Saturday, August 30, 2008

alone, and content.

Today was a nice day. I slept in a little (until 8...) and then read for a while. I have done so much reading since I've been here. I brought 3 books with me, thinking "I love these books so much, I can read them over and over and never get tired of them." Well, I've been here for two weeks now, and I'm almost finished with 2 of them. I brought Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Neuromancer by William Gibson, and my bible. Lord of the Rings, Neuromancer, and The Picture of Dorian Gray are my top 3 books. A close contender is C.S. Lewis' Til We Have Faces, but my brother took it and hasn't returned it (Lawrence, if you're reading this, send it to me! Please.). I brought LotR & Neuromancer because I can flip to any spot, and start reading. Anyway, since I've been here, I've read about 700 pages in LotR, and 100 in Neuromancer. I'm going to need to buy some English books soon. I'm sure there is a charity, or library where I can donate books when I finish. Or maybe I will just ship them to Dan.

Today I explored Geneva a little, while the family went to a birthday party. They dropped me off on the lake, and I was on my own for 4 hours, just wandering the streets. It was so lovely. I didn't bring my camera, because it gets a little heavy. And despite the strong sun, it was a bit hazy near the edges of the horizon, so you couldn't really see the mountains. Not the best day for pictures (in my opinion; I don't like stark sunlight). I really need to buy a camera bag for it... I've been housing it in my purse. I do have a camera bag, but it houses my 35mm SLR. Which I left at home, because when I went to Italy last year, film was crazy expensive. Anyway, I bought a lavender plant for my room! Here's a picture.
Isn't it nice? My room smells lovely already. Lavender is my favorite smell in the whole world. Someday, when I'm a grown-up, I will have a garden, filled with lavender, Johann Strauss roses, and a peach tree.

Tomorrow I am going to church, and I am so excited. I'm also hoping to catch the first part of "Guys and Dolls" (in English!) and meet up with Catherine, who is a great writer and has offered me much advice (check out her two blogs in my blogroll to the right - The Perpetual Expatriate, and Living in Nyon). After that I am going to head over to church.

While I am very excited to get to know some people here, I am also really starting to appreciate my solitude. While I have always enjoyed my alone time, there was a period in the middle of this week where I felt desperately lonely. I emailed Dan, asking him to pray that God would send me one good friend this year. I know I've been here only two weeks, but I was so ready to make friends, and just go out for an espresso with someone. So far during my free time, all I've done is read books and blogs, watch movies with French subtitles (Ivana's suggestion, it really helps), and practice French (still not good). But today I am really thriving off my solitude. It is nice to not talk, to just sit in a cafe and listen. It is nice to sit in the park with a coke and read. It is nice to change in my pajamas early, and curl up on my bed with a movie. Granted, I don't want to be alone everyday, but I am appreciating it now more than ever. I can honestly say I am very content. I do need to be a bit more patient, however.

Hopefully tomorrow I will meet some people, and quell some loneliness that might creep in during the night. I have nearly a whole year ahead of me, which is quite a bit of time to make friends. Right now I am going to climb into bed, and listen to Dave Pedde's album Windows, and spend a little time with God. But I will leave you with a picture I took last night from my balcony, of a sunset over France. My whole room was filled with a rosy glow. It was so lovely.

May you all have a peaceful night.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

just an update

I am tired, and really ready for bed, but I am trying to be consistent in my posts. No one likes a neglected blog.

Everything is going ok... Although I'm ready for Malko to start school. Kudos to stay-at-home-moms. Seriously. I am exhausted by the time dinner starts.

This week has been interesting. Mathilde started school, but Malko doesn't start until Monday. Malko still hasn't exactly warmed up to me yet. Which I understand completely. He's had one nanny his whole life, and then his mother was home for the past three months (she just beat breast cancer - she's an amazing woman). So now there is a complete stranger is waking him up, making his breakfast, and speaking a strange language to him... I understand his wary attitude. But today we really played together, and it was great. He is sweet, and will talk to you for hours about nothing at all if you let him.

I think on Saturday I am going to drive into Nyon with Ivana... and I'm nervous. It's not the whole stick-shift thing - I know and love manual transmissions; my beloved Neon (RIP) was a manual. It's the whole ridiculously-narrow-roads thing. Everything is laid out very similarly to the States, but people drive faster here, and the roads are tiny. We'll see how I do.

Oh, and I'm going to join a choir! Tonight Ivana was going through some papers, and called up the stairs to me, "Do you want to sing?" I leaned over the banister. "Um, right now?" She laughed. "No, there is a choir in Nyon, and my friend is directing! I forgot. It's starting on Wednesday night. I will call my friend and take you this Wednesday." YEA! I am so excited. I don't care if everyone is tone-deaf and they only sing cheesy gospel music, I am going to sing. I will keep you all posted.

I am very excited tomorrow is Friday. I am tired and I am looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday (aka about 9am).

Anyway. I'm trying to decide if I will read a little, or turn on a movie. Either way, I'm going to be asleep soon. Goodnight!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

who knew there were so many spiders?

Seriously, there are so many spiders in Switzerland. So far, the count in my room is up to 9. NINE. That's a lot of spiders. Seriously. And 7 of them were on my first day. Right now there are two in the corner, mocking me. Tomorrow morning, when Malko wakes up, I'm getting the vacuum (I love Swiss vacuum cleaners, by the way), and sending those monsters to their death. They are just too big to squish. Today, the kids and I bonded over the biggest spider I have EVER seen, at least, outside of a cage. Seriously, this mofo was the size of a quarter, and bigger when it stretched its legs out. Its web was massive, and stretched across the gate in the sideyard. The kids were throwing grass at it, and giggling and screaming when it moved. I joined in on the excitement, saying (in French!), "oh, it is very big!" and "ewwwww" which I have found to be universal. Mathilde went and grabbed a huge leaf, and tried to find the courage to poke it. Nope. She dropped the leaf and giggled. Malko picked up the leaf and completely owned the web (aka destroyed it). The spider fell into the grass, and we all sighed in relief... until Mathilde said, "where's the spider?" And as if it were on cue, we all ran back into the house, the kids screaming bloody murder. It was great.

The spider is still at large. I've shut my balcony door, in case it decides it wants revenge, and the kids' room on the third floor is too high.

In other news, I have been thinking about what I want to accomplish this year. I'm not necessarily a goal-orientated person, but working for something is always helpful. I set goals in college, because the time frames were always so easily realized, and I was usually working with a team, and everyone was great at holding each other accountable (I had the best experience in leadership during college). Dan is a little too good at holding me accountable; actually, he's a straight task-master. Ok, not really, but I have to be careful about what I'm swearing off, or what I'm promising to do everyday, because he is disciplined (MUCH more than I am), and will hold me to my words. I tend to exaggerate (oh my gosh, it was the BEST THING EVER), and be flippant with my words (I love Coca-cola more than anything in the world), and Dan chooses his words carefully (which is really awesome and I respect him so much for it). All that said, here are some goals:

1. Be pretty decently fluent in French.
Now, this can mean a lot of things. But by the time I move home, I would like to be able to hold a decent conversation in French, not just simple words and phrases like now. I've always wanted to learn French, and I've learned so much already from immersion. So it's easy to practice, since my two little ones don't speak a lick of English.

2. Run a marathon!
Ever since my awesome. brother ran the Twin Cities Marathon in 2005, I've wanted to do one too. Now, I do not like running. Cycling, sure, I'll bike from Minneapolis to New Orleans, 1500 miles, for Katrina Victims! Sign me up! But running? No way. During my trip to New Orleans, the last week we pretty much did a bike marathon every day (about 116 miles). Day after I come home, best shape of my life, decide to jog a mile with my roommate Mel, and can't do it. Seriously. Lame. So this is a big deal. The Paris Marathon is April 5, so that gives me quite some time to get ready. And I want to do it so bad. And I CAN do it. So hold me accountable, blog world!

3. Travel
I have family in England, friends (more like brothers) in Dublin, a college friend in Stockholm, missionary friends in Italy, a high school friend in Tokyo, and a college friend in Hong Kong. Plus, numerous contacts/awesome people I have met through blogging. AND my old choir is touring Spain in May. I want to go everywhere. I especially want to see all of Switzerland (it's really not that big). As of right now, I have no idea what kind of time I have off... but most of everything is a quick train ride or plane trip away. So it's all possible.

4. Piano
There is a great piano in the basement, and I have lots of time to practice. Dan, I'm learning a special song just for you. But I'm not telling you what it is. Heehee.

That's really it.... I'm sure I'll think of something else. My blogs are long. Sorry. I'll try to post more pictures.

Anyway, I miss you all at home, very much, and thank you all for staying in touch! I love hearing from you!!!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

good morning!

Bonjour! I thought I would post since I have a little time, and not much to do - Mathilde is at school, and Malko is playing with the neighbor. It is such a great neighborhood here; there are so many children and not much traffic. Everyone is friendly, and so helpful. Anyway, I think I'll talk about the children a little bit.

Mathilde is wonderful. She is like a little mother to Malko, and is constantly taking care of him, helping him, and babying him. She loves him so much and loves to include him. She loves me a lot, too, and is sure to tell me everyday. It's so hard because I desperately want to communicate with her, but I am slowly but surely progressing with my French, so hopefully someday soon... She is full of personality, a little bit of a spit-fire (but very obedient), and is quite a talented musician. She has amazing tonal memory - anything she hears, she repeats, right on pitch. She and Malko are taking a music class this year with a popular local children's musician, Sonia Grimm. But while being a musician, she is also terrified of failure. But she's recently overcome a lot in her young life, and she is gaining quite a bit of confidence. At dinner last night, Ivana told me quite a bit about her, and she had a lot of infections and medical problems when she was younger. But now she is healthy and strong.

Malko is funny. The best word I can use to describe him is "ham". Seriously, what a little performer. He is so funny. He loves to talk, sing, capture everyone's attention, and speaks to strangers like it's nothing. He loves to play alone, and with Mathilde. He still is quite reserved around me, but it's slowly wearing off. Especially since yesterday, he was pretending his stuffed bunny was going down a ski slope, so I made some crashing noises when he hit the bottom. He loved it. He thought it was the funniest thing. He definitely warmed up to me a little after that. He's an odd little boy, and I don't know how to play with him, because he loves barbies, and purses, and pink, and yesterday he asked Ivana if he could wear make-up like her. Not trying to judge or anything, but I'm not used to little boys like this... Cole, the 4th grade boy I worked with last year, was obsessed with being "a man", and having a mustache and a gun, and being a pirate, and punching bad guys. Not really Malko's style. Eh. If he wasn't scared of the dark I'd make him watch Lord of the Rings and tell him to go kill Orcs. I think it might be a little scary for an almost 4 year old who spends his time with Barbie and Ratatouille.

I was going to post on Yvoire, France, but maybe later today... Mathilde only has a half-day of school today, being the first day and all, and I need to go pick her up soon, and make lunch. Malko starts school next week, and when I get settled into the real routine, I think I will feel finally settled.

Au revoir!

Friday, August 22, 2008

exploring Nyon

Yesterday (Thursday), and today (Friday), the children have gone to their grandparents, so I can get settled and explore. I feel settled in, I suppose, but exploring is not too fun on your own, when you have NO idea about anything at all.

So yesterday, Ivana purchased me a train ticket, and I headed into Nyon. It was a beautiful day. As soon as I arrived, I just set off walking, and walked around the perimeter of the main part of the town. It was just so beautiful. Lots of boats were out on the lake, people were outside eating and enjoying the weather, I was just just walking, taking it all in. To an American from the Midwest, everything looks like a postcard. I was not too hungry, even though it was lunchtime, and I was not too keen about eating at a random restaurant all alone. I have before, but usually with a book, and usually in America.

I found a small drugstore, and bought some necessary things. I only brought travel-sized shampoo, toothpaste, etc to save space. Remember that 3-1 stuff we bought, Sarah? Yeah, did not bring it because I thought my suitcase was over the weight limit. Turns out I had 6 more lbs. to play with than I thought I did. Boo.

I bought shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, q-tips, nail polish remover... nearly everything on my shopping list. I almost splurged on some L'Occitane lotion, but decided to wait.

I found the shopping mall, and found the American Market (yea! expensive but great. I bought a jar of peanut butter.), and I found H&M. I bought a nice dress I can wear for fall/winter. I finally was hungry, and finally screwed up my courage to eat alone, so I headed over to a restaurant recommended in the Living in Nyon blog (link in my blog list to the right, it is a great site!), but they had finished lunch, and dinner was not being served yet. Oh well. I was tired anyway, and I decided to head home.

When I got home, I rested & read for a bit, and then I decided to take a walk around Genolier. I walked pretty far, not realizing I had been traipsing downhill (or down-mountain), so when I turned to come home, it was quite a hike back. I think I walked about a total of 8 miles yesterday, between Nyon & Genolier. I later went with Ivana to the grocery store (all the groceries I have seen so far have been inside malls - it is a little strange). Ivana is great, and I am glad I will be able to get to know her better.

Today, I elected to stay home, instead of taking the train to Geneva, or even back to Nyon. It has been rainy today, so I am glad I stayed in. When Ivana returns from work, we are going shopping in Geneva for a French-English dictionary, and a mobile phone. I will hopefully make it to Geneva soon; Ivana would love to show me around. Ivana & Bertrand lived there before the kids, and they love it. Bertrand's band plays there often, apparently.

I will not be attending church on Sunday; we are going to France! Yea! We are going to take a ferry across the lake and spend the day there.

Here is a picture of my favorite spot in Nyon.

Well, I am off to let the dog out, and wash my dishes from lunch. Au revoir!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I vowed before my arrival that my first blog from Switzerland would not be a little blurb, but I would actually flesh out a lot of details, pictures, etc. Oops...
Seriously, I was so tired upon arrival. I got here at about 8am Swiss time, which meant it was 1am back home. Friday night, before leaving, we had a little goodbye party, and Dan and I stayed up pretty late, drinking champagne with lots of candles under the twinkle lights on my back deck. It was nice - my four favorite things in one spot (Dan, champagne, twinkle lights, candles). The only way it could have been better would be if I found out I was also a Jedi Knight (yep, huge nerd).

We stayed up quite late so I would be tired and able to sleep on the plane. I was exhausted when I got on. But could I sleep a wink?
I tried all my falling-asleep tricks... but nothing worked. I just gave up after a while and watched a movie. So needless to say, by the time I got my suitcase and met Bertrand & Mathilde, I was dead on my feet.

Driving from the airport was so beautiful. Lots of trees, and mountains on the left, the lake on the right, and the Alps right across the lake.
The house is lovely; it is part of townhome (cannot think of another way to describe it), and it is 3 stories, plus a finished basement. I would have taken pictures of the whole house, but Ivana has apologized profusely because it is a little messy (they just returned from a 2 week holiday on Friday) and I do not want to offend her in anyway. It is cozy, full of art, music, and knick-knacks. I have my own room, bathroom, and a balcony. Here are some pictures!
Sorry, I had to use the crappy flash that is built into my camera. Look how organized I am! It is easy when you have so few clothes (I know, I know. So much black.).

It has been frustrating trying to communicate with the children, but they are fast learners. I think if I had studied more, it still would not have prepared me. But they are so sweet. They love to cuddle, they kiss me and say goodnight before bed, Mathilde has already drawn me two pictures, one of a sheep, and one of a horse, and they take good care of each other. Ivana & Bertrand are wonderful. As soon as I arrived, they showed me my room, let me shower, and take a nap before lunch. Later this week, Ivana's parents are going to take the children for a day so I can explore the city. They have really been sweet trying to make me feel at home, and encouraging me to get into everything. I really could not have asked for a better situation.

This weekend, I am going shopping and walking in the forest with Ivana, and hopefully purchasing some of the many, many things I did not bring (flat iron, nail polish remover, slippers, etc).

I love it here! But, I do miss Dan (and my family, of course). I mean, just look at this picture of Dan.
He is so handsome, and a class-act all the way. And the sweetest, most considerate man in the whole world.

Anyway, I am so tired, and I am ready for bed. Goodnight everyone. I will try to post regularly!

(Family, if you are reading this, please send Cheetos stat!)

Monday, August 18, 2008


I am here, and it is wonderful. My laptop battery is low, and I am exhausted, but everything here is wonderful. From family to my room to the view, everything is better than I hoped.

I will post more when my computer is charged and so am I.

Au revoir!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I got new glasses

I leave tomorrow.

Right now, Dan and I are sitting on my couch, with our respective macbooks, and the dog is sleeping under a blanket in between us. Normal, everyday stuff with Dan is so nice. Last night, before we went to see the midnight showing of Star Wars: Clone Wars (nerd alert), we were both sitting, with our laptops, drinking coffee, and playing video games we hacked off the internet. Perfect Dan & Cam time. There are so many moments I just want to freeze and tuck away, so I could pull them out on a sad day and be happy I have such a normal, sweet but as manly as Clint Eastwood, perfect boyfriend.

Want to hear a crazy story?
Yesterday, Dan and I swung by LensCrafters so I could get a new pair of glasses before I left. They had a deal in which you received free lenses with a purchase of frames. So this sweet girl is helping, and I'm being totally honest with her; all I can afford is the free lenses. Only the cheapest lenses were free with a frames purchase, everything else was just on sale. Fine with me. Give me the basics, I do not have too much money to throw around. So she gets this guy to come and help, and he looks at my prescription, and says, "You can't get these basic lenses, your prescription is so bad you need these lenses." Oh, that's right, I remember I am totally blind, and if I do not get the ultra-thin lenses, I will essentially have about an inch of plastic in front of my eyes. I glance at the price of "these lenses", and the lenses alone are $280 (on sale - normally $470!). My frames are $189. I cannot afford that. I do not have vision insurance. I start talking really fast, and Dan's boyfriend radar is going off, and he can tell I am close to tears. The two helping me go to the back to speak with the tech, and I burst into tears. In the middle of LensCrafters.
Yes, I am a crier, but this was a little out of control. Dan is trying to calm me down, all I can eek out is something to the effect of, "I'm so stressed... moving out of the country... can't afford this... come back later"
The two employees come back, and the guy sits down, and says hesitantly, "Is everything ok?" I apologize, trying to mope up rogue streams of mascara, and inform them I am moving to Switzerland on Saturday, and I am stressed, and I cannot afford it, and I need to think about it and I will come back.
They immediately feel bad for me. The guy says, "That's so cool! Oh, you should be happy. Let's see what we can do. What's your price range?"
I just mumble that I will come back after talking to my ever-wise father.
The guy pauses. "You know what? Don't worry about it. We'll just give you the nice lenses for free."
He shrugs. "Don't worry. You should be happy! You two are moving to Switzerland!"
Dan and I look at each other. "Actually, she's leaving me behind." Dan says.
The guy feels even more sorrow for me (If that is possible at this point. Seriously, I was pathetic, and a little embarrassed to return to pick up my glasses). They take my eye measurements and I pay - after the discount, $162.75... Wait, were the frames not $189... whatever. No complaints here! Here is a picture of me in my new glasses (I just woke up).
I love them! It took Dan a little bit to get used to them, and my mom, but my last pair were thick black frames, with rhinestones, so whatever. Can you see the coke-bottle thickness?

Time to finish packing, translate the French on my e-ticket so I can have a clue of what to do tomorrow, and get ready for the party tonight. My next post will be from Switzerland!

Monday, August 4, 2008

so productive

Instead of actually packing, I have found some great packing lists, and I am compiling one of my own - stuff to buy here, what books to bring, what to purchase upon arrival, etc.

Here are two good websites:
This one you plug in the length of your trip, if you are preparing all your food, if you are backpacking or using a suitcase, etc.
This one had some suggestions that had not crossed my mind.

Of course, both are geared towards shorter term travel, but they are still helpful - I tend to overpack in some areas, and underpack in others... I need all the organizational help I can get.

T-12 days!