Friday, December 25, 2009

Fine Art: Christmas Tree for Grammie and Bumpa

Rowan has been asking for this drawing to be sent to Grammie and Bumpa. I figured it would be easier and faster if I just posted it online.

Mes dessins de Noel

Rowan had been working on this at school and brought it home on the last day of school with strict instructions that he continue to work on it each day.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Has the end of the world arrived?

This clock at the CFF station in Montreux was 7 minutes slow. I checked both my phone and my watch (sync'd to Morges train station main clock) to validate that it was wrong. I couldn't believe it. It is the only train station clock I have seen in Switzerland that has not been correct. It is a sure sign the end of the world is coming.

A visit to Pere Noel

It took 2 hours and 2 trains, but we made it to Pere Noel. Please note the following:
  1. The lines across the picture are from an issue with our scanner, the actual picture is fine.
  2. Niamh was totally uninterested in being on Pere Noel's lap.
  3. Muriel was only slightly more interested in being on Pere Noel's lap
  4. The spot on Rowan's head was caused by Emily letting Rowan play with the clippers after she was done cutting his hair.

Rowan actually talked with Pere Noel this year, which is a significant improvement from the last visit.


Rowan learned how to do somersaults at school and now the girls are joining in on the fun.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Letter From Santa

Rowan and Niamh received their letters back from Santa (AKA the Swiss Post) last week.

The letter, in English, included a random short story about a snowman, which seemed to end and begin in the middle, as well as some Christmas window decals. It wasn't, in fact, really a letter at all, which I found to be slightly disappointing. But I'm glad that the Swiss Post went to the trouble to at least send something back!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Second Sight

Today I am feeling like I'm gifted with second sight, as yesterday I forced myself to go out shopping for snow gear for the kids in preparation for the train up to Rochers-de-Naye on Monday to see Père Noël. And then woke up today to snow! Coincidence? I think not.

My second sight must be a bit spotty though, because I was certainly caught completely unaware yesterday afternoon when Pat learned that his office here is to be shut down and we'll out of Switzerland sometime in the next nine months. Where next? Who knows at this point.

But for now let's focus on something a little more festive and cheerful, like unexpected snow! I hope it sticks around for Christmas, I can't remember the last time I had a white Christmas!

We were able to get out the door about 15 minutes early today so the kids could play for a bit before Ro had to go to school.

Later that morning I took the girls out to play.

Muriel love it....

for about two seconds. She spent the rest of the time in my arms, or looking like the above photo. Maybe gloves would have helped? The sleeves on her snowsuit go way past her fingers though, so I thought she'd be okay without.

Niamh on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed herself!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wrapping Presents

We are having what is probably (mustn't get my hopes up) only a brief lull between illnesses, so I thought I'd use the respite to post a couple of recent photos.

I haven't wanted to put any gifts under the tree to tempt the children (mostly Muriel), so Rowan and Niamh took matters into their own hands on Tuesday morning. They spent a good hour or so making wrapping paper and then wrapping up various toys. If Niamh hadn't had to leave for school (Ro stayed home sick) they probably wouldn't have stopped until every toy they own was wrapped and under the tree.

Muriel has actually shown zero interest in the "gifts" under the tree, so perhaps I could put the real ones under it after all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Letters to Santa

Last weekend we wrote letters to Santa Claus. We dropped them in them mail address to:
Père Noel
Pole Nord
Rumor has it that Père Noel sends letters and/or gifts back, but we haven't seen anything yet. Rowan's letter is below. His list includes:
  • a violin
  • a microphone
  • cars
  • chocolate
  • a guitar

Niamh is looking for:
  • a microphone
  • ironing board
  • car seat for her doll.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas Day 2009

St. Nicholas stopped by last night and left the kids each a new Christmas book, an additional piece for the nativity scene, and a few treats.

I felt so bad for poor, sick Niamh who just couldn't really enjoy the festivities. She did try and eat a piece of chocolate, only to throw it up a little while later.

Muriel's favorite part were the walnuts. She toddled all over the apartment with as many as she could hold clenched in her little hands.

Later that morning, while Niamh slept, I took Rowan and Muriel out to a boulangerie down the street and got some St. Nicholas bread. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of celebrations here in Morges other than the St. Nicholas shaped bread in all the boulangeries--probably because Vaud is not a Catholic canton.

For anyone in search of some good Christmas picture books, I can highly recommend all three that St. Nicholas left for the kids: Good King Wenceslas, The Little Drummer Boy, and Brigid's Cloak. Despite my bias towards books that can be sung, I think my favorite of the three is Brigid's Cloak. Lovely illustrations, and an equally as lovely Irish story (always welcome in this family!) about St. Brigid that mingles Christian and Druid beliefs.

Sick Sick Sick

Friday morning

this evening

Pat got sick last Sunday with what seemed like the flu minus a fever and it's been making it's way through the whole family all week. Me and Rowan on Tuesday night, then Muriel on Wednesday. Niamh was the last to get sick on Thursday night, when I think she only got an hour or so of sleep and spent the whole night vomiting. She and Muriel were both so exhausted they fell asleep on the floor next to each other on Friday morning as I was getting Rowan ready for school. She's also the last to get well, and I think it's lasted longer with her than with the others. Poor thing hasn't eaten anything to speak of in three days, so I think if she's not showing improvement tomorrow we should perhaps go to the doctor.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday with some people from Pat's office. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the cooking, baking, and cleaning madness (all twenty-four hours of it) the only picture I took all day was of the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie chilling on the balcony. Our wintertime "fridge" gets a lot of use under normal circumstances, but was a complete lifesaver for the Thanksgiving feast. It was a lovely day and definitely helped take the edge of our holiday homesickness.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rowan's iMac art

Rowan's classroom has 4 iMacs. Today he brought home artwork done on the computer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday Sweet Rowan!

Too Much Like His Mother

On Friday the parents of Rowan's school were invited to watch the kids at their gym/movement class. Poor Rowan. The second he saw me walk into the gym his little face turned bright red (now I understand why I was teased so mercilessly for blushing when I was a kid. I wish he had been spared those genes). About one minute later he started crying, and would not be consoled. Thankfully the teachers allowed him to come sit with me, not that it helped a lot. He continued crying and said over and over "I don't want you to come." This might have puzzled most people, but I understand as preforming in front of people you know is so much harder than a roomful of strangers. I think he also likes to keep school and home separate, and when those two worlds collide it causes a bit of anxiety. Though I had told him I'd be coming, it turns out he thought I'd be standing outside the gym watching through the windows.

Rowan sat on my lap and cried off and on through the entire class--the crying most often starting back up again when he saw a kid doing something he thought was funny and he had to laugh in spite of himself.

It was still nice to see the type of thing he normally would have been doing, especially since gym is his favorite part of school. The gym teacher played the piano while the kids simply moved in various ways to the music--running, skipping, walking, hopping, etc. Each child had a newspaper they used as a prop. Sometimes they pretended to read it, sometimes they walked with it on their head, sometimes they placed it on the floor and jumped over it, etc.

Here are a couple of videos which I am posting even though they are probably only of interest to the grandparents!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where's Niamh?

I took this picture of the kids playing hide-and-seek the other day. Niamh is so cleverly hidden, you probably won't even be able to find her in the picture.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick Weekend

The weekend before last was not only rainy, I was also sick with strep throat and out of commission for most of the time. That winning combination called for a diversion a little more special than the normal in these situations (TV--not that there wasn't plenty of that too).

First up were these super cool wax-o-glas crayons by Lyra. I picked them up a couple of months ago and had been saving for an appropriately desperate occasion. They wipe off the window very easily, and the kids loved them. The only problem we had with them is that they are a bit too soft, and most of them are now broken, after only being used two times.

After the novelty of drawing on the windows had worn off I pulled out a couple of new toys that I had stashed away. Rowan loved his train conductor set and spent the whole afternoon playing with it, as well as the next day. One of his favorite parts was writing the names of cities onto the blank tickets that came with the set.

And here is Niamh with her new toy--a magnetic dress up doll. But that turned out to be a bust, as all she wanted to do after five minutes with it was to play with Rowan's conductor set.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Need Some Arnica With That?

On Thursday Muriel and I were killing a bit of time at the Migros center before going to pick Niamh up from Jardin d'Enfants. I was sitting on some square backless seats that were topped with metal. While standing on the ground Muriel somehow wedged herself between two of the seats and fell (How was there enough room to fall? I don't know), the bridge of her nose hitting the edge of one of the seats. The cut bled quite a bit for a few minutes, but thankfully stopped quickly.

It wasn't too long before a nice stranger stopped and asked if I needed any help and when I said no asked if I wanted any arnica for Muriel. "For the crying" she explained. Completely flustered, I assured her that we were okay and hurried off to pick up Niamh, pushing the stroller with one hand and holding a wailing, bloody Muriel with the other hand.

When we arrived at Niamh's school it turned out we were a bit early and there were a bunch of parents waiting outside the door, all a little alarmed at Muriel's state. One very sweet woman asked if I'd given her any arnica and when I said no, searched through her purse to see if she had any on her. She didn't, but thought that Niamh's teacher would have some.

Well, by this time I wasn't surprised that once inside the school Niamh's teacher immediately offered Muriel some arnica, without my even asking about it. It can be found in two forms, either a gel for putting on the skin or little granules to ingest, a bit like the Hylands Teething Tablets you can get in the States. Andréanne gave me three granules for Muriel, but Muriel was too upset to eat them, so I didn't even get to see this magical remedy in action. I wonder if arnica is popular across Europe or if it is a Swiss thing?

Anyway, Muriel is doing much better now. The swelling in the above picture (taken the day of the accident) is gone and has been replaced with a nice bruise from the corner of one eye to the corner of the other. Though on Saturday I did give her fingers a nice audible crunch in the lid of our coffee/game storage table. Given her recent wave of accidents I guess I should try and remember to pick up some arnica at the pharmacy this week. When in Rome Switzerland...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Fun

Just a few more photos from Halloween!

Our third baby to wear Grammie Krista's pumpkin hat

festive tattoos and tasty (if not pretty--my black marshmallows turned out brown) treats

the best shot I could get of all three kids

The kids were so excited to go spend Halloween with our neighbors, the Elkos. Rowan especially was thrilled that both he and Sam were knights. Niamh was too shy to leave my side so I couldn't get her in the photo.


After trick-or-treating with the Elkos they came over for more sugar (can you have too much on Halloween?) and to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. This was definitely the best Halloween we've had here in Switzerland!

Once again I was thankful that Niamh's egg allergy is not life threatening because I completely forgot to tell her the veggie dip I'd set out on the table after trick-or-treating had egg in it. A combination of chaos, and not thinking she'd actually touch anything resembling a vegetable. So the poor thing ended her night on a sour note with some throwing up and going to bed before the festivities were over. Another mark for me in the negligent mother category. The good news is that I think the allergy is becoming less severe, as she only threw up once (as opposed to the normal 3-4 times) and she didn't get any hives.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I think the kids had a great day and really enjoyed their first trick-or-treating experience. A fellow American expat that lives in our complex sent out flyers to all 98 apartments explaining the Halloween tradition. Those interested in participating were asked to cut out the jack-o-lantern on the flyer and paste it to their door as a signal to trick-or-treaters. There was a pretty good turnout, and the kids came back with quite the candy stash. More pics tomorrow--I'm beat!