Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Back To School!

I interrupt my travelogue to share some big news around here.
Cooper and Ben are going to Kindergarten.

This is not the best picture, but pretty typical for them:-)
Grandpa and I took them to Legoland to celebrate Back To School.  I didn't do any research ahead of time and so didn't know to purchase tickets on line to get in a little faster.  The line was long and they told me about an hour wait, but luckily for us it was only about 30 minutes. 

As you first enter, you all have a mini tour of how a lego is made.  Then they funnel you into a ride that is kind of like the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disney.  It's not nearly as fun and graphic but the boys thought it was great and that is all that counts.  
When you exit the ride you are "in" Legoland.  It was crowded!  And small!
We wedged our way in and made some lego cars to test on the race track.  Luckily some nice little boy gave us his so we would have some wheels.  They really could use a few more sets of wheels!

There were 2 other rides, I think this jeep one was their favorite.  The kids just drive these around a track.  No grownups allowed, obviously.

One complaint I had here was the wall in the queue was solid,  not plexiglass so all of the little kids who were dying to see what this was all about had to do this.  Grandma and Grandpa held them up for awhile, but they are heavy.  

Some lego basketball player.  Bob seemed to know who he was:-)

DFW in legos.
This was really impressive.

The other ride was some pedaling thing that made you go up in the air and around in circles.  They thought it was great fun and neat that they could do it themselves.  I was thrilled that they could ride alone too as I am not a ride grandma.  I am a watch and wave grandma;-)

Now all that fun took place on Friday and on Saturday we celebrated our baby turning 3.

Adorable Very Hungry Caterpillar party.

These are teeny tiny caterpillars that Jessica made and the bunch of 3's had their own magnifying glasses and they went on a caterpillar hunt.  So cute and fun.

She made a book called The Very Hungry Jackson and it was so cute.  The guests all signed the book.  It is a great idea for a birthday keepsake.

Happy Birthday Jackson!!!

And if that wasn't enough fun, we took Elizabeth for her back to school outing and we went for our 3rd visit to American Girl.  We went before Kindergarten and 1st grade too, so it is safe to say that this is a new tradition.

The last 2 visits Elizabeth was very intrigued by the doll hair salon.  I told her this visit we could get one of her dolls hair done and she was thrilled.  She decided that her favorite doll, Elizabeth would be the lucky recipient of the new do.

She did not have to agonize over all of the hair do choices.  As soon as she saw this one she was sold.

I think I remember a little princess of our own ~

She was so excited that her Elizabeth would have her very own crown.

The color is all wonky in the cafe pics ~ so I can't show you every menu selection {big relief I'm sure!} but I had to include this pic of the 2 Elizabeth's with their glasses.  That was something else she really wanted to get, a pair for her doll.  Grandma is always ready to accomodate:-)

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating all 4 of our grands.

It doesn't get any better than this!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Next up ~ Berlin and Tallinn

Our next port of call on our Baltic cruise was Berlin.  As it is quite a distance from the sea, we had to take a train into town.  I grabbed this quick photo at the train station so I'd know where I'd been.

We headed first to this area of the Berlin Wall.

You know I never gave the wall a great deal of thought, but after seeing it in person, I try to imagine one day waking up to a wall dividing my city.  The wall divided neighborhoods in half, I can not even imagine.  I always thought that the wall came as a result of the war, but the city was divided in the war, and the actual physical wall didn't go up until 1961.  From 1949 to 61 the east lost so many citizens to the west that they had to make a physical border.

I believe this is where the German president lives.  The chancellor actually runs the country, the president is more ceremonial I think.

We took a boat ride on the river.  This was part of the border between east and west Berlin.
This radio tower is the 4th highest structure in Europe.  I wanted to get a good picture of it, but everytime we passed it I was either too close or someone was in my way.  This shot I got from our boat ride was the best of the lot.

We had a very good lunch here.

Tons of tourists 

A piece of the wall.

The spot where Reagan gave his famous Tear Down This Wall speech.  A very important symbol for free Germany. 

And if you are still with me after all of these pictures, I leave Germany with one last shot of one of the wall memorials.  These iron bars stand where the wall once did.  I love the people on both sides freely moving about.  

The next few pictures are very blurry but they are all I've got of our sea day.  The first 2 pictures are of a wine tasting we attended in the afternoon.  

This blurry shot is the 4 of us at formal dinner night.  I'm not sure how much the guys enjoy wearing their tuxes, but I sure thought they looked great.  Too bad we don't do a little more of that.  It's a rare day that Bob even wears a suit anymore.  

Yay, finally a blue sky in Tallinn, Estonia.

Beautiful Russian Orthodox church.

I loved the little narrow streets in the Old Town.

The view from old town and you can see our ship to the left of the tallest tower if you look carefully.

The next several shots are in Old Town.  It was such a pretty day that I took lots of pictures.
We didn't see the sun much on this trip.  The days were cool and cloudy, and sometimes rainy.  Which really was nice for touring, but I did feel sorry for the people who live here ~ this is their summer ~ and they have looong winters.

In the afternoon we went to this old castle in Rakvere.
Those were a lot of steps to climb.

5 "volunteers" to sample 5 different vodkas.
Please note that from our busload of people, 3 in our party managed a seat at the table:-)

This is inside the castle, various things to do, archery, ride a horse, see the torture chamber.
Let me just say that the castle was "interesting."

After all of that vodka Bob was still able to hit a bulls-eye.  {As did Jim ~ in fact Bob hit right on Jim's arrow and really impressed the local boys}

After a full day of touring I was happy to get back to the ship and end my evening like this.

Sweet Dreams!