31 December 2008

Christmas, Christmas Time is Here!

We celebrated Christmas in Garmisch Germany in a nice hotel. We didn't have room to pack our Christmas tree in the car, although we were tempted... Instead we spread the presents around the hotel ficus tree. When Elora woke up in the morning I asked her to wait in her bed for a minute until we were ready to open the presents, to which she responded, "Santa brought us presents. Wasn't that nice of him?"

Here is a condensed two minute version of our Christmas morning:

Ollie was so busy playing with the ribbon, that he forgot to open his presents. Usually when he was about halfway through opening a present, Elora would come take it and finish the job for him. He didn't mind.

Chris' mom found some old McDonald's toys of Nemo, Woody and Buzz, Monster's Inc. characters and the Incredibles. She brought a big box of them for the kids to share, and they were a big hit.

Oliver liked his Little People Helicopter. The propellor is just the right size for him to hold on to and put in his mouth to chew on.

Elora got a huge pirate ship. Oliver got a small pirate ship. You can see which one is the favorite. It is very cool, with cannons that shoot, a treasure chest with treasure in it, wheels on the bottom so it can "sail" on the floor, and sails that open and close.

Here is Ollie playing with his Grampy.

And of course, the best present of the day - the boxes and trash. Ollie kept crawling back to them no matter how many toys we showed him.

Ollie and Elora got this neat frog tent. Elora loves to put all her toys in it and sit inside. Here she is eating candy canes for breakfast on Christmas morning. After eating candy for breakfast and buffet food for dinner at the hotel, Elora was sick for a couple days. Now she says, "Too many treats can make your belly hurt!"

The kids with their grandparents, underneath the Christmas Ficus.

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

Trip to Munich

We drove up to Munich just before Christmas and went to the Christmas Market there. It was much bigger than anything in Vienna, although that makes sense because Vienna has dozens of markets, and Munich had this one sprawling one.

This is the Glockenspiel, which I believe is the largest cuckoo clock in the world. We didn't get to see it play, but at least it wasn't under scaffolding like it was last time we were in Munich! The clock has life size dancing people, and is mounted on the front of the Munich city Rathaus (which is very beautiful)

I thought this Christmas market had more "Christmas-y" things to look at. Lots of fun Bavarian style Christmas ornaments and decorations. We bought Elora a Kitty-puppet that almost unseated Teddy as her favorite animal (at least for a couple days).

Here is Elora with her Nana (not Grandma!) at the very tasty Bavarian style restaurant we went to. I LOVE BAVARIAN FOOD.

Here is Chris' dad with his coaster, which has his initials (J.W.). He was very excited, but as you can see also tired because they just got off their 18 hour long journey from the States.

This is the inside of the Frauenkirche. A large church which was partially under scaffolding on the outside, but was pretty neat inside. It was mostly destoryed in WW2, which is probably why the walls are so plain, but there was still a lot to look at. You can see more photos we took at the gallery link below.

This is probably sacrilegeous, but Elora was excited to see the candles and wanted to blow them out. Chris took a picture before telling her no (always take the photo first!). "It's a birthday cake!" Luckily she didn't blow any out, and no one else noticed...

Click here to see more pictures of Munich and the scenery, statues, Christmasmarkt at this photo gallery.

30 December 2008

Meeting Santa!

We spent Christmas in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. On Christmas Eve at our hotel, Santa came to visit! We asked Elora what she wanted Santa to bring her for Christmas, and she said, "Cookies." Very practical. When it was Elora and Oliver's turn, we sat them both on Santa's lap. Oliver was super excited as you can tell. He loved Santa's beard, and kept wrapping his fingers in it. Santa couldn't help but laugh at little Ollie's excitement. Elora was super excited in her reserved way. She wouldn't talk to Santa, but she did willingly sit on his lap and even pulled out a little smile for the camera. Wow. Probably the best picture we got of her the whole vacation when asking her to pose (she usually looks the other way when you ask her to smile).

We were wondering though, whose idea was it to have Santa's helper elf in the picture? Totally random that this girl will be forever remembered in our kids' Christmas photo with Santa... Chris suggested pasting my face on her in photoshop, but I declined the offer.

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

21 December 2008

Vienna Christkindlmarkt (Adventsmarkt)

Decemember is Christmas Market season in Vienna. There are dozens of markets scattered all around the city. The tradition dates to the 1200s.
The markets sell a huge assortment of items, but I really like seeing all the Christmas ornaments (which are way too expensive for the most part) but still beautiful.
Elora likes the toys. There are a lot of different wooden toys, hand puppets, puzzles, etc. Chris broke down and bought her a toy at the first Christmas market we went to, so every day since she says, "Let's go to the Christmas Market and buy toys!" We did manage to help her pick out a toy to give to Oliver for Christmas. Then she told Oliver that he needed to buy her a duck. We tried to explain that he was going to pick out what he wanted to give her, and she said, "Oliver will buy me a present, and it will be a duck."

Of course there are always lots of chocolates and treats to eat...
This market is my favorite. It is at the Schonbrunn Palace, and it is in the middle of a big square so there are lots of booths and Elora could run around without getting lost in a maze of booths.

They also have this awesome stand where they cook you a fresh donut when you order it and fill it with chocolate, vanilla, or apricot filling. Soooo gooooooood.

This market was at the Wilhelminenberg Palace on the top of a huge hill, so it was really windy and freezing cold. They had an ice skating rink that overlooked the city of Vienna though, so it would be really beautiful at night.

There are a lot of booths with gingerbread and fruitcake. The gingerbread booths are fun, they have all kinds of cookies, houses, ornaments and such, but who is buying all the fruitcake?

This is the market at the Rathaus, which is the city hall, but I prefer the fitting title of Rat-House. It is the biggest market, and as the locals say, "too commercial". But it also has the best selection of baked goods and candy.

Here are the baked goods. Mmmmm. Nuff said.

This is the Karlskirche. There is a huge area with hay and a nativity with real goats and sheep. Elora loved the hay. She ran out into it, and then laid down in the soggy wet hay, because baby Jesus lays down in the hay.

Here is Chris checking out the huge blocks of cheese. I don't know how he can stand it, these cheese booths smell so nasty... You can smell them from ten booths away. Chris loves the smell, and says it reminds him of his dear old papa's socks.

Yeah, I don't know what they sell at this booth. Actually it is jewelry. Go figure, they are naming the people who buy this horribly expensive costume jewelry.

This is the Spittelberg market, where all the locals go. It is up and down narrow streets, and filled with people going to the hot punch stands. It's like happy hour outside in the cold. And I got a new hat, that I am wearing in the picture. So excited, it is way warm and only cost me 7 Euro.

This is at the Museums Quartier, which is where the natural history and art museums are. This one rocks, because it sells royal pancakes, which are like chunks of fried pancake dough that they put powdered sugar and plum sauce on. Amazing! And they sell these little dumplings filled with chocolate or strawberry. Also so good. A little funny though, they play cheesy American Christmas songs, like "Jingle Bell Rock". A little out of place, but festive I suppose.

This is the Belvedere Palace. I loved this one too, because the lights on the fountain were so pretty, and we got some awesome handpainted glass for cheap.

Elora said we should put up this picture. She doesn't look it, but she was so excited to ride on the train. They had these little trains at a couple of the markets, and it was actually pretty cheap to ride on. Elora was so happy to ride "Thomas". There was even a button that made the horn blow.
There are way more markets, and there are little stands all over the city. It is a really neat time of year to see them all. If anyone wants to visit next year, it really is a neat time to see the city, with all the markets and Christmas lights up. It makes the cold weather worth it!

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

Wieners Know How to Party

Three More Fun Videos...

So we showed up an hour late to our Church Christmas Party here in Vienna and it turns out they were waiting for us to show up to get started....(not really but they hadn't started eating yet).

After dinner, in addition to the typical awkwardly dressed up children as wisemen and baby Jesus, there was a talent show (of sorts). Words can't do it justice... you just have to watch.

Check out Elora and her home boys. She ran straight to the stage and started dancing like a little fan-girl. We're not sure what is happening on the stage...and it certainly doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. But they know how to party in Vienna...(I guess... if you could wipe the **cringe** off your face). Be thankful we spared you the Britney Spears dancing number (for real!)

To finish off the night, 4 of the Missionaries did a skit about the true meaning of Christmas. This video really sums it up...We had them over for dinner (they pretty much only get to eat if you feed them...) just a couple nights before and suggested they make their skit as awkward and uncomfortable as possible for the audience. Clearly they did not disappoint! Elora crashed their skit, but it was already waaaay too awkward so on balance she probably helped. Three of the Elders are from Utah and one is from the UK, and the Brit is the one who wrote the skit -- it's obvious he's a positive influence on the Utah-boys!

And finally just a short video of Oliver trotting along having a gay old time!

Karen insists I point out the post was writen by me, where me = Chris. ps - we really had a great time. Just wanted to point that out for those who don't get the sarcasm!

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

20 December 2008

Random photos

Okay, so this is a totally random post. I always carry a camera in my purse so that if we see something interesting while we are out I can take a picture... and some of these pictures deserve to be commented on, even if I don't need to make a post for the whole day surrounding the picture... so enjoy.

We often go to the grocery store together. We can carry more food home that way, and when we were first here it took both of us to figure out what kind of food to buy. It cracks me up because I am actually used to shopping now, and have found that most foods I need are available and not that hard to find, but at first I would just stare at all the weird German foods and think, What is all this stuff? So here is Chris with a friendly American food. Just pop it in the microwave and you can have a tasty American cheeseburger! Does anyone actually buy these?

Elora loves to watch the play Cats. She usually jumps around the room singing "Jellicle cats tonight tonight!", but this day she just snuggled up with her friend Teddy, and kicked back on our bed (she loves all our pillows).

Everyday a church near our house has bells that ring at noon and 6:00pm. If Elora hears them, she says, "Shhh... what do you hear? Do you hear church bells? They say, come to church, come to church!" So one day we were headed to the post office and saw this church. We went to check it out to see if it is the church whose bells we enjoy.

It wasn't, but it had beautiful stained glass windows. We took pics of a lot of the windows, but this one was my favorite.

Of all the little machines to ride on, it is awesome that there is a Ford tractor at the zoo. Elora got really excited (perhaps it reminded her of home?) and had to ride on the tractor. I guess it probably is a novelty for all the little European children, I can't say I have seen many Ford anythings over here.

Here is Elora kicking it in the stroller with her pear while the polar bears brawl. Chris thought this was great, and took video and a bunch of pictures of the bear hugs going on. Elora seems a little more passively interested. A little snack time entertainment.

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

19 December 2008

The First Snow

We had our first snow awhile back. It actually does not snow that much in Vienna, instead it just gets cold, but without all the fun fluffy stuff. We did get enough to scrape together a little snowman. By the time the snow man was complete most of the snow on the ground had already melted as you can see in the picture.

Elora's favorite part was eating the snow(man). Her snowman actually lasted about 3 days. She was excited to look out the window of her bedroom and our kitchen and see Frosty still standing. Although we had to prop him up with a stick...

Here is Karen in her new coat! And Elora eating more snow. She's actually very excited, although she doesn't like to admit it that she gets to wear a scarf here in Vienna. Everyone wears scarves here.

To protect the kids from the cold we bought some little sleeping bags from Amazon.de that buckle into the harness on the pram (or buggy, but -never- a "Stroller"). Little Ollie looks like a sausage. We tuck him inside it and then wrap a blanket around the top of his head so he can't pull his arms out, which he always does anyway. We also have a cover that goes over the top of the stroller to keep them dry from the rain or to keep the wind out (usually 15-20mph winds....ugg). Elora calls it the special bubble. But between their sleeping bags and the bubble they are usually toasty warm when we pull them out.
Lucky kids... we're usually freezing...someone should make a sleeping bag that you can walk around in.

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

The Advent Calendar

I was really excited about this Advent Calendar we bought for Elora. We told her she could open up a new window each day and get a new present. It lasted about two days, but then she was so excited that she woke up early the next morning and opened them all. I went out to the kitchen and found the shredded box on the floor with toys everywhere.

Elora said "Look I got lots of new presents." I was really sad, but it faded after I saw how excited she was. The toys were Santa and his sleight, with a bunch of reindeer, hay bales, trees, presents, etc. Along with a little boy and girl. Elora loves her new toys and carries them with her everywhere inside of her halloween pumpkin ("my purse" as she says)

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

15 December 2008

Kidlet Videos - A Slice of Life, Sorta

Early one morning, Chris and I woke up to a whole lot of noise coming from the living room. We grabbed the camera, and walked into the dark room, turned on the light, and... found Elora jumping on the couch, in the dark, with toys all over the room. She apparently woke up Oliver and decided to amuse herself. Notice how once she is caught in the video, she gets off the couch.

Oliver is the master of really strange noises, so as he was eating one day, we decided to capture his interesting vocals. Chris thinks Oliver is playing, and making anti-aircraft gun noises to shoot down the carrot airplanes. Others have described it as a cackle.

Elora gets a little hyper sometimes, and it is pretty interesting stuff. On this particular day, even Oliver didn't know what to make of his crazy sister, but he was very interested in watching her run around. For those who can't understand Elora speak, she is saying things like, "I am jumping and also being loud, and bouncing, and messing up Ollie's toys..."

One day at the zoo we were videoing Oliver because he was smiling and giggling. Then we noticed Elora in the background playing with her teddy... It is very cute how she was running back and forth having a grand old time with her little furry friend. So we decided to set the video to old time silent film music. If there is any video worth watching, it's this one...

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

14 December 2008

Bathtime Big Sister

Everytime Elora takes a bath Oliver crawls into the bathroom and howls at her through the shower door until we let him in. Elora also asks that he come in too because she likes to have company as you can see from these photos.

The "bathtub" is actually a plastic bucket that you buy at Ikea because no one has a bathroom big enough to have a real bathtub and everyone has corner shower stalls. Well, no one except for government paid people or diplomats that live off of other people's money... (Karen says "Thank you Chris for that commentary")

The bath-bucket is barely big enough for both of them to fit. In fact it's barely big enough for Elora to fit. The good thing is you never have to worry as much about them slipping or getting hurt in the bath-bucket. But they love splashing each other in it. And Elora now likes to wash Ollie and "rinse him" by dumping water over his head. As you can see Ollie puts up with a lot of tough love.

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

The Bird's Nest...

There is a little park across the street from our apartment Elora likes to play at. She is especially fond of a big tree that has a little cove underneath it. On this day Elora told me she was "in a bird's nest!" She and (dirty) Teddy proceeded to laydown and "nap" in her bird's nest.

This post is an equal opportunity Ollie post....I took the picture of lil' Ollers and myself, which is why I'm not completely in the picture. But I bet you just thought it was creative composition...
(Chris determined it was confusing for the text to be before the picture and unilaterally changed it for this post and all future posts. So let it be written so let it be blogged)
- Karen claims this is what happens when she dictates her blog posts to me, which she claims she has to do frequently because I won't yield back the "el-capitains chair".

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

10 December 2008

Barcelona - Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

We spent a few days exploring the area around the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. The building is absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately Winter is a terrible time of year to take a nice picture of the outside... the sun was just never in the right place. But here is a picture we got one evening before we went inside to see the museum.

I am not sure how much Ollie learned from his visit, but he did like getting out and looking around. Chris even let him crawl around a little. Which is kind of gross considering how many people walk on that floor, but what do you do.

This is a view of the inside of the building. This is the main hall in the museum and all the galleries connected to it.

Once you get into the galleries they actually just cover the walls with drywall (but fortunately not the ceiling) so you can't see any of the ornate decorate designs, etc. It's kind of funny because they take an amazing building and cover it up. I'm guessing the reason is it would distract from the art they are presenting, but in a lot of places they end up covering up the art of the building itself. I suppose this is what happens in a nation with too much history/art!

Here's a view from the outside steps of the National Art Museum overlooking part of the city of Barcelona. Every Friday and Saturday night starting at 7pm there is a one hour long fountain/music show. If you show up early as we did both times you'll probably be greated by a street musician entertaining the waiting crowds.
Here is a rare photo of Elora-zilla playing with Ollie. Usually Elora's "playing" consists of "No Ollie don't touch that" or Elora just taking all of the toys away from Ollie with him sitting there with a sad look on his face. But she was having fun here, possibly because of all the treats we ate while on vacation.
The building has several levels of fountains. This photo was taken about halfway up, meaning there are still a bunch of fountains down below us. Actually the entire street leading up to the building for like half a mile is lined with fountains too.
Here is a picture down by the main fountain. If you've been to Vegas and seen the Bellagio fountain show, you might compare this one to it, although I'm assuming Bellagio was inspired by the Catalunya musems show, and the one in Vegas can't hold a candle to Barcelona.
At long last, and like 25 posts and hundreds of pictures later, we've concluded our trip-coverage of Barcelona. This was way too much work, and if anyone is -actually- reading this let us know if we should bother on the next trip.
And if you're ever on the way to B-town (Barcelona) let us know and we can give you some tips, or meet you while you're there!

Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.