Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A day at the Zoo

When you live in Europe you become all about taking "day trips" out and about. You think you'd run out of castles and old churches, but that's never the case. It was in the midst of one of these such trips, to something old somewhere in Europe when Micah asked me, "Mom, am I ever gonna get to see an elephant?" Thus the seed was planted, and plans were formed. See, in Europe there's so much to see that sometimes simple things (that can also be done when we get back to the states and castles built in the 13th century are hard to come by) get skipped over, like the zoo. We planned the trip during Grandma's visit, because I think taking kids to the zoo is a very Grandma thing to do. And Micah not only got to SEE Elephants, but feed them and touch their trunks as well!
Micah was in AWE. This was my favortie part of the trip. What a sweet picture of him gazing up at the elephant.Birds and Beasts to the left, People exhibit on the right.... hee hee hee

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Marathon Man

Rob ran in the 2008 FIDUCIA Baden-Marathon in Karlsruhe today! It was his very first marathon, and he has been training for about 8 months. We weren't sure he was going to be able to run after getting so sick 2 weeks ago. He was sick for over a week, running a high, high fever and losing almost 10 pounds in 2 weeks (for Rob that is an enormous amount) and completely unable to run or train.
He was feeling good, and we headed up to Karlsruhe (about an hour and a half away) on Saturday. After registering, picking up his number, and chip we met up with his running buddy. Joshua brought his own cheering section with him!
We walked around the marketplatz of downtown Karlsruhe for a little while on Saturday, and then headed to the hotel for a good nights sleep. While we were in Karlsruhe we left our car parked and took the tram everywhere we needed to go.
Sunday, race day!! the morning was cloudy and cool... we ate breakfast at the hotel and then took the tram over to the start line. Rob and his running buddy, Joshua Legullian (who everyone calls Lego), were one of the last groups to start. The marathon started at 9:00 AM - but the time doesn't officially start until their chip crosses the start line, which wasn't until about 9:20 AM for Rob.
After Rob started running we took the tram to an area downtown, at about the 33 k mark (about 20.5 miles) and waited for Rob to pass. We saw him there and cheered for him - he was looking pretty beat, but still running!! Then we took the tram back down to the finish line to watch for them. Lego finished first with a time of 4 hours 53 minutes and 5 seconds. Rob hit a wall about 23 miles and ended up having to walk for about 2 miles or so. He came in running the last kilometer and finished at 5 hours 10 minutes and 21seconds. I think you can click HERE to see his times throughout the race - where he was the first half and then the second. He was right on track to finish about where he had planned (4 hours and 30 minutes) except for needing to walk those couple of miles. After the race and a shower we took the tram back to our van and headed home. We picked up some pizzas and our dog and headed home. Rob got into his sweats, and ate his favorite post run meal (Pizza and wine) and watched football.
We are so proud of his finish!!
Picking up his number and packet when we first arrive on Saturday.Riding the Tram around Karlsruhe on Saturday afternoonSaturday: Lego (right) and his cheering section. Wife, Kelly, and friends Zac and Bonnie.Sunday morning started out COLD and cloudy. The sun came out and the day turned out really nice! The perfect weather to run 26.5 miles.Here they are just starting out, all smiles!!Here's where we met up with them at the 20 mile mark. Noah ran out to see Daddy, who is looking a little tired at this point, but STILL RUNNING!! a couple miles after this is where Rob his his wall. Here's Rob about to cross the finish line!!! He rallied and was able to run in the last kilometer!!After collecting their medals and some snacks the guys head to the showers.Rob is home, in his chair with PIZZA! His legs are hurting, and he is tired but otherwise feels pretty good!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rain Gutter Regatta

This year Noah is in Webelos I. Tonight was our first pack meeting which included the rain gutter regatta. Noah decorated his boat (I helped draw the jolly roger on the flag) to try and win the "AAAHHHHRGH Matey!" award (most Piratey). They race the boats with straws and Noah's lost miserably, which is what we expected with all that Playmobil stuff hot-glued on there, but he did win for most Piratey, so all was not lost!Noah and his boat before the race (above) a close up of Noah's boat before he had to get it wet (below) Noah races (above) after all the other boys have finished.... but (below) wins the award for most Piratey boat, which is all he really wanted anyway....

Field Trip to the Gem Mines

We went on a field trip to the gem mines of Idar Oberstein. It is about 35 minutes from out house and something we haven't done yet! The boys thought it was extremely cool to put on hard hats and walk around some abandoned caves. Sarah was so happy to see all her friends, and Grandma and I learned how the crystals were formed in the lava and all about gem mining in Germany and Brazil. Okay, maybe the kids learned a little something, too. It was a really neat experience and a lot of families from our home school group showed up to participate, so that made it even better.Our whole group.the first group leaves on their tour (including Suzanne and kids)
My kids ready to go into the mine The tour guide shows us a map of the mine we are exploringSarah and her friends looking ever so stylish in their hard hatsAfter the tour we climbed every rock on the way back to the car. These are my kids with some of the Brigg's kids.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Paris, France - weekend with the girls

How we came to see the great city of Paris, France.
I was speaking with a group of ladies from my church about my mothers upcoming visit. I had mentioned that I would LOVE to take her to Paris, but i was so afraid of going and trying to figure that big city out. My friend, Bobbie, said she would take us... I don't know if she was kidding, but I took her up on her offer to help us navigate the foreign land. Bobbie was talking about our weekend girls get-away to Ania, and Ania (who has never been either) said she would like to go to! There was enough room in the van, there was another room available in the hotel and so we had our gang! Three generations + 2 sweet friends. It was a wonderful weekend. Bobbie, who speaks French very well, LOVES Paris and her love was infectious. She has been to Paris (and other places in France) many times before, but her awe of the city and love of the history just permeated all that we did and we fell in love, too. We didn't do too much "off the beaten path" touring since none of us had been there before we all wanted to hit the highlights, but having someone who speaks French and "understands" the city we walked or took the Metro everywhere, and learned a lot as we were on our way to and from the different hot-spots. It was like having our own personal Rick Steeves! We started out early on Friday morning and headed for the Holiday Inn by Paris Disneyland. We parked our car in the parking lot (which is outside the city of Paris) and from there took a shuttle and a train into downtown Paris. We caught the Metro to our hotel, which was located in the southwest quadrant of the city just a few blocks from the Eiffel tower. We dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out. The first thing we saw was the Eiffel tower. Then we stopped for some cafe (and sampled quiche lorraine). Our goal now was to walk along the Seinne river up to the Place de Concord - with the Obelesque at the center and from there walk the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. On our way to do this, though, we suddenly found ourselves at the right place at the right time and saw the Pope's entourage drive by upon his entrance into Paris! We didn't even know he was going to be in the city, but we had seen a large park all gated off with screens showing photo's of him as a choir was singing in the background - so we had a feeling something was up... then all of a sudden there was a news helicopter flying around, the city streets seemed to stop, and he drove by. After he passed though we continued on and saw the rest of the things on our list with little more excitement save for the excellent crepes we bought along the Champs Elysees and the 5 MILLLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIOOOOON stairs we climbed to reach the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Saturday we started with a moderate breakfast at our hotel. We then took the Metro over toward the Place de Concord to visit Bobbie's favorite little boutique that sells specialty teas, coffee's and other treats. We all bought some yummy coffee, tea, and treats. We window shopped our way over to the entrance of the Louvre. There was no line to get in so we paid the entrance fee and spent about 2 hours walking around the Louvre. How can I put into words how awesome it was to be there? You see those paintings in books, and recreations of them hang almost everywhere... but to walk down some of those halls and look at the actual canvas.... it was breathtaking. The paintings were so vivid, the Louvre itself is a magnificent building apart from the history and art that it holds. Every piece we stopped to look at seemed to tell a story and give a history lesson. Some of the painting made us cry - and I know that sounds corny and maybe even a little cliche, but the expressions that the artists captured of Jesus, Mary, or John the Baptist were just such amazing interpretations that you couldn't help but feel like weeping. We had to walk too quickly through the Egyptian wing since time was speeding by and we were all starting to feel hungry. You would need days to explore the Louvre. We did stop briefly at a painting on a wall that was completed during the reign of King Darius I (!!!!!!!!!!!). We ate lunch in the Louvre cafeteria, which was EXPENSIVE, but yummy. After lunch we headed over to Notre Dame - strolling by all the vendors along the way selling their original art and tourist "stuff". We took time to admire some of the bridges along the Seine, each one with it's unique carvings and history. Notre Dame was PACKED (probably because of the Pope's visit) so we sat briefly below the statue of King Charlemagne (the great) to catch our breath before heading over to the Latin quarter. Here we did some souvenir shopping before catching the Metro back to pick up our bags and catch the train back out to where our car was parked. We stopped at a shopping mall after picking up the van for one last French meal. I had the best creme brulee of my life (and this was only a food court restaurant!) and we set off for home about 9 PM. It was a fabulous trip, and so special to have been able to share that with my mom and daughter. I loved having Bobbie there, and the trip would not have been the same without Ania's sweet smile. We laughed so hard on our tired ride home over the silliest of things! I have about 200 pictures - most of them I uploaded to facebook for your viewing pleasure should you feel so inclined to check them all out - but here is a sampling of the trip.
(Above) the Eiffel tower was our first stop and (Below) Bobbie and Ania share their smiles at our first of many snack and coffee stops.The Arc de TriompheAfter climbing the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe we had just enough light left in the day for a few pictures. (above) - looking down the Champs Elysees toward the Louvre and (below) the 3 generations with the Eiffel tower in the background. (above) Saturday morning, outside the Louvre museum before going in and (below) yes, that is the Venus di Milo! No kidding. We also saw the Mona Lisa among many other things!!Sarah stands outside Notre Dame Cathedral.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Micah is SIX today!!!!

Today we celebrated Micah's actual birthday with a family birthday. Micah picked the menu, opened presents from family, and got to be king for a day. We ate corn on the cob and schnitzle with noodles (these are a few of my favorite things). Micah opened up all his presents from grandmas and grandpas, Sarah, Noah, and mom and dad. We had a great time and ended with ice cream and hot fudge. It was nice to have grandma here to celebrate. Rob captured a great shot of me with the loves of my life!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Micah's Birthday Party

We had a birthday party for Micah here at our house on Saturday. We were supposed to have some outside games, but it rained all day long. We invited some families that we are close to over, decorated party hats, ate some sandwhiches, played some games, opened some presents, and ate some cupcakes. IT actually turned out really well! Grandma drew a really cool tree on some grocery bags and the kids played pin the leaf on the tree (they were all winners this way). We had several rounds of musical chairs, and the kids all decorated their own cupcakes.