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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Colin is out like a light, and I feel a flu coming up and will soon go to bed as well. 
Just a couple of impressions to share.

When Colin came home from Kindergarten at 3:30pm he could barely wait for his friends to arrive at 6pm. He helped assembling the goodie bags. As he wanted to make sure we didn't give "bad stuff" to the kids he tasted everything. 

Our sweets to make trick or treat baggies
Polar bear making sure nothing gets pilfered
Then the dress fitting!
I had found a lady on the internet who made the cutest pumpkin dress for him - which he is thrilled about, just not as a costume, because it has no mask!!

I was glad to have ordered this one from the internet a while ago:

Downside: can't see well with the mask on!
While I was prepping the pumpkin and carrots for the soup he was busy playing with the iPad. I was glad he stopped asking "how long till they're here" every five minutes.

Then his buddies finally arrived, and they were so eager to get going, I could barley take this picture:

Knock, knock - who's there?

I was surprised to see how many of our neighbors were prepared and had some sweets for the kids. Not many houses were decorated, though. I liked the house of my girlfriend I grew up with. Interestingly we live about within the same short distance like in our childhood - only that it takes Halloween or another event for us to see each other.

One older boy thought it was extremely embarrassing to go trick or treating with "the moms", so they ran off. Us mommies were hanging around on the sidewalk for a while until I noticed how late it was, so I went home to untangle the Trash Bag Spider Webs and finish cooking our dinner.

Spooky soup
Mummy dogs
And a glass of wine. Or two. Make that three. Oh well, who is counting! 
I had originally planned to bake another pumpkin cake using this recipe Paul's Pumpkin Bars but then I thought they are going to eat their treats, no need for cake.

I enjoyed this evening so much even though I had a headache and the boys were screaming and laughing as soon as they stopped eating. 

Nights like this make up for the daily grind!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hockey School

Yesterday was a big day - night, actually. Start of Hockey School for kids aged 5 - 9! 

We heard about it through Andy, a friend who used to be a coworker of mine in another lifetime. He is in charge of the hockey youngsters, and we usually attend the skateathon which is being organized for fundraising. 
2010 Paul di Pietro, then EV Zug forward, Stanley Cup winner 1993 with Montréal Canadiens
2011 Andy, chief youth development
2012 Jussi Markkanen, goaltender
2013 best daddy / hockey buddy
So we were told that even if he can't skate, Colin is welcome to join Hockey School as soon as he turns 5.

We arrived at Bossard Arena in time - or that's what we thought. Paying entrance fee, renting ice skates, all went very well. Until we arrived in the hallway leading to the locker rooms. A loooong line of parents, both nice and pushy ones. Kids, some already dressed, others in street clothes. It was raining outside, so everyone had wet jackets, umbrellas and bulky hockey bags. Sauna, anyone?

our line wasn't as neat
Most people seemed to be there for the first time, too, so they didn't know how this was all going to go down, either. When we finally arrived at the desk, we found out that this was the place to register - yes, fill in a piece of paper! Why on earth didn't they put it on the website for people to download and fill in at home? - and pay for the jersey. Then we had to get in another line in order to get a helmet and gloves. I asked if that would be our equipment until the end of the season. The lady, clearly annoyed by the many ignorant people was like "OF COURSE, do you think I want to come back here EVERY WEEK for this?"

We were now officially late. Half of the training hour was already over until we even started to put the gear on.
Ready at last!
There must have been almost 100 kids, and we were among the last ones to get onto the ice. As I mentioned, Colin's skating skills are on a beginner level, and the appropriate description for how he gets places would be "ice stalking". 

After a couple of minutes of struggeling to get to his group, a tutor picked him up and pushed him gently:
Thanks for the ride!
From time to time someone blew the whistle so the kids knew they had to pay attention. The groups alternated to different areas where they had to jump over sticks laying on the ice or try and score the puck into a mini goal. 

Although he noticed that the other kids skated much better than him, he seemed happy. At least he never cried. Other kids kept coming to the "parents bench" and complaining about others shoving them or that they just plain fell. 

It was very interesting to see how many non-Swiss parents encourage their children to play ice hockey. 

Let me rephrase that:

The average Swiss boy plays soccer. It was interesting to see so many expats in one place. 

Zug, the city we were at, is known for its international companies (Johnson & Johnson, Glencore, Hugo Boss, Adidas, BP, Shell, Siemens, Kellogg's, Barilla, Ferrero, Mars, just to name a few), and I must know because I have worked for one of them in the above mentioned other lifetime.

As a matter of fact for a period of almost 10 years, I, and later, we attended the yearly fun hockey tournament!
How about that slapshot ;-)
Anyway, I was thrilled to hear lots of English and Scandinavian speaking people. I asked one of the dads where they were from. If I would have had to guess I'd say it wasn't Swedish. "Finland", he said. Aha. Not much later I heard that same phoneme from another family. "Finnish?" I asked, and they replied something I didn't understand. I didn't because they were speaking Finnish, haha. 

One little guy, Felix, kept coming to see his mom and big brother. She told him to get back on the ice until time was up, and then they would go home for some meatball dinner. Now he was afraid he was going to miss his meatballs, and he climbed over the ring fence again - just as the other kids were starting a race.

Meatball Mom
Then there was the whistle again, and the coach must have asked something. The kids screamed YEEEEEAAAH twice and then stormed to the exit. 
100 little hockey players - everyone trying to get to the locker room first. 

Turned out he asked "did you like it tonight?" and "are you gonna be back next week?"

Colin did like it and he does want to go back next week. So I will be hockey mom / mama taxi for the next 5 months. It is a 50 minutes' drive with very few freeway miles and lots of countryside highways, through villages and along fields. It used to be my commute to work, now it may be his commute to work - after all he does want to end up with a NHL team ;-)

Until then: practice, practice, practice.

From the ice rink this is Colin's mommy saying "thanks for reading and see you next time!"

Friday, October 18, 2013

How voluntary is volunteering?

"I think you have something stamped on your forehead that says PICK ME, PICK ME! Hahaha!"

My friend who said that is exactly right.

In possibly every position I’ve held I did some enrichment and enlargement of my original job. Wait, I didn’t do it actively – it just happened! Exotic requests that fell in nobody’s job category magically landed on my desk. And I embraced them. It’s always good to broaden your horizon and do some networking, right? 

As a result I got 
 more tasks, more responsibility and more pressure. The only thing that never changed was the amount of time to do it all. After all a day has 24 hours for everybody. 

I was "Lady B" and often spent weekends in bed with fever of unknown origin and a killer headache. Ironically around that time, I missed a Sunday brunch with a guest speaker who gave a presentation on how to prevent a burn-out.

In retrospective it was almost a miracle that under these circumstances I got pregnant at all, and I often think that this little guy saved my life on so many levels. 

I was going to quit my job and stay at home, take one day at a time, grow some herbs in a pot, bake Christmas cookies, and everything would be OK.

Let's skip the days where taking a shower and making lunch that didn't come from the microwave felt like achievements. 

My hairdresser signed on to be my English student. She told me about the charity association she was a member at. She kept talking about how they urgently needed  someone like me - take charge, business skills - on their board. 

It got me thinking. I was approaching the big 4, and all I had ever done so far was for myself, I was now a SAHM and had some time to spare when little C was napping - wasn't it time to give back? The members of the board at the time seemed so desperate to hand over their roles to "new brooms" and assured me that all I had to do was taking the minutes of 3 - 4 meetings and organize an event per year. 

That sounded doable, and even though I was interviewing for a part-time position at the airport around that time, I agreed to be available for election.

I felt like a singer who was invited to show up at the recording of a charity project. As soon as I would walk out of the studio, money would start rolling in, everybody would be happy and I could go on with my regular life. 

Was that naive? Probably. 

Fast forward. The original members of the board are long gone, and new, great ones could be found arduously. Generous amounts coming from yearly membership fees and a couple of events could be donated at the end of the past years to institutions supporting women, families, children and sick people. 

The 3-4 meetings don't happen per year but per quarter. Same goes for the events. In addition this summer we expanded, remodeled and inaugurated the kids' consignment store that is part of our society. Oh, wait, there was also the replacement of the whole sales team. 

When I started, we were communicating with our 400 members by paper mail. In the meantime over 100 ladies are on our e-mail distribution list, and we have a Facebook Page and a Website which is pretty worth mentioning. Why? A tremendous percentage of our members are aged 70 and over and isn't really online. We want to attract new people though.

Why am I even telling you all this? First and foremost I am talking to myself. You just get to eavesdrop and (dis)agree.

Little C doesn't take naps anymore, he attends Kindergarten which comes with parent-teacher conferences and a set of events like the upcoming turnip parade. 
He will start "Ice Hockey School" next week which means taking him to an arena that is an hour's drive away every Wednesday afternoon. 

Since hubby's business partner passed away in summer 2011, he has been working 6 days a week. 

I work 3 days a week, I do laundry, I buy groceries, I cook, I clean up - and every task that I am supposed to do for the charity club starts to feel like a strain. I am tired. 

I am either a case of "give them an inch, and they will take a mile" or I really suck at saying NO. 

So last month I announced that as of general assembly in March 2014, after a regular 4 year tenure of office,  I will resign. 

This sounds like I am the President of the U.S., haha. Believe me, there are much more interested parties who want to become President of a country than charity board member. 

PS: speaking of Presidents. I am glad they agreed on extending the government's debt ceiling. A permanent shutdown would have resulted in this:

Update: I posted on a former classmates FB wall to wish him a happy birthday. Of course he replies "thank you so much, how are you, we should have a reunion again, what do you think?"

School reunions!! I have organized many, and when people bump into me they ask "so when will be the next one?" I have tried saying "whenever YOU organize one" - but then I haven't seen those faces for 10 years until I had a weak moment again.

What is it? Am I the only one who keeps track on people's whereabouts? Who can send out an e-mail? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Sleepover

In July Colin was invited to his very first sleepover. I dropped him off at Eric's house, and they went to a dinosaur museum, had a BBQ, splashed in the kiddie pool, watched cartoons and went to bed really, really late. 

This weekend it was our turn, and I took the boys to the movies to see "Planes".

Very excited to say the least!
This is what I saw of them all the way from the parking garage to the cinema entrance
Which way to entrance 4?
Sharing some popcorn
At this point they could relax a bit. There is an age limit at the movies. 8 year olds are allowed to see the movie on their own, 6 year olds need to bring an adult, Younger kids, well, they are supposed to stay at home and wait till the DVD is out. We had explained the concept of a white lie to our 5 year olds and hoped for the best. Nobody was even remotely interested in the kids' ages, and let me just tell you, there were boys much shorter / younger.

We are ready!

If you haven't had a chance to watch it, you can watch the trailer and read about the story. If you liked "Top Gun" and "Cars" you should see it. The movie soundtrack alone is giving me goosebumps:

On our whole way back they were debating about how mean Ripslinger was, and why all the planes were giving Dusty spare parts, and how tight the race got at the end, and how cool it was in general.
They who stuff their faces with popcorn...
...have no room left for dinner!
Who cares about food anyway when they have their best friend over to play with?

They did a great job putting on their PJs and getting ready for bed, picked a bedtime story, actually two, and got the iPhone to listen to another story.

After that we had to get over there and tell them to keep it down 2 or 3 times, but around 10pm it got quiet. Around 6:30am they were awake, went to the bathroom and started playing and having fun, so we could actually have a lie-in.

Hubby made breakfast, then I had them take a shower and get dressed - just in time when Eric's father and little brother came to pick him up.

We were really pleased about how peaceful and mannered it all went down. Eric was a great draft horse. When I said "go wash your hands", he went and did just that. What I am used from Colin is "......", "I dont wanna" or "not now". 

Also it was so nice to see what good friends they are. So we said we will do it again some time!

In the afternoon Colin's Godmother visited, but our little guy was really, really tired and possibly had a fever, so he missed parts of the visit.

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Cookies and Brownie Ghosts
Heidi & family = always good company!
Belated birthday gifts
Sleep is the best medicine