Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prague post

This past holiday weekend, we spent in Prague. Lovely hotel, cheaper than much of Europe prices and lots of English spoken. We did notice how so many of the service people there were able to switch between 4 -5 languages with ease - whatever they need to communicate. Prague is a big city - 1.2 million and at one time in history (13th Century) was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. So there was plenty to see and we had enough time there to relax while going from place to place. Highlights were the folklore music/dancing, shopping for the kids souvenirs, exploring the largest Castle complex in the world (Prague castle - King Wenceslas was there), a Mirror Maze and MEXICAN FOOD. Yes, we had wonderful Mexican food in Prague. And stuffed ourselves silly. In fact, we have already put in a request for Mex. food when we are in CA. Miss it, Miss it!

Would like to return and do a few things the girls wouldn't have enjoyed as well (ex. the Communist museum). We did try to explain a little to the girls about the restrictions that Communism placed on the people after seeing a moving, sculpture piece dedicated to the victims of Communism. Which then led to us/me mentioning Cuba and that just opened a flood of questions - sometimes being a parent is a lot of hard work. It was our first visit to a former communist country. It was interesting to think about how life must have been different and see how they are still catching up. We are so fortunate to have grown up the way we did and in the country we did.

Make Mine Red? a hair blog

A blog just for people-watching amusement:

Well - I've not had my hair highlighted since my favorite hair person in the world, Danielle, did it last June. After month 5, I no longer really cared about whether I got it re-colored or not. Mind you - until 2 weeks ago, I had only had my hair cut once in Switzerland - in October. And I am an every 6 -8 week kind of hair-cut girl. But not since I moved to Switzerland:

  1. The cost is just a LITTLE bit more than I am used to in the States. And I was unable to communicate my desires well - need a Deutsch lesson in hair speak.
  2. I had not seen many haircuts that I liked - most people go with either the natural hair look (not real done up) or it is "uber" styled modern.
  3. If you have ever traveled to parts of western/eastern Europe, you know to be extremely cautious about letting anyone get within 20 feet of your head with hair colouring. Especially if you are a brunette. If you haven't had this opportunity - you are forwarned!

Well, I finally found Niall, an Irishman, in Zurich who seems to cater to the Expat (in case I've never defined = an expat (expatriate) is a person living/working in a country that is not their homecountry) community hair needs. He had my hair cut, dried and I was out the door in less than 1 hour for 20 - 30 chf less than the SwissMiss had charged (she took 2 hrs!!!!!). But he did comment "Sooo, are you letting your highlights grow out or.........(silence)." I took that to mean that while the hair probably looks fine in a ponytail, it is not looking so hot when styled and definitely not from the back. So he convinced me that no, he would not use red or eggplant on my hair, he would only highlight it, and that I should not be frightened. So I go next Mon. and pray I do not show up in Des Moines/CA looking like a pumpkin.

If you think I'm exaggerating, please observe the following - pic's taken in Prague but these lovely shades from pumpkin orange to eggplant purple can be most commonly (like, a lot) found on tresses in any Eastern Eur. country, Austria, Germany or Switzerland.

Disclaimer: If you are a natural redhead (sister Kris), God bless you and you have beautiful hair! And if you have red, dyed hair that's great. But I am offering up hair that glows in the dark and is not even remotely close to nature - except for maybe the pumpkin or the eggplant. Orange-ish, Pink-ish
Mature woman's eggplant with purple hue.
I know there is orange hair in nature - this was not it. Red - Orange
And the orange, burgundy, pink & blond streaks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Just Versailles Pic's

Spent a day out of Paris at Chateau de Versailles - HUGE - and beautiful, and interesting. Walked alot and needed a good night sleep afterwards. It's only a short train ride out of Paris (30 - 40 min.) - easy, easy - worth it if you are traveling thru.

Just Paris Pic's

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's All About Me!

Well - It's all about France actually. We spent this last long weekend in Paris. It was the Ascenscion holiday for most of Europe so we took advantage of the 4 day weekend - along with a lot of other people. It was crowded but we had a good time. What really struck me, and Bart, on this trip was the enormous size of the structures, places - the monuments to themselves. Much of the "largess" of Paris is due to the visions of Louis XIV and Napoleon. They were the ultimate "It's all about me" individuals. And many of their "planned" monuments to their own personal greatness were created after their deaths. The "Arc de Triomphe" was planned by Napoleon as a tribute to his military prowess and yet not completed 'til approx. 14 yrs after his death. You can't take it all with you! So while it is really cool to see the beautiful architecture and large scale of gardens/estates - we are also reminded of what is eternal and what is temporal. How the beauty on earth is a reflection of the creativity and beauty of He who gave the ability to man. Kendra and Rachel looking at the Place de la Concorde (execution site during the French Revolution - think Marie & Louis XVI losing their heads - was an interesting topic of conversation with the girls).
Overlooking the River Seine.
In front of the Eiffel Tower. We stayed close-by which the girls loved. This was Paris for them.
Looking at the city from the Eiffel Tower.
Standing on one of the cooling vents in the Louvre. The girls enjoyed cooling off!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'm back - Several Things

I feel like dispensing lot's of info. today

1. Just in case anyone was wondering how the whole "May Day" socialist parade and events turned out: Bart said the KPMG building made the Zurich newspaper as it had 1st floor windows broken and had been pelted with paint. LOVELY. Nobody hurt - it was a holiday. Bart and the guys/gals were working at the Credit Suisse offices a bit away - with the blinds drawn - and had no problems.

And glad the elections in France are over. Let's hope the Paris trip in 2 weeks is a good one and sans riots, etc... What a memory that would make.

2. I am writing this blog and listening to concrete drills all at the same time. But it will be over soon for one hour as it is11:57 and the workers will break for lunch. Our neighbors directly below us are gutting their flat - it would have been nice to have been told, even if it wouldn't change our circumstances. Houses here are made of concrete, filled brick - not wood studs and drywall. Sooooo - having the flat below us gutted is similar to having road construction being done; in the house! It started when I left for NY last week (unbeknowst to me - Bart informed me real quick) and it continues. Every sound echoes, things vibrate and at times I wonder if I will end up falling thru the floor as if in an earthquake. It's truly a relaxing and pleasurable existence. I keep thinking a job wouldn't be so bad between 8 to 5 right now. Even now, the lunchtime begins - Ahhhhhh, quiet. I need to find out how long this is going to last.

3. Sis and I at dinner in NY - our birthday gathering. We had a really nice time in NY; great weather, fun shopping, good eating, lots of walking, blowing bubbles on the Subway (none of us act our age), theatre shows and enjoying each others company. Her mom and friend Alisha flew out with her and then my mom joined us at the end of the week. Although the people watching, etc... is good in the Times Square area, I think our favorite spots were Soho and the Lower East Side for shopping and food. And our celebrity sighting was shopping in Soho: Brooke Shields. Who, I might just add, is older than the birthday we happen to be celebrating - just trying to make ourselves feel a little younger :).

I really made an effort in the shopping department. Things just cost more here in Switz. so I tend to not go shopping much. If I do, it is very specific. They do not have the quantity of items and thus not the sales to go along with unloading vast amounts of merchandise - Jan. and August are the sales months and there is little inbetween. Soooooo - I avoided places like the GAP - I have only so much room in my suitcase. But, as fate would have it, Sis wanted some new white t's and our last stop in NY was at the GAP in Times Square. And I almost got sucked into the black hole called GAPkids but fortunately, my left brain took over and all I came out with was 1 top per girl - at one point I was holding 2 tops and pants per girl. But, they don't really NEED much for this season and even for next winter are pretty well covered (they are not growing like weeds). I come out with the little bag and Sis said "I wondered, I told my mom you were in trouble as soon as you walked into that department." But really, my will power was only great as we will be in the States come mid-June and I expect to be doing my part to stimulate the economy then. Bart can help lug suitcases home then - hee, hee.

Bart and the girls did fine but I really missed them. And am really missing Rachel as she had already departed by time I got back to Waedenswil. But - am getting quality time with Kendra and will get some with Rachel when she returns.
4. This is Kendra enjoying her new PJ's that match the PJ's of her American Girl Doll that she got for Christmas. She is sooooo happy and you have to understand, much of the appeal of these particular PJ's are that they come complete with night cap. Two years ago at preschool (or church), the kids all had Santa Hat's they wore for their Christmas performance. Kendra liked hers so much, she would wear it to bed - and still does. Not every night but more than one would think. So we got this PJ set for her doll and then decided she must have one too. So I made the dutiful trek to the AGD store on 5th Ave. (little posh for dolls don't you think - right near Saks) and purchased a couple wishes the girls had.
5. Mom and I after Chicago. We enjoyed the shows (saw Wicked the night before) and I managed to stay awake during them all. It's hard recovering from a 6 hr time change and watching shows in dark theatres.
6. Look at this ball of sweet prickliness.
I was in the back with the landscaper and we noticed that this poor hedgehog had landed in our pool and was pacing trying to find a way out. Herr Zellweger assured me they don't bite, it would roll up into a ball and I could lift it out with a towel. Of course, the cutest pic's were after I took it out of the dingy looking pool so... I rescued it and must return to rescue the lizards as well. Hard part with lizards is you have to wait til their half dead because otherwise they just keep running away from you. The toads are easier. The pool may not be filled as we are sure it must be replastered and we are not sure when/if the landlord will do this soon or drag their feet. So we have a large hole in the ground to trap unsuspecting animals in. The cats do jump in but can jump out as well. And we won't mention the mouse that goes in and out via the drain pipe - at least it's not in our house!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What US American Idol viewers are missing!

OK - I am taking time out of my packing and weeding to deal with these totally unimportant bits of information.

Number 1 - The cute lady above is Cat Deeley. Since we watch all our TV via UK satellite, even our US shows come with UK commercials or a UK twist of some kind. Cat covers American Idol for the UK - complete with contestant interviews, special guests, etc... I think they need time fillers as there are not nearly sooooo many commercials with UK TV. She is cute, but normal, and funny and able to poke fun at everyone in a way both sly and sweet. Great added entertainment.
Number 2 - The real reason I am updating the blog is for the May Day explanation. It is apparently NOT a Protestant vs Catholic holiday but my mistake is explained as many of the Catholic Canton cities DO NOT take this as a holiday. It is basically the same as our Labor Day - with a twist. It comes complete with a parade comprised mainly of Socialists (sounds as though they have a disease - but they don't). And fear of rioting in the streets afterwards. HOW FUN IS THAT!!!
I had Deutsch class this morning during which our teacher explained this. It used to be a day for families and for workers to voice their rights. But over the past years, there have been increasing problems with a group of about 100 or so individuals who show up from all over Europe without official claim that just want to protest all governments and make the day miserable for all. I can think of a church out of Kansas which is doing something similar at the funerals of our US servicemen and women. There are all kinds in the world and it's hard to get rid of the worms that destroy the apples.
Sorry - no pic's of Socialists in the streets. (I'm sure they look like everyone else - but maybe not the small faction throwing paint bottles at buildings and fighting police)
OK - now I am gone.