Sunday, October 29, 2006

Our very own Jack'O'Lantern!

Rachel is proud to be the recipient of 4 chf cumulative from the tooth fairy so far since we moved to Switzerland. Mom has been trusted with pulling the last 3 teeth. I always tell her that she must have a lot of trust in me as I would never have let my Mom or Dad pull my teeth. So we laugh right now at our little jack'o lantern.

News for the week: Managed to get thru it! There were cupcakes and cornbread to make for Worldfest at school, a Halloween party to organize (I was responsible for activities & getting decor. up - will seek MORE help next time) and a pie to bake for the Harvest/Thanksgiving dinner at church. I am as busy in Switzerland as I was in the US! How does this happen? I obviously suffer from the volunteer syndrome that plagues many mothers. But - my children will thank me right? NOT! By the way Mom, thank you for the cupcakes I do remember you made for 2nd grade - 30 odd years better late than never.
Worldfest - An interesting and taste-tantalizing experience at school. Many of the 40 countries represented by the school population had food/product booths (fantastic foods - Italian, Greek, Sth American, Indian, Asian, American, Middle Eastern, Australian, UK, Scotland, Russian, etc.............) and entertainment as well. Never had I been to a school function where there were South American Carnivale Dancers, Indian dancers, Roy Orbison/Bob Dylan (songs by Amer. Music teachers), Wine & Scotch tasting and Inflatable Slides/houses all in one place - Very interesting. I won the American - taste of Home raffle so will be picking up my load of such goodies as Choc. chip cookies, baking powder, Bisquik, cake mixes, Maple syrup (the fake kind - they only sell the real stuff here!), many other misc. and the most coveted by all middle age school kids - Twizzlers and Skittle flavored Bubble Gum. I think I could auction those off and feed my family for a month!
There are always small challenges to face - esp. when trying to help with all these activities. There is NO canned frosting - I have made 3 batches of buttercream frosting in the last month from scratch. There is no Marie Callendars cornbread mix so I made that from scratch for the first time (should I be embarassed). But the baking challenge culminated when I went to make the Apple Pie. I usually use good old Crisco for the crust - they have no Crisco here. But they do have pig lard, rindbuerre (meat butter?) and a vegetable oil something that has the consistency of semi-solid bacon grease. Sooooooo - I improvised and made a new crust recipe and substituted butter for shortening - IT WORKED - key is unsalted butter(harder to find salted butter here period). The crust tasted great! Yeah! I was not embarassed by my pie. And it is the little successes that keep you from getting discouraged by the small challenges. I pray I don't sound too pathetic - former CPA turned HausFrau! Hee Hee

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scrapbooking & Fighter Jets

As I was sitting at the desk looking at approx. 200 photos I just rec'd from the States (cheaper for me to process digitally online and have shipped than to do it here), I thought of the girls who last week spent about 6 - 8 hrs of their free time working on their scrapbooks. They are so up to date! I am soooooo far behind! And I just added another 200 pic's to my pile. I'm ill and need to find a recovery group for people who take too many pic's. But I would fall off the wagon quickly as I do like all my pic's (those that turn out anyway) and I do actually print them out vs keeping them forever on disc.
And as I sit, 2 fighter jets just roared by down the length of the lake. Awesome!! We like to go outside and enjoy the noise of it as well. Sometimes it is only 2 jets, sometimes 8 - 10. As we have read, the Swiss does not have an army as the Swiss ARE an army. There is compulsory military service for all male citizens and they basically serve in the Reserves until 40? yrs of age. It is not unusually to see a man/men riding the train with his machine gun on his way to reserve duty - the guns are theirs to keep at home. Of course, if it is not convenient for a man to serve when requested, his company can of course pay for his absence. Anything(legal) is possible here with the appropriate currency.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy Birthday Kendra!!

Well, our baby turned 6 on Oct. 18th. She was so excited and had some girlfriends over after school for a Birthday party. They get out at 2:30 every Wed. so it was very convenient for an afternoon party. She also received several boxes from the various Grandparents so that was also a big thrill. She was 'crying' as she opened the "12 Dancing Princesses" DVD from Gpa Paul. We asked her why and she says "you know how you're so happy it makes you want to cry." It was a bit of a fake cry but we got the message. Kendra at 6 is still cuddly and loves to give hugs, likes to lounge in bed in the mornings, drink pink milk and still needs her 'blankey' with her for comfort - then will astound you with some grown up logic and vocabulary. It's nice that they do take their time growing up even though it seems fast.
Happy Birthday Putsey Pie!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Watch your Speed!

Well - Here you see us traveling very comfortably by train. The girls are essentially free with paying parents so for nearly the cost of gas in 1st class train tickets, we arrive rested and on time to our destinations (at least in Switzerland - not sure how many Italian trains we'll be taking). A funny- only Susan & Kendra can ride backwards longterm without stomach issues - the family does a seating swap at the Bahnhofs (stations) depending on how the trains arrive/depart.
And last week when we got all our mail from being out of town - OUCH! - a post from the Zurich Polizei. My heart sunk. This notice was for real. You see, every few weeks when we first moved here, we would get mail from Zurich - Police with these large amounts due. Each time, I kept thinking somehow I got caught speeding or something - and then I would read enough of the German to realize it related to a "policy" of some sort (auto, home, etc...). Police, Policy - not the same! But Polizei - THAT would be 'police' in English! My first speeding ticket - but it was via camera so was sent to BART!! HA HA!!! The good news is that Bart understands - almost everyone gets a ticket from this camera box at least once - it is on a downhill slope and you have to ride the brakes to maintain the speed limit. I was 10 kmh over on a 60kmh - equiv. of about 6 mph over - they are REALLY getting a lot of CHF ($) out of their auto penalty system. No wonder the country has a National surplus. And I just added 40chf to it!
We also celebrated Kendra's Birthday on Wed. She was a happy girl - 6 years old. I will post the pic's as soon as I can download - need to clean the Murren photo's off first!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Murren - Part 2

Bart and the girls. Always ahead. I always trail behind - taking pic's and enjoying the scenery. We were able to get in some good hiking, played on the kiddy playgrounds, ate a lot of good food and read some books!
This is the village of Murren. It is basically built on the side of the mountain and this pic. is taken from the gondola as we left. It is a one mile, 2 gondola car ride up from the Lauterbrunnen Valley floor up to Murren (approx. 5,400ft high). This was after 2 trains and a bus. Murren has the distinction of being the closest village to the Shilthorn/Piz Gloria peak - most commonly recognized from the James Bond film "In her Majesty's Secret Service" as the revolving mountain top pad that gets blown up. Well - it is a revolving restaurant and has views that cover the Alps as well as the across Switzerland into Germany. Awesome! And as far as the gondola rides and tunnels - glad the Swiss are good engineers!
Murren's other distinction is that is has an incredibly unobstructed view of 3 of the Alps highest peaks - the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau (they are behind us in that order) - right across the Valley. The portion of the Alps connected with these are almost as high and go on as far as the eye can see so it is amazingly beautiful and awe-inspiring. Rachel and Kendra liked the Eiger the best - it was the pointiest! We could have done more down in the Valley (waterfalls, shopping, etc...) but Bart and I were enjoying being up so high and loving the view that we decided we'll have to go back to do the rest later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rachel & Kendra - Murren, Part 1

Rachel "Here we go - another trail. I get to be in front. Yeah, Mom, I know - Be careful. I don't need my walking stick anymore. Can I have my walking stick?"
Kendra "Not more walking?! Are we going back to the hotel. When will we be at the hotel? I'm tired. It's so beautiful - are we going to go swimming now?"

We are back from Murren safe and sound. More pic's and tales later. In spite of the above (real quotes!), the girls did great and we did 2 long hikes for kiddos. Even Mom & Dad had tired feet. Summary - Beautiful, we will return!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

God is Good, God is in Control

"We know God is good and God is in control" - these are the words spoken by a "shunned" Amish man interviewed this week on FoxNews as he was asked how the Amish community was dealing with this tragedy. I'm sure many of you have heard the same. I know that many people question how God could allow such a thing to happen. He never says we will know all the answers - He asks that we trust and believe. As much as we are control-freaks, I always feel soooo much better when I realize that I am NOT in control, He is.
My mom and her husband John lost a dear friend in Iraq yesterday. Please pray for them and his wife who is in Carson City. It sometimes seems these events take place far away until they touch someone close to us.
This is not a cheery blog day - it doesn't have to be. Life is not all a vacation, not even in Switzerland. Our love to all of our family and friends reading this.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Variety of Life

Well - About a week and a half ago, Rachel was in tears as she declared that "you and Dad always have plans for Saturday and we never get to have a choice and just play if we want." This was prompted by my announcement that we planned to go to Luzern on Sat. She declared that "we never went places when we lived in IA and we got to stay home and play all the time." Hmmmm. We really liked living in IA but did have to point out there were fewer things we did because certain things were farther away (ie... the Rocky Mtns were not a short drive away). And the adjustment to a different way of life/lifestyle here. The bigger grocery stores and shopping stores are open 'til 4pm (some 5pm) on Sat. and then closed until Mon. morning. Therefore, if we want to go anywhere involving window shopping/touristy type shopping, etc... it must be on Sat. AND, if we need to mow the yard it has to be on Sat. as the mower cannot be used on Sun. (I need to eventually pick up yet another duty from Bart and do it during the week). Sooo, Saturdays are very active here - everywhere - and then everything is dead on Sunday. If you've never been to Europe and do plan a trip - Sundays are good travel days - always check to see what might be open.
So, we still haven't been to Luzern. The girls enjoyed a whole day of staying in PJ's, playing with their toys, we got a lot done around the house and took the girls to the KinderZoo which IS open on Sundays. It was a ZOO - I'm getting too old to enjoy being surrounded by hundreds of little screaming kids who are petting goats, feeding ponies and camels and then licking the salt off their fingers from the popcorn (used to feed the animals). Gross! And I'm running around with the wet wipes telling the girls to wash their fingers off before they have ice cream - I'm sorry but camel slobber is just gross! As you can see from the pic's, they got to ride the ponies and just had a ball with that. Rachel really wants to take riding lessons. We told her when her German is a little better, we'd look into it (figure its a good way for her to get more comfy with the German as well).
Life this week: 1. My 1st haircut here - asked that they remove 3 cm's off the ends which she kept calling my "points" - I still look like me 2. Bart went to NY for a couple of days so we stocked up on children's Benadryl & Aleve - then he calls from the airport wondering if there were any books I wanted, I was so unprepared! But he did bring back a couple of People magazines which we will circulate around. There is a lot of book/magazine sharing going on. 3. Pray for my dad who is OK but suffered a job accident this week when a control panel was dropped and his legs happened to be under it - nothing is broken but is quite swollen & bruised. 4. Hosted a good ol' American feeling "poker night" for the Credit Suisse team (KPMG) and their spouses on Sat. Lots of food and the girls got a lot of attention but were very well behaved. Matt came in his "Gold" in honor of the IA vs Ohio game which sadly did not go the way of IA. 5. Hauling bags of dirt up to the terrace so I can get everything prepared for next spring and am planting/dividing perennials as able. I am definitely staying busy!

So - we start another week and hope whomever is reading this is doing well. God Bless.