Friday, December 31, 2010

Day #25 - Christmas Day (Weihnachten) #2

We had the Elders with us for Christmas, and it was a blast. They are both from America, and we invited them over for our American Christmas with presents and a Christmas ham.

Here are Elders Asay and Alston (left to right)

Such happy missionaries!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day #25 - Christmas (Weihnachten) Part 1

Santa was able to find our house, even though we are in Liechtenstein for the holidays. We had some pretty happy boys on Christmas morning!

Here is Liam striking a pose. Every time you tell him to smile for the camera, this is what Liam will give you, with closed eyes and all.

Here is Liam opening his BIG present, a super sleuths tree house (Winnie the Pooh)

We had a really hard time catching the excitement in this picture...

This is kind of in reverse order, but this is before all of the action took place!. Liam was enjoying the tree, and Everett was hiding behind it.

Even across the ocean, we had to start our day with several helpings of Crepes, which Daddy made with loving reminiscence!

Day #24 - Christmas Eve (Heilig Abend)

Here in Austria, the presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve (or Heilig Abend). We were invited to be with the Veit family from the ward. It was an awesome experience. We sang Christmas carols and hymns together and we had a great time. We were surprised to learn that we also received gifts. The boys were SO excited, and they really enjoyed their gifts. We have played the Thomas Uno game in German at least 100 times already. And Liam loved his presents, too. It was such a special evening. They have a son on a mission in Russia, and it was so nice of them to have us over, even though he called while we were there. We love the ward here, and they have been taking interest and supporting us.

Day #23

Delaine and I had to lug a Christmas tree through three countries to get it to its final destination in Schaan, Liechtenstein. I took the first part, and Delaine took the second. With a little bit of Swiss Army knife hacking, we finally got it into its stand. This is the first real Christmas tree we have had since we were married. We love it. Our apartment smells wonderful. The boys and us had a great time putting up the ornaments to while Christmas music filled the air.

Steve displays his small saw, which took a while to cut off the necessary branches, but it was up to the task. Clean up was pretty extensive, though.

Might not look like much, but this is our little tree. We really feel like Christmas is here, because we have a real tree!

Here are the boys standing next to the tree.

Mommy is putting the hooks on all the ornaments!

Daddy gets the job of fitting the tree into the base.

Day #22

Here are some pictures of Everett at his school. Notice the whirlwind around him, as the kids work and play. Everett remains completely focused on his coloring. Have we mentioned that Everett loves going to Kindergarten? Well, he does. But each day, Liam has a really hard time saying goodbye. Sometime he whimpers when he has to give Everett a hug and kiss before leaving. Liam really wants to be a Kindergartner soon, too. His time is coming soon enough. Our boys are growing like crazy!

Day #21

Everett's Kindergarten had an open house day, and the parents were allowed to come and see what the class is up to. We were able to drop Liam off with a babysitter, so that we could both go. Everett was so happy to show us the songs he is learning, and he loved introducing us to his life as a Kindergartner in Austria. He loves his class, and he feels right at home. Steve took half the day off to be there, and it was a huge success. The kids sung songs and showed us their shadow story. It was a wonderful experience. Afterward we all had some cake and treats. All of the parents and teachers were so interested that Steve spoke German, and when he showed the teacher where the Smith family had lived in the US, the entire classroom of parents and children watched. That dispelled most of the rumors that we were from England.

Here is Everett's teacher, Christiana. She has taken a special interest in Everett. She has been teaching Kindergarten for 30 years!

Everett is showing daddy the dance he has been learning at school.

Now it's Mommy's turn.

Here he is dancing with one of his best buddies, Abdul!

Here is Everett sitting around the table during the event.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day #20

We got a package from Oma Lister, who sent the boys a few things for the 12 days of Christmas, so every day has been a little surprise for them. They had a blast, and it gave them yet another opportunity to count down the days before Christmas. Here is a little list of the "countdown milestones" that have helped the boys to prepare for Christmas day to arrive:

1. Advent Sundays (the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, starting in November)
2. They each have a chocolate advent calendar.
3. We bought them a LEGO advent calendar, and each day they get to make a new mini play set.
4. 12 days of Christmas with Oma Lister.
5. Family Home Evening - Each lesson has been on the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, we have basically repeated the same lesson each week to strengthen their understanding about Christmas.
6. Liam's birthday on the 8th is a milestone that helps us to know that Christmas is coming.

In short, the boys have been pretty sure as to how many days they have had to wait for Santa Claus to come.

There truly is nothing like a letter written using American candy to tell the tale! The boys were super stoked.

Opening one of the 12 Days presents!

Liam is playing with one of his B-Day gifts (his birthday is also in December, you know)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day #19

So, as described, here in Austria, they celebrate the four Sundays leading up to Christmas as Advent. We were invited by our friends, the Vuissas, to enjoy the fourth Advent, and they also had some other friends from the ward. It was very special, and we all sang dozens of Christmas songs in German and English and listened Christmas stories. All the while, we ate cookies and treats and had a phenomenal time. We love this tradition, and we are so excited to take it back with us and integrate it into our holiday routine every year. In the States, the day of Christmas is the focal point of the season, but the Advent Sundays will give us some milestones every year to focus on the birth of our Savior. We are so grateful for the things we are learning here in Austria and Liechtenstein, and are so happy to be here. It makes being far away from home much easier when people love and support you. We are truly blessed!

Here is everyone gathered around the four candles of the Advent, on the last Sunday before Christmas.

Liam is enjoying the candles. You can see Everett and Delaine in the background, as well.

There were even musical instruments: a recorder, two guitars, and even a flute!

Here is Everett's buddy at church, August Vuissa!

Here is Christian Vuissa (Director of many LDS films), Annika Vuissa (who loves Liam and Everett), and Günter Steiner (another friend from the ward)

Day #18

The view out of our front door after a little snow storm. We haven't yet had as much snow as we experienced in New England, but there has been snow on the ground for much of the month of December. It is cold out here, but the snow is great for snowball fights!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day #17

As you may have heard, there have been some cold, wintry days here in these alpine countries, and many of you have asked if we have winter gear for the boys. We want to provide you with a few visuals, because it is virtually impossible to keep all (or any) articles of warmth providing hats, gloves, etc., as it seems as if they are always pulling something off insisting that they are not cold, even though it is below freezing most days.

Also, these boys are just super cute in these pictures. They are supporting the most important things with their headgear: BYU and Batman, but don't tell Liam, half the time he calls this his Spiderman hat, and the other half he gets it right with Batman.

Everett gets cheesy, but catching a smile on Liam is a challenge... advantage Mommy on this one!

A moment of peace... in spite of all of the monumental battles throughout a single day, the boys do love each other... they are each other's best friend!

Liam is up to something on this one, he was probably preparing one of his many jokes (he has many at this point)

Awesome buddies!

Day #16

One thing that we really love out here is food from street vendors and little shops. There are many different opportunities to find good eats here in Austria. Their idea of fast food is not necessarily a drive thru, but rather a Bratwurst or the Turkish pita called a Kebap. We cannot fail to mention the breads, either. There are so many types of breads and pastries, and at this point, the boys know exactly which ones they like. It gets even better in winter time, when one can buy Raclette (a melted cheese delicacy) and many other fun, warm foods. They have chesnut stands all over town, and it is fun to smell all of the different foods.

As you can see below, the cotton candy is a cross-cultural hit, even here in Austria, and the boys found a way to share at the same time. Sticky... but fun times for all involved.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day #15

Our town has a little Gingerbread house (or Lebkuchenhaus). The boys can go inside and make crafts and cookies during certain times. The boys love it, and even Liam can say the word in English and German. Here are some pics of the boys in action.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day #14

St. Nikolaus made a visit to our Ward Christmas party, and we had a good time with the ward. The boys got the typical presents, oranges, candy, and peanuts. As we implied earlier, the Austrians celebrate the Christmas season for weeks, and it is so fun to participate.

Kids gather around the man with the presents...

Liam and Everett make their way to the front!

Liam shows off his stash!!

Everett shows off his stash, and his cool T-Shirt!

Day #13

On our third Advent we were able to share it with some of our greatest friends the Griell's. We love them, and it really helps that we have children similar ages and they are members of our ward! Aurelia and Everett are great friends and love playing with each other. After sharing a wonderful lunch, we scarfed cookies and watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional. It was a wonderful advent and we were able to light the 3rd candle!