Sunday, February 26, 2012

The 3 year old expat

Jack's first day of Swiss preschool
I've spent countless hours dedicating blog posts to all the ups and downs of expat life. Before we moved here, I knew there would be problems and I decided to move anyways because I knew that in the long run this would be a great opportunity. But the little unsung hero in our whole adventure is Jack. He was uprooted from all his friends, thrown into a country where no one can understand him and where there are plenty of kids to play with but no one wants to play with him because he doesn't speak french. Being an expat's kid is no easy task. Jack has all the pitfalls of expat life with none of the benefits. For me, I don't mind all the hardships because I love to travel and we've been able to travel a lot. But Jack doesn't care that he's been to over 7 countries and has learned to count to ten in 3 languages. All he knows is that when he tries to play ball with the local kids, they ignore him because he can't speak french.

Sometimes I feel really bad for our little guy. I see how much he wants to play with the other kids but he is always the one who is left out. This wasn't a problem in the beginning of our adventure because at 2 years old most of the kids play together without speaking the same language. But as Jack has grown, so has this problem. At 3 1/2 years old he can no longer play with the other kids. Their games involve lots of rules and talking and Jack is always left out and/or frustrated.

For the first time since we've moved here I've realized that Jack needs to learn french. He can't get by with just english if he wants to make friends. He needs to be able to talk to the other kids and make friends. He needs to learn french so that he doesn't feel like an outcast.

So, we've started sending him to the local preschool. Right now he goes one morning a week, but starting in August he will go three mornings a week. The teachers are very nice and patient with Jack. His first day of preschool was a complete success and he really enjoyed it. Now I just hope that he takes to learning french quicker than I have...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rice crispy treats!

A few weeks ago our friends brought us over a bag of marshmallows...a rare treat in Switzerland. Of course, I HAD to make rice crispy treats right away... but it was a sunday and all the stores were closed. I'm not typically very patient when it comes to rice crispy treats so I decided to go to the train station store which is the one place open Sundays. Unfortunately they didn't have any Rice Krispies cereal, but they did have an assortment pack ... so that would have to work. 

We decided to make several different types of marshmallow treats and test them all
Luke ended up liking the Smacks version, Jack liked the chocolate Krispies and I liked the traditional rice krispy treats. It was a fun way to spend a snowy afternoon. 

Lily celebrated her first Valentine's day a couple weeks ago. Here is our little Valentine:
My attempt at making a Valentine themed dinner
Nothing better than chocolate fondue for dessert
Now time for some picture overload:

Sweet princess

So much love between them!

My sweet family

Where's Lily?

She's getting so big

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The boy who cried wolf

Jack has a very sensitive palate, he is constantly complaining that his food is spicy. If he sees a speck of pepper on his food, he won't eat it. We've gotten used to the constant complaints of "it's spicy" and for the most part we just ignore it. He has also gotten into the habit of eating ketchup with everything. Okay, where I'm going with this is that the other night I made spring rolls and he asked to dip them in ketchup. Then he starts complaining that the spring rolls are spicy. I know they are not spicy, they are just vegetables so I ignore him. He keeps telling me that they are spicy, so this time I take a bite of his spring roll and sure enough, it's not spicy. He still keeps whining and finally says he's not going to eat anymore because it's too spicy. I said "Jack, these spring rolls are not spicy!" and he says "well then the ketchup is spicy." At this point I'm getting really frustrated and say "Jack, you eat this ketchup with everything. It's not spicy!" Then I go to grab the ketchup bottle and put some on my plate and I notice something on the label: 

Hot ketchup! As terrible as it was, I busted up laughing. 

Who knew they even made such a thing? I have been buying this ketchup for months now and have never noticed that there were two kinds. I felt terrible for Jack, the whole time he was telling the truth and I didn't believe him (MOMMY FAIL). The next day I went out and bought his normal ketchup again...but on the bright side, Luke liked the hot stuff, so now I have 2 boys who dip everything in ketchup.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Decorating with Patafix

The walls in our apartment are concrete... six to twelve inches thick. This is great when it comes to sound insulation, but this is terrible when it comes to decorating. I can't even hang a calendar on the wall without having to drill into the concrete. And then we have to think about patching all the holes in the wall when we move out. So for now, our walls are pretty bare. 

I have several pictures that I have wanted to hang for the longest time but I didn't want to drill into the concrete. Then, one of our friends told us about this product called Patafix. It's basically a putty that you can use to stick things on the walls. 
Supposedly each little square can hold up to 2 pounds. So I bought a package of this stuff and decided to hang up my pictures (sans heavy picture frame). At first I was really excited because it seemed to work. I was able to hang up several pictures throughout the house. 

Yay! Our pictures are up.

Then later that night we heard banging in the house. Frantically I jumped out of bed thinking someone had broken in. After checking on Jack and making sure no one was in the house we finally figured out that some of the pictures had fallen down. And that was just the beginning. 

The pictures kept falling. Each time they would fall I would add another square of the patafix stuff to try and make it stronger but it didn't work. 
Notice the corners of the picture are  ruined
 from falling off the wall so many times.  Also, if you
look closely you can see the huge globs of Patafix
I used in my desperate attempt to keep the picture up.
Pictures kept falling and falling
The pictures above our couch
I went through 6 packages of patafix! Each picture has almost an entire package worth of patafix on the back, yet they still keep falling. 
Picture of baby Jack is about ready to fall.
(Notice all the little globs of Patifix on the wall)
I really like the pictures on the wall so I haven't given up. Every morning Jack runs through the house and finds out which pictures fell during the night and we put them back up. 

In the morning before Jack finds all of the fallen pictures
I'm sure there is a better way to hang pictures without drilling into the concrete, but finding the solution when I can't even read the labels or talk to the store clerks is more of pain than just putting the pictures back up day after day.

So if you've ever wondered why all the pictures in our house are crooked, missing, or just plain falling off... now you know.