Thursday, October 26, 2017

Pre-Halloween, post-camping, bust yer bickies... super fast photo shoot

So, what a crazy weekend. We couldn't possibly cram one more thing in these last few days. Coming straight home from a 3 day camping trip to unpack, start the heaps of laundry, bathe or shower every single person, make a pot of soup and a batch of cornbread, spray paint Laney's shoes, put straps on the giant oreos and get everyone dressed and hair done is a feat of miraculous proportions. I could feel the stress coursing through my veins.

But what else is there to do?

Start checking things off the list and while you're at it, hustle those kids out the the front yard and take a photo before that costume has chili down the front or a rip in the knee.  I will thank myself later...if I'm still conscious.

Laney is a cute witch. She attached that cute bow to the rim of her hat and it really adds that special something!

Everly chose to be a cupcake in the hopes that it would entice the neighbors to give her more candy that usual.

I think she's on to something.

Mathew has wanted to be Link for SO MANY YEARS. And we finally got it together. He looks pretty happy. Which is a good thing, because that shirt took me FORever to paint.

I had to track Megan down at the church because she went early to help set up the fishing pond game. She's a mature young woman now and handles her responsibilities with serious efficiency.

She also purchased and put together her costume....Pony Boy (from the Outsiders). She even drew a red slash on her neck. Apparently Pony Boy gets slashed.

I'm diggin her rebel "what's it to ya?" glare.

Anna wanted to be a bat. Which was as simple as removing the tail and attaching some felt wings to our black cat costume.

This photo show's her personality perfectly.

She's a feisty one.

Ethan's band festival got rained out and so he was free to come as....a teenage boy that found some black paint for his face and always has a baseball hat on. 

Look at that authentic facial hair!  spooky.

Mark and I finally morphed into the living example of "You are what you eat". Double stuffed Oreos for the win.

Except. We were trumped by the Guenther Family....

They brought their 'A' game!!

Let's get a closer look at that mullet....

I love our ward.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall camping 2017 - Wallace State Park and the kitchen sink

I've been looking forward to our fall camping trip all year long. I LOVED getting away last year. I needed to spend time with good friends, disconnect from technology and give my kids the opportunity to run wild and free in the wilderness. 

But, there is a price to be paid. The planning, shopping, packing, cleaning, organizing felt insurmountable this year. Maybe it was because I knew we would be arriving home with a very small window to get ready for the ward Halloween party....
All the costumes needed to be ready and the house needed to be cleaned so that we wouldn't arrived home into preordained chaos. 

Thursday morning I woke up with stress coursing through my veins. I hit the ground running and soon I was bossing and barking at everyone. Megan was at the kitchen sink plotting a mutiny because she didn't want to wash the dishes and the others had simply disappeared in an effort to avoid an assignment. 

I stood in the middle of the madness and realized that if we didn't regroup we were going to have a miserable morning and arrive at our campsite already furious with each other. 

So we got a schedule going and we were off. Soon we were on our way to Wallace State Park and 3 days of friends and nature.

Megan made us a broom to sweep the leaves off of our tent porch.  If only it didn't leave it's own leaves behind as well.

Everly learned how to "tend sticks" this year. She is still working on the concept of not waving the flaming hot end around in everyone's face. Only two of us got branded!

We had some pretty sweet campfire visitors!

I love how the kids roam from campground to campground sharing food and teaching each other games and generally having their run of the place. And I really love sharing food and forgotten supplies with my friends...they're so close! Just a few yards away! I feel like we've lost some of this feeling of community as our connection to each other shifts to the digital arena.

I was born in the wrong century. Except for Netflix and hot showers.....those are keepers.

The girls got tired early and requested to go to bed early.


So we got them brush and jammied and settled in. A few ghost stories later and they were snoozing away and the grown ups were left to chat.

Before long, we were all gathered around the picnic table sharing stories and funny movie quotes while the teenagers manned the campfire.

It was my favorite moment of the trip. Having time to enjoy the company of these awesome people I have come to love and count on in my life.

 The next morning started off low-key but turned stressful when Mari and Martin realized that Seth was missing. We all set off in different directions calling his name and thinking that he'd turn up any minute at someone's campsite or down at the lake.  But he wasn't turning up and Mari was getting really scared. Of course!!

Mark and Martin ran down the road and went down different trails, Jessica stayed back in camp and watched all the other little ones so we didn't lose anyone else. Todd took Deer Run loop and Laney and I branched off down Skunk Hollow Trail. We were yelling and praying and hoping to run into him soon.

After about 15 minutes, Ethan came running our direction and started searching with us. A few minutes later, Mark texted him...Seth had been found! He had gone off on a morning hike with the Johnson family and had overlooked the very essential step of asking permission.

We were just glad to see his face.

Everyone gathered back at camp and the Guenther's set off on a hike and we kicked around camp just organizing and shooting the breeze.

Laney took advantage of a captive audience and told her very best ghost story. Kylie told one and suckered me into looking closely at a gruesome "scar" and got me to scream like a sissy when I got too close. ugh!

After lunch we headed down to the lake with a big group of the willing. We had heard tales of the "biggest seesaw in the world". Well then!

Anna was....happy!

We had to take a few minutes to roll down the very best rolling hill a few times.

And a few more times.

And maybe a few more times....

Look at that awesome swirling hair! That is impressive rolling speed.

Couldn't resist snapping a picture of cute Mark. Love that man.

We followed the Johnsons down a path and placed our trust in them as we veered off down a dry river bed and wound round and round in search of the teeter totter.  We trust the Johnsons. They are professional campers. They know stuff.

And we weren't disappointed. Best teeter totter EVER.

By some miracle I managed to take a panoramic photo of it while everyone was moving about and being generally spastic. 

But not before I gave Mark a super stretchy chicken

On our way back to the camp, I thought it would be fun to snap a fall photo of the girls. Megan did not agree.

One of this things is not like the others....

I managed to get this one (not perfect, but I'll take it) right before she rolled her eyes at me and stormed off.

Mathew found his people and they gathered around the watering hole.

It was the perfect getaway. We gathered, we laughed, we shared and swapped. The kids were loud a crazy and dirty. Mini-societies were built and collapsed multiple times. Each child seemed to get a chance to be the "boss of everything" and enjoy their power before the others organized a mutiny.

It's exactly what I was hoping for.  Happy, tired, smokey, and completely filthy.

Camping perfection.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Europe Trip - Day 4 Bikes Gardens and Marionettes

We woke up on time this morning so we could take our bus down to the Mirabell Palace and meet up with Fraulein Maria's bike tour - a fifteen kilometer path around the city of Salzburg. 

We chose these snazzy purple bikes...they seemed the newest and the most reliable.

I mostly just went for the one with the cutest bell.

How do I live without cobblestone?

Our tour guide was Claudio. He was energetic and outgoing, often breaking out in song as we visited the different point of historical interest and various spots where "The Sound of Music" was filmed. I admit...I ended up being the most excited about learning the history of the city. It's so old! So many crazy things have happened!

He pointed out this unattractive statue of Mozart.

Poor Mozart.

He also told us a story about the siege on Salzburg during the Thirty Years War. Their enemies had surrounded them and were waiting for the people of the city to run out of food and surrender. They came up with an idea. They led their remaining cows out where they could be seen by the enemy. Then they led them back down, painted them a different color and walked them back out to be seen again. They painted them over and over and soon the invaders realized the city was well stocked with cattle they would never surrender. The packed up and went home! This earned the citizens of Salzburg the nickname "Salzburg Steirwashers" and there are now colorful painted statues of cows and bulls all over the city.

Also....Red Bull is made in Salzburg!

I love good stories.

As we rode along, I was fascinated by the way these perfectly precise buildings were built right up against these cliffs. Isn't there a building code or something that prohibits that? It's such a foreign sight to me. But at the same time, I love it!

How in the world did they get permission to build their apartment on top of this old archway??

Right up against the cliff!

Outside the Opera house. This staircase was also used in one of the scenes in the movie...when Max is helping the kids rehearse while the Captain and Maria are on their honeymoon.

This was the fist of several photos where we posed due to tour guide peer pressure!

And I think it turned out cute!

And here is "Rolfe's Gate".

Remember? Ha! cool!

The Residence Fountain where Maria reaches up to splash as she sings about having confidence in sunshine....or was it rain?

I had to get a boost from Claudio and sit up there to reach the water because Maria was standing on a box during filming. Movie magic!!

I've always thought that the horses legs were broken in the fountain. Turns out they are actually MERhorses...kinda like little flappy flippers.

and look! a turtle!

The next time we stopped, Claudio was explaining....something about somewhere, but our noses took over and we followed them to this old door. We were right to trust our senses, we had found Salzburg's oldest bakery.

It was right at the bottom of the Fortress and I got my first glimpse of a funicular.  Funicular is a fancy word for "scary, but worth it".

The bakery was nestled right next to a cemetery. I love the way they plant flowers and bushes on the graves. It makes it way less creepy and gives you something to tend and care for. I wish we did that in the the United States.

These beautiful gates were the inspiration for the scenes where the family hid in the abbey as they escaped the Nazis.

The view of Salzburg from Nonnberg Abby where the real Maria was a postulant.  Such a beautiful city. I love the green rooftops and the domes.

Once again convinced to do a silly pose. Why am I such a push over?

But mom sure is cute!

This is the gate to the Nonnberg Abby where the children come to see Maria!

Everywhere we went we could spot the amazing Fortress. My mom told me that it never was conquered and was given to Napoleon. I could see why. It is truly formidable.

Here is the home that was used to film the scenes on the back veranda with the Von Trapp children singing and falling into the water from their canoe.

I made several attempts to take an over-the-shoulder photo of both of us riding along...

This one is the the one!

We rode past the home that was used the front of the house scenes....when Maria first arrives and when the captain tears down the Nazi flag and when they are pushing the car and trying to escape. It was looking a little run down, but the guide told us that is used as a school of music and the students lived there as they study. We could hear someone practicing a few lines of a piano piece nearby. I kind of think that the Austrians have a pretty practical view of how to preserve and honor historical places. Many of these buildings stay in use! I really love that.

As we were zipping along, we came around a slippery corner pretty fast and right as mom came around, there was a car right there and it sent her into a ditch. She hit her head and hip and really cut up her hands. Claudio did his best to wrap her wounds, but I'm pretty sure he was flustered because he wrapped the wrong hand!!

Mom kept on for a bit but was feeling shaken up and I'm sure was hurting. By the time we reached Hellbrunn, she decided to take a bus back to the hotel. I finished up with the tour, but I was worried about her and wishing I had taken the bus back with her.

The tour was mostly over and we were just traveling back to Mirabell Palace. I did like this bridge, though. It was fun to see everyone's padlocks up there.  I tried to find out where to buy a padlock, but I never could seem to find anywhere to get one.

I did my best to find a bus back to the hotel, but accidentally got on the wrong one and it stopped out in who-knows-where for a break while I sat on the bus and wondered how in the world I was going to get back. For about 2 minutes let the tears come and the panic roll over me. I was in a foreign country! I wanted my mom! But then, you know, I just had to stop the bawling and ask again for help. I spotted another bus driver and asked him if his route went back to the hauptbanhof. He said it did, so I hopped on and determined to ride it until I got back, no matter how long it took.

I eventually stepped off that bus in triumph!

And mom was all cleaned up and showered. I told her about my bus terror and she told me about the looks the hotel staff gave her when she arrived back all muddy and bleeding. We had a good laugh, scrubbed out her favorite pants and white shirt and headed back out to the Mirabell Palace gardens to look around and see those last few spots where the Sound of Music was filmed.  Here are the steps where Maria and the children hop up and down singing "do re mi"....

If I had been braver, I would have hopped or posed like Maria with my hand on my head. What can I say? I'm not an uninhibited person.

We wandered the gardens and came upon a cool little park off to the side where two dwarf statues on a bridge led you to a little glen where a half dozen or so other dwarves were arranged in a circle. They seemed so interesting and purposefully made. We googled it (yay, technology!) and learned this:

"The Zwerglgarten, or “Dwarf Garden,” in Salzburg, Austria was created in 1715 by Prince Archbishop Franz Anton Harrach. Many of these creepy dwarf statues were modeled after dwarves who lived in the court and served as entertainers to the archbishop. The rest were inspired by peasants and foreigners.The Dwarf Garden resides at the north end of the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, but for a time, the gardens were dwarf-less, thanks to a very superstitious resident of Mirabell Gardens.  In concern for his wife and their unborn child, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria had the disfigured creatures with their goiters and hunchbacks removed from the Dwarf Garden (they were to be destroyed). Fortunately, they were only auctioned off and the dwarfs were forgotten for over one hundred years. Not until 1921 did the Salzburg Society for the Preservation of Local Amenities recall this part of Salzburg’s cultural heritage to mind and convince the city councilors to place the nine dwarfs then in the city’s possession in their historical positions."

Our next order of business was to find Rouladen. I have never had it, but mom said she really wanted to try it. So we googled and walked and mapped and turned around. The we googled some more. 

We just couldn't find it! So we ended up picking a place to eat and rested our tired feet. Then we walked all over "old Salzburg" looking for a particular little shop that sold hand carved nativity sets. We just couldn't seem to find it. We did find the birthplace of Mozart, though! 

We walked up one street and down another and through some miracle, ended up staring right at the shop that we were looking for! 

We went in and Mom chose out each piece that she wanted. She shipped them to a neighbor back home and it should be waiting for her when she gets back. I'm so glad we found it!

A funny thing we saw on our bike tour and then again as we were walking around...this old fountain with its paintings of horses is really an old horse washing station! You lead your horse down one side, give it a scrub and then you head out the other end.  Wow. That's alot of architecture just to wash your horsie.

We walked straight from there down to the Marionette Theater and enjoyed a production of the Sound of Music. My favorite part was when they lifted the curtain at the end and you realized that they had completely convinced your mind that those marionettes were life sized! The puppeteers heads were HUGE!  And they were so cute as they bobbed their heads up and down to bow as we cheered for them... big happy grins on their faces.

They were truly masters of their craft.

What a day! We started and ended with Sound of Music. Bike rides and crashes, blood and tears, dwarves and mangers. Salzburg is turning out to be one of my favorite places!