Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date Night

The night Pirate's of the Caribbean came out, Brian and I had arranged with Brittany and the girls to go on a date.  Before we left, the girls had surprised us and made us this awesome basket.  There were free movie tickets, popcorn, sodas, candy and a bunch of fun notes. Isn't this cute?  They really are such sweet girls.

A few of the pictures were taken with my phone so they turned out blurry. This is when they brought us up to show us.

Then I found all these pictures taken on the girls' camera. Xanthe and Spencer had a fun time of it. 

Dirty face! Yay.

Aren't these pictures awesome? 

These girls are just so beautiful, it floors me.  It was fun to come home to see all these pictures.  Thanks girls for the awesome date night and for helping to watch Spencer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spencer with friends

Spencer stayed at Addison and Cambria Davies' house while Brittany (our friend/nanny) was babysitting them too.  It looks like they were having a good time, don't you think?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Railroad Tracks

On one of our trips to Downtown Wiesbaden, I decided to have the family ride the train.  So, everyone walked to the little train station down the street from our house.  The girls were upset at the idea thinking it was going to be no fun... that is, until I shared with them the fun of putting coins on the track.  It all changed from there.  They had so much fun that they ask to go quite frequently.  Once I schooled them with the "train track rules," they have been walking down there very chance they get.  How fun are these photos?

Smashing Coins

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Finally Flying to the States

Continuing Travel Saga of Traveling to the States
Guest Writer: Xoe Villa

I know there is a lot of writing and not a lot of pictures, but I asked Xoe to tell me about the trip as I typed along with her.  There were some funny moments and I tried to capture her version of what happened. I love hearing kids' descriptions. I decided to keep it even though it's wordy. I want to remember it.  

Quick Introduction: After the girls' flight was cancelled to the states the first time (remember? we escaped to Holiday Park), they were rebooked for the next day-- same time, same plane.  Luckily, we were all packed! It kinda felt nice going to bed early and NOT stressed.  Probably won't ever happen again. We usually are up all night the night before, no matter how prepared we thought we were.

Interview with Xoe Villa
Mom: So, Xoe... first you had a ten hour flight with a layover in Dallas.  How did the long flight go? Did you have enough to do on the flight and did they have movies on the backs of the seats (cuz it's always a toss up each time we get on the plane even when we check in advance)?
Xoe: Noooo! (in a "can you believe it" voice!)  We were so bummed!  But... (and then she changes her tone) it didn't really matter.  We took our Melatonin and Benadryl with dinner and slept for 8 hours.  (I'm rolling my eyes and chuckling at this point)

Mom: So what happened when you got off the plane?  Did you stay with the flight attendant?
Xoe:  Of course! They never let you go anywhere by yourself!  (She's thinking this is a bad thing? I'm so glad). We were attached to them. 

Mom:  Where did they take you?
Xoe:  They took us into a special room and told us our next flight was cancelled AGAIN and they had to come up with a whole new one to put us on cuz there wasn't one.  We were so frustrated and scared cuz we didn't know what was happening and we were all alone.  But the flight attendant we were with was really nice.  We were really tired and really hungry.  There was this Indian guy who was a flight attendant who gave us $20 but took us to McDonald's.  We could have gone to a restaurant, but I didn't want to. Xanthe was mad cuz she didn't want McDonald's.  But when we got there, he made us spend all of the money cuz it was a one-time offer.  We had 3 milkshakes, 4 chicken nuggets, 2 burgers, 5 things of fries and believe it or not we got to take it on the plane.  hahaha.  We felt SOOOO sick afterwards. So much junk food.  Oh and then we each got a Coke.

Mom:  What did you do the whole time while you were in that room?  Were you bored having to wait the extra time because of the delay?
Xoe:  Played our DSi's, we played on our cell phone, we watched "Adventure Time," played with the helium balloons (we breathed them in to make funny voices and then filled them back with our own breath and played "don't let it touch the ground.")  

Mom:  Were there other kids? 
Xoe: Ya, there was a 17 year old, 12 year old, 10 year old and 11 year old and then there was the 10 and 11 year old were with the 12 year old. There were others who were coming and going.  But they didn't fly overseas.  Their parents just brought them cuz they lived in Dallas.  We were the only ones super tired cuz it was the middle of the night for us. There was another girl who was kind of annoying cuz we was acting super fake.

(Mom's Side Note: I was kind of freaking out because their flights had been cancelled once while they were in the air and then they got word when they were waiting in the kids room that their flight was cancelled again.  It was 1 a.m. and I was really tired from all the late nights.  I had handled it okay up until that point.  I also knew the girls would be tired because it was late for them, and I was worried no one would worry about feeding them and making sure they could lay down.  I made a Facebook post saying how frustrated I was with American Airlines and an amazing friend of mind who lives in Brea and knows my parents, Andrea Thompson, happened to be in Dallas at the time visiting her mom.  She pretty much just took over calling my mom and getting information for me. The best thing of all?  Her mom is Operations Manager of American Airlines and her dad was Head of Security at the airport.  She told me to go to bed and they would make sure the girls were taken care of, and that if anything happened, they were 10  minutes away and she would go pick the girls up.  Her mom knew the people and she worked with my mom to make sure the girls were taken care of.  Bless her! It couldn't have been more perfect that she was there and had such great connections. I really acknowledge how blessed we were.)

Mom: Did you get to talk to anyone to let them know how you were?
Xoe:  We were so happy cuz we got a call from Grammy. It was really late back home and my mom didn't know the number.  Mom had given me a list in our important documents wallet of all our family's numbers. We called Uncle Ben and Nanette, Daddy, you but no one answered.  Finally we got a hold of Grammy.  I think we tried to call Ruthy or Amber but I can't remember.  Grammy said it's okay she's so glad we're responsible when we called her. She said she'll make sure she'll be there on time even though we were dealyed.

Mom:  What else can you remember?
Xoe:  We had to pee really bad because of all the Coke. Then we handed out the food to half the people in the room and the workers outside cuz we had so much.  We barely drank any of the milkshake.  It was cool. On the side they had this white board calendar thing that said the flight schedule, times, and it had the kids' names and what time their flights were, their flight number and what time they were supposed to come into the room.  They had all the kids names and ours was last and it said "xanthexoe villa" and all our information. They meant to squish our names together because there wasn't a lot of room.

Mom:  So, when you were ready to go to your flight
Xoe:  they took us on a cart and they drove really, really fast and we gotta sit next to a bunch of old people. we made friends with them they said they live in L.A. and they were visiting germany cuz that's where their parents live. so then when we had to stop at theirs and they were like, "goodbye, little sweeties. I hope you have a good time in L.A." (cuz they had to fly out to somewhere else to visit the husband's sister, I forgot where). 

then we had stop at another guys' stop. i didn't understand what he was saying cuz he spoke another language. finally we got to our stop and we were sitting next to the door.  she was the same stewardess we had made friends with before at our long flight.   on the plane, there was this whole school of kids visiting texas and they were going to L.A. for some field trip. so then me, Xanthe and Koby...

Mom: Wait... who's Koby?
Xoe: He was another kid. The only other (unaccompanied) minor.  first when we were sitting we had to sit next to this really annoying woman and thankfully so we didn't have to sit by her. the stewardess said maybe we should have all the minors sit together.  the minors would fit perfectly here.  so she switched Koby's seat with the woman but she still had to sit across from us.  He's from L.A. but lives kind of near Santa Barbara.  He was cool to hang out with and we still keep in touch with him (even when we were in the states we would text and skype with him).  

Mom:  Wait, why was it dark? Your flight was in the day. 
Xoe:  no it wasn't cuz remember it was the 4 hour delay. it was completely dark when we got there.  I remember the parking lot being dark. remember those big cylinder things outside of lax with the colors? those were on and they were really bright.

Mom:  So, when you got off the plane, what happened?
Xoe:  Umm... Grammy was there waiting for us.  so when we were at the 2 hour delay, we called grammy again to tell her and she said that was okay and we asked her for sure who was picking us up. she said "ohhh either me or grampy or maybe both of us. but none of your cousins could come. everyone else was busy. we're trying to figure it out cuz all of us are kind of busy (she was trying to trick us)." and believe it or not we actually believed her.  we were kind of disappointed cuz we wanted to see all of our cousins on the day we got there.  we were going to california, whoe wouldn't want to seee all of their cousins.

anyways, so then when we got off the plane there was grammy and grampy. so we were relieved cuz when we thought it was going to be only one of them so we were happy we got to see them.  so then.... we were walking and we went on those moving platforms.  that was so fun. xanthe and I were running back and forth on them while grammy and grampy were taking forever.  after going on like five of the platform things, the last one which was the 6th one, and the 6th one we saw people running back and forth across behind the revolving doors.  we didn't know who it was.  we thought it was another people's family.  we were kind of tired anyway.  as we were walking, we made out the facesof Max running, then saw Ollie running, and Ruby, Piper and Rocky.  We were freaking out!  

Mom:  What did you do at that point?  You bolted through the doors?
Xoe:  No, no no, just wait!  this is the funny part. So then we were running and we ran to the middle where there were some revolving doors but it wasn't turning and the janitor wouldn't let us go through.  so then we were like, what's going on? So then he said go that way and he was speaking a different language i couldn't understand. so finally we went through the other revolving doors and they were those ones that you had to push really hard and we were getting really frustrated. so we kept pushing and jumping into them and finally opened and we ran to everyone and started hugging them.  the other cool thing? they got us balloons and made us a sign.  

we were so excited they came. we were sad it was gonna be just G&G and so we had fun and played with the kids. they helped us get our baggage and I played with archer.  then we all got in the car and went back to grammy' house. surprisingly we weren't jetlagged tired.  that was an awesome way to start our trip.  We love our aunties and uncles and cousins and grammy and grampy!  they're the best!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cancelled Plane Flight=Amusement Park

So, after the girls got back from Girls Camp, that was when I had planned a huge Going Away Party with their friends that started at the Army Base's Independence Day Celebration.  You'll see the post here.

The next day was Sunday which we spent packing and packing and packing.  The girls were scheduled to leave early Monday morning to fly back to the states for the entire summer.   By Sunday night, their bags were already in the car, they were showered and dressed in their traveling clothes.  Their passports, traveling documents, unaccompanied minor passes, Melatonin and Benadryl, money and Emergency Phone Numbers were already organized and packed into a nice little organized coupon wallet.  And we had already set the alarm to make sure we were up by 6:30 a.m. to be out the door by 7.  The excitement and nervousness had already been set and everyone was ready to go.  So, to get a call at 4:00 a.m. that same morning from the airlines stating that their flight would be delayed an entire day was extremely disappointing to the girls who were so excited to see their dad, his little family, my mom and dad, aunts and uncles, all their cousins, .  They were SO disappointed.  I didn't even know how to break the news.

So, who swoops in to the rescue?  Brian, of course.  He announces that we're all going to Holiday Park! Remember the amusement park the girls love and went to with their Youth Center I posted about a few days ago?  Yup. He wanted the girls to get their mind off it so he took the day off and we all went to Holiday Park.

Get ready, there are quite a few pictures.  You'll see why.

So, Xanthe got a hold of the camera and started taking some cool shots of Spencer and Brian, as well as Xoe and the water fountains.  Xoe took some that I posted awhile later. This is where the tons of pictures come in.  Check them out.  And as always they surprise me with how great their photography skills are without any training yet. (Keep in mind that it looks like Blogger compressed them a lot so some of them appear darker than the original).

I love this set of pictures.  She caught some great emotions and moments.

This is Xoe now taking pictures. She does a super amazing job too.  Although I deleted a bunch of the water, just like I did with Xanthe's.  There are like 75 pictures of the water up in the air.

Spencer LOVED to watch the roller coasters. He kept calling them trains. Which, I guess if you think about it, they're on a track, cars hooked together, so I guess they are.

Brian and the girls went on the big roller coaster so Spencer and I played nearby.  We found a place that was central to the roller coaster so he could see it racing by.  Check out the video I posted.

This next picture was near where Spencer and I were.  I had to take a second look as I was walking by. Anyone guess what I thought I saw. Haha.

They had this amazing car ride that all 3 kids, including the 12 year olds, did NOT want to get off of.

Okay, and those of you who have lived in Germany before, or Europe for that matter, this next set of pictures totally crack me up EVERY TIME I SEE THEM.  Cuz this is exactly what happens EVERY TIME we are at a light.  Germany is notorious for putting their lights far lower than we have them in the states, and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to when they are going to change.  Sometimes you could be sitting at a light for a very long time, and everyone does EXACTLY what they did.  I still crack up scrolling past this sequence. haha.
Xoe waiting at the light for awhile.

Xanthe rolling up next to her.  Maybe swap a bit of chit chat.

Still waiting.

Ummmm, what's happening?  Why isn't it changing?

I love this traffic circle. This whole car place was spot-on with the signs and one way streets.  We have amazing traffic circles which alleviates many 4-way stops.  Traffic flows so much better. Wish the states would adopt this.

This next sequence of pictures I am posting mainly for my brothers in the states, even though they'll probably never see it.  These characters were so random to me.  They probably aren't that random to the Germans, but we had no idea who they were or what they were saying.  And even though I posted pictures of many scenes, it was kind of funny that most of the little boat tour was barren and then a random scene.   I think it was supposed to be scary, it probably was for Spencer's age, but it was a little silly to us. We started making up our own story.  Just take the time to analyze each picture. It's kinda funny.  Snow bombs by riding a bike. the evil snowman freezing the boat riders and the dragon saving the day by blowing his hot air on you (via a heater).  Pretty funny.

This is what it looked like most of the way.

After we ate a late lunch, we were all kind of tired so we killed some time in this little playhouse for the babies.  We ended up making an obstacle course that got us laughing so hard.  Well, at least me.  i won't post all the videos but these ones give you an idea.  Sorry for my giggling in the background.

All in all, it was a very fun day! Thank you Brian for cheering us all up by surprising us with this.  You rock!