Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving in Vorarlberg

We were invited by Kirsten Vuissa and her family to join them for Thanksgiving celebrations, and we had a blast. There was turkey and stuffing, and tons of pies. It felt like we were back in the States. The boys were playing the whole time, and we made all of Everett's favorite foods for him. It was really nice to remind ourselves that we truly have much to be thankful for. A whole bunch of Americans, including the missionaries and others around the area joined for a wonderful day!

Happy Boy, Liam!

Everett just played with Playmobil the whole day.

We have never seen Liam smile this bigly for a picture
(Henry and Anika Vuissa make him smile!)

Everett wishing that he were playing Playmobil instead of eating pudding with whipped cream... That's our boy, all right!

Group shot!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fish In the Yard

Nearly every time we walk out the door, we have to make a stop at the fish pond in the backyard of our apartment. Everett doesn't really have much interest, but Liam FREAKS out each time one of the many little goldfish makes any kind of movement in the tiny pond. He just screams FISH, FISH, FISH. It is pretty cute, but not great when you are in a rush. Needless to say, Liam is addicted to animals. He loves them in all shapes and forms... especially slugs and snakes!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Hills are Alive...

Come on guys, we are in Austria... You knew it was coming...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wild Park Revisited

We recently made another hike up to the Wild Park up on one of the hills in Feldkirch. Here are a few candid shots.

Liam is petting a donkey with Mommy.

This was Everett's favorite little goat. He LOVED feeding it grass!

Everett stepped in some poop, and daddy was banging the shoes to get it off, and this huge buck came to investigate.

Two forces of nature... one rules the Wild Park, the other rules his environment in his own right. They stared each other down for a few minutes. It ended with a draw...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Super Liam

On a recent hike, Liam navigated literally hundreds of stairs all by himself, and we all insisted that the boys walk up themselves.

The ramps leading up to the stairs.

On the way down...

Liam is so proud of himself!!

He even pick up some souvenirs along the way!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Laternumzug - Lantern Festival

Everett is enjoying his little Kindergarten so much. He literally runs to school, not only because he gets a sticker when he is on time, but also because he genuinely loves his friends and teachers. It is most certainly not the same as he would experience in Preschool or Kindergarten in the US, but we are very happy with the results thus far.

Anyway, we just celebrated Everett's first school party. As with most things around here it is based upon a Catholic legend of St. Martin, and this day particularly important in this valley (named the Rheintal or Rhein Valley, for the river that shares its name). All of the Kindergartners in the region make and decorate their own lanterns and then on this special evening all of the parents are invited to come and watch the children carry their lanterns, which are each lit with a single candle. The kids walk through the neighborhood and sing the cutest little song. The parents bring some treats and everybody warms up with some fruit tea and eats yummy goodies. Disclaimer, we are all pretty sure that nobody in the entire world can outdo European treats (No idea why obesity is not a problem out here...)

Everett was in the front row of the walk around the block, and he held his lantern very bravely. We were so proud of him. He knows his little German song super well, and he was awesome. It was so cold!! We thought that we were going to die! It was way fun, but we all had sniffly noses by the end of the night.

These are Delaine's homemade chocolate, marzipan, peanut butter brownies... needless to say, there were none left by the end of the evening.

Liam and Delaine waiting for Everett to come out from the Kindergarten with the lantern.

Everett leading the little procession along the way.

All of the kids sitting in a circle with lanterns lit!

Everett smiling with his lantern!

Circus Royal

We went to a Euro-style circus this past week, and it was pretty interesting. It was based in Switzerland, but all of the acrobats were from the Ukraine. As traveling shows and circuses were born in Europe, it was fun to experience an authentic experience. About halfway through, one of the circus people told me that cameras were forbidden, but I still got a few photos. The clowns were scarier than on Dumbo. In fact, Everett was mortified every time they took the stage. One time, Delaine was clapping for them absent-mindedly, and Everett gave her a death stare, and said: "Mommy, we don't clap for THEM!" Each time they took the center stage, Everett would lament: "Oh no, not them again." We had to constantly assure him that their act was almost over. Yeah, they were creepy. But the gymnasts were really cool, and the animals were really pretty cool. Delaine also hated seeing the animals get snapped with the whips, but they were well trained. Liam loved the animals and just pointed and laughed the whole time they performed. It was a fun family experience to say the least. Everett loved the trampoline show. Delaine and Steve thought that the acrobats on the high bars were the coolest.

The camels performing, but if they got out of line, this rigid little woman would whip them into shape.

These guys were the first act, and were also one of Everett's favorites.

Here they are at the very beginning of the show!

This was at the very top of the tent.

Our family waiting for the show to begin!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Everett Liam and Delaine Running in Liechtenstein

Stripling Trees Behind the Swiss Temple

After our time in the temple, we walked around behind the temple on the temple grounds, and we had some great fall fun. The trees were swaying in the breeze, and it was quiet and peaceful. Our boys loved it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Luxemburgerli - Spruengli Treats

If you have ever tasted Lindt chocolate, then you know what real life is supposed to taste like. If you have ever had a Spruengli confectionary, then your tongue will never be the same... ever. So the company that owns Lindt chocolate also owns the Spruengli brand. Lindt takes care of the chocolate, and Spruengli takes care of the confectionaries. There are several Spruengli stores around Zurich. We visited one, and had to partake of Spruengli's perfect market offering... THE LUXEMBURGERLI. They basically look like a little hamburger, but they could not be any more different than the American fast-food mainstay. They are creamy, crunchy, sweet, creamy, and... well, perfect. They come in several flavors, and I will not tell you how much they are. But Daddy had to do some convincing before the purchase, but it was worth every penny.

Liam and Everett learning about the finer things in life.
(Notice that Liam is trying to take his apart like an Oreo... Daddy was horrified)

Here is the little box in which the perfect little things are sold.

Here is the store in which all of the little treats are sold... heaven for your tongue... for a steep price

A closer look at the Luxemburgerli, this is the passion fruit flavor.

Delaine poses next to the pyramids that invite all to enter a new way of living... good thing this place is more than an hour away from us...

Bern, the Capital of Switzerland

On our way home from the temple we stopped in the capital city of Bern, which Steve loves. It was wicked cold, and Delaine was FREEZING cold, but it was fun to walk around.

This is the most famous clock in Switzerland die Zyytglocke.

Everett took this picture of Mommy and Daddy.

Daddy couldn't help himself... Hey, you don't see a Porsche GT3 Everyday!!
(Well, maybe you do in Switzerland)

This is where the Swiss Senate/Congress meets

Here is a picture of Everett with some cool buildings in Bern as a backdrop

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nicest Mickey D's Ever

I went to this same MacDonalds as a missionary, but back then it looked much different. This place felt like some swanky hangout rather than a fast food restaurant. The value meals were roughly $15USD, and there wasn't a single item on the "Dollar" menu that was less than $2USD. Nevertheless, it was astonishing to see this place. There were several museum quality exhibits showing the history of MacDonalds over the years, there was an entire room for kids, where there was an apparatus that allowed the kids to color on the table, etc. There was even a cool, but small PlayPlace. Everett loved the fully functional Playstation 3 that they had with a widescreen Sony LCD, even though he was a little frustrated when the older kids took over. We did not feel like we were at a MacDonalds. Need I mention that the property values on Bahnhofstrasse in downtown Zurich often rank the highest in the world? Anyway, it was a blast for us to just hang out and have some fun for a while on a cold day in Zurich. The boys loved the place, and Delaine and I just had the chance to chill out in the poshest fast food joint in the world.

This is one of the seating areas...

The Children's Zone...

Everett trying to puzzle out something in the PlayPlace...

The second of three floors (man, I got some strange looks from people for this pic)

Delaine wonders at the sheer coolness of the place...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fun in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

One of our family's favorite places to go is Vaduz, Liechtenstein. It is the capital of Liechtenstein (where the royal family rules and lives). It is not that big, but it is really modern, hip, and fun. There is a nice little stretch for pedestrians, and the boys LOVE to run around the buildings where the congress/senate of Liechtenstein meet. We have gone here many times, and each time we just love to lazily walk around and look at the statues, buildings, and hundreds of oversized postal stamps (stamp collecting is a big deal, because collectors around the world covet stamps from this tiny country) on the ground that show the storied history of one of the oldest standing monarchies in the world. There are lots of little touristy shops and the like, and it is just a lot of fun.

This is the tourist/welcome center in Vaduz.

This is one of the many statues that caught our attention.
(Don't worry, it is not a girl... I read the inscription, it is supposed to be an African king)

This is Everett running in front of the congress building

There are stairs all over the plaza, and Liam loves every single one!

On our way to Vaduz, we saw this excavator, and had to take a picture
(Both of the boys only know the German word for excavators: Bagger... Awesome!)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Liechtenstein in Fall Time

Liechtenstein is a beautiful, clean, and well-kept country. The autumn has fallen upon the land, and the leaves are changing. The cool weather has hit us here in the Rhine Valley. Gone are the days of summer, and here are the days of crunchy leaves and shorter days. For those of you who do not know, Liechtenstein is actually still ruled by the prince and his family, who appoints the ruling congress. He has done quite a good job in recent years, as the little country enjoys an almost unparalleled quality of life. The royal family still lives in the castle in the pictures below. The other pictures show the powdery snow in the mountains and a tree in downtown Vaduz, the capital city.