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

GIVE…This will make you cry

I watched this morning and just cried!

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The Mission Call Arrived and our Thoughts

Big News this weekend!

Hillary got her mission call to Taichung, Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese speaking.
We were elated and excited about the news!

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We took the call in the airport during our connection and it was awesome that our friends in London streamed it live so many people could watch. We are thankful.

 

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Sorry this photos are so small…I had to steal them off of Facebook.  We have been grinning all weekend as we finally know what her future has in store.

Are we shocked? Yes!  Did we get much sleep this weekend? No!

Brian had been prepping me for  a stateside call all week.  I thought she would go Chinese from the get go….or at least in my heart I hoped.  It works so well with her learning style and the visual characters in the Chinese language will be a great fit for her as it was for me learning Japanese.

Did I mention Taiwan is influenced by Japan?  She loves that fact as Japanese food will be easier to find.  Not to mention fruits and veggies more accessible.  And of course Brian and I both served in Japan so this is awesome….I see a return trip in the future to pick her up.

Living 5 months in China last year has certainly prepared her for this day.

We couldn’t be more excited!  She leaves July 23, 2014.  Now we have a lot of preparation to do to send her there for 18 months.

 

 

 

Sick and Rejoicing

I have been in bed nearly a week. I am not sure if it is the flu or common cold. The whole family has a touch of it and it has wiped me completely off radar.

I am hoping to make some recovery this afternoon. I am feeling like the fattest, laziest, up to no good person right now. Lying in bed day after day can do that to you.

I actually had like three days without Noah at home and I was all pumped to get a few things done….not a chance….I just laid on the funeral bed and died.

Today…same thing…throw in a little day light savings into the mix…with it.

Yesterday was a great day…I did manage to make my way to this baptism of a new friend.

His story is so amazing

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Meet Mr. Decker…he joined our LDS Facebook page in New England last fall as it appeared in his side bar on FB of a group he may be interested in. It is a group that we moderate for public affairs.

*He never made a comment or a post.

* Several months ago he asked to speak with the moderator! (Me)

* We had several conversations discovering that we grew up in the same town, graduated the same year, he went to Catholic school and I went public. He was shocked my kids go Catholic school etc….conversation continues, friendship begins.

* He proceeds to tell me about his journey to find truth. Two generations ago family quits church, he grows up Catholic. For years he has searched for truth.

* He had met with the missionaries 18 months ago, has an LDS friend at work who answered a lot of questions. We continue
the conversation through a few emails and text. We make some goals!

* He has been reading the Book of Mormon for years…knows more than me.

* I challenge him to meet with the missionaries again.

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*Problems arise with a family member…wife recommends church as an option.

* He attends church, missionaries review with him.

* He speaks, shares testimony. Sets baptism date.

* Today, he was baptized. We met for the first time. It was powerful. He is no longer a profile on our group page…he is a real person.

* Wife (very christian) concludes with her own testimony and says she wants to start down the path, she felt the spirit confirm his decision. Totally Amazing

* I cry my guts out more!

* I am overwhelmed with the entire process still and how God is in charge of his work including social media. This is not even my first rodeo with “social media connected baptisms”…but I am still in awe!

I am just so darn happy for him and his family. Great things to come!

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We are back! Check it out!

Check out our Videos from our Color My World February 2014 Volunteer Dominican Republic Team

It is hard to believe the week went so fast down in paradise.

This was our view at the resort!

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And right across the street and down the road this is what you would see. Poverty on every level.

I am so thankful we had a chance to work down there. Take a minute to watch the videos and see where you might fit into a future trip with us. The trips are perfect for families and really pull you together.

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