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!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Daylight savings time is here

Daylight savings time is here to screw with us again. We turn back our clocks at 2 am on Sunday. But don't panic if you are in the US, you guys don't have to fall back for another week.

At least we are prepared for it this year. We weren't aware that the US did things differently from the rest of the world last year. As a result, Brian missed checking his fantasy football team before kickoff.

The HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank God we won't have to experience that tragedy for a second year in a row.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reminder: Bern BärenPark

Reminder: The new Bern BärenPark opens up this Sunday, October 25!

There will be a festival to celebrate the opening (the Swiss celebrate everything, love that). So go celebrate the new bears, Björk and Finn!

Monday, October 19, 2009

7 months.

Betti is seven months old today and celebrated by completing her fifth airplane trip.

In total, she has been to six countries and on twelve flights. That doesn't seem like a lot to me some days. There are so many places to go here and I feel like we haven't even gotten past the tip of the iceberg. Then I remind myself that we are traveling more than some people do in a lifetime. We are so thankful to have this opportunity and to expose our children to different cultures; we've definitely been bitten by the traveling bug!

And we are making a game out of this, sort of. Think we can hit twelve countries by the time Betti is twelve months old? We're gonna try!

Now, the birthday girl.

Betti went through the security check point in Vienna today asleep. And, for the first time, the man behind the scanner line told us we needed to remove her from her baby carrier, take the carrier off, and put it through the scanner.

I wish we had a picture of Brian's and my face at that point. We looked at this man like he was insane. Take this sleeping baby out of the carrier!? What are you smoking!?

A woman on the other side of the metal detector noticed our discussion and told him it wasn't necessary. Which we knew from the other trips we've taken with Betti. So sleeping Betti stayed sleeping, thank God!

In other news, Betti is trying to eat everything in sight. I think after a few short weeks on pureed foods we will be going straight to soft solids. Yay! (insert sarcasm here- this is where the mess begins)

Betti's also trying her hardest to get on her feet. Girlfriend's not even crawling on all fours and she wants to walk! I also think she might be working on her first tooth (been saying that for three months now). But I thought I saw a fleck of white where her lower right incisor would be (right as you look at the picture above). Do you see it?

Add in grabbing for everything in reach and army crawling as fast as she can and you have one tired Mrs Mac. I'm considering a play pen to avoid baby proofing my flat.

*Breaking news: Betti just sat herself up from laying down on her belly. Noooooooooooooo!

Friday, October 16, 2009

And the lightbulb goes off

I am not good with foreign languages. I never have been.

Last night I was running the days of the week in German through my head, proud of myself that I now know all of them.

Then I realized that Wednesday, Mittwoch, is actually two words combined. Mittlere, which means middle, and woche, which means week.

Which makes sense because Wednesday is in the middle of the week.

And it only took me 16.5 months of living here to put that together.

Like I said, I'm not good with foreign languages.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Swiss run ins

A couple of weeks ago we were walking home from the train station when we met an older couple. They started speaking to us in German so we quickly apologized and asked if they spoke English. They did and we had a lovely conversation for several minutes before walking away and wishing each other a good evening.

Brian and I walked away from this encounter stunned. It's gotten to the point where I expect to be yelled at when someone stops me. This meeting was a breath of fresh air. Nice people who just wanted to say hello and compliment me on my kids? Where am I?!

I have replayed that encounter in my head multiple times in the last few weeks, even telling some friends about the nice older couple I met.

And then I was yelled at by an older woman at the grocery store that reduced me to tears.

The woman started in German. And when I stared at her blankly, shocked by this woman's outburst and meanness, she switched to English.

I walked across the parking lot (distance of 15 feet or so) 5-10 feet away from the crosswalk, with kids! How dare I, I was told, I should walk in the crosswalk when with kids.

I could draw a diagram or take a picture when at the store the next time I go to really illustrate just how out of line she was. But it doesn't matter. She thought I made the wrong choice and felt the need to point out to me what a bad mother I was. I felt I was doing the safest thing for my kids.

In the end, if someone here thinks you are doing something wrong, they will tell you. I just haven't gotten used to it yet. I want to remember the nice couple we met walking home from the train station, not every person who tells me how I am a horrible parent (no hat! no umbrella! walking five feet away from the crosswalk! disciplining your kids too loudly! your 3 year old is yelling! etc)

Expats, how do you deal with Swiss 'policemen'?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Percentage of Sun

I noticed something while checking the weather forecast for this weekend, something I very rarely do since the weather can change in an instant here.

Instead of listing the chance of rain, the chance of sun is listed. How depressing is that? Pretty darn depressing but not as depressing as the 0-5% chance we will see sun tomorrow. Ugh.

Have a great weekend! We will be having a wet one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rigi on a clear day

A friend of mine has been visiting so we've been seeing some Swiss sites this past week. We dragged the kids to Rigi Kulm yesterday and my luck with this mountain changed. It was clear! And gorgeous, of course.

My friend is looking through this nifty viewfinder.

You can spin the ball to put the pointer on a bunch of different location names and then, voila! That's what you see when you look into the eyepiece. The Swiss really do think of everything.

Basically, our day was nothing like last time. Gorgeous!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bern BärenPark

Mark your calendars everyone: the new Bern BärenPark opens October 25.

Two new baby bears are currently in quarantine in the old Bärengraben, or bear pit. And they are super cute! They were playing together when I was there this past weekend.

Note the security fence around the Bärengraben to keep people away from these new bears. High tech quarantine devices ;)

Marion's already bursting to see these new bears so we will definitely be making a visit to Bern sometime in November. Make sure you go to see these adorable little bears!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bigger in the US?

You know the saying, "Everything's bigger in Texas", right?

Well I have a feeling that here that saying is "Everything is bigger in the US."

Here is the American sized toast we purchased.

Here's the comparison to the bread we typically buy.


Thursday, October 1, 2009


She's moving way faster than I expected and would like.

Are you a Cool American?

Brian found some Cool Ranch Doritos on Migros' online shop,, and ordered them for me. Love those! And yet, they are a little different here.

I have two theories on this.

1- Ranch flavors don't exist here. Therefore, the ranch flavor is American. Easy substitution.

2- A ranch is a place where cowboys hang. And hey, aren't all Americans cowboys?

So there you have it. I will be enjoying my Cool American Doritos this evening and wondering if that makes me cool by association. Yum!