Thursday, 25 July 2013

The hills are alive ...

Summer in Austria

Wow.  It is hot in this part of the country.  We are having day after day of +30 degree weather and are adjusting to living at ITI with virtually no one here.  This was a bit of an adjustment as all the students leave after graduation and the families all fly away to their respective homes.  But it has been good.  Our kids have been forced to play with each other as there is no one else to play with and they are doing great.  It is wonderful to see them connecting so well.  

We have also had some visitors to help make the time go quicker.

Michael (Becca's brother) and Kyla came and joined us from the U.S.A.  We had only an afternoon with them and took them on an Austrian hike to a hutte for nice picnic.

To pass the time we do things like: dare each other to eat pickled herring!

Here Tristan was trying out a bike that was a little big for him and ended up with some torn ligaments but no break.  He had the cast on but hated the crutches.  Within a day, in typical boy fashion, he had destroyed the cast and I had to ducktape it all together to keep it on.  And then I gave up and Dr. Biffert took it off himself.

And this was another biking accident where he tried to go down a hill without braking at all and hit the gravel hard.


Here are our beautiful Austrian girls dressed up for Holy Mass!

Oh dear Kate!  I never get enough of your cuteness!

Before Fr. Ihor went back to the Ukraine for the summer we took our families to the Vienna Tech Museum.  The kids had a lot of fun trying out the different experiments.
Here is Fr. Ihor's daughter Sofia and Winter.

I'm not sure what type of science this was - but it was definitely a hit with the kids!

Winter is learning different ways to lift things (like a bucket of apples) at the museum.

I"m very proud of Winter this year.  She was in grade 1 in German in the mornings and came home and did our classical home school curriculum and violin.  She did very well.

Her biggest improvements were in speaking German - the locals say her speech is excellent and when we went to the west of Austria they said she spoke with a Viennese accent!

Here she is on her last day with her teacher.

ITI Graduation

Well, this will be me some day... This year I was an observer as the 5th years graduated and the licentiate students graduated.  
The Nuncio from the Vatican for Austria was there to confer the degrees.  This was pretty cool.  He was a jolly passionate fellow with amazing Latin!

Becca sang in the choir all year and here is their final performance at the graduation.

And Winter, taking after her Mother, was also in a choir.  Here is there performance at our graduation reception.

Grandma and Grandpa Arrive!!!

The long awaited for moment finally arrived at the beginning of July.  My mom and dad flew over to see us and the kids and spent 19 days with us. The following is a series of photographs from our adventures all the way to the westren alps in Austria.

Here we are at Laxenburg: one of our favourite parks.

This is our teeter-totter tree that the kids loved.

The summer palace of one of imperial family under the reign of duke Albrecht III in 1388.

Boat ride with Grandpa!

Captain Benedict at the helm taking his job very seriously!

Grandma and Grandpa (the shirtless wonder) at the end of our hike looking over the valley.

Kate was a little apprehensive of sitting on the boar at the hutte.  I'm sure glad it didn't bite the kids!

Interlude: Tristan loses his first tooth.  Daddy tries his hand at removing it.

... and daddy fails to remove it.

On a very hot day, Franz our gardener bought the kids a massive watermelon from the Turkish market. So I cut the kids massive pieces to eat.

A quick trip to Vienna with my parents by train was fun and exhausting.

Here they are outside the Opera House.

Any ideas how he does this?????

St. Stephen's Cathedral. The middle of Vienna.

 And of course: beer and wiener schnitzel for dinner!

Liechtenstein Castle

We made a visit and tour to this Castle only 20 min. away from our home.  It was a smaller castle but had a fun tour for kids.

They dressed up the kids in Medieval wear and toured them through the Castle.  Here is Winter and Johannes and the boys.

 At the end of the tour the boys were knighted Sir Tristan and Sir Benedict.  Benedict took this very seriously and figured he should be able to have a real sword.

 This castle was first built in 1130 AD and is has been owned by the King and princes of Liechenstein to this day.

Austrian Alps: Waidring, Tirol, Austria: holiday at a farm

All over Austria there are farms that offer a variety of activities and guestrooms for people to come and experience farm life.  Urlaub im Bauernhof.  Vacation on a farm.  So this is where we spent our one week Urlaub this summer.  We drove west right smack in the middle of Salzburg and Innsbruck with the goal of seeing both cities.  We stayed in a village called Waidring in the PillerseeTal area.

Our first night was a Monday (Montag) and every Monday evening there is a kinder celebration.  So we joined in.

And we had to convince Benedict to share his cotton candy.  Sheesh!

 They had tons of these blow up events for the kids.  Here is Winter and Tristan on the climbing wall.

One thing I love about Austria is that they are not 'over attentive' to safety to the point where the rules restrict kids from being kids.  Here was an archery range set up down town Waidring.  I didn't have to fill out any stink'n liability form (I think suing here is not a regular practice).

Tristan held the bow on his own and drew with such force that he got an 'oooohh' and 'aaahhhh' from the others around.  Then the instructor got more arrows and wanted to know where he was aiming and Tristan hit what he said he would hit.  Nice! That's my boy!

 Winter wasn't quite as excited to do archery.  I don't think it brought out the 'Arrrh' and 'manness' in her like it did the boys.  That's good.

Benedict was smallest guy there shooting an arrow.  After he shot the boys behind him were amazed at the power of his shot and asked the instructor if he really shot it on his own.  Nice!  My little Robin Hood!

Winter and Tristan are having it out here!

And of course... no kinder celebration is complete without face painting.

Our first day in the Pillerseetal area we went up the Gondola to this dinosaur park on top of the mountain.

It was  a crazy experience.  Not only were there paths and Hutte's to trek to, there was this massive park that went on and on with a dinosaur museum, fossils to find, climbing wall, low ropes course, low ropes course on water, and on and on.  Add this a fantastic view and it was a great day!

A view of the Pillersee valley.

Yeah MOM!

In this family shot we were standing out on this jutting ledge from a cliff and, well, the kids were a bit scared.

Our Tirolian Guesthouse.

The next day we took a different gondola up in the town of Fieberbrunn.  Again the view was fantastic and there was an even bigger low ropes course (niederspeilgarten) and coster ride (rodhlbahn) and Cows!

Winter,Tristan and Benedict on the low ropes course.

 Here we are on the Rodhl Bahn.  You control your own speed.  Benedict and I went together and I didn't brake.  Full tilt and full throated screams.  It was far more crazy than I expected.  610m long.

Then we took a second gondola up to the top of the mountain to snack with some cows.  It was joyous experience to be on top of a mountain and to see cows there.  There are no predators in the Alps so they are quite safe.

And Becca, 9 months pregnant, did the whole trip with us.  That is my hard core wife!

 And here comes the bad news. I was offered a van in great condition for a great price this past spring.  Our plan was just to insure the van during the summer two months and over the Christmas break and to to let it sit otherwise.  I bought the van for $4500 and the dealership said they would buy it $7000 and sell it for $9000.  I figure I could make my money back after only driving it for a few months a year for a few years.  Everything was going well.  I changed the oil myself (it would cost me $400 for the mechanic to do so) and paid for the registration and vehicle hiway inspection.  A total of another $1300.
Then the transmission in my van went kaput.  2 days into the holiday.  Ugh. Arg. So from this point on we were stuck without a vehicle.  We had to take the local busses everywhere - which were free because we were guests in the area.  This limited our plans like going to Salzburg and Innsbruck, but we still had a ton of fun.
Here we are at the bus stop.

The next day we headed to an amusement park that very little line ups and hardly any supervision.  Some rides had no supervision.  Crazy.

They had a building with trampolines and these amazingly high climbing walls.  You didn't need anyone to belay you down as it was all controlled by these machines in the ceiling.

Kenton above and Winter and mother below.

 Grandpa and the kids had fun shooting foam balls with these air guns.  This was by far the most favourite place for the boys at the amusement park.  Go fig, eh?

The next day we had a bit of an adventure.  We wanted to go to Oberweissbach because of their spielplatz for the kids.  We asked the bus driver to drop us off close even though there was no bus stop. He graciously did so.  Then, in 27 degree weather, we had to hike a km up a mountain to get there.  This was a bit unexpected.  And Becca, the pregnant one, trooped right on up with all of us.

Here is the guest house and May Pole.

Yes!  What a great tree to have a playground!

Lunch in the tree house.

And now here is the great part.  We sat up the cafe and I sent the kids down the hill to see the horses...

And then this band started playing traditional Tirolan music.  Oh the hills were truly alive!!!

Check out the zoom on this one!!

And then... oh yes... and then they began to yodel! And right then our kids began to run back up the hill and we were laughing!  It was too picture perfect.

Now the not so great part was that we walked down the mountain and were told there was a bus stop just 50 m to the right.  So we walked 50m to the right on this hiway with no shoulders and cars going by us at 100km/hr.  We held tightly to the kids hands.  There was no bus stop so we walked another 50m.  Then another 50m.  Then another 50m.  Finally about 2 km later I stopped the family and lined them up on the hiway in a row looking forlorn and tired.  Little children, pregnant woman, hot day, no vehicle and tried to gain the sympathies of the next bus driver.  And... he stopped!!  Gave us a lecture and let us on the bus.  

And yes, Kate loved the bus rides!

Hmmm... they always said German was a difficult language!

This tree is a called a 'tree of life' because it looks like a family tree.

The graveyard at the Parish in Waidring was unique and beautiful.

For our last night dad and I went for beer and listened to German music in the downtown square in Waidring.  Very fun.

Well, this was the last day of our holiday.  We called ITI to send someone to pick us up and we were driven home in the evening.  The holiday was fun and exciting despite the van fiasco.

 Tristan turns 6!

 On my parents last days we went to a Heuriger to experience real Austrian ways.  This is one of our favourite: Muhlfeldhof.

 We ate outside and on the other side of the bushes there was a park for the kids so the adults could sit and talk and the kids could play.  What a great idea!  I guess Macdonalds isn't the only one that's figured this out.

 So what is typical Austrian fare?  Sniztel of course!

 Grandpa's favourite sign!

Kenton's July Reads:

First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher
Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Sermon from the Vineyard

I've been working on a tutorial this summer on the book of Psalms.  Many of the Psalms can be interpreted as foreshadow or prophecy of Christ.  In the case of Ps. 19 both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas see Ps. 19:4b,5 as referring to Christ. 

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and like a strong man 
runs its course with joy.

Christ comes forth from Mary's womb.  Mary is the sun.  Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride.  And he accomplishes his mission with joy.  It is because of this Christological interpretation of Ps. 19 that the early Church always prayed facing east.  For the east is where the sun rises and from the sun (Mary) proceeds the cause of our joy: Jesus Christ.  This was an apostolic tradition not only in corporate worship but also in private prayer.  This is why many of the church buildings were built with the altar facing east so the congregation and the priest were facing east when they prayed and celebrated Holy Mass.  We still see this in the Eastern rite and in the extraordinary form of the Mass.  "Just as the congregation in the synagogue looked together toward Jerusalem, so in the Christian liturgy the congregation looked together 'toward the Lord'." (Ratzinger, The spirit of the liturgy).  Facing east when praying was also linked by the Church fathers with the 'sign of the son of man' in the book of Daniel and with the cross.  Thus, Ratzinger brings forth the suggestion that if we can't face east when we pray, we can pray in front of a cross and the cross becomes our 'east of faith'.  

This is another reason why icons are so wonderful to pray with.  Besides being a sacramental, they focus our attention, they cause demons to flee, they tell stories, every stroke of the painting is a prayer and now if the icon is of a cross - it allows us to pray facing the 'east of our faith' in anticipation of the coming of Christ again.

For the Grandparents

Kate is stink'n cute!

Needs and Prayer Requests

- safe home delivery of our new baby - any day now.
- that Becca's blood pressure stays low - as I write this she is in the hospital because it spiked again.
- for a solution to travel here in Austria as we no longer have a van
- for the money to pay my tuition in Sept. either through donations or work ($3100 out of $4500 still needed for the fall semester).

We hope you are having a wonderful, family centered summer!
Pax Vobiscum,

Love, Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate and the new baby

Mailing Address:
Schloss Trumau
Schlossgasse 21
2521 Trumau, Austria

1 comment:

  1. We love reading the blog. Looks like Austria has lots of fun for families. We are praying for safe delivery of the newest Biffert baby. Hugs and prayers, from the Tymchuks