...a blog for the friends and family of dan, jen, worthy, william, calvin & christian

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hooded Ones

Fall is here and that means we can't walk out of the house without hoods or hats on our near-bald children.  I include Calvin because even though he's 2 1/2, he might as well have no hair because it's so thin.  The strands atop his head offer no weather protection.  So in classic Viennese style, we make sure our boys are dressed against the Chill/Draft.  

On the Stassenbahn
I love this season!

Thing 2 & Thing 3

Over the course of this year William & Calvin have become best friends.  Yes, they drive each other nuts and annoy the stink out of each other, but ultimately they have so much fun together.  William is busy teaching Calvin how to be his Padawn in Ornery-ness.  Calvin has proven to be an apt pupil.  It's hard to get angry when there's such a beautiful collaborative effort involved.

This past week Calvin came with me to drop William off at preschool.  As we left, Calvin cried out, "My William is gone!" That's the kind of crying I love to hear :)
Playing trains under the bed.
Only an older brother could make that sound fun!

Behind the Scenes

It's a miracle to me that there are any pictures of anyone as a baby in the pre-digital camera days.  Generally you only see the 1 or 2 pictures that turned out during a given picture taking raid.  So I thought I'd show you the Behind the Scenes of getting that "perfect" picture.  

I love the non-smile ones too... love these crazy faces of our sweet Christian Aaron!

These aren't the droids you're looking for...

One of the "Up Sides" of city living is just wondering upon random events.  There's stuff going on here ALL the time.  There's no way to keep up with it all.  So periodically, we'll be out and about and discover something.  This was one such event.  We had taken a family outing to the Zoo earlier that day and were headed back home.  We'd gotten off the U-Bahn at Karlsplatz (our U-Bahn stop) and we began to see all these oddly dressed people in elaborate costumes  - a lot of goth Princesses and guys dressed as Elves.
 By the way, for you non-city dwellers... this is honestly not normal :P.  
We decided to go investigate.  
It turned out to be an Anime festival. 

As we were wandering over to begin our investigation, William yells "Storm Troopers!"  Sure enough, the Imperials had invaded and not only were the Troopers there, but Darth Vader himself!  The boys were totally psyched.  (Me too...)  The costumes were super cool.  And these weren't profiteers that wanted money to get your picture with them.  They were just die hard fans thrilled to dress up.  They seemed really thrilled at the boys excitement.  They were the ones that came over to the kids.  (Funny enough, there really weren't any other kids around the place!) And they were pushing other adults away (I was so grateful he didn't do a choke hold on anyone!) so the boys could get their picture with them.  So, Darth Vader turned out to be not so evil after all.  

 As pleasant as the zoo was... I think this won!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vacation (Part 3)

During vacation Dan took the oldest three out to see some dinosaur tracks.  Very near the place we stayed were some amazing Dinosaur Tracks.  This article gives much better info than I can.  From all accounts, it was a really cool.  It had just rained the night before, so the rain had collected in the footprints leaving them quite visible and easy to recognize.  I was told this was a really steep hill despite the photo making it look level.  Another solid hike by the boys!

 You can see here how the mud rippled out after impact

Our own little dinosaurs...

Another highlight of our trip was getting to meet and spend time with our neighbors, Jean-Charles & Valerie. They had three young daughters and became an invaluable resource to us as local guides.  They were helpful, kind, generous and a pleasure to be with.  

We ended up spending a couple evenings hanging out with them and their kids.  Thankfully they spoke English well.  (It's been a long time since I studied under Madame Wright...) However, it was so fun to hear our kids freely trying their hand at French.  By the end of the trip "bonjour", "merci" and "au revoir" came quite easily to their lips
And just one word on French people.  Typically in the States, French people have a reputation as being snobby and mean.  We didn't experience this at all.  To the contrary, we found almost all the people we encountered to be kind and helpful.  I was happy to debunk that stereotype in my mind.

And on one of our last days, we took a little longer drive and went to see Les Grottes de Baume les Messiers. This was about a bit of a long drive, made even longer by the fact that I got us repeatedly lost... so much for my Amazing Race hopes.  Anyway, this was an expansive cave system that was really cool.  And by cool, I mean cold inside. William has been really into bats lately, so he was particularly excited.  After finally arriving there, we entered in with the group and saw the amazing stalagmites and stalactites, unfortunately the tour was in French, so we probably missed a lot of what was really cool.  

 Me and my boys!

After that, we went out to eat. We usually don't go out to eat with the kids.  If we do, it's usually a stressful, anxiety-ridden meal.  I usually worry about the kids disturbing other people's dinner and they typically don't like restaurant food so that turns into an issue.  Needless to say, it usually dissolves into exactly what it's not suppose to be.  This was an exception...  One of our hopes on vacation was to have an good French meal.  Since I mainly cooked dinner at the house we stayed at our food was most definitely not French (unless frozen FRENCH fries count!).  Our helpful neighbors, recommended this place, Le Regardoir.  They did not steer us wrong! 

They had a playground where the kids played while we waited for our food (which was amazing!).  The kids were thrilled.  They were even MORE thrilled when they realized that other kids playing there spoke English too.  These kids and ours played so great together and just had a blast!

The meal was fantastic and with the playground right there it practically felt like we were on a date. I wish I had a picture of everyone asleep in the car on the way home :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Vacation Swimming

While on vacation in France we did a lot of swimming!  The weather was amazing and our kids love the water so it really was a no-brainer.  We had some fun lakes nearby (as seen by a previous post) and we also had some great public swimming pools close by.  The big town nearby, Oyonnax, had a great indoor swimming pool with this awesome retractable dome for the summertime.  It was also fully equipped with a great water slide and indoor & outdoor baby pools!  This was the public pool (not some fancy thermal spa place) and really put my memories of the grandeur of the Barberton Natatorium to shame. 

Now onto the amusing part...when we were searching online for a swimming pool, I was reading through the pool guidelines at a few of the local pools.  Most of them specified "no beach shorts" according to google translate. After a little internet research, I found that meant they only  allowed Speedo-like attire for males. Well, we only brought beach shorts and there was no way we were going to abandon swimming the entire vacation.  So, Dan made a quick run to Casino (French answer to WalMart) and picked up some Tiny Trunks (a little less revealing than traditional Speedos...).

I have done my fair share of trying to understand the reasoning behind this. I finally stumbled on this article that shed some light on the matter. 

They aren't just singling out males either.  I tried to go down the water slide in my tankini (with a little skirt around the bum) and was told I was prohibited from doing so.  The lifeguard said I was fine to be in the baby pool, but I wasn't permitted onto the slide with it.  
Go figure.

Picture cropped :)

To be honest, most of our guys now prefer the French trunks to their "bulky" swim trunks.
Moral of the story: Don't knock it till you tried it... just don't try it when we're around :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Slaying Dragons

Eight years ago, my brother, Chris, and our nephew, Henry, came to visit us when Worthy was born.  He brought the cutest little outfit (probably bought by Charlotte!) and it instantly became one of my favorites.  It has this adorable little dragon on it and a silver helmet.  Too cute.  For some odd reason, it reminds  me of the old Atari game, Adventure (where you had to slay the dragons...) and I have fond memories of playing that with Chris. Every time I see it, I think of Chris & Char and am reminded how special and dear they are to us.  
Never did I imagine that we'd have three more boys in it.  
I find myself often seeing an outfit and remembering who gave it to us as a present or hand-me-down. I love that some gifts bring about ongoing Thankfulness & Delight.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vacation (Part 2): The Hike

 One day we decided to take a hike.   According to our host's travel book (en Francais) this was the shortest hike.  Due to the language barrier, we weren't sure if it was the easiest (post-hike, I'm sure that it wasn't!).  We drove to this remote and beautiful area, found the trail head, strapped on the boys and were off.
At the beginning of the hike, there were some very friendly cows that the boys found rather amusing. 

Only after 15 minutes did I realize we were climbing up a mountiain hill. It took us about 2 hours to hike up.  The boys didn't complain once.  Seriously.  They seemed to genuinely have a great time!  They found great joy in hopping up onto tree trunks for a photo.
Monkey See.....................................Monkey Do

Not gonna lie, it was a tough climb.  
We finally reached the top.  Many who had passed us along the way were there to cheer and greet our arrival.
Victory - except we have to climb back down now.  That went much quicker.  True confession - I was really anxious about tripping and falling with Christian strapped to me.  Thankfully, we finished relatively unscathed.

See the peak in the back of this picture?  
That's where we climbed to! That's right - be impressed!

Followed by lovely napping in the car... :)

Worthy is 8!

While on vacation, Worthy turned 8!  We had a delayed celebration, but (of course!) we had to have some presents and cake on the special day.  This was going to be our first night at the Home we were staying in, so I thankfully had brought a boxed cake mix and frosting.

Side Note: Boxed cake mixes (and frosting) are not readily available here.  When my parents visited us, they brought a big stash of them.  Otherwise, I'd have to go down to Bobby's - a place that sells hard-to-get American & British fare and pay about $10 for a box of Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix.

At this point, I thought I had packed & planned so well - cake mix, check; frosting, check; cake pan, check... wouldn't you know it... I forgot the candles.  So I went to the local store and bought some. Due to my very rusty French I didn't realize they were the relighting kind... this drove Worthy a little nut-so.
I'm so thankful for our John Worthy.  I love that he's part of our family and all the characteristics that make him unique.  He's a fantastic older brother.  He models patience and forbearance SO well with his younger brothers.  And usually, he actually enjoys being with them.  I love his appetite for reading and fact gathering.  He genuinely makes me laugh, not the fake stuff, but real laughter at what he says and does.  I like having a funny kid.  I love his mind - he has this great make-believe mind and I often find myself peeking into his room and listening to him do Lego Voices or whatever.  He causes me to want to Wonder more.  I love this little man and I love who he's becoming.  I'm so thankful for him!

It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital.  

How fast the time has  gone.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Viry, France (Vacation)

This summer we took a vacation to Viry, France
What's in Viry?  Good question... not much, but outside of Viry there is oodles to do. 
Why Viry? We decided to try a Home Exchange.  
We are now a 6 person family which means nothing is really easy any more... not that it was actually easy with five.  Nor is it any cheaper.  So, we thought we'd give a home exchange a whirl instead of paying for 2 hotel rooms, eating out, etc. (And camping with a newborn didn't sound all that relaxing!).  I won't draw out the suspense for you - it was AMAZING!  We found a family that had a country home in France.  They were interested in coming to Vienna and we were interested in going anywhere that wasn't a city.  Our hope was to find a place to do some outdoor things - swimming, hiking, etc. The place we found couldn't have been more perfect.

We went swimming at a nearby lake.  I'm not gonna lie - it was chilly water.  That didn't deter the kids (or Dan). It was absolutely beautiful.  Don't worry there are no Speedo Pics that follow :).

It was a super relaxing first day to our vacation.