31 October 2008

Trick-Or-Treat!

Happy Halloween! We did not bring Halloween costumes with us, because we figured that Austrians did not celebrate the holiday. However, someone at Chris' school said that some people around here do trick-or-treat, so Chris purchased the kids some costumes when he was in Florida last week. Elora has an awesome pirate princess dress that she wore all day today (complete with sword that she carries around the house and tells Ollie, "No, no, you don't play with that!" and pirate tattoos which are on her arms and skull and cross-bones tights, which Elora says,"These are tights. We wear these to church!" I am not sure we will actually wear those to church though...). Ollie got to be a monkey - Chris said the costume looked warm. And when he purses his lips together he really does look like a monkey. Tonight while we were out, many people giggled when they saw Oliver. More on that later.
Here are the kids with mom inside our apartment. While we did see some kids out in costumes, no one seems to do real trick-or-treating here. I think they just go to friends' houses, and since none of our friends live close by, that really isn't an option. Instead we dressed the kids up and let them wear their costumes for a night out, and then came home to trick-or-treat in our apartment.

Ollie seemed to like Halloween because lots of people smiled at him, and Elora told him what a cute monkey he was. He was all smiles and giggles, even though he really didn't do much trick-or-treating... instead he got to sit on our bed playing with Elora's duck and teddy (two toys that are NEVER shared with him).


Chris loves Elora's awesome sword which was only $3 at Walmart. Alas, Chris did not have such a neat sword when he was a kid. Elora loves it, and tells me all about how it is sharp and can poke people. Luckily she understands that this means she can not play with the sword near Ollie. She just drags it around the house.
For trick-or-treating, I took the candy (provided by the missionaries, they like to bring us treats - very nice, because most candy here is really pricey and much nicer than the typical Halloween treats), and then I went in different rooms of the house and closed the door, so that Elora could knock and say, "trick-or-treat!". It is cute how kids are always wondering, why am I doing this? for the first couple doors, and then they realize they are getting candy and start getting really excited about it.




Here is the cute picture I took just after opening the door to welcome my little trick-or-treater!
After she got the pez dispenser, she decided she was all done with trick-or-treating and sat down to eat her loot. She especially liked the "little chocolates" (m&m's). Strange how all children like to dump their candy out on the floor and then eat it. The extra dirt must make it taste better. Note how tightly she is gripping her green m&m! She loves chocolate.
At first she was picking up her m&m's one at a time, but by the end she was just shoveling them into her mouth. And then proving the sugar high theory false, once she was done with her candy, she laid in her bed and went to sleep... too much excitement!

When I asked Elora what she wants to do tomorrow, she said, "I could go treat-or-tricking?" to which I responded, "Usually we only do that on Halloween, but maybe if you go right to sleep we could go again tomorrow." Who could resist such a cute little pirate princess?


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

30 October 2008

The Blueberry Yogurt Incident

First I need to explain a couple things about shopping here in Vienna. They do not provide grocery bags, so you need to either bring your own (which is what I usually do) or you need to purchase a bag.



Next, you bag your own groceries. The appropriate way to do this is to put your groceries back in your cart after paying, walk over to the bagging counter, and then pack your bags.


Now, when I go shopping, I cannot use a grocery cart, because I am usually pushing a stroller with two kids in it. So I generally let Elora out of the stroller, hang a bag on the back of the stroller, and stack my goods in the bags or on Elora's seat. The problem with this method is that you cannot throw all your groceries back into the cart after paying. Instead I am generally rushing to shove everything into my bags as they are being scanned, hoping I can get things mostly packed before I have to pay.


Needless to say, this aspect of shopping is slightly more stressful, because as I said, Elora is usually running about, and if there is a line behind you, it is necessary to rush and move out of the way quickly...


On this particular day I was near our old apartment which sells certain items that I can't buy near our new house, and some of the food is cheaper, so I loaded up the stroller as full as I could, waited in a huge line, and as I was paying realized that I had not brought all of my shopping bags from home, just one small bag.


As I tried to keep Elora in sight, I shoved things into the stroller at every angle, threw things into my one little bag, and packed my purse as full as I could, and still had to put the laundry detergent on the seat next to Elora, and my new potted plant behind her seat (luckily she didn't complain about it too much...)


Then we took the train, and hurried to get on our bus. By now it was dinnertime and both the kids were tired and hungry. As I reached into my purse to get Oliver some snacks, I felt something cold and gooey... Oops! I had thrown the yogurt into my purse, and then proceeded to throw four heavy boxes of chopped tomatoes on top of them. Yum. I discreetly wiped off my hand on the inside of my purse, hummed Zip-a-dee-do-da all the way home, and after feeding the kids dinner finally emptied my purse to survey the damage.


Not only had two containers of yogurt exploded in my purse, but it was blueberry yogurt. Nice. The extra white onsie I carry in my purse for Oliver was thrown away, the pieces of paper where I keep my shopping list were carefully deciphered before being thrown away, and thank goodness I had taken my camera out of my purse and forgot to put it back.


This picture shows my poor white wallet (poor choice of colors), and of course, my German dictionary which sits at the bottom of my purse. I wish I had taken a picture of the inside of my purse before washing it, it was a pretty awesome sight. All that junk on the counter is the stuff I emptied out of my purse before washing it (luckily the purse is black and my cell phone and keys were also in a separate pocket and avoided the explosion...)


On this occasion I had to count my blessings - thanks for the camera and cell phone being spared, thanks that the dictionary is stained but still usable with very few pages that stick together, thanks that Chris was in Florida at the time purchasing me a new purse and wallet, thanks that I only lost one out of three containers of yogurt (As Chris said, not only did I get my purse messy, but I didn't even get to eat the yogurt!), and thanks that this happened on a Wednesday and my turn to use the washing machine in the building is on Thursdays...



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

Oliver Crawls!

Check it out! Ollie can now do a funny worm crawl. This is actually a couple weeks old, and he still chooses to crawl this way. And only when he is trying to get to something really important, like Elora's toys. Watch until the very end for a special view of another one of Ollie's tricks!

video

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

29 October 2008

The Real Reason We Go To Stephansplatz

The director of Chris' program at school has written in her resume that she enjoys sitting in coffee shops, so Chris asked her to recommend a good cafe. She recommended the Cafe Oberlaa, which was amazing!!! Here are the pastries we tried (the best in Vienna so far). Obviously Elora thought so too, she could not wait for us to take the picture before she started eating. The schokomoussetorte in the front was especially good.
The food was also amazing, so here is a picture of us with our lunch. Strange as it may sound I actually ordered Goulasch, but only because it came with Spaetzle (a German noodle that I love), and it turned out to be the best food I have ever had. Not joking. Chris got the Schnitzel, also super tasty. So if you come visit Vienna, now you know where you have to eat...




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Inside St. Stephan's Cathedral

We finally took some pictures of the inside of St. Stephan's cathedral. We like to come to Stephansplatz because there are lots of shops to look at and some awesome restaurants. Elora also loves the "big church".



Here I am showing Elora the stained glass windows (like the ones you can see behind me). She thought it was so neat that there were different colors and was telling me all the colors she could see in the window.

Back in Utah this never happened, but we spend so much time out and about that it is becoming a regular occurance for Elora to fall asleep in her daddy's arms.





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

Local Pizzeria

In the tradition of posting pictures of all the food we eat, here are some pics from the local pizzeria. I had the "aubergine" - eggplant, with fresh mozzarella melted on it. Pretty tasty. Elora ate all my olives and some bread, since for some strange reason she has decided she doesn't like pizza (what?!?)
Oliver has a new habit of shaking his fists in fury and howling if we do not share our food with him. Notice his cheeks are a little flushed from the large amount of emotion he puts into his fist shaking.
And here is the ham pizza, which looks a little strange, because yes, they do put slices of ham on it, but it is really good. The cheese over here is really awesome on the pizza. A tasty evening out.






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

04 October 2008

Schönbrunn Zoo

We took Elora to the zoo yesterday. I bought a year pass for only 29 Euros, a pretty good deal since it costs 12 Euros to go once... probably one of the only things I have purchased that seemed like a fair price. Elora was so excited to go to the zoo. As soon as we got there she began running from exhibit to exhibit yelling, "More animals! More animals!" It is actually a really great zoo for little kids, because there is not a lot of walking between exhibits, so Elora could walk around (or run and run and run...) without getting too tired. Most of the enclosures also have glass walls so that it is easy to see the animals. Very nice.
Of course Elora found the little animals that you can ride for only 50 Euro cents, too bad that is like 75 cents! Whoa (although getting to be less since the Euro is falling now...) She rode the tiger first, and then noticed that nice frog, which we told her she could ride at the end of the day. And let me tell you, she never forgets when you say she can do something later...
This enclosure had monkeys and mountain goats. I thought that was kind of a strange combination, but Elora was a fan. Maybe the mountain goats reminded her of home. It's interesting because all the signs are in German, they don't translate them, so a lot of the animals I wasn't actually sure what they were. Is it a mountain goat? Sheep? A leopard or a cheetah? They don't seem to bother putting the names of unusual animals in my pocket German dictionary.
Best of all were the chickens and roosters. Elora followed them around until I convinced her it was time to go eat a hot dog (which is probably the only thing that could have bribed her to leave the roosters... except maybe chocolate). She wanted to pet them. Maybe they would have been nice, but my experience with chickens back home is that you want to keep your hands away from their beaks.
They had lots of these metal sculptures of the animals, and Elora had to stop and sit on every single one. She was very excited about the Rhinoceros.
At one point we found a set of stairs that led to a viewpoint. Elora loves stairs for some reason so she started to walk up them. I asked her what she thought she would see at the top, and she replied, "Something wonderful!"
Here we are after Elora finished her hot dog. She wanted to feed the "little birds" so they would come close to her. When we were ordering her food, I was trying to speak in German, but Elora kept shouting, "I need a hot dog? Please? No ketchup! No mustard! No ketchup! A hot dog?" It was like an endless stream of chatter. I hope the hot dog man wasn't too irritated... The hot dogs here are awesome though, because the buns are just these big rolls that they bake, and then they put them on a large metal skewer to carve out a hole that they put the hot dog in... I will have to take a picture, it is quite interesting, and the bread is amazing.
This is the mommy lion who had three lion cubs. All the walls are glass, so you could see her really well. When we got there she walked over to our side of the enclosure, and then started growling at us. Then she would like, charge the glass a little. It was a little scary, but Elora didn't even flinch. I was crouched down to take a picture, and I almost fell over, it was kind of intimidating (obviously) to see this huge lion lunge toward me... then the cubs came over so she sat back and glared at everyone while standing over the little cubs.

Elora said, "The mommy lion is kind of mean!" So we explained that she was just protecting her babies to keep them safe. When we showed the pictures to Chris, Elora saw the lion picture and said, "The mommy lion is mean, it ROOAAARREED!! ROAR! ROAR!" I think this was her favorite animal of the day.
There is a little park at the zoo, which was fun because there is a little kid half where Elora is big enough to do everything all by herself. She loved this little slide, especially because there was a mud puddle at the bottom because of all the rain we have been getting. She would slide into the puddle, stomp her feet and say, "I getting all muddy!" How can this be the same kid who won't eat ketchup because it makes her hot dog dirty? We are excited to have passes to the zoo so we can go back often, there is tons to see there, and lots of baby animals right now. Our new apartment is not quite so close, but it is only a streetcar ride away, not too shabby.
Check out our picture gallery for more pictures of our European adventures as well as hiking trips in Utah and family photos.

A Night Out!

Okay, so our last night out to dinner without the kids was... I really don't remember, but I know it was before Oliver was born! So Chris got home from school kind of late, and by then Elora was asleep and Chris' mom told us to go out alone. Wow! What a treat! We tried out the Greek Restaurant down the street from our apartment, which luckily had menus translated from Greek into... German! So I understood about a quarter of the menu instead of none of the menu. Nice! After noticing that they had friend zucchini as appetizers we got that, but there was another fried item listed. When we asked the waiter he said, "Aubergene". ?!? then he walked to the kitchen and held up - Eggplant! I thought Aubergene was just a color that no one was sure exactly what it looked like, but apparently it is a vegetable.
The zucchini was totally awesome, very different from anything I have had in the States, and it came with a cucumber yogurt dip, which was incredibly tasty.
We ordered a plate that we deduced had a large variety of meats on it, and Chris insisted we take a picture, because it was really good. There was lamb chops, mutton, pork cutlets, chicken, lamb kabobs, and pork kabobs.
I wanted a picture of us at dinner, and Chris felt we should have the food in the picture, so he opted to cut off the tops of our heads to make sure out plates were featured in this self portrait. He said how many pictures do people need to see of us anyhow?

After we ate, we could not figure out how to ask for the check. We looked it up in my dictionary, and chose to use the word, Rechnung, which is a bill or invoice. The waiter knew what we meant, but we could tell it was not the correct word, so when he came back we asked him what we should say... "Wie sagt Mann..." I guess he appreciated our attempts to speak to him in German and to learn the correct thing to say, because after explaining we should ask simply for the bill or ask to pay "zahlen" he offered us free drinks. (Meanwhile, I was wondering what in the world Chris and the waiter were talking about, Chris understands German way better than I do). After Chris told the waiter we didn't want drinks, the waiter left and Chris explained. I felt bad because I did not want the waiter to think we were just being rude in refusing his generousity... So when he returned Chris explained that we don't drink alcohol, and a lengthy conversation of where we are from, where we are staying, how the dollar is doing compared to the Euro (when we explained how many dollars we were paying for dinner, the waiter said, "Too much!" to which we replied, "Yes, too much, but it's okay.") and the waiter told us what days and times the restaurant is open, etc. He was very friendly. I am glad to know that if we just try our best to speak German then people are pretty understanding... Since we made a friend, we think we'll go back to this restaurant. The food was good, and it was very educational...


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

A Day in the Park

Today Elora wanted to play at the park, so we found a section of the Palace gardens where there were no signs saying to stay off the grass (in a more secluded area of the gardens) and let her run around. The trees here are the strangest looking pine trees. The bark looks like an animation in a Disney movie. And I love the round bushes! They are so funny. Elora enjoyed chasing the birds, picking up strange berries and sticks off the ground, and finding funny looking bugs that lived in the tree bark.
Elora loves fountains, so we stayed at this one for quite awhile so she could talk to the ducks. There are lots of chestnut trees here too, so she collects the nuts to throw into the fountain for the ducks to eat. Poor ducks, they get excited and swim over to her and she thinks she is being so nice by sharing her "Chest rub nuts" - I am not sure why she calls them that...
Elora wanted to go see the palace, so we let her walk around the outside. She kept asking to go inside, saying "I want to go in the palace! I want to go inside! I want to see the paintings!" the paintings? Strange child, but very sweet. She said she liked the paintings of the horses, soldiers, and the queen. Apparently she was paying attention when we took the tour.


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

03 October 2008

Stephansplatz

This is the cathedral at Stephansplatz. I love the way it looks. Hopefully I will get pictures of the inside one of these days, but we have not spent much time inside yet. Elora likes to go here because there are church bells that ring from at least two churches in the area and she gets really excited to hear the bells. This is just a view of one of the streets near Stephansplatz. There are a lot of really beautiful buildings in this area of Vienna. There are also some fountains, like this one on the left. Elora liked this one because of the lion. She always scares me around fountains though because she always leans over the side, and I know I don't want to swim in the water to fish her out if she falls in...
We got desserts at a Konditorei near the train station. I got this amazing chocolate cake with coconut cream on top (shown above). Apparently Elora thought it was great too, because she pushed aside her berry strudel and started eating my cake. I didn't get much of it and was a little disappointed about it, so Chris' mom bought me another one. Elora grabbed the plate and pulled it in front of her, and proceeded to eat it. I took it back and began to eat some, when Oliver started yelling. I could not figure out why he was so upset, until I realized he only yelled when I was taking a bite of the cake. I let him taste it, which made him kick his little feet in excitement. He then proceeded to cry every time I took a bite without putting a piece in his mouth first. That's my kids - all about the dessert!


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Dessert!

We were out to do some shopping and decided to stop at the Konditorei (It is like a confection shop I think, I am not sure the exact translation) that is around the corner from our apartment. This pastry is layers of hazelnut and spice cake with a really sweet cream filling. Pretty tasty stuff!
We got home to find Oliver reading a map. I guess he wants to learn his way around the city too!


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Breakfast Time!

Chris feels it is very important to highlight the food that we eat... So this is the traditional breakfast here in Austria. Meat, Cheese, Bread. I add the tomato to my plate, and Chris always has nutella on his bread with hot chocolate. A little different than the cereal I ate back home, but I think it is kind of nice. If I don't look excited in the picture, it is because I really did not want to be photographed before taking a shower...


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

Some Elora Stories

Elora is cracking me up out here. She is getting so grown up and she loves to narrate everything we do. Here are a couple of my favorite stories:

Just after we came here she wanted to go to her friend Spencer's house. I told her we couldn't go because Spencer lives far away, and she said, "No! They are there!"

I observed her playing with her toys later, and she had named her toys Spencer, Maddie, McCray, and Clay (friends from Glendale). She had them all lined up in the window, and was telling them that it was time to go home. (It makes me smile and want to cry all at the same time).

Today she told me she wanted to send a message to Aunt Sharon. She climbed up in the computer chair, and I typed an email with exactly what she told me to write. She wanted to make sure that I told Sharon we were going to the zoo today. So I sent the very strange email, and we went to the zoo. When we walked in the door she ran to the computer and yelled, "Aunt Sharon! We are home from the zoo now!"

When we walked to the train station the other day, Elora started saying, "Casey is coming, Casey is coming!" and then proceeded to sing the Casey Jr. song from Dumbo (Casey Jr. is the circus train in Dumbo). Now everytime we go to the train station she gets really excited when the train comes and tells me that we get to ride on Casey. I am glad that she loves the train so much since she will be riding it a lot... I wonder when the novelty will wear off?

And this morning Oliver was playing with some of Elora's toys. She proceeded to take them away from him and when I asked her to give some of the toys back she ran over to me with one of Ollie's toys in her hand and yelled, "Oliver is sharing with me, Mama!" Yes honey, Oliver is good at sharing... I can't wait until he is big enough to take the toys back.

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

01 October 2008

Schönbrunn Palace Gardens

These are the gardens at the palace. There is an entrance to them right near the apartment we were staying at. Poor Elora keeps asking to go to the park. We take her to the gardens, but it is not quite the same without swings and slides. The best part is that there are signs everywhere saying to stay off the grass. What?! Why is there all that grass if you can't sit on it? So she gets a little mischievous look just before she ignores all of our warnings to stay off the grass. Nice.
This was right after she had been confined to the stroller for the tour of the palace. She liked the palace, but as soon as she was out of the stroller she wanted to run and run and run...
Oliver took a little nap during the tour of the palace, and was pretty happy when he woke up. I think he might have been smiling so I would pick him up though.
Elora loves Oliver, and was having a great time making him giggle.
Elora and Chris are in front of the palm house, which is a big green house with huge palm trees inside. We haven't visited it yet, maybe we will soon... She was telling the squirrels to go home in this picture. I am not really sure why... We were about to go home, so she was throwing her arms forward and yelling, "Go! Go!"
There are a lot of really neat pathways that have huge hedges and arching trees. Very beautiful. The squirrels here have black fur or bright red fur. They are pretty neat looking, but not friendly, so I haven't been able to get a picture yet. You can always see tons of them running around the gardens though.
This is a fountain in the middle of the gardens. Elora really likes the lily pads and there are always lots of ducks, so she always asks to get closer to the fountain so she can watch them swimming.
Look at these huge hedges! They are awesome. When they trim them they have to bring in these huge machines (obviously, since they are like twenty feet high). It was pretty fun to watch them trim the hedges.
I'm not really sure what Elora was doing... she was getting really hyper and yelling a lot. She doesn't really have a normal voice these days; she is usually either whispering or yelling.
She looks pretty excited first of all because she is standing on the grass, and second of all because she found two sticks, and third of all because she is "playing music" by drumming with the sticks. She drummed them on the ground and on the bushes and on the flowers and on the stroller... All the while saying, "I'm playing music!" I guess we will need to get her a drum set.



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

Schönbrunn Palace

Yesterday we went on a tour of the Schönbrunn Palace. We did the Grand Tour, which meant we paid more money for the privilege of seeing 5 more rooms of the palace. I did notice that the most elaborate rooms were the ones we got to see though, so I thought it was worth the money. We only saw two floors of the palace, which was quite a lot, but there was still another 4 or 5 floors that aren't open to tourists, so what is on those floors? Here are a couple pictures of inside the palace, but sshh... don't tell! You are not supposed to take pictures inside the palace...

The walls in this room were all tapestries. I have no idea how they wove these elaborate pictures into fabric. It is so amazing... The chairs also had pictures woven into the fabric.

This is the empress Marie Theresa with her family. She actually had five more children than this, but three had already died, and two were not yet born. I had no idea that the royalty used to have so many children... She was quite devoted to her family, and had many portraits of her children throughout the palace. Elora loved looking at the paintings of "Princesses" and "Queens".

This is the room that was like a ballroom. They still do concerts in it I think. Elora liked the big paintings on the ceiling. It was amazing how many tourists were in this room... We got there at the same time as about 5 tour groups... It was a beautiful room though.
I love the floor in this room. It's called the China room because they took wood and artwork obtained in China (black panels on walls and the floor) and inlaid in between the classical decorative baroque European styles. Euro - Asian fusion of styles was very popular at this time.
Don't remember much about this room. But it's pretty. Pictures don't do it justice. It was very dim in the rooms and we didn't have a flash.
Each framed picture on the wall is a drawing that was done by either Empress Marie Theresa or one of her children. I wish we had gotten a close up of some of the pictures, they were really quite beautiful.
This room was called the "Millions Room" because it is the most valuable room in the palace. The wall paneling is made of antique rosewood. Check out Oliver zonked out in the stroller. Apparently the tour was not as interesting for him as it was for me.This is the back of the palace. The palace has a huge garden with fountains, a maze (labyrinth) for kids, and a zoo. Elora's been to the zoo, but not the maze yet. Maybe next week. We live near the back entrance right now, so we have gone into the gardens a couple times to walk around. Chris' mom took Elora to the zoo and said it was really nice. I hope to take her back again soon. This palace is probably the nicest one I have seen in Europe because it is the first one I have visited that did not have scaffolding everywhere... I know they have to renovate the palaces, but it sure stinks when you try to get pictures of beautiful buildings and they are under construction!!!

Here is another picture out in the gardens. There is a huge fountain in the background. One of these days I'll take a good picture of it. Elora is a big fan of all the statues and fountains in the gardens.

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