Saturday, October 20, 2012

Change of Season

Fall has arrived! The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and there's that Fall feeling. You know, that distinct feeling of...Fall. It has to do with the crisp air and the smell of damp leaves and a faint memory of the excitement of a new school year and football games and anticipation of the Holidays.

I've never been a big fan of the cold, but I love Fall just as much as the next person. Who doesn't love the wardrobe essentials and the excuse to consume obscene amounts of hot cocoa and hearty soups? But even so, this year, I wanted summer to last just a little longer. It was a fantastic summer. It was our first summer here in lovely Germany. My parents and brother came to visit and traveled around Europe with us. We celebrated both girls' birthdays (as well as Daniels). We just had a great time in general, while I pretended deployment was not upon us. Alas, fall did come and I'll have to do my best to focus on the exciting changes coming up, like visiting the States for the holidays and having Daniel's mother come stay with us for a while.

I'm getting a lot of "how are you guys holding up?" type questions so I'll address that here. Well, you sucks. But we're doing ok. We've got a pretty full schedule for the next several months, and many goals to accomplish before he gets back (decorate the house, lose a million pounds, train the dog, learn to read (Bella) etc) We miss him, but we have Skype, which is probably the greatest invention of all time, so that definitely helps. We're really looking forward to spending the Holidays in Home Sweet Oklahoma.

Oh, and another upcoming change...the direction of this blog. This blog is here for me to collect my thoughts and memories, and share. But mostly it's just been a travel blog so far. I won't be travelling much in the next year, so I might start blogging more about typical mommy blogger stuff, for my own amusement. And with that, I'll leave you with a few pics from our awesome summer.

Birthday tiramisu in the park

Sophie watching fireworks with Grandad 7/4/12

Being cute at the zoo

Isabella and her horse, Texas

She's bad to the bone. Obviously.

Ready for rainy season!

Not my best work, but Sophie liked it just fine :)

Kaiser is an airhead. I mean...Airedale.

We'll see you soon daddy!

Friday, September 21, 2012


We flew from London to Rome for the last leg of our trip and went straight to the hotel to check in.
Daniel did a great job picking hotels in good locations, but this was my favorite hotel. It was just so pretty. European hotels are so different from American ones. It's the little things, you know? Real, antique keys instead of cards, winding staircases in old beautiful buildings... The location was perfect, because we could see the Castile de San Angelo from our balcony and and St. Peter's Square was very near as well. We did have to pay extra to have air conditioning in our room, and let me tell was worth every penny. Rome is hot. We ate at a nearby restaurant (more on that later) then mom, dad, and Nathan went back to their room to sleep. Daniel and I decided we couldn't wait until morning to see St. Peter's Square so we walked in the dark with the girls. I am so glad we did. We were able to see the square lit up at night and almost empty. It was so peaceful and lovely. They closed it for the night about five minutes after we got there.

View of Castile de San Angelo from our balcony
St. Peter's Square at night
Swiss Guard outside St. Peter's


The next morning we had a sad choice to make. We wanted to go to mass at St. Peter's Basilica, but Mass ends at the same time that the Sistine Chapel closes! So we'd have to do one or the other. We went to mass, and my parents and Nathan went to the Sistine Chapel. I'm bummed that we missed it, but it was really cool to attend mass at St. Peter's and get a close up view of the inside. Plus some sweet old nuns got to pinch the kids' cheeks, so that was fun. As soon as mass was over we looked around for a minute then went straight into the square, where we were able to see Pope Benedict giving a speech to the HUGE crowd from his window.I think he spoke in 4 or 5 languages, including a little English.

inside the basilica after mass

That's the Pope!

St. Peter's

Castile de San Angelo

random street
some government building?

Daniel took me back to the hotel so that I could meet up with my family, and he went to hit some sites on his own, since he had a much bigger to-do list than the rest of us, and a lot more energy left than anyone else. This worked out well for everyone except that I hate that we don't have any pictures of us all together in Rome. 

Colosseum: The first place we went was the colosseum. I had a wicked headache while we were there and spent most of the time sitting in the dirt with my eyes closed and my head resting on a rock. I found that it was not a very cheerful place. Anyway, if you go to Rome...go to the Colosseum. Duh. It's very cool. 

Constantine's Arch

At this point, we were a little tired of the miserable heat. It's hot in Oklahoma, and humid too. So hot and humid that I thought no other heat would faze me.  I don't know what it is, but the sun in Italy is brutal. Nathan had a travel book that recommended we search out the world's best gelato at a little place near the Trevi Fountain. We thought this sounded like the perfect place to cool off, so we set out for the Trevi Fountain. The fountain definitely lives up to the hype. It is really beautiful. The water comes out little spigots that are safe to drink from so we filled our bottles there. (most Roman fountains are this way) We found the tiny little gelato place, then decided to head home. We had pizza on the way back to the hotel, then immediately afterward we accidentally stumbled upon the Pantheon. It was late in the day so we weren't able to go in (it's a Catholic church now), but I'm glad we got to see it. We all hit the sack early in preparation for our early departure back to Germany the next morning.

with the girls, Trevi Fountain


Roman Food: Our first night, we ate at the first place we came to after checking into our hotel. The concierge assured us that we could not go wrong eating on that street, so we just picked one. 
We were a little out of place there. Travel-worn, casually dressed, exhausted, and with babies in tow. I think that's why they put us in the back room all alone. It's a good thing they did because we got a little silly. (perhaps it was all the free prosecco or the fishbowl sized glasses of red wine.) Dad ordered an appetizer of Italian cheeses with bread and fruit for the table. Yum, yum, yum. Mom ordered spaghetti with bacon, but by bacon they meant prosciutto. Mom did not really appreciate the aroma of the aged meat, so the rest of the family ended up eating her food. I had a veal meatball stuffed with spinach and cheese with veggies and some fantastic sauce. For dessert I had something very like tiramisu, except instead of powdered cocoa on top, it was covered in a hot chocolate sauce. Mom had fruit and chocolate fondue. YUM!
That was one of the best meals I've ever had, but unfortunately it was really the only good meal we had in Rome. Everything else was the equivalent of frozen pizza and canned Chef Boyardee pasta. Not exaggerating. You really get what you pay for in Rome I guess.
Oh, except for the gelato. We liked the gelato.The famous gelato place we went near the Trevi fountain is called San Crispino. There were magazine clippings all over the walls of rave reviews in food magazines. Apparently the character in Eat, Pray, Love stops by there on her trip to Rome. Anyway, it was really delicious gelato. Particlarly the peach and strawberry.
So that's all, folks. It was a great trip.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012



Yesterday I blogged about the Paris leg of our Paris/London/Rome journey, so if you missed that, you can read it here

I was pretty relieved to leave Paris behind when it was time to get on the train for London. It was a pleasant train ride other than the thirty minutes we spent under the English Channel. That part was sort of creepy. The train station in London was decked out in Olympics 2012 stuff and as soon as I realized we were at King's Cross Station I had a minor Harry Potter geek out moment. We exchanged our Euro for British Pounds and had a moment of silence for all the money lost in that transaction before heading out into the cold rainy night to find our hotel. London was meant to be our rest between Paris and Rome, and it was. London is beautiful and clean and shiny and friendly and... not Paris. They also get points for speaking English ;) We only had a handful of things we wanted to see in London, so we slept in and took our time and wandered leisurely through St. James park. Our hotel was in a really charming old house in a pretty neighborhood owned by a family. It seemed like most of the other hotel guests were not really guests, but people who lived in the flats long term. The whole house was very crooked, which I thought was kind of fun. I also liked the kettle and large quantity of tea in our room. We saw the double decker buses, Big Ben, the red phone booths, and of course some royal guard. With that out of the way I think it's safe to say we saw London, but we saw a few other things as well.

Olympic circles at King's Cross Station

Our adorable hotel

Big Ben and the London Eye

The British Museum: This is a must see if you go to London. It's just a really nice museum. The Sutton Hoo exhibit was really cool. Not to mention that ol' Rosetta Stone thing. Also, as this was about 3 weeks before the 2012 Olympics in London, the museum had some of the gold medals on display.

Sutton Hoo ceremonial helmet

2012 Olympic Gold Medals

Rosetta Stone

Buckingham Palace: We didn't go in, although there are tours available, so we just saw the main entrance of it. Unfortunately we were not able to have tea with Her Majesty the Queen, due to our busy schedule.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace (and uss)
St. James Park & Westminster Abbey: We really liked this park by the Palace. There were gardens and a bridge over the lake where we fed the baby swans. We walked through the park to get to Westminster Abbey. You can't go into the church after like..2pm, so we just saw the outside and played in the front lawn before heading to the cathedral and Starbucks.

Ugly Ducklings at St James park ;)

Shrubbery at St. James park

Side of Westminster Abbey

Nathan needed a beard rest, Sophie needed a wig.

Food: We ate at a cool Fish and Chips place where I had more tea and a pretty good Shepherd's Pie. Everyone else got fish and chips I think, except for mom. She probably had something weird. (feel free to chime in here, mom) I guess we didn't get any pictures of the food though. Check back soon for pictures of Rome! Muah!

Nathan and his beard.

Being touristy again

Riding the Tube

Mommy-ing at Westminster

Being silly at Westminster Abbey

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Hey, I'm back. (let's pretend you noticed I was gone)I've been putting this post off for a while, because I've been busy-ish and also because, you know, it's a big subject to cover.
In a nutshell, my parents and brother came here to visit us and together we went to Paris, Rome, and London.This was a pretty huge undertaking. 5 adults, one toddler, and an infant for one week of constant travel with minimal luggage, a LOT to see and not much time to see it. There was a lot of walking involved as well as a lot of public transportation. Subways aren't really family affairs, if you know what I mean. I feel like it was a pretty grand accomplishment. There were definitely some challenges but I wouldn't have done this trip any differently (except I wish my other siblings and their families could have come)
Looking very much like tourists

I was going to blog all three in one post, but nobody in their right mind would ever read that much rambling. So I'll ramble in three parts.
Paris:Oh, Paris. I randomly decided some time ago that Hollywood, or whoever, had sort of ruined Paris. I thought that surely I had been so over exposed to all things Parisian, that I would be utterly bored by that dang tower. I also just expected it to be kind of..dirty. A friend semi-confirmed my suspicions when she reported that while Paris was great, it was pretty "urban and gritty."Well, I did indeed find Paris kind of...gross. It was dirty, customer service was awful (but in general, Parisians were very kind) and there were pick pockets everywhere. Everywhere. And they were quite literally aggressive. All that skewed my Paris experience a little, on top of getting to spend very little time in the Louvre, but I'll tell you what I did love about Paris, particularly what exceeded expectations. 
The Montmartre District: This is one of the very Paris-y parts of Paris. Montmartre "Mount of the Martyr" is basically a big hill crowned at the top by the gorgeous Sacré-Cœur Basilica, with winding cobble stone streets leading you past a million little shops. If you've seen any movie filmed in Paris, you've seen the streets of the Montmartre District, and probably that adorable carousel right before you reach the Basilica.  It's very touristy and crowded, and it is a dang long walk up a heck of a lot of stairs to reach the church, but once you reach the top, the view of the whole city of Paris is worth every step. The Basilica might just be the prettiest church I've ever seen.
Paris from halfway up the hill
The Basilica from halfway

That cute carousel from Amelie ;)

Notre Dame: After Sacré-Cœur, we headed to Notre Dame. It was everything you'd think it should be, with the beautiful art and impressive architecture. It was overwhelming in a good way. It was pretty dark inside and I don't think the pics are really blog-worthy, and photos couldn't do it justice anyway. We sat outside for a while listening to the bells and watching elderly people feed pigeons that sat atop their heads and shoulders in the shade of a huge statue of Charlemagne. Daniel loved that statue.
The family. You can sort of see Notre Dame in the background

Notre Dame
Side view of Notre Dame

The statue of Charlemagne that Daniel went nuts over

The River Seine: We walked along the river for a long time on our way to the Eiffel Tower and it basically offered a constant perfect view with its statues and stone bridges . This is another site you've definitely seen if you've ever looked at anything that had anything to do with Paris.
The River

The Eiffel Tower. Did I say I was bored with the Eiffel Tower? Oh. Well, I was wrong. I'm not sure why I thought it wasn't that big, or impressive, and it's "not that old" and so it's basically a glorified radio tower, right? Gosh. I ate my words in the lawn of the Eiffel Tower.The area around the tower is so beautiful with the rose bushes and the perfect lawn full of people being super happy, lounging, napping, sipping champagne, chasing their children. We got there right before sunset and laid in the grass for nearly two hours, just soaking in the atmosphere and eating Cheez Its (classy, no?) The tower is beautiful, in case you ever doubted. I told Daniel before we went on this trip that if he really loved me, he would kiss me in front of the Eiffel Tower, even though he is not big on PDA. He does love me, by the way :) 
The kids are disgusted.
Chilling in the lawn of the tower. 
The Louvre: The Louvre was super cool. I could not believe how massive it is. We were only there for a couple of hours and were pretty rushed, so needless to say we saw just a tiny fraction of it. That was sort of disappointing. The girls fell asleep before we got to the Mona Lisa.  I tried to wake them up, but they were out. So someday if anyone should ask "have you ever seen the Mona Lisa?" They'll just have to say "no, I haven't, but she has seen me."

Bell being cute at the Louvre
Mona Lisa

Hey, it is World Breastfeeding Week.

Food: French breakfast was nothing special, and I had some mediocre sandwiches at touristy cafes, too. It was near 9pm as we were leaving the Eiffel Tower looking for a place to eat and we found that everything in Paris closes at 9ish (including the bus back to our hotel, but that's a different story) so we were forced out of the main tourist area and found a cute little restaurant that was still open. Most of us had the steak tartare which thoroughly disgusted my mom. It was good. It was chilled, which makes sense but still surprised me a little. It was also sweet, because of sweet pickles or something diced up in it. I think I prefer my steak warm and savory but it was still good,especially with the house wine we had. Near the Louvre we went to a cafe for coffee and crepes. I skipped the crepes and had creme brulee instead. I ate the whole thing all by myself and it was delicious.  
Steak Tartare
Creme Brulee

So that's it for Paris! I'll try to finish my post on London tomorrow :)