Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,
We want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and all the best into the new year. We are very grateful for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the way that Christmas time helps us step back and reflect a little on who we are and where we are headed. We would love to sit down and talk with each of you in person and exchange stories about your recent adventures in life. Because we are not able to fulfill this wish, we will share with you a brief, one-sided conversation concerning our busy and happy 2008 to update you on what we are up to.
Dan is still studying at Charles University in Prague. He is studying Social Geography and plans to attend yet another university to get his Ph.D. He is applying to the University of Utah, University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the University of Colorado. If everything goes as planned, he will become a professor and hopefully teach at a college/university in Utah. He currently is working on his thesis which focuses on the social capital within Mormon and Adventist church communities in the Czech Republic from a geographic point-of-view. When he’s not busy with school, he works as a translator from Czech into English and teaches English part time at Charles University. He is extremely busy but is very good at making time for the family.
Val stays busy being a first class mother – I know that all the mothers reading this will understand what I mean by that. The rest of us (Dan is writing this paragraph) will just have to try to comprehend. She is amazing at keeping our household fed, clothed, clean and – as much as possible – happy. She has made many lasting friendships with other mothers in our neighborhood. She does quite well with speaking and understanding Czech now and is becoming a pro at taking Benjamin to the doctor (I mean as far as language and cultural/medical-system knowledge is required). Val and I continue to enjoy reading books together and we still manage to occasionally play a board game, when we’re not too tired or busy after the kids have gone to sleep.
Vinson, or the doggie, piggie, fishy or whatever he is pretending to be at the moment, is full of fun and imagination. He is such a good big brother. He always tries to involve Benjamin in everything we do. One of his favorite things to do is lay next to Benji and wiggle like him. He loves making trains in the house and makes everyone wear their conductor shoes and hats. He loves to go to parks and to the zoo. The animals aren’t his favorite part though; he’ll tell Daddy about riding in the little zoo train or playing in the kiddie pool before mentioning any animals.
Benjamin is the happiest baby imaginable. He loves attention and simply looking at him often brings a smile. He is very interested lately in seeing what everything tastes like, so when people offer him a finger it immediately goes to his mouth. One of his favorite past times is being thrown in the air and doing actions to “The Wheels on the Bus” as Mom and Vinson sing. Mom is extremely lucky because he takes good long naps and sleeps really well through the night: most often he only wakes up once during the night.
Highlights for our family during 2008:
• Dan and Val’s short trip to Paris to celebrate four wonderful years of marriage.
• Seeing Val’s sister Anna and going to Austria and Bavaria with her.
• Benjamin’s birth and a visit from Grandma Davis where we saw some castles and cute towns in Czechia.
We have really enjoyed living in Prague and time seems to be moving very quickly. Although we look forward to living in the same time zone (or very close to that) as our families do, we will miss a lot of people and a lot of things about living in the Czech Republic. Dan should graduate in July and we plan to return to Utah for a few weeks before staying in Utah at the U, or heading to Vancouver or Boulder.
Love Dan, Valerie, Vinson and Benjamin Reeves

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mikulaš

December 5th is the Czech holiday Mikulaš. Mikulaš is how you say Nicholas in Czech and Mikulaš is the Czech St. Nicholas. Instead of being fat and in a red suit Mikulaš looks like a pope. He hangs out with an angel and a devil named čert (pronounced chert). First I'll tell you how Czech's celebrate then I'll tell you what we did on Mikulaš. A lot of Czechs either have Mikulaš, čert and the angel come to their house and have a party where they invite friends over or they are visited by the threesome at school. Parents prepare beforehand a list of three things the child does good and three the child does that are bad. Mikulaš reads the list and čert shakes chains at the kids and scares them, I've heard they give parents a whip. This is all to help the child want to be better. Then when the three good things are read off the angel gives the child candy. Or the kids recite a poem or sing a song and the angel will give them candy. The kids are scared to death of čert and usually they are crying and if they're young enough pee their pants. My friend works at a preschool and the parents have to bring an extra pair of clothes on that day. A lot of people go to Old Town Square on Mikulaš. Some dress up. Some bring their kids, and some are just there for the Christmas market and presentation that you can only see if you get there way early. We decided to dress up. Vinson was čert and Benji was Mikulaš. I, of course was an angel, but didn't dress up. Czechs in general don't talk to strangers. The trams are silent unless there are drunk Germans or loud Americans on them. So it makes it extra fun when strangers come up and say, "Oh look there's a baby Mikulaš! How cute!! Oh and what a cute little čert too!" Old Town Square was crazy, but we didn't have a stroller this time so it was a lot easier to get around . . . but still not very easy. We saw a Mikulaš on stilts, and two čerts that had big bells attached on their back and were dancing so it was like they were making their own loud music. Vinson got to . . . well Dan tried to get him to sing a song but he played shy so he got candy for . . . being cute. Twice. video

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our son the celebrity

So the other day, Valerie was talking with our neighbors and they pulled out this little Prague city magazine and said, "Isn't this Vinson??" We were pretty surprised to see our cute little son gracing the cover of this internationally-acclaimed, fashion magazine with worldwide circulation. Of course, we have known from the beginning that Vince is an incredibly cute kid, but it's nice to see the rest of the world starting to take notice. Okay, okay, the magazine is just a little monthly community bulletin type thing for the downtown areas in Prague. The cover article explores things to do and places to go with small children in the center of the city. Still, it is pretty fun and it is a really cute picture.

It took Val and I probably half an hour of actively searching our memories to figure out when and where we think the picture was taken. Our theory is spring 2007 near the castle. The magazine was printed for May 2008.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grandpa Ward

My Grandpa Ward passed away last weekend and I have been thinking a lot lately about what he meant to me and some of the lessons he passed on. He was very talented musically. I loved hearing him play the piano, before his fingers became too sensitive and he wasn't able to play like he wanted to. He enjoyed sharing stories about how music really enriched his service as a Mormon missionary in Texas during the 1940's. He and a few other missionaries formed a small musical group and toured the mission (Texas and Louisiana) to put on concerts and even play for a radio station or two.
A little four-generation picture. If we wanted to get technical, my Mom
should have been in here with us, since Grandpa Ward is her father, but hey,
we're all family, anyways.


I have been trying to think of a favorite Grandpa Ward moment or story from my life. It's interesting that while no one moment seems to really stand out, there are thousands of small moments that paint a wonderful picture of my Grandpa. He had an amazing ability to love others and to express that love (I would describe it as a Christlike love) in the way that he talked with them and served them. I really admire the way that my Grandpa would help me, my family - and anyone else for that matter - without making any fuss or show of it. Perhaps that doesn't seem so remarkable, but I can think of several times, when I barely noticed or was only peripherally aware of the fact that my Grandpa had done something to help me. I am absolutely certain that there are many more instances, where he helped me and I didn't even notice. He had a quiet, humble and unassuming manner of making life better for the people he came in contact with.

...And I loved hearing him sneeze! It just sounded unique and ... Grandpa Ward.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Boy

Benjamin is such a happy baby. He can't wait for someone to look at him so he can give them a cute baby grin. He's "talking" a lot too.
video

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cute Benjamin!

I'm so lucky! I get to be mom to two of the cutest boys in the world!
We love cute little Benjamin. Just a few weeks ago he started to smile and we caught it on film! Vince loves to involve Benji in everything. He just can't wait for him to grow up a little bit and become a playmate, but he's done pretty good regardless. The other day I found Vinson reading Benji a book.Dan helped Benji ride the tractor while Vince rode his motorcycle. Vince was so upset when Dan got tired and Benji had to call it quits.This is Vinson and Benji riding a "train."
Vince wanted to write something:
dvn,bfvbvvbvbnmvjhjhvh4rrrrrrrrrrrr6

Friday, November 14, 2008

Adventures in Potty Training part 2

Once again if you don't want to read about bodily fluids please stop now. This is so awful I've wondered about writing it at all but as I follow a lot of your blogs and a lot of you have kids that you're trying to potty train and are having a frustrating time I figured I could write this and you could think to yourself: at least it's not THAT bad. Or if you have a story (and I'm not talking about my friends sisters cousin stories) that makes this look good, I would LOVE to hear it and think to myself, "Whew, at least he didn't do that . . . " Vinson is going to hate me when he grows up if he ever finds out the things I tell the entire world about him.
Vinson has started working lately. He gets on his motorcycle and says, "Bye mom, I'm going to work." Then he'll usually give me a kiss, the same routine as when Dan goes to work. Then he proceeds to put all of his toys into my bedroom sometimes taking one toy at a time and making a big pile of toys. One Saturday Vince said, "Bye Mom, bye Dad, I'm going to work." We started chatting and after a while realized we'd been talking for a while without seeing Vinson come back for toys. So then Vinson says, "Mom, Dad, pojd" (Czech for come here). So we went together. We opened the door and there was Vinson beaming and looking like he'd done something wonderful. This is what he had done. He pooped his pants and then had taken them off. Sometime during this he thought to himself, this is kind of like the paints that mom lets me play with, maybe I'll do some art work. So then he proceeded to "paint" the floor, one of his toys, and his motorcycle with poop. Dan and I were horror struck. We kind of stood there in silence for a minute torn between laughing, and crying and what to say or do to punish and how much. It's hard to gage exactly how much Vinson grasped that this was wrong especially after his obvious pride in his work. Dan said, "Vinson, you've done a very bad thing. Poop is not paint, you only put poop in the toilet." I turned my head to smile. Dan cleaned up Vinson - his punishment was having a cold shower. I started cleaning the floor with bleach and threw away the sponge afterwards. His motorcycle and toy also had a bleach bath followed by a real bath. Then I heard Dan say, "You made a big mess. You should ask mom if there's anything you can do to help clean up." My mind searched for ways he could help. The only thing that came to me that actually would help was something that I knew that Vince woud think it was fun, I didn't want to support him doing this sort of activity again ever, but I went for it. He had to swirl his underwear in the toiled with a plastic knife (then I could throw it away), lift, flush, swirl, lift flush etc. until I could handle cleaning them. Dan had to supervise. He should have thought before offering Vince's services. Maybe you're asking, why not just throw the underwear away. I would have but my mom brought me nice American tiolet training pants. They have padding that holds the water in so there isn't a wetness all over the floor. Europeans don't have potty training underwear. Their kids run around their house with nothing on bottom and a kiddie pottie in every room of the house. When they do go to underwear it's skimpy bikini underwear. At least that's what I've observed and found. All I have to say about this experience is YUCK!!! GROSS!!! EWW!!! UGH!!! I did take a picture. From the picture it might not look that bad, but believe me it was!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Trick or Treat!

We are lucky that there is a suburb of Prague that has trick or treating. Vince was superman and Benjamin was a cow. My friend lent me the cow costume. Trick or treating was a lot of fun. Vinson didn't want to put on his costume until I said, "Vince let me tell you what is going to happen. You will go to a house, say trick or treat, and they'll give you candy, but only if you have a costume." There was no protests after that. At the first house he kept standing there after she gave him candy. I had to pull him away. Then he got what was going on and ran from house to house. Benjamin slept for most of it, but when he woke up the little cow kept wanting milk. We brought candy to help refill bowls that were almost empty. There are so many trick or treaters you can barely shut the door. Those who were prepared had boxes of candy.
We were also excited about the branch Halloween party. Val invited three families and they all came. Of the 5 awards for costumes someone from each family got something. Vinson and Sofie doing Kolo Kolo mlynsky (ring around the rosies the Czech version.
Nella, Jahim, Vinson and Sofie. No one wanted the picture taken.I dressed up as Kostičky. He's on a TV show here. I thought he was pretty well known, but apparently he wasn't as popular as I thought.
Benjamin slept through the whole thing, even the balloon popping and woke up with enough time for everyone to want to hold him.

Halloween

Besides Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday! We had our annual pumpkin carving party!

Vinson painted his pumpkin.Here is the gang: Chris and Ivana (this was her first experience carving pumpkins, drinking root beer and having carmel apples), Jirka and Renca, Dan Vince and Val (Benjamin was sleeping.)
Later we got invited to a pumpkin carving party with the Bywaters. Sofia, Oliver, Elliot and Vinson. Vinson's was a train pumpkin. He's obsessed with trains lately.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stupid

So every now and then I come home from Albert (the grocery store) with something absolutely stupid. Today I wanted some ground beef, or beef period for dinner. Everything either came absolutely huge or the right size and small but not labeled with words I knew. I found one that was a good size and that I thought would be the right thing and came home with . . . ground liver. Great. Yesterday - now just because I was stupid twice in a row doesn't mean these kinds of things happen all the time. Maybe once every two or three months until - yesterday I bought pork fat thinking it was butter. This time it was all my fault. The margarine that I usually get was gone and I grabbed a package that looked exactly the same, same size, same brand only a lighter color - must be butter. And, yes, I DO know the word for butter, but didn't think I needed to look on the package. When I opened it up it wasn't yellow any more, the wrapping gave it a yellow tint, now it was white. Dan told me I bought pork fat. AHHH! Other mistakes I've made: I've bought butter milk wanting real milk twice, and flattened corn thinking it was oatmeal. Oh the joys of knowing only playground Czech, conversational Czech, or Mormon Czech. So I'm crossing my fingers and holding my thumbs that I won't be stupid again. . . at least not anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Family Pictures

Dan and I went to a park by our house and took a bunch of family pictures. This one is our favorite.
My cute boys!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How is Vince coping?

Fun videos of BIG BOY VINSON!
video videoHaving two kids is definitely different than having just one. Vince has had two major ways of coping that are completely opposite but understandable. One way of coping is that he wants to be a baby too. When we left the hospital Dan had to carry Vince out in a blanket just like Benji. He also has a new liking for milk. Vince would always ask for juice before but now he wants to be like the baby.
The other way he copes is that he wants to be a big boy. His favorite saying now is "Vinson do it." He has learned how to get into the fridge and he will come walking into the living room with a big container of juice and he'll want to pour it. We've only had one big spill so far. Sometimes he wants to do absolutely ridiculous things like make me re-zip his zipper so that he can do it and when he has a problem at the end he'll finally ask for help. One excellent by-product of this is that he now is pee potty trained!! YEAH!! Of course he sill does it almost entirely for the candy he gets at the end.
Otherwise Vince absolutely loves Benji and kisses him all the time. He loves holding him and tries to pick him up by himself so we're always on guard. Occasionally he will give Benji a hard slap in the face but most of the time he's really good.
A lot of people say Vince and Benji look a lot alike. I don't really think so. What do you think?
Benjamin's passport photo:
Vinson's passport photo:
Benjamin before he was blessed at church:
Vinson before he was blessed at church:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Having a Baby in the Czech Republic

Could it be a prison? It kind of felt like it . . .
Maybe a grocery store? They used grocery carts as strollers.
Well I've had a lot of requests to write about what it's like having a baby in the Czech Republic. I wrote this and realized it was really long, so the three things that struck me as being the most odd were 1. The whole shopping carts as strollers thing was different. 2. They put a big tatoo on Benjamin's chest to identify him. I had a bracelet with his name and number on my wrist. And 3. that I had to weigh the baby, take his temperature and record everything. What did the nurses do? Check to make sure my numbers looked good. So now feel free to read as much or as little as you want. It's kind of divided into two parts: Pregnancy and delivery, and hosptial stay.
Pregnancy and Delivery
This blog is dedicated to Alena Pilková who is watching Vinson at the park right now and is the only way that I would have time to write a blog like this. So I've had a lot of people ask what it's like having a baby in the Czech Republic. It's a lot different than the U.S., or at least my experience with Vinson in the U.S. The last month of pregnancy in the Czech Republic you go to the hospital for check ups because the doctor that you have visited for the pregnancy to that point doesn't do deliveries (or at least mine didn't). I had to have three check ups. First I have to preface this with the fact that Prague is experiencing a baby boom right now. To give you an idea: I called to sign up for the hosptial at 13 weeks into the pregnancy and Benjamin had 2 due dates. One was in August and the second was September 2nd. It was a good thing he had a Sepember due date because August was already full at all of the hospitals. So they are short on facilities. All of the mothers in the last month of their pregnancy - or with an at-risk pregnancy - go for these check ups and so there are about 20 women waiting on hard couches for the first half of the check up (about a 2 hour wait). I had no idea it would be so awful, so I didn't bring a book or anything and nearly died from boredom. Then they check the baby's movement and heart rate. I had to do plenty of these with Vinson, but there was no waiting. Only four mothers can do this at a time and it's a 20 minute process for each mother, but there's always a chair empty because the nurse wasn't very fast. And then, if that wasn't enough, you wait in another line to see a doctor. About a 4 hour process, altogether. It was a different doctor each time and they would check dialation and if the baby had dropped, etc. Everytime, I had a checkup scheduled I would hope and hope that Benjamin would come before the next one because they took so long and I had to find someone to watch Vinson. (Thanks Melinda!!!)


As a little bit of background information, with Vinson I was induced and had an epidural before feeling much of anything, so I felt like this was my second pregnancy but my first real labor experience. I didn't really know what a contraction felt like or when I should expect Benjamin to come (early or late) according to the due date, etc. I had been having really sporadic contractions for an entire week and then on the morning of the 5th I had contractions every 10 minutes. Dan and I called a taxi and woke the Kings up to watch Vinson at three in the morning. I had 3 contractions in the taxi, but it didn't faze the driver one bit. At the hospital they said that the contractions were too far apart and that I should go home and come back later. No buses were running - it was 5 in the morning, after all - so we walked to the tram stop and took a tram home. I could tell people were adverting their eyes because it was obvious when I was having a contraction. I think I did pretty good at being inconspicuous, though.


After trying to sleep at home for a while, I went to Melinda's house and paced around waiting for the contractions to get more frequent. I called Dan and we went to the hospital. Again, on the bus I kept having contractions, but it was the bus that goes to the hospital- you would think people would assume this was normal, but I have been suprised how few pregnant women I see on the bus. With all of the ones in the checkup lines, they must get there by car or some other way. So, yeah, I was somewhat of a spectacle and again, people diverted their eyes. This time we were admitted to the hospital. I had to be strapped in for them to check my contractions for 20 minutes. By this time they were getting pretty bad and I just wanted them to give me an epidural as soon as I got there. They skipped some of their normal prep work and had Dan sign a bunch papers that the expectant mother usually signs and I was taken to the delivery center. It is a big room with partitions separating all of the mothers who are delivering babies. I had heard about this before and had visions of me having an epidural and feeling nothing but hearing two or three women screaming and cursing (in Czech) while I was delivering the baby. But I was the only one delivering at the time and didn't have to hear someone else screaming. I got an epidural. YEAH! Epidurals aren't very common here, so one of my biggest concerns was that an anethesiologist wouldn't be on duty or something and I would have to tough it out. Benjamin came fairly quickly. The umbilical cord was around his neck so he came out really purple, but he was/is healthy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hosptial Stay

The minimum stay for babies is three days (with the day of delivery not being counted as a day) so I was stuck in the hosptal for 4 days. The rooms are shared, normally, with three mothers per room. My absolute biggest fear during pregnancy was that I would be stuck in this room with two other mothers who had become fast friends and would talk to each other really fast (in Czech), that they would both the kind that are harder to understand (using more academic words or slurred speech or something) and they would ignore me. I realize this is lame, but this was definately my biggest fear. I ended up in a room with one other mother who had delivered her baby 6 weeks premature and, therefore, was pretty much free to do whatever she wanted and wasn't in the room hardly at all. I would say her English was about as good as my Czech so she helped me understand a few times. On my second day, she was moved to another room so then I had my own room which was nice because I didn't get woken up by other mothers or babies, but kind of lonely and boring.

I have to brag a little in that I did really well with the nurses not speaking English. I understood everything, eventually. There were several times I had to say I didn't understand and they would try again. For instance, I knew the Czech word for poop: "bobek", but not the word for stool, so I would get the idea and say "bobek?" and they would say, "yeah." The nurses were all good at using simple words and pantamiming everything. One of the nurses spoke to me in English pretty well; her son lives in California. Her English was really good but she kept saying "hospitality" instead of "hospitalization", it struck me as really funny. "We will make a report about your hospitality."

A few things that were interesting about the stay and vastly different from the U.S. First I believe they were trying to get rid of all of your baby fat while you stayed in the hospital. For breakfast we had 2 rohliky (rolls) and a little thing of jam. Then for lunch we had soup that tasted like alphabet soup watered down with hardly any noodles or meat or anything. I was so starved the first day that I gulped it down, but I couldn't eat it the next day. Then they brought a more substantial lunch/dinner item. I had: noodles that were cooked too long with bland gravy, a tiny slice of fatty ham and dry dumplings, a small slice of pork and rice with gravy. Finally for "dinner" we got more rohliky, a small thing of yoghurt, and a cup of milk. (All other meals were served with coffee, so I had water :) Thankfully I had friends bring me food or I might have starved to death.

Second, the nurses watch the baby for the first night and then you are in charge. You take the baby's temperature twice a day, weigh it before and after feedings, and everything else you would expect a nurse to do in the U.S. The nurses would come in once a day to check your records and tell the doctors if there were problems. To pass the time I read all 550 pages of The Three Musketeers and finished that the night before I left so the next morning I twiddled my thumbs waiting for the time to come when I could leave.

So, that was my experience having a baby in the Czech Republic. I'm sure this is more than you ever wanted to know, but hopefully it was interesting if nothing else.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vince and Benji

video

Benjamin

BENJAMIN BRIAN REEVES


So, it's been a while since we wrote. We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our second son and I am happy to say he finally showed up. For an entire week before he was born, Valerie was having irregular contractions, so we got a little impatient. They only had to send us home from the hospital once, though (at 4 am on the day Benji was born), because we were not close enough to delivery. Val and I went back home (Vinson was, thankfully, at a friend's place) and spent a few hours timing contractions and trying to distract ourselves. We went back to the hospital around noon and Benjamin was born at about 2:15 pm on September 5th.

Vital statistics,
weight: 3.175 kilograms = 7 pounds
height: 50 cm = 19.7 inches

What a beautiful mother!! Val looks so good here and I honestly took this picture ten minutes or so after Benji was born. I would be lucky to live through labor, let alone come out of it looking like this!

Vinson and Benjamin got acquainted that evening. They hit things off pretty quick (and Vinson didn't hit Benji until Sunday, so that was a good 48 hours of peace). Vinson calls him "my baby" and loves pushing Benji around in the hospital bassinet-on-wheels.

We've got Mom seriously outnumbered now guys! Good thing she likes to camp and mountain bike and rock climb...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dilemma: To praise or not to praise?

As a preface, Dan told me that people with kids would appreciate all of this talk about bowel movements, but everyone else would think we were crazy. So, would I tell this to my brother James or sister Emily? James . . . Yes, but he wouldn't like it. Emily . . . definately. So now that you know what this blog is about feel free to read or not to read at your own wish being full aware what I'm going to discuss.
A few months ago we decided it would be really nice to have Vinson potty trained before the baby came. Well the baby is about two weeks away and we're still working on it. During the process we've had some dilemmas. From everything I've read (and I usually don't read anything about raising kids, but after a month of complete failure and starting to go crazy from it I figured advice couldn't hurt) this is a difficult process for the child to so to make it easier you shouldn't punish mistakes. I understand this. You should also praise good behavior. Duh. Often the only way to get Vinson to sit on the potty is with the prospect in mind that if he actually "performs" or as Dan would say, "makes a deposit" he will get some candy. But we've had a few circumstances where there's a question of how to react. I'll give the two most dramatic examples we've had and you'll see what I mean. Hopefully Vinson won't get too upset that these instances were made public :)
1. This was towards the beginning of potty training where we were excited when he knew he needed to go potty before actually going. I asked Vinson if he needed to go potty. "No . . . no potty, I don't want it!" You know, the normal reaction. Milliseconds later he pulled his pants down and aimed AT THE WALL and went potty. Do I scold him for purposely peeing on the wall? Praise him for knowing he had to go potty before doing so? I took the middle ground and tried not to react.
2. This one just happened two days ago. Vinson was sitting on the potty and shouted, "poop!" Yeah! Great! If I had to choose which mess to clean up it would be pee anyday. Well, he was curious and caught his poop, then was grossed out by the texture and threw it on the floor. SO CLOSE!! I ask you honestly, to praise or not to praise? I ended up doing a mixture of scolding and praising but he didn't get candy for it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Austrian Swan Defending his Turf

Anna (Val's sister) took this gorgeous picture of a swan, elegantly swimming around Plansee, Austria. We were enjoying the evening on the lake shore, when Vinson and I had a close encounter with this very swan. He had this part of the lake to himself and apparently felt a little threatened by our wading in "his" lake.

When the middle picture (from the sequence of three) was taken, the swan was making a growling sound like a dog does to defend his food. I had no idea that swans had a tendency to be aggressive towards humans or that they could make growling noises like that. I still can't speak for swans generally, but this particular swan on this particular evening gave a cool show.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Daddy's are so much funner than Mommies.

videoAt least once a day I am told by Vinson to "Go away" because it's time for just him and daddy or Vinson comes to Dan and and invites him to play with the train set. Dan is a great Daddy so I am not offended. Just a note of explaination: Vince put the grocery bag on his head then gave Dan the bigger one and said "Daddy bag . . . Vinson bag." It was very spontaneous and fun to watch. video

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Road Trip Part 2


Saturday evening, we were a little sad that we didn't have more time to see Berchtesgaden's old town, but Vinson is an awesome alarm clock and helped us get up bright and early on Sunday, in time to see more of the town. It was a beautiful morning and it was like walking in a post card because the town was so cute with the Alps towering over it.
I was suprised that people actually dressed up in their folk outfits but we saw so many people dressed up. Maybe it was because they were going to church? Either way it was fun to see. We planned to be in Salzburg Sunday so we could go to church. Afterwards we wandered around the town. Vinson was really good for the first hour we were there because he was asleep. He didn't wake up very happy, so we didn't stay very long. He was very excited to go for another ride in the "blue car" though.
We stayed in a camp site right by a lake that night. It was absolutely beautiful. For me it was like staying by Silver lake up American Fork canyon only the mountains were much higher. Vinson loved playing in the water. video
Our last day in Germany we went to see Schloss Hohenschwangau and Schloss Neuschwanstein (aka the Disneyland Castle). Neuschwanstein is only half completed because Von Ludwig II, who was building it, died. It definitely is a fairytale castle. On the way home we stopped in Munich and had an hour or so to explore. We especially liked the Rathouse.