Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

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!