Monday, July 31, 2006


We have learned many things are "forbidden" in Switzerland. While Zurich is the closest thing to the Garden of Eden, I still find it hard to believe the Swiss are forbidden from doing so many things - like mowing their lawns on Sunday.

Friday, July 28, 2006


I don't know how parents find time to exercize. When Chase sleeps, all I want to do is sleep.

Confession: I have not been to the gym in 5 months. Other than walking around Zurich, almost every day, and lugging the stroller up and down three flights of stairs, I have not had a lick of excercize. I now understand how waistlines expand. How couples end up on the couch. How TV has become a national past time.

Yesterday I decided enough is enough. My muscles aren't going to excercize themselves (although I wish they would). So I dusted off my Power Yoga DVD. I bought it while we were in England, as a way to attempt to reclaim my figure after having a baby.

Let me tell you, I was sweating in no time. It was great. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it every day, but I've made a commitment to myself to try. We'll see how long this lasts...

*motivational image below courtesy of

Milestone (4 months, 10 days)

Chase learned how to role from her back onto her front!

She did it for the first time yesterday. She was on the floor playing with some toys. I turned my back on her for only a moment (don't worry grandparents, I made sure she was perfectly safe - no sharp objects, water or choking hazards nearby) and when I looked at her again, she was playing with the same toys, but on her stomach, with a big smile on her face.

By the end of the day, she was doing it over and over again, like a pro. Smarty pants.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Our Brilliant Daughter

Found her toes today.

The Price Is Right ... Wrong!

In an effort to provide those who are curious an idea of how expensive it is to live here, I have decided to keep a list of the most outrageous prices I come across. I will update it as I find new and exciting *expensive* things.

>>Elle Magazine *American/English* -- 15 CHF

>>Hamburger *At the Hyatt, because it is one of only a few buildings with AC* -- 38 CHF

>>Avacado -- 4 CHF

>>Endcleaning *Because you couldn't possibly clean as well yourself* -- 850 to 1,000 CHF

>>Baby toy *Bag with different pieces of cloth, a memory game* -- 50 CHF

>> A 3-bed house in Zurich -- if you are lucky, it will cost just under 2 million CHF

>>Green chicken curry -- 25 CHF

Friday, July 21, 2006

About Zurich, Switzerland

So what is living in Zurich, Switzerland like? Following are some random observations for those of you who are interested...

-- They also speak French, Italian, German and English

*Unless you know Swiss-German, you will have a tough time getting work, unless you are working for an American company (of course)

*They do not see skills as transferable. For this reason, people have specific jobs and are basically locked into their job and their industry. If they want to switch industries (even if you are a receptionist) they need to take multiple preparation classes.

*Because everyone has a specific function in this society, "do-it-yourself" is a truly foreign concept. Instead, they believe one must be specially trained for years to know how to fix anything in the home or even clean properly.

*The Swiss are paid very well. Those who stock shelves in the grocery store make 20 CHF/hour (good money!)

*There seems to be a tremendous amount that is "forbidden" to do or can't be done. Based on the little exposure I have had to the Swiss in Zurich, they seem to be extremely rules oriented, due to the German influence. I have to wonder if they are graded on their "can do" attitude, as we Americans are in job reviews. I'm thinking no...

*Strong emphasis on recylcling, but yet it is not as easy to do as it is in the US

*The city will only pick up specific garbage bags, that can only be bought at the cashier's stand. They are, of course, uber expensive. This is an interesting tactic, as it has made us really cut down on how much garbage we produce (more like has put Brian's packing/stuffing skills to the test).

*Very expensive. (And we thought London was expensive) It is not uncommon to pay 30 CHF - 50 CFH for a pizza. A small pizza. (Portions, by the way, are very small). A burger at the Hyatt (one of the only locations in Zurich with A/C will run you 35 CHF (yes, that is roughly $28.00 for a hamburger).

*The least expensive food we have found, that has a shot at filling you up, are sausages with Burli bread. You can usually get this and a drink for 10 CHF. But honestly, there are only so many sausages one can eat (I always get the pesky charcoal in my teeth).

*A small basket of blueberries will cost roughly 6 CHF, while a basic avocado is roughly 4 CHF. Don't even get me started on the cost of a Starbucks coffee...

*Very expensive. For 80 square meters, you can expect to pay roughly 350,000/400,000 - and that is just outside Zurich. There is literally nothing for sale in Zurich.

*They don't believe in real estate agents (relocation agents take full advantage of this and charge a minimum of 3,000 CHF to help you find a place to live). Without relocation agents, one is forced to monitor postings on various Web sites, 99% in German, and schedule viewings directly with building managers. (It took us 4 months to find the place we are living in now -- and there were literally only 2 other apartments we saw that even came close to meeting our requirements.)

*There are two months designated for moving - specifically April and October. Landlords will rarely sign agreements for less than a year, and they intend to hold you to it. Breaking a contract here is literally impossible.

*Every time you move, you have to pay for (1) Endcleaning - roughly 850 - 1,000 CHF (because you couldn't possibly clean an apartment as well as someone trained to do it) and (2) registering your new address with the local Kreisbourough (sp?) - roughly 30 CHF per person.

That's it for now... more to come....

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Frau Chase: 4 month update

Weight: 6.52 kg (45th percentile - up from 25th percentile)
Length: 62.2 cm (60th percentile - up from 50th percentile)

As far as development, Herr Doctor was pleased. She is getting plenty of "Tummy Time." I'm happy to report she popped right up when the Dr. put her on her tum - good girl! (She much prefers to stand and still would rather be carried then put in her stroller, hence our new nickname for her -- the Empressita.)

She received her second round of immunizations (poor darling) and has slept almost non-stop as a result.

Herr Doctor recommend I start giving her tastes of things - so we started with mushy carrots today (with no salt, sugar or anything added), which she promptly spit out and looked at me like I was crazy for even suggesting such a thing.

Also a quick note on clothing sizes for grandparents who are out shopping around .... I was sorting through Chase's clothes yesterday (Thank you to everyone for the kind gifts. A special thanks to Allison Hall, Karla Allbritton and Aunt Diane for making significant contributions to Chase's wardrobe) looking for things in the 5-6 month range, as the 3-4 month clothes have become too small -- only to realize that she has already outgrown most of the 6-month clothes!

She is now wearing clothes in the 6-9 month range (due to her length), and I have started keeping an eye out for 9-12 month clothes, as I'm sure she'll be in them in the next month.

She's still turning all the boys heads. While my aunt and I ate lunch, our waiter couldn't leave her alone. He got her laughing and just couldn't pull himself away.

I think her Swiss-German is improving. Mine, on the other hand, is not.

Did someone say bedtime?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Rock Man

Does someone have too much time on his hands? These were pretty amazing actually....

Chase at the lake

Auntie M's Visit

Down at the lake... Watch where you step!

Home away from home

A shot of our new place. Dag gets comfortable while Chase and I catch up on email.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What about Dagney?

A picture of our cat, Dagney, who has been such a good kitty - she has been with us all along.

When we returned from our trip to the US, we had to pack quickly and move from our "Hobbit hole." As we had to wait four days before moving into our new place, we moved into a hotel - but unfortunately, there was not one that had all three nights available, so we actually switched hotels halfway through.

Dag spent her days tucked in between the sheets ...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Four Generations: Allbrittons

Jackson, MS: Granddaddy Claude

Chase with Great Granddady Claude....
If only she was old enough to try his homemade pickles and fudge.

Mobile, AL: Grandmama Ann & Granddaddy Herbert

Lots of love for our little one...

Chase just couldn't get enough of Granddaddy Herbert's stories and had lots to say to Grandmamma Ann.

Birmingham, AL: Grandparents Papa-Joe and Kar-Kar

Big kisses from Brian's parents....

Baltimore, MD: The Downings

In June, Chase enjoyed her second trans-Atlantic flight.

We had a short visit with my grandparents, uncles and aunt in Maryland before flying down South to visit Brian's folks in Alabama and Mississippi.

Here are pics from Maryland....

Mary The Great

I am deeply saddened to report that just over a week ago, Chase's Great Grandmother, otherwise known as "Mary The Great," passed away.

Mary The Great was more than great, she was incredible. She was sharp as a tack, even at 98. Poised, proper and an uber perfectionist. She was stronger and more determined than any woman I have ever met. She always knew just what to say to make me smile when I was sad and find my way when I felt lost.

I will miss her so much.