First of all, thank you soooo much for all your help and comments in the last post.  That meant a lot to Elle (and me too:).  Lots of helpful ideas and interesting thoughts along with all the support.  I’ll let you know how Elle’s project turns out…and some other thoughts about social media soon.

But for now, let’s launch into Europe.

Disclaimer:  I know that seeing pictures of other people’s travels can sometimes do strange things to people.  For some it can inspire and uplift, spur future plans and ideas.  For others it can have the opposite effect.  If you are the second type, maybe take a reading break for a week or so when we are starting school!
I can’t believe almost two months have passed since we flew into the wild blue yonder, wide-eyed and excited, and with great anticipation for the adventures that awaited.  Although the memories have by now firmly woven into the fabric of “who-we-are” whether I write them down or not, I am emotionally attached to them and want to keep them close.  I am more grateful than I can ever say that we got to do this and hope these posts can be almost like a little song of gratitude for our family to look back on and remember.  
My brother and his wife live in Switzerland and my sister and her husband live in England so we figured there couldn’t be a better time to head over to see them before Elle left and spread her wings into “the-rest-of-life” after graduation.  We tried to make this trip happen last summer when Elle was heading out on her post-junior-year-internship over in London (more about that back HERE) and Max was still home, but we couldn’t make it happen, mostly because of the opportunities Max had to play in the Nationals volleyball tournament.
So this year, we made it work.
We missed Max like crazy.  
I had several moments of silence amidst all the hoopla reaching deep into my mother-heart of “missing.”  Some things almost don’t seem right to so without your whole family.  But the reality that things are going to be constantly changing from here on out hit us pretty hard and made us realize we can’t put life on hold until it’s all “back to normal” because it never will be.
So off we went.
Before I start, I want to just explain a couple things.


Dave decided long ago that the best way to document life is to take selfies (or “groupies” as he might call them since they’re rarely just him”self.”  
His reasoning?  He would so much rather do that than hassle with asking someone to take a picture, and it’s quick and easy as pie.  
His selfies became a total staple on this trip. 
Sometimes he got all of us perfectly framed in:

 Other times just a few of us:

Often-times only the very tops of Lucy’s glasses made it:

And sometimes he added a whole slew of extras:

I had to crack up how everyone clamored over to his phone every time he exclaimed, “selfie!”

Those pics he took are so precious to us (and I’m sure mean a whole lot more to us than to anyone else).

Some time I’ll have to do a whole post of selfies because there are some pretty great doozies in there (if I can get his permission…he’s a little protective of those things to which Elle let him know he was “selfie-ish” one night…which cracked us all up).
Something else that turned even more into a “thing” for our family than it was before was our “jumping pictures.”  This little tradition started a while back when we were trying to figure out a “signature pose” for all the places we wanted to visit.  Elle had the idea to “turn” the jump back in Cambodia like this:
We kind of turned it into our own kind of “art” on this trip.  Dave was the photographer for these shots too so he wins the prize for being the one to have the best photo ideas out there 🙂
Again, sometimes it was four of us, 
Sometimes less:
Sometimes Lucy joined in, 
And other times we added special friends:)
Grumpy Tourist:
Not sure who came up with this one, but somehow we started getting “grumpy tourist” pictures of Dave.  I think he figured there were enough pictures of people smiling at all these awesome places and they needed a few “grumpy” ones for contrast.  
He was an excellent “grumpy tourist,” but my favorite shots were the ones I snuck right after he broke out of “grumpy” mode:
Especially love that last one.  
Oh man, I get to be married to that guy.  
Ok, with that introduction, let’s go!
We packed our suitcases up and headed out.

A small note must be said about packing too because see those three small rolling bags up there those guys are rolling?  Well, those three along with another tiny bag half that size were our luggage.

We allotted ourselves each one half of a small carry-on rolling bag which was not easy (especially considering we needed pretty warm clothes), necessitated finding airbnb hotels with washing machines, and made us want to burn those few items of clothing we wore and wore and wore again when we got home, but I have to say, it was so freeing to have so little to lug around!

We were pretty excited to fly into all this gorgeous green in Switzerland.
We rented the biggest car we could get:

…which was still so small we thanked our lucky stars over and over again we didn’t bring much luggage:
…and headed in to see ZURICH first since we flew in there.
Here are our girls fresh from trying to sleep on four different connecting airplanes to get there: 

Lucy needed a little cheering up.

Nothing a little Claire-bear couldn’t fix up.

After exploring Zurich a little, and having a little panic when we thought I broke our car navigation system, we realized it was ok and headed to our bed and breakfast/airbnb.

**Side note: airbnbs are the BEST.  What a genius idea to rent someone’s home right where you want to go…cheaper than a hotel and with the added bonus of a kitchen so we could have our own breakfast and snacks where we stayed each night.  If you don’t know about airbnb and you have travel in your future you should definitely check it out HERE.

En route to the place we were staying we stopped at the TEMPLE in Bern.

This was built in 1953 and was the first to be built in Europe.

We touched the temple since I’m a firm believe that “If you allow your children to touch the temple, the temple will touch them.”
I need to figure out where that quote really came from so I can give someone credit for the positive way our road trips have changed since I heard it.
I should also give someone credit for Lucy’s serious good mood too 🙂

We met the sweetest couple there who had traveled on a bus with a bunch of other people from Italy to visit the temple:

Not sure how I happened to capture them with both their eyes closed, but I have to include it anyway since I think it was the sweetest part of our temple visit.

Then we drove on through the most picturesque, beautiful towns you can imagine towards INTERLAKEN.

Honestly, Switzerland is so amazingly gorgeous there’s not really a way to describe it.

Yes, I have been there before (back HERE with my mom and sisters), and I thought maybe I saw the most gorgeous spots back then.  But I’m here to say I don’t think you could fine a “non-knock-dead-gorgeous” place if you tried.

I mean, what other place do street signs have little boxes of flowers to make them look beautiful?

…and flowers spilling out of the windows everywhere you go?

We arrived at our bed and breakfast just in time to check out the cows (it was on a little farm):

…and to watch the spectacular swiss sky transform into this:

…and tuck the girls into little beds that looked exactly like what you’d imagine in the house of Snow White’s seven dwarfs.

The next day we woke up to a delicious Swiss breakfast our host whipped up for us.

(this place was more a B&B than airbnb)

Visited the cows and chickens again…

See that darling little boy up there between the cows?  He knew exactly how to run that place with his mother.  It was pretty darling I have to say.

I tried to get last-minute advice from the cute farmer’s wife as we packed up the car.

Then we headed in to the LAUTERBRUNNEN VALLEY.

The plan was to take a gondola up to Murren and Wegnen or Grindelwald depending on our timing, and hike and glory in the granite faces of the Alps surrounding us.

But the clouds were heavy above, gosh dang it!  There was a video camera that showed the view from the top and you couldn’t see anything but fog.

So we opted to hike/walk along the valley which was breathtaking itself.

Which everyone felt pretty good about.

We walked up flower-lined streets…

 …out to the path that took us to this waterfall:

Passing by fields of wild flowers:
…which necessitated filling up our hair with those natural jewels:
There was a hiking trail that took us up behind the waterfall.
How cool is it that they had this bucket of walking sticks for people to use who may want them?
Yes, people in Switzerland think about nice things like that.

After our little waterfall hike we walked by fields of cows with their bells ringing gently as they moved.

We stopped for a late lunch here:

Where Dave and Elle promptly fell sound asleep (jet lag was catching up by now).  I love this picture:

…and when they woke up…oblivious to that unreal background behind them.  Ha!

We bought a few postcards for Max.

…and probably my favorite part of the day (which I know is weird) was watching this that they got going while I was in the post office:

I don’t even know for sure what they were trying to do, but somehow it just made my heart so warm and happy.  Oh man I love these people.

Even Swiss money is beautiful.

On the way back we stopped to watch a whole slew of paragliders drop down into a huge park area.

…and I taught the girls to make leaf skeletons.

(something I did all the time as a kid when we lived in England)

I guess Europe has the perfect kind of leaves.
Lucy got pretty into it.

We passed by LAKE THUN which took our breath away so much that we had to stop to take it all in.

Not sure what Dave was doing up there…

That pose is even better 🙂

We skipped rocks and picked some out for our “travel box” collection at home (HERE).

Did our little jump…

…and headed back to have our own little picnic dinner at our B&B…

(the first of a lot of bread and cheese)
…followed by a good round of our favorite card game.

(We started playing this game every night on our last trip and played it pretty much every night on this trip too…it’s called “scum” and we love it.  Lu is particularly good at it which makes her pretty proud.)

As the sun was sinking Claire and I did a little yoga to bid farewell to that good day.

To be continued…

You are a gem if you made it through that whole thing!

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  1. Awesome! Can't wait to do this with my little family. We have used VRBO and it was fantastic! We stayed in an amazing house in Capital Hill in DC last year. We plan on using them again and possibly airbnb for Europe.

  2. I feel so happy that I was in on some of the selfies and jumping pics and witnessed the grumpy tourist in all his glory. You did a really great job after all on this trip, Shawn! Love you and miss you.

  3. I made it through, and can't wait to read the next installment! I love your travel posts because they give me the opportunity to "visit" places that I may never have the opportunity to go to myself. Thank you for sharing! xo

  4. This brought back lots of fun memories, since we lived in Switzerland for 5 years and visited Lauterbrunnen several times, and two of my kids got baptized in the chapel right next to the temple, which was about 20 minutes away from our house. It's all so familiar and beautiful! Glad you guys got to enjoy it.

  5. I lived in Germany as a young teen and have been back several times, but it's been a few years now I have a 2&3 year old running around. So, man, these pics brought so many smiles to my face!!! Love it over there!!

    1. Even though she lived in Germany… You are able to travel to neighboring countries quite easily. I am sure she visited Switzerland. I believe it's only like a 7 hour drive. I think it would be so amazing to be able to travel like that so quickly to other countries.

    2. Even though she lived in Germany… You are able to travel to neighboring countries quite easily. I am sure she visited Switzerland. I believe it's only like a 7 hour drive. I think it would be so amazing to be able to travel like that so quickly to other countries.

  6. I truly adore your travel posts! Your pictures are always breathtaking and inspire me to do my own traveling some day (soon)! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful memories with us. I personally love it!

  7. Oh goodness…my heart!!! We lived in Germany for three years and all of these places are so so very near and dear to my heart. So many wonderful memories happen while in Europe!! xoxo

  8. Shawni,
    This is the first time I comment even though I follow the blog for quite some time now.
    I am Brazilian, single and have no children yet, but I love everything about all of your posts!

    I actually was afraid you would stop updating it for a while you went without writing.

    You have no idea how great and wonderful inspiration you are!
    Just LOVE the way you and your parents conduct family life!

    Thank you, thank you so much for sharing!!!

  9. Shawni! I haven't come to your blog in a really long time, and I'm trying to get sorta caught up! My heart broke into a million pieces when I read at the beginning the feelings of traveling without Max–new normal. AGH! Why oh why?!? Life must go on though…I love your adventures, and mostly your side comments about your heart swelling watching your family. Exactly my sentiments with mine. Love the flowers in the girls braids, too.

  10. Thank you for posting your travels! You are inspiring me to plan and save for a family trip someday before my kiddos are college age. Looks so fun!

  11. Finally we get to see the details of this epic trip (as though you didn't have anything else to do)! Loved every picture! What a place! What a bunch of great people!

  12. Oh my! Love the photos and reading about your adventures 🙂 Loved even more seeing your photos from Iceland, where I´m from and live 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your stay here. I wish I´d run into you guys – I would have asked to be in one of Dave´s selfies with you 😀 xxx

  13. Oh my! Love the photos and reading about your adventures 🙂 Loved even more seeing your photos from Iceland, where I´m from and live 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your stay here. I wish I´d run into you guys – I would have asked to be in one of Dave´s selfies with you 😀 xxx

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