Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fröhlicher Weihnachten!

The German post lost our Christmas cards  this year. 

 I couldn't come up with a creative way to send out a letter anyway, so I decided to go digital.

Rob graduated with a second master's degree. This one was considerably harder and was  

in Nuclear engineering.  

 We moved to Germany. We have traveled or at least gone through England, Belgium, 

Germany, France, Luxembourg, and Austria. (Rob has also been to Italy.)  While we were

 moving Robert's father passed away suddenly (for us.  It may not have been suddenly for 

those who were taking care of him.)  Rob said he didn't need to remember this in the 

Christmas card, because he thinks about it every day.  I decided I couldn't leave it out of this 

one, however.

 Emma is learning what it is like living in a non strong LDS area. She tried out Cross Country 

this year and did a great job, dropping at least a minute from her time, each meet. She took 

my advice and joined the yearbook staff and has learned there are definitely advantages. 

Sam played club football and got to be one of the 8 captains. He did really well and got lots 

of praise from his coaches. He is gearing up for track, finishing up his few merit badges until 

he gets his eagle and is playing outside constantly with a group of great friends. 

Joseph has also found acceptance and lots of friends here. I love that there are so many 

children running around all the time. I love it when they come asking to play with Joe.

 Max is the first of our children to beg to play basketball. I finally gave in, but it was a hard 

decision, since winter is our only season off. He played soccer in the fall and found out what 

it was like to play with those who have been trained in Germany. He is also, always out 

running around with friends. 

I was called to the Relief Society presidency and have been busy doing week day meetings.

 Luckily, I have an amazing assistant.

 There is something always going on around here and if by chance there isn't we can always 

hop over to another country. We feel truly blessed.

 May you be blessed with peace and joy

 this year as well. 

Love the Kress family

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bastogne, sort of

The Battle of the Bulge reenactment was one of those places where we went to do something, but didn't, but it still turned out pretty cool. 
We went to do the Bastogne walk.  They had 3 different distances that you could walk with stuff along the way to see.  We were just going to do the shortest- 7 km.  We ended up getting there late to the registration, but there were still people in line, so we jumped in and registered.  We watched all kinds of groups leave.  There were boy scouts and groups of American soldiers in uniform and with their unit flags and groups dressed up as World War 2 soldiers

and people just like us.  I was excited to go.  We started and got about 3/4 km before we got to Bastogne barracks that had museums

and old vehicles and a gun that they kept shooting off.

We stopped to see that and ended up staying there almost the entire time.  Eventually we got hungry so we went back to the center of town,
Max wanted me to take a picture of his large bowl of chili, so that Dad could see what I was eating!
which happened to be the end of the walk.  We passed lots of groups coming in.  We got about 1/2 km that way.  So in the end we went just over  a km of the 7 km walk.  We got to the center of town where there was a Patton tank

 and the bust of General McAuliffe who was the General of the 101st who replied "Nuts" to the Surrender ultimatum from the Germans.  They were going to have a parade at 3 pm around that tank, but the kids got grumpy and wanted to leave and since we would have 4 1/2 hours to drive home, I decided we could go.  So, we didn't see the parade either, but we did see vehicles parade around the Bastogne Barracks. 

They kept doing that periodically.  I think they would parade around the barracks and then head out to wherever their spot along the trail was.  So we might not have seen the actual parade, but we saw at least part of it.  My favorite was a motorcycle with a side car and a large gun.  I didn't get a picture of it, though.  I can't believe it didn't tip over!  
All in all, a very cool day!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

King Joey

Our little Student of the Month!

  So proud of this kid.

  He went from struggling to remember anything- always forgetting at least one homework paper to getting all A's and B's, being responsible for getting his work done on his own (mostly!  Mom still has to remind him of the big projects) and being named the Captain of the boating project 

and Mayor of his Early Settlement project!  Love this kid!

Monday, December 9, 2013


I have wanted to go actually see London ever since I went there as a 12 year old to a gymnastics camp. That's why, since I am in charge of the family vacations, the first major place we went was London!

Most of what you think of as London is actually different boroughs. All the entrances and exits of the actual city of London are guarded by dragons.  There are all kinds of different dragons.

Oh yah!
  We got great airfare deals on Ryanair, but the rest of the tour hurt the old pocketbook.  I am sure that is one of the reasons we never made it as a family when I was little.  Everything cost so much!  Our last site before we left was St. Paul's and Rob almost gagged when he found out that it actually cost money to go see a church!  Not only money, but almost $100 for the family and that was with a 2 for 1 deal I had.  It was beautiful, though!  I took a picture on the sly-

 I am so bad! (Right, I'm the one being blasphemous, when there are money changers in the house?!)  Anywho- I loved the auto guide that told you about the mosaics and stuff.  I would have never realized what was up on the ceiling, except it showed you close ups and explained.  They were actually very fascinating.  We went up to the whispering gallery and tried to whisper to each other.  Rob heard me, but I couldn't hear the boys.  We also made it all the way up to the top.  I inched around the circle, took a quick picture and got back into the other set of stairs.

We told Max that he had to come up, because everyone was, but that he didn't have to leave the stairs.  All the sudden here comes Max.  I was so proud of him- "Hey buddy, you made it!  How did you do it?"  "There was no way down on that side, " he told us honestly.  His blunt, honest reply made me laugh.
Our first real day in London we went out of London to see the making of Harry Potter.  It was very cool!
The Chess pieces
 Looking for the 15 golden snitches hidden around the studio and getting ready to take pictures on a flying broom.
 Having some butter beer at #4 Privet Drive.
 The Leaky Cauldron
 Practicing our spells
 Diagon alley
The castle.

We stopped on the way home to say hi to 221b Baker street!

The next day we went to the Tower of London- Loved it!! 

 We got Barney the yeoman.  

You have to have 20 years of honorably military service to become a yeoman beefeater.  Barney was the best and kept us laughing the whole time.  Some of his warnings were the best part.  Once he told us not to trip on the 1 inch incline going into the chapel, but if we did and we were a woman, he would catch us with his guns, but if we were a man, it was going to hurt!  The boys thought that was so funny and kept imitating him!
There were several of these guys around the walls, including archers and spearmen.
Dragon made out of weapons.

We took some time out to have a little fish and chips before finishing our tour.

Picadilly circus which is a lot like Time square in New York, except that circus means round about- so it is not square it's round!- ha, it isn't really, but it used to have a round about there.

We also saw Buckingham

These guys marched toward the two guys on duty.  Stood in front of them for like 5 minutes- seriously it was that long, marched toward the other one, stood in front of him for a couple of minutes and then left.  We made up words for them- "so, it's pretty cold tonight.  Did you remember to wear your long underwear?  Still cold?  Sorry about that.  Well Cheerio.  I'm off to get a warm bath and some hot chocolate."

Which we thought was Westminster for about 1/2 hour!
Westminster, which we missed getting into by 1/2 hour.

The changing of the horse guards

This ceremony took almost an hour and involved lots of standing at attention forever!  The horses weren't so happy about it!

#11 Downing street (Right, 11 not 10.  Ever since Mr. Blair and his large family the Prime minister has lived at #11, because #10 only had 150ish rooms and that wasn't quite enough, apparently!)

Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station

Mom had to take one for the team and be the lone Hufflepuff.  Can you even name a Hufflepuff?  Rob says I am definitely more Slytherin.  Uh, thanks!
Ooh I want that wand!  There were a lot of no ways at that shop!!

Spitafield markets

Petticoat lane Markets- I seriously don't know why I got to markets.  I always find the expensive junk and never any wonderful finds like other people, so I end up buying nothing most of the time- like this time.
the Old Roman wall
Big Ben

Took a Jack the Ripper tour- he was nice and graphic and even provided pictures!  Luckily our boys are completely desensitized (saying this tongue in cheek!)

The Tower Bridge

The queen 

and other Lego structures at the big toy store that is comparable with FA Schwartz, Hamleys
The British museum with the Rosetta stone

 and an Easter Island head.
Trafalgar square with the lion statues.  We got in trouble for letting our kids climb all over them.

This blue chicken has no real significance.  It just won a place on Trafalgar square for a year or so.  Another piece of art will be there later in 2014.  I wonder if it will be that cool?

A stop to eat a quick breakfast yielded a Broadway style performance at the train station.

I loved the statue that they performed it around dedicated to the children of the London bombing.
It was a great trip. 
 Getting around on the tube and the hop-on, hop-off double decker bus.

Joseph kept that paper for 2 days when he found it on the tube, because it had information about the new PS4.
 If it wasn't so expensive I would make us come back a couple times before we left!  There is still so much to see and do!
 Our apartment
 Baker Street tube station.  All those little black things making up the Sherlock Holmes shadow were little Sherlock Holmes shadows.  So cool!

 Random statue that someone got ready for winter.  London is awesome!