Thursday, January 29, 2009

Get out of my way

Our boy... Our son... Our darling first born...

Payton has been pushed around a time or two. Sadly I have seen this and it is hard to watch. But hey, the playground has a pecking order. Occasionally Payton dishes it out too. The following is from last weekend's ski lesson - solid video evidence.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ISN class picture 2008-09

This Payton's new class picture from school. Can you find him? At least he is looking up this year. Last year's picture was a good shot of the top of his head. I think you can tell from the dress that pictures aren't all that important. They don't do individual shots - just the group.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday morning

Payton and Parker shortly after waking this morning. Payton likes his animals with him. The day is coming that he will need to share with Parker.

This is a video from a couple of days ago. Parker was just a laughin' in Kathleen's lap. I quickly grabbed the camera and you guessed it - he got camera shy. Still he looks pretty cute.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A political poster around the country against an upcoming national vote on February 8th. It is sponsored by the Swiss People's Party. It says something like 'Open door with the abuses? No!' It has something to do with, well, something. I don't care. What I find interesting about the poster is its bold imagery. The colors - black, white and red. Very bold. It looks very, very menacing don't you think? The big black crows pecking away at poor little Switzerland. It makes me think of WWII German posters. BTW, this party's largest support base is in the German speaking part of Switzerland.

Here is another poster from an earlier campaign for the deportation of criminal foreigners. Again with the bold graphics. Their posters really get your attention. In the end though, I think this campaign failed.

I don't recall seeing posters quite this in the States. If I do I will be scared if their backers are wearing arm bands!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Parker's first bite of food

Well it isn't what I would call food, but it is for him. Kathleen fed Parker a bowl of rice cereal tonight. He was slow on the uptake at first, but he did end up eating the whole bowl.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gripped by winter...still

We arrived back in Neuchâtel on January 2nd and there was up to 12" of snow on the ground. Well here it is 10 days later and that snow is still around. It has been cold - usually around -5°C (23°F). It hasn't really snowed more and the winds have been slight. While it has been cold, it hasn't been uncomfortably cold.

The snow has crusted over and is difficult to remove. Most of the roads are clear to drive on, but not necessarily cleaned off. Many roads have a ridge of packed ice down the center of the road. Sidewalks are covered with 6" of hard packed snow. You still need to be careful driving around and walking can be treacherous.

The city seems to have cleared the streets as well as they are going to. Crews are now working on cleaning off the sidewalks. It is quite an effort. They use small trucks with 4' or 5' wide 2-stage snow blowers mounted on the front. These things can really chew up the crusted snow. A dump truck drives in front of the blower to catch all the snow and it is trucked off. After a few passes the sidewalk is really pretty clean. On small sidewalks the work is done by hand. I have seen guys with pick axes and shovels doing the work. The weather isn't going to be much help. It just isn't predicted to get warm enough to do any melting.

The plus side of the snow and cold is that the sledging hills still have plenty of snow. And they are packed hard as ice and are really fast. The kids around town are loving this. I am told this cold spell and all this snow is quite unusual for Neuchâtel. After a snowfall it usually warms up after a few days melting everything away. I'll be glad when it warms up, but the winter landscape is nice to look at.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First ski lesson

Today was Payton's first ski lesson. His class started about 9:45 and it was kind of cold - high teens at best. We weren't exactly sure where to go so we got there early. It was much colder before the sun popped up over the mountain ridge. He did pretty good and by the end of class was able to ski down the training slope by himself. He isn't quite ready for primetime yet, but he has five more lessons to get there!
You get cold and hungry skiing. Here the ski class is taking a hot tea and chocolate break.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Tomorrow Payton gets his first lesson. He wanted to try on all his equipment beforehand.Big brother and little brother.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sledging...on a race sledge

Last Saturday we went sledging with the Marciondo's. Payton only has a disc type sledge which is fine for a puny hill in your backyard. It simply won't do for the hills in Switzerland. One, it is unsafe. You can't steer it nor brake it. Two, it isn't very cool. The Marciondo's had a racing sledge you could steer and brake. Payton had a good time with it.

If Payton was going to go sledging whenever, he needed a proper sledge. Yesterday I got one for him. Payton being a Cincinnati kid needed a SnoTiger! Payt and I tried it out today and he did pretty darn well. He is still learning left and right, but he works the brake very well.
Sledge: (noun) British for sleigh or sled..... just in case you were wondering.

PS: Parker did go sledging with us the other day when we went with the Marciondo's. He did his usual thing and slept.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I have NETFLIX envy

What a wonderful service Netflix is. All the DVDs you can watch in a month for $17 or so. You get unlimited online movie watching too. And if you so desire cancel anytime you wish. Life isn't this simple in Switzerland.

Swiss DVD Rental is a website offering a very similar deal to Netflix and the DVDs are in English. Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Not really.

You can rent a single DVD for Fr10.00. Ouch! Better have it back in a week or it is another Fr10.00. Ouch again! If late fees aren't your thing you can get a membership.

Five DVDs at a Time is the 'Netflix' program. The website says "No maximum number you can rent in a month". Really now? Just four sentences later the website says "Watch up to 40 DVDs a month for only Fr64.00 per month". Ouch ouch ouch a third, forth and fifth time! I guess the Swiss running this site can't count past 40 - unless it is your money. Oh, you can't cancel anytime either. You have to give 2 weeks notice.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Great Wolf Lodge

The weekend after Thanksgiving we did something really fun. Kathleen and I had the idea to go to a hotel. It wasn't just any hotel - this one has an indoor water park. We stayed the weekend at Great Wolf Lodge.
Click on the picture and check out the panorama of this place!

We figured Payton would have a really good time here. We invited a couple of his friends to come along - Nathan and Mikey. They joined us Friday, played in the park, stayed the night and played again the next day. It was Payton's first sleep over sort of. Christine - Nathan's and Mikey's mom - joined us on Saturday. She brought with her two of her non-formalized step daughters with her. All the kids had a great time. We're planning on going again next year.

Remodeled family room

After getting back from Hilton Head we set about having our family room remodeled. We didn't tear anything out, we just added a feature. Our neighbor had a coffered ceiling put in their family room weeks earlier and we liked it so much we had the same done to our house. We made some minor lighting changes in the kitchen and added crown molding around the foyer and upstairs hallway. It took 2 weeks and we are really pleased with the results.

The coffered ceiling makes the family room seem much larger. It isn't of course. I think what it does is give more to look at in the room by making you look up. Our lighting isn't installed in these pictures. While putting the ceiling in took 2 weeks, the lights took another 2 weeks to arrive.
We had an entertainment center built and installed in '03. We have a few more architectural ideas for the room, but we think it looks pretty good as is.
When we bought this house this room had only one feature - the fireplace. Even it only went up the wall to its mantel. The walls were gray and the floor was carpeted. Uggghh.

In the kitchen we changed out the island can lights for pendents and swapped out the modern breakfast table light for one that matched the pendents.
The kitchen was also once gray. Since living here we have painted it, replaced the laminate counter tops and Kathleen added a very nice tiled back splash. We would really like getting new cabinets and rearranging them some, but that would mean doing the counter tops again. That's a big pill to swallow.

Here are all the grandkids

Grandma and Grandpa Dolan have 11 - count 'em - 11 grandkids. It's hard to get a good picture of them all together but this turned out well.
Payton (4), Erin (8), Megan (12), Eileen (14), Bryan (12), Lauren (10), Ryan (6)
Seated with Grandma and Grandpa are
Jackson (18 mths), Cassidy (4 mths), Parker (3 mths), Dylan (18 mths)

Parker's and Cassidy's baptism

It seems like each trip to Hilton Head for Thanksgiving involves a new grandchild getting baptized. This year was no exception. In '04 Payton was baptized. Last year it was the new twins Dylan and Jackson. This year it was Cassidy and Parker - numbers 10 and 11.

Cassidy and Parker
baptized November 29, 2008

Here is our new baby boy Parker. We are pretty proud of him.
Jack and Jill are just as proud of their baby girl Cassidy.
Little Parker in a bevy of beauties.
Erin, Megan and Lauren
The seven oldest grandchildren.
Payton, Ryan, Megan, Lauren, Bryan, Eileen, Erin

Day trip to Savannah, GA

I've known Kathleen for seven years. Kath has dreamed that she's known me all her life - at least she says it seems like a lifetime. I'm not sure that's a compliment. I've been going to Hilton Head, SC with her maybe 5 years. It seems like each year we say we're going to Savannah for a day trip. This year we finally did and it rained all day. :( Because of the rain it wasn't much fun to do anything.

We did walk to see a little bit. From near the river - the Savannah River - we walked south down Bull St. It runs north and south through the middle of town. We walked to the south side to Forsyth Park Fountain. Along the way we passed through several squares. These are parks about one block square. Each has some center piece like a statue with very old and very large trees shading everything. Very southern looking. They would be especially nice to see on a sunny spring day with everything a bloom. There are something like 24 squares in Savannah with one just a couple of blocks from another.

Kathleen and Payton in front of Forsyth Park Fountain

Walking back up to the river, we stopped and had lunch at Gryphon Tea Room. We had a sandwich, coffee and tea and a little dessert. It felt right nice having lunch there.

Closer to the river we took Payton to see Santa. I had called his office to check his appearance schedule and we got lucky that we were going to be in the same place at the same time. We had a picture taken but I don't have it just yet. I will post it later. Outside the store Payton and I gave our best 'Boston Legal' pose in one of those white chairs Denny and Allan sat in.We next walked down to the river front, looked around, visited a candy store, watched the candy being made, partook in some of that fine candy, pulled our jackets up around our necks, walked back to the truck and headed back to the island. Savannah will just have to be visited again on a nicer day.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thanksgiving 2008

We arrived back in the States on November 19. We stayed around the 'big house' for a couple of days and then headed south to Hilton Head Island. The Dolan clan gathers there annually for Thanksgiving. We get to spend a week or so at the beach and it is really nice - both the beach and the gathering.

This year was the largest yet. There was more extended family and immediate family. The Dolan grand children now number 11 and everyone says that's it. I believe there were about 26 having dinner at the Dolan's this year. The house couldn't accommodate this many easily so it was decided to clear out the garage, add a few tables and host the whole shebang out there. Jack had just finished painting the garage and it turned out to be a really nice setting.
Here is Kathleen helping setting things up. Grandma Dolan was busy busy busy. Except for Grandpa Dolan, the guys (son and sons-in-law) pretty much watched TV, snacked and waited for the dinner bell.
I tried to take this plate of food to my spot, but was told to leave some for others. Me, I am a meat and potatoes guy. The rest of you can eat the veggies. Now where is the gravy boat?