Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Emilie in (not hot) water

After finding a lot of wild strawberries along some of our hike yesterday, I really wanted to go with the girls today to pick some. Both of them love the tiny red jewels full of flavor. Alas, even though we did pretty much nothing today, the time somehow flew by, and before I knew it, it was five o'clock. I left Martin with Sonja, and went with Emilie to get a few berries for all of us.

We hiked up to Driery,(or is it Drieri?), a water way that can carry three waters, hence its name. Water ways are these channels that the swiss living three or four or five hundred years ago dug into the mountainsides to carry the water from the creek that comes out of the glacier towards the meadows where they grow grass for hay. They go for miles, relatively horizontally but with enough slope that the water, when they carry it, flows with a good speed. There are paths along many of them. Here is a picture of one form April. No water in it that time since it was not growing season yet.

So today I was walking with Emilie in a baby carrier along one of these water ways. There was no water in it at the moment, but it had been earlier in the day, so there was standing water in many places. We were looking for strawberries, and there were a lot. But right on the pathway next to the waterway there were only a few - most were off into the uphill or downhill side. So most of the time, I set Emilie in the baby carrier on the path. Since she is walking, I did not want her walking/falling into either the water way or down the hill. And after setting her down I went to pick the berries, giving her some of them, and putting some of them into the box to bring back. Emilie was getting a bit grumpy but she does love strawberries, so I always managed to bribe her with a few that I had picked. And so we continued.

A few yards father, same thing - set Emilie down, go off collecting. Then again. Until the moment I heard a "thud" from the place where I left Emilie one yard above me. I scrambled up the steep side and saw the whole baby carrier together with Emilie in the standing two-inches deep water. Got Emilie out. She was fine, luckily, just covered with (wet) dried larch needles that were on the ground everywhere and that stuck to her now that she was rather wet. Looked pretty funny, actually. Poor girl. What a crazy mother she has. At least I was right there.

Turtmanntal and Gasenried

We are once again at Martin's parents', after once again visiting Turtmanntal over the weekend. This time it was with all of Martin's sisters and their kids and husbands, except for the one who has to take care of twenty odd cows. From that family, just the four kids made it together with their mom. Altogether eight kids. Unlike the last time, the cows did not come home when we had all eight kids in bed. (Score!) But they came running to us on Sunday when we did a dayhike to the upper hut. Once again a ding-dong-ding-dong everywhere from the huge bells around their necks, as they came on all sides of the hut. The kids that have the twenty odd cows at home said that these were small cows, though. Looked big enough for me.

Afterwards we came again to Martin's parents because Martin was taking some journalist up to the local glacier yesterday, Tuesday. The journalist wanted to see a glacier not as well known. Martin and the guy went up to Bordier Hutte. Apparently, the guy then did to Martin what Martin did to me on one of our first dinners out.

At that time, I was heading out for the AGU conference in San Francisco, Martin was staying behind. Since I had the late flight, we went out to dinner at the Lemongrass (Thai) restaurant that we like a lot. We ate, he wanted to pay, so he took out the credit card... and they said sorry cash only. So I had to pay.

Yesterday, the journalist apparently invited Martin for lunch at the Bordier Hutte, but like Martin so many years earlier, did not have enough cash. Nearest ATM was four hours down the mountain, then five hours back up (or with a car, three hours down, a short car ride, then four hours back up) and so Martin payed. Sounds like they had a wonderful lunch, especially since Martin knows the hut warden, who kept filling up his glass with wine.

I hiked up to the glacier with the Funks and their three daughters in the afternoon. The kids frolicked there in the water, both in a small lake and a small water fountain made out of a tree trunk. When Martin managed to get out of reach of the wine-enabled warden, he and the journalist made it back down the glacier and hiking trail and joined us at the bottom of the glacier. Then a bit later, when we were coming down the hill to the village, Martin had the joy of helping Sonja jump from big boulders down. A fun activity, except when you see rain that's going to catch up with you soon. Fun time was had by all. And now, I am going to watch a night thunderstorm roll through. It had already shaken the window panes a couple times this evening.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blueberries, currants, pears, and a lot of relatives

A week ago the kid and I returned from the Czech Republic again. Our last trip this year. I mainly wanted to see my grandfather and aunts and uncles again, and let Sonja practice her Czech. And enjoy the bounty of summer. From all of those points, the trip was a relative success.

We did both 8-hour journeys (there and a week later back) in one day, unlike the previous times. Started right after lunch, then drove some three hours, during which time the kids mainly slept. Stopped for a one hour break. Then tried to go on but had to stop after about an hour again. Then we grabbed a bite to eat for dinner, played some, and after an hour or so again continued. Reached the destination around midnight.

My cousin was helping on the way to my relatives, which was extremely nice. On the way back, I was alone, but managed ok. I had Emilie's car seat in the center position and Sonja was on the side, and Sonja did help to entertain Emilie somewhat. For Sonja's entertainment, we had a large selection of children's songs on CDs (czech, swiss, english), and I had some snacks and drinks that I could easily hand back to either of the kids without needing to poke anywhere. And small toys to hand back, as they slowly slipped out of Emilie's reach.

My aunt and cousin leaving to go blueberry picking one morning in a nearby forest. Two hours later, they were back. Emilie enjoyed what they brought back with them.

With my grandfather in the garden. Sonja and Emilie are eating some currants and pears, and the basket in front of them holds more small pears that we picked form the ground. Both girls loved them. My grandfather and his wife planted the trees after they came there to live around 1950, I think before they bought it. (It was originally a one-room schoolhouse with living quarters attached.)

My three uncles:
Pepa. Lada holding Emilie. Radim with Sonja (eating currants) and my grandpa:

Emilie "discovered" her tongue. Now it sticks out very often. First on one side, then the other, then it goes back inside, comes back out again... It is a source of entertainment for her, as well as for us. And sometimes a source of concentration for her. Like when she is trying her walking skills on not so smooth grass.

Our Lustige Faeger is eleven months

Our Zwerg was eleven months old a week or so ago. She can walk a couple yards or meters by herself when she is not tired. If she is tired, our Kwaki will fall down before then. She does somewhat respond to her name, but generally there are other things more interesting than to look somewhere. She has also started babbling more. Apparently earlier she just had to concentrate on walking and standing. She likes to pull stuff over her head. She likes beets and various random foodstuffs. And she still has problems falling asleep by herself, though we are working on that. (Zwerg, Kwaki and Lustige Feager is what Martin calls her. And thus Sonja calls her that too.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sonja's family portrait

Our camera is still broken, but on occasion it will take a photo. Today, Sonja used the delay timer to take some family pictures of us. Here is one. The lens is dirty, so there are spots on the picture. Ignore those. Sorta focused. Sonja does love love love that delay timer.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Movie of Emilie walking

For Martin, since he is not here.

Though who knows, he might not have a good enough connection to see this until he gets back. Emilie is ten months and some three weeks old, coming up on eleven months in one week.

(The video was 29 MB, don't know if it was reduced in size automatically by blogger.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

End of poop calendar

This is a bit late coming, but last month we got away with noting when Sonja poops in a calendar. She now goes regularly every day, by herself. Not once a week. We are so glad. (This is a post more for us than for anyone else - skip unless you want to know about children and constipation.)

It started when in her first year, when she would regularly poop only every fifth day. No problem there, breastfed children often do that. However, after she stopped nursing, she would still not go every day. It was every two or three days. And the priod slowly increased. By the time we reached the holidays 2007, she was only going once a week. She was grumpy most of the time, and needless to say, since it took such a force on her part to get that amount out, she really did not want to do it.

We had tried to use suppositories to help her, but after the first time they somehow did not work.

Part of the reason for the near constant constipation was that she is a bit picky, she did not want to push, she ignored the signals when her body wanted to empty itself, and who knows what else.

In January or so, we went with her to the doctor. The doctor emptied Sonja, and prescribed Transipeg to help keep the stool soft. So that Sonja would learn that it does not hurt to go do #2. Even with that, we ended up having to force her to sit on the toilet every second or third day to get the stool out, because she still did not go by herself. Involved a lot of tears, a lot of crying. But what else were we supposed to do? Without that, she would not have gone.

We did change our food habits to a degree. We sometimes give her "stars", a cereal high in fiber (thanks Hil for the info). She initially didn't want that cereal but somehow started liking it. I sneak in some bran on top of bread before I spread butter and soft cheese on it. I started making pizza dough out of a variety of flours, including the "whole" ones, and include flax seeds in it. When we make spaghetti, I mix it half-white and half-whole wheat spaghetti. When we go on travels, I buy some cans of mandarins and corn (bot of which she likes) and bring them along to give to her. We try to do some veggies before each main meal, though there is not that much variety in that yet - zucchinis (fried in butter), or peas, corn, beets (almost surprisingly). If veggies are chopped fine enough, like in a risotto or a soup, she will likely eat them. At home, we periodically do "try something new" - she has to eat one bite of something she has not tried before (e.g. pears this past week, which she claimed she did not like without even trying them) before she gets the stuff she likes (e.g. strawberries, or now peaches). This way, we are slowly introducing new foods. Peer pressure also helps, to a point. She has been in a group of children, all of them chewing on raw carrots, and wanted a carrot herself.

In addition, we did a bit of bribing: if you poop, we told Sonja, you will get some ice cream.

Even after doing all of those things, it was still a physical and mental struggle to get Sonja to poop. And then, one day, as she was sitting on the toilet, and I was sitting there in front of her to keep her from getting off, she asked, what are you doing? And I told her, I am waiting for you to poop or to pop, like the balloon. And she replied, ok, I will poop. And she pooped. And after that, it has been no problem. Within a couple days, she started trying to go do #2 several times (five was the max) a day in order to get the ice cream. (We now changed the policy to ice cream once, or max twice a day.)

We took her off the transipeg. No problems.

It is so good to be past this issue. Like some other people have told us, it just went away. Just like that. It just took Sonja deciding to push. Sure was a chore to get her to that point, but now it does seem to be in the past. Way to go Sonja!

Somewhat related to that, Sonja is daytime potty trained, though we still give her diapers at night. I stupidly thought that I wouldn't push the diaper issue until the pooping problem is solved (thinking that she might be more willing to poop into diapers than into a toilet or potty). But the pooping problem took such a long time, we ended up potty training before it was solved, and I almost wish we had done it earlier. She does still pee into her pants sometimes: if she is hard at play with something or someone, and simply forgets about it; or to spite us (I think). But overall, she has been without diapers for two months or so, and pooping regularly for six weeks or so, and we are very happy about both of those things.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Emilie's first steps

Monday a week ago, while I went up to the Bordier Huette, Martin reported that Emilie took the first step by herself. She has been practicing standing a lot. And walking with holding onto things. Though she does mainly love walking while holding onto my finger. But, last Monday, she did take a step by herself. A few days later it was a couple steps. Now she regularly takes a couple steps before falling into our arms. More practice needed....

A hike to Bordier Huette

We're back at the grandparents', this time with my cousin Marketa, but without Martin, who's leaving for two weeks in Greenland tomorrow.

Last week while we were here, Martin took care of the kids Monday afternoon while I hiked to a hut next to the glacier visible from the village. The hut is called Bordier Huette. It felt great to go hiking, regular speed, not kid speed. Three hours up to the hut, so I was up at five, fifteen minutes at the hut, then a longer way down via Europaweg, so that took also three hours.

The glacier visible from the village. The village is at 1600 meters, the hut is at nearly 2900 meters. This picture is from last fall, since our camera is now kaputt, and the video camera has crappy resolution. The hut is up a ways on the left side of the glacier (not visible on this image).

Going up next to the glacier...beautiful blue encian. Crappy picture.

Bordier huette. Crappy picture. Great hike. Reasonable weather (though I did not end up seeing the 4,000 meter peaks above the glacier).

It was a shock that I was not even sore the next day. Must be thanks to the five flights of stairs it takes to get to our Zurich apartment, that I do several times a day when we are in Zurich :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


We spend the previous week with Martin's parents. Martin wanted to get some quality time in doing hay. A three day process, approximately.

First day: If the weather forecast is good, you cut the meadows starting 6ish in the morning, when the grass and plants are not yet limp from the heat of the sun. Use a machine on the less steep slopes, or a scythe on the steeper ones. Someone else spreads the cut material into a uniform layer over the cut field.

(Steep place...)

Second day the cut grass is turned over so it can dry on the other side.

Third day it is raked together, and either carried into the stables or blown into them using a blowing machine with a wide (3 foot diameter?) tubing attached to it through which the hay travels. No pictures of that, but here is some pictures of "child labor": Martin's nephew carrying the hay, right behind Martin's sister. That parking lot across which they carry the hay is the biggest flat area in the village. Glacier in the background behind the chapel.

(Getting the load off)

PS: Our good camera is completely out of action now. Only have a video camera that takes small resolution pictures. May be I will start posting videos instead.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

If I fall in, please don't flush

Sonja to Martin, as he was helping her use the toilet yesterday:

Papa, if I fall into the toilet, please don't flush it. Help me out first.