Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to You!

Hi! A quick Merry Christmas!!!

We're sitting and watching White Christmas (Bart grinning as I sing along quietly). We're missing the snow and cold we've become accustomed to. A sweater was all that was needed today although it will be below freezing tonight - warming up again to 60's for tomorrow.

I did have a little funny that I referred to before - garlands. Kendra wanted to wrap the stairways and rails in greenery and I told her it would probably have to wait until next year. I promised to hit the after Christmas sales and buy it all at 50% off. But we had two boxes of Christmas stuff that had been in Des Moines storage and I really couldn't remember what was in there. Lo and behold, I started pulling out 9ft. after 9ft. length of greenery garland. I had enough to do both stairways and both fireplace mantels. Plus lights!

I looked at Bart and said "Did we start wrapping the front porch in Des Moines before we left?" Turns out we had and that's where it all came from. Yeah! I don't have to hit Michaels the day after Christmas now.

Getting things out of storage after 5 years has been a bit like opening a time capsule. And not everything you think should be "revived" is given life. The Christmas tree below is dressed with, not a proper tree skirt, but a big scrap of cloth. The proper tree skirt which had been used in Des Moines was stuck in the "storage" and did not travel with us to Zurich. Nor did the Christmas stockings.

Our first Christmas in Zurich, I realized my mistake and found a big piece of material to wrap around the bottom of the tree. The girls decorated paper bags for stockings. ANYWAY, when I put the proper tree skirt under the tree this year there was a protest. Turns out, the girls are attached to the way the tree looks with that big scrap of material and did NOT want the proper tree skirt. So - no tree skirt. I also asked if they wanted nicer stockings but they like their cheap drugstore stockings with names written in gold glitter. Works for me. My homage to Swiss decorating:

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from Sunny California!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Real Conversation between Mom and Girls

Girls 1 & 2: Mom, can we go up the hill by the big trees and stuff?

Mom: Yes, be careful, don't do anything stupid and stay away from big rocks.

Girl 1: Why?Mom: You know, in case there's snakes sitting in the sun. (Dad joined in on this one)

Girls are getting ready and I (mom) notice the "outfits" they are assembling for the journey.

Mom: OK - NO making weapons or tying up anybody or anything while you're out there.

Girl 1: OK - we won't tie anybody up.

Mom: Weapons?

Girl 1: Moooommmmm. Can't we bring our Swiss Army knives?

Mom: OK. But don't tie anything up or cut off your fingers.

Girl 2: What about the slingshot or my bow & arrow (handmade with backyard sticks)?

Mom: OK. You can take the slingshot but don't aim it at any living thing or person.

Girls: Thanks mom - see ya.

Out they go and I'm left wondering if there's something I forgot to tell them. Thankful that my .22 is locked up in dad's gun safe. Remembering they went tearing through the park just a few weeks ago, Rachel with large stick in hand, and me stomping my foot yelling "no running with sticks!!!" much to the amusement of my mom and sister. They also built a little "nest" bed for their 3 year old cousin in a tree during Thanksgiving break.

You may wonder where they get these ideas? They both just finished the "Hunger Game" trilogy which is completely and totally my fault as I read it and recommended they both read them so we could discuss together. The protagonist, Katniss, is a forager/hunter/protector and the girls loved the series. We're hoping the Movie rating is appropriate or I'll have some disappointment to deal with. I'm just glad they're not acting out the "fight to the death" portions and are focused on the "survival" portions.

So. What do your kids do for fun?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Tap Tap Tap

Tap Tap Tap

Yep. Blogger is still working. Bart asked the other night "are you ever going to Blog? It's been almost a month?"

I find this funny. He is, after all, my husband and therefore knows most of what happens in our little world and "why is he waiting to read about it?" I probably reveal things in a Blog that I don't share in conversation - I am the "Finnish" one of the family after all. Many times I just don't feel the need to talk about everything but there's alot going on in my brain!

Blogging can be like having a confidential friend - it's enjoyable to share pictures and thoughts and ideas. Except this friend is public and as with anything on the computer, there will be a record of it somewhere for all eternity. At least until Armeggedon and then I plan to be propelled back in time to Terra Nova. Well, maybe just while watching Terra Nova on the DVR with my girlies.

As I consider why I've chosen absence from the Blog lately, it comes down to a couple things: priorities, attitude and health. They are all bound up together.

Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians about living a life of freedom in Jesus Christ vs living by the Law (Old Testament Law) says this:

"Whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31

I don't want to take this out of context - Paul is addressing issues of legalism and judgement under the old Law. He tells them that under Christ all things are permissible - there is no longer "clean" and "unclean." I think they are also great statements about everyday living as well.

"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor." I Corinthians 10:23-24

Where am I going with this? It's been a while since I've written a "deep thought" so I'll do my best to be concise.

Life has been busy. Really busy. I underestimate the time it takes to get things done - for various reasons. Having lived in a "temporary" place for 5 years and moving to a "permanent" place requires a bit of physical (think furniture) and mental re-adjustment. There has been construction, furniture shopping, storage issues, visiting and having visitors, travel, new schools, new friends, old friends!, new/old church, new bible study, new Dr's/Orthodontists, new clients, new groceries, new vehicles and a new schedule.

Ah, that new schedule. I haven't found it yet. I'm looking. I'm frustrated by it a bit. That's why I'm not on the computer much. I used to get the girls off to school and sit for an hour looking at the Lake getting caught up on all things computer. Not here. It's different. I really want my girls and Bart to enjoy being home. That requires me to get some things done before they arrive. And I have some back issues to deal with - therein the health and attitude (currently in diagnosis phase). When you are uncomfortable/pain most of the time (I know a couple of you will relate to this), your attitude can take a nosedive - aka cranky/irritable/short-tempered. I spend a lot of my time doing what I need to without doing too much so that I can be sane come evenings with the family.

Add that to the adjustments we've had and I would turn into a complaining Blogger. I don't want to be that kind of writer. I want to be giving glory in everything I do. It's not always easy and I'm working on it. So many things are enjoyable to do but not all things are right in the circumstance. Are the activities I'm choosing helpful to others or just self-pleasing? Seeking to find my balance in a new place.

I miss posting and hearing from my few precious readers. :) Hopefully I'm back on track and now that the house is festively arrayed, I'll start by sharing pic's and a funny garland incident. We think it's funny anyway. And I'll share tomorrow.......time's up for today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Honor of our Vets - 11.11.11

One nice thing about the move is some new stuff. One of which is the new, wireless printer, copier, scanner and fax machine(all in one) which works much better than the printer we brought back with us that was making funny noises and not sure it wanted to print anymore.

I've never had a scanner before so am enjoying the ability to get some pre-digital pictures onto the computer.

Like this: My Dad. Who is also having a party today for retirement from 38 years as an electrician - Congratulations!

Thank you Dad - and Uncles, Cousins, Grandfathers and all those who have served our country in various capacities, under various circumstances and for various reasons. God Bless You!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free Range Anyone?

I know this won't be the last time I bore you with the local wildlife.

We are quite used to cows, sheep and hawks but you have to admit - Turkeys in force are fascinating.

Here is just a portion of the "gaggle" "flock" "herd" ???? of turkeys in our neighborhood: It's quite something to see all the males puffed up and showing off their tail feathers while the females just try to get some breakfast. Oh my! Growing up in a family of hunters, I do wonder how these free-range birdies might be on the table. But don't worry - I'm sure the HOA has some rule or another against shooting in the backyard. Cultivated wilderness.

I took these from my car with the little camera so they're not what I hoped but - those turkeys don't stay in place! I can come back 10 minutes later and they'd be gone. They're very funny too - as traffic came down the road and the turkeys had to get out of the way, they split into "boys" and "girls." Each gender on separate sides of the road. I find them hilarious.

What else might be hilarious this time of year?

Aye, Matey! Ye be talkin' 'bout me girlies:

Yes, the Pirates have taken over. We've finished the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and they are rarin' to go. Mom & Dad have costumes too from years ago in Des Moines - I may even share a picture............

The girls had done "Trunk or Treat" at the international school while in Switzerland but this will be the first year in 5 that they've gone to school in costume or out trick or treating in the neighborhood. Rachel doesn't think she's too old at all - she can't wait. I think 10 yrs was my last trick or treat year..........

It's been a decent week. Furniture shopping is virtually complete - and we should have everything by the end of January....... But we do have a couch and "Bart's" recliner arrived this week so - Yeah! It's a lot of work, time, money and just not as enjoyable when you really need it all - hoping to get things out of boxes or have a place to offer guests to sit. But we are so happy to be located where we are in this area. God gave us a good thing.

I actually have A LOT to say about the last few months. Just not sure how much I should. And does anyone really want to hear that my back bothers me enough that often I don't sit at the computer because I feel better staying up and about. Working on that - better this week.

I'm off to sleep. Need a lot of that. ;) Guten Nacht!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I am from........ by Rachel Olson

Hello! Back again and I think, I think things are going to settle into a routine and I may, I may be able to bring myself to the computer a bit more frequently.

I would love to share this poem Rachel wrote for an English assignment this week. I'm sharing it without editing so don't feel a need to correct her mistakes - this is how she'd put it if she were talking it out.

I shared a bit from the Art of Coming Home a while back. The transition has certainly had it's ups and downs. This poem reflects, in my mind, how Rachel as a "Third Culture Kid" (seriously, there's a whole book on this topic) sees herself. I thought it was beautiful and maybe it's just me, the mom, speaking but you can let me know:

I am from dusty old scrapbooks filled with happy memories. I am from foreign yearbooks sitting at the bottom of a closet shelf. I am from new pop CD’s and gossip magazines. I am from dark and milk creamy Swiss chocolate. I am from Thanksgiving pumpkin and apple pie making. I am from a hundred pens scattered all over desks and tables in my house. I am from peach colored sheep paintings from Stockholm. I am from camera’s that capture wonderful moments on trips to the Italian Riviera.

I am from nagging old habits. I am from dark sky blue Faberge eggs of Russia. I am from good-smelling perfume air freshener from France. I am from scenic postcards written by dearest friends. I am from funny and girly birthday cards going back to three years old. I am from the Harry Potter books, dark, mysterious and thrilling. I am from the mythical books of Percy Jackson, romantic and exciting.

I am from skiing on large, majestic Swiss alps, covered in powdery, crystal snow. I am from swimming in a deep green lake. I am from friends that will stay by my side through dark, scary and horrible times. I am from cream colored, silk soft sand of Oman. I am from computers that take seven minutes to start up. I am from a closet so messy that you can hardly see the cream colored carpet below.

I am from thick, delicious, moist vanilla cake with sugary, creamy chocolate frosting. I am from brown tinted sunglasses that are always clouded with finger prints. I am from a bright, lime green elementary school with windows framed with bright, strawberry red.

I am from long, steamy, and hot showers. I am from warm, moist Abigbrot eaten with hot and spicy chili on a cold winter night. I am from soft, sandy beaches with clear, turquoise water; lapping gently against the shore. I am from below zero degrees winters, with fresh snow every morning. I am from Christmases filled with mirth and warmth, from opening beautiful presents in the morning and playing in the new fallen snow in the afternoon. I am from these happy, sad and angry moments.

I can think of many other "froms" she could have shared but it's her work and reflects how she sees herself at this time. I'm from a lot of those places too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What's been goin' on

Busy, Busy, Busy.

Time for some pictures and a bit of what the Olson's have been up to the past few weeks. I'm going backwards as I'm writing this on the return of a whirlwind trip to - Guess?Does the red, double-decker bus give you a clue? My shiny, clean face devoid of makeup as I intend to go straight to bed after the show? Yes, London!!! I did not sleep (dosed about 45 min.) on the flight over so this is me at about 28+ hrs. I don't remember much of the first half of Billy Eliott but was awake for the 2nd Act.

Why London? A wonderful friend from Zurich was in London to celebrate a special Birthday with another wonderful friend who moved there in April who was hosting other wonderful friends (also from Zurich) for the weekend. Follow? My wonderful husband who knew I was missing friends and that's it's been a time of adjustment, looked into tickets and gave me the "hall pass." So I was a surprise for the Birthday friend - and she was VERY surprised. It was fun to be a surprise!

On the River Thames. Advertising - A-hem! But if we show our ID we can get a discount ...... :)

The surprise activity for the weekend was a high-speed boat excursion on the River Thames. Next to skiing fast together, we enjoyed this immensely - Thank You L for arranging this and treating us to such fun!

After the thoroughly fun but chilly ride on the Thames, we were off to celebrate the Birthday girl at a lovely! hotel tearoom.

It was so beautifully arranged. They had several pieces of furniture that were "just what I'm looking for" but, of course, one can't take off with hotel furniture in ones' small suitcase.

Along with eating, boating, theatre-going and visiting, there was a bit of shopping to do. L lives in the Hampstead area and it was so fun to see a different part of London.
I'm so thankful for these friends and for the trip - quick as it was. It also felt natural to be back in a place where you can walk out the door, go a few blocks and catch a train, taxi, bus to your destination. Being in the suburbs again, I actually miss that. Especially with a larger group of people - we never had to worry about whether there were enough seats in the car.

It was also good to see friends I miss in a place other that Switzerland. Although it's very nice where we live in CA, I was happy to move from it 9 years ago and really had no idea we'd move back. It's really taking me some time to acclimate (some things are easier than others) and with work being done on the house, haven't "gotten out" as much as I thought I would have at this point. It's best NOT to visit the place being missed at this time but great to visit with the people. Plus - the birthday girl and her Hub will be visiting us in November which we are really looking forward to.

Before that trip - and in keeping with the spirit of Swiss culture - Rachel had an assignment for her Foods class that we worked on. They are to prepare and give a bit of background on a food from their heritage or culture. As we lived in Switzerland for 5 years, certain aspects became a part the family culture.

Such as the Grittibaenz:

Grittibaenz are a traditional bakery dough men made in November/December. Ours are looking a bit "special" (dough men vs Aliens?) but Rachel's class really enjoyed them and she felt good about sharing this part of her life. Can I add that I love the workspace of our kitchen island. LOVE IT!

We also spent a weekend with our friends in Fresno again and to watch the young man below play a bit o' Football - American style. We brought the girls instruments so they could practice and have a little jam session. Knowing the girls as some of you do, what's wrong with this picture:

Yes, they played their own instruments a bit and then decided to switch it up - J is a naturally gifted musician (plays contrabass, electric bass guitar and drums) and within minutes had Kendra's cello going - another instrument in the H house? Rachel had fun on his bass and Kendra enjoys the violin when Rachel leaves her alone to just play it......

And before the Fresno weekend, we had a weekend in Reno with my mom and J. We had a great time visiting and went up to Virginia City - and old Silver mining town.

I do believe I mentioned that trip now that I type it out...... losing my mind. While I know I mentioned Bart's parents Anniversary in Minneapolis, I never did share pictures. It was great to celebrate such an anniversary with them. This cake? This cake was GONE. During clean-up I checked to see if any was left and there was just a smudge of frosting on that plate. I did not swipe at the smudge 'cause I was being well mannered. But if no one had been watching????

With Bart's parents and sister Siri - we had a great time. Happy Anniversary!

So I'm now off to do laundry, make more Grittibaenz (Kendra decided to use them for her class project too) and shuttle kiddo's to music lessons.

And to my husband for all his love, kindness and support - Thank You! I'm glad I decided 19 years ago to not be "just friends."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Random items for today

And my lack of blogging time continues. But:

I've spent time (3x) with a friend from Zurich whose daughter is a Professor at Stanford. Yes, that Stanford. I felt smart just eating at the Faculty Lounge restaurant which we were treated to. And thinking I'd like to go back to school. I don't think I'll get into Stanford.... I digress. It was wonderful to spend time with J and so glad to see her face!

We went to Reno last weekend to visit my mom & J at their house - realized because of living in IA and Switz that we hadn't been there in 9 years! It was such a nice visit and weekend. Mom's friend C was also there so it was great to catch up. We were very fortunate - J was at the Reno Air Races but not in his place in the stands but the pitts (note - there was a tragic accident with a plane and surrounding casualties) . Their friend is a surgeon at the hospital there and only revealed a bit of the trauma before dinner on Saturday. So sad and heartbreaking. Besides that - had a great time and thankful for our many blessings.

I took the girls, including a friend of Rachel's, to a movie this afternoon and have entered a strange new world - that of teenies in CA. Slightly different than teenies in Zurich but with a common adoration for cute boys in movies. Sigh.

We have pictures on the walls!!!!!!!!!!! At least some. I made Bart change the painting over the mantel by 1/2 inch over: "Really, I need to move it." "Yes, really you need to move it." Because I will know it's off by one inch total and someone (or several of you) will come in and realize that somehow it's not dead center. It is now. :)

We have a sofa to sit on!!!!!!!!! The day our container arrived from Switzerland we had the movers take the sectional to my dad's as we knew it wouldn't fit in the new house (too big and clumsy for the room). So we've been using a double seat (smaller than a loveseat) and Rachel's child size chair - fancy!

Getting there. Working through missing people. Working on getting to know new people. Happy to be together and be able to spend time with CA people. And non-CA people visiting CA.

Did I mention it's hot here. In California. It's almost the end of September and we still need the air conditioning. Or I'll melt. And not because I'm the Wicked Witch of the East. Don't ask my family about that one. We have all agreed that since we moved here at the very end of June the weather is boring: sunny and hot, sunny and hot, oohhh, a little marine layer - bingo, burns off by 10am and it's sunny and hot. Not complaining, just realizing that once again I live in a land with pseudo-seasons. Where I will refrigerate my bulbs for a couple weeks before planting them 'cause, hmmm, bulbs are from Holland and I live in....CA.

I'm off now to check on my insomniac child (she's not really but thinks she is) and then sit on my new, comfy couch with the cute boy aka my husband.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Observations as we settle in

Hi! Remember me? The lady who typically drops out of the Blogging world when traveling? But has dropped out primarily due to lack of routine, strangers in the house, a little travel (MN) and trying to figure out how to put things into words again.

I like to internalize things and carry them around in my upper back lately vs getting it all out on the keyboard. Much to the massage therapist and chiropractor's dismay. "Wow" being the most frequent word in their vocabulary when I visit.

Things are moving along with getting settled into the house. We unpacked the rest of the boxes this weekend so the shipping company could come pick up the rest of the "debris." We had lots of debris. Happy to report that there were no broken items in the lot save one piece of pottery which had no sentimental value and one painted egg ornament of Rachel's. It was given to her by our dear friend M in Zurich but in Rachel's typical pragmatic way she said " well, it's an egg - it wasn't going to last forever."

Now that life is settling into a bit of routine: music teachers found, lessons begun, school times figured out, etc..., we notice more of what we miss of the old and what we like of the new. We're a bit 'homesick' right now but it's to be expected.

Friends from our church in Zurich came for a visit last night - their daughter teaches at Stanford - and it was sooooooo good to see them. The husband baptized Rachel in June and they are dear, loving people. Something occurred during the visit that made us laugh and I realize it's time to share some of our observations.

I was in the kitchen and everyone was outside when I heard a loud 'bang' at the door. There is J staring at me - and we both started laughing with realization. She just walked straight into the screen door not realizing it was there. There are no screen doors in Switzerland! We laughed and then starting pointing out all the other "differences" like the trash compactor, the garbage disposal - the filtered water and ice that comes straight out of our refrigerator door.

Other observations:

  • Rarely does one have to pay for parking

  • Parking spaces are generally big enough for our big car

  • People don't signal lane changes/turning any better in CA than in Switzerland

  • It feels strang to pass other cars in a right hand lane

  • It feels strange not to go 75mph(120km) on the freeway

  • In spite of screens, a flyswatter is still needed but I can't find one

  • Nutella in the USA is NOT the same as Nutella in Europe (US version has Palm Oil in it)

  • Much Chocolate in the USA is NOT the same as in Switzerland (again, US uses Palm Oil a lot)

  • We love going to Barnes & Nobles which seems so inexpensive after Orel Fuessli but must start restraining ourselves BUT the library doesn't have everything......especially young adult books by English/UK authors we've come to enjoy and for that one must go to Amazon

  • School parking lot may be more ruthless here than in Switzerland - good thing we are so close

  • We have air conditioning

  • We will not have snow

  • Our heavy winter clothes may get used in Tahoe - Or a trip to Switzerland in the future

  • We should have bought the tall vase in Italy

  • Baseball "pitches" should be refered to as "fields" or "diamonds" in the USA

  • We all find ourselves mis-pronouncing "new words" or last names based on our language experiences (so many people mis-pronounce European surnames here..... ;) )

  • Things are so spread out here that while we have more "conveniences" we don't have any more time

  • CA weather is boring - blue sky, warm/hot - but we're not complaining :)

  • Restaurants are loud here - music and people

  • Trains are not as clean nor on time as in Switzerland - big surprise

  • Much searching is done to find food products without so much sugar in them - bread, sauces, salad dressings?

  • We love our wildlife neighbors

  • We have fun with our ping-pong table (Kendra is a contender!)

  • We're trying to figure out how we ended up with so many pictures/frames for the walls over the years and what will we do with them as our house has more windows than wall space

  • Unable to find Nuessli (lamb's ears lettuce) anywhere so far (supermarkets, Trader Joes, Whole foods, etc....) and might have to sneak some seeds in

  • The grapes on our grapevine are edible table grapes - the deer and turkeys like them too

  • Our passports are gathering dust

  • Haven't settled into a cooking groove yet which is not impressing the Bartman

  • Stress level in the grocery store is definitely going down though

  • Cash back in the check out lines - YES! - no separate trip to the ATM

  • There are no supermarkets in the Malls here - a convenience I'm missing

  • There have been so many 'technical' changes in the world over the last 5 years, there are things new to us in moving back and can't even list them all

  • Church visiting is going well - with the one church we've visited so far (one we used to go to in the area)

  • I can understand almost everyone who comes to service/work on things at the house - I need to learn some Spanish, the German is not useful

  • School has brought challenges in different ways but things have worked out well - we think?

  • Girls have 50%+ more students in their classes in CA vs ZIS - Kendra is in a class of 31 vs 18 - 20 and Rachel's biggest class is 37 vs 18

  • Rachel's gone from an 8 class block schedule (longer class times, each class 3x week) to 7 classes every day - without German and Spanish this year, she's down two academic classes from her previous load which hopefully will help the academic curriculum adjustment this year

  • We chose this area in part because of what the schools offered - found they still have some of these programs because the Parents fund them, not the State - have written quite a few checks.........

  • I've written more checks in 2+ months than we wrote over the 5 years in Switzerland

  • There have been adjustment surprises - one day at a time

  • Kids really miss ZIS and their friends

  • One thinks things should be so much easier here - but its really not - things still take time and patience and persistence

  • It's still weird to listen and understand so many conversations around you

  • I can click the spell-check on Blogger now and it doesn't highlight my entire post - as it did in Switzerland thinking that I should be writing in German

  • Lastly, we could pick up our 'village' of Waedenswil and plunk it into Hacienda Crossings of Dublin (big shopping complex - theatres, restaurants, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble - you get the picture) and it would fit!!!
Whew! Sometimes these changes and differences can be overwhelming. We take it day by day. Amazed at how adaptable one becomes to their environment because 5 years away was 5 years away. It was a different life. Our "Swiss Bubble" as we refer to it. And I'll be honest, there are days I'd like to go back to my Bubble. The pastor spoke at church on Sunday about the "Offense of Jesus." People get offended by Him. How much of the 'offense' is due to human expectation. Because Jesus came to save us from our sins, not our circumstances. How often we expect our circumstances to change because of our belief. People get "offended" because He doesn't do things the way we think He should.

We are very thankful for our circumstances. Hugely thankful that He paid the price for our sins.

One thing that has remained the same - Wednesday is a short school day. It was an "early out" day in Switzerland and it is an "adjusted day" here in CA. Either way, I have to get a move on because Kendra will be walking home in a couple hours and I have things to do!

Caio! Tschuss! Adeiu!

Friday, September 02, 2011

It's Official!

We have a teenager in the house!

Really? Can Rachel really be 13? YES! I think she thought she turned 13 about 6 months ago. That girl. She's funny, sweet, stubborn (wonder where she gets that), quiet, loud (born with volume control stuck!), sensitive, enthusiastic, creative, musical and we love her to pieces!!!

The girls have been on a cupcake craze and I bought them a new "Cupcake Cookbook" recently. Instead of a cake this year, we decorated cupcakes - Birthday girl's choice: Panda's! We had a lot of fun making these and while we all tried making an entire bear at first, it became apparent that we all had our separate talents. I was better at base frosting and the face details, Rachel was great at the crumb covering and ears and Kendra put the heads and arms on. We were pretty hilarious and had only a few Oreo's and licked some frosting while we were at it.

With the household still being a bit chaotic, I was thankful for the first time in many years having available to me in a convenient US of A way: yellow cake mix, premade frosting and various bits that often required a time consuming "search and find" mission in Switzerland. There are things I miss but when it comes to baking items and accessories - US of A has it.

So remiss - I haven't posted any HI pictures! And here we are headed for another family event - Bart's parents 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary! Bart has spearheaded this event with help of his sister in Minneapolis and is ready with program, power-point show and various fun.

But I'm not sitting around in the sun doing nothing(I can't even tell you how many sunny days we've had! Oh yeah, they've all been sunny and hot - this is California summer, not Zurich). The house - still 1/3 in boxes - has been a full time project but should be ready to fully settle into in about 1 1/2 weeks or so. We are ready - new paint, new appliances (they were starting to drop like flies), etc... Soon we can move furniture around again and start to settle. We're still trying to figure out our storage issues. Apparently, I have a large quantity of Christmas decorations, sewing materials/stuff and photo album making supplies. That, of course, is according to Bart. :) Who needs an office at home. Which is also the guest room. Which leaves me wondering where to put my stuff - creative solutions are coming I'm sure.........

I have a lot to do during the day but often find myself not sure where to go in order to stay out of the way:

The front porch was a good place to be while they cut the kitchen countertop!! to fit a new appliance.

The dis-order makes me a little crazy. I know it will be over soon. I am so thankful for where we are and this house God has given us. Someday I can clean the floors and they will actually stay clean until my family comes home from school & work - hahahahaha...... We are enjoying close proximity to some dear friends and family. It's been great to see my dad multiple times - just because he's so close now.

Greatly missing friends in Zurich - knowing new friends/relationships will come. It all takes time. Blessed and fortunate every day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The real work begins

The title may be a little mis-leading. It should read " the real work began." It began last Monday on the 15th. We've been a little overwhelmed and tired, tired, tired. But we got our container and things are moving with the house so YAHOO!!!

We were a bit concerned (mild statement) that our container would not get delivered as scheduled. It was a week overdue into port and then it was chosen by US Customs for "intensive inspection." Fortunately, our prayers were answered and Customs did not fool around with it and released it quickly (most likely was sniffed and scanned as none of the contents were disturbed). What a blessing!

It arrived into Oakland/Alameda on a container ship similar to the one shown going under the Bay Bridge here:
And showed up on our doorstep that Monday morning - Wow!

It took approximately 1 hour, 10 minutes for them to completely unload the container. Yelling out item inventory numbers and stacking boxes in the garage and driveway, they moved fast.

We had the crew for 2 days and you have to make the most of them while they're there. Day 1 was unpacking the container and then you start to identify what goes where in the house - especially the furniture pieces. Most of it is wrapped so there are times you're not sure what it is. I didn't get a picture of all the "stuffing" as they were so quick to unwrap and stuff it into boxes that were then thrown back on the container.

They worked on reassembling furniture and placing boxes in the proper rooms for unpacking later. Part of the crew (with a little side $$$) also made a delivery to my dad's as our sectional was going to his house in addition to returning a dining room table and some odds and ends. That worked out great as we would otherwise be walking around that piece(s) of furniture.

We had to work out some logistics as we also needed the house painted (interior) and had to wait our turn with the contractor. Painting started this week on Tuesday meaning we would have to leave some items boxed and some furniture "loosely" placed. It's just a little goofy here. In the past we've always painted ourselves but this house has really high ceilings and we just can't do it all. Oh, and Bart is really busy. He just can't do it all.

Here's Bart on the Wednesday he took off after the moving crew was done to help organize and put away what we could. What a mess. Where does it all go?

We didn't consider storage or the lack of when we bought the house. We would still buy this house - we love where it's at. It really hit home as we started unpacking that we had a lot of storage in Iowa (basement! and big closets) and Switzerland (built-ins). We have decent sized bedroom closets but there is little in the way of convenient storage elsewhere in the house - but it is big and airy. Just not equipped with storage. Except the kitchen - lots of storage there! :)

We've also had the "Barbeque" project going. The "island" has been ready - 3 weeks earlier than estimated! - and we've had to hold off delivery until our preparation for it is completed. There were Jasmine bushes to tear out, wood railing to be sanded(Susan), primed and painted(Bart & girls) and an electrical outlet (Gpa Paul) to be finalized before it can go in. We're almost done! Bart has just a little painting left. We'll enjoy it when it's done.

While the rest of the house is still "in flux" (exception is Rachel's room now that paint there is finished - she is Bart's "mini-me" - can we all give an "Amen") I am most comfortable when the kitchen is all in place. Day 1 of the move - afternoon:

Day 2 of the move - evening:

The move-in of everything caused another shift in the tenuous balance of the Olson's readjustment period so there have been many a "not so many sleeps" nights. K started sleeping in our bed again (thankful we switched to a King!) and Rachel standing next to the bed saying "I can't sleep" and our responding "nothing we can do - lay down and relax." Makes us all a little crazy - I'm having the same problem some nights. Plus - school was starting (yesterday morning) and we were a little concerned that we were all overtired.

Naturally, as nothing has really gone to plan, the painting started on Tuesday (originally scheduled for previous Thursday) - the night before school. So the girls were on air beds in the Family room and Bart and I have moved into the guest room. Bart & I have to stay there until our new blinds arrive - I'll have to get a pic posted of our "open" space. The painters have been great though and made the girls rooms a priority so theirs were done by Wed. noon and they were able to sleep in their own beds again - and they slept all night! Hallelujah!

I don't have pic's of the girls together on the first day of school. Their departure time is about one hour different: Rachel leaving by 7:25 and Kendra at 8:20. They can both walk to school and they both had a good first day! I don't necessarily want to Blog all the personal things that go on with moving countries and schools but those of you who've done it will know and those who think about it will understand - it's a stressful period. What a sigh of relief and a "thank you Lord" yesterday afternoon when we talked about their day.

I feel like a new kid too! I still know our banker more than anyone else in the community - all the wire transfers to pay remaining bills in Zurich....... I even think Rachel had a better day than Kendra which suprised me. I think that subject is a post of it's own.

Kendra leaving for 5th grade:

Rachel ready for 8th grade - she'll officially be a teenager next week!

All I know is that time flies - whether you're having fun or not!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Which way did it go?

HI!!! Back again. Another trip. To Hawaii to visit the family and celebrate the 1st Birthday of my sister's twins. No pictures as I haven't had time yet to unpack my suitcase let alone download pictures but here I am on the Blog.

The warnings that Re-patriation (return to the Home Country) is harder than the leaving are to be headed. It is. Can't always explain it but it's a different adjustment. The school counselor put it well to Rachel this morning "make sure if something doesn't make sense, you speak up - even though the teachers will be notified you've come from overseas/Int'l school, you look and speak like any other kid around them and they won't know that things are different for you unless you say something." We don't look or sound different but we sure feel that way.

Good News! Our sea-going container of household goods finally reached the Port in Oakland/Alameda.

Bad News! US Customs randomly selected our container for intensive screening. Part of the "harder" of Re-patriation in our book.

It may be that it will still get released quickly but depends on their backlog and whether they want to take a quick peek or deeply dig into our stuff. I can say for the record - there are no verboten, re-sale, weapons, flammable, animal, plant, food product or otherwise forbidden items in our container. So I don't care other than I don't want yet another person touching my stuff when I'm not looking. Just creeps you out a little - or a lot. And we're still rattling around this empty house.

So I'll show off the container for you. After you see the Magic Box.

Magic Box:

This box contains ALL the pieces necessary to put ALL the disassembled items of furniture back together. It is a very, VERY important box. US Customs better not mess with it. Just sayin.'

A lot of people wonder how the boxes/furniture got out of our house and to the container. No one wants to traipse all down 120 steps to the garage area. Everything was entirely boxed and wrapped (patio furniture included!) then loaded onto this small truck via the wanderweg (walking path) next to our house and driven and reloaded into the container. I don't know how many trips they made.

But they made quite a few because I became a bit concerned that what I saw still in my house would not fit into what appeared to be a quickly filling container. The crew chief was pretty sure it would all fit but wasn't fully committed until the end. He said the Swiss tend to pack heavier with the paper wrapping than other shipping companies so they take up more space. Apparently they used over 7 kilos (18-20 lbs or so) of paper on our kitchen items alone. My gosh - we had a 40 ft container, surely it would all fit???

It did. Snug and tight with a bit left over. Not much left over.

Our container has gone by truck from Waedenswil to Basel, loaded on a ship for its trip up the Rhein River to Rotterdam, loaded on a cargo vessel which traveled Rotterdam to Oakland via the Panama Canal and is sitting and waiting it's final destination by truck when released.

I wish we could have earned some miles for freight. Praying the customs process is speedy.

It will be a real treat when this shows up at our door.

Hmmm - What will the neighbors say?

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Have it Your way"

It’s a funny thing – ordering at a restaurant. One would think it’s not so different. But it certainly is. We really hold up the lines here.

To be fair, we’re not used to such choices. At “home” in Switzerland, one simply orders what one wants from the menu and rarely asks for any changes. Occasionally you ask for something to be left off, mushrooms or pickles for example. For the most part the food is served/made/prepared as the establishment wishes with few changes asked by the customer.

At “home” in the US one has so many choices, it makes the ordering process a bit confusing for those not quite used to it.

We’ve been in Subway and Chipotle recently and trying to get the girls used to the “order it your way" type of restaurant. They are gradually getting there. It’s funny as we’re pretty simple eaters now because of the past 5 years. It's much easier to order a simple ham and cheese sandwich and that's what you're given. Maybe with a little butter or fresh cheese ("frische kaese") and a pickle or cucumber slice but otherwise - ham and cheese on whatever roll they're serving it on.

Again - grocery store is still a challenge - too much! Trader Joe's is becoming my friend - smaller, less choices but good choices AND good, ready to heat up meals for when Bart's out of town and I don't want to cook.

Not that I have much to cook with..................

Have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Neighbors

Hello Again! It's been a busy week of visiting family and friends. Appointments with contractors (for our house that "is ready to move into") as it needs repainting and some repairs/adjustments. You just never know until you really look at it. We are still 'camping' in the house although the girls got the bean bag chairs for their rooms delivered so that has added seating to our family room or living room - depending on where they want to be.

I promised some pictures so I have some new neighbors for you. Not the kind that will come over for some coffee, but we enjoy their company.

The hill - home to deer, coyotes, big jackrabbits, ground squirrels, turkeys, quail, lizards and yes, snakes: A couple lonely pots left behind - I'll put something in them after Hawaii:

Here they are! The momma's and their chicks. These chicks aren't so little though. These 3 turkey momma's and their 6 chicks roam the neighborhood - front lawns, sidewalks - there are enough dogs they stay out of the backyards from what I can tell.

Here is pappa Quail - isn't he beautiful:

He stands on guard and you can bet that somewhere close by are the momma and chicks in the grass or bushes. Here is the pappa and 2 babies (at right) in our backyard. I need my zoom lens which I forgot to pack in our luggage and is on the slow boat.

And the lemon tree - we're loving that.

We'd love to have our patio furniture - this is where we last saw it:

And we're missing the view:

Still feeling in-between places. I still feel like maybe I'm going to be getting on a plane headed for ZRH and walking into "my" house in Waedenswil. But I'm not. Things are on schedule to have our container delivered to the house on August 15 - praying for no delays. I'm sure it will seem more permanent then. And after the girls start school....

It's a moving process that takes months. Since the beginning of April (before then as far as communications) the process has been in full swing. One looks for a house, the current house must be 'prepared' for packing, you start packing what you need for 2-3 weeks of travel, 2 months for items to get you by until the container arrives, start preparing new house for container items - oops, painter's can't get in until after container arrives, add 1 month after container before things will be up on wall and in place and time for new furniture to be ordered and delivered. A good 6 months of moving and situating things. It's like a full time job. But we take breaks because for 10 and 12 year old girls - not that fun!

But I enjoy taking breaks to watch my new neighbors. I hear that the momma turkey's will teach the babies to fly - hope we get to watch!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A little this, a little that


Still answering the phone half the time Swiss style. Bart keeps asking how long I'll do that. He never picked up the habit as he rarely answered our phone in Switzerland.

"Adieu, Ciao, Aufwiedersehen......." I'm still saying goodbye several times and feeling like conversations are abruptly ended with a simple "Bye" on the other end of the line or at the store. Working on it.

We (or rather I) are not ready to tackle discussion of grocery shopping on the blog. Still the hardest part of adjusting for Moi. I could give specific instances of "I'm going to lose it" in each move, be it HyVee, Migros or Safeway. I'm most comfortable in Target - a constant since even though we didn't have one in Switzerland, it was the go-to store each summer trip to see family.

The Air cargo arrived! Yeah! We now have some regular kitchen items, summer clothes, some toys/stuff for the girls and more air mattresses and towels. And more seating options - there are now 4 camping chairs to accompany the dining room chairs. All the people traipsing through the house recently (window washers, carpet repair, shutter repair, paint/handyman, etc...) find it amusing.

I keep thinking of all sorts of things to blog about as I go through my day but then I sit here and go blank. I've not actually had much time to sit. I do have three items specific to moving:

1. As it's summer and we've just moved and there is NO routine yet, I've not had the chance to develop any new acquaintances yet, save working on one with a neighbor down the street. My most frequent "I know their names and we can chat" contacts are the banker and the insurance agent (and his wife). The girls are playing with girls down the street which has been an answer to prayer. We have had a great time seeing our "old" friends and some family (yes, we're working our way around to everyone) like we would during a normal summer only this time - we drive our own car and sleep in our own beds!

2. The girls, in spite of being given sleeping options via cots from Gpa P and more airbeds from Switzerland, continue to sleep together on a queen airbed. Bart and I know that this will be a potential issue for them later and sure enough, Kendra pipes up and says "I'm going to want to stay with Rachel in her room to sleep you know." Yes, we know. She's always preferred to share a room than be by herself. That will sort itself out. Plus it's cute to see them all curled up together - they're a bit like kittens.

3. Contact Paper. I hate it. It's OK to hate inanimate objects. Especially contact paper. I'm almost done re-papering the kitchen. The contact paper is still winning the war. But at least it's new and CLEAN and almost done so that when everything comes from the container in August, I'll be ready. The house is 14 yrs old and only the upper cabinets have laminate on the shelves, the rest were bare pressboard. Therefore, I peeled all the old "green marble" contact paper off and have been putting down new - bathrooms, kitchen, laundry, must be done.

Adjusting and enjoying time as a family - so much nicer to be all together again. Pictures next time.....

Monday, July 11, 2011

Still Waiting...

Hi Again. I'm still bouncing around trying to figure out what to do first. I'm not very good at quickly putting everything away. Not that there's a lot to put away but I had to wait for the house to get cleaned first. The previous occupants, while very nice people I'm sure, did not really clean the house (vacuum out their bits from kitchen drawers, wipe out refridgerator, etc...) when they left so I felt a bit frozen when we got here.

Bart & I have gone through and sorted ALL the Iowa storage items that came - yes, we will be participating in the neighborhood Garage sale next week. So the garage is looking pretty good and I should really get to my closet. There are only 2 suitcases of stuff to put in there but it's amazing how it explodes all over the floor. My uber-organized husband is not impressed. :)

Our Air shipment has been delayed due to a backlog of cargo being shipped by the airlines. The 7 - 10 day estimate came and went a week ago and so we've been given an allowance for some necessities. We have borrowed some items and our neighbors loaned us some. There are just a few items though that we really could use so we've actually spent a little allowance - I don't typically but, camping is fun for only so long.

I'm sure others could tell stories. I hope ours isn't like the one we heard last night where the cargo containers fell off a ship to the USA via UK - the stuff all at the bottom of the Atlantic. I guess it would be the best reason to go shopping.

I'm off to take the girls out - keeping the boredom at bay.

Monday, July 04, 2011

We're Here!

No - we have not fallen off the face of the earth. Just moving households and it's amazing how much time and effort and falling into bed at night is required. Maybe I'm just older. Maybe there's just more to do. Maybe it's because the former residents of our house didn't really clean up after leaving (really? the microwave is dirty, drawers not vacuumed out). Maybe because moving back to the States is as time intensive as moving to Switzerland - and we're citizens!

So we are camping in the house - one regular bed, one air bed and one dining room set - with odds and ends that have come out of Iowa storage.

The funnies of overseas moves:

  • Purchased some instant coffee so I can survive and was assured we had a travel mug or two to put it in. Before bed, realized we had nothing to heat the water in!

  • Purchased a couple candles to light and get some of the stale house smell disguised - "Bart, do we have any matches?" Uh, no.

  • Raiding our old camping gear for kitchen accessories such as a can opener.

  • Realizing that we should participate in the neighborhood garage sale coming up even though our container won't arrive until August - there's enough in the IA storage that should/must go.

  • Dropping husband off at train station (commutes into SF via BART - yes, Bart rides BART Bay Area Rapid Transit) each morning since we had only one rental car

  • We've purchased two new cars within 2-3 days of each other. Even when budgeted for, this can be quite a shock to one's system. And the poor girls: "keep your feet off that, don't bring that drink in the car, don't eat that 'til we get home" the new-ness will wear off soon (just not in "Bart's" car).

  • Taking CA drivers license tests (half of the written is required when re-newing from out of state) and having our old numbers returned to us - very convenient.

  • Meeting new neighbors on our small street - one family had been in S. Africa for 4 yrs recently (yeah, Expats!) and the other we realized went and still attend the church we were at when living in the area before.

  • Enjoying that we are in a familiar place (our first house is about 7-8 miles from our current) but learning a different part of the community.

  • Kendra is startled by the automatic sprinkler system.

  • Our friends in Fresno sent us home with a bottle of wine and an opener - Bart stared as I poured some in a plastic picnic cup and I said "this is all we've got!"

I have a long list of to-do's so had better get moving but very happy to wish you a Happy 4th from CA.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not an ending...

Wow. I think this will be my last post as a resident of Switzerland. Which means I've been writing here for just over 5 years. It doesn't seem that long ago. Really. It's gone by so fast and yet I feel we've really savored our time.

However - I won't stop writing here. I'll keep the name for the time being. The book "The Art of Coming Home" by Craig Storti explains the reason for this well:

"One of the most common complaints of returnees (to their home country) is how little interest the people back home show in their experiences, including close relatives and friends......This might not matter so much if you had just come back from a week in the countryside or at the beach, but you have been halfway around the world, seen places and done things these people will never see and do, and you've been gone three or four (5!) years besides. There's a lot to catch people up on.
Catching up is probably too simple a phrase to describe what's going on here. The point of telling your stories, after all, is not because you want to show off or because you crave attention but becaust you realize that you are now something of a stranger to friends and loved ones back home. You have been changed significantly by your experiences, and unless you can tell people about them, how can they know this new person who has come back to them?.........When you can't tell your stories, you are in effect obliged to remain a stranger to the people you love. The keen sense of loneliness many returnees experience upon reentry comes from this feeling that close friends and relations no longer know who they are."

That describes the feelings we have about coming back/visiting well and why the Blog has been so important. You see, I've had a chance to tell my/our stories. Yes, much of it has been from my perspective but I tend to be the one that doesn't say alot in person unless someone really wants to hear it. I know those who are really interested and who have time/computer, have looked at the Blog. We talk regularly to the parents/others who don't.

So the strangeness of our life here is not an issue so much as there are days we just won't feel like we quite fit in. We experience it every trip home. We've changed, home has changed. Our family and friends have also changed. In different ways and for different reasons.

We look forward to being closer in proximity to the changes of life.

That excerpt also explains why we will continue to use SwissFamilyOlson - it's part of us now. I would never take that piece of us away. Maybe I'll change the title someday. Maybe not.

We fly out the day after tomorrow and still have a full schedule. I might get time to post something about the weekend (goodbye's at church, R got baptized, etc....) but right now am smack dab in the move - sourrounded by boxes and men packing my kitchen......eeeeck!

I leave with another excerpt. This time from a book called Bloomability by Sharon Creech. This is a required reading for the 5th graders going into 6th grade at the International School here. Setting is an International school in Lugano, Switz. and the protagonist is a middle schooler who's flying home to the USA at the end of the year:

"And then I was waving them good-bye, and walking down the ramp, and I was sitting in my seat, and the plane was taking off, and I was sitting there looking out the window like a civilized person, not screaming my head off that we were going to die. I looked down on Switzerland, on the mountain peaks, and I wondered how Grandma Fiorelli felt when she left Italy all those many years ago. Maybe Grandma Fiorelli would come back to Switzerland with me some day, and we’d both go to Italy, to Campobasso, and we’d both feel right at home.

Soon I could no longer see Switzerland or any land at all. I was over the ocean, miles high, and I started thinking about Bybanks, wondering what it would look like and how it would smell and how it would feel to see my mother and father and Stella and the baby again, and how soon Crick might come home. Bybanks. What would I find in Bybanks? It would be an opportunity, I told myself. A new life."

The names, circumstances and places might change for each Expat returning home but I think the feeling is the same. It hits home for me.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Fringe Commenters

You are all welcome to come over and have coffee with me! We'll sit and watch the deer and turkeys and then head to the City for some shopping. :)

Don't worry my IA friends - we left things in a Safe Deposit box there in Clive! We HAVE to go back. Now if we just knew which key went to the box............

I'm leaving to pick up Bart but his plane is a bit late so I had a few minutes. There have been so many things I've wanted to share here but Time - I need more of it.

You have a fantastic day and I appreciate all the prayers re: this move. It's working. :)

On the Fringe...

I've always felt myself to be a bit on the fringe.

Not quite fitting into one group or the other.

Happy with various types of people - some of them quite opposite from another.

I like living where I have all the convenience of the city yet feel I'm a bit away from it all. Bart has seen deer multiple times next to the house in CA now. They just won't be trudging through the snow like they did in Iowa. :)

I'm on another Fringe now. Not quite in Zurich, not quite in CA. A lot still to do but a lot has been done. This has been the most challenging move yet. Bart's been in CA since early April and we're managing separate places and challenging responsibilities. I know the Lord is keeping me going because my lack of sleep would normally have me wiped. I am wiped but I'm still going................

I don't know about him - we've hardly been able to talk this week! - but I really, really appreciate all my dear husband brings to our household. I can't wait to see him tomorrow.

I'm NOT on the Fringe about that! He is a doer. An organizer. I think if he had been here, we'd be a lot further along. That said, I think we're in decent shape for the movers to come along on Monday.

One week from today I have to catch a plane. A one-way ticket - CA via NY. I hope it's cloudy so I don't have to see the mountains. I will leave a small piece of my heart in the mountains and thus, will have to return.

Besides all the sorting, lists - shipping doc's were faxed via snail fax service in town (Waedenswil needs a Kinko's!), we also had the last week of school for the girls and their leaving parties.

For anyone who's done the overseas move, you know you have to get rid of the food and various flammables, etc.... that Customs (pick your country) does not like to have shipped. So I had my table for open house and while some things were taken, people seemed reluctant to take my stuff in spite of my insisting "if you don't take it, I have to throw it away."

Until Rachel's friends came over. Basically, if you need to get rid of "stuff", invite a group of Jr. High students over - no inhibitions. " oh, we use this" "my dad likes stuff like this" "Is this good? I think we should try it." Beautiful! The girls each had "leaving" parties at the Badi this week. A "Badi" is basically a public swimming beach with well-maintained facilities along the Lake (Zurich in this case). Some have rental floaties, chairs, even in-ground pools for those who don't care for the Lake.

I was worried about Kendra's party as the thunderstorms and rain typical of June finally arrived and her's was after school on Tuesday. I prayed, not for a perfect day, but that the Badi wouldn't close. She wanted a party and had forgone a Birthday party for the big leaving party. We had only 23 or so of her nearest and dearest on hand.

I hired our sitter and her sister to help watch kids. Also got chewed out by the "Bad Meister" aka Lifeguard for having so many kids and the adults not being right at the waters edge. He calmed down after I pointed out my capable and grown up helpers. grrrrrrr.... She had a great time and it never rained on us.

Rachel's group met during the day on Thurs. as Middle school was done Wednesday and Elementary campus still had school. The beauty for the Int'l school students is that the local schools are in session until July 15 or so giving them free reign at the Badi to enjoy themselves. Not to say they can't otherwise but I'll leave it at - there can be tension between the two language communities depending on backgrounds.

Rachel and Kendra in the Lake at Kendra's party:

Me? I've been saying "aufwiedersehen's" which are much better than goodbye as it essentially means until we see each other again. I don't like this part but I treasure all the moments. A special time.

And to help me remember. Just in case I might forget:

Why does Frau Olson have two - 2 - coffee machines on her counter? One is 5 years old and the present to myself for moving TO Switzerland. One is brand new, out-of-the box and my present for moving FROM Switzerland. I'll let you guess which is which. :)

I didn't intend on replacing mine until arriving in the States but there was this special one at the store and, oh, what a lovely reminder of my time here, Yes? I had to unpack it to make sure it worked and then packed it up again. I also have to buy a transformer for it in the US. My husband is so kind and patient with me.

I'm not on the Fringe re: my coffee needs.

I've taken 2 loads to the dump, about 6 bags to the garbage dumpster this week ( a normal week is 1.5 bags), drove around horse drawn buggies without blinking an eye, returned my girlies beautiful instruments to the violin maker, driven a last time on the one lane road through the Barn in Tanne - I will miss this. I was still in Robot mode until I started saying goodbye to all the "mums" (they are ALL UK except for the Japanese mom) from Kendra's class. There's a whole group of them that have been together since Kindergarten and they're such a good group of kids. Rachel didn't quite have the same. Whew! I'll miss seeing them and just knowing they're there even if we didn't see each other much lately.

Moving. On the Fringe again. New people to meet. New places to explore. Never forgetting the people and places and faith that molds us.