Sunday, February 25, 2007


Really not much to say this week. Nothing really new. The biggest thing is that we're working on finding a different apartment. This one is really great: roomy, lots of parking, fantastic ward, close to work, excellent landlords, etc., but we're aching for a dishwasher (Eli's hands are constantly looking more like prunes) and a washer and dryer in the unit. We looked at one place that was more expensive than ours, in a worse location, much more dirty, and the tenants had a dog. Lame.
We then got a heads up from our good friends, the Calls, who will be moving in March. Their place was much more promising, with much more room than we'd need, and a dishwasher, but would still be coin-operated laundry around the corner shared with other apartments. The more we look, the more we love our apartment. So we're considering just installing one of those portable dishwashers and making do with the coin-op laundry down the stairs. Off the record, Eli doesn't think it's that bad, but Kira is admittedly picky about it all.
We still haven't given up the hunt, so if anyone has any tips, pass them on to us.
In other news, we got new phones and put Jesse on our calling plan so that he can finally have a phone! So we think we're pretty cool.
And after a disappointing loss to stinking San Diego State, our cougars will have some fine-tuning to do before facing Air Force in Colorado Springs coming up.
And I'm sure this is the most interesting thing anyone has read all day. Maybe go to Jack Handey's site (a link is conveniently located to your right) for a few laughs and your visit to our blog won't be a total loss this time.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Present Day

Not a whole lot new to report on since graduation, but we'll bring you all up to speed on our current situation.
Kira began working one day out of her week in a different department at Wasatch Mental Health. She is now helping out the Wellness Recovery Clinic on the side, while spending the rest of her week at her normal department (Adult Outpatient). She likes it so far and thinks it will be a nice bit of variety from the rest of her routine.
We had kind of a short, boring Valentine's Day this year. I requested a heart-shaped pizza with garlic sauce from Papa Murphy's and Kira just wanted a bouquet of flowers (We've gotten a little boring in our many months of marriage). I delivered the flowers to her at work and then we went out to lunch. That evening, we curled up on the couch and watched Rudy, which I had just purchased over Christmas and Kira had never seen.
For the Presidents' Day weekend, we had been debating about going someplace or visiting someone, and Kira even considered ditching me and visiting her friend Amber in Nebraska, but tickets were a minimum of $700, so she opted not to go at this time. Instead, yesterday we went up to Draper to help Kira's sister, Cassidee, with her four boys for a few hours. We got the older boys haircuts and played for a while, and held the twins, keeping them entertained and then headed up to Salt Lake City.
Kira and I have always wanted to attend a live session of the endowment and so finally took the opportunity. She invited a friend and coworker to come. It was quite enjoyable. If any of you has the means to go, we highly recommend it.
After that, we headed to a wedding reception for one of Kira's old classmates. We were very hungry, so pleasantly surprised at the delicious food provided at the reception.
After that, we headed home.
I had another job interview this week, but I wasn't very excited about it (bad hours). When I heard they had offered it to someone else, I was mostly glad that I didn't have to worry about it, but then on Friday I heard back from the job I really wanted and they had also offered the job to someone else. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. The lady told me I had done wonderfully in the interview and was actually overqualified and recommended I look for a job in Case Management. Well duh. That's what I'd been looking for and nothing will open up until May is what it looks like. But I thanked her and went back to the drawing board. I'm starting to run out of ideas, and may just go for one of the more lame jobs at least until the better ones open up in a few months.
I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Eli's Gradjamation

Why is there no picture for Eli's graduation? That's a great question. And here's the answer; I haven't yet walked. I finished my B.S. in psychology in December of 2006, but I don't get to walk until April of 2007. I decided not to apply for graduate schools yet because I am not quite sure to what I want to commit yet. Currently, my most promising options are Child Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology, and Neuropsychology. So as of now, I am still hunting for jobs. I've had a lot of offers, but nothing that really fits what I want. I should hear back from some of the ones that I like in a few days and I'll let you know. Luckily, my job at the Missionary Training Center didn't add to our income that much, and Kira's job provided great benefits, so we've been just fine while I search.

Since Germany...

After Germany, it was off to work for me again at the Missionary Training Center (the mailroom) while Kira took off a couple of weeks before beginning her job at Wasatch Mental Health.
She enjoyed no homework, and I had a very nice last semester. I had finally researched my professors before signing up for the classes, and that paid off big time. So that's the Fall semester in a nutshell.

Germany Trip - Last days (sniff)

That night we were off to Munich for our final day in Germany. It was much easier finding our hotel this time, and this one was okay. Once again, there were two single beds (I wonder if German couples are really shy), a sink and mirror, but the toilets were one way down the hall and the shower was another way down the hall. The price was reasonable though. We bathed and went to bed after checking email and our bank accounts online. Oh, we also started panicking because there was no phone and no alarm clock in our room and we needed to be up at 3:30 am on Wednesday.
We slept okay, though Kira was still quite sick. We were amazed at how less stressful it was because we could leave our bags in the room rather than haul them to the train station lockers. We ate our favorite breakfast: exactly the same as every other day, but we were not really sick of it. It has a lot of charm.
After that, we were off to shop. We started at a military surplus store right next to our hotel that I wanted to check out. I found a jacket that I really wanted with German flags on the shoulders. They didn't take cards either, so I said we might be back.
We went to Marienplatz, which is just the name of the square where the famous Glöckenspiel is. We took some pictures and went to find a store I knew specialized in Cuckoo clocks (we had decided we wanted one earlier in Rothenburg). On the way though, we saw that it was almost noon and we wanted to head back and see the moving life-size figures on the Glöckenspiel that plays every day at noon. So we went instead to the Frauenkirche, just a church nearby, and took a few pictures and sat to rest our knees and feet for a bit. The show at the Glöckenspiel was okay. I'd seen it before. There's a whole show where figures dance around and two knights on horses even joust. Very complicated clockwork, I'm sure, but not a great attention holder.
Then we were off to buy a Cuckoo clock. They are all way above our price range, but hey, we were on vacation. We got a decently-priced one with a little birdie that pops out and does the classic "cuckoo" sound. At home we gathered around it every half hour to hear him do it, and then jumped around like little kids. We have since named the little bird Hans.
We then went to a store to buy some chocolate to bring home and a battery for my alarm clock in hopes it would work (I couldn't remember if the battery just kept the time when unplugged or what). We shopped for a couple of souvenirs for Kira's fam (my fam just wanted chocolate). We spent a little time looking for another jacket for me, but I really had my heart set on the military one. We sat in St. Michael's church nearby just to rest our legs again (by now we had spent most of the last week walking). By then, the day was pretty much over, or should have been because we had to be up so early the next morning. We went and got my jacket and one last ice cream scoop, and went to pack.
The battery did not work on my clock, so I went to ask the reception if there was anything they could do. He was really nice and gave me two alarm clocks to use. They both worked fine. I ran to find a telephone to use up the last of our minutes on the phone card. I talked to mom for about a minute before it ran out. We bathed again and went to bed.
We awoke at 3:30am to light rain. We quickly brushed teeth and packed our jammies and took off. We hopped on the 4:05 train to the airport and, once again, the airport was very empty. We were told by the lady who sold us our cuckoo clock that we could get 10 Euros back in cash at the refund office at the airport before we checked in. We went around trying to find it and finally did, but it was closed until 6am. A sign said to go to the bank downstairs if we got there after hours, so we decided to try that even though we were "before" hours. We hunted around for that and when we finally found that, we discovered that they didn't open until 7am. So we go back up to just drop it in the box and wait for a refund through the mail or credit to a credit card. Big mess, and it took longer than it should have, especially for a lousy 10 Euros.
Anyway, we got checked in and found our gate and ate a little breakfast.
We first flew to Brussels, Belgium. That was pretty nifty. We both slept most of the brief flight. Right before our descent, the two male flight attendants passed around some complimentary Belgian chocolate. That was a good trick; it got us addicted and then we were searching for more all over the airport, but it was all incredibly expensive. We settled for two candy bars, and Kira bought a souvenir refrigerator magnet of waffles that said "Belgium" below it. We then managed to go through security at three separate points on the way to our gate. Don't ask me how.
We got on our plane to Chicago and prepared for the longest flight of our trip. The plane was nowhere near as cool as our one from Chicago to London, but at least it had wings. The first movie was "Chronicles of Narnia", so we watched that. It was my third time seeing it. Good movie. The second movie was supposed to be "Catch Me if You Can", but on either of the channels it was in both French and English being spoken at the same time, so you couldn't hear either. We informed the attendants and they changed the movie to "Rumor Has It". They made a few attempts at that one, but the same thing was happening. Finally around try 3, it worked. I had never seen this one or heard much about it, so gave it a whirl. Kira joined in after a nap through the first half hour or so. Don't waste your time. Scandalous and pointless.
I slept briefly and we finally arrived in Chicago about an hour after we'd left Brussels.
Here's the thing though, we arrived half an hour earlier than expected, and we had about a five and a half hour layover anyway. We were exhausted, but decided we might as well head into the city to eat and see a few things. So we took a tram into Chicago and asked one of the locals where a good place would be to stop to find food. She made a good recommendation and we acted accordingly. We walked a good half mile and finally stopped at a Chinese place. It was good food, but much more than we could handle. Kira talked to her family while we ate and we walked a bit more and headed back. The trams in Chicago are like a roller coaster. You feel as if you will fly off the track at any moment. That kept us awake so we didn't miss our stop at least.
When we got back to the airport, we found that our plane had been delayed another two hours. That was the last thing we needed to hear, as that meant we'd be traveling for about a total of 30 hours. I called our ride back in Utah and they said that would actually work out better with having their baby in bed and all, so I felt relieved about that.
We were both shot by then. I put in my earplugs and we both tried to sleep at our gate, but there were all sorts of babies and little kids crying around and people talking about nothing loudly on their cell phones, so I didn't sleep at all. After what felt like an eternity, we got on the plane and I slept a good hour or so out of the home trip. Kira seemed to be doing okay, not nearly as tired as I was.
We landed in one piece and got our bags quickly and met our ride out front. We must have looked terrible. We got to our car at about midnight on Wednesday the 17th of May and began the drive home. We made it home, I showered and we went to bed. I had work off the next day also, so we slept in as much as we could and then unpacked and got settled back in.

Germany Trip - Rothenburg

The ride to Rothenburg ob der Tauber was uneventful. We hadn't yet called our mothers on the special day (Mother's Day), so when we arrived, we walked a while to find a phone. It ended up being much farther than we'd hoped, but we made our calls. My mom wasn't home; she'd left for church already, but I had a brief chat with dad.
From there, we were completely lost. I had never been anywhere near Rothenburg, and Kira had been there, but with a tour group. We were in the outskirts of the tiny town (the old Rothenburg is inside a city wall), and we were pretty sure that our hotel was inside the wall, so we headed there, asking people along the way if they knew where the street or the hotel was. They all said they weren't from there either, so didn't know. We found a map, but all it had were landmarks and no streets. We finally went into an ice cream shop and asked there, figuring they would have to be from around there. They found a little map and it was far enough away that he just gave me the map and we were off to find it. It was about 15 minutes from the train station, but we happened to take the shortest route anyway. We got to our place and were very impressed. It was one of the cheaper places of our whole trip and yet it was, by far, the nicest. It had a four-post bed, large bathtub and very traditional "cute" furniture. Plenty of room for our bags, and very clean everywhere. We were beyond pleased. There was a sign there that said they did not accept credit cards, so I planned to go to an ATM early in the morning before breakfast while Kira was getting ready. We were both tired and Kira was feeling as sick as ever, if not more, so we just bathed and went to bed. Next morning we did as planned; I went out to find an ATM and Kira got ready. I walked for probably 20 minutes to find an ATM and then went back for breakfast. The kitchen was dimly lit (the building is very old) and walls were covered with traditional German stuff like antlers and that kind of thing. It was cluttered, but quaint. Breakfast was exactly the same stuff we'd had for breakfast at every other place (they're predictable if nothing else).
We didn't have to check out until 11, so we napped for about 30 minutes and checked out. We had just missed the bus to the train station and the next one wasn't for another hour or so, so I took our bags and headed to the train station while Kira waited and took some pictures and explored some. I ended up taking the long way to the train station, but I got there. I bought our tickets for that night, put our bags in lockers, and called the hotel for that night to let them know we were going to be later than we expected, but that was just fine with them.
I found Kira on the bench where I'd left her and we began our trek through Rothenburg. I think we got some food first, and did a bit of shopping, all the while taking pictures. Rothenburg is a very touristy place. Everything is quaint and picturesque, but it was great. We went to the criminal museum and saw some sickening devices of torture, and learned some interesting things about the times and punishments associated with certain crimes.
We did some more shopping and got lunch and some ice cream. More pictures. I had seen these little chocolate ball things in one of the bakery windows and wanted to try one out, so we got one. It was okay, but not all I'd hoped for.
Overall, Rothenburg was among our favorite places. We highly recommend it to anyone.

Germany Trip - Ulm

So, we were then on to Ulm, the last city in which I served, and one of my favorite branches. Ulm is the birthplace of a little guy known as Albert Einstein, and the home of the tallest religious building in the world, the Ulmer Münster (no, it is not made out of cheese). We got in pretty late and it was raining pretty hard, so I had kind of a hard time running between the map and the bus schedule outside to figure out when we needed to be where in the morning to make it to church. We then went on to our place for the night. Compared to our last place, our room in Ulm was like the Ritz (although I've never been to the Ritz, I'm sure it was nicer than our hole in Switzerland too). It had two single beds again, but we could push these two together. It was terribly cramped still, but clean and had a nice, fully equipped bathroom. Once we were settled in, I wanted to run get some food, so we headed out on the town and went to another Turkish place. I asked for a pizza and the guy said it would take a long time. It never takes more than ten minutes, so I asked how long. "Half an hour" he says. So I asked for another thing on the menu that Kira wanted to try. "Same thing." he says. I was about ready to get mad at the lazy bum, so we left and got some Pizza Hut at the train station (American again, I know. My excuse this time is that it's really half Italian, and the pepperoni they use in Germany is way different from American pepperoni, so it was kind of German). After that, we realized that we hadn't bought any chocolate at all over there. You can imagine our horror. We quickly went to a little convenience store in the train station as it was closing and I got my favorite candy bar of all time (Ritter Sport Knusperkeks) and Kira got a Magnum Ice Cream Bar. We then walked back to our home for the night by way of the Muenster. The sight was glorious, but not as much as the chocolate.
We slept pretty well, just not long enough. We had decided to eat at about 7:30, check out at 8:15 and be at the bus stop by 8:25 to get to church. That got shot to pieces. I went down to check out breakfast and the guy was really surprised. Breakfast wasn't included, so apparently we were supposed to tell him earlier if we wanted to eat. He didn't have anything prepared, so we said to forget it. I went back to the room while Kira was finishing up. Once ready, we took our bags down to check out and so I handed him my credit card and he says he doesn't accept credit cards. Well that's great. So I had to run out and find an ATM and then come back to pay. By then, we're running late for the bus, so we book it to the stop and run into MacDonald's nearby to get a little breakfast (breaking the Sabbath in the process). As I'm waiting for the food, we watch our bus drive away.
It was 20 minutes until the next one, making us late for church, so we sat on the bench and ate our semi-food. I checked the map and schedules again and found a bus that would leave in 10 minutes and get us closer to the church than the one we'd planned on, so that was a spot of luck. We made it to church on time and as we were putting up our coats, one of my favorite members from the whole mission walked in, took one look at me and almost fell over (I hadn't told anyone we were coming). We caught up a bit and I met his one-year-old son and he invited us over for lunch and to go downtown to see the Muenster later that afternoon. We said sure.
We were graciously welcomed by many of the other members that I knew. This was something I was a bit worried about. I feared that no one would remember me and I would feel like I hadn't really accomplished much in the ward, but I was very surprised at how many people even remembered my name. One of the best parts was the now 11-year-old David Funk, whom I baptized when he was eight (his father is an atheist). David ran up to me with his little sister Yadira and they both gave me a big hug and chatted with me for a while. That was great! Their mom (who is from Ecuador) invited us over for dinner. I said we'd already been invited, but we'd see if we could get out of there on time to come over (our train from Ulm was leaving at 6pm and they lived a long way away).
Church was only two hours because the branch had lost enough people to moving and whatnot that they no long held Sunday School. I translated for Kira during Sacrament Meeting and someone translated for her during relief society. Elders' Quorum was taught in English though, because the guy teaching was from England and didn't speak a word of German (he was in Germany only temporarily). Oh, he also spoke in Sacrament, so I didn't have to translate for Kira for his talk either.
Anyway, after church, we chatted with more members and got caught up on the last 3 years. The old Ward Mission Leader had gotten married at age 55, so I met his wife. Another good member whose wife had gone crazy and left him after one year had remarried and just had their first child two weeks before, so I met his wife and child. Everybody seemed happy and blessed. I was sad to learn, however, that the Italian we baptized was inactive and separated from his member wife. I had the feeling when we were teaching him that it was more for his girlfriend that he was joining the church, but it was his choice and we helped him all we could.
It was also mother's day, so Kira got a rose at church and we heard David and Yadira Funk sing (they made up two thirds of the primary). That also meant that the ladies did not help with the cooking at lunch. I didn't really help that much either though. I stood there and watched mostly, but the food all turned out okay and we had a nice conversation over some sausages and grilled turkey (how's that for German?). Kira felt like she bonded a bit with Regina, the wife, when the topic of mononucleosis came up. Regina had mono on her mission on temple square and Kira had it last summer, so they shared their pain. Later in town they had some good discussion too and Kira feels like they could be really good friends.
It was getting later than I'd hoped so we thought we'd see if the Funk kids could meet us downtown and go with us. I called and the sister was feeling sick, so they figured it'd be best not to. But we exchanged addresses and talked for a bit. I gave the address to the dad and then he said David wanted to talk to me one more time. He gets on the line and says "Elijah. Thank you for baptizing me." That was just about the coolest thing he could have said. I told him it was one of my favorite memories from the mission and that I hoped he would remember it too. I promised to write and we said goodbye.
We then went into the city and Kira and I climbed the Münster. This is most impressive because Kira had woken up with a fever that morning and the Münster is 756 steps high by our count. We made it up though and got some great pictures to boot. When we came down, Kira was dying for a restroom, so we went and found one in an ice cream shop. We then walked and talked some more and took a picture together. It was then about time to get to the train station, so we got in the car. Here's a great side note; in the parking garage, there was a spot reserved for people using strollers, so we got that one. It was right next to the elevator. Next to that spot was a section reserved for women who were alone. Kira thought that was just about the greatest idea she'd ever heard of and we wondered why America hadn't thought of that.
We said our goodbyes, bought our train tickets and grabbed another bite to take on the train. Family Grahovac (that's the family with whom we were) might be coming to America for a while to do an internship (he's in med school), so we may yet see them again.

Germany Trip - (Actually Switzerland)

Friday morning we ate another breakfast exactly like the two before, but we were really enjoying it. Kira especially loved the protein. We then checked out and headed to Zürich, Switzerland. It was a long trip and we changed trains probably 5 times, grabbing some food at Subway near the station when we had a brief layover (Like how we eat German only for breakfast?).
When we got off in Switzerland to change trains yet again, we went to get our passports checked and the Police Officer was asking a bunch of questions and his last one before he stamped them was "How did you learn such good German?" I was quite flattered at that, seeing as how I felt awfully rusty.
On the Swiss train, we sat in a car that labeled "quiet area", so no one had headphones blaring or was talking loudly. That was nice and something I'd never seen in Germany.
Once we arrived in Zürich, we got off the train and there was a water fountain right there. This was a big surprise because all over Germany we had to plan how we were going to fill Kira's water bottle and we had to ration it all out. So we got all filled up there and played with it for about 5 minutes before heading on to our place to stay for the night. The map I had printed out for this place was not very helpful and had advertised being only a five minute walk from the train station. Maybe we're just slow Americans, but it took us about 12 minutes each time we did it - even without bags. Well, we found our place; it was called City Backpacker and was just a bunch of dorms for people backpacking through Europe. I had Kira stay on the ground floor with the bags because the reception was upstairs and I had no idea how high up I would have to go (there was also no elevator). I ended up going about 4 floors up. I waited around in line- the place was packed with Americans, Japanese, a couple of Dutch, and Lord knows whom else. I got through the line and he had me fill out a couple of sheets for us both and then said he needed to see both of our passports. So I had to go get Kira's. I asked which floor we were staying on and he said it was two floors up from there. I go down to get Kira and we lug our bags up to the fourth floor, show him our passports, and lug our bags two floors up to find a dormitory with 3 bunk beds. There was a sink, but the toilet and shower were down the hall. There were 3 other guys in the room: one from Japan and two from Canada. Later that night the 6th person came in; it was a girl who sounded German, but we didn't really talk to her because she came in around 11pm. There were small lockers in the room, but you needed your own lock. I had brought one from home for just such an occasion, but the holes were just too small for it. We tried one of the locks on Kira's suitcase, but the angle didn't work out with fitting it on. You could rent locks from reception, but it was 5 bucks, so we just kept our valuables in our pillow cases as we slept later that night.
Anyway, we dropped our stuff off and went out into the city. Switzerland is still using the franc, not euros, so we took out 50 francs, which equals about $41. Since neither of us had been there before, we just sort of wandered around and took pictures. We saw a famous church near our shelter (for to call it a hotel would be an insult to hotels), but it wasn't really that impressive. Zurich is on a river, and part of the public transportation system is little boats that go in the river, so we went on a round trip on one of those. That was pretty nifty, though expensive. When it came time to eat, I had had a hankering for a good Turkish-made pizza, so we found the most ghetto, cheap place we could find and their pizzas still equaled out to about $9 for a thin crust small pizza. We decided we were unlikely to find anything cheaper, so we went with it. It was good, but hardly filling, and worth nowhere near $9. We then wandered the streets to find some more food that was relatively in our price range. We finally found a grocery store with a sort of buffet also. Their food was much more reasonably priced, so we got some. Not good, but cheap, so we didn't complain. Well, except about the chocolate drink I bought. It tasted like water with a little bit of Hershey’s syrup mixed in. Nasty.
Since everything was so outrageously priced, we decided we should head back to the shelter. We found an internet cafe that wasn't too expensive, so we hopped on for 15 minutes and emailed the fams and checked our accounts to make sure our funds were going to hold out. The cafe was also an arcade of sorts, and we had some change and figured "hey, we're on vacation!" So Kira played a car racing game, got 1st place on the first race, so she won a free race. On the second time she placed 2nd, so we were done there. On the way back to the shelter there was a little crowd on the street. We went over to see what the deal was and there was a spray paint artist doing a painting right there. He had a few other works on display, obviously for sale, and they were good, but a little too psychedelic for our taste. We stayed and watched him finish up the piece he was working on right then, and then decided to call it a night. I showered and so did Kira and we made plans for the next day. After a few attempts to chat with the Japanese roommate we had (he spoke no German and only a very little English) we retired for the night. The rest of the people wandered in at fairly decent hours and were relatively quiet.
It was a very long night. With six people, the room got very hot and I went to open a window at about 12:30, but there was still quite a lot of noise from everyone in the streets enjoying their weekend alcohol. I think Kira and I were the only ones to bring earplugs, so I shut the window. I tried it again a couple hours later and the noise was a little less, but I figured everyone probably wanted the window open (or at least wouldn't want to fist fight over it), so I left it open.
Between the heat and my fits of coughing (left from my cold) I got about 4 hours of sleep. Kira did a little better. We got up about 7:30am if I recall and Kira began getting ready while I went and got us checked out. We took our bags to the train station and put them in lockers, (which were more than double what we had paid for lockers before) after getting change at a bakery. We went and took out some more money from the ATM and went to get Kira breakfast at a little place across the street (I ate some stuff at the bakery). We then were just about on schedule for the museum to open right next to the train station. So we went and did that. The building was really nifty and we got some great pictures of it. We went and did some of the museum in which we could not take photos. It was a pretty typical museum. We realized there was more in it than we'd be able to see, so we picked out a few exhibits and went to them. We then spent a few minutes in the gift shop, where I decided the souvenir I wanted was a Swiss Army knife. They had some good ones, but I thought we should check in town to see what they had. Kira decided she wanted a refrigerator magnet. Since the museum was so close to the train station, we figured we search in town for a while and then come back if we decided they had the best pick. After a lot of unsuccessful searching in town, we ended up going back to the museum after all. By then I had decided I didn't really need the knife (I tend to do this), but Kira finally talked me into splurging a little bit because we'd never be there again and "we're on vacation" and all that. So I got a really nifty one with a pen and a little light built in. Sooooo cool!
We were then so sick of walking that we went into a nearby park and sat on a bench for a while. We took little naps there and then threw the Frisbee around for a little while.
Not much else to talk about with Switzerland. If you ever go, take lots and lots of money. Also, they speak something like German, but I was mostly just guessing at what they said to me when I answered.

Germany Trip - Esslingen

Esslingen is a very nice place with a lot of picturesque spots if you know where to go (and I know where to go). So we spent the day walking around, taking lots of pictures, playing some Frisbee, doing some shopping for Kira, eating lots of ice cream, and running into the missionaries. That was interesting. I found out about some changes in the ward and mission and got to reminisce a bit. For dinner we went to a great little place downtown and ate at a table outside on the cobblestone street. We were the only customers at the time. The meal was fantastic Greek food at very sensible portions so that we left satisfied and with no leftovers to throw away. We then chatted with the owner for a while. He is from Greece, so we mostly chatted about how Kira's brother Taber is going there shortly and learning the language. Very nice time in Esslingen.
At the hotel, we found out that the pool was still open for another 40 minutes, so we got changed and headed down. It was a very small pool, and the water was about 2 degrees above freezing. Kira got a couple of pictures of me up to my waist in the water, which took me about 10 minutes to get to. We finally decided to give up on the water and try the sauna. The sauna was the other extreme and actually much hotter than it should have been, so we didn't last long, then jumped into the freezing water to cool off and mess with our bodies' core temperatures. We then went to bed: Kira in her single, I in mine.

Trip to Germany Days 1 & 2

To celebrate Kira's glorious departure from school and homework, and as a sort of second honeymoon, we decided to take a trip to Germany, where I had lived for two years as an LDS missionary. The next few posts are all the gory details of our trip, if you're interested.

Okay, it all started out on Monday the 8th. We drove to Taylorsville to an old High School buddy's house, who let us park on his street and took us the rest of the way to the airport (about 12 minutes away). Upon check-in, they told us that our plane was delayed 50 minutes, so we were going to miss our other flight from Chicago, and then our other flight from London. So she moved us around and we ended up scheduled to arrive 3 1/2 hours later than planned. Bummer because we were already going to be awake for so long, but hey, what can you do?
After a brief frisking from security and a bit of lunch from good ol' Burger King, we were off. I fell right asleep on that first plane for about 20 minutes, which is rare for me, but it helped me to feel refreshed somewhat for the remainder of the flight.
In Chicago, we first found our gate and then went in search of food. Everything was overpriced, but we found some nice burritos that were huge and decently priced.
Now, I was about half way through a nasty cold that Isaac passed on to me, and I was eating a fairly spicy burrito, as burritos go. I decided to blow my nose ever so carefully about 3 fourths of the way through the meal, and my nose starts bleeding like it's its job. I nursed that in the bathroom for a good 20 minutes, and it was good enough right around when we needed to board.
Kira had put my burrito remains in a paper bag for me to eat later, and she put my sunglasses in the bag with it so I wouldn't forget them. When I got out of the bathroom I decided I was no longer hungry so I just chucked the bag in the trash and we went to the plane. A couple of hours into the flight, I thought about how I had left my sunglasses near my backpack, so I asked Kira and she remembered she had put them in the bag I threw away. Oh well...
On the plane from Chicago to London, we sat next to a little black kid who had to have been around 5 or 6 years old. He was being escorted home to Ghana by an American Airlines employee. The kid's name was George and he had come to California through some charity program to have his hands operated on (he had somehow burned them badly). He seemed fully recovered and was playing with the little button on his armrest that turns on the reading light for most of the trip.
One of the movies on the flight was The New World, which I had been very excited to see, so I stayed up to watch it, even though I was very tired and should have slept. And really, I should have slept; the movie was not at all what I had hoped for. It had little if anything to do with history and was more a poorly written/directed romance. Don't waste your time.
We arrived in London very hungry and weirded out by the cars driving on the wrong side of the road, so we headed for food. Everything was outrageously priced, so we went with Burger King again. Guess what? They don't take cards! They can accept American dollars, but give change in silly English money! All we had was a $20 bill, and didn't need pounds for anything. Still though, two burgers cost $14, so at least we didn't end up with that much change.
Don't remember much from the flight to Munich. Tired. Very tired.
It felt like we were the only ones in the Munich airport. It was seriously very empty. We got our passports stamped and caught the train into town. From there, we walked for about 10 minutes trying to figure out where our hotel was. It wasn't far from the train station at all, but we didn't know where we were headed. It was a surprisingly small room for the price, and in the bathroom the shower floor was level with the rest of it, separated only by a curtain, so that water could flow freely throughout the bathroom. That was interesting.
We stuffed our bags in a corner and were feeling more excited than tired, so we went out on the town for a little while. We bought our tickets for the next morning to Füssen and got a little bit of food. I took a couple of Nyquil to help me sleep through the night and hopefully get over the jet lag, while helping with my cold symptoms. In the morning, that turned out to be bad.
Our room was unequipped with an alarm clock, so we used mine I had brought from home. Unfortunately we did not have a battery-operated one. We had a voltage converter, so we set it all up and set the alarm for 6:30am. Around 3am, the alarm went off. We checked our watches and found that the clock was running fast. 35 seconds in real time equaled one minute to my clock. I guess it needed exact voltage whereas the converter gave only a range. So Kira tried to do the math in her head at 3 am and retried setting the alarm. It woke us up about an hour later, upon which we gave up and called the reception desk and asked for a wake up call. Keep in mind that all this time I was all drugged up on Nyquil after being awake for over 24 hours, so I was pretty much incoherent while Kira did all the work.
When it was really 6:30am, we got our wake up call and I got up, but the Nyquil was still in my system, because it took all my strength to get out of bed. I packed up and got ready and we went down to breakfast. It was a delightful traditionally German breakfast of meats with cheeses and bread. We then went back to the room to let Kira finish up getting ready and then ended up running with our bags to catch our train. We made it and were on our way to Castle Neuschwanstein!
Once in Füssen, we got some change and put our suitcases in lockers at the train station. We then went to use the restrooms, but for Kira to use a stall, it cost 30 cents. So we had to get more change and our bus was outside ready to leave any minute for the castle, so we were in a bit of a rush for that. We made it though.
The hike up was a bit more than we had bargained for. The Nyquil finally wore off, and it was a beautiful day, but we were not very used to walking quite that much. Still, it was lots of fun and there was a gorgeous view from the top. Truly breathtaking. We took pictures all over the place.
I had taken the tour of the castle on the mission and did not remember being impressed very much, but Kira had never been and was semi-interested. We saw the price (9 Euros a person) and opted not to go. We bought a bunch of postcards, which most of you should have received (Ben, I wasn't sure if I could put German postage on it to go to an APO address, so I may have to send yours from here), and then went back to Füssen for lunch and bought me some sunglasses. We hadn't made any reservations for that night, and I was getting worried, so we found a free telephone booth and made calls to a few places in Esslingen. They were all very expensive, and most were full, but we found a decent one and reserved it, having no idea how to get there. We finished up in Füssen and got on the train to Esslingen, the first city in which I served as a missionary. We asked around and found the right bus and asked the bus driver if he'd tell us when we get to the right stop. It was about 9:45pm now and when we got off the bus, there happened to be an old lady out on a walk and she knew exactly where the hotel was. So we made it. Our room was on the third floor and they had no elevator, so we lugged our bags up and opened the door. We walked in to find two single beds (this turned out to be the situation in the majority of our rooms in Europe). I wanted to still call a few more hotels and see if we could find anything cheaper for the next night, but after about 20 minutes of trying to find some way to plug in the room's phone, I gave up. Apparently the phone is just for decoration. This room did have a working European alarm clock though. After a breakfast exactly like the one the morning previous, we decided to head down to the train station to make calls to hotels and chance coming back that night. We found a place for quite a bit cheaper and took a bus right up to drop off our bags. We then went into Esslingen.

Kira's Gradjamation

In April of 2006, Kira graduated with her Master's in Social Work from Brigham Young University. She then passed her certification exam and became a CSW (certified social worker) and was hired by Wasatch Mental Health here in Provo as a full-time therapist working with Adults. She enjoys her work very much (most of the time) and has learned a lot from her experiences there. She loves her coworkers and has a great boss.

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How it all began...

Kira and I were married on April 26, 2005 in the Denver LDS Temple. We were engaged December 18, 2004.
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