Sunday, February 18, 2018

Happy 4th Birthday Aaron!

My mom sent a big box of junk for the kids to open up today on Aaron's birthday. They loved it. We had a small cheesecake and sparking candles and sang happy birthday.

It's been a great year for Aaron.  Mostly because the kids talk about him constantly. And they say the funniest things. We had a great conversation about him in the car the other day. I was informed by William that he was there, floating next to him in the car and that because he's invisible, we can't see him or hear him and he can go through walls. But he's with us all the time.  And I said - well what if he has a job to do in heaven?  And Abby piped up with, Heavenly Father wouldn't give a baby a job!!!!!!  So I responded - well maybe go goes around hugging people. Abby says, ok but then after he's done with work he can come home to us.

The faith of children is extraordinary.  Because Chopper and I believe and teach that Aaron is alive and well as a spirit, the kids believe it too. And he is just an invisible part of their lives. And today on his 4th birthday when we miss him, I am so grateful for that.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Kids Being Kids

The kids are at really good ages. Not too many tantrums, mainly independent, but not yet into the teenager years. They say a lot of fun things that Chopper and I just laugh over and I had to get some of them down on paper because they're so good.

We have a chimney sweep that comes 2-3 times a year.  A lot of people speak English but not necessarily a lot of English.  And I really try to meet them halfway with my German!  So this last time the sweep came William was really interested in watching what he did to clean the chimneys and so he was standing right there when I thanked him for coming (in German) and said good-bye - the sweep obviously replied in German as well.  After I shut the door William turned to me and said "Mom, I don't know why people talk that way (in German), but when people talk to me that way, I do this:" he then stands perfectly still with this blank look on his face and I just started laughing because honestly, that's what I do a lot too!

Another good William one - he's been very interested in the Deacons passing the sacrament in church on Sundays and has asked me questions about when he'll be a big boy to do it too.  Two Sundays after the hymn when the boys stood up to bless the sacrament, he turned to me and said, "mom is it time for the snack-rament?" I started laughing and said " you mean sacrament?" He replies, "oh, yeah, I thought it was called the snack-rament!"

Last but not least we were talking about twins.  Abby told me that if she every has a boy / girl twin combo she's going to name them Jane and Austen for me (she's so sweet!).  Megan then added that if she had a boy/girl twin combo she would name them Ben and Anna so that she could just yell "banana" when she needed them to come!

Sunday, February 11, 2018


When a child is young, it's so hard to imagine them growing up.  Megan hit double-digits on Tuesday -- TEN YEARS OLD!  It's hard to believe that I've been a mom for that long honestly.

I flew home from my Grandma's funeral ON her birthday but she still wanted to celebrate that evening and I thought we could pull it off.  She requested tacos for dinner and a cherry pie for her birthday dessert.  Warning - don't put candles in a pie until you're sure it's cooled down.  The ones we put in kept falling over and then when Chopper tried to adjust them, he discovered they had all melted halfway!  So we ate pie with bits of melted wax in it I guess . . .

After dinner Megan opened presents and generally we just had a really nice enjoyable evening! Her favorite items were mini Hatchimals and Calico Critters but also some fun books (a cat encyclopedia!) and a cat sweatshirt.  She really really loves cats right now and Chopper has told her she can have one when we move back to the states!

Blowing out candles on the birthday pie

At TEN YEARS OLD Megan's favorites are: 
favorite color - yellow
favorite book (right now) - she doesn't know (she reads a lot)
favorite movie - Guardians of Ga-Hoole (the owl one)
favorite thing to do in her spare time - read or draw or play with toys
favorite food - oranges
favorite holiday - Christmas and Easter
When she grows up she wants to be a mommy (because then she can have cute babies - she really likes cute babies!)
She would like to add that she thinks mommy is a weirdo.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Good-bye to My Grandma Goodman

I don't know the exact date that things started happening, but not long after my birthday I got a text from my mom that Grandma wasn't doing well and she was flying out to see her one last time.  Talk about a stab to the heart!  Grandma was 93 years old and had suffered from the effects of age for a while. She had frequent infections and had fallen and had spent some time in a rest home that focused on physical therapy and had seen some improvement, but when she went home to my aunt's house she went downhill pretty quickly and the siblings determined that they needed to put her in a rest home because they couldn't physically provide the care that she needed.  According to my mom, she was at peace with that decision but she really wasn't in the home that long before another infection wiped her out pretty good and then she passed away.

That week after receiving the news from my mom that she was going out was terrible.  I was glued to my phone and carried it everywhere with me and was an emotional wreck. She finally passed away on a Thursday night and it as upsetting but also something of a relief to know that she was free from her body and having a joyful reunion with all of her family members who had gone before.

This past weekend I did a quick trip to Utah (oh the jet lag!) to attend her funeral.  I flew in on Thursday and out on Monday and had the most wonderful time!  All of my siblings were there and both of my sisters-in-law and so many extended family members.  From my Grandma and Grandpa there have been 7 children (and their spouses), 42 grandchildren, 97 great-grandchildren, and 21 great-great grandchildren so far.  My Uncle Bill counted 70 of that posterity who were able to visit her in the nursing home before she died and I wish that I could've been one of them!

Not only is it a large family, it's a close family.  For the most part, the family has lived in Utah (Salt Lake Valley) or California (Los Angeles area) and so I would say that the majority of the cousins know each other pretty well.  Our family is kind've an exception because we moved to the east coast when we were young and I know that my brothers felt a little awkward but I loved seeing cousins that I grew up with and spent time with until we moved.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all with family having dinner, the funeral of course, and just spending the time together talking.

Grandma's funeral was on Saturday and it was beautiful!  She loved music and requested that it be all musical - although two wonderful eulogies were given!  I have a lot of talented family but then all the grandchildren and greats sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" or at last tried to.  There were a lot tears shed!  After the funeral we went out to the cemetery and then back to the church for a family dinner where we filled the cultural hall at the church.

I could write a lot about my Grandma and my relationship with her.  I was blessed to have that relationship on both ends sort've!  As a child, she lived for a while in Utah about a half hour from us.  We would drive down frequently on Saturdays and spend the day.  She had a whole closet space full of toys and we would play while she and my mom hung out and Grandpa snored on the couch with the tv at full volume.  My cousin Emily and I played for hours with her tubs of Barbies and we also dressed up in her clothes and jewelry.  Sometimes I would get to spend the night and in the mornings for breakfast she would make us coffee cake and we drank orange juice out of a pair of pink rose goblets that she gave to us when she was no longer able to live on her own.  We would beg to see her baby dolls that were kept up high - she loved dolls - and I would read all her books.  I honestly think that her house (and then borrowing of course) is where I read The Secret Garden and The Little Princess for the first time.  She introduced me to so many good books and old movies!  About once a year she would take Emily and I into Salt Lake for the day and we would watch the brides come out of the Temple and then visit the Beehive house and eat lunch at the Lion House.  I remember her peach pies and she would stock up on Creamies ice cream bars in the summertime.

But what I will miss the most is the relationship I've had with her as an adult.  I've been writing to her and sending her pictures for years now.  She loved to read also and we've sent books back and forth and of course as I've lived in Europe I've sent postcards from nearly every place we've been.  I brought a stack home of cards and pictures that she had saved and I'm going to miss her letters so much. Chopper suggested I write to my mom but when we talk on the phone a few times a week there's nothing to write about!  With Grandma's hearing so bad, writing was a wonderful way to communicate and I'm so glad I did because it built a relationship between us as adults that I wouldn't have had otherwise.  I loved her so much and I miss her.
At the viewing -- I have pictures of lots of family but I won't post them all individually.  Mark and Adrienne's girls are adorable and sadly this was the first time I've seen Zoey!  It was nice to spend time with them.

The "kids" - from left to right Quentin (oldest), Linda (oldest girl but #3), Laura (5), Shirley Ann (4), my mom Lennea (6 - baby girl), Ron (2) and Keith (baby boy, #7)

All the grands - 1st cousins.  Not everyone is here of course but that's a lot of us!

Another at the viewing

Yes we took some nice pictures at the cemetery but we also took these of course!


Danny and Denise's youngest came with them (the older boys stayed home with babysitters).  Tom is adorable as all her boys have been!

I made him wear the wings that I made for the girls.  He was find with it!

Ok these are the nice ones!  I think we're a good looking bunch!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Happy Birthday in Munich

I admit to a little jealousy that Chopper's birthday is usually on a holiday weekend at the end of May and we have time and good weather to take a little trip somewhere.  I enjoy those trips of course, but I want to take one for my birthday!  This year I decided to make it happen and it turned out beautifully.

On Friday the 7th, Chopper took the day off of work and we did some antiquing while the kids were in school.  That's something that we enjoy although we haven't yet bought any of the gorgeous furniture we've seen.  We don't really have the space!  Chopper loves to look for art and I've been purchasing quite a few beautiful tea cups and found some lovely linens and a beautiful Bavarian painted box for the post cards that I collect from the places we visit.  We had lunch in a restaurant without kids (wow!) and a relaxed day.

One city fairly close to us that we haven't even touched yet is Munich.  And spending a day there still qualifies as just scratching the surface but it was a wonderful day!  The previous week had been rainy and cold and even when we drove down Friday night it awful.  But Saturday morning came sunny and clear and while it was still cold it wasn't huddle-for-warmth weather.

In Germany, January 6 is Three King's Day - a religious and also federal holiday.  Museums, cafes, and restaurants were still open but shops were closed and in the morning the churches were all holding religious services so you couldn't tour them.  Despite that, there was plenty to do.
Starting of course with climbing on and posing with statues.

We like going in churches but we particularly wanted to see the crypt in this one: St. Michael's.  Munich is the capital of Bavaria and so the main city of the Wittelsbach family who ruled Bavaria for about 700 years - first as Duke's and then as Kings.  King Ludwig II (builder of Neuschwanstein and how many other amazing castles?) is buried here and we were curious to see if his tomb is as elaborate as he was in life.  But although we did get in to take a look at the church itself later, the crypt was closed.

 I told the kids that their birthday present to me needed to be smiling for pictures.  They did well!

We had breakfast at a cafe and then wandered around the Marianplatz while we waited for the Glockenspiel (the animated clock) at 11 am.  This is the Old Rathaus but it looks newer than the other because it had to be rebuilt after the war.

The symbol of Munich is a child monk.  Well he did start as an adult monk but apparently has evolved into a child over the years.

That's the new Rathaus and it's HUGE!  It was really hard to get a picture of the whole thing.  The twin towers in the background are the Frauenkirche.  We had a late lunch/early dinner at a restaurant in the basement called the Ratskellar and it was very good.

William took a bunch of random pictures with my phone but he also wanted to take a group picture and he actually did a very good job!

The New Rathaus is known for their Glockenspiel.  It plays at 11 and noon and depicts a wedding between a Bavarian prince and French princess and there's dancing and jousting (in which the Bavarian wins of course).  It was fun to watch!  This is just a small part of the whole thing - it was pretty long.
Afterwards we walked over to the Residenz - the palace right in Munich that was used by the Wittelsbach family. On the way there's quite a bit of high end shopping (all closed and we wouldn't have gone in anyway) but the kids particularly liked the displays at Louis Vuitton.  Given their customer base, I'm not sure how giant balloon animals appeal honestly we enjoyed it!

  We spent 3 hours at the Residenz and the kids were fantastic although bored by the end. There's only so much decor you can look at I suppose.  Our self-guided tour included the treasury, the palace itself, and the theater and this is a SMALL smige of what we saw:
crown jewels!

That ivory scene in the glass is so small and has individual leaves on trees.  I'm amazed at the detail by hand.

Megan's favorite crown because it looks like it's made for a doll or baby.  Nope, it just sits right on top of the Queen's head and looks slightly ridiculous there!

This tiara is huge and the pearl one was my favorite.

But you would of course need to the matching necklace, earrings, and (not pictured) bracelets.

Abby's favorite because it's made from the shell of a real turbo snail.

After leaving the treasury you start the palace tour in the grotto.  There are so many grottos!  I think it's the way that the ultra rich could stay cool in the summer.

And they had to import shells from somewhere -- there aren't shell beaches in Germany that I know of!

The Antiquariam houses someone's collection of ancient busts and headless statues.  The kids liked that and this massive room was spectacular to walk through.

The kids were glad that we had audio guides and not a guided tour.  It is easier for them when we go at our own pace.

Just a fantastic chandelier that I loved.

You can't really tell because the chandelier makes that corner of the room very light but this ceiling is flat.  It's painted to look domed and if you stand in the very center (under the chandelier) you get the full effect.  It really did work!

I would love to take more art history and architecture courses while here but I have learned very quickly that I LOVE Baroque and Rococo work.  Baroque sometimes has body parts in paintings that stick out for a 3D effect - the kids enjoy looking for those.  The stucco work is amazing.  With Rococo you get a lot of vines and leaves and things often done in gold or silver - mostly gold - and I admit that I am smitten by it all!

There were lots of lovely portraits but I think I want to recreate this dress for my next Regency era recreation!

Some rooms were fairly plain - the palace certainly reflected a variety of styles and the tastes of various rulers but all were still magnificent.

This is a giraffe piano!

Ceiling stucco work that is not painting is still amazing and often the white brings a lightness in.

Lots of ceiling murals

This one was gorgeous with the color

Another massive room.  One day I want to go to a ball in period costume in a room like this!!!  I know they're done, the invitations are just usually out of my price range.

Megan asked me specifically if she could take some pictures for Sammy, her best friend in Texas.  I very happily agreed!

There were several chapels in the palace and looking down into this one from above gave a perspective that we don't normally get.

This is the "ornate chapel."  That was the name of it!  Probably the only place I've seen more spectacular than this was the Arab room at Cardiff Castle.  Both divine.

I was trying to get a good view of the stained glass in the dome.  Since you couldn't actually go into this room it was hard to do.

 The walls

Ok are you ready for the Rococo?  Also, you come into this portion of the palace through a secret door panel in the wall - very fun!

Abby posing with her audio guide!

I'm a little obsessed!  There was a bride and groom taking pictures (which was slightly annoying because they would stay in one spot for AGES) and I wanted to have pictures taken in a beautiful gown in all honesty!

I love this picture!  My poor kids put up with so many museums and palaces and things because I can't help myself.  They are SOOOO good at being reverent in churches and not horsing around in castles but this picture reflects how they really feel about it.  I hope someday they remember and appreciate it but probably not!

The little blue spots are tiny vases all over the walls.

And those are miniature paintings!  I would love to have examined those up close but alas, another room we couldn't get inside but just had to look in over the rope.

The hall of ancestors

The theater

I'm not sure what Abby's face is here!

When we exited the palace we went into the Theaterkirche and it was lovely as well.

Then it was off to find food and saw a few street performers on the way.  The kids love these guys - they're statues until you give them money and then they move.  I think it must take a lot of patience and dedication without much reward.

One our way back to the Marianplatz we found the Michael Jackson memorial that was mentioned in the Rick Steve's guidebook.  It's the statue of a composer who has been largely forgotten and people have kind've taken it over for Jackson who was known to visit Munich quite a bit.  As we're looking at the various pictures and items Megan asks - who are all these pictures of? And when we tell her she says, even the girl ones??  So we had a little conversation about that!  Cracked us up though.

After lunch/dinner it was getting dark (but only 4:30 - winter is bad that way) so it was time to head out but one last statue before we go.

We had my birthday dinner and dessert on Sunday -- French dip sandwiches with au jus and creme brulee for dessert!  It was wonderful!  Chopper bought me a nice cabinet to keep my growing teacup collection in (which I added to over the weekend) and it was a nice way to turn 38!!