January 30, 2013

You're moving too?

So I was thinking...maybe you are moving to Switzerland too? Maybe you stumbled upon my blog via some searches on the ol' google? And because I was in the same shoes as you, I thought I would be helpful and post some information and links that helped us in our research of moving & living in Switzerland. I would like to point out that I am already a Swiss citizen (I have dual citizenship with Canada....which is where I live now....and my husband is Canadian....and our son is both!) so the whole permits thing is a much easier thing for us, then a lot of other people....I will provide a helpful link to some information concerning that subject, however, I am by no means an expert on that matter (or any other matter really....just trying to be helpful ;) )
I am not going to get into moving costs yet....because I don't know that yet! ;) These are just very general things that Justin and I have researched so far and found helpful for our soon to be move.
I am going to make this post a few parts...I think it would become too long (and honestly, I want to make these posts useful and not take any shortcuts to get it over with) if I wrote it all today...

So today's post will be about some general monthly expenses to consider, getting a place to live, and transportation.
Here we go!

Ahhhh....Switzerland....it's pretty nice, right? I think so too. I am glad we are agreeing on stuff....

I am assuming that you already familiarized yourself with the country itself (visited it, read about it, looked at photos, dreamed about it...etc...)

The Swiss flag...

Map...You are here....or have the urge to be...
So, when Justin and I first decided on this crazy adventure, we immediately started to research cost. We wanted to know what our potential earnings could be and what our potential monthly costs would be. That being said, we plan on renting an apartment...not home ownership (which is actually not common in Switzerland).
I wanted to make sure that we were aware of every little cost that could potentially crop up on a monthly basis....I learned about Billag, nebenkosten, the health care system...etc...
This is the list we came up with for ourselves...

Rent & Nebenkosten (basically means side costs...like utilities)
Billag (which is a yearly/monthly cost you pay for TV/Radio) The Billag site is found here ...it is in German only...but you can clearly see the cost (for radio and tv per year it is $462.40). We don't plan on having a tv, we don't use cable now at all, even though we have access to it. I prefer to download the few shows that I really like and for Felix, we have a few dvd's that we put on for him here and there. For radio only, the cost per year is $169.15. If you have a radio in your car, they consider that too!
Health Insurance & other Insurance (it is mandatory to have health insurance in Switzerland and it must be purchased)
Transportation (we will not be buying a car...the rail system is amazing in Switzerland)
Food/Essentials (Felix will be out of diapers by then...we use cloth diapers, but disposables at night and on long trips...so that cost will be down...yay!) If you are going to be in a building with shared laundry (very common in CH), laundry costs are another expense to calculate into your monthly expenses.
Taxes (I am still researching how exactly the tax system works over there, but safe to say to save a months worth of salary for taxes....so we plan on dividing one months salary by 12 and putting that amount into a savings account each month in order to be prepared for taxes)
Phone/Internet (I believe you have to have a home phone in Switzerland (I could be wrong) so you can't just have a cellphone only....which is what we do here at the moment....we are thinking that we might not have cellphones over in CH to keep our costs down....)
Extras (always nice to put a little aside for exploring and checking out new restaurants....especially once you have first arrived....we plan on getting a zoo membership if we end up in Zurich)
Pop Ups (like haircuts, gifts, clothes)
Daycare  (Something we are considering once we are settled and I start looking for work as well)

You Might have a similar list to consider or you might have extras.... eg. If you have animals....insurance & food for them etc...

Where to live?

Depending on your language skills (there are four (4!!!) main languages spoken in Switzerland...German, Italian, French & Romansh. Different parts of Switzerland speak these languages. While growing up in Switzerland, my parents had a summer house near the border of Italy, in Bellinzona. A lot of people did not speak German there, which was hard at times....but we got by. So it is important to educate yourself on the area where you hope/plan to live.
Some good links for finding housing...
 This forum I found, has been so helpful with everything and anything to do with Switzerland. I do caution you to use the search function button before posting any kind of question(s) and also to post an introduction  of yourself first (in the appropriate area and without questions in it)...they are a picky bunch of people on that forum....picky, but helpful too. ;)
Their housing thread found here has been beyond helpful....much of the same links that I gave above can be found in this thread, along with a lot of other helpful information to do with housing in general. I don't want to get into the actual money number costs of housing and other things to be honest. I think it is so subjective. I think once you start researching these links for yourself, you will get a good idea of the actual numbers for yourself (depending on area, size, etc..)


Transportation !

It is pretty awesome in Switzerland. Both times that I traveled to CH with Justin we got the Swiss Pass. This pass allowed us unlimited use of any mode of transportation (bus, train, tram, or boat) in all of Switzerland (& Liechtenstein) during a certain period of time (that we chose). You can purchase one for 4, 8, 15 or 22 days or one month and  it also allows a free entrance to over 400 museums and exhibitions. It also saved us a percentage on mountain lifts etc...
Definitely worth the price if you plan on exploring a lot. Mind you this is a good idea for visiting the country (or if you are on a holiday)....I think it would be too expensive for everyday stuff. BUT! there are amazing rail pass options to fit your needs....whatever they may be....and they can be found here.
Through one of the lovely blogs I read...which is another thing I would suggest....find blogs (like this one!) that will be helpful with your move and inspiring too!....I love reading Swiss Lark! I have found a ton of good information for living in Switzerland from that blog....and it is fun to read. Just the other day, I found an amazing link on her site about car sharing. So if you are sick of taking the train/bus and want to have a car for a special trip in Switzerland, go here.

I hope that this has been somewhat useful so far for you?

Stay tuned for the second part! :)

January 29, 2013


Our little baby isn't so little anymore...

I made a carrot cake with cream cheese icing...

 I don't know if this is "normal" or not, but I grew up with having a birthday table. On your birthday, the kitchen or living room table was decorated for you and your special day. Sometimes there were streamers, sometimes balloons (or both!) etc...but always, there was cake, a gift or two, cards and a fresh flower of some sort. We have kept this tradition up over the last few years with just the two of us, and now also with Felix.

My 3rd birthday with my brother and sister at my side ready to assist with the candles ;)

The cake was a hit! I was worried about making it (I am not that creative with decorating etc)...but I found a "Thomas the Tank Engine" book at the dollar store and cut out a couple of images, pasted them on popsicle sticks and used them to decorate the cake (along with a couple of candles I found). The "WOW" I got from Felix when he saw it, made my day. 

The balloons were a big hit!

ahhhh...yes...the Christmas jammies....maybe I should have changed him before I took the photos? ;) 

January 24, 2013

Birth Story...

With the impending 2nd birthday looming....I thought I would share my birth story with you. Yup. Why not? ;) 
When I found out I was pregnant, I started to read birth stories online constantly. I was obsessed! I like to be prepared (but never am) for anything. To me, giving birth is the ultimate thing that you just can't completely prepare for. Anything can happen...no matter how hard you try to control it. I totally understand the need/want of having birth plans, but in my honest opinion, if you really want/need to, write one, but don't hold yourself to it. It is not written in stone....more a guideline/wishlist. 
I did not write one. I did have a clear picture in my head of how I wanted things to go. 

1. I wanted a midwife and I wanted to give birth at a birthing center.
This wish was quickly dashed early into my pregnancy when I found out that New Brunswick (the province we were living in during that time) does not allow midwives to practice. How sad is that? It is one of (I think?) three provinces and a territory left that does not (legally) allow midwifery yet.
I looked (briefly) into getting a doula, but decided against it for some stupid reason I can't remember. I so regret this! After the birth, I did a lot more research into the doula profession and found it to be amazing! So amazing in fact, that soon after I had Felix, I decided that I wanted to study to become a doula...but that is a post for another day.

2. I wanted to go into labour naturally. 
Think again! and add a very swollen....you know what.
I was a week over due and the doctor wanted me to be induced (which I would not do again, unless the baby was in distress)....it was suppose to have been done in the morning, but due to the hospital being very busy I went in later that evening to be induced. They did the induction (an insert thing... ) and I left with my husband an hour or so after arriving (around 8pm-ish). Very soon after we got home I realized I had an allergic reaction to the induction insert thingie....yay! I was completely swollen down there!!!! lovely. My husband phoned the hospital and after having to convince them that this was true (apparently no one has ever had an allergic reaction) they suggested Benadryl to help with the swelling (said it was not going to harm the baby). So around 1am my husband drove all over our little town and found some at a gas station...he is awesome.  It did not really help, but I started to feel a bit better. We both headed to bed around 3:30am.....just as we started to fall asleep....my water broke at 3:50am! I just heard this "PLOP" sound....I stood up and felt it start to trickle down my legs....I believe my husbands exact words to my telling him my water just broke were "Of course it did" (in a very sarcastic, but still excited, tone)

 3. I wanted to labour at home for as long as possible. 
Nope. Did not happen. I had done a test earlier on at a doctors visit that said that I was GBS positive. Which means that they want you on IV fluids as soon as you go into active labour. So I headed to the hospital as soon as my water broke and contractions started. I also had meconium in my water, which they also wanted to make sure did not cause any infection. 
At the time, all this scared me...but after I did some research (again, after the birth) I realized that theses things happen quite often and there is no reason to panic. I kind of wish i had stayed home a bit longer to labour. 
Back to the story...after my water broke...
This is when I started to panic of course...because reality set in....we are having a baby!!!! My contractions started within seconds of my water breaking. I headed to the shower to rinse off and calm down. I was shaking so much I could hardly talk (not from pain....it was very manageable, but from just panicking) I remember my husband reaching his hand over the shower door reassuring me that everything will be fine....then running around grabbing last minute things for the hospital....and running back into the bathroom to reassure me again....we were quite the sight. I got dressed and we headed to the car (after we phoned the hospital to say we were on the way). We got blocked into the driveway for a few minutes by a snowplow!!! We live on a tiny dead end street! REALLY????
(on a side note...I was unaware that once your water breaks it can keep on breaking of sorts....I was all nice and clean from the shower in clean dry clothes...for about five minutes....the car seat was completely soaked (as were my pants) once we got the hospital (an 8 minute drive away).

4. I wanted to have a completely natural labour.
Almost...but no cigar! One thing that made me quite angry a few weeks later (I went on a crazy research high after I had Felix....not to say I didn't before I had him, but everything was much clearer to me after I had gone through the experience of labour and birth...I am just one of those people that need to experience something first hand) was that I was given drugs to speed up my contractions without them telling me. This caused me to have harder contractions. Which then made me need help with pain management. They offered me fentanyl....saying that it would be easy since I was already hooked up to an IV. The nurse told me that it was a very mild pain reliever. I did not know anything about it other than what she told me quickly and said yes (another regret). Little did I know at this time that with them giving me something to speed up my contractions and the fentanyl, Felix's heart rate was dropping. They had me hooked up to a heart monitor from that point on for the rest of the time. I now know that had they just let me labour naturally, I would not have needed the fentanyl and his heart rate would have been fine. It really hit home when I first watched the movie "The business of being born". It is very true to my experience. Rush rush rush. They tried to scare me with a c-section, saying that if I did not start pushing his heart rate might drop more and that they would have to do an emergency c-section. My body at this point was not telling me to push at all. It felt wrong. I trusted the nurses and doctors and pushed. I pushed for almost an hour. They did an episiotomy without asking/warning to get him out and they also used a vacuum. They took him right away and cleaned him up and made sure he had no meconium in his lungs. We got to hold him for about five minutes before they took him to the NICU for observations for his heart rate. 

5.  I wanted to wait to find out the gender.
This one worked! My one stipulation in the delivery room was that Justin tell me if we had a girl or boy. I actually forgot to ask after the delivery and Justin turned to me and asked if I wanted to know if we had a daughter or son. :) 

....a tiny baby boy named Felix....born January 28th at 6lbs 15oz at 2:48pm...

...He was pretty cute....so we decided to keep him ;)

a couple of minutes after birth...

In the NICU...Justin was constantly at his side...

In the hospital room...

*I wanted to add that in no way was this birthing experience a horrible one. The doctor and nurses were really nice people. I just think more honest communication needs to come about. A re-thinking of how a regular labour/birth should be handled in a hospital setting (if it needs to be in one).

January 16, 2013

Flying by....

So I just finished wrapping Felix's birthday gifts for his 2nd (!!!!) birthday coming up on the 28th of January. I should add that I had to search for the gifts for over an hour in the house....for the life of me I could not remember where I had hidden them. ahem. I must be getting older too ;)
I did find them...in a filing cabinet. I would also like to point out that Felix is still too young to grasp the concept of trying to find your gifts before your birthday....so my whole "hiding the gifts" idea was pointless and only for my benefit. double ahem.
Any-who! The whole wrapping gifts for his 2nd birthday made me all reminiscent about his birth and his first birthday...and so I thought I would bombard you with a few photos from those times :)
Aren't I kind? ;)

Only a few days old...

Visiting family in another province for the first time...3 weeks old...

Just got home from the hospital...3 days old...

First birthday goodness....

January 7, 2013

Chop Chop!

....and off it went...and went....and went....

I haven't had super long hair lately, but always about shoulder length, so this was still quite a big chop off for me :)
Out with the old, in with the new!
Have you done something crazy (for you) with your hair lately or hope to?

January 5, 2013

The honeymoon is over... ;)

To somewhat continue from my previous post about moving to Switzerland...

We actually were back in Switzerland this past Summer (we had previously been there three years prior for our honeymoon). This trip was to see if we had rose coloured glasses on before....we wanted to see the actual reality of living day to day there....with a toddler....ahem. 

We definitely got a reality check....it rained 10 out of the 14 days we were there. BUT! lo' and behold...we still want to move there....even after a not so relaxing "vacation".

Gone were the days of drinking wine at every meal....quiet conversation meals that lasted hours...warm meals....relaxing meals that you ate too much at and then had a leisurely stroll after or nap.....afternoon naps were the best.....sighhhhh.... ;) 

You know what though? We still did a lot. We traveled all over the place and had fun. We did stop at every f%$k*ng playground in existence along the way...but we had fun. And it definitely gave us a good perspective on living abroad with a child. 

I shall now overload you with photos of our last trip there.... :) 

*Another bonus about Switzerland? The amazing beautiful playgrounds they have, the great parks, zoos, & badis (swimming areas)....very kid friendly. The Zurich airport also has an AMAZING baby/kid area....if you are ever stuck there for long periods of time....find it and go there! It was a life saver!

Zurich zoo...


Awesomeness found at a playground...it was BIG hit!

Switzerland...cows included.

Waiting patiently for the train...

At the Badi (kid's area)

Not a fan of the big noisy trains....

Why Switzerland?

If you have read my little "about me" blurb in the corner, you might be wondering....why Switzerland? Here are some of the reasons why my husband and I want to move with our son to lovely Switzerland...

We rented the top couple of floors of this chalet for a number of years....

My brother...

I grew up there :) I am a Swiss-Canadian. My mom, brother, sister, and I moved to Canada at the end of the '80's when I was nine years old. Coming fresh off a divorce, my mom wanted to be close to her sister (who lived in Canada with her family)....she also loved Canada, having lived here briefly in the '60's. We learned English fast enough, my mom already familiar with the language, and fell in love with this beautiful country. 


Though I visited Switzerland on my own over the years, the thought of moving back never really entered my mind. I did have a two month stint there where I was planning on staying for a year to work, but that whole mess didn't really work out....chalk it up to being an unrealistic twenty two year old at the time. ;)

Justin and I went together for the first time (he had never been) on our honeymoon. It was an amazing trip. We talked about it often after....toyed with the idea of moving there (doesn't everyone do that after an amazing unrealistic trip somewhere lovely?)....which we always shot down as being crazy! Who does that? Just moves to another country? Crazy adventurous people that we are not!

To keep it (somewhat) short....after an insanely hard first year of being parents, we took a good long look at our life together. Talked about what works and what doesn't in a really frank and honest way. The dream that we thought we wanted, wasn't what we wanted anymore....and that was hard to admit. It just didn't suit us and our wants & needs had definitely changed since becoming parents. 

I remember driving back from a city outing (two hours away from home) with Justin and Felix asleep in the car seat in the back...I can't remember our conversation exactly, but Justin made a joking remark about moving to Switzerland....and I didn't scoff....or snort....my thoughtful silence took him by complete surprise. In that two hour ride home, we basically decided to change our life course. :)

We also decided that quite frankly, "five year plans" don't work for us. Things change, life happens (no pun intended) and we are done putting ourselves under that pressure. It works for a lot of people...not us though....and that is okay. We still have goals mind you, but they are okay to change. We now have A LOT of plans in our pockets....some we might use, some we might not.

When we told some family and friends of our plan to move to Switzerland, some were supportive, some confused, some not-so-supportive, some asked good questions....some not-so-good questions ;) ....it actually didn't matter to us...we were done trying to please people. You really have to stop giving a shit at some point in your life....we were slowly heading that way for a few years now, and now it is official... ;) 

So to slowly sum up this massive post....after months of crazy research about living abroad & getting all my papers updated, getting a passport for Felix, getting my marriage & name updated etc... we decided to take the plunge. We sold most of our furniture and donated a lot of things (we now have about 32 boxes and 5 pieces of odd things in storage) gave up our house, moved to a different province to rent out part of my mom's house, Justin is going back to school this coming August to get his teaching certificate (it will just be a 10 month program for him), he is learning German, we both work now and have Felix in daycare. We are lining all our ducks up in a row so to speak. We hope to start looking for work abroad Spring 2014. Justin hopes to find work teaching at an International school....more than likely in Zurich. Are we a little nuts? Probably. Excited? Most definitely.

Some of the things we LOVE about Switzerland...
* We have family over there too! 
* The natural beauty
* The pace of life
* How close it is to other countries (lots of weekend trips in our future!)
* The FOOD!!!
*The school system
* How things are approached with common sense (not that they aren't here as well, but I find it is a lot more common over there (my opinion only)
* The transportation system....I don't drive, and over there, I am not missing out on anything by not driving, the rail system is so well mapped out!

***I think I will expand on these in a later post sometime....this one is already packed with things! ;)

This is just the tip of the iceberg....and this is not to say that Canada is not amazing and that we don't have an equally long list of things we LOVE about Canada....it's just time for a new adventure for us....with lots of visits back to Canada for sure :)

Do you have any adventures planned?

January 3, 2013

Jumping in...

Ummmm.....so Justin and I decided that it would be a good....make that great! idea to celebrate the New Year, and our eight year anniversary, by jumping in the lake.....the ice cold lake....in Canada....in the winter...cold...ice....great idea?....good idea?....pffffft....we are officially idiots and obviously eight years together has not made us smarter....rather melted our brains together into a tiny puddle....which is now frozen....

  I decided to keep my hat on in the water....because you know, THAT would keep me warm. (I also knew that it would serve as a good excuse to not dunk my entire self into the water....like my dumber ahem....better half did ;) ).

Wishing you and yours an amazing & warm 2013!

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