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Monday, September 29, 2014

We have arrived

All in all the trip went well. 

Heathrow's got a problem, though. They make passengers who exit their plane at terminal 5 who want to board their connecting flight at terminal 5 (with no possibility to buy liquids or weapons) go through security AGAIN! Hundrets of passengers have to wait in line. 

At first we didn't even realize what the line was for and passed it. Until the sign started saying 'international transit'. I admit we squeezed in and probably saved an hour by cutting the line. We still queued for an hour and weren't amused. 

Halfway there I realized I had my flash drive in my carry-on. So? My USB stick is part of a miniature Swiss army knife, our office's merchandise item. Shoot! Should I put it in the baggie, along with my hand lotion and lip balm? Should I just leave it where it was? Should I put it in Colin's pencil case? Why didn't I think of that when I was packing? Why didn't the guys in Zurich notice it? 

It went through fully inspected along with two additional lip balms, all red or pink, so the knife was basically camouflaged, haha!

So the flight was long and uneventful, it never got dark even though our inner clock said it's bedtime. 

We arrived around 7pm local time = 4am at home. Immigration in Canada ascompared to the U.S. is totally relaxed and painless. The only form you fill out is for customs, and even though I had to check YES for 'we are bringing dairy products' (what dairy products, the officer asked. 'Cheese' - what kind? 'Raclette') and YES  for 'gifts that exceed CAD 60' (what gifts, how much worth? A DVD player, about a hundret, he didn't even ask what currency) he wrote OK with his red marker, and the guys at customs let us through.

Rental car was a bit of a pain. The guy was very motivated. Not at all. Our voucher stated in full English what car, child seat and insurance we booked. It even said 'our customer does not need additional insurance' he wanted to sell some. Just give us the d*** car! Of course they are legally not allowed to help us installing the kids' seat. It's dark, it's late, we were hungry and tired = cranky, the booklet was in French. Not too happy. Hubby brought the wrong thingie to adjust the GPS to the windshield, satellite connection was not catching up, and the GPS thought we were still in the Chicago area where we last used it. Tension rising.  
We missed the hotel entrance but ended up in the first Tim Horton's of our trip, so things were looking good again.

The hotel receptionist thanked me for being a loyal gold member - it was nice to hear! Parking was therefore free of charge, I like!

It's almost 6:30am, we slept a couple of hours and are ready for a shower and breakfast!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Funny Friday - Ghost Shooting

Today’s post is another episode of a monthly feature. It’s called Funny Friday, and is a collaborative project that I’ll post on the last Friday of every month. 

Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Here’s today picture. It was submitted by Stacy sews and schools

1. I'm not sure about the route that the GPS is suggesting. U-turn my a**!

2. That ice cream vendor was soooo annoying! I want to give him the finger!

3. Gotta play along. They are looking up to me. Yay. Are we there yet? Hotdog later?

4. Now it hit me!!! I figured out why the chicken crossed the road...

5. Guys, you're supposed to shoot the ghosts..!

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile: 

The Momisodes

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Part-time working mom claims her crown

This has been an interesting morning, so I thought I'd share it with you!

It includes all of the items below and more. Sounds promising? Read on...

It all started with a visit at the dentist's at 9am. 

Actually the story goes way back to mid-April when I bit into a piece of freshly home baked bread, and there was this cracking sound / sensation going on in my mouth. A tooth that consisted mainly in filling broke. It was during spring break, and I had learned just the previous week that my regular dentist was on vacation, and the office was closed. Luckily I knew where to call now, the emergency dental clinic. 

They let you rinse with alien water!
After two sessions that I fully paid for (this information is important) I walked out of there with a brand new crown. 

Or so I thought. At least nobody told me differently.

Lately people from the clinic have started to call me randomly on my cell, at home and at the office. Always different assistants, but every one of them told me I needed to come in and complete my procedure. I was like "this has got to be a joke. I am done. I was there in April, I paid for it, I was free to go?!"

"No, no, no, what you got in April was a temporary crown! You need to come in, and you'll get the permanent one!"

After the 4th or 5th call I was thoroughly fed up. I told the poor girl if there really was some important procedure for me, then why didn't they call me in April or May? Plus that I didn't have time for this sh**, I would think about it and get in touch after my vacation. 

I remembered sitting in the waiting room and listening to the phone calls. What I heard wasn't very encouraging. I could tell that they had a huge mess, and communication between shifts wasn't happening. 

I talked to my friend Beth who works for a dentist. She said if my appointments were only a week apart, then chances are, I didn't get the permanent crown. Making those takes at least two weeks at a lab, she said. 

Now that got me thinking. What if they were right, and my temp crown would fall out just when we are in the middle of the Canadian nowhere? 

I called my regular dentist, and she had me come in. 

So I went to see her this morning. My dentist is a lovely Australian lady, and she confirmed that in fact I have been walking around with a temporary plastic crown, and that it was stable for now but wouldn't be forever, so I needed in fact to go back and get my real one. We discussed my next steps, but I will tell you about them later

Bear with me. 

My dentist's office is in the neighbor building of the "Chäs Paradies" = Cheese Paradise. 

I remembered that the friends whom we are going to see in Canada asked for some raclette cheese. What is raclette, you non-Swiss are wondering? Basically it's melted cheese you eat along with steamed potatoes and pickles. There are many varieties of raclette cheese, "plain", smoked, aged, with paprika, garlic or pepper,...

People at home typically have a little electric oven for the raclette pans and a skillet to grill pieces of meat. Delicious and fun! Smelly, too, especially the morning after...

Anyway, I had the cheese lady vacuum packaging me some for the trip, and she assured me it'd survive a couple of days outside the fridge. This is what a typical Swiss cheese store looks like, btw!

The next planned stop was at the bank to pick up some CAD and USD. Since the bank and the dental clinic are in the same town, I decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and just waltz in there and claim my crown like a princess boss. The plan was that my regular Aussie dentist lady was going to insert it after my vacation. 

The appointment to have that done is going to be Oct 30!!
This is the first time in my life that I did something thinking in the back of my mind "if it doesn't work out as smoothly as I wished, at least I'll have something to blog about." 

I need to think that way more often. I had very little coins left for the parking meter, and I decided to pay for 8 minutes only and save the rest for my trip to the bank. There was no time for arguing, and none was needed!! They handed me the thingie without batting an eye, had me sign a (hand written) note, and 5 minutes later I was back on the street. Did I mention it was pouring. 

Next stop: bank. I had called ahead because not every bank carries Canadian Dollars every day. I still had to wait in line. Good thing I had enough coins left for parking. It was still pouring, and everybody wanted a parking space in the garage. Don't you just love circling a garage in that humidity when your windshields are fogging up and you're hoping a car will  pull out and leave its space to you? 

Is it just me or is "having to pee" part of the experience?

"Have a wonderful time in Canada and the States" the bank lady said. "I will, thanks…" and  I was off.

Next stop a place you guys would call BIG Kmart or similar. 

The ladies' room. Quickly.

My Swiss friend Annette, who lives in Canada now, brought all their movie DVDs and no player. DVDs purchased in Europe are coded to be viewed in Europe only. So if you buy a DVD player in North America you can't watch European DVDs. If you watch them on your computer you can download "code free software" that allows you to switch back and forth. I use this a lot because half of my DVD collection is American, code 1. However Annette told me as a family of four it's no fun sitting around a notebook and watch a movie on a 15'' screen, and right she is.

So this is how I imagined my trip to the entertainment electronic's department:

Wheel in my shopping cart from the grocery department, ask a sales person for a regular DVD player, pay for it, wheel out, go home, make lunch.

You know what the first thing was that the lady asked?

"What type of TV is it for?"

How would I know? Why is that important? Also I don't need anything fancy, no Blu-ray and the like. All they wanna do is watch movies!

"If you don't know what type, would you know how old the TV is? If it's an older model, it won't have an HDMI (I googled it in the meantime. It's a high definition multimedia interface, wow, who knew?) and I can't help you."

This is an old cable.
We don't sell players that go with those anymore!
What do do? It was 11:30am = 2:30 am Pacific Time. I couldn't even call her and ask. Come to think of it, I don't even have a Canada number for her! (That's a hint, A!!) 

Instead I wheeled out, went home, made lunch and messaged her. Her reaction was a consolation. She totally thought the wheel in / wheel out scenario should have worked!

Before I log off, let me explain what those "Vermicelles" tubes are all about. Vermicelles is French for little worms. Appetizing, ey? They contain a sweet chestnut paste that is used for a typical fall dessert:

If you are Swiss or have lived in Switzerland, and now you don't anymore, Raclette and Vermicelles are things you miss. I can totally relate! 

I also know the other way round. I miss peanut butter crackers and Reese's pb miniature cups, 1001 M&M varieties like mint or raspberry, and you can be sure I will be hauling tons of them home upon my return!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kids' Birthday Party 2014

Another year has gone by, and our boy turned 6 last week! He started talking about his party during summer vacation. The theme should include the following:

Rio Movie, Disney Planes Fire & Rescue Movie, Soccer, Brazil / Latin America, exotic fruit like mango and pineapple! There you go!

In my mind I could see our living room transforming into a tropical rainforest, complete with a miniature Amazon river, alligators and anacondas. Also I considered to celebrate in shifts.

It's a good thing I never shared those thoughts because I ran out of time, mainly because I had to work more to fill in for my colleague who went on vacation for two weeks in early September which basically cut into my entire party planning time.  

Luckily Colin was busy with school, and he didn't request much. Just the opposite, he took the initative to call his friends and tell them to save the date, and he did it really well!

Then he went ahead and starred in his invitation movie.

As he wanted to meet his buddies on the soccer field we were anxious about the weather. Forecast wasn't looking too good, but we were really, really lucky, look at that blue sky!

Only boys? It's not that he is already at that stage where boys think girls are annoying. He is very good friends with two sisters, one of them even likes cars, planes and soccer, but they were going to be out of town that weekend. 
After everybody had arrived, I let my Mom and my husband supervise the game and went home for further preparations. I had used the whole morning for baking and cleaning up the living room.

Only because it was a group of young males doesn't mean everybody is into soccer! Half an hour later = way too early for me they were back at the house, and I was far from being ready!! Have a seat, relax, I'll be right there....

OK, wonderful! I need two team captains who can read and write fluently! Everybody was like "me, me", and I was surprised, but hey, they must know, right?
I don't want to brag, but lil C was the only one who didn't need help from an adult.

They got assignments like
"How many limes, mangoes and pineapples can you find?" There were mainly laminated prinouts stuck to the backside of a piece of furniture or window frames, but also real fruit, in plain sight on the table! In order to make it not too easy there were also papayas, cherries, lemon, apples and the like.
"How many Brazil flags can you find?" The napkins were FULL OF flags, haha, he who can do math has an advantage!
"Find four larger country flags - which one does NOT belong to Latin America?"
"Find six top soccer players - which one scored less than four goals during the World Cup this summer?" I though it was particulary funny that Benzema was hidden at the ice rink board ;-) Also I was afraid that this was going to be too hard for them. Boy, was I wrong! Not everybody knew what a "lime" is, but they were talking shop about the soccer players  like the pros... "no, Neymar definitely can't be better than Müller because he was injured the last couple of games!" "Careful, Messi and Van Persie may both have four goals, just remember he scored twice versus Spain alone!"

After they were done, and everybody took several turns in chosing small gifts and candy from the treasure box, it was time for cake.

He asked for a Smarties covered chocolate cake
However he wanted to be mindful for those who prefer lemon... or those who like to have a selection to choose from... or those who simply want to have the cake and eat it, too ;-)
Brazil, lime, Caipirinha, right? Replace rum by apple juice, done! Delicious! Refill, please!

One preferred his Capri Sun. Fine with the others!

One boy was going to be picked up before 4pm, so we couldn't sit and eat cake forever, but had to move on to the handover of the gifts...

He did really well... Planes, soccer stuff, his favorite CD, candy...

 I was very impressed about this custom made packaging!

The sun was still shining, so most of the guests wanted to run around outside, some stayed inside and painted or played with the planes and Legos, and after 5pm the first parents came to pick up their kids. Well, they meant to pick them up. Instead the older sibling who tagged along for the pick-up wanted to run around, too. It took a while until everyody was gone, and D and I could enjoy our traditional sparkling wine happy hour!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Use your words - 7 reasons I hate to purge

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: 

messy ~ disagreement ~ help ~ play ~ books

They were submitted by The Sadder But Wiser Girl   - thank you, Sarah!

Now THAT sounds just like a regular day at our house! Navigating through messy rooms to find stuff we need, having a disagreement with Mr C on gadget privileges, helping forcing him do his homework so there is still time to play or read books.

As hard as I try to keep things neat and organized around here - it always feels and looks messy. And you know what they say… if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck - your house probably IS messy.

After completing the #100HAPPYDAYS challenge I joined 365 items in 365 days - and I have been posting twice since. Yes, I work in monthly chunks. 

baking drawer BEFORE

baking drawer AFTER

wardrobe drawer BEFORE

wardrobe drawer AFTER

I admit, it feels good to post the AFTER pictures. 

What is holding me back to tackle the rest of the house then? 

Well, first of all, 

I simply hate the work that is involved. 

Doing the work is more annoying than enjoying the result. I'd rather write on my blog, play a game, watch a movie or read a book.

Secondly, the rest of my family and I are in disagreement on how to handle "stuff", which is not helpful. They insist that it is important to keep magazines that go back to the year 1990 - because when I am retired I want to read them again! Those magazines, along with cassette tapes and vinyl records - for which we don't have any equipment to actually play them anymore - take up a whole cabinet in a prime location like Colin's room! Plus one in the basement. And let me tell you: those are smelly! 

Gotta hand it to the guy, though: after much nagging from my part, he unsubscribed the daily newspaper because it kept going directly from the mailbox to the waste paper stack - unread. Because, iPad!
What's with the broken guitar, you ask? Weeeell, one day I'm gonna have it fixed, so I can play again! There are also two or three remote controlled choppers that one day might get fixed. Maybe our grandkids get to play with them?

Have you ever read about the day our water pipe leaked and soaked all of our belongings in the basement, because our storage system basically consisted of a bunch of paper bags? 

I rented a steel container and spent a whole entire afternoon dumping everything that had become soggy - lots of picture postcards, magazines and books - or had to go because it was broken, dusty or otherwise annoying. I was feeling so accomplished!

Can you believe the husband spent the whole entire evening taking everything out again and sorting through stuff that might still be useful? Major disagreement! Not one of our marriage's finest hours...

Third: I lack space and storage solutions, and I really think the retail offerings around here are not helping my purpose. I was searching high and low for a shoe rack where boots fit in. Couldn't find an affordable one. It took an old boyfriend with a good memory to solve the shoe issue. And I'm not even a shoe girl!!

The number four reason: Once I get myself to start, I not only get carried away but also distracted. I'll show you. These are my purging boxes: 

They come on wheels for easy traveling between rooms. I bought them last Christmas, I thought they would be a motivator. So the other day I wanted to tackle the bathroom cabinets. In order to be ready I first had to empty the boxes. This alone is annoying, right?

The last time I filled the keep box must have been in February cause I found Valentines candy and a picture frame with hearts. I can't quite remember what happened on Feb 14, but something tells me it wasn't huge this year. The love hearts will only expire in 2015, so it's all good. The box also contained some unopened mail, thus invoices. Also dating back to February. Ooohps. Oh, and the Planes DVD that C had been looking for. 

Then I needed to empty the trash basket. What I saw reminded me that I wanted to take a picture that I wanted to included in one of these posts because I thought it was hilarious.
This is why: the other day C asked me "Mommy, you don't have to tell me which ones, but yes or no are you going to give me planes for my birthday?" I wanted to act noncommittal, but he gave me this mischievous smile and said "I kind of know you are - I saw the receipt!"  
What is this, conviction, based on evidence? I didn't even remember having thrown away the receipt after hiding the toys in the furthest flung corner of my closet. I needed to find a new hiding spot after the youngster had raided my former secret stash. 

He ran to the waste bin and showed me. Indeed! Then I put on a mischievous smile myself and said "well, well, what do we have here… a candy wrapper? How come? Has someone stolen my Lindor balls again?"

What your trash tells about you...
To cut the long story short: I took the picture and went ahead and inserted the arrows with Pic Collage and the comments with photo2text.

A couple of days later it got worse! He was helping me making pretzels, and I asked him to take a picture of my dipping the pretzel into the baking soda water, and he did. (He took about 50 pics and videos, but that's not the point.) He kept the phone and started scrolling through the pictures, pleased about the ones where he makes faces. All of a sudden he beams and goes: Now I know what planes you bought:

Pssssst, don't tell him,
he is going to get the circled ones
from his Godmother!
Talking about getting distracted…. And it has a name, too! It's called ADCD, Comic Strip Mama suffers from it as well!

Five: Cleaning out usually involves cleaning, dusting and other unpleasant activities. No like. I do enough of it just to maintain the status quo.

The sixth reason: I am too short, too weak and my arms aren't long enough which makes it hard to reach for those far flung places and carry those stuffed boxes.

And finally, no. 7: As if cleaning up wasn't bad enough, but cleaning up alone is no fun. I have to talk to myself and I've got to repeat myself quite a bit:

"When is the last time you've used this? You can't remember? OK, it has to go!"
"What are you saying? You will wear / use / read it again? Who are you kidding? Donate!"

Which leads me back to reasons number one and two… So if anyone out there loves to purge and is willing to help, please be my guest! I'll bake for you, I'll make dinner, hey, I'll even do your laundry! 

Takers? Anyone? 

Now please go check out what words the other bloggers got and what they did with them:

Baking In A Tornado 

Spatulas on Parade 
Stacy Sews and Schools
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo
Evil Joy Speaks
Someone else's Genius  
Confessions of a part time working mom 
Follow Me Home…
The Bergham Chronicles
The Sadder but Wiser Girl
Battered Hope