Baby is not quite ready to enter the world yet, so I’ll use naptime to write about Dad’s visit.  We all had a lovely time and the kids keep asking for Dad-o and hoping that it’s he coming in the door when someone arrives.  I was particularly happy about how the plan of activity and rest allowed the kids to be in good spirits most of the time.  They didn’t start breaking down into strange behavior until the day before Dad left, which made me extra grateful that we’d worked hard to keep the kids’ limits in mind as we made plans.


Grandma and Dad-o arrived on a Wednesday and Stephan took the afternoon off so we could all take the Mobility car to welcome them at the airport.  Dad showed up with a beard and I didn’t recognize him at first!  The kids were shy, but warmed up on the ride home.  Dad-o sat next to Vivienne in the car and they made a special bond quickly.


The next day was a crash course in our daily life, which included a trip to the farm to see the goats and get milk as well as learning when all the toys have to picked up and in what order chores get done.  I knew that keeping as much of our normal routine as possible would help the kids (and me!) ride the other changes that happen when having guests.  Dad-o took over the dishes and Mom was his helper, and that turned out to be a much bigger relief than I anticipated.  Hand washing dishes at full-term is not fun, and it freed me up to do other chores after dinner.  I’d look up from my work and lo – my kitchen was clean!  I enjoy cooking a lot more when I don’t have to worry about clean-up, so it was fun to experiment with fancier dishes that I don’t try to make when I have to watch the kids at the same time.


Joseph still doesn’t nap much, but I was impressed that despite the excitement, he generally had the discipline to stay in his room for his quiet time so we all could get a little break and enjoy uninterrupted conversation.


The next day we went into Luzern and had lunch on a steamboat, which was my tourist activity of choice.  The two hour trip went by quickly and the kids didn’t crawl out of the holes at deck level, so we all had a lovely time eating a meal we didn’t make or have to clean up after and enjoying the moving scenery.  After the ride Dad stayed in town to explore the Art museum while the rest of us when home to recover.


Saturday (July 27th) we had a make-up celebration of Mom’s birthday.  She and I went on a mother-daughter breakfast date at the local bakery where we indulged in two pastries each (to the shock of the lady serving us, we wanted both for dining in and not for take-out!).  We enjoyed the cool of the morning and uninterrupted conversation about quite the variety of topics, and are thankful to “the guys” for taking the kids to the Emmen Center (mall) so we could get away.


That afternoon we started our trip to Zermatt, which was supposed to be a three-hour drive but turned into a difficult five-hour ordeal.  We had to cross two Alpine passes and though I knew Joseph got car sick and knew what signs to look out for, we discovered that Vivienne has similar trouble and while I now know the signs for her you have to learn the hard way once, so we ended up taking a several “barf stops” to clean up or to give the kids’ tummies a break.  After Vivienne’s several bouts she finally fell asleep and as I sighed a breath of relief only to be greeted with some painful contractions.  I hoped it was due to stress and not real labor as I did not relish the idea of turning around and going through all that again.  Fortunately, we made it to the hotel (La Collina in Grächen)  and the contractions stopped if I was lying down so I had the perfect excuse to rest while Stephan took care of business and the grandparents played with the kids in the playground in the backyard of the hotel.  Everyone was fit and happy again and we enjoyed a Walliser-plate of dried meats and cheese with yummy bread for dinner right in our hotel room.  Stephan got the kids ready for bed while I want to enjoy their “feel-good pool” which was the perfect temperature for a pregnant lady – cool!  It was the first time I went swimming in this pregnancy (or since I started showing) and it felt so good to have the weight lifted for a while.  When I came back to the room Stephan was cleaning up Vivienne’s stinky travel clothes – what a serving husband I’m blessed with!


The next day the kids played in the playground until breakfast opened at 8am.  We enjoyed the meal outdoors, which made messy croissants much less of a worry and we all enjoyed the mountain view and cool breeze with our breakfast feast.


We checked out and drove to Zermatt, taking the train in for the last part as Zermatt is nearly car-free.  It was slightly overcast so we decided it wasn’t worth riding up the mountain and instead took a kid-paced walk through the main streets and ate lunch at a place with a view of the Matterhorn.  The hope was that at some point the clouds obscuring the peek would part and we’d be there to see it, but alas, even though the clouds did part occasionally, it was never enough to see the whole peek.


We decided to take the long way home, taking highway instead of the passes to avoid the carsick dance again.  We hit some traffic at the end so it still took four hours, but it was a much more pleasant trip for us all.


Monday Stephan went into work, Grandma and Dad-o played with the kids and I tried to recover.  That evening Grossvater and Grossmutti came for dinner.


Tuesday morning Grandma and Dad-o took the kids to the Transportation Museum in Lucerne and they all had a blast while I enjoyed some alone time.  During naps Mom and Dad took a walk to Stephan’s work and got a bit of a tour and in the evening the Bloms came for a Thai dinner.  Stephan put the kids to bed while the rest of us went to our church for a music sing, which was of course a challenge for my folks as it was all in German, but they took it in stride and enjoyed singing along.  Nils translated all the talk, which was great because though I understand it’s not so easy to translate real-time.  As you can see the days were full but fun!


Wednesday we went to Liestal and played on the playground with Grossvater and Grossmutti and Tante Cornelia and Onkel Tobias before enjoying lunch at G+G’s place.  The kids always love being there! (And of course we do too, but the kids show their enthusiasm more!)


Thursday was August 1st which is the Swiss independence day.  We celebrated by going to a local farm where they put on a brunch and were joined by Grossvater, Grossmutti and Gotte Diana.  It was a splendid feast and Joseph loved the moonwalk they had and we also got to enjoy a carriage ride.  It was fun but surprisingly tiring – we were all pretty pooped when we got home!


Still, Mom and Dad spontaneously decided to head to the top of Pilatus as the weather was clear.  They got a wonderful view and we got a bit of a rest.  It was hard balancing being the host I’d like to be with caring for myself and preparing for labor and birth, but as I said at the beginning, it seemed to work out quite well.


Friday turned into a sort of home-improvement day.  G+D took the kids to the playground in the morning and then Stephan joined them and they all went shopping for parts to fix the dining table and other things.  In the afternoon G+D went to the historical museum (I think it was today!) and Stephan fixed up the table.


Saturday Stephan’s cousin got married n St. Gallen, and Dad-o and he took the kids to the wedding while Mom and I stayed behind.  I didn’t feel up for such a trip and the guys were willing, so it worked out well.  Mom and I ended up going to IKEA.  I had a short list of stuff I’d needed for a while and it really is much easier to make such a trip without kids.  We enjoyed chatting through the whole trip and Mom treated me to lunch there, which was also a nice treat.  It was so nice to be able to schedule mommy-daughter time with the support of our men!  I had planned to do some more cleaning of the house but I rested instead.


Sunday we all went to church together and after naps went to the Chärnsmatt restaurant where they have a playground and model steam trains you can ride.  Grandma and Stephan rode with the kids and they had a blast running around.  It’s not that far from us and less than 2 Fr a ride, with the rest of the area free, so we’ll have to come back again sometime.


It stands to mention that we were blessed with good weather the whole time.  Yes, it was sometimes a bit warm and I’d forgotten how Americans are used to screens and go crazy with bugs (it used to really bother me too, but summer is so short anyway . . .), but at least it wasn’t cold and rainy and miserable like it had been all spring!


Monday was Dad’s last day – I couldn’t believe how quickly the time went!  We mostly hung out at home but I think Dad did another museum (maybe this was the day Mom and Dad went together – in any case Dad got in a few museums while the rest of us stayed home or worked).


Dad left by train early the next morning, and of course it would be the one day the kids slept past 6am.  Joseph woke up just in time to say a groggy goodbye but Vivienne was still deep in sleep.  It’s hard to explain to kids how people can come and go.  When Stephan came home from work that day they thought it was Dad-o coming in the door.  Once when Stephan explained that he would come back at 7pm that night Joseph said “and Dad-o comes at 8pm” (I’m sure I have the details wrong, but the idea is there.)


We miss you Dad-o, but we’re so thankful that you were able to come visit us!  We should Skype soon!

Posted by harp on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Edit
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Saturday, July 23rd

Stephan wanted to start packing the week before we left.  It seemed to early for me.  I wasn’t ready.  I had some projects I wanted to finish first and was still compiling lists of what to bring, but we used all Saturday to pack and it was a brilliant idea.  It took longer to pack than expected, as usual, but then we had a week to finish up.  In the end, the night before we left the house was spotless and the neatest it’s been since moving (even the fridge was wiped down!), we were all packed and ready and it was early enough to enjoy a little time together before going to bed.  It was such a wonderful feeling!

Flights with a one-year-old were not easy, but Joseph was as good as anyone could have hoped for.  It took forever for him to fall asleep on the long-haul flight and I ended up sleeping at the foot of my seat because he was sleeping in my seat.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a resful trip, but we arrived savely and on time in Orlando Saturday night and enjoyed an Outback meal with Grandma and Dad-o before unloading our stuff and crashing to bed.

Sunday, July 24th

We had a full day planned with church, croissants, shopping at Penzey’s, grocery shopping (yippy!) and friends over for dinner.  It was a lovely first day!

Monday and Tuesday, July 25th+26th

I buckled down to work tearing through all the stuff in my room in hopes of eliminating a lot of the junk that Mom and Dad have been holding onto for me.  We also managed to fit a few hours of errands in each day as well, plus I got a haircut (US rates!).  Stephan and Grandma entertained Joseph freeing me to work, and though it was tiring, we were all impressed with what I was able to get done.  I went through all of my stuff and marked 1/3 to ½ of it for disposal/donation.  Later Mom reminded me that they hadn’t gotten down the stuff in the attic . . .  We’ll have to go again, but this was a major hurdle accomplished.

Wednesday – Friday , July 27th-29th

Still a bit worn out from travel, we got in the car with Mom and Dad for the three day drive to the Maggie P. where we’d have our main vacation.  Joseph did incredibly well in the car considering how much he used to hate car seats and how unused to car travel that he is.  It was work for me and Grandma, but we made good time each day.  The first night we were in a hotel, the second we spent with NMKB, making sure to play double sol and eat great food (the eat good food part lasted all trip – yum!).  On Joseph’s 13-month birthday he decided to walk with a purpose!  Before then he’d only done a few steps and didn’t seem so interested, but this time he purposefully walked from person to person – still only a few steps or more, but it was purposeful!

Friday, July 29- Monday, August 8th

We spent a lovely week and a bit at the Maggie P. enjoying beautiful weather for the most part and plenty of great company.  Joseph adores his cousins, especially the closer in age they are to him.  One day they took a day trip and he was depressed all morning, sitting in the sand but not moving – he was so sad his playmates had suddenly disappeared!  He didn’t seem to have stranger anxiety at all and took only a little time to warm up to people.  Joseph went for a first sail with Uncle Jon and Stephan.  We played games and ate good food and had such a wonderful time I didn’t make notes in my planner.  Pictures are up in the usual place.  It was so wonderful to be back at home with family.  The move to Emmen has been harder on me than I had expected, and I’ve really been feeling like a foreigner and a stranger, misunderstood and insignificant.  How wonderful it was to be around people who know me and love me, focusing on my strengths and being gracious with my weaknesses.  I miss you all so much!

Monday-Friday, August 8th-12th

The long trip back to Orlando.  Mom and Dad flew home and generously left us their car so we could make a longer trip back down the coast visiting with more friends and relatives.  We had another nice time with NMKB and got to visit with the T’s.  We spent the 9th in DC visiting with a number of friends from various stages of life for both of us.  We spent the night with friend’s I’d known since birth!  It’s funny how many of them ended up in DC!  Most of the folks we’d seen the last visit, but this time I met up with a friend from middle school, KT.  Our children are of similar age and it was great to see her again!

The next day we had a long drive to Summerville, where Stephan’s relatives are.  We made it in time to enjoy Great Grandma W’s pool before dinner.  Joseph loved it!  It was the perfect temperature for him and he had a blast practicing everything he learned at the Maggie P., mainly swimming underwater between Mom and Dad which he asked to do over and over again.  He also started jumping off the pool edge from a seated position while holding onto my thumbs and getting submerged before I pulled him up.  It was very exciting for me that he reached this step.  Though we’ve been going to the pool regularly I haven’t seen much progress, so I was thrilled that he did so much at the Maggie P.!

We spent the whole next day in Summerville and visited Great-Grandpa W’s grave with Great-Grandma.  We had dinner at Sticky Fingers with the whole crew and very much enjoyed our time there.

Friday we drove to Orlando and were very grateful that we had no major car trouble the whole trip.  We got back in the afternoon so there was time for more cleaning-up, packing, swimming in the pool, and a good dinner before trying to get some rest before more long hours of traveling.  We left the house at 5:30am the next morning and didn’t get back to Emmen until the following day in the afternoon.  We were very grateful to have Grossvater and Grossmutti waiting with their car for us at the Zurich airport.  By some miracle we fit all five of us plus five bags and carry-ons into their 5-seater car.  I very much enjoyed coming home to a clean house, though it was soon a mess again of stuff, but imagine what it would have been like if it was already a mess from before!

Thanks to everyone for making it a great trip!  We love and miss you all!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Edit
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Some days everything seems to go wrong and other days everything seems to line up.  Most days are a bit in between, but here is an account of one day to give you (and my future self) a glimpse into daily life here in our new home in Emmen.

6am Stephan’s alarm goes off. I’m already awake because Joseph needed a snack.  He just want back to sleep so I do too.

6:15am get up and follow my morning routine:

Get dressed. Do a quick sweep of the floors. Process my physical inbox for five minutes. Water the plants.  See the chives, marjoram and tomato grow!!!

10 minutes of “nesting” or making the house a bit nicer than it was the day before, today I wiped the coffee table, de-cluttered the window sill and arranged the candles there, found a home for some oversized sheet music that had been sitting around since the move, etc.

6:45am Joseph wakes up.  I drop what I’m doing (nesting) and greet him.  He pees on the potty.  We dump it in the toilet together and play a little.  I get us breakfast.  Today he ate two little slices of bread and three scoops of yogurt.  I had toast.  I wipe up the high chair and table and notice Joseph grunting so I put him on the pot.  Success!  For some reason he also grunts before having to pee.  We take care of the pee, say goodbye to Daddy as he goes off to work, I do the dishes and we play a little together and nurse (I don’t remember how often we play and nurse but it’s here and there and whenever).  I finish my morning routine:

Open all windows to air out apartment (so humidity doesn’t get high enough for mold to continue to grow)

“Swish and Swipe” bathroom (wipe surfaces and toilet, brush toilet bowl) – 4min

8:30ish I start to work on my “important daily cards” where I alternate 10 or so minutes on a task with 10 or so minutes of focused play with Joseph.  This morning practice was first up so I got out my harp and worked on adjusting the bray pins until Joseph crawled over to me and I gave him a little harp lesson.  He loves the harp.  I’m trying to teach him to be gentle.  He actually seems to have learned a bit how to be gentle and has a better plucking technique than he did before.  It used to be the “grab five strings and pull with all your might never releasing the fingers” and now it’s “grab one to three strings and pull sometimes releasing the fingers and making a nice sound.”  I call the improvement, especially since he’s only had three lessons.  What a smart kid!  I tell him he can’t bother me while I’m practicing (it’s only 10 minutes!) and he listens until I’m almost done then when he comes to grab the strings while I’m doing a run-through of a piece I tell him “no” while I’m playing (that takes brain power!) and he starts crying.  Fortunately I’m at the end of my practice session and we can make up.  Total time the harp is out: 15 minutes.  Not up to conservatory standards but I’ve learned how to make the most of the minutes I have.


Posted by harp on Friday, April 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Edit
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We leave in half an hour for the airport.  I don't know when I can be in touch again.  Thanks for your prayers.  I'll write as soon as I can!  (Andy, thanks for the good response on my last post, I look forward to responding)  My how time flies!  I'm excited because my hostess is excited to see me!  I should arrive in Basel by noon on Wed. (Swiss time).

Much Love,


Posted by harp on Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 1:53 pm | Edit
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I want to cry.  I want to sing.  I want to dance.  I want to hold on.  I want to fly.  I’m in my room with computer stuff everywhere trying to get organized before I leave.  Praise God that little by little most stuff has gotten done and I’m not panicking.  After crying to some Les Miserables (I’m good enough at piano now to accompany myself now) I danced to some Irish music, which never fails to lift the spirits.  Mom and Dad are off at a symphony concert and I’m supposed to be finished backing when they get back – ha!  I’m close, I think (it’s not the packing, but the leaving everything behind in order and knowing what I need to take).  The inspiration for this post is a back walkover.

Posted by harp on Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 5:47 am | Edit
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As we pass the one week mark I’m finally going through papers I should have gone through long ago and what should I happen to come across but a paper entitled “Italy” and on it a list of about eight points briefly reminding me of some of my adventures there.  Sharing this with my mom, she pointed out that she did a website for me while I was in Italy, but had completely forgotten if I ever realized it because I wasn’t much into computers and certainly hadn’t heard of a blog.  The link is still on Mom’s homepage and the password is the same.  It has all my pictures labeled and everything!  There is a separate section entitled “Men” that has no content because apparently I promised all the juicy stories and never got around to writing about them.

Posted by harp on Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 5:17 pm | Edit
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Saturday Daddy took us to see La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil in Downtown Disney.  It was so amazing but I can't write about it or post pictures because I haven't been able to recover from the relapse with my arms.  Keep up those prayers, please!  Namely, that I would have patience not to do work on the computer, play piano, or basically get any work done even though I leave for Switzerland in a week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had my vielle (medieval fiddle) debut at church yesterday.  I played prelude and postlude and hymns for two services.  I did a mostly prepared improvisation on Be Thou My Vision and a different improvisation on the Spanish 13 c. song I did on my audition.  It went pretty well considering, and it helped humble me and give me confidence.  

Posted by harp on Tuesday, September 25, 2007 at 4:20 am | Edit
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Friday Jimmy took the day off so he could drive down and visit me for the weekend.  He got me out of the house for something besides church, choir practice, and grocery shopping.  Wasn’t that nice of him?  It was quite nice, actually.  I don’t have many connections left here in Orlando so it was nice to spend time with a friend.  This is not to diminish the value of being with Mom and Dad nor to denigrate the friendship of people still in Orlando, but mostly my friends are not where I am, which is proving to be more difficult than I’d supposed.  Here’s a big hug from me to everyone (and there’s a good number of you!) who has kept the emails and the love rolling.  It is very much appreciated. :)

Posted by harp on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 12:17 am | Edit
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I hope everyone has a lovely day.  We’re having long time friends over and eating hamburgers from a friend’s ranch.

Posted by harp on Monday, September 3, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Edit
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Since my poor mother is having computer problems, I’ll fill you in with the family news.  On Saturday Daddy too Mom and I out to the Mad Cow Theater production of Shakespeare’s Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

Posted by harp on Monday, August 27, 2007 at 5:39 pm | Edit
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The good news is I’m feeling better.  The bad news is I’ve never properly shaken the music-related problems that I’ve had since the summer of 1998.  Hey, that’s less than ten years of my life so there’s plenty of time to get back to normal!

Posted by harp on Friday, August 24, 2007 at 4:59 am | Edit
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I’ve been ‘scolded’ for not updating my blog as much.  That’s good to hear because it means people miss it.  It’s usually just my mom who bugs me to write.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 4:25 am | Edit
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I’m very happy to report that the traffic on the way home was much improved over the traffic on the way up.  Mom, Dad, and I drove to DSTB and while the dads had to go off to work the next morning the rest of us spent a lovely few days playing with the boys and discussing homeschooling curriculum.  Both Mom and I want to be children in the DSTB household.  Aunt S has so many wonderful and exciting things planned for their first year of homeschooling.  Goodbyes were hard because we don’t know when the next time will be.

Posted by harp on Monday, August 13, 2007 at 10:50 pm | Edit
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Our time at the Maggie P. has once again come to a close.  Once again I think picture are better than words.  Thanks to everyone for everything that made it a wonderful visit!

Posted by harp on Monday, August 6, 2007 at 6:11 pm | Edit
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The big weekend with all of my sisters and my cousins and my aunts is over.  We had a marvelous time and the weather mostly cooperated.  Here is a smattering of the activities people indulged in over the course of the weekend: swimming; playing on and around the Aquillo (sailboat); water tag; water wresting; playing fox and geese, Frisbee, and paddle ball on the sand bar at low tide; walking the beach; sailing; building sand castles; building dams; mucking the little creek; kayaking; rowing; crabbing; walking on the breakwater to the outer light; running over the causeway between the Flounder and the Maggie P.; golfing; catching and skinning eel; eating ice cream and cookies and cake and crab and eel and Chinese and pizza and chips and soda and cold cuts and pumpkin bread and Omaha Steaks and laeckerli and oreos and dark chocolate M&M’s and and and; playing games (Quiddler, Blokus, Mille Bornes, Perspective, quadruple solitaire, Set, My Word, Apples to Apples, In a Pickle, Texas Hold ‘em, Rummikub, Settlers of Catan, Ringgz, but sadly not krypto or Boggle); lounging on the deck of the Maggie P. and under the cabana, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; sleeping; playing with nephews/grand kids; playing with dry ice in the creek; and more I’m sure I’m missing.  Here are some of the highlights in pictures.


Posted by harp on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Edit
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