Daron, Melanie, Stephen, Kassie, and Kenny

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things I'm happy about today

*   HAPPY that my kids love their daddy

HAPPY that Stephen enjoyed throwing snowballs at me in the kitchen window today

*   HAPPY that even though I tripped and konked both my knees last week while running up some stairs, I didn't break or fracture anything, and the doctor prescribed me this super-cool, STYLIN' $400 Swiss knee brace that I get to wear for 10 days (the all-black attire kind of helps it blend in...) 8-)

*  HAPPY that the boys got to build a 'bonhomme de neige' (snowman) today while Daron and I watched from the balcony

*  HAPPY that Kassie ROCKS at singing in French

*  HAPPY that January is a month for snuggling up with cups of hot chocolate and bowls of popcorn and reading books under piles of quilts.  Steevie and I are relishing some precious homeschooling time reading Les Miserables together outloud. I got pretty emotional a few days ago, reading the part where Fantine is so sick, and on her deathbed, she begs Jean Valjean to see her daughter. It made me think about my cute Grandma Lilly who I never knew, but have heard so many amazing stories about. She was also sick at the end of her life, and I just wish I could have been there to know her and help comfort her. I wish my mom could have had her mom around when she was raising kids... I simply cannot imagine not having my mom just a phone call away at this time in my life.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great object lesson...

Today, our friends Elder Headrick and Elder Pittson came to eat and taught us a great scripture lesson about burying our weapons of war... then related that to us, and how we can 'bury our own weapons of war' ~ things that prevent us from sharing the gospel with others. To really drive the lesson home, they brought these fantastic spit-wad shooters and nerf guns, and a very long battle ensued... and another favorite family memory was made.

I love how pictures are worth a thousand words... so many come to mind when I found this old picture of longer-haired Daron enjoying his popsicle at Disneyworld while (barely) holding newborn Kenny... love you, honey. 8-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


After last year's whirlwind of nonstop European sightseeing, we're slowing down a bit and just doing lots of playing... the kids really have a good time hanging out together and being with their friends.

Kas had Emily over for lunch...

And Kenny had Phillipo over for lunch... here he is showing off the cow pillow Kassie sewed in school for Daron!

Kenny wakes up every morning ready to paint...

And we LOVED watching Jenny's darling girls for a day... Stephen and Kassie will be the best mommy and daddy someday!

The kids put on a show entitled "ParentsLand", complete with dress-ups, snack time, and massages ("musa-she's") for us... we loved it.  (Program itinerary below)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowy Saturday!

We drove 20 minutes up into the French Alps by our home to ride the luge and found A SNOWSTORM!! 

Then we took Stephen to play at the home of his friend from Badminton class... whoa! I've always driven past those gorgeous gated mansions in Nyon down by Lake Geneva, but never been inside one.  Beautiful huge home, gardener's quarters, rolling backyard hills going off into forever ~ and just lovely people.  Stephen and Aurelian were running through the trees playing bow and arrows as I drove off -- so cute.

Don't try this at home

Important family bonding time...

Kenny has his first 2 loose teeth!

Today I gave Stephen the option of going with Daron and me on our run up to LaRippe for his exercise, or to do something else.  Since he does NOT prefer that hike up the mountain, he quickly said he'd go do the 7 school drop-off/pick-up runs we do daily (over and back for Kenny's school in the morning, over and back to get him for lunch, over and back to get Kas off the bus for lunch, over and back to take Kas back to bus after lunch, over and back to take Kenny back after lunch, over and back to pick Kenny up after school, then over and back to get Kas off bus after school).  Then he stepped outside and felt how cold it was, turned and looked at me, and said, "I'm on my way to becoming an endangered species."  I just love the way he expresses himself. I think the year of homeschooling has brought a whole different dimension to his personality.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fun weekend

Today in Primary, I was teaching the kids "The Still Small Voice" song, and I told them the story about Harold B. Lee ~ when he was a young boy, he and his family were standing in the front doorway of his home one evening watching a thunderstorm over nearby mountains. All of a sudden, his mother vigorously pushed him outside onto the ground, and an instant later, a bolt of lightning struck their chimney, came down through the kitchen stove, and out through the front door, splitting a tree in the front yard in two from top to bottom. Harold's mom later said she distinctly heard the still small voice whisper to her to push Harold out of the way at that moment... how wonderful that she heeded that prompting (to 'promptly' act). So in the car on the way home, Kassie loved the story and asked me to retell it, and Kenny said, 'but Mom, why did his mom PUSH him?' It was so cute - he continued to be confused about how Harold's mother could actually push him out the door.  Finally he got the whole point of the story - that she did it to protect him. But I just loved that it was such a foreign idea to him that a mother would push her child at all. I just look at my 3 kids, especially today (when they were all matching in the cute outfits Aunt Kassie picked out for them in Texas), and sometimes I just get choked up thinking that they're mine and God loaned them to ME to have. I love watching them from up at the organ when I'm playing the Sacrament meeting music - they're all just sitting on their pew with Daron singing. And they listen so well to the talks. They're just growing up, and we're already out of that 'baby' stage when I had to work hard to keep them quiet during church, and of course now I miss that stage. Time goes too quickly.

Here we are this weekend, playing with Kassie's cute friend Muireann ~ dogpiling during our favorite boardgame "Loaded Questions."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Today we had the privilege of touring the world-famous CERN, or in French, 'Conseil EuropĂ©en pour la Recherche NuclĂ©aire' (European Council for Nuclear Research, http://www.cern.ch/) ~ the largest international collaboration in the world. Visited by 70,000 people per year (and featured in Dan Brown's book Angels and Demons), this facility hosts a huge particle accelerator 100m underground: the Large Hadron Collider, a 27km tunnel where physicists recreate the Big Bang conditions by smashing protons together head-on at nearly the speed of light. The kids LOVED seeing it all... even the 30 minute lecture that was clearly meant for college physics majors!

 So these tubes (which are connected underground across the Franco-Swiss border) are home to both the COLDEST and HOTTEST places in the universe.  The tunnel temperature is -273C, and yet where the particles collide, it becomes the hottest place in the universe, exponentially hotter than the sun's surface. I mean, how do they know how to do that??
 A 3-D movies about the accelerator...
 Cool 'egg-chairs' like in the movie Men in Black!

 Back in 1990, CERN-employee Tim Berneers-Lee developed the world wide web as a means to be able to share information with other scientists without having to actually go to their locations! Here's the computer that was the first server for hosting the www. Wild!

Below is our guide for the tour: a retired 30-year physicist Mark Tyrrell, who actually lives right down the road from us in Crassier! Partway through the tour, Stephen asked him, "what does it feel like to be so smart, and have all that stuff crammed in your head?" He chuckled and humbly said that he is no genius, but it has been a privilege to work with brilliant people there over the years, and that infrequently, CERN has had its Einsteins (6 Nobel Prizes in Physics, among the half of the world’s particle physicists who come to CERN for their research... representing 608 universities and 113 nationalities). Pretty cool. Here, Mr. Tyrrell is showing us this building mural ~ a life-size representation of the accelerator under our feet ~ the most complicated apparatus science has ever seen.

Inside this cool big ball (reminiscent of the Hughes Aircraft spheres) is a visitor center planetarium.

Looking at this sweet 80-year-oldish man, you wouldn't guess that he's a sharp, retired CERN physicist. When he asked us what language we'd like our tour in, I said - how many do you speak? He said - "oh, only three. You know the old joke: if you speak 3 languages, you're from Europe. If you speak 2, you're from the Far East. Only 1, you're from..."  and I finished his sentence with, of course, America. We had a good laugh, and I told him we're working on our 2nd language... he was proud. 8-)

My favorite quote from the tour was "CERN scientists love when they discover things they know nothing about, because it means they really don't understand anything, and that usually preceeds a great discovery!" They all strike me as brilliant, yet humble geniuses. They also said "reality is closer to science fiction than the real world." Hats off to you, Dad, for reading all those sci-fi books when we were growing up! You were really just reading history books from the future!
And thank you Aunt Jenny for making us our new winter hats! We love them!

Here's Kassie yesterday, off to her school ice-skating field trip ~ she loved it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Praying for passports

Tonight we re-lived our recent faith-promoting experience. As we were walking out the door in Texas to fly back to Switzerland, we realized that we couldn't find our passports. So we all searched frantically throughout Grandma's house for several minutes - 7 adults and 11 children (lots of cousins came to bid us farewell - so sweet). When we couldn't find them, we all knelt down and said a prayer. Within one minute of finishing our prayer, we found the passports - right in a place that several of the adults had already looked. It was such a wonderful lesson to us all of the power of faithful prayer.

And yet God works in mysterious ways... helping us get through jetlag with nighttime lego-playing.  (Well, that was probably more the kids' doing than God's...) I woke up last night at 2AM to find my 3 children with beaming smiles, happily playing on the floor together, because they couldn't sleep. It was still 7PM Texas-time to their bodies, and Stephen promised he didn't wake them up.  I'm not too sure about that, after watching this video that he himself took (before I came in) to prove that the kids were awake -- look how Kas and Kenny are just sitting there, hardly even moving. I think Stephen 'helped' them wake up since he couldn't sleep... 8-)

And here's Kenny enjoying his new remote airplane toy he got with Grandma's airport-spending-money!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our very memorable American holidays!

Well... not even the THREE family trips to the ER for the flu, strep and sinus infection could dampen our spirits or lessen our fun in Texas over the holidays! It was a dream come true to go back and see family and friends after a year of being away.

Christmas Eve Eve tradition: Dollar Theatre movie and IHOP pancakes

Enjoying the MUCH-ANTICIPATED glazed donuts with Savannah
 Sterl's Ping-pong tournament

Kenny's position for pretty much the whole trip: wrapped in a blanket laying somewhere with a 103 fever! He threw up 4 times as we were exiting the plane to get here... right in the walkways - total nightmare! But he was a trooper, drinking his slurpies.
 15th Anniversary lunch! We never would've guessed, 15 years ago, that we'd be living in Switzerland! It's fun to wonder where we'll be in another 15 years...
 Ummm -- hello! Guess who'll be getting THIS adorable Texas sink when we get back!! Love it!
 Kenny and cousin Taya!

 So fun to see all the Chalks again!

 Doing some puppy shopping... the kids have narrowed their future pet down to a Sharpei or Pekingnese. Or maybe one of each. 8-)

 Just doing a little spider-swinging with my buddy. 8-)

And my cute family TOTALLY surprised me with an early 40th birthday party... it's not til April, so it was SUCH a fun surprise! 

I had a blast opening my 40 GIFTS they collectively brought me! From Brighton jewelry to a homemade apron to a delicious cake to Sterling serenading me in Italian...  I loved every second of it. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves.