Saturday, December 20, 2008

What a little stinker!

This baby, baby #2, is a little stinker.

Exhibit 1: Just last week I mentioned that this baby has not moved as much as Marion did. Then *WHAM!* she moves all. the. time. She keeps me up at night, she makes me uncomfortable. Somehow I had forgotten about this part of the pregnancy. It feels like there is an alien trying to break free from my stomach. She moves so much that...

Exhibit 2: the resulting nausea I'm experiencing from the beating on my stomach is awful! I was just getting into the swing of puking every morning. Now I am back to taking things slow again because of the internal beating my stomach is taking. At this point I'd rather take the beating on my bladder! Then I wouldn't feel sick in the evenings as well as the mornings.

Ahhh, minor inconveniences to be sure. But these bumps make it obvious to me that I would fail as a pregnant woman if they handed out grades for this sort of thing.

I'm on to you number 2!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

All is well

I had my 22w pregnancy appointment last Friday. And it was the best one yet!

Everything looks good and is where it should be. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I've gotten used to going in and hearing about the latest complication.

Friday was wonderful in that respect. It was like a regular pregnancy apointment and I was relieved. I've put on weight, the baby is healthy, the placenta is where it should be. Yay!

Despite that though, my doctor agreed it wasn't the best time for me to be flying across the Atlantic. I continue to have some dizziness and Braxton Hicks. I also still puke at least once a day. Better to be safe than sorry. And with our luck, why push it?

The best part of the appointment was the extended ultrasound of baby 2.0. The doctor measured the head (right on schedule at 22w5d), the abdomen (measuring a week behind at 21w1d), and a femur bone (measuring 24w1d!). The doctor and I both gasped at the last measurement. Then he looked at me and said, "You have a very long family!"

Finally, we tried to get a picture of this little one. The baby was buried in my hip bone so it was a little difficult, but we were able to get some. Here's the best shot. It's a picture of the head (profile shot) and the baby is holding his hands in front of his head (hands are at the top of the shot).
Try squinting, then you'll see it. And a disclaimer- we do not know the sex of the baby. So I switch in and out of using he and she, you'll get used to it! ;-)

All in all, a good appointment. Thanks so much for all the well wishes and prayers, I truly believe they made a difference!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year!

~Swiss Family Mac

So I got my laptop back

Thank goodness! I like it so much better than Brian's old work computer.

Anyway, the report says that they replaced the motherboard, palmrest, DVD-RW, and AC adapter.

I think that means my old computer was a piece of crap. But that's just a guess.

So now I wait and see if things work better now. My warranty is up Feb 1, 2009. I'm trying to be optimistic but the way my luck is going, I expect my laptop to blow up Feb 2.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Singing Christmas Tree

Last Thursday we made our way into Zurich to the Singing Christmas tree. We were told that this wasn't something to miss, but we had a special reason to be there Thursday night. Our friend Sandy was singing with some students and fellow teachers from her school.

We had a little bit of trouble finding the tree at first. Mostly because I am not at all familiar with Bahnhofstrasse. My conversation with Sandy went something like this:

Sandy: Do you know where Globus is?
Me: No.
Sandy: Do you know where McDonald's is?
Me: No.

Repeat for a couple of other stores. I obviously need to go explore the stores on Bahnhofstrasse some more. Brian will be thrilled.

We eventually found the entrance to the little square where the tree and market were.

And, lo and behold, there was another carousel there. Shocking!

That's Marion enjoying the carousel with her friend Sydney.

The market next to the tree was nice and mostly filled with food stands.

Then it was time for the singing to start! The "tree" is basically a very tall choir stand decorated to look like a tree. It was gorgeous all lit up. And the singing was great! All of the singers realy got into it. A great performance!

The kids loved it. They loved watching Miss Sandy!

Not far into the performance Marion started dancing and didn't stop. I wish I got a picture of that, it was priceless! The girl loves to dance and sing. One of these days I'm going to get her into that ballet class.

It was a wonderful evening. I highly recommend checking out the tree if you can!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Swarovski Tree, at night

I was right. The tree definitely sparkles more at night. It is fantastic!

Yea, I know. These pictures don't really show it. You'll just have to trust me. It's gorgeous!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Einsiedeln Christmas Market

On Tuesday, Marion, Mom, and I went to the Einsiedeln Christmas Market with my friend Kacey. Supposedly the biggest market in Switzerland, we had to check it out.

Of course we picked a cold, rainy, snowy day to go. Why do I say rainy and snowy in the same sentence? Because what came down was totally dependant on where you were. At our apartment, it was rain. At the market, it was snowing. But that only gave the market some great wintertime ambiance. Once you got used to the cold, that is.

Mom and Marion braving the snow.

The market was fairly easy to find right off of the Einsiedeln train station. The market stands are set up along some side streets and lead right up to the monastery.

We walked around a bit, exploring the stands. And then Kacey and my Mom checked out the monastery. I wasn't feeling up to climbing another hill. They said it was very nice- I promised to drag Brian there next year.

While walking around, we discovered our new favorite treat: Opfelchuechli.
We now refer to these as heaven. These babies are slices of apple, dipped in dough, deep fried, and then smothered with vanilla sauce and cinnamon.

Get some. Fast. They are that good, I swear!!!!

After some walking around, we decided to head back to the train. On the way back though, we had to stop at the carousel. We can't get past these things without stopping for at least one ride for Marion. I've noticed the prices are higher at Christmas markets. One more thing for me to be in shock about- pricewise. But it is worth it for that big smile she gets on her face.
Totally worth it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Samichlaus comes to Switzerland today! However, he came a little early to our town this year. We got a sneak peak at Samichlaus and his buddy Schmutzli at our town parade last Sunday.

Here we are waiting for the parade to start.
And here it comes! First up in the parade were some people who looked very warm carrying lights.
Next was a guy cracking a whip. Obviously I need a tripod for nighttime shots.
Then it was time for some cowbell. Lots and lots of cowbell.

Next were some drums. Those pictures turned out worse than the pictures of the guy with the whip.

And finally it was time for the big guy!
Samichlaus walked around giving out goodies to the kids- clementines, nuts, and snacks. Schmutzli did all the hard work pulling the cart filled with the goodies.
We had a great time! Samichlaus was very nice and gave all the kids treats. Marion hasn't stopped talking about him all week. He's been a great reminder for her to listen to Mommy and Daddy, as he should be!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Busy busy!

And without a laptop, still!

We've been keeping ourselves busy this week. So far we've hit another popular Christmas market, went to Brian's company holiday party, watched a singing Christmas tree, discovered a new favorite treat, and went to that Samichlaus parade I haven't posted about yet. As soon as I figure out a way to get the pictures on Brian's laptop, you will be smothered with information.

It's a good thing I've been up and about. It's a great time of year here, so festive. But I also get to deal with cramps, dizziness, nausea, and exhaustion after our trips. I'll be mentioning that to the good doctor at my appointment next Friday. All of this just makes me jealous of friends who are due to have their babies anyday now!

In other news, Marion's been a rockstar going potty during all of our outings. A favorite moment of hers was when she went number 2 on the potty on the choo-choo train. She'll kill me one day for posting about this on the internet. But I'm her mom, it comes with my job! At least I'm not posting a picture of it (you're welcome). Of course this momentus occasion came after she repeatedly hit the SOS button. I couldn't see it hidden below the sink and next to the toilet paper holder. However, it was at the perfect toddler height. She went right for the round, red button. Fun, fun.

Finally, our apartment is still on the market. One month down of paying two rents, two to go. We've advertised on yahoo expat groups, a popular apartment website here, and a popular expat website. Someone, please take our place!!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Murphy's Law, of course

My laptop was picked up yesterday by Dell to be taken to the repair center so they could work their magic. I figured this would be better than them shipping us parts that they thought might be causing the problems and then having us replace it.

However, in the last week, I've noticed a decrease in problems with the laptop. Go figure, right?

So I hope they find something wrong with it and fix it. Because if not I can already see the future- they'll send it back and all hell will break loose on it and I'll have to go through this process again. That, or I'll throw the darn thing against a wall and buy myself a new laptop. Hmmm, that might not be a bad scenario...

Anyway, basically this means that I'm blogging from Brian's laptop. So the pictures are set up a little different among other things. I'll keep trying to post but, if I happen to disappear for a few days, I'm probably sitting somewhere praying for my young laptop.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Zürich Hauptbahnhof Christmas Market

Brian, Mom, Marion, and I made our way into Zurich for the Zurich Hauptbahnhof Christmas Market. Yep, a market in the middle of the train station.
Pretty cool. I mainly like this idea because it is warmer than the markets that are outside. I'm not really a fan of freezing cold. Yet.

Anyway, it was bigger than I expected. And there was some great stuff for sale! But our favorite part, by far, was the Swarovski Christmas Tree.
Gorgeous. My pictures don't do this tree justice. Hundreds of ornaments were hanging from the tree. And then, below the tree, crystals and figurines were arranged all over the place. The entire thing sparkled in the sunlight.

See what I mean? If you are in town, go see it. I bet it would sparkle more at night under the lights. Note to self, try to get there to see it.

Marion liked the tree but was quickly distracted by a carousel. I think the Swiss have these at everything. Good thing, Marion loves them!

While she was riding her horse, we noticed a food stand right next to it. People were walking around with slabs of ham, mustard, and a slice of bread. I went over and bought three plates. It was delicious!!!! It reminded me of home a bit.

Anyway, the market was fantastic. I highly recommend it. I know we will definitely be going back before Christmas is here!

In pregnancy news, I guess you can tell I am getting better. I like to say we are moving in the right direction. I still have my moments of pregnancy ickiness but they have been few this weekend. Mom has been a huge help and I'm slowly getting back on my feet. Now, of course, I have to deal with being exhausted from a simple trip. One of the many downsides to bedrest I guess, even if it was only two weeks!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas in Switzerland

I thought you all might enjoy a description of the Christmas holiday traditions here in Switzerland. I found a good write-up here.

I'd like to bring your attention to the following in the link above:
The name Santa Claus comes from Sankt Nikolaus or Saint Nicolas (an early Christian bishop from Myra in present-day Turkey, the protector of children). This friendly figure does not play a role at Christmas, but appears on December 6, the Patron Saint's Day. In the Swiss German part, he is known as "Samichlaus" and he visits homes and schools, distributing sweets, fruits and nuts to well-behaved children and giving good advice to the less well-behaved. In Switzerland, he is not accompanied by a reindeer, but very often by a donkey and a dark-clad assistant. The children assume that they come from the snowy mountains.

Since arriving here we've heard a lot about Samichlaus and his assistant, Schmutzli. Schmutzli is an interesting character- we've heard some not so good things about him. Apparently, he carries a switch and sack. Children used to be told that Schmutzli would beat naughty children with the switch and carry them off in the sack to gobble them up in the woods. Now there is no more talk of beatings and kidnappings. I think the Swiss were on to something.

Anyway, Marion met Samichlaus, Schmutzli, and their donkey tonight in our town parade. And it was cooooooooooooooooold. I'll be back tomorrow with pictures!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my American readers. No Thanksgiving celebrated here, obviously. And since Halloween was not really celebrated as well, Christmas decorations have been up in stores and around town for almost a month now.

Despite the lack of Thanksgiving cheer (and a day off of work), we did celebrate the holiday with friends last Saturday since we were supposed to be on our way to Vienna today. We had everyone over and stuffed our gills with traditional Thanksgiving food, including my favorites: green bean casserole and canned (must be CANNED!) cranberry sauce. I have simple tastes. If the cranberry sauce doesn't have lines from the can, I won't eat it.

We also managed to find a turkey for our Thanksgiving feast. It only cost us 95 USD for a 16 pound bird. Hahaha, can you imagine if you had to spend that much? Friends of mine back home were telling me about their free turkeys they managed to get at local grocery stores. Turkeys obviously are not in high demand here in Switzerland.

Anyway, we had a great time celebrating. And the leftovers were super yummy. I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving as well!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So I did it again. Went and stopped blogging for awhile. Sorry!

I guess I should start at the pregnancy appointment. Had my 20 weeks check up last Friday and everything looks good. I am technically off of bedrest but still am having some pain everytime I attempt normalcy and I continue to feel faint often so I'm taking it easy. Mom's sticking around until January to help me until I feel better and become less worthless. Despite things progressing well we had to cancel our Vienna trip and our trip home for Christmas because I can't seem to get this pregnancy thing right. It sucks to be missing out on more of our planned trips but that is what is best for right now.

Side note: a word of advice- buy trip insurance. Because those airlines don't refund everything, even with a doctor's note.

Some good news is that we are halfway to my due date. I'm so ready to have this baby and not be pregnant anymore.

In other news, I continue to have problems with my laptop. I've only had this thing since February 1 of this year. Not really a ringing endorsement for Dell laptops, eh? I've contacted Dell and they are going to pick up my laptop and take it to their repair facility where, hopefully, all the problems will be solved. I'm not going to hold my breath though. So if I'm absent for a little bit, that is why. Go ahead and send Dell some nasty-grams for me, k? ;-)

Finally, we still have not rented our old apartment. We have shown the place to five people, with the sixth coming tonight. We've handed out four applications. Nothing. It's really frustrating to have to pay two rents but our third bedroom is coming in really handy right now with Mom here. In the grand scheme of things, we are trying not to get upset about it. There really isn't much we can do. And our focus is on the baby. But, still, it is frustrating.

Oh, one more thing. It snowed here again this weekend. Several inches on Saturday with another healthy dose on Sunday. It was gorgeous and Marion loved getting out there and playing in it with her Aunt Colleen, who visited for the weekend. They built a snowman and then Colleen showed her how to throw snowballs. Grammie was the main target. There are a few positive aspects to feeling like crap and laying on the sofa!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Another day, on the couch

Things have been going well here. Well, as far as I can tell from my seat on the couch.

Mom arrived yesterday morning without incident. She arrived and Brian got immediate help. Dinner last night was awesome :-)

Brian went to work today for the first time in a week. He had to attend some training that was taught by a woman who flew in from the US. She also happened to be six months pregnant. Ohhhh, the irony.

In Marion news, she is loving life. Grammie is in town! She now asks for Grammie when she wakes up and as she falls asleep. That took less than 24 hours.

Brian and Mom put her to sleep about an hour ago and then left to go check out the wine boats in Zurich. In case you were wondering, I'm here. On the couch.

In other news, we had someone else come to look at the old apartment today. Maybe the 4th time will be the charm???

Let's hope so!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Good news!

Brian and I went to see my doctor today and check up on my placenta.

Good news! The placenta has started to reattach itself. According to my Google searches, this was not possible. That'll teach me to Google this kind of stuff!

Anyway, it isn't completely attached yet so I'll be on bedrest until Monday morning. Then the doctor gave me the okay to resume a regular routine. My next regular pregnancy check-up is the following Friday so we'll be able to see then how things are going. In the meantime, my mom is headed over here from the US to give us a helping hand.

Phew, what a roller coaster ride this pregnancy has been so far! I'm knocking on all the wood and particle board we bought from Ikea that this is the last of our pregnancy complications!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Daddy and daughter brave Ikea

Yesterday we were supposed to go to Ikea. The trip really was needed. Our apartment has been a mess all week and we were in desperate need of some things to help us organize.

However, with me being on bedrest the trip was in jeopardy. But Brian is a thinker and remembered that Ikea has a kids room for kids ages three and up who are potty-trained. Seeing how Marion looks significantly older than her 2.5 years, we decided to go for it.

So off they went. Daddy and daughter to Ikea on a Saturday with a list I put together complete with Ikea product names, minus diapers. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

Well I am happy to report that all went well. Actually, better than well. They both did an excellent job!

First, as they were getting off the exit to Ikea, Marion informed Brian that she had to go numero uno. Brian asked her to hold it. And she did, while Brian drove it Ikea, parked, and got her in the building. I continue to be amazed with her potty-training progress!

Then, Brian got her into the Ikea kid's area and showed her where the potty was, just in case. She had entered into kid's heaven and didn't make a peep when Brian left.

Brian then got everything on the list, plus some thing he saw and realized we needed. He got through the store, paid for everything and got it into the car before the kid's area time limit of an hour and a half expired.

After his sprint through the biggest Ikea store I've ever seen, he picked up Marion. The people in charge of the kid's land informed him that she did great and even went potty there.

They arrived back home in time for lunch with Ikea loot and smiles on their faces.

What do they need me for? Oh yea, to make the list.

Friday, November 7, 2008

To bedrest I go

I've been having some aches and pains all week. I've also felt faint if I stand for too long. Nothing really out of the ordinary but, since they weren't going away, I figured I should contact my doctor.

I called him up this morning and he was able to fit me in after Marion's pediatrician appointment. She's still trying to get rid of a cough she's been working on for almost six weeks now.

After a short trip to Marion's doctor, we headed over to my doctor. Marion was in a rare foul mood. Very anxious and everything set her off. She was hysterical most of the morning. A great time for us to be out and about.

The doctor came out and witnessed some of her tantrums. He looked at me, shook his head, and said, "This is the cause of your cramps, no?"

I tried to explain that she is normally a very happy child. But the screaming, bumbling, crying mess behind me didn't really project that image.

One of the nurses watched Marion while I went into the examining room. Marion was much happier with her anyway.

First, the good news. No more placenta previa. Yay!

Now, the really bad news. My pain was caused by a portion of the placenta tearing away. Normally I'd include a link here explaining what this is in more detail but googling information on it is pretty scary. No need to spread that cheer.

My doctor asked me if I could go straight to the hospital. But with the little terror in the next room and Brian at work, that was a no go. So we devised a plan that includes me going on immediate bedrest, taking it easy, and trying to relax. I go back on Monday to check the status.

Obviously baby 2.0 is already conscious of being the second child and does not want to live in Marion's shadow in any way, shape, or form. Hey, I can understand that. But couldn't we have gone the normal pregnancy route? That would have been nice.

The New Apartment

Our new apartment is great. We moved in last Thursday and are loving the extra space. I'd take pictures and show you but it is an absolute mess right now. We are going to Ikea on Saturday to pick up some essentials to help us organize. Then it might be good enough to post on the internet.

Anyhow, we've already had some problems with the new place. The previous tenants lived here for four years before we took over so some things were broken. Like our dishwasher. Then our sink clogged up. It took a couple of days to get our management company out here but the sink is finally working. Dishwasher guy is coming next week.

Most of these guys who come to fix things unfortunately do not speak English. It makes for some frustrating phone calls. They call, I ask if they speak English, they sigh, say no, and continue to speak German to me. I ask them to wait a second, run out of my apartment to the floor upstairs, knock on a neighbor's door, and ask her to translate.

This really can only go on for so long. She's due with her second child in a few weeks and I can't keep bothering her. I'm hoping everything is resolved with our apartment before her baby is born. :-)

We also have yet to find a tenant for our old apartment. We had two promising potentials but haven't heard from either of them. Keep your fingers crossed please, we are responsible for the rent until January 31 if we don't find someone.

Oh, and one more thing. I think the previous tenants cooked a lot of curries while they were here. Our kitchen has a spicy smell that I haven't gotten used to yet. Kitchens in general are difficult for me while I'm pregnant and sensitive to all sorts of smells. Any ideas on getting rid of it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween in Switzerland

Better late than never, right?

Halloween is non-existent in Switzerland. No trick or treating, no halloween aisles at the grocery store, no halloween candy. My mom sent me some candy corn so that I could get through this trying time.

However, we are friends with a good amount of ex-pats here who would not let October 31st go by without being properly celebrated. God bless them.

On Friday night, we went to Jo and Christian's house for a party. Marion was dressed up in her princess finest AND not wearing any diapers. Excitement all around!

First things first, Marion didn't have a single accident during the party. She made it to the potty everytime. She is getting better, Mommy is getting braver, and soon, you will not have to read anymore potty training updates! *hopefully*

Okay, here's Marion loving her Princess costume.
And a rare picture of Marion and I. I'm usually the one behind the camera.
Jo arranged trick or treating with her neighbors ahead of time so the kids got to go to a couple of houses. Here are all the munchkins, lined up and ready to go.

And here they are attacking the unsuspecting foreigners at home. They were good sports.
After two houses, Marion had had enough. She wanted to go inside and eat her candy.
I think Brian was a little annoyed that I chose this moment to snap a picture.

Anyway, we had a great halloween! The candy is almost gone (great bribing tool) and the princess dress is still out. I have a feeling that will be out for awhile.

Hope you all had a great time!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Election Day


Thank god this will all be over with in less than 24 hours! I can only imagine what it is like back home with ads, phone calls, political mail, etc. I only get the occasional European questioning me about election here, including my doctor. I'm hoping that I won't be grilled about it at my next baby 2.0 appointment.

So get out, vote, and end this campaign madness. The world is watching and waiting!

PS: Let me know how long the lines are where you are voting, I hear they are expecting record turn outs!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

I hope everyone in the US is adjusting well to daylight savings time. We turned our clocks backward last weekend.

Why the difference?

Well, that would be thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Act changed both the start and end dates for daylight savings time, making spring forward earlier and fall backwards later.

Unfortunately, we didn't realize the difference in dates between Europe and the US until after the time change. Specifically, while we were out last Sunday and speaking to a friend's mom who was visiting from New York.

Sadly, Brian's fantasy football team took a hit because of the change. We were not back in time for him to change his lineup before kick off. I believe he ended up playing someone who was injured. Oops!

So all week we adjusted to being five hours ahead of the US and now we are back to being six hours ahead. Wouldn't it just be easier if everyone that participated in DST to do it at the same time? Now, that is something I'd like to see on a candidate's ticket for election day tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

First snow

We woke up yesterday to our first snow on the ground.
Quite the surprise, despite being warned by multiple people that snow was in the forecast. For some reason when they told me 'snow', I logged 'flurries' in my mind.

Marion loved the surprise. She ran to the door and yelled "Look! Look outside! Snow white!!!!"

That excitement quickly turned into anger when Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let her outside to play in the snow in her pajammas.

Imagine our surprise! Just last winter she hated the white stuff so much she refused to walk in it. I had to carry her from the house to the car to take her to daycare.

Anyway, we quickly got her dressed so she could go outside and see it.

Then we headed to playgroup. In the car on the way there Marion exclaimed, "Look Mommy! Snow! It's so pretty!" Then, as we walked through the snowy slushy mess, Marion actually picked up some snow and ate it. Don't worry, I made sure it wasn't yellow.

Guess that snow hating phase is over! Good thing, since we live in Switzerland now.

The snow was gone near us by late afternoon. However, there is still some on the hills surrounding us. Next time, I'll pay more attention to those weather reports.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My little princess

Here is my little princess, complete with tiara and earrings. She has already informed Brian and I of her plans to go to a castle, marry a prince, and get true love's first kiss. I hope that works out for her. Brian is looking into purchasing a firearm.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proof that no matter how hard you try, you can't plan everything

And you certainly can't control everything.

I think my kids are trying to teach me this lesson. Marion did a great job with her pregnancy. I hadn't even considered a c-section as an option for giving birth until I had a complete placenta previa with her. Then she had to up and enter the world five weeks early! She certainly put Mom and Dad on notice that things can only be planned and controled up to a point.

I got that message, loud and clear. I definitely mellowed a bit after giving birth to her and didn't stress out about things (as much as I did before I had kids).

But someone obviously thought I hadn't gotten the message.

Yesterday, at my 16th week pregnancy appointment, Brian and I learned that our second child's placenta had moved into another complete previa.

Talk about dumb luck.

Previas are supposed to be rare. This little one's placenta was clear and out of the way just four weeks ago. And yet, there it was yesterday. In the way.

My doctor was stunned. He asked me, in his accented English, "What are you doing? It was out of the way before. Are you pulling it down?"

Sir, if I knew, I wouldn't be doing it. Trust me.

So, as a result of this little surprise, several things happen. First, no more lifting for me. Good news, considering we move into our new apartment tomorrow. Not so good news for Brian though.

Second, we wait and see if it moves. Fortunately, 90% of all previas move when they are diagnosed this early in pregnancy. We are hopeful that we will be in the 90% and not the 10%. However, seeing as how it is a complete previa and hoping for it to move didn't work out too well for us last time, I would really classify it as tempered hopefulness.

Finally, we were forced into reality yesterday when the doctor informed us that if this thing doesn't move, I won't be able to fly. Which means no flight to Vienna in November and, sadly, no flight home for Christmas.

See? My second child is already a trouble maker. We are thinking of naming the baby "Hell Raiser". Think he or she would be tortured at school with a name like that?

So there you have it. Everything you never wanted to know about placentas. If you could spare some, I'd appreciate some happy moving placenta thoughts! I'd really like to go on our trips. I've been dreaming about a proper steak ever since we booked our flight back home. A nice, huge, slab of beef, cooked medium rare that won't cost an arm and a leg. Yummmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Moving, the Swiss way

We are moving this week to the larger apartment next door. Funny, Brian and I swore off moving for awhile when we packed our bags and came here five months ago. Yet, here we are again.

But this time, we are subject to the Swiss rules of moving.

First of all, in most rental contracts, there are two times of the year when the renter can get out of contract with only a months notice. All other times of the year you are responsible for giving three months notice. Or, if you move out before those three months are up, you can find someone else to take the apartment. If you do not, you are responsible for those three months.

As luck should have it, we are not moving during one of those two acceptable times during the year. And, unfortunately, we have not found a tenant to take our current apartment. So, as of November 1, we are responsible for rent for both of the apartments. Great timing by us.

Additionally, renters are not allowed to leave an apartment at the end of the year due to the Christmas holidays. Double whammy.

We are still hopeful that we will find someone. Otherwise, Christmas is going to be small this year.

Another Swiss rule of renting is the state of cleanliness required for the apartment. Each renter is entitled to a clean apartment when they move in. And by clean, they mean spotless, eat off the floor kind of clean. I've been told the cleaners actually take off the handles to the stovetop and clean each individually.

This results in a multitude of businesses willing to clean your apartment for a hefty fee. Our apartment has been listed on a popular rental website for almost two weeks now. We have received two phone calls as a result of the ad from men who only spoke German. Once I found someone to translate I found out that both of them had cleaning companies and wanted to clean our place. Talk about frustrating! I was hoping for apartment leads and I get cold calls. Pfft.

Anyway, we had the walk thru for our new apartment today. They've lived there for four years so it needs some sprucing up. The management company is going to paint the place and recaulk some things and then it will be ready for us.

We will start moving in tomorrow evening and finish up on Thursday. Next week, we get to do the whole thing over again for our old apartment. And then we will definitely be swearing off moving for awhile!

Friday, October 24, 2008

To tip or not to tip

It's been a question for me since I arrived here. Tipping etiquette is pretty well known in the US: 15-20% depending on service.

But here, things are not so clear. Which is odd, since the Swiss seem to have rules for everything. But I digress.

When we arrived we took a relocation course. The woman who came to meet with us told us that people tend to round up on bills as a tip, if they are waited on. So a $48 bill would become $50, and so on.

Other people have told us not to tip. And then others tip 10%, less than they would in the US but more than people seem to do here.

I've done all three and nothing seems right. I'm so used to the 15-20% rule and really don't have a clue as to what waiters and waitresses expect here.

So imagine my surprise when I read this blog post over at Waiter Rant.

I couldn't help but chuckle to myself and thank my lucky stars that I tend to be on the overgiving side of things over here just in case. No one likes to piss off the waiter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little Miss - An Update

Marion's been up to a lot recently so this post is going to be all about her.

First, she is on her way to being potty trained. A couple of weeks ago I bit the bullet and took the diaper off while we were at home. And wouldn't you know, not a single accident. She put everything in her potty and clung to the follow-up routine like toilet paper on your shoe. She pretty much trained herself. All we had to do has clean out her little potty!

We haven't ventured towards training outside of our house yet though. I'm a little nervous about accidents but some friends have advised me to just do it. I might do just that after we move (next Wednesday!!!).

Marion has also become a great two year old. She has a tendency to not listen and talk back. And I have a tendency to laugh at her because some of the things she does are hilarious from a two year old! One conversation we seem to have every day goes something like this:

Me: Marion, (insert me telling her to do something here).
Marion: Hmmmm (placing index finger on chin, mulling it over), no.
Me: Marion, listen to Mommy.

This conversation will go one of two ways. She'll quickly respond "Hmmmmm (with that finger on her chin again), okay!" and do whatever I asked her to do like it was her idea in the first place. Or, she'll say no and do whatever she wants. Usually I can get her to do what I ask by ignoring her for a bit and then bringing her back around to the request.

There are also those precious two year old moments where she goes hog wild in public and it is just a disaster. And I prefer to not relive those moments because I become super tense and very aware of looks from people around me. I hate that.

We continue to feed Marion's obsession with princesses. We purchased Sleeping Beauty the other day and the girl loves it. Somehow she has even learned to clasp her hands together under her chin, raise her shoulders, tilt her head to the side, and talk in a sing-song voice about the movie. I don't have a clue where she picked that up from.

Not to worry though, we aren't raising a little diva or anything. Marion also enjoys picking up a ball and throwing it at Mommy and Daddy without warning. That's fun.

Our little miss has also become aware of her new brother or sister. She knows that Mommy has a baby in her belly. So now, Marion likes to tell us that she also has a baby in her belly.

And finally, Marion is back to going to playgroup twice a week now that the fall break is over. And her teacher recently informed me that she is starting to speak German!!!! I was thrilled and surprised at the same time. I certainly wouldn't know if she is picking up anything more than greetings and basics because I still know very little of the language. I have to resort to asking "Sprechen Sie Englisch?" (Do you speak English?) whenever someone tries to talk to me. Which has resulted in Marion asking people she meets, "Speak any English?", after she says hello. Always a great way to meet new people. :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jucker Farmart

Two weeks ago Marion and I went to a local farm, Jucker Farmart, with some friends of ours.

The weather that day started out kind of iffy but, as usual around here, the weather swiftly changed from cloudy to sunny and warm.

Marion was thrilled to see her friends. And then she saw the pumpkins when we walked into the place. It was like toddler heaven.

We started off at the trampolines.
After a few seconds on those, some of the girls decided it was a little too much for them so we headed over to the animals.
Then it was playground time.
And then, lunch. This place had some tasty pumpkin soup (I think baby 2.0 is obsessed with pumpkin soup) along with fresh dairy products, meats, and apple juice. I decided right then and there that I would be coming back with a stroller and Brian to haul some larger pumpkins back to the car.

After lunch we decided to pick out a pumpkin. Small pumpkins since I was going to have to carry them back to the car.
While we were exploring our choices, we found prize winning pumpkins. They were huge! I have no idea how these pumpkins get so big. I always thought huge pumpkins like this would rot as they grow but obviously not!

The farm also had a lot of pumpkin art which was fun to look at.

Of course, Marion found the princess in the pumpkin carriage. Good thing she's going to be a princess for Halloween next week!
We had a ton of fun with our friends and exploring the farm. But by 12:30 Mommy was pooped so we headed home but with plans to return soon with Daddy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A run in at the gas station

Yesterday morning, Brian and I stopped at a gas station to fill up. We stopped at a small gas station that only has room for two cars on either side of the pumps. On top of that, it is a one way gas station so you have to wait for the people in front of you to pull ahead before you can get gas.

Well, as luck would have it, the side we needed to be on was full. The car in front finished fairly quickly and left. But the car behind him took a little bit longer. Brian and I discussed whether or not the nozzle would reach around the car if we pulled up on the other side while we waited. But Brian mentioned he had tried that before and it did not reach.

So we waited.

Finally, this guy was done, closed up his gas tank, and then left his car there to go inside and pay. So I said, screw this. I pulled around through the empty side, backed up, and parked at the pump in front of him.

This did not please this guy and, when he finished paying, he came out and decided to say some words to me, despite Brian standing right next to me. Can't say I blame him though, if you had to pick who to argue with between the two of us- would you pick me or Brian?

Anyway, he told us we should have pulled on the empty side. I told him that the nozzle doesn't reach and he could have easily pulled forward since, in addition to the open spot in front of him, there were three open parking spaces next to the store where you have to pay. He told me you pump first and then pay. And that's when I walked away because, obviously, this guy was not going to be reasoned with.

I think Brian and he talked some more and then he got in his car and dramatically exited through the entrance (even though the other side was still empty) and sped off.

We just shook our heads, finished up, got in the car, and continued on our way. But I can't shake the feeling that this guy is going to tell people about the rude Americans he encountered.

Obviously, we don't agree with that and hope that isn't the case. But we can't control what other people do. I think I'll avoid that gas station in the future though.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein

The day after we arrived in Füssen, we went to see our first Ludwig castle, Hohenschwangau.

We decided to take the horse-drawn carriage up to the castle. Marion and I sat in the front seat so she had a better view of the horses. It turned out to be a better view of the horse's behinds but she didn't mind. Even when one of the horses had gas and the other one had to go "poopies". No, no, no- that made the ride that much enjoyable... for Marion. Oh the enjoyment of a toddler in the middle of potty training.

Anyway, it was a short trip up the hill and we quickly arrived at the castle.

We followed the rest of the tourists up the path and found the waiting area. Since we were fairly early for our tour, we walked around the grounds. The castle had lovely gardens, fountains, and the views were spectacular.

Everyone enjoyed exploring, except for Marion.

Marion recently became obsessed with princesses. One of the movies that helped her cultivate this obsession was Enchanted. And one of the first things Giselle does in the movie is go to the castle to get married.

Marion knew we were at a castle. And all she wanted to do was go inside to go get married to a prince. So she let everyone know it. I wouldn't necessarily classify her behavior as a tantrum, just very, very determined to go get married. And darn it, Mommy wouldn't let her. I'm so mean.

So she wasn't very happy with me.
Finally it was almost time to go inside. Seeing how I am pregnant, Colleen carried Marion on the tour. You can tell Marion is happy to at least be making progress towards going into the castle (to go get married).
No pictures were allowed inside the tour. Not that this rule mattered. Marion was a chatterbox the entire time so I was busy feeding her peanut M&M's to try and keep the peace. But I did pick up a few things.

First, everything in the castle was original and everything that we saw was in incredible condition. The paintings on the walls had been directly painted on the plaster and had never been restored. They looked fairly new they were in such great condition. There were ceramic "boxes" to give off heat but the wood was not brought into the royal rooms. Instead these boxes extended to the first floor where the servants would maintain the fire and the hot air would rise. Finally, King Ludwig and his brother Otto stayed in the Annex with their teachers.

So despite Marion gabbing about getting married and me shoving chocolate down her throat, I did learn something. :-) And Colleen got some lovely little chocolate chunks on the back of her jacket. Sorry, Mars, those little shells melt in my toddler's hands.

After our tour, we decided to take the carriage back down the hill. While we were watiting, Colleen and Marion marched along the path in some water.
And then I realized something. We were waiting where the horses stopped and there was a hose next to the path. Hmmm, could that water be poopy water? Hell yes it was, but I didn't let that ruin their fun.

We headed back to our hotel to grab some lunch and rest during Marion's nap. Then, after her nap, we headed out to explore Füssen.
I forgot Marion's stroller and she was running around hogwild so I bribed her with some chocolate ice cream.

Hey, I like to keep the peace when we are traveling and around other people. And she's two, she doesn't quite get reasoning talks just yet.

For dinner we found a traditional Bavarian restaurant. I'm not really a fan of traditional German food (or maybe baby 2.0 isn't?), but my pork and noodles were pretty good. Even the sauerkraut smelled good. Weird.

On Tuesday we went to Neuschwanstein Castle. We decided to take the horse-drawn carriage again since Neuschwanstein is farther away from the ticket area than Hohenschwangau is.

Our horses for the day were Philip (L) and Mona (R).
Philip had some gas problems but was finally able to relieve himself about halfway through the trip. Mona let loose much earlier. And these horses gave you the full view by lifting their tail alllllllllll the way up. This pair was definitely not as modest as the horses the day before. Marion loved every minute of it. And we were able to have a quick science lesson during our trip: Everyone poops. So now, everytime we see an animal on a trip or at a farm, Marion yells "Goats go poopy!!!"

Unfortunately my camera battery died on the trip up to the castle. Can you believe it? What horrible luck. I had forgotten to charge the battery the night before because I felt sick. However, I was able to get a picture of the castle the day before from Hohenschwangau.

Neuschwanstein Castle was much bigger and grander than Hohenschwangau. But I preferred Hohenschwangau because of the grounds. Neuschwanstein had stone courtyards and just seemed cold to me.

However, the inside of Neuschwanstein was spectactular. Seriously, I can see how King Ludwig spent as much money as he did. Everything is incredibly detailed and elaborate. Very over the top. One room in the King's private area is a fake cave, complete with colored stalagmites and stalactites. But the tour moves incredibly fast. Our tour guide had started speaking before we were able to join her in the next room sometimes. I wish we had had more time to look around.

Sadly, my favorite part of the tour had nothing to do with the castle. Colleen carried Marion again and, at one point, Marion peed. Colleen, feeling the warmth, immediately suspected that Marion had leaked her diaper and peed on her. It was hilarious. Having been peed on many times, I am used to it. But Aunt Colleen was not used to this and spent half the tour with a frown on her face thinking her back was covered with pee. Okay, so it obviously wasn't hilarious to Colleen. But I got a chuckle out of it.

After the tour we headed back down the hill in another carriage, this time sitting in the back. Then we had lunch at one of the restaurants near the ticket center. And I wish I could remember the name of it because the pumpkin soup was fantastic!!!!

Then it was back to the hotel for nap time. The rest of the evening was spent exploring some more of Füssen and then returning to the Italian restaurant for dinner. The following day we drove back home. It was a pretty short, uneventful drive after a great, sight-seeing trip!