Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our Trip to Berlin

OK, now that it has been a month, I feel like I shouldn't delay telling about my trip to Berlin anymore. (Besides that Jessica has done hers now. :)

While Jessica was here, she wanted to go see Berlin, so I invited myself and the boys to go with her. :) Steve had used up all his time off with our previous activities so Jess and I headed off without him. It is quite a ways away but we finally got there. On the first day we got ourselves a subway pass and went to see the things on Jessica's list. First we went to see the Memorial for the Murdered Jews. It was very interesting. They have over 2000 stone rectangles that are all the same size around, but vary greatly in height, and the ground they are sitting on slopes up and down in random places. Jessica read that it was something that looks like it has order but was actually very chaotic and confusing. It was very interesting and the boys of course had a great time hiding behind the stones. I started to tell them not to run around and be crazy since we were at a memorial, but then I realized that every other person there was playing hide and go seek, so I gave up trying to control my kleinkinder.
Next we went to see Berlins Christmas market which they kept open until New Years. We can always find great food at the Christmas markets.

And lastly that day we went to see Checkpoint Charlie. It was also a very interesting place with lots of stories to tell. This is the place in the Berlin wall were cars were able to pass in and out and it was guarded heavily as you can imagine.

The next day we went to see my favorite part of the trip. There is a place on Bernauer Strasse were part of the Berlin wall is still standing. We climbed this tower so we could see the wall and the "death strip" that was built to make it easier to see people trying to get across. There was a museum there also that was showing coverage of different events concerning the Berlin wall. Those clips are very memorable to me. It just showed the craziness of it all.
And here are the little darlings, harassing their baby brother. He loves it though.
We had a great time and I am so glad I got to see a little of this part of German history.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I am terribly sorry!

To all my visitors that came this past year, I must say I am SOOO sorry! I came upon a great discovery of where I should have taken all of you (especially you Fran), and I found it with my last visitors from a LONG list of company. Oh what bad timing. It is a CHOCOLATE MUSEUM/FACTORY! Boy was it great! It is in a nice German town a little less than 2 hours away. They have the churches to see, and it is right on the Rhein, so you get to see all the neat German things, but then they have this cool chocolate factory. It is in the city of Cologne, Germany.

A friend of mine named Emily, who was actually a sister missionary in Germany when we first got here, was here in Europe touring with 3 of her girlfriends. On the last leg of their trip they came to stay with us, in our guest room. They were lots of fun, and it was so nice to have them here. Steve made them chicken curry the first night, and then roped them in to a game of Settlers. The next day they still wanted to see some cool things since they had 2 days left, so they invited the boys and I to go with them to Cologne. I had a lovely chat with Emily on the drive while the boys watched a movie in the back. Then when we got there, we had 5 women to 4 boys. It was fantastic to have the numbers switched like that. We went straight to the chocolate museum and all had a wonderful time checking it out.
{This is the machine that crushes the Coco beans. You could climb up on to it}

{This shows the little chocolate bars after they have been formed and cooled, and are now heading to be wrapped}

{At the end of the line there was this fabulous lady who stood at this chocolate fountain overlooking the Rhein river. She had endless amounts of wafer cookies and she would dip them in the fountain and hand them to whomever came within arms reach of her. The boys LOVED her. She kept giving them more and more as long as they were close. She didn't ask them or Mom if it was OK, she just put the wafer cookies in their hands.}

We of course got home in time to play a game of Settlers with Steve. :) We are so happy that Emily, Rebecca, Jessica, and Emilia, could come and stay with us.

P.S. Here are some pictures of baby Brandon, since you haven't seen him in a while. Unlike almost EVERYONE's babies that I know, Brandon is actually a wonderful sleeper. He is learning how to go to sleep on his own, and he sleeps for 1 to 2 hours at a time. Sorry friends and family. I wish I knew what to tell you. :)
{His lovely winter hat}

{This is the outfit Nana and Papa got him for Christmas. I love it! He looked adorable for church on Sunday.}

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Odds and Ends

So, I mentioned that I was behind in a couple of blogs and now I am going to catch you up some.

1. First off as you all know we added a member to our family back in August. At the time, we did NOT have a car big enough to hold all of us. So, we drove two cars for about 6 weeks until finally the middle of October, we bought ourselves a Minivan!! I am totally thrilled. I have always looked forward to the day when I would be a mother driving around with a minivan full of kids, and I have finally achieved that. Of course if we had never left the states, I probably would have gotten one much sooner, but we were happy enough being a family of 5 in a 5 seater car. Now we are a family of 6 in a 7 seater. Boy does it feel spacious.
{We paid cash for the van which is why we waited. Used cars are SOO much cheaper for a nicer car here in Germany}
{The boys getting ready for a movie}

2. When Steve's parents were here, we wanted to make things a little more exciting for them, so we all decided to go spend a night in Belgium. We went and checked out their Christmas market, and it was very nice. The same idea as the Germans, but they did have different stuff. It was nice to go and see what was there, and to take Fran and Lyle to experience another country. On our way back from Belgium, about an hour in to our drive we stopped for gas. While I was waiting for a pump in my new minivan, a man that was waiting for a pump in the next lane over started backing up. He didn't see me there, and smashed right in to the back of me. Luckily he was barely moving, but it put quite a dent in the van. He spoke great English(they speak French in Belgium) and was very nice. He admitted fault and so we called the Belgium police and spent a good 2 hours at that gas station with all the kids and a 4 hour drive home left to go. It really wasn't too traumatic, and now we are just dealing with the insurances to get the van fixed after waiting 3 weeks to get through the holidays.

3. Also, when Steve's parents were here, we took them again to the Cuckoo clock store in Triberg which is one of our favorite places to go. They were getting a Christmas present for Steve's sister Kristin. While we were there they told us that they wanted to get us one for Christmas too. Steve and I already have a small Cuckoo clock in our house, but we had said that before we leave here we wanted to go back and buy us a nicer one. So, when they offered that we decided we would pool their money and the money that Mom and Dad gave us for Christmas and throw in a little of our own and get us a nice clock that we can take home with us. And we are so thrilled with it. It is so beautiful and such a good memoir. I am thrilled that we got it. Thanks Mom and Dad Allred and Mom and Dad Hughes. :)
4. Jacob has a new favorite phrase that Steve and I think is so funny. He HATES when people laugh at him though, so we have to hide our laughter. Whenever someone is saying something that is bothering him he says, "I'm not hearing this" which is a quote from The Little Rascal. It sounds so funny because he does it in kind of a sing-song voice just like the boy on the movie. Even when someone is bothering him to the point of tears he sings that phrase. I wish I could record it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Frohes Neues Jahre!

Happy New Year Everyone! Once again I can't believe how fast this year has gone. My Dad told me once that it seems to go faster the older you get, so that would make sense.

We have had such a Wonderful Year, and I hope for another one just as exciting. We have had company here at the house almost non stop since Alicia and Scott came in April. It has been so wonderful to have so much of our family here to spend time with us and go see the beautiful sights of Germany. Thank you all for taking the time to come see us. Of the 11 people in my family, there are only 3 that I didn't see this year without me ever traveling to the West. And we got to see All of Steve's family in Virginia at Thanksgiving. I feel so blessed to be a part of two wonderful families who all love each other and treasure the times we spend together. What a blessing that is.

So, as most of you already know, Steve and I love to host. I hope our friends don't get tired of always coming over here, since we rarely give them a turn to be the invitors. On New Year's we invited a total of 20 people to our house (including kids). They weren't all here at the same time which was nice. The missionaries left before some of our other friends got here.
Jeremy Carley and baby Katherine who is 6.5 months old.

Nathan, Steven and Michael Carley eating fudgesicles.

As we waited for the New Year to arrive we ate yummy finger foods and had a game of Settler's and a game of Cities and Knights going while the boys played or watched their new Book Of Mormon DVD's.
Steve with Brandon. Felicity and Nathaniel in the back all playing a game of Cities and Knights.

Settler's being played at the kitchen table with the Zackirsons from our ward.

At midnight we all headed outside with the oodles of fireworks that Steve bought and the Germans did not disappoint. It was once again a war zone in our own frontyard with the bangs and whistles and explosions and a city filled with smoke. It was GREAT! Jacob and Brandon couldn't quite handle the late hour so they were snuggled in bed and Nathan who has been known to make a noise or two himself didn't like how loud the fireworks were, so he stayed inside by the fire. Steven took every chance he was given to light up a firework though.
This is where I found Steve after I said goodbye to everyone at 1:30am.

We had told Steven that he was allowed to stay up as late as he wanted on New Year's, so when all of our friends left and Steve and I headed upstairs, Steven stayed down in front of the TV with a nice warm fire going. Steve talked to his family on a three way call from the computer before we went all the way upstairs to let them know what the year of 2008 was like. Then we checked on Steven before we headed up to bed thinking for sure he would be asleep since it was 2:30am. But oh no, he was still wide awake watching DVD's. This is how I found him the next morning though with the TV still going.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's and are excited for another great year.