May 30, 2011

The Lakehouse

The view from our shore

No, this post isn't about the movie, The Lakehouse, although I quite like that movie. Instead, Doug, Jenny and I went up to my family's lakehouse on Saturday and had a great time!


Playing frisbee in the water

Lil' D

About to fall


Me and Jenny...



 Apparently we had an exhausting day! :)

 I had a blast! The water was "refreshing," the food was tasty, and the company was great! The Dennis family brought their boat and pulled us around all day. Doug, Maria, and Sarah tried "wake surfing" and Jenny tried wakeboarding.


May 25, 2011


Have you ever been caught like this:

Has your face ever looked like this?

Maybe this???

Given that the ratio of kids:adult(s) licking batter pictures I found on the internet was about 30:1, one might conclude that licking the brownie batter from the bowl is somewhat socially ... inappropriate? immature? Jenny made some delicious brownies today (actually, the batter was delicious, I haven't tried the actual brownies :)...) and I had a lick. Or a spoonful. Maybe multiple spoonfuls, who knows? Anyway, I thought about my friends (my age-ish) who would (also) look at the sink with regret when the bowl is being rinsed and I didn't think of very many. 

Am I wrong? Do you also lick the batter? Or am I truly alone in this fun activity??

May 23, 2011

A new day!

Today is Doug's first day at work. His internship in the GE R&D center's statistics department to be more clear. Conveniently enough, Doug's dad works there too. Exciting, right?

Doug outside of the Statistics building of Aachen's University

So while Doug is doing "Statistik" I'm watching Bones. And I've cried in at least 2 of the last 4 episodes! What is wrong with me?? Really, there are things I could - I mean should - be doing. But I'm still getting over jet lag. right?

May 17, 2011

Germany: all-in-one

Germany, the second part of our trip, was so amazing. I am really looking forward to going back someday - even for a few years at a time. :) That's actually a pretty big deal for me. Before this trip I was super timid about international travel (mostly because of the language barrier and culture change I think), but now I realize it's not that hard! I loved the landscape, the sites, and meeting Doug's friends. 

We picked up a car on our last day in Paris and Josh drove us all to Germany. Once we crossed the border, Doug noticeably changed. He sat up straighter, looking closely at where we were, and was quick to translate every sign or store we passed (kind of like when you were little and finally made the connection that road signs had words that you could actually read! Don't pretend that didn't happen to you). 

Doug found us places to stay in church members' homes throughout our whole stay in Germany! As a result, it was by far the least expensive part of our trip (thank goodness because the food in Italy was way expensive!) and, for me, the most fun.
Castle in Aachen
It looks like it grew
from the ground!

Here is a brief itinerary of our sight-seeing in Germany:
  • Monday
    • Drive to Aachen
    • Abendbrot (literally: evening bread - a light dinner of meats and cheeses on delicious bread) at the Eglys'. They spoke perfect English, so it was an easy transition for me, Miriam, and Josh.
  • Tuesday 
      Drei Lander Eck
    • Breakfast, klar (of course)
    • Aachen tour - by David Egly (he's a year or so older than Doug and often went on splits with the missionaries. He's really cool and introduced us to awesome German music!). We saw drei Lander Eck (three-lands corner), Aachener Dom (Aachen cathedral), the university, ate a doner, and went to their local castle.
    • Schwester (sister) Egly made us a fantastic dinner: Rouladen (Doug was hoping beyond hope we would have some in Germany :D). Thanks, Eglys!!

  • Wednesday
    • Kolner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). The second largest cathedral in the world - second only to St. Peter's basilica (which we saw the next week)
    • The cool dude who draws perspective art on the sidewalk. The real one!! 
still don't believe me?

"uh..really really tall?" ~Donkey

  • Wednesday night
    • Abendbrot at Lohbeks' in Schwelm. Intense abendbrot I should say. Holy moly, it was amazing! Plus, the Lohbeks were great company.
      This is only the left half of the table...
      Doug is still talking about this
    • Sleep in Wuppertal at Wehrend's and Rehnert's. Schwester Rehnert had a really cool garden! Someday I'm going to have one too, I've decided.
  • Thursday
    • Wuppertal tour by Gabriela (She's the one who organized our sleeping arrangements for Wednesday night too!) with Alfred. Doug knew both of them well from his mission.
    • Schwebebahn, authentic rot kohl with potatoes and goulash, and  old, beautiful houses in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday night
    • Thursday night we slept at Kerstin's house. Doug met her on his mission, and Miriam and Josh are best friends with Kerstin's sister (Tine, who lives in Texas). Crazy, right? Anyway, they have the cutest kids (four) and the youngest three only speak German. We taught each other how to count German/American money. We exchanged animal names, and did each other's hair(s?). Maya (I think that's her name), the oldest, helped me immensely with translation - she's in a 5th grade bilingual class and is super smart! She just finished reading all the Hunger game books and has read all the Harry Potters several times! We have a lot in common apparently. One boy (4 years old) looooved to talk. I learned to respond with ja (yes) or mhmm or wirklich (really)? He didn't seemed to mind. However, that didn't cut it for the other daughter (8 years old). I would do my best but she would get frustrated with me and often resort to having Doug translate. One question though she didn't want to ask Doug insisting that "it's for her." Her question was, "Do you want to have kids?" Haha. So cute! I can see why she wanted to ask just me. She spent a lot of the time interrogating Miriam about her baby. Presh. Is it obvious enough that this was my favorite part of Germany??
    Relaxing on the Rhine
  • Friday
    • We took a cruise on the Rhine. It was gorgeous! We enjoyed castles, relaxing our feet, and enjoying the German landscape. For 8 hours, the money was well worth it!

    • That night the Kleins graciously opened up their home to us. The next day they took us to see the Frankfurt temple. I was impressed at how busy it was!

  • Saturday
    • After our Frankfurt excursion, we visited the Nowak family (cool, young people with kids... are you seeing a trend in how I define cool people? haha). Bruder Nowak also did splits with the missionaries. He even would wake up and go running with Doug and Elder Woodward (can you picture Doug going running every morning? me neither). They took us on a lovely tour of Darmstadt.
    • They fed us abendbrot that night and we slept at his in-laws house - the Pilz family. The Pilzs have such a beautiful home. I started planning how I could live like that someday!
Hundertwasser hous. Super cool!!
  • Sunday
    • CHURCH! hurrah. Miriam and I went to Relief Society. ALONE. Don't forget, this is in German! I was worried they would ask us to introduce ourselves so I had Doug write down how to say some stuff. Fortunately, they forgot that formality, or didn't notice us, or we didn't notice when they asked about visitors (haha...). Either way, I didn't have to suffer through that. Miriam wrote down the words we recognized: about 15. I think the lesson was about how you view yourself? oh well. Doug translated the Sunday School lesson. Bruder Pilz gave it, and the lesson was truly inspiring. Sacrament meeting was also successful. The missionaries bore their testimonies. I could understand most of them, their German isn't that much better than mine, after all. 
Now, back to the real world. We arrived home (VanDerwerken house) at 12:30 early this morning. After sleeping in a real, King-size, delightfully comfortable bed, we learned that someone had stolen our credit card information in Rome and fraudulently tried to charge at least $2400! Don't fret, Capital One intervened just in time and froze the card before the funds could be accessed (phew!!). Needless to say, I'm glad to finally be home, sad to end our adventures, and excited to start a completely new stage of our life! I'll post about Italy (which was amazing, yet disappointing) and then get back to posting about regular life.

May 8, 2011

Paris: Sightseeing Highlights

We left Paris a week ago, but this post was so daunting, and I never had a long enough time with the internet to get it done before now. So finally! Like the title says, this post only shows the highlights. I faced a conundrum: I could write a post everyday detailing what we did or I could post millions of pictures (which I did take, I assure you) or I could show just the highlights but risk you being disappointed in the lack of detail. I'm risking it. I also could have been all artistic and everything by organizing pictures and stories in a creative way. However, I decided that I would rather enjoy my time in Europe, IN Europe and not on the computer all the time. So this is what you get - I hope it's enough!

Notre Dame 

The view from the top of the Notre Dame
Those birds are real scary!

Saint Chapelle

The Louvre


masses of people trying to get to the Mona Lisa

  Eiffel Tower
From the tippy top!! In the direction of Majuro Island - where Jenny was born :)

Walking around
The Phantom of the Opera - Opera

Now we are in Switzerland. Today we drive to Cinque Terre. WEAJKFDAFDJSKOHYEAH! I'm super excited about it, if you can't tell. Germany was so wonderful, I can't wait to tell you all about it. I hope someday we get to live there for a few years!!