Thursday, March 29, 2007

We have a Baby!

Not OUR baby but we like to check up on the sheep family in our backyard. Here is the newest edition up the hill. Right next to the cousin who I posted last week - and we thought he looked small.
The girls just want to reach over and pick her up. She is very sweet and hops around on wobbly legs. Is about 3-4 days old here.
Here is Rachel's class ready for their presentation of "Carnivale" for the school assembly. The capes/skirts, headbands & armbands are my handiwork, another parent brought the masks from the States and another did facepainting. The kids did a great job giving a brief explanation of Carnival which is celebrated prior to Lent - a big shindig for many countries over here. The also acted out the story of "Arrlechino" which some might know as Harlequin. It was fun to watch them practice and then do such a nice job.

With both girls busy with school productions, Spring Break coming up, and an allergy rash that hit me last week, I haven't had much incentive (or time) to sit at the computer. Probably because I want to say nice things on the blog - not the things that the Susan on steroids and antihistimines might want to say. All I can say is - Thank goodness for the patience of my family (I LOVE my family). Because mine (patience) got lost with that first steroid dose. Yikes! I've never taken them and while my mom said they made her happy and need less sleep, it seems to have had the opposite effect on me. Speed of light and crabby is my reaction - before I crash. Thank goodness the last dose was today and I pray this will not recurr.

We are off to check out Montreux (on Lake Geneva) in the French region of this fair country this weekend. It will be interesting to see how our English/Deutsch works out in the French world. I've already been looking at my little French phrase book and think I'd rather take Italian next instead. But they pronounce our last name really cool! We will go to France right before Easter for a week of Spring Break (girls get 2 weeks off - Yeah). Staying in a little town my mom visited called Villefranche - looking forward to it. Now that Bart is able to take some time, we are doing a bit of traveling and looking forward to Grandpa Paul's visit the end of April.

I think that's all for now. Although, as I've been crabby/kranky/jittery lately, I was well soothed by the words of one of my favorite bands, Third Day:

I see all the people
Wasting all their time
Building up their riches
For a life that's fine

I find myself just living for today
'Cause I don't know what
tomorrow's gonna bring
So no matter if I rise or fall
I'll never be alone, oh no

Nothing compares
to the greatness of knowing You, Lord

(Nothing Compares (Mac Powell/Third Day) - I love this song in it's live recording.)

It sounds much better when Mac is singing it. But it's a good pick-me-up! Love you all.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Caught being happy in Switzerland!

As you can see from these pic's - a nice clean walkway, pulled weeds, trimmed back bushes, have been contemplating what ground cover choices I have and then - it SNOWED! Winter finally arrived - 3 months too late. And although I tried covering the daffodils and other bulbs that are coming up, we'll see what I was able to save. What didn't get frostbite probably got crushed. Four days of on and off snow - and may I put out a prayer request? I need a ski buddy!!
I was on my way into the Post today as I received a precious notice of a package waiting for me - I love my Mother! Anyway, I am walking along humming the Josh Groban tune I had been belting out in the car when a man turned around in front of me and said something in German with a smile on his face. I muttered "Entschuldegung, Ich spreche klein Deutsch" - this is my fallback phrase of "excuse me, I speak a small bit of German." So then he says "I heard you singing and thought "Wow, there's a happy person in Switzerland - wasn't sure there were any." This he says in American English. Turns out he grew up in Ohio until his parents moved the family to Switz. where he says he is serving a "life sentence." This is a common feeling among Americans I have met who have been here long-term. There are things they really like about Switz. but things they really miss about the States. I think the common theme would be freedom of expression - happy expression. Like, say, humming tunes as you walk into the Post!
In general, while people are polite, they do not express themselves exuberantly here (deja vu comment). I think excitement is reserved for Fastnacht (Carnivale) Celebrations and World Cup Soccer. Or maybe yelling at someone who is breaking a rule. I never knew how much I hummed to music in the grocery store 'til I moved here - because I seem to be the only one doing it. In the States, I would catch other people singing/humming along - not here. It probably helps that all the music is American and I know all the words while most of them don't. But when they stare at me, I stop. Maybe many of you had wished I would stop and just never said anything? And I think many people here are happy but aren't about to let a stranger know it. So I was caught being happy, they don't yet hand out fines for that so I'm good. But I'm sure it was caught on surveillance somewhere - Big Bro. is watching - that would be for another blog. That and how many numbers I have to enter in order to log into the "Swiss Bank account." Another day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Weekend Tidbits

One of our neighbors - Isn't he cute. Soon to have little cousins running around judging by the girth of his aunts. So the girls have decided they need to walk up to the barn everyday as they want to see the "live birth."
OK - Spent Sat. morning making this little outfit for Kendra's "Jessie" at her insistence. When it was finished, she said "I'll look at it later mom." I know not to look for eternal gratitude from my children yet but, come on, not even a "Thank You." Um, Mom, did I properly thank you for the ballerina dress you made me when I turned "5"? Thank You, Thank You!!!

We have several fields near our house that are 'selb-schneiden' - you go in and cut your own flowers or pick own veggies/pumpkins. The rate per 'stuck' (piece) is posted and you drop your money in the little metal container. Not only that, they leave a sharp little knife on the barrel in case you don't have your scissors OR swiss army knife on your person. As my friend (USA - IL) stated, "There's no place back home that would dare leave a sharp knife out for people to use on flowers/produce in a field and then trust they would actually pay for it all." I'm sure the self-pay places can be found here and there in little corners - but, I would bet on bringing your own knife.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sarah's visit & Rachel's Ski Trip

Cousin Sarah with the girls. She was here for 3 days and we walked and ate and walked and ate.... It was a great visit for me and so nice to have her here. I realized after her visit (she had been in Rome, Venice and Scotland already) that a visit to Switzerland is more for the experience of the outdoors, the mountains and lakes - the atmosphere, than it is for seeing grand, man-made palaces and exotic life (Zurich is not Rome). It is an understated country that enjoys it's outdoor time/activities and takes the time to stop and smell the roses (or in the case of this week as Sarah had the joy of experiencing - the smell of fertilizer (in the form of manure) being spread in the orchards/fields) and getting together with friends and family. I enjoy it. Rachel and her class.
Rachel and her class took off for Davos for their 3 day/2 night ski trip. Some were a little nervous but most of them were excited. We received a cute little postcard from her today. I am anxious to hear about their time - I get to pick her up in 30 minutes! We have been fine but it does seem quiet around here. And Kendra is ready to have big sissy back home. And her bed has stayed so made up and empty.

I like RED!

You know, Red has always been a good colour for me. And it really goes nicely with the trim on the girls school (otherwise know in town as the green American school). The girls are still small and so should continue to fit in what they call a back seat until we leave Switzerland. Ah, such is the life of the Expat. And it sounds so nice as it sits purring like a lion while waiting.

OOOOPS! I guess I fell asleep while waiting to pick up the girls after school. And I guess my favorite 7 yr old jeans and Billabong hoodie sweatshirt don't quite stack up to the gold bling! and mink vest of the driver of that lovely custom made vehicle. Whom sits behind her giant Gucci sunglasses keeping her Italian/Mediteranean eyes a secret and lips pursed. I'm sure I would smile greatly at everyone if I had a turn with the Ferarri on the A3 - I think I might fall in love - and Bart would be jealous - and thus I must not think about this any longer - I do LOVE to drive fast!

Not to mention - who picks up their kindergartener in a Ferrari!!!!! (well, I might if I had one :)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Delighted with Davos

Doesn't this look like fun! Lounging on giant pillows under Palm trees while you take a break from skiing/boarding. I must say the Europeans know how to create atmosphere and enjoy the outdoors in spite of the snow. Disclaimer - the girls did not use the ashtray!
We were in Davos for the weekend courtesy of Swiss KPMG which hosts a ski weekend each year for employees and their families. Can't turn that down.

We enjoyed a nice morning of skiing on the bunny slope. The girls are really enjoying themselves and improving with every lesson/trip. Rachel even "raced" her dad and won (being the good Daddy, Bart let her!).
One of the mountain bowls to ski in at Davos. There are six mountains to choose from and your ticket works at each for the whole day. I chose to go up Parsenn while I put the girls in a lesson and Bart took off snow-shoeing. Bart had a good time with a group from work on his first snow-shoeing excursion. They were driven up into the mountains and then guided to a warming hut and back. He really enjoyed it and said with clear weather it would have been spectacular. We will probably try it together sometime.

I had an OK time skiing and would have enjoyed it immensly if there hadn't been whiteout conditions at the top. Of course, it was clear in the morning and about 1 hour after I was done. I don't necessarily recommend skiing on a strange mountain, by yourself, not understanding what the confused Swiss are saying to one another when you are unable to see 10 - 15 meters in front of you. I kept watching others go in front of me, see how they were skiing and then followed along - feel the snow, feel the snow - this is on the blue (easy) run! There is no EASY when you can't see what you are skiing on. So, after 2 trys on that run, I went back and found a run that, while low visibility on top, had better visibility for the bottom 2/3's and I enjoyed. Of course, this morning was skiing on the bunny slope and wishing a little that I could go back up the mountain in the sun. Next time.
Having lunch before heading back home. We enjoyed our weekend - Thank You KPMG! And all within 1 1/2 hrs of home. Hopefully there will be a little more snowfall this before the season ends - it was a short season this year for Switzerland. I think CA and CO have enjoyed a much better one!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Sledding & "Random" Thoughts

A pic of the SudoBahn going thru the hills toward Einsiedeln. The mist and snow - very ethereal. Have to use words like ethereal in 'this' lifetime as I didn't get to when working as an accountant.

And - the only mom who seemed to accompany the Kindergarten sledding (sledging - if you are from UK/Western Europe) trip WITHOUT a camera. So I give you a small mountain train instead of cute 5, 6 & 7 year olds grinning and screaming with delight as they attempt to keep from crashing into one another. I'd say all but 5 out of 70 kiddos were wearing their ski helmets and - I would highly recommend it should you ever send your child sledding with school! And maybe a back protector. I think I could use a trip to the Chiro. after diving after several Kamakazi sledders.

We have determined the Swiss take their emotions out in the sports they choose. This is a land of extreme climbing, hiking, skiing and sledging. I caught my neighbors putting what appears to be velcro on the bottom of their downhill skiis the other day. They explained they WALK up the hill on the skis and THEN ski down. HELLO - That is what a chair lift is for! And then the sledging down mountains and all the injuries. People going off piste (off runs) and falling off cliffs. Sounds fun doesn't it!

I've noticed many bloggers offer "random" thoughts. I'll offer a few of mine. I really enjoyed sitting with 70 kindergarteners today for lunch. A first for me. They were behaved, they ate their lunch without complaining, they clapped and they even danced. At times during lunch, Ibrahim played his drum. Ibrahim is a dynamic PE teacher/soccer coach at school who is a former pro soccer player from Ghana with a beautiful smile. The kids love him and love his drum. They clapped to the beat, some of them danced and they were so unconscious in their response to the music - it was beautiful.

And then, on the way home, there was a slowdown in traffic. Why? The old man with the horse drawn cart piled with topsoil and the dog riding atop. This goes along with the horses that take their turns at the round abouts (traffic circles). And then the old man in the monks robes with a jaunty hat on. This is why I love living in Switzerland.

And my mind is very much in IA and CA right now. Just missing everyone in IA and my Gma's Big Birthday Bash is tomorrow and I hate to have to miss it.

I am responsible for the music at our church this weekend. I am nervous. I have never picked out all the songs, arranged for all the music copies, power point, etc... before. Pray for me & Sunday.

Which leads me to the fact, in my belief and how I attempt to live life, that while I may have 'random' thoughts and ideas, God doesn't. He does all with a purpose - not that we can ever hope to know the mind of God - but everything happens for His purpose. So, I am glad He did not make me randomly but with purpose.