Monday, September 24, 2007

Monkey Mountain

aka - Montagnes des Singes for those of you who would prefer to read French. We took a little ride outside of Colmar to this preserve of Barbary Macaques. Your entrance to the park includes one small handful of popcorn which you can feed them with. They warn you to hide the rest in your hand and feed them one piece at a time - they can be greedy and your little handful doesn't go far if you give it all to one monkey.

We all loved it. There are 280 monkeys living on this 14 hectacre preserve - Don't ask me how big a hectacre is but let's just say we only saw a portion of this property and a portion of the monkeys. Those that don't wish to socialize with humans are off on their own searching for bugs in the forest floor. It was very cool and the young monkeys played non-stop providing much entertainment.

Obviously I have some kind of hair obsession BUT - don't you just see a little bit of similarity here? Just a little?? Of course I do believe that God created the monkey and human separately but maybe liked the color?? Hee Hee I love you Kris!

Colmar, France

This is the delightful little French village of Colmar. It is a little under 2 hrs from us near the French, German & Swiss borders. Did I mention yet that it was delightful. As Bart observed (please note - he has two daughters) "It looks like something out of Beauty and the Beast." The buildings were so cute & quaint & colorful and there were restaurants and shopping and lots of tourists. But it is so cute - of course the tourists want to come. And as there was shopping (at more reasonable prices to be had than in Schweiz even at full price - and I counted 5 kids clothing stores!!!! (they don't retail to kids in Schweiz)) and it's just so delightful - we will go back. With or without visitors. Kris is NOT that much taller than I am (and look where she reaches to on Jason) - she must be standing on a step! I don't know how to photoshop inches on my person, otherwise I would!!!

Yeah - Well - If you've seen my "Make Mine Red?" blog you will understand that I just could NOT let this one go. PURPLE - on a grown woman. With her little arm candy hound of yappy distinction. This color is unnatural enough on 15 yr olds let alone 60 yr olds. But should the hair dying trend grow on me after enough time here and I return to the US with eggplant auburn hair - please show me these blogs and send me to counseling.

Chocolate & HSM2

J & K and I (S) went to Zurich for a day of exploring and naturally, I took them to the Sprungli store in Paradeplatz (where every self-respecting tourist to Zurich must pay a visit). They were handing out free samples of their fresh truffles (which must be eaten w/in 3 days due to the high butter/cream content - sorry, no overseas shipments allowed). As you can see by the look on J's face, it was a small light/dark chocolate piece of Heaven. So we figured - hey, on our way back thru he can get another sample - especially if K & I don't go in with him - less recognizable perhaps. So, next pic is the disappointed J as they were all out of free samples - but it was worth the effort. Note: do not try to take pic's inside the Sprungli facility! A very nasty Chocolate guard will come and scold you. It would really help if they would put up the little "no camera" signs like at the museum. I used my dumb American tourist act and did not apologise in German - Hah!

High School Musical 2!!!

It was a party - 6 girls and 6 adults. To watch the viewing of this much anticipated sequel on Disney Channel. While those of you friends in the US now have the songs and choreography memorized I'm sure, we had to patiently wait for the Sept. 21st premiere in the UK via our satellite subscription. As you can see from the countdown photo's, these girls highly anticipated this movie and apparently it did not disappoint. We, grown-ups, were shushed many a time as we giggle thru parts of this movie and at the girls reactions. We tried to keep straight faces thru the whole singing/choreography of the golf course scene (Troy) and failed but tried to keep our giggles down.

The kids thought this movie was better than the 1st, adults thought the opposite. We'll see - this isn't exactly Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark OR Lord of the Rings that we're talking about. So much fun was had!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Busy Week

Here the girls are in their new PJ's. Daddy just got back from Singapore on Sat. morning and brought these back - they wore them the rest of the day! Bart enjoyed his trip - first time to the Orient. And he didn't feel a single earthquake. We aren't used to having him gone like that anymore so it was so nice to have him home. Here we are (minus the photographer :) ) on Sun. The weather has really cleared up and was great for a walk after lunch on Sunday. Jason was given (and took) the opportunity to preach at our Church on Sunday and Kris helped me lead Worship songs - had a great day. It was a pleasure to have a guest speaker at church as well. I think a good break for the Elders who are preaching on a rotating schedule until we are able to get the Pastor the church has called. It can be difficult to get Visa's here for certain occupations and it seems that Ministry is one of them. So "Pastor Bruce" is waiting in S. Africa with his wife until the Swiss Gov't. sees fit to grant the church the Work Visa. A long process. And a process that Kris & J will have to wait out again should they return to Australia. But they don't yet know what the future holds - and while they are waiting we are so happy to have them here!

You can catch a summary of Jason's message on their blog if you just click on 'Kris & Jason' in my Friends & Family list over on the left column of this blog (specific instructions for the less technologically savvy readers of whom we have a couple - and we love you!).

They headed to Spittal, Austria (pronounced shpee-tahl, not spittle! I am going to whack Bart upside the head soon for mispronunciation - Ha Ha) this morning for a couple of days. Calvary Chapel Europe has a conference center in a small Schloss (castle) on a lake there that is available to staff with meals. The train ride between Zurich and Spittal is said to be absolutely beautiful and as the clouds are burning off here, I imagine they will have a good time enjoying the view on their 7.5hr train ride. They are planning to head back on Thurs. via Salzburg. "Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden suuuun, Me,....." Sorry - can't resist when the word "Salzburg" is mentioned (esp. since I used "The hills are alive..." last week).

OK - this was the window display of a high-end maternity store in Old Zurich I saw the other night. I'm sorry, I just don't get what mice in baskets of bread have to do with being pregnant? If I was pregnant again (which I am most definitely NOT), I would not want mice in my bread and would probably beat them with it. Maybe the mice are symbolic of fertility? Whatever - It was cute and funny and an example of the continuously entertaining window shopping that can be found here.
Next up - Zurich Hauptbahnhof at night. We went out to dinner with Kris & J the other night - yummy Italian (I can still smell the truffles.....). And I decided to take a few pic's of the main train station as it is always packed on a weekend - even at 12am. There are travelers waiting for trains and kids hanging out. The pic directly below shows the main meeting point at the station - If you tell someone you'll meet them at the clock in the Hauptbahnhof, this is where you would come. Easy to find and you'll know whether you are early, on-time or late - very important in Swiss culture (to be on-time!).

So Bart is out of town again for a night, the girls are at school, Kris & Jason should be hitting the border of Italy/Austria right now, I am done with today's Blog and think I will go pick the weeds that are growing so well in this cool wet climate. Aufwiedersehen!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Majesty & Glory!

For their first weekend with us, we took Kris & Jason to - not a castle, not a museum, not a restaurant serving "Zuerich-style" mit rosti (thinly sliced veal with a lovely creamy mushroom-wine sauce and rosti which is like a giant hash-brown potato pancake) or the local brat stand - but to one of our favorite places in the world at this point - the Lauterbrunnen Valley - Muerren for this trip. For those of you familiar with this blog - once again we returned to the home of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Should I ever manage to have 3 dogs at once, or over the span of our lifetime, don't be suprised to find any one of them or all, named after these incredible mountains.

In spite of the travels to different cities with their many different wonders, the natural wonders of the world our God created fill us with awe every time. We had a good drive in on Fri., got to introduce travel to the car-free city of Muerren by aerial cable and small train (one car on a little mountain track) to K & J and all took a taste of Fondue (S & R's) at dinner. Sat. was clear and beautiful with a long hike and many pic's. By time we made it up to the Schilthorn/Piz Gloria revolving restaurant at the top, the clouds were forming and we got pretty socked-in but that's part of the weather in Switzerland (we won't discuss how summer left us at the end of July). They were entertained by the sounds of cow bells and the encounters on the mountains and of course, Rachel & Kendra who are sooooo very glad to have them here. Sun. was misty and much cooler but we still had a great hike and a lot of fun. So here are some pic's to go with:
Rachel is getting good at photography!
The city of Muerren below us, the peaks of the Eiger(l) and Monch (r) .Relaxing and taking some pic's.
The girls and the ever present "Sound of Music" (aka Cow Bells)
One of the cool mushrooms seen during our hikes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Rachel and Other Trivia

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHEL! 9 JAHRE ALT! Rachel enjoyed her Birthday which consisted of a movie party, with 4 boys and 4 girls she invited, Pizza, Cake (Gma Elaine has our undying gratitude for sending over a chocolate cake mix - the kids LOVED it) and then a sleepover with the girls. We really enjoyed the round of Happy Birthday's sung by the kids - in English, Deutsch, French, Italian and Dutch! Our mistake was that we didn't get it recorded. The present of the night seemed to be the 2 school paper folders Gma Elaine sent - had pic's of High School Musical on them. Had we not intervened, they might have been torn to shreds - the girls were grabbing at them trying to see. Nope, don't see those in our local papeterie or school supply department. All went well and Bart and I survived. I must say that some of the kids were bouncing off the wall but things went well and we actually had only 2 girls stay the whole night as 2 were picked up at 10pm. Not for problems, just because they don't like to sleepover. Fine by me! And it seems the whole sleepover thing would be easier if not attached to a party. This way, the parents don't have to feel like activity directors - the pressure! Bart was enormously valuable in many ways - especially in cleaning up and taking care of trivia while I french braided 5 little girls hair (Kendra opted out, thank you, Kendra) and attempted to prevent nail-polish casualties on the living room rug.
I was not strong enough to convince them "no polish on the carpet" while they watched Duma (if I heard one more "oh, it's so cute" and "you know, the cheetah is endangered and I know ALL about it" I was ready to throw them out into a little GreenPeace boat and let them float away). I say that in jest but I do predict one of them might just throw paint at me should I ever have the nerve to show up at school in the fox coat hanging in the closet (hand-me down) - and she might convince my daughter to throw it along-side her. These are scary times we live in. But really, it turned out alright (put a blanket on the carpet for manicure duty) and they consumed stacks of pancakes the next morning along with bacon and eggs - courtesy of the Breakfast Chef Bart. Otherwise, they would have had bakery goods and cereal - I don't cook breakfast . BUT, I purchased real maple syrup from Canada for them to eat with their pancakes so I could prolong our selfish consumption of the Log Cabin.

This was the 1st day of school pic - in the rain again. I think every 1st day of school pick has had rain in it with exception of Rachel's Kgarten pic. Whether in Iowa or Switz. we have rain. And have we had rain lately - I won't even get started except to say there was hail in the rain yesterday and I started out this morning with 6 degr C and it has finally warmed up to 13. But then again, I am not suffering from the heat like some of you have been. A nice day or two of 19/20 would be great - warm but not too warm.

School started with a bang - we have more homework than last year for both so I am finding myself trying to be more disciplined about getting things done while they are in school. Bart has helped out a lot with R's homework which has been GREAT!!! R has violin (had to choose an instrument for 4th grade band and she picked the hard one) but is enjoying her lessons and practising when I ask. K had been wanting to take piano so we gave in and she is really enjoying it and the teacher is enjoying her. I keep thinking I'll learn someday but for now, need to stick to German class. They have a couple of other little activities after school to keep them busy while the other takes their instrument class. The days haven't been too long so far - just feels a little crazy still.

And sister Kris and bro-in-law Jason get here tomorrow afternoon - Yeah!!!!! they are spending 3 weeks with us and I am thrilled as we haven't seen them since Christmas '05. Too long. They are in-between things right now as they have completed their initial call in Australia and are waiting to see where the Lord would send them next - pray for them.