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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Twas the Night before Christmas

This has been a busy year in terms of home making. We have been doing crafts, decoration, cooking and baking. And what time is the time of all times to do more of it? Right, the holidays. 

We had an Advent Countdown, we had an Elf on she Shelf called Cookie, we actually baked cookies, we practiced ice skating.

At the office we unveiled Advent window No. 11 for the village community, we distributed mandarin boxes to customers, and we had an End of World Party on 12/21/12.

Since it was going to be the End of the World I didn't do much at home in terms of cleaning up the house for Christmas Eve. Once I realized Dec 24 was actually going to happen, time got very tight. My parents were invited, and they do so much for us throughout the year, so I wanted everything to be perfect. 

The morning of the 24th, Hubby went to work at the office, and I went to work at home. I thought I was being clever and let Colin open one present. What a crucial mistake! It was the Playmobil Police Station. Supposedly it is suitable for 4-10 year olds. That age range alone should make people suspicious. So instead of marinating the beef or making sure the wine glasses were clean I was trying to assemble the custody cell and installing the alarm system so no robber could escape from his cell. At some point I had to tell Colin I could not spend any more time helping him so he called his grandpa and asked to him to come over.

I was so glad I had set up the Christmas tree a couple of days before. I remembered another Christmas when our guests had to help hang ornaments and light candles before having appetizers. Didn't want that to happen again.


Hours later everything was done - including me. I was exhausted. I enjoyed the evening, but frankly, I just wanted to go to sleep. Christian said this was not supposed to be the way; next year we were going to have Christmas Eve dinner at Burger King. Bring on the Crowns and Whoppers, and have a merry Cheesemas!

I have learned my lesson. So today I had our guests make their own pizza. Simple! And yummy! And everybody had it their way :-) 

So let me wish you a happy new year - may 2013 give you opportunities to do what is important to you! As for myself I hope to be back here blogging more.

And as a treat for staying put and reading about all my whining here's a treat for you; let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Colin's Birthday World Trip

When Colin turned 3 years old last year he had a Disney Cars themed party, and he thought that would be it for the years to come. Only this year, instead of a Lightning McQueen cake he wanted a King. Or a Chick Hicks, or a ... Watching the movie below will make you understand why this year, the guys were laughing like crazy when it was time to blow out the candles.

But with his growing interest and knowledge in everything related to foreign countries, flags, sightseeing spots and international food, we came up with the idea of a world trip for him and his friends.

So we printed toy flight tickets, foreign currency money and for each child a passport with pages for a couple of destinations we would travel to.


We set up the check-in counter, arranged chairs as airplane seats and stocked our beverages trolley. Ready for take-off!

The first destination was Australia where the kids made some craft didgeridoos. In London they broke into the tower where the crown jewels are being kept and stole them. In Japan they tried to eat fortunes cookies with chop sticks, in Munich they celebrated Oktoberfest by forming a human pretzel, and in France, home of the Barbapapa family, they assigned the appropriate items to the different characters: a football for Barbawum, a bracelet for Barbabella, etc.

Whose tracks are those?
Cruising down Lombard Street

On and on we went, until it was time for a birthday cake break. 

Some of the kids got a bit "over-traveled" and preferred to just play. Others made jewelry out of pasta, ran around with a sombrero, played ice hockey and so on. 

So if you want to see for yourself, pack your imaginary bags and hop on the plane with us:

Back home we welcomed the parents for some baguette, cheese and wine. You guessed right, all French.

It was a wonderful trip! The following day we were suffering from jet lag, unpacked our bags and did lots of laundry.

Epilogue / Learnings: 

  • The journey is the reward - meaning I put way too much effort into the preparations but I had fun doing it
  • 12 destinations are too many for this age group
  • Traveling is not for everybody
  • Colin had a blast - and so did I

Going down memory lane (primary school reunion)

Two weeks ago - for the first time for 30 years - I met with my classmates from elementary school again. With some of them I had attended middle and high school and kept in touch over the years, but there were people I hadn't seen in all that time, and they didn't change a bit! So funny! 

Others, even if they look their current age now, they still talk,  laugh and act the same. Me included I guess. I was the one blurting out comments then and again that evening.

I was especially pleased to see those people who had only spent a year or two with our group but felt connected enough to attend the reunion. 

At peak times we were almost 40 kids in our class. For the reunion a little more than half of them showed up. And they turned out so well. There's doctors, lawyers, CFOs, entrepreneurs, but more importantly, genuine and kind people, and most of them are parents. One guy has a 3 months' old baby, and one girl is a mother of three girls of her own, the oldest 18 years old. Wow!

The ones that attended the reunion all live close by. Even if in their younger years they had moved away for university or jobs, most of them came back, either to their parents' house or a new place in the old neighborhood. 

The teachers were there, too - freshly retired from teaching. Even though they had many other groups of kids after we graduated, they kept photo albums and binders with drawings and letters and stuff. I recognized my handwriting on one of the documents. It was an invitation to the indoor pool on occasion of our graduation. I had looked up the bus schedule and mentioned what to bring (bathing suits, duh). I was so amazed to see this. I didn't remember writing it at all, and I didn't remember that we actually went to the pool. The teacher watched me reading it and smiled. "You know you could tell at that early age how the kids would turn out", he said. OK, so I was the networker and event planner then and still am today :-)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is a hot shower an entitlement?

Yes, I am very serious about this. 

In the 21st century in the Western world, do you think a hot shower is as important as, let's say, a car? After an accident, insurance companies cover the costs for a replacement vehicle. I guess the reason for this is so you can still get to work. Well, I need a (hot) shower in order to get to work. Otherwise I get a warning for scruffy appearance and (even worse) grumpy behavior!

Why am I asking that?

It all began on Saturday afternoon when I noticed that the display of our heating system was blank. We were just about to leave the house and thought we'd worry about it upon our return.  When we got back, everything looked fine.

Just recently, temperatures in our area have dropped from 95° to 60°, and probably our heating just didn't know how to actually do its job anymore, fair enough!

I left the house around lunch time on Sunday and came back at 3pm. Still no sign of trouble ahead. But after dinner when I wanted to empty the dryer, I stepped into a puddle in the basement. Holy crap, where did all the water come from??? The origin of this flooding seemed to be underneath some water pipe leading to (or from? What do I know?) the heating. 

I put a bucket on the floor and called my husband. He shrugged and said "well, what do I know (isn't he the guy in the house?) you are going to have to call somebody tomorrow." Later that evening, strange noises came from our basement, and hubby turned off the heating.

Monday morning, 8:05am (because I know how much I hate to get a call at 8am sharp) I tried to call. "All our agents are busy, please hold the line. Your call is important." Right. When I finally got somebody on the phone, she said there wasn't anybody available right now, but she'd forward my request. Surprisingly just a couple of minutes later "our heating guy" who performs maintenance every year, called and said he was in the area and could be at our place in 10 - 15 minutes. I was still in PJs and I am not able to get ready in 10 - 15 minutes, so I just put on some jeans and sweater and pulled my hair to a ponytail, and soon enough the guy was here. I really like him, he is young but very professional. Says stuff like "I'll make a note of that, and next time I know what to check for" or "you should be fine - if not, you can always call me". But this time he said our problem had nothing to do with his range of expertise and I needed to call a plumber/heating guy. "I won't charge you for this" he added. See, sweet guy. 

So the plumber/heating company. A former classmate of mine works there. They use to send him for clogged drainage or when the toilet tank doesn't flush anymore. I wondered if he could help me today. No he couldn't, and he was fully booked for two days straight anyway, the lady informed me. But she would make sure somebody would call me back. 

Then Colin and I left the house. We had some birthday shopping to do :-) And some lunch to have as well!

On our way home I checked my mobile phone for the gazillionth time. No, they had not called, so I did. The clock was ticking, and I was not gonna take a cold shower tomorrow! Also, I couldn't go with another no shower at all. When I was transferred to a guy, I honestly thought he was a technician and asked him "are you gonna help us?" "No, I am the dispatcher" he said. He had nobody available but could send me somebody first thing in the morning. That was kind of not good enough. I didn't say that in so many words, but he got my desperation. 5 minutes later he called again, sighed and announced that he was gonna come over and have a look. He even brought spare parts. Unfortunately it was the wrong ones. Also he found out that he couldn't just screw the old one out and screw the new one in, but the whole socket fitting needed to be removed, disassembled and put back together again. "We'll have to do that tomorrow morning" he said.

That was OK. He tried. Plus I had an idea. Wasn't this some kind of water damage, covered by household insurance? They take care of the handiman's invoice, and maybe the cleaning up of the ruined stuff in the basement. What I was after was hotel accommodation. "Probably not" the girl at the broker company said. "But I'll check anyway."

Well, we could argue about who was going to pay for it later. I called one of our local hotels which turned out to be fully booked. On a Monday night? In our quaint little town? On to the next one. I got the last room available. Was there some kind of event that I didn't know about?

I texted my husband the latest news and asked if he wanted to come home first or should we pick him up at the office? He was kind of stunned. Made some weird comments like "tent" and "youth hostel". Hello? We did have a bed, but no hot shower!!

So our stay was very nice. We made sure though not to spend too much time on the wonderful breakfast buffet in order to be back at the house at 8am when the handiman would arrive. Well, he didn't. I didn't want to be pushy, but it was a work day, and I didn't want to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs, so I called. The lady knew nothing about somebody being assigned to us. The dispatcher? In a meeting. Great. I told her I was going to the office then, and would please somebody call me soon? So what is an appropriate time for returning a call? 9? 10? I called again and ooohps, the owner of the company answered the phone. Well, OK, at least he was in charge. And sure enough, it didn't take long and I got a call informing me that after 1pm Mr K would be there. And he was :-) Still working. 2:30 now. Things are looking better!

So now, my question to you: do you think the insurance company should pay for our hotel stay?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summer ABC Hunt

I came across the idea when I read Candice's blog: 

Summer Bucket List

and thought that at this point of time it was a little late to start a summer bucket list, but we could certainly go for a summer ABC Hunt! Colin is very interested in letters and becoming increasingly proficient in reading single words or short sentences. 
Side note: I need an idea on where to send the letter to Santa this year. So far we mailed it to "Santa @ Daddy's office", but somehow I don't think I am going to get away with it in the future. Input, anyone?

Back to our ABC hunt. He took his H for helmet and off we went - he climbed on his B for bicycle.

On our way we took many pictures from A for Audi, B for bobby car to - well U for umbrella. 

Later on, my mom joined us, and that's when the real fun started:

We ended up at the train station around 11 am and boarded a B for bus to get home in time to make lunch.

I thought it was a great project and will definitely do one again in fall. Would you like to contribute? Add "Alphabet Hunt" as a friend in Facebook and post your pictures:

Alphabet Hunt on Facebook

In the meantime watch how we did:

While I am writing this I am thinking of a little 2.5 years old boy suffering from leukemia. He is a client's son undergoing chemo therapy for several months. He has to take a dozen different meds throughout a day. The meds make him tired, cranky and weak, he can't walk anymore. His immune system is down, so if they go out (and they only do when they have to) he has to wear a mask. 

This makes me feel even more blessed. Being able to work part time and having the chance to do stuff with the little guy is a reason to be grateful. I am. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

a day at Conny Land

For many kids it was the first day of kindergarten or school. It occurred to me that Colin and I would only have one year of freedom left. The kind that allows us to do stuff on the spur of a moment.

I heard on the news that Scott Mckenzie has passed away. 
My mind wandered. San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermen's Wharf, Pier 39, the seals. 

God I miss California! What to do?

A little more than an hour later we arrived in the middle of nowhere - in Lipperswil in Eastern Switzerland. Originally a dolphinarium, Conny Land has faced a lot of pressure from animal protection organizations and may have to remove the remaining three dolphins in 2013. Therefore the place has become a fairground with some animal shows on the side; dolphins, seals, parrots - and goats. Some of the rides are limited to kids taller than 1.20m or older than 8. Still there's a lot you can do with smaller / younger kids.

This is my first try of a slideshow using iPhoto. I am pretty proud of how it turned out - However Youtube is telling me now I am not allowed to publish it because the Huey Lewis song I purchased belongs to EMI. So I had to remove this really uplifting tune.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Paper Mama's Photo Challenge

I came across the Paper Mama's Photo Challenge by coincidence and decided to give it a try - are you going to join me? Learn about the rules here

So this week's theme is GREEN. 

This made me think of a project Colin's daycare did Last year. Every week they talked about a color, did stuff related to that color, and the kids were invited to wear clothes in the color of the week.

Check out Colin and the Rainbow Colors:

Wish me luck - It's not easy being green ;-)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon

You need:

  • Strong paper
  • Gouache paint
  • Silver / Gold glitter
  • Sponge roller
  • Fork
  • Straw
  • Off-road toy car, monster truck or similar

Distribute your colors

Use your sponge roller

Drive around with your car

Use your fork

Drive around some more

It’s fun!