Thursday, June 30, 2011

Morgan's French Lesson For YOU!!

Imagine an English man sitting next to a French woman. The man wants to start a conversation, so he tries to get to know the woman.

"Bak dom? Escusemoua?"
"Ah, bonjour. Como tally vous?"
"Bonjour. Bien, merci."
"Bien, bien. Esku voo company le engle?"
"No. Jne compapa le engle"
" Oui oui. J copo apu le francais. Ba tre bein!!"
"Hahaha! Oui oui. Esku vooset American?"
"Oui Madmouiselle. J suit American."
"Desole. J dois y aller! Ouivre! Merci!"
" Ouivre Madmouiselle, ouivre."


"Excuse me? Excuse me?"
"Ah, hello. How do you do?"
"Hello. Good, thank you.Bold"
"Good, good. Do you understand English?"
"No. I do not understand English."
"Yes. yes. I understand a little French. Not very well!!"
"Hahaha! Yes, yes. Are you American?"
"Yes Miss. I am American."
"Sorry! I have to go! Goodbye! Thank you!"
"Goodbye Miss, goodbye."

J espere que vous avez appris un peu le francais! Restez branches pour plus de lecons de moi!

I hope that you learned some French! Stay tuned for more lessons from me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Napoleon Who?

Michelle: Morgan, do you know who Napoleon was?
Morgan: Napoleon Dynamite?
Michelle: No, not that Napoleon.
Morgan: Then I don't know him.

This conversation took place while driving through Waterloo, Belgium (where Napoleon was finally defeated in 1815)...maybe world history comes a little later in the middle school curriculum?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Speedos and Other European Fun

Yesterday and today were hot hot hot. The thought of wandering the streets of a cute new town didn't sound quite as appealing while melting in the heat. So, we stayed close and tried to blend in with the locals.

Today we planned to visit the seashore (about 1-hr away), but there was a huge storm on the coast that was forecast to stay all day. So, instead we visited the local pool just down the trail from our B&B. We noticed odd signs that seemed to say shorts weren't allowed in the pool. Thankfully we saw many boys in board shorts, so surely they meant street shorts, right? After the kids had swam for awhile a lifeguard alerted us that the boys board shorts were indeed problematic, speedos were required for all boys. At that point I started noticing that boardshorts were actually male cover-ups. The boys would wear their board shorts while out of the pool with Speedos underneath. No need to worry the lifeguard informed us, for 1.50 Euro we could rent speedo boxers from the front desk. I looked at Isaac, and got a great big, "No way! I'm not wearing one of those!" Followed quickly by, "and, someone else has worn it too? GROSS!" Thankfully everyone had had their fill of the pool by that point and were ready to go anyway (although Ethan made it clear he'd have no problem wearing a Speedo--no surprise coming from the boy who was photographed in a yellow bikini last summer). We wandered back to the B&B and the kids spent several hours building a fort in the river that runs through the garden while I sat in the shade on a bench and read "The Hunger Games".

Yesterday we did some much needed laundry. No one spoke English at the laundromat or surrounding shops, so we did a lot of smiling, nodding, pointing, and hand gesturing to communicate. I'm getting very good with the phrase, "jin compapa le France" (I don't understand French...spelled phonetically, our French auido CDs have not taught us to spell yet :-). Isaac thought going to the laundromat was awesome. The other kids were less enthused. We all had fun trying to iron on the enormous ironing aparatus. The right sleeve of Brent's dress shirt turned out perfect, sadly, I couldn't get the rest of the shirt to go into the machine straight, so the rest was terribly creased. After several attempts we gave up and stopped at the dry cleaners (which are WAY more expensive here--3Euros/shirt (about $4.50) as opposed to $1.25 at home!). Brent discovered that professionaly pressed & starched shirts aren't standard work wear here, so next time we might just try a regular old iron.

Yesterday evening we took a beautiful hike/walk (or a "tour" as our innkeeper calls it). The area where we are staying is in the hills/forest with hiking paths and bike trails all around. The kids had a great time walking through the river and exploring the woods.

Ima leaves us tomorrow to continue on to Sweden :-(. It's been so nice having a 4th child to even out our family. We will miss her!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

1st day Paris - by Isaac

Outside the Louvre

In the morning we woke up at 6:00 the were on the road by 7:00 it was a 4 hour car ride to Paris [traffic]. When we got to Paris we drove to the Louvre when we were at the Louvre we [kids] were so tired and almost feel asleep. After the Louvre we sat on the side of the river and wached the tour boats. Then we ate amazing crepes yum! yum! yum! yummy! Then we walked to Notre Dame's Cathedral cooooooooooool and preeeeeetty! Then we ate dinner at a pizzaria [in the Latin Quarter]. Finally we went to the Eiffle Tower - tall! At the top we watched the sun set then we climed the stairs down FUN!!!!!!!!!! Finally I bartered with a guy selling keychains.

The Mona Lisa

Playing in the dirt outside the Cathedral of Notre Dame
Top of the Eiffel TowerThe kids (with our adopted daughter/friend Ima)
The family

Friday, June 24, 2011

Maastricht, Netherlands (Holland) By:Morgan and Ima

The first thing that you should know about Holland is that there are a LOT of bikes! Not only Holland but all of Europe. But there are more in Holland than anywhere we have gone. On the way there we had to take two billion and seventy three pit stops for Ethan to go to the bathroom. Literally. About 10 minutes from the city, my mom was the one who had to take a pit stop but she didn't quite make it to a bathroom....she peeed her pants!!!! [Michelle: We go all the way to Holland and THIS is the memory Morgan chooses to report?!? I'm considering pre-post censorship rights.] Good thing we were in Europe and no one there knows us!At least it started raining a couple minutes later(her pants blendede in more). While we were there, we bought some fruit at a little market. It was the very best fruit in the whole wide world!!!! Really. You should have tasted it! I've never tasted fruit that good!!! Morgan got raspberries(like heaven!), Ima got blackberries(so sweet it's like my eyes are popping out of my head!!!), Ethan got stawberries(Awesome!), and Isaac got a green apple(delicious!). While we were there, we hopped over almost all ofthe pegs in the city! (Thats how we entertain ourselves while we are walking around). All we really did in Holland was walk around and explore cute little streets. We had some gross hamburgers for lunch. No really. They were G-R-O-S-S. While exploring, we came across a store named Cool Cat. Ima and I got SSUUPPEERR cute matching shirts. Later, we watched a mini concert from a balcony nearby the concert. we had a perfect view of the porta- potties and of a man peeing in a urinal that we didn't know was a urinal. We thought it was a sink until we saw a man looking at us awkwardly. He was standing there for a while so he couldn't have been washing his hands. When Isaac and Ethan went down there to go to the bathroom, we asked them when they came back up what the thing was. Lets just say that we were right. :-) After that we went on this castle thing then left. The ride home had WAY less pit stops. The best thing about Holland was the fruit. Holland is amazing!! You should definately go there.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brussels Atomium & Mini Europe


(Monument constructed for Worlds Fair in 1958)

Mini EuropeView out the window of the top sphereLooking out from the top sphereFrom Morgan - Hi everyone! This is Morgan. I just wanted to say that I had a great time today. The things that you can find in Belgium are incredible! Today at mini Europe we saw some amazing things. Though they are just places in Europe, they seem even more amazing in mini form when you can see things that are too high or too far from that ground that you can not see in real life. Now I can say that I have been everywhere in Europe!!

From Ethan - It was good. It wasn't like great. It was okay. We went to the thing with the balls [Atomium]. We went to this place where you get to see all this stuff that was in Belgium and in Brussels and a mini Eiffel tower. We walked around and pressed these buttons. At first we didn't know what they did, but they made music and stuff. My favorite button was the volcano because the ground would shake and it was like "ahhhhh oohhhhhh". We could drive boats. We went on a carousel. We went to a park. It rained a lot. I can't think of anything else. Yesterday we got to have Belgium waffels, they had ice cream and whip cream on them. And there were these statues that said, "Hey who farted".

From Michelle - Mini Europe was silly to me, but it was conviently located across the street from the Atomium which was pretty cool. Best dinner so far at a yummy pizza place near Brent's work. More French audio CDs while driving (we moved on to lesson 2 today), Morgan even got brave and practiced a few lines on our waiter who didn't speak much English.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Few Additional Comments from Michelle

Driving a Stick Shift - Wow, it's been a long time! Reminds me of the days when my sister, Angela, taught me to start our old Honda on a hill at the Cottonwood Mall (very scary). Now I have an audience of kids who think it is hilarious when I forget to push in the clutch before starting the car (except for the time Morgan was only half way in the car when it lurched forward--not quite as funny that time). I claimed to have only killed the car twice on the first day. Morgan thought it was more like four times. Glad it's a rental, I've been accused of riding a clutch before. Yesterday I found myself unknowingly going the wrong way on a very narrow one-way street (oops)! Thank goodness we got a printout of the road sign definitions today.

Speaking French - I can't speak more than two words of French. All those years of Jr. High Spanish have helped me get around Mexico in the past, but here I'm at a complete loss. I look at menus blankly. No idea what's being served. I really appreciate picture menus in resturant windows. The kids (and I) had a great time listening to a "learn to speak French" audio CD today as we drove in and out of Brussels (about 30 minutes each way). I was surprised at the kid's enthusiasim to learn the language (we repeated lesson one three times throughout the day). We hope to devote 30 minutes each day to French. After an hour and a half today we can ALMOST (sort of) say, "Excuse me, do you understand English? Do you understand French? Are you American. I speak a little French." This language is not coming easily!

Traveling with Kids - I love what entertains them. They played leap frog all day long over the posts that line the sidewalks of Brussels. An adult could walk by those posts a million times and never once think to make a game out of them. Last night they spent 30 minutes inventing a game jumping between some posts in a park. They would have played longer if I hadn't coerced them to continue on. And my darling boys, no surprise they loved the statue "Mannequin Pis" (or "Peeing Boy" he he he) and the story of "Which Statue Farted" in the town square Thanks Rick Steves Guidebook for that tid bit--it's sure to be their fondest memory from the trip.

Our Day in Brussels - By Isaac

Today we woke up and walked down for breakfast there was toast, eggs, ceareal, orange juice, fruit, ham, turkey, cheese and croissants.

After breakfast we went to the city of brussels. On the way to the city we had some french lessons [on audio CD]. When we got there we parked then when we got out of the car we looked over the balcony and looked out to the city. Then we walked to this really old church and saw this really pretty garden in the garden there was a big fountain across from the garden was a mansion.

Then we walked down to the town square where we ate beljum waffles with ice cream, whip cream and choclate sauce. We heard a story about the stachus; the 1st stachu said who farted the 2nd stachue said it was him (pointing to a statue across the square) the 3rd statue said no it was him (pointing to an old sheaperd statue on the other side of the square) he said sorry it was me. Then we saw the mannequin pis (peeing boy statue). After that we got on the road to pick up on my Dad. Then we saw a place to eat we ate then we went to the bed and breakfast.

That's what we did today.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 1: Belgium

Bonjour!! This is Morgan and Ima (Ima is a friend who is going to be with us for one week before she heads off to Sweden to see her family who lives there!!). Day one has been crazy! At around 9 a.m. (Belgium time (1 a.m. Chicago time)) we got off our plane and set foot in Europe. Before we left, we rented a car. After we got the car (and figured out how to use it) we found our way to our bed and breakfast through lots and lots and LOTS and lots and lots of round abouts! When we pulled into the beautiful bed and breakfast, we were greeted by a cute, friendly dog named Farah. We were shown our rooms which are AMAZING!!! They are very very beautiful!! After our tour, we brought our stuff in and got settled. Soon after we all took naps for about 2 hours. They were really needed!! After the naps, we explored the area and found an Aldi. We got lots of snacks for the car.We explores a little more, then left to pick my dad up from work (in Belgium). We explored a popular area in the area we were staying in called
Louvain-la-Neuve and ate dinner there. We ate at a Chinese restraunt for dinner. Ya. I know. Our first dinner in Belgium and we choose Chinese. After dinner we came back to the bed and breakfast and got ready for bed. Now, we are sitting on the bed writing this to all of you. We are eagerly awaiting the breakfast that will be served in the morning! :-) yay!!
Bonsoir! Well, good afternoon to most of you. Talk to you tomorrow!

-Morgan and Ima

P.S. Visit to see pictures of the bed and breakfast! (you should check it out -its pretty cool-)

Monday, June 20, 2011

House is sold...we are off to Europe for four weeks!

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. In early April we put our house up for sale. Thirty days later we had an offer (amazing). The buyer needed a quick closing so we knew we'd be homeless for a bit between houses. Brent seized an opportunity to work from his company's office in Brussels Belgium for a month and the company generously agreed to provide us with a car and housing for the whole family. So after moving out of our house last week we put all our worldly possessions in Pack Rat storage containers (with overflow into a few kind friend's garages and basements...thanks Gratons and Morris's). We stayed with our friends the Walkers for a week (thanks Paul and Melissa) while Morgan was at girls camp and now we are sitting on a plane ready to depart for Brussels. Phew! I can hardly believe it all worked out. We are so excited for the adventure. Europe here we come!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ragnar Relay - Madison WI to Chicago IL

Ragnar=crazy (running all through the night)

Ragnar Friday/Saturday, Moving on Tuesday=completely nuts-o

The timing was horrible, but we were so glad we did it. Fun friends, fun race. Good times!

Mike Smiley, Tim Holloway, Kim Holloway, Andreas Lex, Kylee Eyre Dial, Rodney Dial, Melissa Walker, Paul Walker, Brik Eyre, Susan Eyre, Brent Paul, Me!