This is so much fun! It’s like we’re on a European vacation that will last for 2 years! We are so happy that the kids are excited about this whole adventure… it makes the entire experience so wonderful. Everything from the 12 hours of flying to get here (3 hours to Newark, 2 hour layover, 7 hours to Geneva) to having an ELEVATOR right in our home (well, we’re in an apartment and the elevator is 2 feet from our front door) has been so memorable. We already love the people we’ve met and the food we’ve eaten (you can’t go wrong with the IKEA meatballs… the new salad dressings will take a bit of getting used to ~ Italian and French are much tangier than the kids’ routine Ranch!). We were all pretty much on a HIGH when we got to the airport for our first plane ride… after Aunt Feffer’s yummy 6-1-1-1 pancake breakfast and Sterl and Jen sending us off in ‘mourning' dressed in all black (send me the pics Jen!).
Thankfully Uncle Sterl, the cousins, and Grandpa and Grandma were there to help us lug our 20 suitcases and carry-ons into the airport – quite a scene. But everyone has been so helpful… no one stopped us for anything except the x-ray lady checking our bags who wanted to know what the TVP canister was. When I told her we’re bringing it since beef is $30/lb in Switzerland, she got out a pen and wrote down the EmergencyEssentials.com website so she could buy some – it was so funny! The kids only slept about 3 hours on the long flight, so waking them up when it was midnight to their bodies (when we arrived in Geneva at 7:30am) and trying to have them pleasantly help pull their bags and pillows thru the cold terminals and wait in the customs lines with everyone watching us drop things and hear Kenny crying because his suitcase wouldn’t roll – all that part – was super-awesome… very memorable. Definitely wish I had a video tape of that – I’m not sure how we made it thru that whole process.
But the best part was getting all our bags off the conveyer belt (only 1 had busted – the one with the ripsticks, and they had bagged it so we didn’t lose anything), loading them all onto 4 huge carts, and pushing them out the front doors and having a whole entourage of loving smiling faces there to greet us… 7 people from the church (3 families – Bishop Kimball and his wife, the Hansens – a cute missionary couple whose son we knew from Tomball, and Allison and her kids) were there… hugging us and taking picures… waiting to get us and take us to our new home. I can’t describe how HAPPY and relieved I felt – having instant family here! Just having them help us load up and drive us home – the kids were immediately laughing and running around, and you wouldn’t know that hardly had any sleep (I didn’t sleep at all on the plane but Daron got a few hours, which made me glad since he’s been doing all the driving, planning, and figuring everything out since we got here – I’m so grateful for him!) Our kind new friends had bought us groceries, so we had food and supplies (they brought us chairs, blankets, and beds) for our first night. It was SO great, since all the stores were closed on Sunday and we couldn’t have gotten anything. So instead, we ate pizza and chocolate and felt like royalty. (The See’s candy mom and dad gave us as a parting gift brought great joy to us… especially Kenny – “Oh mom, let’s open grandma’s candy and eat it now!”)
Our home is so big for 1000 sq ft - we LOVE it! Here are the kids asleep - Kas fell off her bed in the night - we'll be putting together their bunkbeds and frames tonight ~
Things we’ve learned so far…
Sound travels in our new home! Nothing could be more of a dream come true for our kids, especially Kenny, to have an ELEVATOR right in our home! Well, he thinks the whole apartment complex is his home… when we initially arrived and came into the lobby area (it’s like a hotel where we have to unlock the front door to the complex, then come into the elevator and go up to the 1st floor for our apt), Kenny came in, took off his shoes and gloves and put them by the elevator door, and hit the up button – totally at home and happy – we all just laughed. Stephen and Kassie have been so helpful – they all love our new place – it seems HUGE! That has been my biggest relief so far – I hoped it would be a comfy place we’d enjoy living in, so I just had to see it… but Daron did such a great job picking it out! Actually, that’s just one of the many confirmations to us that this move has been meant to be – he was able to secure this apartment – really the only one available in our price and size range, and in the exact area we wanted – and buy us a car (also the only one available in this canton which matched what Daron was looking for), and basically have things line right up to make this move work. Even last night, when we realized we didn’t have an alarm clock to wake us up at 7:30am for a furniture delivery, at that exact moment we hear a beeping sound and we go in the playroom and find Kenny’s stopwatch/alarm clock we got him for Christmas that we happened to pack. A little thing, but big considering our jet-lagged red eyes and not knowing how we’d wake up. Plus having the kids be so excited about all this – for Daron and me, it’s like a total treat to have this chance, but what a bonus to have the kids be so happy and ready to jump in and learn French, meet new friends, and enjoy the ride. Speaking of the ride, I’ll never forget the image of the 3 kids in the backseat with all our IKEA finds (that was a fun $3000 spending spree, for all our beds, tables, dressers, etc) all over their laps – hangers, bags, trashcans, tool set – trying to see out the window and not squish each other – hilarious. Lots of Ree-Ree-Bumblebee as we run all our errands. Ahh – but the ‘sound travels’ point – when Daron went downstairs to put our name on the mailbox, he said he could hear us upstairs - running around, laughing and talking - all the way downstairs – so we’ll have to definitely adjust to the new style of living nice and close to neighbors so they don’t think we’re tacky yucky loud Americans! (We’ll have to muzzle Uncle Sterling when he visits with his booming voice). 8-) I already baked some pumpkin bread (Kas – great idea to bring those boxes!) to take to neighbors... Steff, the oil pump works perfectly!
(I also cooked some eggs with my first attempt at using ham TVP – it was delicious! Good thing the FEATHER was still attached to the egg – very authentic food here…)
Stores close right at closing time… We stocked up on groceries, pans, shampoo, etc. today at CO-OP, the Super-Walmart type store – and boy do they stick right to closing time! At 7PM, the guard was walking thru the aisles ushering everyone out. The nice lady who didn’t speak English was helping us find protein powder (how cute – she didn’t understand what I was asking for since I forgot to bring my French/English dictionary, so she called her sister on the phone who speaks English and had me tell her what I was looking for!) We spent an hour in Geneva rush hour traffic trying to find the place to complete our visa residence registration (we’ll be taking the tram next time – we were gridlocked in our car) and we got there at 4:55 and they said come back tomorrow since they closed at 5. So we’ll be waiting another day to pick up our new car, since we can’t get it til we finish the paperwork showing we’re residents. See – how do people know how to do all this? I am constantly amazed that Daron just knows where to go and what to do. I’m glad that my ‘job’ will be just taking care of making meals and helping the kids learn French… until we get callings (Bishop said that’ll be in about 2 weeks… we can’t wait to find out what we’ll get to do! Apparently all the auxiliaries have requested us – surely just because we’re new! – so it’ll be fun to see what we’ll be doing). Hopefully we’ll get a piano keyboard soon so the kids can keep up with basic playing – but I don’t want them to stress about that while they’re learning French.
Having a park in our backyard is heaven! Just a few steps outside our apartment is the most amazing park ever… the kids will be spending countless hours there! Complete with a zip-line and a cool barrel-rolling thingie, (like the thing in ‘Airplane’ that they’re all dancing on at the bar) -- it is so fun. We met Phillipe there – he walks his huge fluffly dog every Sunday – just another darling, friendly Swiss person we’ve met. It’s funny, we’ve told the kids to not be discouraged by the supposed Swiss sternness in people, but thus far – we’ve met happy friendly people. I think the key, as we’ve told the kids, is to smile and say bonjour to everyone. Perhaps people get a kick out of the kids, since there really aren’t many kids here. Well, it could also be the way Kassie squeals and runs to every dog we see and asks to pet it.
This already feels like home away from home. Our hearts will always be in Texas with our family and friends, but this feels good and right to be here. It helps that talking on Daron’s cel phone to family feels like I’m right next door – the reception is good and as long as we remember the time difference (we’re 7 hours ahead) it’ll all work just fine. Plus having the kids’ toys has helped tremendously – we unpacked those things first and got the football, trains, and legos out.
Kenny still gets to sit and watch his washer go (we found him sitting glued intently, watching the rinse cycle – just like back home) and Kassie is still enjoying her Webkinz animals. Our new tub is actually bigger than our old tub – which makes bath time so very fun – we even brought the little color tablets so it’s just like what they’re used to. People had suggested that we try to maintain some similarities to our former lives, just to help with the culture shock – but really, I think we’re doing great. We’ll see how things go the next couple of days – we’re taking this whole week off school and work to just play and travel and get things done – hopefully we’ll all be prepared for what lies ahead next week. I’ve got the teacher gifts ready for the kids’ teachers – Texas towels and chocolate – hopefully that will soften the blow if Kassie barks like a dog because she can’t understand what people are saying or Kenny loudly demands of his classmates “do you have a train?” like he’s been doing to everyone we meet… Stephen, I think, will be just fine – he says he’s looking forward to this and happy to be here. So I will just keep praying for them. I wish I could be a fly on the wall their first day of school – I can’t wait to hear about it.
(Time lapse) Today is day 3 here – we’ve been running errands ~ getting residence papers, driving around and seeing the land – we had our first tram ride today!
We had yummy chicken and beans tonight. We also met some cute new neighbors – Margaret right next door came over and helped translate for the IKEA delivery guys that couldn’t find our house – thank heavens for her! Then we met sweet Mr. and Mrs. Goodman – she’s 90 years old! I think she might be the cute old lady actress in An Affair to Remember…
We just found out we won't have internet installed in our home til Feb. 10 - so hopefully I can come up to HP again sometime with Daron to check in on email. We love you all!