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First homework done :-)

The title of the assignment was to "draw your family".....
Not much commentary needed, other than to say - I had to stand still and pose for my artist. Supper was delayed!

Update - First day of school done!

THAT was a very long day! Never been so happy to see 4 o'clock roll around. My darling child got on fine the rest of the day. Got to Hort for lunch (after school care), had gym in the afternoon with his class, went back to Hort and i picked him up from there. He told me "It wasn't so difficult" and then complained he hadn't found a friend yet...

I feel completely drained and on edge. I think we will take the next 2 weeks day by day. I am working from home these 2 weeks, so I can pick him up earlier ie 4ish rather than at 6. And we already have a list of dates from the class about outings, events etc and 2 extra school free days between now and Christmas!

When we got home, Patrick helped me make Markus's favourite meal - Pancakes!

Letting go has been the theme of this summer.

I am struck by the push and pull of my needs and drives. I want my kids close, to support them, to help them. To be in the phase that we feel comfortable in. Yet I know that our job as parents is to let them go at each stage, support them in learning the next skills, going to school, making new friends, dealing with their own challenges in their own ways. I find it very hard to get this balance right, but at least I do recognize that I struggle with this.

Letting Go Part 1
The boys cleared out their books recently. Alan helped, I stayed well out of it!
Most of the books went to the large Bücher Brocky in Enge, but first I pulled out my favourites. Most of these were passed onto Kinderkrippe as a leaving present. Each book that we given away was loved and re-read. I know who gave us each book, or where we got it from. I remember for each story, which bits the boys loved best. SO many hours of bedtime stories. So much love and cuddles. But still hard to give the books away... and yet the boys want different stories now, need different things. Onwards and upwards.

oh, and all the books are listed here

Letting Go Part 2
this tea set belonged to my Gran - given to her by her son (my Uncle Gerry) when he was in Sri Lanka many many years ago. I think kept it for best :-) Like grandmother, like granddaughter. Mum gave the box to me probably 30 years ago. It was moved at every house move, but stayed in the box, packed with newspapers from decades ago. I finally took everything out of the box, honesty decided that I would never use it and gave it with love to my local charity shop. It's now beautifully on show in the window :-) I realized that handing onto the tea service does not prove my love from my Gran or my Uncle. It's just a thing - i can let go :-)

First Day at School for Markus.

Well, first day at school today for Markus. He was so excited, but reality kicked in when we got to the classroom door. All the parents stayed for the first hour or so, Markus was a bit clingy and nervous. It's hard - all the other new kids knew other people in the class, Markus is coming in alone from a different Kindergarten.

Alan and I make a good team - I talked to the teachers and sorted out admin and paperwork etc. Alan gradually helped Markus disengage from him and play with the other kids.

I feel emotionally drained and exhausted at the moment. I am sitting here at home, wondering how he is getting on. I want him to have a good day. To be brave, overcome his shyness and nervousness. I can't help him, I have to let go and he has to do this himself. This is hard. Roll on 4 o'clock when I can pick him up....


I had a lovely month off work! It has been busy though :-) I think going back to work will be gentle and quiet in comparison!

We have had last days at Kindergarten for Markus, last day at Kinderkrippe for Patrick
First day at Kindergarten for Patrick
First day at school for Markus
Birthday Party for Patrick
Birthday Party for Markus
painted 2 tshirts, made 2 birthday cakes
Had 10 days family holiday in Ireland
I went to Brussels for 3 days
Also went to the spa for a 2 night stay
Read 5 books, read many more glossy magazines than was good for me

The boys got haircuts, I got some beauty treatments
I cleaned the flat many times and did more washing loads than I care to remember
I wrote 8 blogs posts (at least)
I sorted out the last 3 months of photos
Got the duvets, pillows and bed covers cleaned
Got a cleaner in, so we came home to a lovely clean flat

FInally set up my new laptop and migrated over nearly 20 years of data
Did a lot of driving in rental cars
Made a lot of phone calls about many different admin-y t hings
Did a lot of thinking and writing about the new phase in our lives and how I should finally eat better, get fit and lose weight!
Cancelled on mobile contract and changed providers
Checked emails, cleared my inbox many times
Set up play dates
Baked birthday cakes, made dinosaur cup cakes,

Was a lady who lunched with friends on at least 4 occasions, plus even met my hubbie for lunch in Berne
Found a yoga class and went
Claimed on my rental car insurance and got my money back!
Recycled many books
Cleared the boys room
Paid many bills
Got my iphone and my ipad repaired
lost my wallet, cancelled my cards, then found my wallet
Alan lost his phone, we cancelled it, then found it
Lost my phone, but found it before cancelling!

Ordered treats from Amazon and from iTunes
Bought clothes and things for Patrick to start Kindergarten
Bought clothes and things for Markus to start school
Changed the printer cartridges
Scanned many drawings of the boys

Markus's Football Birthday Party

The LONG awaited football party for Markus has been successfully hosted! He has been making guests lists and plans for this party since about May this year :-)

Football was the theme and he invited his best mates from Kindergarten - who are all now going to different schools for their first class  :-( I did the behind the scenes work (catering, cake, logistics, presents, tshirt painting) and was very happy to hand over to Alan to run the gig :-)

They basically played football for 4 hours, with some present opening, eating and a little bit of slobbing on the sofa. Success.

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Markus' Last Days at Kindergarten

Markus' official last day at Kindergarten auf dem Stern was July 22nd, when the kindergarten closed for the summer and their summer party was that week. Markus was a bit sad leaving, but it hadn't really sunk in. He has just spent a further 2 weeks there as holiday cover before School starts and has been helping Patrick settle in / aka helping one moment, fighting with him the next. Last Friday was really his final, final day there and it finally sunk in for him. We had tears and sobs and not just from him :-( I reassured him that we would still look after the friendships that he made at Enge. Most of his friends live just one train stop away and we have made friendships with the parents too.

He has had such a lovely 2 years at Kindergarten auf dem Stern. Wonderful teaching and support staff, lots of friends made, lots of time in the wonderful Zurich green open spaces. This last year they have had regular "Wald Nachmittage" (afternoons in the forest) where they have lit fires and have chosen trees to hug :-) Oh, and they have played so much football and swapped so many football cards! He can write his name, memorize songs and poems in swiss german, count and calculate in his head. Learnt how to play and socializes (even given a few temper tantrums these last months). I have found it hard to let go and trust the swiss system. He is now 7 and can't read or write, but is DESPERATE now to learn at school.

I will miss our bike rides to and from Kindergarten, our stops by the lake in the evening. At the start he rode on the back of my bike, then after 6 months starting riding in parallel on the pavements, now he is confident and rides in front of me. I am so proud that we have done this together.

As ever, I find it hard to let go of a stage myself and help him to move on. He is super excited about starting school. His challenge is that he is starting school not knowing anyone. A new challenge for all of us.

August 2014


July / August 2015


August 2016


Final Days with Friends and staff!

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Had the perfect break in Brussels with my dear friends Mags and Mano (or "dead friends" as I inadvertently called them in this tweet!) - oops! But as you can see, they are very much alive and kicking!


In any case, I was spoiled rotten. I have been to Brussels many times over the years and this time we did the tourist thing again - checking out the Grand Platz (with its flower carpet), the Manneken Pis and having a beer.


Other hightlights of the weekend were admiring their garden, reading in the hammock, checking out the allotment and going for a meal. Much like my last visit in 2013 and just as perfect!

Thoughts from the Spa

I am lucky enough to be spending 2 days at my favourite spa and am trying to figure out what I need to change once I "go back to school" ie work, next week. Our routines will change - Patrick now at Kindergarten near my work, Markus at school which is a 1km walk from our house, Alan at his office in Bern. Markus will need to be accompanied to school for the first while, but he will need to get there by himself before too long. I am excited and anxious about all these changes.

For me, I need to find ways to keep my stress under control, how to eat healthier, find regular time to exercise, fine time to read and write (keeps me sane) and also how to get enough rest. Am hoping that my time here will allow me to figure out some concrete ideas on how to achieve this :-) Given that I work 80% and my boys will be in full time care, I should have a day spread across the week to myself. Hoping to use this time for exercise, reflection and getting ahead on the family meals for the week.

I went to my first yoga lesson on Tuesday in YEARS - it was great - my body remember what to do. Plus I have found a closer yoga studio that does Bikram yoga, so might give that a go as well

I am also trying to plan the tools and places that support me in this. Where do I go to de-stress? Walking the Uetliberg is one, coming here is another and with views as below, it's a great place to get some distance.

I also want more time to read - both for pleasure and work. I would still love to figure out my next study plan - but in the near time, I want to learn more about eLearning, design, technology. Last night I watcher the film "Helvetica" which is a feature film documentary about the fonttype Helvetica, but taught me a lot about graphic design and content discussions. Really interesting - highly recommended!

I will be catching up on blogs today and tomorrow - so watch out for a flurry of posts as I catch up on the summer. The good news is that my new laptop is finally up and running, with all my data on it. It is so quiet - love it! Now I'm off for my massage - hard life!

Markus is 7!

Markus our darling boy, you've reached 7 - how did that happen? You have grown up so much this last year and you are just about to start school! You are curious, eager to learn, love the planets, space, lego, playmobile and FOOTBALL!

We had a small celebration today - just the four of us. A chilled day of playing playmobile football, building rockets and eating birthday cake :-) And as the photos show, Markus was particularly excited about the table football present from us!

Who is nice-cup-of-tea?


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 @
helenpalmer.co.uk
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