countdown begins

I haven’t gone quiet on purpose, It’s just that life seems to be getting in the way. I must do better at keeping you all updated. After all the big stuff is just starting to happen! We finally got the elusive VISA.

This is a tiny little passport paper that allows my husband to work in Switzerland. We have not moved forward with anything on the other end (Switzerland) because we have been a teeny tiny bit unsure about the teeny tiny chance that someone in a Swiss government office would just decide not to clear us for employment. After all this job offer came 3 1/2 months ago, and all this time we have been holding our breaths waiting for the visa.

Finally a big exhale and a trip to Curacao at the same time.

Since we had unexpected time here waiting, we thought some sunny weather and time to decompress would be ideal. We gathered up all our travel points and cashed in on a week in the Caribbean. We spent lots of family time, we watched sunsets, we counted starts, we swam, snorkled, scuba dived and even petted iguanas. It was warm and sunny and we will start our Swiss adventures tan and relaxed.

As I write you I am held up at the Hampton Inn, for a while it has been sufficient, but I will happily say goodbye to it. What I will miss the most is Miss Isabel and Miss Rosalie, sisters who do the continental Breakfast Service every morning. These are two older African American ladies that treat Coco like a princess every morning, and in turn she can’t wait to come down and greet them with hugs.

In contrast I wont miss the smell of cigarettes wafting down the hall. IT IS DISGUSTING to wake up in my non-smoking room and smell cigarette smoke. I hear they plan to do away with Smoking rooms in the next months, but I am skeptical they can do away with the putrid smell that lingers in the hallways.

We will be checking out on next Friday March 29, heading north to Roanoke Virginia for the first annual Diviney plantation Easter egg hunt (The White House got nothin’ on my BRO). He has invited over two hundred children- it should be fun!

Photo from Oberazzi’s -the annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Hoace Williams House in Chapel HIll, NC 2008.

I hope they are all dressed in gentile spring eyelets with matching with gloves, maybe some little seersucker vest and saddle bucks. In my imagination spring colored bow ties will speckle the crowd of wide-eyed children spying out the best places to find and hide the colored treasures.

check out these cute bowties from LionsandLadies Etsy store!

It shall prove to be a great opportunity for me to test out my new Nikon D90. VERY EXCITING. Just hope I can get the hang of it. Sunday we will gather at the grand dining room for a traditionally spread table and a breakfast feast will be serve before we go to celebrate Christ resurrection at church.

Finally we will drive up to DC and spend the remaining few days under the Cherry blossoms of our nations capitol.

click here to get tips about the festival

Don’t these pictures make you want to go! It’s on my life list ya’ll, I’m so excited!

fine art Don Lovett

We will visit the monuments, the air and space museum, the Smithsonian natural history museum, and if we have time the botanical gardens and spy museum.

Its a lot to cram into a few days. Any suggestions? Any DC fave’s? Any kid friendly restaurant recommendations close to the museums and monuments?

The Children will be having so much fun they would spend time festering about details that are not with in their control. Its our Boo that we worry the most about. I know he has the brains for it, but we are pushing him into a difficult task. I pray those little Swiss kids will think he is nice, cool, or what ever it takes to befriend him and teach him to speak German!

I dread the long plane ride on Wednesday (more on that later)- but I am ready for it to be over! That’s whats on my mind this morning, have a great weekend where ever you are.

 

 

 

 

good night 2012

Our house is officially Da-Chrismafied! I am exhausted! It has been a L-O-N-G year. Some great things (2012 highlights post to come) happen in our life, but I feel like this has been a year full of moving and address changes and a lot of stress and energy just seeking stability. Ironically I have just announced in my annual Christmas newsletter, that with 5 moves in 13 months It just wasn’t enough to satisfy us (read that with sarcasm!). Spartacus was offered a job back in Switzerland and we are returning to live in Europe again for a few years. I DREAD another move, especially an international re-lo, but once I have the household sold, packed, stored, and shipped I should be able to start getting really excited about all the wonderful new opportunities that made this offer so completely irresistible. I know that most people only dream of moving to Europe for a few years, I feel like we are winning the lottery to have done it twice-once (life before kids) eight years ago and now to be able to return and share this experience with our children leaves me so excited. I think Coco (age 3) and Boo (age 8) are at perfect ages to make this the exact right time to go. I will try and post as much information as possible about how we are doing it, and any helpful tips I can think of- especially since I have done it before and still feel like I have yet to discover the “best way” to relocate over seas. I am really excited to share this process with you. I remember when Jordan from Ohhappyday announced she was moving to Paris and Gabrielle from Designmom announced they were moving to France. I was so excited for them, and at the time surrounded by all my stability, I longed for a similar adventure. Now, feeling quite unstable, I am thrilled, and anxious at the task at hand. Please leave any helpful tips in the comments section below. Do you ever dream of living in Switzerland? Have you lived in Switzerland? How do I make this international move a smooth one for my children, especially on the heels of such an unstable year full of address changes? Are they more flexible from all the moving or are they on the verge of a breakdown (like me)?

we're moving here

 

Gingerbread Houses

I am really trying to have a kid friendly holiday season. The advent calendar has been a huge hit with them, but kind of stressful for me. Mostly because sometimes we forget until its after bedtime. Usually by then I am already so wound up, stressed out and ready to dissolve into tears, that I swear to myself I will never celebrate Christmas for 25 days again.

gingerbread kit construction

The good and bad on gingerbread houses:

  • Use a kit! I was so glad I did this! I can not imagine baking all day and then starting on the construction and decorating. I used ANNA’S -its Swedish and actually taste good too. It comes pre-cut and with instructions. It was simple to assemble.
  • We invited the missionaries from church to make the houses; they are always happy and kind and I was really happy to have 2 extra adult hands to help. It would be a perfect thing to do with grandparents too.
  • I loved that it uses up all the Halloween candy!!! This almost makes it a tradition worth keeping- jury’s still out on weather i can forget about the mess it made and actually repeat next year.
  • The kit does not come with frosting- for some reason I thought it did. Luckily I have a ridiculously well stocked pantry and I whipped up a few batches of the hard cookie frosting~ See recipe below.
  • The cookie frosting works great- like glue, but it seemed to be a mess to clean up. If it drips on the floor or gets brushed off the table once dry, it crunches and turns back into powder sugar… walked all through the house.
  • Halloween boxes of nerds worked great as a pebble path!!!
  • You don’t need any fancy decorator tips- a resealable sandwich bag with the corner cut (tiny hole) works awesome, especially for letting kids help.
  • My kids are 8, and 3- big age span. The 8 year old wanted to take time, be careful, was very selective about what kind of candy was placed where. The 3 year old just wanted to glue down a million layers of colored candy on the roof. Both houses looked great in the end and the builders were proud. I might suggest constructing the houses ahead of time- the kids weren’t really interested in that part and were both so excited to have all that candy in their hands at one time.
  • I was glad that I had purchased 2 kits (on sale supper cheap last year after Christmas).
  • The kids wanted to eat the houses the minute they were finished. I tried to dissuade them from it (because the gingerbread was at least a year old) but seconds later it looked like a tornado had come through our little hamlet.

Coco gingerbread house

Boo ginger bread house

Wilton’s Royal Icing recipe:

Dries candy-hard, ideal for gingerbread houses.

3 tbls. Wilton Meringue powder

1 lb. (4 c.) sifted powder sugar

6 tbls. warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with heavy duty mixer, 10-12 minutes on high speed with handheld mixer.)

makes 3 cups

 

 

ALT SUMMIT SLC

Alt. Summit is on my life list. I have pined away for a ticket several years in a row and part of my New Years resolutions was to get a ticket in August. I logged on minutes after they opened for sale and they sold out just minutes after I booked. I am thrilled- STILL- October 30- gitty every time I think about it! Today I got a surprise in the mail.

20121030-151413.jpgThey are already sending out SWAG! I know this is gonna be great!

J Crew Warehouse Sale Lynchburg VA

I arrived at the J.Crew sale in Lynchburg Va at 3:30 am. I have never been one to camp out for sales or tickets. I’m motivated! I made the mistake of showing up at the August J Crew Asheville NC warehouse sale at 6am, waited in line 5 hours, and because I HAD to leave, I walked away empty handed. I was behind AND in front of hundreds of people- even when I left. So when I decided that a visit to my parents in VA Fortuitously coincided to the J Crew sale, I was resigned to loosing the sleep. My mom offered to keep the kiddos while I went in search of a bargain.

These sales are infamous. The waiting is brutal. The deals are plentiful. The first employees arrived at 4:30 and started organizing people into condensed lines and issued tickets ( to prevent line cutters- thank you!). Just as I tried to wiggle into a warm sleeping bag and position the umbrella to balance upright and prevent the pouring rain from hitting my face- the organizers showed up and told us to pack up. We stood in lines that wrapped around the large warehouse for hours. As the temperature dropped I questioned my own sanity, and especially the family in line in front of us who had driven from CHICAGO to attend the sale! They had a 5 year old and a 10 year old and 2 dogs traveling with. Another lady who had driven straight from MAINE tried to cut in line with her son at about 6:00am but alas no-ticket no getty-in-early.

The doors opened and I was in the first batch in. It was overwhelming and intimidating and takes at least 1/2 hour to get your bearings. The sale consists of most of a large Warehouse full of tables with cardboard boxes on top. I got there early to guarantee a spot in the first batch and get back to my parents house by noon (I was late), so I did not abuse my mothers generosity (but my kids did that for me). My advise- avoid the insanity and show up about noon or 3pm. Sale runs Saturday and Sunday 8am-8pm. The sales staff replenish the boxes constantly so you have just as good a chance of scoring great stuff at 5pm as you do at 8am. I am listing some of the prices so that you can judge for yourself if its worth it. I spent 4 1/2 hours waiting, 3 hours shopping and an hour waiting to tally and check-out. I spent $500.00 – the cap.

When you make it in, you are handed a price sheet and a large garbage bag. You dig through as many boxes as you can and scoop up as much as you can- be descerning but be fast, it’s hard to do. The merchandise is made up of past seasons, returns, 2nd quality, samples and damages.

Some of the Rules for the sale (see photo for more info):

  • No dressing rooms/No disrobing in aisles (people get around this by wearing leggings and yoga tops to easily slip stuff on, but I’ve found that the stuff is so cheap it’s not worth the trouble. You can pretty much just guess)
  • $500 limit per visit (If you spend more than $500–you can keep shopping, but only after you have checked out and gotten back in line)
  • Once you put something in your bag, it stays there until sorting by a staff member (people did kind of sort on their own, but if staffers saw them, they made them stop and put everything back in the bag)

The address for Lynchburg is:

25 Millrace Drive
Lynchburg, VA 24501
434-316-6324
The address for Asheville is:

1 Clifford Way (off N.C. 191)
Arden, NC 28704
(828) 687-6475