Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nothing in the world like it

The excitement of a three year old at Christmas that is. Here's Marion when she realized she got what she wanted from Santa- a magic princess dress. (crazy excitement at the beginning of the video)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

9 months (and one day).

Yesterday was Betti's nine month birthday. And, well, we got some snow.

Just a little bit.

Brian was also supposed to fly in to BWI via London yesterday as well. Due to a late take off in Zurich, a snow storm in London, and the blizzard on the east coast, he spent the night in Boston and is currently on a train to Baltimore. We're hoping his luggage makes an appearance soon.

So I'm a little late with Betti's 9 month post. :)

The munchkin continues to move! move! move! She loves to dance, cruise, crawl, and basically get in to everything. Since we arrived in Baltimore, I've noticed she takes a little longer to warm up to people than Marion. Marion is and always has been a people person. No separation anxiety for her, she wanted to be with people from the get go. Betti needs a little time to warm up but it all smiles when she gets used to you.

And then it is fun all around!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas fun with Marion

Marion took Baby Jesus. We have yet to locate him.

Grammie then allowed Marion to decorate the tree. She came up with this all her own.

Daddy was not amused.

I'll let you know when we find Baby Jesus.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good news Americans

I discovered that both Target and Wegmans sell the Lindt Excellence collection!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I did a little dance in the chocolate aisle when I saw them there.

And then I was crushed to see that Wegmans was sold out of the Fleur de Sel chocolate and Target didn't even stock that flavor!!!

I'm considering writing the Target corporation to ask them what their problem is.

In the meantime I'll just have to wait for Brian to arrive on Saturday with early Christmas chocolate.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A big difference

The other day Marion and I were out running errands. Marion was overcome with holiday spirit (or bored out of her mind while we waited in line, however you look at it) and began to sing. She sang "Santa Claus is coming to town" and "Somewhere over the Rainbow" which was then followed by loud "Happy Holidays!" directed at fellow shoppers.

In Switzerland we would have gotten a ton of nasty, disapproving looks.

In our local jewelry store and Target Marion received thanks from people for brightening their days, smiles, and some spontaneous singing partners.

I barely noticed the crowds as a result. :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

In the US

What a whirlwind month this has been! I survived the flight over here. Did I mention I was flying by myself? We managed to leave a trail of Marion's urine and Betti's poop on our plane but we survived. The people around us were pretty good too- all in all not a bad flight. Minus the bodily fluid accidents of course.

We've been here for a week so far and have squeezed in a lot. Right now I'm going through some culture shock again. The US is huge, spread out, and has a ton of choices. I'm not used to it yet but I'm sure I will get comfortable just as we are scheduled to fly back to Switzerland.

As usual, I have a ton of posts in draft form and will try to get the posted before we fly back to Switzerland! Hope everyone is enjoying their December so far!

Friday, November 27, 2009

My new weakness

Lindt's Noir chocolate with Fleur de Sel. Dark chocolate with salt.

Oh. my. God.

Thank goodness I didn't discover this sooner. Yummmmm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

We celebrated last Sunday with a deep fried turkey and good friends. We had a great time and managed to eat a good amount of the 9 kilo turkey Coop forced us to buy.

Sounds weird right? Well I'll explain. We ordered a 7 kilo turkey from Coop. When Brian arrived to pick up his turkey on Saturday, he was told that they only had a 9 kilo turkey. The conversation went something like this:

Brian: "I ordered a 7 kilo turkey."
Coop guy: "We only have a 9 kilo turkey."
Brian: "But I only need 7 kilos."
Coop guy: "Well, we only have the one and it is 9 kilos."

You get the picture. So we bought the 9 kilo turkey for only 135CHF; I still shake my head at turkey prices here. And no, they don't let you pay for only 7 kilos because that is what you ordered. It's a conspiracy I tell you!

Anyway, we had a great day. Today has been like any other day except we will watch the parade courtesy of Slingbox this afternoon, which leads me to my list of things I am thankful for this year.

1. Slingbox and the internet. I get to watch the Macy's parade today! And we were lucky enough to watch our alma mater, Lehigh U, beat Lafayette two weeks ago. Woot!

2. Swiss chocolate and the Lindt factory. I dropped a load of cash there this morning. If you have plans to see me while I'm home, chances are you'll get a taste of this sweet goodness.

3. Health, family, yadda yadda. You know the drill. No need to get extra sappy :)

4. Good friends who have become our second family here in Switzerland. Where would we be without them? Bored and lonely I'm sure. Love ya guys!

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving yall! Have some cheap American turkey for me!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chomp Chomp

Just when I said Betti didn't have any teeth yet, WHAM!!!

Two teeth showed up this morning. One on top, one on bottom.

What a difference a tooth breaking through the gum makes. She's a much happier baby!

And she now no longer has teeth in common with Marion. Marion got her first tooth, the bottom one, around 8.5 months. It didn't bother her at all; we didn't even know it was there until she chomped on Brian's finger one day. The second one, a top one, took awhile and was ugly. She was a royal pain when that was coming in.

Betti... she's our little over-acheiver. Two at once! Stinker.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Grocery store wars continue...

Today I returned to the scene of my last run in with a Swiss person. And, yet again, I had a moment with someone. But this time, I won!

I drove into the one way only loop of the parking lot and saw a large SUV going the wrong way. Odd, because the arrows are very clear. And rules! Must. follow. the RULES!!!!

Anyway, I continued on my way and found a spot near the front of the grocery store. "Yes!", I thought. The shorter the distance I have to carry Betti in the carseat, the better. That girl is getting heavy.

I backed my car up to get a better angle when, who should appear, but Mister Wrong Way Driver! But now Mr. WWD had his blinker on and was shaking his head and motioning to me that I was taking his spot.

Uh uh, no way buddy.

We both pulled towards the spot at the same time. I honked my horn, rolled my window down, and motioned that he was going the wrong way. Then I continued to pull into the spot. He was not happy and backed up most of the way (right way, wrong end first this time) to find a spot. Then he glared at me as I unloaded the kids from the car.

But I won! I was shaking from the confrontation and went into Burger King for lunch to avoid him but I was still victorious!

Oh, and I kept an eye on my car to make sure he didn't key it or anything. It's a POS but I still like it.

Yay for fighting back! Even when he was clearly wrong, I still had to be pushy. Unbelievable.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

8 months.

Betti is 8 months old today.

It is amazing to me how well she is moving. Marion wasn't even sitting up on her own at her age. Betti is crawling, cruising, and taking off to undiscovered parts of our flat. Baby proofing is a must these days. I don't think Marion has noticed the slow disappearance of all small pieces of her toys.

I'm extremely nervous about how our flights home will go since she wants to move all. the. time. I'm regretting not getting her her own seat. Won't make that mistake on our next trip!

What Marion and Betti do have in common is teeth and sleep. Betti still doesn't have any teeth and she is not sleeping through the night, just like her big sister. What is that!? I need to teach these kids how to sleep through the night before 9 months old. On the plus side, Betti has slept through the night three times in the last two weeks. Maybe we are on the verge of something??? I'm going to focus on that.

Marion continues to dote on Betti. She constantly wants to lay on her, play with her, hug her, etc. One of Marion's favorite things to do is get Betti to follow her into her bedroom. She then gets Betti in her tent and blocks the opening so she can't leave. Then they have a picnic or sleepover. It's adorable!

Going to have to watch Marion though- lately she's taken to building walls around Betti so that she can't get away. She doesn't like crawling Betti any more than I do sometimes!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Glasi Hergiswil

On July 4 we drove down to Hergiswil to visit the Glasi Hergiswil factory. Marion was dressed to celebrate America's Independance Day too. Can't forget the 4th!

I had read about Glasi Hergiswil in one of my guidebooks. They are a well known Swiss business that has been open since 1817 on the shore of Lake Luzern. They also have quite the set up. The experience starts at the free museum that walks you through the history of glass and the factory. Kind of cheesy, but it's the only way to get to the real jewel of the tour: the manufacturing floor.

That furnace is run 24 hours a day, costs $3 million, and has an expected lifespan of 5-10 years.

On the day we visited, they were making large and small vases and dolphin shaped candle holders.

We stood on the platform for awhile watching them. And then we headed over to the do-it-yourself glass blowing area.

This is pretty cool. For 15CHF they let you blow your own glass ball. We let Marion give it a go.

She did a great job! Hopefully it makes it back to the US in one piece.

How crazy is that that they let you stand that close to the glass furnace though? I was surprised by that. But not as surprised as I was by this.

One little sign to stop people from going into that area. It's moments like these when I realize what a litigious society America is.

After the museum/factory portion, you exit the building and cross a driveway to the next building. The next portion is an exhibit that demonstrates various properties of glass. It also has alot of hands on items. Marion loved the glass drum set.

The exhibition ends at one of the stores. We chose to go outside and enjoy the playground.

Behind the slide is a contraption made up of glass and metal.

You buy marbles on the right,

climb up the stairs in the back, and drop the marbles. The marbles make their way down through the contraption and end in the chute at the bottom.

Brian and I could have stayed there for hours.

Instead, Brian and Marion played at the sandbox while I went across the street to the larger factory store.

It was a great day. Interesting, informative, play areas for the kids, and shopping. The great weather made it that much better. People were swimming in the lake and drinking at the bar that Glasi Hergiswil had on the lakeshore. There is also a restaurant to enjoy a meal. Go enjoy Glasi Hergiswil!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guest poster

That's me today over at Swisstory Blog.

Jess is moving to Australia soon and asked for some guest bloggers to help her out during the transition. So head on over and read my post about Räbeliechtli!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mount Pilatus

Please bear with me as I catch up on travel posts from this summer. Sorry for the delay!

After our trip to London in June, my cousin came back to Zurich with us.

We did a couple of day trips while she was in town. Our first stop was Luzern and Mount Pilatus.

We decided to take the boat from Luzern to Alpnachstad and then the cogwheel up to Pilatus Kulm. For our way down, we opted to take the cable cars from Pilatus Kulm to Fräkmüntegg and Kriens. If you have some time during your trip to Pilatus, I highly recommend taking the boat on Lake Luzern at least one leg of your journey to the top of the mountain.

Cogwheel station at Alpnachstad.

I had read that the Pilatus cogwheel was the steepest in the world but was tickled pink to find a plaque from the American Society of Mechanical Engineer's certifying it as so.

The ride is beautiful and the incline is prety impressive.

What can I say? I'm an engineer at heart and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Once we reached the top we were saddened to find the views obstructed by clouds. Again.

Throughout Europe I find scaffolding and clouds in my way.

Anyway, we walked around anyway and found ourselves next to a storm cloud. The thunder coming from right next to us was impressive. Despite that, we decided to sit outside and have a snack. Lo and behold, the sun came out.

And then the clouds went away.

We enjoyed the views for a bit and then decided to catch the cable cars down. That's when we saw this.

Switzerland's longest toboggan run. Looks like fun, right? Well, we thought so too. So Tricia took Marion down the 1350-metre long run.

Then they enjoyed the ride back up.

Wish I could have gone but Betti was with us. Darn baby!

Anyway, after our trip up Pilatus, we walked around Luzern for a bit. Luzern is one of my favorite Swiss cities. On a lake, beautiful Old Town, great restaurants, gorgeous Chapel Bridge... It's a fantastic city to visit.

We decided to eat dinner there before heading home. And that's when Tricia snapped this picture of me.

I was telling Marion to sit in her chair. I love this picture because it shows in a nutshell how I spend most of my time these days: hanging on to Betti, telling Marion to stop doing whatever she is doing. Hopefully, in a beautiful European city.

I can't complain.

Anyway, Pilatus. Fun in the summer and I hear it's a blast in the winter as well. Go!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mish Mash

Cinderella celebrated Halloween by pulling herself to standing.

I am now convinced she is trying her best to make my flight home in December, alone with the two monkeys, as miserable as possible.

After trick or treating we went out for dinner with some friends. We came home to some vandalism.

It wiped right off. Those Swiss kids are baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad ass.

Today is November 4th. It has now rained 3 out of the 4 days in this month so far. Looks like it will be another rainy November here. Yuck.

Still behind on my pile of travel posts from this summer. My goal is to get through them before 2010!

Happy (dry wherever you are) November!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

World Blog Surf Day: My favorite Swiss holiday

This year I'm taking part in World Blog Surf Day. The short explanation: a bunch of expatriates blog on a common subject and then link to another expat blog, thereby creating a chain of posts from around the world.

Sounded like fun so I signed up, voted on this year's topic, and anxiously awaited to be informed what I would be writing about today.

The topic for this year's Surf Day is... *drumroll*

Holidays & Celebrations--What is your favorite new holiday and how is it celebrated?

I voted on this one so I was thrilled. But still a little stumped. The Swiss celebrate everything. They will throw a party to celebrate a new tunnel opening. How was I going to pick just one?

I asked Brian what his favorite holiday or celebration was. He didn't even hesitate: Oktoberfest! So he wasn't any help; I haven't made it to Oktoberfest yet.

After weeks of going over my choices in my head, I picked one. And then I struggled with my decision because it really isn't a new holiday. But screw it, I'm going with it anyway.

My favorite holiday is Christmas. Or Christmas season. Or the entire month of December.

See, not really a new holiday. However, the way the Swiss celebrate Christmas makes it new to me. Because they start early here and go big right up until the 25th.

It all begins December 6, when Samichlaus comes to town to give sweets, nuts, and fruit to well behaved little children. His arrival is celebrated with parades in towns throughout the German part of Switzerland. But he doesn't arrive alone. Schmutzli, Samichlaus' sidekick dressed in brown and carrying a switch and a sack, and a donkey accompany him.

Schmutzli helps Samichlaus hand out his goodies these days. However, in the past, Schmutzli was rumored to kidnap and beat children who misbehaved. According to this article, some Schmutzli's still take their disciplinary role seriously.

After the parade, there is usually a small market in the town center. Markets, ahhh. Another Christmas season favorite of mine.

Christmas markets abound throughout Europe and I love them. Zurich Hauptbahnof and Einsiedeln were among my favorites last year but I plan to vist a few more this year. But let's be honest, any market out there that has opfelchuechli's will be a winner in my book.

Then there is the Singing Christmas tree, located just off the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich.

It's a great way to spend a December evening, sitting around, listening to carols, and drinking gluhwein or tea. Check out the website to schedule a visit this season.

Those are just a few of the things I love that make Christmas season in Switzerland so magical for me. They take the season and turn it up a notch. There's always something to do and, chances are, you'll have a blast checking it out.

Oh, and did I mention December is the only time of the year that shops are open on Sunday? What's not to love about shopping on Sunday?!

Thanks to Karen over at Empty Nest Expat for being the Twitter reporter for today! Karen is an American expat blogger last seen in Prague. The Wall Street Journal said, "Her blog makes a fun read for anyone looking for reassurance that change can be a wonderful thing--and also for anyone interested in visiting the Czech Republic."

Now, feel free to surf! Go see what Carla, over at Who'd Say?, has to say!

As you surf, if you hit a blog that hasn't posted yet, feel free to check out the list of blogs participating so you can get back on track!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from DJ Lance, Princess Alexa, and their silly faces!

They are going to have a great time trick or treating this evening!

And can't forget about Cinderella!