Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Let the games begin!

Every year the cute town of Crassier gets together for an all-day gymnastics gymboree type 'track-and-field' event - the kids taking any sports classes from the town gym compete in events and the dancers perform. So here we are bright and early at 9am... stayed all the way thru til 2:30 just watching, lunching, hanging out and playing with all our fellow Crassier townsfolk!


Here's Kenny warming up with all his cute classmates...

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And Stephen competing in the obstacle course ~


Kenny loves doing the gym moves!

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Kassie was the cutest dancer out there! I was so impressed that after just joining the class for 3 months, she confidently just went out there and did it! We videoed the whole dance number - it's at


Stephen got first place in both the shotput throw and the running race, but total scores put him at 4th overall. He was happy, but bummed he didn't end up with the 'trophy' for overall first. But all participants got cool gifts.



Kenny made overall 2nd place - he was HILARIOUS up there on the 'Olympic' stand getting his medal. (Watch for when he blows a kiss to everyone...)


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All 3 kids fell asleep in NO time... they each got a fun gift for doing such a great job today - Stephen and Kenny both got chocolate and candy, but Kassie LOVES her animals, so she got this new one and just DIED over his huge eyes. Honestly, she was so cute tucking him into his 'sleeping bag' with his lollipop. (The kitchen handtowels here are sewn up on one end so they're like a mitt, which worked perfectly for the sleeping bag. He's asleep here in the doggie bed she bought with her own merit money for all her babies.) 8-)


Thursday, May 26, 2011

New ceramics class

The kids enjoyed playing in the clay at their new class today ~ we especially loved chatting with the other kids who moved here from everywhere ~ The Bahamas, Albania, Paris... it's such an incredible thing to be surrounded by such international people and to learn from them all.



And here we are playing parking garage tag... at lunchtime, they zoom thru their food so they can dart downstairs and chase each other.  I really should just follow Kenny around while he does it - I'd get my exercise for the day by burning a zillion calories.

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Tonight we enjoyed our parent-teacher conference with Kassie's 3 teachers: 2 that are in the classroom - a lady and a man (he plays the guitar and sings to the kids), and 1 private tutor who comes and teaches her twice a week. There was also a translator there - so I baked 4 loaves of pumpkin bread for them all they said they'd never had any parents bring them anything before - it was funny. Good feedback about Kas - she's doing great, especially considering that she left Texas in 2nd grade and they put her in 3rd grade here, so her adjustements have been SO HUGE, considering it's all in FRENCH. They said the other kids rally around her, and love it now that she's starting to speak French because they're all rooting for her to succeed. Mrs. Hostettler died laughing when I told her that Kas thought that she baked the birthday cakes for each student's birthday - she said no, the parents bring them in! That's why I only sent in cookies, because we thought Mrs. H would be baking her a cake. Hilarious.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love the 'Dechetterie'!

Thanks to the recycling dump where we take all our goods (because we're trying to 'go green' since Stephen and I are studying renewable and non-renewable resources and ecosystems in Social Studies), we scored! The Dechetterie is also where people take their stuff that they're done with but it's often still in great condition - like a FREE garage sale! Stephen found these 2 trophies, so he painted over the names (for art class... we're finding ways to relate everything to homeschooling!) and loves them now.


We also found these awesome lounge chairs, and luckily we were there when the nice, old, rich-looking couple dropped them off! We wiped them down and used them out on our balcony for the kids' new favorite cordon blue and salad dinner. (We love eating outside with no dreadful heat and mosquitos... something we couldn't do in Texas unless we were in our screenroom!)


And tonight we used Aunt Kassie's brilliant idea ~ since evening times can sometimes be crazy, with kids running around and often not ready to begin their nighttime routine, we just put a sticker on their shirts saying PJ's/Teeth to remind them to start the process... no "go do this! Go do that!" harping from us. They got a big kick out of reading their stickers and running right in to do it all.


Monday, May 23, 2011

FUN first day of homeschooling!

We already love homeschooling together! We stuck to our schedule (tweeked it here and there) and had a WONDERFUL time. We're taking notes as we go so that if/when the Swiss educational authorities do their 'surprise on-site visit' we'll have plenty to show them we're working. It was fun to take pictures of him throughout the day...

7AM - breakfast and morning devotional (we found a site at lds.org that reads Friend stories aloud - perfect for while they're eating!)


8:15 - Exercise - he biked while I ran ~

9:30 - Social Studies (we're working thru textbooks that I had already ordered before I knew we'd be homeschooling; his school had said we had to keep up his studies at home since they were just focusing on French...today we studied maps and started memorizing states/capitols)


10 - Science (The first chapter was all about scientific discovery tools; he brought a microscope here that he won at Chuck E Cheese, but we hadn't opened yet, so it was a perfect chance to get it out!)


10:30 - snack and break

10:45 - Rosetta Stone - French (we skipped ahead several chapters ~ last time he was on the program, he was at a beginner level, and now he's gotten so advanced from all that he's learned. We will always be grateful to his school experience for giving him that French foundation)

11:15 - Piano practice

11:30 - Lunch! (So fun to have him home now with Kas and Kenny - it was always kind of sad to have the other 2 here and know that Stephen was on his campus practically alone at lunch for 1 1/2 hours with nothing to do)

1PM - Current events (DrudgeReport.com and Foxnews.com taught us all kinds of interesting things ~ from the Minnesota tornado that killed 89, to Oprah's last show, to scientists studying squid skin to understand how they camouflage themselves, to a 49-million-yr-old spider they found trapped in amber! Good discussions about why it's important to know what's going on around us, not only so we become aware, intelligent people, but also so we can be compassionate toward others in harm's way and be mindful and prayerful for them.)

1:30 - Math - online websites

2PM - Sorting thru Sonlight Homeschooling Curriculum - SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS! We went thru all the materials so we know what to expect when we dive in this August.


2:30 - Finish and Evaluate the day! We loved it - can't wait for tomorrow. Made up the schedule for Mardi (Tuesday) and now we're enjoying after school playtime with the kids. Tonight is Gym class for the boys.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Norman Rockwell boy

Today was a fun day - our first 'Stake Conference' here in Switzerland! The whole 2-hr church session was in French, but we wore English headsets (one of just a few people who did, since almost everyone here speaks French!). The kids sang with the Primary at the beginning -- the English-speakers sang in English, and the French kids in French. One of our friends said Kenny reminded her of one of those classic boys in a Norman Rockwell painting - all American kid doing his own thing... this video doesn't catch all his little antics, but you can imagine...

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Stephen starts homeschooling tomorrow. He's BEYOND excited. As he THRIVES on schedules and order, I asked him to write out a schedule based on what he'd like to start studying. Here's what he came up with:


Pretty funny - we've talked about how we'll need to focus on his nails since he's a nail-picker, but ofcourse we won't be devoting 45 minutes to it!  We've also discussed how he'll be getting less 'social' from not being surrounded by lots of people, so we'll be doing other things to supplement his communication skills - like having him carry on conversations (in French) with people when we go grocery shopping, etc.  After we sat down and talked about his schedule, we came up with this one for tomorrow, to be evaluated at the end of the day ~

PS. Youtube link to our "O Divine Redeemer" song today at church: 
 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cherry-picking!

Who knew climbing in our very own cherry tree in the park would bring so much joy! Kas, of course, dressed for the occasion - playing in public with all her peers looking like this ~ I love her strong sense of self... 8-)



Literally, THOUSANDS of delicious cherries! Unbelievable!


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Kenny's taking it easy...

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy 9th birthday Kassie!

Kas had all her dreams come true today -- her 2 cute friends (Maureen, from school and Sariah, from church) came over today for cake, ice-cream, games, and presents. Such a fun day!

Here she is waking up to Choco-Krispies and Lindt balls!

And here she is opening 2 gifts at breakfast ~

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Fun party with Sariah and Maureen, with her big cupcake cake surrounded by marshmallows and ofcourse, more Lindt balls...



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The puppet theatre (from Salvation Army - love that place!) was a total hit!

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AND MEMORY LANE PICTURES from Kassie's past!

Cute Kassie at 2...

 At 3...


At 4... in her dance recital with Stephen ~

At 5...


At her 6th "horsie" birthday party - bobbing for apples ~



Turning 7 ~


Getting baptized at 8!


And in other family news:  We dropped off a very important letter to Stephen's school this week, saying:

Notre matériel pédagogique homeschooling sont arrivés et nous allons commencer à enseigner à la maison maintenant Stephen. Ce vendredi 20 mai 2011, sera son dernier jour au Rocher Combe. Merci pour votre aide.

(Translation: Our homeschooling curriculum materials have arrived and we are going to begin teaching Stephen at home now. This Friday, May 20, 2011, will be his last day at Rocher Combe. Thank you for your assistance.)

Yeah, things pretty much came to a screeching halt with him being tackled under the water in his swimming class, as well as being rudely shoved in the halls and bathrooms one too many times. That plus the language, the open campus, the lack of dress code, and just the older-kid environment that was making him feel uncomfortable and frightened/bullied at times, we're done. So Monday we begin homeschooling! We're both so excited! We're going to set up a schedule together and go thru all the Sonlight materials we got. I'm actually totally excited more than I realized I would be. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers! Here are Daron and Stephen getting into the first box we received...

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Cute playmates...

You've gotta love those friends who come over bearing gifts... like a HUGE BOX OF FRIGOR CHOCOLATE! We already loved Geronimo and Raphael (cute kids from our village), but hey - this really put them in a special spot in our hearts. 8-)  They have the cutest accents.
So Geronimo is Stephen's age - speaks lovely French, Italian, and English, and is just the sweetest boy. He adores his younger sister Raffy, who's a little twirling princess - Kenny loved playing with her. I think she reminded him of Skye. She told him all kinds of stories about when they went on vacation to Morocco and Spain. Unreal, these international kids. Their dad Gareth (from Wales) was a professional Rugby player for Switzerland for years. He invited Daron to come 'practice with the guys'. You should've seen Daron's face. 8-) Just so cool to meet these kinds of unique people.


Their mother, Samantha, brought them over and we chatted - I have NEVER. She is hilarious, and had the craziest stories to tell. Like how her mom wanted to have lifetime airline miles so after she went into labor with Samantha, she bought a plane ticket and got on a 10-hour flight hoping she'd have the baby in the air. She DIDN'T, and had her right after the plane landed, so she was always mad at the arlines. Samantha wanted to name her daughter Andromeda, until her hubby told her it meant "Mother of all Whores"; she still wanted to name her that, but her hubby put his foot down, so they opted for Raphael. Just on and on with funny thing after funny thing. We kept the kids a few hours and baked banana bread and had chicken fried rice for dinner, before the kids all left for their classes (gymnastics and hip-hop).



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Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's so fun having one little daughter...

Mom and I were talking about how psychologists say to 'beware of the easy child' - it's so true that those are the ones that can easily lose out on personal attention because they're just easy-going. Kas is that 'flower child' - just happy to float thru doing her own thing, not really requiring anything ever - and I've recently tried to pay special attention to her so she won't ever feel like she's left out, with her 2 energetic brothers. She has said a few times that she's alone without a sister, and we've talked about how it's kind of fun to have just the 2 of us be the only girls in our family. We've decided, especially with Stephen about to homeschool, that she and I will start regular mommy-daughter dates. She's so fun to talk with when she's alone. They're all 3 like that - it's good to get them alone sometimes and just chat and let them talk away - different kinds of things come out, than when they're together as siblings. I LOVE watching them interact together, but it's good to have them alone too.

Last weekend, I took her on a date to go hear a talented family from Utah do a musical fireside at our church (http://www.garrettsmusic.com/photo-gallery). They were great - but I just really enjoyed being with her. She comes up with these funny things to say, and she's a great listener. The whole 1 1/2 hr concert, she just paid perfect attention, and commented on the singing and background slides (especially the ones of Jesus being crucified - she was very saddened by those). After it was done, she popped right up to the stand and shook all their hands and told them what a lovely job they did. It just cracked me up.

Today she 'sang' her scripture in Primary - they asked her to give one of her choice, and she loves that scripture song "Matthew 6:24" from Sterl's seminary CD (http://www.ldsscripturerock.com/), so she sang it for them. I came in and accompanied her - she was great. I love her confidence. Here she and Kenny are singing it for the sister missionaries who came to dinner tonight -

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This evening when I was reading Anne Frank to the kids for their bedtime story, we were at the part where Anne is afraid to go into hiding, and thinking thru what she'll take with her. So I asked the kids what they would each take with them if they were in a similar situation - having to go hide out, not knowing how long they could be stranded or what would happen. They each listed things off, then Kas said - "well, after food and water, I would just take this" - and she leaned over her bed and picked up the carved statue of a girl that Mom and Dad gave her for her baptism last year - she keeps it on her bedstand. I said - really? That's so nice... and she said, "well, it's just so special. It means a lot to me, Mom." I wouldn't have thought she'd say that! It was a good reminder that we do need to talk to our cute little babies, and spend individual time with them to realize that so much goes on in their sweet little heads, and we'll miss out on it if we don't make the most of our time with them. I cherish my memories of Dad doing 'interviews' with each of us, asking us a long list of our favorite things, our thoughts, etc, and taking notes. He'd do that regularly, which is so impressive now, thinking about how there were 5 of us, and a houseful of activities going on all the time. What a great example they have always been of spending time with us.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Let them eat CAKE!"

What more appropriate way to start Kenny's 6th birthday morning than with cake?!?? We're so glad that we've had 6 wonderful years with our cute little Kenny-Boo! The whole night before, he just kept squealing in his bed... "I can't believe I'm finally having my birthday tomorrow!" It's so fun to see his childlike excitement -- it's a great reminder of why we're all supposed to be like kids - and LAUGH and be happy so much everyday.

Kenny woke up so excited about his birthday cake (with his favorites: pretzels & a fruit-roll-up...)


Opening the gifts...

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He got to do a treasure hunt to find his big gift - the train!


Mac and cheese with cake and watermelon, and Kassie's namecards she made ~


Getting in the elevator for school to take cookies to his classmates!


His sweet teacher Madame Gianina


Then home at lunchtime to play trains again...


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Topping it off tonight with one of his favorite activities - getting 'automatic' ice-cream cones at IKEA!

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The best part is realizing we've enjoyed every bit of the journey between then and now... here's a glimpse at how it all happened just 6 short years ago... going into the hospital ~


My silly siblings fighting over who should sing to my stomach next... (that was my favorite part of childbirth for all 3 of my kids - being surrounded by all my best friends - Daron, my parents, and my siblings) 


That moment that is unlike ANY other, when we get to see and hold him for the first time ~

Then leaving the hospital as a new family of 5!


FUN everyday since then... here he is at 1 ~

 And 2...

Then 3...


Then 4...

 Then 5...

And 5 1/2, dancing in the big tap recital with brother, sister, Grandpa, and cousins!

Happy Birthday Kenny!