Thursday, May 31, 2012

Favorite Things: Swiss Cows

The Swiss cows have it made. I can't think of a better place to be a cow than here in Switzerland.
The cows here are actually very good looking. The cows I remember seeing back in the states were usually fat and ugly, but these cows are actually very slender...maybe it's because they are dairy cows and not meat cows. In any case, they are much nicer looking than any cows I have seen in the states.

And of course you can't have a Swiss cow without a cow bell:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Favorite Things: Playgrounds

It seems like there are playgrounds around every corner. We have three different playgrounds within a five minute walk from our house. And these playground have fun equipment unlike anything I have seen in the states. These are the kind of playgrounds where kids can have a blast... but they do run the risk of getting hurt. I guess that is why you will always see a sign that warns parents to watch their kids and that the playground declines "all responsibility" in case of an accident. But sometimes a little danger is what makes a playground fun...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Favorite Things: Pedibus

Here in our town all the kids walk to school. I have never even seen a school bus since we moved out of the country. All the kids are expected to walk, you see them every morning wearing their little yellow reflector vests. For those who are too young to walk by themselves there is the "pedibus." The pedibus has a meeting place just like a normal bus stop, only at the pedibus stop all the kids meet and then one mom will walk all the kids to school. There are about 5-10 kids in the pedibus so each mom only has to volunteer to walk the kids to school once every 5-10 days. It's a really great idea and I love seeing the little kids walking in a line, each holding on to one long rope that the mom has the reins to. I love being in a city where you are encouraged to walk everywhere! This is so different from our home in Colorado where we had to drive just to get to a park.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Favorite Things: Lily

Lily is our little Swiss souvenier. We came here without her and we will leave with her. She is most definitely our favorite thing about Switzerland and Switzerland will always be extra special to us because of her.

I have been terrible about keeping track of Lily's development. When Jack was a baby, I was able to post every week about new things he learned. Now, with Lily everything is going by so fast I can hardly keep up. So here is a little progress report on our little Swiss Lily.

Age: 7.5 months
Weight: about 18 pounds
Teeth: two bottoms and the top two are ready to come in any day
Milestones: Lily is mobile. In the past couple of weeks she has learned how to crawl and she can get around the house like nobody's business.

Lily is typically very happy and loves to squeal with joy and clap her hands. She does have a very feisty side to her though and is known to protest very loudly when take something away from her or if she doesn't get what she wants. Lily is an eating machine. She started eating baby food at 4 months, but by 6 months she was completely on table foods. She refuses her baby food now a days and will only eat what we are eating. And if we don't give her some of our food she will scream until she gets some. Lily is a terrible sleeper. She still wakes every 2 hours and will only take naps in the Ergo or in her stroller. I have given up all hopes for a good nights sleep... at least for the next 18 or so years. Lily loves her brother! Right now we are all sleeping in Jack's room as our room is now filled with all of our boxes for the move. Lily absolutely loves being in Jack's room and every night she is clapping her hands and squealing with excitement when I put her to sleep in his room. Then, in the morning as soon as Jack makes one little peep, Lily will wake right up and crawl over to try to see him. It was cute the first night/morning... but now I'm looking forward to the day I can have my own room again ;-)

Lily is such a sweet little girl, I can't wait for all our family and friends to meet her!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Favorite Things: Mövenpick

Now that it is starting to warm up around here, it is the perfect time to have ice cream. Switzerland's cows make the best milk in the world so it is no wonder that their ice cream is equally delicious.

Mövenpick has the market on Swiss ice creams. My favorite is the stracciatella
 But the Swiss Chocolate is equally delicious:
Ice cream has been a major part of our life here in Switzerland. I hope they have  Mövenpick in England! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Favorite Things: Lakes

Today I took a break from all the packing and cleaning and we celebrated Jack's 4th birthday with our friends here in Switzerland. Needless to say, we are alI exhausted so I don't have much to say. But today I will post some pictures of the Lakes in Switzerland... I love the lakes here:

 My favorite is Lake Geneva:

Lake Geneva
Followed by the small (but warm) Lake Murten

Lake Murten
Followed by Lake Biel where we live:

Lake Neuchatel has an amazing walking/bike path right next to the water
Lake Neuchatel
The region of Interlaken is amazingly beautiful:
Lake Thun

Lake Brienz
And then there is the Bodensee which belongs partly to Switzerland, partly to Germany and partly to Austria

I know there are more lakes:
Lake Lucerne
Lake Maggiore

Lake Zurich
Lake Lugano
Lake Zug
 Pretty much anywhere you go in Switzerland will be near a lake. Each one is amazingly beautiful.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Favorite Things: No prudes

So I know that one of the first things I was shocked with when we moved here was all the little boys peeing on trees and running around naked.

I'm sure that all my American friends will be horrified to hear that now Jack runs around with them, naked as can be and pees on trees.

I've actually fallen in love with the fact that people are not prudes here. I love that little kids can play naked at the beach and no one cares. I love the fact that Jack can just find a rock or tree to pee on and I don't have to search down a bathroom. This non-prudishness even extends to me and Lily. I love the fact that I can nurse Lily anywhere and no one even gives me a second look. I love the fact that nursing mothers can always be found, and I have never seen a nursing mom use a nursing cover. I love how everyone here is so relaxed when it comes down to the human body and it's no big deal. It will be a surprise to Jack when we go to Huntington beach next month and I tell him that he can't run around naked to get warm... or when I tell him that he isn't allowed to pee in public. And I'm sure it will be a shock to me the first time I get a nasty look nursing Lily with no cover, in (God forbid) a restaurant. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Favorite Things: Rasthof Platanenhof

This is our favorite restaurant in Switzerland. We stumbled upon it during our first weeks here when it was Sunday, after 8pm and everything was closed but we were still hungry. This was the only place open so we stopped in. 

It quickly became one of our favorites as they had great food, great hours, great prices, great location and a very friendly cook. 

Morati is the Italian cook here and he makes the best pizza's. He is originally from the Cinque Terra region of Italy and as luck would have it he lives in the apartment building next to us, about 15 minutes from the Rasthof Platanenhof. Morait loves Jack and every time we eat here he will bring Jack special treats. He is the friendliest guy and even though we speak just a little french and he speaks just a little english... we somehow manage to communicate with him in a mixture of french, english and italian. 

Every Thursday is $10 pizza night (the cheapest meal you will ever find in Switzerland) and they are just delicious. We come just about every Thursday night. Luke likes the "Thon" (Tuna) pizza or the Rustica (garlic and onions) while I like the signature Platanenhof (bacon & salami). 

Delicious Platanenhof pizza made by Italian chef Morati
And another great thing about this place is that they have a play set for the kids, so Jack can play while we relax and enjoy the scenery. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Favorite Things: Languages

It always amazes me how many languages I hear on a daily basis. If you walk around our city you will hear at least three languages (French, Italian and Swiss German). It is always fun to go to our local park and count how many different languages are being spoken... sometimes we can county up to ten different languages (all of the above as well as Portuguese, (high) German, English and sometimes we even hear a nordic language or eastern european language as well). 

I would bet that the Swiss people are the most multi-lingual people in the world. After all, Switzerland has four national languages and just about every Swiss person speaks 2 to 3 of them.

Of course, for an English only speaking person, Switzerland has been a difficult place to live. Even though I am now semi conversational in my French, living here makes every little thing 100x more difficult. For instance, we had to sell our cars and find a renter for our apartment. I had people calling me in three different languages asking questions. As if moving isn't hard enough, try moving in another country where all the forms and paperwork are in German! Our bank sent us a checklist of what we need to do to clean our apartment before we leave. Of course it was in German, so I tried translating it and this is what I got:

Instructions for move out:

1. Water taps: Sealing, Neoperl, valves, shafts, grips
2. Expiration: clean and unclog
3. Rings: the treatment, without cracks not gewolbt
4. Gas Stove: Clean burning torches and rust fungi or replace
5. Griddle / grill grate: replace untainted, otherwise
6. Extractor: Clean or replace filter pads in principle
7. Dishwasher: service by driving, salt and rinse aid auffullen, replace defective parts
8. Flower troughs / Balcony / Patio: Remove flowers from our ownTrogen the earth, sitting space jaten, balkonbrustung and balconyfloor clean and mossing

Thankfully I have a Swiss German friend who was able to help me out. But these language problems are a part of my daily life. But as frustrating as they can be, I still like living in such a diverse place. I like the fact that Jack can say sorry in three languages and that I can talk to (or yell at) Jack and most people don't understand me. And I love laughing at all the funny german words: