The Closing of An Era…

 … ok that was a little melodramatic 😉

This has indeed been a year of changes… good changes? bad changes? i don’t think they are necessarily good or bad – but they are changes, which i now can see, will lead to a better path…

March & April saw me (just me, Sandra) being scared, frightened, lost, angry, frustrated, upset, uncertain, sad, accepting, enlightened & now in a better place…

So what happened? (Most of my friends, living in Switzerland, would have heard about this already)

1st of all, i was slapped with a HUGE traffic fine for doing a stupid thing – going down a residential road, thinking all residential roads are 50km/h – NOPE! This one was 30km/h – i was rushing down it, trying not to be late to open the book stand for an important exhibition so needless to say i was caught on camera & cos it was 20km/h above, i was also charged with a criminal offence!

 
i was scared when i read that letter, mainly cos there was a law passed that criminals would be deported without trial the year before. Or so that’s how i understood the law – me & my poor German skills (legal terms are just difficult). Thank God – i have a friend who explained things to me & i calmed down.
 
Then came another letter – this time saying i drove without a license. But i had my International one. So that same friend – God bless her – helped me again & wrote back to say i have an International one. They wrote back & said not valid as i failed the conversion test 8 years ago – 8 years ago when i understood almost zero German. We assumed an International one was fine as we have shown it to police doing spot-checks before & they said nothing.
 
Anyhow, so i can no longer legally drive in Switzerland – closure of my driving era in Switzerland – close at least until i go & take the Swiss one, from the very beginning. Which led me to another closure – closure of my book biz. Without being able to drive, it would be very difficult to do book fairs – especially for schools which is my core business. i tried it for a small school – it was too hard. So the floodgate of emotions flowed…
 
It took me a while but i came to realise – God helped me to realise – that it is all for the better – it is time to move on. You see, Tobias’ teacher had highlighted he was having problems in Kindi (or she was having problems with him) 10 weeks after he 1st started Kindi in Aug 2009. After several times going back & fore, we finally went for the evaluation she asked for. The "school" doctor announced Tobias as definitely having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in less than an hour of examination & recommended Ritalin while denying the side-effects of this anti-psychotic drug on children & declaring that (in the doc’s words) "Either give him the Ritalin or become socially unacceptable".  Since then, we have gone for a second opinion (which confirmed the diagnosis but recommended alternatives) & gone the non-drug route. 
 
However, ever since the diagnosis came, i have been thinking i should be setting aside more time to help Tobias & to read more about alternative treatments & what we can do at home to help him. i bought loads of books but i didn’t have the time to read them at all, with running the house & the business. So i was thinking at the end of last year, i would slow down the business. Except that i made a tiny tiny profit (finally after 4 years) & it went to my head & i started January thinking i would expand the business. But i knew that God had indicated that slowing down was the way to go. i pushed it to the back of my mind. So i got my head knocked hard! Losing the right to drive drove the slow down! 
 
Really, i need to learn to listen to God more & not go off on my own cos God knows best – He has to, He’s the Creator of the Universe!
 
Any which way, i now see the point God is trying to make – it is time to focus on the family – which is what i plan to do from now on. Indeed i should focus more on listening to God’s direction for my life 🙂
 
Here’s to new directions & following God’s directions *cheers*
syc

Looking back…

… on February 2011…

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice – so i thought it would be good time to look back upon the cold winter season…

This year we decided it was time to do the "Swiss" thing & spend a week up in the mountains skiing, instead of the normal 3 days, 2 nights which we normally do. The incentive was that we had a good friend, Andrew, who had wanted to come & learn to snowboard. So we booked ourselves into a nice little holiday apartment in Laax – one of the higher (altitude) & nicer resorts here. We had been here some 5 or 6 years ago when Walter’s company had their ski-weekend in Flims – same area, just different villages.

It was quite an eventful trip. & it all started with booking the apartment. i did my research & we settled on an apartment we liked but soon found out that it was not possible to do just 5 days (our initial plan) – we had to do Saturday till Saturday – so we did. Then after paying the deposit, i received an email saying there was a glitch in the computer system & they had that apartment double booked! So searched again for another apartment – cos they provided as much help as they could which was nice. Found one – very near to the talstation (cable station to go up the mountain) – which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as you will see later on. So we were set & off we went!

Here is Tobias with Andrew, waiting to hit the slopes:

 
Here is Andrew – his 1st day on the slopes with his snowboard instructor:
Here is Tobias on his 1st day on the slopes before lessons:
i  decided that this year he should have proper lessons as he seems to not want to learn from me anymore & besides Mummy wanted to go for refresher course (the season before was a painful season as i tried to get my ski legs back on my own after a few years of not really skiing). So everyone was booked for lessons except Walter – who had free & easy time to himself – at least for the 1st few days 😉
 
Now here’s when i get to tell you about the event which made the whole trip so very eventful!!
 
Tobias was booked in for a full 5 days of ski school – full days which included lunch with his instructor. He was really excited & we saw him off 1st day. He was in the blue group (beginners group). He came home with a little cold on the 1st day & i was actually wondering if we should let him go that 2nd day – but he insisted so he went for the 2nd day of fun down the slopes. Again he came home a little sick, we gave him some meds & he insisted on going the 3rd day. So we let him as the meds had helped. When i dropped him off that 3rd morning, the instructor said to him that he is switching him to another instructor who had more beginner students. Apparently this 1st group consisted of kids who already had some formal instruction so i said ok as long as he is still with the beginner group. & off i went to my own ski lesson. 
i was sitting on the chairlift, on my way to the cable car to get down the mountain, when my phone rang, but i could not reach it as it was in my backpack & the backpack was stuck behind me & i could not twist around to take it off. It rang twice so i figured must be important. It was Walter & i rang him back – the 1st words i heard were, "They can’t find him." i was like, "WHAT!?". So it seemed that when Walter went to pick Tobias up, he was not there & the ski school did not know where he was. It was the longest 10mins of my life as i waited for the cable car to come up & take me down. Another 15mins in the cable car! While in the gondal, the ski school rang to ask for Walter’s handphone number & they still did not know where Tobias was! They had sent Walter back to the apartment to see if Tobias walked home by himself. By the time i finally got off the gondal (i have never been so impatient before, they just weren’t getting off fast enough) & got to the ski school, they had found Tobias. & i found Walter yelling loudly at the school manager & the instructor.
Walter had found Tobias sitting in the stairwell of our rented apartment. Poor baby! After we brought him in & settled him, we got him to tell us what had happened.
So he told us that the new instructor he was transferred to took them for the morning & then came back down before lunch time & dropped off some kids to their parents & a couple to the daycare, then he waved goodbye & left. The instructor had not realised that Tobias’ parents were not there. But the instructor should not have left Tobias – Tobias was a full day student which meant he was to have lunch with his instructor. Anyhow, Tobias was talking with his friend & then when his friend left with his parents, he realised we were not there yet. So he sat on the bench & waited. After a while, he said no one came so he decided to walk back to the apartment (Thank God that our apartment was close to the talstation – the 1st one – the double-booked one – was like a few bus stops away!). He said that halfway an elderly lady saw him struggling with his skis & helped him to carry them up to the apartment. Then when he arrived at the apartment, a man who also rented an apartment in the same block, let him into the stairwell. i truly THANK GOD for these 2 angels whom God sent to care for Tobias!
So he sat there, no lunch, till Walter found – at 4pm!! He sat for 4 hours, no lunch. But i thank God that at least he didn’t have to sit out in the cold & i thank God that he had the good sense to walk back to the apartment & i thank God that God sent his angels.
The ski school was of course very apologetic – the boss personally rang us & met us that evening to apologise & explain. The instructor who took Tobias on the 3rd day was new but the boss said they train their instructors to wait & make sure kids’ parents are there before leaving. But the instructor was not told when Tobias transferred to him, that Tobias was a full day student – he thought that Tobias was like the others – half day students. The entire course fees was refunded. The ski school manager & the instructor also apologised. We, of course, gave them a piece of our minds. 
i was too distraught that evening to cook dinner so we went out for a rather expensive Chinese dinner – which was really quite good.
 
The next 2 days were much better – they were careful & made sure we were there before letting Tobias go.
 
On the last day, the kids got to listen to a rather cute story told by this man dressed as the school’s mascot (he’s called Amisabi) !
 
Here’s Tobias with his instructor (who, i think, was mildly terrified of Walter after the lost incident):
 
Here’s Tobias on the kiddie slope:

 
Here’s all the kids & their instructors, waiting for the storytelling:
 
This is the mascot with his little red dog or maybe it is supposed to be a little red fox?:
 
One thing that stood out was the lack of snow near the bottom of the ski runs – this is normally a resort where certain chalets (built closer to the ski runs) are normally ski-in & ski-out – but this past season it was not, take a look at this:
 
So that was our very eventful ski vacation: the bad thing was the ski school losing Tobias, but the good thing is that despite that we all had a good time, Tobias learnt more skiing & i can now make it down a slope without painful falls & Andrew is so hooked on snowboarding, even though he fell lots, he’s coming back again next season – or at least that’s the plan 😉
 
February held another 2 special days for us: My mum’s Birthday & Walter’s Birthday – just a day apart!
We were sad that we can’t be there in person to celebrate with my mum but Skype enabled us to wish her Happy Birthday 😀 Hurray for technology!
 
This year i decided that i will bake a cake for Walter’s birthday – here’s Father & Son beaming in front of a Football cake (notice all the paper frogs around the cake – Tobias folded all those for his daddy 😉
 
It was a small simple celebration, just the 3 of us. But it was lovely.
 
Well, that’s it for now – more catch up posts to come…
syc

Tobias’ 7th Birthday…

Well, we celebrated Tobias’ 7th Birthday 6 days ago… i still can not believe that my baby – ok no more a baby – my little guy is a full 7 years old!
So here’s the lowdown on this year’s birthday…

He asked a Space theme this year & a Rocket cake!! The space theme came through the invites we hand delivered to each of his little friends – 10 in all.

There are 2 cards each cos we had the party @ Migros (for my friends outside of Switzerland – this is one of 2 huge supermarket chains – it has everything) this year & they give invitation cards too – but these invitation cards could be dropped off @ Migros for entry into a lucky draw for tickets to Europa Park! So we did 2 invites for each kid 🙂

i was really scratching my head to figure out how to do a rocket cake. i was not going to attempt an actual stand-up rocket cake – don’t think i can pull that off. In the end, i was planning on icing a round cake to make it look like the moon & build a rocket from Lego & stick it on the moon cake. Then my friend, Michaela, came to the rescue. We visited them during the time i was cracking my brains about the rocket cake. She presented me with the perfect solution – Puzzle Cake! Thanks Michaela!

 
So i wanted to be sure that i could pull this off as i have never used this system before & here’s how the trial cake turned out:
Not bad if i do say so myself.
 
Here’s the process:
The instructions actually say to bake the cupcakes already lined up in the shape you want – but Swiss ovens are not that big & the pattern just won’t fit onto my baking tray, as you can see from the trial cake. So i just baked them as i would normal cupcakes.
 
Then you assemble. i had to assemble it with 2 parts short as the cake board i made was too short, even though i followed the length it said in the recipe:
 
Then we ice & there you have it – Rocket Cake!
 
Now we are ready for the party. 
BUT… before that, i have to tell you about the cute tradition they have @ our Kindergarten here in our village. When a child turns 6 or 7 (depending on when your birthday is, that determines how old you are when you get to Kindi), meaning the next school year he/she goes to 1st class (1st grade), the entire Kindi class comes & picks you up from your home on your birthday. They come with the birthday wagon!!
 
Here’s the birthday wagon arriving:
 
Here’s Tobias in the wagon & ready to be taken to Kindi:
He gets to wear the green birthday cape & a ring of flowers on his head (this year’s theme for Kindi was flowers & nature).
Walter went with them back to Kindi, carrying the sandwiches & chocolate ladybugs for their birthday snack time. He took quite a few videos of what happens @ Kindi for the birthday boy. i hope to be able to edit that into a short video soon – will post that as soon as i have it ready. Apparently there are a few more "ceremonies" which happen, such as, showers of blessings (i think) with a song…
 
Oh there is another thing the birthday kid gets from the Kindi – the birthday boy/girl gets to take the Birthday Hedgehog home for the night. & cos Tobias’ birthday was a Friday, he got to keep it over the weekend – he was soooo thrilled. That Hedgehog went everywhere in the house with him for those 2.5 days. i would not let him take it outside cos i was afraid he would lose it as he has lost toys when he was out & about before.
 
Here’s over-excited him & his Birthday Hedgehog:
 
i simply love how special the Kindi made this day for him!
 
Now off to the party @ Migros. It was great – they took care of everything from the deco to the games to letting the kids make their own pizza & even had a little goodie bag for each of the kids. i like making up my own goodie bag so the kids went home with loads 🙂 
& it was very reasonably priced!! 
Wanna have a go at guessing how much such a party for 11 kids cost?
 
Here’s the table, ready & waiting for guests to come:
They also wrote his name on a little birthday signboard they have in the restaurant.
 
Here are the ingredients for the pizza:
 
The guests arrive & off they go, decorating their own little chef’s hat:
 
Here are the 11 little chefs:
Now it’s pizza making time:
 
Then some time outside to get the wiggles out & burn off that energy 😉
 
Here’s Musical Chairs – the party lady used her smartphone to play the music – talk about technology becoming such an integrated part of our lives:
 
Then it was back to eat the pizza they made & then came the fav time of any birthday boy – Pressies!! (Presents to the non-aussie initiated)
 
They had cake & that was pretty much it!
 
i did bake one more time – i made cupcakes (this time just normal round ones) for the Sunday School so that he could celebrate it with them too.
 
At the end of the birthday weekend, we realised that we did not have one photo as a family – so we set up the little tripod on our dining table, set a candle on a cupcake & took our family picture 😉

 
Another year has come & gone & my little boy is getting to be a big boy now…
syc