Monday, October 3, 2011

...and the days are filled with...

It's been a busy few weeks for my boys here in La Suisse. Not quite as busy for me, and I find myself sitting around twiddling my thumbs quite a bit. Or pulling out weeds in the garden. Or frantically cleaning windows. None of which is bringing me much joy, truth be told.

My work has really slowed down, suffering from the atrocious US economic situation. Something that wouldn't necessarily have been a problem, had I been able to fill my time with something else.

But being a lady of leisure is only fun if you can be leisurely with someone. And my family has been too busy to hang with me.

My baby B, whose popularity levels at school are 'blasting up the charts' (his quote), went away for his first ever team building exercise with the year group at school. Despite a few nervous moments in the days before the trip, he came home with a massive smile on his face, not to mention a 'School Councillor' badge on his sweater, having run and been elected for a seat on the school's student advisory board. Oh my bursting heart, so proud.

My not-so-baby C has signed up to do the International Award, also called the Duke of Edinburgh's award (, and started this past weekend by doing a 20 km hike the Alps with friends from school. They hiked using a map to a destination where they put up tents, cooked their dinner over bunsen burners and proceeded to sleep as little as possible, before they hiked back down again the next day. Needless to say, the boys were fairly beat up when they came home, while the parents were ecstatic that they had been out in the beautiful fall weather, and not spent the weekend in front of the computers. For my boy, the primary lessson derived from this exercise was that new hiking boots need to be broken in before extensive use. Ouch, and good luck with your climbing class today.

My Dearly Beloved continues to hop around Europe. Paris, Rome, Barcelona. You name it, he's either been there or is going there in the next week or so. From the outside looking in, it sounds very glamorous, but I am sure it is not all caviar and ballgowns, as every Friday evening, he is happy and relieved to be home, lounging on the couch, trying not to lift a finger...

...which, of course, I cannot let him get away with. Not when there are STILL naked light bulbs staring down at me from almost every room in this house of ours. Though progress is being made, as my parents dropped off two light fixtures a couple of weeks ago, which prompty went up in our bedroom. Two light fixtures have also been installed in the basement. In total, we are up to 7 light fixtures. Only 40 or so to go. At this rate....we may be done by Christmas 2012. all this male activity, I am feeling a little lost. My days are not as exciting as I would like them to be. I do need to restart my French lessons, but the class I want to take doesn't start until January. I am also thinking about signing up for a yoga class.

What I really want is to find some energetic people to hang around with. That's proving rather difficult here. There's not a lot of lightheartedness here, I find. Life is tres serieux, and not very FUN. I am having a tough time dealing with that aspect of Switzerland. School mothers are for the most part friendly enough, but, again, not particularly exciting. Yes, I am generalizing grossly here, but that is my impression. They are either very uptight or suffer from serious anxiety issues. Neither one of these options being particularly palatable.

But I shall persevere....the boys being settled was always my biggest concern, and that goal seems to have been attained. So it is time to focus on what I want to do in Switzerland, an undeniably gorgeous place to live. Me thinks this should not be too difficult a task, if I put my mind to it. And I shall. Watch this space.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dipping a toe into...

...the dark and eerily quiet blogging waters.

It feels cold. Unfamiliar....and lonely.

Hellloooo...anybody out there?

Can't say I'm surprised, after weeks, nay, months, of blogging silence.

And yet...I have decided to write again. Hone my skill. Assuming, of course, that there is a skill to be honed.

So, the seat belt's buckled....let's get this show on the road. Who knows where we might end up?

Monday, February 28, 2011

We're In!

After weeks of counting down, we finally got our key and opened the door to our new abode on February 16th. At 10:30 am in true Swiss precision style.

Never mind that they were still caulking as we walked around.

The past two weeks have flown by at breakneck speed, and I've been unpacking and sorting like someone possessed. My closets (I may have mentioned how much I love them) are more or less organized. There are still rooms to be tackled, but things are taking shape.

The kitchen has been christened. Induction is a fantastic way to cook. Like gas, only without the gas. Me like.

Still not feeling my bathroom, but I covet my shower. It is huge and the raindance fixture is fab.

The boys love their rooms so much, we've barely seen them since we arrived. Silly me for thinking they'd actually miss sharing room with their brother.

My barrister father-in-law was here for a 24 hour stopover. He walked around, knocked on a few walls and declared the structure 'well built'. In case you wondered.

There are still a few things to be fixed:

The electrician has been so often, he almost feels like family. French speaking family.

The exterior garden is a mess of another dimension, but the diggers are there and progress should be made soon.

I have made some errors in terms of finishings (Judy wasn't here to help), but they are pretty small and I can live with them for now.

Now, all that's left is to take some pix. I'll be sure to do that just as soon as I find my camera...somewhere in the office, which I really need to organize stat.

Especially since Mike returns from Canada tomorrow and will be none too happy to see all the junk I'm storing on his desk.

And yet....we are IN. And it feels great!

Friday, February 11, 2011

They are cleaning the house!

Is this actually going to happen?

T - 5 days!

(Never mind that the kitchen people, the bathroom people, the electricians and the painters are STILL there...).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You lose some...but you win some, too!

We are at T - 6 days! Just stopped by to discuss placement of various bathroom fixtures. The house is crawling with people. Painters, electricians, bathroom people, kitchen people, outdoor people. I find it hard to believe that they will have time to clean the house for move-in next Wednesday, but my architect remains unflappable.

The Swiss sense of timing. I love it almost as much as I love their chocolate.

Last night, I went for a quick walkthrough on my own, just to take stock of what's there so far. I see lots of things that I like. I am happy with the floors. There's dark tile up and down the stairs, in the kitchen and living area, as well as the bathrooms. Wide plank hardwood in the bedrooms, the office and the dining room. We also installed hardwood in the basement rec room, exercise and movie rooms.

I am also really, really pleased with the boys' bathrooms. They are spectacular, if I do say so myself. Love how the tiles match the cabinetry. Lucky boys. The guest bathroom isn't quite done yet, but seeing as cabinetry is white, it's not going to be much of a surprise. Quite neutral, which at this point is good.

I am NOT that happy with our own bathroom, however. In fact, I am perturbed by quite a bit in it. I am going to try to live with it, but the size of the mirrors is all wrong. We had to make some last minute changes to the sinks, and that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. I also feel like I may have crammed too much furniture into a small room.

Worse, however, is the discovery that the Swiss apparently still are keen users of nasty, evil flourescent bulbs, and I must have had a brain dead moment when I ordered my mirrors. In a sane moment, I would never, ever allow a flourescent light bulb to cross into my house. I hate it with a passion. I couldn't wait to get rid of it in Canada, so it pains me that flourescent lighting is back to haunt me here. Not to mention the fact that we paid thousands of dollars for these darn cabinets.

A plan B is in the works, but something tells me that our bathroom will be undergoing a renovation in a few years' time. That's the price you pay for rushing through the selection process, I guess.

On a good note, the rails and the glass on the stairs is everything I had hoped for. Modern, clean, and almost invisible. Gorgeous. My closets are beautiful, too. Custom made to fit perfectly.

And fortunately for me, no matter how much I mess up on the inside, I just have to step outside onto my huge terrace and glance up at the gorgeous Swiss Alps to know that everything is all right with the world.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Too Fast

My littlest boy is skiing in the French Alps today.

Without me.


Friday, January 28, 2011

...and the pursuit of Happiness

The Swiss.

They make me laugh.

Like when they decide to block off half the road to prune the freezing month of January, starting EXACTLY at the 8 am rush hour. Not an hour later, and certainly not on the weekends. Only when they can cause the biggest possible traffic jam. They also make sure to finish just AFTER 5 pm, to ensure a slow send off for those weary office workers who have opted to drive a car and not use the (admittedly fabulous) public transit system.

Driving a car in Switzerland is definitely not a right. It is a privilege that you earn every day by showing large amounts of patience. In addition to the teeny tiny roads not-really-suitable-for-two-way-traffic-but-let's-give-it-a-go, pedestrians are morally superior demi gods who have absolute rights at crossings, which are multiple and always seem to pop up around tight corners. Allowing not a moment of rest for those good-for-nothing, lazy drivers, who really should be walking to work/school with the rest of us.

And this pedestrian right of way is exercised without caution, with children and adults walking out onto the street at any time, wearing only black in the early morning/evening hours, but never without a steely look of disdain at the car, while it screeches to a halt. Testing the driver's vision and certainly the car's brakes to the fullest.

Thus, my 5 minute morning run with B boy down to school has often turned into a 15 minute stop and go.

No matter. Just more time to enjoy the stunning scenery.

(And secretly giggle at the Swiss from my heated leather seat :)

((Never mind that the Swiss probably giggle even more at my ever expanding waistline as I drive by them working off last night's fondue cheese and rosti on their hike home to the mountain chalet after work)).


In house news, we are making progress! We are at T - 2.5 weeks, and things are looking up. Tiling has been almost completed, ditto hardwood flooring. Baseboards and walls are in the process of being finalized. Ceilings are almost done. Kitchen is partially in, and though I am not thrilled with the colour of the cabinet doors (I swear the sample was greyer!), I am confident we have maximized what little kitchen space we had available to its fullest.

As for the bathrooms....well, we may be making friends with our neighbours sooner than anticipated. But there's still 2 weeks left, so I have hope that at least one will be ready to use.

Besides...(cue the angel music now):

...The closets are being installed this week! This is a massively huge deal for someone who's been living with only cardboard boxes and three tiny drawers for six months. The Swiss do not believe in built-ins, and we have suffered the consequences in our rental. I almost cried with happiness when I saw how large the boys' closets are in the new house, and I had visions of neat piles of folded jeans, t-shirts and rows of starched white school uniform shirts.

As if that'll ever happen in our house.

But all in all, things are on the up and up.

Especially since this was the situation only a few weeks ago (ignore the monkey):

Updated photos to follow!