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.