Monday, June 23, 2008

Last of Euro08 before 'Reisen nach USA'

We spent Sat. (a week ago) in Zurich for the EuroCup Festivities. There was a lot of good food, a lot of people and thus, Fun! We rode the Ferris Wheel at Burkliplatz and stopped by our friends the Nachtman's for the last time - they're moving to NY this coming Saturday with 'the Firm.'

They put a large screen and viewing platform out on the Lake.
This (EuroCup 08) is considered the largest event ever hosted by Zurich so it has been quite an experience and fun to watch. Everyone's loyalties lies with their home countries. National pride is hugely important here. All the flags come out.

Holland is out of the Cup at this point but were still in the running when I took this pic.

The girls have a last goodbye hug with Matt & Jill. We'll miss them. And in their honor - GO HAWKEYES!

The girls had to see the big, completed Football players in the Hauptbahnhoff. They are big and eerily lifelike.

Spain played Sweden that night. Spain won - as they did last night against Italy. The teams left (Turkey, Spain, Russia & ? - Bart will be embarrassed I don't remember) are not the one's which had been favored from the beginning. A Cup full of underdogs - always interesting. And we won't be here to listen to Demitri, our 12/13 yr old Russian neighbor, yelling during the games anymore.
Happy Spaniards.

Not-so-happy Swedes.

We are almost packed, cleaned, etc.... for our trip to the States tomorrow. Our first stop, dare you to laugh - go ahead, is Mall of America. Where else can one buy clothing sales tax free and send dad & kids off to the rides while mom finishes the shopping? We'll probably be standing in front of the doors waiting for them to open. Our usual wakeup time is about 4:30am the first morning back.

Except for Mom, I find that a Tylenol PM helps me stay asleep for those first couple of nights. But it doesn't really help when the whole family doesn't do it! "Mom, we can't sleep" "Mom, we still can't sleep" "Mooommmmyyyyyyyy" "Susan, get up, breakfast starts at 7 (am), we can go now" - all in 10 minute intervals.

Then we head up to Detroit Lakes (Frazee actually but it's harder to find on a map!), MN to see Bart's parents. And we head to CA on 6/30 with a return to Switz. on July 14 for the girls & I - Bart back earlier for work.

So - I have packing & cleaning to finish now. And will update the blog as I can in the next couple weeks. Hopefully from a new computer. We only turn this one on now about 1 -2 hrs a day (thus my lack of computer related time spent lately). It's been on for almost 3 hrs now as I needed to finish backing up the last of the pictures/files we'll need to transfer to the other computer. Whew! I take too many pictures.

Here we come - ready to stimulate the US economy. (Hey, it sounds like a joke but with prices so expensive here right now we've been saving money and have got a LIST)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18th - I remember this date!

Two years ago today, a tolerant and supportive father, two little girls (one of whom was still sick from 'antibiotic poisoning") and one stressed out mama, arrived in CA in a 9 year old GMC Suburban packed with all the belongings they would have for the next 6 weeks! They had traveled for 3 1/2 days and a sold sign promptly went up on the GMC. They had stayed in a Best Western in Reno (there were no rooms in the Inns of Winnemucca) and had breakfast at an International House of Pancakes.

There is little I forget about that trip. And how my dad let me drive alot. I think he knew I needed to feel in control of something. I like to drive anyway and wasn't really in the mood to read books on a road trip as I might otherwise have done. Bart was already out of the country and we had left our home, neighbors and church in Des Moines. Getting ready to move to a foreign country.

Granted, if you have to move to a foreign place, Switzerland is really not to bad of a place to find yourself in. Clean, orderly, great public transpo., MOUNTAINS, safe but expensive.

Next week we will be heading for Minnesota to spend some time with Bart's folks, then on to CA to see that new baby neice of mine, Jayden. We'll only get a few days in No. CA this time but I'm sure you'll all understand. Kris will be glad to get rid of me by time I spoil that little baby girl.

Anyway, what my point is - I am glad to be traveling to the US of A. I miss some things (having just run out of vanilla for choc. chip cookies - don't even get me started about importing these things - I must have them!) and look forward to a trip 'home.' We'll be enjoying the hospitality of family and friends.

We are putting together our shopping lists and look forward to drinking Root Beer and enjoying temperatures over 65 degrees. Note - it has rained almost every day in June BUT we are not flooding. So I don't complain. Prayers with all of you in IA and your families/friends. After 2 days of 'normal' summer temps, I'm sure we'll start complaining that we're too hot. And you can all laugh at our white skin - because it has not yet seen the sun!

Last day of school tomorrow! Yeah! With school and a computer that's about kaput, I'm not getting to the Blog much... Hoping the computer can take one more download of pic's for another Euro'08 post - we had fun last Sat. night in Zurich. More later......

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


character: 4. the complex of mental and ethical traits marking a person or a group. *

determined: 1. firmly resolved. *

I don't often get into tons of detail about our kids - funny stories, family travels, goofiness and school events, YES. But much of who they are and what Bart and I experience with them, we keep to ourselves or phone conversations. The last month or so have been revealing for us in regards to Rachel and this is what I'd like to share. Because we wouldn't necessarily have expected the same results from her a year ago.

It is not about how well she does at anything: no awards or special talents. Her biggest talent to date probably lies in the realm of out-belching grown men - so it's not something we've advertised. She is not one to desire anything else than to be "just Rachel."

And it seems that "just Rachel" has become someone of 'determined character.'

1. Here is Rachel - right, front - leading her favorite pony, Cosima. This was Rachel's first day with this group of girls. After 6 months, the riding teacher and I thought she might be more comfortable in the earlier class as they were about the same level as Rachel's current class but less aggressive in their riding style.

As we walked up to the stables before class started, Rachel suddenly started talking: "Do you think any of the girls will speak English?" "What if I don't like this group, Can I switch back?" "What if I can't ride Cosima or Pepino?" "I really have a lot of butterflies in my stomach."

Of course, I could only give her a few assurances like "I don't know" "We'll see" "You'll have to ride a different horse" and "take a deep breath." Because I am the most helpful Mother there ever was. I was just as nervous for her - she was really out of her comfort zone - again.

She took a deep breath and shook all the girls hands (this is very proper when meeting people in Switz.). When I met her after class, she was very happy. I'm sure the birthday picnic in the woods for one of the girls helped immensely. And that there is a girl in class who is American/Swiss (teacher speaks good English but can't translate everything in class - good for Rachel's German). The girls are very nice and despite her unease - she's glad the switch was made.

2. Here is Rachel standing next to her classmate and table partner, M. Forgive me for a bit of racial profiling here but, M comes from the land of tall, beautiful, blond people. This land would include any of those Northern European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Holland etc... We've been there - we've seen them. And they're not all blond.

It seems that I have given Rachel my "good things come in small packages" genes. So I've done quite a bit of coaching with Rachel on the size doesn't matter issue. I know how she feels and the short jokes will never go away - it's what you decide to do with them and how you view yourself. So far, she is dealing with it and not letting the teasing get her down.

3. Here she is putting her "Colored Slime" product in it's packaging. 4th grade had a Young Entrepreneurs Unit and she chose this as her product for Market Day. We had the recipe. We tried it out and it worked great. With the white glue we had left from the US of A. In order to make this in bulk, I had to buy more white glue. In Switzerland.

Let me just say that a normal bottle of Elmer's here would cost about $7 - gag, uuggghh, aachk! Then use said white glue from Switzerland in Super Slime recipe from US of A and you get Super Gunk instead of Slime. It's Sunday night and product is due at school at 9am Monday morning.

We had to experiment and throw away batches and Mom was ready to cry (plus my fingers hurt from squeezing every bit of glue out of these overpriced little bottles). We were only able to make about 1/3 of what we had budgeted/planned. Rachel's face was very still and red at one point. Then she took a deep breath and said "We didn't know the glue here was going to be so different. The test batch worked out great. I'll just sell whatever I have and I'm OK with it."

4. Lastly, violin recital. It was her turn and suddenly she couldn't find her music. She spoke with the instructor quickly who announced that Rachel would be playing from memory. They don't encourage this as the students are also accompanied by a pianist. But Rachel played through and any mistakes she made did not stop or hinder her performance at all. So - for those of you who know Rachel, I hope you share in our joy that she is standing strong and plowing through those situations that are uncomfortable. She has learned there isn't an easy way out. Not letting snafu's get her frustrated and upset. She's letting her bravery show.

She is a girl of determined character and we are proud of her.

Speaking of Character: 5. a person marked by conspicuous often peculiar traits. *

NO - THIS IS NOT ME! Interessant - definitely a character. Between this parent and the mom I watched walking her 5 year old to the car while carrying the two year old - while wearing teetering Christian Louboutin stiletto's! - I just shake my head and think HHMMMM?! And for the record - it seems that one cannot wear teetering stiletto's while carrying a toddler and walk gracefully. That's all I'm saying about that.
Rachel has character while this one IS a character!
Monkey girl. And monkey girl asleep. No wonder her head hurts! You can imagine how fun she is to have crawl into bed with you. While Bart was in Orlando, I let the girls each spend the night sleeping with me. Kendra's turn? - I was curled up in the bottom half of the bed - no use fighting it. Maybe if she ditched some of the animals so she could actually use the pillow? Naahhhh!

* Definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ghost Town & National Pride

We said good-bye to a really sweet family this past Sat. who are going back to Atlanta and then a couple (M & J) that has been good friends with us - whom the girls adore - moving to NYC. All work related so we figure to see them again - somewhere within 'the Firm.'

As M has about 3 - 4 generations of Iowa farming behind him, I was able to ask a little about the corn the girls planted in my little garden spot. We'll see.

A good weekend but always hard to see people go - also hard to imagine never having spent part of your life with them. Makes the good-bye part easier knowing there are truly nice, caring and wonderful people all over - even when they are not part of your daily world anymore.

BUT - the strangest thing was leaving the Sat. night good-bye party. It was only 7:45 and we drove through about 3-4 little towns to get home. And saw maybe 10 cars and 5 people. We saw more goats than we saw people. ON A SATURDAY NIGHT! It was soooo weird - like the TwiLight Zone.

The Waedi Brewery was dark, no one walking along the lake on a decent (meaning it wasn't currently raining) night, no one on the main drag eating in the restaurants or having a smoke with their capuccino, the pizza men and Kebab shop men were just watching their TV and sitting around....

Euro'08 - Switzerland vs Czech Republic. Switzerland lost but - the country was practically shut down so everyone could watch. Amazing. I felt sorry for anyone who might be touring through Switzerland and not interested in watching soccer this month. Didn't I mention before that Euro'08 is making the Swiss a little crazy?

We also know that our neighbors below are watching the games closely - we hear the yells and hoots and hollers. Bart said that Credit Suisse has told it's employees they have permission to wear their Football jerseys to work during the Cup!

While I write, the Italy vs Netherlands game is on - had to interrupt my writing here to watch the teams sing the national anthems - Bart claims I'm checking out the line-up but I really am interested in the music. I fully expect the horn honking later tonight to exceed that of last nights after Portugal's win.

It's just really interesting to watch the National pride that exists here exhibited in force. These people are passionate about this sport and their home countries. We are used to seeing flags all over the place - predominately Swiss of course. However, because of the close borders, it is common to see Italian, German, Portuguese and a few (very few) French flags flying as well. These numbers have increased exponentially lately. Many people are driving around with colors flying on their cars.

I'm hoping to get some pictures. The schedule with school is crazy and I am not getting out much with the camera.

There's the yelling - Score - I hear the neighbors before I catch it from the TV!

So - with Memorial Day past and 4th of July coming - How do we show our National Pride as a collective group? Are we good at it? Wavering? Does it only come out during the difficult times or do we stay strong during the good times too?

We will be spending the 4th this year with family in SoCal - the girls are very excited to wave their American Flags. That makes me feel really good.

More yelling - had better go. No wonder Kendra can't get to sleep!

Friday, June 06, 2008

This World is not my Home - John 14:1-3

Warning: Another deep thinking blog post. (I have to call these deep thinking blogs because I feel very vulnerable writing personal feelings on a blog. But sometimes you feel compelled to. Back to superficial and goofy tomorrow.)

First - you know a place is not your home when you are awakened by laughing Swiss DJ's (they always sound goofy because they speak in a lighthearted way that normal Swiss do not) followed by Queen singing "We Are The Champions." I always liked "Champions" followed by "We Will Rock You." My earliest memory of all that goes back to about 5th grade gym and banging on the benches - but I'm getting sidetracked.

Euro'08 starts today and the Swiss will play that song until they actually start the matches and get their you-know-what's kicked by the rest of Europe. They may suprise us but there are not many high hopes by the realists in the country. They are just happy to have made it - the UK National team didn't make it to the dismay of the English Football/Soccer fans at the girls school.

Second - and to my point of today's post. It was brought back to my mind the feelings I have about moving our family around (my part of it, not speaking for Bart - whose Firm is actually moving us around) by a post I read this week. The blog is written by a young worship leader in Mass. whose husband is in Seminary and she often misses 'home' which is several states away for her now. The commenter's all discussed how far away they are from 'home'(all over the world so it's always interesting to see). I did mine in travel time to our immediate family members in DC, MN, CA and HI. We're rackin' up the air miles!

I can't say we actually have a home in the States as we sold ours, chances of moving back to CA or IA are slim at this point and we're don't have a single place that we say "here - we want to be right here!"

I know a lot of people who buy their homes and plan to live there for as long as they can. Kids go to school in the same district from K-garten to High School and then go to their parents Univ. alma mater, etc... I've never felt like that. Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with me BUT -

I always come back to some verses I learned as a child.

"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3

These verses are Jesus's comfort to the disciples as they know He is going somewhere but they haven't figured out the whole plan yet. He also says "Follow Me."

A friend who is now back in NY and also the only one of her family to move around shared my feelings. I am not fully comfortable or satisfied with anyplace here because I know it's isn't my ultimate destination. My ultimate destination will come later.

So for me, it works to move around. I love experiencing the new places, good and bad, and learning as I go. Our girls are learning alot too. We may worry a bit going back re: schooling as the format here is quite different. There might be extra work or adjustments in certain things. But they (we) have learned so much about adjusting to circumstances even when uncomfortable, about really listening to people - you have to in order to understand what they're saying, understanding that no one way is particularly right for every situation and about going forward even when there are butterflies in your stomach.

We are still attached to family and friends. Hopefully this blog and our trips home help. Even if we only get to meet for a day or 2 with people, it's still a connection. We just don't get to share our daily lives, live and in person. I'm not always the best communicator. I wish I were different in that respect BUT it sure is busy being a mom and all the stuff that never ends that goes along with it (like LAUNDRY!!!).

So if someone asked me where home was, I'd have to reply:

"My home country is the UNITED STATES of AMERICA but my home is in Waedenswil - because that is where Bart, Rachel, Kendra and my bed are. And then later, I'll go on to my real home in Heaven."
But if I HAD to pick a place, maybe here,
or here

or here -Mountains or Ocean. Tough decision - would like to split it half and half during the year! Starting to sound like 'SnowBirds.'

Monday, June 02, 2008

It's coming! Euro2008!

Behold - the countdown clock. They are posted all over the city. The tram is all spiffied up for the occasion.
The flags are flying high in the Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Main train station). Of Course - McDonalds could not pass up the opportunity to use this as a new promo.
And there are giant 'Football' players being erected in the Hauptbahnhof as well.
As of this weekend, Switzerland and Austria will be over-run with 'football' (aka. soccer) fans from all over Europe. Many consider the EuroCup to be better than the WorldCup. I don't know - all I know is that people are starting to get a little crazy. And that's saying a lot for the Swiss.

Zurich is expecting to double/triple in size at times during this event (from 500k to 1 - 1.4 mil). Sort of like what happens to Des Moines during the Iowa State Fair. Only without the campers and deep-fried Twinkies (and the Butter Cow).

Hopefully, well get the girls into the City to see some of the fun - but - with my aversion to large crowds, we'll see. Only 3 games will actually be played in Zurich - others in Geneva and Lugano as well as the Austrian hosted games. It seems the worst calamity is the fear of french fry and bratwurst shortages. Combine that with the German milk strike and hey, we're in for a fun June!

Happy Cows

Here's a happy Swiss cow - complete with bell. Have I ever mentioned that I love the sound of the cow bells. And the church bells.... A comment from my last post requires that I explain my "CA cows are happy cows" comments.

My CA readers will recognize this statement as it was the promotional tag for the CA dairy council for years. Could still be but I don't know as I haven't lived in CA for about 6 yrs now. Just like "CA cheese is the REAL cheese." But I don't use that one as the CA dairy people have obviously not been to Switzerland. 'Cause we have some REAL cheese here. Not that I'm getting prejudice about cheese or anything.

My personal belief is these promotional tags are part of the advertising warfare that exists between the California and Wisconsin dairy councils - but that's just a guess on my part.

I don't like drinking plain milk - unless it is very cold. Most all of my milk is consumed via my morning capuccino. This posed a problem when we went to Bart's family in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving one year. On a dairy farm. Uncle Don was even the President of the Wisconsin Dairy Council there for a while. Two gallons of milk on the table - regular and chocolate. I had water. And no seconds as I am a slow eater and by time I finished my dinner, the table was cleared. No one messes around with meals on a farm - eat and clean up! Unlike my side of the family that can sit and graze on a meal for hours during a holiday.

So - I am a picky milk drinker and, yes, I prefered the taste of CA milk over IA milk - no offense to the fine folks at A & E (miss you L.E.). I bought plenty of A & E milk for my family! But can't say I ever saw any cows in IA? Pigs, corn and soybeans - yes. Cows, no.? Does the picture of the Butter Cow from the State Fair count?

I will also put my 2 cents in for the A&E Southwestern Onion Dip because I cannot even say how much I miss that stuff. Bart and I would actually get irritated with each other for "eating the rest of it without telling me!" I'm sure having 'his' and 'her' cartons would have eased that marital discord. OH - that is good stuff! With chips, quesadillas (with that shredded Mexi cheese mix I am missing), vegetables - I won't bore all of you who cannot get their hands on this addictive dip.

Had enough of my cow and milk stories? I will be back with more answers to questions about life here soon.