Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good Idea: Coin required shopping carts

I've been meaning to write about the glory that are Swiss shopping carts for a year now so I figured it is about time I do it already!

What took me so long to write about something so simple? I wanted to get a picture of these suckers. Alas, I rarely take my camera to the grocery store so a random picture off the internet will have to do.

There it is in all its glory. In order to use a shopping cart, you need to have a 1 or 2 franc piece with you to unlock the trolley lock and release a cart from the other carts.

Simple yet awesome. No more carts walking away. No more carts hanging out in parking lots across the US. No more loose carts getting blown into cars.

I refuse to believe these suckers are not in use anywhere in the states. Unfortunately, I have yet to see them in the Baltimore area.

Let's get on this America!

***Picture borrowed from http://www.global-b2b-network.com/b2b/63/67/1175/287499/coin_operated_trolley_lock.html.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reminder: Orange Cinema

Tickets for the Zurich Orange cinema go on sale tomorrow!

Click me!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Betti's Baptism

We baptised Betti on our trip back to the US. She was perfect; she stirred a bit when they dumped the water on her head but stayed asleep. I was amazed, the priest managed to slather a good amount of oil on her head. I hope you enjoy some of our pictures from the day.

Direction time.

Marion singing along.

Not a peep.

Yay baptised! Celebrating by continuing to sleep.

With the priest and godparents.

The whole crowd.

Godparents.

Sleeping angel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Malta. Why not?


Malta 258, originally uploaded by swiss macs.

Back from a whirlwind, last minute trip to Malta. Gorgeous country, I'm glad I got the chance to go. Now it's time to pack for trip #2 of the week. More on Malta later! In the meantime, the rest of my pictures are on Flickr. Enjoy!

My new friend: Phil & Ted's Dash Stroller Review

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember that a long time ago, I ordered a new stroller and had it delivered to my parents in the states. I desperately needed the upgrade from my Maclaren. It wasn't that my Maclaren stroller was bad; its small little wheels just didn't handle cobblestones very well.

Sadly, due to my crazy pregnancy, I wasn't able to get my hands on my spanking new stroller until my recent trip home. But I couldn't wait to see it. My new, beautiful, red stroller. Ahhhhh. I love strollers. But I digress, no need to bore you with my stroller obsession.

Anyway, here is my long overdue stroller review.

I ordered my stroller from www.strollerdepot.com. In red. So imagine my surprise when I opened the box marked "red" and found my new black Phil & Ted's Dash stroller.

Huh.

But a little color mix up wasn't going to stop me. I had waited months to get this bad boy. It didn't matter that the stroller was not the fantastic red I had pictured on the flight over. And it didn't matter that I had just arrived from the airport way past 10 pm and I was still on Swiss time, six hours ahead of that. Noooo, I needed that sucker put together and I needed it now.

So I put it together with a little help from a not so happy Brian.

One we put it together I stood in front of it.

Huh.

My first impression was not good. The double seat didn't look very sturdy. The newborn area didn't look very big. And the wheels weren't blown up yet so it didn't move very well.

I started talking aloud, voicing my displeasure and uttering the dreaded words, "I'm not so sure this is the stroller for us."

Brian, having had enough of this nonsense so late at night, said good night adding "We are not buying another stroller. Ever." And off to bed he went.

Exhausted and disappointed, I went to bed as well.

We woke up pretty early the next morning, ready to tackle our favorite Sunday morning activity, the Baltimore Farmer's Market.

We blew up the tires for the Dash, folded it up, and took it with us. I was anxious to test drive it.

And this is when I fell in love.

The Dash pushes like a dream. It moves very easily and takes bumps and curbs like a champ. We also noticed moms checking my new stroller out. Who wouldn't? The Phil & Ted's strollers are snazzy. Plus, you get the newborn surprise from the back.

I continued to use the stroller during our trip and was sold. I love it. It has solved every one of my stroller issues. It is narrow so can easily fit through doors (and narrow train doors in Switzerland). It pushes easily and takes the cobblestones, bumps, etc very well. The hand brake, while tricky at times, isn't as bad as the foot brake was in the store. And Marion enjoys "sitting on Betti." Don't worry, we've had a discussion that this is to only happen while riding in the stroller.

Of course, no stroller is perfect (sadly). So here are the improvements I would make to the Dash:
1. When the box is marked red, include a red stroller. Although this isn't that big of a deal, I have quickly learned that the black/gray hides dirt pretty well.
2. A zipper on the rain and sun covers. Passing something to Marion is rather difficult because there isn't an "access door" for lack of a better word.
3. A sturdier double seat. It seems like the seat is becoming stretched somehow by Marion climbing into and out of it. And she is well within the weight limits for the seat. Very odd.
4. A sturdier support for when the seat is in the newborn position. The seat always looks lower on either side of the support when Betti is lying in the seat.
5. A stronger hand brake. The hand brake becomes difficult to use when it is not in the correct position. However, when you have the hangbag in place, the handle tends to move a bit out of position. This makes the pushing the button harder. It can be done, it just takes a bit of maneuvering. Or you can take the hangbag off.
6. The sunshade is practically useless. It is pretty tiny and narrow- Marion kept hitting her head on it so I took it off. But then, after returning to Zurich, I realized that I needed the sunshade to correctly fit my sun and rain covers. Oops. So maybe not completely useless, but mostly.

So there are my cons. I'll let you know if I have more but I doubt it. Overall, this stroller has been fantastic. It allows me to get around easily; I can take it with me on the trains and shopping around small European stores and it pushes over the cobblestones with ease. Really, that is what I wanted. And I got it! So I'm pretty happy with this purchase. And I hope my review will help anyone else out there who may be on the stroller fence. Happy shopping!


*this is the best picture i have right now. the rain cover does not fit correctly because i forgot the sunshade in baltimore. but it still gets the job done!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!


May all of you have a relaxing day, surrounded by those that you love.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Be careful when viewing the falls!

We visited Truemmelbach Falls, a waterfall draining glacial waters from surrounding mountains at a rate of 5,000 gallons per second, in May.

An American family recently went to the falls and, sadly, a 12 year old boy disappeared while hiking nearby.

His body was just recovered.

So please be careful when visiting the falls!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

13 weeks.

My goodness, time is flying. My little one is 3 months old. When did that happen?

She continues to delight us with her smiles. Baby smiles are the best. Here's a short video that includes a baby smile, a baby being scared by their volume control-challenged older sister, and a baby moving her eyebrows. Cool stuff.
video
And another one with more baby smiles and coos.
video

Want to grab some gold while on your next trip? Go to Germany!

The Germans are looking to install gold vending machines in their airport and railway stations.

Seriously.

Hmmm, I think Brian is going to Frankfurt in the next few months. Nothing says I love you like a piece of gold from your latest trip honey.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tip: Orange Cinema

Every year, Orange sponsors an outdoor theater in Bern, Geneva, Zurich, and (next year) Basel. It's fabulous- a great outdoor setting with restaurants and clean bathrooms (how Swiss!).

Tickets go on sale June 30. Check out the website and be prepared, tickets go fast!

Last year I bought our tickets to Wanted and Son of Rambow online without any problems; unless you count sitting Marion in front of the TV for a half hour so I could buy tickets before they sold out a problem. I don't.

After you have your tickets and you've waited anxiously for your night at the movies to arrive, get there early! Seats get reserved fast.

In summary: Tickets go fast. Seats go fast. Proof that this is a great way to get out in the summer. So go already!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

12 weeks.

Darn, I'm really late with this one. And no pictures. But, years from now when Betti is complaining about the missing blog entry about her, I'll just have to explain that we were flying across the Atlantic and Europe. On two delayed flights. With an exhausted toddler. Yea, that's it. I'll blame her older sister.

Anyway, Betti was fantastic on the flight over. She slept practically the entire way. Everyone who walked past her fell in love and remarked that they wished they could sleep as well as my little Betti was sleeping.

She was an absolute angel.

Which, of course, terrified me when I realized that she had slept the majority of our 17 hour travel time and it was time for bed Thursday night.

But my little angel only woke up once during the night. And then did the same thing again Friday night.

It's a conspiracy I tell you. This fabulous infant is trying to erase all memory of my awful pregnancy so I will have more kids. It's gonna take more than an easy plane trip kid, but it's a good first step.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Now, about that offer...

So sorry for the delay. The transition and jet lag has been worse than I expected. We are exhausted.

Anyway, about that little thing I mentioned in the last post. The offer we placed on a house...

Well, while home, Brian and I decided to contact our realtor to go look at houses "just in case". Basically, right now, we aren't sure what is in store for us after July 10, 2010 (when we will return from a cruise we booked last month). There are a lot of options on the table right now. Thankfully, all of the options are good ones so we aren't terribly worried about it. However, the unknown is kind of unsettling.

So we met up with our realtor to look at two houses in areas we would like to be in when we move back. We weren't expecting much, just wanted to see what was on the market so that, if we do return to the States next summer, we have a better understanding of what our money might get for us. We also wanted our realtor to get a sense of what we are looking for when the time comes.

Like I said, we weren't expecting much. So imagine our surprise when we actually really liked the first house we looked at. It is kind of a fixer upper but has a ton of potential, just what we like.

After a second trip, we decided to put an offer on the place. And, well, the owner didn't take it. Let's just say, uh, that there is a massive chasm between what we believe the property to be worth.

But the outing wasn't a waste. The owner met us and liked us. She thought Marion was adorable. We liked her and the property and were able to get our name and offer in there. And that's great. Because in six months, if the property is there, who knows?

We have plenty of time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time to go back

And just when the humidity in Maryland has taken a turn for the worse. Darn!

It's been a whirlwind trip of visiting, eating, and drinking. I've put on an embarrassing amount of weight, Betti was baptised, we did our part to help out the economy, we went to the dentist, hung out in Baltimore (stinky algae bloom and all), and put an offer on a house. And that's the short list!

I'll have to fill you all in when we get back to Switzerland. We should be back in approximately 30 hours!

Friday, June 5, 2009

11 weeks.

The smiles are coming easier now and Betti's been cooing more and more. One of my friends, Lisa, got a full on love fest at dinner last night. Smiles and coos galore! Betti has also slept 8.5 hours in a row every night this week. Now I'm terrified that the jet lag and flight back next week will take it away. Marion didn't attend dinner with us last night. Mostly because dinner was with a group of friends and all their children that we haven't seen for over a year. Brian and I wanted to see and talk with everyone instead of chase the monkey around and leave early for bedtime! In attendance were eight of us with our significant others, seven children under the age of one and a half, a 3.5 year old, and one due in october. We had a great time! While we were out, Marion enjoyed girl time with her aunt. Colleen managed to capture this video from one of their activities.
video

Monday, June 1, 2009

One year ago

One year ago, we packed up our lives and got on a flight for Zurich.

One whole year. It's amazing how fast it has gone yet it feels like we have lived there forever.

It's been a great, challenging, fun, hectic, overwhelming year. We've met new people, settled in to our new life, welcomed a new daughter, become recyclers, been confused by a multitude of languages, and become comfortable with a different culture. And that's just the short list.

I'm glad we decided to take the leap into the expat life. While this year has been tough, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I hope the next year is as good as our last!