Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Emergency room visit....almost

I was taking it easy this afternoon sitting in my TV chair catching up on 24. Payton came up to me crying saying something about his nose, bionicle piece, stuck, won't come out. "What! Did you stick something up your nose?" "Yes I did" I was freakin' a little bit. Should I go to the emergency room? No, I thought I would first check it out myself. I grabbed Kathleen's tweezers and my handy dandy Dewalt flashlight. "Lean your head back." Sure enough I could barely see the end of this plastic part. I told him to hold real still and I went in after it. I grabbed it on the first try and successfully extracted it from his nose. I'm not a doctor and I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn last night. Why he decided to stick this little ½" long thing in his nose I don't know. I just hope he doesn't do it again.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another picture of Parker

I took this picture of Parker crawling out of the laundry room this morning.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another nice experience in Switzerland

For dinner I called in a pizza to Dominos. On the way there I drove over a speed bump and apparently a little too fast. A young motorcyclists followed me to Dominos to tell me one of my wheel covers popped off. This was very nice of him. This is something I don't think would have happened back home in the USA.

Slow Up ride around Lake Morat, Switzerland

Sunday Morning we set of early to participate in the SlowUp bike ride around Lake Morat, about 20 miles around. We did this last year, but since I was 5 months pregnant we didn't go the whole way. Our goal this year was to cycle the whole way around.

Payton rode his bike for the first 3 km and then Stanton got to test out our new "tag-a-long" bike tow. It worked very well and we were able to go much faster this way. I pulled Parker in the buggy, along with our lunches and gear. The day was a little bit overcast, which made the ride nice and comfortable. (Last year we all got sunburnt.)

The roads are closed to road traffic, but there are thousands of bikers, rollerbladers, and the occasional person on a kick scooter. The road would get very congested as we passed through the small towns. Most of the time it was easier just to walk our bikes through the crowds. There were food vendors and entertainment set up in each town, but we had packed our own picnic.

About 6 miles or so into the ride I spotted Lucas (Editor's note: actually is was 9.7 miles), the son of our friends the Marchiondo's. He had become separated from his family. Thank goodness for cell phones as I was able to call them and let them know we had Lucas. They were ahead of us so he continued along with us. We met up with his family at the very end.

A little more than half way through I spotted a nice area with a jumping balloon for kids so we pulled over and enjoyed our lunch. (Editor's note: actually it was 14.2 miles into the ride or the 70% mark.) Payton got his exercise jumping around while we ate. Here also was the biggest chicken rotisserie I ever saw.

We finished the ride quite easily. Payton actually did pedal a good deal while he was being towed and occasionally it was actually helpful to Stanton. Lucas was reunited with his parents. We were tired, but in pretty good shape considering we hadn't done much biking yet this year. After Stanton got our bikes packed up on the car we sat down for a nice cold beer at a cafe across from our parked car.

Unfortunately we forgot our camera this time around and I forgot that I could take pics with my cell phone - oops. (Editor's note: except for the picture below all pictures were borrowed from the SlowUp website.)

(Editor's note: We rode 32.9 km (20.4 mi) in 4 hrs 15 min. Our moving time was actually 2 hrs 45 min and we were stopped for 1 hr 30 min. Our top speed was 31.6 kph (19.6 mph). Our moving average speed was 11.9 kph (7.4 mph) and our overall average speed was 7.7 kph (4.8 mph). We rode over an area of 16.4 sq. miles. How's that for detail? I had a GPS mounted on my bike.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This year's garden in Switzerland

Kathleen ordered a small greenhouse so that she can start seeds early in the season. Sure you can buy seedlings, but not for all that you want. She bought seeds for the things she wants to try and grow. I did my part by putting the thing together (grunt grunt). Payton was a good little helper planting the little seeds.While Kathleen and Payton were planting seeds, Parker was playing the part of destroyer. He kept crawling over to a flower pot for a handful.
Our planter part of the garden has been enlarged slightly this year. We added two more Gardner's Supply Tomato Success Kits, but you can grow nearly anything in them.

We'll just have to water and wait patiently to see what grows. It will be months before we see any bounty. Until then we'll continue with our usual gardening... going to the grocery store.

P.S.: Based upon what I have seen here in Switzerland over the past year, the USA is the best place in the world for fresh fruits and vegetables. Anything is available anytime, but not here. There are seasons here. You can't have fresh strawberries in the middle of winter here. Good god, canteloupe? I have seen it priced here from $5 to $12.50 for something a little larger than a softball. I long to get back to the USA and lead a normal life. But I can wait a little while longer.

Aarberg... it wasn't meant to be today

We traveled to the nearby town of Aarberg today. I had wanted to show Kathleen the cool plaza this town has. I had intended on us having a nice lunch or maybe drinks sitting in and looking around the plaza. But it wasn't to be as the town was having a hugh flea market all about the plaza area and beyond. Oh well, we'll just have to go another day. We still looked around and decided it would be a nice area to take our bikes to for a ride ending in the plaza for food and drink. The plaza area is easily visible in the picture below.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Oooo baby I am having strawberries tonight

We just may have a little Emeril Lagasse - BAM! - on our hands. See that bowl of strawberries I am eating tonight? Payton cut those sweet little things up all by himself. The last part of them pretty much unsupervised. He was very careful and in the end he still has all his digits. BAM!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Parker standing

Here is a picture that Mama Mi took earlier this month. I hadn't seen it before. Little Parker had pulled himself up in his crib. He's a cute kid and its a picture worth posting.
April 3, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Payton rides his new bicycle

Last Thursday we bought Payton a new bicycle - a pedal bicycle. Today we went down to the lake and its open space to really let him fly. We took the training wheels off to see what he could do. Payton has had a Like-a-Bike for a couple of years. He learned balance on this and it carried over to his pedal bike. He was able to ride his new bike without much problem. He has some new skills to master with this bike, but all in all he can ride the thing himself without training wheels. We're so proud of him.

The Slow-Up ride around Lac de Murten is coming up next weekend. We did this last year to a limited extent. If you want to read last year's post click here. Payton won't be able to ride this himself. There is just way to much going on for his skills as well as the distance being to long. He'll still be able to ride his bike because we also got a 'Followme-Tandem' contraption for my bike. This is attached to my bike and allows me to tow Payton and his bike. He can ride all day now. Kathleen will pull the Croozer bike buggy holding Parker and all our stuff. We hope to make it all around the lake this year.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Payton's Easter Bounty

Since we spend Easter 'in der Fatherland', Payton's Easter egg hunt was in our hotel room. We don't know how the Easter bunny found our room, but when we woke up in the morning there were Easter goodies all around the room. In all the excitement we had forgotten to take any pictures. We made amends by letting Payton bite into his second largest bunny last night after dinner.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking news... Breaking news...
Our little Parker is crawling. He is also pulling himself up to a standing position. The little guy is mobile now. He isn't the fastest yet, but pay him no attention and you have to go look for him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Into der Fatherland

Deez veekend vee traveled into der Fatherland. Vee hauled a$$ on der autobahn, ate some vienerschnitzel und drank some beer!
For Easter weekend we drove to Köln (Cologne), Germany. With the usual stops it was about a 6 hour drive. A good two-thirds of it was driving on the much vaunted German autobahn. Though not entirely unregulated, there wasn't a speed limit for much of our drive. We made good time cruising at 160 kph - that's about 100 mph. I found that most cars didn't exceed this speed. Slower cars did a good job of staying in the right lane or getting out of the way. It was somewhat dangerous, but far less so than doing it on an American highway. It is unexpected in the U.S., yet normal in Germany. This makes the difference.

Kathleen set us up with a very nice room at Marriott. We were only a few blocks from the 'old city'. We got checked in and were out and about by 6 o'clock or so. We were hungry so that was pretty much the first order of business.
I had checked the internet for American fast food. I found KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King and of course the standby McDonalds. They even had Subway. We never ate at any of them which brought great happiness to Kathleen. After dinner we just walked around down by the river - the Rhine river.
Before the night was out we ended up at Starbucks. If you count this as American fast food then I stand corrected.We didn't really plan anything for our trip. We just went and saw what we could see. On Saturday we just headed out to walk around the old city. Each day our walk took us through the bahnhof (train station).The polizei seemed all decked out for a riot. This seems to be the case in all of Europe we have seen. They are more para military than police if you ask me. But none threatened to knock me in the head. In the picture below Payton walked from the train platform down to Kathleen. One of the polizei walking up saw this and eyed him all the way to Kathleen. He didn't know if he was going somewhere or just a lost boy. That was nice of him.We headed over to Hohe Straße (street). This is a pedestrian only street with shopping galore. There were several of these. It is really quite nice and I think I prefer this over a mall.After walking down this street for a ways we came upon the holy grail of stores for Payton. It was a Lego store that Payton immediately started calling Lego Nation. We are baffled as to why he added 'nation' to the store name. Looking at the store front there really wasn't a store name at all. No need really. Anyone with kids knew what was inside.There was everything Lego in this store. They sure had a lot of stuff. It was a popular store. We got Payton a new Gladitorian Bionicle - TUMA - and some ordinary building blocks. TUMA is a really cool looking Bionicle. It is his best Bionicle to date.

Ahh Parker. He really needn't look so sad. His day is coming to start getting the cool stuff.
There were several musicians playing around the city. We saw this trio everyday at a different location. They played classical music and were very good. I don't know what you call that big bass 'guitar'. It looked homemade; possibly from an old guitar and some plywood. Like I said, they sounded good.

Sunday we went to Mass at the church that dominates the city skyline. The Köln Dom (Eng.: Cologne Cathedral). This church is HUGE. Construction began in 1248 and was completed in 1880. Take the time to read about by clicking here and also here.
The church under construction back in the 1850s.

The church is really something. Sadly it is in need of constant repair and restoring. The building is nearly black and it should be a sand color. They are working to make it its best. Being a city of Germany, Cologne got its share of bombing raids. Check these pictures out. The church stands tall after 262 air raids. It looks undamaged, but it took a few hits. Try as you might I doubt you could intentionally spare it with carpet bombing. I read a comment on the 'net that said it was largely undamaged by the raids because it was used as the aiming point. I doubt this is true, but who knows?
The Sunday service lasted about an hour. After it was over we walked across the river on the bridge you see destroyed in the above pictures.

On the bridge we saw what looks to be a tradition. People have padlocks engraved and lock them to the fencing on the bridge. If we had known about this we may have done it. If you go to Cologne you should do this since you know about it.

Just on the other side we saw people rock climbing. Not a cliff per say, but they were climbing rocks - very steep rocks. Guys and gals were climbing the stone walls around the bridge. Look how steep the incline is by comparing it to the building in the background. It is near vertical.

We walked south along the river to a carnival. Payton rode his first roller coaster and Kathleen nearly made herself sick. Payton was excited about the roller coaster. He didn't get scared, but was a little worried once it started downhill. When it was over he was smiling ear to ear.
After the roller coaster he did a couple of things a little less exciting. To Payton they were thrilling.
But then Payton saw a spinning ride, but it looked to wild. He saw another and it looked calm enough that Kathleen chose to ride it with him. Kathleen usually doesn't go for the spinning stuff. This ride's looks were deceiving. This thing started out slow enough, but it quickly gained speed and just kept going. Kathleen had to close her eyes. She was glad it ended after about 5 minutes. No more rides for Kathleen.

Sunday night I went out to try my hand at some nightime pictures.
Payton called these door handles the scary knockers.

Well that's about it for our trip. Stores weren't open on Sunday and the next day was still Easter holiday and the stores remained closed. This bummed Payton because he had wanted to go to Lego Nation once more. Restaurants and coffee shop were open though.

Our first trip into Germany was pretty cool. It was (sort of) a PITA driving on the autobahn. I think the unlimited speed is a little stupid and just isn't necessary. You just had to be on your toes all the time. You really have to drive looking in the mirror. Germany must use way more gas and diesel than the other European countries.

Here is one last tidbit. I bet you have received the email showing a similar bathroom to this one. The email says something about a New York place being decorated without limits. I have always thought the email was bull and that the bathroom isn't in New York, but in Europe. This bathroom is in the Cologne Marriott. The women pictures are the same as in the 'New York' place. I don't think you'd see such a thing in a reputable U.S.A. office building - certainly not in a Marriott hotel. No problem in Europe though.