Thursday, July 31, 2008


I went sailing with a few of my coworkers last night. The company club has a boat docked about halfway to Geneva. The club has been on a waiting list for a spot inside the harbor for awhile, so the boat is still tied to a buoy outside the harbor. This means we had to paddle out in a very small little boat. It was a very tight fit for 3 people and backpacks.

The wind was fairly calm, so in typical Swiss tradition, wine was poured. A few minutes later the wind picked up, the boat tilted, the water came up to the windows on one side, and wine was spilled everywhere. It made for an exciting couple of minutes. All in all it was a good evening and I plan to go back out next week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

5 stores later...

...I found the bubble bath.

It seems like such a simple thing to find, but I went to three grocery stores, 1 department store, and a pharmacy before finding this. Then I got home and Rowan didn't even want the bubble bath that he had been begging for.

Documentation needed

Here is the documentation needed to get #3 setup in Switzerland and the US.

  • Certified copy of my birth certificate (issued in the last 6 months)
  • Certified copy of Emily's birth certificates (issued in the last 6 months)
  • Certified copy of our marriage certificate (issued in the last 6 months)
  • I assume we'll also need to show our residence permits, but that hasn't been on any of the lists I've seen yet


  • DS-2029 (I think this is the "report of birth abroad" form)
  • DS-11 (passport form)
  • SS-5 (application for US social security number)
  • #3's Swiss birth certificate
  • #3's Swiss birth certificate
  • My passport
  • Emily's passport
  • Certified copy of our marriage certificate

Both Emily and I will need to go with #3 (and probably #1 and #2) to the consulate in Geneva. I'm guessing 4-5 months before everything is done and we have a US passport and social security number in our hands.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ireland: Day 6

On day six we drove the Ring of Skellig using Rick Steves' self guided tour. We drove from Portmagee to Waterville, where the kids had a great time playing on the beach. We also got two different farmhouse cheddars. I didn't get a photo of those cheeses. I like the mature and Emily like the regular. Emily and I also had great smoked salmon sandwiches.
We then drove to BallinSkelligs and visited an old monastery and castle. The then visited the Skelligs Chocolate Factory. The had free samples, which were appreciated by all. We purchased a package of hot chocolate that we'll try when the weather cools down a bit.
The road from there to Portmagee was very narrow. It was the worst part of driving in Ireland. The photo below is of Portmagee from the top of a nearby hill.

McCann Girls

The girls put their feet up for a little rest after having breakfast.


Emily's birthday was last Wednesday. Rowan woke up, said happy birthday, and demanded that they make a cake. They spent the morning making the cake on the left. I didn't know that they were making a cake, so I picked a cake (the one on the right) up at the local bakery. Since both of these items had eggs, there were also egg free cup cakes for Niamh.

The cake Emily and Rowan made was very good, but the one from the bakery was only acceptable. I think it looks much better than it actually was.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Switzerland Climbs World Ladder

From the Swiss embassy:
Switzerland ranks first in Europe and fourth in the world (behind the U.S.,
Singapore and Hong Kong) in global competitiveness, according to the World
Competitiveness Yearbook
. The report was released on May 15 by the Lausanne-based business school, the IMD. This result marks a climb in two places from last
year’s yearbook, where Switzerland placed sixth overall. According to the report, Switzerland was a leader in economic growth, infrastructure and taxation; businesses in Switzerland benefited from the country’s health and education systems and from its traditional political stability. To hold its competitive edge in coming years, it will be key for Switzerland to invest not only in economic infrastructure but also in public infrastructure such as quality of life, security of private property, and sustainable development, according to Lausanne’s World Competitiveness Center. The IMD’s annual competitiveness study is now in its 20th year.


One of our favorite activities in Morges is to look at the planes as they head towards Geneva. In these photos Rowan is looking at what I think is a Saudi Airlines 747

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Two acceptable cheeses

These two cheeses were acceptable, but nothing special. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to try them. I think I've decided I like white cheddar better than red/orange.

5 days? I can't believe it is that fast.

I had to send my passport to the embassy in Bern to get additional pages added to it. I asked how long it would take and was told that it would take 5 working days including transit. I mailed it on Saturday, so I should get it back on Friday. I can't imagine it can be done that quick, since the expedited service in the US takes something like two weeks.

Niamh: TMB (too much booty)

We went for a walk on Friday to listen to the music being played on the Grand Rue. Niamh's diaper was a bit full and wouldn't stay up, so every time she squatted down she showed TMB.

Oak Smoked

This was Emily's second favorite of the cheeses we tried in Ireland. I'm not a big fan of smoked cheeses, but I did eat my share of it. In fact, I think we had to go back to the store and get another package.

Ireland: Day 5

I messed up the order of the blogs. The activities below actually occurred on day 4 and the activities listed in the day 4 entry happened on day 5.
We drove from Portmagee to Dingle, which took about two hours. We wondered around the waterfront for a few minutes before heading to the aquarium. It was small, but interesting. Niamh really enjoyed touching the sting rays. We then headed to the James G. Ashe pub for lunch. After lunch we headed out to follow Rick Steves' self guided tour. The distances in his book did not match our odometer, but they were close. Here are the highlights from the tour:
  • Dunbeg fort
  • Kavanaugh cottage- abandoned 150 years ago. It has a few artifacts and tries to show what life was like during the famine(side note: I listened to a radio program that stated that the Irish refer to that time period as a hunger, not a famine. There was plenty of food, but those in power sold the food outside of Ireland.) We ran into a small issue while feeding the animals that were part of the exhibit. Two of the goats stuck their head through the same small opening when trying to get some food and got stuck. It took them a minute, but they worked themselves out.
  • More clochans (beehive huts)
  • a beach
  • Gallarus Oratory This is technically free, but the individual who owns the property charges you to walk across his property. Since it is more or less another clochan, we decided not to pay and went on our way.
  • Church of Kilmalkedar- this is where the kids fell asleep and our camera battery died.

It took about 90 minutes to get back to Portmagee in the evening.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tour de Suisse

I hadn't heard of the Tour de Suisse prior to moving here and barely heard anything about it when it was actually happening due to the madness related to the European football championship.

This year's race barely made it into the french speaking part of the country, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I didn't hear much about it.

Swiss vs. US Orthotics (Orthosis)

I recently got new inserts for my shoes. The insert on the left in the photo is from the US. The doctor in Switzerland looked at it and immediately said that they don't make them like that in Switzerland anymore. The model from the US has hard plastic and is very rigid. The doctor in Morges says it is too rigid.

The insert on the right is from Switzerland and is much softer. The other main difference is that the inserts from Switzerland have a large ridge/bump in the middle so that more pressure is put on my toes. I guess my toes are not being used to support my weight, which could be a problem at some point.

The process for getting the inserts was a little different in Switzerland compared to the US. In the US the doctor held my foot in the desired position and took a mold. A few weeks later I had my inserts. In Switzerland they took a scan of my feet and then I stepped into a box filled with a foam like substance that I guess made a mold. Four days later I had the inserts. The US inserts are much more comfortable, but I'm not sure if that is because they aren't actually doing much support. The Swiss inserts hurt quite a bit. I plan on waiting a few weeks to see if it is just a matter of getting used to them or if there is an issue. My french lessons haven't really covered orthotics, so I may have missed something in the discussion with the doctor.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ireland: Day 4

Emily went to Skellig Michael on day 4. It took about 90 minutes by boat and she got to spend two hours on the island. She was even allowed to use the Monk's outhouse because she was pregnant. She had been worried because there was a big sign at the dock on the island indicating that there weren't any toilet facilities.

She was thrilled to see the dolphins swimming by the boat on the way to the island.

The kids and I went grocery shopping and took a nap.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gestational Diabetes?

Emily was tested for Gestational Diabetes today. It was three hours of drinking at least 16 ounces of sugar water, wanting to vomit, and having four vials of blood taken. The worst part was that she couldn't eat for about 11 hours. The test results should be back later this week.

The doctor's main concern is that Niamh was a huge baby, even though #3 seems to be normal size.

Snuggle Worthy

Niamh has finally decided that I'm worthy of being snuggled. The photo shows us in her favorite snuggle position.

Ireland: Day 3

On Day 3 we stayed near Cahersiveen. We visited the Cahergal stone fort (above). It is amazing how smooth the walls of the fort were. We also went to Ballycarbery Castle, but there was barbed wire around the castle to keep people away. Emily is a bit more hardcore than I am and she went through the wire(there was a spot where others had clearly done the same) and went up to the castle. She found it very interesting.

After a nap back at the house we went to the Skellig Experience Center on Valentia Island. There was a good video overview and we were the only ones there, so the kids could play on the theater steps without bothering anyone.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Anyone read Gaelic?

Many signs in Ireland are written in both Gaelic and English. The sign above is from Cahersiveen. The sign below is from a post office on Valentia Island.

Kit Kat Dark!

Kit Kat Dark are not available in Switzerland and I don't think they are available in the US any longer. This is an excellent candy bar and is probably my favorite. It was voted Product of the Year in 2008 in the Chocolate Confectionery Category of the Consumer Survey of Product Innovation.

The Nestle site has information on the history of Kit Kats. Did you know the packages used to be blue? I learned that a special formula is used in Malaysia, where they make the Kit Kats sold in warm climates. That might explain why the Kit Kats I've had in Malaysia are almost as bad as Dubliner cheese.

Ireland: Day 2

We ate an okay breakfast at the hotel. Rowan got to eat as much toast as he wanted, so he was happy. We then walked about a quarter of a mile to the nearest Airlink stop to take the bus to the airport. That bus only comes every 30 minutes, we just missed one, and the bus was late, so we had to wait for about 40 minutes. One of the ladies on the bus didn't want me to stack my bags on top of hers even though she had spread her bags out across the entire baggage area. The stroller ended up getting stacked on her stuff.

We got to the airport and found our rental car. The car seats that Avis rented us were not the best, but they did the job. We spent the next six hours driving to Portmagee, which is where our rental house was.

We found the house without any issues. The house had a peat fire, which was interesting. It is much harder to get a peat fire going than a wood fire. Outside the house there were two huge piles of pieces of peat that I'm assuming had been gathered locally.

We found some "Dingle Gold" cheese at the local store. Emily and I both liked this cheese.

Rowan got up once that night because he couldn't find his bun, but Niamh slept through the night.

Cashel Blue

Neither Emily nor I are big blue cheese fans, but Cashel Blue was good melted over soda bread and ham.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ireland: The third half of the 1st day.

Dinner was at the Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street. The food was okay, but they have a good children's menu. The kids menu had bread sticks(which weren't delivered), pizza, ice cream and a drink. Emily and I also had pizza. The kids and I had fairly standard pizzas, but Emily had a spiced lamb pizza. She was not impressed. In addition, the pizzas were not cut and they were very difficult to cut with our dull butter knifes.

It was a Rick Steves recommendation, but I'd skip it.

The last stop that day was at Dunne's to get some diapers for the kids(primarily Niamh). While I was there I picked up some cheese. I chose Dubliner cheese. It might have been my worst decision of the trip. The cheese was horrible. The company should be shut down immediately and the management should be taken into the streets and beaten. Not even the Irish version of Ritz crackers could save it.

The kids slept through the night, so the day ended on a good note.

Driving in Ireland

It wasn't as scary as I had assumed, but there were a few instances of Emily getting this horrified face as her side of car got a little too close to the cars/grass/rock walls on the edge of the road.

I decided to get the super CDW(complete insurance) for the following reasons:
  1. We do not have any car insurance that would cover a rental.
  2. Based on previous experience I assume my credit card company would make things very difficult if they had to pay.
  3. I assumed there would be some damage to the car.
  4. Super CDW only left me responsible for 4 tires and the car keys.

There were a few scratches on the left side of the car, but not that I would consider major. The majority of the damage was caused when Emily was getting out of the car and the wind blew the door open into the metal gutter downspout a the house.

I was concerned about shifting with my left hand, but that was not an issue. I am glad the pedals were in the same position, otherwise I'm sure I would have had problems.

The road signs in Ireland are fairly confusing. In some instances the signs would indicate that the speed limit was increasing, but there would be big signs that say SLOW. The dotted line in the middle to indicate that passing was okay normally had one of the following issues:

  • it was only dotted for about 20 feet
  • there was no visibility because there was a hill or a blind corner
  • the road was too narrow to pass

I thought the speed limit was very high on the Ring of Kerry. At one point I tried to increase speed to get to the speed limit and was frightened before I even got close. Few cars were passing me when I drove at a comfortable speed, so I guess not many people actually drive the speed limit

I had more issues on the Ring of Skellig than anywhere else. The road was very narrow and there seemed to be lots of people going the opposite direction.

I'm willing to drive there again, but wouldn't want a larger car or to drive in a big city.

Ireland Photos

Photos of our trip to Ireland have been posted on our website. We trimmed the 450 (not counting those that were deleted prior to returning home) to 45.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Our first full day in Dublin

After breakfast we took a walk around town. We found a huge toy store that had a brand of trains, Hornby, that I had never heard of. We then walked to the General Post Office and then to Trinity College. We saw the Book of Kells and the old library. Actually, only Emily saw the old library. Before we purchased the tickets to the Book of Kells and the library(one ticket for both), Emily asked if the exhibit was stroller friendly. She was told that it was stroller friendly, so we purchased the tickets. It might be umbrella stroller friendly, especially if it is all folded up and being carried. We have a double decker stroller and I didn't feel like carrying it (and Niamh who was sleeping) up the stays to the old library, so we left after the Book of Kells. According to Emily the old library is really nice.

We went to lunch at Wagamama, which was recommended in both the Rick Steves and Lonely Planet guide books. The food was good and we got lucky with the timing. We were able to walk right in, but there was a huge line by the time we left.

After lunch we got on one of the Hop on/Hop off buses and headed to the Kilmainham Jail. It was a very informative tour, but Niamh became possessed by some sort of three-headed screaming devil so Emily took the kids outside. This is probably the highlight of the trip so far. Niamh continued her screaming on the bus after the tour, so we went back to the hotel for a little while.

Details for the third half of the day will be available soon.

An Irish breakfast

We took one of Rick Steves' recommendations and had breakfast at the Chorus Cafe (no web site). It was a good thing we weren't looking for a grease free breakfast, because we would have been unhappy. It earned two thumbs (Rowan and Pat) and index finger up(Niamh does a thumbs up with her index finger). Emily was not as impressed. Please note that it was good food, not great food. I need to do some comparisons after we've been here a while, but I think it was a good value.

We're off to see the city!

First Night in Dublin

We had pizza for dinner last night. It was close and we could bring it back to the hotel, which met my major criteria. Rowan melted down when we went for dinner, so I didn't want to try to sit in a restaurant.

The place we chose was Apache Pizza. It was okay, but not great. I think one of the pizza places in Florence set my pizza expectations a bit too high for the rest of the world.

It is now almost 7AM and I think we have survived the night. The room has a double and a single bed, plus they put a portable crib in for Niamh. We moved the single so that Rowan had more space on the floor and he slept until 5:30 (6:30 CET/Swiss). Niamh is still asleep, but did wake up once. She is getting to be too big for portable cribs and she got her body stuck and couldn't move. Emily turned into a boot camp instructor, got right in Niamh's face and told her to go back to sleep. Niamh became quite and I hasn't made a noise in the last six hours.

Rowan is sitting on the bed watching Little Einsteins on the iPod. Rowan's TV watching goes up significantly when we are on airplanes or in small hotel rooms waiting for Niamh to get up.

Emily just tried to take a shower and couldn't figure out the controls. I managed to figure it out, but not before getting extremely wet. I learned that I should always check where the shower head is pointed prior to messing with the show controls

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dublin: the only airport with a longer wait to clear customs than Seattle

We made it to Dublin a mere 30 minutes late. I guess they had a radar issue yesterday that still isn't resolved. The kids did OK on the train and planes, but there were a few moments that caused a few looks.

We got to Dublin to discover that our "gate checked" stroller would be delivered at baggage claim. This is somewhat annoying, but not too big a deal. At least they handled it correctly at Frankfurt.

I guess Ireland is not part of the passport free zone, as we did have to clear immigration and customs here. There were 3 or 4 people to handle the EU citizens. I don't understand why they needed that many people, because I didn't even see anyone slow down as they walked through. When we first arrived at immigration there were only two people for the non EU citizens. It took about 25 minutes to clear customs and there were only about 15 people in front of us. All they did for us is ask if we were on vacation, ask how long we were staying, and stamp the passports.

The amazing thing is that all three bags plus the stroller were waiting for us when we got to baggage claim. That never happens in Switzerland.

It was raining our our walk to the hotel, but it has more or less stopped. If we are lucky there won't be too much tomorrow.

No Irish cheese yet, but there will be some tomorrow!

How did we miss this?

Il Gelato Vivoli is supposed to have the best gelato in Florence. I find it hard to believe we missed it when we were there in October. We'll have to make sure we visit it when we go again.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Football talk

I was sent this too late for it to be of any use for Euro2008, but I will use it for the World Cup in 2010. Only 701 days until the fun begins!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Smoking In Switzerland

An update from SwissInfo on the very slow progress of making Switzerland a little less smokey.

There will be no more need for ashtrays in public buildings in Geneva and
in Zurich as smoking bans come into force in Switzerland's two largest population centres. Of the two cantons, Geneva introduced a stricter ban on Tuesday, which includes bars and restaurants, while Zurich has only outlawed smoking in public buildings. Simon Küffer of the Swiss Lung League welcomed the moves by Geneva and Zurich to protect the public from the risks of passive smoking. "We are particularly pleased about the full ban in Geneva and also glad to see Zurich moving in the right direction," he told swissinfo.

"We hope the Zurich ban will be extended to bars and restaurants after the vote on the issue on September 28," he added. Switzerland lags behind its European neighbours when it comes to anti-smoking legislation, but measures are gathering pace at the cantonal and federal levels. The southern Italian-speaking Ticino region
became the first canton to introduce a smoking ban in indoor public places in
April 2007. Tuesday's additions bring to seven the number of cantons with some level of smoking restrictions in public places. Most of the remaining 19 cantons have similar projects in the pipeline.


While the patchwork of differing smoking bans continues to develop independently in the cantons, the issue is also being addressed, albeit at a snail's pace, at federal
level. Last month, the House of Representatives rejected a plan by the Senate
to ban smoking in restaurants. However, it came out in favour of granting the
country's 26 cantonal authorities the right to impose tougher rules than on a
federal level. The situation leaves visitors to the country encountering different smoking regulations every few kilometres. There is no confusion for Switzerland's train passengers, however; smoking has been banned on the entire Swiss public rail network since December 2005. Küffer pointed out that the snowball effect of the individual cantons adopting smoking bans would ultimately lead to a de facto countrywide ban. "But we would still like to see a stronger federal law on the issue."

In Geneva, anyone who lights up in a public building, bar or restaurant, now risks a fine of SFr100 ($98.28) to SFr1,000. Determined smokers will still be able to puff away in Geneva's prison cells, private hospital rooms and in designated hotel rooms.
It seems that train stations are a grey area in Zurich, with covered platforms still deemed smoking-friendly while the station buildings will be smoke-free. Authorities and the rail company are still wrangling over the status of the partially open
station concourse at Zurich main station. The gradual stubbing out of cigarettes in Switzerland is part of a Europe-wide anti-smoking trend. While England looks back on one year of smoke-free workplaces and public places, in the Netherlands a tobacco ban in cafes, bars and restaurants came into force on Wednesday.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Places to Visit in Switzerland

Here are links to two places I want to visit in Switzerland prior to the new Mini McCann arriving.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

End of year show

Last Wednesday was the last day of pre-school for Rowan. That evening there was a Canadian picnic/potluck. Maybe the readers born in Canada can explain why the Swiss/French refer to a potluck as a Canadian picnic.
The kids each had to sing one line of a song, but the teacher ended up singing almost everything. Here are a two photos from the show. The girl in the middle below is Rowan's best friend.

Irish Cheeses

I looked in the Cheese Primer for Irish cheeses and was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to find a recommendation for a good cheddar, but none were included. Please let me know if you have a recommendation for a good Irish cheddar.

Here are the cheeses recommended in the book:

I hope to try a few of these when we are in Ireland next week. Please let me know if you've had them and if you would recommend them.

Operation Long Stick

Background Info:
  • Rowan left his "Regular Bun" at a castle in Sion
  • Niamh dropped Rowan's "New Bun" over the balcony onto the balcony below
  • The individuals living below are out of town
  • Rowan was sick yesterday
  • Rowan walked into our bedroom at 2:30 AM CET and emptied the contents of his stomach all over our floor and "Broken Bun"
  • It was now 2:40 AM and there were no clean Buns remaining
  • Rowan cannot sleep without a Bun
  • Emily put "Broken Bun" in the wash.

At 6:50 AM Operation Long Stick was put into action. Using a broom, a mop, and an old shirt, "New Bun" was knocked off the balcony below us onto the street. "New Bun" was recovered and is now awaiting a nice bath.

It is important to note that Operation Long Stick was based on Operation Stick And Sheet, which was launched earlier in the morning. Exact details on that failed operation are either classified or unavailable because I was sleeping.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Two down, one to go

Niamh tossed "New Bun" over the balcony railing yesterday and it landed on the balcony below us. This wouldn't be too big an issue, but I think the people below us are out of town. We need to be extra careful with "Broken Bun" until we get this one back. Things will get very ugly if we don't have any Buns.