Monday, August 31, 2009


On Sunday we took the train to Payerne to see it's 11th century abbey church which was part of the former Benedictine abbey founded in the 10th century. Pat and I both agreed that it was worth visiting, but doesn't make our list of top ten things to do while in Switzerland. There was no photography allowed inside the church, so photos are limited. A small room next door to the church (cloister??) had been turned into a little informational exhibit and I did take a few photos there because there were no signs saying not to. Pat says that is following the letter of the law and not the spirit of it...he is much more law abiding than I am (and we all know what a crazy rule breaker I am), as I would have sneaked photos inside the church if it wouldn't have made him twitch.

While I was taking the above photo, I turned around and noticed Niamh engaged in some rather interesting stroller antics:

A zoom lens sure makes it easier to spy on your children.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another step closer to walking

It's hard to tell from the photo because it's so close, but Muriel has been standing unassisted quite a bit the past few days.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Today feels like fall

Hooray! We're looking forward to a lot of things this fall: Muriel's first birthday, Rowan's fifth birthday, Pat', birthday (we'll just leave it at that), a visit from Uncle Patrick, Halloween, Thanksgiving (I hope to actually cook this year), cows in St. Cergue, and a trip to the Mosel River Valley. Not to mention all the little things like cool mornings, sweaters and jackets, roasted chestnuts, and Vacherin Mont d'Or.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A(H1N1) and kindergarten

This link was given to parents in Zurich, but we didn't receive anything on the topic from Rowan's school.

Conversation with a four-year-old boy

Today Rowan and Muriel and I (Niamh was already snoozing) were hanging out in the book room before quiet time (Rowan)/snooze (Muriel). Our conversation went like this:

Rowan: "Muriel is my best friend."
Me: "Oh? I thought Sam was your best friend."
Rowan: "Super best friend."
Me: "Oh, so Muriel is your super best friend?"
Rowan: "No, Sam is my super best friend. Muriel is my best friend."
Me: "What about Neevie?"
Rowan (without even stopping to think about it): "Niamh is my husband and I am her wife because I'm the mama who takes care of my dinosaurs."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First real day of school

Rowan seems to have enjoyed his first real day of school. We didn't realize that we were supposed to send a snack with him, so his snack consisted of an old piece of chocolate that was in his backpack. We'll make sure he has a real snack starting Thursday (no school on Wednesdays). Here is art from his first day:

School supplies

Here is Rowan's school supply list for kindergarten. There are a few items that I don't think would be on the list in the US.

  1. t-shirt and shorts for gym
  2. bag for gym clothes
  3. soft shoes for gym
  4. slippers for class
  5. paint smock
  6. felt tip markers
  7. glue bottle
  8. small notebook
  9. plastic paper holder

Monday, August 24, 2009

La rentrée 2009

Rowan had his first day of school today. It was actually more like an orientation because it was just a partial day (or a partial day of a partial day, since this first year of kindergarten he only goes one full day on Thursdays. The other four are just half days). My friend Jen, another American who lives in our apartment building, watched Niamh and Muriel so I could take Rowan without so many distractions.

This first day the parents stayed for about thirty minutes or so. We then we left and returned to pick the children up after about an hour and a half. There are two years of kindergarten here, and this morning there were only new kids--or first year kids. Tomorrow will be a normal day, for the full time, and with the whole class (first and second year is all in one class).

There was one boy he knew who attended Jardin d'Enfants with him the past two years. And out of six new kids in the class, four were English speakers. Good for his comfort level, not so good for the learning french. Rowan told me he did not have a very good day because I didn't stay with him. I suspect that he did okay. There were no tears so it must not have been too bad!

As for me, I met three moms who are native English speakers. Which, as with Rowan, was nice for my comfort level, but perhaps not so nice for improving my french. Anyway, we all went out for coffee while waiting to pick up the kids. Pat has been saying for a while that he thinks things will get better here (I've been quite homesick and lonely lately) once Rowan starts school. If this first day is any indication, I think he's right.

putting on his slippers

in the classroom and positively thrilled

on the way home--thrilled again!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Come, Dreams

Weary you must be with play,
Running, running, all the day;
Come, dreams,
Come to baby, come;
Come, dreams,
Come to baby, come.

-Old French Lullaby

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Best Picture of Muriel Ever

Muriel was feeling very cheery this afternoon. I'm not sure what was so doesn't take much when you're only ten months old. This is how she often looks when she laughs, I'm so glad I finally caught it with the camera!

Old Train Car


Thursday, August 13, 2009

10 Months Old!

Here are a few pictures from Muriel's 10 month birthday. In related news, she had her 10 month checkup yesterday. She weighs 8.4 kg (18.5 pounds) and is 73 centimeters (28.74 inches) tall. The doctor says she is tall and thin.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Au revoir et à la prochaine, Auntie Katie!

It was so sad to say goodbye to Auntie Katie this morning. We all had a wonderful time during her visit. So many adventures! Though they said goobye last night the kids are going to be sad to find her gone this morning--not as many books and boulangerie visits and park excursions as when she was here.

The above photo was taken yesterday--Katie loves how Muriel often behaves like a little puppy, carrying things in her mouth as well as burrowing, wiggling, kicking, and rolling gleefully in a pile of blankets and pillows. Need to get a video of that, because it really is darling.

Thank you Katie for everything! We will miss you!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Boat To France

On Sunday we went on one last adventure with Auntie Katie to Yvoire, France. It's just right across the lake, so we caught a boat in Nyon to get there. The kids love watching the big boats on the lake, so they were super excited to actually get to ride one.

It was a pretty good trip overall, though there were a few hang-ups:

-In Morges we accidentally got onto the sleeping coaches (first time I've seen sleeping coaches on a Swiss train), and the door to the regular coaches was locked so we were stuck standing for the entire ride to Nyon. Somewhat ironically we couldn't get the door out of the sleeping coach to close, so it was nice and noisy--just what Rowan likes best.

-Niamh had an allergic reaction to the "sorbet" we got her in Yvoire. Perhaps those crazy French put egg in their sorbet. Perhaps some ice cream was left on the scoop, and that minute trace of egg made her sick. Perhaps it wasn't egg at all, but something else. Who knows. At any rate, that's when we decided to go home after only being in Yvoire an hour or so. Thankfully she'd only had a couple of licks and we got Benadryl in her right away, so she didn't actually throw up.

-In Nyon I completely spaced out a red light while crossing the street in front of a police car and got reprimanded for putting my children in danger. A little embarassing. Hey, I looked both ways before crossing, and determined that the police car was far enough away that I didn't need to wait....if only it had been a normal crosswalk.

Anyway, Yvoire is a very picturesque village, but there's not much to do there other than shop, which was disappointing. Even the castle was closed to the public.

waiting for the boat in Nyon

snacks on the boat

checking out the view from the stern

castle at Yvoire

I just liked this fire hydrant

picturesque, yes?

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I was told that Jass is a popular family of swiss card games. It is a four person game similar to pinochle, but has more cards and a little more variability. The general rules can be found here and the rules for the version I am trying to learn, Schieber, can be found here.

The picture below shows the ace and face cards from the shields suit.

We have not played yet, but I hope to play soon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A very hot, very lovely day in Sion

On Thursday Pat took the day off work and we rode the train to Sion for the day. Sion has my favorite castles in Switzerland. They are not the most touristed, but in my mind they are the most beautiful, by far. Being mostly in ruins makes them seem so mysterious, they would be the perfect setting for an Enid Blyton novel. Not to mention the breathtaking views!

The trip definitely went much better than it did last year--we had enough water, I wasn't pregnant, we didn't bring a stroller, and we didn't lose an alleegah (more pictures from that trip here, on the left hand side under late June photos). We also ended up doing some unexpected shopping--trains for Pat, souvenirs for Auntie Katie, and a couple of new cheeses from the Valais region for everyone!

Here are a few of the photos I took from the day, I think I'll probably put more up on Flickr.

All of the above pictures were taken inside the beautiful church at Château de Valère.

Auntie Katie, Rowan, and Niamh in front of the chapel at the bottom of Château de Valère. It was unfortunately locked.

Ro and Pat hiking up to Château de Tourbillon.

Group shot at the doorway of Château de Tourbillon, with Château de Valère in the background.

Rowan and Niamh loved all the grasshoppers at Château de Tourbillon

View from Château de Tourbillon

...through the grass at Château de Tourbillon

We stopped at the bottom of Château de Tourbillon for a much needed ice cream break. I bet that ice cream stand does good business! Niamh was, as usual, the messiest.

Poor Niamh was also the most tired! Luckily on the way back home we were in a fairly empty car so she could take a little snooze more comfortably. Or at least as comfortably as possible inside a sweltering train car.