Flying Solo

We've had a visitor all week.  She's been such a trooper. She got on a plane in NYC and got off in Switzerland. No big deal.  Of course, I didn't sleep all night. I worried I wouldn't hear my alarm and she'd be stranded.  My alarm, in fact, didn't go off but I was awake anyway. 

Got to the airport hours early. Gave me lots of time to people watch.  And dog watch. So many dogs at the airport. Big ones, little ones in handbags. Tired ones riding luggage carts. Puppies in baby snugglies. I got distracted. My daughter didn't. Next thing I knew Lauren was on the wrong side of the waiting area greeting her friend.  All smiles.

Poor thing. Probably thought we'd lead her to the car, tuck her in and drive home. Instead she was herded to the train, another train (don't fall asleep yet!), and a bus. 

Weather didn't cooperate.  One afternoon of sun in the whole week. She either didn't notice or care.  We did the best we could. I watched her eyes glaze over (and my daughter's eyes roll to the back of her head) as I launched into all my Swiss trivia- at this point, I've got tons. From the mundane, how many cantons?, to the slightly more interesting...did you know in 1454, or thereabouts, there was a landslide that sent a bunch of buildings lakeside straight to the bottom of said lake?  There is a monument somewhere. I need to find it. 

She wasn't impressed by the architecture but letting her and my daughter take the bus to the local mall to meet a friend, won rave reviews. She likes Easter pie, doesn't like Rivella, and a grill cheese made with Gruyere cheese was requested three times. She thought the milk was especially delicious.

She thought tubing at 10,000 feet was a good time. Walking in a giant ice cube was entertaining. We gave her some German lessons. Took 300 pictures. We made sure she tested all methods of transportation; planes, trains, cars, gondolas, tubing counts, right?, funiculars, mini buses, and double buses. Oh, and fair rides.  Bumper cars. My neck is killing me.

One of the best (and most unexpected) parts about having a guest was watching my kids get excited about where they live.  A visit to their school was a half day adventure. It involved purchasing bus and funicular tickets, reading schedules, and acting as a local tour guide.  In the process, all sorts of interesting trivia about their school came from my son, such as, during WW2, their school was used as an infirmary for wounded soldiers, treating both the allies and the axis due to Switzerland's neutrality. Rumor has it there's a ghost.

I did get one call from the top, "We think we missed the last bus down." A bus was running because the funicular wasn't. I told my daughter to go figure it out. She did. The bus was gone because the funicular was operational again. Down they came.

It was a pleasure to watch my kids as they showed her the things they are beginning to take for granted.  I watched my kids struggle for eight months. Trying to make sense of the culture and the language, grapple with why their parents did this to them, and at the same time be expected to operate at a much higher level of independence than they ever have.  They were handed a very full plate and not given much room for failing.  But I really think that all three have done it and I'm hoping they got a glimpse of themselves through another child's eyes. 
I have to admit though, that keeping up with a teen, two preteens, and an 8 year old left me excited that my mother-in-law and her sister are coming to visit next. I'm really hoping coffee by the lake sounds good to them because it didn't to the tween crowd. Though, Chloe set the bar pretty high as house guests go.  She didn't need anything before 9 am, she ate what was in the fridge, and she even made a cake. She can come back any time at all. 


  1. Sounds like the visitor was a blessing in so many ways.

    1. So happy to find you back to writing here. We enjoy your blog very much. Don't by the lake sounds wonderful !! ...bumper cars and tubing 10000 feet is definitely not for us.. See you soon ;-) Love Pearl

    2. Jen, coffee by the lake sounds like my cup of tea. Don't worry about your next guests. I think you will find them a little more sedate. Love, Aunt Ruth

    3. I'm not worried. :-)

      This is actually what makes having guests so fun. Everyone wants to see or do something different.

    4. Colleen- I can't believe how easily she handled such a huge trip! She was an absolute pleasure.

  2. Just found your blog - it's wonderful. I can totally relate. I think we have a lot in common, 3 kids, I too was a guidance counselor and now expats! We just moved to Bordeaux, France in October 2011 - 3 girls (5,9 & 12) and it's been fun but challenging! Loved your comment about British English - my girls have the same issues...I still remember my oldest - "A jumper is what? - a sweater - what kind of word is that" Would love to contact you directly- but couldn't find a way to email to hear from you, my email is


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