Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chateau Shields- Acasa Style

Well after a very long day of travel and some not great sleep for most of us, we landed in Romania at about 11:45 PM on March 26! We had a driver pick us up from the airport and drop us off at the JW Marriott for our first few nights.  I will tell you that bed was a very nice welcome to Romania.  Jet lag AND daylight savings not so much of a welcome.  Waking up on Sunday was HARD to do.  But we were beyond blessed to be able to go to church at the Mihai Bravu branch.  It's so wonderful to learn more about the gospel with saints all over the world!

That afternoon, we walked around some gorgeous gardens near the hotel and saw the parliament building which is the largest in the world BTW!

Monday was still very rough waking up, but we got into our new "acasa" as they say in Romania!  So I thought I would give you a nice tour of our home for the next 6 months.
This is our front door.  Enjoy the floral prints on the wall? We have about 18 of them throughout the two bedroom apartment. ;) 

The other side of the front door.  Yes, that's a washing machine next to the front door.  And yes, I'm so grateful to have our own washing machine!

The view from our front door.

The kitchen.

The living room and dining room off to the right of the kitchen.

Off to the left of the entrance are the bedrooms.  The master is straight ahead.  The second bedroom is on the right and the first bathroom is on the left.  I like that there's a door to the bedroom area so that we can close it off for nap times!

This is the second bedroom/ the kids' bedroom.

This is the bathroom across from the kids' room. Laila thought the bidet was a sink her size when we first moved in.  After all, what else could it be? Now she calls it a boy potty.  Yeah... I'm going to let it stay that way. Too much explaining. Haha! 

This is the master bedroom.  It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be. 

With lots of storage.

and an en suite bathroom.  Fancy! Fancy!

This is the main reason we chose this apartment...
...we are so close to Michael's office- literally across the street.  The apartment complex has a Subway, Starbucks, dry cleaners, grocery shop, and a bunch of little restaurants at the bottom.  Although we don't have a dryer, or a dishwasher, we do have a housekeeper once a week which is going to spoil me rotten!
Overall, we feel extremely blessed to be here safely and to have such a great set up for our family.  Now, who wants to come visit??? 

Nomad Lifestyle- Crossing the Waiting Game's Finish Line

After our wonderful stay in Oregon, we got back on the road again.  We knew the last part of the visa paperwork had been submitted so we knew we needed to be in Phoenix soon so that we could fly out as soon as everything was clear.  This meant that we could only spend a few days in Utah but it worked out great because both of our families were just getting back from trips AND the drive from Portland to SLC went right through the city where my bestie Laura and her family lives!  They let us join them for dinner which was delicious and it was so fun to be in their beautiful home and visit with them!

I love that about 16 years, 2 husbands and 4 kids later, we are still great friends!

That night, we surprised my parents by having ALL of their kids and grandkids home.  Annie came with her boys until Victor finished finals.  It feels good to have all my siblings home. Will is about to get his mission call so it's going to be a couple of years before that happens again.

I have this awesome video of Annie teaching Laila to play the violin.  I've never posted a video before.  Let me know if it works.

The next day, we went to Michael's parents' house.  There is just no such thing as too much cousin play time.

After those short days in Utah, we flew back to Phoenix to be ready for when we could finally fly out! Our first couple of nights we stayed at the Arizona Grand Hotel which has been somewhere I've wanted to stay for awhile so that was a fun little dream come true! 

Look at that arm! :)

And that beautiful girl!  

These two kids of ours are such great travel companions. They really do so well even though their "normal" is so far from normal sometimes!  I feel like there are a few things like bedtime routine that we do the same every night, that has helped them to feel secure in their unfamiliar settings.  Laila loves to have her stuffed kitty sleep with her and Harrison loves a pink blanket of Laila's for bed.  He pulls it and says night night when he's ready to be nursed and go to bed.  It's pretty adorable and I am glad they both have something that comforts them that way!

Although I feel like we had been saying goodbye to family and friends since February (when we thought we would be leaving for Romania) we enjoyed being able to play and see a bunch of our friends before we left.
We enjoyed a morning hike through Fat Man's Pass with the Holms.

Dinner with the Howards.

Church in Chandler.  Love our cuties!

The Baers graciously let us stay a few nights with them and Laila LOVED having sleepovers with Ruby.  The were so cute playing together and reading together...

...and being silly princesses together!  We loved staying with them.

We went to the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant with the Yosts.  Hopefully that's not the last time we get to see them!

We got to see the Rogersons- probably for the last time before they graduate from med school and head to San Antonio for residency! So many great memories with these cuties!

We also got to swim and have pizza with the Woodbury's at the hotel we stayed at before we flew out.

FINALLY the visa came on a Wednesday and we booked our tickets to fly out that Friday!

Friday we just spent the morning packing and running some errands but thankfully, my husband was able to help a mom in need first! 

That night we went to the airport and luckily found this play place to get a few more wiggles before the LONG flight.

 And just like that... we said goodbye to Phoenix and goodbye to the USA for a few months!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Nomad Lifestyle- Portland, OR

After a week with my sister, we picked up Michael from the airport and got on the road again!  This time, we were headed to Portland, OR.  To help break up the trip, we decided to take a day hike north of San Francisco.  Thanks to some car sickness, rain, mud, length, crazy wind, and poison oak, the hike was not quite what we expected but it was nice to be together and it was incredibly beautiful!

Crossing Golden Gate

Even with drizzly weather, it was a beautiful trail. 

Getting to the shore was a bit tricky.

Michael ended up going down so that he could get this shot of the falls on the beach! Amazing!

How's that for a mighty good man!? One kid in front, one in back.

The next find was probably one of my favorite last minute finds.  The kids were getting restless in the car so when we stopped for lunch, he googled things to do in the areas around us and he found this "drive through" zoo!  It was so fun and they had a great variety of animals.  

Hello Bear right outside my window!

We finally made it to the Wonderful Walker home and I LOVED seeing all the kids play together!

Christi got these matching shirts for our girls! I cannot say enough how much I LOVE matchy matchy babes! These two are no exception!

The week went by so quickly running errands, playing, having fun outings, good eats, and great company.  Michael had another work trip during this week.  He went to Louisiana for a few days so it was nice that the Walkers were willing to take care of us.
Awww! We are huge snugglers! Especially with Aunt Christi.

We had some rain so we got some wiggles out at the indoor play place.  These two were the only ones who would pause (one second) for a photo.  

Christi let me tag along to her ward's Relief Society Birthday evening.  It was a nice dinner and a sweet program without kids.  It was just the buoy this mommy needed.  Christi and I also went to play volleyball with people in the area after bedtime one night.  No pictures were taken because I was having WAY too much fun just playing! Playing my favorite sport with Christi felt so good! Fun night!

The rest of our time was spent enjoying our time with each other.  And of course, a trip to OMSI- One of our family's favorite places now.

I love Brycen's pride in his awesome tower.

This girl LOVED being Mommy Eagle.

Play dough time is always golden.  Check out the awesome baby photo bomb! ;)

This time OMSI had a video game exhibit, this was Laila's favorite game.  Harrison thought it was alright.... 

I love when my Grandparents' and Parents' friends end up being my friends too!  It was such a special treat to see Kathy and her beautiful girls.

And it's always fun to try and get three adults and five children to smile and look at the camera.  I thought this one was a fair attempt.  Love this crew!

Our last rainy morning in Portland was celebrated with a St. Patrick's Day parade!  (Parades, candy, small town feel, what's not to love?!)

And last, but not least, we all went on a breathtaking hike together to these beautiful falls.  Oregon's beauty and vivid green everywhere will never cease to amaze me.  It was such a great week.  We love spending time with the Walkers and always appreciate their hospitality!  Now if only we could convince them to visit us in Europe.... ;)