Saturday, May 30, 2009

Austria and Slovakia

A definate benefit to living in France is the easy access to travel. When we found out that Shane had a 5 day weekend, we looked for the cheapest flights we could find to a bunch of various destinations. Austria turned out to be our best choice and away we flew!

Vienna was a beautiful city. It was clean, had gorgeous old buildings, tons of history, huge parks, multiple Starbucks, amazing food and super nice people. For instance, we were looking at our map, trying to find Mozarts house when a little old lady saw us. She not only showed us on the map where the house was, she walked us to it. Now thats customer service! The weather was perfect- sunshine in the upper 70's. We even got a little tan, which has yet to happen in Lille :) On our continueing quest for culture (insert wink here), we went to the Belvedere museum. It was a rich man's giant old summer vacation mansion. The city of Vienna has converted it into an art museum. At the time of our visit,we saw an exhibit of Mucha's work and the general art gallery. This museum actually had the original of "The Kiss" by Klimt. Kayden seemed to enjoy the art too, testing out her new sounds (dadada, bababa, t-t-t-t) in the nice quiet rooms.

Our next stop was Slovakia. We took the train from Vienna to Bratislava and stepped into a different world. Slovakia was under communist rule up until 1989. Though it has experienced tremendous economic growth since, the remenants of hard times remain. The actual city of Bratislava was clean with older buildings, on the river Danube and once again, had wonderfully nice people. A castle perched on a hilltop overlooked the city. Unfortunately, the castle was under restoration so we were unable to see the inside. Yet the views from the hilltop overlooking the city were quite spectacular. We were so happy in Bratislava, discovering the richness that Eastern Europe had to offer and enjoyed scrumtrulescent food and sights. An added bonus, it was a bit cheaper than other countries we had visited.

Vacation was great and it was hard to return back to the reality and routiene of our every day lives. One fun fact I learned upon our return that I care to share.... Vienna is ranked among the top 5 best cities to live in the world. Having visited Vienna and many other places around the world, I can fully understand this honor.
Walking over the Danube River, Bratislava in the background
View from the castle over looking the city
Opera in Bratislava
Part of the Hofberg Complex, the former emperor's residence (Vienna)
Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain and Soviet Monument commemorating the Russian liberation of Vienna

Karlskirche, dedicated to St Charles Borromeo, patron saint of the plague

Kayden's first swim in a pool!

Stephansdom church- dedicated to the first martyr, Steven, in the heart of Vienna

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eating Out

Our favorite restaurant in town is a small Italien place called "Chez Guissepe". We have been going here about once a month since before Kayden was born. They have a small menu but every item is amazing and the pasta is made fresh as you wait. The waiters are familiar and friendly with us and we manage to communicate fairly well... on a good day.

ANYWAYS, today I took my friend there for lunch, promising her an excellent meal. As we turned on to the street, I realized the restaruant sign was no longer there. WHAT!!! How could they get rid of my favorite place!!! Then I realized that it was still there, just under a new name. AND the food was the same. The food was incredible but Kayden did not want to sit still. Also, high chairs are not common in France, so it was my lap or the stroller. She was squirming all over, whining and having "stranger anxiety" towards my friend. In my mind, I thought, how the heck am I going to survive this meal! Waiter to the rescue! Our favorite server took Kayden and brought her around the restaurant. She was giggling and having a blast. He showed her off at every table, toured her around the kitchen and held her until I was done eating. He has to do 2 rounds around the place. It was so fun to watch, as well as finish a meal. They have kept my business, even if they changed the name!

Monday, May 18, 2009

6 months

Today Kayden is 6 months old. Half a year. Wow. How did that happen?
As I think about the last 6 months, I am blown away by how much Kayden has changed. Her daily new discoveries never cease to amaze me. When did she go from a completely helpless infant to a bustling little baby? Though she still is dependent upon us, her little personality is starting to emerge. Always chattering away, her new sounds are "dadadada, bababbaba, t t t t t," as well as just yelling while strolling on cobblestone since her voice becomes quivery. She loves holding her own bottle, attempting to turn the pages in her books, playing in her "office/ activity center", putting her binky in and out of her mouth, applesauce and bananas, Phase 10 playing cards, being with other kids and morning cuddle time. (I love cuddle time too!)

Each night before Shane and I go to sleep, we have "Peek on Peanut" time. We sneak into her dark room and just stare at her in the crib. It is one of my favorite moments of the day when together we stand in awe and joy over our precious daughter. Last night I was overcome by the thought of how Jesus does the same to us, smiling at His creation, enjoying what He has made. I felt like I had a small glimpse of the intense love that He has for me, for Kayden. What a gift I have been given to share this love with Kayden.

Happy 1/2 Birthday Kayden Joy!

The bear and doll have nothing on me now!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Good times with Mom

These past two weeks have been filled with "hang out with mom time." She came out for 10 days to keep me company while Shane was gone on a training exercise. Of course, being with Kayden was the main draw!
It was so nice to have her here. Last time she came to visit, I had just come home from the hospital after giving birth and was a bit less inclinced to show her the sights of Lille and beyond. This trip, we were able to explore my town and its many walking paths. We also took day trips to Brugge, Belgium and a tulip show at a castle near Brussels. Even though we did get out of the house, mom's main focus was being with Kayden every second. Kayden sure misses her constant attention. I miss the extra time I had on my hands! An added bonus was that Mom was here for Mother's Day. How fun to have 3 generations of women together!
I feel so blessed to have been able to spend this "girl bonding" time with mom. We ate loads of chocolate and just enjoyed being together, with great talks and laughter. God has given me a wonderful mother, whom I admire and love.
So, mom, when do you come again??

Mother's Day in Lille