Archive | December, 2011

Asher laughs now!

27 Dec

Asher laughs! 

 

 

Christmas with Asher :)

25 Dec

Though we had a great day together, we missed and thought a lot about our family in the US. Here are some parts of our day with Asher that we would like to share:

Here we are getting Asher up in the morning — his first Christmas morning! 

Asher was SO excited to open his presents! — EXCITED for Christmas!

Samichlaus came! — Asher trying out his new toy

Phillip helped Asher open some of his Christmas present — Opening presents!

Asher was merry all day! He LOVES Christmas!

A baby’s first Christmas is a big deal. Asher went right to sleep when we put him in bed tonight. I think he still had visions of sugarplums dancing in his head. 🙂

Merry Christmas, family and friends! 

Lots of love, 

Phil, Bre, & Asher 

Not for the faint of… stomach.

22 Dec

This is yucky, but also funny.

Asher video!

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Tomato – tomate… oh, life!

20 Dec

Ahhhh… Switzerland. It’s so beautiful. I keep marveling at the fact that people live here… that we live here. But then I remember the Pacific ocean and how good it feels on my feet. I so very much look forward to the next time I am able to stare at the horizon and feel the cool coastal air whip my hair and fill my lungs. I think about Virginia in the fall and the way that the enormous trees created a symphony of color as they prepared for winter. I picture sunsets in the desert – the harsh silhouette of rocks, cacti, and even buildings is worth traveling days to see.

Beauty, I’m learning, is where you want to see it. Don’t get me wrong, Switzerland is shockingly beautiful, but I can only say that so many times before it starts sounding mundane. (And I still haven’t seen much of the country, so I need to save some of my “oooing” and “ahhhing” for later travels). Strip away the snow-capped mountains, crystal lakes, and charming houses and what do you have? Well, more pretty scenery actually, but that’s not where I’m going with this. Being in this new and different place has caused me to notice the small things that make up daily life. There are so many things about which we just don’t think… until we are in an entirely different culture where everything is different, that is. The following list is in no way an exhaustive discussion on the subtle differences I’m noticing between Switzerland and the US, but it will hopefully give you an idea of what has been going through my head as I’m trying to adapt to a different way of life.

*ahem* Here goes…

1. Cash money! Three coins in a fountain, each one seeking happiness… Had it not been for the expression “queerer than a two-dollar bill,” I might not have even noticed the types of US Dollar bills that we have. Here we use the Swiss Franc (CHF), which comes in different combinations. I have not seen a bill smaller than CHF 10, instead they use coins for smaller amounts (they may have bills, I don’t actually know yet). Regarding coins – in the States I only like quarters, and only those when I want a gumball or fake mustache or something from a vending machine. Half-dollars are rare. Dimes and nickels are ridiculous. And pennies – Oh! Don’t even get me started on pennies! I have long-since decided that vacuuming pennies is a far better use of my time than it is to bend down and pick up one of those filthy worthless things. But here, coins are great! You can actually use them to buy things since they come in CHF 1, 2, and 5! 

I couldn’t find a 5 Franc coin lying around, but you get the idea. (They also have coins for fractions of a Franc, but who wants those?)  These bad boys actually have monetary value and will pay for a meal, groceries, train tickets, or whatever your little heart might desire. There’s something so satisfying about thumbing through coins to pay for something. Coins clanging around in my pocket makes me feel like I’m living in the old west, except it’s way better because I’m actually in a very modern European country.

2. Small appliances. I don’t know who decided that everyone here should live like they’re camping, but somewhere along the line someone did. First of all, the ovens are all convection ovens, which is odd to me. Secondly, they are super tiny! I assume this is the reason Thanksgiving has not caught on here – because they couldn’t fit a daggum turkey in one of these things if their lives depended on it.

Ovens are small and, as you can see, so are refrigerators. And they hide their fridges by dressing them up like cabinets, which is weird. It’s like they’re embarrassed that they have to refrigerate things. And where, pray tell, are we supposed to hang pictures of family? What about when Asher starts drawing? Where will I display his drawings? I see magnets in stores, but what good are they?! Please note the child’s toy-sized freezer that is inside the fridge. People here apparently have not graduated from college dorm-room appliances. Now where I come from people not only have huge refrigerator/freezers, but they will have multiple refrigerators and/or freezers, because that’s how we roll in the States. We go shopping on pay day and we spend a lot of money so we don’t have to go back until next pay day. We make four lasagnas at a time so that we can freeze three and a half of them for late. Here, you buy what you will eat in the next few days and then go back to the store for the next few days, eat that, go back, etc..  One possible reason is that not everyone has or uses a car. A lot of people walk or ride the bus to the grocery store. I’m finding that it can be difficult even to carry enough groceries to last just a few days without a car trunk. There’s no way I could fit any more than a week’s worth of food on my shoulder or in the basket of our stroller. Hence the small fridge, I assume. So the small fridges work, but they are still kind of silly to me.

3. People here are minimalists. Homes in general are smaller here. I’m sure that home furnishings are diverse, but as far as I can tell, people here have very little more than what they actually need. They have small furniture, often bare walls, and no closets. But here’s something weird (and this may just be the people who live here) our apartment is FULL of towels!

Who needs or uses this many kitchen towels? It’s not just kitchen towels – there is only one dresser in our bedroom (no closet or anything else, mind you) and every single drawer is full of towels. Hand towels, bath towels, wash cloths, you name it – there are at least ten of each kind in our bedroom dresser. I don’t think that people here wash their towels after a single use. It seems to me that they make laundry as difficult and time-consuming as it could possibly be. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they need all of these towels. I guess we all have our guilty pleasures. Who am I to judge if these people just looooove towels?

4. Light fixtures — people take them when they move out of a place. So, unless you want to buy them yourself, you don’t have them.

hahaha

5. Espresso – people here drink espresso. They neither drink nor like drip coffee. They drink espresso in the morning, and after meals. This is fine with us. We like to chew our coffee.

(But someone please try explaining to my husband that one does not need to substitute multiple pots of espresso for drip coffee just because the pots are smaller.)

6. Salmonella – Both milk and eggs are not refrigerated in stores. We put our eggs in the fridge once we get them home, but we leave milk in the cabinet (this is madness!) until we open it.

Yep. That’s milk in our cabinet. Whaaaatever.

7. Farm freshness! Speaking of eggs, I think that they must be super fresh. The yolks are much darker than the ones I’m used to and it seems like at least one of the eggs in each carton we buy has a feather on it!

Is that cute or disgusting? I haven’t been able to decide. Let’s go with “cute.”

8.Language barriers are real. I need to learn German. I know that “die” (pronounced dee) is an article (like “the”) or pronoun (“these”), but I always read “DIE!” Like the post office —

This does not mean that Swiss postal workers are as hostile as US postal workers, it just means “the post office.” I know this, but I still read “DIE! post.”

Because I do not yet know German, I find myself laughing when I ought not be laughing.  “Abfahrt” means “to depart” or “departure” or something like that. Soooo “abfahrt” is a word that is used a lot in the train stations, right? It’s on walls, announced on loud speakers, etc… and I laugh all the time. It is pronounced “ahb-fardrt (roll the “r”), but I read it as “ab fart,” which sounds hilarious! Another example of inappropriate laughter that-means-I-really-need-to-learn-German-so-that-I-will-just-go-with-it happened while I was looking for pizza dough at the grocery store the other day:

*giggle* How many do you need?!

9. America? Is that you? Everywhere we go, we see interesting things that show the Motherland’s influence in this far away culture. These are silly examples, but I like them nonetheless:

I have no idea what makes these things “American.” Perhaps it’s that they are both fattening?

10. Danger! Danger!

This is a pacifier holder… made of yarn and beads. The first time I saw one of these things in action, I thought that the kid’s mom had made it and that she must be the biggest idiot in the world. But then I saw another… and another… and another… Seriously? I about flipped when I realized that these were actually mass-produced and sold in stores AS pacifier holders! Is it just me, or does stringing throat-shaped beads onto a thin piece of string with a teeny knot at the end and then giving this death-device to a baby to put right next to his mouth qualify as a “bad” idea? Beads? for babies?! Come on!

I could go on about the way that they don’t like to use clothes dryers or the way that they live much of their lives outside in any kind of weather, but I will go ahead and stop at 10 (since that’s the traditional place to stop a list… at least in the US). These are crazy times, my friends. Crazy times with crazy people. As you know, I lived in Germany with my family as a little kid. I tried to recall “Germany” in all of its Europeanness when we were preparing to move here, and found myself feeling like that experience couldn’t possibly prepare me for this one. The things that I remembered — big green mountains, people standing in front of their houses, adams apples, walking sticks, being smothered by old stinky saggy boob-hugs — always seemed like “little kid” things to remember. When it came down to it, my memory of the differences between the US and German cultures seemed so trivial. I was sure that the differences I’d notice this time would be much more “adult” of me to see. But here I am, an adult, finding my attention drawn again to small things. I am learning that people are basically the same everywhere. We may speak different languages, but there are kind, mean, attractive, er…not so attractive, healthy, sick, tall, short, ______, ________, people everywhere. I am seeing that much of life is made up of small things. Certainly, it is small things that make up big things. Small things shape who we are and how we live. Small things make me smile. 🙂

Chwithtmath ith awmotht hewe!

16 Dec

Dear Diary, 

Phil and I learned a valuable lesson today — never attempt to bake cookies without some sort of baking/cookie sheet. Foil, even with butter and flour on it, doesn’t work. Neither does the bottom of a casserole dish. Jack Nicholson, in all of his harshness, taught me to “always look at the bright side of life.” The bright side is that we have a huge pile of crazy-good gingery mash to snack on for the holidays. 

XOXOXO,

Bre

Phil and I have been holiday baking! Who knew that we were the type to bake?! Not us, that’s for sure. We have (Phillip especially) been on a gingerbread kick lately. They have lots of different types of gingerbreads for sale around here and we’ve been sampling as many as we can. Sooooo, we decided to make some gingerbread! Tonight’s gingerbread “cookies” were a bust. What we have tastes pretty good, but “cookies” it is not. The other night, we made gingerbread cake from scratch. It was incredibly delicious. A beautiful cake wasn’t enough for our Christmassy hearts, so we whipped up some fresh cream to top our cake and threw together a big bowl of home-made eggnog to go with our gingerbread cake. Then we devoured *censored* pieces while we watched “White Christmas.” Oh man, oh man.

Oh, CHRISTMAS! The Lasaters are finally ready! We couldn’t figure out where the heck these people went to buy Christmas trees until the other day when we finally saw a bunch for sale outside of a grocery store. So yesterday the three of us went to pick one out together. They were only selling real ones, which is kind of cool, I guess. So we picked out the cutest little tree we’ve ever seen. Homes here are much smaller than homes in the States, so Christmas trees are also smaller. They had basically two sizes of Christmas trees — midget and dwarf (I know that is not very politically correct of me to say, so let’s imagine that the “midget” tree is Chinese and the “dwarf” tree is black). The dwarfs were ten franks cheaper (not because they are black), so we went with a dwarf. We now have a very short, extremely fat little Christmas tree for Santa, er, Samichlaus to see when he comes to visit this year! It’s super cute. Here are a few pictures of the tree, and then of Asher standing next to the tree to give some perspective. I went ahead and added the “flop” photos too, since it’s kind of funny to see what happens when I’m trying to hold up a “standing” 4-month-old AND take his picture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wow! Either that’s a giant baby or that tree is as black as night!

If you’re wondering in what super fancy store we bought that star so that you can buy one too, don’t. Ohhhhh, that old thing? I made it out of a pizza box, scotch tape, and tin foil. Wha-huh?! Don’t be too impressed – It took entirely too long and I got lazy near the end so that the back isn’t quite done, but our little tree deserved a topper doggonit! (We really just needed something to hide its CRAZY TALL top stem).

Ahhh… Christmas.

Love you forever.

16 Dec

Wowee! It’s almost Christmas! Asher is so excited that he has not been sleeping well the last few days. Tonight he went to sleep a little after 7, as he normally does, but then he woke up just after 8 crying pretty hard. We’ve been trying to figure out what to do with him the last few nights, since he has done this a couple times this week. Normally if he wakes up, one of us will go in and give him his pacifier, which puts him back to sleep in about 2 seconds. This week he has been crying really hard when he wakes up, which makes us think that he is teething. We don’t know what to do! We have tried holding/rocking him, feeding him, letting him chew on our fingers, giving him a teething ring, all kinds of things. Tonight we switched off trying to sooth him for a few minutes. He just kept getting madder and madder, so we put him in bed and slowly walked out. He was SCREAMING from way back in his throat. It was the kind of scream that makes your heart feel like it’s breaking into a million tiny pieces… but we just let him cry for a few minutes. We honestly didn’t know what to do. We just sat there for a while, whispering to each other ideas of things that might work when – voila! He fell asleep! What?! He just wanted to be left alone?! I was glad he went to sleep on his own, but also a little bit sad. I like rocking him to sleep! Have you ever read that book “Love You Forever”? It’s a sweet book about a mama who sneaks into her son’s room to rock him as he sleeps throughout his whole life and softly sings this song:

“I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living, 
my baby you’ll be.”

Then we she gets old, he comes and holds her and sings the song to her, only he switches the words to be more applicable for his mother. It has always made me cry. I remember my parents reading it to me as a kid. It made me feel loved when they read it to me. I am going to get that book and read it to Asher.

I “get” the song now: I just want to hold Asher all the time. Don’t get me wrong – I want, nay, I need to have a break from holding him sometimes, but my arms miss him during those very short and very few breaks.

Ho-hum.

Asher chatting with friends

16 Dec

Click here for video of Asher 

This was the longest time he let me put him down today. He was being so cute and distracting that I spent my only “free time” filming him. Ha! Funny guy.

Curing my loneliness with Swiss sheep and groceries

8 Dec

I just finished a steaming hot bowl of salt as a romantic dinner for one. It was delicious, but now I am so bloated that I feel pregnant again, except I think I’m probably “dimming” rather than “glowing.” Don’t freak out too much (Mom), spaghetti was the anchor food to my salt. I like to add a lot of salt to spaghetti… and other foods too. So sue me! Phillip doesn’t always want spaghetti, but he is out late tonight so I indulged in some salt, er, spaghetti by myself. There was an awkward amount of noodles left in the package — it was too much for one meal, but not quite enough for two, so I went ahead and made the rest of what I had. Now I’m thinking it probably was enough for two meals. Whatever. I’m bloated with salty satisfaction. Shoot, give me thirty-cents worth of noodles, some warmed-up sauce out of a jar and thirty-cents worth of kosher salt and I feel like a princess! Yessir, I know how to treat a girl right.

I’ve been feeling a bit down the last few days. Phil has been pretty busy with work. He has had to be in Zurich every day this week and even been out until almost 11 PM both Tuesday night and tonight (it’s nothing he can control, for the record :)). I understand – Daddy gotta pay ‘dem bills. But I feel lonely. Every few days the smiling neighbors, snow-capped mountains, rolling green hills, charming cottages and peaceful lakes seem to scoot away from me and lonliness takes their place in my eyes. It’s hard to be in a foreign country alone. I’m not technically “alone,” I know. I’ve got Asher  with me 24/7, and my Phillip always comes home and even gets to work from home some days – and they are both fabulous – but I spend a lot of time in the quietness of this apartment by myself. I like alone time, but I’m not used to this much alone timeI’m struggling to feel settled in a place where I don’t feel I should be settling myself. For the record – I am incredibly grateful to be here in Immensee. So far it has been a fabulous experience and I know that it will always hold fun memories, blah blah blah. To be honest – I really don’t like living in someone else’s apartment, using someone else’s things. I also don’t like being so far away from the city. I want to meet people and become part of a community, but I am afraid to root myself here when I know that we will be moving away as soon as we can. In sum, loneliness has been my company a lot lately.

All of that to say – this morning I was feeling down, so I changed out of my PJs for the first time in three days, bundled up Asher, hopped on the train and went to Kussnacht to go grocery shopping. I don’t know what it is about grocery shopping in the next town over that makes me feel better, but it really lifted my spirits. It was so good to see the beautiful earth, and to breathe the outside air and make eye contact with a bunch of random Swiss people. I almost feel like finding renewal from a grocery store makes me a full-grown woman. Enjoying the experience is like the rite of passage into the womanhood I knew was coming for so many years. Eh, come to think of it, I had my rite of passage into womanhood a few months ago when I shoved a kid out of my… stomach (I had a c-section!). So anyway don’t feel too sorry for me. I very much enjoyed today’s excursion with my smiley little buddy. I take a train to the Kussnacht am rigi bahnhof (that’s what we locals call the train station), hop on a bus to the haptplaz (local jargon for ‘center of town’) and then walk a few hundred meters (they’re kind of like feet… you wouldn’t understand) to the local Coop, where I have established myself as a regular (I say I’m a “regular” because I think one of the cashiers recognizes me as the awkward non-German-speaking tool with the intrusive smile who takes too long to pay and load up my purchases). I always have a few minutes before the bus leaves, so I snapped a few pictures of Kussnacht while Asher and I waited.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It really is beautiful here. Did you see the picture with the sheep? They are wearing bells. Their bells create a melodic and soothing soundtrack that floats in the quietness of the air. It’s like a screen saver, only better.

When we got home, Asher took a nap while I put groceries away, started some laundry, washed dishes, ate a live cat, shaved my head, danced with a zomb… oh, huh? Sorry. I assumed you stopped reading when I got boring.

Since I now know the best way to share videos, I hope to start sharing a lot of them. Before I go for the evening, let me share a few cute ones of our precious boy. Click the links!

Asher studying elephants on a pillow

Asher taking a bath before bedtime

Asher going cray cray

1 Dec

I’m a posting fool today! I’m so excited that I can now share videos that I have stayed up entirely too late, but only uploaded two. Oh well. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Here is a cute video of my Asher “marching” in his chair, Old Blue.

Color television!

1 Dec

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to upload some videos to this blog. It doesn’t matter that I cannot figure out how to do it. It DOES matter that I plan to start uploading videos to youtube and posting the links here.

The first video that I want to share is of Phil and Asher having a conversation last week. Asher is pretty quiet when we are out and about, but SUPER chatty and loud when we are home. This video is absolutely precious. If you listen, you’ll see that Asher is copying Phil! 🙂 Click here to watch!