First World Problems

I am looking forward to a fresh start today as the last week as been dominated by breakdowns and meltdowns at the house trying to put things together.

Sunday, was one of them! I am feeding the missionaries a huge roast beef dinner and the next thing I know the dishwasher goes out…first world problems.

Yesterday, we woke up and the air conditioning is on the brink….it is 91 today.

I don’t know why that would bother me…geesh I lived in 91 in Nicaragua and didn’t have a breeze blow on me for weeks.

Add that to replacing the car, the lawn mower, the carpet, the cooktop and the microwave this last two weeks.

The hardest thing for me being back is just the time wasted on first world problems. We live in such a weird society. A hut looks very nice right now. What we have to spend on just getting things repaired is the other thing that is difficult right now. In my mind I am thinking, that would buy a house for so and so in the Dominican. We could build a school with that money. Yet we have to deal with it…and will. Of course, I am not going to live without a dishwasher or AC if I don’t have too. It is a teeter-totter I am on right now.

This video made me laugh….still struggling to get back to normal after the summer.

5 Things to Know Today

1. Brian and I freaked out and decided to get new carpet for our upstairs two days ago and it is being installed today. Um….we have needed carpet for about 8 years, but I didn’t realize what a monumental job that would be clearing out the top floor where we all live to have it replaced.

We don’t like to think through these things….like hmmm….maybe we should touch up the paint, since it looks worse than ever which leads me to number 2 today. I hate to spend the money on carpet and would rather live in a hut and travel and have experiences then spend more on housing….so this for me was put off until my husband couldn’t stand it another minute….and then you know it was time.

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2. I decided I would touch up our bedroom paint which is a ice cake blue Martha Stewart color, but that started a chain reaction of the fresh paint looking WAY higher gloss than the original and $100.00 later now I need to bring in a painter to paint the whole room.

Look at Lizzy not too excited about this job!
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Bad luck since I just wanted to touch up some baseboards and a hall in my room that is so scratched up from years of kids.

This is exactly why I don’t do home maintenance anything.

Time, money…lack of skills…it is so frustrating.

We will love the new carpet and I won’t hate to say goodbye to this dog, constructor grade carpet that we have had in our room for nearly 13 years.

3. School started today for Chase. He is a junior and looked dapper in his uniform this morning. Gone are the days of prepping him for his education. He is off to successfully launch with little or no help from me, which made me a little more teary eyed than when I sent him to kindergarten.

The rest of the kids will start after labor day their homeschool program as I need a week to put things together.

4. The travel business has been hot this week and we have been booking people all over the Caribbean and Mexico in all inclusive packages for their school vacation weeks, which has been joyful thing for me.

 

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I always love to plan and book travel and I would do it in my sleep if I could.

5. Our website for Color My World that was hacked is getting worked on right now. My little brother, Glen, who is on our board is helping me load themes and I was lucky to pull together old content the last couple of weeks that makes me thrilled that we might have something together in time to launch our groups.

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I guess I am spending next summer in the third world again. I miss it already!

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I hate spending hours on this carpet production when my friends have dirt floors. I swear the things we waste time fretting over here is ridiculous but part of this vicious lifestyle we live in America. I am all about living in a hut the rest of my life.

My friend, Gail, who we partner with in Costa Rica, literally lives on $12,000 a year and has a fabulous lifestyle of service and is completely fulfilled.

Her life makes me rethink my priorities and all of our junk in our home.

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Pulling out all of these bedrooms for carpet has made me wonder why we live with so much stuff?

Hmmm….think about that today!

Rebuilding My Life

I have taken a long vacation from blogging all because of technical reasons.

As you know, at the beginning of the year, I lost a huge portion of my blog to a technical issue…that ripped my heart out as that was a big part of my journal.  I went back to handwriting in a journal and I found that I wasn’t near as efficient.

Then it was multiple computer crashes in Europe and this summer….frankly if I could leave technology altogether it wouldn’t be a bad idea :)

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(Oh….Italy is so darn dreamy…isn’t it!)

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For weeks, I thought if ignored this thing I would eventually lose my desire to blog and document and that worked for awhile, but recently I feel more impressed to write and get things going again on this website.

So today marks my move back into the blogging world.

Where am I at with my life?

Hmmm…I am on life sabbatical right now…..thinking about where I have been and where I am going, not to mention happy to be content! My soul is so filled with joy because of the people I have met, the discoveries we have made and the time we have spent together as a family.

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Now, I have given myself one month off of everything to decide what the future is….to take a break and to THINK! I am not expecting big change, but I need to make some decision to where and what we are doing especially in regards to the humanitarian work we are doing.

This year has been non-stop travel, a month in Europe, 6 weeks in Dominican, Nicaragua, Peru and Costa Rica and a variety of other short trips to Orlando, San Diego, Utah, Florida, NYC and New Orleans. Of course, it doesn’t top our international destinations but when it comes to family time…it trumped.

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We have been lots of places, I love reminiscing about them all. Orlando believe it or not, was one of my favorites…it was a 2 day stopover on the way to Costa Rica…but I loved the magical time with my kids getting all of their attention.

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If I don’t step on another plane until 2015…I won’t feel bad about it.

I am calling this the rebuild period as I try to put things back together.  I have websites that have crashed because of hackers (Color My World), a car that needed to be replaced, equipment that has caused issues, my iPad was broke by the bellhop at Marriott, my MacBook Pro replaced twice, Go Pro’s lost in the ocean, luggage broken, lawn mowers needed to be replaced. Lots of things destroyed….hmmmm…wondering if I need them now. After you live with so little all summer you come to realize that you need a lot less. (topic for another day!) I will be keeping with this theme of acquiring and managing less this year. It is hard to return and have to battle all of the stupid things we find to be important in the first world.

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But I do know one thing today…and that is that I really miss writing on my blog and in my journal. Just that time in the morning to reflect on where I am in life is like therapy for me this morning. Currently, I am lying in bed, down comforter piled on top of me, resting my head on a fluffy pillow and smiling. It is good to be back! It is good to be reflecting on it!

Favorite shots at the Garbage Dump

This summer, I spent a couple of days in the Garbage Dump community of Chinandega, Nicaragua. People live off of the refuge from the dump. It is quite a site and almost unimaginable.
But I find myself aching to be among “mi familia”!

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Picture Perfect Day in Rothenburg

Today, we made a stop to the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

A popular stop on the romantic road in Germany.

It is well-known for it’s middle age appeal and dates back to 950AD.

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“Rothenburg held a special significance for Nazi ideologists. For them, it was the epitome of the German ‘Home Town’, representing all that was quintessentially German.

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Throughout the 1930s the Nazi organisation “KDF” (“Kraft durch Freude”) Strength through Joy organized regular day trips to Rothenburg from all across the Reich. This initiative was staunchly supported by Rothenburg’s citizenry – many of whom were sympathetic to National Socialism – both for its perceived economic benefits and because Rothenburg was hailed as “the most German of German towns”.

In October 1938 Rothenburg expelled its Jewish citizens, much to the approval of Nazis and their supporters across Germany.”

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There is a heavy influence in this area as Christmas markets are in full swing in this idyllic town.

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A ton of movies have been filmed in Rothenburg including parts of Harry Potter.

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It is just sheer beauty here right now as spring has sprung!

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Rothenburg had several unique bakeries with flavorless items.

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Prior to our stop in Rothenburg we visited Harburg Castle. It was a unique look at medieval life in another area of Bavaria.

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Back to Munich, where I shot this gate from a moving bus!

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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothenburg_ob_der_Tauber

Salzburg and Lake Wolfgangsee

Beautiful Salzburg is where we made our journey to today.

“Salzburg’s “Old Town”  has internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. 

Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid‑20th century, the city was the setting for parts of the musical play and film The Sound of Music.”

The weather was in the mid 40s and we were ill equipped to tackle it with sweatshirts and limited layers.

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The forecast called for snow in Austria and we got our fair share as we were leaving Lake Wolfgangsee at the end of our day.

I love Salzburg! This is like my third or fourth time here…lost count and love it more and more every time I come.

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We didn’t hike up to the castle in this photo because we had limited time and we were frozen to the bone, but we had a good time walking around the area that reminds Hillary of Prague, she said repeatedly.

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Everyday I seem to make a financial faux pas.  Today it was out outrageously expensive Japanese food that we had for lunch.
When I got the bill, I gasped…..I am not quite sure how someone feeds a family of 4 on vacation here.

Panicking when Brian and Chase come next week.  I think I will have to take out a 30 year mortgage to pay off our lunches.

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Salzburg charms!

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One of my favorite parts of the day was our drive to Lake Wolfgangsee.

“Wolfgangsee is a lake in Austria that lies mostly within the state of Salzburg and is one of the best known lakes in the Salzkammergut resort region. The municipalities on its shore are StroblSt. Gilgen with the villages of Abersee and Ried as well as the market town of St. Wolfgang in the state ofUpper Austria. The town and the lake are named after Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg, who, according to legend, built the first church here in the late 10th century.”

 

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We took a boat ride on this scenic lake despite having even a jacket.  It was stunning.  I am not sure what happened to our spring time weather we were promised?  But we enjoyed seeing the cherry blossoms, tulips and bulbs blooming around the towns.

The drive through the Alps to get there was equally as impressive.  I have a soft spot in my heart for Austria as my brother, Brad and Brian’s Dad, served their missions in Austria for the LDS church and my brother, Glen served his mission in the Frankfurt, Germany mission.

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Don’t you just want to sell your entire life and move into a chalet in this region?  It is so peaceful and has been a wonderful break for me. I love the simple life Austria promises!

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Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salzburg

Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle

We are in Germany! This is the first part of our 30 day European tour.

Hillary has finished study abroad in London and flew in yesterday to meet us.

It has been great being reunited after a long semester for us and a great adventure for her.

We kicked off the trip with a day tour out to the Castles of Bavaria with a stop in Oberammergau which is rich with German heritage.

It was great for us as Brian’s grandmother is 100 percent German and his family hails from these surrounding towns.

His mom loves this little gingerbread community so we definitely had to pay a visit.

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“Oberammergau is a municipality in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in BavariaGermany. The town is famous for its production of a Passion Play, its woodcarvers, and the NATO School.”

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Part of the goal for me was to try and see some things that I haven’t seen on previous visits to Europe.

Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle were two bucket list items!

“Linderhof Palace is a schloss in Germany, in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey. It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.”

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Next we headed towards Neuschwanstein Castle.  It was a dream of  mine to visit the castle and was pretty much the inspiration for our trip to Munich. I visited Munich 6 years ago on my way to Hungary but didn’t have time to visit any of the charming surrounding villages.

I thought it was a great way to kick off the trip.

Here is a photo that I shot from the windy bridge on the side of the castle.

It was so windy up there, that I shot one photo and fled. I love the way it turned out though.

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“Neuschwanstein Castle is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest BavariaGermany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds.

The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886.Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle.  More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.  The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland‘s Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.”

 

It is so fun that these Noah and Elizabeth were able to come on the trip.  It is even harder to believe that they are growing up so fast and mature enough to do this type of itinerary.

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We didn’t have time to visit this family castle that overlooked the lake, but I thought it was a beauty. It is tough to have so much money!

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Germany is off to a great start and we are loving the tulips, green grass and blue skies.

Tomorrow, we are off to Salzburg….so check back in! I might actually get this blog moving again.

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Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linderhof_Palace

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuschwanstein_Castle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberammergau

 

New Orleans Via Instagram

Now I am looking at these photos maybe New Orleans isn’t all that bad. I actually had more fun than I thought we would and I loved the plantations that we went to.

Here is an instagram tour of some of my favorite shots albeit a little distorted!

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A couple of weeks ago we took a quick little trip to New Orleans.
I hadn’t been there, it was the AAOS Orthopedic Meeting for Brian and so we hijacked the trip and the hotel and took school on the road.

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First things first! I am not so sure that I will need to return. I found New Orleans to be somewhat of an interesting spot. The weather was not great but it beat the frozen tundra of the Northeast.

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I was in love with the French influence in the French Quarter…but bored out of my mind once we stepped out and didn’t find it kid friendly. Don’t hate me Jazz lovers…it just didn’t do it for me.

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I was mainly interested in photographing the spot and with rain sprinkling down on me….the photos well…were ok.

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You know I love my trips, my cities, my stops…I usually have nothing to complain about but honestly…if it wasn’t for spending time with my kids this trip would have been a bust. I am glad I can check it off of the US Bucket List. I think it is definitely a one time deal that you must see. We spent day 2 at the plantation homes out on the Mississippi river and I was much more excited about that. I will post those shots tomorrow.

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The kids were most excited about the aquarium that we ended up going to because of the rain. I was most excited to be with them.

Hmmm…not my favorite trip but it had some highlights.

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http://www.simplelifejoy.com/2014/04/10/4614/

Small Miracles in the Details of our Life

I have spent most of week and last weekend doing public affairs, my calling in our church.

I love serving on the LDS North America North East public affairs team under the direction of Marcus Faust with Laurie Low !

We spent this weekend training our (Boston, Hartford and New England) coordinating councils public affairs teams from Maine to Rhode Island with special guests, Elder Grant Bennett and North American North East public affairs director, Erin Enke Hadley! We were privileged to have Marcus Faust in Boston to speak and inspire our directors, stake presidents and specialists!

 

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I saw plenty of reasons this past week to believe that God is in the details of our lives not just in the training and the inspiration we received but especially what happened after.

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One of the amazing personal things that came out of the weekend was this little family history moment- Miracle #1

You won’t believe this story….I met a long, lost cousin we are related to in Boston, he is an assistant LDS public affairs director in Boston and a dentist hailing from a British family.

His grandfather is Thomas Leroy Draper (11/of 12 children) brother to Charles Henry Draper- our grandfather/greatgrand (3rd oldest of 12 children). Thomas’s daughter married an Englishman and now their son lives in Boston. Thomas Draper lived in Ogden, Utah and knew my parents.

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Good to have family on the East Coast now! Even better to connect with relatives in our family tree that we didn’t know existed.

We are going to meet and talk family history with his parents. I can’t wait!

His Facebook page immediately linked me to this group of family history and it happened to be my family.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/106982896005212/ which had a ton of uploads of photos we have added to Family Search and blogs….nice to see our work out there for others to share.

It is always amazing how connections are made and then to find that it is your long, lost cousin from England.

Family History Miracle #2

That led me to digging around on Family Search checking out my ancestors last night and I randomly selected a line to follow and stumbled upon a whole family who needed temple work done. One of the biggest reasons that we do family history work.

In this pioneer stock family that is a rare occasion to find someone, but I would not have taken the time to look had we not met this “new cousin” this past weekend.

This experience for me is really about small miracles and tender mercies in the details of our lives.

It was just a weekend of discoveries that I would never imagine we would be blessed to find. Two small miracles just waiting to happen. It pays to be in the right place at the right time!

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For my non member church friends…who may be confused what I am talking about.

1. You can learn why we do Family History work here in a one minute video!

2. What is a calling?

“In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a “calling” is a position or assignment in which members have been asked to serve or perform. Members are called of God to serve each other, and all callings are important. Callings are voluntary, are issued by the proper authority, and are usually for a few years.”

Sources: http://lds.about.com/od/organizationsauxiliaries/p/church_callings.htm

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