Monday, September 13, 2010

A Knight's Tale


We've had a great week and hope you all have too! We signed our rental contract and will hopefully be able to access our new apartment this weekend. If so, we plan to go shopping at Ikea this week - so purchase your shares now! We also found out that our container has already made it through customs (despite the fact that we haven't registered here as we'd been waiting on our rental contract) and we'll get our stuff on October 4th! (We could even get it sooner but we're going to be traveling to Oma & Opa's and then to Munich). Yippee!!! Jonas will feel like he's in heaven when that truck finally pulls up!

Last Sunday, Oma visited. The weather was great. The kids even wore shorts! Oma brought homemade kuchen, which of course was a big hit with all of us. Thanks, Oma!

Jonas had a wonderful 3rd birthday. (I was disappointed that I couldn't make him the "proper" b-day cakes I usually do, but he didn't seem phased by it :-). And, he absolutely loved getting a few toys, wearing party hats and playing with balloons!

This weekend, we felt like we hit the jack-pot. I actually could read enough of the German newspaper to understand that there was a kid's flea market at the church near our house. So, Saturday morning, we went flea marketing Swiss-style. We found clothes, toys, books - all for less than we would have paid at the consignment stores in Charlotte. The "best buy" - Jonas' armor. He's been learning all about knights, castles, etc. ever since. We even pulled up videos on youtube to show him some of the knight's festivals that we hope to visit. (Really, what did we all do before youtube, facebook, Skype, etc?)

Next, we went shoe shopping. Fearing we were going to have to fork out a couple hundred bucks for new work shoes for Andy (poor planning on our part), we were so happy to discover the equivalent of Rack Room Shoes at the train station. Major savings!

To wrap up the day, we took the "Short Round Trip" 1 1/2 hr boat ride on Lake Zurich. We didn't get off at the "final destination", b/c we had boarded at what we thought would be the next stop. Turns out that at the final destination, the boat doesn't continue on the same path, but rather reverses direction. So, we found the boat heading to the opposite side of the Lake! Luckily, transportation in Zurich is so great that we hopped off the boat at the next stop and got on a bus back to where we needed to be. My, that would have been a long walk! Or, a long boat ride. At least we know now. (I had been trying to figure out the timing during the ride b/c it didn't compute when compared to the leg of the trip that the kids and I take almost daily. It never occurred to me that the boat switched direction :-).

Today we visited the zoo again. The Zurich Zoo is really great! The weather has been really nice the past couple of weekends. I'm not missing the heat that so many of you are experiencing! But, I'm going to be really jealous of you all when I'm up to my eyeballs in snow this winter.

More from Jonas:

On the eve of his birthday: J: So, when I wake up tomorrow it will be my birthday? M: Yes. J: When can I go to bed? (Unfortunately, that was a fleeting thought :0).
The morning after his birthday: J: Mommy, when will it be my birthday again? M: In 364 days. J: I can't wait that long!

On Friday, Andy was late getting home from work. When Jonas asked why, I said b/c daddy didn't listen to me and he went to the wrong store. The next morning, Andy wanted Jonas to go with him to the bakery. Jonas was very reluctant, saying that it was going to take a long time. Andy replied that it was just around the corner. Jonas said, "Are you going to listen to mommy this time?"

One morning, Andy's alarm clock woke Jonas up. So, I told Jonas the next time the alarm clock goes off, "Just hit daddy and tell him to turn it off." Jonas: "Ok, so will I not get a spanking for that?"

The day of the flea market, Andy was trying to convince Jonas to eat his dinner: D: Pirates always eat their pasta. J: I'm not a pirate! I'm a armor! (knight :-).

On the way back from the park today a couple was having an argument in their car while we passed in front of them at the crosswalk: M to D: Those people are fighting. J: Where? M: In their car. J: With their swords?!

And one from Andy: "I'm too American for this."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grüzi everybody,

Now that I have spent a little over a week at the office (and actually done some work, actually plenty of work), I am in the position to share some initial impressions from the office and work life in general. How could I do that better than with a few pictures...

Here some pictures of the architecture and view from my workspace.

- The one on the left is taken through the glass wall in my workspace and shows the galleries and "bridges" you cross when walking from the offices or elevators on the other side of the open courtyard to my office area.

This picture on the right is taken sitting behind my desk, view across the courtyard to the kitchen (located in the glass cube).

I'll post more pictures of the architecture in the blog at some point, quite interesting.

- Here one of the coffee-machines located in every kitchen. Excellent coffee they have here, I must admit.I was just letting out a Latte Macchiato ... note the INITECH cup, I am trying to add some American culture here... So one of these days I am going to walk up to someone's desk with my cup and say with my Lumbergh voice "sooooo, what's haappening...(then take a sip from the mug) Aahh,, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?"

Staying on the "Office Space" topic, on the left is a comparison between the ridiculous sissy toy they call a stapler here and my Red Swingline stapler I brought along - solid, heavy duty, professional grade and Made in America. They really need some decent American hardware here. Seriously, when I saw this pitiful stapler, I wasn't quite sure whether I should laugh out loud, be offended or just embarrassed to be seen with it. They might just as well have given me a pink version with laces of this ... thing.

All in all, everything at work is going well, I like the team and really enjoy the work. Oh, and have I mentioned the coffee? Great. I drink way too much of it... To compensate for the unhealthy effects of caffeine, they serve fresh fruit on every floor, every workday. I am impressed.

Enough of work life... it is weekend now, and today (Saturday), April, the kids and I explored Zurich some more, hit some of the side streets and then walked back along the "Utoquai", along the lake. We grabbed some gelato from our favorite stand at the quai on the way, which Jonas very much appreciated. Here some impressions of the Utoquai and Lake Zurich...


And of Zurich downtown at the river...

We got Jonas a new soccer ball, in the Swiss national colors of course, and he loves to play. His dribbling game is already far better than daddy's, that's for sure... so hopefully our retirement dreams come true and Jonas will become a European soccer star!


Tomorrow, Oma will come to visit, so more fun ahead. I think the weather should be nice again, so we may take a long boat tour on the lake... we'll have more pictures then :-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good news!

Hello Everyone!
Our apartment application has been approved and we will be able to move into our new home shortly. Yay!!! Jonas looks forward to starting preschool too. And, our container is due to arrive in Switzerland this week. Hopefully, it won't take it long to get through customs.

This past weekend we spent time strolling around Zurich, riding the boat (Jonas' favorite activity - which we do almost daily) and visiting the zoo. Thanks to our wonderful friends who gave us a full year family-pass. We will use it often!!!

While the public transportation system is excellent here, the tram doors don't offer much resistance to body parts. Andy was nearly beheaded this weekend while helping me get stroller #2 off the tram. Same goes for sliding automatic doors at the train station. Jonas got his hand stuck in one the first day we were here. So, traveler beware :-)

We received an awesome care package from Grandma and Grandpa yesterday. Jonas and I snacked on popcorn and hot chocolate and had peanut butter and jelly for lunch! Adjusting to the food here continues to be a struggle for Jonas. But, he's starting to at least try a few more things.

A tidbit from Jonas:

1) After hanging up from a skype video call with Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie Wendy:

J: Why didn't we give them a hug before we hung up?
M: Well, we were talking with them over the computer. How were we supposed to give them a hug?
J: Just dig a hole in the back of the screen, give them a hug, and then close it back up.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A few firsts

Today was Andy's first day of work. So, it was the first day the kids and I were all by ourselves. We ventured out to two different parks and to the post office, where I even said a sentence in German :0) The weather was nice (although I absolutely should not have bothered packing any shorts for the kids). After dinner, we all went for a walk by the lake and had gelato. Does it get any better than that?

The kids are still adjusting to the time zone difference, which means we are too. Sara is cutting her first teeth, which probably isn't helping. But, we're seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

On Tuesday, Jonas said his first self-generated German sentence: "Wo ist dein Tram?? It was completely out of the blue while we were waiting for the Tram. Andy and I are so happy that he is definitely starting to pick up the language. I think the weekend visit from Oma & Opa helped.

We've been apartment hunting and have one we really like. We visit a few more on Saturday and hope to get it sorted out soon. Regardless of which place we get, we definitely plan to be in the town of Uster. Andy picked it out all by himself and I have to say he did an excellent job. It's within walking distance of a nice lake. Once around the lake is half-marathon length and they have excellent bike and walking paths. When we were there on Tuesday, we drove by a dog that looked exactly like Molly, which brought tears to my eyes. Hugs to you Molly! We miss you!

There is a Women's Activity Club in Uster that offers preschool (in English, which wasn't our first choice but options are limited - I mean, we can't afford to send him to the English/German preschool that costs $18k/year. How crazy is that!). They also have a Swiss/German playgroup, so we plan to send him to that too. The club has a library, children and adult events and really looks like it will be a place where we can connect with people. We will visit the preschool tomorrow morning. Jonas is looking forward to going to school. I think he's a little bored hanging out with me all the time.

A few more tidbits from Jonas:

1) This morning, he opened his eyes and the very 1st thing he said was: "In the Frosty the Snowman video, they sing and then they jump in a big pile of snow. I want to do that - all by myself". I think he must be dreaming about snow every night.

2) On Sunday, Andy and I were discussing what to do for lunch. Jonas comes in the kitchen:
J: Is this the day Chick-fil-A is closed?
M: Yes (followed by laughter)
J: Do they not have Chick-fil-A's here?
M: No.
J: Awww.

3) J: Mommy, I want to buy some powers so I can heal God if he gets sick.
M: You can't buy powers. God has them.
J: Well, maybe he'll share some with me?
M: Yes, maybe he will.