Saturday, July 25, 2009

Back to Germany!

So...WAY back in June Steve and I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Germany. We were right back in the same area that we moved from a year ago. Steve was there on a business trip from work, and since I had a young and capable sister at my Mom's house in CA to take care of the kids, we all decided that I should go and join Steve for a week. The main reason I went was because Steve's birthday and Father's Day were on the same day this year, and he was going to be there without his family. Plus, I really wanted to go back. :)

So..... I left the boys with my dear sister Tawna who has babysat my children more than anyone else. I then flew from CA through GA and on to Germany. Quite a long flight, but without kids it is SO EASY! I got to do whatever I wanted (within the confines of my plane seat of course). So, I slept, read a little bit of my book, slept again, ate, watched a movie. I had a very relaxing time. I got to Germany on Wednesday morning where Steve picked me up at the airport. He had the morning off, so the first thing I wanted to do was drive past our old house. Everything looked pretty much the same to me. Then we went to the hotel and took a nap. When Steve went back to work I went over to one of my old favorite grocery stores Toom and looked around for food I had been missing. When Steve got off work we had plans to go to the "Great American Steakhouse" in Frankfurt where they have the best steak I have ever eaten. A couple of Steve's buddies from work were coming with us. Well... when we got to Frankfurt there were road blocks all over the city. We drove around for hours trying to get to the restaurant through tons of traffic, but there was a road block at every turn. We finally saw what the problem was. There was a 5k marathon that was starting at the same time as our reservations. There were over 5000 people running in this marathon. So, they had blocked off the route through the main streets of the city and the restaurant was within that area. We finally ended up at an Irish pub for dinner and we were all pretty frustrated. I was just tired considering I was totally jet lagged. It was interesting though.

The next day (Thursday) I started out my day with the hotel breakfast. I LOVE breakfast in Germany. They serve a roll and lunch meat and cheese , or you can eat it with Nutella. It is so delicious and I was so happy to be eating it again. I made sure I made it to breakfast every day that I was there. After breakfast, I took the street car around Darmstadt for the morning while Steve went to work. Then when he got off we headed up to our old favorite, the Auerbach castle. It was beautiful and delicious and so nice to be there.

On Friday I meet up with a friend of mine Julie, and her kids and we drove up to the Frankfurt temple. We went to the book store and walked around the temple for a little while, and then they went home and I got to go in and do a session. It was so nice to be back there, and to go through the temple. Our temple in Georgia is 3.5 hours away, so it is a lot harder to go. After my session Steve picked me up and we actually got to go eat at our Steak restaurant and it was dang good. It was great to be back there.

On Saturday Steve and I spent the morning at the big flea market they have there in Darmstadt. Then we headed up to Rudesheim which is a little town on the Rhein river where all the cruises start from. We had such a great time there. We went in to every little shop there was and we didn't have to worry about who was staying out with the boys. It was lots of fun. Then we drove down the Rhein all the way to Boppard where we rode a ski lift to the very top of this hill that overlooked the Rhein. It was right where the Rhein curves and makes a U shape. It was really pretty. When we were at the top we ordered some hot chocolate at a little outdoor cafe they had. Then we went down, had some schnitzel for dinner and headed home.

(This is the view from the hot chocolate cafe)

Sunday was Steve's birthday and Father's Day. I gave Steve his cards from the boys and then we went to church. Our old ward meets in a brand new building and it is very nice. It was so nice to see everyone and chat with old friends. Most of the ward that I knew is gone now, but there were some people left. After church we went to the hotel for a nap, and then on to Zadell and Jeremy Carley's house for a game of cities and knights. They made dinner for us and a nice birthday cake for Steve. It was great to visit with them, and we miss having them over all the time.

Then Monday morning I got back on an airplane and headed back to CA. It was a wonderful adventure for Steve and I and we are very much enjoying our childless vacations that we have been taking once a year. Even though I spent lots of time on a plane and then had to get right back on the next day to get the boys and I home from CA, it was an awesome trip. And things went so smoothly I really can't complain. Other than the van battery being dead when we showed up in Savannah at 9:30 Tuesday night tired and cranky. But the policeman there at the airport had it jumped in no time and we were on our way home!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Long awaited California Post

{This is Brandon's designated spot on the airplane.)

I know it has been over a month, but whatever. Whoever said I was on top of things. :)

At the beginning of June the boys and I took a golden opportunity to go to Bakersfield to visit my Mom and Dad and sister Laura and her family. Steve was on a business trip back to our old stomping ground in Griesheim Germany, so I only did what I thought was best for my sanity. And we had an awesome time!!

The flight there was a piece of cake after our treks from Germany. Mom has a big in-ground pool that the boys wanted to be in all the time. Even when they woke up at 5:30am because of jet lag and it was in the 70's, they were begging me to get in the pool. We did end up getting in that first morning at 8:00.

Now, I think this trip will best be described in pictures.

We went to this great place called Murray Farms. I had never heard of it before, but we had a great time. It was really neat. We started out looking at the animals.

Then we headed over to the pool of corn. The kids thought this was a blast and were very entertained.

We also got to go on a tractor ride out into the fields and picked some of the fruit off the trees to snack on. It was delish.

One day we had my Dad's brother Russ and his family over for a pool party. I really enjoyed spending time with them and catching up on their lives.

This is what Brandon does when you tell him to smile. Don't ask me

Very cool pool toy that got used and abused. I am not sure it is functioning anymore.

We also got to be in Bako for the Queen of Bakersfields 20th birthday. That would be Tawna. And because we were there visiting and took her bed, this is where she woke up on the morning of that special day. Sweet thang!

check out those cool lighters.

We also took the kinder bowling one day and had an awesome time. I may have liked it a little more than anyone else since I WON! Woot And whoever's post just mentioned how much more crazy things are when you visit friends with kids (Alicia) wait until you both have four and they are all full of opinions and ideas and NOISE. A lot of interrupted conversations for sure.

A couple of things not photographed. My friend Natalie came over with her kids to swim one afternoon and it was awesome to see her. Laura and I got to go out to eat two times together without kids and I always enjoy her company so much. It was very nice.

Can't leave these out.

Lila Skinner, about the cutest baby I have ever seen in my life!

Big boy Blake, who took this opportunity for a nap.

Here's to wonderful vacations with family

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hughes/Hardy weekend

Last weekend was a GREAT one. Steve's Mom and Dad, sister Erin, sister Lisa and Lisa's two kids Daniel and Emma came last Thursday from Virginia to be here for Steven's baptism. We are so happy they came to spend that time with us. We had a great time with them. Since we discovered with my Mom and Dad that there is not much to do in Statesboro or Savannah we spent A LOT of our time with the kids swimming in our four foot pool, and Steve and I making all of our favorite dinner dishes to share. We ate most of our meals at home and it was dang good food.

On Friday, the morning after they got here, we headed down to the river walk in Savannah. We of course headed straight for the candy store, and everyone really enjoyed that. It was a pretty hot day that day but we still managed to get a little tourist shopping in.

{Lyle, Fran, Lisa and Steve resting in the shade}

{All the kids leaning over the rail in Savannah}

Saturday was the 4th and Steve introduced his family to boiled peanuts. Those are a southern treat where you take raw peanuts and boil them just like you would a bean. From what I understand, that is what the early settlers of this area did with them. You can't buy raw peanuts in most of the USA, but they do sell them here, and I have even bought some and boiled them here at home. They turned out very good. We also have a guy that cooks up a batch everyday and is right on one of the corners here in Brooklet. If you ever stop by around the end of May to early September we will be sure to get you some. Anyway, my in-laws Loved them and that was our snack of choice all weekend. On the 4th, all the girls went shopping at some antique stores, and then sat around and ate peanuts while Steve made 3 courses of shrimp for dinner. Although we ate late...we ate good. It all turned out wonderfully and we finished just in time for fireworks at 10pm. Then it was off to bed for the baptism.

{Sitting in our mostly unpacked garage, with the fan on us and eating peanuts. Good Times}

{Watching fireworks WooHoo! (we really do try to be excited for the fireworks here, even though we would much rather be in Germany shooting them off)}

On Monday we ventured out without Nana and Papa, because Lyle wasn't feeling very good. We went with our family, Lisa and kids and Erin to Tybee Island. The last time we went to the beach there it was crawling with people, but this time was perfect. It was a little overcast and Monday so we hit it just right. There weren't too many people and we were able to park close. We spent about 3 hours playing at the beach and having a marvelous time.

{With three laptops in the house, you can visit and get something down all at the same time.}

Then Tuesday morning our company headed on their 9 hour drive back to Virginia, and the boys and I started our swimming lessons. I am so happy that we have families that we enjoy so much and love spending time with. It makes all the difference in the world.

{DD (Daniel's nickname) with Brandon}

{Nana and Brandon}

{Kay (Erin's nickname)}

{Papa resting in Steve's favorite chair}

{Steve signing us off}

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Steven's Baptism

Hi All-

I am so behind on blogging, but do plan on catching up. You are in luck tonight, because I planned on going to Walmart instead of blogging, but since it is pouring rain and getting late, I changed my plans. I am going to start with the most recent things first, and then go back to the rest of June. Sound good? Good.

Our oldest darling boy was baptized this past Sunday. Unlike most people, I CAN believe my oldest is 8. That seems right where he should be, and I feel like he has been around for eight years. I have always told everyone Steven has been about as perfect as an oldest child can be. I love that he has been the leader as we keep adding more and more and more brothers to his life.

His baptism was wonderful. I was a little worried that there was something dreadfully important that I was forgetting, because we were on vacation for two weeks before the baptism and had family in town for a couple of days just before. I was just afraid I was letting something slip, but everything worked out Wonderfully!!

The baptism was right after church, and we had a lot of people from the ward that stayed for it. The talk on baptism was given by Steve's Mom (Nana) and she did an amazing job like I knew she would. She even had a poster board that showed a path and a boy walking down the path to heaven and all the steps that he would have to take on his way there. It was fantastic. Then, I had the three oldest Hughes boys, and their cousins Daniel and Emma do a musical number and sing the Fourth Article of Faith. They did an awesome job. Except for one small thing. I rarely chew gum or even have gum with me. Well, I had a pack that day and for some reason decided to give a piece to all the kids just after church. So... they get up there to sing, and they are all just chewin' away at their gum. Luckily it didn't affect their singing. They sounded GREAT!

Then Steven was baptized by Steve and it all went very smoothly. It felt so great to see them both in the water to perform that ordinance.

While they were getting dressed we watched a really good movie called Come Follow Me. It is on VHS and was printed probably in the 70's or 80's, but it was great and most likely no one had seen it before. I was worried about what movie we were going to watch that would be the right length and fit the baptism. My sister-in-law Lisa went to the library while I taught my primary class that morning, and came up with this video. I was so grateful to her for taking that worry off my mind. And of course, as the closing credits rolled on the movie, Steve and Steven walked in.

Then Steve gave a great talk on the Holy Ghost. No visuals, but he did a fabulous job anyway. Then Steve was able to confirm Steven and gave him a beautiful blessing. His Papa Hughes was able to be a part of that as well as being a witness to the baptism.

It really was special, and I am so happy that it went so well.

{The boys and their cousins from Virginia}

{A little sunny I guess}

That evening we gave Steven his new scriptures. And now he is totally official. :)

{Since I had the camera at church, I had to take a picture of my CTR 5 primary class. They love to sit in the window sill and I don't really care, as long as they are quiet. All five of them there only lasted a minute though because they were squished. So cute huh?}