Sunday, November 01, 2015

Gratitude Day 1: MFME Trip to Switzerland, Austria and Germany

It's weird that it's been SO long since I've written. I wrote 2-3 times a week on this blog for years and years but something just had to give over the past year - so my blog got put on the back burner. I've been Instagraming regularly and podcasting a lot so I'm sort of journaling my life and thoughts that way. But now that the big Mom Conference I co-hosted is over (it was SO much work and stress but I learned a ton and we had nearly 40,000 moms attend - many of whom took the time to write the nicest notes of thanks), I've decided to slow down on Power of Moms projects and make more time for writing, for reading, for thinking, and for actually taking the time to enjoy my beautiful life (my word for this year is "enjoy" and I'm determined to get better at actually doing it!).

You won't be seeing a lot more posts here in general. But you'll be seeing more. Especially this month as I've decided to do a quick gratitude post every day (maybe here part of the time, on Instagram part of the time - still deciding...). A couple year's back, I did a quick daily post about something I was especially grateful for during the whole month of November up until Thanksgiving and that was such a positive thing for me. I enjoy life much more and find a lot more happiness when I'm actively looking for the good in my life- and knowing I'll be writing a gratitude post each day helps keep me actively looking for the good.

My first gratitude post for this month will be WAY longer than the rest. I finally got a chance tonight to read over my mom and sisters' great blog posts about our fabulous MFME (Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm) trip to Europe at the end of Septemer/beginning of October. And I'm just SO full of gratitude for these fabulous women I get to be related to and the precious time we had together and for my mom who made it all happen. Plus I'm so grateful that my mom and sisters recorded the trip so well already - so I'm going to share links to their great blog posts full of photos at the end of this post and keep my post to a few full group photo and the text I wrote up at the end of the trip but haven't gotten around to posting until now.

Oh how I love these ladies!
In the schoolhouse- turned-museum where our great great grandfather and mother went to school
In Schmeidrued, Switzerland (with the sweet museum curator and his wife)

At the church where my great great grandparents, Verena and Samuel Weber, went to church

In Flims where Anita grew up

Walk through the gorgeous hills near Tal and Anita's house

In the Alps
At Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany
On our "Sound of Music" bike tour in Salzburg
at the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg

getting creative with pictures - downtown Salzburg

Munich - during the height of Oktoberfest

Final dinner together - in Munich

Here's what I wrote at the end of our trip:

I’ve had a truly wonderful and amazing week with my mom and sisters and sisters in law, traveling around Switzerland, Austria and Germany. 

  • We visited the town where our great grandmother grew up and and saw the school and church that she went to as a girl. 
  • We wandered through beautiful Zurich and climbed to the top of the towers of the cathedral there. 
  • We had a fabulous Sunday dinner at the lovely traditional chalet where my brother Tal and his family live (Tal’s wife Anita is from Switzerland and is SO excited to be living there again after living in the States for 20 years!). 
  • We visited the breathtaking ski town in the Alps (called Flims) where Anita grew up and visited her parents in her childhood home which is right up against one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen. We saw the bedroom she had growing up and marveled at the view she had from the desk in that room as she did her homework! 
  • We hiked along the “Grand Canyon of Switzerland” and walked around the lake in Flims plus rode a ski lift up to where we could get sweeping views. Then Anita and I walked down the mountain into the old village center of Flims, cow bells clanging all around, chalets and old barns dotting the hillside.  
  • We wandered along the remains of a 2000-year-old Roman road as we went through the Julier Pass. 
  • We saw traditional Swiss mountain cheese made the original way - in a huge kettle over an open fire - and learned facinating facts about cheese making before enjoying a fabulous (and HUGE) platter of many kinds of cheese. 
  • We rode a gondola up to the glacier peaks outside St Moritz and felt like we were on top of the world. 
  • We ate amazing chocolate and wonderful fondue and so many other tasty things (which were all VERY expensive - wow, Switzerland is one expensive country!). 
  • We explored adorable mountain villages in Switzerland and Bavaria with flowerboxes bursting with color at every window (Zouz, Oberarmegau, Mittenwald). 
  • We stayed in a wonderful apartment tucked into the attic of a house from the 1500’s and felt like we’d stepped right into a storybook. In fact, every place we stayed was just wonderful (thanks to Anita and Aja for setting up all the accommodations!). 
  • We went to the fairytale castle of Neuishwanstein and wondered at the care and expense that went into that exquisite palace that King Ludwig only enjoyed for a couple years before he mysteriously died. We hiked up above the castle to enjoy amazing views. 
  • We visited Mittenwald which was the violin-making capital of the world for centuries and learned about how violins are made in the lovely little museum there plus rode a wonderfully slow old chairlift up to the top of the mountain outside the village and enjoyed lunch looking out over gorgeous mountains with the town spread out below. 
  • We visited beautiful churches - some dripping with Roccoco pastels and gold accents, some simple and stark and pure. 
  • We rode bikes all over the gorgeous city of Salzburg, ate lunch at the Museum of Modern Art there with a spetcatular view of the city, heard all the bells pealing at the same time from the countless steeples of Salzburg, and climbed up to its ancient fortress before finishing off that grand day with a truly amazing and intimate concert in the guilded Marble Hall at the Mirabell Palace - in the very room where Mozart played with his father and sister when he was a boy.
  • We spent half a day wandering the grounds and enjoying the silly fun of the trick fountains at the Hellbrun Palace on the outskirts of Salzburg, then spent our final night together in Munich, unwittingly getting there at the climax of Oktoberfest so we were surrounded by slightly drunk and very happy crowds of people, most of whom were wearing lederhosen and dirndyls. We found a slightly less crazy little alley with a great restaurant for our final meal together and enjoyed the parade of Oktoberfest revelers walk by.
Perhaps most importantly, we talked. We had great conversations as we drove from place to place, alternating who went it which of the two cars. We had 5 in one car, 4 in the other. And 4-5 is such a perfect sized group for great conversation. We talked over meals and gathered in one of the hotel rooms each night to talk late into the night - even when we were so tired we knew we should really go to bed - we just had to enjoy every possible bit of good conversation! We each shared the best and hardest things going on in our lives right now. We talked about what books we’ve read and what podcasts we’ve listened to and all that we’ve been learning. We talked about our children and helped each other come up with ideas for handling various things going on with our kids. We laughed a lot. Oh, how good it feels to laugh with these women I love so much!

And we all had so much fun passing little 5-month-old Dean around. What a good baby he is - and he’s just plain adorable with all his smiles and coos and funny expressions! What a great mama he has - Julie just totally rolled with everything and never complained a bit about how hard it can be to travel with a baby who needs to eat in the night and has his fussy times while you’re trying to enjoy travelling with 8 other women. She’s amazing.

I’m so grateful that my mom has made such a point of getting us together regularly, that she comes up with great topics for us to discuss, and that she works to hard to make sure everyone is comfortable and happy thorughout our get-togethers. Our first “Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm” (MFME) trip was back in 1998 and involved just me, Shawni, Saydi, Charity and my mom on an epic trip through I tay and France with a little time in Barcelona as well. SInce then, we’ve had gatherings pretty much every year, adding great new members as my brothers have gotten married. Some years we’ve just taken a few hours to go to dinner together while we’re at Bear Lake, leaving our husbands with the kids. Now there are 9 of us and we’re all mothers other than Charity. Because we’re all at different places financially, mom has quietly and generously helped ensure that all of us can get to every gathering. Usually our trips are much less expensive. But this year, my mom decided to use the money she got from selling the farm that her parents left to her to enable us to go on this grand adventure and visit the land of her ancestors. I know my grandparents were smiling in Heaven when she decided on this great way to use the money she got from them! They scrimped and saved all their lives and their farm never really prospered. But when the farm finally sold a few years back, my mom invested the money from the sale wisely and earmarked that money for MFME. How grateful I am to my mom and my grandparents for making this trip and all our other MFME trips possible!

How in the heck did I get so blessed to have the mother I have and the sisters and sisters in law I have???! They are each so precious to me. I learn from every one of them all the time through their examples and words. We’re all so different in wonderful ways and so much the same in important ways. There’s no group I’d rather be with. And I know having my favorite people right in my own family is a blessing that not everyone has.

Here are great posts by Shawni:
Switzerland intro
Anita's wonderland
Engadin Valley
Sound of Music Bike Tour

Here are excellent posts from Charity:
sisters in switzerland
flying through the alps (I'm so mad I didn't go with them paragliding!)
So much beauty in the engadin valley

And here's my mom's take on it all:
On to Switzerland and the Beginning of an Epic MFME

And here are the photos everyone Instagrammed while we were travelling.


Sydney said...

I have loved your families posts about this wonderful MFME, extra special trip. What a grand opportunity and memorable time for the MFME. I have followed the MFME activities for years. I married into a family that has not been able to fully embrace those that have married into the family. For whatever reasons, we are kept at arms length and have little to no voice. For twenty years I worked hard for better relationships, sisterly activities, closeness and a binding force that would endure through good times and bad times. But, have had to face the facts that "closeness" was not to be. This has caused me to watch how the Eyre women treat their sister-in-laws/daughter-in-laws. What a great example of acceptance, concern and love. Good relationships are so vital to the fullness and joys of life.
That being said, I grew up in a very loving, kind and accepting home. My own mother and father have been the best example ever, of love and devotion to family and extended family i could have asked for. My daughers and I have followed in the MFME footsteps and have had a yearly gathering. And, some shorter monthly gatherings via skype for discussing interesting articles, reading books and listening to each others thoughts and views. We are spread out in the USA and Europe. At our big gatherings we discuss our highs and lows and seem to never have enough time to discuss it all--ha!
With a heart full of gratefulness, thank-you for such a good example of family togetherness--through marriages, babies, hard times and good times. It is good to see the positivity through your families eyes, which in turn makes the possibilities for the future even brighter. Thank you.

Saren Loosli said...

Sydney: thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Bravo to you for all of your efforts! I should add that we certainly have our moments when things are a little tense or we have a hard time deciding on something that works well for everyone. But wow, I hit the jackpot with this mom and these sisters and sisters in law of mine! A lot of the reason MFME works so well is that everyone genuinely WANTS to be close. The desire really has to be there to make things work. And my mom's vision and understanding is the glue that holds it all together.

Sydney said...

Thank-you, Saren. I agree. It is a blessing that my children and their spouses genuinely desire and want to be close to each other and close to my husband and myself. I caught your mom's vision of MFME years ago and am so thankful. I would like to think of myself as "the glue" holding it all together, but, I am not sure I have reached that status, yet--ha! This type of conversation does encourage me to keep working towards being all that I can be, as a mother of grown children and a grandmother of three little girls. Thank you again.


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