Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Our Vacation - France and Switzerland

Friday morning we got up early and got on the train.  We had to get our passport checked and we got stamped for France.  We took the train to lille and dropped ½ our luggage at the Hotel there, which was a good idea.  We went from 4 suitcases and 4 backpacks to two suitcases and two backpacks.  I wish we could have gotten down less, but that isn’t too bad for 10 days.  Besides with going to the Alps we had to have some warmer clothes, the rest of the places we had to stay will be warmer.

We had a couple hours to wait in Lille before we could take a train to Paris.  There was a fun flower statue the kids played on and we had a snack (stuff we brought).  Then we finally got on the train to Paris.  After arriving in France, I had to have a nap since I hadn’t been sleeping well.  There had been a problem with some of the train tickets I had tried to buy and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere, so I hadn’t been able to sleep.  I took a nap and the kids watched French TV.  It was pretty funny how long they watched something they couldn’t understand.  They did say one of the cartoons was the Pink Panther which was in English.  After my nap, we took a walk around the area of the hotel.  Then we got back and waited for my parents.  While I slept they had gone to the aiport train station to try and figure out the ticket problem.  They did.  After they got back we decided it was dinner time.  We walked into the nearby town of Rossie.  They kids found a park and played.  It was a very cute town, and we found a crepier (or however you spell that)!  We had gallettes for dinner.  I had one with goat cheese and almonds.  Yumm.  The kids had ham, eggs and cheese.  It made me miss Heidi, the last time I had delicious gallettes was with her. We had chocolate crepes for dinner.  We to walked back to the hotel and went to bed. 

On Saturday morning we got up and ate breakfast at the hotel.  We had delicious bagettes, finally coffee and meat and cheese.  We were a little behind the eight ball when we finally got to the airport to meet Rachel.  At the time we finally got there Rachel had the metra tickets and we were ready to go.  Then we remembered we needed to buy one more train ticket.  So after waiting for that, we were on our way.  We took the metra down to our hotel.  Of course the subway stop that we were supposed to get off at was closed, so, it was a little trickey to find.  Thanks to the GPS we did make it there, and we only went down one street that we wish we hadn’t.  Fortunately, my boys were mostly oblivious.  We dropped our bags at the hotel.  The desk clerk gave us a hard time about the number of people and that we would have to share a bed which we already knew.  We thought maybe we had made a mistake of where to stay.  My parents took the small room and we took the bigger one, they were nice.  I shared a bed with Libby, Rachel got one to herself, the boys shared one and my parents had a double.  We finally dropped our bags and set out.

We took the metra down to Notre Dame.  It was so crowded already.  The kids liked to take pictures inside.  I think they were impressed, but they thought it was dark.  We tried to explain the special style of architecture, and how it really was light compared to its countertypes.  So after finding flying buttresses along the outside it was time for lunch.  Jacob had gotten made inside and disappeared for a while, which was very stressful for me.  There were so many people and you could just shuffle along.  When we found him again, he got quite an earful which apparently ruined his appetite (and mine).  We had peanut butter and jelly (again).  We were amazed and how we might never eat or even want to eat peanut butter and jelly in the US but when you were really hungry, it tastes really good.  (PBJ is pretty portable for your take along lunches). 

After Notre Dame we walked down the Seine River to the Louvre.  It was a warm day.  The line was so long, and the kids were so grouchy and the line was in the hot sun so we decided to skip going inside.  We sat in the Italian Gardens for quite a while enjoying the warm sun by the adults taking a nap.  When were were recharged we went back to the metra to the Eiffel tower.  We walked around there for a while and took  lots of pictures.  We then took the metra to the Arc de Trimuph.  After that we walked up the Champ de Elysses.  We finally found a restaurant and we had gallettes for dinner.  We went back to the hotel and went to bed a little early (9pm).

Easter morning we had to get up early to catch a train to Lusane Switzerland.  In Lusanne we had a 4 hour layover.  We walked to a bakery, got bagettes, butter, sandwiches.  Elizabeth got a crossiant, her favorite.  We walked downhill and found a beautiful park.  We ate lunch and then the kids played and played.  There was a large hill in the park with trails. After playing at the park for a long time, we walked up the trails and got to the top of the peak, which had a great overlook of the town and the lake.  There was an ampitheater and the kids put on plays while the adults just sat in the sun and enjoyed the view.  We walked back down the hill and the kids played more.  There was a giant sand area with mining type equipment, there was a large water area where you could control wher the water went.  There was a huge treehouse.  It was a nice park, and it was such a nice day.  We finally got on the next train which took us into the alps to Randa.  The town of Randa is a quite town, with just one main street.  Our hotel was so nice.  It was owned by an Italian couple who were so welcoming and picked us up from the train station.  We found a playground next to the hotel, and the kids played, and then we decided to go for a walk and explore the town.  The hotel owners let us borrow their scooters and we went down the one hill and up the other.  We found a church (Catholic) and a cemetery.  It was a little different from ours, with large wooden crosses at each site.  There were lots of pictures and flowers etc.  After our (long) walk, we got back to the hotel in time for dinner.  The hotel had an Italian restaurant.  There was a piano player and we could all sing along.  It was great.  They tried to make dad sing new york, new york.  It was such a delicious dinner with such a warm fun atmosphere you almost didn’t mind how much it cost.  We went to bed tired again.

Monday we were pretty lazy.  When we finally got up we ate a large breakfast at the hotel.  It was typical with yogurt, bread, cheese sausage and SUCH good coffee – I will miss the coffee.  We then had the hotel owner drive us to the next town where we took a train to Zermatt.  Zermatt is a car free town.  It is the town at the base of the matterhorm.  We walked to the lifts and were so happy to find a family trying to sell their all day lift tickets for ½ price.  We saved a lot of money, they had 4 adult and 2 kid tickets.  We only had to buy one kid at full price then.  We took the lift up the mountain to a stop which had a great view of the matterhorn.  It wasn’t even that cold yet, even though there was snow and lot of skiers.  We took lots of pictures and took the lifts around to several different places.  We walked around for a while and then went back down the mountain.  We stopped to a place for fondue.  We had bread and veggies and lots of melted cheese.  We went souvenir shopping.  Paul and Jacob were going to buy these little rocks from the mountain, but they were 25 swiss francs.  Sheesh.  We finally found the playground.  It had a mini matterhorn you could climb.  The kids played while I walked back and bought the souvenirs.  It rained a little, but not too bad.  We finally took the train back to Tasch and then we decided to walk the rest of the way to Randa.  It was a long walk, we finally reached the little park in Randa, the sun was going down, so it was getting a little chili, but we decided to have a picnic.  We ate our bread and cheese and meat and went to our rooms.  I decided to do some laundry in the tub, which probably wasn’t the best choice, since it wasn’t completely dry, but, it is all packed now, so I guess it was ok in the end with the help of some hairdryers.

Tuesday morning we got on a train to Chur and then Vienna.  Our first train was from Randa on a regional train, where the conducter helped us get us on the Glacier Express.  It was nice because it has periodic narriative of history and sights along the way.  There was a tunnel that took over 15 minutes to go through.  The view on the train was pretty amazing too.  Another good thing about the Glacier Express is that we do not have to stop like the regional trains or change trains.  The kids were mostly plugged into gameboys etc and I think they missed most of the beautiful mountain views.  I think the alps are pretty amazing.  I want to bring Matt here to see them.  Everything is clean and crisp and beautiful. 

The mundane

Sunday was a lazy day.  We went to Church, came home, played etc.  In the afternoon, we took a walk around the neighborhood.  There are actually some nice walking trails we hadn’t discovered yet.  We had to go buy ice cream for a snack.

Monday was the day that Lena left.  My mom and dad came too.  They were supposed to come Sunday night, but they had no end of disaster in their flying.  At least they came in time to relieve Lena of her duties and help her get to the airport.  I got home to dinner made an everything.  It was very nice, we will miss Lena.  It was great to have her here, and we are so glad she could come for a few weeks. 

Tuesday was my long work day, when I got home (after 7) noone was home.  In the morning the kids did their school work and in the afternoon they had gone into London.  They went to Hemsley the LARGEST TOY STORE  in the WORLD!!  They came home very excited.   After dinner, it was pretty much time for bed.

Wednesday the kids and my parents went to LegoLand which is in Windsor close by.  They had a great day at the amusement park.  They were home late again, so I came home to an empty apartment, it was a little lonely.  It was nice because the next day were leaving the apartment for 3 months and so we had to completely remove our stuff.  I had some time to pack and organize.

Thursday the kids and my parents had to get the apartment ready to leave.  They packed and cleaned while I worked.  It is so beautiful here, we are able to walk almost every day at lunch.  We walk to a nearby place and buy a sandwich and eat outside in the sun.  It is really nice.  All the walking feels good!  After I got home we rushed around and left the big suitcases (2) at the Tate and Lyle hotel nearby.  We took our suitcases with three weeks worth of things and got on the tube to the Kings Cross station (St Pancreas Station).  We stayed by the station  because our train left for Lille at 6am.  When we got there we walked to the hotel.  It was a very small European type hotel.  With twisty halls and VERY small rooms.  We found a delicious Indian restaurant.  We got our tickets for the morning and went to bed.



On Saturday we got up with the purpose of going to the Cotswolds.  We had tried to buy tickets online the night before but we were having all sorts of troubles.  So when we finally got up and moving we took the train to Paddington Station.  At Paddington station we bought tickets to go to Moreton on Marsh for the day, unfortunately we had just missed the morning train and so we had to wait a couple hours for the next one.  (the trains go about once an hour except during lunch time).  The fun thing was that we bought the book Paddington Bear and read it several times.  Each of us read it during the day so we all got practice reading.  We also had a Krispy Kreme dount. Yum.  The train ride on the countryside was beautiful.  There were green fields, lots of sheep, fields of yellow flowers (canola?).  We had lunch on the train, unfortunately, even though we had to wait -  we got on the train late and didn’t get to sit together.  Some guy sat in a 4 person area with the three kids, and I sat in anther 4 person area.  I couldn’t figure out why that guy didn’t move, I cant imagine he had a great journey.  I almost feel sorry for him.  The train stopped in Oxford, we will have to go back there some day and went on to Moreton on Marsh.  We got to town, and it was a cute, quiet town.  The buildings were made with a yellow stone.  There were antique stores and craft stores and even a second hand store.  We bought Travel Mastermind at the second hand store, it has never been opened.  It only cost 2 pounds.  The boys bought old coins at craft fair and Libby found a hand knitted dress that fit her American girl doll.  It only cost 9 pounds or something like that, I thought it was a good deal.  In the Cotswolds they have hundreds of miles of walking trails that are just in and along the fields.  So you just walk, right through the sheep and everything.  It was a little weird at first, but you got used to it.  They had special gates so people could get in but the sheep couldn’t.  The kids had fun chasing the sheep and taking pictures of them.  Since it is spring there were lots of cute baby sheep. 
There was also a nice park in town with a large zip line that the kids got to swing on for hours.  We had an English tea in the afternoon.  We all ordered tea, with milk and sugar.  Paul had a scone with curdeled cream (he didn’t like that).  Jacob and tea and toast.  Elizabeth and I shared a macaroon and a tea cake.  Yum.

Before we went home we ate dinner at an English pub.  I had Yorkshire pudding, Jacob had a meat pie.  Paul and Elizabeth sausage and chips.  It was yummy.  Very typical English day.  We went home and talked to Dad and went to bed

Monday, 18 April 2011


Today I did some school work.  I did math, reading, Bible and writing.  We went to the National Gallery.  There are nymphs and naked people.  There were fairies, people with clothes and Jesuses.  We talked about 1 Samuel in Bible class.  It was fun.

We went to the V&A museum.  There were lots of statues.  They were boring.  The silver was cool.  We went to the science museum.  We went to the Launch Pad Area and the Exploring Spare Area.  We took the train there and back.  Today was fun.

Today i went to Herods.  I got a watermelon [to eat] and my mom got a heidi pie,  We saw the toys.  I wanted a violet bear or some squen.  The buses were pretty crowded.  We saw an ugly Kate Middleton doll.  I was talking to my Dad on Skype.  We did not want to do much in the morning.  We had fun today.

Today I saw the Lion King.  My favorite acit was the Nayla girl, Simba's friend.  My favorite costume was the elephant mom.  There was one person in each leg.  It was huge.  We went to the park, had ice cream and played spies.  I had fun.

Today we went to the Cotswolds.  I bought an outfit for my dolls.  I saw Penny [her horse for her doll] on Skype.  At the cotswold, yellow flowers stood in clumps like a lemon ice cream factory explosion.  Green pastures filled the scenery like a green sprinkle factory explosion.  Blue flower beds dotted the stations like a rainbow sprinkle factory explosion.  I had fun. 

Today I went to church.  We talked about the last supper in sunday school.  We had tea and cookie afterwards.  We went swimming.  I wish I had goggles and Mom wished she had a swimsuit.  My swimsuit had flowers on it.  We watched two movies.  We watched the Princess Bride and the Muppet Show season 2, disc 2.  I had fun.

Today my Grandparents came.  We went to a park, got ice cream bars and left Lena at the airport for her flight.


The V& A was boring.  We walked a lot.  We saw boring statues.  There were only statues and paintings.  There was an old staircase.  It was made of wood.  I dont really remember a lot about the V&A.

The science museum was more interesting.  They had a Rube Goldberg on thier website.   (  Go to home, go to search, go to "On The Move".  There as a pellet/rice thing and you pull it up and since the bag was broken all of it fell on your head and it felt like hail.  There was a computer game where you have to complete these Rube Goldberg's.  I want to go back to the science museum. 

The Lion King was cool.  The cast did a good job.  The costumes looked good. The elephant was my favorite because it had 4 - 5 people in it.  When the people fell they had a string thingy attached to them.  I liked The Lion King.

I miss my fish, Scribbles and Skittles. I cant wait till my Dad comes to visit us.  I miss him too.  There are a lot of other things I miss from home.  In spite of missing these things, I am  having fun in London.

Jacob's Fun

This week we went to the A&V museum.  It was not intersting.  It had statues and a diamond ring.  It was boring.

We went to the Science Museum of London.  We saw a rube on TV.  The website is if you click on the website and type in videos, you can see all the videos.  My favorite video is called "On The Move".  It was fun.

We saw The Lion King, the play.  It was cool.  I got up so close to an actor that if I'd spoke the people in the audience would hear me.  We got home about 11:30pm. 

Grandma and Grandpa came to visit us.  We are right by the airport, which makes it hard for Paul and I to sleep because the planes make lots of noise. 

The trip is interesting but some of it is kinda boring.  The interesting stuff is like the science museum and the Tower of London.  Some of the National Gallery was interesting and some was boring.  The V&A was boring. 

Being on the tube is really bumpy and you cant even feel it when you turn. 

So far London is really exciting.

Week 2 (not the weekend)

Well, we have now finished our second week in London.  It has been another fun and exhausting week.

Monday the kids went on a tour of the HMS Belfast which is a WWII ship in the Thames river.  This is the night we caught up on journals and such.  Libby is good and writes in her journal every night, but the boys we have to chase around a little. 

Tuesday they went to the National Gallery (art museum) and to Hyde park to the playground.  I had to work late this night so Lena had to cook.  The food was all gone when I got home. 

Wednesday was a fun day at the V&A museum and the Science Museum.  The V&A museum they said was boring and had a lot of statues.  They didnt have much more than an hour at the science museum but they like it alot.  They definetly want to go back.

Thursday I had a meeting in downtown London, so the kids went to Hyde park to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (one of thier favorites) and then came and met me at the Tower of London.  From there we went back towards Hyde Park on the tube.  It was so crowded (rush hour).  We got off and walked towards Harrods, but the kids were too hungry, so we stopped at a bakery called Pauls.  They boys got olive bread and Libby got a croissant.  We then got to Harrods, but they were still hungry so we got more food and after all that, we had barely any time to shop before they closed, so we didnt buy anything.  (matt is probably glad).  We spent what little time we had on the toy floor.  I did walk out of the store (after closing) very slowly by stairs so I could see more things.

Friday we decided to go to the Lion King, so we have now experienced London Theater.  It took a lot longer to get downtown that it usually does, so we were stressed, but the show was wonderful.  The costumes are more amazing than everyone says.  After the show, the streets were lined with these guys on bicycles which could hold several people in a cart type thing on the back.  They rang thier bells to try and get business.  We got home very late.

More on the weekend later.
 Kids at the Tower Bridge. 

Cool Couch at Museum

Tower of London

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Today we went to the Tower of London.  We saw a lot.  We saw the blood tower.  The bloody tower is known for two princes disappearing.  Then we saw a dragon made out of weapons like guns, armor, flags, and money and jewels.  Last we saw the torture place. 

Today I went to the British Museum,  It has a mummy.  It has the Rosetta Stone,  They had little rosetta stones. 

The Neighborhood is little.  The park is small (the one by the house).  A big park is by the grocery store,  We went to a World War II ship and got a tour. 

I went on a bus and a boat tour,  I could not hear on the bus tour and I fell asleep on the boat tour.  So far my favorite part of London is the parks.  At one of the parks we played sand monster with some other kids. 

Buckingham Palace

My Office

St James Park

On the Bus headed to downtown London

Monday, 11 April 2011

First entry - one week in

This is our first entry into our blog.  Maybe it will be fun for the kids to write, though currently we are struggling with thier journals, so maybe not.  Elizabeth is here, maybe she would like to write  her thoughts.

At church on Sunday we were talking about what we miss about our homes.  Someone said they missed food.  The Pastor said, "I am pretty sure we have food here."  I thought that was funny. 

I skyped Dad. 

Today I went to a World War II boat/museum.  I pretended I was the captain and the boys turned all the wax dummies into fried chicken. 

I like Queen Victoria.  I want to be her for Halloween.  Queen Victoria was queen of England.  I like her name.  Queen Victoria had 9 children.  I saw her crown jewels. 

The Tower of London had a bloody tower.  I liked it because there was a mystery in it.  The mystery was about 2 boys who disappeared in the tower.  They were princes.  They think that thier uncle killed them, so he could be king.  That is where it got its name. 

I have been throwing stuffed animals out the window in our apartment.  We live in an apartment.  I like to crochet.  I am thinking about making a crochet rope.

We went to the mews.  My favorite carriage was the golden carriage.  There was only one Windsor Grey horse out.  There are also Cleveland Bay horses but we didnt see any of those. 
Living in England is awesome. 

For my part:
We arrived early Monday morning.  Elizabeth and Jacob didnt sleep at all on the plane so they were a little nuts when we got here.  We had to walk a little to the apartment and I didnt know if we were going to make it.  We did.  The nice land-lady drove me to the super market (yeah) and I brought back lunch, we ate and took a nap. 

After nap time we walked back to the store and explored a little.  We tried to watch a movie, but apparently DVDs from the US dont work in UK DVD players.  Bummer. 

I tried to take a shower, you do not just turn it on like at home.  There are different buttons, 4 to be exact.  I didnt quite figure out the buttons during this shower, so it kept getting way to cold and WAY too hot.  I now know the top button turns it off.  The three buttons below, I guess I dont know for sure, but I just push the top one and it works.  The dial adjusts the temperature.  You never touch the knobs on the tub.

The next day (Tuesday) I already had to go to work.  Lena took the kids to the city.  (Lena is matt's cousin who is helping us for a few weeks before my mom comes).  Lena is a real adventurer and I am so happy she is here.    She took the kids into the city, but they mostly went to the visitors center, rode the tube and walked around.  That night we cooked (Ravioli, the kids favorite).  Then we tried to do the dishes, unsuccessfully.  The dishwasher was hard to figure out.  The second time we went to the store we bought laundry detergent too, the washing machine also not easy to figure out.  Did you know detergent goes in a drawer?  At least the land-lady left the manual for the washer, so that helps.  We can wash fine, but it takes forever to dry!  I dont know if that is normal or not. 

Wednesday I worked again and the kids went to the British Museum.  I went to work for 11 hours.  They seemed to like the British Museum but Lena said the got bored quickly.  I thought it was funny that they said it shouldnt be called the British Museum since it was more about Egypt than Britain.  They liked the mummies.

Thursday was the tower of London for the kids and work for me.  (notice a theme?)  The liked the torture equipment.  They also talked about a Bloody Tower which was where two young princes and brothers disappeared.  They were locked in after thier father died by thier uncle, then they disappeared.  (probably killed, hence the name). 

Friday they let me off work early (yeah) so the kids worked in the morning on school work and when I got home we packed a snack and set off to the town.  We got off by Wellington Square, which honors the Duke of Wellington which is one of the most famous war heros (he defeated Napolean).  We then walked to Buckingham Palace and then to Hyde park to find a playground.  We walked a long time in Hyde park.  I had packed a snack and we ate it in the rose garden (beautiful).  We walked and walked, it was a big nice park.  FINALLY we got to a playground.  It was closed for repairs.  We were tired by then and it was getting dark so we tried to find somewhere to eat more.  We found a cute little resturant and I let the kids order american food, so we ordered a hamburger, fried chicken and pepperoni pizza.  They liked it that they all came with "chips" (french fries).  We drug ourselves home.

The next day we all slept late and then took a shuttle from the hotel to downtown arranged by my work.  We walked again to Buckingham palace,  We saw the Royal Mews, which was the stables and housed the carriages at the castles.  We then took a big bus tour.  I dont know if i woudl recommend it, it was hard to hear, and not too entertaining, though we did get a good overview of the town.  We got off at St Pauls Cathedral, but it cost a lot of money to get it, so we mostly stood in the entry.  We took the tour bus to the Tower of London.  We bought nuts from a street vendor, they were yummy, warm sugared things.  We got on a boat from there and took it back to Westminster Abbey.  and Yes on the tour bus we did pass Big Ben several times, and I just laughed inside since noone was around to get the joke.  Lena and I really enjoyed the boat tour.  Elizabeth nicely colored (and didnt look out the windows) and the boys fell asleep.  Oh well, we enjoyed it.

We walked from Westminster Abbey to St James Park and played in a playground for a long time.  Then we wallked back to meet the bus.  We took advantage of the supermarket there and got some grocerys that we didnt have to walk a long way to get.  Then we came home and had pizza before going to bed.

Sunday we got up and went to church after a round of showers.  There is a baptist church by our house (by the grocery store).  It was an intersting service in that it was very international. There were people from Brazil, Africa and the middle east.  There was a woman from Switzerland.  And those are just the people I know.   I thought it was interseting that the Pastor preached about Ruth and Naomi and being in a strange country and the things you need.  The kids were excited that after church they had snacks (tea and cakes).  The tea had milk of course.  They kids added lots of sugar.  After dinner and a nap (only by Mom) we decided to walk and explore for nearby parks.  (see Elizabeths part about trowing stuffed animals out the window).  We found a great big park which had dads and kids playing cricket.  That was fun.  We played there for a couple hours and then walked home via the grocery store (and ice cream).  The night was rounded out by card games and talking to Dad via Skype on his birthday.  It has been a busy week. 

Jacob has finished his journal for the day so I will type what he wrote:
Today I went to a tour of a ship.  We stayed in it for a long time to see how it all worked and we saw the guns.  It was fun.  It was fascinating.  It was cool. 

We saw the London Dungeon and the London Tombs.  A guy handed us a flyer for the London Tombs with the bloody butcher on the front (more like idiotic people)  We tried to find the nearest trash can.

The neighborhood is different.  It is crowded on the streets.  We have a few playgrounds one is near the house and the other is farther from the house but close to the grocery store and resturants.  The house has 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom, 2 bedrooms, 1 table, 5 chairs, 1 TV, 1 heater, 1 couch, 9 pine cones in a bowl and lots of air molecules.

(I dont know where he got two bedrooms, maybe he means two rooms.)

Paul is last: 
Paul wants his own blog and doesnt want to add his here.  I said, not today.

Well that should catch you all up on where we are so far.  Hope you enjoy the update.