Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We've had a traumatic past few days..

There is a family of cats living around the back door of this sublet we're staying at until we close on our house.  There is a momma cat, Martina, and five babies.  Occasionally the father-figure, Ricky, shows up.  We decided that if no one was taking care of them and we started to do so, then when we made the move, the family could come with us and live in our ginormous garage.  Tuesday we get some cat food and when Chris went to their area to put it away, he discovered someone had put rat poison all around there.  They had even put mothballs in the hole they like to climb under that corner of the house.  This made us sick.  Long story short, it seems that Martina ate some of the poison before we got to it.  Then we saw her nursing her 4-week old babies.  We haven't seen them since yesterday, late afternoon.  As soon as we saw the poison we realized that if these cats are going to stand any chance, we can't keep them here.  They have to go somewhere safe.  We had no luck catching them last night and didn't have anywhere to take them anyhow.  We're not indoor pet people.  Especially because they might have fleas.

Then today on one of his many visits to check on the cats, Chris found Charlie.

He stuck him in our bathroom and spent the rest of the day looking for the others.  Unfortunately, he didn't find anyone else.  We're heartbroken, but at least we've managed to save one of them.  Hopefully something will work out and we can find the others.

Until then... what have we gotten ourselves into?!

So when you all visit our new home, get ready to meet the sweetest little kitty.  His name is Charlie, but his friends call him Chuck.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh yeah... We're back.

Thank you all for following us this summer! We had no idea so many of you were doing so! Soon we hope to get some more pictures posted. As for our current lives.. We are buying a fixer-upper in Cincinnati!! We just love projects! :)

As a few you have suggested, we might try to use this blog as a "normal" blog occasionally now that we're back. We'll try!

Have a good rest of August everyone!
Chris & Lisa

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So. What did you do last night?

We had quite possibly the strangest experience of our vacation.  (we feel that is really saying a lot.  after all, on Sunday we attended a church service of a religion we don't belong to in a language we do not speak, alone.)

The festivities came to an end last night.  To celebrate, Emanuel, The King of Pimba, played a concert.  Pimba is a type of pop folk music here in Portugal.  Apparently the lyrics can be pretty vulgar, but due to the accordions and snappy beats, it is wonderful music to listen to.

Here's a sample of a live performance from YouTube:

The King of Pimba is in his fifties now.  He isn't too animated on stage, however as you can see, that is compensated for by having background dancers/singers that look a lot like 80's cheerleaders doing work-out videos.  To help you better understand, this is how the concert started..

The stage was filled with fog.  A huge crowd had gathered in between the bumper cars and churros stands.  We all watched the stage in anticipation.  Suddenly a person appears amidst the fog, holding one of those keyboard things that has a neck like a guitar.  We hear a few notes and the musician walks to his spot on stage.  Then we see a pair of rather fit female legs on stage.  The fog rolls away a little more to reveal short white boots and a dress of what appears to be a satin white pillowcase edged in silver sequins.  We can't see the figure's head, as it is wearing a small hooded cape, just like Little Red Riding Hood.  An arm appears outside the cape.  Then another.  And another.  Slowly, driven by some synthesizer music, the female figure is revealed to be 4  figures, wearing the same outfit.  They proceed to start doing a work-out video dance routine.  Then another wave of fog rolls in just as the music begins to pick up in intensity.  The exercisers remove their hoods.  Out steps the King, wearing an all white suit.  As he lifts the microphone to his mouth to begin to sing, the audience is blinded by the bits of silver in his sportcoat.  The party has begun.  Pimba music fills the festival.  A little while later, the King tells the audience  "Let's make a party!"

Here's a little video we took, after their first costume change:

Aside from the concert being totally weird and the King of Pimba looking like a creep dancing with young girls, it was really fun!  The music was really good!  Yes, we have no idea what most of the lyrics were, but the dance moves were definitely like an exercise video I have.

Well.. that was our night last night!  Hope you all had fun Monday nights as well!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Friday morning we took the train down to Lisbon.  It was a nice city to visit.  ...Porto is better though!  It seems to have more personality or something..  We had some delicious fresh fish in Lisbon.  We could get used to eating really fresh fish for cheap..  We spent most of our time there just walking around the city.  It was very hilly, so that was kind of a chore.  All in all, it was a fun little visit.  This afternoon we took the train back to Porto.

Tomorrow there is a local holiday of sorts.  People keep referring to it as the "festivities."  Meaning: We're attending Mass with Andre's mom in the morning, then participating in a procession, eating a huge meal (with only 5 "real cakes") with Andre's family, taking a nap, eating more, hearing some concert thing in the village, eating some more...  I guess it's like a solid day of eating, with occasional distractions to give your hands a break from holding the silverware.  We're excited!

And finally, we are proud to announce to everyone that we have seen a total of 100 cats on our trip.  Yes, if you had 8 weeks to do what ever you want.. wouldn't you keep track of all the cats you've seen?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Look at us... regular bloggers!

Hello from Portugal!

We arrived in Portugal with Andre this morning, thankful to have survived a Ryanair experience.  It is really really really hot and humid here.  What we have seen of Porto and the surrounding area so far, reminds me of a mix between the landscape of Southern California and the beauty of Mexico.  It really makes me want to find a way back to visit Mexico with Chris...  hmm...

Since it was so hot and we were very tired, we took it easy most of the day.  During the late afternoon we went on a hike along part of Andre's yard and up a big hill.  Then we walked down the other side of the hill through a village.  We spent a little time at a small beach on the river down there.  Then tonight we enjoyed an authentic Portuguese meal, during which nearly the entire conversation revolved around what to eat for the next meal.  Too funny!  Andre's parents are great!  Just like him!  This next week will be wonderful!  Oh, and we had squid for dinner.  It was delicious!

Well, it's time for bed!  Tomorrow we are spending the day in the large city of Porto.  Fun fun fun! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In Bologna and Doing Great!

Hello hello!

We are currently in Bologna, Italy.  The past two days we have been exploring the city.  Tonight we conquered a multiple-course Italian meal at this restaurant at the top of tiny mountain.  Tomorrow we're spending the day in Florence.  Tuesday will be in Milan.  Early Wednesday we are flying to Porto, Portugal with Andre.  There's apparently some village celebration happening that weekend.  Again, what great timing!

Well, we hope everyone else had a great weekend!  We definitely did with Daniele and Andre!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


We're in Venice!

Things have been going very well on the National Lands' European Vacation the past week!!  After Valence, France, we went to Thun, Switzerland for two nights.  We stayed with a wonderful couple that we wish lived much much closer!  We went on a delightful bike ride to Bern on Saturday.  It was along the river, with snow-covered peaks in the background.  Then Sunday we went to a small town about 45 minutes east of Zurich.  Again, we had wonderful hosts!  They helped prep us for our upcoming visit to Portugal! :)

We arrived in Venice on Tuesday and have spent most of our time walking along the beautiful streets, eating gelato.  We're also alternating between pizza and pasta for each meal.  James Taylor played a concert in the Piazza San Marco on Tuesday night.  We listed to about a song and a half.  Then it started raining, so we left.  Yesterday we got a free gondola ride with our Eurail passes.  After a picnic dinner we went back to the Piazza San Marco and heard an orchestra play for a while.  What great timing - free concerts and free gondola rides!

Today we spent the first part of the day at the Venice Biennale.  It's a huge art show with work from some of the world's best contemporary artists.  We saw about half of the main galleries today.  Tomorrow we will visit the rest.  We also spent a few hours on the island of Murano this afternoon.  This is where they make all those glass dolphin figurines.

Tomorrow we are spending the day in Venice.  During the evening we will be taking a train to Bologna, Italy.  It's a short trip.  There we will meet up with our friend Andre and our soon to be friend Daniele.  We know it's going to be a great time!

And finally, three thoughts in closing...

1. Throughout Europe, the size of squares of toilet paper seem to be the same width, but longer.  We've noticed this everywhere we've been on this trip.

2. My sunglasses seem to be virtually indestructible.  They have only suffered a minor scratch.  I've thrown them out of photographs in the split seconds before the shutter snaps too..

3. My (Lisa's) eyes look more blue now.  Not like really blue, just not as green.  Strange, huh?

Hope everyone is having a great summer!!
Lisa & Chris

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So we forgot we had a blog...

Greetings everyone,

So as you probably expected, we went almost two weeks since our last post..  Last night we just happened to remember that we had a blog.  oops.

Since our last post:

We spent 4 days camping on a lake outside of Amsterdam.  It was wonderful!  Then we spent one day in the city.  It was not as wonderful..  We did have a very successful vacation moment when we saw people eating delicious cake so we just sat down at a table at this cafe and ordered ourselves some cake.

July 5th we flew from Amsterdam to Rome.  Rome was just as wonderful as it always is!  We spent lots of time wandering around the beautiful city, eating gelato and people-watching.  Last Thursday we got up early and went to St. Peter's before the crowd arrived.  Then we hopped on a train and spent the day at Pompeii.  Pompeii has been Chris's favorite part of the trip so far.

Last Friday we left Rome and came to visit our friends, Denise and Bernard at their home in the country near Valence, France.  We do not want to leave!  They are some of the best and most-loving people you will ever meet.  Their home and garden are absolutely perfect too.  It's always so relaxing to spend time here!  I'm so thankful I could bring Chris on this visit!  Denise has suggested we buy an old farm out here.  We can spend half the year here and the other half back in the States.'s a splendid idea!  Yesterday we cooked a big "American" breakfast for everyone.  We also made some chocolate chip cookies for them.  Funny how a double batch didn't even last 24 hours...hmmm....

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary.  In lieu of gifts we decided to pull practical jokes on one another.  I sewed all of Chris's clothing together and Chris hid a bunch of my stuff.  These pranks are going to become a tradition.  I am going to start plotting for next year..

Well, we are in France and it has been about an hour since we last ate something..  (not just something - Nutella ice cream, that had the consistency of mousse!)  Time to eat!  Another delicious meal; followed by cheese!  ..I really don't know how on Earth we're going to be able to leave here..  (don't worry Moms, we don't actually mean that!)

Bon Appetite!
lisa and chris

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A little update from Leipzig

Hello Everyone,

We are in Leipzig, Germany right now.  Yes, as could have been predicted.... we have fallen behind on this blog thing.  We're on vacation!

Okay, so since Chris's post about the cat in Chartres..  We stayed a night last week with a wonderful family near Brussels, Belgium.  They were such an amazing family!  Oh, it was great!!!  Then we went to Frankfurt, Germany for the night.  There we met up with an old friend at the airport that morning (Julie!) and picked up Chris's dad, Jerry  for the next leg of our trip.  We spent a night in Wiesbaden, Germany.  Then we headed to Wiesloch where we spent some time with a long time friend of Chris's family, Paul.  He, his wife Regina, and his parents were the best of hosts!  (Thank you all for the great bike rides, delicious cakes.. everything!)  On Saturday, Paul and Regina got married.  Their reception had over a dozen different desserts.  We Americans need to consider this when planning our own weddings...

On Monday, our terrific hosts took us to Strasbourg, France and then on to Stuttgart, Germany.  Chris, Jerry, and I ate these huge pizzas for dinner that night..  Tuesday we were in Stuttgart and then Frankfurt.  Then Wednesday morning we put Jerry on a train back to the airport and we headed to Leipzig.

We are having a great time in Leipzig!  Oh wait, we have a great time where ever we go....  Anyhow, we saw a Matthias Weischer painting show yesterday.  Chris was in heaven!  We also had a delightful picnic dinner by the river and then threw the frisbee for a little while.  Today we spent most of the day at a big compound of old factories that have been turned into some pretty incredible art galleries.  We saw some artwork by those who are celebrities in our book.  Fun fun!

Well, now we're off to another gallery or two and then who knows!  Tomorrow morning we will head to Amsterdam.  We'll be staying in a little cabin by a lake for three nights.  There will be plenty of biking, reading, and relaxing!  It will be like a vacation from our vacation.

Oh and I still have my sunglasses in case you were wondering.. :)

Chris & Lisa

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Two Paris Pictures

Since these photographs seem to be taking a long time to upload, we will share two photographs from our time in Paris:

Here we are up by a large cathedral called Sacre Coeur, that overlooks a good portion of Paris.

One afternoon we had a snack of crepes and carrots in Luxembourg Gardens.  Everyone looked at us like we were crazy because we were eating carrots in public.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Luckily, Lisa found a cat to pet on the street in Chartres.  This will hopefully fulfill her cat fix for another week or so.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Well tonight is our final night in Paris.  We spent the day at a smaller town, called Chartres that is about an hour southwest of Paris.  It was wonderful!  We packed a picnic, the frisbee, and naturally, our books.  Yes, it has been a very relaxing trip so far.  We've done a lot of reading!  We have also been practicing our French pronunciation through repeating the names of all the metro stops.  (Denise, we can't wait to say our favorite names to you and Bernard!)

Tomorrow we head to Brussels for the night.  We will be staying with some new friends outside the city.  It will be a fun layover on our way to Frankfurt.

This is needless to say, but since it is our last night here (on this trip at least.....) we are about to head out for some more crepes.  We hope everyone has vicariously had a nice trip to Paris!  Au revoir!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our First Few Days!

We will begin by apologizing for how short this post will be....  Hey, we're on vacation.  ..and only have another minute or two left on this gratuite internet connection.  Let's see how quickly I can type!

The first few days: As told by Lisa

Our flight out of Indy was delayed. we had to "Home Alone"-it to our connecting flight in New York (Heidi, Ali, and Nigel, we waved to you all).  We barely made it.

We spent Wednesday in London, exploring by foot mostly.  We had some delicious Indian food.

Early Thursday morning, 5:25am London time, we hopped on the Chunnel to Paris.  We will be here until Monday.  Yippeeeee!!  This city is so wonderful!  I'm proud to say that my French is really coming along.  At this point in my traveling career, after having been here 3 other times, I can proudly say I can check into a hotel for up to 3 days entirely in French.  However, our reservation was for 4 nights.....

Well, the internet is about to leave us..  Off to eat some crepes with Nutella! :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All our bags are packed, our Chacos are on..

Well, our bags our packed and we're ready to go!  We leave this evening from Indianapolis at 5:41pm.  After a layover in New York, we will arrive in London tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 9:25am.

We have heard from several of you that you are concerned about your ability to leave comments on this blog. As a practice run, we would like to invite you to participate in the following activity...

These are Lisa's sunglasses.  She spent $2 on them last fall and somehow they have lasted this long.  How long do you think they will last on this vacation?  Important things to consider: July 2-4 we will be camping at a lake near Amsterdam.  We will visit the beach in Rome during the second week of July and sometime in late July/early August in Portugal with Andre.

So, how long until you think these sunglasses will be scratched and/or destroyed?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Welcome To Our Blog!

Sorry we haven't gone anywhere yet.. and don't have anything exciting to write about..  Check back soon!  We leave on June 14th for our European Vacation!

***Please disregard the url of this blog.  It was (accurately) created months ago and never touched again until today.