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Thursday, November 28, 2013

With hope the odds don't matter - happy Thanksgiving, Heather!

Last week I was approached by Heather, whom I don't know in person, but she obviously read my turkey post.

Heather was diagnosed with Pleural Mesothelioma 8 years ago, just after giving birth to her baby girl, Lily, and the doctors gave her 15 months to live. Looking at the picture below - baby Lily is now 8 years old - you can tell that Heather is not only a cancer survivor, but also an amazing person with a super positive attitude!

Heather, Cameron and Lily
You can watch and read Heather's story in her own words. 

Where do I come in? I wish I could tell you that I was one of the doctors who cured her, but no. I am just a blogger whom she asked to spread awareness and post about what I am grateful for.

I tried to observe myself for the last couple of days and take mental notes about the many things I am thankful for.

To have my husband of almost 10 years and son in my life. They are everything to me! 

Christian who works 6 days a week to make sure everything is taken care of at the office and is happy that I get to do fun stuff in the meantime. 

Colin who is smart, cheerful and warmhearted and appreciates that I go all the way when it comes to birthday and other parties!

My parents who live in the same village, take care of Colin, visit often, are supportive and don't butt in our parenting style.

And who like to have a glass of wine!

My job to which I can walk to - what a treat on the first day of snow! 
Not only am I grateful that I don't have to commute to the airport anymore, but that I am able to walk at all. I know that many people can't.

My car - because walking is nice and all. but some days I wouldn't be able to carry all the junk I have to move!

My contact lenses - without them I wouldn't be able to see a dramatic sky like this, also I wouldn't be able to drive. 
The camera my mom gave me. The pictures I take are much better than with the old one.

Good friends who visit and make us laugh!

My colleagues from the charity. Even if I quit, I will remember how many of them are so generous with their time and have a big heart!

My coffee bean friends - former and current Starbucks partners. They contributed to an incredible experience during the 5 years I was there. So great to bump into them at the mall and enjoy a spontaneous coffee tasting together!

My community. I grew up here, so I know quite some people around here. I feel safe letting Colin walk to school alone. 

Today the Christmas tree was being set up which is an event that attracts many citizens. Some bring gingerbread and other yummies for the potluck buffet. I was talking to a mother of a Kindergarten friend of Colin's. This is going to be their last holiday season in Switzerland for a while - in January they will move to Bolivia for a couple of years.

My freedom - politically, religiously. Living in the land of milk and honey chocolate, a neutral country with an unemployment rate of less than 4%. Being located in a part of the world where there are no tornadoes, earthquakes, floodings, forest fires.

And all this was just off the top of my head. 

I haven't even mentioned yet how grateful I am for the Internet, Facebook, Youtube, Blogger, Pinterest, you name it. Kidding aside, 

I have met many online friends who I care about! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Countdown till Christmas - the Advent Calendar

The other day I was chatting with a blogger friend, and I mentioned I was going to start wrapping little gifts for our advent calendar. She told me as she is Jewish, she didn't grow up with this custom. Oooohps! Naive old me thought that all the children in the world had an advent calendar -one of my very favorite childhood memory- at least like this:

open a window that contains a holiday themed picture
every day, Dec. 1st - 24
or like this: 
find a chocolate in each window
Colin had one of those when he was 2 years old: Colin's advent calendar movie 


Something fell out. Here! Something fell out! May I have another one?
I told you, Colin, if you can take it out by yourself you may have another one (we were several days behind)
How can I open this? And how do I get it out? 
You will find out, I am sure!
How do I get it out?
What could you do to remove it?
There - this one is already out. I don't know how to remove this!
Colin, do you want me to show you a trick?
Give me your advent calendar - watch! Oh! It fell out! Now tell me, who gave you this nice advent calendar?
It's from great-grandma!
And what did you say to her?
Thank you!
Do you like your chocolate?
Now we have to wait till tomorrow, then we can open another window!
(For the life of me, I don't get what that last word was that he said!)

As I said I was under the impression, the advent calendar was universal. 
Upon asking around in Asia, the Middle East and even in South America it dawned on me that it must be something Christian and only common in North-Western Europe, North America and Australia.

So this post is for those who don't know about advent calendars - and for those who do and can't get enough! I assorted some varieties:
envelopes in a basket
24 buckets

Then there's the themed advent calendars:
wine, whisky, beer, clearly a guy's kind of thing
Starbucks 2013 - magnetic treat tins
This isn't an actual advent calendar - BUT IT SHOULD BE:
add a charm to your bracelet every day
We've had 24 jute bags so far. 

Wait, we also had a LEGO choo choo train calendar:
So when I wanted to introduce another idea this year it turned out that in Colin's world, the bags were the real advent calendar! Even if the bags are too small to hold a Disney car, let alone a plane! So we will see. As it turns out I don't know where I stored the jute bags. (For real!)
Need a Cars bag for the large items! (2011)
Then there are the village advent calendars. People decorate a window that is visible from the street and unveil it on their assigned evening The house we live in as a bit remote from the street, so last year we signed up to be the Dec 11 window of our community's advent calendar at the office which is located on the main street. Plenty of people passing by.
(Polar) bears with their sleds, skis and hockey sticks
Typically the host of the day offers some holiday treats -
much appreciated by everyone!
Colin's daycare decorated a window, too and performed a song
a couple of glasses with a tea light, strategically placed
on shelves result in a wonderful looking giant number 17!
This year - apart from the one for our family - I am contributing to a couple of other advent calendars. As I don't want to spoil the surprise I will not share what they are about  beforehand. Expect a post called "More advent calendars" around Dec 10!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuepfliqueen's Adventskalender (Fenster Nr. 9)

English text on the bottom of this page

Dies ist mein Beitrag zu Kristina's virtuellem Adventskalender:

Ich versteigere eine 8 FL OZ (235ml) Flasche "Warm Vanilla Sugar" Body Lotion von Bath & Body Works. 

Dazu bitte ich die Teilnehmer, diesen Blog Post zu lesen und auf der Facebookseite einen Betrag zu bieten. 

Der Erlös geht an den Verein "Mael's Leben". Dort hat es auch weitere Informationen zum Verein, und wie Ihr helfen (spenden) könnt. Ich selber werde pro "Hit" (Besuch auf meinem Blog) einen Franken überweisen. 

Bitte also in der Zwischenzeit diese Seite weiter teilen!

Wer ist Mael? 

Mael leidet an der unheilbaren und tödlichen Krankheit Nieman Pick Typ C. Ich bin mit Mael und seiner Familie befreundet, er ist gleich alt wie mein Sohn Colin. Vor einiger Zeit habe ich schon einmal über Mael geschrieben, und gerade in der Weihnachtszeit würde ich ihm einfach ein Wundermittel wünschen, damit er unbeschwert und fröhlich leben kann!
Captain Mael mit seinen Brüdern (und Colin)
Brot liebt er - darf es aber in Kombination mit seinem Medikament nur in Massen essen
Aaaachtung, fertig, los!
Tierfreund Mael

English text

I participate in Kristina's virtual advent calendar where you raffle a small gift and ask people in exchange to do something, like to send you a poem, like your page, do a handstand, you name it. 

It is my turn Dec 9, and my giveaway is a  8 FL OZ (235ml) bottle of "Warm Vanilla Sugar" Body Lotion from Bath & Body Works which is not available in Switzerland. 

I ask people to read this blog post, go to the FB page and purchase the body lotion by auction. The funds will be wired as a donation for a cause I chose. It is in favor of Mael and other people with rare diseases. Mael is a 5 year old boy, just like my son Colin. Mael suffers from Nieman Pick Type C, an incurable and fatal disease. I wrote about him before

Especially during the Holiday season I wish there was a miracle cure so he can lead a happy-go-lucky life! I will match each hit on my blog with one Swiss Franc = a Dollar.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why US expats go cold TURKEY in Switzerland

Because not only don't the Swiss give thanks (yeah, we seem to take everything for granted around here), but there is 

  • no NFL 
  • no Presidential Turkey Pardon
  • no Macy's Parade
  • no (ingredients for) cute snacks
  • no Black Friday

But let's start at the beginning, it all started earlier today on Facebook (where else):

For those who can't just recall the Mission Impossible soundtrack, there you go:

Now I can't speak from personal experience, but I hear every expat complaining about the absurd price for a whole turkey in Switzerland. Let's take Trailing Wife Mrs Campbell - she prefers to spend Thanksgiving back home, and I can't blame her. The ingredients she is listing that are hard - if not impossible - to purchase around here are only random examples.

Just take the lovely maple leaf sandwich cookies below. The recipe requested Mapleine - an item you just grab from the baking ingredient aisle of your local Walmart. After hours and hours of browsing websites that might ship to Switzerland and spending about 100 bucks on American Food Avenue for stuff I didn't really need - but no Mapleine- I had to befriend the author of the recipe, bribe her with Swiss chocolate, and she took pity in me. A week or so later I got some in the mail. 

Back to the turkey topic. Meat in Switzerland is beyond expensive in general, this is why my Southern Californian friend Crystal thought it was a good idea to go groceries shopping in France.  Read about the price she paid.

Even if you are willing to dig deep into your pockets, the adventure of getting your turkey can almost fail due to lack of vocabulary - happened to the lovely Cheryl from Seattle. Brave lady that she is, did she not only manage to purchase the ingredients for their dinner, but she also cooked what looks like a delicious meal.

Also my local friend Angela -originally from sunny Florida- got strange looks and comments when she put her turkey on the supermarket conveyor belt. 

With Thursdays Sports Channel program preview

  • Detroit Lions against the Green Bay Packers
  • Dallas Cowboys doing battle with the Oakland Raiders 
  • Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Baltimore Ravens 

and the Thanksgiving supermarket scene from one of my favorite Meg Ryan movies I leave you for now.