Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

What better way to kick off the candy holiday than with healthy salads for dinner??

Cute Jen has been such a sport - we've had NONSTOP FOG since she arrived, covering all the mountains -- it's becoming purely comical. Fog, everytime we go see something.  And today we drove up into the Jura to ride the Luge toboggans, and they were renovating it all, so no rides! We went shopping instead. 8-)

Our new dangling friend, Yvoire the Cow.  Jen got his matching cousin, Yvoire the Frog.

Checking out a cute stream over in Divonne...

Haircut time!

We came across a quote we all liked while driving our endless hours in the car last weekend:
"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The hills are alive...

Endeavoring to show our Texans a good time, we took to the road and drove them across Switzerland to Salzburg, Austria… the home of the Von Trapp family from The Sound of Music! (Both the real life family, and the site where they filmed much of the movie) We woke up bright and early and crammed food, blankets, laptops and clothes into our little car… Kas and Kenny were troopers to sit scrunched in the far back the whole time!

The  bathroom/gas station stops are always entertaining… from riding the racecars to paying for the potty to buying healthy (and unhealthy) snacks! Here's Sterl chawing on a cucumber... (prerequisite for everyone in the car prior to our McD's stop)

Salzburg is BEAUTIFUL – everywhere you look, you can recognize statues and fountains from the famous Rogers and Hammerstein movie… we kept singing “Do, a deer…” with each footstep. 8-) 

Here's the gate leading to the courtyard where Rolf found the Von Trapp’s hiding place and blew the whistle to announce their whereabouts ~
Mozart’s birthplace ~

Delicious sausages on the street ~
Our great hotel had an automatic shoe-shiner machine... which works on shoes AND bare feet!
My bandaid matches Kenny’s shirt.
Day 2, we drove to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany; this time it was green and lovely, instead of the cold snowy landscape we saw when we went in March.  We stretched our legs and walked up the mountain to the castle, rather than taking the horse and buggy ride.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yvoire, France

We took a 15-minute ferry across Lake Geneva to get to this medieval town that has been around for 700 years... the boatride was much quicker than the 1 1/2 hr drive we did to get there with Steff and CP in March!


As we're all slowly meandering through the cute cobblestone streets, Jenny says "I can just imagine myself walking down this street..." and little Kassie says in her blunt, matter-of-fact way, "You don't have to. You're doing it now."  I love how she is.

And then there's Callister. What a school picture!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Livin' it up

Seeing all the fun places around town!

The Jura mountain lookout...
First park stop: Kassie's school playground

OK seriously. Can you look petite when you teeter-totter?? Not me.

Grocery shopping...  love the CHOCOLATE aisle!

Then back to our little park - Jen loved playing on all our toys!
We've never seen these in the US... too much liability!

Jen on the zipline...

Sterling BIFFING it - watch closely at the beginning. Then listen to him belly-laugh at himself...

At the local watering hole...

And in honor of Aunt Kassie... Kas is enjoying a bowl of Lucky Charms ~ with just marshmallows!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aunt Jenny arrives!

We love having Jen here!  So fun to decorate with all the fun Halloween stuff she brought ~

Grandma - YOU ROCK! It took 2 seconds for the kids to dive into these awesome lollipops! Thanks for sending them.

Ahhh... the indoor bow-and-arrow-swordplaying... how our neighbors must rejoice when they hear us stomping around! I love these kids - I could watch them play like this forever.

Cousin Sterl takes the kids to the park while Jen catches up on her jet-lag sleep...

And Daron is in Dubai! We're all a bit jealous that he gets to be on an HP trip in Abu Dhabi... look at his nice friend Abdul that he already met!

Here's his view from his hotel room: you can see the tallest building in the world, the Burj Tower.


Here's his narrative: "It feels a lot like Las Vegas here (hot and in a desert); although it is much larger, there are a lot of tall buildings.  The people look and talk differently, and there a ton of people packed in here with 6 and 7 lane freeways, and you get the occasional sandstorm.  Everything is meticulously maintained here, especially the roads ~ it is very impressive.  I also learned that about 70% of the population here are ex-pats primarily from Asia, but about 30% of the population is from India, and I got to eat some awesome Indian food today – it was spicy and very, very tasty."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome Cousin Sterling!

After months of waiting for our next visitor, we picked Sterling up from the airport early this morning... not even the rainstorm could dampen our excitement!  Cute Sterl emerged from the gate as happy as could be, even after drinking an energy drink and staying awake FOR THE WHOLE FLIGHT!  So even though it was 1AM to his body, he vowed to stay awake with us and play all day til tonight... we'll see how that goes!

And once we got home, the anxiously-awaited 'early Christmas' began... fun gifts that everyone sent from Texas! Candy corn, cowgirl boots, Cheetos and Costco vitamins - yahoo! New books for Mel, and Kenny's favorite Tom and Jerry movie - we are set.  THANK YOU EVERYONE! Aunt Jenny got bumped from the flight and had to stay at a hotel in Newark, so hopefully we'll be able to go pick her up tomorrow and do the welcome partying all over again!

The boys lost no time getting into their Age of Empires game...

So much for Sterl lasting the whole day... he zonked out after 2 hours, so we're having reading time waiting for him to wake up. I keep reminding the kids he'll be here for a month, but they're anxious to play with him!

This "Flags of our Fathers" book already touches my heart. The story of the 6 soldiers in the famous Iwo Jima flag-raising photo at the end of WW2. The author (son of one of the soldiers) tells the story of each boy in that picture, and of pre-war America... a time that is forever gone: "It was a town of manicured lawns and clean streets with no litter. A town where women swept their sidewalks and the slam of a screen door could be heard for blocks. And where people sat in swings or on the steps of their front porches on tree-shadowed summer evenings, listening to the cricket-song swell up from the grass, and watching the first fireflies of twilight, and greeting their neighbors who strolled by."
I would have liked to live in that era. This immortal moment captured became photography's most reproduced image... on everything from stamps to statues.

{...a few hours later}  THE SLEEPER HAS AWAKENED!  So... off to the park!

How often can you stand in 2 countries at once? Here we are coterminously straddling Switzerland and France! The border is right by our home...

Feeding our cute Crassier chickens and peacocks ~ (and Kenny too, apparently...)

Millions of apples! Our generous friend Kiki's personal orchard ~