Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The HISTORIC Schmutz Farm in Bern!

Wow - a dream come true today! We got to visit the centuries-old SCHMUTZ FARM! Generations of Schmutz ancestors have come from Vechigen, Switzerland, and we've heard about this farmhouse that's still there, so after Dad checked his genealogy, pulled up the village and street names, we plugged it all into the GPS and drove STRAIGHT THERE!

(A stop at the temple first...)
Look at Dad - so proud of this darling old Schmutz farm! We're so glad we found it!

Cute "Fritz", who still lives here ~ his grandfather bought the farm from Anthoni Schmutz, who was my Dad's great-great-great-great Grandfather!

Fritz's family gave us a tour around the farm...

Mom and Dad loved the baby goats...

And here's Dad pointing to the wooden sign in the barn that says "Schmutz" - it dates back to 1500. Unreal!

They let us into their kitchen to see the iron stove that Anthoni Schmutz built 180 years ago... you can see the date 1830 and his initials (AS) in the white stove. (They just painted it, which is why it doesn't look as old as it is)
What a blessing to participate in seeing this part of our family's history - a legacy of generations of Schmutz's have LIVED in this beautiful valley and listened to these cowbells chime for so long. Like Dad, I'm so grateful for each of them, to be their descendant, and to now have walked where they have been walking for centuries!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Our fun Thursday-of-Spring-Break-activity... becoming Spiderman!
That great nearby mall where they got to fake-skate set up this fun play area for 2 weeks... 11 different stations with fun-to-do Spidery things. We can't wait to see what they put in next!

Then Stephen and I found some tadpoles at a nearby pond... finally we now have pets! The gluttonous little cretins love the maggot food we bought for them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The singing cowbells and unreal wisteria

We did a little jaunt out to see some fun things near our home... these musical cows are just the cutest things in the world. Even for Daron, who doesn't prefer cows. OK, he's scared of them because he thinks they're going to take over the world.

And these gorgeous, amazing-smelling wisteria vines that have probably been growing here for 100 years...

 Then onto downtown Nyon for a picnic by Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)...

The picnic was cut short by a bird that pooped on mom's back. Sick. Pretty much ended our little activity.

 But we wiped it off and moved on - good for Inger! Off to the mall for some goodies...

Then home to try out Kenny and Kassie's new (thrift store) roller skates and blades! 

And as for babies back home... here's Stephanie and Christopher's perfect little chubby Callister...

And Keri and Jacob's sweet Kylie being blessed!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Factory (again!) and Cheese Factory!

I mean, what could make a more fun day?? Returning to the Cailler chocolate factory with mom and dad, seeing the most beautiful Sound-of-Music-like countryside, and also touring the Gruyere Cheese Factory.  I'll always treasure the memories of Mom and Dad stuffing their fanny packs with chocolates.

And voila... the chocolate room ~ here's Mom and Dad's conversation while standing at this sample plate...

Inger: "My favorites are the truffles and the coffee flavored ones."
Stephen: "The coffee ones tickle my throw-up buds."

Look at Dad's technique. He would be a perfect pilferer ~

Then, on to The Gruyere Cheese Factory, in the cute little medieval town which has been producing the special gruyere cheese for centuries here. (The cheese's flavors come from the flavors in the milk ~ 75 different scents have been detected by scientists in the cheese -- all coming from the different plants, grasses, and flowers that the Swiss cows graze on in these mountains.)

Watching them move the milk from the huge vat into the molds...

The special, special Swiss cows... 8-)

And the rows and rows of cheese rounds that are stored for up to 15 months to achieve different aging qualities...
We decided this day of activities needs to be a must for all visitors. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joyeuses Pâques! (Happy Easter!)

What a wonderful day - Easter is always such a relaxing, happy, uplifting holiday.  We woke up and Dad read the "He is not here... He is risen!" scripture story to us from the Bible, and the kids enjoyed hearing that. It's hard to comprehend that we created these cute little unique people withe their precious little minds... Kenny commented this morning when we watched a video about the crucifixion, that Jesus' crown of thorns must have been the most painful of all, then he prayed that the thorns wouldn't hurt Jesus so much.  It's so neat to have my kids' grandparents here ~ my children get to hear about what they did as children on Easter, how they lived... their traditions. Mom told us about how every year she got a colored chick - like these (below). Now of course our children are looking forward to picking out their own baby chickens next Easter... (we'll see about that)...

Colored E...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ErdqeOvjL0

Two women brought me so much joy today -- Mom and Allison!

Mom came into my Sunbeam class and helped me teach it (we colored and sang songs and did creative movement games - Mom was so loving and adorable to the cute little kids, trying to speak French to them - what a great woman). And Allison, my Young Ambassador friend and such a great Primary President, did an amazing job with the children, singing and doing bells. Kenny was especially thrilled when she chose him to do the xylophone:

I read a very insightful Ensign article this week that gave me a new perspective on Jesus. In His moment of greatest agony on the cross, when He said "O God, where art Thou?", I have always found that so sad because it seems like He felt like He was being left all alone. But this article talked about how Jesus was actually, in his last dying moments, teaching us. That phrase is actually a quote from Psalm 22! I never even considered that. The Psalm, which starts out with that question, goes on to express a profound trust in God that He will NOT forsake us, and it even goes on to prophecy of the Savior's suffering on the cross. So even though Jesus only quoted the first verse, if we know the rest of the psalm, we understand that Jesus was not only fulfilling that prophecy, but that He was declaring that He knew that God was there with Him.  It was a very powerful realization for me. What an inconceivably selfless, loving man Jesus is.

I took Mom and Dad shopping in France yesterday and Mom got this beautiful new outfit - Kassie especially loves the sparkly scarf.  She just wanted some lovely new European duds, and we found just the right thing. 8-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fun 39th birthday!

What a blessing to celebrate another year alive with my family all around me. I have so much to be thankful for! It would only be made better by my siblings and their families here too. But it's great to have Mom and Dad here. So many people sent Facebook notices - it's very sweet and humbling.

The day started with an early morning bikeride with Daron up into the Swiss mountains ~
While Mom and Dad stayed home and watched the kids and made yummy squash casserole...

Then back home to open fun gifts... (and still so grateful for those given me in advance before I left... I wore my pearl/diamond jewelry today given to me 3 months ago by Steff, Sterl, and Mom)...
Then enjoying my fresh strawberry pastry birthday cake...

Then squishing into our car... thank heavens it holds 7 people...

And driving into Old Town Geneva to explore the beautiful old part of town!

Then we enjoyed one of the yummiest meals EVER... a cute cobblestone sidewalk cafe called "Spaghetti Factory" ~

Here's a video of lunch... watch the cute little birds swoop down and fly off with bits of the napkins for their nests!

Then driving around cute villages on our way back to our Crassier village -- stopping to fill water bottles at the public water 'trough' - every village has one and they're all decorated now for "Paques" - Easter!  Then home to watch Netflix movies projected on the wall.

And finally, perhaps my FAVORITE video to post yet - as I sat here at the table, I looked up and this is what I saw: Dad watching some comedy clip - look how he can't breathe when he laughs ~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mont Saint-Michel

Daron described this perfectly when he said it ranks among his top 5 things he’s ever seen.  This abbey-fortification was begun back in 700AD.. it stands on this lone island out in Normandy… driving out to it is quite breathtaking. (Wikipedia detail: The island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name.  Current population on the island: 41.) Luckily we went in the morning before all the throngs of tour buses got there. The tide was in when we arrived, and by the time we left, attendants were parking cars where the water had been, but the tide went out. Crazy! Good thing they know the schedule of when the tides go in and out or cars would be floating off to sea. Stephen kept exclaiming as we walked thru the Abbey that perhaps aliens came and helped the monks build it… how else could they have hauled those huge stones onto the island back when there was no causeway? Lovely stained glass windows, huge arches, and just a gorgeous old ancient feel.

The cute little cobblestone walkway up to the Abbey was just like Harry Potter's Diagon Alley...

Driving back home the 12 hours was delightful… delayed just a bit (2 ½ hours) by Dad accidentally putting unleaded fuel in his diesel-only rental car ~ resulting in the local French roadside assistance duder who came and happily siphoned the gas out of Dad’s car (for a small fee of $200) … hey, what a fun little surprise on our trip! 

The gas mis-hap was so timely, after just passing a car that had crashed and turned upside-down on the road. We are feeling so grateful that we haven’t had any accidents, and that we’re having a great time. Stephen said the sweetest prayer of gratitude (“we know not how indebted we are to You for keeping us protected as we drive”) and we had just read an amazing Ensign article “Make Yours a Great Life”, about how our futures are determined not by our conditions, but by our faith, our choices, and our efforts. That we all have challenges to live thru, but we determine how we’ll go about being successful or not – look at Mary with raising the Son of God in such a turbulent social climate – and Moroni and Mormon watching the destruction of their people, but still rising above it all to fulfill their destinies… Joseph Smith overcoming persecution and obstacles in his life to achieve what he did. All such great examples of how we never have cause to complain about anything when people all over, past and present, can and do overcome incredible difficulties to achieve success. So yes – the gas mistake was just a minor little thing in the grand scheme of things. I’m grateful for a loving Dad who has the heart of a child, and just floats thru life being happy – that’s a great example to me.

Normandy: "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds"

Remembering World War 2: The Beaches of Normandy, The American Cemetery, and Pont du Hoc
Just a 3-hour drive from Paris, we had one of the most memorable sight-seeing experiences of our lives. Sterling loaned us “The Longest Day” movie to watch before we went to the beaches of Normandy, which was so wise. We watched it with the kids and talked about how incredible it was that so many American (and British, Canadian, and French) soldiers willingly gave their lives to come over to a country that they didn’t know just to fight for freedom. And so many didn’t even make it off the boats alive... shot immediately, or stepped off into too-deep water and drowned. We stood in the sand on Omaha beach and imagined how the Germans felt when they saw the Allied forces coming over the horizon toward them.

At Pont du Hoc, we walked among the bombed out holes in the ground where our pilots destroyed the German bunkers. (Kenny fell into one of the bomb holes and got thorns all over his hands and legs. That changed the dynamics of the rest of the trip… stopping to find a pharmacy for tweezers and numbing meds, and pulling all those stickers out of his skin as he screamed. It helped to put ‘Tangled’ on the laptop when we got back to the Formula1 hotel to distract him.) This whole day was beyond unforgettable… I think my favorite was walking barefoot along the beach, and solemnly walking thru the rows of almost 10,000 soldiers buried. Unbelievable.
The American Cemetery memorial is incredible - stories and videos of the real men and women and their lives. Actual grenades, guns and helmets on display. It leaves you simply speechless.

Point du Hoc: the D-Day bombed out battleground. Probably the most amazing of it all - it feels like you're right there where it happened, since the bomb holes are still there. Kenny fell in one crater accidentally and the ensuing experience of digging out his thorns was quite memorable...
Image Detail
Remains of a German bunker at Point du Hoc - D-day battleground.


EuroDisneyland Paris!

What a fun day – running around EuroDisney with Mom and Dad. After having done the US Disney parks, it was great to add this one to our list. The truth is, we seemed to be the victim of many unfortunate circumstances that made it rank a bit below our other Disney adventures (several rides breaking down after waiting in lines for hours, wheelchair fiasco including them not letting Mom’s wheelchair status let us to the front of lines, etc.) but they had many different rides, which made it super fun – seeing the variations on what we’re used to.  The food was great, and all the people were very friendly. The entrance to this park was the MOST beautiful of any of the Disney parks we've seen - incredible lush colorful flowers everywhere. Here we are on Dumbo and the kids' all-time favorite: Thunder Mountain Runaway Railroad...

Luckily Stephen’s bloody nose happened during our 1 1/2 hour-long Pirates wait, so we didn't miss out on anything.  (Here's Daron helping Stephen pinch his nose... it looks like they're praying but really they're just sitting waiting...well I don't know, Daron might be crying... this was right before the announcement that the ride was all busted up and we couldn't even go on it. Hello, where's my rain check??)
The whole day was a good experience ~ Daron’s got many ‘pluses’ to start off his feedback letter to Disney. 8-)  Here's a cute video of us braving the subways, and of course Kenny with his leash that Grandpa made him...