Parenting on Sabbatical and the Power of Gummy Bears

 [Note: We’ve been home several months now, but had written a few draft blogs before we left. This is one of them.]

“Honey, let me wipe them off. They are all over your face.”

boogers back Holly

The sadness of a mountain top without your boogers.

“NO!”

I wipe her face.

“MOM!!!!! Put them back! I didn’t want you to take them!! PUT MY BOOGERS BACK!!”

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Reflections On Our Swiss Family Sabbatical

So, once upon a time a Colorado family took a break from their careers and moved to Switzerland for a year and hijinks ensued.  Our year in Basel ended June 18th when we flew out of Zurich back to the states, complete with 14 pieces of luggage, 2 car seats, and 54 weeks of memories.  The van we hired to shuttle us and all that gear to the airport arrived early in the morning.  As we loaded it up, neighbors came out to the street to say goodbye.  We wished we had gotten to know them better earlier on in our stay, with some relationships not fully forming until a couple months before we left.  It felt as if we were leaving too soon, that we still had unfinished business there.  But, looking back now it is clear that we had a very full year with new friendships and memories we treasure. Here are some of my (Barry’s) favorite things about our year: Continue reading

Lost In Translation

In the late 1980’s in America there was a drug store chain that changed their name to “Osco.” Nobody in corporate did a foreign language search on the word “Osco.”  Turns out it sounded just like “Asco” which translates to “disgusting” in Spanish and sales suffered in markets with Spanish speaking populations. In the present-day world of the internet, you would think that companies do a bit of international research on their brand, but perhaps they should also employ some teenagers to check for international slang meanings? Or maybe they shouldn’t, because, really, do we want to live in a world with an “Ass Bar Bakery” or do we want to live in a world without one?

As we’ve been wandering around Switzerland and western Europe this year, we’ve been compiling a few of our favorite examples of German/French brands that translate into American English slang.

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Perhaps this Swiss bakery turns into a “meat-market” after hours? Either way, Barry says he’s gonna pass on the chocolate-filled croissants…

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A Day in Freiburg, Germany (with kids)

“Aaaaaawww, I HATE Germany!” our four year-old yelled as we sat down on the train to Germany with, presumably, many Germans within earshot. She probably meant, as she almost always does, “I HATE doing whatever you are making me do that is not eating gummy bears.” After promising gummy bears after we got there and ate lunch, she really started to warm up to the country once more. We hoped our German train neighbors didn’t speak English (fat chance) or at least had encountered a gummy bear-addicted child in their own life (ours is well-documented: Our Finicky Four Year-Old Traveler). We were on our way to spend a (rare) sunny February day in Freiburg, Germany, which is only a half-hour train ride from Basel into the Black Forest region. Continue reading

Life in Basel So Far

It is hard to believe we are half way through our year-long career break / sabbatical / rat-race-escape! While most of our posts have been about places we have traveled to, we haven’t shared much about life in the town we live in – Basel. Since summer turned to fall, we have traveled less and spent more time here going to school, exploring the town and learning about its traditions. Continue reading

Colmar’s Christmas Markets

Imagine a well-preserved medieval village on the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland that transforms each December into a Christmas wonderland with such fanfare you’d think Clark Griswold did the decorating. This is Colmar, and to jump-start our Christmas spirit we spent the first weekend of December here, and it turns out we weren’t the only ones wanting mulled wine and macaroons. Continue reading

A Day in Neuchatel, Switzerland (with kids)

Lake Neuchatel is the Jan Brady of Swiss lakes.  Despite being the largest lake that sits entirely in Switzerland and sporting medieval towns and Swiss-French vineyards on its shores, tourists clamor for her more popular sister Marcia Lucerne. Sure, Lake Lucerne is attractive with her covered bridge and tall, gondola-accessible peaks and is one of maybe two Swiss lakes most non-Europeans/Americans can name (Lucerne! Lucerne! Lucerne!). But, with a bit of attention and effort, Lake Neuchatel and her namesake village will show you sparkling personality and charm, without Lucerne’s crowd-drama. Taking advantage of unseasonably warm and sunny October weather, we corralled the kids onto the train for the 90-minute ride to Neuchatel from Basel. Continue reading