Thursday, July 25, 2013

Etta Turns 1

Okay, so Etta turned 1 about 15 days ago, but with our trip and readjusting to being at home etc. etc. we didn't get around to officially celebrating it until a few days ago.

Here is my beautiful baby the day after we brought her home from the hospital:

Aven's first year seemed to go extremely slow for me. Probably because as a new mom everything was a struggle and everything seemed so new and scary. Etta's first year has flown past and I can't believe that she's already on the verge of walking. She's so delightful, strong-willed, and happy- I just love her so much.

Over the weekend we had Ian's parents over for cake and ice-cream to celebrate Etta's, Ian's and my birthday since they're all so close together. 
Etta REALLY wanted to grab that flame.
She was just as dainty at eating her cake as Aven was on her first birthday.

On Pioneer Day we had a barbecue at my mom's house and celebrated all three birthdays again. This time I remembered the 1st birthday hat and bib that my friend Amber gave me:
Surprisingly, she kept that hat on all the way through eating her cake.
The reason the entire cake is on fire is because I turned 34 this year.
Not as dainty this time. She's getting the hang of this whole cake-eating thing.
Opening presents! Confession time: I re-gifted her Aven's Little People house and accessories that I packed away about a year and a half ago. She has no idea and loves it anyway.

 Happy birthday to my sweet girl!

Monday, July 15, 2013


We saw Brandi Carlile in concert at Red Butte Gardens for the third time last night. It was wonderful. I was going to post a video Ian took with his phone but the sound quality is awful, so I'm just posting pictures instead. If you don't listen to Brandi Carlile, you should really start. She is amazing.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gersau and Lake Lucerne

The very last leg of our journey took us to the village of Gersau, which is in Switzerland right on Lake Lucerne. We had a five and a half hour drive from Nice to Gersau, so it was a long day. We stopped in Como, Italy for lunch and we happened to find a great playground with a splash pad. Etta crawled around the playground and Aven stripped down to her skivvies and got soaking wet on the splash pad. It was a great stop because both girls crashed for the last couple hours of the drive.

Lunch in Como. The one and only time we ate at McDonald's on this trip. I'm pretty proud of that.
Very last gelato in Italy.

We arrived at the home of William and Pia Kochli in Gersau, Switzerland shortly before dinner. This was our third Airbnb stay of the trip and by-far the best. The apartments in Florence in Nice were also Airbnb rentals and we had the whole place to ourselves. That was nice, and all, but staying with locals in their home is far better (which we learned during our stay in Innsbruck with the Ames family).

Pia offered to cook for us for 12 Francs per person per night, which we took her up on for the first two nights we stayed at her house. Absolutely fabulous meals and by far the best deal of the trip, plus the meals came with dessert and great conversations with this lovely couple. My only regret on this part of the trip is that we didn't stay longer. I think everyone should go to Gersau and stay with Pia and William for at least a week. Most people stay in Lucerne and just go to Gersau on a day trip. We did the opposite and I will tell you that we did it the right way. Lucerne was busy and touristy. Gersau was quiet and tranquil and was absolutely stunningly beautiful. There was hiking, swimming, trams to the tops of peaks, and nature walks among other things. We were only there three nights and didn't have the opportunity to do a lot of those things but I would love to go back to this lovely place someday.

This is what we saw from the door to our room. Seriously.
We took the train to Lucerne for the day and went back to Gersau by boat, which was a lot of fun. While we were in Lucerne Etta shoplifted a hat. She's starting her life of crime early. We had just been through a series of 3 or 4 different shops with her in the stroller. Once we finally got out of the last store I noticed she was chewing on a red knit cap. I had no idea which store it came from and didn't have to energy to go back and find out, so we brought home a stolen hat.

A cool bridge we walked across in Lucerne.

Hey! Guys! Here he is! He did come again, but this time he decided to open a jewelry store in Lucerne. Who can blame him, it's beautiful there.

Riding on a boat!
Aven loves boat rides!
Ian looking commanding.
These views were SERIOUSLY everywhere. I was constantly in awe.
Pia's neighbor had baby cows. We saw these little guys the morning after Ian had eaten some delicious veal which was prepared by William, who is a butcher and REALLY knows his stuff. Ian felt a little guilty.
Playing badminton with Aven. Apparently she wasn't as committed to the game as I was.
A cool tunnel down the street from Pia's house.

Why don't I live here?
The best shot at our attempt to get a nice family photo in the meadow in front of Pia's house. The kids were not having it.
My beautiful Etta got to celebrate her first birthday on hilltop in Switzerland.
We had Etta's birthday dinner at an Italian restaurant in Gersau. Their menus had Cheesecake Factory menus beat hands-down.
Ian and Aven with our lovely host, Pia.
This is my "I've been on vacation four weeks and would really like to go home" look.

I'll probably put up a few more trip-related posts after this so I can write about some of the challenges of travelling with kids, but this post concludes our trip. We are VERY glad to be home.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Surprise! Emma tried something new and slightly scary! Can you believe it?! I couldn't- until she actually did it!

Anyway, when we were walking along the beach yesterday we saw a few water sports companies doing parasailing and Ian was immediately sure that he wanted to try it. I couldn't do it because I have tubes in my ears, so I can't submerge my head in water without special ear plugs. Emma needed a little convincing, but we were very happy that she decided to go.

We headed to the beach before lunch today and Ian and Emma got all hooked up the the equipment:

Notice the vast disparity between Ian's skin tone and the skin tone of the water sports employees.

Here they are taking off:

Taking a dip mid-ride.

Waaaayyyy up there!

Luckily I remembered the telephoto lens:

Emma plugged her nose in preparation for the drop.


They had a great time!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Nice City Center

Nothing too exciting today. Just lunch and shopping in the Nice city center. We took the bus and it was incredibly crowded. I've used public transit in a lot of different cities, but I've never seen such crowded trains and buses as I have here.

Here are some fun pictures from our day:

Emma was impressed by the local butts

Aven was riding in the stroller while eating chocolate ice cream. We stopped at a shop so she could pick out some bracelets. The shopkeeper peeked around the stroller to say hi to her and busted up laughing. I took a look and this is what I saw. 

Nice is nice!

Check out that lovely beach!

Random shots of the day:

I know it means "Bread Temple" but what I see is "The Temple of Pain!!!"
Check out that super-strange Orangina logo- a goat head on a sexy body. So weird.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Today we decided to go to Monaco and rub elbows with rich people. The traffic was insane and we felt really underdressed. We ate lunch at a fancy mall. After eating, Emma and I walked around and looked at some merchandise. I didn't spend more than a minute or two in each store because the price tags made me sweat. Even the discount items were well over 100 Euros- yikes.

After lunch we made what seemed like a very long trek across Monte Carlo to the Oceanographic museum of Monaco. The aquarium was very cool but also very small. Etta was once again very entertained by the fishes. Aven's favorite exhibit was the tank full of dozens of little Nemos. The museum part was kind of random and weird, but it had cool stuff in it along with an interesting display of shark themed art. Overall it was fun, but a very long day for our two travel-weary girls. We will be really glad to go home next week because every day Aven tells us "I miss my Grace Dog, I miss my home, I miss my friends, I miss my school . . . " poor girl. Anyway, enjoy some pictures from our day in the land of rich people:

On the way to Monaco- I just thought this was a super-adorable picture of Aven.
Welcome to Monaco! (I think it says something to that effect, anyway).
This is part of the Circuit de Monaco track for Formula One Racing. Ian has driven this track many times in a video game, so he enjoyed seeing it in person.
The official, original Monte Carlo Casino. They have a strict dress code, so we could only look at the outside.

Now, for my random photos of the day:
This yacht looks like it's about to give birth to a speedboat.
I had fun making fun of all the tourists taking photos of the Maseratis and Ferraris parked around town by taking photos of cars around town that I thought were pretty hot. This is my favorite. If I ever meet the guy who drives this chick magnet Ian might have to start worrying.
We rode a "fancy red yacht" (a.k.a. a public transportation ferry) across the harbor. Aven seriously thought we were living the high life, along with 20 random strangers who also needed to get to the other side of the harbor.
Etta's the king of the world! She really liked yachting.  

It was pretty beautiful there. Ian's current retirement plan: spend the next 30 years overcoming our horrible tendency toward seasickness and our hate of all cuisine involving seafood then buy a yacht and travel the world. Easy peasy.
Family photo time!