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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3 Horrible Days!

One Tuesday, my 4-year-old brother Josh woke up grumpy. Throughout the morning, it didn't get any better. His brothers didn't let him play with their trucks, mom made him clean up his toys, and he wasn't allowed to sit on the computer all day. By the time lunch rolled around and mom was making him a lunch he "didn't like," Joshie had simply had enough. He began putting on his shoes so that he could run away. My mom teased him a bit by quoting his favorite book: "I was so mad!"

Joshie, with all the indignation of a teenager who just got their cell phone taken away, glared at her. "Mom, stop! It’s a horrible day!" My mom tried to convince him otherwise, but Josh simply continued: "...And I already had three horrible days!"

Mom stifled a laugh and asked, "What days were those?" (Thinking his answer would be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday).

Joshie's response? "Ashley’s wedding."

Yes, that's right. Nine months later, the poor little guy still remembered the torture that was being forced to behave for not one but three events (the wedding day, Matt's hometown reception, my hometown reception).

"Why were they so horrible Josh?"

"All you did is watch... and eat!"

Well, true. But the food was yummy, and you also seemed to have a lot of fun throwing rocks into ponds, climbing big trees, and running around with your little brother and cousins. Oh, and bonus! Matt became your brother-in-law. But he's been in your life since you could walk, so the marriage certificate probably didn't mean much to you, did it Joshie?

All of this "happy" wedding talk did little to convince him that he had anything but a horrible time. So I submit to you a small sampling of evidence that is Josh at random intervals throughout those 3 days. And I ask...

Was it horrible?

Or was it happy?


(PS-Matt and I about died laughing as we went through our wedding pictures and saw all the different faces my little brothers made. They are so stinking cute!)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vienna, Austria: The Staatsoper

Before leaving for Europe, we found a great deal on tickets to Mozart's Die Zauberflote at the Vienna Staatsoper. (Translation: The classic Mozart opera, The Magic Flute, at the Vienna State Opera.) We booked them for our first night in Vienna and made it just in time to check in to our hotel and rush over to the opera house.
The building was absolutely beautiful, and it felt so surreal attending a classic opera in Europe. We had to keep pinching ourselves all night!
The vaal reminded me of old fashioned movies I've seen, along with The Sound of Music (although that was filmed in Salzburg, Austria). It was gorgeous!
During intermission, we toured around the opera house a bit more. Again, so, so pretty.
Then it was back to the opera that I totally recognized (it's where the well-known soprano opera song "Queen of the Night" comes from) but didn't entirely understand...
...despite the English subtitles. I was just too mesmerized by the opera itself to pay attention to both the stage and screen at the same time! (Although I did love catching beautiful lines like the one below.)
It was such an incredible night! Afterwards, we were a little worried that the rest of our stay in Vienna would be a bit anticlimactic because the first evening had been so amazing. Luckily, we were pleasantly surprised by what was in store for us in Austria.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Matt is all grown up and flying jets.

In case you didn't know, Matt has a very cool job. And as much as I wish I could tell you all about it... we just don't go publishing those things all over the worldwide web, you know? But I do get to share this little tidbit, so buckle up because someone around here feels the need for speed. (Please excuse the cheese that was necessary to drop that movie quote.)

Matt was recently one of four engineers selected for an incentive program at our base. As a result, he's on flying status for the time being. Translation for those of you who don't speak military: my engineer now wears a rather attractive flight suit (a la Top Gun) and spends time in the air on various planes.* Last week's flight was the best yet: Matt not only rode in a supersonic jet--G-suit and all--but got to take the controls and fly it!
He had a lovely time doing barrel rolls and racing through the sky.

Ah, yet another rough day at work for my
breadwinner husband.

*To all of our studly pilot friends who do this on a daily basis, this is absolutely no big deal.
But for an engineer who's too much of a blind-bat to even think about flying? It's pretty neat :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Up Close with the Blue Men

Another benefit to our current home's location? We're just 3 hours from Vegas. To be honest, I'm not usually a huge fan of the city; but every now and again it can present a fun little getaway. Like just barely, when we spent the weekend with our good friends Talon & Carolyn... along with these 3 guys:
Yes, we went to the Blue Man Group and yes, it was amazing! The best part was the more-than-half-off deal I got on our front-and-center tickets. You can't complain there, right? Matt definitely liked his proximity to the stage.
Although, we ladies were a bit unsure about the goop that could be flying our way in the poncho section. We spent the majority of the concert "assuming the position" ... just in case. (And it paid off! Our ponchos were gross at the end of it.)
Naturally, there is no photography allowed during the actual show. It looked a little something like this:
And this:
One of the last parts of the concert involves these huge rolls of paper being passed over everyone's heads from the back of the auditorium to the front (random, right?) ... meaning that it all landed in our laps! We were buried under it for awhile.
All in all, it was a highly entertaining way to spend our Saturday night.
Much recommended, folks!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Munich, Germany: History, Hitler & Hoflinger

Munich is home to a lot of history over the last few centuries and was especially significant during World War II. The concentration camp Dachau is actually right outside the city, but we thought it might be a little heavy for our honeymoon so we saved it for another trip. I'm fascinated by history, though, and couldn't entirely pass up the opportunity to learn more about World War II in the birthplace of the Third Reich.

Thus, Matt and I decided to take a walking tour of the city that focused on the beginning of the Nazi movement. It was incredibly interesting, to say the least. I think I learned more during that three-hour tour than I did in whole semesters spent studying and reading books on the subject. Let me know if you'd like a mini discourse on Hitler, k? For this post, though, I'll just share a few highlights of the tour.

Below is the Hofbrauhaus, where Hitler delivered his first major public speech. Leave it to 2,000 drunk men crammed into a room that should only fit 500 to decide that taking over the world sounds like a good idea. (Not actually what the speech was on, obviously, but you get what I'm saying, right?)

This is our tour guide with the Odeonsplatz in the background. He's standing where the Beer Hall Putsch ended. Once Hitler was in power, he placed a plaque on the wall behind our tour guide, dedicated to the sixteen Nazi's who lost their lives during the Putsch. Those who passed the "shrine" were required by law to give the Nazi salute or else face imprisonment. On the right, you'll see an alleyway between the two buildings--"Dodger's Alley." Those who didn't support the Nazi's learned to dodge the shrine altogether by taking this alley as an alternate route to the Odeonsplatz.
Meanwhile, the Odeonsplatz history dates back much further than Hitler's regime and is surrounded by beautiful buildings. The Felderrnhalle, which was built in the early 1800's, and the Theatinerkirche, a church which was built in the early 1600's.
In front of the Bavarian State Chancellery is a tomb-like war memorial built to honor the Bavarian soldiers lost in the first world war. (And later added upon to honor those who died in WW2 as well). The inscription visible just above the shrubs reads, translated: "They will be resurrected."
The Chancellery is right next to the Hofgarten, a beautiful formal court garden built in 1613. (The spires in the background are the Theatinerkirche.)
The original Nazi Headquarters were in Munich, centered around the Konigsplatz. Hitler's own offices were in this building, called the Fuhrerbrau. Now, the Fuhrerbrau and the other remaining Nazi buildings are part of a university.
This picture is of Hitler and Mussolini on the steps of the Fuhrerbrau after the Munich Conference in 1938. Kind of eerie, isn't it?
This is what the Konigsplatz looked like while the Third Reich was in power... And what it looks like now. The temples (built to honor those first 16 Nazi's who were killed in the Putsch) were destroyed by bombs, and the granite slabs were torn up and replaced by grass:
After the tour, we stopped the first lady that walked by and asked her to take a picture for us with Maximillian in the background. She had something in her hand, but quickly grabbed the camera and snapped the shot. When I took my camera back, she showed us what was in her hands--a dead bird. Which meant I now had dead bird germs on my camera and consequently my hands as well. Great. The lady kept rambling to Matt in German about how she'd seen this bird fall from some height, picked it up off the street, and wasn't able to revive it. PETA would love her. My now-germy hands sure didn't.
Anyway, after using an entire bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer, we moved on to the Marienplatz for lunch at the old Rathaus (town hall).
Isn't it gorgeous? There's a restaurant inside the courtyard, called the Ratskeller. Missionary Matt planned on taking his wife there someday, so my post-mission Matt followed through. And what can I say? The man has great taste!
On our last day in Munich (yeah... I'm combining posts like that), we finally stopped by Matt's favorite bakery in all of Europe, Hoflinger. We bought some yummy goodness and ate it as we took a final walk through the city.
These city gates were built in the middle ages, around 1200 A.D. Isn't that crazy?
For us, it served as a gateway to some last-minute shopping we did around the Marienplatz. We had to go back to see the Glockenspeil in action before catching our train!
And with that, we said Auf Weidersehen to Munich and headed off to Vienna, Austria! And then to Hallstatt, Venice, Rome, Florence and Paris. But we'll get to those later :-)

PS-I'll try to go lighter on the Europe posts from now on so I can get to the rest of it a bit faster. Believe it or not, I'm leaving a lot out already!
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