30 May 2009

Making a List

My parents are coming for a three week visit.

After giving them a couple of days to recover from jet lag we are setting out on a driving tour through France. But when we get back, we are putting them to work.

The reason for the three week visit is that there are some major organizational tasks around the house that I must get done. And I simply do not have time to get them done in the short bits of time during which I am not caring for Global Baby.

Here's the List:
  • The office will be reorganized and completely cat-proofed. The cats are being moved into there.
  • The current cat room/huge walk-in closet (also known as a bedroom!) will be thoroughly cleaned, baby-proofed, reorganized and decorated as a nursery.
  • The kitchen cupboards will be emptied, cleaned and completely reorganized.
  • The hall cupboard will be emptied, cleaned and completely reorganized.
  • Our storage room in the basement will be emptied, sorted and reorganized with everything we don't need either donated or disposed of.
Mom and Dad will do Baby Care while GLH and I work on the above tasks.

Woo hoo! We sure know how to show our guests a good time!

25 May 2009


We've known for a bit, but it seemed weird not to post something so major here...

About three weeks ago Global Baby's birth mother contacted us. She is pregnant and would like us to adopt this baby as well. The baby is due in October.

For reasons I won't go into involving legal complications, this adoption is even less of a certainty than when we adopted Global Baby. Likely I won't mention the adoption process unless it comes to pass.

But we are preparing in case we may have a second baby this Fall.

Preparations include car shopping. Over the weekend we purchased a minivan. The back seat of our car was crowded with just one car seat. We get visitors on a regular basis and were already considering the purchase of a larger vehicle. The thought of squeezing 2 car seats plus all the various baby accoutrements (times 2!) pushed it over the edge. Extra passengers would have been impossible.

We pick up our new Chrysler Grand Voyager on Friday afternoon.

24 May 2009

Homage to the Weber Grill

Picture from Weber.com

We love grilling in our household. We use our grill year round and cook everything from the standard meat to artichokes to pizzas on it. So in honor of the Official Start of the Grilling Season in the United States (Memorial Day Weekend), I thought I would write about the Weber Grill.

The first Spring we spent in Switzerland we noticed the grills popping up at the local hardware stores and immediately went to purchase a Weber Grill.

We were surprised when a couple of weeks later a Swiss visitor said, "Oh, you've purchased a Swiss grill!"

Later, a German visitor proudly proclaimed it a German brand of grill.

And I was very surprised when even later I was told by an Australian that Weber is an Australian company.

Let me take this time to dispel all of this.

The familiar kettle grill was invented by George Stephen, Sr. in Palatine, Illinois in 1952. He was a welder with the Weber Brothers Metal Works and originally made the grill for just himself. Others saw it and liked it and he made a few more. The grill business took off. Eventually he purchased the company and renamed it Weber-Stephen.

I think it interesting that the Weber Marketing Department has been so successful in placing their brand that so many others swear the grill is original to their country. After all, when you visit the Weber website, it asks you to select your country and language. You can select from 29 countries and 22 languages. Pretty impressive.

But make no mistake.

The Weber Grill is 100% American!

And while we are on the topic, may I just mention something else that drives me a bit batty?

Cooking on a grill is called "grilling."

"Barbecuing" is a very specific method of cooking involving the use of spice rubs or at least a spicy sauce. Please stop using it to describe any type of cooking on an outdoor grill. (I specifically address this to the Australians out there! It's time to start saying "Throw another shrimp on the grill!")

Thank you for your attention.


We carefully gathered all necessary documentation and headed to the US Embassy in Bern to renew Global Baby's passport and apply for a Social Security Card.

We had been warned to arrive at least an hour before they opened at 9 am. Others had said the line starts forming at 6 or 7 am.

We arrived at 8:50.

Got our number and sat down to wait. We were Number 2 for service. Which didn't matter because when they opened, they opened two windows. So we were first!

Only difficulty? Guess who forgot the bring the new passport photos?

So I covered myself up with a white blanket (Thank goodness I had one!) and held him to the side in the passport photo booth at the Embassy. I got him to look at the screen by tapping my finger on it moments before the picture was taken.

Not the best photo. I am partially visible and you can see the remnants of his first bug bite on his forehead.

But it was deemed acceptable.

We were finished and on our way back to Zurich within 30 minutes.

Our afternoon activity? Car shopping. More on that later...

17 May 2009

Passport Photo, Take 2

We're off to Bern on Friday morning to renew Global Baby's passport.

Usually a child's passport is good for 5 years. Due to the adoption, GB's passport expires after 1 year. We have to take the adoption decree and the new birth certificate to prove the adoption has been finalized.

We also, of course, have to bring an updated photo. Here are the best results from the photo shoot earlier today.

It was actually easier taking the passport photo at 1 week than at 8 months. He's a bit more mobile now!

We're hoping it will be accepted. Having it done professionally is not a good option. Someone has entered into Separation Anxiety/Fear of Strangers Phase. Pretty sure a professional photo shoot would not go well!

13 May 2009

Swiss Joke

Today I heard my first Swiss joke. Not sure if it is the company I keep or whether the Swiss do not have many jokes, but I thought I would share it with you.


A member of the Swiss Bundesrat* boarded a Swiss Airline flight. When he boarded, he took the first available seat in first class instead of his assigned seat on the other side of the plane. He immediately opened up his briefcase and set up some work for the flight.

A flight attendant approached him and explained he was in the wrong seat and asked him to move. He refused to move, stating that he was a member of the Bundesrat and could sit wherever he liked.

The flight attendant alerted the flight crew manager who also approached the passenger. She tried to reason with him. She cajoled him. She demanded that he move to another seat. He stated he was too important to comply with her and refused to change seats.

So they alerted the plane's captain to the situation.

The captain approached the passenger and spoke with him quietly for two minutes. Without further protest, the Bundesrat member packed up his belongings and moved to his assigned seat.

The flight crew asked the captain, "How did you do that? What did you say?"

The captain replied, "I told him that the seat he was in was going to a different destination. If he wanted to go to his destination, he would have to move to the other side of the plane."

*Definition of Bundesrat: A council of 7 officials at the highest level of government who are elected by the United Federal Assembly of Switzerland.

To other Switzerland-based Bloggers: If you know a good Swiss joke, please post on your blog and let me know in the comments field of this post!

12 May 2009

Bella Italia!

We have just returned from a 5-day trip to Florence, our first trip there. But perhaps not our last?

Unfortunately, I got sick on the way down to Florence (making for a very fun ride!), but at least we had decided to splurge on the hotel. If you are going to be sick on vacation, you may as well be sick in a 5-star hotel.

I saw a lot of this view for the first couple of days: 
The worst thing about being sick was that eating gelato was a risky thing. So unfair! But at least I could take pictures. And when I was feeling better, I made up for it!

Traveling with a baby made the trip very different from past trips we've done as we tried to keep with Global Baby's schedule as much as possible. Which meant we frequently ate in empty restaurants!
I do not know what kind of schedule Italian babies keep, but it definitely wasn't lunch at 11:30 am and dinner at 5:30 pm! Fortunately, the Italians LOVE babies. We had restaurants that allowed us to come in before they were open so we could feed Global Baby and also eat ourselves!

Which also meant that the restaurant staff had more time to come by and play with the Bella Bambino!

In keeping with a baby's schedule we went back to the hotel every afternoon for a nap. A habit I highly recommend, whether you are traveling with a baby or not! When we would go back out again, we felt refreshed. And bore no resemblance to the other tourists who stumbled about the streets in an accurate imitation of zombies in the late afternoon.

We also kept to Global Baby's schedule when touring the sights. We had pre-arranged our tickets to the Uffizi and Accademia museums, cleverly scheduled for morning nap time, which meant we could bypass the incredibly long lines at both locations. With a sleeping baby, we calmly strolled through the museums and looked at our leisure. Although because of the sleeping baby, we did need to keep moving. Otherwise baby was no longer sleeping! And we were limited to about an hour in each museum.

By the way, museum guards also loved the Bella Bambino. As evidenced by the fact that I was always ushered quickly past the security gates (without having any type of search or scan at any of them, which surprised me) with all the guards grinning at Global Baby as we went.

And we did manage to see quite a lot even with a baby and the fact I was sick for the first 3 days of the trip, such as...

Michelangelo's David at the Accademia. Pictured below is the copy of David standing in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (also called the Uffizi), it's original location. Photographs of the actual David are strictly forbidden and enforced by a small army of guards.

The exterior of the Duomo. Unfortunately, the Duomo has a dress code, which we did not meet as GLH was wearing shorts and my skirt was above my knees. Although we likely wouldn't have gone in anyway as the line was too long to wait with a baby. (Remember the "keep the stroller moving" rule!)

We also walked across the Ponte Vecchio on the way to see the Palazzo Pitti.

The Ponte Vecchio was built as a covered bridge to connect the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti. The walkway is on the upper floor while the money-loving and practical Medici's rented out the space on the ground floor to jewelry stores. To this day, all the shops on the bridge are jewelers. Nice to look at. Too much money to buy!

We also strolled about the streets, just taking in the sights and atmosphere.

There only two things that made Florence somewhat less child-friendly. The extremely narrow and poorly maintained walkways that made it difficult to push a stroller. (The Bugaboo would have handled the walkways better than the Maclaren, but would also have taken up more of our car's luggage space!)

The second is that green spaces were very difficult to find. And if you did find them, they were either not particularly green or may as well have been named "Needle Park." Or they cost 10 euros per person for admittance!

On our last day in Florence we discovered the park just to the north of the Fortezza. A bit out of the way, but worth it when baby needs sunshine, fresh air and a break from the stroller!

Although you do need a wet-wipe handy to pick up all the cigarette butts before setting baby down!

06 May 2009


The Swiss love their tunnels. And who can blame them? For a fair amount of the year it is impossible to get over the mountain passes. Tunnels are definitely the way to go.

But there was one particular tunnel we have been waiting to open since we moved here in January 2006. The Uetliberg Tunnel, connecting our side of the lake with the Nord-Ring, a beltway that partially circles the city.

Up until now to get to the other side of the city, we would have to slowly creep our way through the city, frequently in gridlocked traffic, because the highway went right through the center of Zurich. Early on Sunday mornings we can be from our house to the airport parking garage in 20 minutes. In rush hour traffic, it could take more than 2 hours! Not terribly convenient.

But the Uetliberg Tunnel solves that and should make our runs to Ikea and airport pick-ups much less of  a hassle.

Originally the tunnel was to open in Fall 2007. Then they changed the laws on Tunnel Safety Requirements in Switzerland and the brand-new tunnel had to be completely renovated before it could open. So it was delayed to November 2008.

That date came and went and we discovered it was delayed again. Never did figure out why.

But we finally heard the tunnel was completed and ready to open.

However, before opened, they had a party in it. The last weekend in April was West-Fest, a 3-day carnival to celebrate the completion of the tunnel.

We thought the tunnel would open the following Monday. Only to discover they had to remove all the rides, booths and other carnival-related items. Clean-up took an additional week.

Finally, it was announced the tunnel would open on Monday, May 4th! Yeah!

But the actually opening time remained a secret. See, they didn't want people lining up to be the first to go through the tunnel. That would cause gridlock, which the tunnel was intended to prevent!

So in the wee hours of Monday morning, they quietly opened the tunnel and then sat back to wait.

The Swiss are a little upset that the first car to drive through the newly opened tunnel had German plates. (Perhaps they should have arranged it so a Swiss car would drive through first?)

But at least, after so long of a wait, the tunnel is finally open!

04 May 2009

Annual Mayday Riot

Every year there is a riot in the streets of Zurich.

It happens every Mayday. Because it is an annual event, the police are ready for it, all dressed up in their full riot gear.

This year they did not disappoint. On Friday, May 1st about 12,000 people gathered for the Labor Parade. Approximately 200 of the protestors wore masks and were obviously up to no good. A small riot ensued. It was immediately quieted and around 30 people were arrested.

Does anyone else find it humorous that the Swiss schedule their riots?

03 May 2009

American Smorgasbord!

Yesterday we had a party to celebrate the adoption finalization.

It was truly an American Smorgasbord!

Perhaps the most fun we had was using our authentic Swiss fondue pot to make a Velveeta cheese dip for the nacho chips! We also served American-stye "Swiss cheese," which is vaguely Emmental-esque and Cheese in a Can, just for shocks and giggles. I wonder if we will get kicked out of Switzerland for committing cheese related crimes?

And here is the Star of the Day, playing Pony Boy on GLH's knee: