Monday, January 26, 2015

Klondike Derby Time

One of the most fun things this ward does is participate in the Klondike derby in Kandersteg,

Lots of families come down with the scouts and we all hang out while the scouts participate in all kinds of snow, survival and scouting exercises.  The boys took second this year.

We ended up in 2 different houses, because there just wasn't room enough for everyone that wanted to come.  We did all have dinner together and play games together at least once, however.  Every night we had kind of a potluck.  At least we ended up sharing our food with lots of scouts- as we were in the house with the scouts.  Luckily, I brought tons, since I figured that might happen.

When we pulled into town the first night, we were a little depressed.  There wasn't any snow!  It ended up snowing that night and the entire next day.  The scouts had 3 teams and 3 sleds that they used throughout the day.

We went out and watched for a little while.  We watched them have to find a baby in the snow and treat it's injuries.  The group before them had the baby all wrapped up in an emergency blanket and someone had taken off their coat and wrapped it around it.  Our boys, used a scarf to tie the baby to a shovel- as a backboard- and didn't do anything else in the way of hypothermia.  They ended up getting the same points.  Hmmm.  When the other group was done, they placed the baby back where it belonged.  Ours threw the baby with the shovel.

We also went walking downtown.  We had a wonderful talk with a lady all about languages and the festival that started that weekend.  They went around in old fashioned clothing and used old fashioned skates and sleds during the festival.
Sunday, we had a nice devotional and then went with a bunch of other to the ski hill to sled.  European sledding is crazy- steep, long with some hairpin turns.  Wipe outs are normal.  They recommend you wear a helmet.  We declined. You take the gondola up to the top of the hill and then you walk and sled and walk and sled until you get to the steep part that takes you all the way to the bottom.

Because of the new fallen snow, the powder showered us like crazy as we went down on the first run, freezing us to death.  We got some more gear and wrapped up tighter for the next run.  Just as we hit the steep hill part, there was a big back up of scouts in a tour group.  Some of them obviously weren't used to how steep it would be and somehow someone stopped in the middle of one of the steepest parts.  How you do that, I will never know.  But it caused our group to pile up on top of him.  One of the runners was up and I slammed right into it with my left leg.  That hurt a lot.  I ended up getting back on to my sled and made it to the bottom.  By then it was time for lunch, so we walked to our van and sat down to eat.  I decided to look at the leg.  Rob said, "no, don't look at it!"  I did anyways.  As soon as I pulled up my ski pants, I saw the blood seeping through.  Sure enough- I needed stitches.

We taped it together as well as we could.  I was determined to do more runs.  Sledding is just as expensive as skiing there, since you use the same lift.  But as soon as I got up, I almost fainted.  I tried several times to sit and then get up again and each time I almost fainted or threw up.  Finally, I let them take me back to the cabin.  We stopped at the scout hut and the doctor- one of the Laundstuhl doctors took a look.  He told me that I needed 4 stitches or if I didn't mind a scar- steri strips.  He was just leaving for a scout outing and wouldn't be back until 4:30 pm, so I chose the steri strips.  He gave me the supplies and I did it myself.  After that, I had to lie down for a good hour.  Joseph stopped sledding the same time as me.  He had gone off the side of a cliff once and over the sides of hills a couple of times.  Max and Sam quit soon after.  Sam never dresses warm enough, no matter how much we try to get him to.

Emma was the only one that got the whole 6 runs in with Rob.  It takes about an hour to complete each run, so you really can only get 6 done in a day.
We also celebrated Emma's and my birthday while we were there.  Emma is 19-1.

On the way home we stopped in Zurich for some fresh Lindt chocolate at the chocolate factory.

We enjoyed our trip, despite the injuries and cold.

Switzerland is a beautiful place!  We enjoyed our adopted son for the weekend, too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I go back and forth

My opinion keeps going back and forth on these new seminary requirements.  First of all, I think they had to do this, because they stopped teaching the scriptures in church- which I have a serious problem with.  I love the Come Follow Me program for YM/YW, but not for Sunday School.  LDS people used to be known for their scriptural knowledge.  Very few people have read or studied the Old Testament like we do, or did, I should say.  A graduating high school student would have read and studied the Old Testament at least twice, as well as all the other scriptures.  Not any more.  Since they will get each scripture thoroughly only once now, the requirements to pass have been increased.   Besides having to read the entire set of scriptures- which I really think should have been mandatory all along, they will have to take tests.
They make it very clear that the testing is for learning purposes and that you can take the tests as many times as possible until it is passed.  That's good.  Except when you realize that the tests are right in the middle of midterms and finals.   My children (and my husband and I, I might add) already get up before 5:30 am every morning, so that they can go to seminary.  Since they do compete in sports, they don't come home until close to 7 pm at night.  They are exhausted, hungry and still have homework to do.  Because we live in Europe and travel among competitors is so far, Saturdays are meet days.  It's a 4 am wake up call on these days.  This leaves Sunday as their only free/sleep a normal amount of time for a growing teenager day.  I encourage them not to do homework on Sundays, but some weeks they just can't help it.  Finals week is always a tough time, but midterms are especially hard, since sports are still going during those testing days.  Now we are going to throw another large test on top of that?  Oh, and by the way, you have to take it over and over until you pass it.  Are you crazy!!
The report on the LDS website quotes the scriptures:  Where much is given, much is required.  I understand this.  I also agree with the quote by Thomas Paine, "what we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly."  I agree 100% that release time seminary students should have to treat this as a class and do the class work and take tests.  I just think that the early morning seminary kids are already obtaining something a little on the expensive side.  Because, apparently teenagers need more sleep than me, yet I am exhausted every night by 8 pm, too.  I cheer every day there is no seminary.  So can I blame my kids if they grumble a little about it?  They don't.  They are actually very good.  But I couldn't blame them.  The only time they try to skip it, is usually one or two days at the first of each sport season when they are extra exhausted.  And I let them.  Because I don't want them to resent seminary or me.
Let's set aside the early morning argument and let's focus on another aspect of early morning seminary versus release time.  My husband is a former CES employee.  He taught seminary full time and got paid for it.  I have seen the process they go through to pick those teachers and it is cut throat. The release time people may not get their favorite style of teacher (emotional based, knowledge based, fun/game based), but they get some of the best teachers out there, hands down.  Now let's look at early morning- who do they get?  Not always your top of the line teacher.  It has to work with the schedule of whoever is called to do it.  That leaves a very small pool of people to choose- generally females whose children are all in high school or graduated or who don't have any children.  Sometimes there is that odd man who is self employed or something like that who can make it work, or a woman that can do it in her home while her children still sleep, but even with that the pool is small.  And from that small pool they have to choose the most likely to be able to teach.  It doesn't generally work out super well!  They do their absolute best, but even the best teacher has a hard time keeping sleepy teenagers engaged and now you have someone who may or may not know the scriptures well themselves and may or may not know how to teach worth a darn, trying to do it.  Not quite comparable- is it?!  Yet the requirements are the same.
So now the grumbling has started.  "Tests? They are making us take tests- during testing week!!"  "This is stupid.  I'm not doing it."  Etc, etc- all the things teenagers say when they are mad.  This is something I have never had to face before in regards to seminary.  And I'm not sure I can try to counter it, because I'm not so sure that I disagree with their being upset.  So, what would you do?  What do you think?  Am I missing something?
PS- after hearing that this post was passed around, I wanted to make absolutely clear that I am not saying that the early morning seminary teachers are the bottom of the barrel of anything.  I am not insinuating that my children have had terrible seminary teachers- they have more than a few and each one tried her hardest to engage the children and make them enjoy and love the scriptures, yet they are working at a disadvantage- is what I was specifically saying- they are not professional, they have little time to prepare and they are working with early morning, sleepy teenagers.  This is not comparable to full time CES employees.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Last Quarter of the Year Speed Reading Style

The last quarter of our year was exciting.  So exciting, I didn't seem to have time to write about it, so now that it's 2015, it's time to end 2014.  Let's do it speed reading with a ton of pictures style.
Autumn was beautiful.  I loved the days we got out with the boys and played football and enjoyed our neighbors' dogs.

Went on a couple of school trips with Joseph.  One to the Lichtenstein Castle (which is not in Lichtenstein)

and the fog caves

and the other to the science museum.

Emma had her Cross Country banquet where she got a varsity letter

Just the Senior Girls

and her coaches got shaved- one mustache and one head, because both the boys and the girls took European state championships this year.

Sam had his Football banquet where he got a coaches award for his huge heart despite his small size.

Emma, as the president of the brand new Red Cross club, kicked off their first event ever- a Zombie run.  There were over 80 participants and about 20 zombies.

It was a rousing success.  I was the volunteer nurse and got to ride around in a gator.
We had Halloween with the traditional potluck outside for the whole building and tons of children running around and tons of candy!

And a Trunk of Treat at the church.
We went to Berlin, with stops in Moedlareuth (little Berlin) where we got to walk around the wall and go up in the guard tower,
 Um, you can just walk out this way!
 We found the way out!
Border Guard Sam
 Memorial given to them by the German government
 Memorial given to them by the American troops that patrolled the area around their little stretch of wall.
Walking the wall!
The church where Martin Luther hung his 95 point thesis.
 and Leipzig.
Possibly Bach- they dug up 3 corpses and put in the one they thought looked the most like the late composer.

We walked around Berlin for 3 days
 Straddling both sides of the former wall

 Brandenburg Gate
 Holocaust memorial

 Checkpoint Charlie
 World clock showing what time it was in Western United States while we were there
 Tropigraphy of horror museum and wall display

We found trampolines in the middle of the walkway!
and enjoyed the 25th anniversary celebration of the wall coming down with Mikel Gorbachov and some very sedate Germans.

We found a chocolate wall and a chocolate volcano- Yum-
We found the Ampelman store and got yummy Ampelman gummis

and we found the candy bomber memorial (actually a memorial to the whole airlift, but Max really wanted to see the candy bomber memorial.)

The lichtgrenze or light wall was pretty cool.  They let all the balloons go during the celebration.

We stopped in Dresden on our way home.

This thing is made out of hundreds of dresden ceramic tiles!
Rob met up with Elder Kress in Ramstein.

Our little base had their first ever Christmas market.  The kids loved it,

 especially the snowboarding,


 and ice pick wall climb.

Rob turned 49-1

We flew in and out of the tiniest airport ever

and spent a week during Thanksgiving driving on the wrong side of the road in Ireland.

It was divine,

Ballycarberry Castle

There are structures like this all over the place in Ireland and nobody does much with them.  They figure it will bring bad luck for them if they tear them down or anything.  Makes it rather unsafe, but we are that kind of family, so we ignored common sense and climbed all over this crumbling structure, even to the third floor!

Blarney Castle

Sam and Rob kissed the Blarney stone.  I kissed Rob afterwards- I decided that I only wanted second hand contact with something that everyone spits on!

Going up and down the stairs with your eyes closed gives you your wish.  We all got our wishes!

Cliffs of Moher

One of the many circle forts in the area.  This one was on the Ring of Kerry

We stopped to go see the ocean close up at the start of the Ring of Dingle and these dingleberries along with Sam got totally wet.  That was the end of us stopping on the Ring.

Hot chocolate stop in Dublin
Dublin Castle

Our Thanksgiving dinner in Dublin
There were decorate streets and a fun Christmas market with the most amazing fish chowder in Dublin

Newgrange- burial mounds- older than the pyramids or Stonehenge.

Bishop Patrick

Irish folktales inside of the oldest structure in Waterford
Rock of Cashel

If you can hop around the cross several times on one leg your wife will be super hot.  Sam tried it out.
You got something else if you could touch your hands around the cross.  Joseph tried that out.
On the freeway- what?

The only exception to the divine stay was the tiny roads and high speed traffic going the wrong way!  If you thought Germany had tiny roads, go try driving in Ireland!
We all helped decorate the tree and get ready for Christmas on our return.

I went to the Chocolate festival in Tuebigen

Yep all this was made out of chocolate! 

and the Christmas market in Ulm.
My friend Christa
 Live animals in the manger scene
Ulm Cathedral
We had St. Nicholas day
I was in charge of the ward Christmas party as the activities leader in the Presidency.  The President did a ton of work for it.
She painted all the table covers and roofs

We spent most of the day setting up and I even cut my finger cutting up some trees.  It turned out amazing.
 The Young men and Young women doing the 12 days of Christmas Mormon style

One of the Christmas booths all decorated

 Best compliment ever:  I wasn't going to come, but I did and I stayed the whole time! 
 We had a good old fashioned German market, with stations for the kids to do all kinds of things- like build a snowman, shoot Rudolph with nerf guns, etc , wursts and hot drinks, face painting and street performers.
We went to the Christmas market and Medieval market in Esslingen as a family.
 advent calendar house
 Hand powered ferris wheel

Sam and Max dipped candles

and we had yummy soup.

Emma  and Sam both helped me make cookies to give away.

We had Christmas with Uncle Rick who is stationed in Germany for the next 6 months.

We had a great New Year's Eve.

Interesting Asian math that made the girls win!

And now it's 2015!  Happy New Years!