Old Faithful

So…since we’re in Yellowstone, there’s the obvious place we had to go: Old Faithful. The more we learn about how this amazing complex volcanic system works the more unbelievable it all is. For those that have never seen it, the valley Old Faithful sits in is dotted with tons of other pockets of steam pools, vents and other geysers. It’s really spectacular, if you’ve never seen it, it’s a must. Today, the sky was a brilliant blue with a few clouds making it really pretty…hope you like the pics…

Old Faithful

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Old Faithful selfie

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Encountering a Grizzly Bear

First thing – as a crew, we haven’t blogged in a re-ally long time. Yes. We’re working on that.

Second – since we’re staying right on the edge of Yellowstone National Park for a couple of weeks, we’re trying to make the most of it and see it as much as possible – and by see it, we mean attempt to see as many cool things as possible. On the list to see? A Grizzly Bear. This evening, we hit he jackpot and this fella was within shooting (photographing) distance. Actually, I’m only about 100 yards away…or so. 🙂 Anyway, we thought it was pretty cool…the kids were able to see it later as it walked closer to the road so it was really a treat. Here’s the best shots I got of him… Check that one off the list!!

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Cailyn is 8!!!

Dear Cailyn,

I cannot believe that you are eight years old! It seems like just yesterday I was holding you in my arms after a delivery that I don’t think either one of us expected to go as it did. You came into this world like a storm…like a sneaky storm. The weather mirrored our circumstances when a tornado touched down a mile from the hospital where you were born, and then later that afternoon it snowed.

We named you Cailyn for lots of reasons. The main two being that we loved the meaning – it means “pure”, and that has always been our prayer for you. That your heart would remain pure – not just undefiled, but pure as in true; strong. We also chose that name for it’s Irish heritage – a place we never thought you would get to visit and you ended up calling home.

You have lived up to your name in so many ways, the most interesting and unexpected is how your personality matches the meaning of your name so perfectly. You are 100% pure in whatever you are feeling, and we can always tell what that mood is. Ok, almost always. 🙂

But, Cailyn, you are so much more than your name. You are sweet, kind and compassionate. You are one of the most generous people I know. You are always the first to give up your preferred activity, food or bite of your favorite treat if someone else needs it more. You see things in people that not many others see, and your kind nature makes you fun to be around. You are gracious and grateful for even the tiniest of gifts or gestures.cailyn bday 6 DSCN3947 cailynb26wholdingisaac

Not only are you kind and compassionate, but you are strong and passionate. When something grips you deep in your heart, you aren’t afraid to stand up and fight for it. A trait I wish I had mastered earlier in my own life, and one I pray the Lord gives you great wisdom in wielding. It is a gift,  you know, the ability to stand up for what is right. The difficulty comes in knowing sometimes if it is truly right. I pray that you will have wisdom and discernment to know in which things to allow your heart to invest itself.

I cannot wait to see how God uses the unique talents and gifts He has given you. You are so very funny – quite the entertainer. You are creative, witty, and smart. You can sing and dance; you can draw better than I can.

I have loved watching you grow over the past eight years, and I consider it such an honor to continue watch and learn from you. To enjoy who you are and to treasure the laughter and snuggles you bring to our family.

We love you, Booboo, and we hope you have the best birthday ever!!

Fun with Fasching

Howdy, folks! Jen, here. It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed anything to the ole blog, so I thought I’d share about our Fasching fun we had this week. 🙂

I really do love seeing and experiencing how each culture in which we’ve lived celebrates special days – and which days are most special for each culture!

Here in Austria, one of the most anticipated holidays of the year – particularly for kids – is Fasching. In other parts of the world it’s called Carnival or Mardi Gras. The kids all dress up in fun costumes (unlike Halloween costumes which are usually darker and scarier, Fasching costumes are fun, light hearted and creative), and the food of the day is Krapfen (pronounced CRAP-fnn) (yes,we chuckle, too). Krapfen are soft, doughy donuts traditionally filled with apricot marmalade, but you can also find other fillings such as strawberry, vanilla, and my personal favorite, nougat (think Nutella).

Traditonal Marillen (apricot) Krapfen

Traditonal Marillen (apricot) Krapfen

Our kids have been scheming since last Fasching over what they wanted their costumes to be. Cailyn decided she wanted to be a pop star, and picked out all the sparkliest clothes we had in the dress up hamper, and we made a microphone out of a paper towel tube. She was adorable.

Our Pop Star, Captain America and the Queen Bee ready to head out for a day of fun.

Our Pop Star, Captain America and the Queen Bee ready to head out for a day of fun.

Hannah decided she didn’t want a homemade costume this year, but wanted a “real” one. So we arranged a deal in which she contributed some of her allowance money to put together an absolutely adorable Queen Bee costume. Side note: she really needs to stop growing up.

Someone please stop time...

Someone please stop time…

Isaac continued in his tradition of being Captain America. He loves this costume, it fits, and he loves being the hero so it really was an easy decision. It was funny to see people’s reaction to him, because a lot of people didn’t recognize the costume and thought he was Flash Gordon or someone else. When we told them who he was they would laugh and respond, “Oh, of course!”

Cailyn putting her mic to good use on the Straßenbahn ride to school by interviewing her siblings on their favorite animals.

Cailyn putting her mic to good use on the Straßenbahn ride to school by interviewing her siblings on their favorite animals.

It really was a fun day, with a fun party at school, and the kids all came home happy and exhausted. And I loved that they got their obligatory Krapfen at school, and that was it. No candy to wade through for the next three months. Just a yummy treat to mark the celebration and then it’s on to Easter preparations. 🙂

Do they celebrate some form of Fasching where you live? What are the traditions?

Winter Village

This is the view of the little village we stayed in while we were skiing…just a beautiful scene, even with the clouds! (That just wouldn’t go away!!)

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Skiing in Austria!!

Last week was a big holiday week in Austria. It’s the week between school semesters (scheduled conveniently to coincide with ski season) where a lot of Austrian families go on week-long ski trips. Seth grew up skiing, but Jen had never tried it. Last year, Seth took the girls to try it, and they did well, but this was also Isaac’s first try. It really was a great week. Getting out of the city, enjoying being in the snow covered mountains…and enjoying this family time was really awesome. Unfortunately the weather really didn’t cooperate so the photo opportunities of the landscape wasn’t really available…but there’s some nice shots coming! First, though…pics of the skiers!

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

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All ready to go!! A little uncertainty, perhaps…but ready nonetheless!

 

Again, this was Jen’s first time skiing. She really did well, even when she was nervous she would fail miserably. She wrote a reflection of her first ski attempt on her blog…check it out! 

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With her instructor

 

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First time sliding down the snow…pure joy!

 

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Now it’s pretty serious 🙂

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Not that hard!

 

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Cailyn pretty much is just slow and steady. Nothing extreme, but she doesn’t fall!

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This is how you got up the hill where we went…you straddle a rope and it drags you up. An added degree of difficulty for people not used to skiing. Kind of cruel!

 

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Isaac ended up skiing with Seth’s help…he was a little unsure of things to start with.

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But yeah…at the end of the day? He loved it!

 

Rainbow in a Desert

My dad’s room is on the 11th floor of a Phoenix area hospital. With it being December, Phoenix is really amazing looking at times. With the cooler air and rain that comes, it clears off the horizon so you can see all the mountain ranges around the Valley. A couple evenings ago, I saw this view out of the window. Pretty amazing.

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