Temple Trip Schedule

I was so impressed with the organization of the youth Temple trip!  All the youth were given this brochure that was made just for them.  It showed what group each youth was in and what their activities were for the day.

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The groups were divided up by age, so all three of the boys were in a different group.  This worked out great because they got to know other youth their same age.  Each group did work in the Temple at different times.  As you can see from the above photo their time was filled with awesome activities.  There were study hours for each group and time in the Temple each day for each group.  Then in the afternoon and evenings the leaders had other activities planned.  There was a talent show, time to practice for talent show (which I heard was awesome), testimony meeting and other “fun” activities.  One activity was a game that included “chickens” with eggs tied to their heads while others were trying to seek them and crush their eggs, while trying to find a hidden treasure.

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Two youth were teamed up and tied together and then each person had to get pantyhose put over their head with a real egg attached to the top of their head.  The other teams had swim “noodles” and they were the ones chasing after the chickens to crack their eggs.  The goal was for the chickens to not get their egg broken while finding the hidden treasure.  It was hilarious!  If a chicken’s egg broke they had to run back to the starting position and get a new one tied on.

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I have to add that no adults other than the leaders were allowed to be apart of the activities, testimony meeting or talent show.  Aaron and I commented on how we wanted to observe our boys at these different activities and all the other adults said, “oh no, this is for the youth.  They feel more comfortable without other adults there.  The youth will open up more if they know other parents/adults are not present.”  Once I processed this, I really thought it was a great idea and respectful of the time the youth had with one another. This was about them!

AJ, Austin and Tristan had a blast on the Temple trip.  They formed wonderful friendships, had amazing spiritual experiences and had a FUN time!  I am so grateful my boys had this experience that they can remember for the rest of their lives.  One thing I noticed about these youth was they all wanted to have fun!  There were no clicks or bad attitudes, just a group full of teenagers seeking friendship, laughter and spiritual things!  There was no pretentious behavior on anyone’s part.  It was refreshing and awesome!  Bravo to the Toulouse Stake Leaders for doing a phenomenal job!

Dress Code

No, my children do not have a dress code at their schools, BUT, France has a dress code! This morning I dropped Sophie off at her classroom in a short sleeve shirt, jeans, and her boots with her winter coat hanging on her hook.  The sky was blue and the temperature was supposed to reach 58 degrees.  It was a beautiful morning and we walked to school with no gloves, hats, or anything because it felt like a spring morning.

All the parents of the children in Sophie’s class hand deliver their child to the classroom door.  This morning Sophie made her way into the classroom after navigating around 4 mothers standing in the doorway talking.  Just as I was getting ready to turn around, I notice out of the corner of my eye Sophie’s teacher look at Sophie and her shirt and quizzically ask Sophie if she had anything else with her to wear.  I proceeded to walk in their direction because I did not want Sophie to be questioned about what she had on. The teacher asked me if she had a cardigan to wear and I said “no, she did not want to wear one”.  (This is 100% true because I knew the teachers would ask me why she was in a short sleeve shirt.)  I told the teacher she has her coat on her hook for her outside play. This whole interaction was going on while all 4 other moms were glancing at me, with the teacher in the background speaking loudly  To say I felt like I was put on the spot is an understatement!  After I said Sophie did not have a cardigan, the teacher gave me a disapproved look, rolled her eyes and looked the other direction.  All the mothers turned their heads from me to the teacher at the same time.  I felt like I was in a scripted sitcom, but no one was laughing at my expense, except for myself!  I slowly turned around and walked away a little ticked off.

There are a few things the french are snobs about.  Food and clothing.  I have been told on so many occasions how my children should be dressing, what shoes my children should be wearing in certain types of weather, what types of food my kids should eat, when we should eat…  The list goes on and on in these two areas!  The french feel obligated to tell me these things all the time!  They feel like their traditions in these two areas are the only way it should be and it is the right way.  Today it just struck the wrong chord!

There have been numerous times where I have seen a child/toddler bundled up so heavily (because of the season, yet the temperature doesn’t warrant the clothing) they have rosy cheeks and are crying and then the parents are yelling at them for no good reason.  I wonder why!?  But, it is none of my business to tell the parents what might be the problem.  Sure, if they ask I would gladly make a recommendation.

I could gone on and on with examples of the above scenario, but my venting is complete!

PS.  I have to admit that these two things I mention, food and clothing, are also what make France so enjoyable.  Their food is delicious and their clothing is so fashionable and chic, yet I just don’t like the “rules” governing these topics, especially when the breaking of these “rules” is directed at my children and my inadequacies.  The french are so strict with their “rules” that it makes those of us who don’t abide by their way uncomfortable.

PSS.  It’s a love/hate relationship! :)

Maison d’hôtes!

Our room accommodations in Zollikofen were simple, yet awesome!  It is a building, like a dorm hall, next to the Temple where patrons can stay for a very reasonable price.  It only cost our family 89 euros for 4 nights/5 days.  We had a discount because our 3 boys were paid for by the Stake.  But, if that was not the case it would have, still, only cost our family of 7, 174 euros for 4 nights/5 days.  Aaron and I had stayed at this maison d’hôtes 22 years ago.  Our memory was vague, but we did remind the children that the rooms would be small and filled with bunk beds.  What fun!!!!

I say that with all honesty!  What a blast we had as a family in this little room of ours!

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The biggest dilemma was deciding who would sleep where!  Each person received linens for the bed and a blanket.  We provided our own towels and any extra bedding we thought we would need.  We did not have room to bring anything extra, so what was given to us was what we used and it was very comfortable for all of us!  Because the room was so tight we had to make sure everything was always organized and in its’ place. Each person had a little locker at the end of the room where clothing could be hung up and shoes stored away.  Jack and Sophie loved this because they had their own locker and could lock it with a key if they wanted to!

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After a day of having our room like the first photos, a friend told us the bunks move and we would have more space if we moved things around.  We did and it gave us more space to move about.  Plus, the extra floor mattress could more easily be stored on top of another mattress with this new layout.  None of us were in the “dorm” room very much so we didn’t feel stressed about the space.  It worked great and everyone worked together to keep their space picked up!

The below photos are of the bathroom space.  Notice one small pedestal sink and a small stand up shower.  There were a few hooks to hang towels, coats, etc.  We really felt like we had to live the law of sacrifice and consecration in this tiny space.  It was a great reminder to Aaron and I and our family to work together so everyone could be happy!

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There was a communal kitchen in the basement of the “dorm” hall.  This, too, was a great reminder how everyone needed to share space, clean up after themselves and respect each others space.  The cafeteria area was lined with refrigerators and metal shelving for people to store their groceries.  Each person staying at the maison d’hôtes could use the needed shelving space.  We had one shelf in one of the refrigerators for our family and two metal shelves for our room temperature food.  Everyone could use the kitchen.  There were 10 small stations, 5 along a wall with a sink, and two stove top burners.  There were no ovens, only one microwave.  So meals had to be something that could be made on the stovetop.  Dishes, glasses, and silverware were all provided.  Everyone had to clean and wash what they used.  There was one wall devoted to dish towels and a large island for cutting and preparing food.  It was such a neat experience to “share” these spaces with everyone in the maison d’hôtes.  The youth had the kitchen every night from 6-7pm.  That was the only time non youth were not allowed in the space.  But, many adults were there helping prepare food for the youth.  It was so fun preparing and eating along side our friends!  It also allowed us to meet new people.  It was a great social setting and we all loved it!  There was a feeling of community that I have only felt on few occasions!  There was a feeling of true Zion that we experienced.  Everyone had to be of one heart and one mind to make the situation comfortable and enjoyable for all.  FANTASTIC!  The boys (all of us) really felt a sense of sadness as we packed up our car and drove away.

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Vernier, Switzerland

My maiden name is Vernier.  There is a small town outside of Genève that is called Vernier. 22 years ago Aaron and I visited this little town.  I come from strong European roots!  I am French, Swiss and Portuguese!  My Dad’s side is from all three countries and my Mom’s is from Switzerland.  When I was in Zollikofen I looked up Wittwer (my Mom’s maiden name) and I found many people in the Interlaken area of Switzerland, which was only a 45 minute- one hour car drive.  I wish we would have had time to stop and visit the few places, but I don’t need to visit to know where my roots are.  It’s no wonder I feel at home in Europe!

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This is a picture of my Grandma Ruth Vernier (Fortado), my Dad’s mom.  She is 100 years old this year and she is Portuguese.  We are hoping to make it to Portugal while we are in Europe, but I don’t think I will get to Madeira Island.  Madeira Island is where the Fortado family comes from.  I love knowing I am so close to my forefathers heritage!

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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!

La Famille Jerôme

We returned yesterday evening from our wonderful trip to Switzerland, Germany and Austria, which I will write about in the next few weeks.  I am just getting caught up with laundry and cleaning and will be back on track as soon as the children return back to school on Monday.

Tonight we were invited to our friends, Benjamin and Claireline Jerôme, house.  They live in a town, Garons, about 40 minutes from our village of Sanilhac.  They are kind friends and we really enjoy their company.  Today was a beautiful sunny day so we went to a park close to their house, played croquet, threw around a football, fed some ducks and went on a playground before we went to their house.

Aaron had been to the Jerôme’s house before and told me how much I would love it.  So, I was eager to see their home.  Aaron was not kidding.  I love their little home.  Everything about it was old, unique and french!  It has so much character!  I had to come home from our fun evening and share these few photos.

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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!

Sophie is 4!!

Sophie had a birthday, shout HOORAY!

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Sophie turned 4 on Saturday, February 7, 2015.  We all love her so much and are so happy she is part of our family.  She keeps us on our toes and is constantly entertaining us with song and dance!  Those that know Sophie will not be surprised by the photos of her new “clapping” shoes and a new dress-up.  The dress-up is a little “Marie Antoinette”, so when Sophie tried it on she wasn’t convinced it was beautiful because of the style of sleeve.  We laughed because we know she LOVES her Disney Princess dress-ups and this “french” style was a little different.  She still likes it and wore it all around the house for a few hours.

I was so excited when I found a package of 5 dress-up shoes (which Sophie calls “clapping” shoes because of the sound they make) for 5 euros.  She was so excited when she saw all 5 pair of shoes!  Her little 4 year old dreams came true!

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Street Cleaners

On our way to church one Sunday morning we came upon this street cleaner:

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The roads are not very busy on a Sunday morning and there are usually less pedestrians out and about at the same time.  So, to see this man “washing” the street was not unusual for us.  But, it is not common in the States.  In our little northern Utah community, a street cleaner is a large truck that hugs the curb and clears the debris from the curb.  Also, there is usually some type of water residue left in its path.

Everything about these pictures scream “French”!  The manual process, a man decked out in fluorescent attire, relatively small truck supplying the water…

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Morning Runs

I tried to get a few pictures this morning on one of the trails I like to run.  There are so many trails in our area!  I love the topography here.  We have mountains in the distance that we usually can see, beautiful hills covered in vineyards, little villages that pop up around different bends in the road, an ancient roman bridge in the distance, terra cotta tiled roofs, old stone remains throughout the countryside, white horses, sheep grazing in the fields…

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