Sunday, April 13, 2014

Brussels

After visiting Brookes' grave, we made the hour drive to Brussels.  Unfortunately, we rolled in right in time for 5 o clock traffic.  And our hotel was located right downtown.  So, an hour more of driving, and we finally located our hotel.  Then it was time to figure out how to park.  Yikes!!  Imagine driving a minivan through streets designed for, oh i don't know, bikes, maybe?!  Not fun.  We basically stopped the car in the middle of a dead end street while Nathan checked in the office of the Theatre Hotel.  The actual apartment we were sleeping in was down the street, and up 5 floors on the most ghetto elevator I had ever seen.  After some complicated maneuvering of luggage, kids, and a minivan, we were all finally in the hotel room together at about 7:30 pm.  So we definitely hadn't planned on getting there that late.  Buuut, since we were only staying in Brussels for the night, we packed everyone back up and headed out to the streets for a little night-time exploration of the city.  I will just say that the first 10 minutes of our walk were not ideal...in fact I think Nathan and I were both praying that we wouldn't get mugged.  It was just a dirty city, lined with prostitutes and sketchy looking people.  Not the place  you want to be walking around in with your 3 little kids at night.  We were not impressed--at all.  But when we finally made it to the Grand Palace...we took it all back.  It was incredible.  All of the hassle of the evening was worth it.  The pictures won't do it justice (they never do!)...but we just loved the ambience in that square.  I think the evening lights helped make it even cooler.  We walked around, bought some chocolate and Belgian Waffles, and visited the Manneken Pis.  Not that great.  Pis, that is---the food was amazing.  Then we gathered the courage to book it back through the sketchy part of town to our hotel at about 10 pm.  The next two hours consisted of getting our wired children to go to sleep, and trying to convince an 11 month old that she should just lay still on the bed with mom and dad because the hotel didn't have the packnplay that was promised to us :(.  Never leaving home without one again!  Nevertheless, we ended up having a fun night, and we survived another adventure with the kiddos.  Brussels--check.









This was the CUTEST Chocolate shop I ever did see!!!  I died.







Piano in the lobby of our hotel.
The trek to the parking garage in the morning--a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  Tired.

Brookes Lee

Nathan has been getting into his Family History lately.  He rediscovered his grandma, Mona Larson's,  life story that she had given us a few years back.  He's been reading it like crazy and telling me all the fun stories!  He also learned some more about his Great Uncle, Mona's brother.  Brookes died in WWII on a Bomber plane.  He was buried in an American Cemetery in Lieges, Belgium.  As soon as we found that out, we just had to go!  It was a really neat experience for us.  The cemetery was really beautiful and peaceful.  We had a tender moment sitting there, thinking about the sacrifices that Brookes made for our freedom.  Nathan read from Mona's book to the kids.  It was a moment we will always remember.  


The man working at the cemetery put some sand from the Beaches of Normandy on the gravestone, so that we could see the words better.  We were also able to get a grave rubbing.



Violet may have been pouting a little...but we like to pretend she was just being especially reverent like we asked her to be.  :)



Sunday, April 6, 2014

March

At first thought, as I tried to recollect our experiences over the past month, I was not feeling very optimistic.  I feel as if we have been struggling with one health fiasco after another.  Not to mention, the never ending, lingering 'cold/flu' that seems to hit this time of year.  But after looking through our pictures, I realized we still had a lot of fun in between.  I probably need to learn something from that...and start having a better attitude and showing more gratitude for what we have.  We have been listening to General Conference today, and Elder Uchtdorf's talk really hit home.  I want to be the person who truly has an attitude of gratitude, no matter the circumstances.  We are so blessed.  And I truly do feel that way.  There is no other place I would rather be right now, and no other people I would rather be sharing my time with right now.  My little family is so special to me--I love them more than I can say.  And my faith in the Gospel gets me through the occasional bumps in the road--for that I am especially grateful.  

Around the beginning of the month, Germany celebrated their version of Mardi Gras, called Fasching.  We heard about a parade in Ramstein village, so I braved the crowds along with the three kiddos.  I do feel like I am getting better at going everywhere and anywhere with all three.  We have had a lot of practice since moving here ;).  It was a gorgeous day.  Sunny and warm.  And everyone was healthy!  So we had a fabulous time.  We found some friends from the ward and stood together while watching the parade.  The people in the parade just walk down the road literally throwing candy at everyone (as in, I got pelted in the head by a hard candy and it actually hurt!).  The kids loved it, and we left with a nice bag full of candy.  



This giant chocolate covered pretzel was the highlight of the day for me!  Yum!!


On St. Patrick's day, we were at the BX shopping.  Nathan met up with us after work and we decided to have dinner at Chiles.  

I always buy these little bundles of 'soup vegetables' from the German stores.  I love them.

I don't know why I've waited so long to give Violet a hair cut.  Call it fear of losing those little curls, or call it laziness.  Either way, we finally took the plunge and I even did it myself!  It was a good experience, and now she asks me every other day if she can 'take a haircut'.  

We have had a very unusual winter here in Germany.  We never really got snow, and it has been mostly sunny during the month of March!  We have been loving it.

Playgroup at the Wild Animal Park.  I love the double teeter totter approach.

The Young Women had a Fundraiser for Girls Camp.  It was a Cafe Rio Dinner with a dessert auction.  We realized super late in the game that we hadn't planned any decorations.  So I pulled this together the night before.  A little paper garland, confetti, and tulips from Aldis and we were good to go!


After setting up for the fundraiser, I found out that downtown Kaiserslautern (city where the church is located) was having a 'fabric market' that day.  I was already there so I decided last minute to take the stroller and walk downtown to check it out.  It wasn't too far and it was a nice day.  I found some cute pieces and got the kids their first ice cream of the season!  Win for all of us.  



Every now and then, I actually try to pull something creative together for my kids to do (i.e., Pinterest).  This Sunday morning we added food coloring to some milk and painted our bread.  It was a huge hit!

Nothing like a little swinging at the park...

I have been trying so hard to get Sawyer into preschool, to no avail.  The poor kid is starting to go crazy.  He tells me at least 10 times a day that he is bored.  So I put him in the only available sport on base--pre-karate tech.  He is LOVING it.  I was a little worried that it would just make him more aggressive.  But not so far.  I have actually been impressed to see how disciplined he has been during the class and how much he wants to learn/pay attention.  It gives me hope for kindergarten!

I was cleaning up breakfast one morning (Nougat Bits--nothing but the best for my kids, lol)...found Ariel taking a dip.

We finally made it out on a date!  Well, sorta.  We took Isla along.  It was a dinner date to a nearby Italian restaurant...and Isla was really good so it was fun.  Went with our friends, the Barons, and decided it was Zach and Isla's first date.  


Just some pics of Isla Bea...getting so big.  She's got 2 bottom teeth and is working on cutting the top four right now.


And she learned how to drink from a straw!  Yay!

Another attempt at creativity.  I said, make some shapes with tooth picks and marshmallows.  I showed them how to make a triangle, square, etc.  Left the room for a minute and when I came back, Sawyer had created this huge 3D thingy.  He was way more creative than me!

First ice cream cone at Ikea

Scored a some free bunk beds on the Ramstein Yardsales a couple weeks ago.  I painted them white.  And I hated every minute of the process...but I love the result!  Their room is finally starting to look 'put together'.  And I have no energy to paint the walls, so I'm thinking they will just stay yellow the whole time we are here.  Not my favorite, but who cares!
 I also decided to just throw up everything from their old rooms on the same wall.  I'm still working with it but I think it's pretty cute so far.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Past Week...

 Well I am finally caught up!  Until tomorrow, that is ;).  This past week has been pretty normal.  We had Monday off, for President's Day.  Whenever we have 'American Holidays' that fall on a weekday, we like to try and go somewhere because Germans won't be off and places are less crowded, etc.  We had heard a lot about a store called, Cora, in France.  We like only about an hour from the French border, so we decided to check it out.  It was pretty much like a Walmart.  Honestly, we weren't super impressed with it.  They had a few fun things that we don't see in Germany.  When we got home, we laughed about our selections.  I bought a bunch of baguettes and this fancy lemonade (it's just like sprite, but i like the bottles!)...Nathan got about 10 bags of chips, all different flavors.  So funny.  After our trip to Cora, we went to Saarbrucken, a larger city in Germany, right on the border.  I had heard about a clothing store there that I wanted to check out.  It was one of those days with the kids, where you kinda just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.  By the time we got the kids in bed that night, we both felt like we had aged 10 years.  You win some, you lose some.  At least we didn't sit at home and watch TV or play Wii all day, right?!  (which is what we did today, because Nathan, Isla, and I are all sick) 

Of course Sawyer had to use his baguette as a weapon...always
 So we got the Wii U for Christmas.  It was a big debate, for Nathan & I.  We really didn't want to add one more thing to the vast array of 'screens' that we seem to get sucked into these days.  But we have been pretty good about limiting the time on Wii.  And honestly, it has been the best form of punishment/bribery for Sawyer that I've had yet!  It works SO well for that!  lol. But Nathan and Sawyer love to play Legos Avengers together.  And Violet always shows up at some point, begging to play along.  So Nathan gives her a wii-mote, and 'tells' her she's 'playing'.  Problem is, she's not that dumb...she eventually catches on. 
 This made me so happy!  Violet giving Isla some real attention (for about 15 seconds)!  So cute!
 We try to do some good activities every now and then as well.  On this day, we made homemade play doh.  The kids did so well with it...kept them entertained for quite a while.  They were doing so well, that I thought I would go outside and vacuum the car real quick before Isla woke up.  When I came back inside, I was in the middle of a full-on play doh massacre.  Play doh EVERYWHERE.  Not funny.  I guess that's the last time I leave them unsupervised with play doh again.  In the picture, Sawyer was very proud of his play doh airplane creation, as was I.

On Friday, Nathan took the boy scouts camping in the village right next to ours.  He is the scout master, so this is a common occurrence for Nathan these days.  But since he was so close to home, he decided to take Sawyer along for a few hours in the evening.  Sawyer had so much fun, he ended up asking if he could go to bed in the tent at 7:30.  He wanted to stay so that he could wake up with the boy scouts in the morning.  Nathan said that in his prayer, Sawyer asked Heavenly Father for the boy scouts to be quiet so that he could sleep.  Ha! 

Violet and I had a 'Girl's Night' while the boys were away.  We didn't want her to feel like she was missing out.  So I rented a Barbie Movie, and we had popcorn and did our nails.  And then she got to sleep in mommy's bed that night.  It was really fun, actually.  I enjoyed spending the one on one time with my little Viley.

The sun actually came out the other day!  So we grabbed our bikes and scooters, and went for a little walk.  I loved this picture of Violet, dirt on the face and all!