Un petit gateau chocolat

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I can’t believe my little monster is already two years old, or as he says: “deux dans” while holding up crossed fingers. You hear it all the time, but I genuinely believe that I just brought him home from the hospital. It’s so vivid in my mind, it couldn’t possibly have been years ago?

As for the transition from one to two, well. You hear about the terrible twos. But apparently so did X. It’s like he got the memo that he was two now, and woke up with an attitude. In fact, poor little guy, he’s fighting a cold as well as a losing battle with his teeth which have been trying to come in for about a year. I’d be cranky too. But it wasn’t a pleasant birthday experience for anyone involved. He refused to eat anything all day … until he saw what I made him for dessert. Continue reading

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Canada vs. Switzerland: Musings on private health care

Disclaimer: this post is mainly about pregnancy, so if you have little interest in that, skip over it. Or about the politics of health care. Look at the cute baby and move on!

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The weather isn’t the only benefit of living in Switzerland

 

I have lived in Switzerland for nearly 10 months now. I have lived in our little house at the foot of the Saleve for a longer period of time than I lived in our renovated house in Calgary. The reality of this just blows my mind. And we’re getting comfortable here. Things I used to find intimidating are just a part of the daily routine for me. Of course that’s going to happen – it’s not really a surprise. But I’d say at this point we’re able to make some comparisons between our newly adopted country and the one we were raised in.

It’s not just the superficial stuff. Like, food is a little different in Switzerland. Well, yeah. And the weather is nicer (it really is – we just had the first snowfall here last week. Instead of something I dread, immediately calculating how bad the roads are going to be, how long the cold snap will last, what I’m going to do with the little one until it’s over, I can think “pretty” and yell for X to go get his boots on).

But there are some deep seated differences when it comes to how the countries are run. I think that if it were just Z and I here, without kids, I would still feel more like a visitor than anything, and wouldn’t pay as much attention to the system. But having a child means you necessarily have to get involved and engaged with the world around you. Getting pregnant and having a child here, well, that throws you overboard into the system. There’s no escaping it, you must learn how to swim. Continue reading

Book reviews and the Ultimate Reading Challenge

At first I was resistant to it, because it seemed like a lot of work. But more and more people suggested that I should do it, so I caved. (By more or more, I mean two. That apparently is my threshold for peer pressure.) So I am now doing the Ultimate Reading Challenge 2015. It sounds pretty impressive, non? Well, so far I’ve just been reading books and fitting them in where I can on the list. It will be later on in the year where I’m going to actually have to put any thought into it.

Have you seen the reading challenge. It’s 52 books, with different categories like “a book you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t” or “one of your Mom’s favourite books,” stuff like that. So it’s all very subjective and pliable, but it still gets you reading new types of books. I’m nothing if not a fan of diversity in reading, so it seems great. You can see the full list and challenge here, at Pop Sugar. So far in 2015 (can you believe it’s 2015?) I’m on a reading quick, so I’m making quick progress through the list. SO FAR. I tell you, a couple of months from now I think I’ll be lucky if I remember how to read. Continue reading

Travel Italia: Torino

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Our Italian adventure continued with another hair-raising drive. This time, it had nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with the crazy Italian roads and the crazier Italian drivers. We decided to drive the coastal road, as opposed to driving back up the way we came through the mountains of Emilia-Romagna. I find it very difficult to avoid the Mediterranean Sea when it’s nearby.

Not that we had much time to enjoy it. We were too busy white-knuckling the steering wheel/door handle as we zoomed along too fast roads, in and out of tunnels over and over again as tiny cars whipped by us. Yikes, it was not the easy-going, relaxed tour of the coast we were expecting.

It was a pleasure to get off of the highways to find some lunch in Via Reggio, a coastal resort town. It was quite empty at this time of year, but still beautiful. And still enough restaurants open we didn’t have a problem finding some pizza. The town is just south of Cinque Terra, a popular tourist destination along the coast (I’m actually not sure what the coast is called along there – we ended up calling it the Italian Riviera. It reminded me of the Cote d’Azur on the the French side.) The sea looked cold, and the air was a little bit chilly, but still. It was the end of January and we were surrounded by palm trees and sunshine, so no one was complaining. Continue reading

Travel Italia: Florence

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Alright, when I last left you on my Italian adventures, we had just arrived in Florence, exhausted after journeying through blowing blizzards and white-out conditions on backroads. But because bad things happen in threes (I’m including being ripped off 20 Euros, and the horrible driving conditions as two), then we weren’t quite finished yet. X was really really fussy overnight, crying all the time and really not behaving like himself at all. Z and I even tried bringing him into bed with us, something we never, ever do, because whenever we do we’re reminded of how bad it is. Our lovely little boy doesn’t curl up and sleep gently next to us, oh no. When he is in bed with us, it is solidly play time in his little head. No matter how tired he is, he will keep on trying to somehow kick us or roll around, giggling, ensuring no one is sleeping.

After about an hour of this, we were all fed up, so I gave him some more water and prepared to put him down in his playpen for the rest of the night. While lying there I gently put him to my shoulder and tapped his back, reminding myself of what he was like when he was an infant, when all of a sudden there was a suspiciously noisy, wet burp. And right after that the unpleasant feeling of warm liquid flowing through my hair, down my back and soaking my pillow (is there actually a worse feeling than that? Ugh.) Continue reading

Book Reviews: Old and new in 2015

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Book description: Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature. Continue reading

Travel Italia: Milano

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The idea to travel to Italy over our Christmas holidays was one that percolated for a long time. I’m not quite sure when it started, months ago for sure, when a women, I can’t remember who anymore, commented that Florence at Christmas is spectacular. Spectacular sounded good. And Florence? All of a sudden, accessible. I got quite excited – this was something I could actually do. Z’s mom would be visiting then, and it would be a great trip to show off our new part of the world.

Of course we didn’t get around to planning things until much later. Pretty much, the week before Christmas I grudgingly admitted I should probably find places for us to stay. Things are cheap over here – especially in Italy, and especially at this time of year. I had us booked into unknown hotels and apartments in no time, for a fraction of what I thought the cost would be (okay, that fraction looks something like 1/2, but still. It’s cheap).

A peek at the map told me there was no way we were going to drive to Florence in one day, not with a two year old, but Milan was a perfect stopover, filled with all the fashion and architecture an Italian-holidayer could want. A further peek at the map told me we could ostensibly head all the way down to Rome. Z put a damper on this by pointing out it would be psycho busy. It took me a second to figure out why – oh, yeah, Christmas and the Pope and all that.

But, within the course of two evenings, the plan that had been vaguely hovering over our heads to “go to Florence” was born. And thus, our road trip to Italy. Continue reading