Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm Sharing My Lunch With You!

Now some of you may want nothing to do with the lunch I had today, some may think it sounds interesting and some may wish you had eaten it yourself.

I went to lunch today with a friend to the Landrestaurant Hanegg near Waedenswil. She and I like this place and as I haven't been in about 6 mo's, decided it was time. Fall is here in a big way and as the menu's in Switzerland lean heavily toward the seasonal, I am all over the fall food. I love the Kurbiscreme suppe aka Pumpkin/Squash cremed soup and the way they incorporate all these veggies I might not ever buy in the store into wonderful, tasty little meals - and I don't have to learn to make them. Because I tend to be a lazy cook. Because some of these things take a bit of TIME. And we have learned that anytime 'kurbis' is on the menu, and they have translated it to 'pumpkin' for the English menu - it doesn't necessarily mean it is a pumpkin as we know it. It could be a pumpkin, a butternut squash, acorn squash and some things of which I couldn't fathom the name.

And not only is it Harvest veggie season but, like it or not, hunting season. And the restaurants here are into serving the "Wild" menu. That would be your wild game (which they pronounce 'veeld') such as Venison, boar, quail, pheasant, rabbit , etc...- much of which I can actually buy in the store right now. Growing up in a family where hunting was not verboten, we only had this menu on the table if Dad/Uncles brought it home. And then only if Mom could be convinced to cook it. My personal favorite has always been the elk sausage - but I digress....

So - Today I passed on the pumpkin creme soup in favor of the Wild menu - thinly sliced Venison with a fresh mushroom gravy accompanied by sauteed purple cabbage topped with a baked apple dressed with cranberry, roasted chesnuts and a side of spaetzle (little egg noodly things - very good with the gravy). Up 'til now, Grandpa Bianco's Venison stew would have been considered my favorite of the venison meat dishes. But I think my new vote is for the mushroom gravy smothered venison. It was quite tasty. As was the pile of sauteed cabbage - it was so good I actually saved it for last. Who would have thought?

Then we adjourned back to my friend's house for a bit o' pumpkin pie (leftovers from Harvest lunch at church - we are back to the days where the church can actually do a lunch together - in the basement! - it's fun) and a cappucino.

So I hope you enjoyed my lunch - and if you are mortally offended by it, please don't let me know by saying nasty animal righty things in the comments. Or I will be compelled to delete them. Maybe I could share some pastries next time - with pic's :).

"Trunk or Treat"

Here are the girls flanking their friend, R, for "Trunk or Treat."Rachel talking with her friend, V, during the festivities.
As Trick or Treating is a very "US of A" custom, habit or holiday - however you wish to view it - an effort has to be made if your kids want to participate in this Fall ritual of childhood. This is not a popular European thing to do. The PA at the International School, sponsors a "Trunk or Treat" in which parent come and park their vehicles in the school lot and it becomes a tail-gating trick or treat time. Most everyone decorates their trunks with Halloweeny type decor and jack'o'lanterns (and pumpkins are HUGELY expensive here). And one parent sits at the car handing out candy while the others walk from car to car with their little goblins, princesses and superheroes. The majority of the crowd is US followed by native Engl. (Austr., Canada & UK) but there were some European families as well.
So the girls had fun and came home with their loot. Much of which I'm sure we'll throw away in a month as usual. Especially as most of the candy is not necessarily to Mom & Dad's liking (fruit taffy's and weird gummy things). Not that we ate all our kids candy before but occasionally raided the pumpkin for a Snickers or 3 Muskateer. We might have to look at having some "real" Halloween candy shipped over next year! Thank you Mom for the pumpkin Peeps!
An added note: I used to have a jacket similar to that of R's above - all gold and puffy. About 15 years ago. When I was a lot younger and my jacket had bigger shoulder pads and a snug waist - it was a ski jacket. AND I wore it. Probably looked like a Battlestar Galactica cast member but it was cool at the time. It no longer graces my closet. And as cute as R looks in it, I don't think I can pull off the look again in my lifetime. But never say never with fashion - it always comes back around and we manage to sneak in a "look" one way or another :). Although - the leg warmers have been back in various ways and forms but you will never find them anywhere near my legs. I have proudly forsaken them since 1983!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy 7th Bday Kendra! and Monday ramblings

As you can see, Kendra is quite elated with her gift from Gma Elaine - an Island Princess Barbie! Score Gma!
A bit of party decor - she wished to have lots of jungle vines with flowers. So preschool lessons in crepe paper flower making did come in handy. For Mom. 35 years later. They are now hanging in her room. Kendra's that is - not Mom's. :)
The Jungle Bunch. I don't normally post any (recognizable) pic's of other people's children without their permission BUT in this case, figure it could do no harm. As none of them are recognizable except as jungle animals. They had a lot of fun decorating their masks and they actually wore them for a good bit of the party. And yes, they may appear to be dressed oddly - really this is how kids dress in Switzerland! No, it was not a PJ Birthday party but it WAS pajama day at school.
The students get to vote every year for a theme- dress day and this year it was Pajama Day. For the 'right' to wear PJ's to school, they are asked to voluntarily donate 2chf or more. The fundraiser benefits the sister school in Ghana and the goal was to raise funds for a fresh water well at the Ghana school. Right now, they bring buckets from outside wells to keep on hand during the day for the children. This is all thoroughly explained to the children at ZIS so they are able to grasp, on some level, the quality of life/schooling differences experienced in less fortunate areas of the world. The ZIS students feel a lot of accomplishment when they see the progresses made at the Ghana school that they help provide for. And much of the money raised comes from the students themselves - out of their own allowances.

Ready to blow out candles! Happy 7th Birthday Putsie Pie!

And who is unable to take a serious picture? Since she was 3! Well sometimes. But not while eating chocolate cake. And pretending to be a zebra - complete with sound effects. Did you know zebras make noise? They do. They make a squealing noise - something between a pig and a pony - and Rachel has heard it - and it is very ANNOYING! Gotta love her!

So the party went well - Kendra was happy. Which we were glad for as she is coming to the realization at the tender age of 7 that our expectations of how things should be do not always match the reality. If only life were a fairytale come true.

Worldfest - This fun event at the school was also this last weekend. This year I 'ate' in India, Finland and Japan, Bart in the US, Australia, Finland, Italy and Mexico, Kendra in Italy & England and Rachel in the US. I scoped things out and will have to try Greece and the Middle East next year. It is so hard to decide - you fill up so quick on these delicious foods from all over the world. Bart & I supervised one of the inflatable rides this year - outside for 1 hour. And I have been instructed to volunteer for an indoor job next year.

Winter has arrived. There was snow on the nearby hills when we woke up Sat. morning and right now it is 3c (about 42), the wind is blowing out of Austria and I 've seen little bits of snow pebbles fall. Not really hail, certainly not rain but neither is it a snow flake - so I call them snow pebbles. I'm sure there is a better term but... I don't know it.

Pleasant surprise at church on Sunday. We had visitors from California Baptist Univ. at church - the President, Dr. Ron Ellis and VP of Marketing and Comm., Dr. Mark Wyatt. They had a day in Zurich on their way to Rwanda and came to visit IBCZ. Bart and I enjoyed meeting them and talking a bit about the Univ. and what they are doing Internationally. I did not graduate under Dr. Ellis (I graduated before he came - when it was still Calif. Baptist College) but there have been many wonderful accomplishments in curriculum and facilities under his leadership. I had the opportunity to visit the campus several years ago with my sister Kris and basically wished I could go back and experience it again. Parts of it anyway - I wish I had played more but had to help pay my way - thanks for paying the rest M & D.

College is a funny thing. Especially when you live on campus for 4 years as I did. I really liked going away to college (no offense family - it just suited me). All of these other 18 - 22 year old people become like family. You live, eat, work and play together. You are growing up together and making decisions about life - good and bad - I know I made my share of both. You are working hard at being a grown-up and sometimes find out later how much you were still just a kid. I hate to admit in the same sentence that I had some absolutely wonderful friends but only a handful that I have been in contact with the past 20 years. Or that I send our annual Christmas letter to (I count this as contact -even if it's dorky). It was a school where most students lived on campus and return to their 'home' cities after graduation. Or maybe stayed in Riverside but soon the business of careers, families and relationships (good and bad) created distances that were never overcome or the effort of returning seemed great - or you simply didn't know where to find them. But I think about those friends regularly as my memory is triggered re: something we had in common or enjoyed doing together. I have a favorite roommate (they were all favorites in their own way) that I think of whenever someone mentions the word 'curry' - because she loved to cook with it - and she was an awesome cook.

What I have learned in the past 20 years of moving around - So Cal, No Cal, IA and now Switzerland - is that staying in touch with people takes a lot of effort - and must go both ways - and I can be guilty of letting the ball drop. Even with the internet. And often our phase of life dictates where our efforts in communication are placed. We have met and made many wonderful friends over the years in the places we've lived. And we are not in communication with all of them regularly BUT ever so often, an old friend pops up. And isn't it sooooo nice. There are so many that we think of and talk about - Love you All.

WOW - am I contemplative today or what. Talk about ramblings and musings.

AND for my final comment - if you would like to see a long awaited answer to prayer (and many of you have prayed along with our family - thank you) - PLEASE pop over to Kris & Jason's blog via the link on ours and see what wonderful work God is doing in their lives today. :) :) :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

There are Days.....

There are days when you wonder what universe you've found yourself in. It always takes me a day or two to re-orient myself at home when we get back from a trip. After 7 days in Italy saying Grazi and Buon Giorno (ignore my spellings - they are phonetic and from the German alpha at this point), it takes me a day or so to get back to Danke and Gruetzi - not to mention a host of other things. But getting all that laundry, grocery shopping and housework done after an absence helps - I'm sure - doesn't it?

So yesterday I find myself greatly annoyed by the cows up the hill. They are really cute and fun when they are up in the Alps with their bells on BUT when they are practically in your backyard and won't shut up for 2 hrs it starts to get on your nerves. Won't someone please feed them as the grassy fields are apparently unsatisfying? Or should I have wandered up to see if we had a new member of the herd? You know the Away in the Manger verse where it says "the cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes" - I know why the baby Jesus woke up! Holy Cow!

And we also were made aware of this very important news item - Miss Switzerland 2007 has been crowned! She feels her job is very important as Switzerland is mainly known right now only for Federer and the Alinghi win of the America's Cup. But in the same sentence they announce her name and where she's from (St. Gallen if you care - they make really good bratwurst there!); they give her height (1.68m) and measurements (84-65-95 cm - Kudo's to any who care to comment with these translated into inches - I just know they are not mine!). And then - Gasp - it is reported that she is the first brunette to win in 4 years - Yeah! Go Brunettes! HELLOOOOO! But this is in a country whose women got the right to vote in 1971 - yes, 1971 - only 36 yrs ago! All Bart and I could do was shake our heads and laugh - sometimes you wonder.

And 7 years ago today, I was laying in recovery at this time, looking at our new little girl who would be named Kendra by days end. They are getting so big, so fast. She is so funny - last night prayed that she would have a "stupendous" Birthday - complete with large hand motions. So will post a pic of Bday girl later. Ciao!

Monday, October 15, 2007


Well - What can we say - Rome was great. In the way that only a week of walking your feet off and stuffing yourself with biscotti, pasta and pizza will do. My Aunt Liz went with us and I think we wore her out. Traveling with a family can be different if you are not used to it. Not to mention going to Rome which has so much to see and through which you do a lot of walking - on stones/concrete no less. We did all the touristy things: the Roman Baths, Forum, Colliseum, Spanish Steps (too many people on a bunch of stairs - we lasted about 3 minutes once we walked down the stairs), Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, a couple of museums, several cathedrals, the Vatican/view from the top of St. Peters Basilica, Borghese gardens, a day trip to Pompeii - very cool, a day trip to Florence (the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio) and then a day to relax and do a bit of shopping - our one really rainy day and thus not much shopping got done. Whew!!! I'm sure I missed something but it was a trip full of activity.

We will be glad to go to Hawaii in Dec. and throw ourselves at the mercy of the beach and ocean. Although Bart is already talking about what we could 'do' there that we haven't already done - volcanoes and such. Maybe I am just getting lazy - I could probably spend a whole day somewhere I have never been and by simple process of having a leisurely breakfast (I like cappucino and a pastry), strolling to a nice little restaurant for lunch (which could last 2 hours if there is people watching available on the menu) doing a little window shopping (I can be happy without spending any $$$ contrary to what Bart might say) and then having a nice long dinner (again with people watching) - I would say I had a great time and enjoyed the place. OK, I am lazy and have a thing about eating - I don't have as much downtime as one might think. Forgot to add a 'read a book' somewhere in that day.

I am actually very lucky to have a husband who likes to "go and see and do" and children who have been fairly well trained at this point to go along with all of it. We did however encounter several "why don't we ever get to pick what we are going to do? 's" on this trip. Mainly because we did have an agenda this trip and they did get dragged along - like it or not. For the most part, they really liked it. Especially the day trip to Pompeii when they met the only other children on the bus - 2 girls just their ages (Canadian/Brazilian) who are living in Qatar - also at Int'l school. They were best friends by the end of the day. So we heard a lot of "when do we get to get back on the bus and see our friends" all the while looking at the ruins of Pompeii. Funny!

Rome is a city built around its ruins. And Italy is a beautiful place but with constant reminders of old mixed with the new - there is still much poverty mixed with new wealth. Like several other large cities (NY, London, Paris for example), it can be dirty (exhaust & litter) and you may find yourself showering at night as well as morning. But it is very alive and vibrant and interesting and so you find yourself not minding some of the inconveniences that might otherwise bother you (and if you find a clean bathroom, you urge all of your family to go - NOW). The dirt and litter in Copenhagen and London bothered me more than Rome did - somehow it all seemed part of it. And we still really liked it. And besides the pasta being wonderful (and I am looking the part of an Italian momma right now - stuffed!), the pastries as well were quite good (as good as France! - maybe better to my taste buds) and the gelati which was eaten every day by the girls at least was fantastic as well. And the Chianti as well - never had better than in Italy.

What else - I'm sure more will come to mind and there will be a few more pictures/stories added this week. It was a lot to absorb in 7 days. Much of it looking/standing in places that were 2,000 plus years old. And thinking about Nero watching Rome burn from Palatine hill, about Paul in prison here and writing to Timothy and the churches, about gladiators and churches built on ancient pagan sites (many pagan temples were actually given to the church because the rulers knew they would take care of the buildings and artifacts - clear back in the early AD years!). It was interesting and should I go back, well, I've seen the sites so I can do some shopping!!!! Ha Ha!!! Here we are at the Roman Baths - it was estimated that at one time 6,000 to 7,000 persons came to these public baths daily. Early AD.

Oh - I forgot to take a pic of the painting causing this amusing reaction Rachel is playing up! Well, you must understand that much of the artwork in the museums can be pretty graphic and this face she is making is her reaction to a battle scene where a horse is crushing someone below and ...... I don't wish my readers to have their Puritan sensibilities disturbed... so I will skip the rest of the detail. Enough that we all looked and said "Gross, look at that, that's disgusting" and then the girls started to laugh. Better than given them nightmares I guess. And we of course have the discussions on why there are so many "unclothed" persons in the pictures and statues, etc... It's so fun to travel with 7 & 9 year olds who never ask any of these questions in "indoor" voices - Hah! (And I'm not so much a Puritan in my choice of words here as I am careful to not use words that may be Googled and draw unwanted attention to this blog - however carefully I try to keep it protected)
There is even artwork on the Metro trains here! Rachel wondered why they don't clean it up and the Police don't take care of it. We explained that they have other problems to deal with here in Italy and graffiti on the trains was not one of the issues they spent a lot of time on. I did catch a girl start to swing her hand into my Aunt's purse one night on the street - all it took was a look and she was gone. You always assume you will be stolen from when traveling in certain places - keeps you from wearing/carrying valuables and on your guard - always keep your bags closed, in front of you if possible and wallets in a safe place (Bart chooses the front jean pocket - a back pocket is an invitation to the pick pockets here).
Kendra throwing her coin backward at the Trevi Fountain - It's said if you do this, you will for sure return to Rome. She liked it (Rome) and said she wants to go back.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Is it October already?

I can't believe it's October already! My brain's calendar still sees Sept. as a future event. So I am a bit behind..... We took a really cool hike up near our friend's place in Oberiberg - about 45 min. from home. Beautiful day and as always, we are blown away by the beauty here. We are always aware that Switzerland does not necessary have big attractions such as the Roman Colliseum, Versailles, famous Castles, etc... but they have these incredible mountains and a love for enjoying them.

There are elections coming up here in Schweiz and one of the hot topics is that of immigration OR more importantly - If an underage 'auslander' commits a crime of a serious nature, does the whole family get kicked out of the country? There are elements of discrimination built into this issue based on the ethnicity of those committing the crimes. There are many here who would like to keep Schweiz for the Swiss and they do not care for the fact that approx. 28% of the population in the major cities are made up of Expatriates. Every country is waging it's war on who or what they want to allow or not.

Today: Celebrated the special 40 yr birthday of a friend from the school at lunch. We were seated outside - only 6 of us - and the whole place went silent as we sang her "Happy Birthday." There are times you take a big sigh and say "whatever" and you can't let it bother you.

We really enjoyed having my sister and Jason and miss them. But we had guests from Danville Sunday night and I just picked up Aunt Liz this morning (Wed.) and she is going on with us to Rome for the Fall Break. So we are staying busy (I can hardly keep up with laundry right now!) and I am hoping to get some good pic's in Rome!

I have several prayer requests for things I don't necessarily want to publish right now but they involve kids (my own and others), family and friends - in areas of faith, health and finances. So if you could keep us/them in your prayers - "The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5b-7