Wednesday, June 30, 2010

En Français s'il vous plaît

Deux semaines dernier, j'ai eu mon dernier cours de français. Je suis triste d'être finis mais, j'espère que continuer á practiquer. Aujourd-hui je vais écrire en français pour montrer à mes parents combien j'ai appris!

Hier aprés midi les enfants ont été fou. J'ai decidé que nous devrions aller a la piscine. La Femme Nettoyer m'a demandé si je leurs avais donné l'eau aujourd-hui. Je sais que je ne suis pas la meilleure au pair, mais je leur donner l'eau quand il faut chaud. Je l'ai dit, "Bien sur!"Aprés elle m'a demandé, "Tu es sur que ce n'est pas la vodka?"

J'adore La Femme Nettoyer.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby Mama

I miss TMoTB, and I guess TB too. Last week Boy and TBoTB were in tennis camp together so I got to see TB and TMoTB on a daily basis, not to mention the three times we spoke on the phone. This week they are on vacation in New York and I am TB-less. After I drop Girl off at camp in the morning the route home takes me in front of TB's house and the look I give the house is not unlike longing. TMoTB was a friend and an adult I could trust to give me good advice, restaurant suggestions, travel tips for new cities and let me know where the sales were (although our budgets were drastically different).

Over the Christmas holiday my father and I were working on my resumé and my mom said I was lucky because I had an incredibly intelligent person aiding me, and that person only had my best interests at heart (or maybe it had something to do with him not wanting his 23 year old daughter to move back in!). And I'm pretty sure that's how it was with TMoTB. She always told me to do what's best for me and although she will probably never know, knowing her made my year so much better.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Do I Know You From Somewhere?


I have this uncanny ability to often be in the right place at the right time. And if it isn't the right place at the right time it's the right place at a very awkward/mildly humiliating (in a good for a funny story at a later date) time. I have accidentally run into people time and again, or had odd connections with people I've only just met (hello Allison!).

Lately it seems as if this has been happening more and more often. A couple months ago I ran into a friend I hadn't seen since the summer before. One thing led to another and this run-in has resulted in my Super Great News (of which I'm still nervous to say officially but I tell to pretty much everyone--e-mail me if you can't wait for it to come out here!).

Last August I met this kid who hailed from Minnesota but had since relocated to Arizon and then Switzerland. Having spent the better part of the evening being annoyed by him, my friend and I sort of kind of left him at the bar to go hang out with an adorable French man. (I mean would you rather listen to his squeaky, annoying voice or try out your horrid French with a not-so-horrid man who thinks it is endearing? I mean really.) He sent me a couple of text messages later in the year about coming to parties with me (he didn't seem to be a self starter) which I will admit I, rudely, didn't answer. Flash forward to Mother's Day, Kristina and I decided to treat ourselves to brunch in honor of our mother's. During the course of our meal another couple came and sat next to us (the tables were picnic bench style) and were speaking English. I didn't really take note of it until I heard the voice and the stupid conversation. The guy was wearing sunglasses (a tool-y Gucci pair) but I then realized that it had been this kid from August. Of all the places in all of Zürich, of course he sits down next to us! I don't know if he noticed me but it was pretty amusing. And then last night I was with a bunch of Americans at this museum in Zürich to watch the [sad] USA game and when the US scored I was running around (like a maniac) giving high-fives to everyone and anyone. Mid-high five I realized that it was this guy, again. I quickly retreated to my table after that.

Two Saturdays ago I was out for drinks with my friend and we ran into another friend and this beautiful guy that she is seeing. He was one of those guys who you can't quite look directly at for fear of your eyes burning. He's that beautiful. Well the next day after I had just left Kristina I decided I was about to die of thirst. As it was raining I zipped my hood up. So I'm standing on this street corner chugging (it was even less lady-like than the word "chugging" implies) water, looking like a nerd with my raincoat zipped to my chin when Mr. Adonis rounds the corner and we nearly smack into one another. I don't think he recognized me but I semi-ran down the street and couldn't believe my timing.

I think the craziest run-in that's happened to me though happened last night. We arrived early at the museum to grab a table and make our USA fan-base. The place was still pretty empty when right in front of me I see a girl I studied abroad in Vienna with nearly three years ago. Crazy! I looked at her and said, "Holy crap! What are you doing here!?" She was there on a business trip and one of our mutual friends from Vienna said she had "Facebook stalked" (probably a verb now) me and knew that I was here and told this girl that she might run into me. Bizarre.
Kristen & I in Vienna 2007

I always talk about what a small place Zürich is and it's true. Although I think the rate in which I run into people is pretty high. I wonder who I'll run into next.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Competitive? Me?

If you haven't gleaned this information from my previous posts I am fiercely, and perhaps overly, competitive. I love to win, anything. Board games, debates, athletic events, anything I can win I try to and want to. Even with The Kids. We'll often "race" to get something done, "I bet I can get the blinds open before you get yours open!" When The Kids tell me they beat me all I do is smile because they don't realize that I'm the winner in that situation!

After the USA tie last Friday I took the kids to the park to play my favorite soccer game, world cup. Each team, or in our case child, picks a country to represent, the goalie kicks the ball in play and then each team has to try to score a goal, as you are shooting you have to yell out the name of your country for your goal to count. Once you score you advance to the next round and the team who doesn't score is out. Eventually there are only two "countries" left and the one who scores wins the "world cup." I, of course, was the USA (though at most of my soccer camps I was Djibouti for obvious booty-shouting reasons). I was running towards the goal and The British Boy was trying
to steal the ball, now I won't tell you exactly what I said to him (in a good natured way I promise) but it did have something to do with the Revolutionary War. I'm also fairly certain he had no idea what the Revolutionary War was. Wednesday night I was out for a couple beers with some friends and a British friend of theirs came over to talk to them and introduce himself. The conversation turned to soccer and then to a British/American showdown of who was a better country. The result? I actually recited the preamble to the Constitution (which is sort of impressive after a beer don't you think?).

I wasn't always like this though, it was more of a gradual slope into my competitive nature. As a child I was about as competitive as a doorknob. I played soccer throughout my childhood and I remember playing for a team at the YMCA. My best friend and I always requested to play the last two defenders for two reasons: they stood next to each other so we could chat throughout the games, and the boy we both liked (which, at the time seemed really lucky) played goalie so we could also spend our games chatting with him. Our coach soon figured it out and alas our trifecta of laziness was over. Sure I liked to win but I wasn't heartbroken after our inevitable and eventual loss. As long as I got a juicebox and some orange slices after the game I was pretty happy.

As the years went by I learned how nice it was to win, and how nice it was to be on a team where the minimum requirement wasn't just to have legs. I started playing on teams with tryouts and on school teams where you had to posses at least a bit of athletic prowess. But after my freshman year of college my competitive/borderline maniacal tendencies began to develop. Sophomore year during the start of fall-ball (lacrosse practice in the fall) one of my teammates nicknamed me "Tenacious J" (did not help me get more playing time during lacrosse games though!). And from that point on I was pretty much hooked on winning. I'm working on losing with grace, but that's much harder to come by.

Maybe I should re-learn the Gettysburg Address (memorized in grade 3 or 4 for fun) to recite on Saturday.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thank You Jack

Yes you, Jack.

My friend Jack posted this link to my Facebook today (which he received from his sister) because he thought I could use some good 'ol USA celebrating. It is awesome, and I watched nearly every video, the result being that my kids keep chanting "USA! USA!" which is pretty great.

And I am pretty sure that I equaled the level of noise in my house alone.

After I snagged the few minutes that the BBC spent analyzing our game so I could fully enjoy the non-language barrier-ed commentary. The best line came from Gary Lineker who said at the end of the 91st minute goal to win it, "Well if that doesn't make Americans football fans, nothing will."

Thanks again for the link Jack! It was nice to celebrate, albeit digitally, with my countrymen. And, I look forward to doing it again on Saturday. I'll be the one in the face paint.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GOALLLLLL

I have yet to stop screaming from the game winner that the USA scored. Holey moley, that was awesome. The match played on my nerves (anxiety attack anyone?) but man was it exciting!

The only thing that was a little disappointing was that England played at the same time as the US so on the BBC it was clearly playing England. I scrolled through the next 30 channels to try to find the Algeria/USA match and finally found it on France2. Let me tell you, as much as I love the French language, watching sporting events in French is just not the same.

Allez les Etas-Unis!


Oh and, at one point when the crowd showed American fans I saw a guy sporting a Minnesota Twins hat. Ironic that it was a baseball team's hat (albeit their colors are red and blue) at a soccer match but at least there was some Minnesota representation!

TMNT

Last week I re-encountered a childhood staple in my house: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Since then I've started saying things to the kids that end with "and a half shell," most often, "gross and a half shell." And in the car on the way home from camp we saw a dead animal and Gabrielle said, "Gross and a half shell."

I feel as if my work as an au pair is complete.

True Love

My friend Scott told me I need to stop being a "whinger" (the Australian term for a whine-y brat I believe). So I'll stop the complaints, stop blaming my sourness upon the weather and talk about something that is and has been making me very happy. I dare say it's even love.

Of course, I'm talking about the Amazon Kindle. I don't have one (yet!) but Kristina has so generously let me borrow hers to read a couple books that she has. At first I was admittedly skeptical. As a girl who loves to read there's something so satisfying about sitting down with a book and turning a page. I was also skeptical of reading on a screen. In college I could never read my articles on the computer, they always had to be printed out (this probably also has something to do with my over-affinity to highlight) so I didn't know how I'd feel about reading an entire book on a screen.

Well folks, I was wrong. The Kindle is awesome. It doesn't hurt your eyes, it's light and compact--I don't want to jump the gun but I think the Kindle and I have a very bright and long future ahead of us. And when it's fully charged it lasts for 14 days! Amazing.

I'll never turn my back completely on books though. Despite all the wonderful characteristics of the Kindle there are some things a book just does better. I was trying to relay a funny story (about Australia as I am reading Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country" which, by the way, is awesome) to Scott the other day and needed the details from a page at the start of the book. Instead of flipping through I had to click, scan and click some more to get to the story. It works, but just not with the same amount of ease.

Still the Kindle is pretty amazing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summertime Blues

Although today is technically the first day of summer Switzerland has apparently decided to forgo the season this year. For the I'm guessing millionth (or so it seems) day in a row it has been rainy, overcast and cold. There have been some days where, for a couple of hours, the sun has poked through and I've been able to wear shorts, but for the most part it has been back to my SAD ways.

This also has to do with the Kids being on summer vacation, and the inability to take them to the pool. Summer vacation last year was the bane of my existence (I didn't have a lot going on, alright?). When I interviewed with The Family they assured me that the kids were either in school all day or at summer camp all day. They had camp the first week of the summer last year and then they gave them the option to either go to camp or stay with me which was aggravating, to say the least. For the next two weeks though they are in camp from 9-12 which is great, but the rainy weather forecast pretty much makes us housebound for the rest of the week. Add that to the combination of The Father going on a two-week sailing trip and The Mother being back and forth between here and Paris for work all week and you get one exasperated au pair. I'm doing the forehead slap, kicking myself and any other expression or turn of phrase to mock induce bodily harm at my own stupidity for agreeing to stay an extra two weeks (especially in light of current events that I promise to inform you all once they are more finalized). And, The Parents just told me this morning that for my last week of servitude I will be back in "The French Frat House" for a week with the kids and her extended family. (With the addition of two more children, their cousins, whom she said she could just leave under the supervision of their father, "but he doesn't watch them very closely.") The only saving grace is knowing that Kristina will be serving her indentured servitude in Neuchâtel during that time and we can border hop to see one another to preserve our dwindling sanity.

And to further highlight why summer vacation is all the more painful, take last Friday, the first day of summer break. Thursday afternoon I invited British Boy over for a playdate with Boy. Playdates are wonderful for me because I can generally just ignore the kids and they keep to themselves. Thursday night Paul's Best Friend's mom called to ask if he could come over tomorrow because their babysitter canceled. I agreed because she was in a bind, and I'm more or less a pushover. The Mother was still on a business trip to France and The Father had an early morning meeting so he left at 7:45. We played, did errands, had four children in the house (still managed to watch the USA game), played in the park, bathed the kids, fed them, cleaned the kitchen et cetera. My friends were sending me messages around 7pm about when I could come out and I replied that I really had no idea. The Father calls at 7:15 saying he had to run an errand on the way home and since he was already out he might as well just go pick up The Mother at the airport at 7:45 and he'd be home at 8:30. At 8:45 the parents roll in (literally 13 hours of work!). I sprang from the couch (after having to push The Girl off to go say hi to her mother who she hadn't seen since Tuesday) and out the door to meet my friends.

I told Kristina the little mantra I've been repeating to myself for the last couple of days to get me through the next six weeks: "Two weeks on, two weeks off [in Greece!], two weeks on, lifetime off." I can do it!

My friend Danielle stayed at my hostel in Santorini and said it it right on the black beach: (Insert me into this picture in 2.5 weeks)

http://www.fecielo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/time-out-of-the-rat-race-on-the-black-sands-of-perissa-beach-on-the-east-coast-of-santorini-island-greece.jpg

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Post Secret

I love Post Secret and I look at it every week. Today's secrets were mostly in honor of Father's Day, and I found this one that I think (aside from the picture) is a pretty accurate representation of how I feel about my parents (except when they don't answer my phone calls).


Click here to see it.

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Dad!

And now I'm going to complain about you.

Both of my parents' children live far away. Not in the "a couple of hour drive far" but crossing oceans and continents sort of far. For most of my friends, this has turned their parents into the exceedingly needy sort who thrive on calls and desire to be in constant communication. This, however, is not the case with my parents. Perhaps it's all the time (and by time I mean money) that they've saved now that we are out of school and the house but they don't seem too phased by their lack of children. Now it's not to say that they don't want to talk to us, but I guess they have lives (ugh) of their own so their number one priority can't be sitting next to the computer waiting for our Skype names to appear.

Instead, I have become increasingly needy. I'm oftentimes the one who will text my dad (by the way, dad please read your text from yesterday) or send my mom an e-mail about some inane subject. The worst though is when I try to call. A couple days before Mother's Day I was talking with my mom, as we were saying goodbye it went something like this:
My Mom: Well, I'll talk to you next week sometime!
Me: Umm, I'll call you tomorrow. It's Mother's Day.
My Mom: Yeah, if you think of it.

The most frequent are the voice mails I will leave in succession on their various answering machines:

House Machine:...Beep!... Hi mom & dad it's me. You know, you're daughter Jill. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi. Wondering where you guys were. Don't worry, I'll just try your phones. Love you! Bye!

30 Seconds later (hint of desperation in my voice)

My mom's voicemail:...Beep!... Hi mom. Me again. I left a message at the house but I thought I'd try to catch you on your phone. Maybe you're on a bike ride or at the pool. Anyway I'll try calling back later. Love you! Bye!

30 Seconds later (with an increasing amount of desperation in my voice)

My dad's voicemail (although it is his secretary that says his name on the automatic message which never fails to amuse me):...Beep!... Hi dad! Just calling to see where you and mom were. But you're probably out fishing right now. Well I left a message at home, and I'll try calling later too. Love you! Bye!

Two days later I finally catch them on the phone. Sad but the all too often story.

I know my parents are camping this weekend (and the fact that it is early morning at home) so I will not start my calls until later this afternoon, I hope they answer because I've got some great, great news to share with them. (To be shared with you all in the near future!)

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

U-S-A! Part 2

Today the USA plays again in the World Cup. It is probably a good idea that I will be at home for this match (as to avoid further public embarrassment) but I will not be in the presence of any other Americans. I will, however, be in the company of one British grandmother (who lives in Canada), two half Canadian half French children, one British child and one half Canadian half Swiss child.

But, I did decide to show my support by wearing read, white and blue (and dressing Boy in those colors and putting Girl in her "I heart NY" t-shirt. And I also painted my face. GO USA!

It does say "USA" the correct way, I promise.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Want to Make a Party?

Today was a sad day for two reasons: It was the last day of school for Boy and Girl (insert my screams of "NO!!" here) and it was my last day with TB and TMoTB.

Since summer vacation (anguished cry) is starting I'll be spending a lot more time with Boy and Girl and will no longer have time with TB. TMoTB and I have planned to hang poolside but it's not regularly scheduled. I'm sad to not see TMoTB.

TB and I went on our last outing to Zürich this morning because Kristina and her baby (whom she calls "Little Bean" on her blog but who I will refer to as "Beanie Baby") were in town running an errand. One of my favorite German translated verbs it the verb "to make." In English we say, "Will you take a photo?" or "Do you want to have a party?" but when a native German speaker asks they say, "Shall we make a photo?" or "Do you want to make a party?" Naturally everytime we can use this we do, so we decided to "Make a baby party." We met up at a Starbucks with big plans for our babies to be best of friends. Although TB was ready for immediate friendship (after the requisite dirty looks to Kristina) Beanie Baby was not as enthused. She kept stating her ownership of "Dia" when TB was coming towards her (okay so Kristina and I were pushing them together in order to spark the best friendship we knew was imminent--it mostly led to us cracking up). Watching TB I realized how similar our friend-garnering styles are: we both just sort of attach ourselves to the potential friend and hang on until they shake us off or submit. Beanie Baby was not having it and our dreams of their friendship were nothing but a memory.

On the way home I received a text from Kristina that said, "[Beanie Baby] just stole a cracker from someone and is barking at a dog. She is my child." It's good to know that she is rubbing off on her baby too.

Oh Weißbeer

For those of you who got to read last night's post about my little altercation with the police (believe it) I apologize and have since come down from my high horse/soapbox. After imbibing in a few weißbeers (my favorite) and some Feldschlossen I was, well actually a little equation might explain it best:

Jill+
feeling very patriotic towards the US (competition plus nearing my favorite holiday, July 4)+
listening to a bunch of positive America songs (a lot of The Boss)+
3 weißbeers (and a couple other regulars)+
the previous blog post about race relations+
a crowded street in Zürich where everyone is celebrating Switzerland's win over Spain (and incredible upset I admit)+
the police driving by at the same time
=

Trouble.

I got my permit checked (haha!) and a stern talking to (I also gave them a stern talking to, but I think the language barrier prevented me from getting in more trouble). Sorry Mom & Dad, I promise it won't happen again.

Oh, but there was a silver lining to the whole situation. I had forgotten my coat at the bar and when the officer was patting me down and going through my stuff I realized that I had left it. So, if I hadn't made a fool out of myself I would have lost my black North Face forever. (Thank you Adam for retrieving my coat whilst I was being quarantined.) It all worked out. And I promise to be well behaved on further outings (or else I'm going to have to be put on one of those kid leashes).


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not Okay

For all the things the Swiss do right they still have some very backwards and sometimes, downright offensive, behaviors.

One such behavior that I have unfortunately witnessed more times than I'd like to remember is blatant racism. Yes, the Swiss are neutral but their "neutrality" doesn't seem to reach all corners of this little country. Much like Arizona [unfortunately] the Swiss police are "allowed" to stop anyone at any time and demand to see their living permit/passport. I have never been asked to show my proper documentation but I have seen numerous people get stopped by the police and have to show the proper documentation due only to the color of their skin. Yesterday Kristina and I were enjoying a couple mid-afternoon beers next to the lake when a police car drives up and stop next to a park bench a ways from us. Four officers get out and go up to this man and verify that he is allowed to be in Switzerland. The person sitting next to this man on the bench didn't have to show anything. After his information was checked they got back into their vehicle and drove off. I see this often and the person who's identification they check has never, not once, been white. There are girls who come here without work permits to work for a family, but because of the color of their skin they don't have to worry about being targeted--I mean there are probably more illegal workers here who are white, but, because of their pigmentation the Swiss overlook it. It's sad that a country that does so much so well can still operate where blatant racism is encouraged.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Last night it was the England vs. USA World Cup (Soccer/Football) match. I had to babysit TB and TBoTB but I figured, since TB and TBoTB are half American that we could cheer along our fellow countrymen. When I arrived TFoTB said he had a work conference call at nine (the first, he said, in twenty years of working) so he would go to their party after the call. TBoTB, TFoTB and I had a lovely dinner (TB wasn't really an active participant in our dinner conversation) which started out with a discussion of the evening's upcoming match. TBoTB was talking about how the U.S. was going to lose and how he was probably going to cheer for England. TFoTB and I both started in on how one should root for the underdog and then suddenly TFoTB was lecturing his son on patriotism and having some pride in his country ("Have you no loyalty TBoTB? No child of mine will turn his back on his country!") It was funny and pretty entertaining.

After TFoTB's call ended he finished the game with us making some pretty hysterical and choice remarks about the [inbred, islander] English. Everytime TBoTB made a remark against the States the Father said, "TBoTB you're being a nerd. And a nerd is a bad thing to be." And, "If you're going to cheer for England you can go to bed." I was glad that TFoTB was there to shout at the TV with me and share my excitement and we had a great discussion about American pride. Nothing brings out my patriotism more than competition (cut to me arguing with an 8 year old during the Olympics) or other people who are proud of America (not gun-slingin' down home people, but people who like America for what it represents, despite some obvious shortcomings).

Today was The Boy's first communion and one of his aunt's was here with her American boyfriend. We had only met once before but discussing the tie (better than a loss alright?!) our national pride definitely shone through and has yet to stop.

GO USA!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time Takes Time You Know

Of all the homes I've been to during my stay here there has been on recurring theme in each house: an abundance (to the point where it is borderline hoarding) of toys. Regardless of nationality, age of children or even number of children, these houses are packed to the gills with toys (and I realize the irony coming from a girl who doesn't like to get rid of her stuff, but even to me this is ridiculous). My kids have so many toys and yet they are happiest with a balloon or a piece of paper. The dad that my friend Allie used to work for, who has since switched employers, bought a new toy for his kids every time he had to spend time with them because he didn't know what else to do. It's like so many of these parents with au pairs would rather throw toys at their children then spend actual time with them.

Now I'm not saying Jack and I didn't have an overabundance of toys (I was lucky enough to even have two Ariel Barbies) but more than that I remember are all the time I got to spend with my parents. The most vivid memories are not of new toys (but a few at Toys-R-Us with an exasperated father because I couldn't decide between a Barbie and a Polly Pocket) but of the times I spent with my family; playing baseball (with "ghost runners") in our backyard, "Dr. Poppa" telling us he was going to "have to operate" anytime we were injured (which resulted in our injury feeling much, much better), my dad pouring Jack & I waaay too much cereal for Saturday morning cartoons, swimming with my mom at the Y (her telling me to swim to her whilst she kept taking steps back), always carving pumpkins and dying Easter eggs with my dad, going to Choiristers and Kids Corral (insert Molly snort) in the neighborhood, my dad getting me dressed for church by lifting me up by my tights, my mom singing to me in the white wicker rocking chair. A lot of these things I do now with my kids (the yard is so small my ghost runner always makes it home). Although I'm sure their memories of me will fade with age I can't help but wonder what memories they'll have of their parents.

I was researching this company the other day and and came across an interesting quote that piqued my interest on this whole subject. It said, "How does a child spell love?"

T-I-M-E.

(Not t-o-y-s.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seasonally Affected

I don't mean to be dramatic (actually who am I kidding, of course I do) but I am afflicted with a disorder. (Insert my father making a joke about how my disorder is my flair for the dramatic.) This is a tale of how this disorder has controlled my recent life.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). (And by "have" I mean "self diagnosed.") SAD, as defined by Wikipedia, is, "

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer, spring or autumn, repeatedly, year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is "a specifier of major depression".

The US National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up."

For those of you who don't live in Switzerland the weather here up until last weekend was terrible. It rained every day for three straight weeks. It was the first day of June and I was still wearing jeans which is totally unacceptable in my book. I was feeling an unusually high level of melancholia, life ennui, apathy and general sort of unhappiness that, for those of you that know me, is pretty much the opposite of my general disposition. I was stuck in a rainy-rut and I was less social and a much less fun au pair.

Friday, however, all that changed. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and as I was walking down Bahnhofstrasse (the main street in Zürich) to meet Krustina for lunch I could just feel those dangerous UV rays seeping into my skin and lifting my mood (and Vitamin D levels). After lunch I headed to the pool to soak up some more of the glorious weather. Whilst there, The Mother called to say she needed to be on a conference call that afternoon so could I be there for the kids after school. Normally this would have bugged me but Friday I happily obliged. At home I was back to my super fun au pair self of yesteryear and I actually enjoyed myself and my time with The Kids. It was a little weird but I'll take it! Friday night was a blast, anything that includes a grill, beer and hotdogs will pretty much always reign supreme in my book.

Saturday I awoke to feeling less than great but I thought, "Hey, I could either feel less than great in my bed or AT THE POOL!" So I went to the pool, sweated out my excess beer consumption from the evening before and then later met up with some friends (the same guys as the previous night) by the lake in Zürich. Despite a wee bit of sunburn (sorry mom) it proved to be another fun and funny day. I even jumped into the lake (still freezing, sort of like White Bear Lake I'm guessing) but my cold water tolerance has clearly improved by living in Minnestoa so I was able to swim for a while.

Sunday I again went to the lake with some au pair friends to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. All in all a wonderful, sunny weekend. Now when people see me instead of asking, "Gee Jill? What's wrong? You seem pale and sullen," they say, "Wow! How'd you get so tan?!"

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Running Commentary

For those of you who don't know

I really, really love it when people comment on my blog. (Yes you Ell.) And so please don't ever shy away from doing it, even if it is to tell me to stop whining and buck up! I'll take them all.

Also for those of you who don't know how/can't figure out how to comment (ahem Molly) at the bottom of every post there is a little orange word called "Comments" usually with a 0 before it. If you click on that you can comment (and then you have to type in a word so as to ensure I'm not getting spam comments--but at this point I might start taking them).

So thanks for those of you who read and comment.

Your turn Cubby!

More of the Same Sentiments

Whilst I'm still annoyed/angry with The Mother let me tell you two not-so-funny but a little ironic stories.

Yesterday she was supposed to be there after school for the kids. I was at home however (doing some much needed room cleansing) and when the doorbell rang at 3:45 I let them in. The Mother came home a whole ten minutes late. I wish I were petty enough to tell The Father. I am, however, petty enough to blog about it!

Also last Tuesday she sent me a text saying that The Cleaning Lady (who is my newest Facebook friend--don't worry unable to read English or find my blog on my profile) would not be able to make it. Wednesday evening when The Mother returned she mentioned that she really hoped TCL could come Friday. I asked if TCL was sick and she said, "No, some one died in her family. But, from what I understand, they weren't all that close. And anyway he was in Portugal. It's just her family here was getting together. I really hope she can come Friday." I stood there with my mouth ajar and said nothing.

Friday when I saw TCL I voiced my condolences and with tears (literally) in her eyes she told me that it had been her uncle who had passed away and that he was her God-father and used to take her to school in Portugal. I told TCL how sad and sorry I was for her and was inwardly grateful that I didn't tell The Mother about my uncle Kenny (or, heaven forbid! asked to have gone to the funeral--which I am still so sad to have missed). I guess I was just shocked by her harshness towards the loss of some one else. (Note: I didn't tell The Family about my uncle because I didn't want to "inconvenience" them--inconvenience them with my family's loss. That is just messed up.)

Okay, okay, okay. That's it. I will try really, really hard (no promises) to stop whining/complaining about The Family (and The Mother in particular). Positive attitude readjustment here I come.

Oh and for all of you who probably [don't] care: The next spawn (The New Baby) is a girl.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Liar Liar

This is an example of why lying is bad:

Last Wednesday:
The Mother calls me from Paris
TM: Jill I need you to pick up The Boy from school tomorrow at two and bring him into Zürich so I can take him to the doctor's for his appointment at three. Is this a problem?

Let me explain why it was a problem: 1. The Mother (on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays) is finished with work at 12:30 2. TMoTB, two weeks prior, has asked if I could stay longer (until 2:30) so she could go to this lunchtime concert. I had agreed because it usually isn't a problem.
After I raised these concerns she said:

TM: Didn't I tell you this before? Or was that just The Father?
Jill: Nope, this is the first I've heard of it.
TM:Well I have a call at one for work and I don't know if it will be finished in time. If you leave TMoTB's at two then you will have plenty of time to get The Boy and drop him off by 2:45. I've been to those lunchtime concerts before and they are usually only an hour. Well... I guess I could take the call in the car while I'm driving.
Jill: It's fine. I'll just call TMoTB and tell her that I need to leave earlier.
TM: Do you want me to call TMoTB?
Jill: No thank you, I'd prefer to do it myself. (What am I, in middle school? Having a parent call to confront some one? No way. Actually my parents never in middle school, or ever for that matter, called a school/coach/etc. to complain. Beneficial to both of us I think.)

I wasn't my usual cheerful, chatty self on the phone with her because I was tired from staying up half the night with her child and I couldn't believe she was changing my schedule around less than 24 hours prior which she could tell but I really could care less.

TM: Well TMoTB knows that we are your first priority.
Jill: Yup. It's fine. I'll work it out.

Which I and TMoTB did. She came home by 1:45 and The Boy and I were waiting for his mother by 2:40. When she showed up at 2:55 I didn't even bat an eyelash. I apologized for changing TMoTB's schedule around (for maybe the 37th time) but she is always flexible, accommodating and incredibly gracious.

Well this afternoon I was chatting with TMoTB about my staying extra (she said I should have talked to her first and she would have told me not to!) because she was sad that I and two of her good friends were leaving. She said, "I can't believe three people so close and important to our family are leaving us!" And you know what? She didn't mean it in a "I'm sad you're leaving because you're a great babysitter sort of way," which I thought was nice. In the end she said it was probably best that I stayed because if I hadn't The Mother would have made my last month miserable because (not my words), "She's incredibly mean and hurtful when she doesn't get her way." (I told TMoTB to ask her husband, an American, what the word "pushover" means.) Anyway she said, "Oh and you know something funny? The Mother wasn't on a call last Thursday. She wasn't even at work! My friends told me." Are you kidding me? You had two people change around their already made plans to SHOP?

This is a lesson: either don't let your au pair babysit for your friend because she'll find out when you've been lying to her or just don't lie to your au pair.

Franc-ly Speaking

Sorry I didn't post over the weekend, our internet was out and finally somehow came back on this afternoon.

I'll write another post in a minute but I just transferred money from my Swiss account to my States one and all I can say is DAMN. The franc is just horrid right now so again, like when I studied abroad, I have a case of "invisible money." I really hate that. But, if you were to come to Switzerland, your dollars would be going farther!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eleven

I didn't realize it until this morning but today marks my 11 month anniversary of arrival in Switzerland. Crazy, huh?

Kristina had the bright idea of doing something every month (big or little) to celebrate every month anniversary. I think my gift to myself will be a two week vacation to Greece (sorry Ireland) at the start of July (which of course lands almost on my one year anniversary here).

So to Greece I [hopefully] go!

Any suggestions?

Numerology

Number of Parents in the house: 0 (The Father is sailing his boat and The Mother is on a business trip for the night)
Number of Children in the house: 2
Au Pairs: 1
Time they were supposed to go to bed: 8 (because I'm in charge and they were too tired this morning)
Time they actually fell asleep because The Mother called and got them all riled up: 8:45
Time I went to bed because now I know how to use the T.V. I had to stay up and watch "I'm turning into a giant": 12:52
Time I was awoken by a crying child in my doorway: 3:59
Time I put her back to bed Numero Uno: 4:15
Time she came back: 4:18
Time I put her back to bed zwei: 4:30
Time I went back up because I could hear her walking around: 4:35
Time I wanted to shout and run out of the house: Tonight or is this a collective thing?
Time I put her back in her bed trois: 4:36
Time I gave her "sleep medicine" (water) and wished it were NyQuil: 4:37
Time I was so exasperated I told her she just had to stay in bed, close her eyes and be quiet: 4:40
Time she finally fell asleep: 5:00
Hours I can nap tomorrow: 0 (I volunteered to take TB b/c TMoTB has a meeting two hours away and it's a long time for TB to hang in the car.)
At 5:40 am my current level of sleepiness is: Nonexistent
Current patience level: -2.9
Number of remaining days where there is the potential for a child to wake me up: 63

Hoping to get back to sleep so I can wake up at: 7:15

Goodnight or good morning--whenever you happen to read this!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pedantic Parkplätze Persons

At first I liked the Swiss type-A-ness. The cleanliness, timeliness and rules all made me feel safe and secure in this new country. Now, however, my opinions are far from enthusiastic. I know a lot of the rules (like having a train ticket and the trash and recycling systems) are there to uphold the [pretty high] quality of life but there are some things that really make me pause and want to shout, "Are you kidding me!????!!!"

The latest [mis]adventures have had to do with driving. Now I am a very slow, fairly cautious driver. I've never received a speeding ticket or caused an accident (I've been hit twice though, once when I wasn't even in the car) no points on my license. But a couple weeks ago I got my first parking ticket. I had to drive to TB's house because I had to take Boy to a doctor's appointment immediately after my time with TB. There are marked indicators of where one should park on the street and the only "spot" I could find left me with half of the car sticking out. I figured since anyone could see the cars in front of me had parked so poorly that squeezing into this spot was my only option aside from illegally parking I would remain ticket-free. TB and I took a stroll and the car was fine a half an hour before my departure. When I got back however, there it was, a 40 CHF ticket. I was so angry but there was nothing I could do.

Yesterday I drove into Zürich to meet a friend at the police station to report her stolen purse (and passport, and just about everything important). I only had change for a half hour on the meter and since a meter maid was hanging about I knew I had to be pretty punctual. My ticket expired at 1:59 and as I jogged back to the car I was chatting with Kristina. I rounded the corner to the parking lot when I saw the [stupid evil] meter maid writing me a ticket. I quickly hung up, broke into a full out sprint and began my pleading with the evil meter maid who was writing me a ticket. It was 2:00.
EMM: Something indecipherable in Swiss German.
Me: "Bitte!!" (Please!!)
EMM: She said in German (using the impolite form to address me mind you) You cannot be late. You paid for a half hour.
[The time is now 2:01.]
Me: "Ich weiss. Es tut mir leid. Aber ich bin zwei minuten später!!" (I know, I'm sorry. But I am two minutes later!)
Me: "Nay, nay nay." (No no no.)
More of my half German pleading and she finally let me go without a ticket. I think it might have been the dejected way I laid my head on the front door or maybe she didn't want to deal with my poor foreign language pleading. Either way, she wasn't kind about it and although I entertained the idea I didn't use any of the choice German words that I know.

Swiss Parking Gestapo: 1
Jill: 1