Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Teether

Miss Hadleigh is teething! I can hardly believe it, but have been thoroughly convinced. She is slobbering like a fool, and she is crazy about having something in her mouth to bite (not suck). She loves it when Dave rubs her gums with the washcloth during bathtime, and she has begun to hold her rattle teether and chew on it.

She is also enjoying the recent good weather we have been having. It even made it passed 30 on Saturday! So, you can see her here lying around on the couch. She won't be doing that much longer because she is becoming more and more rolly and mobile.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cubby Day

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our friends Jim and Kristen. Last June we flew back to Chicago to attend their wedding, so we celebrate with them as they finish their first year of marriage. Sometime during this whirlwind 3 night trip back to the states, the Lord saw it fit to give us our own little souvenir, Hadleigh Claire, to be exact. Since she came from Chicago she was called Cubby (in honor of the Chicago Cubs) for the 9 months she was in the womb.

So, in honor of Cubby Day, I put Hadleigh in her Cubs outfit that Jim and Kristen gave us last summer. I thought it fitting to snap some shots of her on her day. Happy Cubby Day, and Happy Anniversary Jim and Kristen.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God

I am finished. Today I handed over my key to the Chapel Annex, and with that my year of serving as PWOC President has ended.

As thank you presents for the women who served on my board I bought copies of the book “Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God” by Noel Piper (John’s wife). I haven’t read the book, but I thought it summed up this year of service. We sought to be faithful and the Lord showed himself Extraordinary in lots of different ways. We have had over 95 women walk through the doors of the Chapel Annex for Bible Study over the last year. Extraordinary.

We had over 60 ladies and their children (over 80) attend our Mid Deployment Women’s Retreat, which was put on with the help of 13 ladies from my parent’s church, Evangelical Free Church of the Conejo Valley.

We have seen women plug into a chapel or a church from PWOC.

We have seen the PWOC women rise to the challenge and the call to be “Women of the Chapel” and to serve the Chapel community through love meals, teaching Sunday School and Children’s Church, baking food for memorial services, etc.

The Lord has been faithful to us.

During the spring semester I took a study on I & II Timothy and Titus. We didn’t get through the whole study, but I think we ended on a fitting note today as talked through II Timothy 2. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful who will be able to teach others also.” This year my role has shifted. I became a mother. Now as I get to know the Lord more and more I not only have responsibility to teach faithful women, but I have the responsibility to teach Hadleigh. I was reflecting on that this morning. The women in my life that I “teach” will always change whether because I move away, or they move away, or my ministry focus changes. But I will ALWAYS be responsible for teaching Hadleigh about the Lord. That job will never change.

I love the passage in Psalms 145 (which Dave and I had read at our wedding) “One generation shall praise your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.” I will always have the awesome privilege of telling Hadleigh of the Lord’s awesome works as told to us in His Word, and as shown to us through his faithful care of our family.

I am technically finished with PWOC, but I will never be finished teaching others about the Lord’s faithfulness.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Three Months

Hadleigh turned three months old last week. It is kind of weird, but there are times I cannot remember my life without her. Though, I do remember a day when we could drive 9 hours straight without stopping for more than 5 minutes. Oh those days are OVER.

She continues to be very alert, taking everything in and looking all around. She is very content and likes to sit in her swing, or on her playmat and think and look. She has discovered her fingers and now rubs things of different textures with them. She hasn't grabbed anything yet, but she is beginning to bat at things.

We are working on getting her on a better schedule during the day, but currently she is sleeping 12 hours at night and then has 3 naps during the day ranging from 2 hours long to 45 minutes.

She laughed for the first time yesterday. She laughed for Dave, so that was very special. I missed it, but look forward to getting a laugh soon.

She has a million dollar smile, or so I think.

She is 25 inches long and must be about 11 pounds.

She likes to lie on her back and ride a bicycle, at least that is what it looks like she is doing.

She has her passport and has now been to 8 countries.

Miss Hadleigh Claire Meets the Bull, Mozart, von Trapps, and Hitler

I know, you must be wondering what do these four have in common. Or you know, because you are just that good. Salzburg, enough said. This is one of my new favorite cities. We are on the final European countdown (since we plan to leave here at the end of September) and we are hitting the traveling scene hard trying to make it back to a couple favorite places and to a couple of new places before we head back to the states.

Salzburg has been on our list for a while, but we just hadn’t quite made it there, though we have driven by Salzburg quite a few times en route to other places. It is a wonderful city. Clean, cute, and just the right size, of course it helped that the sun was shining and it was in the 20s.

We stayed at a wonderfully cute B&B farmhouse right outside of town, but close enough that on Friday after we arrived we walked to the old town. Once there we wandered around a bit and then headed to a restaurant on Goldgassestr. which Rick had recommended. On our way to the restaurant we ran into Alter Markt which had been transformed into a mini World Cup stadium. There was stadium seating, picnic benches, popcorn, peanuts and beer and a huge screen where they were showing the games. We found our restaurant and had a very tasty meal over a tasty bottle of Shiraz from Australia (name the movie…”Oh Austria…good day mate, put another shrimp on the Barbie”). After dinner we wandered around the old town, and managed to figure out the bus system that got us back to our B&B.

Saturday we took our time getting up with Hadleigh and then headed into town. We ate lunch at Riedel Wine Café (the famous wine glass makers) and was that ever good. We hiked up one hillside to get a good look at the city, and then took the funicular up to the fortress. After taking the tour and walking down the mountain we decided to try to get into the Dinner and Mozart concert.

We showed up at St. Peter’s and got the last two seats in the place. They probably should have given the tickets to the people behind us since the dress was “dressy casual” and we walked in with sneakers and Dave was in a t-shirt. Ah well. The dinner was marvelous (and we even had some wine from Montepulciano, Italy) and we listened to three sets of music between each course. We listened to select pieces from The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and The Marriage of Figaro. The players and singers were awesome. Best part was that Hadleigh slept through the entire 4 hours. Everyone was in awe, especially since there was clapping after every piece.

Sunday we headed out to Obersalzburg and Eagle’s Nest, a house built to celebrate Hitler’s 50th birthday. We drove up the mountain to Obersalzburg and then jumped on a bus that took us even farther up the mountain, and from there we took an elevator the remaining 500 feet to the top. It was amazing!

The view was incredible. It was a clear day and we could see for miles. The view was even better than the Zugspitze (highest mountain in Germany). There was snow at the top, but it was still fairly warm. We hung out up there for a couple of hours and then headed back down to our car. We stopped for lunch at the bottom of the mountain in Bad Reichenhall and hit the road for our 5 hour ride back at 4pm.

Now, the fun begins. I’ll let Dave tell the story, but we finally made it home at 12.30am.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Day 9- Home

Having enjoyed the beach for a day I felt satisfied and we decided we better begin to head home since it was a 9 hour drive with adults, and we have a 2 month old baby. We had two reasons to be concerned. 1. We thought we would have to break up the trip and stay the night somewhere along to way, for all of our sakes. 2. Remember we don’t have a passport for Hadleigh yet (well, I have it now, but we didn’t have it then), so we can travel freely without a passport in EU countries, but we had to drive through Switzerland, and Switz does not belong to the EU. If they didn’t let us in, we would have to drive around Switz, into Austria and then into Germany. Ugh!

Our drive started off rough. We got lost trying to make it out of La Spezia and than after only being on the highway for 30 minutes Hadleigh began to freak out. We got her quieted down and took off again. We made great time to the border and actually passed into Switzerland without a problem. Hadleigh was doing so wonderfully that we decided to try to make it all the way home. We got in a bit of pre-World Cup traffic in Basel, and then arrive back in Mettweiler at 9pm. It only took us 14 hours.

Upon arriving home we received news about the fallen soldier. I was glad for the drama in Cinque Terre because it made us come home earlier than expected. The Lord worked it all out in the end.

So, summary of the week. Forget the cities in Italy! Head to Tuscany and Umbria. Don’t drink beer in Italy, drink wine. If you are going to Cinque Terre make a reservation. And for the love of Pete, don’t think of driving into it, take the train or a boat. Also, I didn’t mention this, but Italians LOVE babies. We heard all week long “oh bella…bellisima…piccolina…” I have to say that I think the Italians have great taste because Hadleigh is the cutest thing in the whole world.

Day 8- Cinque Terre

After waiting in line to use the shower and toilet we begin making phone calls only to find out that every hotel between Portofino and La Spezia is booked. Super! New plan, stay one more night in the dump with the bathroom down the hall, and take the boat into Cinque Terre, and the train back to La Spezia. Dave was happy because the car was locked up in the hotel garage, so our stuff was safe and his wine was out of the sun.

The boat ride was wonderful. I got a little nervous because the last boat ride of this sort that I had been on was in the 6th grade when I went whale watching. I didn’t see any whales because I was hanging my head over the side of the boat puking. But, no puking this time. The ocean was beautiful and the little towns were beautiful. We got off in Montorosso, had lunch, got a gelato, put our feet in the water and got on the train to Vernazza.

We piddled around Vernazza...

...and then headed to Manarola where we got off the train...
...and hiked to Riomaggiore. We had dinner there and enjoyed an Italian Tirolean concert (don’t know why they were in Rio, but OK). This area is famous for their pesto, so I enjoyed pesto gnocchi which was to DIE for.

After dinner we watched the sunset and enjoyed a wonderful conversation with a couple from Doraville, GA. And then took the train back to La Spezia. Instead of trying to figure out the buses at 1100pm we decided to take a cab back to our hotel. He almost killed us (crazy Italian drivers), but we made it back to our hotel with only a few more gray hairs (that is what hair dye is for!).

Day 7- Montepulciano and Cinque Terre, sort of

We left Orvieto early and drove to Montepulciano, which is famous for their wine- Rosso di Montepulciano. It is a small, old town in the middle of Tuscany that sits on the top of a hill. Awesome! We had to park below and walk all the way up to the main square to hit the Cantina Contucci, which is a Rick pick and famous for their vino. We sampled other wines on our way up the hill, and the Contucci did have the best. Either that or, by the time we got up there, it just tasted the best. =) There is no reason to go to this town unless you like wine, and since we do, it was worth a stop.

After Montepulciano we headed for the coast. This is the real downer of our trip. Hadleigh struggled in the car, so we arrived on the coast at about 6pm. We were trying to go to Cinque Terre, which is an Italian National Park. They are really hard to get to by car, it is like driving on the PCH toward San Francisco times 20. Little tiny roads, hardly wide enough for one car let alone two, massive drop offs. Of course we drive into Riomaggiore, Hadleigh is screaming and I am trying not to vomit between being motion sick and afraid of rolling down the cliffs. When we pulled into the town it was 19 euro a day to park. Hmmm…not going to happen. So we drove back up the mountain and down into Vernazza where it is only 11 euro a day to park. We pulled in at 7.30pm and of course don’t have reservations because it is a Thursday in May, who needs reservations? Well the place is packed out, no rooms to be found anywhere, and I swear we asked everyone.

So Hadleigh is hungry, so we walk back to the car in silence, because I am fuming. I feed Hadleigh while Dave does the European thing “the world is my urinal”. Once I finish with Hadleigh I realize that I too must use the bathroom. So Dave opens the car door to block me from being seen…and being the expert squatter that I am, I proceed to pee all over myself. Great! We head out of Vernazza to the closest town which is a dump of a town- La Spezia. And every room in that town is booked too. We start driving out of town and stop at the last hotel we see and Dave manages to snag the last room in the hotel, the one with the bathroom down the hall. Hey…whatever works, right.

I am still angry, but manage to calm down and try not to be the selfish brat that I want to be. I just wanted to sit on the beach for 3 days, is that too much to ask. We decided that in the morning we would call hotels along the coast and see what we could find. Good plan.

Day 6 - Tenuta Le Velette

We had a lazy morning and then headed past Orvieto to the vineyard estate, Tenuta Le Velette. The estate overlooked Orvieto which was awesome.

We had a tour of the Etruscan wine cellar which dates back to 500 BC and enjoyed a wine tasting with food. It was amazing and we bought several bottles for our “collection”. They had this dessert wine that was to die for! I dipped my biscotti in my wine glass (they told us to!) and I was in heaven.

We had no drama with Hadleigh, she was perfect.

Dinner was homemade spaghetti with tomato sauce, more artichoke paste bruschetta, and some kind of meat, I don’t remember, but I know it was good.

Day 5- Orvieto

According to Rick Steves Tuesday was Market Day in Orvieto, so we thought it would be perfect to chill there for the day. We got Hadleigh ready and headed out a little before noon.

The old town of Orvieto sits on the top of a hill, so we took a funicular up to the top and then a bus to the main square. The church is totally rocking and Dave and I spent a long time in awe of the church.

We wandered around, had lunch, looked for the Market which we ended up hearing is now on Thursdays, not Tuesdays, got a gelato and went into a photo store to look for another memory card for Dave’s camera. I had wanted to get one before we left, but Dave thought he wouldn’t take that many pictures. When we arrived in Tuscany the day before he said “you didn’t tell me it was going to be pretty”. I thought that was funny, but knew at that point we would need a new card.

Just before we went into the store I had put sun block on Hadleigh, so after looking around a little bit I grabbed her leg and when it was a little wet I thought I hadn’t rubbed the sunblock in well enough. Only I happen to glance at my one free hand (the other was holding my gelato) and found that it was covered in poop. I screamed, leaned back (so that the carrier wasn’t against my body because I was wearing white capris) and began yelling at Dave to get the wipes. We paid for the card, and ran out into the square where Dave managed to get her off me without getting poop on my white pants (very important). Now, there was poop all up her back, up to her neck and up her front. We weren’t sure how to get her clothes off without getting the poop all over her. Dave lifted her upside by her feet while I stripped her down and proceeded to wipe off every inch of her little body.

Of course since we were just going to Orvieto and would only be gone a few hours I hadn’t brought an extra change of clothes. So I wrapped Hadleigh up in a blanket and we headed back to the funicular and back to La Cassette.

Dinner tonight was artichoke paste bruchetta, mushroom lasagna, and veal.

Day 4- Tuscany and Umbria

We took the highway down to Florence and then jumped onto some back roads that took us down to Siena, all over the countryside through Tuscany and finally ending up in Umbria near Orvieto where we would be staying for 3 nights at La Cassette.

Hadleigh did better in the car, and we slowly meandered around through the hills and little towns. We loved it. The vineyards, the stone houses, the wild flowers, the hills. Beautiful, gorgeous, wish you were here!

We wound our way past Orvieto and into Baschi and then up this hill to the farm where we were staying. The place was quiet, beautiful and perfect. The only bad thing was the pool wasn’t open yet because the water was too cold.

We had half pension here so we were to take breakfast and dinner at the main house. We had great fun at dinner. There were 2 Italian couples, a German couple and 2 ladies from the states staying there. We sat with the Germans and Americans and had a wonderful conversation over fresh, ripe cantaloupe, amazing, homemade raviolis, and duck that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Day 3- Venice

We took the train from Padova into Venice which was a 15 minute train ride. Hadleigh was strapped into her infant carrier and was great the whole day. All the Italians stopped and wanted a peak at her.

We took the Vaparetto from Santa Lucia to San Marco square. We had fun with pigeons and Hadleigh and then began to wander around. We took a ride on a gondola, crossed the Rialto, etc.

We thought it best to head out of town and try to get back to Padua for an early dinner and to get Hadleigh to bed at a decent time. Of course it never works out as you want it to, but we did get her down at some point before 11.

Day 2- Padova

We woke up early, and took turns eating breakfast downstairs. We tried to get an early start, but Hadleigh was sleeping so well we didn’t want to wake her. We got on the road at about 1000, only to find out that as we checked out breakfast was not included in our hotel rate and was 12 euro per person. I was furious, of course. I hardly ate 12 euro worth of food since I had eaten 2 rolls, a hard boiled egg and a cup of tea. Dave paid the dude and I stormed out to the car.

We drove down to Garmisch, took a break and then through the Alps into Austria and down into Italy. Between Hadleigh and traffic we managed to arrive in Padova at around 1700, and then we drove around Padova before locating our hotel at about 1900.

Driving in Italy is insanity, if you can avoid it, do so. Our hotel was wonderful, we had a wonderful Paduan dinner with a great 14 euro bottle of wine. Italians know how to do wine…wowee.

Day 1- Augsburg

Here is a blow by blow look at our trip to Italy. We found all of the redeeming qualities about Italy. You can have Rome, Florence and Venice, but give me Tuscany and Umbria.

Today I had a million things to do between 0600 and 1700 when Dave was to get off of work and we were to leave. I let Hadleigh sleep all morning while I piled my bed high with clothes and things that we needed to take with us. My big dilemma was what to take for her. She has a history of pooping through clothes, and on vaca you can’t really do laundry, so…I pretty much took every piece of clothing that she owned.

At noon my friend Jess drove Hadleigh and I down to Ramstein to pick up our rental car (since our BMW is having clutch problems). We had lunch at our fav little Mexican restaurant and then picked up the car. After that I headed to the commissary to pick up groceries, and was even able to find “Little Swimmers” diapers. At Baumholder the only size they carry is large. The smalls are even way too big for Hadleigh since the weight for smalls begins at 16 pounds, and she is just over 10. Anyway, I loaded up on swimmers, and headed to the PX to look for a map of Italy.

I got home right about 1600, and managed to catch Dave at the office so that he could fax his driver’s licence to the car place so that he could drive too.

We hit the road at 1730 and only had a 3 hour drive to Augsburg where we would spend the night and continue on to Venice the following day. Well, wouldn’t you know Hadleigh began to struggle in the car, so stopped at 1830 and I fed her. We arrived in Stuttgart at 2030, just in time to fill up the car and to grab a quick bite to eat. We were shocked to find out that Stuttgart is more ghetto than Baumholder and their shops close at 2000, instead of 2100. Dave bought two TV dinners at the gas station and that was our dinner. Onto to Augsburg, we got into the town at 2300, and drove around and around for 45 minutes trying to locate the hotel. All the while Hadleigh screamed in the backseat. We finally found it, ran upstairs, threw her into bed and tried to recover from our first HORIBBLE day on the road.

June Fire

Has anyone ever had a fire in the fireplace in June? I can now add myself to the list. We arrived back from Italy which had 28+ degree weather to Germany which has been 6+ degrees. Our heat was turned off before we left, so now I am burning paper and cardboard to heat our living room so I don't loose my fingers to frost bite.

Stay tuned, I will be posting pics from our Italy tour soon. And say a pray that the sun will come out and give us a wonderful WARM summer.