Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"PrĂȘt, feu, partez!" (Ready, set, go!)

Today's 'Fete de annee scolaire' was so much fun - a big end of school year party! I adore these cute ladies that I've come to know ~ Samantha, Abih, and Jenny. We helped worked the activity stations in our clown-themed outfits!


Kenny is hilarious doing this Millipede race... the 2nd time through, he takes off ~

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Kenny loves his little best friend James...


With Julee and Anne-Lynne ~


Again, with his women. 8-)  They had a plethora of activites... from crafts to water guns.


At the end, they all released hundreds of colored balloons into the air - it was so beautiful!

Afterwards, we ran over to Kassie's end-of-school party and got to say hello to her too...


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy end of school!

Here we are at our Geneva Church building... we love our ward.


We're continuing the kids' piano lessons here... Kenny especially enjoys hopping up to the keyboard after his brother and sister play. It's fun to see them learning... and - as my brother says - starting to develop a talent that will be the start of "many years of learning and playing and accompanying and serving." It makes me so happy to think that my parents invested YEARS and COUNTLESS dollars in our piano lessons, and it has paid off in so many ways. Music is such a large part of our lives, and brings so much joy to all of us. Kassie is working on learning "Jesus was no Ordinary Man" that she wants to sing as a solo in church. (It helps that she'll be getting 175 merits to do it, which will go towards purchasing a Ninjago lego set she's been wanting. Hey - whatever motivation works) 8-)


Today was the last official day of school for the kids - Stephen finished his final assignment, making this 4 full weeks of completed homeschooling! And Kas and Kenny just have their end-of-school parties tomorrow. So today we went to the American Store in the nearby village of Nyon to celebrate and let them get a few rare goodies... skittles and rootbeer. Then off to get trottinettes (road scooters) to play on outside this summer. Kassie's friend Isolde, who takes circus classes, is going to teach Kas how to ride a unicycle... we're all quite anxious to see how that goes! And Kenny's almost got the ripstick down. I love how fast kids learn things.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bowling and a sunny day in the Jura!

The start of a great weekend -- we all went bowling for George's birthday party - a friend of Kassie's - Daron, Steebie, Kenny and I took a lane a few away from the party and did our own game.


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Here's Kas with her cute Swiss friends cheering her on...


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And Kenny getting a SPARE!

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And Stephen's turn...

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Here, you can see what a great mommy Kassie will be someday. She's helping her dog Slush get over his cold by using Daron's CPAP.

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Today was a gorgeous Saturday, so we drove up into the Jura Mountains to a popular family spot with golfing, a huge park, and a petting zoo: Signal de Bougy. We just tuckered ourselves out playing... including barrell-rolling down the soft green grass. Living in Switzerland is really just like a dream -- it will most certainly be an absolutely unforgettable experience that we're already feeling sad about leaving... although we're only a quarter of the way through our stay here.  I hope that when we return to American life, we'll remember how much fun it has been to be sort of cloistered together like this - living in a smaller area (this tiny apartment as well as this small cute town) and spending so much time outside playing. I think in the US we allow ourselves to get busy and fill our schedules so we forget to take time for these important things. I'm glad for the different perspective.

Tonight, Kenny prayed about Kassie's plane that got caught in the trees today. They each bought a toy at the park souvenir shop with their merit money; when she launched and lost her plane, she was quite sad. Daron threw rocks up til it came down; Kenny's prayer was how grateful he was "that Daron was so helpful to Kassie when her plane was stuck." I love how simply children think. I had totally forgotten the whole event, but his cute brain remembered it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's a happy day


This is my favorite new graphic (from my friend Allison C's blog) - it's so happy! It reminds me of our family's dinnertime conversation the other night when we were discussing the parallels between the 'sun' and the 'Son' of God -- the kids enjoyed coming up with all the similarities... they both provide warmth, we need them both to live... etc. I love watching the kids grow, and listening to the cute things they have to say. It's hard to imagine how people can think there is no God... look at all He created and how amazing life around us is ~ everything down to the smallest living cell (we've been studying the human body in science) out to the huge universe. Stephen had an assignment on evolution, so we took the time to talk with all the kids together about it and discuss all the different theories. Having homeschooling going on provides SO MUCH fodder for conversation. Just the daily current event scans... there's so much to know about and think about and learn about.

Speaking of learning... I LOVE THIS BOOK: 'Captain Blood' by Rafael Sabatini. Total swashbuckling pirate tale by one of the best historical fiction writers ever. So fun to read. Now I'm on James Clavell's "Shogun" (along with "Enchanted Castle" with Kas and "Around the World in 80 Days" with Stephen). Reading is so enjoyable for me - it's like watching a movie - I just get to step into this whole other world. (My siblings have always found that amusing about me - that I can get sucked into a movie so quickly and can't get out) But it also helps keep my mind off that little lump in my throat that comes up everytime someone here asks me if we're going home for the summer.  Not only is it just too expensive to go now and then again this Christmas, but this summer we're going to use the time to travel and see lots of Europe. But it still pulls at my heart to be going on 20 weeks away from my family back home.  Except for when we were newlywed grad students in Utah, this has been the longest separation. Home is of course where your heart is, so home is kind of in 2 places now... Switzerland and Texas. 8-)

And speaking of Texas, my cute friend Toni sent me this darling Texas Girl (in rhinestones) shirt - so fun! I wore it today and the first person I saw commented on how great it was.
Kassie's class has been studying recycling (which is why she sang that Madame Pubel song) and we got to go see a display at the school of her big project - a cobra made from recycled parts ~ she was very proud of it.

Stephen was also proud today of his lego creation... I love how these kids NEVER seem to tire of legos! Indeed, even Elder Wayment told us that his mom sends him lego characters now on his mission. Adorable. I hope Stephen doesn't ever grow out of them either!

Tonight I let Stephen and Kassie stay up late to watch "The Truman Show" with me. Stephen and I came across a passage in one of our books describing the sky as 'having a ceiling on it' - which made me think of this movie. I didn't LOVE it when I saw it the first time, but this time through we pulled out alot of things to talk about - how Ed Harris, the movie producer, says that we all generally accept whatever reality of the world we live in. And that if we want to change or 'get out' of it badly enough, we will fight hard enough to do that. What a great reminder for any of us who can't seem to get past whatever obstacle - those 10 pounds, that bad habit, etc. We really liked the movie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

A fun, rainy weekend is a great way to celebrate this great holiday... Kenny made rice krispy treat popsicles with sprinkles and chocolate drizzles...


He has been enjoying the paper airplanes that Grandpa Stephen made for us when he visited...

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And here are the kids, exultantly and ferociously killing flies... in their new-found way with their swords.

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The kids woke Daron up with a dance and poem and serenade (wearing his shoes and ties), and his favorite cereal ~ now more expensive than ever - $10 at the American Store! All you people in America - enjoy those Walmart-priced Lucky Charms!! 8-)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kenny's field trip to the Vivarium!

And today Kenny's off to his first Swiss field trip... to the Lausanne Vivarium! It's like a reptile zoo:
http://www.vivariumlausanne.ch/.  He's been painting his little hat in class and getting ready for days - they were all SO excited to hop on the bus!



At lunch today, Kassie taught us a new song she learned - "Madame Pubel" - (Lady Trash) a song about recycling:

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And we love this video ~

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The joys of summertime

There is NO better time to exercise than now -- when I come home after my runs with my shirt filled with these PERFECT cherries - at the peak of ripeness -- from a tree owned by our cute friends Geronimo and Raphael. They said help ourselves, so we do! 8-)


Today was the day Kenny has been looking forward to for one week - when his classmate Artur (who speaks only French) came over to play. They were the cutest things ever - here painting...


And here playing "Poul-Poul-Kack", the French version of "Duck-Duck-Goose." I love how just the 2 of them run in circles!

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And just one of the many reasons I like Daron so much... here he is, happily holding the TWO tickets we got this week... can you believe it?? I parked in Lausanne by a bunch of other cars for a homeschooling get-to-know-you meeting (where I saw no sign saying don't park, but obviously there was one hidden somewhere) and that was $40. Then Daron just got his ticket in the mail from last time he drove back across the border from France - doing just 57 in a 50 -- $140! Yikes.


We're enjoying doing lots of reading together these days - last night we finished "Henry Reed, Inc.", and tonight we started "The Incredible Journey."  For our evening family scripture reading, we're 99 pages into the Book of Mormon (after 5 months) ~ at our rate, we'll be through it in just a short 3 more years... but that's going very slowly, each of us taking turns on the verses, and including Kenny sounding out the words too. He gets so excited when he can read the words correctly! It's fun to discuss what we're reading... the Isaiah passages are tricky, but tonight we were able to relate them to the reading Stephen and I are doing for homeschoooling in his "100 Gateway Cities" book - praying for those unevangelized cities all over the world. It's an interesting idea - that we actually have some influence over when Jesus returns; if the Second Coming will happen only when every person on earth has had the chance to hear the gospel, then the quicker we help spread God's word, the quicker we'll see Him again. (Matthew 24:12). Just something I hadn't thought of before in that way.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Geneva: #3 city for quality of living! We're loving it!

Uncle Mike emailed us the 2010 Quality of Living ranking and Geneva was #3 ~ wahoo!! We are definitely feeling that top of the chart spot... the gorgeous countryside, the breathtaking mountains, the perfect weather - we will certainly miss it all when we return to Texas. This is an adventure of a lifetime. Just this weekend, we had so much fun doing different activities around here -- Kas had a blast at a birthday party for one of her new friends Camilla from ceramics class...


Then the kids built a fort, kind of in honor of all their cousins back home who are now OUT OF SCHOOL, lucky ducks.
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We also had the privilege to celebrate Slush's 8th birthday (Kassie's new dog) in the company of our dear friends, Elder Wayment and Elder Broccious. Cake, singing, and all.




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Now, let it be known, I do NOT videotape things in church - so this little clip is purely for the Wayment family, who I hope enjoys seeing their son doing a fantastic job on his 'Faith" talk today!  Wayments, I already feel like we're family, with our Hemet/Aunt Leann connection... maybe someday we'll get to meet. 8-) I just know that if it were one of my little boys up there being a missionary, I'd love it if someone brought their camera along and happened to catch some of it... 8-)   You would have been proud.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince my hubby to 'catch' some of the missionary musical number they did too (I was accompanying so I couldn't manage that and the camera)... but the song -"I'll Find you There my Friend" - was inspiring.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Kenny grooves in French movement class!

Stephen and I loved watching Kenny in his creative movement class at "Parent Watch Day" today!




He loves all his cute little friends... and he's always singing these French songs at home!

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In this one, Collette (the darling teacher) half-way thru tells Kenny to do the hand motions with them because he apparently wasn't doing them for that song...

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Kenny's not the 'be still' type during 'cool down'... 8-)

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The worth of a soul...

I know now that I will always look back on this year of homeschooling with Stephen as PRICELESS ~ in our relationship, in my life, and just in both of our general outlooks on everything. I am so happy we chose to do this. We have so much fun reading the current events in the morning (we have 4 news sites we visit and discuss together) then we dive into all his different subjects. Today, we smooshed 2 days' worth of curriculum into 1, because he wants to just watch movies with me all day tomorrow - I LOVE it!  (Sonlight provides a 4-day and a 5-day/week school schedule, so we just combined today and tomorrow... I actually hinted to him that maybe we should 'play hookie' today and bake cookies for Kassie's class and surprise her, but he said - "Mom, when I was going to school, I always wanted to play hookie. But now that I'm at home doing school, I don't even want to skip!")

I think what I love most about doing all this schooling together is how we are not only learning new amazing things, but we get to talk about SO many things that wouldn't have normally come up ~ just because when they're in school all day, we have less time together. Today, we were reading "Torches of Joy" - an amazing book about the Christian missionaries John and Helen Dekker who moved to New Guinea to help the Dani people - a tribe that was discovered in the 1960's, and was still living in the Stone Age. Just an incredible story, and what fodder for conversation. We came to this section about how the men buy their brides for a certain amount of pigs, depending on what they think the woman is worth. Of course, it was a perfect opportunity to discuss our own personal worth, and how our treatment of others often helps creates their sense of worth... which - of course - led us to watch good old JOHNNY LINGO! He had never heard of it, so we had fun seeing it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-PLyy0XM3Y&feature=relatedv) and discussing it. What an awesome little film.

Here's Kenny reading the Berenstain Bears book that Grandpa found online and emailed to us; we printed it out so now he has added it to our BB collection. All 3 kids LOVE those cute books - they teach such great values.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Daron!

We're so happy that Joy and Bill had Daron 38 years ago today!! And it happened just a few hours away from where we are now -- he was born in Nuremburg, Germany! We plan to go back there sometime to visit, since we're so close now. 8-)  When I was young, my parents would often take us to visit other churches when we were on vacation -- what a great way to learn about other people and come to respect the way others worship. So today we did that - visited a cute little Swiss church and enjoyed the humble old decor - the stained glass windows - it was lovely. (Note one of Daron's birthday gifts - his new Swiss watch, to commemorate our experience here in this amazing country!)


We also did something a bit different, and stepped out to enjoy God's creations -- a fun hike up into the mountains!

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One of Daron's favorite gifts is this cool keyboard frame from Tiff and Sterl - so creative...

And here's our cute Kas, planning her birthday rock concert for Daron ~

Today we also did some extra reading in some of Stephen's homeschooling books... he likes to get a jump on the next week's assignments during the weekend so he's got more freetime during the week.  Here's a list of the books he's reading now... there is such variety in the Sonlight curriculum ~ it keeps it very interesting...

- Remembering God's Awesome Acts (a unique, historical approach to understanding the Bible)
- Ships, Sailors and the Sea
- Torches of Joy
- 100 Gateway Cities
- Henry Reed, Inc. (a fun Newberry Award book about free enterprise... we re-listened to Janine Brady's song called 'Free Enterprise' from her "Take your Hat Off when the Flag Goes by" CD)
- Seabird (very cool book about whaling -- we're actually watching Moby Dick on imdb.com along with reading this book -- can you believe, the one book I really didn't enjoy reading in college, and I'm watching it with Stephen now? But I suppose I'm appreciating it on a different level. Well, it's always more fun to watch a movie rather than listen to 16 discs on tape that I found so tedious I can't believe I made it all the way thru them... I do, however, recognize it as a classic, so I'm being open minded...)
- All the Small Poems
- Sequential Spelling
- The Usborne Complete Book of the Human Body

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Loving BARCELONA, SPAIN!

Our 5-hour drive from Marseille through the beautiful Pyreneese Mountains that separate France from Spain was GORGEOUS -- we loved the beautiful Tuscany-looking countryside with the vineyards along the Mediterranean.  Then we arrived at busy Barcelona! It's the first time in Spain for all of us (except Daron who went to Madrid years ago for HP). We got to switch from “Bonjour, como sava?” to “Hola, como estas?” – that was a bit confusing and tricky – but the people just chuckled and were nice.  The kids love the hotel here; we watched bull fighting on TV until the matadors stabbed the the poor bull with multiple spears and the blood pretty much sicked us out, so we turned it off. But this city has one of the neatest attractions EVER – Antonio Gaudi’s “La Sagrada Familia” church – so unique and simply incredible. The architecture was unlike anything else – it looked like it had rainbow colored ice-cream cones with raised words and birds and modern Jesus statues stuck to the outsides – really crazy. It was started in 1882, and won't be finished until 2026, the centennial of Gaudi's death.
The front is called the "Nativity facade"... with depictions of Christ's life (From Wikipedia: While Time Magazine called it 'sensual, spiritual, whimsical, exuberant,' George Orwell called it 'one of the most hideous buildings in the world')
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We walked all around the outside, and decided not to wait in the 2-year-long line to go in. Then off to the neat-o park nearby with the pretty purple trees and crazy puppet man -- the kids didn't know what to make of his voice...
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and then Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, with it's unique, wild Dr. Seussy looking designs. Originally designed by Gaudi for a middle-class Barcelonian family, the rooftop looks like a dragon's back with a lance going thru it -


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We love the streets lined with matching trees and the fountains and the crazy drivers (because Barcelona is the most densely populated city in Europe, so we were feeling it!).   We like this trip, but we’re excited to go back to our cute little Switzerland and plan our next trip... maybe to Jerusalem. (Just kidding Inger, just wanted to see if you’re reading closely... we'll wait and see if things in Israel calm down a bit before we take the kids there) 8-)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Off to Marseille, France!

What a treat for us to enjoy the 2nd largest city in France… and to take a tour out into the Mediterranean to visit several islands, including ‘If’ where we walked thru the Chateau d’If… the legendary prison from The Count of Monte Cristo! Stephen especially loved it since he just finished reading the (unabridged) book.  We stayed in another Formula1 Hotel – very nice, and the kids of course loved the “bed, bread, and spread” (bunkbed, and breakfast of soft bread with nutella spread…)

We loved walking on the pier past the fish sellers in their fresh fish market – very cool to see all the things they just caught out of the turquoise blue water – fish, octopus, lobster, and big sting rays!  We jumped onto the boat, just barely made it onboard as the last passengers – we sailed past the fort that used to guard the port and the Notre Dame church up on the hill overlooking the city – the view of Marseille once we were out in the water was just beautiful. Kassie thought she might get seasick so the poor guy next to her moved his stuff after seeing her face…

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That's Marseille behind Daron and the kids ~



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D’if was so cool – we totally felt like Edmond Dantes… we got to walk thru the cells where real people were housed – can’t even imagine being cooped up in one of those dark prisons for years ~ some had no light at all, and some, if your family was rich, had a seaward view. They’ve made 23 movies from the Count of Monte Cristo – amazing. The kids’ favorite thing, we think, was talking to the seagull they named SuperDuck (because he apparently told the kids and Daron that was his name ~ they’ve been on this talking animal kick ever since they watched the funny youtube video of the talking dog: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504784_162-20058858-10391705.html?tag=re3.popula).

 
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 We’ve never seen a double-decker carousel – that was fun to ride!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WE LOVE CUTE PACKAGE SENDERS!

So many people have been so thoughtful to send us fun things -- we appreciate it so much! Today we opened 2 different packages - there is so much joy in our home!! Mark and Shelley sent the greatest gift - a big set of mini-cereals! Check out Kassie's joy at seeing Lucky Charms after 4 months!!!



Such a perfect gift for our trip to Barcelona this weekend! Kenny and Stephen also opened some candy from Grandma Inger - and how appropriate, ate it while they were reading one of their favorite books - 'The Bernstain Bears eat too much junk food!'
And we had a fun little experience last week - Kenny's teacher found out about Stephen's new homeschooling situation and invited him to join their classroom for the afternoon - he had a great time hanging with the kids and learning more French!