Friday, November 13, 2009

More advice from an expert letter-maker

For those of you that enjoyed our "How to make an E" post, here are a few more expertly crafted letters for you.

An X

An A
And a lower case b
Please do not try this at home. =) Leave it to the professional.

And in other news this week. I dyed my hair. (Okay, so it doesn't really qualify as NEWS per se, but it sure made me happy.) It was much too expensive to keep up the blond, so I went back to my roots - and then realized why I colored my hair in the first place - and then dyed it red. Maryn snapped this of me on my way out the door for date night. Yippee! She is old enough to babysit legally under Air Force rules!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween and the Dark Abyss

Here are a few cute pictures of my kids on Halloween. I think this holiday was actually made up by parents who wanted another excuse to dress up their children and laugh at them.

Dallen was a cowboy (obviously) And Bennett decided he wanted to be a blue crayon. He had actually wanted to be a blue crayon with a machine gun, but I nixed the idea of going door to door with a semi automatic. He never gave up trying to convince me though. His last words as he went out the door were, "Well, here I go. I hope no one tries to color with me. I really should have had that gun."

This isn't actually Halloween. It is a couple days before on Picture Day. I just had to snap some photos though. I was freaking out that I went to bed with four KIDS and woke up with one TEENAGER!!!! AHHHH! I don't have any pictures of Maryn on Halloween because she was off with friends celebrating her last year of trick or treating. She's in Young Women now, time to be the official candy passer-outer.

Captain Underpants and the stinky pumpkin gunk

A frog and his crayon

So that sums up our night of working toward a sugar coma. I also put myself on Facebook this week. Much to the delight of my oldest sister, Queen Facebook. Yes, I have succumbed to the Dark Abyss. Its really not so bad when you see all the company you have. Now I wonder if this will help motivate me to blog more or makes me neglect my blog entirely. (Not that it can be much more neglected.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

High Speed Internet is proof that our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be happy

We are back! It is amazing how much you miss the Internet when you don't have it. I found myself constantly starting for the computer to check something, and then remembering we weren't connected. Anyhow, we have finally found a house and started to get settled in. I will post a picture when we get all the boxes cleared away! =)

But here are the pictures of Bennett's first day that I promised. He was SO excited!

You can tell how nervous he was. (Right.)

Lining up to go inside. I was barely able to get him to wave at me!

Two days after the start of Kindergarten, I actually went back to the states. Can you believe it? And FYI - when you have finished driving through seven countries, and you are in the middle of trying to find a house and arrange your worldly possessions to be delivered to said house, and your kids are starting at a new school and your husband is starting a new job and you are living out of suitcases in a cramped hotel room, that would NOT be the time to take a whirlwind vacation across the ocean. But I am sure you knew that.
Actually it was not a vacation. Sadly, my grandmother passed away. When I heard the news, I must admit that for one brief second, I considered missing the funeral (see the above paragraph and add the fact that I was still not legally able to leave this country, because I was still having my residency paperwork processed). I just didn't think it was going to happen. But I knew I had to try because I needed to be there for my family. (That and I think my mom's head would have exploded if I had told her I wasn't coming - or she would have just come and physically retrieved me.)
Long story short - a lot of miracles happened to make it possible for me to attend. And a lot of people helped us out with the kids. So I was able to go to America just long enough to appear at the funeral and hug some long lost relatives. (And just long enough to get my body clock seriously messed up!) Then, the day after I got back, we moved into our house and had all of our belongings delivered. Yes, I hit the ground running.
So other than unpacking boxes, trying not to lose my mind, and reminding myself that the left-hand lane on the freeway is now the slow lane, that was all that happened while this little blog was silent. I'll keep you posted on further adventures, but it seems that after our Epic Journey, trips to the grocery store are pretty anti-climatic. Well, except when I'm driving. Then they become death defying feats of courage and skill. I am not kidding, this left sided thing is tricky.
Keep thinking of new names for this blog, and let me know when you plan to visit. I expect to see each one of you (just not all at the same time) =)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Day of School

Well, it couldn't be helped. School starts whether or not we've found a house to live in. The kids have been such troopers. Especially Maryn, because she has the added stress of starting Middle School (shudder). I just hope that Bennett and Dallen won't have to switch schools when we finally do find a place. (There are two military elementary schools, and some of the places we've seen are in the boundaries of the other one) Wouldn't that just add to my mommy guilt?

Bennett was a little discouraged watching Dallen go off to school without him. He's been waiting for this since he missed the cut off by six days last year. The kindergarteners don't start until September 8th. The teacher spends the first week of school scheduling home visits and individual testing, so class time is postponed till the second week. I tried to explain it to Ben as best I could, but he was still skeptical. "Are you SURE I get to go to school in England?" The way I helped him cope with his dissapointment last year was by telling him that he'd get to go to school at our new house in England. So he's been more than ready since the moment we crossed the border!

We've almost completed all of our required hoop jumping to legalize ourselves in this country. Our last hoop is registering the car, which is proving more difficult than I had hoped. First of all, our car is American "steering-wheel-on-the-left-side", and second of all, it is less than three years old with LED lights.

Apparently our rear turn signals are the wrong color and will have to be CUT OUT and replaced with amber colored ones. (If it was a regular bulb, they could just change it out - not so with LED) Yes, I am hyperventilating over that news. (You are doing WHAT to my two-year-old, not-yet-paid-for car?!) The only thing that calmed me a little was speaking with the garage that will be doing it. Finding out that they are GMC factory authorized (they can even make us a spare key!!!! Yippee!!!) and seeing another Acadia that they did, helped to calm me down. I was able to visualize exactly what they will have to do and what it will look like in the end. It is still nerve-wracking. BUT at least everyone I am dealing with speaks English. This would have been a nightmare in Turkey. And the end result will allow me to have a vehicle for the next three years. Now I just have to concentrate on driving on the left, when 20 years of experience has trained me to drive on the right. I look forward to the day that I won't have to chant "stay to the left, stay to the left" as I drive. (I'm sure my kids do too)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The last few crazy days

Yippee! We are finally here! I apologise for taking so long to post our last days on the road, but as you may imagine, it has been a little crazy!

Fun photo opps at the Marionette Museum.

Hohensalzburg Fortress. Yes, we had to climb all the way to the top. Yes, it was insanely steep

Almost there!

As soon as the kids made it up, all they wanted to do was run back down.

Bennett ran a bit too fast. Is that not just the most heartbreaking face?

Remember how we have spoken of danger to self in the past? Yes, this is a second story window.

Of course, my luck being what it is, Mirabell fountain wasn't working. But we did get a cute picture by the gate. My little Von Trapps.

Michael insisted we take this picture. It is just the birthplace of some unknown musician. Mozart? Was that the name? Have you heard of him? Me either.

Eating an ice cream cone while riding in a carriage through Salzburg. Life is GOOD!

The trick fountains at Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg. The Archbishop that commissioned these, had a very silly sense of humor. Starting with his outdoor dining table, he placed hidden water spouts throughout his garden to soak unsuspecting guests. (Notice, the chair at the head of the table (the archbishop's) isn't spraying water) Dallen and Bennett wore their swimsuits and went to get WET! Boy they did! The rest of us marveled at the water powered sculptures, and just tried to stay dry.

The boy in his underwear kept following Dallen because Dallen seemed to be able to find all the hidden spouts- and then get soaked when they'd go off.

Okay Mom, we did it, now it is YOUR turn!

Hayden solved the problem of his wet clothes quite nicely, don't you think?

"I'm free!!!!"

We were so lucky to be able to stop in Frieburg, Germany and see our nephew that is serving his mission there. We went 3 hours out of the way and got hopelessly lost in the city, but it was worth it! Sorry the picture is cut off, the only person around to take it, had a cast on, and couldn't operate the camera very well.

We stayed in temporary housing at the Air Base in Ramstien, Germany. The room was "pet friendly" so it had lots of things like crates and bowls. Those of you who know me and know how I feel about animals, are probably laughing at this picture. Yes, it was their DAD that let them use all the pet stuff. I just gave them a bath after.

Lining up to drive onto the train. This train took us across the English Channel, and to the end of our journey.
Now our next steps are finding a house big enough for a family of six in a country where a family of four is a strange sight - AND not killing any innocent people while we try to get used to driving on the other side of the road. (Michael and I both have had a near miss. It stinks that your instinct is to swerve to the right, that just makes it worse!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

And Again...

Are you getting sick of me yet? Can you believe I have actually kept up a consecutive account of our trip? This has got to be some sort of new record.
The view from our hotel balcony in Halstatt.

Halstatt was Michael's favorite place. If the kids thought they were sick of him taking pictures before...

Getting ready to go into the Salt Mine. Michael and the bigger kids had to put on protective clothing and walk down the shaft. Mom and Hayden stayed behind because you had to be 4 to go inside. Maybe next time Mom will be old enough.

Inside the Halstatt Salt Mine.

Halstatt Salt Mines Railway

I told you, he only climbs when great bodily harm is a possible result.

Halstatt Square's Plaque Column

Michael couldn't understand why I didn't want to go inside the Carnal House. Hmmmm...a place where the townsfolk put the remains of all their dead because they don't have enough land to bury them in. Did he just meet me?

Good-bye and thank-you, Halstatt! Here we come Salsburg.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the road again

Are you ready for more? For those of you just now checking the blog, get comfortable, because there is a lot to read! Michael sacrificed his time in Vienna to take the kids to a few things that they would want to do. Like the zoo. He figured he only had one day in Vienna, and he wanted to see everything, so he will just come back with his sister. What do you think of THAT, Analee?
Besides, there was only some silly Mozart festival going on.....

The lion cages at the Vienna Zoo. Those are some pretty cute lions!

I think the squirrels in the zoo are a little used to humans, don't you?

Hayden spent the better part of the morning asking to see the bears, when we finally got to their pen, he didn't even look at them! Because if there is one thing that distracts my boy -it is heavy machinery. The were doing construction outside of the Bear cage, so that is all he wanted to watch! Zoo entrance fee - there is money well spent.

Dallen the Turtle

If you pull on the ropes, the bird's wings flap and you get a ride.
Speaking of money well spent and heavy machinery. This one really worked, and Hayden was in paradise!

This little patch played music when you stomped on it.

Creating worlds at the Vienna Zoo.

Relaxing after a long hard day of touring the zoo and digging in the dirt.

Kreuzenstien Castle. It was neat to see, but this was a difficult stop for the kids. The only way you could see the castle was by a guided tour and they were only in German. (The tour guide was also very snappy with the kids - Okay lady - my toddler probably wouldn't be completely silent through your spiel even if he could understand you! So calm down!) Anyway - I helped pass the time by interpreting. No, I don't know German, but I think my version of the tour was more entertaining.

The armory

Running down the hill in Durnstien Austria. You know you have been driving too long, when your two year old sees your car and yells, "Yay! Our car home! We're home!"

Durnstien Castle. King Richard the Lion Heart (A Carpenter ancestor - Michael is quick to point out) was imprisoned here.

The hike up was a killer, but the view was amazing. The problem is, two year olds don't care about views. So I ended up sitting on the path with Hayden waiting for the others when he flat out refused to climb another step. He even told me to go on without him.

Mommy saw this picture AFTER Daddy had taken it. You let them climb, WHERE?

At Schonnbrun Castle, the kids were able to load a cannon and shoot into a pile of tin cans. Are you nervous about Hayden with a hammer? Because I am. And Maryn definitely is.

Chess, anyone?

How about Chopsticks?

This is the best castle ever! It has a cannon AND a playground!? Those medieval kids were so spoiled!

Bennett has decided his new favorite thing is hedge mazes. But he likes the ones he can see over best. (Aren't those technically just hedges?)

Austria's largest Cathedral in Linz. The kids were most impressed by the fountain in the square.

Few things are sweeter than hearing Hayden sing "I Am A Child of God" in a Gothic Cathedral. (He found a book of Hymns on the pew)

The view from the highway on our way to Halstatt, Austria. Michael was right, this is even better than Brasov.

I really wanted to stay there, but Michael said it was out of the way. I never get to go anywhere fun. (She said as she drove from Turkey through Austria on her way to England.)
Only four more days left on our trek. I think we are all getting to the end of our patience. Bennett asked me yesterday, "Mom, how many more hotels do we have to sleep in?" I didn't have the heart to explain to him that we will actually be in a hotel in England until we find a house. I'm pretty sure he thinks that when we arrive there, we will just go to a house with all of our stuff in it. Wouldn't that be nice?