Christmas market

Christmas is big here.  By the end of November Christmas markets are popping up throughout the country and in several neighboring countries as well (last year we went to one in Brussels, Belgium).  All the major cities have them, usually lasting for several weeks up through the holiday and sometimes into the New Year.  In addition to the large markets, most other little towns will have smaller markets for one day or weekend during the Advent season.

There is a word in German that doesn’t translate exactly into English but which applies to these markets.  It’s Gemuetlichkeit, closely translating to coziness, but really conveying the idea of “belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic, and the opportunity to spend quality time” per Wikepedia.  The Christmas markets are almost magical, and they fully embody this notion of Gemuetlichkeit.

 

 

 

Frankfurt Christmas Market

 

The market is bumpin'

Market takes place in the historic Roemer Platz.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum....that's German people.

 

The market extended out by the Zeil which is a main shopping area in Frankfurt...hence the department store in the background.

 

Joe taking Quinn onto the very large carousel.

I should have taken a picture just of the carousel in all it’s double decker glory.  That thing was hoppin’ though so getting a picture was tough.  Quinn likes to play this game where you don’t know right up until the things starts moving whether she actually wants to ride it or not.  It’s super annoying fun.  Yeah, no.  Yeah, no, yeah.  No.  Yeahhhhhhhhhh.  Thank goodness Joe has the patience of a saint so he waits and lets her duke it out with herself over making the right choice.  And when she says yes, he takes her on.  And when she says no after the ticket is bought and we’ve been standing in line for 20 minutes for our chance to ride, he doesn’t even bat an eye.

Quinn and I after the carousel ride.

I’m hoping to make it to the market once more before heading home (next Friday!) to enjoy some yummy treats, perhaps pick up a few trinkets, and of course bask in the undeniable Gemuetlichkeit.

 

Posted in Europe, Frankfurt, German life/culture, Holidays/celebrations | Tagged , | 2 Responses

Birthday/ Halloween recap; in other words….October

You guys know me by now.  Always a day late and a dollar short.  Or months behind on blog updates.  Yup- it’s who I am, I own it.  Anyway, I wanted to just quickly post a few pics of Quinn’s birthday party and Halloween costume.

On Quinn’s official birthday we opened presents in the morning.  This year she did more than just play with the ribbon on the package.  Which was awesome.  She pretty much refuses to look at the camera so I basically have no pictures of her face, but here are a few pics of her on her big day:

Presents from Mom and Dad- minus the tricycle she got two days earlier.

 

Wow- this looks cool.

new Elmo book and video...

What's it gonna be?! Looks like something good!

 

 

New sticker/coloring books

 

Pink tricycle!

 

Fair is fair...even Elmo gets a turn

 

Birthday ice cream!

 

Having your birthday ice cream is SERIOUS business.

 

Dig in girl.

This year we did have a birthday party for Quinn.  Remember last year??  Poor girl turned one year old and had a frozen birthday cake (and I don’t mean of the ice cream variety) and only her mom, dad, and landlord to share it with.  Due to limitations imposed by our house size we kept the party fairly small and invited mostly just neighborhood friends.  Quinn was still napping when the first guests arrived which made me a bit nervous about how she would fare with more people showing up and kids running for all her toys.  Aside from refusing to wear her leopard print cardigan (whatever Quinn- some girls would love to have one of those!), she was total gem.  Kids played, adults chatted, and everyone had cake.  Thank goodness for our neighbors who actually took some pictures because Joe and I completely overlooked that little detail.  Most of these are courtesy of our friends.

 

Just like a real host...laughing with her guests.

 

The cake- well, Quinn's part of the cake. We served cupcakes too.

 

Some of the party guests...the edible ones

Who doesn't love cupcakes?

 

Quinn loved picking off all the fondant letters and numbers.

 

Some of the other kids joining in...

 

Elmo cake was a hit!

 

Quinn opening up one of her gifts-a Mickey Mouse teapot set

 

This turned out to be a cleaning set- another big hit of the day!

 

Okay, onto Halloween.  This holiday is a bit different over here.  Some people do celebrate it, but it’s much less common.  Kids definitely aren’t dressing up and doing parties at school etc.  Certain neighborhoods will have trick or treaters, but again it’s not the norm.  All of this also means there aren’t endless costume options in the stores either.  Pretty much you can be a witch or a witch with pink hair.  Since I wasn’t on the ball enough to order a costume from the States and have it shipped over here in time (which is what pretty much everyone else did) I went with what we had on hand.  We went to a party hosted by the American Women’s Club which was a lot of fun and Quinn made an adorable Pippi Longstocking.

Pippi complete with her companion Mr. Nilsson.

 

Pippi in deep thought. Or silencing her mother. Hard to tell.

 

HipPip Hooray...

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, Quinn’s braids would stick straight out- literally.  They were too perfect.  But, as Halloween continued to draw near the braids settled, I guess because they grew a bit longer and therefore began ‘hanging’ a bit more rather than appearing to defy gravity.  And you just can’t imagine how badly I wanted to spray her hair red/orange.  I mean EVERYTHING in me was dying to drape a towel around her in the bathroom and go to town.  But, I got nervous.  I even googled “spray color on toddler’s hair” and similar things to see if I was being totally ridiculous.  Explaining to people why my two year old had pink hair just didn’t sound like something I was up for, so I opted for a blonder Pippi.  Seriously, the things we contemplate as parents.  Now, I think it’s funny that I even thought to color my kid’s hair… I mean, I’m sure the day will come soon enough when it will be her idea.  And I will be doing everything in my power to keep her in her natural color in tact.  Ah, irony.

Hard to believe this was over a month ago and we are already approaching Christmas!  Where does the time go?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey you entrepreneurs…

I might have stumbled across something brilliant.  First let me give you the back story on how I came across this idea.

I finally found a place to get my hair done.  It took me about 10 months.  Which, you know, is both a long time and a short time depending on how you’re counting, what you’re doing etc.  In terms of having someone you trust and respect to make you look presentable to society, 10 months is a wee bit long.  Anyway, I found them.  Those people that allow me to face the world feeling like a normal, functioning member of this decade.

Anyway, one particular afternoon I made my way into Frankfurt to meet with one of these gifted people.  Sometimes scheduling these things feels like pulling off an elaborate stunt.  But, I did it.  I mean, I got Joe to watch Quinn.  During the day.  I took the train into Frankfurt from Oberursel.  I arrived ON TIME.  You know, ready for non-embarrassing hair, but also an hour or so of no one asking me for juice, or milk.  And no mention of Elmo.  Definitely no mention of Elmo.  And then it happened.  That blank look when I gave my name at the receptionist desk.  I knew right away, I would be leaving without a haircut.  One that I desperately needed.  You can imagine my disappointment (and um, slight frustration) at the error.  I had the date and time written in my calendar at home.  I had recorded it while I was still on the phone with the salon.  But, I had booked another separate appointment during that same call, and my theory is that only one of them got written in the book.  Doesn’t matter.  Bottom line is after doing the scheduling equivalent of a triple backhand spring, I was leaving with the same shabby, over-grown hair with which I had arrived.  Headed (too quickly) back to the world of “Elmo” and “juice”, and “noooooo”, and “up peez” and well, you get the idea.

I was shuffling toward the train station, feeling a bit irritated that my journey into the city had been for naught, when I suddenly was facing what may be the most brilliant small business idea ever.  Low overhead cost, flexible work schedule, choice retail location, and casual work attire is appropriate.  Does it get any better than this?!

You GUYS check this out…

Eureka!

You guys don't need google translate right?

This picture is misleading because there were actually a lot of people around, I had a hard time taking his picture.

After thinking about it some more, perhaps one negative is increased risk of injury while on the job?  I mean, basically it involves wearing a body grill.  What do you think?  Who’s in?!

 

 

 

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Okay seriously…this is getting old

I’m still stewing about losing the majority of my last post I was working on.  Super annoying.  I really want to finish sharing about our adventures this *cough* summer.  Seriously, day light savings time has ended…we need to move on.  So, this time it’s for real people.  I’m wrapping up this ongoing, ever-living, just.won’t.die post on my sister’s visit.  For good.  And if it’s gets deleted in the process, well, then some of it will just have to go missing.  So fingers crossed- here we go!

Of course we had to spend a day in Heidelberg.  It’s the obligatory day-trip when visitors come.  And despite already being there a few times, I don’t seem to grow sick of it.  The quaint town, and views from the castle just don’t get old.

Yeah, Heidelberg isn't ugly.

 

Front of building in the courtyard of Schloss Heidelberg

She's a math teacher people...she had to have a picture of the huge compass.

 

Another view of the town and the River Neckar that runs through Heidelberg.

Looking down the River Neckar.

 

On the bridge over the Neckar.

View of the castle from down below by the river.

 

View through one of many little alleyways...the towns here are like English muffins- lots of nooks and crannies.

Quinn with her billionth ice cream cone of summer...Katie suggested we make an album entirely of Quinn with her ice cream- not a bad idea.

On to Zurich- Katie actually flew home from Zurich, Switzerland- giving us the chance to spend a weekend somewhere new and explore a bit.  Zurich is awesome.  Beautiful.  And expensive.  Like super duper blow your mind expensive.  We’ll just focus on the awesome and beautiful aspects.

downtown Zurich

 

Side street in the city

Lake Zurich

More of the lake.

 

It was a 'touch' overcast while we were there, but beautiful nonetheless.

Cute little village, town, neighborhood? nestled alongside the water.

 

Just one more shot of the lake and some of the town behind it.

Walking through the town at night...part of the famous Grossmuenster church lit up in the background.

Katie and Quinn on the street train...Quinn thinks she's so cool riding in her own seat.

 

More of Quinn looking like a big shot.

More water views with St. Peter Church to the left.

I just now noticed the clouds in this picture...we did have a bit of rain come to think of it.

Fraumuenster Cathedral to the right...

 

This laundry was hanging in the middle of town...we just couldn't quite figure out how the owners got it out there and back. No visible pulley system....hmmmm...

 

Loved these bright chairs and umbrellas at a little restaurant/cafe in town.

 

Shutters + flower boxes = adorable. Now that's math.

Cathedral again

 

And more of the Grossmuenster church. Breathtaking building really.

I’m too lazy (especially after losing my initial post) to go into detail about what all we did or to explain the sites etc.  Instead here are a couple links if you’re interested in knowing more.  I will say one weekend was not enough (duh.) and I will need to go back.  The city is beautiful, clean, runs on time (ha!  no, but seriously) and worth seeing if you ever have the chance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zurich

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/switzerland/zurich-fraumunster

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grossmünster

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/switzerland/zurich-peterskirche

Katie and I by the water. Loved this place!

 

Just a one other little pic from the time Katie was with us, just because I think this is funny:

Quinn on the front steps eating peas...you know, every toddler's go-to snack.

Okay, phew.  I think we’ve wrapped up Katie’s visit from  July and August.  Wow, that’s all I can say.  This might actually work and be published into one remaining post….yay.

So, coming up I want to share just a few snippets from our trip home in August, a brilliant business plan (at least here in Germany) and a bit from Quinn’s second birthday and Halloween.  Keep plugging away Rachael, keep plugging away.  Check back soon for more updates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The rest of Katie’s visit…in a nutshell

So many awesome, hilarious, really good things happened while Katie was visiting that I haven’t even touched on yet.  In an effort to not drag out the posts on summer, making them last till, you know- next summer, I’m going to try to summarize the rest of Katie’s visit in this post.  Here we go!

So the way home from London was interesting.  Well, let me clarify- the way home from the airport once we returned from London was interesting.  Joe and Quinn picked us up at Frankfurt International (Quinn was sort of “meh” about me, but that’s another story).  Katie and I were, um, tired.  Really, really tired.  We had an early (7ish) flight that morning and let’s just say we didn’t get our full eight hours of sleep.  So as we’re driving home, secretly (or not so secretly) dreaming of an afternoon nap and filling Joe in on our escapades in London- it happens.  We get a flat tire.  What?!  Yes, really.  So we make our way off the highway and end up oddly enough, in our old neighborhood, where we lived temporarily before moving to Oberursel.  Joe calls the German equivalent of AAA and we wait.  And wait.  So there we are stranded on the side of the road on a Sunday (which means NOTHING is open), tired, hungry, needing to use the restroom, and just all around inconvenienced.  I’m not sure I can explain how or why, but there happened to be a watermelon in the back of the car.  Which once Quinn got a glimpse of she wanted.  And since we had literally no other resources with which to entertain her…watermelon it was.

Just sitting on the curb eating a watermelon...

 

No knife, no fork, no worries.

 

Hmmm....how much does this thing weigh?

At some point it became a bit like being (or so I imagine) at a Gallagher show…watermelon was everywhere.  Quinn’s sweatshirt was pink and there was watermelon shrapnel all over the place.  But, it made the time waiting for the tow truck go slightly faster.

Here are just a couple pics from one of our (Katie, Quinn, and myself) days out and about in Frankfurt.  We had average, okay below average weather for the majority of Katie’s visit.  But, on this particular day the sun was shining and we actually wore shorts!  Wow- amazing.

Big shot.

 

Quinnie, and Aunt Katie

Mommy and Quinnie Pot Pie...looks like Quinn is giving somebody the stinkeye.

Not pictured- the water fountain, which Quinn did NOT want to leave. Major meltdown ensued and picture taking ceased for awhile.

Ugh, you guys will not believe this but it happened again!  Half of my post got deleted.  I literally have been working on this post for the last hour and a half  TRYING  to get caught up and somehow in trying to make sure to save the silly thing I ended up losing most of it.  So frustrating.  Well, I will stop here and pick back up where I left off…hopefully sooner rather than later.  Geez, I haven’t even touched on Quinn’s birthday or Halloween.  So much to write/post pics about.  Stay tuned!

 

 

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London…it’s a wrap.

Okay, so let’s see….hmmm, we were in London in July?  Yes, that’s right.  And it’s October and I’m still blogging about it?  Also, correct.  Good.  Moving on, let’s wrap it up now.

Our third day in London was probably our favorite.  Right Katie?  I think probably this had to do with the fact that we had the least expectations for that day.  We had sort of shopped ourselves silly on Friday, and were ready for a slower-paced day.  I think we agreed that we could leave London not having seen every sight up close and wanted to spend a day just out and about in the city.  Once again, my friend came through with her recommendations, suggesting a few different markets and such that would be fun to check out.  We picked one that we knew was open on Saturday and was nearby.  It was pretty spectacular.  Made me sort of wish we were staying in more of an apartment type accommodation vs. a standard hotel room.  I would have loved to have been selecting ingredients for a fun dish to make that evening.  It was mostly a food and wine type market with lots of little specialty foods and fresh produce and meats etc.  There was also plenty of ready to eat food being sold so people were milling about snacking and shopping and simply enjoying the day.  After taking a stroll through the market and making my imaginary shopping list, Katie and I landed right at the front door of a quaint English pub.  Like I mentioned before the weather the weekend we were there was AMAZING.  Like perfect.  And so on this particular Saturday, the market was bustling and the Pub was also quite busy- bursting at the seams actually with lots of people standing outside, even overflowing into the street enjoying a nice draft and the sunshine.  We sort of couldn’t resist so we ordered a beer and stood outside also-  just soaking it all in.

Then we moseyed on to find a bite to eat at a restaurant on the river.  We sat outside overlooking the water eating burgers and discussing our options for the rest of the day.  We decided to explore just a bit and found another little pub with a great atmosphere and plenty of people doing the same thing.  It turned out being such a fun day for us, but partly because we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to be at the next place by a certain time etc.  We weren’t hurried.  We weren’t over-scheduled.  We were just out for a day to enjoy hanging out and being in London.

**Again, it’s depressing how few of my own pictures I took.  Like seriously depressing.**

On our way to the market...by the London Bridge

more bridge action

Um, not the best shot. This was at the tail end of the market. And I was having a hard time taking pictures over and around people.

 

Loved the flowers.

And yeah, more of the flowers. Doesn't this just make you want to learn how to arrange bouquets properly?!

We happened across this little place on our wonderings...figured we needed to snap a pic.

 

We needed the standard "enjoying a beer in London" shot, so here is me....

And Katie. Isn't she cute?

So, London was awesome.  Aaaand, that’s a wrap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She is two.

I’m breaking with the London/summer recap “series” to celebrate Quinn.  Today she turned two.  At 6:19 this morning technically, which it occurred to me is about her average wake-up time every day.  I love re-living that day.  Thinking about the indescribable excitement as we drove to the hospital, the immeasurable joy in seeing her for the first time and hearing Joe exclaim “it’s a girl!!”, to the sheer giddyness felt when introducing her to her grandparents.  Birth- days are extraordinary really.  And with every week, month, and year that passes the memory is that much sweeter.  Because your love for that little person grows infinitely.  And the days before they existed fade further into the background, making it even more important and meaningful to reflect on when they first arrived.  And life changed.  Forever.

From this:

sweet baby girl the day she was born

To this:

sassy pants in her new favorite shoes- which she can walk in by the way.

So today we celebrated Quinn.  Pretty much Quinn’s perfect day involves Elmo and ice cream.  Easy enough.  But we also took time to remember the day she was born.  And to tell her how much she is loved.

Sunday is the official paaaar-tay.  Wish us luck as we try to cram 20 some people into our less than overly accommodating family room.  Should be interesting.  And fun.  With a dose of toddler crazy thrown in for good measure!  Good times are sure to be had.  Pictures to come…

Sweet Quinn- we love you to the moon and back.  Happy Birthday.

 

 

Posted in Children, Family, Holidays/celebrations | Tagged , , | 2 Responses

London- phase two

I mentioned in my last post that my sister took a lot more pictures than I did.  This morning while I was catching up on Facebook I saw a whole slew of pictures my sister took during her visit that I hadn’t seen yet.  And I remembered why I took so few pictures.  Because I forgot to bring the charger for my camera battery…and therefore I needed to conserve energy.  It wasn’t just sheer laziness which is normally the case when it comes to pictures.  Anyway- moving on.  At some point when I get my hands on all those photos (allegedly there is a disc with them in the mail on its way to moi) I may try to post some more photos from our little adventure in London.  For now, here are a few more that I took while we were out and about in the city.

Day two in London we decided to see the changing of the guard in the morning before heading out to do some serious shopping.  Buckingham Palace is of course amazing but the crowds were intense.  We arrived much earlier than we were even advised and still the swarms of people were a bit much for Katie and myself.  On top of the masses there didn’t seem to be any clear sense of where the best place to stand was…pretty much it was a cluster.  But, we did catch a glimpse of the action, marveled at the magnificence of the palace, and found ourselves greatly entertained by this guy…

Very hilarious guard. I wish I had written down some of his quotes...he provided lots of entertainment while we waited for the main event.

 

Here they are, horns ablazin'.

Um, where can I get one of those hats?

 

Something tells me this guy has seen this before...

 

After all the effort, we needed a picture of the two of us at least NEAR the palace.

So pathetically, this is where my pictures drop off for day two.  Honestly, this was just the beginning of our Friday in London.  We left Buckingham Palace and spent literally the entire day shopping.  Minus the little (thank goodness for friends who know the city, we would never have found this place, little sanctuary of goodness stop for lunch in St. Christopher’s square) we WALKED all.day.long.   We had a blast in Topshop, dreamt of having loads of money to spend in Selfridges, and just adored Liberty’s.  Hopefully when the above mentioned disc of pictures (ahem, Katie) arrives, I will have more to share.

Next up- day three in London.  Which in a lot of ways was the best.  I will get pictures of our Saturday in London posted as soon as possible, so stay tuned!

 

 

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London…

One of the (many) awesome things that happened during my sister’s visit was that we had a girls’ weekend in London.  Yeah, it didn’t suck.  It was one of those things that came together and I realized how lucky I am for several reasons: 1.) I live in proximity to lots of wonderful cities, making little excursions like this so much easier (read: possible).  2.) My husband is the best.  Not only is he completely able to handle Quinn and all aspects of taking care of her and the house etc., he is willing.  And 3.)  My sister was actually able to make the trip out here and spend enough time that we could divvy it up and make this little side trip of our own.  So, yeah.  This was fantastic.

I was lucky (okay, again with the luck) enough to have a friend here give us lots of suggestions/recommendations about what to do etc.  One of my friends here lived in London for several years before moving to Germany, so she was extremely helpful in supplying lists of things to see/do, places to shop, where to stay, and even how to navigate the train system (insider secrets, haha).  Truthfully, her email to me about London might as well have been a printed book about visiting the city sold at Barnes and Noble.  I saved and printed the ENTIRE list of ideas, do’s and don’ts.  We carried it everywhere with us, and embarrassingly used her hand-drawn (simple, simple) sketch/map of important shops that were “must-see’s” as though it were a page out of an Atlas or official tourism publication.  I mean, really…turning the paper and aligning ourselves with whatever landmark and then following the “route” to our next destination.  Pathetic.  And yet, amazing that a little scribble of a guide got us EVERYWHERE.  We referred to it more than any actual map.  Perhaps it just says a lot about my friend’s cartography skills.  Let’s not discuss what it may say about me and Katie.

Moving on.  We stayed in the South Kensington area based on the advise of my aforementioned friend.  This was perfectly situated near most of the sites/ areas we wanted to visit and had a tube station just a few quick steps away.  I will say, with London being quite expensive (especially in terms of accommodations) we didn’t exactly get much for our money with our hotel.  Good thing Katie and I were interested in function first.  Our room served its purpose as a place to sleep, and not much else.  But we had fun ANYWAY!

On day one (we arrived early on a Thursday) we took a bus tour of the city…again on the advise of my friend.  Knowing that we didn’t have time to see and do everything we figured this would be a good way to get an overview of the city.  And it was.  I have to apologize for being so lazy with the pictures.  My sister was taking loads and so I sort of slacked off a bit.  This means I don’t have tons to share with you, but here are a few:

We had the best weather - lots of blue skies!

 

 

Even though these pictures don’t really show much traffic, I cannot exaggerate enough how insane the roads were.  The bus tour (we rode on top of an open double decker) was a nail-biting experience.  The roads were completely packed and maybe the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road added to the seeming chaos of it all.  And these bus drivers, I tell ya…they drive as if they’re behind the wheel of a midlife crisis-esque car: zipping around corners, completely ignoring the fact that they make very wide turns usually into the other lane of traffic, cutting over at the last minute, and stopping millimeters from the car in front after waiting till the last possible second to hit the brakes.  As you might have guessed, we survived the bus ride.  After white-knuckling (you know, fingers firmly clasped around our city maps) it around the city of London we stopped back at the hotel for a little nap before heading out that evening.

Night one we chose to stay close to “home”.  We picked a little pub in the neighborhood of our hotel and settled into a comfy booth in a corner to have a little drink and a little eat.

Fish and Chips platter- complete with fried shrimp and smashed peas!

 

First up...Katie!

 

Next, me...

So yes.  We EACH had one of those platters.  And yes.  We DID get laughed at by the table next to us….so apparently they’re meant to be shared??  Whatever.

Stay tuned…more London to come!

 

Posted in Europe, Family, Sightseeing, Travel, Weekend | Tagged , , | 2 Responses

Idstein…Take Two.

Ahem.  Where was I??  Before I was so rudely interrupted by the deletion of most of my post, I was showing you Idstein.  You guys, this town was seriously so adorable.  Like, people get to live here? adorable.  Anyway, continuing on…

another part of the altstadt/ pedestrian zone

 

The flower boxes under all the windows is one of my favorite details in buildings over here.

"Old" is so relative huh?

 

Witches Tower

view from near the Witches Tower

 

Nearby garden where Edward Scissorhands presumably got his start, before mastering dinosaurs and other more complicated "sculptures".

 

Wonderful Brauhaus in Idstein where we had lunch...cozy, charming, and delicious food.

 

LOVE this shutter. The end.

 

Okay, so hopefully these pictures give you some sense of this idyllic little German town.  Joe didn’t get to experience it since he was working that day, but I’m planning on taking him back there so he can see it all firsthand too.

-More posts to come!  Still lots more pictures and stories to share.  As a side-note, I’m still tweaking some things with this new blog layout etc.  So bear with me as I get things straightened out.  I’m having trouble at the moment with the photo sizes, so for now if you want to see a photo bigger just click on it!

 

 

 

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