Friday, March 21, 2014

The French Alps

Have you ever imagined yourself high in the Alps skiing in powder up to your knees? Kellen and I have...And this weekend we got to live that dream. Kellen's work (BCG Brussles) coordinates a ski weekend each year and when we were invited to go we jumped on the opportunity. After submitting our final payments for the trip we began to second guess ourselves as we learned that no other kids or even spouses were going on the trip. We wondered if we emerge crazy to try to take Maddie.

It took quite the transportation effort to get to our destination. With a stroller, car seat, lots of luggage and an occasionally fussy baby it was a challenge-I would say we are kind of crazy.
We arrived just after midnight at our destination: Les 3 Valles Ski Area in the French Alps! Which claims to be the largest ski resort in the world. We were excited to discover our hotel was quite charming and was ski-in ski-out! Also, lucky for us there was a "crèche" or daycare right next to our hotel where we took Maddie while we were skiing
Our first day of skiing was perfect. The sun shining over head, it was nice and warm, and the sky was so blue! 
We were above the tree line so there weren't any trees at the resort, just jagged rocks rising up through the snow. This made for a very beautiful and dramatic scene.
As part of our "ski package" the hotel provided lunch for our entire group. Back in college, Kellen and I got very used to  to eating a smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of our pockets while we skied. The three course lunches we had were quite an upgrade. Europeans sure know how to eat!
This resort is famous for its "après ski." Near the end of the ski day everyone gathers for a huge party at the mid-mountain lodges! Featuring a huge out door dance floor, DJ, live performances, and many people who seemed to have misplaced some of their ski clothes (I mean honestly how else do you end up in just a speedo on the ski slopes!) Let's just say it reminded us of MTV spring break. 
Here is part of the BCG crew at La Folie Douce. In total There were 25 people on the trip, 26 if you include baby Maddie!

After a great ski day, we had a traditional French dinner. It is raclette cheese that you heat up until it melts and scrape off onto boiled potatoes. You eat it with an assortment of cured meats.
It is one of our new favorites- filling and fabulous!
That night, it began to snow and we woke up to...
... a winter wonderland. It just kept snowing and snowing which made for two more amazing, yet very cold, days of skiing! One thing that is great about skiing in Europe is the lifts do not close until 5pm so you get a longer ski day!

The second night we ventured out into the snow to walk around the charming little village and find a place to eat dinner.
This picture is in front of our hotel as we struggled to push the stroller through the snow!
After dinner, we walked around the small mountain village and got dessert from a charming little bakery! 
Our last day we skied in the morning in powder up to our knees. It was incredible.

I wish I had more pictures but it was just too cold to even think about taking off my gloves off get out my phone! After we finished skiing we met everyone for our last lunch then got ready to head home.
That's when I got very sick. I believe it was food poisining. I threw up multiple times and could barley stand up for more than a few minutes. This made for a VERY long trip home. It was a 3hr bus ride (I was just grateful that I did not throw up), 2hrs at the Geneva airport (where I resorted to laying on the concrete floor), a 1hr plane ride, a 20 min train ride, and finally a 15 min deive until we finally arrived at home. Thankfully, Kellen totally took care of Maddie and she was a very good girl during all the traveling. 
He wins the best dad ever award!

Overall it was a wonderful trip and we feel so blessed to have been able to see and ski at such an amazing place. Oh, and for the record, I swapped out my snowboard for skis for half the day on Saturday. My dad would have been very proud!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wonderful Weather = Lots of Time Outside

The weather this week has been delightful- and by this I mean average temperatures in th 60's! So we have been spending a lot of time outside at the parks around town. 
There have been tons of other people outside enjoying the beautiful weather.
One afternoon after we got home I caught Maddie "black handed" as she was eating her navy blue bow and dye from the bow got all over her face and shirt... haha!

Saturday we had a very laid back/relaxing day. We started out by going to one of our favorite places- Flagey market- to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. Then we went for a walk around... yes, another park!
It's finally beginning to look a little bit like Spring here (and check out the cheeks on that baby)!
During our walk we came across an interesting Belgian sight. Above is a picture of how people move their furniture. Since most homes only have tiny elevators or no elevator at all. To get furniture out of the higher floors of the narrow homes they use this escalator-type thing. Furniture is put out the window and onto this machine and brought down to the street. It makes me appreciate how easy it is to move in America with large freight elevators and wide hallways.

We also spent Sunday afternoon at the Park.
On our way home we passed this speed limit sign. This is not an ordinary speed limit sign. This week pollution levels were high in Brussels so they dropped all of the speed limits for the whole city for the week to 50km/hr which is about 30miles/hr. The goal is to discourage people from driving and encourage them to use public transportation. 
We also celebrated another big event in our life as new parents: Maddie turned 4 months old!
She is such a happy little girl weighing in at 13.5 lbs and measuring 25 inches tall.
She loves to play in her bouncer and eats everything in sight.
She loves bath time and looking at herself in the mirror.
She still can not roll over and does not enjoy tummy time at all.
She can stand up with our help and looks like a little hula girl with her hips wobbling everywhere.
She likes when Daddy is home and when he carries her around the house.
She is a great sleeper and sleeps through the whole night! She is always happy and makes my job as her mom so much fun! We are so in love with our little Maddie girl!

My missionary job in Belgium

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We had the chance to go to dinner with the Mission President and his wife of the Paris France Mission. For those of you who do not know I am working as a volunteer with all of the LDS missionaries in Northern France and Brussels (270 in total) to coordinate their medical care and help keep them all healthy. The missionaires are young men and women who leave their home (for 18 months for the girls and 2 years for the boys) to come serve people and teach people about Jesus Christ. They can be sent anywhere in the world and do not get to chose where they go. The mission president is in charge of all of the missionaries in a certain area. The President of the Paris France mission and his wife are truly amazing people and it was so fun to spend an evening with them. We had dinner then walked around downtown Brussels and finished our night off with a famous Belgium waffle at the Mannequin Pis statue. 

It was St. Patrick's Day so the Grand Place was all lit up in green!

The reason the mission president and his wife were in Brussels was that one of the leaders of our church, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, was visiting Brussels to have meetings with the European Union. The next day Maddie and I had the opportunity to go hear him speak. He spoke to a group of missionaires, making Maddie the only baby present. Elder Chistofferson was so kind as he met us and spoke to baby Maddie and his words were truly motivating and inspiring. I enjoy working with the missionaries and am grateful for the chance it gives me to keep using some of my medical knowledge while we are here in Belgium.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Locks of Love

Don't you just love a lazy Sunday morning with a breakfast buffet? We do, and so does Maddie with her first time in a high chair.

Then we jumped back on the road and after only a 30 minute drive we arrived here...

I love how close everything is. This is the "Dom" or the Cologne Cathedral. It has the largest facade of any church in the world. It's spires rise high into the sky and the details are impeccable.

As we entered the enormous church, music from the organ filled the air and people filed to the front for sacrament as Sunday Mass was well underway.

Next to the Dom is a huge steel bridge that goes across the Rhine river. The railing of the bridge is covered with locks. The tradition is that people on love will attach a lock to the railing and then they toss the keys in the river.  As long as the lock stays on the railing the love will stay strong. They're locks of love!

We even found a lucky lock for my brother Tom and his cute wife Melyssa!

Here is a view from across the river looking back at the old town in Colonge.

Then we took a Sunday sfternoon stroll by the river and into the old town...

...where we stumbled across some amazing street art...

...and ended our Koln-Dusseldorf tour with a classic Greman sausage.