Archive | November, 2011

Thanks(for nothing!)giving

24 Nov

Ahhh, I get that the title of this post is a bit dramatic. Well I’m nothing if I’m not dramatic once in a while (Pu-lease don’t tell Phil I said this, I spend half of my life trying to convince him that I am not at all dramatic). Being a lil’ bit dramatic now and again is how I process things that have the potential to upset me. I’m like every single diva of a gay man on Project Runway — sometimes I need to have a bit of a hissy fit before I can move on. I get that it’s not what some might call the “best” way of “handling things,” but it’s “a” way. I may appear to be calm, collected, intelligent, talented, kind, and hilarious on the outside, but on the inside I’m more than all of that — I’m human. I breathe air and pee in the toilet just like everyone (and some cats, too!) else.

So I’m in a sarcastic mood tonight. So (Vickie)sue(san Kay) me.

This is my first big holiday away from family. Phil’s too. We’ve divvied up our time between my parents and his, but this is our first parent-less holiday. (At the same time, this is our first holiday as parents! That’s good.)

The Swiss don’t seem to give a hoot about pilgrims and Indians and Mayflowers and turkeys and dressing, so Phil had to work today. Not only that, he had to be at work ALL day. He left before Asher and I got up and he won’t be home until 10:30 PM, long after Asher has gone to bed. What a ripoff! Not only can we not be with our families for Thanksgiving, but we can’t even be together, with our little family.

The Swiss might take my husband for the day, and the distance might take my other family members and friends, but Switzerland and the Atlantic ocean cannot take away the thankfulness that I have this Thanksgiving. I’ll admit: I have been feelin’ a bit blue today, but I have had my hissy fit and now I’m going to be grateful. The things for which I am grateful are as follows:

-My kind, loving, hilarious, and hard-working husband Phillip. He is my best and closest friend. It sounds cliche to say, but I honestly cannot imagine my life without him.
-My precious, perfect, teeny-tiny Asher, who has added incredible meaning to my life and an amazing new dimension to my relationship with Phillip.
-My parents, to whom I owe so much. They gave me life and everything that goes with it. I also love and appreciate them in an entirely new way since becoming a parent. I know raising Doug and Kacy must have been tough, but they stuck it out like champs.
-My in-laws, to whom I am grateful for the way that they raised Phillip to be the amazing godly man that he is, and for welcoming me into their family by loving and teasing me.
-My big brother Doug, who was my best friend and trusted mentor growing up. I cannot think of a single childhood memory that does not include Doug. I am who I am, in large part, because of my brother.
-My baby sister Kacy, who has grown into a fantastic young lady and one of the people with whom I am closest. The only bad thing about Kacy is that she is now an ocean away from me. I could spend every day with her and not ever get sick of her company. She also has played a huge part in shaping my life and who I am.
-My sister-in-law Danielle, who is the perfect balance for my strong-willed brother and one of the kindest, most precious souls I have ever met. I’m hopeful that we will someday live close to each other so that we could spend more time together.
-My brother-in-law Daniel, who has such a big and loving heart and who works and loves so hard. I love that I can see the passion and devotion in his eyes whenever he looks at Kacy or Eden.
-My sister-in-law Jennie and my brother-in-law Aaron. Phil’s stories of them make me smile. I haven’t been able to spend as much time with them as I would like, but I love them and am grateful for them just the same.
-My adorable Corin, who absolutely showers the world with joy from his eyes. He is what every little boy should be — happy, busy, loving, and loved.
-My beautiful Eden, who has demonstrated such intense personality in just her first few months of life. She and the time that I spent with her, both before and after she was born, mean so much to me.
-The newest member of our family, whose name we don’t yet know. The new baby is already a blessing to our family (Morelands included!) in that he or she is a reminder of the gifts of life and love. Little baby, I love you already and I am excited to know you!
-Our first precious baby, whom we lost last September. I am grateful for the short weeks of life that our first little Love had, and for the ways in which that baby changed our perspective on life and love. I am thankful to have the memory of that little One. Death cannot take that from me.
-My amazing friends. I wish I could list them all and the ways in which I am thankful for them, but the day is not long enough to list how much they all mean to me and how they have all impacted my life.
-The funding that Phillip is receiving which makes it possible for me to be home to care for our little boy. Since the moment Asher starting growing inside of me, his care has been one of my top priorities. Even just at three little tiny months old, he is a lot of work.  I cannot imagine trusting anyone else to help him grow into the Christian man that his Dad and I want him to become. Some days are long, but every smirk, every tear, every cuddle, every moment is precious and irreplaceable.
-The beauty of Earth. God has made such an amazing place for us. I am so thankful for His decision to make everything so beautiful, and for the people who care enough to keep it that way.
-This awesome adventure that we have in front of us — to grow together in such a fabulous and different place. Living here in Switzerland is going to be an amazing experience.
-Delicious food. I am thankful for the food that I have, and for the deliciousness of (most of) it.
-Animals. I am thankful for my late dog Cody, whose memory is enough to make me cry. I am also thankful for my sweet, naughty little Tuffy, who is nearing the end of her days, but will always be a baby in my mind (she’s so tiny!). I cannot leave out Fang & Tigger, two of the cats that Phil talks about the most. I know he had and loved others, but those two meant a lot to him and I love them for that. I know it sounds beauty-pageantish of me to say this — but I’m thankful for all of the animals in the whole world! I love animals.
-Water. I love drinking water. I know that some people do not have access to clean water, and so I must be grateful that I am able to drink and bathe in clean water.
-Mexican food. I know that I already said I was grateful for delicious food, but Mexican food needs its own spot on this list. I love Mexican food. I love it SO much.
-Fiber. It makes me happy every day (eh, or every couple of days. Whenever it does, I’m grateful).
-May 19, every year. I am so thankful that I have an entire day each year to celebrate the happiest day of my life and the best decision I ever made. My marriage to Phil is a blessing.
-The Internet, for keeping me close to family even when I’m so far away. And for keeping me occupied on boring days.

There are so many more things for which I am thankful, but that list will have to suffice for now. I need to shower before Phillip gets home so that he doesn’t think that the magic is gone from our relationship.

That list got kind of sappy, so I feel like I need to say something shocking and distasteful now.

…bloppers!

Yeah. I said it. Don’t even get me started, or I’ll say it again!

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans! 

Tower of Babel, darn you!

20 Nov

Grüezi!

That is a Swiss greeting. Walking down any path in our village we will hear and say this to every person we pass — even the little kids say in their little kid Swiss German voices “Grüezi!” I feel myself start to grin and shift my eyes awkwardly whenever I say it. I feel like such an impostor to this language. I am trying, really trying, but the rolling r’s and hacking ch’s  just feel so darn unnatural as they climb up my throat, bounce around my tongue and stumble out my mouth.

It is not difficult to find English-speakers in Zurich. But out here in the picturesque Swiss boonies of Immensee, English seems to come as naturally to the locals as crocheting would to an alligator. A few days ago, while Phillip was working, I made the decision to bundle up Asher and walk down to the little grocery shop in our village’s center. This was a big step for me, since the only phrases with which I am well versed come from a child’s book we had in German for Kacy when she was a baby, and I don’t think saying “I am a good dog. I like to run. I can jump high!” will gain me much help finding canned tomato sauce. So I did what any self-respecting English-speaking young woman would do — I google-translated a few words, put Asher in the stroller, and marched right down the hill into fog saying “Groootseeeeee!” to everyone I saw… though I desperately tried to avoid eye contact and that horrid inevitable greeting that would thus ensue (I might as well have been adding “ya’ll” to it: my “Grüezi” sounds pretty backwards). I got to the shop. It is literally two short aisles and about a quarter of the size of the average US gas station convenience shop and thus hard to “blend in.” An older lady approached me and barked out a chain of sounds during which I could not tell when one word ended and a new one began. In her medley of throaty sounds I was able to pick-out “hilfen” as “help,” so I politely said “nein danke/no thank you.” She nodded, then turned around and walked away. Aha!! She totally thought I understood her. What an idiot! Fast forward — I could go on and on about how much time I spent looking at each thing… pretending to select purchases carefully… but actually trying to figure out what the heck was inside the packaging. (Coming home from the grocery store need not be like Christmas morning. So yes, fast forwarding… I had decided on the few things that I needed, and suddenly it was go-time for one of my previously-googled phrases. I needed the special red trash bags, or “rot mullsacks,” as I like to call them around here. The lady smiled, reached behind the counter and pulled out a roll of them. YESSSS!!! I DOMINATE THE FOREIGN TONGUE!!! I don’t know why ordering trash bags gave me such confidence, but then I proceeded to ask her in English, smothered in a very charming loud and slow German-sounding accent, what to do with the bags once they were full, or “fuuuhhhlllll,” as I said. Now who is the idiot?! Somehow she understood what I was asking (I’m sure it was the accent I mixed into my English words, super helpful), and, I think, starting doing the same thing to me, speaking slow, loud, Swiss-German, as if I would understand because the words I didn’t know were slower and louder. I started to sweat (or, “svete” as I would have said in my cheap accent). After a bit of shoulder shrugging and loud, slow talking, I somehow managed to understand that trash is picked up on Mondays. I acted like that was all I needed to know, smiled, said thank you, and walked out feeling completely positive that the lady followed me home so she could egg my windows later. Ugh. I feel so… so… conspicuous. I feel like everything I do is different. I find myself trying not to bounce as I walk, or to fix my hair with gloves on, or to look at people through the train windows, or to put on my hat when my ears are cold. It’s not about fitting in, per se. I’m not so self-conscious about fitting in as I am about blending in. The introvert inside of me doesn’t like to feel as if she is being watched. She svetes vhen she is being vatch(hack!)ed.

We went to an international church today. It’s an English-speaking church, but the members are from literally all over the world — Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America (I guess probably South America too, but I didn’t meet or hear any). I don’t know why I expected everyone to talk like we do, but I did. I found myself chuckling at everyone’s “accents,” until I, in all of my Amrrkin pride, realized that I probably sound just as unfamiliar to many of them as they do to me. Even though I so commonly feel out of place, I manage to forget that I actually am out of place.

I had been preparing myself for something different, but these things are surprising me. I have become “that” foreigner who smiles big, nods fast, and says “I sarry! I sarry!” walking through crowds at the train station. I am having to completely re-program my brain, and it is hard! I do know some German, but my poor over-working brain cannot process it quickly enough to use. Instead of responding with the things that I do know (like how to say “I cannot speak German”), I keep responding in Spanish, which is suddenly my go-to foreign language. I don’t even know Spanish. Well, except the things that one would need to get by while living in the Southwest, like how to order delicious foods or ask where the bathroom is, and how to yell “border patrol” at people walking on the sidewalk, that’s all. But for some reason Spanish keeps coming out of me… here, where I am surrounded by blonde, bratwurst-eating, Alps-climbing, German-speaking folk.

Oy vey. Lord hilfen me.

About a boy.

17 Nov

Ahhh… finally. I’m a mom, and a stay-at-home one at that. I can finally do what I want, when I want, how I want.

Ha!

I have had so many plans. I want to play around with my fab camera. I want to cook delicious and aesthetically-pleasing meals. I want to write a billion books. I want!

…and then I look at my precious boy’s face. I want to teach him about life, and love, and the God who made him. I want to hold him tightly when he is afraid. I want to kiss his precious little owies when he gets hurt. I want to laugh with him, to pretend with him, to experience the newness of existence with him. Oh, that I might enter into the bigness of his tiny world, if only to see the curiosity and happiness in his eyes with each new thing.

Most certainly I am still me, but I have apathetically watched some of the things that I thought I wanted morph and even disappear, at least for now. I understand why people call having a baby gaining an “addition” to the family. My heart has literally grown in its capacity to love. Confession: I wondered both before and throughout my pregnancy if I had any extra room in my heart to love a child. I already had so many people to love deeply, after all — my parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, and, of course, the beat of my heart, my Phillip. Yet now I am completely astounded at the growth in my heart’s capacity since having, meeting, and knowing my Asher. I have learned that the heart is like any other muscle in this complex body of mine in that the more I use it, the stronger and larger it becomes.

I have been grateful for life for a long time. For the most part, I have been happy and fulfilled. I didn’t need a baby, but I am oh, so glad I’ve got one.

So I will photograph my beautiful little boy. I will make pizza out of mud with him after the rain. I will read him books until my voice scratches away. I will. 🙂

Thank you God for the gift of new life. Thank you God for Asher.

First Impressions

14 Nov

Zurich.

Phillip, Asher and I spent Saturday gallivanting around the city. We spent all day walking and looking around — I don’t think I blinked. Each step brought me closer to realizing just how much is there for us to see and experience. Each breath filled my lungs with the excitement and life that was around me. What an amazing place for us to grow as a family.

I think about a major city — fast. loud. dirty.

Sure, that’s probably just my So-Cal roots speaking, but for good reason. After less than one week here I am in no way an expert on all-things-Swiss, but Zurich felt like none of those things to me. Feet covered nearly every inch, er, centimeter, of sidewalk, but none of them seemed to be in a hurry. The city definitely has a “hustle & bustle,” but there is a relaxing easiness to it all. Though Phillip and everyone else had to stand in line for at least 15 minutes to get our holiday drinks at Starbucks, no one seemed to mind or even notice the wait. I watched people come in, scope out the end of the line, and apathetically join the others to wait their turn. I searched each new face for disappointment or irritation with the long line, but didn’t see a single eyebrow furrow. Whatever. I sat at a small table in the middle of the Starbucks crowd and watched a huge dog lick the floor as I rocked Asher’s stroller back and forth while waiting for my husband and coffee, which was delicious by the way (Toffee nut latte!). Oh, and a lady was breastfeeding her baby without a hooter hider! What?! Can we do that here? I want to fit in, but it’ll probably take me at least until my next kid to gain the bravery to rock that method.

Another interesting thing to me about Zurich was how oddly quiet it was. I almost felt like I was watching the city through a window. How can there be so much activity yet so little sound? The buildings don’t hum with electricity. The cars don’t honk or screech. The people don’t shout. The feet don’t stomp. The music doesn’t overpower thoughts. How interesting.

I saw a child drop his pacifier while riding across the street in a stroller. His grandmother simply walked back out into the street, picked up the pacifier, and plugged it back in to the kid’s mouth. IMHO, that’s pushing the limits of an immune system, but in her defense the city did seem pretty clean. I saw very little trash lying around. People must be swallowing their gum or something. Even the leaves seemed to fall in an orderly fashion so that they would be out of the way. I know this because I didn’t even see the crunchy crumbs of a dried-up leaf that has been stepped on, just whole leaves sweetly napping where people didn’t need to step. There are plenty of cigarette butts, I guess. The Swiss seem to enjoy smoking.

One funny thing — every other store was a shoe store! I guess when you walk everywhere, you go through the shoes. Aaaaaand I love shoes, so this works for me. I got some fabulous gray boots. They are basically the boots I have been picturing in my head for months, but couldn’t seem to find until Saturday.

Phillip brought me to a place he likes called Tibits for lunch. Tibits is a vegetarian restaurant where you serve yourself and then pay based on the weight of food you chose, like the frozen yogurt places in the US. Both cold and warm foods were available and delicious. We snapped a few pictures of our yums RIGHT before the camera battery died for the day. I was bummed that we weren’t able to document the entire day, but glad we got a couple shots of our lunch. As you can tell from his picture, Asher was unimpressed with Tibits.

I need to finish up for now, since I hear my boy waking up from his nap. The last few days he has started “talking” super loudly when he wakes up. Really quickly though, I want to share a picture of him trying out his temporary bed for the first time:

Until we get our own place and buy him a crib, he is sleeping in this old wicker basketish bassinet. Whenever I peer over the side of it to get him he opens his mouth SUPER wide to flash me his adorable gummy smile. He’s pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

In sum, I approve of Zurich. I am excited to live here. 🙂

What a long, strange trip it was.

9 Nov

Wilkommen to Switzerland, Bre and Asher! We made it! Oh, how sweet it was to finally meet the eyes of my handsome Phillip when he walked towards us in the airport. At this point, I do not have the energy to figure out the total number of hours we were “traveling.” Just know that it was a lot. It was supposed to be a lot, but then we had issues with each flight. Our first flight left on time, but was re-routed and landed in Killen, Texas, as we waited for bad weather to clear up around the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. We flew around and above the bad weather. I had never seen anything like it — HUGE clouds with nonstop lightening inside of them. With the hum of the plane engines and, I’m sure the distance, I couldn’t hear any of the storm, which made it all the more interesting to me. I was told that they had completely shut down the Dallas airport for a bit to wait out the storm, so I’m sure it was some serious weather, but it was so beautiful from howevermany-thousand feet up in the air. It looked like something that you would buy as a souvenir for them to put on a desk.

Since re-routing made our plane late to arrive, I was not hopeful that I was going to make my connection flight to London. My flight was not showing up on any of the screens, so I had to LEAVE the secure place for travelers (this was done with much trepidation, going through security alone is difficult enough) and go to the ticket counter. There they took their sweet time as they tried to figure out why our flight was “closed” but showing up as at the airport. Turns out the plane had maintenance issues and had come back. I awkwardly fumbled through security, then strapped on my baby, loaded up the stroller with carry-on bags and RAN like mad through the airport, this includes having to go through security again, which took (what seemed like) forever. The staff at the gate “made an exception” to let us on, since the plane had technically already “left.” But then it turned out that they were going to have to switch planes anyway. I think it’s safe to say that I was the happiest passenger on the plane. Everyone else was mad about the more than three-hour delay — I was just glad that I wasn’t going to be stuck in Dallas for a day. They gave me dinner and breakfast on that flight. Neither were fantastic, but it was still fun to have meals on the airplane. Asher did so well. He slept like a champ, waking only a few times to eat, charm a few people and poop like crazy. He was actually awake when we started to descend into London. I was so afraid he was going to start crying because of the changes in pressure. My eyes were watering and my ears were popping, but my sweet baby was lulled to sleep by the strangeness that surrounded him. He very obviously was aware of the odd feelings that coming down thousands of feet in a matter of minutes present to the body, but he just smiled a sweet little smile as his eyes slowly closed, never losing their gaze with mine. Precious boy.

Next was London — we were told to hurry in an attempt to meet our connecting flight to Zurich. Asher bobbed around on my chest in his Baby Bjorn as we raced to find out where to go for a plane that had long since departed. Long story short — we were put onto a later flight without question, but we did have to go through security again! They let me go through the family lane, since I had a baby. The family lane was funny. It looked exactly like the other lanes except it had some freaky cartoon animal cutouts and a rainbow over the sensor that you walk through. Again, it took a long time to get through with the stroller, carseat, and three bags. Once again, I was thankful for the kindness and help from strangers. We ended up being in London for about 3 or 4 hours. Our short stay was really just one British cliche after another: An older British couple helped me get off of the airplane and, when presented with my stroller popping up to a normal size and being loaded up with the carseat and bags replied “magnificent!” before bidding me a “goodday.” We had to ride a bus across the airport. That crazy bus driver had us on the wrong side of the road! On the bus we sat next to a lady from Edinborgh, who welcomed us to the UK with her charming British accent. I couldn’t find the elevators, so we kept having to take the lifts. And there were no trash cans, but there were places to dump rubbish. The advertisements above candies in little shops said “fancy a treat?” And one of the men at airport security kept saying that Asher was “such a toyney li’le bit (tiny little bit).” It was really quite lovely and made me want to go spend some actual time in the UK. Perhaps now that it is a quick plane ride away?

I could not connect to the public hot spots in London, so I had no way to tell anyone that I had missed my plane. I just had to hope that Phillip would stay around and wait for the next flight. When we finally arrived in Zurich, it took us a while to get through the maze of construction in the airport. Plus, having such a huge load, it took us a long time anyway. Suddenly all of the signs were in another language, and it was late so there were not many people around. When I finally made it to the baggage claim area, most of the people from my flight had come and gone because I just saw my three bags looking oh so lonely as they rode around the conveyor belts and through the tunnel. I grabbed a luggage cart and, with my baby boy still strapped to my chest, got off each huge and heavy suitcase (three of them), stacked them on the luggage cart and then literally hooked up my loaded stroller to the luggage cart. I’m sure I looked like some sort of exhausted and sweaty gypsy. I guess maybe all gypsies look like that. I don’t know. We made it through the police who checked our passports, through customs, and FINALLY turned a corner to find a group of people waiting on passengers. I must have looked at 50 faces before finally spotting my favorite face — Phillip’s!

Since our plane was so late, we had missed the last train to Immensee, the town in which we will be staying for a few months. Our options were either to hire a cab to bring us to Immensee, which would have been a couple hundred dollars, or to go to the small Parish where Phil had been staying for a few hours until we could catch the morning train to Immensee. Since we didn’t have the money for a cab, we caught a train to Efreitikon (sp?) where we slept for about 2 hours before venturing back out into the freezing darkness to find our way over here, to our temporary home in Immensee. The sun came up while we were on the train and I was finally able to see the beauty that everyone said was waiting here in Switzerland for us. Everything looks just like it would in a movie. The parts outside of Zurich that I saw today are green, hilly, and decorated with lots of stumpy little trees that look like perfect little homes for hobbits. The buildings out of the train windows were a mixture of old European countryside-looking ones and super modern Swiss ones. Strangely, they “went” together.

Ahhhh… it felt so good to finally arrive here in Immensee. Our apartment is perfect. I wish it were ours for good. We are required to be here for at least three months, but can stay until June if we want/need to. The owners of this apartment are on world trip, one that they apparently like to do when they can (um, duh. Who wouldn’t want to go on an eight-month vacation around the world?). They brought down a sweet little bassinet for Asher to sleep in. It’s old and kind of wobbly, but strangely perfect for our little Asher. He was so tired today that when I laid him in it, he seemed relieved to be in a bed and went right to sleep. Phillip had some obligations at work today, so Asher and I took a 6-hour nap this afternoon! I hope our nap doesn’t screw up Asher’s ability to adjust to the new time zone. He is obviously exhausted, but really being such a trooper. He completely deserves to be a wreck, but has barely fussed at all since we left. I think he was happy to see his Daddy. Every time Phil looks at him Asher “talks” without stopping. I assume he is filling his dad in on all of the things he has learned and seen in the 8 weeks he had to experience the world while Phil was gone. It makes me happy to see Phillip and Asher so happy to be together again. Togetherness is a blessing.

Now, I am waiting on Phillip to come “home” from work and from the grocery store. We do not know where the local market is, so Phil was going to run by one of the bigger stores in Zurich before heading home for the night. We have basically no food here… and I am starving.

So, this is the start of our new life and my new blog to document it. My head is cluttered with the events from the last two days and was in serious need of catharsis, but not all of my posts will be so long and full of ramblings.

Before I go for the night, I will leave you with a few things that were hammered into my head in the last 48-ish hours:

-Asher is so precious and so good-natured. I am constantly in awe of how wonderful he is and how deeply I love him.

-I, as I’m sure anyone else would have been in my situation, am extremely capable when presented with a challenge. I handled a LOT over the last few days, and on very little sleep and with very little food.

-All around the world, people are kind and good. Though I did a lot on my own, I also relied on the kindness of strangers. I have already learned that people do not need to share the same language to understand the idea of helping one another.

-And finally, I am reminded of the intensely sweet feeling of reunion. After being apart for 8 weeks, it is so good to be with my Phillip again. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be in a beautiful and exciting place, but I think I could have met up with him in a garbage dump full of fish guts and been just as happy and relieved to be inside of his hug again.

Behind the words, I am me.

5 Nov

Some of the roles that define who I am: I am a Christian, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend — I am me. I like a lot of things, including myself. I love to exercise creativity in many forms. I enjoy pretty things and deep conversation. I like to laugh with the people in my life. My Phillip, my Love, is my best friend and holds my entire heart. Our precious baby boy is so perfect that it hurts me. We three are US citizens, but daily breathing the air of a place far from our native land. Luckily, “home” for me is where ever my Phillip and Asher are.

Life and love are blessings. I plan to enjoy every second of the life I have with those whom I love.

Welcome to my life.