Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Getting the Boys to School

As we do, we started Sunday evening with our back to school dinner. For the first time in my life, I bought frozen nuggets. I'm hoping it was also the last time. However, we'll always have tater tots because they're delicious. ("Hey Chuck, gimme some of your tots!")

Then, of course, we must stamp hands on shirts.

That evening, I put together cinnamon rolls for Monday morning's breakfast. Because what kids on the first day of school need something super healthy to have a great day? No kids. They need sugar. And carbs. And then more sugar. Well, maybe some sausage on the side. And can I just say that these were also delicious.

Then picture time!

And then bus time!

Ollie was nervous all morning and when the bus finally came, he frantically searched for his brother's hand. I'm not sure at what point he let go, but he must have because his kindergarten teacher confirmed he was there all day.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Today Is the Day My Life Changes

Today is the first day that I put both boys on the school bus and am free ALL DAY (darn that Maryland and their insistence on full-day kindergarten) until they get home. I'm pretty sure I'm going to leap all the back to the house. So what else am I feeling? Lots of feelings, but sadness is not one of them.

I feel guilty. Guilty that of my close friends here, I'm the only one in the kid-free, all-day boat. Guilty that I only had two kids so I got to go into this boat relatively quickly. (But because I didn't have kids until I was older than most, it's still about the same age they'll be in when they get into this boat. They just happen to not yet be at that age.) Oooh, I just realized two friends are kid-free with me between 9 and 11:30 every MWF. This could be very good.

Scared. Scared to death, actually, that Ollie will really struggle with kindergarten. He is a silly, lively boy and extremely adorable, but if he makes up his mind against something, there's no convincing him (unless you bring out the big guns: Dum Dums). And what if he makes up his mind against kindergarten? How will that play out? I just don't know. I still believe starting him now is the right thing, but it doesn't make me less nervous.

Ecstatic. I mean, c'mon. Summertime brings just too much togetherness for my tastes. I think we're all ready for a break from each other.

Embarrassed. Embarrassed that I have THREE days a week with no kids at home and no job. I mean, whatever will I do? Well, this one I actually know how to handle.

Here's the updated 2016 list:
Grocery shop
Volunteer at the boys' school
Prep meals
Clean the house (like really clean)
Lunch with friends
Church calling stuff
Exercise (run, bike, swim--probably not all on the same day, buuuuut I do have seven hours so anything is possible)
Strength train
Work on "scrapbooks"
Plan next year's family reunion (I'm not really planning, just gathering details at this moment)
Shop (I need new clothes and our craft area needs some re-thinking)
Walk Bruno
Organize closets
Organize freezers
Wash cars

Both boys at school is a big deal though, right? This is definitely one of those game-changers. Wish me luck!

P.S. Speaking of game-changers, next up is Ollie learning to read. I am super excited for this and I think he is too. After that, I think our next big one is that they can stay home without us! That will be AMAZING. Although with Chuck's early work schedule and the boys' late school schedule, we'll have just over an hour every MWF without them. Three mini-dates a week!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Europe 2016: Burg Eltz

And then it was our last day! My parents were off (although, from these pictures you wouldn't know it--what's wrong with me?!) and so they joined us on the trip. We were so happy they did! They love this castle, and it's their German boss's favorite one in all of Germany!

We took a short hike there, but didn't tell the boys to expect the castle around a bend.

As they were constantly running in front of us, I think they were surprised when they came in view of it!

We made them take the tour and of course they exaggerated their boredom, thirst, hunger, you-name-it, the entire time. I think Rhett enjoyed the creepy baby portraits where baby faces were painted on big-kid bodies.

Those bratwursts sticking out of the buns! Ha.

After this, we took a short trip to Cochem, a town on the Moselle River.

And can you believe it: as we left here, our last stop on our big tour, it started to rain. For the first time in 17 days. The weather was warm, but seasonal. We lucked out big time, in so many ways!

And that does it. No more pictures. I'll have to do a final wrap-up, but that will have to be later. The boys start school tomorrow! AAAHHHHHHHH!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Europe 2016: Rudesheim

After Rothenburg, we headed back to Frankfurt and enjoyed a nice Sunday with my parents. We went to their small, German branch. BUT we got lucky because two of the three talks were given in English (and then translated into German), Sunday School was in English, and I had a translator for Relief Society. Easy! And then after church they had a munch-and-mingle thing going on, so we got to eat good food. Ollie finally found wurst that he liked, so victory! We really just hung out that day and enjoyed some rest.

BUT the next morning we were out again! My parents worked, so we took off back to Rudesheim (the same place we caught the Rhine River cruise boat) and rented bikes and rode along the river (after a ferry trip). Super cool.

They didn't have a bike small enough for Ollie, so the lucky dude got to ride in the trailer. He wasn't too bummed.

I mean, really?! I'm riding a bike on the Rhine River?!

My view. Someone is peeking at me!

After bike riding, we took a tram ride (over vineyard after vineyard) to a monument.

All those grapes!

The monument recognizes the creation of Germany as a country in 1871.

What goes up...

Then back "home." It was a great day!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Europe 2016: Rothenburg

We left Prague and headed to Rothenburg, Germany, where we met my parents. They were kind enough to get us a hotel room for the night so we could spend a bit more time there.

We spent more money here, shopping-for-stuff-wise than any other place on our entire trip, and most of it at this one Christmas store. You better believe my Rhett wanted every single nutcracker in there, but settled for two (one he won't even get until Christmas).

I did not, however, but a cuckoo clock.

Then, of course, a walk around town, but thankfully this town was much smaller than Prague.

That night we took a much-lauded nightwatchman's tour of the town. If you need a more-ringing endorsement than the fact that both of my boys LOVED it, then I don't know what will convince you. Rhett even wants to be a nightwatchman for Halloween.

And the tour guide? He was born to do this job! For reals. Google him if you don't believe me.

Can you see him (the guide) up there, leading a billion people around the town?

Hey, it's my sewing machine's great, great, grandfather!

The next morning we walked around town some more. I'm sure we spent more money.

The boys enjoyed walking around the walls of the city.

I enjoyed my dad's face.

Rhett begged to go to the medieval crime museum. This chair!

Okay. These shame masks? Hilarious! One of those is for women who talk too much. I know of no such woman.

And of course we had to study the school exhibit and learn some new techniques.

The town was gorgeous, and we all really enjoyed the stop. A special thanks to my parents for this leg of the trip!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Europe 2016: Prague

And then there was Prague. Our drive from Salzburg to Prague was filled with traffic, staredowns by the German border guards, and me doubting whether this side trip was worth it. I was this close to deciding it wasn't. That is, until we crossed the bridge. Holy moly if this wasn't the most beautiful city I'd ever seen. Immediately I was sold. I hadn't even gotten out of the car and already I didn't want to leave.

Once we got checked into our airbnb, we had to get out of the house, if not for just a short walk. Chuck and I were dying at the beauty; the boys, not so much. But with some encouragement (ahem, ice cream), they persisted. We walked by this street that was Prague's answer to Rodeo Drive. Insane.

The next morning we had an epic trek in front of us, so we started out early. First stop was the Charles Bridge. Sometimes I don't understand why things are famous, and uh, this was one of those things. Sure, the view was unbeatable, but the bridge itself? It was alright.

Ollie sporting his "Little Mole" hat that he just purchased. Apparently the "Little Mole" is some kind of national treasure.

We took a paddle boat ride for the boys.

But this view, not too shabby!

We took a cable car up to the top. We first went to this crazy mirror hall.

Can you see the shape of my body?! In my dreams. Or, just in crazy mirrors.

Then we hiked up approximately 280 stairs for this view. Pretty spectacular.

Then we walked toward the Prague Castle.

Czech beefeaters.

We went into the church, although the boys weren't too keen on going much farther than the first 50 feet.

And sometimes, kids just need to play! (This after our playground stop in the morning.)

Then Ollie and I went to this part of the castle where laborers lived. But everything was built in miniature. It was awesome.

I mean, look how big Ollie looks! Or, similarly, look how small the house looks!

Ollie was ready!

Prague wasn't just beautiful, it had this amazing feel to it. Our apartment wasn't air conditioned, so we left the windows opened at night. Through the whole night, we could hear people down below. We could even see the castle from our window. It was such a beautiful place. Chuck and I would love to spend a full week here...but without kids. One day.