Saturday, January 23, 2016


We went camping at a local campground with several families in our ward over the July 4th weekend.  It was a miserably hot weekend, so thank goodness the campground had a pool!  And you can always count on Germans to have some random fun playgrounds and slides everywhere you go.  Since we just stayed one night, and we were back and showered in time for the festivities on base the next day, so we decided to brave the crowds.  The kids got their faces painted, begged and whined for treats and rides, and we ended up carrying half of them back to the car kicking and screaming.  Haha.  Honestly, that's how those types of things typically go anyways.  But at least we have some pictures of us doing something 'fun' on the 4th!  And it was nice to have a little bit of America over here in Germany on such a holiday.  

Of course Nate brought along some awesome contraption that he made to help the kids have fun--giant bubble maker

We also made it down to Heidelberg for their annual wine festival.  Had a lot of fun, found a park that the kids loved towards the end of the night, had to hold Isla down during the fireworks as she tried frantically to climb 'away' from the fireworks (aka, up the hill and into the street).  

Sometimes, when you are riding your tricycle in your pajamas, you just need an ax

Ice Cream with Hagelslaag (chocolate sprinkles from the Netherlands)

I actually planted some bulbs this year!  And they grew!

Kids will be kids I guess
During the summer months, we enrolled Sawyer in karate again, and Violet tried out Gymnastics.  Both were cut a little short due to visitors, traveling, and then our spontaneous trip to the States in August, but they had fun.  Sawyer actually does pretty well with karate, and I think he enjoys it the most out of all the sports he's tried so far.  But we decided to keep it just to the summer, since he would be doing soccer and everything else during the school year.  

The kids were so proud that they had dressed Isla up like a rockstar, lol
My cousin, Jerai, has a little boy named Brewer that was born with a serious heart condition.  He was scheduled to have his 3rd heart surgery and we all wore shirts to show our support.  And--the shirts were designed by my sister, Sydney!  We love our Brew Crew shirts and are happy to say that the surgery went well and Brewer is in good health!
 Last thing to mention--but certainly not the least--Nate checked Scout Camp off of his eternal to-do list!  Wahoo!  He put a lot of hard work and preparation into camp this year, and it all went pretty well!  He even headed up a 50 mile bike ride for boys as they rode their bikes all the way to the camp (and back!!).  Despite a lot of worried (and underconfident) moms, the boys did great!

Yes that is Nate pushing two bikes up a hill--the hills were brutal at times

Other June Happenings

Before the Thelins came to visit, we had a few things happen around here.  Sawyer graduated from Kindergarten!  We were grateful to have Ms. Oswald as a teacher.  She was wonderful for him.  And he got the 'nutrageous' award, for being such a nut.  As well as the bubblicious award, for being so bubbly.  Yay Sawyer!  He also finished up his season of Tball.  

After our cruise, we threw a surprise 80s party for my friend Mandy...Nate was happy for a chance to bust out the MC Hammer pants.

Father's Day happened while on the cruise, so we celebrated the following Sunday with a little breakfast in bed.  

And Nate took the kids and their friend Embree to the movies while we babysat for their family for a couple days.  

Thelin Visit--in a nutshell

We were SO excited to have Ashley, Macie, and Marley visit us in June.  We seriously had the best time with them!  Tons of great memories and pictures to look back on.  

The first few days we spent doing day trips in Germany.  We went to Rudesheim, where we unfortunately ran into a rather large and obtrusive Harley Davidson Convention.  Sort of ruined the atmosphere that we were hoping for.  But we took a Rhein River Cruise instead, toured one of the many castles along the river, and ate some delicious dinner in a cute restaurant off shore.  

On another day, we went to the local flea market in the morning, then the adults went on a date at the Lichtenberg Castle restaurant that night..

 Ashley and the girls took the ICE train to Paris for a couple of days, while we stayed home and got ready for our upcoming trip.  A day after they got back from Paris, we headed down to Venice where our cruise was departing from.  We left Isla with friends for the week, which was really hard for me to do!  But she did great, and it was so much easier to do the cruise without a 2 yr old!  On the way to Venice, we stayed one night at Edelweiss Lodge & Resort in Garmisch.  While there, we took some paddleboats out on the Eibsee, and visited the Partenkirchen Gorge.  Both were really beautiful and fun experiences!  Probably among my favorites.  Then as we continued to our stop in Austria the next night, we made a stop at the famous Neuschwanstein.  Unfortunately, we didn't make it in time to tour the inside of the castle, but we got to view the grounds which are pretty amazing, too.  That night we stayed at a ski resort in Austria, and finished the drive to Venice the next morning.

Taking off on from our port in Venice
Our first stop on the cruise was a little Italian town called Bari.  While there, we shopped, ate gelato and pizza, visited a church, and just walked around getting a feel for Italy.

This was during dinner on the one point we all had to wave our Italian napkins around in the air.  As you can see--we all got into it (some more than others)

Our next cruise port was Olympia, Greece.  We got to go visit the ancient Olympic Stadium

Violet stopped running halfway down and burst into tears when she realized there was no way she would win.  Poor Boogie.

Fancy face paint from the kids' club

Our 3rd stop was Izmir, Turkey.  Here was decided to leave the kids on the boat in the kids' club, and take an excursion with the cruise ship company to the ancient city of Ephesus and Mary's house.  The first picture is outside of what they believe might have been Mary's house, after Christ's death.  Whether of not it really was her house, it did seem to be a nice place on top of the mountain.  Sort of an oasis amidst the dry terrain of Turkey.

We then stopped in Ephesus.  This ancient city was buried by earthquakes over centuries.  It's only been over the past 40 years or so that archeologists have begun uncovering and rebuilding its' structures.  Despite the scorching heat and almost no shade, it was really cool to imagine this place as a booming metropolis back in the day. Especially cool to imagine Paul as a missionary here so long ago.  On a cooler day, we would have loved to spend more time here.  The excursion tour guides were eager to whisk us away to a 'genuine leather shop' where we had to endure a fashion show of sorts and a sales pitch for high end leather products.  Blah.  

Port #4 was Istanbul, Turkey.  Again, we left the kids at the kids club.  Our first stop there was the Grand Bazaar and spice market.  That was a fun (and exhausting) experience!  But we did come away with a few treasures of our own.  We then had a yummy Turkish lunch and made our way to the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia--both amazing structures.  It was fun to see something that I remember seeing in history books all through my school days.  

Reunited with our kids on the boat.  We were SUPER worried that the boat was going to leave without us!  Our taxi home was stuck in standstill traffic.  So suspenseful!!
Everybody loves a Pina Colada

Our last stop, before returning to Venice, was Dubrovnik Croatia--and my favorite of the trip!!  We walked on this wall around the old city, and the views of orange rooftops against the backdrop of the ocean were just breathtaking!  We even got a little beach time in before having to go back to the boat.  It was heavenly.

Leaving our cruise ship

Back in Venice. Although we were all pooped, we ventured out for one last adventure with the Thelins that afternoon.  Took a gondola ride, ate some pizza, and parted ways.  It was a sad goodbye!  Sawyer sobbed for at least 20 minutes after leaving his cousins.  Ashley and the girls were so fun to have around. They had one more week left before flying home, and so they toured Italy on a solo trip.  The 4 of us stayed the night outside of Venice and then drove back to Germany on Sunday morning.  We had had such an amazing adventure, but were so excited to be reunited with our little Isla Bea!!