Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

bienne old town



So I promised some photos of the "Altstadt/Vieille Ville" of Bienne, so here they are...taken this morning on our trip to the farmer's market. We're lucky to have one of the best outdoor markets in Switzerland. Bern has a famous one but it's very commercial. The one here feels really "real" with lots of stands run by little old ladies who pluck each raspberry they sell with their own hands. I love that the market is nestled into the medieval part of town. Some of these houses are insanely old and some aren't so old at all but look that way.

Can you find my boys in one of these photos?

Friday, November 24, 2006

masks



Brown bear, brown bear...what do you see?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

kid's day, Bern



We stumbled into Bern today to get the laptop repaired (er, my fault!) and the city was full of activities for little kids! There was the ultra-high-tech leave-raking area, and racing like-a-bikes around cones. Alex was into watching everything, but had no interest in participating. For him, Bern is one gigantic bakery with various sweets waiting to be sampled. Very one-track-minded, my son. That and dinosaurs. We searched high and low for an appropriate dinosaur book...none of which ended up meeting his approval. We love Bern. It really is an extraodinary city.

dinner


We wrapped a bunch of veg (let's see: cabbage, cukes, carrot, cilantro, purslane, spring onions, and lime-avocado saucec) in rice paper...and let me tell you...it was sooooo good. It felt like eating a salad, in a non-salad presentation. Coconut shakes for dessert, from young Thai coconuts. Please don't ask me how much young Thai coconuts go for in Switzerland. We are a long, long way from coconuts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

St. Martin's Day (Martinmas)




A day to commemorate St. Martin, said to have been a very kind man who lived a quiet, simple life. In Switzerland, children normally make lanterns out of radishes (or turnips?) and walk in a procession through the village singing lantern songs. Tonight we celebrated with Minouche, Alex's preschool, who decided to make lanterns out of something non-vegetal and hence sturdier for the 3-5 yr old crowd. After the little parade, we went inside and had herbal tea, pumpkin soup and cake. Very sweet....look how his jacket glows! Many people also use this occasion to donate unused toys and clothes, to honor the charitable spirit of St. Martin. I think we'll do that, too. We've got plenty to go around! Isn't this so much better than Halloween in principle? Don't worry, kids get to do costumes here, too...but for Fasnacht/Carnival...which is in February I think.

Monday, November 13, 2006

party!

So the photos are from my in-laws' (both) 60th birthday party near Zurich yesterday. Nearly the entire family showed up from all corners of Switzerland. They rented a party room in a local cafe/restaurant and we had a full 4 course lunch, plenty of wine, and of course, karaoke...which even we were sucked into! Matthias and his cousin Yann started things off with a crowd-pleasing "Take Me Home Country Roads" and I sang a duet with the DJ "Brown-eyed Girl"...er, no comment on my performance. Alex had a blast playing with cousins, dancing and getting constant cuddles. He was so wiped out from it all that he fell asleep one minute upon leaving. :-) And here endeth our birthday party marathon...

phew.

party a la Suisse






Friday, November 10, 2006

Dorf = village


We technically live in a village suburb of Bienne, although our apartment house is just across the city limits. This is the view from our post office...admittedly nothing special. I just bought a lottery ticket today for the 2nd time in my life (last week was the first). The EuroMillions lottery is at something like 250 million euros!!! I don't think you need to convert that to dollars to know it's A LOT (certainly enough to get us out of said suburban village!). As part of our larger efforts to manifest a trans-continental life for ourselves, we thought we'd give it a try! :-)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

last birthday post, I promise!




The Earth travelled once around the sun and then our little Alex turned 1...and so forth. The kids at Minouche sang to him in 5 languages (our heads spinning) and then devoured the banana bread muffins we brought. We'd had enough cake by this time and this was only 10am. Have I mentioned that my baby is already 4 years old? Incredible.

today's fruit bowl

All radiant and raw!

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Downtown Bienne



A little bit about where we live.

-Bienne is the largest officially bilingual (Swiss German/French) city in Switzerland (population around 52,000)
-Bienne is the center of Switzerland's watch industry. Swatch, Rolex, Omega etc are all based here.
-The city is situated on a lake (Bielersee/Lac de Bienne), and at the foot of the Chasseral mountain range
-It is 30 minutes away from the capital Bern (where we lived for a few years) and is part of the same canton.
-The photo above is of the "Zentralplatz/Place de la Centrale" which is the heart of the downtown shopping district. The city also has a medieval old town (dating back to the 11th century), which is very charming indeed...photos to come!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Gnomes, gnomes everywhere!


We've been making a lot of toys around here these days...specifically gnomes! I'm not particularly crafty and neither is Matthias, but we do our best, and Alex loves to play with them. Do you love them as much as we do? Resistance is futile...we are all about gnomes...in the land of the gnome.

ahhhh...


Just what he's always wanted!! He's been playing with it non-stop since he got it. Lovely!

the biiiiiiiiig present


He still has no clue...can't wait to get this paper off!!!

What could it be.....I wonder!?

flat cake


Zum Geburtstag viel Gl├╝ck! Happy Birthday to You!

birthday party---sort of!


Well, it wasn't exactly what we had planned. Alex ended up with a nasty cold (worst one ever) and he slept the entire day on Saturday...day before his party. We cancelled and felt sad, but alas, what could we do? Sunday morning, he hops out of bed after this 24 hour sleep-a-thon feeling like a new child and asking when the festivities would begin. Er, a bit of improvising, a few phone calls, we got Aunt Nelly and Grandmaman (90 years old!) and Alex's grandma to come. The others were either sick themselves or afraid of catching whatever the birthday boy had. I managed to whip up a vegan chocolate cake, surprisingly delicious. Would have been better (and less *flat*) had I not dropped the pan on the counter, dividing it in two...oops. But all went well in the end! Here's Alex with Aunt Nelly...reiki healer and life coach.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

At Minouche


Here he his next to cute little Italian girl. He looooooooved this crazy T-Rex shirt from the moment he laid eyes on it. How could I resist?

Here's the little guy yesterday....very proudly showing off this toy mammoth. He's massively into all things prehistoric.

birthday madness

The fall is always crazy with birthdays around here. First my neice, then my son, then my in-laws. Since we all live an hour and a half away from each other, this makes for lots of weekend driving. It's nice to be festive and all, but it's a bit much all at once...and lots of arbitrary present-buying for people who already have more than they need.

Next is my little guy...who has his 4th birthday party this weekend. We're keeping it a small, simple family affair. An easy lunch together, then cake and a few presents. He will also celebrate at his playgroup next week. The teacher will tell the other children the story of his life thus far (with photos), then they sing to him in two languages and have cake.

Right now he's a bit ill...one of the less desired results of being in the Spielgruppe and being exposed to more germs in the last weeks than he has in his whole life. My instincts tell me to keep him home in the nest with me forever and spare him all of life's messier bits...like nasty viruses, mean people, and standardized tests for example. But alas, we know that more important is that he feels a part of society here and that he speaks the language of his "folk" and for this he needs to spread his wings a bit...and I along with him.

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here's to modernity! and cheers to each of us who could not withstand the lure of the blog...