Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Slow Up Bike Ride

This past Sunday we participated in our first International School of Neuchatel (ISN) Parent's Club event which was a bike ride around Lake Morat. It's only about 30 minutes from our home. The event started with a brunch at a nice hotel that had a playground to keep all of the kids entertained. It was an opportunity to meet some of the other parents and also to get out and participate in a biking event across Switzerland called the "Slow up".

The brunch was nice and relaxing with typical Swiss type food. That means that there was very little that Stanton would eat and very little that I could eat since I'm pregnant and the Swiss are very fond of raw meat and soft cheeses! It was still enjoyable especially since it was a beautifully sunny day with temps in the low 70's.

We then ventured out on the "Slow Up" bike ride. The loop around the lake was about 20 miles but our plan was only to ride part way and then take the ferry back across the lake to where we started out. There were 100's of people biking. All car traffic is kept off the roads for the entire day and people start riding at any point around the lake (all in the same direction) so there is a constant flow of bikers. Payton probably hung in for about 1/2 a mile. Stanton was towing the buggy since we figured on Payton not lasting long. Once he tired out he jumped in the buggy to enjoy the scenery from his chariot. Stanton and I loved the ride. It wound through farm land and small scenic villages. We enjoyed it so much that we missed the town we were supposed to stop in to catch the ferry so we had to ride back against the flow of bikers. Fortunately only for a short distance.

Once we got to the ferry station we had a series of mishaps of missing ferries because our understanding of the ferry schedule and the French language are both less than adequate. Fortunately there was and ice cream stand nearby for us to cool off with and a play ground to keep Payton busy. 4 hours or so later we finally boarded a ferry and made our way back to our starting point. The ferry was probably the most exciting part for Payton. They actually go surprisingly fast and Payt loved running around the boat checking out the view.

We made it back to our car as planned. Tired, sun burnt (except for Payton who I lathered up with sunscreen), but committed to doing this again in the future. There are "Slow Up" events through out the year all around Switzerland. It was a great way to see small towns and scenery that you don't appreciate when you are speeding by in a car. This definitely makes my list of things to do here in Switzerland!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My First Blog Posting!

Stanton has now trained me on how to post to our Blog. You've all heard by now the news that we are having a baby boy. We are all very happy. Stanton, of course, is relieved we are having a boy. I think he was sweating out the thought of having to figure out little girl clothes, bows, pony tails, etc. Never mind the boyfriend thing years down the road. I am just happy he (the baby, not Stanton) looks completely healthy and is moving around very actively. We will have to watch my progress for Placenta Previa. Right now my placenta is sitting low. That could very well change over the next couple months, but if it doesn't we will have to have a C-Section and I will have to scale back on exercise.

Stanton unfortunately missed the ultrasound since Payton came down sick at school. The doctor here was very thorough. She checked him out head to toe. He was moving around like a jumping bean through the whole thing. Frankly, even if I had not wanted to know what we were having, the Ultrasound picture was so clear that we were having a boy I couldn't have helped knowing unless I just didn't look at the screen. Unlike my previous visit, the doctor did not scold me on my weight, thank god. I have been very careful to not eat junk and to exercise. At least up until this terrible cold that I caught on my trip to the US.

We are still all sick, but on the recovering side. Stanton was the last to get ill and spent just about all day yesterday laying on the couch. He seems to have gotten the weakest version of all of us. Payton is recovering too, but I think we will both have lingering coughs for a little while.

It's a beautiful spring weekend here in Neuchâtel. Tomorrow we have plans to go to a brunch and bike ride with the Parents club from Payton's school. I think we should all be feeling well enough to at least attend the brunch and maybe just join in a small part of the ride. The fresh air will be good for us and Payton is starting to climb the walls since he has been home from school since Tuesday.

Miss you all,

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Payton has been under the weather

School called me this past Tuesday. Kathleen and I were at the doctor's office waiting to get her ultrasound. Payton had fallen ill and I needed to go pick him up. I had to leave so I didn't get to see the ultrasound and our new baby boy.

There has been an outbreak of measles here in Switzerland. The doctor said Payton is fine and he is doing much better today. No more fever and he hardly coughs now. He's missed school since Tuesday and we're keeping him home tomorrow too. With the measles going around we want him to be 100%

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We're having a baby boy!

Well not anytime soon, but around September 1st we're going to have a(nother) baby boy! We found out today. We're pretty excited about it. I definitely am. You only get two choices for what you want and a girl was my 2nd choice. Whew.

Payton knows mama mi has a baby in her tummy. He calls him Jack-Jack and so do we, but only for now.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Danica won a race!

Cool. Danica Patrick won a race, her first IRL race and history will say the first closed course race by a woman. Whatever. Pretty cool I say. She won the 2008 Indy Japan 300 on the Twin Ring Motegi oval.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Where have all the shopping carts gone?

In Switzerland, there are no shopping carts left in the parking lots to scratch and dent your car. One reason could be that the Swiss are more considerate of each other than Americans are. Let me think about that for just a moment…., nah that’s not the reason.

In Switzerland you have to rent your cart. Rent is either 1 or 2 Francs – that’s roughly 1 or 2 dollars. People shop frequently here - 2 or 3 times a week or more. In America you can easily get by with shopping 2 or 3 times a month, except for bread and milk. Sure you could say the heck with it and forfeit your coin and leave the cart in the parking lot, but those coins would add up pretty quickly. Look at the picture, you get your coin back by pushing your cart into another. Insert the key from the other cart into your cart and your coin is returned.

I’ve seen stores in the U.S. do this sort of thing, but the rent is only a quarter or a token. Heck, I’ve lost more change than that through the holes in my pockets. No one cares about a quarter here and there. The smallest Franc banknote is a 10. Anything less are coins starting with $5, then $2, $1, 50¢, 20¢, 10¢ and 5¢. The Swiss no longer use 1¢ coins. If the U.S. would do away with the $1 and maybe the $5 bill, then replace them with coins, you could see this sort of thing in the U.S. Maybe then you wouldn’t have to worry so much about your car getting scratched and dented as you buy a loaf of bread.

You might have picked up that I disapprove of the lazy people that don’t return their carts to the return areas. I wish I could go Ben 10 on them - turn into Rip Jaws and bite their heads off.

I got a care package from the USA!

Kathleen returned home today from 2+ weeks in the US. She was glad to be home and Payton and I are glad she's back. She brought back many goodies from the US; toys and clothes for Payton and food for me.

The best bit was a large Dewey's pepperoni pizza! I am heating some up for me and Payton now. Man, the pizza here in Switzerland is terrible. The best pizza I've had has comes from the COOP grocery store and you bake it yourself. They don't have pepperoni over here. The closest thing they have is chorrizo. No, not the Mexican sausage. This is a spicy salami type product, very close to pepperoni. It isn't the same though. Kathleen brought me four bags of Hormel pepperoni to top off store bought pizzas. I'm in heaven.

She also brought back some Mrs. Butter-Worth's syrup. A whole gallon (128 oz.) costing less than six bucks at Costco. I can get syrup here - about 8 oz. for $7.50! Payton and I need syrup on our waffles.

We're done eating our pizza. It was very, very good. Better fresh from the oven, but still very good.

Time to go play with our new camera Kathleen brought back. It is a fine DSLR. More camera than I know how to use. If I am up to it, the camera will take some very nice pictures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

International Watchmaking Museum

Today Payton and I visited the International Watchmaking Museum in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was a nice museum - one of many watchmaking museums in the area. Neuchatel, Switzerland is the heart of the Swiss watchmaking industry.

Payton slept through almost the entire visit. Just as well, not much there for a 3-year old to see. Check out my pictures by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Montpellier, France

This past weekend, Kathleen, Payton and I went on our first weekend trip since arriving in Switzerland. We loaded up the car and headed to Montpellier, France. It was about a 5½ hour drive, mostly through southern France. The terrain reminded me of Texas hill country - especially that of the Fredericksburg area. It was hilly, rocky, red dirt, low trees and scrub brush. I like the Fredericksburg, Texas area so I thought that southern France was quite beautiful.

We drove down on Friday and checked into our hotel - a Holiday Inn - late afternoon. Except for a side trip that we took, we left the car parked the entire weekend. We walked around the old historical part of the city into the dark. We are finding that cities over here seem to have transformed their old historical areas into pedestrian areas. The streets are filled with people and cafe tables. All the restaurants and cafes set up tables outside on the sidewalks and streets. It is really special to sit and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the city.

Saturday was spent looking around the city more and riding the intercity tram. We strolled easterly through the city until we reached Les Rives du Lez. Then we hopped on the tram and rode to the higher west side. We were smart, walked downhill and rode uphill. We got off the tram, hiked a short distance to the highest point in the city. From there we leisurely headed east again through the city. It was on this leg that Payton enjoyed his Nutella topped waffle as you can see in our pictures.

Sunday we took Payton to an aquarium. Surprisingly it was one of the best aquariums I've been too. One interactive display I enjoyed was riding in the wheel house of an ocean fishing boat. A lifesized display that rocked and rolled and shook. All the while a film played before you showing the seas getting rougher by the minute, waves washing over the deck and splashing the windows. It was cool.

After the aquarium we got into our car for our side trip. We headed north to Millau, France. La Viaduc de Millau is there. This is a very cool bridge that opened in 2004. The Discovery Channel has a show about its construction. It's worth watching if you get the chance. Fortunately I've seen it and had a understanding of what I was seeing. A very impressive bridge.

We looked at the bridge from many view points before heading home. I thought I didn't need to drive across the bridge. Heck, neat as it is, it is still just a bridge. I was being cheap. I knew there was a toll to do so - around $20 I thought. I had second thoughts and decided I had to drive across it. I started driving looking for the north side of the bridge. I turned up this road and that road. After driving quite a while my own son started telling me I was lost! This cracked Kathleen up. He wouldn't let up, "Dad's lost!" I wasn't lost. I had a GPS and was moving, never seeing the same thing twice. I wasn't exactly sure where I needed to go, but where ever it was I ended up there. Me lost? No way. I'm glad I decide to cross the bridge. I would have been mad finding out after we left that the toll was only $5.50. Our family can always remember that we drove across La Viaduc de Millau.

On Monday we headed home. On the way we stopped in Nimes, France. There we saw the amphitheatre of Nimes - a Roman amphitheater. It is the best preserved amphitheater in existence. We also saw the only completely preserved ancient Roman temple in the world. All of it was pretty cool stuff.

That's about it. We had a full weekend. So full that our drive back home was at night. Click here to see some pictures of our trip.