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Wanguage.

12 Sep

This video cut out a bit, but all that you miss is me asking the question: “What language does your friend Mateo speak?”  Well, that and the ending where it cut off because my phone storage is too teeny.

And this was him at the glasses shop waiting while his frames were being adjusted yesterday. He is very in to playing pretend right now and this is one of his current go-to personas:

Hahahahahaha I love it! Whenever he hears someone say something he doesn’t understand he always asks “Hey… what he speaks?” He’s really become interested in languages lately. He knows that we speak English at home and that most of our neighbors speak German at home. Except for his little friend Nate, who is from the UK and, according to Asher, “Nate speaks Engwish wif an accident.” hahahaha He means an “accent,” of course. Though he typically responds to German in English, he responds appropriately which lets us know that he understands. He uses his teeny little voice to say “Gruezi!” to all the passers-by when we’re out walking and he says “d-d-danke!” whenever someone gives him something when we’re out. He also does one heck of a robot impression and likes to pretend that he is a kitten or puppy, who apparently have extremely high-pitched voices. lol Oh, Asher! He’s nothing if he’s not entertaining!

Thanksgiving

1 Dec

Happy a-few-days-after-Thanksgiving!

I hope that all of our friends and family back home enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving day, and a nice long weekend.  I have always really, really loved Thanksgiving and I can’t tell you how much I have missed being in America and close to our family and friends the last three Novembers. I miss the beautiful orange and brown decorations, the crisp American fally air in my lungs, the terrified cartoon turkeys, and cheesy cornucopia decorations. I miss the smell of turkeys roasting, pies baking, and casseroles being warmed. I miss waking up to my parents in the kitchen with the parade on TV in the background. I miss  spending a very slow day of enjoying the company of family and an enormous meal together. I just miss Thanksgiving!

Did you know that they don’t eat turkeys in Switzerland? If you want one, you have to order it at least a month in advance. Isn’t that strange? I know they eat SOME turkey because I’ve bought turkey lunch meat and seen turkey breasts (cut like chicken breasts) in the grocery stores, but they don’t just sell whole turkeys like they do in the US. I don’t know exactly how much they cost, but I know they are super expensive to order. Weird. (As a side note: This if further confirmation of that weird thing that we bought our first Christmas here. We did not yet know German and were still figuring out the grocery stores. We searched all over for a turkey, then finally found something that kind of looked like a turkey, so we bought all 50 Francs worth of it. It was purple and slimy and not at all turkey-like. Gross)

This year we joined the young adult group at our church for their (now) annual Thanksgiving feast. It was really nice. They special-ordered a big turkey from France that tasted delicious. We didn’t get a lot, since we had to share it with a bunch of other people, but we were glad to have it! The rest of the food was potluck and, though it was all really good, a lot of it wasn’t super Thanksgivingy. I guess that’s because out of the 30+ people in attendance, only about 6 or so of us were American. That’s not me trying to complain, of course. I really enjoyed the meal and the people, but it was funny to me to realize that some people in the room had never even been to the US, much less celebrated Thanksgiving before. There were a few delicious pumpkin pies, which are of course very American. There was also a pecanish pie that I heard was really good. One key thing that I noticed was missing from the feast was gravy — how do you have a Thanskgiving meal without a truckload of gravy to douse it in?! Now I AM complaining!!! haha just kidding. I did miss the gravy, though. One of my Thanksgiving faves has always been green bean casserole. Campbells condensed soups don’t exist here, so I searched until I found something that seemed similar and do-able. I found this recipe on Pinterest and went ahead with it. It was really good! It was far more involved than popping open a can and mixing it around with some frozen green beans. Because of that, I think it should have been more amazing than it was, but it was certainly tasty. I honestly thought there would be several green bean casseroles there, but if I had known I would bring the only one, I would have made a double batch. It was not nearly enough! I decided to make two sides, so I also threw together this recipe, also found on pinterest. I had made something almost exactly like that before (sans sweet potatoes) and really enjoyed it. It was really, really good this time too! That one is actually super easy, but I think it looks and tastes impressive. I definitely plan to make it again!

I feel like I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll stop describing food now. But please, in the name of all that’s holy, please feel free to describe your Thanksgiving meal to me in detail. Between your descriptions and my memory, perhaps I’ll be able to satisfy a teeny bit of my American holiday cravings.

One thing about Asher that I’m sure I’ve mentioned before — the child MUST eat. Certainly all humans need to eat, but he absolutely must eat in order to function. When he doesn’t eat:
-He does not listen
-He screams
-He hits
-He fights
-He does not focus
-He is just plain ol’ mean

Unfortunately, I am like that too. I have often been told that I have very low blood sugar, which I assume is why I get so incredibly hangry in between meals. So at least we know Asher comes by it honestly, right? Anyway, Asher’s “hanger” can be a real problem since he is 2 and a stereotypical super picky toddler when it comes to food. We knew he would be one of only two children at this event, and we really wanted him to be well-behaved and in a good mood so, knowing he wouldn’t eat any of the food there, we made a preemptive strike and made him two hot dogs before leaving the house. The bad news is that this officially made me the mother I swore I’d never become (what kind of a mother makes their baby HOT DOGS before heading out to a Thanksgiving feast?). The good news is that it worked! Just as we suspected, he snubbed the beautifully-roasted turkey, some simple-but-delicious pasta with fresh veggies, and the yummy dishes I slaved over all afternoon, but was very well-behaved and in an excellent mood! He was obedient, happy, charming, and adorable. Yay for hot dogs!

And on that note, I’m done. I’m trying hard to post more often, so keep checking back and I’ll give more updates soon!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Mad.

10 Oct

Have I mentioned before that life here in Switzerland is different? I can’t remember if I’ve ever told anyone with whom I communicate that life is different and has been a little hard on and off. Just joshin’ — I’ve said it a billion times. Sure, we’re not living in a place like Ethernopia or North Korea, but things are just different. Big things like health care, public transportation, and paid time off are different. And little things like the way people do or don’t stand in lines, and the way that parents put little kerchiefs on babies to soak up drool instead of baby bibs are also different. Aaaaaand so is the whole laundry situation.

Ugh! Laundry! Just when I started to feel like I’ve got things under control and have figured out how to live a normal life AND have clean laundry, something sets me back. What was it this time, you ask? It was a saggy-eyed, gangly old woman wearing a red fleece with covered in dirty little fuzz balls.

Rewind to Saturday. We were having a nice, quiet morning at home. We have been busy the last several weeks and were all  happy to spend the day wearing PJs and playing trucks in our living room. I was unloading the dishwasher, and Phil had taken Asher into the other room to get him ready for a nap when the doorbell rang. It wasn’t a friendly “rrrringa-ding?!” that meshes well with a quiet Saturday morning, but instead it was a heavy, intrusive, confrontational “RRRRRRRRRRING-DING-DING-DING-YOUIDIOT!!!” You know the type. Because I had been putting clanky plates away, I knew that the person at the door would definitely know that we were home and that person would also know that we could see her through the peephole and choose to answer or not, so not-answering didn’t really feel like an option. I quickly tip-toed over to the peep hole and saw that it was Frau G., our upstairs neighbor. I knew who she was and where she lives because:
1. I have seen her up close once or twice walking into the building
2. I have occasionally see her smoking on her balcony
3. By process of elimination after meeting all of the other neighbors, I figured which name on the mailboxes was hers.

I certainly didn’t know anything about her personally, since she has never responded to my friendly “gruetzi!” I had a feeling she was mad about something because she just looks like the type of person who would only ring a neighbor’s doorbell if she had a complaint. *GrumbleChristmas time? I’ve got better things to do than bring around cookies or good tidings. The birth of a baby? Who the heck cares? Babies suck! Someone’s dying? I’m glad that there’s one less person around breathing her air. *Grumble grumble, life is hell!* 

I threw a sweatshirt on over my PJs and opened the door with the most welcoming smile I could manage. “Hallo!” I said. She went right into it. She was all business.

Frau G: You use the laundry machine on Thursdays, right? 
Me: Yes.
Frau G: I use it on Saturday and every time my husband has to clean the entire laundry room before we can do laundry. He has to sweep the floors, wash out the machine, clean the sink. You have to clean the room! 
Me: Um… (Though I understood most of what she said, I don’t know how to say in German: “POUND SAND OLD WOMAN! Don’t be knockin’ all up MY door and hollerin’ at me wit’ yo’ false accusations!”) My husband speaks German better than I do, is it okay if I go get him?
Frau G: Yah, yah.

I went back to get Phil. I told him who was there and that she was mad at me but that I didn’t know how to respond. I asked him to tell me EVERYTHING she says before responding, not because I don’t think that Phil can handle himself in a confrontation, but because I knew that this was my battle and I didn’t want him to think we owed her an apology for something that I hadn’t done.

I brought Phil to the door and introduced him, she literally waved her hand in the air and said her name as if it didn’t matter who she, or we, or anyone was, but the only thing that mattered was how dirty she thinks the laundry room is.

My points were the following, and my dear husband did wonderfully expressing them to her:

-Someone else uses the room on Fridays, regardless of what Frau G believes, someone else uses it on Fridays. That’s the truth. I know that because my other neighbors have told me that if so-and-so doesn’t use it, then so-and-so uses it.
-When I make a mess, I clean it up
-Sometimes the sink is a mess when I go in there, but since I have never used the sink, I really haven’t paid much attention to it.

She listened and bobbed her head her head up and down. Phil said to me, “she wants to show us something.” So we followed her downstairs where she showed us a broom and went on and on in German about sweeping the floor. *Um… offensive. I know how to use a broom old lady.* Then she walked us into the laundry room and motioned her hand around the machine as if she were wiping it and saying what I understood to be “blah blah blah blah CLEAN blah CLEAN blah blah CLEAN blah blah…” (sure my German is still a bit limited, but still, it sounded obnoxious). I told Phil to please tell her that I would be more mindful of how I leave the room, but to know that I clean up any mess I make. He did. She asked who uses the room on Wednesday, I told her. It would have been pointless not to answer the question. There are only 6 of us who use the room, so it’s not difficult to figure out who uses it and when, but I still felt terrible for saying the other neighbor’s name out loud in that conversation. I don’t think she is to blame.

Finally she stopped blabbering and said “have a nice Saturday” as she walked upstairs.

Phil handled it well. He didn’t seem flustered at all and was very friendly and all. I was mad after she left. Phil said he didn’t perceive her visit as confrontational like I thought she was being. But I’ll tell you, nothing makes you feel scared inside like an old woman leaning over you and shouting in German. I am especially sensitive, I think, because I so badly want to blend in. I try really hard not to be an obvious outsider. Someone once told me that if you act “as if” you can do something, you will be able to do it. That’s been my mantra since coming here. I try to act “as if” I know how life works and, for the most part, it’s at least kept me out of the “wow-whatta-moron-spotlight.” It’s awkward not to know what is going on around you. I am certainly where I don’t feel like that in my every day life anymore, but little things like monster ladies coming to my home pointing their boney fingers in my face while I’m in my PJs send me right back to feeling very out of place. Plus, in a country that prides itself on being outrageously clean, as a foreigner it is important to me that no one thinks I’m dirty. Having her in my face like that literally made me feel like I had defend all of America — “American’s are NOT dirty!” I wanted to shout. “Americans are NICE! Americans are GOOD!”

Of course I believe that Phil understood her better than I did, and he says he didn’t feel like she was being rude or anything, so I’m trying to go with that and chalk up my feelings of confrontation to the fact that I don’t fully understand the language she was yelling at me. But I’ll be honest, I’m having a hard time not thinking she is a jerk. And here I am, five days later on my laundry day, feeling anxiety about what the heck I’m supposed to do tonight when I’m done that will keep her from ever coming to my door to yell at me again. I guess I’ll pound the broom around with googly eyes and wave a cloth at the washing machine like an idiot… the way she showed me.

Don’t tell her I wrote this. Goodness knows she’d have something to say.

Deutschbag/douchbag — I don’t know what I am.

25 Feb

November 7, 2011: I paced back and forth in London’s Heathrow airport pushing an over-sized stroller loaded down with a carseat, a diaper bag, a large flowered tote bag, and two red rolly suitcases (one balanced roughly in the stroller’s seat, the other attached to the stroller’s handle by a big carabiner). I bounced dramatically with each step, trying to calm my screaming 3 month old who was strapped to my chest. I had already been awake and traveling 20+ hours. Storms in the southeast caused major delays for our first two flights causing us to miss our flight from London to Zürich. I had no phone and could not figure out how to connect to the Internet, so I had no way of telling my poor panicked husband that we would be more than 8 hours late to arrive. I was worried that he wouldn’t be there when we arrived, and later I found out that he was worried we had been killed or sold into slavery and thought he’d never see us again. I had been made to leave the secure part of the Dallas airport to figure out how to get to London, since the flight I took from Montgomery had been rerouted for 2 hours to avoid bad weather. Leaving security means going back through security…with all of the aforementioned stuff (stroller, bags, carseat, baby, shoes, etc.) I had to leave the secure part of the London airport as well… with all the aforementioned stuff (stroller, bags, carseat, baby, shoes, eyes full of tears, etc.). I was exhausted. I paced around the gate in London waiting to board our finally-final flight to Zürich for hours. Back and forth…back and forth… waiting for the boarding call, trying to calm my poor baby who, though he had done well on the first two flights, had finally reached his breaking point. Hours, minutes, and seconds passed: I counted each one. After spending nearly 500 minutes of my life in that airport, the time to board the plane drew near and my fellow passengers finally started gathering around me. If only I had been so drunk that I was cursing loudly I would have been the epitome of the person you DON’T want sitting next to you on a 5-hour flight: My hair was tangled and dirty. My clothes were wrinkled and smelly. I assume my eyes looked like two little dried-up raisins underneath a couch cushion. I patted my screaming baby. I coughed loudly and let a few tears fall down my cheek. Everyone stared at me and I didn’t care. I stood, zombiesque, staring at the digital sign behind the desk, rejoicing that it was finally displaying MY flight information. It had already been several hours since I last heard or saw anything that didn’t blur before reaching my brain when suddenly  I noticed a group of middle-aged men standing right next to me. They were all wearing matching blue shirts and carrying sport coats, which sounds kind of cheesy but they were all nicely-groomed, expensive looking men. I noticed them not because of their identical outfits, but rather because they were all conversing quickly in deep, throaty voices, saying things I didn’t understand. I watched their heads move back and forth and their hands wave around in the air. They took turns making sounds. I saw there eyes stare intently at the other eyes in their group as their eyebrows went up and down together. Their facial expressions demonstrated understanding and shared emotion. I blinked. They all laughed at the same time. I knew they knew each other. They were all dressed alike, after all. But I had no idea what they were saying. My heart, my brain, my body all started to panic.

That was it. That was the moment it hit me that I was moving to a country that I would not understand. I have lived here in Switzerland for nearly 16 months now (Ich bin in der Schweiz seit sechszehn Monaten), and I still think about that moment regularly. That was the moment that I realized I had no choice but to learn a second language if I would survive the next few years, and that was the moment that I honestly started trying to learn German. Once I realized that they were speaking another language, I began desperately searching their conversation for meaning… and I haven’t stopped since. I am surrounded by a language that very often means nothing to me and it is, to say the least, frustrating. It’s uncomfortable to look someone in the eye as they speak to you and have no idea what they’re trying to say — especially when you know they are scolding you (yes, these jerks do that). It’s isolating to overhear children talking to each other on the sidewalk and not have any idea what they’ve just said. It’s frightening to see warning messages flash across the train schedule as the trains slows to a stop at an unfamiliar station and everyone stands up to get off. It’s embarrassing to have an annoyed stranger reach over you to push an elevator button after you have obviously misunderstood them and pushed the wrong one (and then riding to the wrong floors together as you try not to cry).

It’s hard. Not bad, but hard. Freaking hard. Though I cry a lot out of frustration, there is some sort of emotionally-masochistic part of me that loves every moment of this oddly invigorating transition. Life is nothing if not moving forward, and I feel like my life has been on one of those moving sidewalks (on super fast!) for over a year now.

I AM learning the language. I understand more every day. Some days the new things I learn make me feel strong and powerful like I can do anything. Other days the realizations I have make me feel like a outrageously ignorant moron because I’ll suddenly understand that I’ve done things very, very wrong and made a fool of myself. I am exhausted at the end of most days, but often have a hard time sleeping because my brain wants to replay everything from the previous day and how to deal with the following one.

I’m a foreigner.

German Class, Shmerman Shmlass

21 Aug

Here is the scoop on my new German class:

-I am the only native English-speaker! I am learning just how narcissistic Americans are (read: “I am”) because every time I go somewhere for non-Swiss people, I automatically assume everyone will be American. Wrong-o. I’ve met a lot of Canadians here, actually, which is weird to me since I always forget Canada exists. I am losing my point — I was the only native English-speaker. I am not sure if my teacher is Swiss or German. The other ladies in my class (it’s all dames) speak: Italian, Spanish, French, and Arabic. I’m not sure where everyone was from (well, I assume the Italian lady was from Italy), but I know that those are their languages. Crazy! Lucky for me our teacher’s go-to ‘second language’ seemed to be English, since she spoke it most frequently and first when not speaking German… but then she would speak French to the French-speaker, who would then translate for the Arabic-speaker, then our teacher would speak a broken Italian/Spanish mishmash during which I couldn’t tell exactly who was teaching whom and what language we were supposed to be learning. Hopefully we will be able to speak only German soon. (…or English. Naughty, Bre!)

-I already have a basic German vocabulary, but I know basically nothing of the grammar. After just one day I feel hopeful and excited about my mind opening to this language. Today we learned: I, you (singular), he/she/it, we, you (plural), they, and you (formal) and the verb endings to go with each of these persons. That’s pretty good for the first day, I’d say.

-I have homework! It’s not a lot. I just have to write out 8 verbs with the correct person or something like that. And I have to cut a bunch of words out of some sheets of paper my teacher gave me so that I can play a person-verb matching game. Sounds fun!

-I am in the lowest level German course, which you may have guessed when I said that I learned words like “I” and “you” today. But there are a few other levels and lots of other students in this program that I am in. Our classes will be every Tuesday for the next several months, and since meeting once a week is not the greatest set up for learning a language, the students all meet together at Memory also on Fridays to socialize and practice German. I plan to go to these meetings each week also. I will be able to keep Asher with me, which will be nice.

-Asher was a CHAMP! I have been so incredibly nervous about leaving him without me or Phil while I attend this class, but, oh! That little boy is amazing! Since it was the first day, everyone from all the levels of German classes met in Memory (the town’s child center where Asher stayed) to get acquainted. It was crowded and loud and hot and Asher did not seem to be too keen on the idea of being there at all. But Phil and I put him down (oh, Phil came with me to meet the ladies who would be watching Asher too) and let him do his thing… and he did! He found a bin of toy cars and was excited at all of the glorious wheels he had found to point at. He whined a little bit here and there, but overall seemed okay… so we left. I was so nervous when I came back. I was actually a little bit afraid he was going to be sad or mad at me, but when I walked in I saw him smiling and pushing around a walking-toy with one of the older ladies playing with him. I said his name a few times until he heard me, and when he saw me he just smiled and crawled over to me — no tears! No heartache! What a relief! The lady who had been playing with him doesn’t speak English very well, but she said that he did really well. She said that he was happy and she kept saying he was just ‘beautiful.’ She seems like a very kind woman and I noticed lots of the little kids hugging on her. I am so relieved.

-Phillip was working from home today. When Asher and I got home from class, Asher gave his Dada some big hugs, then took a nap, then was a happy little precious boy for the rest of the evening. He sat and looked at his books, he pushed around his trucks, and he laughed loudly at random things all afternoon/evening. I think he enjoyed his bit of social time and I think he was happy to be home after a big day.

-It’s hotter than it’s ever been this week. We have hit the 90s, which is not cool (figuratively or literally) when you live in a community that does not have air conditioners. Luckily it is still cool in the shade and the air cools off significantly in the evenings. But it’s still too hot for my comfort. Sweaty sweaty.

That’s about it for now. I guess this is not the most exciting post, but I wanted to share a little bit about my class and about how well Asher did in his class while it is fresh in my head. I’m really excited to be getting involved in this really active community and to finally have a chance to learn German formally.

Swiss National Day

2 Aug

We celebrated our first Swiss National Day (that’s a link!)  yesterday, August 1. Swiss National Day is to Switzerland something very similar as the 4th of July is to the US, except the history here is way older (Middle Ages!) and entirely different (The Declaration of Whodawhatty?). But modern day “Yay for our country!” celebrations seem to be somewhat similar. Our neighbors the Gassmann family invited us over for a barbecue to celebrate the day. Our neighbors are great, if we have not told you about them. They are a married couple with three cute little girls (5, 2, 2 months). Their littlest one was born a few days after we moved in, which was fun. Anyway, back to SND — We ate grilled meat and corn, drank water out of Swiss-flag glasses, and wiped our mouths on Swiss-flag napkins on the Gassmann’s 3rd floor balcony. Since they live in our building, we were able to put Asher to bed and listen for him on a baby monitor while still hanging out with Simon and Martina, who had also put their girls to bed. The four of us sat for a few hours on the balcony enjoying cool evening-air, local beer and wine, and an endless display of fireworks. Though some towns/cities put on official fireworks ‘shows,’ it seems like the bigger deal here is just to shoot off your own fireworks. From their balcony, we could see lots of fireworks being set off here in Uetikon and tons being set off on and across lake Zurich. The longest break between hearing and/or seeing an explosion could not have been more than 1 minute — it was kind of incredible. We had a lot of fun! I’d say our first Swiss National Day felt holiday-ey, which was like a breath of fresh air to me. Though we have enjoyed basically every day since being here, things have been so different that the cozy traditionally-familiar holiday feelings have been a bit thrown off.

Aaaaaaand my precious boy is singing to signal that he is ready to get up from his nap. That’s my cue…

Swiss culture for expats

31 Jul

While looking for some information on a train accident that threw off my afternoon, I stumbled upon this article about Swiss culture. The author does a pretty good job of expressing some of the things that Phillip and I have noticed and talked about together. Here is a link for anyone who is interested:

http://www.thelocal.ch/page/view/3726

The evolution of my love-hate relationship with laundry, and my newly-made commitment to Thursdays.

19 Jun

Something you may or may not know about me: I love clean laundry. I love drawers stocked with fresh undies, socks, and every shirt I own. Clean clothes are homey. I look forward to going to bed in clean sheets and tip-toeing out of the shower and into a clean towel. Just the thought of having everything I own being ‘clean’ relaxes me. I LOVE clean laundry.

That being said, I must now confess that laundry and I have had a rocky relationship for a while. I honestly don’t remember how I did laundry at ‘home’ before I was out on my own. I remember doing laundry, I just don’t remember if I kept up with it, or if my Mom (or someone else) kept up with it, or what. I do remember my gradual decline into being gross during my college years. I remember starting my freshman year fresh-faced and with a closet full of crisp, clean clothes. Then things start getting fuzzy as my sleep declined and a steady diet of junk-food induced a weird sleeping/awake coma. My memories blur… I remember laundry all over the floor. I remember wads of clothes spilling out of suitcases between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. I remember the pain of gathering unidentifiable pieces of cloth and then spending $20 worth of quarters and several hours in the laundry mat… at most twice a semester. Then I remember becoming more responsible when I had my own room and laundry machines in my dorm. I remember cleaning my room every night and doing laundry every week or two. I also remember spitting in the face of my feminist sympathies and doing Phil’s laundry for him, even though I swore to myself I would never be “that” girlfriend. After Phil and I got married, we had to go to the campus laundrymat, but we did laundry basically every week or two. Then in Richmond, when we were so busy all the time, it was not uncommon for our hamper to be stacked two to three feet above it’s brim, before spilling out onto the floor… and yet we would still neglect it. It’s lucky for us that we both own an insane number of underwear (seriously. We recently thinned out our stock, but we each had 60+ pairs of panties/manties), or we would have been in trouble. Both in Searcy and in Richmond we did not have access to our own laundry machines, which, in Richmond especially, played a large part in our battle with that pesky never-ending pile of dirty clothes. It’s a pain to have to set aside time to use public machines (assuming that they are open for use) and to have enough quarters to wash and dry everything. Indeed, laundry is a hassle.

So that’s my history with laundry. I love having clean laundry, but it’s difficult for me to make time to make it.

All of this is to say that laundry is a whole different animal here in Switzerland. We had 24/7 access to a washer and a dryer in our temporary place in Immensee, but we shared the machines with the old couple that lived below us and some random single guy who lived in what I thought was a garage (It seriously took us about 4 months to realize there was a guy living there). We had to go outside to get to the machines, and we couldn’t leave laundry there for very long because the other people needed access to the machines too. That setup was actually fairly uncommon for this area. Since most people live in apartments, most people share washrooms with their building-neighbors. Some people do buy small personal washers so that they have access to them all the time, but space is limited around these parts, and I assume hooking a machine up to the bathtub every time you want to do some laundry can get old. Here we have 1 day a week that is “our” day to use the washroom. We have a weird little key thing that we have to plug into the wall to turn on the room and everything in it. So I have officially declared Thursday (our laundry day) my day to get things done around the house every week… until I die. I vowed, nay, made a holy covenant with Thursday to honor it above all other days as my day for chores. I am holding to my commitment strongly — every Thursday I have made both made this place spotless and done tons of laundry. I dare say I am doing more laundry per week than I ever have before (don’t judge me!). I was nervous about moving into a place where we only had access to laundry machines 1 day each week, but I am absolutely loving the freedom that I get the other 6 days of the week. I don’t even have to think about laundry Friday-Wednesday, and so I don’t. I have never felt so alive! I am not living in a constant state of guilt and stress over piles of sweaty clothes that linger in the back of my mind. Instead, I am living my life in a clean home and getting to wear my favorite underwear once a week! Life is good cannah git a’ aye-MEN?! 

So there you have it. I love clean clothes and I am working this housewife gig extra hard on Thursdays.

Here are some pics of our laundry room, just to show you what it’s like. Many Europeans don’t see the need for dryers, so I have to plan what to wash and when in order for it all to have time to dry before the end of the day. There is a giant fan on one of the walls (the huge blue box thing) that actually works well to dry things fairly quickly, but position on the lines and in the room certainly matters. I’m still working out the best order in which to wash things and the best way to organize slow-drying things (i.e. jeans, diapers, towels, etc.) in the room. I’m getting there!

This is a (bad) pic of what the key to turn on the room looks like. It is a rectangle with gold lines on it… very fancy and technological, I think. Since I don’t know much about technology, I will henceforth refer to the key simply as “my little piece of science.”

My little piece of science in the slot. As soon as it is in, the room comes alive! And as soon as I remove my little piece of science, the room gets quiet and dark and creepy.

My precious, but not-so-helpful-helper. It takes a while to hang clothes on a line. Asher can only watch the washer for so long before he takes to playing with the echo of his extremely loud whine. 😉

It’s kind of hard to tell how many lines there are, but know that there are a lot.

A pic of the entire washroom. The washer is probably the most efficient machine we have used in years. It’s awesome. You can see the giant blue monster fan over to the left on the wall. It is SUPER loud and kind of scary, so I turn it on right as I’m leaving and off right when I come back. For Asher, I mean… I don’t want him to be scared. It doesn’t scare me. Nope. Noooo way. I’m not scared. I do that when I go down by myself too, but that’s just in case Asher decides to scamper down the stairs to join me. I don’t want him to be scared. Because he’s a baby. Babies are scaredy cats. Not me. Bre brave!

What would a post be without videos of my funny boy? 🙂

Here is one of Asher wiping off his Dad’s kisses. He does this if ever we try to love on him when he is feeling grouchy. I wonder how long this attitude will be funny and cute?

After we finish a meal, we wipe down Asher’s tray. If any crumbs are left, Asher finishes the job.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

21 May

To do:

-Arrive in Switzerland
-Find a permanent home
-Apply for resident’s permits
-Learn German!!

I need to learn German. I can’t even make my own son a doctor’s appointment.

We do not know what is going on with Asher. So far today he seems great again – he woke up happy, ate well, played, and went down for a nap easily. But Friday and Saturday he was running a fever again. His temp only got up to 100.8, but that’s a legit fever and he was obviously not feeling well. This means he has been up and down with sinus issues, stomach problems, a rash, feverish, sweaty, moody, and not sleeping well on and off again for two weeks. We decided yesterday that regardless of how he seemed this morning we should just go ahead and take him in to a doc to make sure that he’s not in need of medication. I have tried to call one of the recommended local pediatricians 4 times this morning, each time I have reached a recording. I hear the doctors’ names and the local town, so I know I’m calling the right place, but I don’t know why it’s a machine and not a person. I also understand that they give a phone number, I assume this is an emergency number (good thing it’s not an emergency, since I can’t make out the telephone number).

I really need to learn German.

I can count to 12 and know how to say a few random higher numbers. I know my colors. I can identify barnyard animals and know several words associated with trains. I can talk about diapers and sippy cups and strollers. I also know the words for random kitchen/eating objects.

Considering these things is a bit depressing because it leads me to understand that I literally have the vocabulary of a toddler, which doesn’t get you very far in an adult world.

Still here!

18 May

I hope people still check this Blog – I feel like I haven’t posted in forever!

Where to start?

We are officially moved in to our new home! Woo-hoo! Ahhh… I breathe a sigh of relief about 30 times each day. We moved in at the beginning of this month, May. We moved out of our home in Richmond at the end of May 2011. Yes, it had been nearly an entire year since we had been in a place of our own. As most of our friends know, we left Richmond to stay with my parents in Alabama until moving here. We had a blast and felt very comfortable there. We knew it was not permanent, but we didn’t feel stressed, it was just nice and happy. Then Phil left and moved in to a random super old “apartment” (where the toilet was in kitchen, right next to the stove) in Effretikon until Asher and I were able to come be with him here in CH. We moved into our little temporary apartment in early November. It was a nice apartment. The people who own it are on an 8-month world trip, so we were basically just hanging out in their home while they were away. It was comfortable and a decent size for us. But I most certainly felt stressed and unsettled there. I will not go into explaining why, since I have already vented about these things both on this Blog and to the people who I know read this Blog. (All of that being said, I will also mention that I was and am extremely grateful for our time and experience in Immensee).

But now – ahhhh – home sweet home. Asher’s first home! Asher’s first room and bed and place with space for him to play and grow! We are so excited to be here! We saved money for a while, knowing that replacing most of our possessions would be far cheaper than paying to ship our things. Phil and I have looked forward to our major home shopping spree for a super long time and – so far it has been worth the wait. Holy jeez – it’s been like wedding-registering all over again, only oddly with more commitment being made to each decision. So far we have purchased: our bed, mattress, sheets, blankets, nightstands, lamps, a desk, a crib, a crib mattress, a little bookcase, a small wardrobe, a small dresser, a small couch, a cute little guy table with two chairs, three dressers, towels, bathroom rugs, other random rugs, a couch, two chairs a coffee table, a large bookcase, a dining table, chairs, a patio set, a television, a laptop desk, a small shelf for toys, and a kitchen-full of dishes and cookware. It doesn’t seem like as much as it is listing it out like that, but man alive – we have done some shopping! We are aaaaaalmost completely set up. Once we get the last few random things put together and cleaned up, I will take and post some pictures so that you can all see our new place.

Our move went… well, it went okay. We did it in one day, which was great. The first half of the day was great – we picked up our rental car from Zurich and drove back to Immensee with no problems at all. I drove and Phillip acted as the navigator. I had not driven a manual transmission in several years and starting again from (literally) the center Zurich was intimidating. I got a few looks since I made the engine do that “whirrrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRR!” noise a few times while I was getting used to the clutch, but I managed to keep the car on the road and off of people, so things worked out. Oh, back to my story – everything went well for the most part. Our neighbor loaded her car and drove here with us from Immensee the first time. Since we followed someone who has lived here for more than 20 years, that was an easy trip. We laughed with each other and gawked at the outrageously beautiful landscape. Then we went back to Immensee WITHOUT the neighbor to get the last load of things – again, no sweat. Super easy. We were so not-lost that we were again able to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Then, fully confident in our driving and navigating skills, we set out for the last drive of the day… three hours later, we were sweating, starving, in desperate need of toilets…and only about 20 kilometers from where we began. Asher was a champ, that was basically the only positive. It was stressful and stupid. We finally just followed signs to get to Zurich, went to and through Zurich, and then came down the other side of the lake to our town. What a hassle. We were reminded of how glad we are not to have a car here! On a train, the worst case scenario is you miss a departure or you forget to get off at the right place, both of which are easy fixes that require at most a bit of waiting. Whatev. It was stressful and tad bit argument-inducing, but it’s just a funny story now.

And then there is our poor sweet baby. He has had a rough transition. He is such a happy and easy little man most of the time. All of the dust from boxes and new furniture made him really sick with some sort of snot-gurgle-hack issue. Plus the transition just threw him off completely and, though he normally goes to bed super early and without complaint, has been refusing to sleep for naps and night time. Phil and I have had a hard time knowing what to do. We’re not totally opposed to letting Asher “cry it out,” if that’s what he needs to do. But we really don’t feel the need to sleep-train Asher when we know he knows how to sleep. It’s terrible to listen to him cry when you know he just doesn’t feel well and is weirded out by being in a new place, so we have done our best to figure out how to help him feel more comfortable. I must admit that this “helping him” entailed breaking all kinds of “rules” that I had running through my head before actually having a baby – translate this and picture: me sitting up reading to Asher at 1 in the morning, Phil and I laying in bed listening to Baby Einstein playing on a computer in the middle of the night as Asher lay in his playpen next to our bed, and other ridiculous “rules” that are completely pointless and unrealistic when you have an actual precious little person who is having a hard time and needs some help feeling better. After the snot problems, he started having some tummy troubles that affected his bottom area, and the general things that a bottom does (*hint* I’m NOT talking about sitting or holding up pants). The joke was on us for using cloth diapers. We were glad to have some ‘sposies (that’s what cloth-diapering people call “disposable diapers”) laying around. We are not that hardcore for cloth. All in all, we think Asher is doing better. He is seeming to be more like his sweet and happy old self the past few days, which is great for all of us. Of course we don’t mind caring for him when he’s upset and sick, but it’s certainly hard on all of us.

Tomorrow is our 5th wedding anniversary. That’s a big one! We are super excited to be celebrating 5 beautiful years together. Though I keep thinking life could not possibly get any better, with my Phillip it just somehow does. 🙂

I have more to write about, but I’ll let that be it for now.