What’s a HD?

house-dad

“Hey, look at me! I’m a PARENT!”

What do you suppose the abbreviation HD stands for? Being a car guy, I would first go with Heavy Duty, as in pickup truck. Next, Hi Def television. Then maybe Hodor Hodor Hodor. But in the context of an English-Speaking-Parents Facebook group I belong to here in Switzerland, it means House Dad.

As in “Oh yeah, I have a HD, he’s looking for a drinking buddy too.”
Or “My neighbor is a HD, he looks like he’s always wearing pajamas.”

It turns out I’m a HD, well sort of a part time HD. Like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom, but speaking Frenglish and threatening to beat my children with noodles.

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Swiss Christmas Stender

Is it 2017? Oh yes, it is. How is that possible? I cannot say. But the last 6 months have felt like a blur. A glorious, always-new-horizons kind of blur. So it seemed like the right time for a post. Do I have any New Year’s resolutions? Nope. But we DID have a fantastic Christmas season which is much more important than pretending I’m going to drink less beer this year.

 

My mom came for a nice extended visit here in Switzerland. I met her at the airport in Geneva and we spent the day cruising the city. The city is a feast – of wealth as seen by Ferrari FF’s and tangerine sized diamond necklaces in store windows. But also of food – as enjoyed at the lunch joint named Au Pied de Cochon or The Foot of The Pig, which instantly appealed to my inner meativore.

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Swiss Family Stender Part 3

Today was tough. There was a food truck festival (with bar), a sailboat race, a farmer’s market, sunny skies and a high of around 70 with zero humidity. Très difficile indeed. And Sarah tells me there are people in her company that decline this opportunity for <insert lame reason here>. This does not compute.

I think we have wrapped up week 2 in Real Life Disneyland. The kids are settling in quite nicely at their new school. Milan had a classmate offer to put on her shoes for her. As in, another little girl put Milan’s shoes on Milan’s feet while I watched in shock and horror. A nice Italian man named Luigi introduced himself to me, welcoming us to the school, telling me he had heard about my children from his children. And swore it was a good thing. Due to Hendricks peanut allergy, the teachers have been feeding him hot dog buns at snack time while the others have “biscuits”. He doesn’t seem to mind. And Maren told the British school director her tummy hurt. But, Ms. Becky informed she was ok after she “had wind.” Which took me a minute to decipher and then a mountain of willpower not to smirk at. In short, the kids are back to normal.

 

Food continues to be a crapshoot for Sarah and I. We bought what appeared to be oatmeal only to get home and learn, via Google Translate, that you don’t cook it. Apparently you soak it in milk, yogurt or whatever liquid you like and serve it with fruit. So, we’re calling it granola and making yogurt parfaits. It’s, uh, chewy. There is a wide array of cured meats, including horse meat, which has made my breakfast exciting. And I have not yet figured out the beer situation. I ordered some online with our food delivery and it was atrocious. So I went to a liquor store and ended up bringing home individual bottles that cost 4.5 francs each. Man I hope they taste good.

Sarah has mastered the washer and dryer while I have FUBARed the dishwasher. When we arrived, there were 3 types of cleaning materials above the lave-vaisselle. A plastic tub with a handful of those little dishwasher detergent pods wrapped in plastic. A box of powder substance with pictures of sparkling glasses on the label. And a squeeze bottle of liquid soapy looking stuff also with sparkly pictures on the label. I’ll blame it on the kids and the need to prioritize. Putting naked humans on the toilet is ever the priority over labels written in French.

 

You see, anytime Tyler and I have played a new video game, we have always pulled the instruction manual out and purposefully flung it across the room. Why? Because its far easier to press all the buttons than actually read. In this same spirit, I put what turned out to be water softening salt into the detergent tray and attempted to wash dishes by hand with what is in fact a “rinsing aid”. Which would explain the lack of a thick lather. Once a red light started flashing next to “Sel” (Salt in English), I realized there was a problem. So I tried translating the user manual. Which only confirmed I need to be doing something with the provided water softener salt aside from attempting to wash dishes with it. What that is we’re still working on but it’s just not a priority at the moment. The detergent pods seem to be working nicely.

 

I’m sure there’s more but my mind is completely fuzzed over at this point. Bonsoiree!

Swiss Family Stender Part 2

We have arrived! After what felt like endless back and forth on how this whole thing was going to work, it came together and we are officially living in Vevey, Switzerland. Crazy. It was an adventure leading up to it, a BIG adventure getting here and is likely to be a continuous adventure during our time here.

 

We flew out of Detroit on Monday, May 9th nonstop to Amsterdam where we changed planes for a quick flight to Geneva. Once there, we got picked up and took an hour car ride to our new digs here in Vevey. The flight to Amsterdam had a lot of good things – extra legroom, big headrest TV’s with endless free movie options, two legitimately tasty airplane food meals and a reasonably turbulent free ride. There were also some downsides – Maren losing her lunch thrice, Sarah’s cashmere sweater taking the brunt of this and no sleep (for the parents) on the overnight flight.

 

An interesting difference between US and Swiss versions of getting a ride to the airport proved that contrary to popular belief, we are not all uncouth, manner-less baboons in America. In Detroit, we got picked up in a mammoth van that easily could’ve hosted a raging bachelor party driven by a suited up, super polite and very helpful gentleman. Here in CH, a guy noticed us coming, walked up, grabbed two bags with nary a word and hustled for the exit doing his best impersonation of the White Rabbit from Alice.

Dragging the children, we fortunately caught up to the Rabbit at his old van with a trailer hanging off the back. With the bags heaved in, the kids buckled in, we were off. Finding the entrance to our apartment proved tricky resulting in the driver’s fist smashing the steering wheel followed by muttered French swears which certainly wasn’t helped by second gear constantly jamming in the stop and go traffic.

What we’ve noticed so far…

  • The apartment is a study in IKEA interior design and we love it.
  • The beds are low to the ground and have only duvets, no top sheet.
  • All the windows have heavy duty metal blinds on the outside that I’m hoping aren’t for hurricane protection.
  • There are no screens on the windows so perhaps they don’t have bugs here in the summer. There also does not appear to be any sort of heating or air conditioning. Maybe it doesn’t get cold in Switzerland?
  • There are 2 toilets which is handy now that the twins are nearly toilet trained.
  • They don’t refrigerate their eggs here but the yolks are an outrageous deep orange color and the strawberries are actually red throughout and super sweet. A nice change from the red-on-the-outside-white-on-the-inside American tasteless version.
  • Sarah and I recently mistook a can of chocolate fruit dip for chocolate pudding. And ate it anyway.
  • The coffee is all instant but is magically delicious.
  • They use the word “FORBIDDEN” frequently such as “It is FORBIDDEN to make noise between 10 pm and 7 am. We are screwed.

 

That’s all I can think of at the moment. The Alps are the view from our balcony. Lake Geneva is 2 blocks away and crystal clear. Most cars here are wagons and stick shift. I’ve found myself sitting on the balcony watching them all drive by. I have also slammed my nose into the door glass as I rush to see what’s coming when I hear a Ferrari or Porsche winding up. In summary, as far as international living goes, I think we’re going to make it.