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.