Thursday, February 18, 2016


On a four day weekend, we went to Austria to try to teach the oldest children how to ski.  It has been on Hannah's list of things she wants to do and Brian thought it would be fun.  We have had a very mild winter here in Germany, but we were hoping and praying that the Alps would be different and have enough snow.  Turned out there was snow, but not as much as we were hoping for.

Saint Gilgen

So the trip began with a six hour drive to Salzburg, Austria. I felt like a princess being driven around left to my needlework.  We listened to Prince Caspian and beginning of Guardians of Gahoole.  Found one of Drew's lost Sea Band the day before the trip with the passports.  Praise God!  

In Salzburg, we stopped to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Maria Plain to see the miraculous painting of the Virgin and Child that survived, completely untouched, a fire that destroyed everything in a bakery in Germany in the 17th century.

It's on a big hill just outside of Salzburg with an amazing view of the city.


One of the Front Doors

The original small chapel to hold the painting.  Tiny!

The bigger chapel they built when so many pilgrims came to see the painting.

Inside it had these two doors that told the story of the painting's first miracle.  All throughout the church were replica paintings.

The original painting is in the middle of the monstrance-like halo in the center behind the altar.  It's kind of like when you first see the Mona Lisa.  It seems so small to be such a big deal.

After seeing the church and the original chapel, we walked down the hill to see the statues of the five sorrowful mysteries in reverse order.  Apparently, you are supposed to walk up, not down.

Wow, huh?

The statues were in these white buildings with the gates to protect them.  The statues were not very pretty, but it was a beautiful landscape.
Then we made our way to Sankt Gilgen to our flat.  We had dinner at a nice restaurant after walking around town and stopping first for hot chocolate and pastries at the local Konditeri where we were asked if "Alles Kinder" (all the kids) were ours.  At dinner we opened the restaurant up at 5:30pm where we tried desperately to find something without meat since it was Friday.  We settled on a bowl of potato soup and salad for me, a smoked salmon dish for Genna, spaghetti with tomato sauce and mussels for Hannah and Isaac to split, Kinder noodles with tomato sauce for Drew and Judah to share, and a fish dish for Brian.  We got a plate of French fries as well for the kids.  I did have an amazing Prosecco spritzer with house-made blueberry syrup.  We forgot to bring something for the boys to do since Europe has yet to discover that crayons and a menu go a long way in keeping kids occupied, at least ours.  Anyway, Drew was a talkative little guy and Brian and I spent much of the meal playing I Spy with him to keep him happy.  

We walked home afterwards and I had a shower before putting the kids to bed.  I mention the shower because the next day we suddenly have no hot water.  The water in Austria, in case you were wondering, comes out of the tap super duper cold.  We had trouble getting a hold of the property manager, so it was Sunday afternoon that we got that resolved.  The apartment was really nice and clean with a breathtaking view, but I guess it's a new renovation and the hot water going out as well as a random sewage smell that would come and go in the kitchen were two things that definitely put a damper on things.  The property manager was very nice and gave us a little discount for the trouble.

Saturday was for skiing and sledding.  I do not ski, but that doesn't matter because we have too many little people right now so I stayed with the kids while Brian took Hannah and Isaac skiing first.  After Bobby woke up from his morning nap, I took the others right outside to sled and play in the snow.  Judah got to have his first real sledding experience when Genna misunderstood me and sent him by himself down the hill.  He held on and did great.  No tears.  But he didn't want to do it again till Daddy got back.  Then he showed Daddy how he could sled all by himself.  We taught Judah to make snow angels which he did at least 10 times before we decided to make a snowman.  

Judah then decided to eat snow.  Every time I looked at him he was munching snow.  Brian came back and ended up taking all five (obviously not Bobby) up to the kiddie hill to ski and sled until lunch.  Bobby and I came in and I got a chance to sew.  Did I mention I brought my sewing machine?  Yes, that sounds crazy, but I knew I'd be stuck inside when they were skiing and that is my favorite thing to do.  I needed to get my newest nephew's quilt going too.  After lunch Judah and Bobby took a long nap, Drew stayed in to color and hang out, and the rest went back to the slopes.

For dinner we fixed macaroni and cheese for the big kids and let them watch a movie while the little ones, Brian, and I went out to a much quieter and cheaper dinner.  The village of Sankt Gilgin is very small to begin with, but when we were there it was like a ghost town.  Hardly anyone was out.  We probably increased their population by a lot by staying there for a long weekend.  Point being, we picked the only other restaurant that was open ,sans a döner shop and a bar.  It was a very cool, old restaurant that Mozart, himself, probably ate at.  He lived in Sankt Gilgin.  I ordered truffle oil gnocchi and Brian ordered Wienersnitzel.  I also had my first Radler, which is a beer cut with lemonade.  This particular one was a Stiegl hefeweissen with Elderflower.  It was delicious.  Brian picked up a couple packs of it to take home before we left.

Judah's first snow angel.  Looks more like a crime scene to me.  We had just read Peter and the Big Snow, a book that his godparents had given him last Christmas, and we talked about snow angels.

We named our snow woman Hilda.  It just seemed appropriate.

They abandoned their coats and all kinds of warm accessories that I brought for them.  I planned for really cold and got really warm for a snow day in the Alps in February.  Better safe than sorry here, but it required we bring a ton of stuff.

Since the kids tore up the ski slope on Saturday and it didn't snow anymore, we decided to go to Salzburg to go into the city where they have a miraculous statue of the child Jesus at the Loreto Kirche.  We walked to Mass in the morning.  I was hoping that Bobby would fall asleep in the Ergo carrier on the walk, but he did not.  So I was swaying with him in the church, but he started to get mad.  I took him out of the carrier and tried holding him and rocking him.  A lady came and sat right in front of us, and, as she sat down, she counted my children aloud in German.  Then she had an animated conversation with the lady next to her about our "sechs Kinder."  They were smiling and I was hopeful Bobby would calm down because when does he ever get mad for more than a few minutes.  That day.  That's when.  I got him to sleep, but tried adjusting him so my arm could be in it for the long haul and he woke up angry.  Old churches have no cry room or even an entryway, so it was out in the cold for us.  I tried everything and he still couldn't go to sleep.  He would calm down, but as soon as I'd try to go back in he'd start to cry again.  I waited for Communion time and went in.  Bobby cried all the way down the aisle.  I was feeling like a sore thumb at this point and just wanted to get back outside.  The priest was holding the Blood of Christ which I somewhere in the back of my head thought was odd, but the screaming baby took the front of my mind.  I received on the tongue and then walked up to the priest with the Blood of Christ.  He was holding it all back and against him instead of out and inviting-like.  My thoughts were, "What is he doing?  Give me the cup, so I can get out of the church."  Because, you know, screaming baby!  I grabbed the cup (the priest looked a little startled, but he gave it to me) and drank from it, and went back outside.  I found a side chapel around the corner to sit in while I nursed Bobby until Brian and the children came out.

Well, come to find out, my more observant and less distracted husband tells me that they were dipping the Body of Christ into the Blood.  That's why!  Well, that explains a lot!  Boy, I must have been some side show in that church with almost no other families with children!

After lunch, we went to Salzburg.  Stupidly, we both totally forgot to take a single photo of the Loretto Kirche or the eight blessings that we got.  This was the highlight of the trip for me, and I think I just got caught up in the moment.  Hopefully, my mental picture of the whole thing will hold up for a long time.

This is all we got...most of us in from of the church where the sign that tells when the blessings with the Christ Child are.

At a certain time one of the Capuchin nuns gives out blessing with the statue of the Christ Child of Loreto.  This statue was carried around by a priest on trips to visit the sick in the 17th century.  He built a box to carry it in, and there were many miracles associated with the statue.  The Christ Child is dressed in jewels and again is much smaller than you would think.  When the nun comes and opens the barred window, you kneel down for a blessing and then kiss the statue.  Two ladies were already waiting when we came in and one of them let us go ahead.  They were so sweet and stopped to talk with us outside.  n fact, we drew quite the crowd outside the church and many people stopped to chat with us.  It was good to practice our German and to feel so welcome.

A picture of our holy card that the nun gave us shows what the statue looked like.

We decided Drew looked a little like a homeless man with his coat that's too big for him and his hat.  Can you tell?  We didn't notice it until we sat down on some steps of a building to eat sausages.

We walked around Salzburg a little more before heading back to St. Gilgin.

The next day we made the long drive home.  I got a lot of sewing done on the drive.  All in all, it was a good trip.

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