Friday, May 23, 2014

Let them eat cake!

Four cakes and seventy two cupcakes to be exact! That would be one cake for Royce’s party, one cake for Adam’s party, one cake for their actual birthday plus loads of purple and Green Bay Packers cupcakes for classroom celebrations, plus a cake for my birthday. Yes, it is that time of year again! Birthday season at our house.

The twins just turned eleven. Both were waiting for acceptance letters from Hogwarts (always sent on one’s eleventh birthday). I overhead whispered discussion between them about what they would do if one of them received an acceptance letter and the other didn’t. I think Adam said he would forfeit his place at the school but Royce thought she would go without him and visit us on holidays. Well, those hard decisions are behind them. No one received a letter and honestly, everyone is relieved. Fair is always best in Adam and Royce’s world.
This year Royce’s birthday was first up on Saturday. And she had a Harry Potter themed sleep over. We love Harry Potter. It is the book/movie series that just keeps coming. It seems to me that this might be the third go around of Potter fever at our house and I love it. Anything mostly inspired by a book is okay by me. We made wands, sorted the girls into houses and held a few Hogwarts classes. Potions class was a favorite but we shut it down early when one girl made something that smelled pretty bad. All things Potter had a huge assist from the twins’ godmother, visiting for the 3rd birthday party in a row. Not only did she get us to the Harry Potter Studio in London last fall but she crafted the golden snitch cake; gold and winged!
Adam’s birthday party was second this year and meant to be a baseball party. Unfortunately, Adam broke his foot the week before so we amended the theme a bit. At school, Adam told one of his teachers that he was on the “injured reserve” and it stuck. We had an “I.R” party with the integral component of the party being a mock NFL draft. We still grilled burgers and glugged Gatorade and had tons of fun. Adam found out the day of his party that Andrew Luck was in town. He wanted to go look for him in town but ultimately decided to stay for his party and friends.
All in all, we had a fun celebratory weekend.  The twins’ actual birthday was a school day with cupcakes at school but also homework and swim practice. However, Adam got one more surprise. He got his cast off. This is actually a surprise gift for us all. No more Adam complaining that he can’t go play ball!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Salzburg: The Hills are Alive!

The kids have been introduced to the Sound of Music by their godmother, a big fan. It's pretty appropriate as we live in the Alps. We all now occasionally burst into Sound of Music song when we catch a glimpse of the Alps. Capitalizing on this musical energy, we took the kids to Salzburg, famous for many things, including Mozart, but for us it was all Sound of Music all the time.
The train ride from Munich to Salzburg is less than two hours, and happens to pass through a station with the only Dunkin Donuts in Munich. So easy, we are already planning a return visit. From the Salzburg train station, we walked into the Old Town, marveling at the baroque architecture and all the tourists! Phil managed to pull together a picnic dinner along the Salzach River, us and a bunch of college kids. Our kids might be a little jaded when it comes time for their own collegiate European tour but they’ll survive. Salzburg is worth the return visit, be next month, next year or next decade.
We signed up for the The Original Sound of Music Tour, and despite being a fan, the four to five hour tour time caused me some concern. All unfounded. The tour was great. First, we went around to movie sights in Salzburg; ie. the wall Julie Andrews walked along as she was dropped off at the Van Trapp house, the bridge where the kids ran across in the curtain costumes, the Nonnberg Abbey, where the real Maria Von Trapp served. We visited the gazebo, famous for “I’m sixteen, going on seventeen.” We were told we could no longer go inside as an elderly tourist jumped up on the benches to dance and sing and fell, breaking her hip. Our tour guide assured she was recovered!
After the city sights, we drove out to through the Lake District, absolutely beautiful snow topped peaks, green countryside and alpine lakes. We visited the church in Mondsee where the Sound of Music wedding took place. We ate apple pastries, outside in the sun, admiring the church from a street side café. Walking around on the inside, the church was all soaring ceilings and stunning stain glass. It was easy to see why the movie crew picked this church for the Hollywood wedding despite it being a good forty minutes outside of Salzburg,
On the ride home, our Austrian guide put the movie on a screen and encouraged us all to sing along. We did. We concluded the tour with our guide singing a knock off song about getting a beer,  to the tune of “Doe a deer, a female deer.” Our family all looked at Royce. She stood up, walked to the front of the bus and took the mic. She sang a great round of her Girl Scout knock off version about getting Twinkies. The international audience did not know what Twinkies were but they got the tune and the enthusiasm and gave her a rousing round of applause. Our own little Julie Andrews moment.