Friday, August 18, 2017

Cochem Castle

Reichsberg Cochem was  first mentioned in documents in the year 1130. It was destroyed by the French in the 1680s and then reconstructed in the 1860s.  I'm not clear on what was original and what was reconstructed, but the castle is very striking atop it's rocky hill.

It is about 2 hours from our house, and this was our first time visiting.  There was a medieval fest going on that day, and I may have mentioned in another post, but medieval fests are really not our favorite thing.  The castle was very crowded, and there were many stalls selling period clothing and trinkets.  There were also food vendors, which we like, but the food wasn't particularly "period" related... we had waffles and currywurst.

The entertainment.
My reaction to troupes like this tends to be wondering what sort of person chooses to live like this?  Traveling around, dressed in period costume, performing medieval tunes, juggling, etc.  It doesn't appeal to me at all.  So, I was amused when Charlotte remarked to me, that she would LOVE to have a stand at festivals selling things that she makes. 

We thought the castle looked a lot like Hogwarts.

I kept looking up to admire the details, like this mosaic mural.

Or these gargoyle rain spouts and turrets.

We did let each of the kids take a turn trying to shoot a warthog target with a toy crossbow.

Very serious business.

Amelie was glad to have a turn, so she even accepted the assistance of the guy running the stand.  (She won't usually let strangers talk to her, let alone help her.)

Big Bears don't need assistance.

The kids (and I) were all amused by this girl walking around with her pet chicken.  All of the kids pet it, and it was the most tame bird I have ever seen.

I love this view over the Mosel River.

And here we are back at our car.  It was a looooong walk up to the castle and back, and we were disappointed to find a parking ticket on our return to our vehicle even though we believed we were legally parked.  Oh well!  All in all, the castle is lovely and picturesque, but won't go down in memory as our favorite day trip.  One of these days I am going to make a post about my top ten favorite castles in Germany.

Jacob is 6!

Jacob is now 6 years old and getting ready to start 1st grade!

For his birthday this year, he wanted to visit Ramba Zamba. (Just like last year.)

I took the kiddos on a Friday, and the place wasn't busy at all.  It was perfect.  They enjoyed bouncing, sliding, eating chicken nuggets, and running around for hours. (And for the first time, I didn't have to help Amelie do anything.)

For his birthday dinner, Jake requested corn on the cob and mashed potatoes.  I added chicken and watermelon to round it out a little bit.  He also wanted to have an ice cream cake, which they carry at the Commissary, so that is what we had for his birthday treat.

And what do you get a 6 year old boy?  A Nerf gun of course!  
Here he is making his "tough" face.  He and Toby set to work immediately making targets to practice shooting at, and he has been playing with it every day since then.  

Jakey has matured a lot in the last year.  He still gets into it with Amelie sometimes, but is beginning to use other strategies for interacting with her as well (trading, taking turns, etc). He is a beginning reader, loves going for bike rides with Dad, and still makes friends everywhere we go. He is signed up for Fall soccer this year, and I think he will have a lot of fun with that. He is still the cuddliest kid and I know he is getting sleepy when he hugs me and wants to hold hands.  On our recent road trip, he left me anonymous love notes a couple of times, and was so adorable when I guessed they were from him.  I love this tender-hearted Bear.

Jake's Birthday Interview

1. What is your favorite color? Green
2. What is your favorite toy? Nerf gun
3. What is your favorite fruit? Watermelon
4. What is your favorite tv show? I don't know, I like all of them
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mac and cheese
6. What is your favorite outfit? "I just pick randomly," (I can attest to the truth of this.)
7. What is your favorite game? Ticket to Ride
8. What is your favorite snack? "bunny rabbits (crackers) or Cheetos"
9. What is your favorite animal? Cheetah
10. What is your favorite song? Up & up (Coldplay)
11. What is your favorite book? The Very Hungry Caterpillar
12. Who is your best friend? "That's kind of too hard for me, I have so many friends."
13. What do you want to be when you grow up? Work on a computer
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Bike rides with Dad
15. What are you really good at? Basketball, and Soccer, and Baseball
16. What is a food that you hate? Brussels sprouts
17. What do you like to do with Mom or Dad? Cuddles with Mom
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Froot Loops or Apple Jacks
19. What is your favorite dinner?  Pasta
20. What makes you happy?  Legoland and getting souvenirs

Utah: Provo and Salt Lake City

After our time at Bear Lake we made our way to Rob's parents' home to spend our last days in the US relaxing, visiting friends and family, and walking down memory lane.  The kiddos loved the extra time with Grandma and Grandpa.

One day we took the kids to Provo to visit our alma mater and pick up some new BYU swag at the bookstore. It was a super hot day, but we made it up to the kids with ice cream from the creamery. I am the only person from my family to have gone to BYU (and I believe the first person from my high school,) while Rob is a third generation Cougar.  A lot of stuff had changed around the campus, but other things stay the same... like students stopping and offering to take photos for me.  BYU is a unique place and has a special place in my heart for sure.

Another day we visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City and the Church History Museum.  Jane came with us and we spent some time visiting with Rob's great aunt Elizabeth as well.

I love this guy.

I also planned to get together with some old friends.  We met up at a splash pad so the kids could play while we visited.  I didn't get a picture with everyone, but I was so glad to see some of my dear friends from high school, college, and both of our times in Germany!
My little ones were happy to see their friends as well!

I am so thankful for amazing friends that have influenced me for good throughout my life.

This photo looks like an engagement picture!  
But that's okay, because I love my friends!
I was also able to go visit another friend and her brand new baby!  I didn't think to take any pictures because I was just enjoying visiting with her and holding her sweet little one. 

This was an epic trip!  I am so glad that we made it.  We drove over 4,100 miles. We were able to see family, friends, the beach, national parks and monuments, Church history sights, and so much more throughout 11 states!  We shopped, and ate out, and enjoyed the Americana as much as we could, but we are also so happy to be back in Germany for a little while longer. We have a few more European adventures to take before we move back to the US of A for reals.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bear Lake

Rob's family decided that it was time for a family reunion of sorts, so our next stop on our trip was to meet up with his parents, 5 of his 6 siblings, and 10 of 11 of our Anderson nieces and nephews for 5 days in a house at Bear Lake, UT.

Once you include our family, that is 12 adults and 14 children (all under the age of 14) in one house!  So how else to begin such a get together than with pizza and S'mores.

We also learned a few more variations on the classic.

The kiddos all played really well together, and we had very few incidents.  Somebody took this photo during hide and seek, I think.  Many of the photos I share in this post were taken by others and then shared via a Google photo album.

The next day we headed to the beach to check it out.  I had never been to Bear Lake before, and it is BIG and the water was beautifully clear, but the beaches were kinda rustic. I grew up swimming in lakes and streams though, and this setting with the mountains around is fantastic.

Amelie didn't mind that the sand was half dirt and immediately began coating herself in it from head to foot.  (Every day.)

Since this was an Anderson family gathering, there was much board game playing.  Rob's siblings brought about seven versions of Ticket to Ride- and that was only a small portion of all of the games that were played.  I think in this photo they were playing Pit.

Our second day at the lake, we decided to chip in and rent a three person jet ski and a two man kayak to play with for the day.
We all took turns zooming out into the middle of the lake on the jet ski and rowing around in the shallows in the kayak.  I had never been on a jet ski before, so this was a first for me too!

Here's a unique three generation photo: Jane, her oldest, Rob, and our oldest, Charlotte.
We are totally in favor of spending a little money to make amazing memories together. 

Dean wasn't a big fan of the lake, but he got his feet wet a bit.
And Toby was thrilled that Elanor and Uncle John enjoy building sand castles as much as he does.

That evening we celebrated Becky's birthday.  Our kids love celebrating birthdays, especially with yummy chocolate cake, ice cream, and cousins.

There was also a hot tub at the house, which may have doubled as kiddie pool.

Cousin time in jammies is the best.

Then it was time to celebrate Grandpa's birthday!  Rob's Dad prefers key lime pie to birthday cake.  But there was enough chocolate cake left to give the kids all another slice of that.

Sometimes we got the little kids out of the house to go to the playground while the big kids (and some grown-ups) played board games. I think there were four or five kids aged 3 and under.

Tom brought the original Nintendo and many game cartridges.  Mostly the big kids monopolized this, but Rob and Tom did manage to get some brother time on it as well.

Charlotte and Lizzy were nearly inseparable.

We managed to get 13 kids together for a photo.
(Just missing Dean, who was napping.)

And here they are in their natural state.

Charmay, Allyson, Rob, Rachel, Tom, and Becky: Uncle Rico pose. 
"Okay, turn your head on more of a slant... Now, make a fist. Slowly ease it up underneath your chin.
This is looking really good. Kay, hold still right there. Now, just imagine you're weightless, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by tiny little seahorses. That was the one. I think that's gonna come out really nice."

Awwww, cute.

And how do we end our time at Bear Lake?  More S'mores of course!

I think Ally took this photo?  I was surprised to see it, and I don't know what we were talking about, but I do love my Rob so!

Thanks for the memories Andersons!  
We need to start planning for the next family reunion in a few years.