Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Chandlers

Janae's not much of a Simpson's fan, but when we found out on a friend's blog that you can make your own Simpson's characters, she thought it was awesome. We spent the whole evening coming up with fun new characters (we've had a lot of rain lately, and MTV is the only channel in our apartment that has any English programming). What would The Chandlers look like if we had our own TV show about life here in Leipzig? Maybe a little something like this . . .
Ainslie's obviously been age progressed a bit, but what do you think?

If you're curious about what you might look like if you had a cameo on the show, check out http://www.simpsonsmovie.com/ and click on the link to create your avatar. Send us a picture. We'd love to see what everyone looks like!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Schloss Neuenberg

This weekend we decided to follow up a recommendation from Mr. Wessner, one of the attorneys Josh works with, to visit the Neuenberg Castle just outside of Freyburg. The weather was pretty dreary, it rained on an off all day, but decided that we weren’t going to let that stop us from what turned out to be a really fun trip.
When we got to Freyburg, we were a little surprised to find that the train station had been all boarded up, and it barely offered any shelter from the rain, which had unfortunately picked up a bit. We could already see the castle perched on its hill above the city, so we decided to follow the other tourist-looking folks from the train to find our way to the castle. Unfortunately, the rain proved too much, so we took a short detour into the town to look for an umbrella. Freyburg seems to pride itself for its wine, vineyards cover many of the hillsides, and grape vines grow on many of the buildings. Catering to tourists on a Saturday didn’t seem to a high a priority. We walked around essentially empty streets full of beautiful little scenes.
After a few minutes of wandering, we found a drugstore with a few umbrellas, and from there we decided to venture into the center of town before climbing up to the castle. There was a great church and several other buildings that were fun to see, but the castle called.

There was a nice set of stairs that wound its way back and forth up the hill, and although we’ve gotten a little out of shape on our chocolate and wurst diet here, we managed to make it to the top.
The castle had several courtyard areas that offered some great views of the valley below. Inside, a portion of the castle has been restored and now houses a museum that shows how the castle was built and what life was like in the castle. We really liked the exhibits, and it was fun to wander up and down the ancient hallways.

One of the most notable portions of the castle is the double chapel. The people living in the castle attended in the main chapel upstairs, but they had a grate in the floor that they would open up so that people could gather in a similar hall down stairs and listen to the services.

The weather was quite a bit colder than it’s been for a lot of our trip, but Ainslie kept her feet warm in a nifty little pair of Nikes from Aunt Breezy. We kept them covered most of the trip, but people at the train station thought they were awesome. We think they’re pretty cool too.

The gardens around the castle were pretty nice too. They had flowers, several different varieties of grapes, and of course, more spectacular views of the beautiful German countryside.
When we had seen everything up top, we headed back down to the city for a bit of apple streudel before catching our train, but Freyburg was again uninterested in our tourist dollars. Turns out almost everything in the town closes at 1 on Saturday (13:00), so we had a wurst (again) and headed back to wait for our train back to a city that stays open a bit later.

The trip was lots of fun. We’ve really enjoyed the chance to get out and see some of the sites around here. This week we’re hoping to get out to cross a few more things off of our “Germany” list before we head out to warmer climes on Saturday . . .

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Date with Dad

So, I’m pretty awesome, and hanging out with me is lots of fun. But, sometimes I like to give Mom a break and go on a little daddy-daughter date. Two weeks ago we ventured off together, and I cried the whole way home until he carried me with one arm and tried to push the stroller with the other. Ha! That way he’ll know that hanging out with me isn’t just fun and games all day while he’s at work. But, he’s a courageous chap, and last week we headed out again (this time we just left the stroller behind). We had lots of fun. We walked around the city center making people smile at how dang cute I am. Dad ate a tasty bratwurst and managed to do it without spilling any mustard on me. After that, we bought some chocolate and headed home. Dad thinks I’m pretty great, and is always willing to give things a second try, even when there’s the risk of a daddy-daughter disaster when Mom’s not around.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Where Chocolate Fears to Tread . . .

Germany is great for lots of reasons. Porsches, bratwurst, lederhosen, doenner kebaps, cobblestone streets, old churches, and chocolate, to name a few. But, this post goes out to the chocolate. It’s great, and we eat a lot of it. Janae wasn’t nearly as big of a chocolate fan as Josh at home, but now everyday when Josh comes home from work there’s one more wrapper and one less chocolate bar waiting for him. It’s nice to have so much support when it comes to buying chocolate at the store, but the competition is . . . well, we just have to buy more chocolate these days.

On a different note, we recently purchased our tickets for our travels once Josh is done with work. We decided to go to Athens, Paris, Rome, and Venice. Athens was a bit of a surprise for all of us, but Janae has always wanted to go. When it looked like a possibility, Josh started "googling" stuff about Athens, and there was no going back. So, Athens it is. We're excited about Paris too because at first it didn't look like we would be able to fit it in while we're here, but the tickets worked out great from Athens. And, we've been looking forward to Rome and Venice all along. We fly out from Berlin on Aug. 4, so after that the posts may not be quite as frequent until we get back into Leipzig on Aug. 15. We'll do our best to keep everyone informed about how the trip is going. Should be lots of fun.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Ainslie!

Today marks our little Ainslie’s three month birthday. We’re amazed each day at how much she is growing up. Last night we got what may have been a first giggle, and she’s gotten pretty vocal when she’s got something to share with us. We love her lots, and think she’s the cutest. Happy Birthday, Ainslie!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

African Name for Ainslie

Leipzig is a unique city for missionary work because they only have sister missionaries here, and they make up their own district. Yesterday, the sisters invited us to attend a family home evening with them and one of their investigators, a man named Victor from Nigeria. The evening went well, and Janae was really in her element sharing the gospel with someone from Africa. Victor was excited when he heard that Janae has an African name from her mission (Amarachi – Grace of God), and he offered to come up with a name for Ainslie. The lesson was on the tree of life, so Janae whipped up a dandy of a cake with lots of desirable fruit. It was great. Victor, who is here studying mechanical engineering, was a very nice man, and he has a great love for the Bible. We really enjoyed the chance to share a little bit of the Book of Mormon with him. Josh was also interested to talk with him about the political situation in Nigeria. The African name for Ainslie? Chigozie – Gift from God.
The church house here in Leipzig is beautiful, so we thought it was probably worth posting a picture of it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wir Sind Drei Berilnern!

Saturday we decided to travel a little north to Berlin for a chance to visit one of Janae’s former mission companions, Sophie Kühmstedt (Reiner), and see everything that we could fit into one day. With Sophie as our able guide, we fit a lot into one giant day. Ainslie was good. The weather was good. It was a great day on all accounts. We especially enjoyed spending the day with Sophie and the chance to meet her husband Thando. They were very kind to spend so much time with us, and Sophie insisted on sharing the chocolates we bought for her to say thank you.

After a delicious breakfast, Sophie showed us where we would be heading. Here’s a few glimpses of the things that we saw:

The Berliner Dom was beautiful inside and out. We had to pay a bit to get a look at the interior, and we were surprised to see a wedding ceremony being performed when we walked in. (Last week we weren’t able to get into the Frauenkirche because there were weddings all day. ‘Tis the season . . .) The were more than enough seats for all of the wedding guests to sit up front while all of the tourists watched from the back, and we all got to enjoy the organ music at the end of the ceremony. (The couple even looked like Nelson and Meri James, some friends from home).
We originally thought from the extravagant décor that this was probably a Catholic church, but the statues of Zwingli, Luther, and Calvin “reformed” this mistake.
We were impressed with the facilities for the Humboldt University Law School. Looks a little nicer than the windowless building were Josh spends all of his Saturdays (maybe they should get some statues on the roof at BYU).
We had heard that Berlin is a very modern city, and it definitely is. But, we were impressed with the number of old churches and other buildings that have been preserved/restored.
On our way to Checkpoint Charlie, Sophie took us to a fantastic chocolate store that had chocolate replicas of many of the famous buildings in Berlin.

(above) Reichstag – the government seat

(left) Memorial Church – left unrestored as a memorial after the bombings

(above) Brandenburg Gate – an icon of the Berlin wall
At Checkpoint Charlie Janae and Sophie entered the American Sector (for a bottled water), and we read a bit about the history of the wall.

At the Reichstag, Ainslie worked her charm and got us all to the front of the line to climb the ramp in the glass dome on the top of the building.
The dome was great, but from the looks of it, Ainslie was probably the biggest fan of being on top. We were all big fans of hers for getting us to the front of the line.
Although the glass dome doesn’t really match up with the rest of the architecture, the glass ceiling and mirrored column symbolize the way that government should be visible to the people. Nothing should be hidden. We couldn’t see any government functions happening below, but we were able to keep an eye on the snack counter without any problems.
Sophie took us to the KaDeWe, the best mall in Berlin. Of course, Janae wanted to visit the top floor for the views . . . and the specialty foods. The cheese sector was especially tantalizing.
Later in the day Thando joined us for a walk around some of the famous courtyards in Berlin. Nowadays, they are popular hangout spots with restaurants, shops, and beautiful apartments.
With all of the great things we saw in Berlin, it was easy to forget that the city was once divided. Now, there are only a few remnants of the wall around, but we did get to see this old tower and a section of the wall.
All of the sightseeing, history, and time with friends made for a long day, and at the end everyone was pretty worn out. But, we had a great time. Thanks again to Sophie and Thando. Maybe if they're ever out in Utah we can return the favor some time . . .