Monday, January 30, 2012

It's a Boy!

I can't even be subtle about this post. It's a boy!

One of the fine-tuning adjustments we've made has been the addition of this little man to the household: Meet Eiger - a 3/4 Labrador Retriever 1/4 Rottweiler mix. He's 3 1/2 months old and already 30 lbs. We adopted him from a local shelter but he was cared for and loved - previous owner couldn't keep him due to medical issues. He had another name but we are working on the change and after only 3 days, he's responding well.

Talk about a challenge. Adopting from a shelter is not as easy as one might think. Certain breeds are hard to come by and there are adoption applications to fill out, visits to schedule if the animal is not already taken and then, for the agency we adopted with, a home visit. They came out to see how Eiger would be in our house, yard and with us. We were the lucky family and so far are very happy to have this warm bundle of fun.

He's pretty mellow, has a soft mouth and big paws. There are some things we've forgotten about over the years: toys lying underfoot, water drops across the floor, constant attention to the 'outdoor business' and being followed - everywhere. It's kind of like having a toddler again. It curtails my "freedom" a bit as I now need to keep his needs in mind as well (letting him out and mid-day feedings) but I LOVE having a dog around and I still miss our Max.

Speaking of Max:

This was Max at a similar age. A little resemblance don't you think? Eiger doesn't have the white on the chest and his front shoulders aren't quite as square. Max had a Lab head attached to a Rottweiler body. Eiger has the big bark though. We've already heard it. I think it's a good thing.

The girls are enjoying Eiger and helping to train him. The name was a family decision. A small tribute to a part of Switzerland that we all dearly loved. He may not be as menacing as the mountain but he'll be decent sized.

Maybe not as big as Max who at his heaviest hit 110lbs. Around this time frame:

I always loved this picture. Rachel was playing with these beads (under close supervision) and Max was so patient and just needed to be right there with us.

Considering Eiger's attention to us already - I think we'll be making some great, new memories!

What will NOT be in the new memories? The avocado green walls and brassy trimmed closet doors. Wow!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life is like the Seasons

Life is full of constant change, isn't it? We may find ourselves in a comfortable moment or place but it doesn't last. Nor can it be recreated.

Being "experienced" at relocation, I can confirm that re-entry to a place you had previously lived can be as difficult or more so than an entirely new environment. Things seem familiar but they are definitely different. I often find myself starting to say "S-- R------" as the city I live in rather than "D---------" which is proper place. In taking a friend to the Oakland Airport, I went a 'different' way as my brain stepped back 12 years ago and thought I was heading to a clients place of business. Hello? Brain, are you working in there?

We live close to our old CA residence but just far enough and having been away long enough that much has changed. We are currently changing a few other things which will be revealed as the weeks go by. As we've been going through the mental exercises for these decisions (none of which are earth-shattering, just fine-tuning), I was reminded of the challenges we faced when we left for Switzerland over 5 years ago. And how God just took care of everything even when I didn't feel in control.

Most of those challenges are recorded in the early part of this Blog. The sorting, labeling, packing and disposing of things when you are leaving your home country for an unknown period of time AND selling one's residence is no light matter. Much of it done with the husband out of town and/or out of the country. I had wonderful help through friends at church - if you're reading this now, Thank You again!!!

We had to leave our beloved dog Max who passed away shortly thereafter and thus created challenges in decisions and feelings while we dealt with it from overseas. I was just telling my Mom how hard it was for me. I couldn't pack the suitcases until he was with J & S (new family) because he was already on my heels with the house in a crazy state and if I pulled out the suitcases, he would understand how big the change was = suitcases equaled his people leaving. I didn't go with Bart & the girls to give him a last goodbye either - couldn't do it.

Then there was the matter of Rachel which was not on the Blog. She was sick (antibiotics issue) and had lost considerable weight (for her size) before we left. We were still waiting for test results right before the movers came on Monday and had a "standby" appointment with a Pediatric Gastro....something specialist on that Tuesday and we were supposed to hand over our keys that Thursday and head off for California. Fortunately, we didn't need to see the Specialist as we got a diagnosis and a plan (still took 2 months for her to finish recovery). I've never written about the pharmacy mess-up that occurred as we tried to leave Urbandale headed for CA (visited family before heading to Switzerland) but let's put it this way: I cried in front of the pharmacist, I spoke harshly, they had messed up, I convinced them that "I will pay for the medicine in full" which I told them I would the previous day! as it was a compounded liquid (has to be prepared as it's not already in form and this is usually done overnight) AND I did this all in front of my dad who had flown out to help me with the girls and the drive. He was calm and quiet the whole time and let me drive and just work it all out. I was a challenge. Thank you Dad!

Then we arrived in Switzerland. This brought on another host of challenges and learning as a family to operate and exist in a new country. We were significantly blessed by it all.

When I look at all those old challenges, I see how God brought us through. How much I've learned and grown as a wife, mother and individual. I can apply the experience and lessons learned to new challenges. As overwhelmed as I've felt this Fall/Winter with some things, when put next to challenges in the past, they're quite small. They just feel big in this time that I'm in - the "right now." The Lord is reminding me, again!, that He's bigger than all of it.

I'm rejoicing in the discipline of the last couple of weeks. Obviously not disciplined on the computer but in other areas of life. I'm finding my routine. Taking care of things that matter and not leaving so much for later. My to-do list is still very, very long but reassessing priorities, especially priorities that matter to other people, has brought some great balance to life.

It is good.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What an interesting winter

It has certainly been an interesting winter. A lot of blue skies and no precipitation up until this past weekend. Strange, enjoyable and a bit scary - California is suffering from winter drought and this does not bode well for summer.

No precipitation has also meant no skiing! When we went to Reno after Christmas, there was no snow to be seen on Emigrant Gap and sketchy bits on the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. We occupied ourselves with other outdoor activities and didn't even bother to pack snow gear. It's certainly a new environment for the girls who don't remember living in CA and after 10 winters with snow, it feels different for Bart and I as well.

Here are Kendra and I with our friends L, N and M last year. I think Rachel and D were off skiing another piste. It is getting easier to look at the pictures ( I go through this with every move) and just enjoy the memories of time that cannot be recreated. We are making new memories and continue to explore the area around us. The last time we were in Las Trampas Regional Park, we had Rachel/Kendra in backpacks and Max was dragging us around by the leash or he was trying to tell us how fun it was to roll in cow pies. Things are a bit different now but the view is still beautiful:
Those hills should be bright green but with no rain comes no growth. As you can see, the rain has had no impact on the growth of Rachel and Kendra! Rachel is officially as tall as I am and Kendra has hit a growth spurt and is closing the gap. They'll pass me up soon. In Bart's words "not that it's hard to pass you up." Thanks Honey.

There are habits/customs we do not leave behind. Such as afternoon coffee with my mom outside. This was from her visit this past Fall. A little espresso, chocolate wafer cookie......Life is good!

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's a New Year - a New Routine perhaps?

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of 2012! I will enjoy it better once I have a computer that likes me. One that stays connected to the Internet or simply doesn't die on me for no apparent reason. I'm not ignoring the Blog on purpose - it's just hard to write when ones tools are mis-firing.

Remember the routine I was trying to find? I just realized I forgot to pack it! It’s still in Switzerland. I’m afraid it’s there to stay and thus I need to develop a new one.

Consider this: in Switzerland there are specific parameters that organize your life for you – both legislated and culturally enfored. I offer the following as examples:
• Mowing the lawn is allowed between the hours of 8am to 8pm Monday through Saturday but NOT during the lunch hour (12pm to 1:30pm). NOT allowed on Sundays.
• Most grocery stores are open 8am – 7pm, M – Sat. (a few open until 8pm) and Saturday opening hours are 8am – 12pm or 8am – 5pm depending on where you live. Grocery stores are NOT open on Sundays except for those attached to gas stations or at the train stations.
• Retail store are open 9am – 6pm M – Fri. and 9am – 1/4/5pm on Saturdays. NOT opened on Sundays.
• If you live in shared housing, which we did, you do NOT run the vacuum cleaner during the lunch hour (pretty much follows the lawn mower rules).
• We were admittedly spoiled by their school – all of their music lessons were held on campus – about 5 minutes from our house.
• Driving was logical – passing is allowed only on the left and it was not considered offensive to flash your lights at someone to get them to move to the right lane in order to pass.

Now we are back in the US and there is no imposed order to life – other than the HOA (Homeowner Association). I’ve most likely violated the HOA landscaping rules already by ripping out ugly plants and replacing them with new, attractive plants. We’re in the back corner of a cul-de-sac so I don’t think anyone but the one neighbor has even noticed. 
I can go to a grocery store virtually any hour of any day depending on my choice. We can mow the lawn any day of the week – 8am on a Sunday morning would not be illegal although it may make our neighbors cranky. I’m back in a single family house so I can run any appliance at any time of day I wish. I have to run up and down the freeway a couple times a week for music lessons and they’re far enough away that I have to sit and wait during the lesson (I know I was very spoiled before) if I don’t have a short errand to run. Driving in the Bay Area: as I stated before, the school parking lot is worse than in Zurich. Drivers from 35 – 40 different countries handle school drop-off better than the homogenous crowd that exists in our little pocket of suburbia.

All of that “freedom of choice” makes things a bit untidy. It’s a bit disorderly at times. I am a tidy and orderly person who appreciated the structure of Switzerland – to a point. I don’t want to make this post too long so we’ll have to save the “stifling” points for a later date. We came to really appreciate the “no stores/retail open on Sundays as it truly became a family day with church, lunches, naps, long walks, movies, etc… So I’m working on a new routine and feeling settled in the community.

That all said, do I find I appreciate a quick run to Safeway on a Sunday night for a forgotten lunch item? Absolutely!!!