Aug 13 2011

Vlog: house exchange & the wee babe crawling

Today I’m posting my first video blog or vlog. I’ve been wanting to do one for a while and I thought I better capture the wee babe crawling and sitting up before she’s onto something else! Everything for her is changing so quickly.

I hope you enjoy.

Aug 12 2011

She (and I) were ready (Part 2)

I awoke at 6 am after waking briefly throughout the night wondering how she was. When I awoke at 6, I woke my hubby and asked if it was too early to go and pick her up. I wanted her in my arms.

I surfed the net and read some email and then drifted back to sleep. I awoke again at 8 am and this time I was excited. I quickly sent an text to my father-in-law asking the status of my wee babe. I sat with baited breath wondering if she awoke throughout the night giving my in-laws no rest or miracle of miracles she slept through the night. No that wasn’t possible.

But, in fact, it was.

He replied that she had slept all the way through the night (I found out later that he awoke in the middle of the night to make sure she was still alive – as I do too) and that she had woken at 6am. They gave her a bottle and then got up.

When we saw her not long later on Skype, she was sitting in her chair, getting ready for bananas. Doing GREAT! We turned on our video and she took a minute as we all said hi and sang to her in our sing song voices for her. Then she started to cry. I think it sank in a bit that she missed us. So we turned off the video camera and all was good again.

We ate breakfast, then ventured over to her. Every light took forever. I couldn’t get there fast enough.

And then I saw her. And she reached for me for a snuggle. Man was that snuggle good. I breathed in her sweet warm smell. I touched her soft hair. And then I received the biggest familiar smile I think I’ve seen.

We were together again. Mama and babe.

Et un grand merci pour mes beaux-parents pour garder ma petite fille. 🙂


Below is the video we took of Papinou and the wee babe on Skype with our Flip camera. The quality is terrible but this is no fault of the Flip camera.

Aug 12 2011

You Capture | Happiness

For this post, I wanted to capture a photo of each of my family during the summer, having fun.

First up, the wee babe. Here she is enjoying some carrot goodness.

This is the hubby, at the beach wearing some seaweed for hair. Incognito.

And the tweenager smiling with the huge lobster she’s going to devour later.


PhotobucketAll photos taken by myself, Robin Howe, and copyright 2011 by Robin Howe.

This blog post was inspired by You Capture | Happiness

Aug 12 2011

Maybe I wasn’t ready (Part 1)

Tonight’s blog is written from a raw place in my heart. Tonight my wee babe went for her first ever sleepover to my in-law’s place. We’re doing this as a trial for her (and me) to see how it goes and get her used to sleeping at their house as we have two upcoming weddings that we are attending and if you know anything about Swiss weddings, they go until around 4 am. No kidding.

So today has been heavy day. All day long I’ve known that around 6pm, I need to part ways with my wee babe and hand her over to her very capable grandparents. I’ve been dreading it. Not because I’m worried about them but because I’m worried about her and how much I know it’s me who can sooth her when everyone else can’t. And trust me, there are times every night that she gets fussy and it’s only me who can calm her down. So what’s she going to do? Explode? I guess in my head, I’ve maybe built it up to be something like that.

So we drop her off. Hugs, snuggles, cuddles, one last breast feed, one last smile, one last giggle. And as we leave she makes a little whine and I make a little whine, knowing that I’m not going to see her until tomorrow and knowing that she doesn’t know that or know what’s in store for her.

I miss her immediately. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way as I’ve already done this once before when my tweenager was a baby but I guess I forget about how I’ve already passed these feelings 11 years ago.

We head home (the 3 of us) and we have dinner. All through dinner I’m thinking about her. But I don’t say anything to my family as I don’t want to seem ridiculous and lame to them. Immediately following dinner I ask my hubby to call his parents and see how she is. Something inside of me is saying don’t listen in case she’s crying. I just don’t think I can take it. And wouldn’t you know it, she is crying.

I think maybe the hardest part was the fact that everything that was said about how she was feeling was said in French, so I’m constantly asking my hubby, what did they say? What’s going on? Did she eat the carrots? Did she drink her bottle? Are her pajama’s on? And the lag in translation was killing me. It seriously was all too much for me and I broke down. Come on. Let’s be honest here. We all knew it was going to happen anyway from the beginning of this story.

We take a break and call them back in a bit. And she’s still crying. At this point I’m wondering if maybe it was too early for her (and me). Should we go over there and pick her up? What am I feeling about that? A failure? What’s going to happen on Saturday night when I NEED them to look after her? Am I just being a pussy and over reacting? Maybe I just need a good cry.

And then she stops. Ok, she stopped enough for the tweenager to break into “Baby Beluga” and wouldn’t you know it, she’s looking for the voice that’s coming from the computer. (By the way, we’re skyping so we can see her but we haven’t turned on our camera so we don’t scar her by seeing us.) She was still a bit whiny and so I decided to add my voice to Baby Beluga but when I started singing it, more tears came. Then the hubby started crying so that got me going even more (I might be crying while I write this).  Then the part in the song where they say “Is your momma home…” I can’t even get through it without crying. The look in her eyes is priceless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them so huge since I’ve known here. Like the cat in Shrek. Come pick me up, their beckoning to me.

So she was still a bit whiny and standing up usually solves this for her. Sit down = she cries. Stand up = she stops. Go figure, it’s pretty annoying. So I make a joke to papinou (grandpa) why don’t you stand up, dance and sing to the little angel. I feel like we’ve told them all the little quirks that make her happy so what’s one more thing. Hold her like this so her fingers are free so she can put them in her mouth, stand up, sing to her, dance, flap your arms in the air, do some jumping jacks, etc… you get the idea.

Papinou get’s up and throws on a dance CD. Where’d her get that from? And on top of it, it has graphics for the TV too so the wee babe is transfixed. He puts down the computer so we can see him holding her, dancing. It’s freaking AWESOME! The tears are gone, and now I’m smiling from ear to ear. No more tears from anyone – my face actually hurt from the smiling and laughing. We’re laughing and the wee babe is dancing with papinou to some crazy disco song. Oh man. Then the tweenager grabs the flip mino and get’s almost all of it on video. I need to get papinou to sign the release forms first before I can post this on YouTube though. Stand by.

The song is over and we decide to leave on a good note. Papinou is moved to tears which gets the hubby crying again which sends me into another blubblerfest. Enough said.

Was I ready? I think so. Just on the edge of it. I might have been pushed a little bit due to a wedding or two but I think it was the right time for her. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that the tweenager has been able to sleepover at anybody’s house. Anybody. And I attribute that to the fact that she slept over at people’s houses from a very young age. Very young. So shouldn’t I be trying the same thing with the wee babe then if I want the same results? I think so. It’s just so damn hard. She’s so little and I HATE to see her cry even for a minute. It breaks my heart when I know that I can make it stop if she’s just with me. But whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger right? I’m sure she’s not going to die over there tonight so she can only be stronger. 🙂

Bon nuit ma beaute. Fait de beaux reve. Jusqu’a matin. I can’t wait to see you in the morning.

Aug 10 2011

The Gallery | Water

Since I’ve been taking quite a few photos lately while on our trip, I thought I could showcase a few of them for the photography blogs that I link up with. This weeks theme from The Gallery is water.

Both photos are taken from the stunning landscape of Newfoundland.


PhotobucketAll photos taken by myself, Robin Howe, and copyright 2011 by Robin Howe.

This blog post was inspired by The Gallery | Water

Aug 9 2011

A tour around the French countryside

Wee babe update:

I need to take the time to record a moment in time where I’m so proud and ready. Let’s hope it keeps happening.

For the past few nights now, the wee babe has woken up in the middle of the night and self soothed herself back to sleep. Yeah baby! I was so ready for this to happen. I need to admit I was a little nervous about how this was going to come to pass. I think I mentioned that I had basically given up rejecting night feedings (even though I knew she didn’t need them) while we were on our trip across Canada as every night was a different sleep for her. Different noises, different temperatures, etc… so I had absolved myself to sleep training her once we arrived in Switzerland. But, I was wondering how I was going to do this. Crying to sleep? Pick up and put down all night long? I wondered.

Then, last Thursday (I think) I said to my hubby, it has to be you that goes to her in the middle of the night, as she associates me with breast milk and feeding. So we planned that as we fell asleep. Without fail, around 2 am she aroused from her slumber in her bed and the hubby began to get up. I said “wait a sec and see what she does.” So we waited. And low and behold she cried for a few minutes and then she found her fingers and off to sleep she went again. It happened again that night and self soothed herself again. Et voila! One night under our belts. Would you call that sleeping through the night? The tweenager says no but the hubby says yes.

Next night, exact same thing. Then the night after we were in a hotel room in France (more on that in a bit) and she woke up at 5 am. We weren’t as lucky that time as she tried to self sooth but it didn’t take and because it was so late in the sleep I decided to breast feed her.

Last night, same as the first two!! I think we’ve established a pattern that I’m thrilled about as I was so scared that I was going to have to do the crying thing. Now cross fingers that this pattern sticks. And not a moment too soon either. The wee babe (and the tweenager) are heading to the in-laws for a sleep over on Saturday (have I mentioned that I’m a little nervous about this yet? It’s me, not them) and it will be my first time to leave the wee babe with someone else for a whole night alone. So, I’m feeling quite a bit better given the wee babe’s sleep patterns of late. I’m a whole lot more relieved.

I’m thrilled actually! Fingers crossed that she keeps up her patterns.

France: Colmar, Obernai, Strasbourg

Our family did a little out trip through the wine district of France on Sunday and Monday. We always do a lot of comparing when we arrive in Switzerland with Canada. So I’m going to do a bit of comparing now. Europe seems to shut down on Sundays (and a bit on Mondays too!). Personally, I think this sucks. I understand that people need a break but I’m sure there are other people out there that would gladly work. And so it make traveling on these days difficult.

Regardless, the scenery was breathtaking. I’m one for visiting little villages versus seeing the view from a mountain top, so this was right up my alley.

We stopped in Colmar for lunch. I had the most delicious meal of Roesti with goat cheese. Oh my god. It was devine. And the town was straight out of Heidi (IMHO). When the tweenager and I read the book and the part where Heidi runs away from the house in Germany, the village is exactly how I would imagine it to be. I seemed like a scene out of a movie. I kept asking, “Is this real? Do people live here? Or is this just the tourist area that they fake-it-up?” My hubby said “Oh yeah, just like in Disneyland where it looks like people live but no one lives here”. He was kidding of course.

After getting our fill of Roesti and walking around the town, we got back in the car and toured the countryside. Castles, vineyards, wineries oh my! Most of the wineries were closed but we did happen upon one that would serve us some yummy pinot gris and gewürztraminer. We bought a couple of bottles to bring back with us.

We also stopped in at a place called Monkey Mountain. This is a mountain in the forest that has a whole bunch of monkeys roaming around. You pay to get in (it’s a tourist attraction) and you get a handful of popcorn to give to the monkeys. It was pretty neat to see them up close and personal. I liked the baby monkeys the best.

We arrived in Obernai and found our little hotel (3 floors up and no elevator). It was nice though. We headed out to find some dinner.

We happened upon this wonderful outdoor restaurant called Zum Schnogolock. Cheap cheap cheap. And oh so good. We had tarte flambé and a delicious goat cheese salad. Oh yeah, the tarte flambé was also goat cheese. I had a bit of a goat cheese craving going on. So I have to explain what a tarte flambé is. It’s like a pizza, only thinner and it’s made with cream instead of tomato sauce. You then get different things on it like mushrooms, ham, munster cheese, etc…Oh it’s delicious. After all that food, we quietly hid our leftovers in a napkin and stashed it in the stroller (doggie bags are poo pooed here) and then we were on our way for ice cream! Yum. The hubby kept saying how cheap it all was. If he’s happy, I’m happy.

The next day, we packed up and had a coffee and French bread for breakfast. Then we took off to Strasbourg. The weather was menacing. Threatening to pour. And I mean pour. Then the wind showed up. We arrived in Strasbourg and it was pretty dark. The city itself was bigger than we had seen the day before. We walked over to the famous cathedral but I didn’t really want to go in and the wind was picking up. The wee babe was also getting a little testy too. So we stopped for some snacks and then we walked around the city. It was so very different than North America. All the architecture here is so stunning to me. Every turn down a different road or alley way is a new unfolding of the senses.

Then it rained and rained so we took cover in The Stub. We had more tart flambé but this time it was desert so I picked a chocolate/banana tart that everyone agreed was the best. We wrote a huge postcard to our friends in Duncan and then headed back to the car.

We stopped for gas and to pick up some cross border shopping that took an undesirable amount of time and headed home.

Oh and it was our Swiss anniversary that day but we didn’t really do anything special for each other. We decided that for our 5th we would jump out of a plane together.

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Aug 6 2011

You Capture | White

The Olympic Stadium in Montreal


PhotobucketAll photos taken by myself, Robin Howe, and copyright 2011 by Robin Howe.

This blog post was inspired by You Capture | White

Aug 6 2011

La Suisse and beyond

It’s been a full week now that we’ve been here and we’re settling in quite well.

Yesterday, we ventured into France with the hubby’s parents to check out the Mont Blanc. We took a gondola over to a glacier and we were able to walk inside. It’s not too often you can walk into a glacier and I told the tweenager that she would need to be sure to blog about it. What an experience.

It was pretty neat. Ice caverns acting as tunnels. There was even a St. Bernard inside that you could have your picture taken with for 6 Euros. Poor doggy. The most interesting (and sad) part for me was they had placed markers on the side of the rocks stating where the glacier was 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It sure has receded quickly over the years. Every year they need to build new caves as the glacier moves so quickly. We could hear rocks tumbling as the ice melted. I think my hubby said it moves 90 meters a year. That’s insane.

We walked down the 400 steps to get into the glacier then back up and back into the crowded gondola. Oh I forgot, we took a really cool train to get to the top of the middle mountain. So Swiss and so pretty.

I told my hubby today that I really like his country. It’s so beautiful. I think I fall in love with it just a little bit more every time I come here.

I also spent some time a few days ago with the belle soeur and the tweenager swimming in Lake Leman. It’s her private swimming place kind of. So cute. I almost thought it was someone’s private property and we might be trespassing but there was a garbage, a change area, a shower and a toilet. The water in Lake Leman is so beautiful and refreshing. I feel like I’m in a little piece of paradise here.

It’s hard to explain but the vineyards etched against the blue mountains with the Swiss architecture is beyond picturesque. I can’t wait to see what happens in fall and winter.

One thing that I’ve grown to liking is the meals here. I never thought I’d be saying that. I remember the first time I came here 6 years ago. I spoke next to no French, I barely knew anyone and everything was strange to me. The thing I disliked the most was the meals. Not because of the food. Oh no. It was because the meals were so drawn out and long. Ever meal started with a salad, then the meal, then the bread and cheese, and then fruit and a little coffee. Talking, talking, talking in French. Of course I had no idea what anyone was saying and the hubby would translate (poorly) I wouldn’t get any jokes and it was just a huge clusterf*&k for me. I hated it. It would have been better if I had brought a book or magazine to read. Although I guess that would have been really rude. But now! Oh now it’s wonderful! I can understand about 80% of the conversation. What I don’t understand, it’s much easier for the hubby AND the tweenager to translate and the food… the glorious food! For some reason, the food before seemed so foreign to me. Now I embrace it and look forward to it. (I don’t think I will ever be able to eat a fish with its face on though, that’s a little too much for me. I also don’t think I will ever get used to the water with bubbles either.) I love the fresh salad and fresh dressing, the unique meals and the cheese. Oh that cheese! Let’s not forget the bread and wine. And I would be so lucky to end off with a little coffee. I’m in heaven.

I need to make some friends though. The landscape, meals and warm temperature are only going to get me by for a while until I feel like I need more adult friendly conversation. And maybe my belle soeur isn’t going to want to hang out with me all the time 😉 The hubby is doing well with spending time with me, but I know he longs to see his friends he hasn’t seen in a while. And I feel for the tweenager. But it won’t be long until she is at school and meeting all sorts of new people.

Enough of that talk, we’re planning a trip to the Gewürztraminer area of France for a night. Just a small road trip. We might do a couple of others as well but I think we’re all a bit burnt out from traveling in a car for the time being. It’s nice to be planted in one place after such a huge trip across Canada. Oh, and the gas here is sooooo expensive. I think it works out to $1.70 per litre. It cost us $85 the other day to fill up. It’s going to be a relief when we move to the other apartment that we won’t have a car. Although, that will come with it’s own set of problems I’m sure.

We did a little photo shoot this morning with the wee babe when she was eating her carrots. I hope you enjoy.

Wee babe Update:

  • She’s eating carrots, bananas and yams. Next up: apples and squash.
  • She’s pulled herself up to a standing position a few times now. Wow, do I ever get nervous when she does this as she is so wibbly wobbly I can just see her tumbling over onto her head. Oh mon dieu.

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Aug 3 2011

Guest Blogger: The tweenager on our Canada Trip

Today I’ve asked the tweenager to be my guest blogger. I wanted to capture her thoughts on the cross Canada trip we made by interviewing her. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions to her. She will be sure to reply.

  1. What was the part of the trip that you liked the most?

    My favorite place we stayed was in with John and Sylvie, I enjoyed that the most because it was soooooo pretty! The most peaceful thing I ever did was fly-fishing on the river there. Also the beds where really comfortable and camping doesn’t provide luxurious mattresses :).

  2. What was the worst part of the trip you disliked the most?

    My least favorite part of the trip across Canada was Morse (middle of no where) Saskatchewan. I disliked this the most because (and I may sound like a downer) it was the most hot I’ve ever felt, and the most mosquitoes I’ve ever seen, all thought the thunder, lightning and down pour cooled things down a little and put the mosquitoes partially at bay. That was the first night in the tent and so far not so good :(.

  3. Which city was your favourite and why?

    My favorite city was Riviere du Loup in Quebec, the day we traveled there over all was the best day of driving because we stopped in Quebec city for an hour and a half, but when we got to Riviere du loup we stayed in our very first B and B (Bed and Breakfast) it had the most amazing view of the Riviere Saint Lawrence, (Saint Lawrence river), welcome cocktails/orange juice and topped off with an amazing sunset and my own room. Plus an awesome breakfast in the morning!

  4. What was the most memorable experience and why?

    Wow that’s a hard one and I know I hate it when people do this to me and it sound really stupid like can’t you just pick one but the whole experience was soooo memorable for me, the boring days in the car on the west coast the fun touristy things in the east coast, the good food, laughs, wild life, almost squishing wild life (porcupine… ouch!), rain storms, swims, hot days and so many things that I have missed but will one day come back to me.

  5. What was your favourite meal and why?

    Lobster at Johns house, yummy, yummy lobster, it tastes like heaven, I don’t know what else to say.

  6. If you could have done something differently, what would that be and why?

    If I had the option I would have spent more time in hotels, camping is fun for a while but it’s difficult and boring when you do it too much plus we had quite a bit of rain (mostly nights when we where in a tent… what luck).

  7. If you could have not done something, what would that have been and why?

    Wow my only regret is taking a little lick of mama’s ice cream before she got it and not telling her, I’m guilt ridden to think that I didn’t ask, I hope you will forgive me Mama … 🙁

  8. What do you think you learned about yourself?

    I learned that I can almost sing baby beluga in my sleep, baby beluga is the wee babes fav song and some times the only thing that will make her shut up in the car, personally I think it’s almost as annoying as the crying.

  9. What do you think you learned about the others you traveled with?

    Hmmm… I don’t really have any dirt to dish on the “hubby” (as you know him) and Mama.
    I learned that the wee babe is prone to mood swings, that Mama is a princess now and “the hubby” can’t not lead us around cities.

  10. If you had to describe the trip in 3 words, what would those be?

    I love Canada

Finally I have to mention that I hope I didn’t disappoint you with my answers, I’m not all that heartfelt or serious, I’m only the tweenager after all.

There you have it! Straight from the Tweenagers mouth! You can follow along on her blog as well at Live, Love, Laugh by JJ.


Aug 2 2011

First days…

I’m going to start out with an update on the wee babe.

Wee babe update:

  • She’s officially crawling. She’s actually moving in a forward motion with both her hands and feet. It’s really cute. Before I know it I’m going to have to be fencing her off.
  • She’s also pushing herself into a sitting position.
  • She’s loving her index and middle finger on her right hand to suck. She uses these to soothe herself a lot. It also helps her to go to sleep sometimes.
  • She just cut her 6th tooth! Feels like she’s been teething for half her life now…

At the dinner we had at my in-laws house, there were many presents from them, my belle soeur, relatives and friends that were given to us, the tweenager and the wee babe. The wee babe is now dressed from head to toe. There aren’t enough days in the week to wear everything once. She has more outfits than all of us put together I think (ok, maybe not me LOL!).

A moment of reflection:

I’m feeling really good about being back here. Since this is my fourth trip here, life is beginning to feel really familiar now. I remember how things work differently here and I can actually speak better French than I ever have. (OK, I didn’t say perfect by any means. Just better.)

Although, last night we went to one of my hubby’s friend’s houses and it was like a blast from the past when all the friends showed up. Talking too quickly with too much slang. I couldn’t keep up. It’s times like that that I wonder what they think of me, this mute foreigner who’s 6-7 years older than all of them. My internal dialogue takes over.

I’m sure I’ll improve. I was happy to have 30+ minutes with our hostess to catch up on the wee babe, her upcoming wedding and her new condo. She speaks great English and with my broken French it was a wonderful conversation. We figured out that we’ve spent four 1st of August’s together. I’d say that it’s now a full fledged tradition. 🙂

A funny foreigner story:

My Swiss mister had left for the stag so it was just me and the girls who were left to do the first shopping trip. To be honest with you, I was kind of excited to be driving by myself and figuring out the shopping by myself without the assistance of the hubby.

We started the morning off right with a brunch at the mister’s parent’s house in the pergola. This was really welcome as we had no food in the house (yet) and I love eating outside in the company of his mom and dad and sister.

After that it was time to get on the road. The tweenager was so much help. We both successfully (after one wrong roundabout exit) got to the shopping centre. Then we were faced with the shopping cart that you need to insert a coin into to free it from the other cart ahead of it. Cue looming music. Since I only had a bank card and no actual cash we took the elevator up to see if we could find an ATM.

We walked around the mall for a bit, me trying to summon up the courage to ask someone for directions to the machine, if there even was one. Finally, I stopped a man and asked if he spoke English (yeah I know, chicken right?) he did and he instructed us one floor below. Then again I asked another man (this time in French) to the nearest ATM. Ok. Mission accomplished. I had the $50 Swiss franc in my hand. Alas, you can not stuff that into the cart so I needed to get change.

Over to another shop to try my hand at more French (getting more confident now) and I then had the 2 francs in my hand for the carte. A half hour after we arrived at the mall, I finally had the carte in hand. Now I just needed to make it through the grocery store.

The grocery store was fairly uneventful save for every single item in the store is in different packaging than what you’re used to and written in a different language (thankfully I brought my human translator with me). Oh, and it was also slightly embarrassing when I didn’t realized that I needed to get on the other side of the cart when going through the checkout so the cashier needed to help me.

Then the drive home. Wow, can I just take a moment to let you know how much my tweenager is growing up? She did about 80% of the navigating that was needed to get us out of our wrong turn. We drove around the little village of Bussigny for about 10 minutes before deciding that we needed help and that we were just going to go back to the hubby’s parent’s house to get a chauffeur back. We came back out to the main road and at the next set of lights I recognized the gas station where we normally turn. After that, the tweenager navigated us through the little streets and walla! We were back home.

I have a feeling I just made a memory 😉

Tomorrow I’m going to have the tweenager on as a guest blogger on my site, giving us some of her thoughts on our cross Canada trip. I’m looking forward to that!!