Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Dancing German Doll

The one thing I wanted to bring back for Brynne was a little German dress. She wore it to church this Sunday and she thought it was the cutest thing. We thought she was pretty cute!

Ward Fun

Our ward party this week made all of us realize just how close halloween really is, how grown up our kids are getting and how some kids never grow up.
Brynne was so thrilled to be a Fairy with wings and a wand.

Here she is with her little friend Mae Mae. Two little princesses who we have pictures of every year together!

These guys have pictures every year together too. As babies they were both pumpkins, and now 7 years later they both happened to be dragon slayers. Probably because it was one of the few costumes Target had left that looked scary enough for Drews demands and got meout of trying to whip up somthing creative.

You will notice that there are no pictures of my older two kids as they have decided they are a bit grown up for all this dressing up stuff.
As for Jeff and Rod...
We have no expectations for these two to ever grow up.

And Reed, well, not even Shelley knows what to expect next from him! This little project was all his, but it was the biggest hit of the night with all of the kids. Especially little Jackson, who wanted nothing more to enter the back of Reed's rig with the strobe lights, music, and mechanical kicking legs! Good times were had by all. Especially at our little dinner outing afterwards! Thanks for the good times friends!

Pirate Party

This month our dance theme was Pirate Party. Shelley picked up some fabric for me and I whipped up a few costumes. I love that Shelley is always game for dressing up and acting a little crazy! Only 2 more dances to go...

Jan Trotter manning the food booth...Shelley, me, Wendy, and Becky. Their ward was in charge of decorations this month. They did a great job don't you think?

Heather and Crystal
Me, Lisa, and Kim
I think I need to work on my pirate face...

Shelley and I with Christina. She is our youth co-chair in charge of our dance committee, and a ton of fun to hang out with!

Soccer Saturdays

It's Soccer Season!
It was a blast last Saturday watching Drew Mix it up with kids twice his size and no fear! He is a fearless little player! We are so proud of our little number 6!

Big Brother

At the kids games last week I captured this sweet moment with Drew and Brynne on their way to the snack bar. He is such a good brother!

Shelley + Susie= Trouble

Shelley I am asking for forgiveness, not permission.
Sorry, Love ya!

Susie, our Relief Society President just wants a little in her mouth...
That's how it started. This is how it ended...

This is a member of our bishopric, assessing the treat on his arm!
This is our Relief Society Secretarychecking out the sweet additions to her skirt...
And a member of the Sake YW Presidency all grins,
Who says our meetings are boring around here?

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

You've heard it said before, "Home is where you hang your hat" well this was quite literally true for us during our travels. I have loved staying in
Bed and Breakfast type places much more than the commercialized hotels, especially when traveling outside of the U.S. It somehow feels as if I am really getting a glimpse of life as though I am a local as best I can. I did tons of research and followed Rick Steve's advice in the towns where I could, and then checked out trip advisor and many other sites before trying to make reservations anywhere else. Everywhere we stayed came highly recommended by more than just a handful of reviews. We have decided not to put too much faith in those reviews in the future. This is not to say that we didn't love most of the places we stayed but, one in particular was sooooo awkward and we definitely will not be returning to! So the following are the places where we hung our hats for at least a night or two.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Gasthof Klingentor
October 4th and 5th

I had stayed here with my parents and siblings almost 6 years ago on our vacation picking my brother Billy up from his mission. I had loved it here and the hosts Georg and Barbra were so inviting and warm. This decision was a no brainer for me. The cost was only 55 euros a night.

Our room this time was a bit smaller and it seemed bit dated in decor compared to the room I had stayed in when I was here before. The bathroom was smaller too, but I still thought the accommodations were great and very traditionally European. What I remembered best about this place was the breakfast though.

I love the traditional breakfast in Germany. Fresh juice, we also had hot chocolate rather than their standard coffee, fruit, yogurt, tons of breads and rolls, butter and jam, and meats and cheeses for little sandwiches. All served up on darling little plates and bowls and little tea pots. It was delicious and so pretty!

This sweet bread was to die for...
Next up on our list was Haus Weiher
Schwangau Germany
October 6th and 7th
This place was #1 on trip advisor for B&B's in the the area near Neuschwanstein Castle. All the reviews were promising. Our first impressions, were not so great...We arrived around noon and the owner of the place opened the door. She looked like the witch lady from Watcher in the Woods. The first super scary movie I remember watching as a child. Obviously it left an impression, because I can tell you exactly what that lady looked like and our hostess looked just like her. She acted like she had no idea who we were, or that she was expecting anyone at all, for that matter. She didn't want to let us in. Then she checked her little clip board and sure enough there were our names and exactly when we would be staying. She let us into our room where we dumped our stuff and headed off to the castles.
This balcony has incredible views of the completely lit up castle above and could have been especially nice during warmer weather. Below are pictures of our room. Fairly new wood floors, a large armoire, doors to the porch, standard down comforters and over sized pillows, but the bottom sheet was like terry cloth, and pretty scratchy. Notice the sink in our room...
This was because our private restroom facilities were not in our room but rather in TWO separate rooms across the hall. In the picture below first look at the arch on the left. Just on the left, on the other side of the arch was our bedroom door, across the hall was our shower closet, and then look at the far right of the picture below, this is where our toilet was. They were only ours to use, but you had to leave your room to get to them. The tricky part was that if you turned on the hall light to go to either of these rooms our hostess would promptly turn them off! Leaving us stumbling to find our way back in the dark.
I swear to you this room could not have been more than 4 feet square. I know grown men who would for sure, not fit into the shower. I know others who might not be able to close the bathroom door in the toilet room once entering. Also, note the soap in the dish in the bathroom. That was not something we brought. That was what was left for us to apparently use. No thanks! We didn't get fresh towels here either, and the ones we did get were small and rough. She turned off the heat in our rooms, and asked Jeff what was going on when he left at 7 am one morning to go find an internet connection.
That was the other tricky thing about this place. There was no where to connect to the internet here. We ended up driving around residential areas and bumming off of the locals wireless networks. This was especially uncomfortable when people in the houses started to peek out their windows at you, or actually come outside and write down your licence plate numbers. One morning as we were sitting in our car we were almost charged by some unexpected traffic!
These were the last of about 50, it just took a while to grab the camera! We were happy to leave Haus Weiher and even happier still to arrive in Salzburg.
Haus Reichel
Salzburg Austria
October 8th-10th
This darling place was about 10 minutes from the heart of Salzburg and felt so quaint and peaceful.
This barn is out back and this was our view from the dining room. The dining room was a fun social place where we visited with the other guests. All of whom were so nice! Our hostess here was Franzisca. She was amazing! So accommodating, helpful, and probably one of the happiest people I have ever met. We couldn't get over her!
This cabinet in the kitchen was full of maps and brochures for anything and everything you'd possibly think of doing in the area, and she even had bikes to loan out. Our room was pretty spacious and our bathroom was the biggest we had yet. The only things I didn't love here were that all the linens were line dried and a bit crunchy. The comforters were not down here and so they weren't as soft. I would still go back in a heartbeat though.
The last night in Germany we spent in Frankfurt because we were flying out the next day and didn't want to be in a rush. We actually arrived at 8pm and stayed until noon the next day. This stop was HEAVENLY!
Frankfurt am Main
Hotel Hessischer Hof
October 11 2008
This one I found all by myself! It is a 5 star hotel and was such a welcome change from the other places we had stayed. I was no longer looking to do anything other than get a little R&R before heading home. That was exactly what was in store for me. This is one of two hotels listed from Frankfurt in the book Leading Hotels of the World.
I knew I was going to be happy here when we walked in and our room actually had a foyer. Our walk in closet was much bigger than most of the restrooms in our other places! This was especially handy as we had to sort through everything and distribute all our purchased goods into our two suitcases and my carry on bag and still meet the weight requirements of the airlines! We were already pushing it on our flight leaving the states...
Jeff was thrilled to actually have an internet connection in our room! I was overjoyed to see our huge bathroom with a very large bathtub, soaking salts and a big fluffy bathrobe! This was how we each spent our evening!
It was the best way to relax and unwind. We even had TV channels in English other than the ultra liberal CNN. By the time we left we really felt like we had been on vacation.
All these nice calm feelings were completely erased however, by the time we got onto the plane in Frankfurt. Jeff's expression here is clearly saying, "Well Jen, I don't know how, but we made it."
The airport signs were horribly marked, the rental car drop off, and location to check in could not possibly have been more inconveniently placed, or further apart. Then, because I look so much like a terrorist, I was the lucky recipient of a complete once over every body part with the metal detecting baton, and then a quick feeling up by one female security officer. We nearly missed our plane! All this, and then we were stuck taxiing on the runway for over an hour! We landed in Cincinnati just 10 minutes before our connecting flight was taking off and narrowly missed that flight as well. Ugh! Then we experienced the following weather changes from each stop: Frankfurt 48*, Cincinnati 80*, Salt Lake City 38*, and finally Fresno at a whopping 64*! We boarded our plane at 12pm in Frankfurt and arrived in Fresno at 10pm the same day only for our bodies still on Germany time it would have been 7 am the following day! We were exhausted, but glad to be arriving home. The saying home is where your heart is, has never felt more true!