Thursday, October 30, 2008

Payton is taking tennis lessons

We've been trying to get Payton in an after school activity and much to his mother's pleasure, we decided on tennis lessons for him. Today was his first class. His instructor conducts the class in both English and French. It's a small class of 4 with him being the youngest, but only by a year. His class will meet once a week.

We like this activity. It can be become a lifetime recreation for him. Plus, with many of the places we go as a family, there have always been tennis courts. Add to that his Mommy likes playing the game makes this activity a great choice. And from Payton's perspective he gets to carry a 'bat' and smack things. It's a good deal all around.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It's not quite Halloween, but almost. Halloween isn't quite the holiday here (actually not at all) that it is in the U.S. Too bad, kids love Halloween. The Swiss kids would too, but so deprived they are. Oh well.

We're celebrating the holiday as best we can. Today Payton's school had their Halloween party. Payton went dressed as Spider-man. He has another event to attend this Sunday. The NIC (Neuchâtel International Club) is having a Halloween hunt for the little ones.

Just in case we get a few Trick or Treaters - our neighbor says we might - we bought some candy to pass out. While there is a ton of candy to choose from here, it isn't 'Halloween' candy. It is more like fancy schmancy wrapped gift box type candy.

I took these pictures of Parker today. He posed really well for me. I was talking the baby talk - goo goo da da - and he responded very well. He's in his Halloween costume. It's a hand-me-down from big brother Payton. Of course it is next to new - only worn a couple of times! It won't be his last hand-me-down.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kathleen's new car - Renault Grand Espace

I had previously mentioned that Kathleen's new car finally arrived. We are thoroughly enjoying it too. The Espace is the Honda Odyssey of Europe. Is it as good as the Honda? It probably isn't, but saying this is like comparing apples to oranges. It's big, holds the four us (and up to max of seven) with limo style rear seating and we think it looks rather striking. Ours is actually dark gray in color with a charcoal leather interior.
The panoramic sliding sunroof is the biggest and best we've ever seen. The car feels (and pretty much is) very spacious. Inside and out it has a futuristic look to it. We're really liking diesel power and economy. The key is like a thick credit card. You never have to take it out of your pocket. Walk up to the car and grab the door handle - it unlocks. Start and stop the engine with a push of a button. Walk away from the car - it locks. Why don't all cars have this? So cool. So convenient.

Curious and want to see more? Click here to check out an Espace video and images.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby pictures of Parker

Mama mi caught Parker wide awake and in a pretty good mood to boot.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Family picture day

You eagle eyes out there have probably noticed that our blog picture (upper right of the blog) had not yet included Parker. Today we went to the park to snap a few pictures to remedy this. We met the Marciondo's in the park too for a nice afternoon.
Here Payton is riding with his friend Devin.

This one is for grandma. Seems like every time I pick up the camera to snap a picture of Parker he is asleep. This time was no exception.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

From a chocolate factory to a castle - all in a day

Today we sought a little sightseeing adventure. Kathleen had the idea of going to the Cailler Chocolate Factory. Cailler's is owned by Nestlé. They offer free self guided tours and rumor has it that at the end you can taste free chocolates! Payton and I needed little convincing. We packed up the family and headed out.
We found the factory with little problem. Thank goodness for GPS! Those little gadgets are indispensable in a foreign place. Sure enough they had tours. A tour of the factory? Hardly. At best it was a quick walk through a few museum types displays. We didn't care though because the rumor was true! Free chocolate awaited you at tour's end.
We don't know how much you can have (a candy cop was on duty), but we had plenty each. How good was it? It was free so of course it was just the best. Just like any museum you get hustled by the 'gift' shop before leaving. We had no problem buying a box of chocolates that we tried out.

Before heading to our next destination we hung out in our van. Parker needed a change and Payton had chocolate milk to finish. We finally got Kathleen's new car. It took forever - 6 months and should have only taken 3. We love it. The panoramic roof is so cool.
After Cailler's we headed to the town of Gruyère (Groo-Yair). Here they make a cheese named the same. It is said to be good, but I wouldn't know. I'm still looking for my Kraft American cheese slices, extra-sharp cheddar cheese and Velveeta. They are no where to be found. Above the town is Gruyère Castle dating back to the 13th century.
The walk up to the castle wasn't hard, but you knew your ticker worked by the time you reached the top.
Looking down the trial we just walked up.
Here is the plaza area just outside of the castle. As you can see it was foggy and just a little misty. No blue skies today. At the far end of the plaza is the castle.
Through the archway lies the outer grounds of the castle.
Just inside the archway and on the right was a museum with a weird exhibit. Note the banner on the wall. The exhibit was like all this 'Alien' stuff. To the right in this picture was the museum bar. It too was decked out. You sat in alien skeleton chairs and the walls and ceiling were done up like the ship the Alien was first found in.

Before heading into the castle, we first walked around it.
Nice ceiling work.
These gardens are no doubt really nice when in bloom.
A self propelled wheel chair. Each wheel is independently powered by turning on the handles. They're lashed together so that visitors can't mess with them. There wasn't any information provided to date the chair, but I'll bet who ever used it had a very strong upper body.Ahh, the rich always have the best views.

We ate an early dinner at a restaurant on the plaza. Kathleen had been wanting to try fondue. For me I have yet to find a Swiss dish that appeals to me. I am not looking to hard. Fortunately the restaurant Kathleen chose had fondue and spaghetti - which is what Payton and I had. And Parker? He had milk. Kathleen liked her fondue and is looking forward to having it again. The cheese tasted okay, but it stunk.

Well, that's about all the pictures. We were somewhat disappointed with the weather. The views are supposed to be great from the castle. Gruyère is said to be at the foothills of the Alps. South of the castle they frame the castle beautifully - at least that's what we saw in the postcards. Oh well, the place isn't far and we can always go for another chocolate tour. We'll just go again in the spring.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some may have noticed that I went a while earlier this month without posting. My father passed away October 2nd. I was traveling to KC hoping to see him, but he passed while I was in route. Kathleen and the boys followed me to KC a few days later. Little Parker couldn't travel until he had a passport. Fortunately it arrived in the mail in time for them to attend my father's funeral and commitment. Sadly my father wasn't able to see his newest grandson Parker, but at least he knew of him and saw some pictures.

My mother preceded my father in death 3 years earlier. Both were committed together at the Veteran's Cemetery in Higginsville, MO. It is a nice place for them. It lies roughly half way between where they each grew up - my mother from Garden City, MO and my father from New Franklin, MO - and not far from where they spent most of their lives - Kansas City/Liberty, MO.

My brother Howard is the only son of three (myself the youngest and Fred the eldest) to have served in the military - US Army. It was fitting for him to receive my father's flag.

Rest in peace mother and father. You will be missed more than you could know.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Night Football

Tonight we had the Marchiondo boys over to watch the Steelers vs. Bengals game. They are Steelers fans. I say 'night' because the 1:00 game starts at 7:00 for us and it is dark outside. It all started out well enough, but as you can see their attention drifted to something better. Payton and the boys found watching Toy Story more interesting! Maybe the Bengals were watching it too. The Steelers killed 'em.