Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wiping away the fingerprints...

Here's our family, enjoying some last moments in our home...  eating our last meal on the kitchen floor, kids sleeping in the living room after their beds were gone, and Kassie wondering where the piano went.  12615 Midland Creek Drive has been a great place for us for the last 3 years. We've made some wonderful memories there. But it's been fun to talk about how home is where WE are together - and looking forward to our new home in Switzerland. We're all excited to pick out fun things and make it our new great place to be. But tonight as we did our final cleaning, I have to admit it was a little hard to wipe away all their cute little fingerprints all over the bathroom cabinets. It's the process of watching it turn from our home into a house. But we'll find a new home soon... then return back here to Texas before we know it!
And Merry Christmas! We had fun enjoying the day with Mom and Dad, who have been kind enough to let us stay with them til we fly out...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Feeling so grateful for Christmas

This Christmas season will always remain a unique and memorable one, because of the nature of the 'craziness' of our lives. Being in the midst of a move to another country, along with other large life-changing events (nephews being born, dad having a heart procedure) has brought increased frenzy and (positive) stress into our lives.  Because of it all, it has become very clear to me how important it is to keep Jesus Christ as our focal point. My brother gave an inspiring Christmas talk in church about realizing how Christmas music, lights, and decorations can help us get into the spirit of the season, and to remember why we celebrate this time of year -- simply, because of the unspeakably priceless gift God gave to us - His Son, Jesus.

I woke up this morning feeling very grateful for my family, for my blessings, and for being alive. I watched this short but sweet video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3-T-bm78Xc) and wrote a thank you note to my doctor who, a few months ago, suggested I have an esophagram to discover why my throat has been scratchy for years. Several procedures later, and after discovering my severe acid reflux, and having been on the right medicine - the problem is completely gone and I've been able to have my singing voice back again. Although perhaps a seemingly small thing, this has been a miracle in my life I'm thankful for, and it feels good to thank my doctor for discovering the problem. I hope to be able to continue to see the beauty in the world around me, and to help my kids know what amazing goodness there is around us. We just need to stop and take the time to see it.  I like this comment on lds.org ~

Simplify your Christmas by embracing the spiritual side of the season.  The gift of Christmas isn't wrapped up in presents or parties. The gift of Christmas is Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Son of God. As you follow Him, you put people first. You may spend less time in lines and more time serving others. You may spend less money on - and more time with - the people you love. You may lose yourself and you may find everything else that matters.
As this is the first year for me to not send Christmas cards due to our move (I started this blog instead), I wanted to proclaim my love for my Savior, for my sweet, caring, smart, thoughtful husband, and for my 3 little friends... Stephen, Kassie and Kenny -- to me, perfect little blessings that God sent straight from His side -- that He loaned to me, to learn from and to love. Every day I hear things that they say and watch things they do and sit in wonder as to how I got so lucky to have them sent to me. One of my favorite things to do is every morning, I go in and lay with them in their bed and snuggle and just watch them... Kenny just little and still sucking his thumb, Stephen so handsome and grown up looking, and Kassie with her gorgeous long hair all around her - all of them, no idea how precious and perfect they are. I can't begin to imagine how much capacity to LOVE God must have -- since he feels this way about each one of us, and I only have these 3 little ones that I adore.  I hope to be more like Him.

2010 school pictures ~ Kenny (5), Kassie (8), Stephen (10)

Monday, December 20, 2010

So fun visiting Baby Callister in the hospital!

Can't get enough babytime!

Dad's having too much fun pushing that cart of all our stuff around!

Kenny looks like he's preparing to do an exam...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Will we be tapping in Switzerland?

The kids wondered if we should pack our tap shoes in case Grandpa and the cousins come visit in Switzerland and they could all do their tap number again from this summer's recital... they loved taking that class together so much!
The Swiss Consulate said we should expect our work/residence visas anyday... this is such an exciting time! The kids keep hoping it will happen right after Christmas so they can start school in January in Switzerland...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Welcome Beautiful Babies!

December 2010 has been such a great month... both Stephanie and April had their babies!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kassie's 40th birthday and Thanksgiving!

Very fun to surprise Kas - she had no idea we were all waiting at Fogo de Chao!

                                                                   With cute Jenny!

Happy Thanksgiving!  Our 8th annual family reunion/vacation at Surfside - such a great way to spend a week with cousins... digging in the sand, swimming in the waves, and cooking smores over the bonfire!


Kenny singing "We are the Pilgrims" at The Woods Thanksgiving Feast -- he'll miss his class and Mrs. Abel!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The church, the alps, and IKEA!

The pictures show all - today was a blast visiting our new ward (all such great people!), the new Geneva IKEA, and driving up the Jura mountains to see the view of the Swiss Alps. We've decided that one of our kids' favorite things will be seeing all the dogs that go everywhere with people -- on the trams, into the restaurants - it's hilarious! And they're all such cute dogs. Our favorite so far was a Sharpei that looked just like Bumper, but brown like Mushu was.  We drove thru the darling villages that we'll hopefully live in, and found out that if we live there, school buses come pick up the kids in the morning, then bring them home for lunch (which is 2 hours), then take them back to school, then bring them back home in the afternoon. So perfect! Plenty of time in between for me to be learning French on Rosetta Stone -- people have told me that my kids will probably be up to speed in about 3 months by being in the public schools. Amazing!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blowing an alpenhorn!

What a great day - from exercising this morning in the hotel gym, to Daron's officially getting and signing his new job contract, to eating authentic Swiss food... a highlight was blowing the alpenhorn at Restaurant Edelweiss! We also set out to decide the best spot for us to settle down, and we decided that the cute villages up near the mountains (now topped with snow after their first snowfall of the winter this week) will be a pretty dreamy place to live. The cottages look like the little buildings right out of the Epcot Disneyland villas. We visited several schools and met great teachers that told us all about how our kids would have free intensive French tutoring in small groups that will get them up to speed in probably 3 months. Holy cowbells! (They had lots of those at the Edelweiss Restaurant, of course) Daron and I need to hit the Rosetta Stone HARD to keep up with the kids.

Actually, Daron's already pretty much got it.  We went to the bank today to open our account and Daron greeted the gentleman and introduced himself and said a few casual words all in French, such that the man took us into his office, then said a whole big long slew of French stuff while I just stared at him, then he left the office -- I was thinking, oh boy, this will be rather difficult with him not speaking English! But when he returned, Daron asked him in French if he spoke English, and he looked confused and said yes, but why? Then we laughed and said we don't speak French! And he said - no - sir, your dialect and pronunciation was just like a native - I thought you were French!  Nice. Daron got points for that... we found him a yummy dessert to celebrate all his day's successes.

Tomorrow we go meet friends in our new ward and have lunch with some of them. Then it's SHOPPING!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We love HP!

We’re so grateful that HP has handed us this opportunity to come live abroad and experience this whole new way of life.  It’s already been so eye-opening… from people-watching as we hop from train to train, to noticing how few little children there are around. There are a plethora (Jefe, do you know what a plethora is?) of public parks and petting zoos geared just for children – I know the kids will have a great time here. And as for food – they’ve got salad, flaky croissants, and peanut butter and jelly – we’re totally set. Of course I did gasp when I saw the meat: $30 for 1 pound! So we’ll just alter our meat-eating a bit… perhaps bring over some TVP.
Minutes after Daron made the comment to me,  “I’m glad I’m smart – it would suck if I wasn’t” (because he remembered to get the daily parking ticket from the hotel before we left), he drove us down this very very itty-bitty road, which unfortunately just stopped at a dead-end. I had the opportunity to witness a 200-point turn… just imagine having about 1 inch to maneuver the car completely around to go the opposite direction – I had to hop out and take a picture. Daron did a great job. 8-)
Loved meeting Yves today – Daron’s new boss.  We took him and his secretary flowers and Lindt - that was a hit. He’s totally cool – we had fun talking. He has 2 kids, and lives in Grenoble, France near the Swiss alps and drives almost 2 hours in to work only 2 days a week.  We also talked with HR and we’ll meet with the bank tomorrow to set up our account.  Yves is taking us out to dinner tonight somewhere in France. We’ll probably have chocolate for dessert. Again… 8-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There's chocolate everywhere!

It’s still hard to believe we’re here in this beautiful country! Everyone dresses in dark colors (mostly black – I get lots of stares at my teal-colored warm-up suit) and everyone is thin… great motivation for me to keep RUNNING!! We did our first grocery (and souvenir  8-)) shopping today in ‘COOP’ – the neighborhood market.  I bought a carrot, but didn’t weight it and get the price sticker, so when I went to check out, the lady didn’t speak English and she had to get up and do it for me herself – all 4 people in line behind us sort of ‘harumph’ed and walked to a different line. We definitely felt like foreigners today… and the more I said – “I’m sorry!” the more they frowned at me. Oh well. Now I know how to say “I speak a little French” (je pal un puh (I don’t know how to spell it – but they said it in South Pacific) de Frances) so maybe next time they’ll see I’m trying to speak their language. But most people are so ready to jump in and be helpful and speak English – at the pizzeria tonight the waitress was so lovely – either SHE was lovely, or the mushroom pizza was lovely – it almost brought tears to my eyes, it was so good. Why do I love food so much? (Sterl, I know you're hearin' me on that one) I wonder if God ever enjoys a good slice of pizza and just smiles. I hope so. Anyhoo – we saw at a spa window today that you can get a chocolate wrap or a sugar exfoliation.  Can you imagine?? Only in Switzerland, the land of Chocolate. Tomorrow we spend the day at HP meeting with Daron’s new co-workers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beautiful Switzerland!

We are having so much fun exploring Geneva! After a day and night of flying (Daron slept on the plane, I didn't... hence the rather touristy-looking Mel in the pics after being awake for 24 hrs), we set out today to enjoy all the sights in our soon-to-be-home for the next few years... even with the overcast sky and rain, it's beautiful.  We saw the world's tallest water fountain (on Lake Geneva - it doesn't look that tall in the pic behind Daron but it shoots way high up in the sky), the historic St. Peters Cathedral which took over 400 years to build, and just lovely little tiny cobblestone roads with vines going everywhere and pigeons all over the cute little squares with SUCH old trees that have amazing colorful bark on them.  Neat clock made out of flowers -- yummy 'pave de Geneve' (Geneva chocolate shaped in cobblestone style) Lunch was 2 CBO sandwiches at McDonalds (Chicken-Bacon-Onion) for $20 - ouch! Dinner tonight - Steff, you'd be proud: we did cheese and steak fondue! And Dustin - we thought of you as we took pictures of our food like you do when you travel.  More to see tomorrow (http://www.geneva.info/facts/) then Daron meets with his new team Thursday in the HP offices in Meyrin.  We love you all!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday night lights!

What a fun night -- while Daron's off playing with his brothers and Dad in Utah for Mark's birthday, we had cousin time at the Klein high school football game with Sterling and Grandpa!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The last lesson

The picture of the kids hanging on Mrs. Rushing's leg very aptly describes the feeling in our home tonight after Mr. Rushing finished his last piano lesson with me... we didn't want them to leave! After years of teaching some of these students, it feels like leaving family, since we've become such good friends. But we'll be back... this isn't the end! 8-)

Breaking the news... and learning French!

We sat the kids down the day Bumper left and told them about him. Before we said anything, Stephen said, “this is about Bumper isn’t it. He’s not here..” Then he started calling for Bumper, then he started crying. So we told them the whole thing.  It was not what we expected. Kassie and Stephen both were quiet and had tears running down their faces the whole time I told them about how God sent that nice man to us… that we didn’t have anything advertising we were giving our dog away, but the man just saw Bumper this morning while we were having our garage sale, and he asked about him and said he’d love to have him.  As we talked to the kids, Kenny was rolling around on the floor (waiting to start playing his WII again, since we asked him to pause it while we talked), and the other 2 kids just listened.  Then Daron and I cried, and finally, Kenny looks up at all of us and says –

Kenny: What’s going on?  Why is everyone crying?
Kassie: Because – Kenny – Bumper is with another family.
Kenny: WHAT? He’s with another family? Why?
Stephen: I don’t want to go on living (choked out thru his full-on sobbing).
Kassie: I just feel… my heart just feels… blue. (Teary, but more melancholy. I really thought she’d be the most upset, but it was Stephen by far)
Daron/Me: (more explanation – he’s with his 4th family now – he had his 1st family, then he got lost, and the Rescue Society family had him 2nd, then us 3rd, and now his 4th family will love him…)
Kenny: Stevie, why are you sad? I can make you feel better if you do what I do. Take a breath and count to 3. That’s what I do.  You’ll feel better.
Kas: Kenny, that’s not going to work this time, but thanks so much for your suggestion. (Honestly, word for word – as she’s crying).

So then we told them about how it’s natural to feel sad, that we’ve been crying all day, but feeling grateful that we found a good home for him, with loving parents who will keep him indoors, who don’t already have another dog – that we fully explained about his meds and bathing him regularly, and everything. Then we asked the kids to make sure and talk to us about their feelings. I promised them that the FIRST thing we’ll do when we return from Switzerland is to all go pick out a dog together – whatever they want. Kas bounced right back and wanted to take Bo on a walk to get the mail. Stephen went upstairs and kept crying and played a computer football game. I just went up and offered to take him with us on our date tonight and he was very happy about that. So I think all is well.

We also purchased Rosetta Stone and the kids have each been spending an hour every night sitting in front of the computer with their headset and microphone - it's hilarious - they're already learning French so quickly!