Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Tiring Full Weekend

Well. I haven't blogged for a while. I've been having a rough week. I think the honeymoon period is finally over and I'm looking at this and A year is a long time to do this. My homesickness intensified, I got sick, and the weather is horrible in Frankfurt. I swear, the sun only shines here for 15 minutes a day. I've only had about 2 or 3 days since I got here where the sun is shining for longer than an hour. But it's very cold and very gray and depressing.
So I've been really down this week. Especially missing home. On my blogs I'm usually very "Oh everything is great and I'm happy and this is an amazing experience." But I won't hide it. This week has been the hardest week of my life. I've been very homesick, very lonely, and very emotional. I have been very...I'm just not sure how I can handle a year in this place doing this job. I don't think people understand what living in Europe is like until they do it. It's very different from visiting Europe. And from what I've been told by those around me, Germany is even harder than the rest of Europe.

Well this weekend the Young Single Adults had a dance, so Jen and I gussied up and went. It was really different. The dances here are very...formal. Well it's like Prom attire. And there are refreshment tables with the YW and YM serving. Cakes, hor douvres (sp?) drinks, and then lights and fog machines and dancing. Oh the dancing. YOu know how in the US we all kinda get in our little groups and just move and dance together? Well They ballroom dance. To everything. And there really aren't any...slow songs. Everything is a ballroom dance. It's very different.

We did however meet this Canadian kid, Nathan. So the three of us did the American thing, in a group dancing. We looked crazy I know, and people were like, what? But we had tons of fun acting like Americans and not ballroom dancing. It's amazing how when you are away from home, you just want to be American. Even though at home you wouldn't do those things. Like We just wanted the Boot Scoot'n Boogie. But normally when that happens at dances, I don't really participate anymore.

The next day I drove with the Browns and went to Bavaria. We went to Schwangau and saw the Neuschwanstein Castle. Now, I am surprised at how many people don't know Neuschwantstein Castle. It's one of the most famous castles in the world! It's the inspiration for the Sleepingbeauty castle! And you might not recognize it from my pics, so google it and you will. Trust me.
My favorite thing about this castle is that you have to hike to get to it. Through the forest in the Alps. There was snow everywhere, but it was pretty warm! Plus hiking, we totally worked up a sweat.
The castle is also totally full of history! This castle was the castle of the parents of Ludwig II. (Ludwig II built neuschwanstein.) We couldn't get up to this castle because of the ice and snow. I'm sure if we tried we could have. But if you look close..I was wearing sandals. Yeah, don't ask where my logic was when I thought THAT was a good idea. sheesh. But we were blessed with good weather in Schwangau.

The king who built this castle...or had it built...Built it for his inspiring muse, Richard Wagner as a retreat. In the castle (you can't take interior shots) it seems like almost every room is paintings of scenes from Richard Wagner's Operas. There's even a music hall where operas could be performed.
The king himself was deemed by one doctor as insane. His death was extremely mysterious. Nobody knows what happened. He and the doctor were found, drown in a lake...hmm...

We had tons of fun. There were plenty of those moments where I could try to write them down, but they would lose there humor. You have to kno the Browns or you had to be there. But we kept laughing really hard.
Also, I have now discovered my new favorite thing in Germany. Quark Bällchen. They're aweome! I love them. I can't even describe them.

The Alps themselves are gorgeous and Amazing. I miss our mountains in Utah so much. I can't even figure out where I'm going because in Frankfurt we have no mountains and I never know what's North or South, etc. That's another thing that actually makes this castle so amazing is the location. It's just beautiful.

We had woken up about 6:30 in the morning and driven 4 hours to Schwangau, where the castle is. So after Neuschwanstein we got back in the car, and drove for about an hour in search for our next, not so magical or happy destination.

On the way there, the clouds gathered, it got cold and stormy and started to rain. I guess that was all a little appropriate considering where we were going.

Dachau was one of the Concentration camps during WWII. It was really interesting. Because when I talk to people who have gone to camps, they say that the place is just quiet and melancholy and depressing. Yes, the place was depressing, but not like I expected. Honestly, there was almost a reverence in this place.

Dachau was actually one of the more mild camps. They didn't have a gas chamber like other camps. It actually started out as a prison for people against the Nazi party, but eventually did become one of the camps for Jews as well. It was weird seeing this place and These things really happened.
I didn't get a pic of one of the memorials that read, "Never Again" in all the languages of the people who were held there.

I do admit, while we were in Dachau, I kept catching myself humming the theme from The Great Escape. Dont' know if that was inappropriate or not.

Anyway, after another 4 hours in the car, we got back to Frankfurt and I barely made it into my bed before I collapsed. Now I"m having a sick tired Sunday. It was a nice escape, but the realization of working again is setting in. Hopefully I'll get out of this sadness this week and it will go really fast. Then the girls will be going to England for Easter Break. We'll see. Hope everyone is doing well. Later!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Give Peace a Chance

My topic today:
Positive Energy

I think one thing that is so wrong with our world is our focus on so much negative. And how that forces us to think about US. (that's us, not U.S.)
I admit that I am a sucker for inspiring quotes, encouraging songs, and possibility water. Perhaps that's why Bono has always been one of my favorite people ever. His lyrics so often speak of peace and hope and grace and beauty and if he writes about things that happened that were bad, he does it in such a positive way.

I hate graffiti so much, and especially somewhere like Europe that is full of old buildings and history. But I saw some today that i captivated by. So i set my camera up and commenced to do what I love to do: Photography. So here's some of my pictures I took today along with some poems and song lyrics that I feel are inspring to me in hopes that we really can have a better world.
So I challenge everyone reading this to say and do one nice thing today for someone. Especially to or for someone that it's out of your way to do. But most of all, please remember to smile.
(For those who don't know, if you click on the pictures, you can view them larger)

By U2

She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she's got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She's got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

By Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

I believe Music can change the world, because it can change people

We want to create hope for the person ... we must give hope, always hope.
--Mother Theresa--

The fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace."
--Mother Theresa--

"A positive Attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
--Herm Albright--

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A few funny moments

Well I guess when you don't have anything new to write about, it means you're used to your life here and you're in a schedule and used to things. I think the honeymoon period of this job has worn off. It's life now. I look forward to Easter break in a few weeks. The girls will be going to London with their parents. I just need a break. Not indefinitely, just for a little bit. Then hopefully it will give me enough juice to keep going.

It was really nice getting a package from Kristi. I have the greatest best friend in the world. She's so...attentive to my needs, and she's done this AuPair thing before, so she understands how much you want and need things. I feel bad, because when she was AuPairing in France, I wasn't as good to her and she is being to me. But it was great getting Marshmallow Mateys, Reeses Puffs, Kit Kats, Sour Patch Watermelon's, Star Burst Jelly beans, CHEETOS (those were gone in 2 days) and a movie I'd been wanting, and of course Angels and Demons to read. It was like Christmas. Carola said she couldn't believe how excited I was for this package. So Thank you, Rally Mae, for the best package!

Well I don't really have any new pics to share, but I do have some stories. Nothing too big, just something to help you laugh, I hope.

Well at FHE on Monday, I usually sit by the missionaries and their investigators. Everyone teases that the Americans sit together and anyone else sits together. It's more like, those who speak English sit together and those who don't sit together. But I was sitting there and one of the elders walked in and he had a companion that I hadn't met yet. (transfers were a few weeks ago) and for about 20 minutes the companion just kept staring at me. And finally he said,
"How Do I know you!?"
"I don't know. How do you know me?"
"Where are you from?"
"North Ogden, Utah."
"Where are you from?"
"Brigham City, Utah."
I smile already knowing how this kid konws me, "Oh yeah? Do you ever see stuff at Heritage Theater?"
I turned to one of the elders who I joke around with who once asked if I was a well known actress. I just looked at him and said,
"I told you I was famous."

Michael finally fixed my bike. So now i have a bike to ride around town in, which is sooo nice. I love riding my bike whether it's to the store, to the library, or through the farm lands. Hopefully now i can take off some of this weight I've put on. Get back to wearing my size 8 jeans. I only fit in my Mek jeans, so I wear those every day. Anyway So I went into the garage to get my bike out and I could see a bunch of kid bikes and two adult bikes and a medium size bike. Okay, I guess that's mine. So I pull it out and go to the store. It was kinda small, Jane, the last AuPair, must have had much shorter legs than myself.
So yesterday, Anna and I had to go to anna's Dance Class. So I get my bike out and look in the garage and say, uh..where's your bike? And she looks at me funny and points at my bike and I go..
"Oh...Right." Awkward Pause. "Which is mine?"
I had been riding an 9 year old's bike around town. Don't even ask me how that was possible.

Yesterday was Carola's Birthday. So on Tuesday, Cara (4 yr old) and I attempted to make her a cake, at Michael's request. So I found some cake mix, but the instructions were in German. So Here I am, looking up every other word in my Language Dictionary trying to figure out how to make this cake (and no, German cake mixes are not like American). And I keep talking out loud you know..
"oooh! That's what it means....Oh right, so then we add 100 ml of water...." I'm flipping through the pages and probably looking like a mad man as Cara just stands on the chair next to me watching. So at one point I'm trying to figure out how much 150 g of Butter is and I say to cara,
"I can't figure this out. How much is 150 g of Butter?" She looks at me very somberly, picks up my dictionary and says very matter of factly and in perfect English.
"Look it up in your book."
I just looked at her and started laughing so hard. It really calmed me down. We figured out the cake and it didn't turn out too bad. Funfetti with Rainbow chips is ten times better, but hey, we do what we can.

Alright and my last story for this week happened last night.
Since it was Carola's birthday, Michael and Carola went out for the night. So I was flying solo with the girls at Bedtime. And it wasn't easy last night. First of all, I was exhausted. Simply just...exhausted. Everyone thought I was sick. I just tried explaining that no, I was just really tired. Anna got home late from dance, Sophia was crying because I had to use my assertive voice with her, and...welll.. cara, cara, cara.
SO i finally get anna upstairs and getting ready for bed, Cara is finally IN bed, and I'm reading a chapter of Sophia's book to her. I hear Cara get up and I think, she's just going potty. Well about 1 minute later I hear SCREAMING CRYING in the bathroom. I look at Sophia, Tell her I'll be right back and go in the bathroom. Cara has her tongue sticking out and is having an emotional screaming crying break down. Anna has this evil grin she's trying to hide. Next to cara is an open bottle of roll-on deoderant.
"She didn't..."
"Yeah she did."
"She licked the deoderant?"
I asked her if it hurt and she said no, it tasted gross. So i gave her some water to drink and got very assertive with Anna, brush your teeth, get to bed, no more talking to your sisters tonight. So I brush Cara's teeth (and tongue) again. And she's sobbing the whole time.
"Cara, you're fine. You need to stop crying."
Anna rushes in.
"Mandee, I think you need to call an ambulance. What if she's poisoned?"
Cara starts screaming again.
"She's not poisoned."
"How do you know?"
"Anna, while I wouldn't suggest doing it every day, One lick from deoderant is not goign to poison Cara. And you should have thought of that before you convinced her to do it."
"Mein bauch tut weh!" (Cara saying, my tummy hurts)
"See! She's gonna be poisoned!"
Screaming commences even louder.
"Cara, your tummy hurts because you're crying so hard that your coughing. You need to calm down and breath. And Anna, get into bed NOW."
It took me an extra 15 minutes to calm everyone down.
Oh what's Sophia doing during all of this? Playing the Nintendo DS.

Have a great week. Love you all.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ich hab' mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren

When it's summertime in Heidelberg,
There's beauty everywhere,
All the tree are dressed in their sunday best
And the brass band plays in the square.
-The Student Prince of Heidelberg--

Well after a week of atrocious windy and rainy weather, Carola going to conferences, Sophia losing her breakfast all over the kitchen floor just as it was time to go to school, I was ready for something distracting. So this weekend, we went to Heidelberg.

Now I've always known of Heidelberg from the musical me and mom used to watch with Mario Lanza. "The Student Prince of Heidelberg." It always sounded so romantic, a little German town on the river with a university.
(The girls and me in front of the sciences building and the castle on the hill)

I can see why they would base the musical out of such a beautiful town. I can only imagine what this city looks like in the spring, or before there were cars driving through it. The church is gorgeous, the Church of the Holy Ghost. It's across the square from the "Rathaus." or political building.

There are old buildings everywhere. The city was established as a Roman city in 40 AD. And has grown ever since. The Nazis were here in the 30's.
After burning down the two synagogues they forced the Jewish teachers out of the universities. The town's biggest industry was the university. It wasn't anything industrious or factory.

When the American troops started bombing Germany and taking over, they wouldn't bomb Heidelberg. They thought since it was so beautiful and wasn't a threat industrially, they had no reason. So when they went to invade, to set up a garrison, The Nazis bombed the one bridge over the river that allowed vehicles to cross.

However, we still got stationed there. And this city is amazing. Besides the huge very old mansions, and gorgeous churches, the buildings are phenomenal and the castle is amazing. Okay, so we didn't actually get to climb up to the castle, because we didn't have time, but when we go next time in the spring, i can only imagine how beautiful it will be.

This was a really old bookstore that was about three levels. it reminded me of a mix of Flourish and Blotts and the bookstore Audrey Hepburn works at in "Funny Face."

There were lots of people there on saturday shopping like us. I guess Heidelberg is a big tourist place now. But I loved it.

This is for me and mom and Cea. Only they would get it. And it's really funny.
"Do you have any produce you're taking into the state of california?"
"No, but we have some lovely earrings!"

Beautiful shot of the church and another building. This is looking down the main street.

Carola kept going into stores to go shopping. We got sick of waiting, so we sat down.

So Michael bought us gelato while we waited HOORAY!

I wanted to buy this for Kaniela, because he's our little "wunderkind"

You can't ever pass up an opportunity for some photography.

Just a small European street.

This is us in front of the Rathaus which means Political house. Funny huh? It's the city building. We're in the main square.

The castle up on the hill. neeaato!

The gate to the bridge over the river. Neato Mosquito. So when we were on the bridge, there were some gypsies playing music and so i got a video of me dancing in front of them to their gypsy music. It was awesome.

The girls on the bridge.

And last of all. just me. In the town square. Behind me is the "wissenschaft" or sciences building/lecture hall. And behind that on the hill, the ancient castle! Love you all so much! Hope things are well! miss getting letters!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Big Pink Bunnies, Smoked Fish, and Nutella filled Croissants

What's the Point of having lucky rocket underwear if you can't show anyone? --Calvin & Hobbes--

Well How is everyone? Oh good. good. I've had a busy two weeks. It was Fasching last week and weekend. I watched the girls monday (so no FHE) while Michael and Carola went to a party. Fasching is a holiday that kind of begins Lent and also chases the winter demons away. It's like Mardi Gras and Halloween mixed. No jokes. With the costumes and the partying and the craziness.

Michael and Carola going to Fasching.
Carola is a witch and Michael is a hill-billy.

I also got to go hang out with my friend, Felix, we went to the top of this hill in Königstein. We had to hike up, but it wasn't just covered in snow, the snow was ICE. And I was wearing my all stars. And Those have NO traction on them anymore. So we're trying to get up this mountain but it's just ICe and so i take a step, and my foot just slides back down. It took forever. But we got to the top and you could see out over Frankfurt and it was amazing. It was just wow. Amazing. We hung out for a while. And then got McFlurries and went home.

Frankfurt from Königstein

We had a Relief Society luncheon this week. It was so much fun. I have some amazing ladies in my relief society. I got to know a lot of them much more, which was fantastic. They're all amazing ladies!

Friday was amazing. Dallin H. Oaks had a fireside for the YSA's. If you want to hear more about that, the blog before this one has more on it. But it was just amazing.

On Saturday Julie took me to This place called the Sonnenblumen Garten Center. It's like a giant garden store but it also has like gifts, patio stuff, furniture, and fresh produce. tehre'a also a resaurant and cheese and teas and coffees.

Me and Charlie at the Sunflower Garden Center
We couldn't figure out what these Bunnies were for.
They were actually kinda creepy

Smoked Fish anyone? I think I'd rather eat
Mojara. Maybe that's just me

So then later on Saturday I babysat for Julie. While the boys were watching the incredibles I made Nutella Croissants. They're really easy and really yummy. All you need is pillsburry croissants and nutella. I found the best way to put the nutella is to put a glob along the bottom, then just roll it up!

Then place them on the pan all pretty like!

Lick the Nutella off the knife while it cooks. This one is very important to remember! As nutella is very nutritional and tasty and you don't want to waste ONE bit!

MMMMmmmm! Nutella filled Croissants! They are super yummy! Enjoy!

If you really want to know what has been going on in my life this week, then read my blog before this one about the Dallin H. Oaks fireside. or the one before that on sending me packages. Woohoo!

Hope everyone is happy! Write me!
Love you all!