Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day!

Mother’s Day in France was Sunday, May 31st.  Jack and Sophie spent some “secret” time at school and at church creating beautiful gifts for me.  It was a beautiful and simple day spent in France.  We attended church where the primary, which consists of Joseph, Emma, Jack and Sophie, sang a Mother’s Day song.  It was interesting because they did not sing during the sacrament service.  They were allowed to sing after the closing prayer. Everyone stayed in their seats while the children walked up and sang and then the four children passed out flowers to all the mother’s in the congregation.  All 4 children were so cute, especially Jack and Sophie! :)  After church we headed to the Sea for a day of “rest”. It was very enjoyable!

2015-05-31 05.45.20 2015-05-31 05.47.09 2015-05-31 05.47.32IMG_3111

Sunday, June 21st, was Father’s Day here in France.  In years past, Father’s Day has fallen on a different day in France, so we were happy America and France were on the same page this year!  Again, Jack and Sophie created handcrafted items for Aaron.  They were so excited to give him their gifts.  We attended church and the 4 primary children sang a Father’s Day song after the closing prayer.  Jack and Sophie did a great job!  It was so fun hearing them singing in french!

2015-06-20 14.09.10 2015-06-20 14.09.32 2015-06-20 14.09.58 2015-06-20 14.11.02 2015-06-20 14.12.05 2015-06-20 14.14.22

Alexis made Aaron breakfast in bed: sweet potato pancakes, which he enjoyed!

Citron Vert

2015-05-26 00.41.49

Today I went to the store to pick up a few things.  One of the items on my list was limes. I can’t always find limes, so I was happy when I saw a few.  I picked up the remaining limes, 8 to be exact.  They were 5 for 1.50 euros.  At the check out counter the lady got to the bag of limes and looked at me and said, “These are 5 for 1.50.  You have 8.  That won’t work.”  I looked at her and said that was all that was left and I needed all 8 limes.  She then said, “Well, I don’t know what to do.  You need two more.”  She then looked at the other cashier and asked if she knew what to do because I needed all 8 limes but the store did not have any more and how was she supposed to do the transaction.  The other cashier did not know and so she had to make a phone call to the manager.  I was laughing!  How could this be a problem that she did not know how to solve?  What if I only needed one lime?

She talked to a manager and I was charged for 10 limes and I was told to go to customer service so I could receive a refund for the 2 limes that I was over charged for!  How funny is that?  I went to customer service and received 60 centimes (like 60 cents) for the difference.  France!

2015-05-26 00.42.02

While I was at the grocery store, Aaron was at the specialty pool store to get something for our pool.  He said the door was open and he noticed a worker in the back.  He walked up to the counter and said, “Excuse me, can you help me?”  The worker looked at his watch and said, “We are closed right now.  We will open in 10 minutes.  Please come back.”  Aaron politely walked out the open door and waited for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes the man helped Aaron.  France!

The majority of stores in France will close anytime during lunch, 12-1:30/2 pm.  The French usually are not out shopping at lunch time.  They take their mealtimes seriously and those that work expect that time off.  It can be very inconvenient but we have gotten used to it.  The major grocery stores stay open at lunch time, which is the time I like to go shopping because I know not many people will be there.  They are all eating lunch! Speaking of lunch time, Aaron and I are going to miss our 1 hour and 20 minute lunch we have with Jack and Sophie.  I do love that my kids all get to enjoy their lunch time and they never feel rushed.

French Geraniums

IMG_2942

One of the common “french” traditions that appear everywhere, when the weather is warm, are the beautiful geraniums!  Potted geraniums adorn almost every window you see throughout France!  I decided to give in and get a few for the remaining months we will spend here.  I found a typical red and a bright pink to accent our patio area.  I love looking out into the yard and seeing these vibrant flowers.  I love having annuals potted and I just could not refuse!

IMG_2943 IMG_2944

Duvets

DSC_0366

I learned some information about Duvets on our trip to Germany that I found interesting.  I love duvets.  I prefer a good down duvet over a comforter or quilt any day of the week and at any time of the year.  In the States, one buys the size of duvet according to the size bed one has.  France is the same way.  But, Germany has a different way of doing duvets. They use twin size duvets for any size of bed.  If one has a king size bed (which is usually two twins put together), the twin duvet gets folded in half and lays across the width as the above picture shows.  There is usually space between the pillow and duvet.  It is meant to look like an oversized pillow laying on top of the bed.  Sometimes, there is only the fitted sheet and one only uses the duvet.  Since I use duvets on all our beds in the States, I never buy flat sheets anymore.  They have become a nuisance!  My kids do not sleep with a flat sheet either.  In fact, they get frustrated here in France because a few of the beds only have comforters and/or sheets and the sheets always get ripped off and thrown on the floor!  Haha!

When we stayed at the Sneddons, I was helping Jenny make up the beds and she explained this to me, after I had noticed the guest bedroom having two duvets folded the width of the bed.  I found it interesting because I use duvets.  I had never seen this done before.  So, when two people sleep in the same bed, they do not share the same duvet.

DSC_0368

These pictures were taken at our hotel in Salzburg, Austria after having seen this in Germany at the Sneddons.  I chuckled as I entered the hotel room and was happy that I knew the German custom of duvets.  There are a few other European countries that use this twin size style on their beds.  It worked perfect for the kids, because there was no debate the following morning as to who pulled off who’s covers!  I love learning little tidbits of information like this!

DSC_0367

Jack Turns 6!

Happy Birthday Jack!  We can’t believe Jack is already 6!  Austin was reflecting yesterday, January 28th, upon Jack’s birth and the last 6 years with him as his little brother.  Time does go by so quickly!

2015-01-27 23.11.29

Jack invited 3 of his good friends from school to share in his birthday celebration.  Mattias, Nathan, and Hector came.  I was so excited to have these cute french children in our home and I was more surprised at how well behaved they were.  The children were all very mild tempered, even though they were cracking jokes and being silly little boys!  They all sat politely around the table, ate their food while engaging in conversation.  None of the boys got up from the table until they were told they could.  They politely and excitedly watched as Jack opened his presents.  Their excitement FOR Jack was incredible!  I was very impressed with their manners.  I don’t think I have ever experienced this with children in the States.  Don’t get me wrong, American children are polite, but they can be more hyper and spoiled.  It was a very interesting observation for me.  Aaron and I both noticed it and commented on how pleasant it was to have these 4 boys all playing together.  The French children were so content with swinging on the swing set, playing a few games, etc. They did not need anything over stimulating, which is what a lot of Americans usually plan and feel obligated to do.  It was a very relaxed atmosphere, which was so different from birthday parties in the States.  It might be, too, that I have not thrown a 6 year old party in a long time.  I am used to the older children that require a little more imagination, planning and execution.

Whatever the case is, it was a wonderful relaxing afternoon for Jack’s birthday!  He chose the menu:  ham and butter sandwiches on baguette, carrots, pringles, schwepps, pickles, yogurts and finally “death by chocolate” for his dessert of choice.  Jack really wanted a power ranger theme but Aaron and I could not find anything party related in the stores here.  The closest thing we found was mutant ninja turtles.  Jack was thrilled and thought it was all cool.  We love that boy!!!  He had a smile from ear to ear all day!

2015-01-27 22.44.17 2015-01-27 22.44.21 2015-01-27 22.44.48 2015-01-27 22.44.57 2015-01-27 22.51.512015-01-27 22.51.56

I was in heaven as I eavesdropped on Jack playing and talking with his friends in French.  I was floored because he doesn’t speak very much French at home and we have been worried that he isn’t speak much at school.  BUT, I was shocked listening to him carry on conversations, saying french expressions, just talking like french was his native tongue!  I had a prayer of gratitude in my heart for this amazing opportunity our family is having!  I felt like I needed to pinch myself to see if it was all real.  It was and is exciting for me!

2015-01-27 22.52.02 2015-01-27 23.09.04 2015-01-27 23.11.012015-01-27 23.11.42 2015-01-27 23.28.45 2015-01-27 23.29.29 2015-01-27 23.29.402015-01-27 23.39.062015-01-27 23.39.542015-01-27 23.44.252015-01-27 23.44.312015-01-27 23.57.142015-01-28 00.11.202015-01-28 00.11.492015-01-28 00.11.52

I am including all the photos we took because I want to remember these moments for a long time!!

IMG_2719 IMG_2721 IMG_2723 IMG_2724

Nathan, Jack, Hector and Mattias

IMG_2725 (2)IMG_2726IMG_2733IMG_2735

Happy Birthday Tristan!

DSC_0027

Tristan turned 12 on December 27, 2014.  This was a special birthday for him because he received the Aaronic Priesthood in our Church.  This is a big responsibility for a young man, but I know he will honor this sacred Priesthood and the duties that come with it. Tristan is a very smart, fun and loving 12 year old.  We love him so much and we were so excited to see him pass the sacrament for the first time!  Tristan was so anxious to be able to do this.  The Bishop of our ward was out of town and then Aaron was out of town, so it took a few weeks for Tristan to receive the Priesthood.  It is awesome to have 3 young men who try so hard to be good!

DSC_0028

Since Tristan received roller blades for Christmas, he wanted to go to the skate park for a portion of his birthday.  Tristan requested we go to Subway for his birthday and then to a movie!  The boys had been asking for months to be able to go to Subway, but we have always steered them away from it.  We can get subway any day of the week in the States, so naturally we want to enjoy what is french!  But, since it was Tristan’s birthday request we took him.  He seemed to enjoy it so much, as well as the other children.

DSC_0029 DSC_0030

DSC_0031

These are a few photos from the wet skate park.  It decided to rain on Tristan’s birthday! :(

DSC_0032 DSC_0033 DSC_0034 DSC_0035DSC_0036 DSC_0037 DSC_0038DSC00102 DSC00103 DSC00110

After a day filled with fun birthday activities, we headed home for some “death by chocolate”!  Tristan’s birthday dessert of choice!  Everyone says it is 100% better here because of the french pot de crêmes, chantilly (whip cream), and fondant du chocolat (similar to brownies).  After singing and dessert, Tristan opened his cool presents!  We are so grateful to have Tristan in our lives.  His smile melts me as a mother!

DSC_0042 DSC_0043 DSC_0044 DSC_0045DSC_0046 DSC_0047 DSC_0049DSC_0051DSC_0053DSC_0055DSC_0057

We love you Tristan!

Christmas Traditions 2014

My laptop charging cord broke during the holidays and I was not able to blog or record anything for a number of days.  Now that February is upon us I am finally reflecting upon the photos and events that occurred that I have not recorded.

Our family has many traditions during the holidays, specifically Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We have the children do a Secret Santa gift exchange with one another. At the beginning of December the children draw names and then they have to shop for the chosen name.  Keeping it a secret is part of the fun and the guessing that goes on during the holidays.  Even though Julia was not going to be with us, she still was able to participate.  (Alexis flew thru Salt Lake City on her way to France, so she picked up a suitcase full of gifts, one of those being a secret santa gift!)  When Christmas Eve approaches all the children are filled with anticipation about who got what from who!  It is so fun!

DSC_0008

This is Austin receiving his Secret Santa gift from Julia.  Thank goodness for technology. She could still be with us, just not tangible!

So, on Christmas Eve another tradition we have, that I grew up with, is that the children get to open one gift from under the tree and their Secret Santa gift AFTER they share a talent with everyone.  This talent could be playing the piano, singing, displaying art work, etc.  The kids are encouraged to be creative.  Sometimes it is last minute preparations knowing they can only open a gift IF they share something!  This year the kids kind of cheated and combined forces and sang together!  It was funny for Aaron and I, but we loved it and it is memorable.

DSC_0004 DSC_0005 DSC_0006 DSC_0007

After they shared their talents, they each got to choose a gift from under the tree to open and their Secret Santa gift.  Each child tries to guess who gave them their gift, etc.  It is fun!  I love watching my kids give thanks to one another!  It warms my heart!

DSC_0001 DSC_0002 DSC_0003

After the gifts are exchanged and opened, we relax, turn off the lights and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Some of us can stay awake, others are too excited to even think of sleep and some of us want to sleep but know that the night is still too young to sleep! 😉

Christmas morning greets us with bells ringing.  We have a tradition that I have carried on from my younger years, that the first person to wake up gets to ring our Christmas bell to wake everyone up and to ring in the Christmas morning.  It is awesome!  As a 41 year old, I still get excited when I hear that bell.  The children all try to compete with who will get to ring the bell.  Aaron and I always give the children a time when the bell can be rung, nothing earlier!  Usually it is 7 or 7:30am.  Once everyone is up, the kids line up and proceed to see if Santa visited!

DSC_0010 DSC_0011 DSC_0012 DSC_0013 DSC_0014

Our family room is upstairs here in France, so the children had to line up and go upstairs instead of their usual going downstairs!  Everyone was so happy with the gifts Santa left for them!  Of course, our most wonderful gift during Christmas is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!  How blessed we truly are to have the knowledge of His sacrifice and love for each one of us!

DSC_0015 DSC_0016 DSC_0017 DSC_0018 DSC_0019DSC_0020DSC_0021DSC_0022DSC_0025

This year for our traditional Christmas feast we invited a few of the single members from our church congregation to eat with us and spend the evening.  They were without family or a place to go for Christmas.  We did not want them to be alone!  It was wonderful to all be together and share the gift of friendship and love with one another!  Somehow I was able to pull off another successful Christmas, even with Julia thousands of miles away!

DSC00057 DSC00060 DSC00061DSC00064 Rene Zogo and IvrahimDSC00065 Jean MarcDSC00066 BrunoDSC00069