The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


The post that didn't want to be written.

August 31, 2010 - 9:28 PM

We arrived in Cesky Tesin (which technically could be in Poland but isn't) and had planned to spend one day going to Poland to visit Auschwitz and Krakow

We expected Auschwitz/Birkenau to be a rough trip, seeing something so tragic and learning more about the horrors that took place right where we were standing, explaining very difficult topics and sights with the kids, but with the dust, sun, dryness, coughing, smells, and heat, oh the heat... it compounded everything, it was a miserable trip, which I found fitting.



Ok, I have tried to write this exact post for over the last two weeks.  I could not get past those above paragraphs.  Every time I try, I end up crying or my heart aches so much I can't continue or my chest tightens and feels like it's being ripped out or my hands shake or I can't sleep from the thoughts and memories... from getting into the parking lot to getting out of the parking lot, this trip was incredibly difficult, emotionally, physically and very personally, so much happened and yet we didn't even fully experience it all.  God bless Leah for going through this with us. 

Do I think that everyone should visit Auschwitz?  Yes.  Do we want to visit it again?  Yes. 

I simply cannot write this trip out into words.  I'm going to skip past these details.


As far as the West to the East

August 12, 2010 - 10:00 AM

We spent the night/day in Strakonice at "The Leah Hotel," as Miriam so affectionately called it.  From there we would take turns nursing Zeke back to health.  Still, it was unbearably hot in Strakonice and no AC / fans, so we had to give Zeke frequent cold baths to lower his core temperature.  In the midst of it all, we had fun mini adventures around Strakonice.


Josh, Leah and 2 kids spent the morning at the bus station saying goodbye to our Czech friends and the American Team from Cherry Hills Church.  Then we had lunch with some of Leah's friends at her favorite restaurant, two of the women there were school English teachers and one of whom has been a huge support for Leah and her efforts at the high school.  The high school kids and Leah recently got permission to start spending time with some of the elderly there and it has been a great ministry so Leah, 2 kids and I went to visit a nursing home and one of the women Leah spends time with.  There was no AC and no fans at the nursing room and the heat in her room was intense but so was her and her daughter's love of Leah.  

When we were finally certain that Zeke had enough strength and was definitely on the mend, we decided to make an evening drive to Cesky Tesin, stopping in Pisek along the way.  Pisek is a half hour from Strakonice and where Leah's church, Elim, is located.  There we got to meet Lucie, an adorable gal who works with the women's ministry in their church.  Josh got to tour their building, which has an amazing sports ministry in Pisek.  We also had WAY too much fun at a Tesco buying food that we didn't know what it was.

Then we began the 5 hour drive across the entire country of the Czech Republic, from the southwest to the northeast, with all 6 of us loaded into the VW. 

Remember how I said I had been r e l a x e d when driving the entire trip so far?  Well, that was fading fast.  I was thankful for Zeke's healing but to be honest, by now my nerves were shot.  My back seat driver nature which, let me tell you, is known to be INTENSE had been rare up to this point of our trip but was now in full force.  Once, from the third row of our car I yipped out something driving related to which Josh and Leah in the front seats quickly laughed and scolded me.  I totally deserved it.  The entire trip to Cesky Tesin I was trying hard to keep my mouth shut but in all honesty, I was struggling.  Josh lovingly forgave me countless times during the drive.  (What a guy!) 

And as I mentioned, my phrases of "if you're going to throw up, use the blue bag" and "take another sip for mama" were said hundreds of times over the course of this drive (no more heat stroke!) and it was now a big joke for everyone because I said them SO much.  Goodness, I am thankful my whole family gives me SO much grace while I wrestle through calming my heart and trusting God! 

Even still, crammed into the VW, our three are THE BEST little road trippers EVA!  Zeke was content and quiet but definitely feeling better.  Miriam and Max were writing songs with dance moves / hand gestures, just like at camp.  They drew up all the dance moves on paper and even included Josh in their routine.  Here's a little snip it, can you see Josh's role?

sample dance moves

By the time we arrived at Hotel Central in Cesky Tesin it was after 11pm the kids were actually tuckered and ready for bed.  (Once in their beds it only took a little extreme sports dubbed in Polish and they were out.)

tired miriam

We had to pay for our rooms when checking in and when I looked for my check card I couldn't find it anywhere in my wallet.  My heart started racing as I feared it was stolen or lost.  Josh went about paying for the room while Leah looked in the wine/beer cooler at the front desk.  They weren't as concerned as I was and quite honestly, I think they knew.  Josh picked out a local brew and Leah a local wine as I was still frantic, then searching in my wallet once again I finally found my check card hiding in a different slot than normal.  At this point both Leah and Josh were saying, "Dana, you need a drink." 

Now, I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors, but someone may have poured me a larger than normal glass of wine and someone else may have said, "Take another sip for mama" and someone may have said, "Take another sip for me" and then two someones laughingly discussed together and may have said, "I think Paul actually added in Timothy that along with drinking a little wine to help your stomach it also says, 'If your wife is freaking out, give her a little wine,'"... oh, and then someone may have said again, "Take another..." Hahahahahahaha!!!  :)!

*sigh*... I love that my husband and sister get along so well and that they love me enough to laugh at me instead of get mad at me and that they unconditionally forgive me more than I deserve.



Leaving a mark on Munich

August 6, 2010 - 11:00 AM

We suspected the heat was getting to Zeke but it was confirmed once we got down from St. Peter's Cemetery to the Domplatz.  He was really excited to pick out an Austrian knife as a souvenir but immediately afterwards he made a disoriented dash to the nearest trash can and threw up all his breakfast.  Josh got him cleaned up and we sat under a cool archway.  Zeke was smiling and feeling much better after puking, but was definitely overheated.  The trouble was NOTHING indoors was open (even if it was open there was certain to be no AC) so we grabbed a snack and then retreated to the AC of the car.

We drove (a beautiful drive with a view to the south of the Alps for the whole drive, mind you) to Munich as planned, hoping the AC and rest for Zeke would help, then we could find dinner in AC to help continue to keep Zeke cool.  When I was a little girl I got heat stroke often so I knew what to expect.  It would generally happen after a long day of swimming, but when it would happen I'd throw up once, rest for a while, drink water and be better.  I was hopeful for the same type of healing for Zeke.

We got to Munich and went to the main square Marienplatz hoping to find an AC restaurant to eat dinner since Zeke was tired but hungry.  Sadly, it was the same unbearable heat in Munich as in Salzburg.  We found an ice cream joint that had indoor seating but no AC.  I ordered 4 waters but I forgot what country I was in and paid a hefty $3 for each small 8oz bottle.  Yikes!  They did bring ice, which I used to rub on Zeke's neck to help cool him down while Josh walked the square looking for any place with AC, but he came back empty.  Josh, Max & Miriam shared a fancy ice cream sundae (Zeke was no longer in the mood for food, and I was in trying-not-to-be-worried-mama-mode and couldn't eat) and then they went to a fountain to play.  But the fountain was filled with trash so they were quickly back. 

Our time in Munich was turning hopeless as within the hour there: Josh was finding nothing, the square and fountain were trash city, Zeke was becoming more tired, and to top it off, the restaurant said it was closing and they kicked us out on the street.

As soon as we were outside and on the Marienplatz square, Zeke said, "I think I'm going to throw up" and even though he says he missed the trash can, it was overfilled with trash a foot high (which was true of every Munich trash can) and would have been worse had he made it.  He ended up spewing water and chunks all over the busy sidewalk while I held him from falling into his own vomit.  A passerby was kind enough to hand Josh some napkins and thankfully nearby was a public drinking water spigot to wash the vomit off our feet. 

With that, we said goodbye to Munich.  Only 6 photos taken in Munich, and this one sums it up:


I suppose one would say we should have just headed straight for "home" instead of Munich.  No matter how you sliced it, things were not going to be "perfect" this day.  It was about the same distance to "home," aka Leah's apartment, adding only an hour more car time to drive thru Munich.  I was honestly hopeful he would have healed like I used to, but on a continent where AC is a novelty and fans are scarce, it was near impossible to cool down, even for us. 

When I think about it then/now, the timing of it all, it was either going to be puke in the car or puke in the main Munich square.  Quite honestly, I am happy it happened where it did.  Zeke, too, was the ultimate trooper.  Even sick, he was so excited we got to drive on the Autobahn and drive up to 105mph.  He loved seeing (/get passed by) SO many amazing sports cars he'd only seen pictures of before.  Max and Miriam were troopers, too, they were sticky but full of energy and just rolled with the spew, I mean flow, HA!  (Ok, that was kind of gross, Dana.) 

When I think about it then/now, it is all part of the adventure that we call "life."  I've said it before, even on vacation "life" happens and we have to keep moving.  Thankfully, Zeke didn't throw up again, but it did take 24 hours and a load of prayer to get him feeling better.  It wasn't how we had planned the vacation half of our trip but we didn't plan on a lot of things: me getting bit by a deer tick before leaving for Europe, me having a severe toxic reaction to the medicine, Josh getting strep throat the day before leaving, kids having sore throats and coughs throughout camp, Miriam throwing up donuts in the middle of the night, and now Zeke having heat stroke... and we still had 4 more days of "life" to happen while on vacation. 

Yes, more unplanned fun was to come!

OH!  But there were perks to our sidetrack to Munich as Josh found Faxe Bier, and this made Josh very happy!  Max and Miriam ate these German paprika flavored kangaroo shaped snacks called Jumpys, that they loved!  Max also got some German candy all his own that made him OH SO happy.  I was still reasonably r e l a x e d while Josh was driving an average of 95mph on the Autobahn and the soon-to-be-funny phrases "if you're going to throw up, use the blue bag" and "take another sip of water for mama" were born from my lips.

AND!  I would go back to Munich again, only I would do it on a not as hot day and pay to go on one of their 4 hour city tour bike rides. 


A Few of My Favorite Memories

August 4, 2010 - 7:05 AM

* In Salzburg, Austria, we ate dinner at an Italian Pizzeria, served by a waiter from India who was cooking himself curry in the kitchen.  His curry smelled amazing and I tried twice to convince him to share some of his dinner with me, but he refused to offer me any the first time and the second time said if I came back another time he would.  We did enjoy eating their pizza (Miriam ate a record 5 slices!) in a beautiful outdoor courtyard where the kids learned what second hand smoke was really like.  It had never occured to me that in their short lives, they've lived in areas where smoking is not allowed in most/all public areas.


* Home and residence of Mozart, and with three universities, one of which being the Mozarteum University, music is everywhere in Salzburg.  We walked around the Old Town and were drawn into a coffee shop area where a man was playing the accordian and a woman was playing the harp.  It was beautiful.  Walking around Mirabell Palace we were drawn in by the most amazing music wafting down to us from a beautiful gold leaf covered hall and concert above in the palace.  Walking around the Domplatz every collonade or archway had amazingly skilled musicians using the architectural acoustics to enhance their sound.  (They even waited their turn for their favorite spot in case it was being used by another musician at the time.)

* We walked up Linzer Grasse and saw a Swarovski store.  The sight of the Swarovski swan always fills me with emotion.  The day before marrying Josh, his mom brought me a beautiful Swarovski tiara she owned to wear for my wedding day.  Joy for my wedding day, happiness for her kindness, sadness that she is no longer with us, but I am truly filled with emotions from the simple sight of their swan.

* As we walked around the Old Town area with all its storefronts we could not help but think how much Josh's dad and step mom would love this area.  As we ate amazing German food I couldn't help but want my dad to try it off my plate.  As we walked the Mirabell Palace and Gardens we couldn't help but want G-Bob & G-Elaine to see the beautiful gardens.  As we sat eating breakfast outside a cafe, I couldn't help thinking about how much the older women walking past reminded me of my Grandmas, Great Aunts and Great Grandma, both in appearance and mannerisms (lots of German blood in my family!).

* Josh had been using his high school German skills as much as he could on our weekend trip and to help him remember he got a translator app for his iPhone.  When it came to ordering from a menu he would use his translator to help me order but he would just pick something at random for himself.  He always got food doing it this way, but what type of food was the surprise.  When we were having Sunday breakfast at Cafe Habakuk, he ordered something that way and ended up with a soft boiled egg in a martini glass.  Hahahahaha!


* But I finally received a "large" coffee at Cafe Habakuk which was the same size of a small US coffee. 

* In Strakonice, Zeke watched 4 motorcycles popping wheelies driving down the motorway while he was sitting and eating.  He loudly proclaimed, "That's the most awesome thing I've ever seen in my whole life!"  Standing close to a $400,000 Ferrari was probably second.  Being passed on the Autobahn by the Porsche Cayenne going 130mph being 3rd.  All the countless expensive & incredibly fast German cars he saw being 4th.  Zeke's fast lane nature hit the top four seen-with-his-own-eyes highlights of his short life in our two week trip to Europe.  Lucky boy!  Look at that excitement!


* It was inbetween the above picture and below that the outside temperature spiked and we were walking around in the gardens in the hot, hot, hot sun.  It was beautiful, but painfully HOT.  Josh and I were managing, Max and Miriam were sticky but Zeke was definitely overheated.  By the time we were walking up to visit St. Peter's Cemetery Zeke started feeling a little worse but was still a good sport.  He hung in there even though he was tired and would simply sit in shade and drink water while we explored around him.  He did make himself climb up into a 1100 AD cave/church carved into the mountainside (they call it a catacombs, but I think that name is semi-misleading as there are no graves up there, there are two small church rooms, and the tale about it being a hiding place for a marytr that has been discredited over time, though monks have used it for a place of solace... but I digress) because he thought it looked cool, but he had to rest longer in order to have enough strength to climb back down the steep stairs.  In the process, while we were waiting for Zeke, Josh took one of his all time favorite photos of Miriam.

Fast girl!


Happy Little Girl in Me

August 3, 2010 - 12:16 AM

Yes, I am one of those.  One of those who as a little girl, every year, watched The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews, falling in love with the entire story more and more every time.  It wasn't until later in life ("thanks" to the invention of the internet) that I learned the movie was only minorly true.  *sigh*  But that hasn't stopped me from loving the movie!

For those who don't remember, the Von Trapp family lived in Salzburg and for the movie, they filmed on location throughout Salzburg.  While there are a number of fabulous paid tours you can go on for both actual Von Trapp locations and/or movie locations, the little girl in me was happy to see anything related to the Von Trapps... that was within walking distance and that didn't cost any money. 

Here's the best movie clip I could find, pardon the remix (and I could not embed it due to copyright so you'll have to go to YouTube to watch it).  From 4 minutes till the end, all the scenes are of Julie and the kids dancing around the Mirabell Palace and Gardens which was located right behind our hotel, is free to the public, endless, beautiful and we played here for hours!

The Mirabell Palace & Gardens are a beautiful maze of an exquisitly designed garden masterpiece.  As soon as you begin to marvel at one section you turn the corner to find another beautiful section, and then you turn the corner to another.  The attention to detail in colors and flowers, the beautiful sculptures, the Hedge Theatre, the park, the water features, it is truly a garden lover's paradise!  (I thought of you, G-Bob & G-Elaine, the entire time I was snapping photos!  More photos here. :)!)


trying to capture it all












The Cramer 5 in the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria on an incredibly hot and sweaty day.  If you happen to notice the look on Zeke's face, it is the onslaught of heat stroke, we just didn't know it yet.


Not your Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn

August 1, 2010 - 10:00 PM

We didn't finalize any of our Cramer 5 weekend plans for after camp until the last night of camp.  I had been looking for hotels rooms in Munich for the last two months, but finding one room for 5 was non-existent* and we would have to get 2 rooms for our 1 family, so I gave up.  Thankfully, the night before leaving Josh and his internet skillz came to the rescue!  He found an available hotel room in Salzburg, for a price we expected, and located in the center of town.  We flipped around our travel plans and decided to go to Salzburg first and Munich second.  (I am so glad we did!)

It wasn't until after he had booked the room that I thought to ask if it was ok for 5.  Josh said he didn't know either because they only had room for 2 kids so he just left it blank, but he did know it was located across the street from Mozart's Residence, :)!

It wasn't until we pulled up to the square that we began to realize that we would be staying in more than just a hotel, we were going to be staying in elegance... with our cutie Three.

Photo Credit

Josh had booked us into the 5-Star Hotel Bristol.  Originally built in 1619 for aristocrat offices, it was transformed into a hotel just before 1900.  Don't let the age of the building fool you.  For over 75 years, the family owned and operated Hotel Bristol has done everything possible to make their hotel worthy of 5-Stars.  The interiors from the lobby to the room are ridiculously elegant and in wonderful condition, only to be outdone by the most amazingly attentive and dedicated staff.

Photo Credit

When Josh was checked into our room, the receptionist was incredibly nice and helpful, spoke perfect English though was obviously Austrian, escorted him upstairs to the room, made sure it was to his approval, then escorted him downstairs to the doorman who came to our car and carried our luggage up to the room.

Now, the Three and I had waited in the car because we were planning on Josh checking in quick so we could continue our drive up into the mountains.  By the time we were driving away from the hotel we were truly wondering what we had gotten our family into.  We've stayed in fancy hotels before but not with the Three and not this style of elegance.  As we drove along the river we saw other hotels and considered switching, but our bags we there, so we decided to go for it and fit our family of 5 into a romantic room for 2.

When we got back to the hotel (and being in Salzburg and all) I instituted Von Trapp Family Law.  With our partially wet Three, quietly and on mission, we marched our family in single file line into the hotel, up the grand hotel staircase and straight into our room.

Did I mention our room had two sets of doors?

Room 100

The hotel was booked but it was incredibly quiet and we never heard a single person or the loud street noise below.  Our first order of business was cleaning up the Three so we could go to dinner.  The marble covered bathroom was half as big as the bedroom and it was dreamy.  The bathtub was long and deep begging to be soaked in, and was made complete with a towel warmer on the wall. 

It got christened by the Three needing a foot scrub.

cleaning the three 

Out of respect and uncertainty, we continued to leave and enter the hotel in a quiet, single file line for the remainder of our stay.  When we returned to our room late, after a fun night on the city, our room somehow looked different.  It was the kids who first said, "Someone was in here!"  The curtains had all been drawn, the cover on the bed was removed and the duvets were turned down, foot mats were in place next to each side of the bed, and they even cleaned up the smudges the kids left on the mirrors of the bathtub... the room was cleaned for the second time and now ready for the perfect sleep.  Wonderful.

The below shots were taken just minutes before we finally checked out.  I attempted to make the bed for the shots, but did not do the hotel staff justice.  (See anything different in one of them? HA!) 

Our Room

Our Room


Did I mention the location was perfect, too?  It was the perfect location for exploring Salzburg's Old City.  We could take the secret Bristol Passage to the amazing Mirabell Palace and Gardens, or take a short cut past the beautiful baroque Church of the Holy Trinity to walk the Linzer Gasse, or walk over the river and see so much more.

It could have been that the night prior we were staying at a communist era built camp or it could have been that the 5-Star Hotel Bristol is just ALL THAT.  My money is on the later.  It was an absolutely beautiful hotel with the most amazing staff.  Even though we broke a "rule" by having 5 in a 2, there was nothing I would change about our decision to stay there as a family for one night.  Everything about it was simply perfect!

*Ok, there is a hostel in Munich that sleeps 6, but the cost is expensive enough to the point that if you're going to spend that much you might as well try and find a deal on two rooms for a nicer place kind of thing.  But everytime I'd think about having to get two rooms for our family of 5, I couldn't help but think how silly that sounded! :)!



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About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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