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Thursday, April 29, 2010


Last weekend, we had some friends in town who just happen to be our future child's future in-laws. While looking through baby pictures of the four of us (to see what the happy hypothetical couple will look like, of course), we came across this one:
My three-year-old self is so in right now :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Vienna, Austria: Reliving Matt's P-day

We hopped off the S-Bahn at Floridsdorf. Matt grabbed my hand and starting leading me down the street, smiling. He was taking me to his former neighborhood.
We came to the door of his old apartment, marked "Richins" and "Hayes," just as it had been five years before. Matt explained that no missionaries had changed the names since long before he lived there. I told him that he and his companion should have so they could be famous instead of Richins and Hayes. He just shrugged.
Matt rang the apartment just for fun and what do you know? The missionaries were home for lunch and invited us on up.
I stayed out in the hall, of course, but Matt walked in and reported that nothing had changed inside, either. We chatted with the missionaries at the door for a bit and then headed back out to continue the neighborhood tour.
Matt and his companions apparently played some pretty intense games of ping pong in this park back in the day. If you ask Matt, he won every time. I wonder what his buddies would say...?
This little internet cafe is close to the apartment and was therefore the designated spot for e-mailing moms and dads.
We walked inside and the owner instantly recognized Matt. I was surprised since it had been so many years, but he explained that he saw Matt and his companion walk by every single day for a year, not to mention the time the missionaries spent inside his business each P-day. He never wanted to learn more about the church but has always loved the missionaries and Matt was happy to see him.
Meanwhile, we were in the middle of laundry back at our own apartment. Washers are plentiful but dryers are pretty uncommon over there, so we hung clothes wherever we could get a hanger to stick!
We enjoyed a mid-morning snack of butterkeks and yogurt before heading out to the Mariahilfer strasse for some window shopping and lunch at Herb's.
Oh, and by "Herb's" I really mean Schnitzelwirt. Matt said the missionaries have called it Herb's forever and doesn't really know why (and neither does our friend who just got back from her mission in Germany/Austria). Just nod and smile.
Matt had been talking up Herb's cordon bleu weinerschnitzel for months and I'm happy to say it was worth the hype! It was probably the most delicious lunch I've ever had in my entire life. Seriously.
And the fact that you get to eat it on a cute little terrace is just icing on the cake, right?
Speaking of icing on the cake, we spent the remainder of our last day in Vienna at palaces. Not bad, right? I'm way excited to go through those pictures for the next Europe post, so hopefully you're excited to see them!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"When I got hungry, I ate."

It's nice to get a little Forrest Gump quote refresher every once in a while, by way of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. of course.

Our friends Matthias and Clara flew all the way from Germany to visit and one of the things we tried to do was treat them to American food. (Easier said than done, if you think about it.) Our menu for the week included things like BBQ chicken, cornbread, burgers and fries, mashed potatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, Americanized taco soup, Mac & Cheese, and multiple salads... just to name a few.

When we went out to eat, we tried to go to places that served American-style food as well. Bubba Gump's naturally fit the bill! So after a long day of shopping, we headed out to the Santa Monica Pier just as the sun was setting over LA.
It's such a lovely place at night, when the sun hits the water and the city lights up.
We walked down the pier and chummed it up with the Shrimp a bit before heading inside to get our food. Their popcorn shrimp was fantastic, as usual.
Even more than the shrimp, I like the laid-back atmosphere, quotable quotes, and most of all--the "Run Forrest Run" and "Stop Forrest Stop" signs for the waiters.
Seriously, more restaurants should employ a similar strategy, don't you think? It would result in fuller water glasses, which would result in happier customers, which would result in even better tips, in my book anyway.

PS-You can check out the last time Matt and I ate at the Santa Monica Bubba Gump's here (anyone remember the fireworks on the beach story?).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vienna, Austria: Concert in the park

After the opera, Matt and I were mildly concerned the rest of our stay in Vienna would feel a bit anticlimactic. I'm not sure if I raved about the opera enough. It was incredible! As if seeing Mozart's most popular opera in one of the most famous opera houses in the world wasn't enough, the singers were ridiculously talented and the experience in general was so culturally refreshing.

We shouldn't have been worried, though. Our walk around the city the next day was beautiful and relaxing, and we quickly found Viennese activities to occupy the following evenings. One of these was to take place at the timeless Rathaus park. We came across it while touring the Rathaus (city hall) during the day.
As it turns out, the Rathaus park was all set up for a film festival of sorts. Vienna is a city centered on the arts--and music in particular. Thus, unlike your typical film festival, this one showed a movie of a different concert, ballet, or symphony every night. Fantastic idea, right?
Later that evening, we made our way back to the Rathaus, which was perfectly lit against the night sky.
Matt and I lucked out with the show for that evening: a symphony/opera by Johann Straus about the Creation. It was so heavenly... amazing beyond words.
And it was unbelievably romantic: cuddled up to my husband, enjoying a beautiful concert in the park with the striking Rathaus as the backdrop against the picturesque night sky. Matt leaned over during the concert and commented that the music was "Celestial," which was an appropriate assessment of the gorgeous musical rendition of the Creation.
People asked us when we came home what our favorite part of our trip was. I think they were a little surprised to hear us list that evening as one of the best, since it sounds so simple. The beauty was in the simplicity, though--it was simply perfect.
It was one of those moments when everything just feels right; when the storyteller could then close the book and pronounce that "they lived happily ever after."
And you would like the ending.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Running for the Falcons

Ah, I love Saturdays. Especially sunny ones spent in LA. You know, days like yesterday.

Matt and I started off with a visit to the Los Angeles Temple and really, there's no better way to start a day. IKEA was our next stop and I'm happy to report that we were finally able to buy the ever-elusive shelf that has been out of stock on our last three visits. (Now maybe I'll get back to decorating the house.) Onto the main point of the post, however:

We got to spend the entire afternoon at the Long Beach Invitational, cheering on the Air Force Academy's track team. I came to California to watch Matt run at this meet last year and it was so, so nice to be there again, watching the meet and hanging out with Matt's old coaches and teammates. The atmosphere at track meets is so unique and exciting; for a second, it made me really miss last spring and all of the great experiences that Matt and I had together at that time. Life was so good! But then I thought about how great life is now, too--it seems like it just gets better and better as time goes by. I love that.
All this track business made me realize that I never blogged about the Mountain West Conference Championships last year! Matt tore it up, so it definitely deserves to be recorded. He competed in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4x100 relay and 4x400 relay, set FOUR personal records, made multiple trips to the podium, and brought home a bronze medal. (Oh, and was the fastest white boy in the MWC by far. Woohoo!) I'll let a few pictures tell the story:
Running track for the Air Force Academy is one of the best things Matt has ever done. The experiences Matt was able to have and the relationships he made in that short period of time are absolutely priceless. Go Falcons!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Never smile at a crocodile

... or stick your head in its mouth, for that matter. But we'll get to that part.

Matt and I headed to Utah over Easter/conference weekend so he could attend his first mission reunion in nearly five years. It was so much fun seeing President and Sister Wirthlin and meeting a few of his old companions and mission buddies.
It was only after the shindig was winding down and the crowds cleared that I was introduced to a new side of President Wirthlin that I never saw coming--the serious game hunter. Welcome to Africa, er, his home office:
And it was then that Matt's MTC companion, who is sitting on elephant feet stools with Matt in the picture below, told me that I hadn't seen anything yet. He proceeded to take us down to the basement where we saw...
This. I nearly died. Remember my adult-onset fear of crocodiles and alligators? Yeah, so while I wasn't exactly scared of the 14-foot monster on the basement floor, I was entirely creeped out.
Which only led the boys to dare me to stick my head in its mouth. Since I'm apparently as mature as a five-year-old, I quickly agreed and hopped on the floor. But let me tell you, those jaws look a whole lot different once you get up close and personal.
I turned to Matt--"Do you have any idea what this thing has eaten before?! Think of the germs..." to which the men assured me that the crocodile had been fully sterilized prior to making its home behind the couch. That satisfied me, until I started to stick my head inside only to have a tooth scrape my scalp. Yep. Gross.
Nonetheless, I took it a few inches further and smiled for the camera. Happy, Matt?
Guess not, since he proceeded to hop right down and stick his head even further into the croc's mouth. Show-off.
If you can't tell, it was a good time. We were laughing so hard we were crying. President Wirthlin would be proud. Meanwhile, Sister Wirthlin is a saint for allowing all of those animals in her home, don't you think? Although, she did offer us a lion on our way out.
Warning: here's where the post gets extremely random, as it was an extremely random trip home and I'm far too lazy to separate it into separate posts right now.

As for the rest of our trip home, it was all family, all the time. The babies fully enjoyed their Easter egg hunt in between sessions of conference.
After the hunt, I asked the babies if they could smile nicely with their full Easter baskets and got this instead. Where on earth did Joshie get that from?
And speaking of the little stinker, he celebrated a big birthday while I was in town--he turned 5 on the 5th! He was pretty excited about it and understandably so. Birthdays are such a big deal when you're five.
I still remember my fifth birthday perfectly well. We went on a treasure hunt and found the treasure hidden on the roof of our home, my friends loved our golden retriever, and I had a troll on my cake, because trolls were the "in" thing back then. See?
Anyway, back to the present. Matt flew back into town and was a pallbearer for his dear Grandma Jean. (Picture by Matt's sister-in-law, Laci.) The funeral was a beautiful celebration of her life.
The family celebrations continued with a big get-together at Matt's parents' house. It included tree climbing...
... serenading ...
... and some quality Mario Kart racing.
Before taking off for LA, we headed back to Cedar Hills for one last party--the twins' 20th birthday.
The lucky ladies even got the ceremonial confetti drop usually reserved for the babies.
And thus concluded our wonderful whirlwind of a trip back home.
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