The Swiss and “Januar-loch”

In Switzerland, there is a special name for that seemingly boring January that starts with a bang but really drags on uneventfully. The Swiss call it the “Januar-loch”, translated literally as the January void, when nothing of significance seems to take place. Last December, after a month of counting down to Christmas with the kids,…

A bite of the Empty Nest

The baby turned a year old last month, and I wasn’t prepared for it. No, I didn’t forget, of course not. Let me clarify that. I know three children can be a handful. I sometimes have to keep counting them, just to make sure they’re all there. One is reading a book on the couch. Check….

Secrets behind the Walls

Ever seen that 007 film where James Bond discovers the underground base of Dr. No? Science fiction? Well, when I first heard about the secret fortresses hidden everywhere in the Swiss mountains, that’s what I thought of.

Quoi de neuf?

Yesterday was the first day of my French course. And I felt like the village idiot whose tongue got tied every time someone asked me a question. What was I thinking, agreeing to move to a region where I can’t even speak or understand the language to function as myself, let alone as a mother…

Like Starting Over

As I sit here, writing this, much of the vineyards here have already turned yellow. The mountains are now a fading orange and darkening day by day. The trees and bushes in our garden no longer give a green divide between us and our neighbors. In fact, the children seem to constantly be breaking branches…

A path to Healthiness: Gesundheitspfad

A little summer secret in the woods. Since our discovery of this trail, up in the mountains just the next town over, a mere 7-minute drive, we’ve been frequenting this little path about once each week! The Gesundheitspfad,  translated literally as the “Healthiness Path” is a barefoot trail in the hills of Heiligkreuz, Hasle. Not entirely different…

Toboggan Riding

Or better known as Rodelbahn Fahren – is basically riding a piece of plastic down a giant steel roller-coaster slide. And in this case, one that is 900 meters long and winds down the mountain! Okay, okay…it’s not as primitive as it sounds, the plastic board comes with a break lever that you can control…

13 Facts about the Swiss Guards

I wrote a version of this article originally for  Newly Swissed Online Magazine and was published on May 6, 2016, on the day of the Swearing-In Ceremony of the Swiss Guards in Rome. So this is my take on some interesting facts about the Swiss Guards. A fan of traditions of all sorts, this little list…

May 6 is a Swiss celebration in Rome

A short history lesson on the origins of the Pontifical Swiss Guards for the curious. This year, the Pontifical Swiss Guards celebrate 510 years of loyal service to the Pope. On May 6, new recruits will be sworn into service in the Vatican, an event witnessed by thousands of visitors. When I first saw the…

The Gift of Language

When we deny our own mothertongue, don’t we deny our own heritage? Last autumn, while enjoying an afternoon in a forest playground with my two sons, I met another mother with three boys tailing her. She greeted us with an imploring smile. I was speaking to my eldest in my mothertongue, Tagalog, urging him to…

Easter Chocolate Madness!

A small addition to the article on the unusual origins of the Easter Bunny. I hope to keep adding to this album in the years to come 🙂

A Child-Proof Explanation of the Easter Bunny Tradition

Before heading out for an Easter Egg hunt with your kids, don’t you ever wonder where this unusual tradition comes from?  A Swiss children’s song goes: Ig ha n em Has es Näschtli gmacht im Bungert hinderem Garte; es si die schönschte Blümli dra, es si dei schönschte Blüemli dra, die fyne und die zarte……

Making Decorative Easter Eggs

Exactly four years ago, while waiting for our first son to be born, my mother and I spent quiet evenings creating decorative Easter Eggs from real eggs. To our embarassment, we had to employ Mr. M, who incidentally learned it as a child in school, to teach us how to empty the eggs without breaking…

Where Midwives are Worth Gold

Before moving to Switzerland, I never really imagined myself being a mother, let alone birthing naturally without any pain killers, with only the assistance of my husband and midwife, and delivering both my sons in public hospitals…

Snow Trekking with Kids

Not a fan of the chilly Swiss winter months? Or can’t wait for the snow to melt to pack your picnics and get your hiking boots on and hit the trails with your little ones? Well, winter walks with children are in fact not impossible. They might even make a winter-fan of you. With the…

Why Swiss toddlers learn skiing before spelling

It’s not uncommon that Swiss children start to learn to ski before they start going to school. Maybe a few of the parents dream of honing a potential Olympian in their offspring, but more likely they simply prefer to be able to bring their children along when they themselves go for a day out in…

A Primer on Luzerner Fasnacht

Not many people have heard of Swiss Carnival or what is locally known as Fasnacht. Personally, I was only familiar with the Mardi Gras of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where the streets get packed with tourists to watch a parade of extravagant floats with beautiful women covered in flamboyant colors and feathers, dancing and…

Winter Wonderland

Living out in the countryside, it can get quite lonely at times. Especially for a full-time mom whose husband is away for work most of the week. And although the cold has a nasty way of keeping us indoors, we make it a point to try to get out for at least an hour or…

TV? No Thank You!

  There’s been an endless debate about what the right amount of digital media exposure for young children is. The first article I remember reading about such “detrimental” effects was written in the late nineties about Japanese children. In the report, the young children were losing their social skills to TV and video games, and…

A Pre-schooler’s Laptop

Granted, we do practice strict digital access for our children… but it doesn’t mean we don’t encourage them having their own devices. So the other day, together with my son, we built a laptop just for him, from spare parts. It has all the capabilities as marketed laptops, with a built-in camera and bluetooth and…