Monthly Archives: July 2012

Switzerland :: June 2012

This will be a mostly photo post.  Too many photos to share of so many good memories of this summer’s traveling.

Our European vacation started with a drive to Switzerland.  We stayed in a hostel in a village called Gimmelwald up in the Swiss Alps.

As you can see by the sign below, it is a new building.  : )

We stayed in what they call the Family Room — a small room with 3 sets of bunkbeds.  There are no locks on the doors to the rooms.  There might not even be a lock on the doors to the hostel.  I didn’t check that.

View from the window in our room.  Breathtaking.  The room and hostel may not offer very many amenities (pay showers for instance), but the views and experience were more than worth it.

Having a little snack picnic on the lawn by the hostel.

Big Ive and the wild chickens running around the hostel lawn.  Of course they would have chickens.  Ok.  So, they’re probably not ‘wild’ chickens, but they certainly didn’t seem to belong to anyone.  The egg selling lady up the street had her own pen of hens.

A daddy and his daughter.

Sorry I don’t have as many photos of Little E.  A lot of the time she is strapped in the stroller or sleeping so all of the photos look the same everywhere we go.  I keep telling LOML I’m going to make a flip book of all the photos of Little E in the stroller. I’m sure as she gets a little older and more of a stable walker I’ll take more action photos of her.

Watching the clouds roll in.

Big Ive playing in the rain.  She was having fun with the watering can and the gutter drip.


When you walk out of the cable car landing area you are greeted by this big metal slide.  As you can see by this photo, a lot of the days had fog — or cloud — during parts of the days.  It was so strange to watch the clouds descend around you obscuring your view of the mountain across the valley and the house just up the street from you.

Big Ive was excited about this slide but afraid to go on it by herself.  I had to go down with her a few times.  Our friend, Judah, went down with her a couple times.  There were a few slightly older kids that were trying to help her down while I waited at the bottom to catch her.  She loved climbing the stairs to the top.  And then she would chicken out and climb the stairs back down.  On the last day we were there she finally got over her fear and wanted to keep going down it repeatedly.

We took a bunch of walks around this village, to see the Alpen animals, to see the sights and views.  One day we took the cable car to the another village up the mountain a bit and walked back on the path.  The morning started out cold and overcast and dreary.  By the time we started our walk back to Gimmelwald it was completely sunny and had warmed up considerably.  My mom and I were using my umbrella to shade ourselves from the sun a little it was so sunny.

Notice all of the tidy, perfectly stacked fire wood.

Our friend, Judah, MomMom, Big Ive and my mom, Gampers.

3/4 of our family.  Little E was sleeping in the stroller during this walk and photo op.

Checking out the wild life on our walks.
Goats: check.
Cows: check.
Chickens: check.
Snails: check.
Ponies: check.

One of the days it rained a lot in the morning.  We took a cable car to the valley below and drove into Interlaken.  We walked around near the river, which is an amazing pale blue/green color.  It’s basically all Alpine snow melt and spring water and has lots of minerals that give it that incredible color.  I wanted to make sure Judah and my mom got a good view of the water as it really is unreal.  We did some touristing and went in shops.

Need more cowbell?
They were selling cowbells of all sizes in just about every shop.  This was the biggest one I’d seen all day.
The cows don’t even wear bells this big.

So … you totally can’t tell the color of the water by this photo…

This kid sure has a thing for umbrellas.

Since we stayed in a hostel we were able to use their kitchen to cook all of our meals.  Which means we had to bring all of our food along to cook.  We got to the hostel in the late afternoon / early evening so the kitchen was in use from people cooking their suppers.  We had an ice chest full of food and 2 grocery store bags full of more food and supplies.  My mom and I were trying to figure out where to store it all.  The people looked at our stuff.  And looked at us.  And then they asked how long we were staying.  I said 3 days and we’re cooking all of our meals.  They did a double take at the amount of food.  And there’s 6 of us, I added.  The relief that came across that young woman’s face could be felt.  She didn’t want to be judging us on the amount of food, but she couldn’t understand why 2 women would need so much for only 3 days.

LOML had plans of renting bikes with Judah and going on some cool hikes.  But he came down with the cold we brought back from the States.  Adventure plans were toned down.

The morning we left we ate breakfast in Germany, lunch in France and supper in Switzerland.  That’s pretty cool.

And then we drove to Italy for most of a week.  Italy photo post coming soon.

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Stuttgart Wilhelma Zoo – a must see if you are going any where near Stuttgart

My friend, BGM, from back home had a business meeting in Stuttgart in June.  Since it was a reasonable 2.5 hour drive from our village I told him I would make every effort to go see him while he was here in Germany.  I’m so glad we were able to make it.  It was a really fun day trip for me, the girls and my mom.

The internet said it would be a little less than 2.5 hours to drive one way.  I figured it would take us 3 with stops having to deal with children.  It took us a little longer than 3 hours because we ran into all of the road construction happening in Germany on our way over.  It was delay after delay.  Because it took so long my mom and I almost decided to NOT go to the zoo because we wouldn’t have much time before we had to meet BGM.  I was thinking it might not be worth the money for the entrance fee for a short 1.5 hours in the zoo.

I. Was. Wrong.

This zoo is beautiful.  You MUST go see the Wilhelma.  It is actually not a traditional zoo.  It is a botanical garden wrapped around and intertwined with a fantastic zoo.  They have exotic plants and animals.  And the grounds — the gardens, oh my goodness — are just immaculate and gorgeous.  No wonder it was a private retreat for kings in days past.  The architecture of the zoo/botanical garden is Moorish as this was the “in” style at the time.  I really like Moorish influenced architecture.  I like the detail and symmetry and ornamentation and the domes that are prevalent in that style.  Unfortunately, during the war a lot of the historic buildings were destroyed beyond repair because of the bombings.  Some were restored.  Some were rebuilt in the style.

All of the glass greenhouse buildings for the different climates are similar to this one.  Ornate metal and glass work.  Beautiful.

I had to keep telling Big Ive to stay away from these little fountains when we walked by only to walk past a couple moms and their toddlers putting their feet in one because the day was so warm.
I would have NEVER thought to do that on purpose.  The water was a little too green for me.  I like my water nicely chlorinated in pools.

I really like this shot.  The differences between the smooth cool grey and the bright spiky green.

We first walked through a number of botanical gardens representing different parts of the world.  It was a hot muggy day in Germany and we walked into the desert building first.  Of course it would be a hotter house than the outside!  Take a look at these incredible barrel cactus.  I have never seen prettier fuzzy barrel cacti in my life.  Growing up in the desert and I had to go to Germany to see  beautiful cacti.  Go figure.  : )

Then we wandered through the rest of the buildings.  One had a little koi pond with these GIANT koi fish.  They made LOML’s big koi in our little pond look like miniatures.

Little E was cooing and pointing at the koi here.

There was a building full of orchids.  I have never seen that many different varieties of orchids ever.

There were peacocks running around the park freely.  I squawked at one and it squawked back loudly and started following us.  I thought I remembered they could be a little on the mean side so we quickly got away from it before it could let us know if it was nice or not.  Not taking chances with the girls so close.

Can you see this one?  He was trying to hide from us in plain sight.

We saw exotic birds.  I squawked at one of those, too, so it would talk back to us.  The girls seemed to like it.

Some of my conversations with my children might be described as squawking, too, so I’m sure all of the Germans thought we were just loud squawking US tourists.  Oh, well.  When you find something that works, go with it.  Right?

Mountain goat animals.  I think.

Then we saw the elephants, okapi, giraffe, and finally had to stop for ice cream.  It was a hot day, remember?

Right as she slopped some on her shirt.

My mom got some good video clips of the girls eating the cold ice cream.  Little E was confused about it.  She didn’t appear to like the intense cold, but once she started to taste the sweet ice cream she really liked it.  Big Ive didn’t hardly even eat all of the ice cream sticking out above the cone before I had to trick her into giving it to me so I could stealthily throw it away.  I felt bad about throwing so much away but I couldn’t even finish mine so there was no way I would be able to eat the rest of hers.

There was a water fountain in a small courtyard by the ice cream shop.  A handful of kids were playing in it.  When Big Ive finally was done with her ice cream the water had been shut off.  It was kind of sad.  I was actually getting ready to fill our drinking water bottles with the water and then it was off.  Sad.

Check out this monkey exhibit.  There are no walls or ceiling.  They surrounded their play structure by water.  How cool is that?

Flamingos that greeted us on the way in and out.  Pretty pale pink birds.

We drove to see BGM at his hotel for dinner.  I had plans of going back into the city center to walk around, but the drive out of the city to get to his hotel took twice as long as it should due to rush hour traffic that we just went to the restaurant across the street.  The girls were not on the best behavior at supper, but we ate early and only 3 other tables had people, most of whom seemed amused at my children running around.

It was a really fun day.  I’m so glad BGM came to Germany and had an evening to spend with us.  I’m glad we had to go see the Wilhelma.  We are planning on going back as a family one Saturday and spending more time in the zoo and getting to see the city center walk platz.

Little E fell asleep before we were out of the hotel parking garage and I think Big Ive was asleep before we got to the autobahn.  My mom and I used the limited maps in our Germany guide books to go a different way than the GPS suggested.  We only argued with her for about 15 miles and made it home in about 2.5 hours.

It was late.  We were tired.  But it was a good day.

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Horses and Wild Raspberries [and other daily happenings 08.07.2012]

Yesterday afternoon my mom, the girls and I took a walk on one of the paths around our village.  LOML had to stay in the house working on homework for his online classes.  We were sad to leave him.  The walk was about 1.6mi according to’s estimate.  Part of the walk was up a pretty good hill and then through a wooded gravel road that we’ve walked on a number of times with LOML.  This was the first time I’ve turned down the quarry truck road toward the village.  Usually we turn around and walk back down the hill the same way we came up.

I was feeling adventurous with my mom and our new stroller that afternoon, so we went for it.

New stroller in single seat mode.  Can be turned so it’s forward or rear facing.  It’s awesome.
And the double seat mode.  We also have an infant bassinet attachment.

The girls had just gotten up from their naps and Big Ive was not in the best mood.  Normally I would call off a walk by myself and the girls if she was acting like that, but with Grandma’s help anything is possible, right?

We met some other US people that live in our village.  They were walking to the soccer field, which is the same direction we were going to see the horses and up the hill.  They had never been.  When we were almost home they had caught up to us.  It made me happy to see they decided to try out a new path for their family walk.

Big Ive being little Miss Independent.  She had to zip her own zipper.  She could not let Grandma help.

“Don’t step in the mud puddle.”

Big Ive had to take photos by herself.  “Pichures! Pichures!”  The little stinker didn’t want to listen to a word I was saying.  Nor Grandma.

One of the horses snorted and it caught us all off guard and we all jumped.  I made fake snorting noises with my lips and the horse obliged us and did it’s snort a few more times for the girls.

Horses in the ‘hood.  Yo.

Little E was all quiet and content for the vast majority of the walk.  …  Until we stopped to pick the wild raspberries and left her facing the sun.  That’s when I remembered I could turn her seat to face me.  She was out of the sun and she could see mom.  A win win.

Picking wild raspberries with Big Ive for the first time.  She L O V E D them.  Why wouldn’t she?  She’s a fruit-eating fien
d.  She didn’t care if there was a little dirt on them.  I was a good mom and picked off the bad parts.  : )

I suppose it was the first time picking wild berries with Little E, too.  But she stayed in the stroller.

Most of the raspberries weren’t ripe, yet.  We have a date with LOML for Tuesday to go pick more because I’m sure they’ll be ready in 2 days time.  Hopefully no one else got the memo that the raspberries are ripe!

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Phoenix Photos – at last

Here are some photos of our brief trip to Phoenix in May.

Big Ive loves my mom’s piano more than words can express.  She says piano something like PAMmo.  Little E was so happy when she figured out she could reach the keys and make noises with it.

Quintessential Little E pose: sucking her thumb while holding her little soft blankie.

Playing with Uncle Fred and Aunt Leah.

With my grandparents (GrammaGramm and GrampaGramp) at their house when they hosted the family and friends get together on Memorial Day.  I think we were trying to get out of there after a full afternoon and the girls were NOT being cooperative.

At the PHX Zoo on the Friday before we left…

Little E with her Auntie.  It was so nice to have her be able to come with us that hot early morning. 
My sister is the only aunt my girls know by the name of “Auntie”.  You can tell them Auntie is on the computer and they’ll know who it is.  :)

At the splashpad at the zoo.  We spent a good portion of the time playing in the water.  Little E seemed to be most happy looking for, picking up and placing in her mouth leaves, sticks and other debris around the splashpad.  She was a little scared of the water that shot up from the ground.

Big Ive, on the other hand, LOVED running around the water.  She was caught trying to drink out of the little river running around the splashpad a few times.  Gross.

Family photo!  Every one was happy!

Grandpa holding Little E.  Believe it or not, she fell asleep in this position.  Baby was tired. 
And, I was able to get her into the stroller seat where she kept sleeping the rest of the time in the zoo.

She had to climb up on this sculpture by herself after all the other kids got off.  She did NOT want to get down and leave.

These tortoises are massive.  I’m sure they have to be 80+ years old.  The big guy looks like a boulder!


I’m working on the posts for Switzerland, Italy (Orvieto, Florence, Todi, Assisi) and Paris.  We probably have 8+GB worth of photos and videos for me to sort through.  Yikes!  Lots of good memories, though.

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