Saturday, October 6, 2012

We have a 4-year-old in the house!

What can I say about my Ally?  I used to think that parents had a little more control over how their children turn out but she definitely has her own personality.
She likes pink but not girly things.  When she gets dressed in the morning, she likes to pick clothes that are all the same color, and soft.  She loves playing with cars and birds.  She loves her gymnastics class and Primary teacher.  She is a great big sister and can get Nicole to laugh anytime.  She still won't eat meat.  She is a total daddy's girl, so this year has been rough for her with him gone so long (he should be home in December).
I tried so hard to get her into a preschool here, with no luck.  She is way beyond kids her age academically, but needs more social interaction.  For example, she reads chapter books but is not very good at taking turns with other children.
She uses really big words, counts to 100, does simple math, writes her name, and can type out messages to her dad on my phone (such as I love you and Want to Skype?).
I started giving her chores; she puts away her laundry and sets the table.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Ok I had a really down day recently, so I decided to list some of my accomplishments that make me proud of myself.
1. finishing my bachelor's degree
2. planting and growing my own garden
3. building furniture
4. filling my pantry with healthy, home-canned food
5. finishing Insanity (the workout) and losing all the baby weight, plus some, in 4 months.
6. being on time wherever I go
7. reading books to my children every day
8. keeping my house in order (except for one room!)
9. not giving away my dogs although it would make my life easier
10. making friends, and keeping in touch with them despite moving around the world

Yay!  I feel better already.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


The oldest city in Germany, Trier has a lot of Roman ruins.  This is the Porta Nigra, the only one left of seven gates that used to surround the city.  

This street performer was literally floating off the ground.  I think his staff had some kind of support system built into it, but I was still impressed.
The beautiful gardens at the palace.
A replica of the foot, part of a statue.
Roman baths

ampitheater.  People were actually setting up for a concert that would be held there later in the day.  The acoustics in that place are great for events.  They also hold 'Gladiator school', which was going on the last time I visited.  

St. Peter's cathedral, where the robe of Christ is kept.

The fabulous carvings on the ceiling in the dome.  The amount of work that went into this cathedral is astounding.

Vianen, Luxembourg

Despite the lack of baby passport, last weekend we decided to leave the country.  This isn't as big of a deal as it sounds, since most countries here have open borders.  We drove to Luxembourg to visit a castle:

Apparently there was a festival going on so we had to park pretty far away.  We rode a cable car (ski lift) up the mountain.
Cute little town of Vianen
The castle from above.

There were all sorts of vendors, many dressed in authentic clothing.  Lots of souvenirs to buy (we didn't) and lots of shows to watch, including jousting and hunting with birds.  Ally realized her lifetime dream of holding a bird (for a small fee).  The castle was very crowded and had a lot going on.  Very cool to see a medieval festival.  I though the little wooden swords for kids were very cute.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


the tallest tower in Europe
a bridge with the fence covered in locks.   Amazing

The observation tower
view from the tower.  This bridge is the one that is covered with locks.

We also visited the Lindt chocolate factory, but unfortunately left the camera in the hotel that day!  

Fairy Tale Park

On the way home from one of our trips, we stopped at a cute little park.  We walked up a switchback trail to the top of a hill, stopping to look at little setups along the way.  
My little hiker


Puss in Boots

Little Red Riding Hood.
All the exhibits moved and spoke (or sang) when a button was pushed.  Since they were all in German, I would tell the story to Ally while she watched.  A few Fairy Tales were familiar to her, and a couple of them I did not recognize. 

Garmisch - Neuschwanstein

Hohenschwangau castle (across the valley from Neuschwanstein)
hiking up the hill to Neuschwanstein
the fairy-tale castle.  The other side (which is more easily recognizeable) was covered with scaffolding!
beautiful backdrop
I love love love my wanna-be Moby Wrap.  I have taken this child so many places in Europe (which is not stroller friendly by the way) and she just hangs out and sleeps.

Garmisch - Partnach Gorge

One of the must-sees in Garmisch is the Partnach Gorge.  It is a canyon formed by a river cutting through a mountain.  
We started the hike at the Olympic Stadium.  This is the ski jump that was used in 1936.  We watched a man ride a little cable car to the top and then ski down.  He jumped about halfway down where it curves out and landed close to the bottom of the picture.  Very impressive.  I though it looked just like the game on the Wii.
waterfalls all along the gorge.
We were dripped on along the path.
There's me with the pink wrap (as usual)
I can't even describe how impressive the canyon is and the force of water rushing through is amazing.
At the beginning of the river, it merges with another one.  Notice the brown water next to the blue.
This little guy ate the peach pit from my lunch.
We hiked farther than we had intended (apparently I am not very good at reading signs) and found some mountain cows.  They were wearing cowbells.  I am convinced that these cows contribute milk for the Milka bars.  They are Alpine cows after all.
We finished the hike by riding down the mountain on a ski lift.  Due to my lack of directional skills, we hiked all the way up the mountain (with a 3-year-old and a baby!) instead of just partway, which took the majority of the day.  Ally was quite the trooper and walked the whole time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I recently took a trip to Germany's capitol.  It was very historical and a bit overwhelming.  I have become adept at navigating most subway/metro systems, but this one was very intense.  We also stopped to visit a concentration camp.  The weather was not cooperating but the atmosphere was also sobering.  Many political prisoners were kept here and executed.  Those who had talents for building or creating were exploited and their creations taken.  

 Here are the buildings (inside the stone wall topped with barbed wire) where prisoners lived.

 The rest of our trip was fun.  We tagged along with a friend and her family (2 sets of grandparents and 6 children).  Her baby is one month younger than mine so we spent a lot of time together changing diapers and feeding them.  Shown above is the Brandenburg Gate.

 Me with Nicole and my phone, which acted as our navigation system.  I found a great app that recommended places to go and even pointed in the right direction.  Nicole is crying because (as I discovered soon after this picture was taken) she just had a blowout and needed a whole new outfit.

 bikes for rent.  Many people in Berlin ride bikes instead of driving.  The sidewalks are very wide and you can rent them in many places.  Bike tours were also offered.

 cultural center

 not sure what this statue is...

 Of course we spent some time at the zoo.  It was huge!  The animals seemed to have smaller enclosures so they were easy to find.

 This statue depicts something that is common here in Europe

 Ally with an elephant statue

 a car plugged in.  In North Dakota we used to see cars plugged in, but for a different reason.  This one is charging.

Our favorite stop was to the Ritter Sport store.  Ritter Sport is a fabulous german chocolate bar that is square, made of little squares.  It comes in a variety of flavors with different ingredients mixed in.  We could compose our own bar from the choices available.  It reminded me of Cold Stone.  The kids all enjoyed making their own chocolate bar.  
I did not get to see everything while we were there, so I will probably be making a trip back to Berlin.