Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jessica, Quin and my mom visit May 2015

It's been a month since Jessica and Quin flew home.  
It was so fun to have them (and my mom) visit us in May. 

I was hoping to teach Quin (16 months at the time) some words,
but instead he learned some animal sounds - kack for duck and mao for cat and ta-da!
Quin loved our animals but it was a little one-sided.  He got hen pecked and cat scratched, but still followed them around.

Love playing board games with company!

Me and mom hikng along river trail in Merrimack

Four Generations at New Castle, NH

   Mother's Day  we went to the beach for a relaxing afternoon.  Jessica is such a good mommy!

Sandwich anyone? 
With Jason and Curtis

Quin loved mini golf!  He added a level of difficulty to the game because he kept taking the golf balls.

A fun afternoon at See Children's Museum with Curtis

Making bubbles with Uncle Curtis

Love this cute guy!
Can't wait to see them in August in Oregon!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jason's homecoming

Even though it was over a month ago, I want to record some thoughts and pictures about Jason's return home.

Finding Elder Dodge at Manchester airport

Meeting Quin for the first time

He flew in late at night, but his flight arrived earlier than we did, so it took us a few minutes to find him (he was sitting on a bench outside thinking we would drive up to the curb).  Jessica, Quin and my mom arrived earlier that day to be here for his homecoming.  After a few hugs and photos we left for the church so he could meet with the Stake President and get released.  President Holland had some great words of counsel for us and Jason about keeping the spirit with us and supporting each other during his transition.  His former bishop also wrote him some excellent counsel (should be an ensign article).

The next day Jason slept until noon.  He had a cold and hadn't slept much the previous 48 hours.  The first order of business was to get his license renewed at the DMV.  He wasn't able to renew his license remotely, so he wasn't able to drive the last 5 months of this mission.  Then we went to Burlington Coat Factory and he got some new clothes.  He was following me around the store and I realized he that was because he had been trained to stay by his companion. That night we went out to eat with the whole family to Buffalo Wild Wings (Jason's request).  Curtis wanted to try the spiciest sauce and it made him sick, poor guy.

Jason jumped right in to the young single adult ward the following evening by driving down to the institute class and game night (his first solo outing since his return).  He made some new friends right away and started dating a friendly young woman the following week.  On Sunday he spoke it our ward.  It was mother's day and the bishop asked him to speak about mothers and missionaries.  He did a great job by tying in how important the mother's role is in the plan of salvation.  He also said the convert he was most proud of was himself because he really learned to depend on the Savior developed his own testimony. In losing his life (in service) he really gain it and learned who he really is.  After our ward, he went to the YSA ward and was called to be ward mission leader.  He loves it because he still gets to do missionary work a few hours a week, but can still listen to his music, wear what he wants, and date!

The first few days Jason was home he was on the couch because we hadn't cleared a space for him.  We spent several hours clearing out a section of the basement for him and put some mattress on top of pallets.  On his mission he got used to having his stuff organized and put away, so he was really happy to get his own space.  He also bought us some cleaning supplies and a bug sapper.  Now when he gets annoyed at our mess or his stuff gets moved, he says with a smile, "Just one more incentive to move out."  He doesn't have definite plans for the future.  Right now he's working for a temp agency doing different jobs.  The hours are long and the pay isn't great, but it's a great starting place for now.

My mom stayed until Monday because she wanted to hear Jason speak.  We went the Kid's Cove playground, hiked along the river, and went out for ice cream.  We visited the Audubon Center and played board games at home.  We had an impromptu talent show for Grandma--Curtis rapped, Jason sang/played a song he wrote about repentance, Trevor played us his song he wrote about biking.  A highlight for me was that Jason wanted to go to the temple right away, so Saturday AM Grandma stayed home with Quin, Curtis and Trevor so Jessica, Jason, Jonathan and I could do a temple session together.

Boston Temple

It's so great to have Jason home.  He is a good example for the whole family.  He adds his testimony to family scripture study/gospel discussions, he cheerfully serves (even catching/medicating chickens and installing bees), he gives advice to his brothers, he even gave me a hug and priesthood blessing when I was really upset.  I'm so proud of him. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Trip to France

Valentine's Day 2015 in Grenoble, France
Jonathan planned a trip to France.  He was already going to be in Germany on a business trip and paid a little extra to fly to France for four days to visit Nathan and Valerie.  He asked me to join him there. I was surprised and thrilled to be invited. We left Curtis and Trevor at home with instructions, schedules and phone lists.

I took the bus to Boston Thursday afternoon for my long flight to Amsterdam, then Lyon, arriving at 11AM Friday morning (with two hours of sleep on the plane). Valerie picked me up for an afternoon of sightseeing in Lyon.

Corridors between the apartment/shop buildings from 1400's.  The longest corridor is 4 blocks long!

Cobblestone streets in historic Lyon
 We took the metro into the historic section of town.  We had an authentic lunch at a French restaurant (lamb chops, fish dumplings, and potatoes au gratin).  So delicious.  Then we walked through the cobblestone streets to see the sights: village with buildings from 1400's, two cathedrals, roman-era amphitheater and museum.  The large museum contains archeological finds from the Roman era.
The remains of two amphitheaters - built in Roman era and the larger one for the commoners seats 11,000.   The basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière is in the background.

Mosiac tiled floor in front of amphitheater

Saint Jean Baptiste Cathedral in Lyon

The basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière - a huge cathedral on top of the hill.  It has two stories, each with a large, ornate chapel 
 I had no idea that this was such an old city, founded in 1 B.C. by Romans. It was a great afternoon and also fun for Valerie as she had never toured this part of town before.

 We picked up Jonathan at the airport at 5PM and drove through lots of traffic (school winter vacation) to their home in Grenoble.  This was the first time we have seen their home since they completely renovated it eight years ago. It is so nice! We had a yummy dinner of salad, pumpkin soup, and chicken and rice with Nathan, Valerie, Meryl and Elina.  I headed to bed and Jonathan stayed up to visit with his twin brother.

Meryl, Elina, Nathan and Valerie

 Saturday morning we went nordic skiing at the closest ski resort to Grenoble.  We did several loops, totaling 12 km with a picnic lunch break of quiche, baguette and cheese in the lodge.  Nathan gave Jonathan lots of pointers on skate ski technique.  Valerie and I classic skied.  I'm pretty rusty and out of shape as I haven't skied much since we left Oregon three years ago.  They felt bad about the cloudy weather because we couldn't see the Alps, but I was thrilled to leave the sub-zero blizzard conditions of NH for a few days.


 Saturday evening, their good friends came for dinner.  They are beekeepers too, so we shared photos and philosophies.  Dinner was the French style called raclette.  Yummy, thick slices of cheese melted in individual trays, poured over potatoes and served with a variety of cold cuts.  Dessert was glazed orange slices.  It was a lovely evening.

 Sunday morning I made cinnamon rolls (I woke early every morning with the 6-hour time difference).  I went to church with Meryl while Jonathan and Nathan went for a bike ride.  Meryl belongs to a very friendly, family-oriented Christian church that does lots of praise worship and spontaneous praying.  Meryl and her friend Anna translated parts of the service to me. 

Gerard and Frederique

 Sunday afternoon we went for a traditional French lunch at Gerard and Frederique's (Valerie parents).  The are gracious hosts and we had an enjoyable 3-hour meal with them of appetizers, salad, creamy potatoes au gratin (I got the recipe), roasted chicken, bread and fancy cheeses, orange dessert with toasted almonds and cake.  

Then we went to the Natural History museum in Grenoble (walking in the rain) to see the exhibit on spiders.  It was fascinating and luckily had English subtitles on  most of the signs.  That evening we had a light dinner of left overs and played card games with Meryl and her boyfriend, Camille.

 Monday we went for another day of nordic skiing.  This time we went farther away to a nice ski resort outside a quaint village.  This ski area reminded me of the ones at Mount Bachelor because there were more remote trails into the woods with the mountains in the background. 

 We skied into a rustic lodge/restaurant where we had reservations for an amazing lunch.Hot raspberry drink, endive salad, bread, polenta with sausages, glazed fruit topped with shaved chocolate and whipped creams.  It was one of the best meals I've ever had.  Somehow we managed to ski another 8km on very full stomachs!  Again, it was cloudy but so much warmer that NH that we kept shedding layers.

 After skiing, we returned our rental equipment and walked around the quaint village of Villard de Lans, visiting a few shops and buying some treats for Curtis and Trevor (and pastries for ourselves).  We went back to their home for a final evening of left overs, visiting and packing (sadly). 

Villard de Lans

We took a bus early to Lyon to begin our trip home (two plane rides and another bus ride).  Fortunately, the weather cooperated and after digging our car out of the long-term parking we made it home.  The boys were very responsible in our absence, clearing snow after Sunday's storm, taking care of the animals, and going to school.