After a long summer’s nap…

Well hello there! It’s been a while. A long while. It wasn’t you, it was me. Honest.

You see, my mind has been quite full lately. My job challenges my mind in a way which leaves me with less time to ponder and genuflect. Less time to wonder if we’re on the right course, if we’ve ruined the children, if we’ve made the right choices. Less time questioning “whose life is this anyhow?”

It’s ours. This is our life. It’s a fact that I no longer question – we’ve settled into simply living. And it’s pretty great.

Sorry Alberta friends. This is what Fall looks like here at the moment.
Long family walks on grey Sundays – not without moaning and complaining, but time we get to marvel at our surroundings together. 
Even the misty, grey days are beautiful in our neighbourhood.

Not to say that life here isn’t without ups and downs. Of course it is. The ups and downs are the fabric of life. Our stories are woven into that fabric to give it colour.

While we’ve settled into our lives here we haven’t stopped marveling at all that is around us. We still have frequent moments of “WTF?” where we look at each other and say “did that just happen?”

Like this Ah.Ma.Zing backyard concert. I could hear it from our deck and was thinking, who is the neighbour who shares my awesome taste in music. I finally set out to find the source and came across this.

 

And then there was the moment that Diego left his backpack on a train, far from home, at the end of a week-long school trip in the mountains. With EVERYTHING in it. His wallet, his house keys, his bike lock keys, clothing, books, headphones, etc., all wrapped up in his new “good” backpack. Gone in a moment. That gutted feeling of discovering what you’ve just done. Such dread.

This sweet boy? No, he’d never misplace anything…

But we live in Switzerland. So there was hope.

I was hopeful for a life lesson with a happy ending – isn’t that the best we hope for our kids? That’ll they’ll get the tough lessons but with an “all is well” ending.

I got the text while on a work-trip in Houston.

“Mom. I just left my backpack on a train.”

“No you didn’t”

“Yes I did.”

“Your good one?”

“Yes”

“What was in it?”

“Everything.”

And so we made a plan. He went to the train office here when he got back to start the lost and found process. And waited. With a mixture of doom and hope.

As I said, this is Switzerland…within a few days, days where D had to walk to school because he no longer had a bike lock with a key, we got the message. The backpack had been found and was ready at our train station to be picked up.  Everything in tact – including the 50CHFs in his wallet.  10CHF processing charge – that’s good value!

Amazing. The Swiss system is pretty darn remarkable.

And then there are the parts that make us scratch our heads. Like when Manolo tried to donate to charity but was told “no thanks”. Twice….

First time a solicitor came to the door raising money for animal welfare. “I can get on board with that.” thought Manolo. “I’ll definitely give for the animals.” So he pulled out the cash he had in his wallet – a 20CHF note.

“Here you go.”

“I’m sorry, 30 CHF is our minimum.”

“But I have 20 CHF right here, right now. I don’t have 30.”

“Sorry, 30 is the minimum.”

And off she went, leaving Manolo dumbfounded, holding his 20 franc note.

Fast-forward to later in the week and he came upon a UNICEF volunteer. Again he thought, “I am on board with this. I’ll give.” Again he pulled out his cash. Again he was turned down. They were only taking donations from those willing to sign up for monthly giving. So they said no-thank you to his cash in hand.

Again, dumbfounded.  Switzerland has a lot of money; this we’ve always known. But we had no idea that it was so much that charities said no to donations. I come from a non-profit background. This astounds me!

It’s become a bit of a challenge now. Who else will say no to our attempted donations?

Between losing backpacks and failed philanthropy, we’ve been busy!

I’ve been back and forth to North America 3 times (two for work, one for holiday), spent a week in London and am presently packing for Korea. I can say with certainty that the excitement of travel has passed. 3 back-to-back trans-Atlantic trips will do that to you.

First North America work trip was to Vancouver. Yay! I was so proud to show off Canada to my work colleagues.

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And by show-off Canada, I mean TacoFino. Thank goodness my work colleague shared my love of this deliciousness and was game to go back, repeatedly.

This is what people in shipping get excited about at a Gala event. Synchronized tug-boats, to music. Oh, and go-go dancers, of course.

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That gala event happened to be on my birthday. Such a nice and memorable way to celebrate half-way to 90!

Then it was off to Houston.

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Houston – not a place I’ll rush back to. We were staying in the ghetto and evidently it was a miracle we didn’t get shot while walking at night to this fine establishment. (It was the only one we were brave enough to enter.)
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It rained a little while we were there…tropical storm Imelda was the biggest influence of our time there. (Not my photo – taken near the airport the day they shut it down.)
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This is my photo – thank goodness for my budget footwear. They’re still looking as good as new. The Uber we caught was not as impressed. We got an extra charge because the driver couldn’t pick up passengers after us, we had soaked their backseat so badly!

But I am not complaining – each trip gives a richness of experience that I am ever grateful for.

Visits with friends and family are the very best moments in life. Being surrounded by those who know us best and love us anyhow fills our cups.

In the midst of the busyness, I still stop to capture the scenes which give me pause. Here’s a random smattering of the moments that made our summer so special.

When friends make the BIG journey to come see us it absolutely thrills us! Sharing our world with those we left behind brings everyone a little bit closer.
Plus it gives us an excuse to revisit places like this.
Reuniting cousins is so special. They’ve become such good buddies.
Friendships that span time and distance. These ladies and I go back a few decades and a whole lot of laughs. Oh the stories we can tell. That is what makes life rich.
Girlfriends and coffee (or chai lattes in this case) are all you need to make a day perfect.
Making memories – the kind that last a lifetime.
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The friends who know us better than we know ourselves. These families are our everything and big part of why so much of our hearts will always be there. Our home away from home.
Making the most of my days on my own while Manolo and the kids were in Canada with weekend bike rides to pretty places. 
I got honked at for stopping to take this photo. Swiss drivers are very serious drivers…
The summer even held a special trip to Toronto for G’ma and D. He’s still telling stories of that great trip and their Come From Away memories.
Despite the long while we’ve lived here I can’t stop myself from taking in the beauty around each corner. 
We celebrated 17 years of marriage this year. Such a nice dinner out in our neighbourhood to celebrate us.

And so we have found ourselves through our 4th start here. We count our time here by the start of the school year. This is our 4th new school year here and finally a simple one. The first year that the kids didn’t have to change schools. They returned to familiarity which gave us the simplicity we’ve all been craving. Part of what it feels like to have finally accepted that this is, indeed our life. There’s an easier rhythm to our days now. A greater certainty of where we fit and where we don’t. It feels less like swimming against the current. It feels more like belonging.

And we get to discover fun spots like this in our strolls through town together.
The outlook here is good. Our balcony gives us an amazing view over the city. Manolo likes to view it nice and close!

And finally, after all the years we’ve been here, I saw my first hedgehog! They are surprisingly big and very, very still when trying to not be seen. Make no mistake though, the “Does someone need a hug?” scene from Elf was playing in my mind the whole time, I did not actually get this close – thank goodness for a good zoom.

We are thankful for the simplicity of our lives here. Not without the same sort of challenges we’d face back in Canada, just with a different view and in a language we’re still fighting to understand.

We are thankful for love and support that crosses oceans.

Thankful for new and old friends here.

Thankful to be in a place where our safety and security is never in question and where freedom is assumed.

Thankful to be in a place that lets us explore the world, only to be reminded how much we love home.

We are blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving All!

(And I will try very, very hard to put together a post very soon of pics from our trip to London this week. So many sights to behold!)

In the meantime, the view that made me thankful today.

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