Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Got Annie!!!

No, she isn't named for the musical, but it seemed to be a good title.  We have a new four-legged member of our family.  Her name is Annie.  It was the only name we all liked that sounded good with Millie (my parent's dog).  Her full name is Annie Regensburg Johnston.  We had planned to add a puppy to the household chaos this spring, but the opportunity came along so we decided to go ahead.  Hopefully she will be big enough to camp with us this summer. To say the children are excited would perhaps be the understatement of the year.
Annie in front of the tree
Just picked her up!  The kids didn't know we had gone to pick up a puppy and were so surprised when we brought her to our van.

She needs a haircut so that we can see her eyes, but we hate to cut off the dark tips of her puppy fur!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We are home!!

We arrived home last week from Germany and are adjusting to life back in the USA.  Its like culture shock in reverse.  We are happy to be seeing friends and family and looking forward to celebrating a late Thanksgiving this week.  Here are some pictures from our travels home and from the snow that arrived in Regensburg the day before we left.  It was beautiful and fun for the kids but wreaked chaos on transportation in Germany.  We were blessed that we were able to get home as many flights were canceled due to the weather.  We had a wonderful time and made memories we'll cherish forever.  Thanks for reading and encouraging us along the way.  It was a great fall.  Germany, Auf Weidersehen.

5 inches - it was a beautiful snowy morning, we had to get out and play

The Christmas markets really looked magical with the snow

on the stone bridge

Family snow pic

The Danube

Matthew built a great snowman

The massive tree in Rathaus Platz now surrounded by snow

Our last pic in Germany- leaving our apartment for the airport

On the plane from Munich to Chicago

Claiming luggage in Chicago

After 20 hours of travel

everyone was tired waiting for the flight to Paducah

so three kids sacked out in the gate area
but not #4!  She waited until we were boarding to fall asleep.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Markets

We are spending our last few days in Germany enjoying the Christmas (Weihnachten) markets.  Winter has arrived in Germany and it is cold!  As I type it is lightly snowing outside.  We've been going to the markets for short intervals enjoying a different feature each time.  There are 3 within 2 blocks of our apartment and one across town at Thurn & Taxis.  The one we enjoyed most was the one Tim and I went to on our last "date night" here.  It was the market at the palace Thurn and Taxis.  It was very traditional and quaint, while the others are more a festival/carnival sort of atmosphere.  Our camera had a dead battery on date night, but I am posting a link to a slide show from their site (the woman pictured is the current princess, Gloria).

Thurn and Taxis:

Tree in front of the Altes Rathaus, around the corner from our apartment

Yes, it can be crowded!!

Lunch at the Christmas market in Neupfarrplatz

Crepes for the kids' treat today

Waiting to ride the carousel.  After weeks of waiting its open!

Christmas market at Haidplatz

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Its strange to not be doing the usual thing here.   The MSU students are taking their finals so Tim is at work.  We'll have a Thanksgiving meal on Saturday night as a group with another group in Regensburg from Colorado.  Its potluck so it will be interesting to see what people manage to put together.  I bought sweet potatoes today determined to have something traditional.  6 medium sized, organic sweet potatoes 10.70 euros (appx. $15!).   Tim said for that price he hopes they are really good.  I figure with enough sugar and butter I can't go wrong.  Anyway hopefully the MSU crew will appreciate having something "normal" from home. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Deutches Museum

We visited the Deutches Museum on Thursday.  It was so huge that we couldn't see it all in the 5 hours we had after arriving in Munich by train.  We tried to see the highlights and we literally ran through the last couple of exhibits.  We could definitely go again if we ever get back to Germany.  The pics are a little blurry (being taken with no flash), but here are a few shots:
Playing in the Kinder area

A Wright brother's plane.  They brought it to Germany for an exhibition flight and left it in Berlin.

A cargo/transport plane used in WWII

The DOWA 81 a plane developed for escape from East Germany
 The story of the Wagner family and the DOWA 81                                 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Not a good thing to see

Over the last few days we have struggled with my computer.  We think it is the LCD connection, we hope it is the LCD connnection.  Our first thought was a video card which means my computer is kaput.  Now we hope that we can fix it by reseating the LCD when we get home (or when we get a small enough screw driver, whichever comes first).  Here is what we see right now.  Feel free to give input if you've seen this before...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sleeping Dorm Style

We've talked a lot about our tight sleeping quarters so I thought I'd share some pics.  We feel blessed to have as much space as we do, no one is sharing a bed.  However, it is certainly different from our home in the US.
Laurel and Matthew sleep in an L-shape with a walking path to the bathroom between then and Carter

Carter at the foot of Tim and my beds and Katey sleeps in the crib on the left hand side of the frame.

Hiking the Felsenlabyrinth

Today we went along with Griffin and the students for a day hike a couple of hours away.  We took the train and arrived to find, to our dismay, there were only two buses running to the train station on Saturdays.  So we walked the 4 miles (6.9 km) to the park to then hike around the Felsenlabyrinth.  We were thankful for the group decision to take taxis back to the train station in the afternoon.  I was afraid the kids might fall apart on us if we hiked them 4 more miles hungry and tired.  It was a lot of fun and we will all have some tired legs in the morning.  It was a nice day for a hike even though there were some clouds lingering.  The kids loved seeing Mom and Dad squeeze through the passages in the rocks.  Here are the pics:

Beautiful views

Some tight squeezes

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


So some of us are feeling more ready to go home than others.  It is that way in our family and among the students.  I am back and forth, but have a feeling after a tour of the Christmas markets the weekend before we leave I will have seen enough and be ready to board the plane.  We are talking a lot about what we miss from the US and what we will miss from Germany once we return home.  Tim is trying to keep us living in the present and making the most of every day we have left.

The kids list:
Millie (my parents' dog)- yes, she comes first on their list.
their rooms and toys
space to get away from each other

Here is my random list off the top of my head (fairly petty mostly, but true):
friends and family, of course
space to get the children away from each other
my microwave, dryer, toaster, and dishwasher
my van and the ability to load up a week's worth of groceries and drive it to my home!
the library
English everything- church, waiters, tv, store clerks, packaging, etc, etc, etc
my school supplies for the kids
cream of chicken soup - you never realize how much you use this until you can't find it.
blue jeans
readily accessible bathrooms in public places

What I will miss about Germany:
no TV- the kids say they've missed it, but its been nice to not have to contend with it
the beauty of living here
tiny apartment- less stuff (I dread seeing all the toys, clothes, and general clutter I have in my home!)
weekend trips to amazing places
walking around the city- so much so close by
our family time together, while it can be hard at times, the kids have been bonded together as friends and they have shared some fun times.
the challenge of daily life in a different language- little things come with a sense of accomplishment sometimes
good food-even in places you don't expect, we had a great meal at the university mensa (cafeteria) today
church bells, clock towers, and cobblestone streets
listening to the kids sleep close by

I am sure there are more items for either list, but this is all I can think of at 2:11am.  Our regular bedtime here is between 1 and 2 as the kids are hard to put to bed and we still can't give up our 3 or 4 hours of quiet at night.  I am off to pry my husband off his computer and head to bed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The hills are alive...

with the sound of music....because my kids are hiking while singing tunes from the movie.  We had a good time in Salzburg.  We hiked Kapuzinerberg, enjoyed the scenery, listened to the organist play at the Capuchin monastery on the way up the hill (you can see the monastery in the pics below), and had lunch at the Franziski Schl√∂ssl a small fortress at the top of the mountain.  We toured the Haus of Natur (a nature and science museum).  It was a little too explicit in some areas- several exhibits would be considered offensive in the US.  Definitely a culture difference here, but the kids enjoyed the museum and we sped through areas we found inappropriate.  This morning before leaving we toured the Fortress Hohensalzburg and visited Mozart's house.  It was a fun trip.  It is a beautiful city, very hard to capture the sights on camera.  The one negative both Tim and I noticed was how unwelcoming a significant amount of the people were in a town that survives based on tourism.  It wasn't universal, but someone treated us with an apathetic attitude at every place we visited.  Not overly rude, it was just as though they could care less.  We really enjoyed the city nonetheless.  It is a beautiful place and it was fun just to be there and see it all.  A definite "do" on those European itineraries...Here are the pics:
Trailside fountain

Walking up Kapuzinerberg

View of Salzburg below and Fortress towering over the city

Salzburg and the mountains behind our crew

Hiking down along the fortress wall

We loved the hands on exhibits in the Haus der Natur

View from the Fortress Hohensalzburg

Seeing Kapuzinerberg from the Fortress

Family pic on top of the Fortress