French Alps

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This was our view as we left Vars, France a few weeks ago.  I forgot I had taken these pictures and I found them on my desktop.  They are breathtaking.  The road to get to Vars was so small and scary.  Most of the road did not have a guard rail and the drop was far and steep.  I had to close my eyes because of my vertigo when we went up the mountain, but coming down didn’t seem so bad.  The views were incredible!!!!

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Prayers

My prayers go out to those who lost loved ones in the plane crash in France today.  It crashed near Barcelonnette, the ski village where Tristan first skied in the Alps.  Last week we were skiing within an 1.5 hour range of the crash.  Very devastating, especially those children traveling together.

Vars #3

This is more of a photo post today!  I am going to be creating a book of all my blog posts when we get back to the States in August, so I want to make sure I have all the memories in pictures and words.

I was able to find a spot in the trees, located next to one of the many snow parks that the kids frequently skied, to get some “action” pictures.  The rest of the photos are random from our three day vacation in Vars, France!

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Vars #2

We arrived at Vars on a Sunday evening and it began to snow, thankfully, after we made it up to the top of the mountain!  The Moreau’s had sleds and as soon as we got our belongings out of the van and into the hotel room the kids went straight outside for some sledding!

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The children were so excited to be in the snow!  After a few sledding runs down the hill, we walked down through the village to look for some dinner!  While the kids were sledding Jack and I quickly remembered that he did not have snow pants.  We did not have a pair for him from the States because they were too small and the next size up was an 8/10. So, Monday morning I had to run to the village to find something in his size.  Because it is close to the end of the season, a lot of the stores did not have his size.  But, I got lucky and found a little boutique nestled at the end of the shopping village that had one pair of size 6 snow pants!  Hooray!!!

We found a few good restaurants while we were in Vars.  The kids like to take pictures of their food! :)

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Because our hotel room only was equipped to sleep 5/6, Tristan stayed with the Moreau’s.  What is it about a hotel room that gets kids and adults so excited and happy?! My kids love to experience new sleeping accommodations and this was no exception!:)

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Sophie made a new friend while we were in Vars!  We didn’t find out her name but we will call her the “lift” friend!  For three days the same sweet lady worked the bunny slope lift.  I watched her for hours as she helped and instructed beginner skiers.  She knew Sophie’s name within a few hours and Sophie had interaction with her every single time she went on the lift.  The day I skied, this lady was helping and encouraging me too.  By the time our trip was over, I realized she knew so much about our family and I didn’t even know her name!  How selfish of me to not get to know her as she was so quick to become acquainted with us!

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Vars, France

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We decided to take a quick ski trip to the French Alps.  Tristan’s friend, Arnaud, and family were going and invited Tristan for the week, but we decided to go as a family for 3 days. It was awesome!!!!  Vars is a beautiful ski village.  We were able to get the last hotel room available in the same residence as the Moreau family.

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This was our view from our hotel room!

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We were one of the last housing accommodations up the mountain.  Our poor mini van almost didn’t make it.  We could walk to everything and the best part was the slopes were right out the doors of the hotel.  We went to the ski room in the basement of the hotel, found our coordinated ski locker/hotel room number, stored our shoes for the day, or ski’s and boots for the night, climbed a few stairs and hit the slopes.  It was so convenient with all the kids!  We loved it!

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This was Sophie’s first skiing experience!  The first day she was a little timid and didn’t enjoy herself very much.  The second and third day she was so comfortable going up and down the slope by herself!  It was so fun to watch her!

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We had to rent a lot of the gear.  The Moreau’s had a few pair of ski’s and a few helmets for the kids to use.  That helped out a lot.  It was definitely a process getting everyone suited up and out on the slopes!  After that first day it was easier because we knew where everything was and everyone felt a little more comfortable in our surroundings!

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Sonja, Arnaud’s mom, kept expressing how exhausting it must be to have 7 children.  Her and Christoph helped Aaron and I out a lot with the whole process of getting gear on and ready for the day.  It was funny to hear and see their french expressions in regards to our large family.  They enjoyed it and didn’t make us feel uncomfortable in anyway! :)  In fact, they were always looking for ways to help out.  Whether it was on the slopes, at meal times or just having a few more hands in the morning “getting everyone out the door”!

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We had a wonderful time in the French Alps!  I tried skiing the last day.  I was Sophie’s companion on the bunny slope!  I tried skiing as a teenager in upstate New York and never liked it.  (I had some good laughs back then!)  I don’t feel like I have control of my surroundings when I ski and I get freaked out by the height and speed that happens when you get up higher than a bunny slope! LOL!  But I tried it and I skied the last day we were there.  It was fun and I am so glad I did it.  Aaron took me up the mountain once and I was so scared.  I made it down, of course, but never went back up.  Too much in one day! Baby steps for me when it comes to skiing.  They other kids are awesome!  In fact, Jack is fearless.  He went up to the top with all the “big” kids and adults and Aaron said he had no fear and never freaked out.  Sometimes he was in the lead down the slope.  He was going on the snow parks with the rails and jumps.  My little Jack was getting some air!

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We had an awesome time and we are all so grateful for this opportunity we had to ski in the French Alps!  I will do another post in the next few days with more pictures!  I haven’t had a chance to download photos from my camera.  These were all our iPhone photos! :)

Traveling to Austria

From Munich we went on to Salzburg, Austria.  This was another place on my list of “places to visit” while living here in France.  From the very first time I watched The Sound of Music, as a little girl, I have been smitten with Austria.  I had never been except until last month!  Another dream became reality!  We left Munich in the afternoon and approached Salzburg just at sundown (It was only 1.5 hour drive).  Some of the views from the road where incredible.

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We couldn’t see Salzburg from the auto route because it is nestled in the foothills/hills of the mountains.  But, I knew we had arrived when the Salzburg Fortress came into view!

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We located our hotel room, ate at a little italian restaurant next to our hotel, settled in for the night and tried to sleep, despite my excitement for the next day!!!!

Are we in Utah?

On our journey to the Temple, as we were approaching the Alps a few of the children would occasionally look out the window and say, “I feel like we are on I-15 right now with those mountains ahead!”  Then the conversation quickly turned to how much everyone misses the mountains in Utah.  Sanilhac is nestled in the hills with mountain peaks in the distance, but we do not live in the mountains.  I personally LOVE the hill country and like the mountains, but that is just me.  The boys LOVE the mountains and have wonderful memories of being in the mountains and living near the mountains.  So, seeing the Alps was exciting for everyone in the car.  (Tristan already had been skiing in the Alps, but in a different area, so this was all new to him too.)  The children felt like they were back “home”.

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As we got closer to the mountain range we quickly agreed that the Alps have a beauty of their own, different from Utah!  We saw magnificent snow packed peaks, jagged mountains, majestic views that left us all gasping at the beauty of this part of the world. Our cameras did not capture what we saw.  I guess it is one of those things, “you have to see it, to believe it”!  It was breathtaking!  At one point along the route, I felt like I was in a dreamland.  There were huge rolling green hills at the foot of the snow covered mountains with beautiful farms dotting the land.  One word can describe what we were all feeling at the end of that journey: GRATITUDE!

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The drive from Genève to Lausanne is beautiful.  The Alps line the south side horizon of Lake Genèva.  And they continued up to Bern area.  On our way to the Temple, the skies were clear and we got an incredible view of the mountains.  Aaron and I wanted to explore while the boys were serving in the Temple, but our time and activities did not allow us to. I would love to return in the summer for warmer weather and hikes!  But for now, hopefully, the images we saw will be imprinted in our minds forever!

Switzerland

Hello from Zollikofen Switzerland!  The youth in our Toulouse Stake have a temple trip once a year and this week is their week!  We are having a blast!  Even though it is a youth temple trip, many families travel together and other ward members travel together to spend the week doing temple work.  The stake rents a bus and those that want to have that means of transportation (it was a little too pricey for all three of our boys, especially since we were driving too) ride on the bus and everyone else finds a ride.

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Our boys have been excited about this trip and Aaron and I did not know what to expect! Many friends told us it was so fun and a great experience!  They were not lying!  Our whole family from Sophie up to Aaron are enjoying every minute.  The youth are divided into groups and they spend the morning hours and into the afternoon doing baptisms for the dead.  When they are not in the Temple they are participating in study groups, firesides, talent shows, testimony meetings, sporting activities, etc.  There are children here for Jack and Sophie to play with and entertain with for hours.  Plus, Aaron and I get to work in the Temple with the youth and help out any way we can, plus we get to attend the Temple too!

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Aaron and I had plans of taking little day trips to surrounding villages, but we are loving our time with the stake that we haven’t left and we, actually, have not had time to leave. All 3 boys are having a fantastic time!  I will post about our cool, yet humble living quarters and the rest of our experiences when time allows!

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I don’t think my parents ever thought that they would have grandkids that would visit this Temple and do Temple work when they were sealed here in the early 60’s.  This is so special for our family!

Skiing in the French Alps!

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Tristan was invited to go with his good friend, Arnaud, skiing in the French Alps for a long weekend.  He left on Friday afternoon and will be returning on Tuesday.  Aaron and I met up with Arnaud’s mother, Sonia, at the autoroute parking lot on Friday.  She then had to go meet up with Arnaud, his Dad and Sonia’s other son in Avignon.  So, Aaron and I watched as Tristan drove away with Sonia off into the distance!  It was another surreal moment for me.  Time does not stand still.  Did we really just put our 12 year old son in a car with someone we don’t know that well for 4 or five days and possibly travel into another country, while speaking a foreign language?  Aaron and I jokingly looked at each other and said, “let’s go race her down and get Tristan and just bring him home!”  LOL!  It was a moment of doubt on our part, like did we make the right choice in letting him go. Time will tell, I guess!

Tristan has done a great job adapting to making friends and enjoying his experience.  His friends are always fighting about scheduling activities with him.  It is a little humorous, but Tristan gets a little annoyed by it.  One weekend, a friend invited Tristan to the skate park. A few hours later another friend phoned and invited Tristan do go into Nîmes for a dance competition.  Well, the second friend got mad at the first for inviting Tristan when second said person was invited to the skate park, initially.  The second person wrote Tristan a note saying he was no longer friends with the first friend!  Are these junior high girls???  So funny!  Tristan does not like to be in the middle of this behavior!  Welcome to junior high!

It is hard having Tristan away, but when I receive awesome pictures with the Alps in the background I know this is but a small moment and a great learning experience for Tristan!

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