Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blurry Picture Day

We met some friends near Zurich Stadelhofen to have coffee. We were a little early and our friends were a little late so the girl and I spent about an hour taking blurry pictures. It was near dusk and the flash was off so either we jumped up and down or moved the object quickly to create different images. It was a ton of fun and I think we learned a little about photography. Here are some of our pics.

The S18 at Stadelhofen.

My own, personal perpetual motion machine.

The big gray thing on the right is the fountain outside Stadelhofen bahnhof. The girl took this last one in a burst of inspiration.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Back From the States

Last month we spent 2.5 weeks back home in the US visiting family and friends. It was an amazing trip and a sucky trip all at the same time. First we flew to Philadelphia to visit the husband's family. Would have been great had all 12 of us not contracted the stomach flu. Not one of us was spared but fortunately the bug only lasted 24 hours, except for the babies who fared the worst.

My kids have 2 cousins, one turned 8 on our trip and the other is only 1.5. Big girl had a great time playing with them and was introduced to something called a Bakugan. No idea but she loves it!

We met up with a friend who lives in Washington DC while we were there. He took the train up and we met him in the city. The husband had to eat a cheesesteak and then we went to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell so the big girl could see some of Philadelphia's history. Both the Liberty Bell and a tour of Independence Hall are FREE and I got a good story out of it later.

It is always fun to ask kids for their take on whatever you do and I asked S what she thought of Independence Hall. She said that there used to be a princess and king but then the colonists got together in the castle (Independence Hall) and told them to go away because they were too bossy.

Puking babies made us miss our plane to Texas and US Airways in their sucktitude charged $150 change of plans fee plus the difference in airfares. Because we don't know when we will get back to the US, I sucked it up and put it on the credit card. Not my favorite thing to do but it happens. Next time I will buy cancellation insurance for our flights. Oh well.

Texas was as good as Texas can be. My big girl and I both have wonderful friends there that we miss tremendously and we had a good time chatting and playing. No sight seeing, just friend visiting and eating cheap American food.

From Texas we flew to New York City where the husband had a conference. We spent a few days walking around NYC and had an incredible amount of Chinese food. I took both kids on the subway, which is just not as clean as Swiss trains, but runs more frequently.

S charmed the ticket taker at the Empire State Building. She was telling him some random story about Switzerland without telling him we live here. Then she went on to tell him about her kindergarten. I blushed and apologized for taking up his time but he said he really enjoyed talking to her.

Although I have been to NYC several times, I have never seen the Statue of Liberty so we made our way to the ferry dock. That was an adventure by itself but when we got there it was relatively late and the ferries to the statue weren't running any longer. The Staten Island ferry was though! Also FREE. It was sunset and we took the ferry round trip. Lady Liberty was beautiful standing there with the setting sun behind it. S loved it and danced around looking at her both ways. I did notice on the way back from Staten Island, a coast guard boat followed the ferry with a huge machine gun mounted on the front.

After NYC, we took the Bolt Bus back to Philadelphia and back to the inlaws. We spent one last night together before heading back to Switzerland.

Epic trip - too long for the kids. Jet lag was horrible and the baby just started back on a decent sleeping schedule. I think from now on everyone can come visit us. :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The day I was distracted at the grocery store

No, I did not lose a kid.

The store, Migros, had a sale - 10% off everything - today. Being continually distracted by shiny things, I completely forgot until I ran there to get a substitute dinner for what I had planned. There were banners everywhere yelling 10% off to anyone with the attention span of a gnat. Like me! So I call the husband to tell him, just in case he needed to pick up anything from the Migros City, which prompts the big girl to start in.

Mama, I want a gipfeli (croissant).

I want french toast for lunch tomorrow.

Do I get to eat lunch tomorrow?

Can I have some fruit.

Are you listening to me?

I. want. a. sample.

Finally something easy that I can say yes to, a sample. I glance inside the sample case and see that it is cut up rustic bread with a piece of salami on top. Sure, no problem. I tell the girl there is salami on top of the bread because she is somewhat picky about her meat intake. Sure, whatever mom.

I am finishing up my convo with H about the sale when the girl says that she likes the sample and wants it in her snack bag for tomorrow. Only then do I take a good look at what they were giving out for samples.

It was salami, horse salami.

Eww.  No way. I told the girl that she already had a gipfeli for her snack and I'd buy (a different kind) salami next week. shh.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Sexism of Switzerland - Mom Edition

Living in Switzerland has a ton of upsides. Good chocolate, good cheese, and a quick hop to the rest of Europe. It is, however, incredibly sexist when it comes to moms. Every time I think about living in Switzerland permanently, I wonder if I am sending the right message to my daughter. The one who was named after a mathematician who was so stubborn, she studied math naked at night because her parents took her clothes in an attempt to stop their daughter from learning by candlelight.

Since I have nothing better to think about when I am pushing the stroller through the grocery store, I've been thinking about how Swiss culture is structured and how that impacts moms who might want to work outside the home. Here are some random thoughts on the subject.

Working on Sundays. It is strictly verboten unless the canton (county) gives express permission. This includes laundry and washing the car. On the positive side, this means Swiss families spend Sundays together doing family  activities that don't involve shopping - remember working is illegal so the stores are closed. The negative aspect is obvious. A lot of the younger Swiss ignore the no laundry law and do it anyway but you can be fined if someone in your building complains.

Short store hours. Remember the days when life just sucks, the kids throw tantrums just looking at the grocery store and the fridge only has a half container of milk and an apple? Back in the US, there were months when I'd do my grocery shopping at 11 pm because the husband was home and I could go child-free. Welcome to Switzerland, where all the grocery stores close at 8 pm. Except in my town, where they close at 7. The husband gets home at 6:45. Do the math.

Weekday lunch for the school age child. Kids come home for lunch so someone needs to be there from 12-1:30 when afternoon school starts again, but only on some days. The daughter of a friend attends the local, public school and in fourth grade she only attends one afternoon a week. For between 14 and 30 SFr (sliding scale, income dependent), there is a program that will pick the kids up from school, serve them lunch, and return them in the afternoon.

So let's talk about afternoon or all day daycare. Recently a friend and I were at a park where we struck up a conversation with an American expat there with her two young kids. She had just quit her job as a lawyer because fulltime daycare completely negated her monthly salary. I was quoted prices of 120 SFr per day per child minimum. 

Getting hired. A friend and I were chatting while our kids play about staying at home versus working. She was looking for a position PT now that her youngest is in kindergarten every morning and two afternoons a week. She went and interviewed at a shop that had the perfect job for her. Everything went great until the hiring manager asked her how she could take care of her family if she was working. That is kind of the question, isn't it? The society is built around moms that stay at home with the kids. If it wasn't, these policies just wouldn't work because there simply are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

How do people do it? Simple, really. Almost all moms stay at home and if they don't they need an incredible amount of familial support. If you are a woman, the choices aren't really there. Role reversal doesn't seem to happen either, I have yet to meet a stay at home dad.

So what happened with my friends? The one who interviewed for the perfect position was not hired because of her obligation to her children. Discrimination is legal. The other friend who was chatting with the expat lawyer is probably quitting her professional job because now that she has 2 kids, it is costing them money for her to work.

As for me, if I went back to work I would lose my stay at home mom stipend from the government. So I stay at home and I am studying a new programming language when the kids are asleep.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Zurich to Frankfurt by Train: the Technicalities

Last week, the husband was in Frankfort for work and I took the kids up to meet him and look around Frankfurt. That is in Germany, just in case you forgot. :) I will post about the trip but I am too tired to do more than post the technical details of how to get there by train.

To go by train, start at Zurich's hauptbahnhof and take one of the trains to Basel SBB. We took the TGV whose end destination was Paris and then disembarked in Basel at the main station. From there, we took an ICE (Germany's high speed line) to Frankfurt. The total trip was 4 hours - 1 hour to get to Basel and 3 to travel from Basel to Frankfurt.

A few details. We didn't reserve seats - big mistake. On the way to Frankfurt, it wasn't an issue. I was a little confused about where we could sit so I asked a guy who was checking tickets and he said that in Switzerland you could sit anywhere. Fine, dandy, fantastic.

The ride to Basel was in the middle of the day on Friday and the train wasn't crowded. We sat at a table and played Uno. The ride from Basel to Frankfurt started getting crowded but not uncomfortably so. On the way back was a different matter. The train from Frankfurt to Basel was packed. There were people sitting on the floor. We didn't reserve seats but we found enough for 3 people with baby riding in arms. But then someone had reserved S's seat. That made her cry but we found her another one. An hour or so later someone had reserved mine but that person saw me with the baby and let me sit there for one stop. Pity seat, but I'll take it. We did sit for the entire ride but I think the three of us sat in a total of 7 different seats.

Lesson learned: if it is a busy time, spend the 5 CHF and reserve a seat.

To find out about long distance trains within Switzerland or its neighboring countries, visit I conveniently linked to the English portion of the site. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baby Food Done the Swiss Way

Baby Boy is now 6 months old plus a little bit and has been trying out the jarred baby foods here in Switzerland. I was planning on starting slowly and just introducing simple, mashed up versions of what we eat but Baby Boy has his own plan - to eat as much food as quick as possible.

He is still nursing a ton and has gained 1 kg since I took him to be weighed a couple of weeks ago. Incidentally, there is a free service in Switzerland where you can take your baby to be weighed and have his growth measured between well baby visits. This service is provided by a nurse and she will also answer questions about parenting or whatever baby related question you have. If you are in Switzerland and want to find the local service, it is under the Muetterberatung.

So far Baby E has tried plain, mashed avocado, banana, and cooked sweet potato. All with mixed success.

There are three brands of jarred baby food that I've seen, HiPP, Holle, and the dreaded Nestle. Holle is bio (organic) and available at the pharmacy or reformhaus. It is the most expensive and at least the jarred apple and blueberries tastes terrible. HiPP and Nestle are both available at grocery stores and HiPP is mostly organic.

They have some strange baby food concoctions here. The first meats (4 month olds) are chicken or veal. Baby E looked at me like I was playing a cruel joke on him when I gave him meat. There are other mixtures that are very Swiss. Bircher muesli, risotto, spaghetti, all pre-mashed for a 6 moth old.

All those options and Baby E is sitting here chewing on his feet.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Farmer's Market at Hauptbahnhof

Today the kids and I went to Zurich's Hauptbahnhof (Zurich's main train station) to check out the weekly farmer's market and see what was in season.

For those in the Zurich area, the farmer's market is upstairs in the huge hall every Wednesday. 

The girl, who has never voluntarily consumed a grape in her life, begged for me to buy grapes. I didn't think there was a chance of a snowball in a hot place that she would eat them but I bought them anyway. She ate a significant number of them. Win!

I also picked up some Swiss chard, an eggplant for baba ganoush, some orange carrots, purple carrots and REAL CHEDDAR CHEESE. Yes, I am yelling, that is how exciting cheddar is.

Before I move on to the cheddar, I must tell you about the brilliance of the farmer's market. The produce vendors really know how to get kids to eat new things. S doesn't eat carrots. She just doesn't. At one organic stand, the woman asked S if she wanted a carrot to eat. She seemed dubious but took it anyway and ate it. Then the woman asked her if she wanted a purple carrot! Yes, she did. So I bought both. We'll see if I can recreate the magic at home.

Now for the cheddar. Switzerland has a lot of cheese but not a lot of cheddar. I miss American cheddar - specifically Tillamook. That is unavailable here but at the farmer's market, the British Cheese Centre has a stall and sells real cheddar.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What's Going On In Here?

Tonight I made Stella's Banana Brownies because I had bananas and no baked chocolate products. This happened after big girl S went to bed and I saved some for her for tomorrow. The husband came into the kitchen to see what I was doing and commented that every time I bake something after S goes to bed, she comes into the kitchen the next morning and asks, "what is going on in here?"

The husband was puzzled. Where did she pick up that phrase? I told him that is what I say when I come in to see that she is doing something she shouldn't be doing. The husband's theory is she uses it exactly the same way but the thing that I shouldn't be doing is baking without telling her first. :) Sounds about right.

Last night she spent the night at a friend's house for the first time. She loved it and cried when I took her home. When did my baby get so big?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Time We Almost Accidentally Crossed the Border

We were walking around Konstanz, Germany, looking for a restaurant to eat at for dinner when I looked up and saw a line of cars, the Swiss flag, and the word Zoll. I assume that means border crossing. We had almost accidentally crossed back into Switzerland from Germany on foot instead of by train. Oops.

Konstanz (Constance in English) is located on the German/Swiss border on Bodensee (Lake Constance). For the Swiss, it is a place to buy cheap German goods and for the tourists, it has a cute old town complete with medieval  city wall and lake. The city is big enough that I will want to map out where we go first.

Oh, and if you order a doner kebab for lunch, you will get a vinegar-flavored coleslaw on it. All for under 4 Euros. Yum.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stella's Banana Brownies

A wonderful woman and mom named Stella gave me this recipe, oh two years ago? It is my go-to recipe when I just must have brownies and now I am sharing it with you, all 5 of my readers. :)

Once you get the hang of the recipe, it can be whipped up in 5-10 minutes and in the oven to cook. Upshot is yummy brownies within an hour.

Stella's Banana Brownies

¼ C butter
¼ C bananas, mashed (I use 2 bananas)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
½ c all-purpose flour
6 T cocoa
¼ t baking powder
1/8 t salt

Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove and put it in a large mixing bowl. Add the mashed bananas and stir. Then add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Be careful about adding the eggs if the butter is still hot because it might slightly cook the eggs. I will not tell you how I know that.

In a separate bowl or very large measuring cup, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Then dump it all into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into a (greased) 9x9 pan and bake on 350 for 30-35 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. I usually skip the greasing the pan step but these also don't usually last long enough for other people to see them.

To add a minute amount of nutrition I use whole wheat flour instead of white and I think that turns out fine.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Kid Has Heart

Today my 5 year old had her third soccer football practice ever. We show up and the only kids on her team that made it are two boys that are at least a year older who also have more experience with the game. They ran some drills, practice passing and kicking and other fundamentals and the boys clearly had an experience advantage over her.

My big girl really played hard though. And besides a purple Hello Kitty hair tie, she was dressed entirely in pink. I loved watching her run after the ball to kick it in the goal and afterward when I asked her how she thought she did, she told me. She said, "I was great today."

I couldn't have been prouder of her.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Long Time, No Post

School is out for the summer and then S starts up with second year kindergarten in 5 weeks. I could see the look of joy on the forest kindergarten teacher's face when I wished her a happy vacay. lol

Summer break here is only 5 weeks and they spread the rest of break around the school year so kids have plenty of down time. Good for the kids but not so good for the mom. This is just one of Switzerland's many sexist policies designed at keeping moms at home where they belong. A friend was telling me that she was applying for jobs and the employer didn't want to hire a PT employee, which BTW is very common here, but at the same time didn't think she could take care of her school age kids properly and work.

In a lot of ways, it is still the 1950s in Switzerland.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Go Germany!

Germany won their World Cup game against England and Zurich celebrated. One of the ways that Zurich celebrates sports victories is by driving through the tram stop, Bellevue, honking and waving flags.

There was a party atmosphere down on the waterfront. Sidewalk cafes were packed and tvs were on everywhere. I didn't know whether the Swiss would be rooting for the Germans but they were.

And Germany pulled it out, 4-1 against England. I saw the first two goals and at least the first one, I felt bad for England's goalie.

About half the people I know here are German thanks to the Schengen Agreement and they are all pumped that Germany continues on. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thoughts for Claire

Who is Claire? She is my friend's son's playmate who suffered a near drowning accident over Memorial Day weekend. I don't know many details other than there was a party, a pool, and a 4.5 year old who got lost in the shuffle briefly and ended up coming close to dying.

Claire is on the road to recovery and her dad is blogging her progress. Please keep her in your thoughts and remember how easy it is to lose track of a little one near water.

Tour de Suisse

Perhaps you haven't heard that the World Cup is going on right now. Well I have. Repeatedly.

I also found out today that the World Cup isn't the only sporting event that is happening, so is the Tour de Suisse. I guess that is the Tour de France but in Switzerland. ;)

The end of the 7th leg and beginning of the 8th starts in my neck of the woods in Wetzikon next Fri/Sat so I am going to ask around and see if it will be mobbed and if not, take the kids to have a look. Provided Wetzikon has a coffee shop, of course.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let's Make More Steak Mommy

My big girl started eating steak on her fifth birthday.

Ever since she started solids, she had some texture issues and meat is a big one for her. It started with homemade baby food. Try as I might, I could never get it smooth enough for her so I went to the store bought organic baby food. I liked that stuff because it didn't have any hidden ingredients, what was on the label was the sum total of what was in the jar. Unfortunately, she could never eat the stage 3 (or lumpy) baby food. She'd gag or vomit or both.

As she got older, her protein sources were limited. She'd eat milk, cheese, eggs, tempeh, seitan, (the latter 2 are unavailable in Switzerland) and the occasional bites of chicken as long as the texture is destroyed in the cooking process. Oh and whole pinto beans from Freebirds World Burritos.

When we moved to Switzerland, she stopped eating cheese and Freebirds is too far away for take out so that reduced her protein sources further.

About a week before she turned 5, I told her that now that she is 5 I bet she is old enough for steak. She bought it. On her fifth birthday she tried steak and declared that she likes it. A lot. So I try and buy it so she gets protein.

Yesterday I made steak for dinner and gave her a decently European portion. She ate it and then we had the following conversation:

Big Girl: Mommy, I want more steak
me: I am glad you liked it but it is all gone
Big Girl: nooooooooooooooo Make more
me: (chuckle) I can't make more, it isn't like bread where I have the flour and can cook more.
Big Girl: We can go shoot a cow to make more steak.
me: (dying of laughter on the inside) I don't think the farmer would appreciate us shooting his cow.

So there you go. Run out of steak? Go shoot a cow.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Movenpick Swiss Ice Cream

Movenpick opened a new store near the lake and Bellevue tram stop. Yay! They have pretty much the best ice cream in Zurich, with Swiss Chocolate being my favorite flavor. Swiss Chocolate is a solid chocolate ice cream with ribbons of actual Swiss chocolate throughout. *yum* We picked up cones and headed to the lake to walk along the path and look at the water.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spring Day Just Outside Zurich

It is a nice spring day here today so I went for a walk and took some photos of the countryside and mountains. These are fields of wheat and rapeseed crops.

Baby must. be. held. now. mommy.


Before you feel too sorry for him, he was in the wrap for a few hours during the walk.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Waiting for the S-Bahn

Some company (radio station?) was giving away roses, orange juice, champagne, and tote bags at the train station today to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Flower girl played with her rose as we were waiting on the platform. All and all it was a nice day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Built-In Audience

That is what babies are. At least to my 5 year old big girl, S. This morning as we sat around the table, I was holding the baby and she was doing something goofy - in other words her usual - and the baby started laughing hysterically. The big girl got excited the baby was entertained with her antics and she upped her goofiness a bit more and more until she was almost manic performing for him. He found all of this to be the funniest thing he has seen in his 4 short months of life. <3

I also learned something about Swiss parenting culture today. It was warm and sunny out and the kids were outside. S and her friend wanted to go into S's room and play with her Playmobil zoo. Fine and dandy with me but S's friend had to ask her mom because they were supposed to be playing outside. Friend's dad said no, play outside. Apparently the Swiss get almost angry when the kids want to play inside on a nice day. I've been sending S out all along when it has been drizzling out being a Washingtonian and all so the weather was no matter to me.

The girls played outside all day and S collapsed shortly after dinner. We are reading Little House in the Big Woods and it was at a particularly scary part so S took a while to fall asleep. Hopefully she will sleep in. LOL Right.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Swiss Omas, Babies, and Hats

A couple of days ago I put the baby in my Storchenwiege wrap and headed out with the girl to a coffee shop for some coffee and gelato. After we were done, I rewrapped the baby because it came a little loose and a grandmother-type smiled at the baby before offering to help. (hilfe - pronounced hal-fe) I was almost done so I said no thank you and finished up fixing the wrap.

I am a big believer in hats for babies because either they don't have enough hair to keep them warm in cold weather or they don't have enough hair to protect them from the sun in hot weather. Either way, my babies are always wearing hats. Except when I am putting the baby in the wrap. Baby E objects strenuously to wearing a hat while I am adjusting him so I had taken it off and set it on the table.

The grandmother stopped and made some comment about the baby's head being cold. I just smiled and said (in English) that he has a hat on the table and pointed to the hat.

Now a lot of moms I know would have been irked that this Swiss grandma was interfering as they like to do but I thought it was rather sweet. Maybe it is the fact that my kids don't have grandmas of their own, I don't know. I just like it when grandma-types fawn all over my kids. :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Buying a Used Bike in Zurich

People in Switzerland love their bikes! Where we live there are several bike trails closed to cars for bike riding and bike racks are available at the train station, grocery stores, and well, just about everywhere. Unbelievably to this American, most Swiss people do not use bike locks.  Instead they just park their bikes and come back (sometimes months later) to find them still there. Usually.

I am all about bike safety. Unfortunately, babies cannot ride safely in bike trailers or bike seats until they are 1 year old. I was told the bumpiness can mimic shaken baby syndrome to their little brains so sadly I will sit out this biking season but we can still get one bike for me and the husband to share.

Like everything in Zurich, bikes are pretty pricey. We looked at buying a new bike for the big girl but I balked at spending 250 CHF for a 16" bike for a 4 year old. Instead we found a used one from a friend. Now we just need to find a cheaper used one for the grownups.

Veloboerse - Or used bike sale. There are used bike sales held each Saturday during spring, summer, and fall. We have been to a couple to get the feel for these. Couple of hints. Come early because the best bikes go quickly. Bring your photo ID so you can test ride a bike. Bring cash.

EnglishForum - This message board has a classified section where people periodically sell used bikes. You can also post an ISO (In Search Of) message. There is also a good post on English forum about biking in Switzerland that has info pertaining to buying used.

Used Bike Stores - There are many stores in Zurich that sell used bikes. I saw a few near the Brockenhaus close to Zurich HB.

Since there is a veloboerse in Zurich next weekend, I think we will try that. Now I just have to get up early enough to arrive by 9 am.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

English Language Books at Pestalozzi Library

Ah books. Beautiful, wonderful books. Some women have shoe collections but not me, I have a book collection - in Texas. Of everything I left behind, my books were the hardest. My friends suggested a Kindle, but no, I like the smell and feel of paper and it is hard to curl up with a tablet. 

There are a couple of different library systems in Zurich and the Pestalozzi library is one of them. For 45 SFr per year, I can check out up to 25 books, DVDs, CDs or whatever at a time and they even have English language books. So I took the kids to the library hoping it would be a good find for my big girl who also obsesses over books (currently Magic Tree House) and first went in search of English language kids books. 

There were 50. I don't mean approximately 50, I mean 50. I counted them while S was looking at one of the books.  *sigh* She picked out one book and what I thought was a Globi DVD to help her learn Swiss German. Turns out it was a video game. Oh well. 

For the adult books, there was a larger selection of English books, about one and a half racks worth. All fiction and not very many new ones. I picked out Julie and Julia and The Birth House for myself, paid for my year membership and left. One perk of the Pestalozzi library - kids memberships are free until age 16. The kids membership limits borrowers to kids books only otherwise S would be checking out a lot of adult books. ;) 

Afterward, S was disappointed by the sparse selection so we stopped by the Brockenhaus behind Zurich HB that carries a limited supply of used books. The only book S found was a book on Babar going to America but it was in French. I bought it anyway and was able to translate it for her as I read it. I lucked out a little more and found a hardback copy of Stephen King's recent book Under the Dome

Tomorrow we are going back to the Pestalozzi library to return our books and get new ones. So excited!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Thing About Making Cookies at Midnight

At 10:44, my friend Amy sent me a link to this recipe of homemade Oreos. I quickly scanned the ingredient list and realized I didn't have what it takes to make the Oreos tonight and, like any good Swiss store, the grocery stores were all closed. But I had to have cookies or rather cookie dough - tonight. Fortunately I did have everything I needed to make oatmeal peanut butter cookies so I threw those together and added some cocoa powder for good measure. I will see tomorrow how they bake up.

The bonus will be in the morning when my big girl wakes up, sees the mess in the kitchen and asks if I made cookies last night to make her happy. I will say yes and she will be. <3

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Swiss Kids and Their Food

So I've been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and I posted about the Swiss children and their knives. There is a bit of an update to that post. See, I went into the forest with the big girl a couple Fridays ago and saw a minor accident with one of the children and his knife. Most of the kids wear their knives around their necks on shoelaces or attached by chains to their belt loops. One boy walked out of the clearing where the teachers were and used his knife. I saw him walk into camp crying. I was about 30 feet away and I could see blood covering his thumb and part of his hand. A teacher rushed to him and bandaged him up and when I saw him later he was happy with a nice big bandage on his finger. *eek*

About the Swiss kids' food. When S started kindy, I was told that she needed to bring snack to school every day. I was instructed, quite forcefully in fact, that I should not pack anything with sugar in it. The snack I packed the first day was inspected and I got a Swiss nod of approval because it was raw rot peperoni strips (red bell pepper). I've had a chance to look around the class and see what the kids pack for snack. Frequently it is carrots, bell pepper, apple, clementines, even raw zucchini with a slice of bread and meat or cheese. The bread is always the artisan bread they make here or a small pretzel. I've seen some crackers and cream cheese but usually it is just my daughter that brings that sort of thing. On Fridays, the kids bring sausages to cook over the campfire and eat on their whittled sticks. Nothing is prepackaged.

Lunch is a little harder to scope out because Swiss kids all go home for their midday meal. It is a bit of a hold over from when moms stayed at home but the moms here adjusted for working part time or full time by switching off child care. My Swiss informants tell me that the big meal is lunch and they cook a large meal for their kids. The kids get out at noon and for the older kids with afternoon class, need to be back at 1:30 or so. That gives an hour and a half to eat, digest, and come back to school. Right now S only goes in the morning so we will have to see how the lunch thing works for her.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tidbits by Hiltl - Yummy Vegetarian Food in Zurich

Tonight (or rather last night since it is just after midnight) we stopped by Tidbits on our way home from meeting friends. I've been wanting to try Hiltl, a 111 year old vegetarian restaurant in Zurich city since I heard about it but so far it hasn't happened. Tidbits is a more casual version of the fancy pants parent restaurant and somewhat kid friendly. They have a tiny kid area for toddlers but it was occupied when we got there so we sat European-style at a communal table.

Baby E was asleep in the Storch wrap so I took my big girl to the buffet and put the food she pointed at on her plate. Now, I really like buffets for S because she will try stuff that she won't try at home. I'm not sure why kiwi is all of a sudden palatable when cut up by someone else but usually she will carry it over to eating at home later so I don't complain too much. The bigger issue is that buffets usually have terrible food. I just don't like it.

This buffet wasn't like the usual buffets though. It did have the usual, numerous salad and fresh fruit options. There were also some Indian-inspired foods and a token American option - jalapeno popper - like the ones found at bars all across America. S had rice, salad, and pineapple which are her usual standbys but she also ate kiwi and snap peas. Well, not together. I tried a little of just about everything but my favorites were the curry quinoa with cranberries, Moroccan bulgar, and the dal. Everything was pretty good except for the hummus. I am not sure what they did to the hummus but, just no.

Once you 'load' up your plate you take it to the counter to be weighed. The buffet is by the 100 grams which is not a lot of food. S's plate came to about 300 grams. I forgot how much it cost but it was about 3-4 CHF per 100 grams.

I'm glad I tried it and now I really want the Hiltl cookbook. Both because I collect cookbooks and because I really enjoyed the food. The cookbook is 60 CHF though and that is a little steep for the budget right now. Oh well.

I almost forgot to mention that Baby E got to eat too but he only gets breastmilk and that was free.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Not about Jamie Oliver or Food

I have some sad, sad news. I had to give the baby an emergency poopy-blowout bath and while I was in the bathroom, big girl S broke my laptop. Right now I am sharing a computer with the husband and plotting a way to get a new computer. The husband has been nice about giving me plenty of computer cycles but I am old and stuck in my ways and like having my own operating system.

Now we are off to meet a colleague of the husband's and his wife for coffee. I really need to get out more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jamie Oliver has nothing on Switzerland

There is a lively discussion on a message board I visit about Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Usually I don't watch anything that isn't a fake crime drama but I was interested to see who this Jamie Oliver character was and what he had to say about school lunches and processed food.

Toward the end of episode 2, Jamie tells the cooks and the principal that the kids would need a knife and fork. The reaction was priceless. It was like he asked them to give the kids a machete, not a butter knife. This brings me to kindergarten life in Switzerland.

Every Friday, big girl spends the morning (8:15 - 12) in the forest. They build a fire (the kids drag sticks for firewood), play games, sing songs, and all those other things kids do in the forest. A couple of weeks ago I went with because big girl was upset about leaving me. That week the lesson was "whittling a stick with their own Swiss Army knife." I have to admit, I was a little shocked by the idea of giving my 4 year old a Swiss Army knife and sending her into the forest with a little - but really not much - supervision.

All the kids were taught how to open the knife, cut away from their body, and close the knife with their jacket sleeve. I am not sure how much my big girl (age 4, nonspeaker of Swiss-German) understood so I will be going to school with her until her Swiss-German gets better or the end of the year.

Oh, and the Swiss eat everything with a knife and fork. Even pizza. The kids definitely know how to use one by age 4.

I have a cold and really need to go to bed but next post will be about the kids' food.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An Interesting Idea

My husband would say I like to kill plants. That simply isn't true but I have a hard time remembering when I watered them. So when I came across this article on using plants to improve your indoor air quality, I was intrigued. Then I thought about the poor plants and how buying them would, in fact, doom them and I decided to wait until I started taking ADD meds or something.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Baby, Budding Photographer

Yesterday we took a walk to the post office to pick up a package and my big girl asked for my camera. See, next door to the post office is a farm with baby cows, ducks, goats, and chickens and she decided she wanted to take pictures of it. I gave her a quick tutorial on the proper way to hold and take pics with the camera and off she went. At some point she snickered and said, "I take beautiful pictures." Yes she does, and here are some of them. 

A horse painting in a train underpass.

A goat hoping for a snack. He was denied.

Some random house that captured her eye.
Today was a tough one. The newbie started crying and the big girl started sympathy crying so I started rethinking my unofficial "no hard alcohol in the house" policy. Then the baby fell asleep and I decided to pee which obviously meant the big girl had to get frustrated with building her marble run and she screamed - waking the baby.

The buzzer rang - it was the big girl's friend asking if she could come out and play. Well, she might be a big girl in her mind but she isn't yet 5 so I told her to stay by the playground. I went to the window to check on her and I saw her running back to the apartment crying. Her friend took off, probably expecting her to follow but I told her to stay at the playground. Props to my girl - she didn't follow. I made hot cocoa and commisserated but not before her wailing woke... that's right. The baby. *sigh*

The big girl is asleep and the baby has been handed off to daddy so I am drinking a glass of wine. Tomorrow will be better. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things That Come Out of Mommy's Mouth

Why are the toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathtub (with you)?
You need to be calm to push your brother in the stroller. (said mid-tantrum)
Why did you color on your face?

If you ever want to hear what you sound like, forget a tape recorder, get a 4 year old. You will hear them say something and ask, do I really say that? On the plus side I found out that I say please and thank you regularly and I don't swear too much. Last night I heard the girl say 'good lord' after she spilled a glass of water. Oops. That one is on me too.

Note to self: be a little more careful of verbiage and no more Rolling Stones.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Slowcookers in Switzerland

The Swiss apparently don't use crockpots. I say this because it took me months to find one. Then I did and it was devoid of features. I used a nice programmable slowcooker in the US that allowed me to set a timer and ignore it until a buzzer went off however many hours later.

The only reasonably priced slowcooker (under 100 CHF) was available at Migros City in the electronics department. For the low price of 50 CHF, I picked up an unknown brand (Mio Star) that has a manual switch and four settings, off, low, high, and warm low. It does have a removable liner for easy cleaning and it seems to work pretty well although the high setting seems to run a little hot.

Today red beans and rice was on the menu and my apartment smells spicy. Yum.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bretzel Konig - Lucerne

It isn't just American businesses that have silly names invoking
royalty. This Pretzel King is located in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Other Shoe Drops

Big Girl S was adjusting a little too well to being a big sister. She still loves helping bathe and diaper Baby E but she has some obvious hostility toward him now that he has been here a month and I haven't sent him back. Poor girl. She wants to play with him too but he can't really play yet. The transition would probably be a little easier if babies emerged ready to play soccer.

Baby E also has some reflux so after every feeding I have to hold him upright to help his poor tummy and throat for at least 20 minutes. This means I am holding him a lot and not holding her. :( I am trying to do special thing with her every day. We took a day trip to Lucerne and had a blast (stay tuned for photos) and tomorrow we are going to a book swap at Starbucks.

Baby E is trying to alert me to his presence. Gotta go.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oh and by the way

I don't know why this is but every time I've had a baby (all 2 times lol), my computer has broken immediately afterward. So I am borrowing the husband's computer while I figure out if mine can be fixed. This is not a recipe for a happy marriage so I will have to either fix mine soon or come up with a netbook. Or something. Who knows?

Baby E - Hold Me!

The last few weeks have been simultaneously very busy and not busy the way a household with a new baby generally is. I forgot how time consuming newborns are. Every couple of hours E needs to be fed and he has some reflux so after that I hold him upright so he doesn't spit up all of the milk. He does eat less often at night than S did but he makes up for it in the evening time when he nurses all the time.

We still like going out and about. Yesterday we went to a Fasnacht celebration for kids in a nearby village and S had a blast. I put E in the Moby wrap I bought from Peppermint when I was in Texas. Let me tell you, he loves that thing! I put him in and he sleeps for a good couple of hours. Wraps can be kind of intimidating but I found a video on Youtube on how to tie the wrap and after a couple of tries, I got it down.

Let me tell you, I have somewhere around 7 baby carriers (none of them are Baby Bjorns) and I bought a stroller when E was 2 weeks. There is a reason I spent more on all my baby carriers than on my stroller even though Zurich is the land of expensive Bugaboos, and that is because baby carriers get more use IME. Baby E has been in his stroller twice and he screamed his head off both times. Put him in the wrap or ring sling and I have a quiet, sleeping baby. It is like magic.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baby E is here!

He was born on January 19th in quick fashion, just like his big sis. I had my 3 days postpartum care in the hospital and am now recovering at home. I will post more later but the baby is sleeping which means I should be too.

Oh, stats:

weight: 4.12 kg (9lbs 1 oz)
height: 52 cm
hair color: brown

Sunday, January 17, 2010

40w 4d and still no baby

*sigh* I was feeling pretty lousy a couple of days ago so I thought for sure he was ready but apparently no. Oh well, I can't stay pregnant forever, right?

Another non-stress test tomorrow! Yay!

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Baby Yet!

It is now January 15th and still no baby. It is hard to be patient but he'll come when he's ready.

On Wednesday I had a non-stress test to make sure everything still looked good, which it did. My blood pressure is a little low but the baby's heart rate was good and he had fun kicking away.

Things are a little different in Switzerland and I am now receiving care at the hospital instead of at a regular doctor's office. When we originally moved here, I looked for a homebirth midwife because the idea of switching care at the end of pregnancy was weird to me and honestly, I prefer being at home. Well the only homebirth midwife in the area is going on holiday in January and not available.

At the hospital, I was lectured that women weren't given inductions on their due dates just because they were tired of being pregnant. LOL I hadn't asked but the midwife at the hospital assumed I wanted to be induced. *scratches head*

OK, I am tired of being pregnant but the baby will come eventually. Not on my due date apparently, but someday. Perhaps even soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

About Attachment Parenting

When my daughter was born 4.5 years ago, I didn't know attachment parenting from string theory. I probably could have guessed which one was which in a multiple choice exam but otherwise I was pretty clueless. A few twists of fate pushed me in the direction of attachment and natural parenting.

My choice in pediatrician. I chose someone who was pro-breastfeeding and not-so-much on the medical interventions, unless they were necessary of course. Since I have always been reluctant to take medications for minor matters, we clicked. I asked for a recommendation for a health care provider for my pregnancy and birth and I was referred to a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) who had been delivering babies for over 30 years. She was perfect for me BTW!

My location. I lived in Seattle at the time. Tends toward the crunchy side. Being born and raised there, I just thought it was "normal life" but moving around a little has shown me that normal life doesn't always resemble Seattle life. For example, I don't really stick out as a natural person in Seattle because there are people who are just so much more... In Texas though, I was the hippie freak that doesn't shave.

Switzerland is really pretty similar to Seattle. There are a bunch of beautiful people in one area and a lot of crunchy people in another. I don't really stand out. Our neighbor took her two kids on a 2 day bike ride when her youngest was 2 months old.

My parents. I won't elaborate on that.

Anyway. I tend to do things my own way and not really fit in anywhere but that is perfectly fine with me.

Proto-baby is making it difficult to concentrate so I am going to hit publish and make some food.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moving to Two Kids

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions!

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we're writing about how we want to parent differently — or the same — in the New Year. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This new year, life will be changing at my house. Baby Bounce is due
to arrive January 13th but I am assuming he will be born a week late
like his big sister. That is the reason that 'estimated' usually
modifies due date anyway.

So what does this mean? I really don't know. I've been reading the
book, Siblings Without Rivalry, for some insight on how to introduce the baby to big sister S. I like the basic theme of the book where it is not my job to ensure S and her baby brother are bffs but rather set them up to be able to negotiate adult relationships. I am certainly far from bestest friends with my siblings and a lot of that has to do with our personalities but some of that has to do with our unable to resolve conflicts between each other.

I would love for my kids to be good friends but I don't have a map on
how to make that happen, hence the book. S is very excited to have a
baby brother coming and I hope that sentiment will continue after he
is born. I tend to set a lot of the tone for the house and I hope that
2010 will prove to be a successful year for me as mama.

Wish me luck!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(All the links should be active by noon on Jan. 12. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

• To Yell or Not to YellThe Adventures of Lactating Girl
• It Is All About Empathy: Nurturing a Toddler's Compassion PotentialBaby Dust Diaries
• To my babies: this year…BluebirdMama
• Mindfully Loving My ChildrenBreastfeeding Moms Unite!
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: ResolutionsCode Name: Mama
• Imperfect MotherConsider Eden
• ResolutionsCraphead (aka Mommy)
• FC Mom's Parenting Resolutions 2010FC Mom
• What’s in a Resolution?Happy Mothering
• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutionsHobo Mama
• Natural Parenting ResolutionsLittle Green Blog
• This year, I will mostly...Look Left of the Pleiades
• Parenting ResolutionsThe Mahogany Way
• I Resolve to Breastfeed In Public More Oftenmama2mama tips
• Moving to Two KidsMegna the Destroyer
• Use LoveMomopoly
• My parenting resolutionsMusings of a Milk Maker
• Talkin' 'bout My ResolutionsNavelgazing
• Parenting ResolutionsOne Starry Night
• Invitations, not resolutionsRaising My Boychick
• No more multitasking during kid timeThe Recovering Procrastinator
• I need to slow down, smell those roses AND the poopy diapersTales of a Kitchen Witch Momma
• Resolutely Parenting in 2010This Is Worthwhile

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dress Up

S features her swimsuit, kitty ears, fairy wand, Hello Kitty mittens, cape (from, knee high socks (not pictured), and slippers (not pictured). I am pretty sure there is a tutu under there somewhere too.

Saving for an Espresso Machine

Before we moved to a small village without a coffeeshop, I thought long and hard about what I really need on a day to day basis. Basically it boiled down to needing an espresso machine. Not just any espresso machine, mind you, but a good one.

Around Zurich, most of the machines are Nespresso branded and run between 100-200 CHF. The problem with the Nespresso branded machines is they take cartridges of ground beans and I object to the waste generated by individual packaging. The husband's work has a combo espresso/coffee machine that uses whole beans and the machine grinds these immediately before brewing the coffee. Of course I am lusting after this machine but it is somewhat pricey. I did find a cheaper home version but it is still expensive.

So I plot of a way to come up with the cash for this machine. Hopefully I will have one before my birthday - in April.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Apfelschorle - A German and Swiss Apple Softdrink

Apfelschorle is a popular drink in Switzerland and I hear it is also popular in Germany. It apple juice mixed with lightly carbonated water. It isn't quite as carbonated or heavy as sparkling cidar but still has a little bit of a kick.

I'd rather be drinking a beer but not for another week or so. Or until the baby feels like making a grand appearance.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Due next Wednesday and too tired to post

Bounce is due somewhere between now and 2.5 weeks from now but theoretically he is due next Wednesday. Just like a good proto-baby, he is stealing all of my energy and cheer so I haven't felt like posting. Hopefully he will be born soon and I won't have to serve him with an eviction notice. Maybe I'll just bribe him with chocolate. :)

But here is a photo of the statue in front of Zurich Hauptbahnhof (HB). It looks like the statue is puking ice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Project 365 - A Picture a Day

SophieKat posted on her blog a project of taking a picture a day for a year and posting it on your blog.

I am starting a few days late so I guess mine will be Project 360. If I can actually do it, that will be impressive. I'll start with pics the husband took of Bern. In other words, I am going to start by cheating.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Calling Swiss cell phones from Skype

The husband and kid went to Bern yesterday for a day trip to the bear zoo. They said they'd be back around dinner time but when dinner time rolled around and I didn't hear anything, I decided to call my cellphone which I shoved on the husband as he left the house in the morning.

I used my Skype credits to call the cellphone which was pretty straightforward. And expensive. Unlike the price they charge for calls to US land lines (~$.02 per minute), Skype charged an outrageous $.36 per minute.

Guess we won't be using Skype to call Swiss cellphones from now on unless it is an emergency - like I am finally in labor.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Small Brag on the Girl

Following in her parents' footsteps, S can now add certain numbers.

There are pieces of paper floating around the house that look like this:

1 + 1 = 2
2 + 2 = 4
4 + 4 = 8
8 + 8 = 16
16 + 16 = 32
32 + 32 = 64
64 + 64 = 128

Look familiar? Now we just need to teach her binary notation.

New Years Eve in Zurich - Photos

Happy New Year!

It is January 2nd, 2010. Nope, I take that back. It is January 3rd, 2010.

Happy New Year!!!1!!11!