28 February 2011
23 February 2011
For those who are familiar with flying one way, it is nearly impossible to buy a one way ticket for half the price of a round trip. Usually you pay almost as much as a round trip ticket. We needed to buy four plane tickets since Oliver and Elora are old enough to need their own seat on the plane. Sigh. So we figured it would probably cost us about $4000 to fly home.
BUT we got lucky and found out that Air Berlin flies to Florida for cheap during the winter. We ended up getting home to Arizona for about $1600. It sounded like a great deal... but we had four different flights and it took us 29 hours to get home. Wow...
We knew that we would have to pay for our bags if we checked them on our flight in the states, so we tried to pack in only carry-on luggage. We had a duffle bag, two car seats, a stroller, the kids each had backpacks, we both had backpacks, plus a purse, and another smaller bag. Plus it was freezing in Vienna, so we had to cart around all our heavy coats, even though once we got to America it was warm weather everywhere we flew!
Air Berlin is supposed to be a budget airline, but it is GREAT! They actually feed you meals, even on short flights, and they gave our kids great toys. They got these little metal pencil boxes, with colored pencils, coloring books, a memory game, and little lanyards with junior pilot licenses in them. On our other flight they got cute little bags with coloring books and pencils. And they gave me free baby food. And a big bottle of water for everyone. Plus drink service like 6 times. Love it.
When we got to Florida, there were Drinking Fountains! There are no drinking fountains in European airports, so this was amazing. And the water was cold. Europeans also seem to have an aversion to cold water. We were so excited to drink cold water for free!
We flew into Fort Meyers, Florida and we will now always travel through that airport when going international. There were only five Americans coming through customs, and once we got through the tourist information booth flagged us down to give our kids coloring books and crayons. Everyone who worked there was happy and friendly.
We had to go back through security to get on our next flight. The TSA people were super nice (!?!?!?) We had all the aforementioned luggage that takes us forever to arrange through the security scanner. We forgot to dump out our water bottle... They said, "Oh! Water for the kids? Okay, we will just test it real quick." and then "Oh! Your bag is ripped, would you like us to tape that for you?" and then "Oh! You have lots of stuff, let me help you carry it over to this table." and then "Oh! Would you like a luggage cart? Let me get you one and then you can just leave it on the gate." At which point we thought, "Are we in the Twilight Zone? Friendly TSA people? This is amazing!"
Marion was just our happy little baby, and did really well considering we kept interrupting her sleep. We were so happy that she travels well and didn't ever cry! Here she is in Florida, her first time in America!
On the flight from Florida to Atlanta the kids went to sleep. Then they stayed asleep for our whole layover. Aren't they sweet? They were super good, I am totally amazed. They slept through the next flight too. The hardest part was carrying sleeping kids on and off planes. Luckily the flight attendants helped us with our baggage. It was a surprisingly easy trip (despite the length of it!) and we are definately happy that it is over and that we can just enjoy hanging out with family for the next couple months. I didn't realize how much I have missed America until we got to Florida and someone said, "Welcome home". Hello America! We are glad to be home again.
22 February 2011
Our last day in Vienna came quicker than expected. All those last minute outings never took place because we were so busy packing and saying goodbye to people. There are so many things I hope to see in Vienna someday, but most likely they will have to happen on a vacation someday in the future!!!
Oliver found Daddy's hat and put it on backwards, proudly announcing that he is a "Button Boy"! For those who don't know what a button boy is, Elora has a group of teenage boys from church she loves to chase around trying to take their buttons, and she named them the button boys. Oliver thinks they are pretty cool too.
Our last morning in Vienna I went out to Leiners. It is a furniture store that has a cafe on the top floor with a little playground in it. It is the perfect place to go with friends who have kids. The kids all go play and you can relax and chat with very few interuptions from the busy kids. I met with Rene, one of my closest friends in Vienna to say goodbye. I know we will see her again, she is from Colorado and comes home every summer. We are already making our plans for this year! But it was still hard to say goodbye, I will miss her very much, and Elora and Oliver will miss her kids Grace and Ethan. Grace has been one of Elora's closest friends in Vienna, so we are very happy that we will have the chance to visit them in the years ahead!
Oliver and Grace in the play area!
And finally our last dinner in Vienna. It was time to clean out the fridge so we had a rather random collection of food to eat. Plain spaghetti, bratwurst, rolls with a little ham and cheese, french fries, and frozen green beans (yes, my kids eat them frozen...) After all our food posts with awesome things to eat, this was our final hurrah in Vienna! Then it was time to throw our last few belongings in the bags, and sleep for a couple hours before leaving for the airport at four in the morning... Goodbye Vienna! We love you! We love our friends there! We love the experiences we have had! Now on to new adventures back in America. We are going to have to have a new name for our blog...
20 February 2011
Still a little more back blogging from our last couple weeks. We met one of Chris' MBA friends and went to the Cafe Schwarzenburg. We were supposed to be going to a Chocolate Festival, but the place where the festival was supposed to take place was all locked up. Apparently they changed the place or time and forgot to update their website. Luckily, it was right by this cafe Karen heard was good.
Elora, as you can tell, is always thrilled to sip hot chocolate in fancy cafes.
Here's Serban and his wife Edith from Romania. They had never tried Kaiserschmarrn so we insisted they order it.
We got the Topfenstudel with vanille cream sauce and preiselbeeren (sort of like cranberries). Yum, yum yum.
One of the nice things about this cafe is the waiters brought out little puzzles for the kids to play with. Oliver and Elora were very excited.
It was nice because we could actually stay and chat and enjoy our very last, long European-style cafe experience. Now we're back in America and get the check shoved at us after we set down our fork!
19 February 2011
Elora is becoming quite the spiritual little girl. She loves to go to church, learn about the scriptures, sing primary songs, and especially pray. Her favorite things, next to watching Blues Clues or Mr Rogers is actually listening to Scripture Stories or having Family Home Evening. If you want to get both kids to put down whatever they're doing and come running to you, just announce we're having family home evening.
She insists she gets to pray before every meal, even if someone already did. This causes confrontations between her and Oliver who then start praying over each other, while we try to sort things out and tell them to each wait their turn. She also coaches Oliver on praying and tells him all the things he should be thankful for (Like choochoos and toys).
Dad: Princesses are girls, are you a girl?
Dad: Are you a boy?
Dad: Princesses are mommies, are you a mommy?
Dad: Princes are daddies, are you a daddy?
Karen: Are you Oliver?
Ollie: No, I'm a Missionary!
The kids love skiing so much that they wear their helmets around the house for fun!
Elora: Please bless that the mosquitoes won't bite mommy. ... Please bless that we can have a popsicle after dinner. ... Please bless that we'll go to the museum (or park) tomorrow. ... Please bless that I will not have to suffer like Jesus. ... Please bless that everyone will be reverent and not naughty in primary. ... Please bless that I can get my pencil out from under the table. ...
Thank you for the bees and butterflies, and grass, and trees, and birds, and primary, the prophets, and my teacher, mommy and daddy, and the earth, and we really love you and we really love us too.
(after the prayer is done when she finishes her list, now we start to eat)
Elora: Wait! I forgot to bless the food!
Elora: Please bless that tomorrow will be Sunday (said on Friday night, hoping she could go to church tomorrow. A kid who likes to go to church? What hath God wrought?)
Elora praying: Please bless that my teachers will know that even when I am being naughty, I am still learning. Please bless that when I am good Oliver will follow me.
(prayer before dinner) Elora: Thank you for McDonalds and chocolate.
(later after being excited and asking all on her own to go kneel in one of the prayer rooms and pray at St. Paul's Cathedral in London)
Elora: I prayed to suffer like Jesus.
Dad: Why would you do that? (me, totally perplexed)
Elora: Because Heaven is a safe place.
(what do you say to that?!?!)
Elora: Jesus was on the earth teaching people and he always wore his sandals!
Elora: Daddy, I miss great-Grandpa. I want to see great-Grandpa.
Dad: Well someday you will get to see him again.
Elora: But I want to see him now in heaven.
Dad: But you can't do that yet because you still have to have lots of experiences, like grow up and have a family of your own.
Elora: Not if I die when I'm young.
(gulp...let's just pray she's not on to something, but where does this come from?)
Elora: How did Great Grandpa die?
Grandma: He had lung cancer.
Elora: What's that?
Grandma: It's a disease.
Elora: Oh, did he lick the windows?
Note by us: A few months earlier, after we noticed Elora was licking the windows on public transportation (eeewwwwww!) we explained she can get germs and diseases, which could make her sick. Apparently it made a real impression.
Elora: Mom, if I'm bad, will I be destroyed by God?
Mom: No, but we need to repent and try to be good.
Elora: But in the scriptures, people were destroyed by God. Why didn't they repent?
Mom: Because we all get to choose, and they chose not to, which is sad.
Elora: It's not sad for us, because they were bad.
Mom: It's still sad, because we want people to try and repent and be better, like Alma the Younger, remember he was bad and then repented and became a missionary.
Elora: I'd like to live near him.
Elora: I'm the star of primary (kids sunday class) because I'm quiet, and I say the prayer and I sing really loud.
We were reading about the 10 commandments and Elora was having me explain them all to her. We got to "thou shalt not covet" and I tried to explain that coveting is like being greedy. So we were talking about all the nice things we have and why we don't need to desire what other people have.
Mommy: We have a nice family and friends.
Elora: And we already have nice toys to play with.
Mommy: And we have a nice home to live in and food to eat.
Elora: And we have some money to buy things. And when I grow up I need to have a farm so I can have BACON! I will get pigs and they will make bacon and HAM!
Elora: Why does the book not say, "Snakes have teeth that are poison if they bite you so don't pet them?"
Mom: Because this book is about how animals move, so it just talks about snakes slithering. Plus most snakes aren't poisonous.
Elora: What about anacondas, are they poisonous?
Mom: I don't think so.
Elora: How about spiders, don't pet them, they are all poison!
Mom: No, black widows are poison, but most spiders won't hurt you. You just should be careful around snakes and spiders because some are poisonous.
Elora: But you should never ever pet a Cheetah! Except maybe the cheetahs you find in pet shops, that would be okay.
16 February 2011
Germany & Austria are probably the only countries where you'll ever see a Camper Trailer being towed by a BMW!
Not much cultural to observe here. But it's a house overrun with weeds. In Vienna. Around the corner from our apartment. Strange! You'd expect to see something like this out in the countryside, but not in one of the nicer neighborhoods in Vienna.
Cultural Observation #2: They have crazy activities for children that you might have tried when your parents weren't looking, but that definately were not organized by the city... such as building a huge slide out of benches and gym mats. I love the children clinging to the top (yes, I know, some of them are mine...)
And down they go! They had fun at this gym day near our house, but it was a challenge making sure neither kid got injured trying out the activities. Luckily Marion slept through the whole thing so I was free to spot kids who were jumping off of large platforms onto mats, sliding down the huge benches, and using gymnastics rings as swings...
In english we say "the straw that breaks the camel's back."
In german the same saying is "the drop of water that makes the barrel overflow"
Which is kind of strange because if a barrel has too much water, it just overflows until it equalizes. (1 drop in, 1 drop out). But if you break the back of a camel... it's a dead camel. Which is the better perspective?
They don't decorate their Christmas trees in Austria until Christmas Eve. Saint Nicholas comes on the night of December 5th and fills their boots with candy, if the kids have been good. If they've been bad a freaky looking devil called Krampus who comes by and takes all the kids presents while they're in bed, if they are not sleeping when St. Nicholas comes.
On the 24th, the Christkind, or Christ-child (who looks like a woman, with long flowing blond curly hair--odd) comes and gives presents to the kids for Christmas morning. The kids don't write letters to St. Nick, but write letters to the Christ-child. We're thinking we'll adopt these traditions for next year.
We have a tiny refrigerator - actually ours is considered large, but it is about half the size of an American refrigerator. The other day we were dreaming about one day having a bigger fridge, and we both said - "That would be nice, but what in the world would we put in a refrigerator that big?" Apparently we have lost our ability to be extravagent in food purchasing and it is indeed time to go home to the USA!
The saying, "The best thing since sliced bread" really doesn't mean much here, because all the good bread doesn't come sliced. The only bread you do buy sliced is really dry and not tasty...
14 February 2011
This post has pics from the last couple weeks in Vienna with various friends we met at church. I will admit that I feel the most homesick for Vienna when we go to church here in America. It is so different, I miss the diversity, the incredible spirit of our Vienna ward, the friendliness, and mostly I miss our wonderful friends we have made over the years. Thanks for making Vienna our home!
Here is Oliver with his teachers, the Palicpics. They were amazing teachers, and Oliver absolutely loved them. Nursery every week was his favorite thing - and he would often ask to go to church even when it wasn't Sunday! As soon as we would come into church Oliver would scan the building looking for his teachers.
Here is Oliver with Mia. This was her baptism day. Oliver really loves Mia and likes to follow her around the church building. Elora decided that since he likes her so much that he should marry her when they get older.
Oliver with his littlest nursery friend Jana (Jay-Jay).
Oliver and Ellie. Ellie is closer to Elora's age, but since Oliver is used to having older girls around he really likes to play with Ellie!
And of course, Oliver's favorite lady - Heidi! We will miss her, she is such an amazing happy person and our kids adore her. She leads the music at church, so the kids like to play the "Heidi Game" where they take turns pretending to lead the music. So cute.
Oliver driving Marion around in one of the nursery trucks... I am not sure she was impressed with this game.
Christine and Elcid invited us over for dinner just before we moved. We had lots of good Filipino food. Christine really wanted us to try some new dishes, so we had Empanadas, fried chicken wings, and a noodle dish that I can't remember the name of... but it was all very tasty, and there was enough food to feed a small army so we were all stuffed!
Marion had a great time! She smiles at everyone nowand is such a sweet, happy baby.
Our friends Bindi and Simon had a small get together for us a few days before we left. Thanks to Bindi for putting it all together! Bindi was my first friend in Austria, and her son Charlie is one of Elora's favorite people. She is already asking if he is back in Australia so she can go visit him there. Elora and the rest of the kids had a great time playing dress up!
Elora's favorite costume was the blow up unicorn. Very good fun.
Oliver found some toy buses and was occupied for the rest of the evening.
Elora and Mia.
The whole crew! Back row, left to right: Chris, Krista, Jason, Sarita, Bindi, Marion, Om, Brooke, Oliver, Karen, Simon, Summer, Mia, Todd. Middle: Cara, Ken, Braden, Zach, Hannah, Charlotte. Front: Ellie, Leah, Elora, Luca, Jana, Charlie. There was good food and it was nice to have one last get together before moving home.
On our last day Om and Brooke came over to help us ship some boxes. Ellie and Elora had a great time trying to shrink wrap Om so we could bring him home with us.
Oliver loves doors. Especially this door at the church. Every Sunday after church he runs outside so he can open and close the door... This was our last Sunday in Vienna. I don't think words can express how much we loved living in Vienna. We learned many lessons, made many friends, saw many great places, and became better people from living in Austria. We will be forever grateful for our many wonderful experiences we had there, and the many friends we made.
Here is Ollie Closing the Door... for the last time!
13 February 2011
On January 2nd, 2011 we blessed Marion Avery Williams at church. Karen made this dress for Elora and we had it brought out for the blessing. One of these days we hope to take some better portraits before she grows out of it. The portrait camera is in need of repair, however...
Even though she is so small, she looks so grown up. Looking back on this day, she's already grown a lot more. Fortunately, my parents were visiting so my Dad was able to participate in this day, along with Bishop Mamouney, Peter Clayson, Todd Vincent, Ed Garcia, Moses Parkinson, and Teddy Perez. Marion is such a beautiful little baby and having such a sweet new life come into our family is a real blessing. We're excited to watch her grow up and sad to see her get bigger at the same time!
11 February 2011
One of the last touristy things we did in Vienna was to visit the Imperial Crypt and take the kids out for a fancy cup of hot chocolate.
This crypt is where many of the Haupsburgs are burried. Needless to say the coffins are very ornate. It's strange the fascination with death they had.
Today skulls are a symbol of something creepy and almost sinster -- yet we all have one. Here are the most powerful people in the world decorating their final resting place with icons which today we find dark and devilish. The symbol of the skull has really changed it's meaning!
I wonder what statment they were trying to make with these crowned skulls. Perhaps it's as if to say, "Even in death, I am still the emperor."
This statue rests on top of one of the coffins. The messages of most of the crypt art seems to be death and sorrow and despair. That's interesting considering all of these people were religious and believed their death would mark the beginning of joys in the world to come.
More sorrowful imagery. As I was walking around, I noticed I could line up the statue and the lighting just right for some interesting photographs.
The kids were there too, and making lots of noise. Here is Elora holding out her fingers to tell Oliver she's going to get "Two" gurkas (cucumbers) out of her backback.
Elora was interested by the little baby coffin. These ones are always the saddest. Elora is always more interested in the little coffins or gravestones.
This triumphant angel statue is perhaps the only hint of joy in the crypt.
Elora really liked this wall of rocks and wanted to have her picture taken by it. Oliver, meanwhile, was running around singing at the top of his lungs!
Here they both are next to the Kaiser Franz Joseph, who started WWI and didn't live to see the end of it. Oliver was kicking his feet against the marble step because it made an interesting noise. Fortunately, no one was around to see or hear his disrepectful act before we hurried him away!
Next, it was on to Cafe Demel, the place we were told has the best chocolate in Vienna. We agree! In the back of the cafe you can see the chefs at work in the kitchen. Notice that huge horse cake, partially cut off, in the bottom right corner!
While we were looking at the menu to decide what to order, Oliver decided the menu made a better song book and sang us a song. He was singing Hallelujah for us. It was very cute. Unfortunately, some crotchedy old lady from around the corner sneered at us, so we had to tell Oliver to sing quietly.
Elora, as always, was happy to lavish Marion with attention.
Our hot chocolates arrived! The kids were very excited to have their very own. You can see how pleased Elora is.
She looks like such a coffee shop natural! She's going to grow up wondering why she has such a longing for sitting around in cafes. She's already an exceptionally slow eater, so she'll fit right into the culture of hanging out in cafes and taking 2 hours to eat a meal.
We had too many cute pictures of Elora not to put this one up! We gave them spoons to eat their hot chocolate and it kept them occupied the whole time we were there. The kids were so excited it makes us want to take them out for treats more often.
Not much to say here... Ollie just looks cute.
After the hot choclate we had finger lickin' Kaiserschmarrn and a chocolate souffle. Both were very delicious.