Ward Outing

In May, we celebrated Ascension Day with the ward by going on a lovely hike alongside a meandering stream, and then capped off the day by grilling lunch together in the forest. There was a great turn out, which I think is a testament to how well planned it was.  It was free, a very easy hike, and close by to where most of the members live.  Usually our ward activities are expensive, very involved, and far, far away.  We don’t go to those for obvious reasons, so it was nice to finally have an activity where we felt actually invited and wanted.

IMG_7863 It is always so fun to spend time with our ward family in a casual setting.  I love having so much time to chat about every day things and just spend time together.  And having my kids be able to be with kids who also believe what they do.  Helps them not so feel so strange or alone, I think.

There are a few boys in our ward that are Noah’s age, and although they are friendly, I wouldn’t say they are all friends.  But only one other boy from his class was there, so it gave him a rare opportunity to have a friend, even if just for a little bit. IMG_7976

Along the trail, the group changed constantly. It seems like every half a kilometer I was suddenly with a different set of people.  It was so fun to have a chance to be with everyone, especially since for the past few years I have been in Young Women’s,and seem to spend all my time with the girls and the other women in the presidency.

At the end of the hike there was a large grill area, with a nice fire already going.  Well, I was towards the tail end of the group, so it was burning strong by the time I got there. 🙂 IMG_7995I was glad I had brought so many extra sausages as some of the missionaries needed a supplement to their lunch.  And what was left after that, we still cooked over the fire and brought home to eat later.  There is something about a sausage cooked over an open flame in the outdoors that adds a special flavor you can’t duplicate any other way.

After a nice long break, we packed up and walked back the way we had come.  It was the only way to get back to our cars! It was a warm day, but many sections of the trail were covered in shade, so it wasn’t too bad.  I think we emptied the last water bottle just before we came upon a fountain where we were able to fill them all up again.  Some of the kids were getting pretty tired towards the end, but we all made it in one piece.  I am so grateful that we have so many opportunities to enjoy nature so close to our home.  It really is amazing how gorgeous Switzerland is.

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Nick in Tessin

At the end of March, Nick went with his school class for an “Arbeitswoche”, or work week down in the Italian Canton of Switzerland called Tessin.  They stayed in a lovely house, were served delicious food and went on many fascinating outings, as well as doing lots of art projects.  One of the outings was to a bird sanctuary and they were able to watch a bird show that included falcons, owls, and buzzards.  He had a good time, and we were all happy to welcome him home at the end of it.  Unfortunately, there was a hard drive crash, and all the photos he took were lost. GRRR! But I need to make a record of it, otherwise it will be completely forgotten and we can’t have that.

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Ski Lessons in Engelberg

Sarah and Sophie headed up to ski camp with their school for a week, so I signed everyone else up for ski lessons at the same place in Engelberg that we went to last year. Again we just did it for three days, and every morning I would drive them down, wait around, and then drive them home again in the afternoon.  After one day just walking around the town and reading in the car, I got bored.  So the next day I decided to go for a little walk.  There was a trail that led partway up the mountain and ended in the same general area as where the kids had their lunch break.  I thought it would be fun to meet them.

The winter olympics were still taking place, and one of the local girls had just won a gold medal.  The town had signs and banners plastered all over the place celebrating this.  They were hanging from businesses, from balconies, and then there was this huge one on the mountain.DSC_0290I thought that was pretty cool.

The trail first took me along the valley.  It was relatively flat and very beautiful.  I even passed this ski jump three times, once from the bottom, t his is the middle,  and once from the top.DSC_0295 You can see that the snowfall was pretty abysmal this year.  All the snow on the sunny side of the valley was pretty much gone.  The year before there were piles of it everywhere, on both sides.  Fortunately, Titlis (the mountain the kids have lessons on) was on the shady side, although I did call to confirm there was snow before driving all the way there! 🙂

After taking this picture, the trail got very interesting.  There were a few steep spots.  Nothing too long or bad, but they were covered in ice.  And I was wearing my normal boots.  Not hiking boots, just warmish winter boots with not much traction on the bottom.  I slipped and fell a couple times, until I finally just abandoned all pretense of pride and crawled up, literally on my hands and knees.  I finally got to where there was a little bench, slightly off the path, and I sat down and crawled Chris.  I was very concerned, as I still had quite a ways of steep path in front of me as far as I could tell, but there was also all the steepness behind me.  I didn’t want to go back down, for free of slipping and sliding the whole way and getting seriously hurt.  But I also wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on crawling.  He asked if he should send a helicopter out to rescue me and I honestly wasn’t sure what to tell him.  As I was talking to him on the phone, two little old ladies, like seriously well over  70, come strolling up the path.  I smiled at them, waited til they walked past, and then told Chris, “Okay, if those two old ladies can make it up this path, than I for sure can.” Ignoring the fact that they were both wearing hiking boots of course. 🙂

So I continued crawling up the path, and just a little past the bench, it leveled out and I was able to walk normally.  Then I broke out from the trees into the sunshine and it was perfect walking conditions.  I am so glad I didn’t give up and just continued on.  The view alone was totally worth it.


That little building on the right is the restaurant where I was supposed to meet the kids.  I got there before they did and was able to greet them as they came off the slopes. DSC_0304I am not sure how much of that Noah actually ate, especially the peas, but at least he was never starving at the end of the day.  Alexandra’s helmet hair cracks me up every time I look at this photo.

I went outside on the patio and had my own lunch, which was delicious and was still out there when the kids came out to play.  They have about an hour lunch break, so plenty of time for them to rest their legs, go to the bathroom, eat and then play.  Who could resist this giant pile of snow? DSC_0306

They didn’t even need sleds, they just slid right down on their bums!  Climbing up in those bulky ski boots wasn’t easy, but they still managed.


After they put on their skis and took off with their teacher, I also took off.  But I was still traumatized from my trip up, and knew it was way too dangerous to walk back down in my slippery shoes, so I headed over to the gondola and took a ride down.  Of course, they couldn’t take my debit card up top, only down at the bottom. But they graciously allowed me to ride down anyway, and just pay at the bottom.  I was escorted directly to the cashier just to make sure I really paid, which kind of cracked me up, but I guess they have been burned one too many times.  Or maybe they thought I wasn’t good for it, since who doesn’t normally have 6 Franks in cash on them?  Well me, for one! 🙂


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Celebrating my Favorite Loves

This year I was really feeling the Valentine spirit.  Just full of ideas for lots of crafty fun.  As mentioned, I made the praline-shaped bath bombs for my friends, and for my family I made this Valentine Bingo game.  We played it for Family Home Evening the Monday before Valentine’s day and at least one other time.  DSC_0272 I laminated the boards and pieces so we can save it and play it for years to come.  Also, kind of scary how many different heart stamps I had!  I think there was 32!!!!

As a fancy treat, I also made chocolate dipped strawberries.  They are super simple to do, but finding strawberries in Switzerland in February is what makes the dessert so special.  I didn’t even let myself look at the price, cuz it was definitely outrageous, but the kids were so excited and felt so privileged to have a “grown up treat”.  It was worth it.

DSC_0273The chocolate covered marshmallows were for Noah.  He hates fruit, but I love him. 🙂

We also did our traditional Valentine’s mailboxes this year.  Inside them I put these little Lovebug suckers.  They were so cute, and the kids really liked them.  Most of them tried very hard to get out the sucker while still keeping their bug intact.  DSC_0276

And along with our heart shaped pizza for lunch I almost made a cheesecake for Valentine’s day dessert.  Mhhmmm, cheesecake!  Even most of the kids like it, especially with the delicious fruit topping.DSC_0284 It was really fun spreading the celebration out over a whole week, rather than trying to cram all my ideas into one day. That would have been too much, but this was just perfect.  I am already planning for next year…Happy Valentine’s Day to all my sweet little loves!

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Ladies Valentine’s Brunch

Actual Valentine’s day was during ski vacation for many this year, so I bumped up our traditional brunch to the 7th  so more of my lovelies could attend.  It was a great turnout, with lots of chatting, laughing and love.  Just like it should be.

DSC_0265 The only thing that put a damper on the festivities were the ladies who were not able to come, as they no longer live in the area.  They were mentioned and missed and are still loved.

DSC_0266It is always so fun to decorate the table all fancy and look at all that red and pink together! Naturally the food was delicious as well.  My friends are really good cooks! As a little Valentine token this year for everyone, I made some bath bombs in the shape of little chocolates and wrapped them up using praline wrappers.  Apparently, one of the husband’s thought they looked so convincing, he almost ate one! 🙂


See that fun etagere with the heart on top over to the right?  One of my friends brought that to the brunch as a surprise for me.  I LOVE it and of course, we had to put food on it right away.

Finally, everyone had arrived and we all sat down to enjoy the feast.

DSC_0271Some of these women I have known since we moved here, some I only met last year, but I am so happy they all could come.  Happy Valentine’s Day to friends who give me love every day of the year!

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Hallenfussballturnier or Indoor Soccer Tournament

The school district organizes an indoor soccer tournament for all the  4th, 5th and 6th graders in the area.  Usually the teams are divided into boy and girl teams, but if a class doesn’t have enough participants of one gender or the other, they are allowed to have a mixed group.  But they have to choose to compete in either the boy or girl category, usually determined by the majority of what makes up their team.  Sophie decided to join her team and had a great time practicing with everyone during p.e. instead of having to do the normal games/exercises.

On a Wednesday afternoon, the kids and I all went down to the school in Affoltern to cheer her on. DSC_0239 The volunteer coach, who is one of the girls’ dad, is really good about making sure everyone gets to rotate through and has time to play. I also appreciated that he didn’t get all crazy and yell and scream, even though it was a close game.DSC_0244 All teams are guaranteed 3 games, each lasting 10 minutes.  At the end of the round robin, the top teams compete for the championships.  Unfortunately, the (insert name of the team here) didn’t make it to any of the extra games.  But Sophie still had a good time and was glad that she had participated.

DSC_0255Such sad, sweet little faces. 🙁  Better luck next time, girls!

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Chris turns 44!

I have never met anyone who was more low key about his birthday than Chris.  He always has the simplest requests and is so happy if we just give him a hug and say happy birthday.  I used to try and make a bigger deal out of it, because that is what I like for my birthday, but I have finally learned that that isn’t what makes him happy.

As long as he gets to spend the day with us, and has a bit of apple cake, he thinks it’s a perfect day. 🙂  So we obliged!DSC_0231 Birthday season isn’t until the summer in my head, so I almost never have birthday candles in the house for this January birthday.  This year we improvised and used ones meant for the tree! haha! And there are four, since he is four time two.  Yeah, it was a stretch, but he thought it was funny.

DSC_0234 I did space them far apart, to make them harder to blow out all at once.  DSC_0236 One of my favorite things that Chris does, is make a big deal out of whether or not he can blow out all the candles.  It started when the kids were really small, and he has just continued to do it.  There is always lots of laughter while he carries on being silly, and then finally he takes an overly dramatic breath and goes for it.


Happy birthday, Chris!  We love you!


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First Day of 2014

Chris really wanted to go the zoo on Jan. 1, just like always.  This was a great tradition when the kids were small and went to bed at a normal time on New Year’s Eve, but doesn’t work so well now.  Especially as the kids still want to go with him, just not so early.  But if you go later in the day, it’s a zoo.  🙂  So he compromised and left a bit later than normal, around 9.  But only Sarah was able to wake up in time.  Since we have passes, they just stayed for a couple hours and were home in time to have lunch with us.  Maybe next time we can talk him into waiting just a little longer and we can all go.

DSC_0122 Later we watched the Vienna concert on tv, where professional dancers accompanied the orchestra.  It was beautiful, and the kids had fun imitating them.


It is such a popular concert, that the only way to get tickets is to enter a lottery, almost a year in advance, and hope your name gets chosen.  We have decided to throw our hat in the ring to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  Who knows, we might get lucky!

DSC_0125We also lit the Tischbombe (table bomb) that I had bought for the occasion.  There was some fun loot in there, some of which I am still finding around the house…


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Ringing in the New Year

During Christmas break, the stake organized a temple day with babysitting.  It was really nice, Chris and I got to do sealings and then baptisms with Sarah and Nick.  The younger kids were kept busy and happy making and decorating games for New Year’s Eve.  Every hour there was a different bag to open, with either a game, a puzzle, or some other activity.  They were very excited to use it, and it definitely made the evening very fun. Even Chris got involved, and normally he thinks New Year’s Eve, and celebrating it, is kind of dumb. 🙂DSC_0102 This is a Bingo game the kids made, and there were even prizes included.  So cute!DSC_0105

We also had our traditional snack/junk food feast, along with the delicious fancy salami we received as a gift.  DSC_0106Sooo good!  Sophie says we now have to have it every year, even if we end up buying it ourselves. 🙂

DSC_0107We played another game, and then, before Papa went to bed, we headed outside for some fireworks.  DSC_0109DSC_0110DSC_0111DSC_0114DSC_0116 It wasn’t actually midnight yet, but Chris was ready for bed.  So we went back inside and some of the kids settled down to watch a movie.  I even had them use pillows and blankets to get nice and comfy and maybe fall asleep…but they didn’t. DSC_0118 Nick, Sophie and I played another epic game of Settler’s, naturally.  DSC_0120 We watched the countdown on one of the Austrian channels, as per tradition, and then yelled and screamed and blew horns out the window along with a few of our other neighbors.  The same people who shot off big fireworks last year, including the one that landed on the roof, showed up again.  It’s so weird.  They drive up in their car, stand in the middle of the road, light off several hundred franks worth of fireworks, then drive off again.  Not sure why they chose our intersection as the perfect spot to do this, but we enjoy the free show nonetheless.  When we were sure they were done, we closed the windows and went to bed.  Happy New Year!

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Boxing Day is the best!

We spent the day after Christmas in the traditional way, at home playing with all our new toys.  Chris likes to walk around with the camera and document all the happiness and, most especially, peace.  I love to see the kids enjoying their gifts, especially the ones they received from each other. DSC_0090For example, Alexandra is modeling the new pajama pants the Sarah sewed for and tracing the new pencil pal that Nicholas made for her.

DSC_0091We love to play a giant game of Catan every holiday.  We combine a few of the different versions and play for a few hours.  So fun!  Here Sophie is figuring out her new phone, while wearing her new pajama pants from Sarah and her pajama top from Alexandra.  (She chose the t-shirts, then we cut out everyone’s initial from contact paper, placed it on the shirt, and she sprayed bleach all over the place for a unique design.

DSC_0092Love that she loves that mop so much.  I finally had to explain to her that she didn’t need to ask me if she could use it, she was free to mop whenever she wanted. (Yes, I do know how awesome that is.)

DSC_0094It was a joint gift, and it really did take two of them to build it.  That thing is huge!  My favorite part is the light up Eye of Sauron.DSC_0095We also worked on more of our Christmas puzzle.  The first had to be re-started a few times, as we did right on the reading room floor, and it occasionally got bumped and broken, especially when we had to cover it with the bean bag to protect it from small visitors. DSC_0097 But we got it done, and decided to start a second one. I am trying to find a foldable table that we can use for next year,  but the only ones I have seen are really expensive, or too large.  I have hope, though.

The best part of this day was that we woke up to snow!DSC_0099 After a brown Christmas day, this was a happy, and beautiful, surprise.


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