Splitting the responsibilities

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With both Claudio and I working, things can get tricky at times, but we’ve gotten it almost down to a science, so I’m sharing how we manage, and I’d love to hear how others do too!

Before & After School
Claudio handles everything in the morning from breakfast to dropping Alex off at school in the mornings. After the school day ends, Alex goes to an after school program (at the same location), which runs from 2:45 pm – 6:00 pm, and although I’m still not particularly keen on the program itself (many kids per classroom, and they watch a lot of movies, or play on the teacher’s phone), I’m not sure how we’d do it otherwise. I then pick him up in the evening, make dinner, and get his lunch packed for the next day. Claudio and I split the remaining tasks for the evening; one of us gets Alex ready for bed, and the other cleans up the kitchen.

Holidays / Teacher Workdays / Various School Closings
In a normal month (i.e. excluding holidays) there are between 2-5 days that school is closed or has half days, whereas our schedules run according to the NY Stock Exchange. We’re lucky to have a back-up program subsidized by Claudio’s work, where Alex can go 20 times per calendar year for a very small fee. On these days, Claudio brings Alex to the center in the same building as UBS, and he takes him out for lunch on those days. The kids come home with a detailed sheet on everything they did, including pictures of them doing the activities. The only downside to this program is that we sometimes don’t get a spot depending on the number of children enrolled for that particular day.

In addition to the school closings, there are also several early dismissals, where we are lucky to have friends in Alex’s class that take him for the remainder of the day. Not sure what we’d do without friends that live close by!

Grocery Shopping
Claudio and I do our main grocery hauls over the weekend, although if I need something particular for that evening (esp. fresh herbs or a particular protein), then I’ll grab it from Whole Foods during my lunch break. I love having a quality grocery store a mere 2 blocks from where I work, and with their buffet section, I can easily grab something for my own lunch at the same time.

I do most of the cooking on the weekdays, which equates to fast and simple meals. A few of my go-to meals are: spaghetti with meatballs, salmon with rice and spinach, homemade pizza topped with veggies, chicken and pasta, risotto and broccoli, and tuna bagel sandwiches. Something else we like to do is make a big meal for dinner, such as a pasta salad that can carry over to Alex’s lunch the next day. Claudio has been working his Master’s, so I’ve cut him some slack with cooking, but he does love to cook on the weekends, when he has time.

Little tips
Keeping the flow of things after getting home works wonders. When I turn on music, I feel a bit more energized, as well as if I grab a drink ( usually non-alocholic 😉 ) before making dinner, helps motivate me. It can be frustrating to come home to something like a sink full of dishes, so we try to promptly un-stack when the dishes are clean, and load the dishes shortly after meals are finished. It sounds so simple, but if it doesn’t get done in a prompt manner, we seem to all get a tad unmotivated.

Keep kids involved! I make it a point to have Alex follow through with setting the table for dinner. He sets the place mats, silverware, and napkins. Saving a little task for him keeps him involved, assigns a responsibility, and helps get food on the table a little faster. He also loves to help in the food prep, which isn’t always ideal, but it’s getting easier as he gets older, and I try to include him as often as possible.

Not everything runs seamlessly in our house, but I find that when we have clear and achievable expectations for everyone (including for myself), anything is possible. I hope to hear how others manage between working and/or managing their child/children’s schedule!

Party time!

We celebrated Alex’s birthday with a medieval-themed party on Sunday, November 1st.

Here was the sign that hung on our door….

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I loved this fun foam castle find from Oriental Trading. I cheated slightly by using a box recipe for the cupcakes. 😉

Claudio made two pots of chili (one vegetarian & one with meat). I planned a few activities for the kids, and we all enjoyed cupcakes after singing “happy birthday”.

Are these two not the cutest!?!

Here the kids were playing Pass the Parcel, one of our favorite UK party traditions.

They were very concentrated on making crowns and embellishing them with stickers and jewels.

It was the first time we had a little get together at our apartment, so after this inauguration where everything went smoothly, we look forward to hosting more.

And last, but definitely not least, a sweet envelope from his bestie!

Shiny Blue Bike

I’ve been dusting off old websites lately, and came across my Photobucket account, where the last pictures posted were of items we were selling right before we left Zurich. The very last picture uploaded was of a gorgeous ice blue Palermo bike that my in-laws let me use for the years we were in Switzerland.

This beautiful bike brought me so much happiness. It took me every day to German class, the lake of Zurich, bike tours with Alex, various parks, and grocery store trips with groceries filled to the brim on the back. I can still hear the people of Zurich yelling “Schoene Velo” (nice bike) as I rode past them, usually at lightning fast speed as more often than not, I was running late to get somewhere. As silly as it may sound, I loved that bike with my whole heart. Then before we left Switzerland, I sold it for my in-laws, upon their request. I still remember the day like it was yesterday when a woman came by for a “test drive” and I showed her the bells and whistles, such as the automatic headlight on the front… I instantly fell in love with the bike all over again, and almost wanted to call off selling it, except for the joy I saw on her face as she rode around our block… I can’t say a tear wasn’t shed as she neatly placed it in her minivan, carefully closed the back hatch, and went on her way, but I am content to imagine that she’s riding around Zurich with that gorgeous bike right now.

Thoughts on being five

In less than two weeks Alex will turn 6, and I’m not sure I could sum up this age in a few simple words, so instead here are some random blips to savour this year:

Alex is high energy from the second he wakes up to right before bedtime. He’s simply always in motion, and as much as it drives me bonkers at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s always up for an adventure, a game of any kind, and most importantly, to get out the door!

He has mastered riding a two-wheel bike, and enjoys riding his scooter along the waterfront boardwalk.

Pictures together usually end up with a crazy face.

He can speak in such eloquent sentences, although he often reverts to a squeaky mickey mouse voice. His English is taking over the Swiss German, despite Claudio speaking to him solely in the language. We try to sneak in learning with games, and audio books. His comprehension of both languages remains sound. I’m certain that the upcoming visit from Omi, Opi and Aunt Martina will do wonders for his language!

He recently learned in school what nouns and verbs are, and prides himself in being able to tell which words fall under each category. He also knows the Pledge of Allegiance, as well a song in Spanish.

He loves to be read stories at night, which I hope is something we’ll do for many many more years. It’s my favorite time of day.

He is a morning person only on the weekends when we could sleep in. On the weekdays he begs for “just a few more minutes of sleep.”

His favorite book is The Lorax. I’ve read it a thousand times, and will read it a million times more because we both love the moral of the story to take care of the environment!

He loves all sports; hockey, soccer, and basketball are his top favorites.

He plays soccer for a shortshots league in Jersey City. He scored his first goal of the season at his second game and everyone on the field chanted his name. He beamed with pride, but afterwards said to me, “Mommy, it was because of a great pass that I was able to shoot a goal.”

He plays basketball every Friday during an after school program. I try to leave work early every chance I get, but I’ve been told several times that Fridays are “no goes” for early pick-ups!

The latest craze is Pokemon. We’re up to about 60 cards and a sparkly coin, which we’re still not quite sure how to use. Some days Alex makes a pattern on the floor with them.

He is STILL always up for a round of negotiation (proof that he’s 100% my son! 😉 ), and asks more questions than I have answers for. Somehow I don’t think that will change anytime soon.

He loves to craft; building things out of our recyclables is his profession.

He can tie his own shoes, which is truly one of the biggest Godsends! Keeping them tied is another story!

He still has Halloween candy from last year. Whoops! He so graciously told me we can hand out that candy to trick-or-treaters this year!!

He has gone to 4 Pump it Up birthday parties this year, and beelines straight to the air hockey table every time.

He makes us laugh on a daily basis from what he says and does. The other morning Alex asked why I wear a “container” (retainer) at night.. His first guess, “Is it to keep your teeth from falling out when you sleep?”

His newest best friend is from Russia, and the two have been inseparable ever since they met last year in Pre-kindergarten. Even if they’re only apart for a couple of days, they act like it has been decades, and smother each other in hugs. They introduce each other to peers as, “this is my best friend.”

He re-named the fast-food restaurant Wendy’s to Chili’s after trying their delicious chili! He begs to go to “Chili’s” on a daily basis. Good thing we don’t live near one! 😉 We sometimes stop by after soccer practice as a special treat for lunch. Two weeks ago Alex saw a “non-soliciting” picture, with a man holding a suitcase and a big X was marked through it. He asked me why people aren’t allowed to bring their luggage into the fast food chain. Completely confused, and looking for a clue, I had to ask him what he meant and he pointed to the sign. After a good laugh, I explained what it means to solicit, and we both agreed the suitcase was a good way to represent that meaning. 🙂

I’m so proud of my boy, not only because of all that he’s achieved and all that he continues to strive to be, but also because he has adapted so well to the various changes.. From moving to Jersey City from Switzerland, then again within the city in less than a year. It hasn’t been easy, but he takes it in stride, and often reminds me to look on the bright side. Six years seems like such a big milestone, and I’m excited to see what this new year brings.

Back in business!

After nearly 2 full years of taking a break from blogging, I’m back, and ready to pick up where we’ve left off!

Lets rewind back to the Spring of 2014, when we were in Singapore for a month-long business trip (for Claudio) and leisure trip (for Alex & I 😉 ). A few days into our trip Claudio received a call regarding an opportunity he pursued in New York City. We were only given a couple of days to make a decision, but felt like this was a now or never type scenario, so we decided to take the plunge and transition to life back in the States. Excited, worried, anxious, surprised – that was the mixed bag of emotions we felt at the time.

We spent the next few months sorting our almost 5 years of life in Zurich. And to top that off, we had been planning a church wedding for almost a year that would take place that early Autumn, so that created more craziness to the endeavor. After what seemed like an endless amount of time spent on clearing out, we packed up our life into 8 over-sized suitcases, boarded a United flight to JFK airport, and arrived shortly after in a place that felt like another planet on September 5, 2014.

We spent the following two weeks scoping out a place to make our new home, emptied our bank accounts for a security deposit for the apartment lease, and drove down to Virginia Beach to get married on September 19, 2014 (for the second time!). It was amazing, and incredibly special after such a hectic time to be surrounded by the people we love from both the U.S. and Switzerland, in one of the most beautiful places! Afterwards we enjoyed a few weeks travelling with Claudio’s family and mutual friends from Switzerland before heading back up North to Jersey City, to start adjusting to our new home.

It took about 6 months to finally unpack all of our suitcases, assemble furniture, and come to terms with Jersey City. I wish I could say that we were kidding, but we actually slept on a mattress without the frame for the first 4 months while we weren’t certain if we were staying or going. We spent 8 sunny weekends at the DMV sorting our driver’s licenses, and it took a few months to register Alex for pre-kindergarten. However, this past May I landed a job in Manhattan, a short 6 blocks from lucky Claudio, and enrolled Alex in a summer program at one of our local private schools. From that point things started to look up, and I felt like I was starting to see light at the end the tunnel.

Fast forward now to today (are you still with me?) and we have already moved again to a new apartment within Jersey City. Yes, we are insane!.. But we have also enjoyed several visits from family and friends, beach and city trips, and holidays here in the States. Despite the ruts along the way, those have been the biggest perks of being back. We miss our Swiss family so dearly, our expat friends from all over the world, and as much as we yearn for Swiss efficiency, the glistening lake of Zurich, modern trains and trams that are on time (just to list a few things!)…. we’re now experiencing NYC and have decided to be content with that. We’ve made new friends, kept the “old”, and although we left a huge chunk of our hearts across the Atlantic, we are taking with us the experience and sense of adventure that comes with living in a new area, no matter how long the stay may be.

Thank YOU for reading and sticking around after all of this time. There will be much more to come!

Swiss Christmas


We spent this Christmas in Switzerland, and enjoyed a small celebration with Claudio’s family. We went to mass on Christmas Eve, and joined Claudio’s family at noon on Christmas day.

Alex was spoiled with many presents not just from the ones he received here, but also from family in the U.S. sending packages. We seemed to have had a new surprise awaiting us in our postbox nearly every day during the month of December!

Now on to a few pictures! Here’s how our day looked…

Presents galore! – Alex woke up to find a living room that had clearly been visited by Santa! He couldn’t believe that everything (well mostly everything) was for him. He was also very happy to visit his nativity scene on the window ledge to find that baby Jesus was finally in his manger. This had been bothering him, even after explaining that he couldn’t be in there until his birthday.

Here’s the living room..


Our tree, made from cards we received. Thanks, everyone!


Opening presents + light-up snowman pin from Grandma


A very silly boy and his double chin!


Present for Papa: A salt dough hand-print ornament made by the little one beaming from ear to ear.


The festive tree at Omi & Opi’s house


Our delicious lunch was a lovely Chinoise Fondue, which is “a common French name for Hot pot, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a shared pot of broth. Various sauces are provided on the side.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)


Christmas cookies, representing American-style on the left and Switzerland on the right


Newest photographer in the family! He seriously couldn’t put the camera down at all the entire evening. About 3/4 of the pictures were of random things (his feet, the table, door, etc.). We’ll have some work to do, but at least he’s very excited about it.


My mom sends one of these cute singing stuffed animals every Christmas and they’re always a bit hit! This allowed a few minutes of snuggle time between Great Grandmother and Alex.


The Christmas tree after the candles had been lit – this year I didn’t panic seeing real candles on the tree, unlike my first “Swiss Christmas”. 🙂



Trying out Omi’s flute – I think he was more so checking to see if we were all awake by letting out high pitch tones!


After the songs, we opened presents…


I love this picture. Someone obviously was having a GREAT time!


I was very excited to give this gift – A set of business cards for Ruth’s new Etagere business.


As it turns out, she made special Etageres for each of us. So sweet!


A few pictures by the tree…

Just look at that goofball!



Alex had a great time with his beloved Auntie! He usually puts his “loveys” (favorite stuffed animals) in his zip-up footie pajamas before bed, but decided to try the same with the vest he was wearing. Aunt Martina chimed in too!


Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for 2013!


Turnip Lights Parade

The Turnip Lights Parade, known here as the Räbeliechtliumzug (very happy to be typing that and not pronouncing it) took place here in Albisrieden the first Saturday in November. It’s a tradition quite similar to Halloween, except with lanterns made out of turnips instead of pumpkins. The school children make their own carved turnips in class, and display them on this night for everyone to see in a procession of lanterns down the streets. The parade is meant to acknowledge that winter is on its way, and many people come out from the town to take part in the event. This was our first year of attending, so it was very exciting to experience.

We had our friends Stina, Jakob and Serafina over to enjoy this together. The papas carved the turnips together. They took it pretty seriously!


On the way to go see the parade


This was at the very beginning of it and the displays were just massive!




This was one of Alex’s favorites – the firetruck



Very proud lantern holders



It was a fun event and I think it’s a great way to get the town together for the evening, as well as admire the hard work by the school children.