Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy new year!

Happy new year from the swiss alps! Yesterday the broken clouds provided some fantastic scenery, today the weather turned the usual - sunny.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The annual glaciology christmas fondue dinner

Last Thursday, VAW ("fau-ah-weh"), equivalent to but smaller than the Geophysical Institute, had their Christmas Aperitif (with plenty of both red and white wine), and later that day the glaciology group had their fondue dinner.

Tinu was telling me that this is the night that he is not allowed to sleep in the same room as Elsbeth. And then he told me why: a year or two ago during the fondue dinner, they ran out of bread but still had plenty of cheese left... so, since there was also a lot of garlic left, they peeled the cloves and dipped the garlic into the fondue instead of bread. Apparently they ate a lot of garlic that night. Even Tinu couldn't stand his own smell. I can see why Elsbeth would banish Tinu from the bedroom. Would be a great experiment for summertime in Fairbanks, to see if mosquitoes bite less if the smell of garlic just oozes out of one's skin.

This year, (my) Martin was doing the fondue. Martin Funk started peeling the whole head of garlic that (my) Martin brought in, and chopped it up, but apparently Martin refused to put all that garlic in. And I ate the fondue as well, so both of us would have smelled equally anyways.

Ingredients for fondue:
flour or cornstarch
white wine
cheese mixture
and of course something to dip into it. Garlic is not recommended for that purpose.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

4 months

So it is four months ago that we welcomed Emily (officially spelled Emilie) into our family.

At that time, she was 7 lbs 12 oz (3.5 kg), now she is 6 kg (13 1/4 lbs). Just about 50th percentile according to the charts. She is in some 3-6 month clothes, and some 6-9 month clothes.

When she was born, she did not sleep through the night. Now she does, sometimes. But she still has problems sleeping during the day, or falling asleep by herself. She generally does fall asleep in the sling when we go for a walk, but she wakes up when we get back home the moment I try to lay her down on the couch.

Sonja was initially very jealous of her. Now she is for the most part a nice older sister.

Emily nursed like a champ before, and now she does too, though unlike the beginning, she manages to find the nipple herself if it is within a reasonable distance of her mouth.

She also started discovering her voice. She is entertaining us with her screams and babbling, though last night at 4 am I could have done without all that.

Her fingers are no longer clenched into tight little fists, and are instead pawing at anything within their reach, be it Sonja's hair (not a popular activity from Sonja's viewpoint), or the plate on the table if she is on my lap when we eat (not a popular activity from my viewpoint).

She can almost roll by herself, and can hold her head up if she is on her tummy. And she always manages to get out from underneath the blanket. Those little feet are pretty amazing in being able to transport anything that's on top of her away.

And, best of all, she flashes these wonderful beautiful smiles at everyone around her most of the time. Even herself in the mirror, as Martin tried out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More zoo pictures....

From Monday, when we went with Elsbeth and Lena to the zoo, to watch the penguin parade. Apparently in winter months, if it is cold enough (below 10C is what I heard), they let the emperor penguins out on a supervised walk through the zoo.

Lena and Sonja:

The penguins:

Christmas cookies: Almond cookies

So based on what I can see, these cookies are rather similar to the cinnamon stars except for the preparation, but so that we don't loose the recipe, here it is...

4 egg whites
200 grams sugar (1 cup according to this)
200 grams ground hazelnuts (so about 1/2 pound)
whole almonds for decoration

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in sugar and hazelnuts. Put into a pot, and heat on a stove top over low heat until the whole thing is a thick sticky mess. Drop by small spoonfuls onto a sheet, push an almond into the center, bake at 180 C over for 10 minutes.

Christmas cookies: Orange cookies

These cookies are sort of regular butter cookies with orange flavor.

125 g butter (tiny bit over 1/2 c according to this)
100 g sugar (1/2 c based on the same source)
2 egg yolks
zest from an orange
1 Tbs orange juice
250 g flour (1 3/4 c based on the same source)

Whip the butter until frothy, add the sugar, then the yolks and orange zest and juice, and finally the flour. Cool the dough to make it easier to work with. Roll the dough out 1/2 cm thick (1/4 inch), cut out diamonds. Bake in 150-180 degree C oven for 10-15 minutes. While the cookies are baking, prepare the icing. Brush the hot cookies with the icing immediately after they come out of the oven.

125 g powdered sugar (a bit over 1 c based on the same source)
1 - 2 Tbs orange juice
1/2 - 1 Tbs water

Combine the icing ingredients until smooth. Martin is always amazed at how all the sugar just dissolves in the tiny amount of fluids.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas cookies: Anis Brotli or Chrabeli (anise cookies)

Anise Cookies

4 eggs
500g powdered sugar (4.5 cups according to this)
2 Tablespoons anise seed
1 Tablespoon kirsch
500g flour (3.5 cups based on the same source)

With a mixer, mix very well the eggs and the powdered sugar. Martin's mom has a note that it takes a long time, but then again that is from before the time there were machines to do the mixing. Add the anise and the kirsch. Mix in the flour. The dough should be firm.

Take some of the dough, roll it out into a long snake perhaps an inch in diameter, cut that snake into pieces perhaps 3 inches long, and cut two notches in each piece. Our downstairs neighbor called these cookies bear paws, and I can see why she named them that. Put the cookies onto a baking sheet, and let them dry for a day. The idea is to get a dry crust on top, so when they expand during baking, they only expand downward through the dough that has not dried, lifting the entire cookie up.

Bake in a 140 C oven (285F, so that's roughy 300F) for 15-20 mins, with the oven door slightly ajar, for example, by sticking a wooden spatula in it.

Martin cutting out the cookies:

Cookies drying:

Baked cookies, with the "foot" they got when they rose during the baking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A world far far away

With headlines such as the Dec 12 one
No recent wolf sightings in the Interior

The Department of Fish and Game has not received any more sightings or reports of wolves attacking dogs in the Two Rivers/North Pole area in the past two days, according to department spokeswoman Cathie Harms.
in the Fairbanks News-Miner, Zurich sure seems a looooong ways away.

Instead of wolves, we were reminded of cold lands far away when we visited the Zurich Zoo Penguins with Elsbeth and Lena. Lena is on the left, Sonja on the right.

As a separate note, Sonja is starting to use logic. I was trying to tell her at night time that she needs to show us that she is a big girl and can fall asleep by herself. She replied that Sonja is not a big girl, that she is a small girl (and thus that I should stay with her while she falls asleep), and that mama is a big girl. OK, seems like she is not a big girl, but she sure is a smart one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas cookies: Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars)

Martin started baking Christmas cookies.

Zimtsterne (Cinnamon stars)

3 egg whites
200g powdered sugar (slightly less than 2c according to this)
280g ground hazelnuts (a bit over 1/2 lb)
grated peel from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Beat egg whites until stiff. Mix in the sugar. Set a small amount of the whites/sugar mix aside for glaze (1/4 - 1/3c???). Fold in the remaining ingredients.

Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick, cut out star shapes. The dough is very sticky, so it can help to have a little bit of powdered sugar on the rolling pin while rolling it out, as well as to dip the cookie cutter into powdered sugar before each cut. Transfer each star onto a baking paper lined cookie sheet, brush each with the remaining egg whites/powdered sugar mixture.

Bake in a 350 F oven (180C) for 20 minutes.

PS: Yes, there is no flour in these cookies.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Lötschberg base" train tunnel opened yesterday

A 35 km tunnel through the "base" of the swiss mountains underneath the Lötschen pass officially opened to all rail traffic yesterday, Dec 9. (Search on the swiss maps for Lötschenpass to see where it is.)

Before the Lötschberg base tunnel opened, trains had to first go up, up, up, then through a shorter Lötschberg tunnel, before going down, down, down. The new tunnel shortens the train travel from Zurich to the canton (state) of Wallis in the souther region of Alps from 3 hours to 2 hours, because the trains go nearly horizontally and nearly in a straight line. Can't complain about saving one hour, especially if one is traveling with kids.

More information on this Lötschberg Base Tunnel can be found here, under information and images, as well as in a wikipedia article.

They operated two trains a day in the tunnel, on a very limited basis, for the last five months or so, but starting yesterday it is a train every two hours. We took this "NEAT - Express" (pronounced Neh - at) twice before the official opening, paying 10 swiss franks extra for that privilege of getting there one hour earlier and sitting in first class. (They had no second class wagons.)

Here we are in the NEAT express on Nov 16:

Both experiences left something to be desired. First time, the connecting train left the station where we wanted to get onto it some 10 mins earlier than we were told, and we missed it. Luckily Martin's dad drove us down to the main station, some half hour away, and we still managed to get onto the NEAT Express there. Still, in a country famous for its trains and its watches and being on-time, it was a bad error.

The second time we were going in the other direction. We got onto the NEAT Express without problem. Then the NEAT Express waited some additional 7 minutes because one of the connecting train was late, then we finally went, and we were a few minutes late coming out the other side of the tunnel. As you may already have guessed, the connecting train that we were going to take there did not wait for the NEAT express, and left right on schedule. As a result, we had to wait for the next train, one hour later. So much for saving one hour on the trip - simply did not happen.

We were told that the problem was that the main company did not communicate the delay of the NEAT Express to the company operating the connecting train. Considering that they are promoting the new tunnel, saying one can spend one additional hour eating fondue or raclette (another cheese dish) in Wallis thanks to the tunnel, I hope that they improved the communication in the last two weeks since our experience. We will see how it goes this weekend when we go to Wallis and back, now that the tunnel is officially opened.

Overall, the Lotschberg base tunnel is a feat of engineering and we are very glad that it shortens the time to get to the mountains and grandparents.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Scherenschnitte (paper cutting)

We went to Solothurn, a city one hour by train to the west of here, to visit the christmas market, because
Susanne Schläpfer ( was going to be there. I had seen her images elsewhere, and thought they might make a nice gift for the gift exchange in Martin's family. Susanne Schläpfer talked to us even while cutting another image out of the black paper in her hand. Pretty amazing to see the process live.

This is what I bought for the gift:

and a closeup... all of that is cut from just one piece of paper.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

At a market; and visitors tonight

Today, we went to a christmas market in Bremgarten, 40 mins by train each way. Got what we went for, and also spend some money at this shop, on both cheese and salami. These shops are rather dangerous, full of wonderful things, where it is easy to spend a lot of money...

And this evening, we had Natasha and Jamilla over for dinner, as well as their parents and sister. Martin had his hands full, playing with them all.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Preparations for Xmas

So, last weekend my brother said something that made us laugh, thinking he must be hoping for an inexpensive christmas: he said he had to put some plywood into the chimney to barricade it up. No, apparently it was not to stop Santa from coming, it was to stop the draught.

For our preparations, we might try to go to one of the christmas markets over the weekend. Hope it doesn't rain. All the people heading to AGU, safe travels, and have fun!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

In Switzerland, *everyone* rides on the train

In Switzerland, everyone rides on the train. That includes Samichlas and Schmutzli, who sat right across the isle from us tonight. No reindeer in sight.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

St. Nicholas' day: Grittibänz and Samichlas

Tomorrow is St Nikolas' day, which means several things. First, the bread/rolls shaped like little men, called Grittibänz, are everywhere. (Pronounce like Gritty-ban(d)s.) Above is our sample: I tried to shape the dough, then Sonja put in raisins for the eyes and elsewhere, and she painted the finished product with eggyolk so that it would get nice shiny coating upon baking. In case you can't tell, Emilie is holding the Grittibanz by the shawl; above that is the head; below is the shirt covered by raisins. The raisins on the face somehow misaligned during baking. For much nicer samples, use a google-images search for Grittibänz. We also shaped one piece of dough into a turtle, and that one looked much nicer, until Sonja started tearing off the legs off the finished product since she was hungry. At one point, when the four legs were gone but the head and tail remained attached to the body, it surprisingly reminded me of a beaver. Go figure.

The dough is the same dough as is used to make the sunday bread "zopf" that is eaten here - a yeasted dough with butter, barely sweet. (When I went to our local bakery this past Sunday afternoon to get bread for Monday morning, they had almost no regular bread available for buying, everything was just zopf). One recipe is here.

Second, since St Nikolas' day is tomorrow, Samichlas (Sami=Santa, Chlas=klaus) visits the kids and gives them either a bag with chocolates, unshelled nuts, and mandarins, if they were good, or lumps of coal, if they were bad. Apparently the coal tend to be given by Schmutzli, who tends to be covered in coal dust, but I will ask Martin details when he gets back.

At the same cultural center where we made Grittibanz, they had Samichlas today, so we went there again in the afternoon. He had a huge white beard, and was in red clothes. Since apparently all the kids were good, no Schmutzli was present.

Samichlas called the kids one by one. Some got asked if they were good kids. I think I caught something about washing dishes or being nice to a sister. And he also asked them whether they had a rhyme or a song for him. Most did. Sonja was rather unsure of the whole thing, so I had to hold her hand while she went to stand in front of Samichlas. I tried to get her to sing "Schlaf kindli schlaf", a lullaby she knows, but not a single word came out of her mouth. Not even thank you when she got her little bag. Perhaps she was already aware that the bag contained things she does not eat: a mandarin (she only eats canned, refuses fresh), chocolates (I don't know whether she never tried it or whether she tried it and did not like it), and a kind of gingerbread, which she nibbled on for a tiny bit before giving it to me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Kid-less: That is what I am working on accomplishing, for a few hours at a time.

Since the birth of Emilie, I have been in the company of one kid or the other every waking moment, with the exception of half an hour two weeks ago at grandma's - Sonja was sleeping, and grandma said she can look after Emilie if I want to go out for a stroll. And for a brisk stroll I went. It was great. No weight around the shoulder (Emilie, while not the heaviest, does weigh 10+ pounds, and over the course of a couple hours I can feel that). No one wanting to go "up". Being able to go where no stroller has gone before.

Emilie is breastfed, so in order to go kid-less, she needs to know how to drink from a bottle. We are slowly getting there... I am practicing with her once a day or two. She just needs to learn to trust the bottle, that even if there is no breast there to comfort her, that there is food in the bottle, and even the same kind of food. May be in a few weeks she will know that. It has been challenging to find time to pump - of course the solution to that would be to find some time when neither kid needs attention. Formula would be another answer, but why pay for something that one can get free?

Talking of breastfeeding, there was an interesting tidbit about the apparent increase in IQ for babies who are breastfed in the economist from Nov 8, 2007, in an article called The nature of nurture. "What Dr Caspi and Dr Moffitt found was that the increase in intelligence associated with breastfeeding only happened to people who had inherited at least one copy of the C version of FADS2 [gene]."

Per Juneau request, here is the "after" picture of my hair:

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Martin was laughing about this one last night: not only did Emilie have a big toe in her mouth, she was actively sucking on it too.


Martin's godson Lucas visited us this weekend. Martin wanted to get him something for his birthday, so he took him to the Franz Carl Webber toy store, a big store in downtown Zurich, to look at legos. (The first time we went to FCW, Martin noted the pleasant difference compared to the Toys R Us store he visited just two days earlier in Manhattan, where there was constant electronic noise.)

Lucas chose the bulldozer set, and started putting it together on Saturday lunchtime. He had it finished before lunch Sunday. Martin now wants one of those too.

Knowing where the milk comes from...

One of the things that is sharply different here in Switzerland in contrast to Alaska is that you can actually know where your milk comes from. Sure, most of the time the milk that Sonja drinks is just from the local supermarket. But when we go to visit the grandparents, the milk is from that cow over there, which belongs to the uncle. When we went to visit one of Martin's sisters, the milk came from a cow over in the stable over there (we did not visit that one). At Martin's other sister's, it came from one of the ten cows or so that they have. And when we went to visit his aunt (the one who is a hairdresser), we could have bought some local milk at a farm two minute's walk from her house, had we had a bottle to put it in.

It is neat to see such a short supply chain. In alaska, with the exception of hunted or fished meat, or some produce during the summer, the supply chain is much longer (and even most hunted/fished meat is not walking distance away from the house). In fact it felt a bit funny to be showing Sonja the pictures of cows in books when she was not likely to see one until we came here. May be I will try to find a farm here in Zurich area where to get our milk - so far we just go to the supermarket if we are here in the city, but I am sure there must still be a farm in the environs like what we saw at Martin's aunt's.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bad timing to cut my own hair

The other day I was getting a bit tired of the hair getting into my eyes, and wanted to take just a tad off ... so I took the scissors I bought expressly for that purpose and started cutting a tiny bit. And a tiny bit more. After half an hour in front of the mirror, I did everything in the front. And then I asked Martin to do the back, just to cut it a tiny bit there too. He obliged, though not too happily. At the end, I was pretty happy with the result - not professional, which here costs at least CHF 80 (80 swiss franks, which these days is approaching 80 USD), but not too bad either. Definitely worth the 2.90 I spent on the scissors. Of course my standards are pretty low.

The following day we went to visit Martin's aunt that he hasn't seen in something like 20 years - long enough that he has not seen the younger cousin of his, who is finishing high school if not done already. Unbeknown to either Martin or me for that matter, his aunt is a hairdresser. She has a studio in the basement of her home.

Ooops, bad timing on my part for cutting my hair. She was nice about it though, didn't really say how bad it probably looked.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A bar of chocolate a day

The other day (Tue) was a beautiful clear day, which is rather unusual for Zurich, apparently. We (Sonja, Emilie and I) ended up doing a stroll in the afternoon up on the hillside of the city, with nice views of the surrounding region. We (ahem, I) ended up talking with another woman doing the same - she had a five week old son in a carrier on a chest. Both of us ended up in the supermarket underneath the hillside. After getting a few fruits and veggies, I was passing the chocolate isle when I saw her again, contemplating which chocolate bar to get. I made a comment about the chocolate, and she said that since she started breastfeeding, she needs/eats one of those regular chocolates a day.

Sounds familiar.

I have been doing the same thing. Back in Fairbanks, I was going through our stashed away chocolate. Here, I just go for the value packs: yesterday I bought a kilogram of chocolate (10 bars, variety) for ten francs, and already started several ones. Probably the equivalent of two bars is already gone, and it is barely 24 hours later. I was glad to hear I am not the only one.

Here is our house on a clear sunny day. The house is the one where you can see multiple cars parked in front of it. It is near the center of the picture. The windows on the top floor (in the roof) are exposed (I was trying to find the antonym of receded), and we are in the corner window. We are actually at the window: Sonja, myself, and the third blob in between is the computer since I had to press a button to take the picture.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Martin wanted to have Emilie baptised, and so it happened at the same time as Ivan's (Ivan is his sister's son, 4 months old), a week ago. The day was bright and clear, and a bit on the cool side. The church was near (10 mins walk) the village where his sister lives. Unheated church - that initially caused me some concern. Many thanks to Lucas, Martin's godson, for taking all the pictures - he was in charge of our camera that day.

The church.

The priest going over a few things before the actual start, in the sunshine outside the church, since that is where everyone was absorbing the sunshine before going into the cold building.

Nice view of the inside.

The (warm) water on Emilie's head, with Martin's sister Cornelia as the Gotta (godmother) and his dad as the Getti (godfather).

Since I am writing this in English-based window, it is pretty funny that should be Křtiny, becomes, without the hat on the "r", Krtiny - molehills, if you like, or something else entirely.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pics from visiting grandma/grandpa Oct 07

Martin and Sonja hiking in Turtmanntal, where we went for a quick overnight trip with grandpa + Martin's sister Cornelia, her husband, and her 1.x year old and 4 month old.

The "baby" gets introduced to the sheep at grandma+grandpa's well as later on to the black and white goats characteristic of that region.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pictures from October

We got a new modem. Seems like I can post pictures now. Yay! These are the ones from the first three days in Zurich: grandma and grandpa and Martin on our balcony, view from the balcony at night, at the zoo on Sunday with Martin's sisters and their kids, and Hilary and Ryan and Sophie.

Married to a single guy

A week ago, Martin finally got back from the states, two days late. He had to get a new passport in New York. On the application, he apparently checked "single", then realized it as he headed out the door. The secretary promised not to tell anyone, but he himself has found it pretty funny. Apparently it is hard to change one's ways when your entire life you have been checking the "single" box...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Best coffee in town...probably not the best coffee in town

In front of a coffeeshop by "our" tram station, they have on the blackboard hand-written (in english)

"Best coffee in town"

That same sign/message has been there every day since we came to town, some five weeks ago, so I guess it does not change very often, if at all.

The other day I noticed that a cheaper-looking coffeeshop on a nearby corner has, on the blackboard in front of its door, the message (again in english)

"Probably not the best coffee in town :)"

Nice response ... may be I should try the tea at both shops since I don't drink coffee.

Babicka have speck (grandma has bacon)

As I was tucking Sonja into bed tonight, I told her that papa will be back tomorrow, and that at the end of the week we will be heading over to visit grandma and grandpa (in czech, babicka + dedecek).

On hearing the news, her face lit up with a huge smile and those dimples of hers: "Babicka have speck".

Speck (in german) is bacon, already cured so that you can just eat it as is (without cooking). At the end of our last visit to Martin's parents', grandma packed some slices of bread and slices of speck, so that we could give those to Sonja in th train if she got hungry. She did get hungry. And she still remembers that...

grandma has bacon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Imaginary phone calls and conversations with Sonja

OK, one more post about Sonja for today, since I did manage to log into blogger and post. Does not happen often these days.

She loves to do imaginary phone calls. Hold several bricks of fake lego to her ear, so that they form a longer block, and one to your ear, and she starts telling you all sorts of things after establishing that you are indeed holding your phone to your ear. Can't put it down. Hallo, mama? is followed by an explanation of what we had done or what we will be doing or anything else.

Put a real phone into her hand when someone is on the line, even after she had claimed that she wanted to talk to that person (e.g. papa or aunt Regula or Tinu), and she is dead silent.

After Martin left for his travels on Wednesday, Sonja was also imitating our typical conversation on the landing by our front door each workday morning, including an excellent imitation of "see ya" that I say at the end. Parrot. Martin noticed she says "super" like he does too. Long past time to watch our language in front of her.

Sonja duck, mama duck, papa duck

At "the children's place" store in San Francisco last year I got Sonja the puzzle consisting of 16 wooden blocks, which can be arranged into one of six pictures depicting farm animals: either ducks, chickens, sheep, cow, horse or pig. Somehow she loves the ducks. (She can put the picture of ducks together by herself, without our assistance.) She loves the ducks so much so that she not only points out the mama duck and papa duck (after Martin taught her that the duck with the green head is actually papa duck, it took him a while to persuade her of it), but she also named the three ducklings in the picture: the smallest one is Sonja Duck, the next bigger one is Emilie Duck, and the third one is Baby Duck. Sorta like our family: there is Sonja, there is Emilie, and there is the doll that is simply named Baby.

Sonja really does like those ducks a lot. In the last week, Sonja has wanted to take the blocks with Sonja Duck, Mama Duck, and Papa Duck with her to bed when she went for either nap or night-night several times. Especially for the nighttime, I always try to go in some time later and take those wooden cubes out - don't want her to wake up if she rolls onto them. But it is funny to see how much she likes them.

Emilie's finding her hands

So that I don't write only about Sonja: Emilie has started exploring the world a bit with her hands. She is not very coordinated, at all, but yesterday when I stuck my face by her as she laid in the carseat (which makes a nice container for her even though we don't have a car), she touched my face with one or the other hand, several times. The fingers are no longer clenched in fists, and it is pretty cool to see her check things out. A caveat regarding the tiny fists: if I want to cut her nails, those fingers are in a fist, very tight little fist.

Papa Happy Birthday Airplane

Sonja sometimes says things out of the blue. Today, as we were all three laying on the bed for the afternoon nap, she mentions something about papa happy birthday airplane. She did have a verb there, I forget what it was. Hmmm, did Martin call her from California, and tell her to remind me that his birthday is coming up in two weeks, and what he wanted for his birthday? And in case I didn't get what she was saying, Sonja repeated something about papa happy birthday flugzig.

No more jumping like Clifford through the fallen leaves

Since we found a local park within the first two weeks of coming to Zurich, Sonja has enjoyed jumping through the piles of leaves like Clifford (the Big Red Dog) does in the book "Clifford's First Autumn". Even on Monday, when we discovered that they had cleared the park of all the leaves since our last visit, one tree still luckily had some... and they were still falling from it... and so we ended up making a pile under that tree and jumping through the pile. Then Thursday night came the wind. And the rain/drizzle/occasional snow. We haven't gone to the park, but whatever leaves remained underneath the one tree are probably now blown all over, and that tree itself will be leafless, considering the windy conditions have now lasted two days.

Friday, we visited Elsbeth and Lena again in Einsiedeln (Tinu was working, we didn't see him). There it is high enough that instead of rain/drizzle they had snow. Blowing snow. Sonja did not like much that encounter, but we were not quite dressed for it either. So now, instead of playing in the leaves, we'll be playing in the snow...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Emilie 4.9 kg (10 lbs 12 oz) at 2.5 months

Emilie had her first visit with the doctor here in Switz., to get her 2 month shots. It was good to see that she is gaining weight nicely, almost 5 kg, considering that often I feel like she does not nurse for very long. (but she does like the nipple as a pacifier, unfortunately for me - a real nuky she never takes. I'll keep trying it though.)

View of our house:

If you want to see what the weather is like in Zurich, or see the house we live in, go during daytime in Europe to In the center of the panorama you can see a building in construction, with two cranes not quite looming over it. If you look to the right of those cranes, you will see a city block with three houses that is on the same street. The next, corner, house to the right is the house we live in. Top floor. With those funky windows that jut out of the roof.

With Sonja, we often watch the crane move stuff around.


On Tuesday, we had fondue at the Funk's. A huge sorry goes to Hil and Ryan and Sophie, since we messed up the date and invited them that same Tuesday for dinner - we'll makeit up to you folks in December or January. Glad you found a temporary flat that allows you time to look for something else.

The Funk's have 3 daughters: in english spelling, I would write them as Jamila (7 or so), Natasha (5 y.o. or so), and Anushka (4mo). Even though Sonja is quite a bit younger than eiher Jamila or Natasha, they were eager to show her all the toys. She took a bit to warm up to them and to get past all the jumping (a bit too much energy for her at first), but once she did, the "cooked" together all sorts of foods. It is great to see her playing with other kids. I will keep these posts short since I continue to have the problems, but it is most likely the router here, as opposed to the mac.


The last weekend we spent with Tinu and Elsbeth and Lena in Einsiedeln, about an hour by train from Zurich. The weather was bad but the company great. Sonja enjoyed Lena, as well as the hike on the following day, where she had Lena as an example that a two-and-something year old does not have to be carried all the time. She did great. The 1h10min hike took probably two or more hours, but we then enjoyed the soup and tea up at the hut, before hiking back down.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

busy october: travels around switzerland

October has been busy for us. We visited Martin's parents for a week, in the sunny state of Wallis. Sonja liked that - plenty of goats and sheep around, plus some cats.

But she really really liked visiting Martin's sister, her husband, and their 4 kids this past weekend, near Luzern - those folks live out on a farm, with some 10 cows, a big friendly dog, two rabbits, and most importantly, a tiny kitten (2-3 months old) - Sonja had a balst. Poor kitten. She wanted to feed it and pet it and do everything for it. She really enjoyed the kids too, but the kitten was definitely the huge favorite thing she has played with this past weekend.

Darn macs... and some swiss house rules

Well, the my problems accessing anythinggoogle related (gmail, blogspot, etc) continue...I will have to google more next time the kids cooperate to see if I manage to find a solution. Using firefox, I can't log in at all. Using safari, it only takes 30+ minutes to load one page of gmail - so so far I managed to read 1 mesage there this afternoon.

The rules of the house we live in:
OK to do laundry from 6am to 10pm.
OK to beat rugs from 7am to 8pm.
OK to play musical instrument from 8am to 9pm.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Testing posting pictures / safari, firefox, camino

Hmmm, no luck with pictures, I get the following error with Safari:
Safari can’t open the page “”. The error was: “lost network connection” (NSURLErrorDomain:-1005)

No luck with firefox or camino yet, either. At least now I have the power adaptor for this computer. Still, right now I am heading to bed.

First days in Zurich

Somehow longer posts fail to load... I wonder why. I just wrote a short 4-paragraph post, and got a safari error back instead of the post. Anyways,... our Zurich apartment is wonderful, with great views of the city. The views do come with a price: it is five flights of stairs up from the ground floor. Without an elevator. I am getting better at having a newborn in a sling, a toddler in one arm, an umbrella stroller across the shoulder, and possibly a shopping bag from the same shoulder.


Had some problems this is a test. We're in Zurich.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

RIP Mica

Dear Mica,
we sure will miss you. You went from being a puppy dog who couldn't even walk over the floor in our house, so afraid you were of the smooth surface; to a calm dog who willingly (and sometimes not so willingly) followed Sonja as she held the leash. When we first got you, next to Choly, you were the wild puppy while he was the grumpy old guy. Then neither you nor him returned for three weeks in Dec 2004, though the pound caught you, emancipated, with your neck cut. We couldn't have been happier to again have you in the house, tappity-tapping across the floor. Then we got you Saphira as company, and suddenly you were the grumpy old woman, next to the puppyish Saphira.

Saphira loved to bug you. You liked to follow her on explorations, though. Is that what you were doing today when the two of you disappeared while we were walking along the ditch? All I know is that Saphira came back after an hour, and you did not. Then, in the evening, we got a call telling us where your body lies, next to the road branching off our road. Who knows what happened to you - did you find some antifreeze? Did you get hit by a car, soft enough that there was no sign on your body? Did you die of some other cause? We know you threw up.

May you rest in peace in a doggie heaven full of bones, and with just enough puppies around for a good play but not too annoying, and with enough toddlers around for a good company, but again not too annoying. We will miss you. Rest in peace.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Late fall in the interior

This evening, Martin took the club airplane, N-five-three-seven-five-romeo for a quick spin by the mountains. Below are some pictures from his trip. I stayed home with the kids. Sonja would not have boarded the plane. Martin took instead Pierre, a swiss guy who was here working for Martin during the summer. Sonja was clinging to me while we stood watching Martin and Pierre get ready. Then I thought she might feel better in the car, so I sat in the drivers seat and had her on my lap. She seemed OK then, even when the motor started. Perhaps the sound was a bit more muffled in the car? Martin and Pierre had beautiful weather - not a cloud in the sky. They went over to Black Rapids glacier and back. I will have to work on a nicer writing style. Most of birch trees in town are leaf-less, while the cottonwoods still have their dark yellow leaves.

A woodpecker by our house.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Emilie's smiles

Emilie can smile. They are definitely smiles in response to us, not just gas or indigestion...We think this is way cool. One month old. Hopefully she will master calculus in the next month.:)

"Hide and seek" with a two year old

Martin and Sonja love to play hide and seek. The other day Sonja and I hid in a closet in her room, and Martin came to look for us. Of course he knew perfectly well where we were hidden, but part of the game is to make a little theater of it of looking all over the place for Sonja. And so he was turning the room upside down searching, while talking out loud to himself (in his language)...
I wonder where Sonja is. Let's look in her crib. No Sonja there. She's not hiding underneath her bed either... I wonder where she went? I bet she went outside! She must be outside!
To which there was a vehement "No!" coming from the closet. With that help, within a minute or so Martin proceeded to "find" us, much to Sonja's delight.


One thing Sonja told Martin earlier this week, holding a small wooden pig that Elsbeth+Lena+Tinu (Thanks!) gave her:
This is malinky schwingi.
Trilingual girl. "This is" is obviously english. "Malinky" is small in czech. "Schwinki" is pig in Martin's dialect (Schwein in german).

Most of the stuff that Sonja tells us is in English. Given that she really likes Dr Seuss, which really does need to be read in English (of which we only have Green Eggs and Ham; and Oh, the Places you'll go, but we read them multiple times per day); that together we speak in English; and that she did spend two years in daycare, it is not hard to understand why she does use mainly English words. Still, she does know words in the other languages, and knows how to use them, for example in the above sentence :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Top of the world (or at least of the States)

Emilie's and Martin's first trip to Barrow, Sonja's second...

Emilie, less than 30 days old, has now been in a Boeing 737-400, Piper PA12, and a Caravan.