Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Monday, February 28, 2011

A fun trip to Germany!

Our sweet neighbor Margaret invited us to her home to celebrate Mrs. Goodman’s 90th birthday – I love how the Europeans put so much energy into their food! She gave us this whole tray of yummy treats… cute little sandwiches made of shrimpies, tuna, salmon, ham, and egg – as you can see, it’s all about the lovely presentation. They had Kenny sing ‘Silent Night’ for them.  

Then off to play for the kids’ SKI WEEK. This weekend has been packed with so many fun things… first another day of skiing – the kids did much better than the first time. Then the next stop was Bern – the capitol of Switzerland – named for the first animal that some Duke years ago saw when he went out hunting – hence, a ‘bear’, or Bern. The temple was just beautiful – we walked all around it and felt so privileged to be there. It was the 9th temple built, and the 1st European temple. Huge gorgeous trees.

Loved touring around downtown Bern – the “Zytglogge” – the landmark medieval clock in the center of town built in 1218 – it has cute figurines that come out on the hour and do a little show, like on Pinocchio. We also saw Albert Einstein’s home where he lived over a hundred years ago and came up with his revolutionary theory of relativity, E=mc2.

Next, off to the Black Forest in Germany… it brought back great memories from our Globus trip 11 years ago with Steff – the kids loved the big trees and delicious pastries… especially, of course, the black forest cake.  We stopped at a beautiful cathedral (saw a guy peeing right there on the side of the church – weird) – then a pizza café. (And got a fun phone call from Steff and CP and Mom and Dad – all playing at the Corpus Christi beach!)

Finally, to the nice hotel in Boblingen on the eve of Daron’s 1st Germany HP meeting. The kids loved being in the hotel – they all snuggled like sardines on the floor under the desk...

Then off to Munich today – the countryside is just breathtaking. You just want to stop and take pictures of all the cute little villages and rolling hills and cottages everywhere… here’s a cool tressle bridge that you can’t really see very well. And when we finally got to the hotel - they had to run around and be wild... 

And one of my all-time favorite pictures that I just downloaded from our video camera – from when Mom came to Kenny’s Spring show at The Woods before we moved… unposed cute lovey moment…

Friday, February 25, 2011

Freedom... 'ski week' vacation!

The kids were excited to get out of school today... they've got a week off for the Swiss 'ski week'! They celebrated by dogpiling Daron...
We made some yummy treats tonight - custard in cute new ramekins, and this most delicious banana bread with oatmeal streussel topping and CAULIFLOWER purree... I love that cookbook...

Daron's management regions now include all of Europe, Middle East, and Africa - including Russia. He got online to book a flight to Dubai, and to see if we could all pay our own way to accompany him there - unfortunately it's $1400/person. So darn it, we won't be joining him there. Although I'd love to... I just hope his hotel doesn't sink...

After scripture reading tonight we talked with the kids about all the chaos in the world - the tragedies occuring in Libya - so much sadness.  We discussed how blessed we are to be safe here, and that all our family is safe back home. I hope and pray that continues.

Speaking of family, here's Callister. I mean, really - look at those eyes. The kids can't WAIT to see him and hold his squishy arms in 13 days when they come visit!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ice-skating! (Kind of)

We heard about a fun free activity over at the mall...

It's not real ice - just a plasticy floor so it's perfect for falling - no cold! But it feels just like ice-skating. The funniest was watching them use the 'walkers'...

Winter Wonderland!

This morning we awoke to the best surprise ever -- full-on snowing! The nighttime brought snow so everything was lovely and white -- the kids were in awe...
Which led to more snowball fights on the way to school...

Here's Stephen heading off to his school in his new grey jacket -- an improvement over, in his words, the other one that makes him feel like a marshmallow --

Here are some pictures from my morning run -- I LOVE running here because, as Anne Shirley of Green Gables says (we're almost done reading that together - it's our nighttime book... when I finish a chapter all the kids pop up and say - NO, read more!) - everywhere you look here - there's so much 'scope for the imagination!' I brought the camera this time so I could capture some of my favorite parts of the scenery...

This unreal owl that someone carved into an old tree in a front yard -

One of the long stretches I run down - between the mountains and the orchards ~ with the country farmhouses in the distance where I hear the rooster crow every morning...

Here's a view of downtown Crassier - with the cute church near the park and the Harry Potter-ish 'whomping tree' on the right -

The beehives...

The rows and rows of fruit tree orchards...

The cute little bridge connecting our home to the park - we can hear the babbling river from out our windows...

And ofcourse, the 'bravo' praise for those kindly pet owners who dispose of the poopies...

Jenny, a darling Swedish woman I met at Kenny's school, (her son Louis is in Kenny's class) had heard all about our family (just because we're coming halfway thru the year - she said at the start of the new year everyone's new so it's not so unique) ~ she was so helpful and gave lots of ideas for fun things... but after we talked for half an hour, she said she was impressed with how well we've already become accustomed to everything - that people move here all the time, but usually from within Europe, so it's not such a big change. But a move from America - everything is so completely different... it made me feel good to know that we're on the right track. Learning SO MUCH everyday - the kids come home from school saying new phrases, and it's just a fun time. Daron's taking in a lot with his new job - I'm glad he's enjoying it all too. (We particularly liked the Toblerone samples he brought home from his HP convention yesterday...)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gifts, snow, trains and our cool batman car

Gifts: The kids were SO EXCITED to open Skye's pretty artwork - Kenny kept saying all day - 'she is so sweet to mail us those pictures. I'm going to tell her how much I love her.' (Kas, I hope you got his message saying thank you)

Snow: Although you can't really see it in the video, they were so excited to get out of our car and catch their first snowflakes on their tongues!

Train: Kenny got out all his trains today and built a good setup...

Our Cool Batman car:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Family from snowy mountains...

(The title is supposed to be a take on 'Man from Snowy River')

Today we took a fun jaunt up the Jura mountains (about a minute drive from our home) to see the snow at a cool look-out over the town - it was beautiful, and a great way to end a wonderful Sunday! Church was fun today too - the kids like their classes; I gave a talk on 'Happiness', and Daron officially became a ward missionary.
This morning Kenny and I baked homemade bread for the first time in our cute little new Bosch mixer - it turned out great! (Just a bit more expensive than my bread back home... since the yeast cost $1 for 3 Tablespoons! (Compared with $1 for a whole huge carton of it)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The first 2 weeks of school in French...

And the kids are alive and well! They've come home excited about each day - lots of new activities that are fun and different from their previous schools... Kenny's addition of gymnastics and creative movement and library time -- Kassie's gymnastics and painting and singing while her teacher plays the guitar -- Stephen getting to buy his big daily snack sandwiches and meeting other international kids like 'Fiznik' -- and of course all 3 of them getting to have private tutors take them out of class during the day to work one-on-one with them in French. It has been so new and memorable and we're so grateful that all has gone well. We celebrated tonight with banana splits... atop the Ghiradelli brownies Grandma sent over... (we'll FOR SURE need Steff to bring another box of those when she comes next month... 8-)

And here's Kenny this morning at breakfast - showing off his going-away-present watch from Grandma, and trying on Kassie's glasses!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The new Chalk Grand Piano!!!

Here it is... the Salvation Army version of our piano... it even plays all the back-up instruments! I think the kids are going to end up loving this one more than our last one!!

We just got word from our friend that ground beef is on sale at a nearby store for only $11chf per kilo -- that's only $5/lb! That is SUCH A DEAL! We're going tomorrow so we can have a break from our beef and ham-flavored TVP!!!!

Happy Thursday!

Last night Daron and I hung this monstrosity of a mirror - the kids woke up this morning and were so surprised and loved it! It makes the room much bigger. 8-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Wednesday!

After almost a MONTH of being out of school -- Stephen finally got to go to his new school today! He had a great time -
Daron drove him there (the school is in Nyon - about 8 minutes away) and walked him in to meet Madame Delaveaux, his nice new teacher, who will mostly be focusing on French and Math; we'll be keeping up the rest of his studies at home. One of Stephen's favorite parts of his day is from 10am - 10:20, where he and all the other kids run out to the 'courtyard' area where a fresh patisserie cart comes in and sells croissants, chicken sandwiches, rolls - he spent 4 fr. today on a huge chicken sandwich and was apparently in heaven. He came home with several pages of French phrases to memorize - so we've been working on them this evening.

Kenny and I played here today - cleaning, doing laundry, and making lunch from our new favorite cookbook ~ Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious" - great ideas. Plus she adds fun interesting tidbits, like "social creatures" - where she says that when she sweeps the kids up with interesting conversation at the dinnertable, the kids always eat more happily and quickly... that's great to remember. Last month I read the same thing in Benjamin Franklin's autobiography - Ben's dad always invited people over to eat for that same reason - so the kids wouldn't focus on themselves and what they were eating, therefore becoming picky eaters - instead he wanted to foster stimulating conversation that would keep the meal going. Love it.
This is tortilla 'cigars' - tiny cute rolled tortillas with pureed squash and carrots! That's the key -  hiding all the healthy veggie purees. And it works.... they loved them!

Daron wants to show you all the super-neat sign posted on our balcony. (Thank heavens for it, because you know, we were going to bring a dog and let him poop on the balcony...)

Our favorite comment of the week - from little cousin Shepard: “Kenny’s in Switzerland.  I wanna live in Switzerland with my Kenny.” 

And from the same place I got our cute happy toaster, I found my new favorite jewelry hanger:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Grandmas are Mommies with Frosting!"

Such a cute saying I came across today -- and it just fits with perfectly for both Inger and Joy ~ I'm feeling so grateful for both of them today! I look at my little kids and think about how I wouldn't have them without both of these amazing women. I got such a sweet little email from Joy today saying she's mailing me some yeast -- I can't wait! And my mouth has been watering since Mom said she'd be sending some See's over with Steff next month. I feel so blessed to have both of these women in our lives. The kids continually say they're excited for all our family to come visit... I think they'll be thrilled when we start to see familiar faces from back home!

Today was so fun -- the first real day of full-on rain! It's lovely, even with the overcast clouds. Plus I did my first shopping trip all by myself ~ I was a bit scared, but I've been driving with the fam in the car, so I figured I could do it. It was fun -- down to the Signy Center - just minutes away - for groceries. Here's our cute 75-yr-old neighbor, Aunt Margaret, who just got back from skiing --
Daron went to pick up Kenny after school today since he didn't have a work call just then -- we walk right out the door and it's 25 seconds away. So convenient!!

Kenny and I had fun translating his French library book that he chose (using google translate - thanks Sterl!). I wasn't surprised to see that it was close to his favorite bedtime story from Dad, "Andy the Ant" - he's excited to read it everyday this week before he returns it to the Biblioteque --
And every other Tuesday afternoon, Kassie has off school - a way that the teachers focus more time on individual students... that means we all got to play this afternoon together! Kas invited a cute Irish friend Maureann over to play for the afternoon - she stayed til after dinner... here she is singing one of Kassie's new favorite songs that they're learning in school -- the kids all loved her Welsh accent!

And this evening, we all took a trip to the nearby recycling plant, where 3 days a week, it's open for mass dumping. The kids had a great time separating all our different items into the different bins ~ especially the big IKEA boxes!

Tomorrow is Stephen's first day -- he's very excited. It's only a halfday, since it's Wednesday. Hilarious - we come here to learn French and it seems like they're hardly ever in school!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's Stephen, showing how we're celebrating our Valentine's Day here... with some Nutella on crackers (oh wow I wish we hadn't found out about that... we're already on our 2nd huge tub of it!) and a yummy Cream Cheese Italian chicken dinner in our new crock pot... it finally came in! (We had to order it because they're not common here).
This morning was our first 'hard to go to school' morning for Kas. She woke up and wanted very badly to stay home for Valentines Day, although it turned out that she just simply wanted to stay home -- that school is hard and everyone speaks French and she couldn't do it today. Poor baby -- after lots of tears and hugs and loves, and a sweet prayer from Kenny that "Kassie would have fun today", Daron drove her to school, and walked her in and hung out there while Kassie's cute Irish friend Maureen chatted with them. Kas immediately perked up and seemed happy to go in. (I was so glad to hear that news, since it was really rough getting her out the door - amidst her "Oh the horror! The horror! It's like kidnapping! You're kidnapping me! I won't step one foot outside this door" as I was pulling her out the door) But we knew that once she got over this one hard hump it would be better, and sure enough, she bounded off the bus at lunch very happy, especially since I baked her favorite pumpkin bread for her (and shared some with her bus driver Erik, which made him happy too).  I also called Kassie's teacher, Madame Hostettler, at 10am on their break and chatted with her - she said Kassie was great and they went through her new notebooks together, and she was playing happily with her friends -- I told her last week was great but today was hard for her to go to school and she cried, and Mm. Hostettler said - yes, she told me she had a cold and was sneezing, and that's why her face was red. (Clever little girl). So all was well.
Here they are eating Grandma Inger's chocolate Valentines she sent. Yummy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chateau de Chillon!

Right off Lake Geneva - about an hour from our home - this famous, lovely OLD (1150AD) castle was breathtaking to see ~ it was a great way to enjoy our day today. It apparently was inspiration to Lord Byron, Victor Hugo, Rousseau and others -- I can see why!File:The Sun Sets on Château de Chillon.jpg

Here's Kas petting a dog as we enter the castle...

We didn't know if we should drink the water until several children and then an adult ran up and drank out of it, so we all did. No one feels sick yet...

Stephen also got himself a bow and arrow he's been saving for..
We also got to enjoy watching a soccer match, and doing some sight-seeing through several lovely little towns.  We found a great park in Lausanne, which is the home of the International Olympic Committee since 1915 and Official Olympic Capitol since 1994...

Kenny especially wanted Maxwell to see these awesome soccer players running...

Entire sections of land are divided up and have trees and vines growing on them -- apples - grapes - we can't wait to see them all in bloom! Here's what it will look like...