Traveling does have its perks. One of the places I was able to see a few days ago on a work trip is Villers Abbey. I have visited numerous times over the years and it is apparent that they are actively working on restoring large portions of the ruins. Its always been a thoughtful place for me, a place to walk in silence, to observe, to think and consider.
Summer in American with the grandparents is a wonderful time. Exploring, learning, tasting, relating. The time is going too fast!
One of the boys’ classes was going on a school outing to an old castle 30 minutes drive south of Erfurt. Papa B was going to be here, too, so we made a Man-Day. A few days before the preparations went into full swing: we bought manly snacks and packed them in our manly backpacks. The email from the organizers said that though you could drive there, some would meet at a bus stop in a nearby village and hike to the castle. Well, that sounded manly, so that’s what we were going to do.
The day arrived, beautiful and sunny. We got everything ready, filled our water bottles and got our hiking shoes on, and set out for the village. We got there, just in time. After the bus came and went on which the other hikers were supposed to come, and no one got off, we knew that we’d missed something.
Well, there was nothing to do but to start hiking.
We saw many wonderful things…
… including brilliant fields of raps
… deer stands
(… and cows, many dandelions which got decapitated, sheep/goats, hippies, but sadly dad didn’t think of taking pictures of those)
… and finally, the castle itself (where the hippies live). We got there about 40 minutes too late. I guess dad had done the manly thing and wasn’t detailed enough in his planning.
And where were the others? They either drove all the way to the castle or started from a nearer village. We ended up walking a total of 10 KM there and back! That’s pretty good. Its good we had our manly snacks along, otherwise we would’ve run out of fuel for the way back.
I was so proud of my boys!
Kenya is an amazing place. I had been there a long time ago visiting an Aunt and Uncle, and to accept an invitation to a weeklong intercultural studies conference was a no-brainer. To swap stories and experiences with intercultural practitioners from all over the world was truly stimulating. I only wish I could’ve taken my family along, but they wouldn’t have liked the all-night 10 hour layover on the way back.
We finally got some snow… FINALLY! It snowed once, and we hastily shoveled it into a pile for the kids to enjoy, because sure enough, it hasn’t snowed since, and it doesn’t look like it will again. The boys were loving it, Emilie, was not so sure about all this.
Emilie has a love for anything computers… now, how did that happen? Surely, this doesn’t come from MY genes?
The kids continue to grow. Amazingly the boys will soon by five years old. (*did I just say five?*) Emilie is turning into a little queen. Indeed, she expects a certain standard of living.
Yesterday was special, too. I took one of the boys to a nearby castle for a hike, and all us boys are now outfitted with suspenders! Watch out! A new trend is coming!
At risk of sounding country western (we’re way more positive than that!), we’re back in the saddle again, working from dawn to dusk, herding our To Do Lists, culling the bad ideas, and slapping our brand on what’s left. In the midst of printing flyers, planning retreats, and meeting with student leaders, we realize the great privilege we have to do this work. We are so thankful for the place God has put us!
The family is doing well, too. Our baby girl insists on climbing all over everything, and is especially passionate about playing with her brothers’ toys —much to their chagrin! The boys are starting their second week of Kindergarten, and are doing well reintegrating after a summer off into the class, learning German and making friends. It is so fun watching them grow up! But enough chit chat, here are some pictures!
Oh jet lag, how we dislike thee…
Day 4: These last few days have been a blur, and full of blurry eyes.
The first night we all slept pretty awesome, since we were exhausted from flying and being awake the night before. But when our second night and third night came…<groan>.
Between the baby waking for her nightly feedings, and then being a bit fussy one night, and our boys (well, one boy to be exact), we were up most of the night 2 nights in a row. We maybe got 2-3 hours of sleep. And then we would be awake all day, so as not to nap and get our systems all thrown off.
I wasn’t sure who was going to win, jet lag or us. I thought if I had one more night like the last two, I might go crazy from lack of sleep!
BUT, last night was bliss compared to the others. Our little guy woke up about 3 times, but he was able to fall back to sleep right away, instead of falling apart in frustration and rage like the other nights. I remember lying in bed thanking God for sleep and sleeping boys.
I think we are going to make it. We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as we turn our clocks around.
Yesterday we walked onto a plane and today we are in Europe.
It was a long flight. 10 hours.
Well, 9 hours and 20 minutes to be exact. We had a good tailwind.
Boys did really well. The only thing was they didn’t sleep. They didn’t sleep well the night before because they were so excited to fly. Which meant we all did not sleep well. Except for baby. So we officially began our day at 5 AM on August 29th and it didn’t end until 8 PM Europe time on August 30th, which would be 12 PM US time on the 30th. The only time the boys slept on the flight was when we landed. And then little cat naps in the car as we drove for 4 hours to our final destination. That’s about 39 hours all together. Needless to say, we had some tired and very wired little boys on our hands.
For in flight fun, I had gift wrapped, with the help of my mom (Thanks mom!), some books, sticker books, coloring books and crayons, and a few toys for the boys. I wasn’t worried about entertaining my wee one. I figured she would just sleep most of the time, which she did. (Praise the Lord!) I also packed a few snacks: fruit snacks for take off and landing, and granola bars. They only ended up eating one of the fruit snacks for take off and later split a granola bar during the flight.
Our seats were the 4 middle row seats, perfect for our whole family, since baby was on my lap. The seats in front of us had built in touch screen TVs. The boys enjoyed watching some animal films. They were good about not touching the screens too much either. There were also buttons on the armrests. We said they could touch all of them BUT the one with the person on it, because that calls “the lady.” Fortunately, they understood and never touched that button. They did like the button that turned the overhead lights on and off, and we eventually had to put a stop to it once the cabin lights were out. We didn’t want to drive our neighbors crazy.
We tried getting our boys to sleep by putting them in their PJs and pulling out their blankets and teddies. We tried twice to get them to sleep, in fact. But alas, we had little jumping beans on our hands. They could not settle down.
We had the boys out of their seats a couple times to go potty, but otherwise, they stayed in their seats (albeit moving around a bunch, but in their seats). As I reflect back on it, that’s pretty good for 3-year-olds!
I think it was the most stressful for mommy and daddy. We were trying to keep the boys quiet and somewhat still so as not to disturb the people around us. Every move and noise felt much louder to us. But thankfully, the jet engine noise made for nice white noise to dampen the boys’ noise. A lady at the end of the flight commented that they were worried when they first found that they were sitting near kids, but found they were no disturbance at all. Except for a melt down at the end of the flight, which would be expected from a child who never slept, they thought the boys did great. And now that I think about it, they really did.
An answer to prayer. 🙂
During our time in the metropolis of Rosberg we decided to visit “the farm.” Thanks to some dairy farmers, who are good friends of the family, we were going to get a good look at real cows, not just the ones in picture books. The boys got all dressed for the part, their rubber boots on with their striped overalls tucked in.
These are the adventures of one of these boys, the boy we shall call “Farmer John.”
As we navigated our way up the dirt driveway, the first thing Farmer John spotted was tractors. After struggling mightily with the racing harness in his conveyance, he popped out and raced for biggest and baddest of them. After all, there was work to be done!
Once upon his work vehicle, he roamed around and spotted cows. He never realized that they were so big! Farmer John didn’t think that it’d be wise to be down so low, so from here on out, he road his ‘mule.’
From up on high he could take a proper survey of his realm. “Ah yes,” said Farmer John to himself, “in there are the two-year olds. Watch out you little ‘uns, them there cows can be mighty jumpy!”
The fine looking ladies, he took to see the newest calves he had. “This here calf I’m a callin’ Rose, lil’ Miss, because you smell so fine and sweet.” “Why,” said ‘Rose’, “what do you feed these fine animals, Farmer John? Do you feed them grass?” “No ma’m,” replied Farmer John, “them critters eat hay.”
For the grand finale, he called everyone together to have a group picture down at the haystack. “Everyone say ‘cheese’!”
Along the road of our travels up the east coast to Vermont and then over to Maine and back, we had to make a few pit stops. Potty breaks, lunch breaks, and stretch-your-legs-and-get-the-wiggles-out breaks.
On one occasion, we treated the boys to a milkshake. We got one to share between the four of us.
The boys did really well, passing it back and forth and taking their sip. They even let mommy enjoy her sips. 🙂