Wednesday, December 29, 2010

US Embassy Memorial

Our safari trip ended earlier in the day than planned, which left us with most of the afternoon to do some touring in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. We were supposed to have a day to tour before the safari began, but because of our delayed plane, that didn't happen. There isn't much to see in the city and it isn't the safest place for us to be, but we went out anyway.

We had one place we wanted to go and it was only 3 km toward downtown, so we decided we would try to walk it. Normally 3 km would be no big deal, but I was nervous about being out and about. Jay had his map in his hands and I was nervous because it made us look like tourists (which you don't want to be pegged as). But then I realized..... this entire town has black skin and we have bright white skin. I'm pretty sure that pegged us as tourists! Nonetheless, we walked right through an extremely busy park as they were having a festival to celebrate Boxing Day. We got stared at by everyone we passed, but we kept on pushing through. I was scared out of my mind, but Jay was a little more used to it. Once we got through the massive crowd, it wasn't quite so bad.
Anyway, our goal was to get to the Memorial of the US Embassy that was bombed back in 1998. We got to the memorial and had to pay a whole 20 cents each to get in! It was a little park area with a water fountain and a memorial wall, with all the names of the victims. There were several people laying around on the grass and enjoying the beautiful day. The place of the memorial is where the US Embassy used to stand. The building is no longer there and is now the memorial.

We went in to the visitors center to look around and read the stories. It was quite interesting to see it all. We also got to watch a half hour long video of exactly what happened. It reinacted the entire day and explained the FBI investigation that eventually led to the arrest of the terrorist. This terrorist attack that took place in 1998 is the largest attack in Africa thus far, and the sad part is it wasn't even against Africa, it was against the US. 218 people were killed in the attack, most of them being Africans. This attack is compared to that of the Twin Towers in NY. That was the biggest attack on American soil and this was the biggest attack on African soil.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hukuna Matata

What you've all been waiting to see.... all the details about our trip to Africa. This may take you an hour to read so you may just want to skim it. I wrote a journal entry each day of the trip so I didn't forget what we did.


We woke up with intentions to leave for the train station at 0930. We pulled out right on time and were lucky to find a parking spot. It was one of the last and covered in snow. We got the car in place, but weren’t too sure how easy it would be to get out. We walked about three blocks to get inside the train station. We looked up what track our train was on and noticed a message beside it. We couldn’t read it because it was obviously in Germany, so Jay went to ask and our train was cancelled. We needed to be on the train that was ready to leave if we were going to make it in time. We ran out and caught it just in time at 0958 (our train was supposed to leave at 1018). We arrived in Wurzburg at 1025. We were supposed to leave there at 1055. We waited inside because it was freezing and we didn’t have our coats. Our train was delayed another 25 minutes because of the weather. We waited that whole time up top by the tracks and froze because we didn’t want to miss it. We finally rolled out at 1125 and arrived in Frankfurt at 1300, with two hours to spare before our plane left. The airport was PACKED! We waited in line for only 30 minutes to check in. While Jay waited in line, I went to get us lunch at McDonalds. When I got back, Jay was in the front of the line waiting for me to come back to check in. When we went up to the counter, we were told our plane was delayed an hour and a half. They gave us 20 euro in food vouchers while we waited. Unfortunately we just got our food!! So we sat and waited on the floor while we wait (no seats around). The plane was supposed to leave at 1510, but was delayed until 1645. Jay bought at 120 euro pair of binoculars during that time. We got on the plane on time, but then sat there until 1820 before finally taking off. It was a four hour flight to Cairo, Egypt. We arrived in Cairo at 2320 (one hour time difference). We were supposed to be there at 1930 and catch our next flight at 2145. We missed our next flight and there were no more flights for the night. We sat around the airport waiting for our luggage and vouchers to stay in a hotel for the night. They wouldn’t give us our luggage or passports, but made us leave the airport and go to a hotel around 0100 the next morning. 


We left the airport shortly after 0100. We took a short van ride to the hotel that the airlines set up for us. It took an hour to get everyone organized and in a room. Before going to our room, we set up a taxi to take us to the pyramids since our place didn’t leave until that next evening. With a free day in Cairo, we wanted to take advantage of it! After pulling out some Egyptian pound from the ATM, we got to our room at 0230. Jay took a bath and I went to bed. We didn’t have our luggage so couldn’t change or do much else. We woke up at 0700 to meet the taxi at 0730. We had a personal taxi that drove us through downtown Cairo. The driver pulled over a couple times so we could get out and take pictures. We stopped on the bridge of the Nile River. We stopped at a papyrus museum and saw how they make paper. We bought a sheet that had “Feldt” written in hieroglyphics. We then went to the pyramids and the sphinx. The driver took us to a sketchy place that was full of camels. They wanted us to ride a camel up to the pyramids, saying it was too far to walk. After three minutes of them trying to convince us and Jay saying no, the driver finally drove us there, which was about 4 blocks away. It was about a 300 meter walk to get up to the sphinx. We took lots of pictures and walked all around the sphinx and the pyramids. We took the taxi back to the hotel and ate lunch for free, using the vouchers they gave us. We then took the shuttle to the airport to see if we could find anything out. They knew nothing yet. We sat in the airport from 1300 to 1930. Jay read his book, I took a nap, and we played Phase 10. We finally got tickets at 1930, along with our passports back and luggage tags. We went through security and waited another hour before boarding the plane. We left the runway at 2145. We were served “supper” at 2300 and then rested!


We arrived at the airport at 0345. We bought a visa for $25 each. Thankfully we found both of our bags and got on our way. We took a taxi to our hotel for 1700 Kenyan shillings (about $20). The ride took about a half hour. We checked into the hotel and they still gave us our room, even though it was 0500 in the morning. We got into our room, Jay jumped in the shower, I situated our luggage and then we went to bed… for a half hour. I got up at 0545 to shower and get ready. We headed to breakfast at 0630. We met our group leader and got signed in. We left the hotel at 0730 to start our safari! Once we left, we drove all day. We stopped in a few small villages and looked around. One spot had beautiful wood carvings that we thought about buying. They wanted 10,000 shillings $135) and we offered $20. They said $100, so we went up to $40. They didn’t take the offer so we walked away. It was an expensive place! We pulled in to camp in Kisii, Kenya at 1600. We stopped at a grocery store near by to buy drinks and chips. I was feeling really sick, so was glad to stop. The roads were nothing close to smooth. An Iowa gravel road would even have felt nice compared to these!! We had an option to stay in a room for an extra charge for the night. We decided to camp out instead. The tent was easy to pop up. We got our sleeping bags put out and everything organized. We started cooking supper and hung out for a few hours. After supper and cleaning up, we all went to a restaurant across the street for drinks. We stayed for awhile and drank a hot sprite. We asked for a cold one, but they didn’t have any. Once we got back, we crashed for the night.


We woke up and 0630 to get showered and ready for the day. The common showers weren’t working because the water had been shut off. Jay got a key to a room in another building, so we showered there. After getting ready and packing up, we ate breakfast. We had to wait around afterwards for another hour because the starter in the truck went out. After bringing in a mechanic and replacing it, we finally got moving at 0900. After buying groceries and getting gas, we hit the road to Tanzania. After a half hour, we stopped at a soap stone factory. They walked us through all the stations of making it… sawing the big stones into smaller pieces, chipping and carving them into shape, sanding them smooth, painting, and then polishing them. We spent $35 on our things, which we thought was a good price! We continued driving to the border of Kenya. At the border, we had to get an exit stamp. Then we walked across the border and went into immigration control in Tanzania. We had to fill out another form and pay $100 each for a visa. Those from Ireland and US have to pay $100, all other countries pay $50. Not fair, but nothing we could do about it! We continued to drive for another hour and a half before stopping for lunch. A swarm of children came to watch us eat. They were glad to get our leftover food. The picture below was taken right before we ate. There were several more kids sitting and waiting for food by the time we finished eating. After driving for awhile again, we made it to Lake Victoria (the largest lake in Africa) at 1600. We just sat around the rest of the night, enjoying the sun and the waves. We hit the hay as soon as supper was done.


We got up at 0600 to get ready for the day. I was woken up at 0500 or so by someone singing the Muslim call to prayer. We left the beach at 0815 and headed downtown to the open air market. Lots of stuff to see… clothing, fresh produce, and seeds. We then traveled to Serengeti National Park. Right inside, we stopped for lunch and it started to sprinkle. Once back in the truck, we had 140 km to drive before getting to the middle of the park, where we camped for the night. As we took our game drive, we saw many animals, mostly giraffes and zebras. Once we got to camp (which was extremely full of other campers) we set up our tents and prepared supper. We ate supper around 1930, then sat around the camp fire the rest of the evening. We decided to head to bed at 2200. All night long I heard howling from the hyenas and huffing from water buffalo. A little nerve racking, but very cool. In the morning when our group leader got up, he said three lions were sitting around our camp fire. Jay must have done a nice job of building it! He climbed back into his tent and yelled for everyone to stay in their tent for awhile. A truck soon drove in and scared them away! Good thing for that!


The alarm went off at 0545 this morning. No shower, just got dressed. The sun wasn’t up yet, but we had breakfast and got ready to go. We didn’t have to pack up because we stayed there the next night too. The bus wouldn’t start again, so they tried jumping it. During that time, we watched the sun rise and the animals creep in to camp. We finally got the truck started and hit the road at 0715. We drove around until on a game hunt, looking for animals. We saw lots!! We saw THOUSANDS of wildebeests and zebras that were in the midst of migrating. We spent twenty minutes trying to find a leopard up in a tree. We finally found him and got good pictures. He was sure hiding well! The drive was pretty productive, seeing most of the animals we wanted to see. We made a big list of animals we saw so we wouldn’t forget. We got back to camp around 1130 and ate lunch. Then we had time off until 1500. Jay took a nap the whole time in a hot tent. I enjoyed the heat of the sun and caught up on writing. We also started preparing for supper. We then went out again to see more animals before the sun went down. That night we had another camp fire and enjoyed our calm evening.


I woke up at 0545 to get a “shower”. Showers aren’t that great or that clean in the middle of a game park where your water comes out of a tank and is freezing cold! After breakfast and packing up, we left at 0810 (after push starting our truck). Just a couple miles down the road, we saw a lion really close to us. We took some great pictures, and then noticed an elephant in the distance. We hadn’t seen an elephant yet, so we were really excited. The elephant was BEAUTIFUL!! He started behind a tree, but eventually walked out for us. He was just eating his morning breakfast of grasses. It was fun to watch him use his trunk to eat. He walked within 10 feet of our truck! He then went in front of us on the road and drank out of a puddle. It was quite amazing!! We spent the rest of the morning driving and seeing animals. We reached the outside of the park by and stopped for our picnic lunch. We climbed to a tall rock to see a huge panoramic view of the entire park. It looked like it went on forever! Then we drove on to a gorge. Someone gave us the background information and explained that that’s where humanization began. From there, we traveled to our campsite for the night. We set up our tent. Jay took a shower and I wrapped Christmas presents. Earlier in the week, our group decided to celebrate Christmas together. Everyone bought a $10 gift so we could all open a present. Jay packed duct tape, so I put them in a bag and taped them shut! We decorated a tree that African boys put together for us. We also put red and green balloons on the chairs. After supper, we played dirty Santa. Jay was #2 and I was #11 out of 15 people. Jay started with an African mask, but ended with a bottle of champaign. I stole a present from another person, getting two Africa shaped necklaces and a post card. After singing songs, telling stories and jokes, and enjoying the fire, we headed to bed. It was really cold, so we didn’t change out of all our layers, just jumped into our sleeping bags. We were staying on top of a crater, so were quite high! It didn’t take us long to fall asleep!


We woke up at 0530 to get an early start, after a long night of rain. We packed up, ate breakfast, and packed a lunch. As we were packing up our things and putting them in the truck we noticed a huge elephant walking right through the camp site.  He stayed along side the tree line and then went back into the forest. It was very neat to see.  We then packed in a 4x4 Land Rover and headed out at 0700. We went down into Ngorangora Crater, 600 meters down from where we spent the night (at the top edge). As soon as we got to the bottom, we saw two cheetahs. We kept driving around seeing other animals. After an hour, we finally saw rhinos, the last animal we were waiting to see! We had then seen the BIG FIVE (rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards, & water buffalo)!! Our guide said there were only 14-21 rhinos in the entire crater. We were lucky to see them. We continued on and I fell asleep. I took too many pills this morning (including Dramamine) that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. We stopped for lunch by a lake. We had to be careful while eating because of kites (birds) stealing food. We finished with the crater and drove back out. Almost to the top, the engine overheated. We pulled over and our driver poured two bottles of water in. We went for five more minutes and had to pull over again. We had no more water in the truck, so waited for someone to drive by. After another ten minutes, we got going again. I was quite sick by now from all the bumps and crazy driving. My head was right by the window ready to stick it out. It didn’t take long until we had to pull over again. By this time it was hailing pea sized balls. We driver realized that we didn’t have any oil and the engine was steaming hot. Not a great combination. We got another 20 km and met up with another vehicle to take us the rest of the way. We then drove another 40 km to meet the bus. It decided to head on without us since we were taking so long! After quickly walking through a market of pushy salesmen, we finally made it to our camp site (which was a nice place). It had been a long day, so I was glad to be done for the night. Our campsite was right beside a snake zoo. We walked through all the cages, looking at the snakes, birds, and crocodiles. Some of the snakes were huge, being able to eat whole people!! We had another good supper and then ate some cake. Our guides made us a Christmas cake while we were on our game drive in the morning. It was absolutely delicious!! Because it was our last night, we said our good-byes and named our favorite parts of the week. Then we went to bed because we had an early morning.


I woke up at 0430 and jumped in the shower. I thought I may have a small chance of hot water if I was the first one in, and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad! We loaded up, ate breakfast, and were on the bus by 0700 because we had a long drive back to Nairobi. We made great time and pulled into the hotel parking lot by 1400. The drive was INCREDIBLY BUMPY!! We weren’t able to sleep because we had to hold ourselves down, otherwise we were flying in the air! When we got back to the hotel, we put our bags in a girl’s room and headed out on the town. We walked 3 km to the US Embassy Memorial. The embassy was hit by a bomb back in 1998 by terrorist attack. It was neat to see the pictures of that day and watch the video. Then we walked back to the hotel. I wasn’t very comfortable out on the streets. We were the only white people around and everyone was staring at us. I was glad to be back to the hotel, even though I probably didn’t need to be so nervous. Jay took a shower and I reorganized our luggage, getting them ready for the plane. We ate supper with our group at 1830 and then got ready to head to the airport. We left at 2200 and then waited at the airport.


We sat in the airport until 0130, when the ticket desk finally opened. We then went through security and found a spot to fall asleep. I laid on top of all the bags so they couldn’t be taken. Jay walked around for awhile and then sat to doze. We flew out on time and got to Egypt at 0830. We played Phase 10 while waiting to board our next flight at 1030. We left on time and got to Frankfurt at 1355. We went straight to the train station, after picking up our luggage, to try to get on an earlier train. The train was delayed by an hour and a half, along with EVERY other train. So we sat around and waited for the original train we were supposed to take at 1537. It was also delayed by an hour an a half, so we went back to the first train. It finally arrived at 1620 and we were lucky to find a seat! We got to Wurzburg after two hours and jumped right onto another train to get to Schweinfurt. It was so good to be back in town after such a long day of traveling! Jay went to get the car and had to brush off a good 9 inches of snow! We had been hit by a huge snow storm that day! I loved being back in the snow!! We drove home and crashed pretty quickly! It felt so good to be home again! Traveling is so much fun, but it’s always nice to come back home.

All in all, we had an absolutely amazing trip! We are so glad to have had the opportunity to go on this adventure, as we will doubtfully ever do it again! My favorite part of the trip wasn’t even the animals. I was absolutely intrigued by the African communities we drove through. The majority of these people live in the slums, with houses made out of mud, sticks, grass, or tin. We saw hundreds of villages made out of huts. Their churches looked worse than our old dog house. Their hotels were literally holes in a wall. We saw a lot of people walking around with their traditional clothing. They carried spears and machete knives with them. Many didn’t wear shoes. Those that did have shoes, their shoes were made out of old tires. As I sat on the bus driving by these communities, it was hard to recognize that this is their real life. It’s not just a movie that I’m watching. This is how these people live. Wow!! That’s a life changer. That stops me from complaining about a cold shower because at least I had clean water to bath in, instead of jumping in a lake or using a dirty stream. Never again will I complain if my phone doesn’t have reception or the price I have to pay for gas, because I have other means of communication and I don’t have to walk for miles to fill up a barrel of water and carry it back home on my head. These people live quite a life. It is so different from ours, but they make it work for them. They were all so friendly and happy. They loved having us around and talking with us. The phrase “Hukuna Matata” that makes us all think of the Lion King….. well that’s the motto of their lives. It means not to worry. Everything will work out somehow, no need to fret. As our truck didn’t start every morning, we all said hukuna matata. As our 4x4 broke down half way up the crater, our driver said hukuna matata. When the other truck driver came to pick us up and take us to our bus, that’s the first thing he said when we got in. They make life work, no matter what happens. It’s an amazing attitude to have. It’s definitely something we want to live by. Take life as it comes at us. Much of the time we can’t control what happens, so why worry!

To see a BUNCH more photos (not all, because we took nearly 3000 in all) go to my picasa site! That will give you an even better idea of how our trip went!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

I know.... I'm a week early on wishing you all a Merry Christmas, but we head out tomorrow and won't be back until after Christmas. We are all packed and ready to head to Kenya and Tanzania on an African safari! Sounds pretty exciting (and scarey) doesn't it! I can't wait to get there and be in complete culture shock! We will definitely be the minority when it comes to skin color!

I am extremely nervous about our first day in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. This city is not known to be very nice. Bag snatching, jewelry stealing, money taking are amoung the top things that happen to tourists. I just got done reading a site that said that bag snatching is very common, especially to new arriving tourists! Great, that will be us! And unfortunately, we arrive to the airport at 3:45 in the morning and don't meet up with our tour group until 6:00 at night. That means we have all day to figure out what to do. We certainly can't walk around town with all of our bags as that won't be safe at all. We are hoping to get into our hotel early, or at least be able to leave our bags there. We shall see! I already took off all my jewerly, so that won't be an issue. My fingers feel bare without my rings, but at least I know they'll be safe!

The rest of the trip.... traveling the game parks, sleeping with the animals, visiting the small villages.... I am so excited for!! It's pretty sad when I'm more nervous for the thiefs in the city instead of the wild animals in the parks!

I hope you all have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy your time with your family and friends! Eat lots of yummy cookies and candy! I'm really going to miss that this year! Mom brought some over to us, but it was gone within a few days! I wish I could have some more! I guess I'll have to wait until next year! Enjoy the end of 2010!

Look again in the middle of next week. I'll be sure to have some pictures posted of all our animal friends!!

Until then, I'll leave you with a wintery picture. This can be your last memory of us in case we get eaten by a lion!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Last Christmas Market Ever!

I'm sad to say it, because I like them so much, but today we traveled to our last Christmas market ever! We have really enjoyed going to different cities to see the markets all over Germany. So far this year, we have been to Schweinfurt, Rothenburg, Erfurt, and Salzburg. Over the past three years, we have never made our way down to the Nurnberg Christmas market. It is supposed to be the largest and most well known in Germany. All of that also makes it the busiest, which has kept me away. But, knowing this is our last Christmas in Germany, I decided I would really regret not getting there if we didn't go this year.

We went down to Nurnberg last week (as you may have read from a previous post) but didn't make it to the market because of the crazy parking. So, after church today we jumped on the train and got down there with no problem. We walked through the market seeing lots of really neat things. This market had a bigger variety of items, so it was fun to look at it all. And of course, we had to try out lots of the food. Between the two of us, we ate a bratwurst, waffle, chocolate covered banana, and a chocolate covered cinnamon cream ball. I really wish we would have taken a pictures of this cream ball. We had never seen them before and it was quite delicious! I could have gone for another one, but I held back.

Unfortantely, the weather wasn't the most pleasant. It was very wet and cold, and it was misting the whole time. But that didn't stop us! After we walked through all the aisles, we stood infront of a live jazz band with a singer and listened to some Christmas tunes. One great thing about Germany, a lot of their concerts are sung in English. I really enjoyed listening and would have even more if it wasn't so cold.

A view from on top of the Christmas market. All you can see if the tops of all the stands.

It was kind of sad leaving, knowing that we are starting to close on this chapter in our lives. I know.... we still have almost an entire year left, but I've loved it so much here. This is the first place we have called home as a couple, so it's special to us.

When we got home, we pulled out our new toys to play with. These are both brain teasers. The first one has lots of strangely shaped figures that fit perfectly in the shape of a cube. There are over 100 different ways to make it fit together. Thankfully we took a picture of each piece being removed. It's the only way I can get it back together!

Here is the second one. It's called a skyscraper. There is a metal rod that can be put into 13 different locations. Then the rest of the wooden skyscrapers have to fit perfectly around it, forming a square. Again, not so easy! Jay tried.... and.... well, you can see how successful he was!
He couldn't quite get it all to fit perfectly. So, instead he has two empty spots on the inside of the city and two skyscrapers sticking out! He was close though!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Little Basketball

On Monday night, Jay and I went to see the Harlem Globetrotters. They are touring around Europe and stopped by Schweinfurt. We didn't get tickets to see them because it was the same time my family was here. But, by word of mouth, we found out that we could stand in a line with other nonticket holders in hopes that there would be space for us. We got to the gym at 5:30 and the show didn't start until 7:00. We were about 20 people back in the line, not too bad! Around 6:15, a guy was walking down the line and offering two tickets. Jay said he would take them, so in we went! That was great because it allowed us to get some pretty great seats! We were sitting right on the floor and had backrests on our chairs. Much better than sitting on the bleachers for 2 hours!!

It was a very cool show that they put on. I had never seen them before, so I was intrigued. Jay was taking pictures the whole time, so we have lots to share! Here are a few of the best.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Museum Hopping

Yesterday, Jay and I went to Nurnberg. We had a two fold mission, but accomplished only half of it. The first thing we wanted to do was go to the court house where the Nurnberg Trials took place at the end of World War II. We have been there before, but saw only the outside as we weren't able to get in. Just a few weeks ago, a memorial museum, including the actual court room, opened up for public viewing. Jay, being the history buff that he is, definitely wanted to see it. It was neat to see Court Room 600, see many pictures and video clips from the trial, and hear all the details. History isn't always fun when reading it out of a text book, but actually seeing these places and sitting where they sat, how can you not enjoy.

After hitting up the memorial, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the car! Yes, we are lame, but we have to save our money for our trip to Kenya! I would rather buy a giraffe than eat at a restaurant!!

Our next mission was to head downtown and visit the world renowned Nurnberg Christmas Market. This market is huge and extremely overwhelming. Knowing this has scared me away the past two years. We've hit up a lot of smaller ones, but didn't have the desire to be so crowded that you can barely walk. But, this is our last Christmas in Germany and I know I would regret not going to the biggest market when it's only an hour away. So, we drove around trying to find a parking spot that was closer than two miles out. After nearly an hour of driving and trying to find a spot in a parking garage, we were both frustrated and gave up. Instead, we headed to the Hitler Documentation Center. We decided we would ride the train down some weekend and walk to the market. It would be much less hectic doing it that way!

We have been to the area of the Documentation Center many times. This is where Hitler's parade field is and some other big sites of his are. But we had never taken the time to walk through the museum. It was a lot of reading and we have heard a lot about it already, but it was still neat to walk through. No matter how many museums or concentration camps we walk through, I will never stop being amazed at the damage Hitler caused.

After finishing up at the museum and 130 pictures later, it was time to head back home. That was enough history for me in one day! Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we'll have a chance to get to the Christmas market. Actually, next weekend will be our last chance as we head for Africa the following week!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spending the Day with Noah

I got to spend the day wtih Noah yesterday while mommy and daddy were busy elsewhere. He came at 7:00 in the morning and played hard all morning! While drinking hot chocolate and singing Christmas songs, we put together a wreath using Noah's hands. When Jay came home, he laughed at me because he realized it was really more of a project for me more than Noah. Other than tracing Noah's hands, he wasn't too excited about it. I guess it was a bit too difficult for him to cut. Maybe next year!

Once we finished with the wreath, we moved on to building a gingerbread house. I was the builder and Noah was the decorator. I put all the walls together while Noah unwrapped the candy. He did sneak a few pieces into his mouth, but I pretended not to see. I then slapped a bunch of frosting on the roof so Noah could put the candy on. I let him put it on however he wanted. I was really impressed with his designing. He used starbursts for the shingles and even put them in rows.

Here he is in full concentration while putting the candy on. I couldn't help but laugh at the determination in his eyes. It was so important to him! I loved it!

Another funny part was that Noah would "accidently" bump his finger into the frosting while putting on a piece of candy. He would say "uh oh", would then lick his finger, then say "yummm." He said this everytime and I think I giggled everytime. I know I wasn't helping the cause, but it was just too cute!!

By the end of our building, I think he had more frosting on his face than got in his mouth!!

Here is our final product... full with house, sidewalk, Christmas tree, and a fishing pond!

Once we finished the gingerbread house, we played in the laundry that I was trying to fold. I had three sets of sheets that I needed to get put away. I think it took me about an hour to get my laundry done because I had a little boy wrapped up in the sheets. But we had lots of fun playing!! After lunch, Noah crashed pretty hard. It wasn't difficult for me to tell when it was nap time.

Later in the afternoon I had basketball practice and Noah came with me. Jay met me there and played with Noah while I was coaching. They had fun rolling the ball back and forth and shooting a couple hoops!

Then mommy and daddy wanted him back! But we sure did have a great day together! I'm glad we could help out and have fun at the same time!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Last week we had some wonderful visitors come spend Thanksgiving with us. My parents and my sister, Nicole, came to spend a few days here in Germany. While wanting to see our home, our town, and our daily lives, they also wanted to see some different parts of Europe. We took a five day tour around central Europe, heading down south to southern Germany, over to Salzburg, Austria, and then up to Prague, Czech Republic. The time went so fast, but it was so great to have them here while they could. We spent a lot of time in the car, but we saw everything we wanted to see!

I think the best part of the week was going to the Chrsitmas markets. Even though they are a tad overwhelming with thousands of people scrunched into one area, they are still quite the site to see. I love the atmosphere and all the great food!!

The worst part of the week was the weather. It rained/snowed on us almost every day, which made it really wet and cold. It was absolutely amazing to wake up to snow while in the Alps though. You certainly can't get much of a better view than that. Unfortunately we didn't get a very good view of the mountains. It was really foggy while we were down south and never got a clear shot. Nonetheless, the snow made it perfect for pictures.... much prettier than the brown, empty trees.

While they were here, we had some friends over to play a game of Balderdash. Mom had more fun playing with the kids instead!

Pictures of a few of the places we went...


Neuschwanstein Castle


Salt Mines



 So... perhaps we decided to be kids again and have a snowball fight. Jay got the blunt of it, but he was a good sport. The people watching us got a kick out of it too!! We have to take every chance to can get to play in the snow!
 Jay just got nailed! You'll notice the white on his left hip!

 This was the evil look we got after both of us hitting him!

East/West Germany Boarder


The time they were here went entirely too fast! I wish they could have stayed a whole month!!! I had a really hard time telling them goodbye. We won't get to see them again until we move back to the states. It was our choice to stay in Germany another year and we think we made the right choice. But situations like this really make it hard! We know the next year will go by quick as we have a lot planned. Jay has a rough draft of a schedule for trips planned out! We are going to take every opportunity we can get to travel before we head back.

Mom, Dad, and Nicole, thanks for taking the time and spending the money to come visit us! We are so glad you were able to see us and see how we live our lives over here! Can't wait to see you again in a year or so!