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First Sunday in Advent!

I love Advent and today is the first Sunday in Advent. By rights, Stir Up Sunday was last weekend, but what's a week between friends? In any case, I have made up for it today and earlier on, the boys and I lit the first candle!

Today the boys christmas elves and I...
- made our advent posters
- made mincemeat
- made the christmas pudding
- stirred and made our wishes!
- made the christmas cake
- and I bought a advent themed box of tea!

I have already designed, ordered and received the christmas cards, and have done quite a bit of christmas online shopping already, plus some new clothes for boys and got some ski-ing bits and pieces. I feel a bit further ahead than I normally do, but I know how busy work is like to be running up to Christmas...

And like in 2014 and 2015, I want to set myself an Advent challenge to blog every day (catch up on those gaps) and run/walk every day. Let's see :-)

Tweeting in the gaps, Sept - Oct 2016

September 04, 2016 at 04:26PM:
Son M on listening to Prodigy's Run with the wolves - “Mummy, I like crazy songs like that one!” :-) #mgm

September 04, 2016 at 09:53PM:
Sunday night power cut in wiedikon! Candles, whisky, kindle :-) https://t.co/dKZZ5Dv0Yb

September 04, 2016 at 09:55PM:
RT @Women5050: Picture on the left - in today's press. Picture on the right - never appeared in any media. Ever. #everydaysexism https://t.co/8SD3W7Vfve

September 07, 2016 at 03:56PM:
RT @SoVeryBritish: Can you put it in an email? - Translation: Can you stop talking please?

September 10, 2016 at 05:09PM:
Kindergarten output - football match between Schwiiz and Daddy land - patrick is perfectly integrated :-) #pmm https://t.co/deAfqmYeXo

September 10, 2016 at 09:16PM:
Finished Run with #runmeter, on a new route, time 1:31:54, distance 10.32 km, average 8:54.

September 11, 2016 at 05:26PM:
Held captive in the boys' bedroom for unknown crimes! jailers have kindly brought me cup of tea and iPad! #mgm #pmm https://t.co/j0GVyYM0Na

September 14, 2016 at 08:24PM:
Finished Run with #runmeter, on *maneggbruecke & ... route, time 1:30:11, distance 10.04 km, ahead of median run 1:43, average 8:59.

September 17, 2016 at 01:15PM:
Waiting for 10k greifenseelauf to start!! https://t.co/LirRsk2Z4v

September 17, 2016 at 03:37PM:
We did it! Stolz auf uns!!! https://t.co/ZkbnbdjH3V

September 18, 2016 at 07:35PM:
It's only taken me a month & 220GB but my onedrive and laptop hard drive are now finally synced!

September 20, 2016 at 02:01PM:
23 beautiful to-do lists from people WAY more organised than you | https://t.co/hcUuVa34ry

September 25, 2016 at 11:55AM:
Sun. morning conversations with my boys: P “Numbers never end Mummy, but I don't know why”. M “Because you can always add one!” #speechless

September 25, 2016 at 12:05PM:
Mr.nice_cup_of_tea (phd in maths) now fesses up that he's taught them the concept of countable infinity :-)

September 25, 2016 at 02:15PM:
Backup strategy for my new laptop is now finally in place & implemented!

September 25, 2016 at 03:34PM:
My little artist :-) #pmm https://t.co/PvFsqlTUCT

September 27, 2016 at 07:51PM:
what my boys say when they can't get my attention ... Mummy? Mummy? Helen? Helen Palmer? for some reason my proper name makes them laugh!

October 02, 2016 at 11:14AM:
we are offically having a slobby Sunday - we are all still in our jimjams, we are playing lego or pottering around the flat!

October 02, 2016 at 12:45PM:
when two tribes go to war...But why is the battleground always my desk? :-) #pmm #mgm https://t.co/tDmSLRvuWI

October 06, 2016 at 07:34PM: $
quote of the day from M. Even though we do fight, I do like my brother #mgm

October 08, 2016 at 10:28AM:
Back in blighty & having a nice cup of tea at cafe Nero! Lovely. Pick up car, next stop Peak District :-) https://t.co/enUxNii3g2

October 10, 2016 at 12:30PM:
Having a perfect family holiday at #wheeldontreesfarm @Peak_District animals, playroom, sunshine, WiFi!! https://t.co/PrOvgBJbXO

October 12, 2016 at 06:43PM:
Gutted but not surprised - didn't get a ballot place for #vlm2017

October 13, 2016 at 08:44PM:
Having a lovely time in London - my iPhone 4s has died but I am actually enjoying each moment without photos or social media!

October 13, 2016 at 08:47PM:
We are in a lovely hotel in London. M's highlight? Mummy, the toilet flush is amazing, it goes whoosh! Glad my children appreciate London!

October 13, 2016 at 08:52PM:
Patrick's highlight is also toilet related - I love the toilets that you wave it & then they flush

October 13, 2016 at 09:23PM:
Fav thing ever? Sound of A chatting to boys to get them to sleep, M answering, P giggling uproariously & knowing we will miss these days :-)

October 18, 2016 at 06:56PM:
things we say in our house - stop hitting each other with the minipics - processed meat based weapons!

October 18, 2016 at 08:16PM:
RT @C_Hendrick: Victorian edu bloggers: Ten ways to use hoop rolling to engage kids! https://t.co/EMLrqZLWSd

October 23, 2016 at 10:38PM:
it's time to make a change, enough! joined @slimmingworld today! 10 weeks to christmas, how much can I change?

October 26, 2016 at 09:35PM:
very happy to be united again with my repaired iphone 4S after 16 long days! #retrogadgetgeek

October 29, 2016 at 08:49PM:
hallowe'en in our house - my two skeletons properly scared me by jumping out at me! #mgm #pmm https://t.co/7GTwzFmHUP


I just read this article about how to liven up your mother child photoshoot using a full body gorilla costume.

It made me smile in recognition and nod in agreement. I am lucky enough to have the wonderful Claire Pearson take photos of our family from when Markus was a very small bump. I was so thrilled to be pregnant against the odds, that I wanted to document everything. We have had the luxury of Claire following our family across the years, capturing us, our happiness, our playing together. Capturing the moments behind the scenes, the outtakes...

The next one is coming up soon, but I have been putting it off. I am at my heaviest yet, don't feel good in my skin. Feel old, tired, heavy, middle aged. Don't want the photographic evidence, wish I could hide behind a costume, hide the fact I am getting old. But I read the article and the final photo made me cry. Don't we all want to escape our gorilla outer and unmask ourselves?

And I remember that my boys argue to sit next to me, that they poke me slightly wobbly tummy, but then come in for a cuddle, that they (mostly) light up when I come home from work. And I remember that there is a value in document all our phases and stages. I am sure I will look back at myself at 43 and tut and say "silly girl, you were so young and full of energy and loved and beautiful". So I will channel my grumpy 80 year old self, book our next shoot and embrace where I find myself and my family.

And on a gorilla related note - my boys have been singing song constantly about a gorilla with sunglasses - I thought they were sort of making it up, but it appears to be a real song and everything. Go figure :-)
"Der Gorilla mit der Sonnenbrille" Lyrics
Youtube video
We were at Heathrow today having a final cup of tea... this is the list the boys put together (scribe was Alan!) about the fun things they did on holiday - I think the week was a success! Longer post to follow. Despite my phone dying, I enjoyed the week offline and we had some really quality family time together. The boys, particularly Markus, got a bit homesick for Zurich and our flat, the last days. And now they are compeltely buzzed and won't go to sleep....but it was a great week....

London Baby!

We are packing, the boys are watching Paddington, one of my favourite kids' movies of recent times, and Markus drew this on our family wall calendar!
London here we come :-)

London calling!

We just told the kids today that we are going to London for our "Herbstferien" (October half term) - We got them to guess from the clues below!
I'm hoping that at 5 and 7 they are old enough (and with enough stamina!) to really enjoy London. We will certainly visit the Natural History Museum (especially since it features in the Paddington film!) and probably do Changing of the Guard, Planetarium etc. Also very excited to be staying with and catching up with Sal, Amit, Ish and Jay!

Before we get to London we will spend a few nights at Wheeldon Trees Farm - we've been there a couple of times before (2011 and 2014) and will spend the day with Kate and her lovely boys!

Oh, and I have finally written a blog about our summer holidays in Ireland! Better late than never...

Bilingual Benefits

I knew that we were doing our kids a favour by bringing them up bilingual in Switzerland, even if their english sounds a bit swiss and their word order is positively germanic! This guardian article explains why being bilingual is good for your brain and your mental health! It's really interesting - also explains why the culture of the country can have an impact on what you actually say in that language ie by impacting on the grammar and syntax of the language. There are several German / English examples!


This week I took a chance and brought Markus to an evening apero to celebrate the publication of "Lucky, ein Gecko auf Reisen" (Lucky the Gecko goes travelling , which was written by my friend's husband). I had sold the event to Markus by telling him that he woudl get to go with Mummy on an adventure to a bookshop, where there would be a reading from a kids book about a Gecko, and he could stay up late. He was sold.

When he found out it wasn't to be held in a bookshop, he was a bit put out (I think there had been a commercial side to his reckoning ie mummy will buy me some books!). But we sat on the tram and googled 20 amazing facts about Geckos and order was restored. He was particularly taken with the fact that Geckos can lose their tails at will, that the detached tail gets wriggling, which distracts the attacker, so the gecko can get away. The gecko often returns to his tail and eats it (excess nutrients stored their as backup!)

But I digress. I was so impressed by my mini Networker. He shook hands with many adults, introduced himself, talked to people in english or swiss german depending. And i looked at him and realized he is growing up fast. He was thrilled to get Coca cola to drink (a BIG treat!) and we read the book together before the actual reading. We bought both the author's books and came home together happy. Markus' last words? "Mummy, that was 10'000 times better than a bookshop! When is the third book about Lucky coming out?"

A bookworm and introverted networker after his Mother's heart!


Of all the races I have done over the years, I think I am most proud of this one, and grateful to my friend Anita for gently "pushing" me into it :-) I haven't been running properly for a long while now, i've put on weight and generally speaking, am not feeling too great about myself. But, it's the Greifenseelauf and I knew that if the worst came to the worst, I could just walk it :-)

So, on Saturday, we went to Uster and Anita ran it in 1:07:42 and was happy to get in under 1:10 and I did it in 1:24:16 and was very happy to be under 1:30. I did my 1 min running, 1 min walking and got round. I enjoyed the countryside, the atmosphere and the crowds who towards the end, cheer us on by name. I love the swiss :-) And I am amazed by how fit everyone is - i was overtaken by a lot of speed walkers, nordic walkers and participants who probably had a good 20 - 30 years on me!! We were both tired but happy and really enjoyed the superb organization. Oh, and I quite liked my finisher clip!

I was thinking about it on the way back. I have run 10ks faster, but if I had waited now to get back up to fitness, I wouldn't have taken part. In the last couple of weeks, I did 10km "runs" in 1:44:57, then 1:31:54, then 1:30:11 then 1:24:16. And now I have a base to work from and a new challenge of the Silvesterlauf 10k in December. I want to be able to run longer without walking breaks. I want to get fitter, lost some weight. Feel better. Silvesterlauf, here I come!

Greifenseelauf 2016 with Anita, 1:24:16

Greifenseelauf 2012 with Sal, 1:14:30

Greifenseelauf 2006 with Corinne, 1:03:06

Who is nice-cup-of-tea?


I am tea-drinking, book-loving, gadget-girl, british expat, who writes about living, working, running and bringing up my family in Zurich.

You can find me online @


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