Saturday, November 5, 2016

CASTLE HUNTING and changing leaves!

 These first pictures were taken last sunday before church. Proudly reppin' their seamstress, texan Grandma Andersen. Getting the girls to sit still and smile is, well, a very funny joke. But I captured the actual event, and their cuteness, rather than their distractedness and disobedience, shines through! The end finale, featuring a grumpy girl, and an even grumpier dad. There's a reason I restrain myself to not pull my camera out every day.

It's dawned on me in the past week that I have two toddlers. The light bulb went off in a moment where both of them were throwing scarily similar tantrums. But holy cow, do I enjoy them! I don't know if there are many people who can say they LOVE their job, every day, but I can say it with certainty. This has been my favorite stage of motherhood! Having 2 girls to love, care for, and teach fulfills me in a way that nothing else could. Especially since the oldest has made a habit of reminding me daily that I'm "her best friend" and the "best mom EVAA". She is obviously biased and very forgiving ;) And don't get me started on Lyla who is at the age where EVERYTHING is cute.

There is about 2 week period in the fall that is pure, colorful perfection- and we tried our best to capitalize on that. If you blink too fast, it's gone and the leaves are dead; but I sure kept my eyes peeled and camera ready for those 2 weeks as we drove around Germany and the Czech Republic. We went to Karlovy Vary, Prague, and Karlstejn castle. And after these adventures, I have a few tips:

 #1 Castle Hunting is most enjoyable and breathtaking in the fall time. A castle settled into a valley of rolling hills, overlooking small villages, and nestled in between so many trees that are beautifully shifting from one season to the next.

#2 The horse carriage ride up was a little expensive and anti-climactic; but not as anti-climactic as it was for Jane coming upon the castle and realizing, with horror, that there are no actual princesses living in this castle. The ultimate let down.

#3 Your husband is a lot less likely to grope and complain and resist (with all his stubborn might) taking family pictures if you come up with the idea to take them with our OWN camera on the iconic Charles Bridge in Prague.

(Well, at least for my husband it worked like a charm since Prague has about as big a place in his heart as I do ;) Thanks to my dad for patiently snapping our camera until we finally had one where my hair wasn't in my face, Lyla was looking, and Jane's face wasn't EXTREMELY contorted into a creepy, forced, fake smile)

#3 Ask a stranger with a dog to stand behind the camera; this is the best way to ensure your children will be looking in the correct general direction.

I have to mention the picture above where Jeff is carrying Lyla in the backpack and Jane on his shoulders; with a SMILE on his face! I could tell he was getting tired this day, although he was still grinning and bearing it like the trooper he is. I offered to take a turn carrying Lyla in the backpack full of a child and everything else we need for a day out and about. (an offer that was long overdue, might I add!) After about 20 minutes I was huffing and puffing, and humbled flat right there and then. I've never even been grateful for him hauling that monster around until I, almost literally, took a few steps in his shoes. I think it's crucial in marriage to try to see things from your spouses' point of view. (ie instead of getting frustrated that he sometimes wants to stop and take breaks, strap that back pack on myself and see how it goes!) It took me awhile to learn that, and I obviously still am, but it's a humbling, gratitude building experience every time. I think I can do a lot better carrying his load, whether it be the physical back pack load, or any other one that is stacked on his shoulders.

Another thing about that picture (wow, am I still really rambling about one picture? YES) that I want to remember is how sweet Jane and Lyla were being. It was as if they were reunited from a long separation (which in reality was only a day of traveling, strapped onto separate backs) and so happy and giggly to be near each other again. I love that they love each other, and the moments where I catch them giggling and enjoying each other are the ones that I live for!

I can't wait to frame one of those picture of my family on our wall. It perfectly depicts this time in our life: spontaneous, adventurous, happy, yet imperfect!

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