Friday, February 27, 2009

The apartment problem

We are inching towards a resolution on all of this so I wanted to give you all the scoop!

I met with the management inspector when we switched apartments to go over the protocol for the old apartment. He spoke English and, I thought, we were communicating rather well.

Before we walked through our old apartment, I showed him some problems we had with our new apartment. He contacted the facilities manager who does not speak English to explain the problems and arrange for him to come by. The two problems I showed him were rather big issues- our dishwasher wasn't working and our kitchen drain was not draining.

Then it was time for our walkthru. There were some things he pointed out that were left over from the old tenants (we had only lived there for five months) but I had no proof. For example, he pointed out a wall that was kind of dirty in our master bedroom and a loose knob on our stovetop. We had assumed when we moved in that these were acceptable to Swiss standards. No one had walked us through the protocol for the apartment when we first moved in. So, sadly, we were stuck and have to pay for these to be fixed.

However, there were other items that he pointed out that I was adamant were not our fault and had proof of this. One was a crack in a bathroom sink. We emailed the management company within a month of moving in of this problem. He assured me that if i could find the email, we wouldn't have to pay for the sink replacement. The other was a water stain on the floor left by the cleaning crew. I told him that it was a new stain and we agreed that we would give it a couple of days to see if it would go away.

We also noticed that the cleaning crew had poured some dirty water down the kitchen drain and it had not drained completely, leaving residue in the sink. I reminded him that our new apartment sink was also not draining and it was a problem with a clog in the common drain line. He didn't bring it up again.

He explained all of these things to me in the protocol, with the exception of the sink not draining, and I signed the paper, written in German.

Two days later I went to check on the water stain left from the cleaning crew. It was gone without any repairs required.

Fast forward to earlier this week. We get a bill for all of the "problems" with the old apartment, including repairing the water stain off the floor, replacing the bathroom sink, and clearing the clog in the common kitchen drain between our new and old apartments.

It was a huge bill and my blood pressure rose as I translated the explanation in Google Translator.

So I emailed the information to Brian who emailed it to our management contact.

She wasn't too thrilled by the tone of our email. Her email reminded us that everything in the bill was included in the protocol and that, in the future, we should be sure we understand what we are signing.

Which is fine, I completely understand that. But when the inspector is walking me through the document and explaining it to me in English, I felt I understood what I was signing. Little did I know he was telling me one thing and writing another in the actual written document.

However, she did remove the charges for the water stain "repair" that was never completed and the replacement of the sink.

So that is good. But we are still trying to figure out the charge for clearing the clog in the kitchen drain. The clog was eventually removed by a plumber in our new apartment. He was here for less than an hour and did no work in our old apartment.

In my opinion, this is a maintenance issue, not a protocol "problem". It would be like charging us for the new dishwasher we ended up getting since our old one didn't work.

Our management company says that there is no way to tell who clogged the drain so we got the bill for our half in the old apartment. We said that that was fine and acceptable, but we'd like to see the other bill that went to the previous tenants of our new apartment. They only sent us the one bill.

I suspect they are trying to get us to cover something that we normally wouldn't have to. We will see how it plays out.

Ahhhhhh, what a week.

So don't make my mistake. Don't trust the English speaking inspector. Get your own representative to make sure he isn't telling you one thing and having you sign another.

Also, I've since found out that new tenants usually have a walk thru to go over the protocol before they move in. We didn't have that for some reason and I just chalked it up to the Swiss way. If you don't have this walk thru, go through your apartment very carefully and forward ANY problems to your management company as soon as possible. We were told you only have 10 days to do this when we moved into our new apartment, however, they did accept our email about the sink in our old apartment within a month of our moving in. But beware, not everyone might do this.

Now I'm worried we'll be stuck with the problems our new apartment has. The previous tenants ruined the floors; there are scratches and dents and stains everywhere. I've brought it up many times before but I'll have to make sure this is in the protocol so we don't get hit with replacing the entire floor whenever we move out.

In summary, when moving in Switzerland, cover your ass, don't trust anyone that isn't there to be your representative, and, when in doubt about an issue (no matter how small), tell your management company immediately in writing! And good luck!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

If I was a color, I'd be red right now.

I'd be red with some steam coming off of my head.

We received our bill from our management company for problems with our old apartment. Problems in an apartment that we lived in for a grand total of five months.

It is all wrong. Things we were told and understood were changed. So we're fighting it. We are taking it to the man people!

In the meantime, I'm so frustrated about all of it I doubt I could convey the entire situation eloquently. So, until this whole thing gets resolved and my blood pressure goes down, I'll leave you with some tips.

If you are moving out of your Swiss apartment, take some precautions.

1. If you don't speak German, try to find a representative to attend the meeting with you to avoid any miscommunications.

2. Take pictures of your apartment, with a date stamp.

3. Email all correspondence to your management company. If anything is wrong with your apartment, let them know immediately.

And have a drink after it is all done!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I dreamt I went to Target last night

In my dream, I went with my entire family to the local Target back home. And it was chaos.

Marion was a mess, Brian was frustrated dealing with Marion, and the rest of my family were tagging along. We couldn't find everything on our list, things weren't arranged the way I remembered them, and we realized we forgot several items when we got to the cash register. So my sisters and I ran back through the store to find the items we missed- socks, underwear, and undershirts for Brian. But then we couldn't find the items in his size. We then ran back to the register, breathless, to find that Marion had snuck three purses into the cart. I let her keep two but put the bigger one back.

Now, what could that mean?

At this point, I'm using this dream to plan ahead. Marion will not be coming to Target with Brian and I, we'll be giving ourselves plenty of time to shop, and I'm going to start a list now to be prepared.

I WILL enjoy my trip back to Target!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Researchers are reading my mind

According to this article on, researchers have recommended making English a semi-official language here in Switzerland.

This would mean that some documents and laws would be translated into English, as well as provide better translation services in hospitals. It was found that doing this would boost recruitment of English speaking workers in Switzerland and would help the transition of these workers into Swiss culture.

If I could do jumping jacks, I would. Hey guys- think we can put this into motion before I give birth?

Monday, February 16, 2009

32 weeks!

I had my 32 week appointment this morning and it went really well! I promise I feel a lot better than I look in that picture...

I have been experiencing some Braxton Hicks all weekend but things are looking right on schedule. My doctor wasn't too happy when I confessed I wasn't taking my magnesium when I had the contractions though. That magnesium stuff is nasty.

After we discussed hospital options and some other things, it was ultrasound time. I love how the doctors here do an ultrasound at every appointment.

The baby is head down. Way way way down. The doctor had a hard time getting a good picture of the head for a measurement. But when he did, oh boy! The head is measuring two weeks ahead right now!

Abdomen is measuring right on schedule, as it has been the entire pregnancy. And the baby's legs are now measuring one week ahead, instead of the almost two weeks last time.

The doctor was also able to determine why I feel the baby move so much and all over the place. This baby's movements have been extremely uncomfortable for me. Marion moved a ton but pretty much stayed in the middle of my belly. Baby #2 moves a lot and manages to find my hip bones, my spine, various organs, and all of my ribs. And now I know why! The baby is in a frog position. Hands out to either side towards my hips and feet splayed across the upper portion of my belly towards my left and right ribs.

That's a new one for me. I guess this little one likes his or her space?

The doctor also estimated that the baby currently weighs 2 kilos and will be around 3.5 kilos at birth for all of you playing the guessing game. Remember, it was an estimate!!!! This sounds about right since Marion was a little more than 2.9 kilos at 35 weeks. I've also put on a total of 18.5 lbs this pregnancy, not counting the four pounds I puked up the first trimester.

So, a fantastic appointment! No complications and things are moving along. But not fast enough for me!

Our next appointment is in three weeks, right before we are supposed to go to a nearby ski resort for a family ski weekend with Brian's work. I'm knocking on wood that this is one trip we won't have to cancel.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A favorite thing: Snowy Switzerland

It has snowed here three times this week. I love when it snows here; the snow sticks to everything. Well, I love when it snows and I don't have to go out in it. :-)

Gorgeous, isn't it?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A look at the cost difference: OPI nailpolish

A little background for my male readers- OPI is a company that sells all things manicure/pedicure related- nailpolish, lotions, files, etc. Their nailpolishes are fantastic for several reasons. First, they have great names. Second, the polish lasts a long time in the bottle. Third, the polish doesn't chip as bad on your nails once it has been applied.

Aren't you glad you know all of that now?

Anyway... a bottle of OPI nailpolish retails for around $7 back in the states. That was the cheapest I could find it there, some higher end spas would sell it for $10.

Yesterday I tried a local spa for a facial and spotted some OPI nailpolish in the retail section. A single bottle of OPI nailpolish retails for 22CHF here. And I've been informed that that is an inexpensive price. At other spas a single bottle sells for 28CHF.

22CHF is equivalent to $19 at today's exchange rate (thank you

That means that this little bottle of nailpolish retails for more than twice what I could buy it for in the States.

And just a year ago, I thought $7 was outrageous.

So there you go. This is why I still am suffering from price shock 8.5 months after moving here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In search of trash bags

Buying trash bags was on my to do list yesterday. These bags are only available at the cash register at our Migros or at the information desk at our local Coop. Somehow I have escaped this errand since arriving in Switzerland; Brian's been doing it all of these months. I still have anxiety over trying to communicate with people who don't speak English.

But yesterday I put on my big, pregnant girl panties and went to Migros to get trash bags.

I was standing in line at the cash register with a few other things I needed to pick up and Marion who was in full run and play mode. I asked the woman ringing me up for trash bags. She looked at me like I had three heads. I motioned for trash bags and asked if she spoke English. No dice.

So she motioned for a coworker to step away from her register and come help. She kept talking to me about how they didn't have the trash bags. I was so confused, Brian told me they were here! Well, come to find out that they didn't have 25 L trash bags, something about them not being available until March. I don't know why that was an issue, I wanted 60 L and hadn't even gotten the chance to request a certain size. They just assumed. But by the time I had determined that that was the problem, I had already paid for the rest of my things and the woman who spoke English had to run back to her other register to help waiting customers who just happened to be glaring at me. As she rushed away, she said that 60 L bags were available at the register and to ask the woman I had spoken to first.

I turned to the woman at my register who was now checking out someone two places behind me in line. She had already checked out an older woman who was buying a strawberry pastry. And before I could process that this situation was hopeless (darn pregnancy brain), the old lady pushed me out of the way to get her pastry. Literally, pushed me to the side without a word and grabbed her stinking pastry.

Must have been a really good pastry.

I decided that the damn trash bags would have to wait at that point, threw the things I purchased into my purse, and dragged Marion away.

Brian had said it was an easy process but, somehow, I get myself into these crazy situations. No wonder I still have anxiety! Luckily, friends have told me a German words to use for trash bags, säcke, to avoid this in the future.

And later that day, I went to the Coop to get the trash bags without incident.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Marion's First Hair Cut: January 3, 2009

A month ago Marion had her first hair cut. We were a little nervous about how it would go since she screams when we brush her hair.

As usual, she surprised us.

She seemed a little unsure at first.
But that didn't last long. She loved getting her hair done and sat very, very still while it was cut.

I see a lot of spa appointments in our future.

Daddy couldn't believe how big his little girl has gotten.
All done and still sitting still! Maybe admiring herself in the mirror?
Note to self: limit bathroom time for her when she is a teenager.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A sunny day for Carnival

Today we saw the sun. It's made several appearances this last week and seeing sunshine has been wonderful. It hasn't been around much (if at all) since November and, dare I say, we might have it back for a little bit now?

I'm glad no one let me in on the lack of sun in Zuerich for months on end before we moved. I may not have come! But seeing it again, and hearing birds sing, has been wonderful. I have to remind myself it is only February!

This morning I took Marion to spielgruppe and had to snap some pictures. I haven't seen this view in months, and it is pretty cloudy! On a clear day you can see magnificent mountains in the distance. What a difference some sun makes. It even makes clouds look pretty to me.

Anyway, Marion's spielgruppe is celebrating Carnival this week so Marion arrived in her favorite princess dress. It made the morning routine a little easier. I guess a princess dress makes everything better.

I dropped her off and was told about their big party. Another mom suggested I bring my camera with me when I picked Marion up because "There will be konfetti. How do you say in English?" Luckily, a word that is the same!

So I brought my camera with me and what I caught was mass hysteria.

Marion LOVED the confetti.
She loved throwing it.
She loved laying in it.
She loved sitting in it.
She loved making confetti angels in it.
She probably would have bathed in it if that was possible. And she gets to do it a second time this week! Life is good.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My water baby

Marion and I didn't have any plans last Friday so I decided to treat her to a trip to the Adliswil pool. Plus, swimming wears her out which means I can usually get a good nap in. Double bonus!

We arrived and went straight to the baby pool. The baby area is great- deep enough in one spot so Marion can float with her swimmies and also has a slide and some other things for the kids to play with.

But Marion soon became tired of the baby pool and wanted to go in the big pool. So we headed over to one of the bigger pools inside the complex, one that just happens to have an adjustable floor that allows the depth to be changed in intervals between 40 and 180 cm.

When we first got in the big pool, the water was 90 cm deep. Just enough that Marion was able to bounce along the bottom with her swimmies on. She's now 96 cm tall. She's growing like a weed.

We were then asked to get out so they could change the depth of the pool. The woman who was in charge was running a swim class for kids around Marion's age so she decreased the depth to 60 cm.

So I decided to take Marion's swimmies off to see what she would do at this depth. She was right beside me on the shallow steps into the water while I took the swimmies off and turned to toss them next to the pool.

The next thing I heard was "Achtung!" while I turned back around.

Marion had lept into the water and was belly down under the water. By the time the instructor and I got to her she had found her feet and brought herself up out of the water.

And she was laughing.

I looked at her like she was a crazy person. She just looked up at me and said, between laughs and giggles, "I go in the water Mommy! I got my face wet!"

The instructor spoke a little bit of English. I got her information and plan to sign my little water baby up for swim lessons. I figure if she doesn't have a problem throwing herself into the water, I should probably get her back into classes and swimming as soon as possible.

You know, before she tries to take her life again.