Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The peacock and more...

Thank heavens Daron understands les ordinaires! (computers) 8-)  Mine crashed this week, so I'm now catching up on lots of fun things we've done the past few days.

We've been taking fun Sunday morning walks before church (which is from 2-5PM, so we have the whole day!) and we've found this cute chicken farm near our home with a pretty peacock and chickens - the kids had so much fun feeding them our cornflakes after we got permission from the owner!

We finished reading the first Anne of Green Gables book and watched the movie - we couldn't wait to start the next one! Full of such wisdom - the kids love their new wall reminding them of Anne's words...

Now all 3 kids have their own fun sporty activities -- the boys do gymnastics and Kas loves hip-hop...

Here she is rolling down the hill after class...

I took Stephen and his 2 new friends (Matt, from Ireland, and Andre, from Portugal) McD's for lunch this week - a fun little gathering - we ate it out in the courtyard.  Stephen really enjoys any kind of fun break from the 4-5 hours of French he has every day. But he gets thru it - I'm impressed with him. (Matt's the bigger boy who offered 'cocaine' to Stephen the first week - which we found out later was a joke with sugar sticks, but Stephen, having never been around anything remotely like that, was pretty petrified, as we all were - it led to a long chain of events including meeting with school administrators, almost changing schools - pretty stressful.  Since then, Matt's genuine apology and the teachers' proactive meetings with each other and other good students to form mentor relationships with Stephen has improved the situation ~ everyone's happy now, we've learned alot, and we've moved on.)

OK so I know there are lots of beautiful places on earth, but seriously - have you EVER?? This tree is just ONE of the many that are in full bloom all around where we live... Switzerland is just gorgeous!

Today I was invited over 'for coffee' by a cute woman from Spain named Rosa - I enjoyed touring her 4-story home here in little Crassier - she's got 2 kids and she of course speaks 3 languages, like everyone else here. It was fun switching back and forth between Spanish and French - you know, because I'm so very fluent in them both - (ha-ha) so she was wanting to practice her English and I was trying out all my newly acquired foreign words and phrases. It was fun. I had some herbal tea from her cute little decorated china tray with chocolate goodies (she's, again, skinny as a rail) - I asked her, how can you keep chocolate around your home like this, just sitting in a tasse (cup) - don't your kids just eat it all? She explained that none of them in their family are big sugar eaters. I mean - HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN? Do some people just get the 'I'm-not-interested-in-sugar' gene? I'd like to get that gene. I mean, really. It's so unfortunate. For me. That I just love sugary things. Like, I almost had little tears of joy in the store this week when I came across these already-made creme brulee desserts -- they're so delicious - they come with these cute little packets of the crystalized sugar to sprinkle on -- I of course bought enough for all of us to try, knowing FULL WELL that my kids most likely wouldn't prefer them and I'd get to finish theirs. See - it's so unfortunate. Clearly Daron did like his. (We can't eat too much of it though - we don't want to spoil our appetite for the real thing when we go to Paris with Mom and Dad in a few weeks!)

This evening's meal greatly impressed my children, who know I don't really prefer fish - I bought salmon and pretended I was Tiffany, and totally just started sprinkling stuff on it - teriyaki, garlic, and brown sugar - oh my word, it was so good!

This weekend should be gorgeous; Stephen asked if we could just babysit Callister (who's already back in Texas) while Stephanie goes back to work tomorrow... I told him he'd be a great sitter but he's just missing the nursing nipples... 8-)  Plus Grandma's doing a great job with him... (not nursing of course, just hanging with him for short outings). They look so cute here - especially posing in front of my amaryllis flowers that I dug up the bulbs before I moved and buried them there in mom's front yard -- I totally forgot about them til I saw this picture! They make me so proud. Mom, I'll be taking some of those back when I return...

So, we read The Friend magazine at breakfast every morning, and love looking at the pictures of all the little kids. Yesterday we talked about how neat it was that both Stephen and Kassie's pictures and bio's have been printed in it, and Kenny decided he wanted his in there too - so he asked me to take him pointing to the picture we hang on our fridge each month - the illustrated scripture they do - we'll see if The Friend prints it... 8-)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Good times...

Sometimes, the most fun of night-time scripture reading is the horse-play that follows...

Tonight we had such a treat - we hosted the cute Bryan family for dinner -- and there was not a dull moment! Darling kids, good conversation, and just wonderful to spend time with happy, smart, well-traveled, kind, GOOD people.  (And their dessert rocked) Here's the kids' skit ~

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Good friends...

So I'm feeling grateful for good friends that we've already met here in this short time. First with Allison helping give us counsel about Stephen's school, and yesterday - Kassie didn't come home on the bus. Holy cow - I was so scared. We called the school and her sweet teacher was there with her waiting - apparently Kas went to the bathroom right before the bus came so it left without her. So as I was walking out the door to pick her up, I got a call from Elaine, the mother of Kassie's friend Maureen -- the teacher had called her trying to locate me to get Kassie. So Elaine offered to go pick her up and bring her home to me, since Elaine knows we only have one car. It just brought tears to my eyes to have someone show selfless love like that.  Awoman made a comment in church Sunday about how God loves us and wants to help us, but He usually does it through someone else. The bus incident gave me a wonderful moment to appreciate God's hand in watching over us. So often we just go on living our lives, not realizing that those morning prayers where we ask Heavenly Father to watch over us... they really are working.

On a lighter note -- I read an email about cancer-fighting asparagus and decided we for SURE need to add that to our diet! So I got this big bunch of it, reminded the kids of Grandpa George's "when you're green inside, you're clean inside" motto...

Then we cooked it up like Feffer said: olive oil and Salad Supreme seasoning for 10 minutes... it was perfect!

We all gobbled it up and plan to have it daily!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kas loves hip-hop!

Last night Kassie went to her first hip-hop class... (mostly inspired by cousin Savannah who loves it too!) and she had a GREAT time! She came home and both of her brothers were quite excited to see the dance she learned.

Here's our new favorite hallway wall... a good reminder to 'call Grandma!'

Kenny came home from school and started singing this new song in French - what a hoot! I've heard that it'll just click and the kids will learn the language... it's so fun to hear them! Especially when they correct my pronunciation - it's quite funny.

Today I attended a women's meeting for English-speaking moms - very informative and great information! It's amazing how family-friendly this area is... from butterfly Expo's to huge bounce houses to indoor pools and slides... our list of places-to-go and things-to-do is just GROWING! I love it!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The kids' first singing trio at church!

I wish now that Daron had snuck his camera in to church... apparently the kids did a great job singing their song. I was accompanying them, so I didn't get to see Kenny WINKING at everyone in the audience the whole time he sang! (Daron filled me in) So here's a recap performance after we got home from church... you can see Kenny's flair for the dramatic.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lucerne... in the rain!

AMAZING to come back to this spot again... 11 years ago, Daron and I came here with Stephanie on a 3-week Globus tour to Europe, and this was one of our stops. This Lion Monument, or "Löwendenkmal", commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution; Mark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world." The kids just stopped and stared at it.

Then we walked down the street to the famous Chapel Bridge - even on our rainy day, it was still so fun to walk around and see! Here's the well-known pic from the web -- the rest are ours.

Lucerne - View of Lucerne from the Kapellbrücke

Then into a nearby beautiful church - the kids especially loved lighting the candles and looking at the red marble. Kenny even knelt and prayed in a pew.  8-)

Then home to celebrate our last night with Steff and Christopher - we had chicken fried rice (on the floor, picnic-style) and good talk time.

Last week, Daron and Stephen took a long 2-hour walk up into the Jura Mountains and saw the Bonmont Abbey.
Stephen's growing up - he's such a cute boy.  We told him he's already lived a decade now, and starting on his 2nd decade. So young! And yet he wants to be grown up. And I really don't want him to grow up. Because things change! I know that has to happen, and it's good, but you just leave behind the other things. We're reading Anne of Green Gables at night before bed and Anne's starting to grow up, and Marilla notices she talks less, and is more thoughtful, and just isn't as young and silly as she was before... I just got a lump in my throat, because I LOVE how my kids are all 3 young and silly. When we all grow up we stop being silly and we think we have to be serious. I just re-read some of my old journal entries - I can't believe that Stephen's about to be 11 tomorrow and it seems like yesterday he was so tiny. He said once "Heaven is in the dirt, because my turtle died, and he's in the dirt, and he went to heaven." I mean, I can see why God loves the little children. They think and say such cute innocent things. Watching cute Callister here this week - while it doesn't make me want to have another one, it makes me nostalgic for when my 3 were that size, and just small.  I guess what's most important is to always remember my favorite saying that makes my family laugh when I recite it:
'We all start out as children ~ it's a good way to start;
But only the wisest and luckiest few hold onto a child's heart."

Happy Almost-11th-birthday Stephen!

Since Steff and Christopher are here, Stephen wanted to have his party 2 days early... we celebrated at McDonald's!

Stephen LOVED his chocolate cake - Steff brought the mix from Texas, and we added the Swiss Lindt balls!

Sweet guests... brought us pretty flowers for hosting! It's US who owe THEM the flowers -- they are perfect guests!

We have one more day with them... today we're venturing out to Lucerne...

PS... we LOVE our new WALLWORDS!!! Thank you Kym!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chamonix and Italy!

The kids played hookie today from school and we made the most of our time with Steff, Christopher and Callister... a 7-hour daytrip to Chamonix, the beautiful town which shares the summit of magestic Mont Blanc with Courmayeur, Italy. Chamonix was beautiful - the first Winter Olympics in 1924 were held here. The weather at the top was zero visibility so we didn't go up the cablecar - but we'll return and do it in the summer! 

We paid the $60 toll to drive through the Tunnel de Mont Blanc, so we could cross over into Italy... gorgeous! (We wish they would've stamped our passports though...)

This picture below reminds me of a funny story. So on Sunday, a sweet woman came up to me at church and said - "I have never spoken to your daughter, Kassandra, but I want to ask you something about her. I wonder if I have discovered how she is by watching her: does she have an original personality? Does she already know what she wants in life?" I told her I was impressed that she could know that about Kas without actually knowing her, and what made her think that... she said - "I just see her facial expressions - the clothes she wears (she had a darn cute dress on Sunday - a hand-me-down from Savannah, always the best), the way she wears her hair - I can just tell that she's a girl who knows where she's going."  It was pretty cute - Sunday Kassie was definitely on top of her game, as she was excited to give her Primary talk about 'handing out warm sparklies to people', or doing things to make people happy. She was pumped to be there and hand out her cookies to everyone. But I was just glad that someone was able to see that in her!  It's that sparkly enthusiasm in her that made her take her ripstick out to the bus stop just now after lunch, and ride it around while we were waiting for the bus ~ it was a hoot. All the little boys and girls were wide-eyed watching her, and uttering their praises in French (one girl was translating what they were all saying - "Wow, Kassie is so good at that!", etc.) then 3 different boys asked to hop on and they did it for a second then fell off on their bums - it was too funny. Then I got on and they kind of chuckled, thinking I was joking, and I ripsticked around and they all clapped. A proud moment, I admit. Earning the respect of the little ones. 8-)

Our little buddy Callister - falling asleep while talking to us, sitting up on the couch. So delightful to play with. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Play Day 2... The Toboggan Luge Ride and Lovely Medieval Yvoire

It's only day 2 and we're already tuckered out from all our playing!!! Here's Callister picking up Stephen from school on day 1...

Here are Feffer and Stephen on the balcony as I walked Kenny to school...

Kenny and his sweetheart friend and classmate Anne-Lynne ride the zipline...


Today's adventure began with a BEAUTIFUL drive up into the mountains of France - and riding the Luge! Daron stayed home working, and getting Kas and Kenny to/from school, while we went. It was so much fun! Kind of scary going up and way fast going down...

Back home, Stephen can't get enough of cute Callister!

Afternoon adventure: exploring the ancient medieval city of Yvoire. About an hour away from home, around Lake Geneva - cute small village with yummy ice-cream.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The gang's all here!!!

It was hard for all of us to go to sleep last night, knowing that today is the day we've all been waiting for... the kids played legos in the kitchen til the last possible minute...

But sure enough, we all woke up at the crack of dawn to go to the airport... here we are playing UNO while Steevie and Daron get dressed...

WHAT FUN TO HAVE THEM ARRIVE! I thought they'd be all pooped out, but wouldn't you know it, they came BOUNDING through the airport doors after their long HOURS AND HOURS of flying... and cute Callister of course did a wonderful job on the plane!

We immediately got them some croissants de chocolat for breakfast, picked up their rental car, then began our adventure!  Home to Crassier, where they unloaded and took a tour of the house (that didn't take long), and we played a bit...

Then they went right to bed... so I got to have PLAYTIME with Callister! He LOVED watching the washing machine go around. Then we took a walk in the park.

(Well, first I had to eat HALF OF THE POUND OF SEE'S that Steff brought... why does See's have to be so good? My mouth has been watering since she told me she was bringing it...)

So now while they're still sleeping, I'm taking Callister to go pick up Stephen - it was QUITE difficult for him to go to school today knowing they were coming... the only way we made that work was for me to promise to bring the baby to pick him up. So off we go! More to come... (tonight we'll make chicken fried rice for dinner then go grocery shopping... that's one of the most fun things to do here!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Exploring Beautiful Geneva!

What a wonderful day! Our dear friend, Lydia Hansen - a missionary from the ward - was kind enough to spend her Saturday morning showing us all the great sights of downtown Geneva... she definitely earned something yummy we'll bring her to church tomorrow! Spring is around the corner, as you can see from these gorgeous flowers just growing randomly everywhere you look... this is at the Geneva Botanical Gardens ~

We started the morning at the United Nations Building -- and we couldn't have a better tourguide, since the Hansen's mission is focused on the political/religious relations throughout the world - so they attend meetings regularly here.  You can see the 193 flags representing the countries that are part of the UN.

In the picture below, towering above us is the 'Broken Chair Memorial' - a sculpture done in 1997 commissioned by Handicap International, urging all countries to sign the Mine Ban Treaty - helping mine victims and clearing mined areas. (Note the obvious symbolism of the 4th chair leg being disfigured).

Here the kids are petting Kito, a sweet dog who's name means "promise" - his owner told us that he even has a passport - something that animals must have to move freely between countries! Who knew! (It's the kids' favorite phrase: "Si vous plait, es que je pu caressa lu chien?" - please may we pet your dog?)

Another war memorial  - see how the end of the gun is tied in a knot... the message - make peace, not war!

Next, on to see the Jet d'eau, Europe's tallest fountain after 107 years!

The grounds around the UN have such interesting statues... Kenny called this one "family in a ball"...

The kids enjoyed climbing on this one - a statue honoring refugees. All the people on the right are leaving their 'motherland' ~

Here we are approaching the Geneva Botanical Gardens, which feature exotic plants from all around the world! Regardless of the outside weather, these jungle, tropical, and desert biomes stay perfectly intact - we LOVED them!

Almost done with our tour... walking out through a rock garden ~

And greeting a pretty swan ~