Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ninth Week in Germany

One of the best weeks yet! We had the opportunity to visit our very good friends - The Thompsons - in Valencia, Spain. What an Adventure! We flew on Ryan Air which we had heard some horror stories about but had no problems what-so-ever. Our first evening there was so nice. The weather was great and we hung out on their wrap around porch and had awesome food. They are extremely gracious hosts and Rebecca always makes the best food. Our kids played really well together and they got out on the slip-and-slide right away.

The second day, Saturday, we went to Peniscula Beach and Castle. It was a great day at the beach. And, the views from the castle were breathtaking. It was one of the best days we have spent together as a family in a long time.

Sunday, we went to Church and then the Missionaries came over for dinner afterwards. It was so nice just hanging out with friends and chatting with the Mission guys, and of course great food again. Monday we went into the city of Valencia to the aquarium. It was really cool. I think the girls loved the shark tank best because you could walk through a tunnel and have the sharks swimming overhead. However, there was also a dolphin show. The girls had never seen anything like that.

On the way home, the Thompson's suggested that we check and see if there would be a bull fight that night. We stopped by the arena and got tickets. Rob and Becca were so nice to take our kids home and put them to bed so we could go to the Bull fight. I had a hard time with the first bull. I pretty much cried hysterically with the Spaniards turning around looking at the freaky American balling her eyes out. But, I toughened up for the second and third bull. We only stayed for three out of six. We caught a train back to their house where they once again had some amazing food waiting for us when we returned.

On Tuesday, Greg and I went to Barcelona. We started the day out with Greg saying that he didn't care what we saw while we were there, and we ended up packing the day full of cool things. We started out at La Rambla, which is a street full of street vendors, cafes, shops, etc. Then, we walked over to the Antoni Gaudi house, the Casa Batlló. I was so impressed by the architecture there. The balconies are wrought iron on almost every building which made it so decorative and unique. The cathedral is so interesting as well. They have been trying to finish it for years and it is still in progress. We ended our day walking through another quaint shopping area, where we grabbed a bite to eat at a little cafe. I saw a shop there that was called, "Happy Pills." I thought it was so clever because it was really a candy store, but they dispensed the candy in pill bottles much like you would get at a pharmacy, only bigger.

Wednesday was another highlight of the trip, the Lladro factory tour. It was truly amazing, watching the woman make all of the individual flowers that go into their figurines. We went back to the Thompsons house, relaxed for a bit, packed our things and took one more dip in their fabulous pools. The girls exclaimed on the plane that it was the best vacation. We are very grateful to our friends for making it so great for all of us.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Eighth Week in Germany

Not much happened this week except we got together with some of the Missionaries who were about to go home or be transferred. Also, we celebrated Greg's birthday. The girls were very excited to get Greg something they knew he would love -- yes, another map. We also gave him a new soccer ball which apparently will come in handy since our Stake is trying to get a team together.
One other happening of note was that we said goodbye and hung out with our friends - the Gibbs. They will be leaving for the states before we return from our Holiday so we had to say goodbye to them before we left. We will miss them.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Seventh Week in Germany

This week was nice because it was really the first week we have our furniture set up and the girls got to sleep in pretty much every morning. We spent the first couple days waiting for repair people and service people to come over. So, we were stuck inside quite a bit. We finally got our internet and phone up and running which is so nice to have ties to the outside world again. The girls have been so patient and understanding of the fact that we needed to spend quite a bit of time getting things put together and set up.

On Thursday I had an opportunity to go out with some girls to a movie, "Harry Potter." It was really nice to get out. We planned on a playdate at the park down the street for Friday morning with our kids but as luck would have it, it was pouring down rain. So, we went to an indoor playplace in Troisdorf instead. It was great. The girls had a blast and it was well deserved after all of the days being stuck inside the house. Afterwards, we went to McDonalds for lunch. You can't really beat that.

Saturday was a great day as well. It was 80 degrees and beautiful. Greg took the girls and their scooters down to the Rhein river to ride along the boardwalk. Then we went up to Koln to see Shrek der Dritte, in English of course. We went to the Lights over Koln after the movie, which was a really cool fireworks display and 800,000 people along the Rhein.

At 10:15pm everybody lit their sparklers and held them up on both sides of the River. Then, there was a boat parade complete with sparklers on the boats. The fireworks started really late, around 11:00pm so our poor children had a little trouble making it that late. We decided to go around 11:30pm when Avery had a complete meltdown. We we got back to the parking structure that had our car, it was locked. So, we hurried to the nearest train station and took the DB back to Bonn. We were so lucky to catch a train right away but we still didn't get home until after midnight.

On Sunday, I gave my first talk in Germany. I said a couple sentences in German, but I had a great translator who said my talk for me in German. What a process. I can't wait until we know enough to be able to give our talks in German.
All in all, many happy experiences this week and some good stories we will never forget.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sixth Week in Germany

Wow. What a week. We spent Monday morning moving all of our stuff from the hotel to our flat. We miraculously got our security deposit back from the hotel. There were a few days that I was really nervous. 3 kids in a hotel room for five weeks. Scary! But it all worked out. The latter part of the day was spent grabbing some last minute things that we needed at the house like a couple pillows, a couple thin mattresses for us to sleep on, and a couple blankets. Tuesday and Wednesday were very long days with nothing to sit on except suitcases and essentially nothing to do. The weather wasn't good so it limited the amount of time we could play outside. And, we had to stick around the house because we were waiting for our much desired modem for our internet set up. Here are some killing time pictures of the girls in their red, white, and blue.

Wednesday night we were invited to some friends for a little Fourth of July celebration. The girls were thrilled. It was really nice to get out of the empty flat and do something fun.

Thursday was crazy. The moving guys showed up at about 7:40 AM. In my experience so far when people say they are coming at a certain time, they show up early. They moved things in until about 2:00pm. They did not stop for lunch or anything. They put together our bed and the bunk beds which was so huge. I did not want to have to put that thing together. The Missionaries came the next day and helped us put Bailey's bed together and we were off and running. We went to Ikea again on Saturday to get a few more things that were needed to complete our relatively painless move-in. Hundreds of boxes later, we were pretty much unpacked by Monday.

Greg gave his first talk in Germany on Sunday at Church, in English with a translater. Our pronunciation is not good enough yet to even read a talk in Deutsch.

Great week. We got so much done.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fifth Week in Germany

This was a productive week. The girls had their last week of school which we have awaited anxiously. The girls because they are just so tired and are in need of some serious sleeping-in mornings. And, me because I am tired of driving back and forth from their school six times a day.

Bailey had a Birthday party for a little boy in her class on Monday. It was great for her to do something extra curricular with her classmates.

I had my first three German Lessons which are a lot of fun. I really like my German Teacher. His name is Frank. It is funny how that name keeps popping up. During the first lesson, I put the girls in the adjoining room with a bowl of popcorn and a movie. They had eaten popcorn out of this bowl many many times since we moved into the hotel without incident. However, about half way through my lesson, the bowl went crash. I went running in to find popcorn and glass all over the floor. What an embarrassing nightmare for me with my teacher there. He went and asked for housekeeping to come up and sweep up the mess, which they did. Despite my embarrassment, I learned a few things.

We had our walk through for our flat on Friday which was so nice to get the keys. We had a bit of a relaxing weekend. Our first order of business was to get mobile phones. We went to Siegburg because there is a circuit city like store there called Saturn. We were told by several people that they would have someone there who could speak English and who could help us choose a mobile company and plan. It took us a while to find it. And, on the way we ran into this really cool Children's store. There was a city center where the girls had fun playing on spinny and springy things. We got to Saturn and asked if anyone spoke English and the only person that did was the computer guy, he didn't know anything about the cell phones. So, we ran into an O2 store on the way out of town and alas someone spoke English and walked us through the process. We had fish and chips for lunch that were so good.

We headed back to the hotel to relax. Bryn unfortunately had a horrible night's sleep so I did as well. Bryn and I stayed home from church to get some very needed rest.

All in all the week was very productive and we were very excited to be moving into our flat.