Of course, Hyrum found a familiar face.
There were actually two people he knew at church!

We attended our meeting and then hurried to the train station to catch our train back to Munich.  We had to change trains in Stuttgart with only 8 minutes to do so.  We were a little nervous until we caught that last train.  Thankfully, though our train was late, the one we were catching was even later so we had plenty of time to board it.  Our kids are pretty good travelers but we'd all kind hit our limit Sunday evening by the time we had to change trains.  I was not looking forward to another 2 hours of "sit down", "don't touch her", "quiet down" and so on.  You can imagine our surprise and delight when we arrived at our reserved seats to find them in a private enclosed compartment.  Oh it relieved so much stress.  We ate dinner and then played a couple of hands of Uno and before we knew it, it was time to disembark.  We were so grateful for that little blessing.  It made all the difference in our trip that night.

It looks like chaos and it was, but it was our own chaos!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Paris--Arc de Triomphe and L'Orangerie

Saturday was our last day to explore and take in Paris.  We started our day at the Arc de Triomphe.  Hyrum let the kids figure out what Metro route to take.  Hannah gave him a slightly round about trip so we could see the Eiffel Tower again.  They really loved the tower.  Like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc is larger and more grand than I expected.  The details are extravagant.  There was an enormous flag hung in the middle of the Arc.  It was mesmerizing to watch it ripple in the wind.

Partial view from behind
View from the front.
Tomb of the unknown soldier.
We love spiral staircases!
Again, we climbed stairs to the top of the monument.  There were a couple of different levels before getting to the terrace on the top.  Each of them had exhibits about French military history, another about arches all over the world there were exhibits, a store and a WC.  We made it to the top.  The wind was a bit chilly so the kids were done in about a minute but Hyrum loved the views and could have spent a while up there taking it all in.  
We were hiding from the wind.

After the Arc, we walked down the Champs Elysee.  It was fun and kind of crazy to see all the shops.  The day was pretty cold so we stopped into a bakery at one point to buy a treat and warm up a bit.  We bought pain au chocolate, an apple turnover, a chocolate stuffed croissant, and Hyrum and I each had a raspberry custard danish.  It was tasty.  I love laminated dough, it is so pretty, so tasty and so versatile.  I can't wait to get home and see what deliciousness I can create!

There was an animal display the kids loved.
It was like going to a life-sized, stuffed animal zoo exhibit.

Nothing says "Christmas" like coyotes in the American Southwest!

The Champs Elysee runs through a park headed into the city center and the Paris Christmas Market was up and running on Saturday.  It was fun to get our first real taste of Christmas on our walk.  I think it helped warm our hearts and lift our spirits.  The kids enjoyed the festive nature of it.  There was music on loudspeakers, interesting wares to look at and so much food.  It was a fun atmosphere.

We headed to L'Orangerie since Hannah and I both wanted to see Monet's Waterlilies.  Thankfully, our museum pass got us into the building relatively quickly so we weren't standing in the cold too long.   We wen tot eh bottom floor first and walked through the exhibits.  One was of American art from the 1930s-1950s respectively.   I enjoy impressionist painting so I really enjoyed the artwork.  The kids enjoyed it too.  The great thing about L'Orangerie is that it is small.  We were only there an hour but we saw everything-briefly but we did see it.  We enjoyed the Waterlilies as well.  There are two rooms where you are nearly surrounded by four huge canvasses.  The kids really responded to the paintings.   They loved observing the brush strokes up close and seeing the individual colors and then stepping back to see them mix into the whole picture.  
American Gothic was on display for the first time outside the US.
One of the Waterlilies paintings.

Our next stop was home.  We had seen what we wanted in Paris.  The kids had been great and patient.  It was now time to go home, pack and prepare to head back to Munich.  When we got back to the apartment, we pulled out the paper and colored pencils and using pictures on my phone, the kids made their own masterpieces.   It was fun to see them work so hard to draw and color their own pictures.  

I think they have developed an interest in art and it makes me happy!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Paris--Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Rodin Museum and Sparkly Lights!

Friday was our best day in Paris.  It was the crème de la crème of our entire trip.  The morning started with a trip to the Eiffel tower.  The kids were dying to see the Eiffel Tower so when the weather showed sun we knew it was the day.  We took the metro and you should have heard the exclamations when the train emerged above ground and we caught our first glimpses of the tower, closer than ever since our arrival.  We got off at our stop and when we got out of the station there she was, the Eiffel Tower, looming above us.  It was pretty cool.

Look at the lattice work.  It is pretty remarkable.
Up the stairs we go!
Look at that space.
We made it to the 1st level just 300+ steps to go.  
We quickly moved through the security lines and found ourselves underneath the magnificent structure.  It really is a great testament to human engineering and creativity.  We tried to get advanced tickets for the elevators but they were sold out so we decided to climb the stairs to the second level and then whomever wanted, could continue to the top.  The lines again were minimal since it was November and we were there early.

Time for a rest.  We made it to the second level but for most of us, that was enough.

Everybody (but Ben) climbed those stairs without too much trouble.  The view from the 1st level was pretty good.  After a breather we continued up to the second level.  Hannah has inherited my fear of heights and is still learning how to handle it so about 3/4 fourths of the way to the 2nd level she was feeling a little woozy.  When we arrived on the second level we quickly found an empty bench so she could sit down.  We took in the views of the city around us and then Hyrum and Charlotte made there way to the elevator that would take them up to the top.  The other kids and I were content to stay where we were.  We wandered around the shops inside to keep warm until Ben decided he just wanted to run.  Then we went back outside to wait.  Thankfully Hyrum and Charlotte weren't too long.

View from the 2nd level, down the Champs de Mars.
They made it to the top!

View from the top, opposite the Champs de Mars.

We made our way back down the stairs and after buying the kids a souvenir, Eiffel Tower key chain, we left that sight behind us for the time being.  We wandered to a playground on the Champs de Mars where we enjoyed lunch a little playtime for the kids.  Then we wandered through the park away from the tower.  We walked to Les Invalides, an old veteran hospital that is now a museum and a church which houses the ashes of Napoleon.   

We went through the exhibits on World Wars I and II since Jonathan is really interested in that right now.  It was interesting to get a European view on the wars.  I mostly tried herding Ben in the right direction and attempted to keep him from touching the artifacts.  We took a break outside for a little snack and the kids ran around the gardens before entering the church.

Napoleon's Tomb, looking from above.

Napoleon's Tomb was quite the sight.  It in below the entrance level but there is a great pit, under the dome, you look into to see it.  You can take stairs to the lower level but it is rather a tasteful but sumptuous crypt.  The walls around the tomb were carved with various sculpture depicting Napoleon as the supreme leader and center of French government.  I wasn't expecting much but it was rather impressive.  

Rodin's "The Thinker"

After that we walked to the Rodin museum in an effort to spend some time because we wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night.  It was fine, but not our favorite.  One of the great things about exposing ourselves to lots of different kind of art is that we are better able to define what we like and dislike.  Hyrum and I both decided we prefer marble sculpture to bronze.  The sculptures we saw just looked so unnatural and twisted.  It wasn't really our thing.

The owner of the restaurant.  We were excited for real Paris crêpes!

After Rodin, we went to Rue Cler, a charming street to walk down with a lot of places to eat.  We stopped a little crêperie for some dinner.  After a long perusal of the menu the kids all settled on their favorite flavor combinations and we worked on ordering.  The owner was very patient with me as we tried to communicate between my limited French and his limited English.  It was a good experience though.  The kids enjoyed their crêpes and we all enjoyed a night out in a Paris cafe.  

After dinner we made our way back to the tower.  It was truly beautiful, all lit up.  The air was full of the noise of happy people.  Laughing, singing, music all around us the sounds of life.  It was really good for my soul.  It was great to be there as a family.  At that moment, the trip had been worth it.  We walked around the tower to cross the bridge on the side opposite the Champs de Mars and can you guess how our kids responded when the lights started twinkling?  They were positively giddy.  It was really fun.  We enjoyed slowly walking across the bridge glancing back to see those lights dancing on the tower.  Across the bridge there is a museum and the lights reflected in the windows there.  It was a magical experience, one I don't think we will soon forget.

It was a lovely day.  The kids had walked a lot and we were glad to get back to the apartment but I am so glad we stayed out and had the experience.  It was a special evening.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Paris--Notre Dame and the Louvre

Point 0. This is the center of Paris and France.  It is just outside Notre Dame.
Traveling with kids means that everything takes more time and more patience.  We found we could really only do a couple of things a day and there needed to be some "playtime" in the mix.  Keeping that in mind we were kind of worried about seeing the things we wanted to see and hoping the kids would enjoy the trip.  Preparations had been stressful so we were nervous about how everything would pan out.

Hyrum kept an eye the weather to see when rain would hit and when we would have sun so we could try to be outdoors with the sun and indoors with the rain.  We managed to do that pretty well.  We really only had rain when we arrived on Wednesday.  Thursday we were planning on some rain but as the weather approached Paris, every time the rain bands would split and go around the city.  We were really grateful for that tender mercy.

We saw Notre Dame and the Louvre on Thursday.  We started off at Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was breath taking.  The architecture was just amazing, especially considering the lack of power tools and equipment.   I loved the stained glass windows.  It was fun to walk around and have the kids point out scripture stories they recognized.  Since we don't have crucifixes in our churches, the kids, especially Charlotte and Spencer, have really noticed them.  It has given us a great opportunity to talk about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


After walking around the cathedral, we climbed the tower stairs to get a closer look at the famous gargoyles.  They were amazing.  The views were pretty good too.  Paris is an enormous city.  The belfry was closed for work so we weren't able to see the big bell.  I was disappointed and I think some of the kids were too but it was a good experience anyway.

Hyrum asked for their best gargoyle faces.


After Notre Dame, we wandered around the Latin Quarter and then up to the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre.  We went to the playground in the gardens first and ate lunch there.  Then we made our way back to the Louvre.  

The Louvre is enormous and of course we knew the kids wouldn't last for the entire thing, Hyrum and I wouldn't last for the entire thing.  Hyrum found a scavenger hunt online for kids to find themed art.  The Kids picked the trail about food.  The great thing is that it keeps the kids busy and takes you by some of the Louvre Highlights.  This trip is also one we were grateful to be on in the Fall.  The crowds were really manageable.  It only felt crowded in the entrance.

We made our way through the exhibits.  We stopped to see the Venus De Milo, Mona Lisa, Wedding at Cana, Winged Victory and then many other things.  Mostly we just glanced, but Hannah and Jonathan were excited about the Mona Lisa and we all enjoyed Winged Victory.  At one point, the kids were ready for a break so we pulled out a sketch pad and colored pictures and had them draw something.  Charlotte was really into it.  They loved making their own art there in the museum.   It was fun to talk about the Wedding at Cana as well.



After a couple hours, we hurried out since Ben was having a major tantrum.  He was done and didn't calm down until he had eaten two cookies and drunk about 12 ounces of water.  All in all it was a great day.  The kids enjoyed the Louvre and we are all ready to see it again someday.

We were really nervous about the day but we've learned how our kids work and know when to push and when to give in.  We had planned another stop for the day but after Notre Dame it was clear that another church would not be a good idea.  Flexibility is so crucial when traveling with kids.  We adjusted expectations and it paid off.