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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thanks

November's theme is "thanks", now THIS was a thoughie for me, and I admit I did a generous amount of procrastinating. I already posted my Top Ten Things to be thankful for last Thursday.




Living in Switzerland we don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so I can't just post pictures of family and food and be done. 

What I did instead is just going through my November pictures and chose some that represent people or things I am thankful for.

First up the fact that we're doing well as a family. So well indeed that we are able to give back - or forward if you will. The other day we heard about a toy drive initiative. They are collecting toys and kids' clothes that are in good condition and give them to families who are not as privileged and can't buy new stuff for their kids

For us it was also a much needed opportunity to purge, say goodbye to beloved stuff (and make room for new gifts...) 



One of the reasons we are doing well is my hubby's IT company. He founded it with a friend in 1993 when both were just some young guys with good skills, work ethics and no responsibilities. 

Their first office was in a garage, much like Hewlett Packard ;-) 

Hubby's friend, a type A personality, was in charge of pretty much everything that was people and money related. My husband, the introvert, did a great job taking care of all technical matters. They had good times and less good times, hired people, acquired office space, expanded into business software consulting,... 

Hubby's friend's father helped out when they needed advice - or cash. In 2011 the friend passed away unexpectedly - leaving my husband in charge and very much out of his comfort zone from one day to the next. I quit my airline job and joined a couple of months later.

The friend's father didn't want to impose his expertise on us but he stuck around, came by every week, kept auditing our accounting and always had a word of encouragement. His health is declining, and as of 2016 he officially retired (he's in his early 80s). 

The other day he came for a surprise visit, and with "came" I mean he didn't have his wife drive him - he came using his walker. I thought it was the cutest sight in front of our office!


Our school, teachers and library - they provide a wonderful learning environment for my son so he can grow up to become whatever he desires. Politicians want to cut more education funds which caused our teachers to go on strike one afternoon this month. Students got time off, and teachers and parents protested in front of our state's capitol while the guys were trying to have their budget meeting. Still waiting on results...


Starbucks for being my former second place (of employment) and today's third place - where I go, write and enjoy my ultimate freedom! As of this summer the last two Store Managers in the Zurich area that I personally hired / promoted left, which is great for them (they moved to Florida) but sad for me. 


Nature! Whatever us crazy human beings may be up to: elections, protests,... nature doesn't give a *** and keeps doing its own thing. Those bushes are across the street from our office. I took this picture on a particularly dull and foggy day, and I thought the vibrant colors were doing a fabulous job brightening up our day!


I hope you are having as much fun with this post as I am! Please check out the other posts here! 

See you next month!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Top Ten Thursday - Thankful

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!





Happy Thanksgiving! What else would we be doing today than talking about the Top Ten Things we are thankful for?

I wrote a post in 2013. Reviewing it today makes me realize I could basically copy and paste every word and re-post today, but where would be the challenge in that? 

Speaking of challenge, let me tell you a joke I got from Colin:

"What are the challenges you face while doing yoga? 5% focussing on breathing, 5% stretching your body, 5% being aware of your energy flow and 85% avoiding to fart."


Speaking of Colin, as I was tucking him in after a super busy day (we baked for the Christmas Tree Lightning, wrapped about a dozen presents for a charity event and went to hockey practice) I said to him I can't stay long, I still need to finish a post that is due tomorrow morning. "What's it about?" he asked. I told him. "I'll help you" he offered. Anything to avoid bedtime...

This is his list:


  1. Always having something to eat
  2. Having a son
  3. Living in a house
  4. Having clean water
  5. Getting a gift
  6. Getting another gift Playing with gadgets
  7. Getting yet another gift Being white so people don't hate you
  8. Farting Having access to education
  9. Listening to music
  10. Playing hockey


I could very well save and schedule this and go to sleep. 

I am pretty impressed. When did my son become so smart and considerate? #4, 7 and 8? WOW!

Since I've already begun working on my own list though, I'll go ahead and finish it (I can't believe I left out the food!!):

  1. Health - we take it for granted and complain when we get hit by the occasional cold or headache. Last week a vlogger's Mom died of lung cancer, she was only 58 years old an such a sweet person. Lots of people suffer from chronic illnesses. Every day we hear of people, even young children, who are getting sick, and we think it stinks, but there is nothing we can do apart from appreciating our own health and doing something to preserve it.
  2. Personal freedom - you know I crave and occasionally get and enjoy it! An amount of time to myself so I can go to the mall, have coffee and write.
  3. My hubby for taking me as I am and as my boss for giving me a part-time job that allows for some (see #2)
  4. My sweet son who makes me so proud. 
  5. Overall freedom as a Swiss citizen. This recent election and its aftermath in the U.S. reminded me of how privileged I am to live in a country that's not only neutral and peaceful but safe and stable. 5a: nature is moderate around here. No earthquakes, bush fires, flooding and the like. 
  6. Travel - Even though I was just saying how wonderful my country is, I am lucky to be able to travel to other, different places. 
  7. Music - it really enhances my mood many times.
  8. Appliances. This time last year my kitchen machine broke, and the repair took almost three weeks - that's a terribly long time when there are so many cookies, Grittibänze and other treats one wants to bake. Same goes for (dish) washer and drier. So grateful to have their loyal services to count on!
  9. Colin's wonderful teachers, daycare ladies, sports coaches and his new dentist. Yeah, we are seeing one to discuss braces. The two of them, Colin and the dentist, discovered a mutual passion for AC/DC!
  10. (New) friends - special shout-out to the "Bloggers in Switzerland" bunch!

It has been a while since I have seen this old friend here, so I enjoyed his video message that I'd like to share with you:




Your turn now: what are the things you are most grateful for? Share them below in the comment section or link up your own post.

What's next?

In an attempt to make plans work, let's do a Top Ten Holiday Checklist on December 1st. What are the things you absolutely want / need to do? Sign up for it here.

The week after I'd like you to sit down and listen to some Christmas music. Take notes and come back with your list of your Top Ten favourite Christmas songs! Sign up here.



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Are Moms bad friends?




For the last six months my blogging has gone into power saving mode or something. Apart from meeting my writing challenges' deadlines I haven't written a word - and I miss it. 

So many ideas - so little time. 

The other day I came across this article I s*** at being a friend right now, and many online friends agreed with it. 

So did - I except for two things:

First of all... Early in the morning, hubby went to work, kids are still asleep, me, my coffee and my computer are having a quiet moment. 

Hahahaha! 

This scenario is absolutely not happening around here, I have an early riser...

Second, When they start to grow, I will have time on my hands.

Every summer I observe moms of 4-5 year olds claiming that as soon as school break is over and their kid starts Kindergarten and is out of the house all morning they'll go to the gym, volunteer, attend classes, meet friends for coffee, write a book, start a business, ...

I have been there, and I know that unless you're super disciplined and organized, this "I'll have more time" is a hoax, and you just end up wasting enjoying more time on Facebook and procrastinating stretching out your chores.

Colin is now eight, and even though he's pretty independent, and I do have more time theoretically, it doesn't feel like time to exhale, I'm free, how about visiting that friend who lives 2 hours away...

Not happening. New, different responsibilities soak up that extra time. Taking and picking up kids to / from playdates and (sports) activities ( ---> more laundry, disrupted dinner time), meeting the teacher, supervising homework, carving that turnip, getting a gift for a last-minute birthday party invitation... 



When I'm not doing stuff, I want to sit down and write, and we all know how well that has been working out. 

Plus my job at the office.

I am never done.

What if this is not just my destiny but my choice?

We can't have it all! 

Or can we..?


This is so discouraging! The triangle doesn't even consider friends, me-time, hobbies or sleep!? Or are they supposed to be part of the sanity?



There are only so many ingredients and layers one can squeeze into a sandwich. 


Source
I was wondering what others had to say, so I posted in a couple of FB groups. This is what I gathered:

Girlfriends are hard to find, and when you do, over time you'll distinguish between real, great friends who are there for you no matter what and 2nd level friends (this term made me laugh, even though what this blogger friend said made total sense: 2nd level friends basically are nice, yet more superficial acquaintances who are more likely to cancel on you.)

Low self-esteem: Moms who think they're bad moms think they're bad friends as well. 
I don't have much to offer, my house is a mess, my cake is a fail, I don't have anything exciting to tell. More often than not this applies to stay at home moms. 



Quality over Quantity: I am not into socialising with a huge bunch of girls, I prefer to have a few good friends, and even though we don't get to spend much time together (worse yet, even if we don't live on the same continent and therefore in completely different time zones) we still feel connected and wouldn't want to miss this friendships.

(personally, thanks to my insomnia, time zones are actually a blessing because during my quiet time in the middle of the ?#@*&%! night I get to chat with my online friends!)

Moms are the best friends to other Moms because we walk in similar shoes and are understanding of each other's challenges. Unless they're overly critical of the other's choices and values:  Don't you think you should have tried harder at breastfeeding? Are you aware about the dangers of posting your kids' pictures on Facebook? Haven't you heard that vaccines cause allergies? Are you serious, you allow your kid to sleep in your bed? Why would you do x or y...?

Moms are not so great friends to non-Moms and vice versa. Diaper Rash vs Board Meeting ;-)

(I don't have many non-Mom friends because most of my friends are Moms, have been before me, actually. The few non-Mom friends I do have are single and / or past the child-bearing age and I love them dearly! There is one couple, actually I have been friends with the guy, who have been going through the terrible infertility journey, and we seem to have fallen out. I sent them a postcard from South Africa last year, and he sent me an e-mail to thank me. I just checked and found out I have never replied. Darn! Time to fix that...)

It's question of priorities. Now matter of your lifestyle, if your friends are important, you make them a priority and find a way to connect! 

Time and Energy Levels are disablers, especially for working moms. By the time they make their way home from the office, pick up the kids, make dinner, tuck in the little ones, the Mom is ready to collapse in bed or at the very least on the sofa herself. The choice between party clothes and a comfy PJ seems ridiculous!



There was one answer I liked a lot because it was spot-on, so I'll just quote what my new online friend Kirsten wrote. Thank you again for letting me use this brilliantly written statement!

I think moms are stretched more thinly than other women because they have to balance the demands of motherhood. Our schedules are not really our own. We are sort of on-call all the time and don't really have any "free time." 

But it doesn't mean we don't need our friends and love going out, love having a good time. I think people think once you have a child, you lose your sense of fun and spontanety but that's just not true. It's just hard to relax unless you know your kids are alright. 


We aren't usually flaky but we do tend to run late. 


I always give my friends a generous time "cushion" of 30 minutes or so because it's so hard to leave the house with young kids. You never know when there might be a tantrum, an accident, etc etc. But I think moms are more real with eachother than non-moms because our time is precious and we don't have time for small talk. We want real, supportive buddies who we can let our hair down with! 


With whom we can be our real selves!


My real life friend (American living in Switzerland) I met for coffee and German conversation today, wanted to contribute to my post. She simply said "I would not have survived without my amazing Mommy Friends here." I'm lucky and happy to be one of them, even though I didn't to anything other than enjoy spending time with her!

How about you? 

What kid of friends to you think Moms are? 
Are you a Mom? 
Are you a good friend? 

I'd love to hear from you, please leave me a comment!

Disclaimer: as a part-time working mom I am equal part SAHM and working mom, so I get both sides. I hope nobody is offended by the memes ;-)

Top Ten Thursday - Plans

Welcome to Top Ten Thursday!





Today we're talking about the Top Ten Things that went / didn't go exactly as planned in our lives.

In general I can't complain at all. I had a nice childhood, went through school without any major problems, and even with the occasional setbacks I managed to have good jobs, find a wonderful guy to marry and eventually have a fabulous son. We live in a safe area, and we are healthy and happy. (I may use this as a draft for next week's post on being thankful!)

So what I'm writing about today is definitely a first world thing. As you may know each November our highlight is to meet our friends at the Basel Fall Fair and enjoy the endless food and entertainment it has to offer. 

This year we wanted to be super organised about it. The plan was as follows:

  1. Get some work done in the morning (hubby)
  2. Pick him up at the office at 1pm
  3. Meet in the afternoon when the rain was supposed to have subsided
  4. Wear my warm and comfy boots that can't under any circumstances get wet
  5. Drive to our friend's suburban town and park at the train station vs trying to find parking in busy, crowded Basel downtown
  6. Bring my 1/2-Tax (public transportation card that allows you to buy half priced fare)
  7. Have a charged phone to take pictures and to reach the others in case you get lost in the crowds. Also use phone case as wallet vs bringing a purse
  8. Go on lots of rides (the kids)
  9. Sample tons of yummy fair food (everybody)
  10. Stay until late so we didn't have to make dinner upon coming home


This is how it went down:


  1. Husband did leave for the office while C and I were still in our PJ's. 
  2. Discovered his text message "train leaves at 1:34pm, please bring my boots." as we got out of the shower.
  3. Didn't trust weather forecast and put on reasonable, supposedly warm and water resistant shoes I had recently purchased but never worn so far. Remembered to pack his shoes, too. Took me an extra two minutes to find them, btw.
  4. Picked up nervous / grumpy husband shortly after 12:50pm
  5. Drove 33 miles (a 38 minutes' drive according to Google Maps.) Hubby purchased train tickets online
  6. Let husband and son jump out while looking for parking spot. Missed a turn and used wrong way ally. Noticed I only had 4 bucks in coins which allows you to leave your car until 4:30pm. No credit card option at parking meter
  7. Hustled to railway platform where friends were waving as train was arriving. Noticed I left my phone in the car, hooked up to charging cable, 1/2-Tax Card and two 20-bills IN the phone case, leaving me with one 20-bill in my jeans' back pocket. 
  8. Was now thoroughly annoyed for not being able to take pictures, for wearing shoes that were not warm and not comfy but at least water resistant which was necessary as the rain resumed.
  9. Paid for one fairground ride and two treats, otherwise freeloaded from husband and friends who had to raid the ATM in the middle of the afternoon. Worried about getting a parking ticket.
  10. All in all still managed to enjoy a good time. Fortunately the lady in the train missed checking our tickets, otherwise I would have gotten fined for not being able to produce my 1/2-Tax Card.

As I didn't get to take any pictures this year, here are some shots from the warm, dry and sunny day in 2015. It pretty much looks the same every year, only that the kids grow taller!




Is it just me or are your plans failing you as well? Tell me about it, below in comments or link up your own post using the linky-tool.

Also sign up for November 24's topic: Top then things to be thankful for 

In an attempt to make plans work, let's do a Top Ten Holiday Checklist on December 1st. What are the things you absolutely want to do? Sign up for it here.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Use Your Words - High Jinks

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once, and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.


My words are: 

cooking ~ stuffing ~ visitors ~ stress ~ karaoke

They were submitted by The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver - thanks, Rena!

These words scream "Thanksgiving" - I'm not going there, though, and here is why:
  1. I am still in Halloween mode, and I haven't gotten around to do a post.
  2. In Switzerland we don't officially celebrate Thanksgiving for a number of reasons (in Switzerland we don't officially celebrate Halloween either, so you got me there.)
If you have been reading me for a while you know that I love Halloween, and I love St. Patrick's Day, and I go to great lenghts to prepare for a giant bash for our visitors. 

I do a lot of crafting, decorating, cooking and baking, and I need everything to be just the way I want it - meaning I have to do it alone. And yes, I get stressed out every time because as early as I try to start, I always run out of time. 

There are always more things I want to do like more ghost lights, decorative Halloween themed placemats, Halloween Bingo, a treasure hunt or a karaoke sequence wearing costumes.  

"The thing is" my husband says, "people don't know about what's missing. They see what's there, and that's plenty!" 

iPhone Panorama feature - unreal, isn't it?

I kept my LEGO man, dressed up as Minecraft Enderman
This year Halloween fell on a Monday. What a stupid day for a party. Colin has swim class on Mondays at 5:30 pm which we decided we were going to skip this week. His buddy Eric was also opting out of jujutsu - perfect. 

In the morning we found a surprise: Cookie, our Elf on the Shelf made an early appearance to party with the girls!

Halloween jokes on the snack box, and Colin was off!



The boys came to our place directly after school and had the best intentions of doing their homework right away. 




Then they got so distracted by all the cool stuff. 



"Wow, what are those? Ice "cubes"? Do they really glow in the dark? Coooool!"
"You've got a Tom & Jerry, Halloween edition, how fun, may we watch it?"
"Oh, look, skeleton straws!"
"A spider web!"


By the time they were done eating their snacks and putting away their school bags I had to start dinner while they got to watch Tom & Jerry's Hi-Jinks. I could tell they were having a great time as I heard them snickering and giggling. Of course they were also stuffing their faces with Halloween M&Ms I put on the table "for after", hahaha.



When everybody arrived from work, we had bread bowls filled with pumpkin soup, we had dogs and... we had spiders. Well, black olives. 


For those who didn't spoil their appetite with candy, there was skull cake for dessert. 


Finally the boys got the green light to get dressed and run off.


Us moms followed discreetly.


Our group consisted of two mommies, one mummy, a skeleton and Darth Vader, pretty scary company!


Whose house shall we visit first? At first - not unusual for Colin and his best friend - they were wasting valuable trick or treat time by arguing whether to go to the triplet's house or the opposite direction. 

Once again this year we encountered different kind of households:
  • Halloween grinches who go out on purpose
  • Those who only pretend not to be home (isn't it ridiculous to turn off the lights as soon as they hear their bell ringing?)
  • People who appreciate getting rid of candy crap that is past their expiration date 
  • Health nuts who refuse to join the American way and instead offer organic apples
  • Sweet folks who learned from their grandkids that they need to be prepared and have gummy bears handy
  • Halloween lovers who aren't home cause they're trick or treating themselves but are super thoughtful and leave a huge "help yourself" basket full of treats in front of their door
  • Dads who don't care to go out there but are OK holding down the fort and dutifully hand out treats 
On the street we met a family with their young son. He didn't have a costume, and he didn't have any candy. I was very proud of our gang. They readily shared some sweets and gave him tips on whose door to knock.


In Switzerland our fall back had already happened on Sunday before Halloween, so it got dark really quickly. We thought this might trick the boys into agreeing to go home at 8pm since it seemed like the middle of the night. They didn't concur, of course. 

The next morning, our Elf had disappeared - not without leaving a note, though. "I'll be back in three weeks" she promised. Can't wait!



Now go find out what my friends' words were, and what they did with them:                                                                                                




Baking In A Tornado