Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bike Ride to Zug

Today I decided to take the kids on a bike ride to the town of Zug.  I believe that the entire bike ride would be around 12 kilometers.  Coretta was in the lead, and led us to the town of Cham.  Once there, we traveled down to the Cham train station and took the bike trail to Zug.  Along the way we saw beautiful views of the lake, the mountains, cows, cornfields, and could even watch the train zip by us.

Along the trail there are many campsites where people were camping, swimming, or eating at the many restaurants along the way.  Coretta, Geno, and I stopped by the lake on the way back to have a Magnum ice cream bar and couple of drinks.  Coretta actually ordered for us all while I watched the bikes.  

Geno loved watching the big boats come in.  He was fascinated by them and waved to all the people passing by.

I believe we definitely got our fill of exercise today.  By the time we got back, my legs felt numb.  Overall, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The Wrecking Ball

Today Geno and Coretta were playing on the patio while Nick and I were enjoying our morning coffee.  We could hear the typical banter between the two, and thought nothing of it.  Thought nothing of it, until we heard Coretta say "Geno, No!! " And the next thing we knew, we saw Geno fall from the top of the stairs to the patio, all the way down to the bottom.  It was like I was watching this in slow motion.  He would roll like a summersault, he just kept rolling, and rolling, and rolling, until he hit the floor.  I immediately ran over to him, scooped him up to access the damage.  Other than a slight bruise on his forehead, he appeared to be just fine.  Meanwhile Coretta is frantically blaming herself and crying.  I remember having a flashback to my little sister Erin's fall down the stairs at Grandma Lucca's house and her head swelling up to the size of a watermelon.  In my case, however, Geno appears to be fine.  Afterwards, he cried for about two seconds, and then asked for his milk.  He then started waving bye bye, playing on his choo choo train, and kissing everything in his sight.  My son is tough as nails, or as Grandpa Tom calls him, The Wrecking Ball.  I find this new nickname very appropriate.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gustav Klimit (1862-1918)

I am sure you are wondering why on earth I would be blogging about Gustav Klimit, but in a mad frenzy to find artwork for our new place, I fell in love with his work. It seems that his work sort of spoke to me. I know that this sounds a little bit weird, but I believe that the best art does touch a person in some way. After buying two pieces of artwork by him, I learned that he was one of the most important artists to emerge from Vienna. He is known best for his female portraits and was occassionally criticized for the way in which he painted his subjects.

When I bought the portrait of the woman with her child, it seemed to symbolize the epitome of motherhood, and the bond that a child has with his mother.

When I bought the painting of the naked woman, I was drawn to how free the woman seemed to be in the portrait. To me, it symbolized the age of innocence, freedom, and a sense of liberation. Coretta said, "Well I suppose that the human body is seen as art, but I am glad that you are hanging it in your room." Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Oh the things are children say.

Geno's new look

Lately Geno has been sporting his own style of dress. Take this morning, for instance, he decided that the Hello Kitty purse would look much better around his neck, and turned his hat to the side. Way to accessorize Geno!! I love how he looks up at his Daddy for approval.    You make your Daddy proud!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coretta's first bus ride

Coretta did very well on her very first bus ride.  In the morning, she got ready for school and actually had time to spare.  Yesterday Dad walked her down to the bus stop, and at 8:17 am she jumped onto her school bus.  The bus then brought her home at the end of the day at 4:05 pm.   When I asked her how it went, she stated that she rides bus #4 and  that it is very hot on the bus.  She also said that she liked the ride home the best.  My little girl is growing up!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Patio furniture arrives!!

Today part of our sea shipment came, so Nick took the day off to help assemble things and unpack.  The best part of this delivery was that our patio furniture came.  It is such a nice addition to the house, and it will be a great place to hang out.  We are now only waiting on the fire pit and I'll have to add some flowers and plants, but overall it looks great.  Here is a picture of our upstairs patio with Charlie, our model dog, posing for the camera.  Now it is time to have some of Nick's colleagues over for a welcome or shall I say Wilkhommen party!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Coretta's First Day of School

Coretta's first day of school. She is officially a third grader. A third grader at an International School who is such a bright, loving, smart, and witty individual. How would you say a new third grader starts out her morning routine? With a bowl of cornflakes, a few laughs with her Mom and Dad, a shower, and the excitement of wearing brand new clothes. Coretta chose her blue dress with beige leggings. She looked so cute and very happy. It helped that she met some kids at school yesterday.

By eight o'clock, we jumped into the car, drove to Coretta's school by 8:30, and parked the car. This was no easy task. They have traffic controllers and a very small parking lot for the 746 students who attend the school. Once we went in, Coretta put her PE kit away, her lunch box, backpack, put on her "indoor" shoes, and was whisked away by Mrs. Wunderlin, her new teacher from England.

Meanwhile, I went down to the cafeteria in hopes that someone would be around to purchase her team shirt and track suit, but no one was there, so I proceeded to the car. Now we ended up waiting at least 20 minutes before we could leave the parking lot because we are all piled in like sardines, and must wait until the people parked around us come and want to leave.

After this experience, we are signing Coretta up for the bus. The bus actually will pick her up right by our house and then deliver her back to me at the end of the day. We think this is a better solution and will give her a chance to meet some other kids in the neighborhood.

I didn't cry this time. By third grade, you start to prepare yourself a little better than with kindergarten, but her presence is definitely missed. I am without my best friend during the day. The person I have adventures with, the person I laugh with and sometimes cry with, and experience life. I love you Coretta and hope your day is fabulous!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coretta's New Student Orientation

Coretta had her new student orientation today at her new school. We had the whole family ready to go 45 minutes ahead of time and believed that we would have the necessary time needed to find the school by 9:30 am.

Once in the car we had limited information to put into the navigation system. This should have been our first sign that things were not going to go very smoothly. Once on the road, we were completely turned around, and you betcha, lost. We then programmed the navigation system to bring us to Baar and from there we would hopefully find her school. Once in Baar, we plugged in Walterswill as a street, and we made it to her school luckily with five minutes to spare.

Nick knowing Geno was going to be a handful, waited outside of the school with him so that I could sit in the front and learn about the school. Coretta was with her teacher, Mrs. Wunderlin, during this time getting acquainted with her and five other new students in her class. She has 19 students in her class. There are four third grade classes, however. While with her teacher, each student colored the flag that represented the country they were from and ate apples with a swiss flag placed in them. So far she has someone from England, Canada, and the United States in her class. She already made a friend whose name was Noor.

When I asked Coretta how she liked the new school, she said she loved it and that she loved her teacher. No more worries for her, but a lot for me...

I now have less than 24 hours to get certain things that she needs for school. In Switzerland school supplies are supplied by the school, so even though I already purchased these in the states, she will not need them. I now need to purchase a red Jaguar Team shirt, a team track suit, a drawstring bag, a pair of indoor and outdoor running shoes with non-colored soles (mind you her new pair of running shoes are dark colored), rain boots, and some gymnastic slippers. I spent half the day in Zug at the Metalli and could only find a draw string bag and a lunch box. Oh, and none of the rain boots fit her!!

Geno is now down for a nap and then I will scurry over to Zugerland in hopes that I may find the rest of the things on my list. Wish me luck!! It is already 3 and most things close at 5. I'm not sure if I will make it!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday: A Day of Rest

Nick, Coretta, and Geno took a long bike ride today all the way to Zug.  There is a great biking path that takes you along great sights of the lake and parks.  Nick thinks that he may start biking to work each day.

Charlie is absolutely loving the freedom.  He can be off leash and run through the fields.  He averages three walks a day.  Tonight after a walk, he jumped right into the bathtub.  I think he is hinting to us that he wants a bath.

Coretta is off playing with her friend Michael and loving the freedom and independence she has here.  We ran into them on our walk and they were biking in the woods.  She has her new student orientation tomorrow.  The biking should wear her out.  School starts officially on Tuesday morning!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Trip to IKEA

Today Coretta and I got up and got ready for our adventure to IKEA. A little mother-daughter bonding, a little shopping, and a forty-five minute roadtrip.

Afterwards, Coretta and I went to Burger King. Yeah, you heard me, Burger King. To our surprise it tasted like the Burger King at home. I guess we were missing a little American food. The set up there had free internet, art work, sculptures, and pop music playing. Not what we are used to in the states. They did have chicken and pineapple on a stick as a choice. I probably should have ordered that being that the State Fair is going on in Minnesota.

When we finished our food, we decided that we would have dessert. They have hot brownies with ice-cream in a cup. I gave Coretta the money, and she went up to the counter and ordered. She came back with one brownie sundae. She said to me, "I guess he did not understand me, I suppose next time I should sign with my fingers that I want two."

Here are some pictures from our day!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Living the Suisse Life

Geno seems to hate shopping and here you end up shopping a lot. There isn't one place where you can buy everything you need. For instance, in order to buy a hairdryer and antiseptic, you must buy this in Zug at Coop City.

If you want groceries and a few things for the home, then Zugerland is your best bet.

If you want plants, grills, etc. Coop +Hauby or the Landis is where you may go.

Geno does not have the patience for this type of shopping, so he can make this time more stressful than it needs to be. Friday morning at 9 am is not the time to grocery shop, however. I found this out the hard way. It is like a train station that is packed, and every person wants the one item you are grabbing for. When you try to move your cart, many times you are in a standstill being pushed and banged into other carts like bumper cars. Try lugging two kids with you through this experience. AGHHH!! Anyways, lesson learned.

On a better note, Geno has learned how to walk Charlie on the leash and you can tell by the look on his face he is proud. Nothing is like a little boy and his dog. He has also mastered crawling his way up and down the steps and sits up at the top (his special place). He also has a thing for his sister's unmentionables as you can see in the picture above.

Coretta starts school on Tuesday and is nervous and excited. She has met a boy named Michael who lives in the neighborhood and whose Dad works with Nick. He is from New York, and they too are staying here for three years. I am glad she has made friends in the neighborhood.

She also loves her room and that her bunk bed is up high. It also has a movable shelf for drinks, snacks, or books. Tomorrow Coretta and I are driving to IKEA (45 minutes away) for a little mother daughter bonding. Here is a photo of her new room.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Geno's first girlfriend

I know that it may be too early for Geno to have his first girlfriend, but he has this thing for girls on book covers, more specifically, Lizzie McGuire and Fern from Charlotte's Web. He was sitting on my bed playing, and he began to look into their eyes and kissed them on the lips. He would take one and then the other as to make sure that the other one would not be jealous. Coretta and I were laughing hysterically as he would do it again, and again, and again.

He may be a little bit conceited as well because when he saw himself in the mirror today, he smiled and kissed himself!!

Shopping in Metalli

Coretta needs to have a one piece swimsuit for school, so the advice I was given was to shop at Coop City. Once there, I had to drive around the parking lot for thirty minutes to find a parking spot. Once to Coop City, they stated that they did not have swimsuits and my best bet would be Oschnoc (not sure on spelling here) Sports.

Off I went to find the sporting goods store. Once there, we found Coretta a cute blue swimsuit. She is a size 164 and Geno is a size 92. I finally know what sizes I need for my kids here!

Now I'll just need to figure out my size some time as well. I think I will wait a while before I shop for myself. I have already lost seven pounds in two weeks!

Coretta also found a blue scooter. Ever since she received it yesterday, she has been scootering in the house, in the hall, outside. She is very excited to finally have another means of transportation!!

Credit Suisse Account

The other day Nick went to the bank to set up our Swiss bank account. The banker gave him a suisse credit card. When Nick asked if he could have another card for his wife, the banker looked at him and said,"Well you would need to give her the power of attorney, and then she would have control of YOUR money." Nick stated to the banker, "First of all my wife would be offended if I called it MY money, and secondly, she does balance our budget and needs to have the power to buy things when she needs to." Interesting cultural difference, don't you think? I guess I am the traditional Suisse housewife with an ironic twist, the ability to spend my husband's money without his so called approval!!

More Furniture Comes Today!!

Today Coretta's bunk bed and the red leather sofa and armchairs come, so in the meantime the kids are sitting on the floor doing the one thing they love to do while eating their breakfast, watching German cartoons, more specifically either Sesame Street or SpongeBob. It was really cute because Geno went over to Coretta with his toasted jam sandwich and wanted to sit on her lap. Here is a picture of the two of them this morning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Charlie's return to Switzerland

Charlie made it through the tragic 13 hour flight to Switzerland and was delivered to our house today.

At first, he looked really sad, but I took him for a walk and then got the kids ready and took him for another walk, and he started to brighten up.

He loved all the scents, smells, the woods, and even made a dog friend. He really likes to ride in the elevator as well.

Right now as I write this, he is sitting on my lap. Today is dedicated to giving Charlie all the love he needs.

The kids were very also very excited to see him again. Geno immediately tried to kiss him and Coretta gave him a dog treat. It is fantastic to finally have our family all together.

Thanks again to Grandpa Tom for all the help and stress he went through to get Charlie here!! We appreciate it and want you to know he is doing well!!

Switzerland brands

Because some of you want me to blog about differences I see between Swiss and American culture, I thought I would start with products at the store. First of all when it comes to detergents there is not Tide, Gain, and Clorox, or any other brand you will find in the United States. Instead they have brands like Yvette or Coral.

We have also learned that there are two types of butter that one must purchase. One is for cooking and one is for bread. The one you spread on bread comes in a wrapper shaped like a tube and the other is in a tub.

As for household cleaners, don't look for Windex or Pinesol, because you will not find it. The cleaner here is Potz.

Milk can be confusing as well because they have milk flavored drink and pasturized milk. Oh, and it is called Milch past. I am starting to get the hang of this now. Here are some pictures.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grandpa, the dog nanny

The only solace that I get that my precious Charlie is not with us, is that I know he is well taken care of by Grandpa Tom and has many magical days at the dog park, eating summer sausage and cheese, and playing with his best friend Jack. Thanks again Tom for all that you have done to help us through this phase of our new adventure. I will pray for you to have the strength to part with Charlie. I know it will be tough on you!!

Geno and Coretta

Geno has been adjusting fairly well here. He has reached a few milestones recently such as walking backwards, running, stacking blocks, putting his blocks away, as well as some of my favorites scratching, clawing, and now biting.

He does however give out hugs and kisses much more frequently and loves to be the center of attention.

Coretta is adjusting well and loves going on bike rides, walking to the park by herself, going to the store by herself, and even has her very own key to the apartment. Her new sense of independence is radiating from her.

She has also met some Swiss friends down the street that she likes to play with. They are studying English in school, which makes communicating with one another easier. When in doubt, they would try to act out the word they were trying to say. Coretta finds it to be a fun challenge, but when she got home, she was practicing her German.

Although she is nervous for school, we try to assure her that she will make friends and will be involved in many activities. I guess she'll just need to see it for herself.

She did say to me yesterday: "Mom, what is the best thing that has ever happened to you?" I immediately said without hesitation the birth of my children. She then said, "What would be the next?" Which I replied marrying her father. She then asked, "What then would be next?" I said definitely moving to Switzerland. When I asked her what was the best thing that ever happened to her, she said moving to Switzerland, but Disneyland is still second!!

Family Bike Ride

Here in Switzerland everything is closed on Sundays. Because of this, we decided to go for bike ride and explore the area by our house. We ended up on a bike trail through the woods and farmland where Coretta saw roosters, sheep, and a cow. We then road through pear and apple orchards. We then continued to bike until we reached Cham a neighboring village. We sat by Lake Zug, took in the beauty around us and biked back. In all, I think we biked about five miles.

I finally have some plants...

After saying a sad goodbye to my plants in Saint Paul, Minnesota, I have finally purchased a few of the many I will have here in Switzerland. First of all, Nick bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers while running errands the other day. He always has been the thoughtful romantic!

Then I bought some herb plants for cooking at Migros (a must in my opinion for any kitchen).

Then my next priority was to make sure that Duva, my favorite planter Marilyn purchased for me in New Mexico, had been replanted. Here are some photos!!

Recycling and Appliances in in Switzerland

Recycling in Switzerland is a very big thing. There is very little that cannot be recycled. They recycle tin, bottles, plastic, glass, paper, metal etc. Then you need to bring it down to the mall called Zugerland and put the recycables in yourself. The things that cannot be recycled, go into special trash bags that you pay for. Here is a picture of the bags.

Another interesting note is that you need a manual for all appliances here because they are written in German. Our swiss guide was nice enough to print all of the manuals in English that include the range, the oven, the dishwasher, the washing machine, dryer, and espresso machine.

Mount Rigi

We decided to take a day trip to Mount Rigi yesterday and it was quite the adventure. In order to get there, we took a bus to Cham, a train to Zug, train to Arth, and then a train up to Mount Rigi. While at the train station in Zug, Nick was standing in line to get our tickets, and his camel pack leaked all over the floor and left a big puddle. I guess Geno bit off the end. Nick ran to the restroom (WC) to dump it out. Quite embarrassing for him, but funny to us!!

The sights from the train were fantastic. Great views of the trees, the lake, and the animals. We saw goats, sheep, and cows. Coretta found this to be quite amazing. Once up to the mountain we climbed up and Nick and Coretta climbed up the observation tower for a better look. We then descended the mountain and saw more views of the city.

We took time to take pictures as tourists to a new country, posing our head in the cut outs. We also saw these men playing these authentic swiss horns. It was a beautiful sound. Coretta bought five postcards and decided that she would start collecting postcards from all of our adventures, writing information on the back, and then putting them into her scrapbook.

We then stopped at the train station to see how we would get back. The woman told us that we would need to walk thirty minutes down the mountain. We then started off and saw much of the mountainous countryside. We also saw a jazz band playing 20's music.

Once to the bottom, we asked for directions again and found out we now needed to climb the same mountain path to get to the town of Staffel to take the train down. We have never climbed anything so steep. No wonder everyone up here at walking sticks!! Pushing Geno's stroller proved to be even harder. I believe that was the best exercise we had yet.

While waiting for the train, Coretta played in the playground and Nick and I had some German beer. While drinking our beer, two musicians came by playing the accordian and the clarinet. Coretta was pretty impressed with the musicians and seems to now have a fascination with the accordian.

Once there, we took the train down. When the woman came to check our tickets, she had to open the door outside and jump to the next train. Coretta couldn't believe that she did that. We also had musicians on this train that played for us as well. There was another accordian musician and a group of yodelers. I never though yodeling was all that pretty before. It wasn't yodelaheehoo type stuff, but resembled an opera sound. Very pretty.

We then took another train, and yet another train, and then a bus to finally get home. We were all very tired, but had a great time.