Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is Awesome!

OK - we're in the "up too late at night, it's 10:30 and I should put the kids to bed" portion of our jetlag. However, it's mid-afternoon in CA and we are slooowwww to get moving. And there are fun things on the Internet.

Like this:

Skiing the Alps


OK - I just watched this for the 3rd time tonight - way past my bedtime. The ending is so cool. My stomach leaps when he jumps. Maybe I'm just a little weird......

Thursday, April 28, 2011

And Just Where Have I Been?

No apologies from me for the Blog absence. As I mentioned before, I've been playing Realtor from afar and Bart had been going out with our Realtor in CA to whittle down the list of targets. We've actually been in CA this entire Spring Break! As I don't discuss these things in advance on the Blog for security reasons, you're finding out now - right before we depart for Zurich and our own beds. :)

The foggy view out of the little corporate apartment that Bart is staying in. It's been fun to be in the City by the Bay for our trip. Different but fun. I forget how many people talk to themselves on the streets of San Francisco. No - these people are not talking into their Bluetooth. Just talkin' to themselves....... We've done a bit of sightseeing. The girls have not been in SF since they were itty-bitty so it's been fun to do the city as tourists. Their first time across the Golden Gate:

We logged plenty of time crossing the Bay Bridge:
We even took a quick trip down South to visit sister Kris (and bro-in-law J) with new baby L (2.5 months old) and his big sister J. Spent a beautiful, sunny day at Huntington Beach:
They were also interested in all the fun shops in Chinatown (back in SF):
Mission Accomplished! We found a house. A nice, comfortable house with open space to one side located on a quiet cul de sac. Look what's down the street:
There California cows instead of Swiss cows but figure they'll make us feel right at home.

More later - maybe some jetlagged ramblings...... Cheers!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Part-time Realtor?

Well – I thought I would have more time for the blog but…….most of my time has been spent looking at houses, houses, houses online. I’ve decided it’s more fun looking at houses online when you don’t have to actually buy one. At least not in the near future. In a location you haven’t really been in for years. In a short amount of time.

OK – not complaining here even if it sounds like it. It’s more like explaining the process and the bit of stress that accompanies it. It (the stress) exists even though you are prepared for it and you have ample time and resources to get ready for it. Maybe – it’s just having to buy a house in the Bay Area again! At least we are coming back at a good time – many blessings in that. Home prices still seem high compared to when we bought our first house in the East Bay in 1996 but at least they are not as ridiculous as they were 5 years ago. I do feel for many people though – so many are upside down on their loans. Additionally, we’ve grown accustomed to not having a mortgage and frankly, that part is just a bit scary.

However, I look forward to having my own house again. I can paint it, change it, etc… If I bang something up, it’s my own fault and I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. Bart is doing the “pre-shopping” with the Realtor so he can whittle the number of houses to look at down. It’s hard to know, even with looking on-line, what exactly a house will feel like once you’re there and what the neighborhood is like. He said they’ve had some that they just drove right on by – they’re having fun. And such a wide range – houses he really liked but not the lot or neighborhood and vice versa. So if one could pick up a house and plunk it on the right lot…….

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. I’ve also been tearing around the yard mowing and edging and keeping it clean along with the house for prospective renters. I know I probably go overboard but it’s just how I’m built. Our occasional gardener decided that he would not be able to do the lawn mowing this Spring after all. Right after Bart left. So I need to find someone who is willing to take care of that but just until we move – not easy.

The girls are doing great – even though they miss their dad. I’m a lucky, lucky mom. Until next time – just need to find the time……… don’t give up on me! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Birds Nest

I often refer to our house as "my bird's nest." Sometimes I call it the Eagles Nest but then I think of H--ler and I don't want to be associated with him.

For the last month, I've tried adjusting the exterior blinds, keeping them entirely up or closed all the way down. Nothing works. Nothing seems to stop this sparrow couple in love who wish to build themselves a nest. They figured out a way to get up under the blind canopy so that even if I move the blinds themselves, their little piece of construction stays put. So I've quit trying. Therefore, I'm subjected all day to rattling and scraping noises while they work and their frantic swooping when disturbed. Here they are: And again here - I purposely rattled the shades and this is what they do: sit and watch. He is on the post at left and she is sitting below the daffodils on the ledge at right. They sit and watch us. See if we are dangerous or not. Wait until they feel they can safely go back to work. Making a mess on my windowsill.
The fruit stand down the road is all dressed for Spring:
The Cherry Blossoms have been be-ooooo-teeee-ful. Seriously. Lovely. I have to share these few pictures (yes, I have more) as Mom has experienced a relatively lack-lustre Cherry Blossom season in Wash. DC. This was disappointing as she had a friend out from CA (HI C!) who booked her trip specifically for that time.
The difference between these cherry trees and those in Wash DC is this - these trees produce cherries. They are delicious. I'm thinking we may not be around to have any this year. Oh, so sad as I love the fresh cherries. Maybe I'll plant a tree in CA. My grandparent's had one in Sacramento when I was growing up and they were delicious - messy tree but delicious fruit.
Have I mentioned how a large percentage of the population of Switzerland has been drugged lately? Can you see why? Allergy season has been brutal with the early Spring and not much rainfall. It's raining today so we are rejoicing - especially Rachel who woke up with one eye nearly swollen shut.

The girls have been taking advantage of the nice weather and we set up the Badminton net. It distracts them from getting homework done earlier but I'm happy to have them enjoying themselves outside. And then they spy the camera: You just never know what you're going to get!

Cheers from the Putzfrau! (aka Cleaning Lady which would be an apt description for today's activities)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thank You!

I meant to add in my last post but forgot.

Thank You for all the kind comments and suggestions lately Blogging friends. I really do appreciate them. God Bless!

What's this? I have a Blog?!!!

Ah. Yes, I have a Blog and I am back. I seem to have typed those words quite frequently in the last 4 - 6 months. I used to get several posts per week in but lately - other things have taken priority and I've taken to processing many things internally or in person vs getting to the Blog. A good thing I hope?

This last week has been CRAZY. Capital letters required. We dropped Bart off at the airport last Sunday and since then it's been a round of activities with the girls all of which included some fun outings, school, music recitals (only 3!), after school activities, homework, Dr. appt's, other appointments, yard work (found out gardener can no longer do our lawn/garden), appointments for the house and - I'm really thankful this next week doesn't have too much packed into it.

I admire all the single parents out there. I know it's not always a choice. Our situation is temporary and although we've done it before when business travel requires it, it feels different when you know that it will be some time before the partner is available on a day to day basis to ease the parental load. I put Bart's slippers away in his closet and felt sad realizing he won't see them for 2 months. That's not the only reason I miss him of course!

I have pictures from our week but of course, I loaded them in backwards order chronologically so please bear with me. I am going to put this in print so the skies are sure to open up tomorrow - the weather has been gorgeous! For almost 2 solid weeks! Only one day of rain. It is highly unusual and we are having better weather than we had in August. No joke. Skies are blue, temps are about 68 - 72 and we are outside as much as possible. After such a long season, let's say the last year, of so-so weather, this is an absolute delight.

So the girls and I ventured into Zurich yesterday for a bit of girl fun. At left you can see the GrossMuenster which I mentioned having taken Bart to the top of. Tower at the right is accessible to the top of the square platform below the domed tower. A landmark of the city. The flags are flying as it is the weekend of Sechselauten when the Guilds of Zurich hold their annual parades. Rachel in front of the "Red dog" on the building behind. She has a fantastic Social Studies teacher who also conducts tours of Zurich and surrounding cities based on various historical periods and overviews. She's been on 3 trips into the City with her class and as they are going about he shares the folklore and history. So she often acts as a bit of a tour guide when we're out an about now.
I've promised the girls for months to take them to the Felix Cafe at Bellevue - a Cafe with a Teuscher chocolatier shop. We had a light lunch and I had promised they could have desserts of their choice. Kendra is the queen of Creme Brulee which she finished off after a cheese soufle and part of her salad. My kind of girl!
We bypassed the Trams in order to walk along the Limmat river - it was so beautiful and we weren't the only ones with the camera out. Tourists and residents alike were clicking away!
Speaking of clicking away. Last Sunday's trip after dropping Bart off included me asking Rachel to take a few pic's on our drive home. She's incapable of "clicking off a few." More likely to click off whatever remains on the digi storage card!
At one point I said "we're taking the scenic route home." Rachel, in her Jr High sarcastic deadpan, says "Mom, every route in Switzerland is scenic." She's pretty much right - except when it's foggy. She is not happy about leaving the scenery of Switzerland.

Why were we driving home - ah, yes. After dropping Bart off, we went to the Wildpark im Albis. It's like an open zoo but home to a mix of species all of which were once at home in Switzerland - some 900 years ago but there nonetheless. There are different species of deer, ibex, bear, lynx, moose (called Elk in Europe), wolves, wild boar, foxes, etc... The enclosures are situated along a stretch of hillside outside of Zurich - beautiful setting with lots of space and as it is a privately and publicly funded park - it's free. Donations accepted of course.

There's also a terrific playground: And a favorite: da Moose. It was a good way to enjoy the outdoors and get our minds off other things.

@ Mom - tried to load the vid's of the girls individual recital pieces but Blogger is just not having it.

Bart is busy settling into his new office and gradually moving into a new workload. He's busy this weekend looking at houses and weeding the possibilities down. Fun. Sort of. It's a bit of work! We want to pick the right one and stay in it for a while......

I think, I think I might even squeeze a few more posts in this week :)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Oh - Where do the days go?

April 1st. April Fool's Day. But we aren't fools.

The day was nice and Bart had his last official day with the Swiss firm on March 31. No more CH email or cell phone. He's actually feeling a little naked with no personal, mobile communications device. He will quickly rectify that situation once he reaches the West Coast. He'll use our summertime, pre-paid, cheapy phone from Target in the interim.

He and I planned a day into the City after showing the house to a prospective renter this morning (I hope the house rents soon!). It was a lovely day in spite of a few early clouds. The Bellevue side of Lake Zurich is one of the first places we became acquainted with when we moved. The lakeside becomes crowed during lunch on a sunny day with students, tourists and people on their lunchbreak. This includes "hausfrau's" who like to sit with a bretzel and people watch. Standing in line at the Sternen Grill - the place for a St. Galler Bratwurst and Gold Buerli Brot for lunch:
Don't forget the mustard! It's hot and delicious with a brat. We hate to think we are doing "lasts" but it is our reality and we are enjoying every single minute:
On our way to a specific destination in which we were purchasing a long, overdue gift item, we walked up the steps toward the GrossMunster (twin towered central church of the Reformation in Zurich) and I said "you've never been up the tower of the GrossMunster, have you?" Bart confirmed that "no - I have not."

"My treat!" was the response and we climbed the itsy, bitsy circular stone stairs to the creaky wooden ones until we reached the top.

A fitting end to his 5 years in Zurich:

The view on a nice day is fantastic and worth the 4 chf if you want the height - as you can see, there aren't many high-rises in Zurich city!
Bart will return for a long weekend and to complete the final move back but as of today - he's back on US email, etc.... We have but a short time and we'll join him for some house-hunting fun. What a great weekend for a send-off:
Complete with fire and roasted marshmellows:
We have been so blessed!

And that's just about all I can say right now. The rest is just floating in my head - to be heard by few.

I'll be back in a few days - need to give it some time..... Cheers!