First Geneva Snow

Post by Lauren

Below is the view from our bedroom this morning in Geneva. We were told it usually snows 1-2 times a year in Geneva. It snowed three times this weekend, so we are already above this so called “average”.

I find the snow a lot more pleasant than the monsoon of rain we have had in the last two weeks, so I am très contente with the temperature drop. It makes for a really nice Monday!

Gratitute Friday: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Post by Lauren

This post is dedicated to my uncle who wanted to know how they decorate for Christmas in Switzerland.

The presence of Christmas decorations is also our gratitude post because we aren’t coming home for Christmas. For Gabe & I, this is the first time we won’t see our families during the Christmas season. Bless their hearts, both our Moms decorated their homes for Thanksgiving in Christmas also in order to help infuse us with Christmas spirit.

In fact, it is because there is a lot of this spirit here in Geneva, that we made the selection to come home for Thanksgiving. We figured we’d miss not being home for Thanksgiving more than Christmas since we knew a little Christmas would be in the air in Geneva. Thanksgiving isn’t at all celebrated. And, boy, Christmas has been in the air:

 


Joyeux Noël & Bon week-end!

 

Montreux Christmas Market

Post by Lauren

Yesterday, we had a girls outing to one of the many Christmas markets in the region. We’d picked Montreux because it was supposed to be either sunny or snowy. Well, weather.com was wrong and we had chilly rain, but the company and hot beverages kept our spirits warm. Here are a few photos:

The market was broken up into little stalls selling things. Their little chalets were festive in themselves.Goods ranged from handcrafted items, to teas, and food. Also there were some Christmas items like nativity scenes – creches.

Vin chaud, hot cider, and Christmas tea were sold in various forms of cauldrons.
It kept us warm and toasty as we navigated the market.

This little fire chalet was also a hit.

Not to mention the French Onion soup. Even little HB, our newest Girls Club member, wanted a piece of the action.

Joyeux Noël, everyone!

 

Swiss Minimum Wage

Post by Lauren

One of the interesting things about Swiss government is that any petition can be put to vote, through a referendum. You just need 50,000 signatures in 100 days for a Facultative referendum and 100,000 signatures for an Obligatory Referendum.

A petition table in Old Town Geneva



Before we left, there was a heated debate about a minimum salary in Switzerland.

Political advertisement for minimum wage change

The party who instituted the referendum was hoping for a minimum salary for full time employees of 4000 CHF / month which is about $60K USD a year.

Wow, that’s a lot for a minimum! Mental note – start seeking Swiss jobs more aggressively!

Equalized in USD but cost of living is not factored in. This would affect these #s quite a bit.


As it turns out, only 40% came out to vote and the referendum was not passed. They hope to revisit it next year.

Swiss Holidays: L’Escalade

Post by Lauren

This weekend was the annual L’Escalade celebration. In French, “escalade” means climb. In 1602, the Savoys (now France) wanted Geneva badly. It was its own republic and not to mention, a free town. The Duke of Savoy wanted to push out Protestantism and make it his capital. So, his army secretly gathered and tried to climb into the city gate with ladders. They were thwarted and Geneva kept its independence. Thus, the holiday’s name.

 

Geneva, back in the day. Courtesy of wikipedia - escalade-battle-2.jpg

 

I was originally told that there was a lady was up late at night cooking soup who heard the climbers and dumped her boiling pot of vegetable soup on their heads and their screams woke up the Genevois so they could defend their city. Apparently, this recount is false that she was the initial defender, but she did dump soup on one soldier’s head and killed him. And his screams woke up more people. She also was the mother of 16 children.

And to commemorate the brave Madame Royaume (the soup thrower lady) they have a marmites (chocolate cauldrons) into which they dip marzapan vegetables to symbolize her vegetable soup. How this correlation was made, I am not sure, but I do know that the confectioner’s on Rue de Marché are very grateful.

 

A typical chocolate display for L’Escalade. I can’t imagine what the big pot cost. Also below are marzipan vegetables.


Nevertheless, the Escalade celebrates Geneva’s victory and all weekend, people are gathered in Old Town, dressed in period attire. We went Saturday to explore.

Every half hour, there were demonstrations on musket firing, cannons, and battle scenes.

Just for L’escalade weekend, they open the Passage de Monetier, a secret passageway that was used during enemy attacks. It was very tight!! They served vin chaud, a hot spice wine that was very handy to keep warm. I don’t recommend having four cups if you want to have a productive Sunday.

Sunday, we went to the grande cortege, or parade. It was really cool and done in the dark so it is by candlelight, to mimic the time of evening of L’Escalade. There was lots of fire involved and thousands of Genevois in costume.

 

At the end, they do a huge bonfire in St. Peter’s Cathedral.

We enjoyed our first L’Escalade and are glad to live in this city so proud of their heritage!

 

Maybe we got Halloween all wrong

Post by Lauren

This weekend is a big weekend in Geneva history, L’Escalade. I knew there would be historical celebrations in store. What I didn’t count on was hundreds of teenagers, in costume, throwing eggs and flour at each other in downtown Geneva. In fact, I was almost caught in the cross fire coming home from Globo Gym Friday.

No one seemed alarmed at all. See all the passerbyers just checking their blackberries, smoking their cigarettes, in all black, of course. I consulted wikipedia, and yes, it quotes, “Teenagers tend to throw eggs and flour at each other as part of the celebration”.

Good that we cleared that up. Here are a few photos from this mornings wait for the bus:

Glad I made it safely home instead of being made into a cake.

Gratitude Friday: An Amazing US Trip

Post by Lauren

This post was easy. We are very grateful for an amazing three weeks in the USA. We were able to fit so much in, and in all, I think we saw easily over 100 friends and family members. Below is a pictorial recap:

WASHINGTON, DC
We stayed the night with great friends after landing at Dulles at 4pm. Conveniently they live 5 minutes away from the airport and a Mexican restaurant. Two amazing things when you are jet-lagged. We enjoyed an evening with them and had a 7am flight to:

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

I was able to participate in our annual Casserole Christmas. This holiday was born when there was a group of us Southern gals working together who discovered that Isabella usually didn’t have casseroles for Thanksgiving and Christmas, mainly fresher Californian type foods. We wanted to showcase our heart-heavy casseroles for her, so this event was born with about 6 or 7 of us. As you can see, there are a few Casserole-lovers in the making. One is a 2nd child, one a 3rd and another a 4th child – can you believe it?

I was able to participate in our annual Casserole Christmas. This holiday was born when there was a group of us Southern gals working together who discovered that Isabella usually didn’t have casseroles for Thanksgiving and Christmas, mainly fresher Californian type foods. We wanted to showcase our heart-heavy casseroles for her, so this event was born with about 6 or 7 of us. As you can see, there are a few Casserole-lovers in the making. One is a 2nd child, one a 3rd and another a 4th child - can you believe it?

We also hosted Pizza Night. Since we had limited time in Charlotte, we thought it was the only way we could see such a volume of friends with most working. We just ordered some food into our empty house in Charlotte. We wish we could have spent more time talking to everyone but are thankful that those who were able to joined us, did!

We also hosted Pizza Night. Since we had limited time in Charlotte, we thought it was the only way we could see such a volume of friends with most working. We just ordered some food into our empty house in Charlotte. We wish we could have spent more time talking to everyone but are thankful that those who were able to joined us, did!

APPOMATTOX, VIRGINIA

We were so fortunate C & J were in town (for the previous Thursday night Hokie Game) with their new little bundle of joy. They brought her over after we arrived for playtime and Mom, Annette and I fought over who played with her.

 

We had the pleasure of visiting with all but one of my aunts/uncles in Appomattox (don’t worry, we got to see them later!). Mom had also arranged to have my stepsisters and their families join us for a Thankgiving brunch. What a full time of fun!

 

CINCINNATI & COLUMBUS, OHIO

We continued onto Cincinnati. We stayed with Andres for a night in his cozy Victorian. We went out for sushi and then onto The Lackman, a really cool bar in downtown Cinci. I am sad I didn’t take a photo except for this one of Gabe and Maude on the sofa. But, I made up for it in Columbus where we got some shots of N & L’s adorable girls. We learned that a 2 year old can operate an iPad better than I can. It helps that she is above the curve, but still….I have some catching up to do.

 

MENDON, OHIO

In Gabe’s hometown, we had 3 Thanksgivings, a birthday, and an engagement to celebrate. We had absolutely beautiful Ohio weather. We were excited to have my Mom & Buster join us for the final Thanksgiving.

 

ATLANTA

Gabe worked in Atlanta but during the evenings we were able to visit friends and family. We were able to meet Baby S finally. I also got to meet Baby CA as I didn’t get to see her before we departed for Switzerland. We celebrated my cousins wife’s birthday with them at their home. Also, I got to have an all day date with a dear friend for some catch up time and as a bonus, we picked up her cute twins at daycare.

NEXT, WE SEPARATED. GABE WENT TO PHILLY AND NEW YORK TO VISIT FRIENDS & FOR GUYS TRIP. I RETURNED TO CHARLOTTE TO CELEBRATE A BDAY AND VT GAME.

Next, we separated. Gabe went to Philly and NYC to visit friends and for his annual guys trip.  I returned to Charlotte to celebrate a birthday and VT game.

Whew, what a great time! We are thankful that everything went smoothly. All the flights were relatively on time and we lost no bags (checking 4 each time!). We are also very thankful we got to see so many people and we didn’t get sick. I was a little paranoid about getting some sort of cold when I had a full schedule of meeting infants.

We are truly blessed.

We are going to rest this weekend to catch up from all the fun! Bon weekend, everyone!