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

Exploring Ireland (with kids)

We casually mentioned to friends and family back in the states last November that we were heading to Ireland in March for the kids’ spring break. Within a few days, three people had booked flights to meet us there. Turns out, most of the people we know in America are part Leprechaun and have been waiting for an excuse to visit their motherland and gather more lucky charms. We wanted to explore the Atlantic coast and were able to find a great house to rent that fit all of us on Dingle Peninsula.

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Dingle Peninsula coastline along Slea Head Drive

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A Winter Week in Grindelwald, Switzerland

Grindelwald is a mountain ski town in the Swiss Alps, not to be confused with the dark wizard of the same name from Harry Potter. At just under four months since our last trek up past Interlaken, we were (well at least Mürren-snob Barry was) having majestic-mountain withdrawals and Grindelwald seemed the perfect place to entertain our family visiting from the States the week after Christmas. 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 Weekend in Vienna (with kids)

A wave of horror washed over me as I glanced across the aisle of the airplane I had just sat down in and noticed my aisle mate had crazy eyes.  OK, the person was a four year-old girl sitting, unattended, with her shady older sister, but she had crazy eyes, nonetheless.  The crazy eyes were accompanied by a howl and kicking legs as she and her sister rejoiced over their bags of airplane-shaped gummies the flight attendant had just handed them.  With this level of crazy before the cabin door was shut, I was sure she would either barf all those colorful gummies up mid-flight or charge the cockpit in a sugar-fueled hysteria.  A second wave of horror hit me as I remembered I was responsible for both of them, was outnumbered, and this was probably going to be a LONG flight.

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“No ma’am, I have no idea whose kids these are”

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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