The 765CHF Letter

October 2014:

Around the 17th of October I received another letter from Bern saying that they needed me to A: Confirm I was still in a lawful marriage with Kay (he needed to sign too) and B: Confirm in writing again that I have not committed any crimes in the past 10 years.

I signed them and sent them off while joking to Kay that they must pull some random “to do” forms for me every time my file lands in the “in box” on their desk. Anything to avoid having to work on my case! These requests were just weird because it was only a few months ago that I signed some very similar papers confirming the same things.

I thought that this would mean it was still some months before I would receive my letter, but last week, there it was in the mail. My post slip from Bern, noting that I would need to pay 765CHF in cash to pick the letter up from the post office.

I was so excited! This was it!

So excited that instead of waiting until the next day for pick up as it stated on the post slip, I waited until 5pm, withdrew some a lot of money at the ATM and headed to the post to see if the letter was there already. Sometimes the letters don’t return to the post until the next day, but it’s worth checking.

The post was really busy at 5 and when my number was called I asked if the postal worker could check if my letter was in yet. She gave me an exasperated look and asked if I noted the pick up day. Yes, yes I can read. I’m asking to check anyway. When you show up at the post with 800CHF cash for a letter, it must be pretty important!

I tore it open on the way home and read with a smile on my face, “we have made a positive decision regarding your application for citizenship.”

I will be Swiss!! Squee!

The letter went on to say that it’s not official yet, but if there are no appeals then I will receive another letter in two months welcoming me into the club and explaining how to update my Heimatort to my current canton. After that I will be able to go to the town hall and apply for my Swiss passport and identity card.

I’m almost there! 😀

Missed something?

Another “Swissness” Test

May 2013:
I was feeling all chuffed when my police visit was over, because I was sure that would be one of the last things I had to do before I would receive my much-awaited 765CHF post bill confirming that I would receive my citizenship. I was wrong!

Just a couple weeks after my police visit, I received a letter from the very man from the town hall who told me I couldn’t apply for citizenship until I had lived here a whole year. In his letter, he told me that he has been informed by Canton Zürich that I am applying for citizenship, so he wanted to meet with me and to please call him for an appointment. Unlike the nice policemen, I would have to go visit him.

This was both good and bad. The good part was that his letter signaled that my citizenship must have been approved on the federal level and now they were giving the canton and town the right to hear and appeal. That last bit means that the canton and the townspeople have no authority over the decision of my citizenship, so I was a bit irked that this guy was requiring me to meet him for an extra integration test.

I checked around with some others and it seems that this is indeed a very uncommon, if not, totally unheard of practice. Whatever… lets make this process even longer, why not! Bureaucracy FTW!

Kay was sweet enough to come with me to the town hall so that I wouldn’t have to meet with the guy alone, although the man assured me that my husband really didn’t need to come and he promised it would be quick. We met at 7am one morning and our meeting lasted around thirty minutes, mostly because the guy was chatting with Kay about local schools and his army service.

I was asked the same basic questions that the Fremdenpolizei asked previously, but he also asked why I want to be Swiss. I explained that it was important to me to be Swiss before we would have a family and also because I would like to be able to vote. Awkwardly enough, our town had recently had some very local elections that not even Kay was aware about (cough apathetic voter cough cough).

It’s true… voter apathy is a problem in Switzerland, especially with how often they have elections. I told the townsman that I read about some things and talk to Kay about them, but I don’t go out of my way to learn about politics because it’s always been something that I cannot take part in here. I explained that if I would become Swiss I would like to vote, but only on things that I am well informed about.

At the end, the man explained how nice it was to meet with these mystery faces before he signs off on the integration papers. He feels much more secure recommending that my application go forward when he knows that I am really trying to integrate.

The day before my appointment, he had a woman in who only spoke English and the townsman’s English is almost non-existent. He told her she would have to come back later with a translator, but that it didn’t look optimistic for her. How can he recommend her integration in good faith when she cannot even speak some basic German in the city where she is living?

He said it happens all the time. International couples speaking English with each other and working in English, only socializing with expats. That’s not what the Swiss want becoming Swiss, or they would start to lose their culture slowly.

I was happy that I “passed” this portion of his test. He said he would write me a nice recommendation and then explained that the next part of the process would include sending the write to hear and appeal to Kay’s Heimatort. He said it is unheard of to not be accepted by the Heimatort, but the whole process means waiting several more months before getting the 765chf letter.

Well, if there is anything I have been learning, it is that the Swiss want you to learn patience. 😉

Missed something?

Pet Peeves for Parents on Social Media

I’m at the age where my Facebook newsfeed has turned into a sea of baby and bump photos. I truly love seeing the joy and happiness that the little ones bring, but I’ve also got a running list of pet peeves from my parenting Facebook friends.

We all know that us childless friends can be hella annoying to parents (I’m sure I often am!) but here are the things that grind my gears about parents on social media:

I love when parents celebrate the growth and progress of their little ones with monthly photos, but I am getting tired of the parents wishing their babies “Happy birthday!” every month. Some even do cake and candles every month. Really?

Have they all forgotten that birthdays are the day on which we were born? They are not ALL the days in the months that share the same numeral as a baby’s birthday. Birthdays occur annually and the term can stretch to “half-birthdays” which would be the six month mark between birthdays. Everything else is not a birthday and people sound silly referring to them as such.

Sure, babies are at an age where we describe their age in days, weeks and months, but that still doesn’t make any of those milestones a birthday. I am 327 months old today, but it would sound pretty darn ridiculous if someone wished me a “Happy 327 month birthday.” It doesn’t sound any less silly when people try to make every month until 1, 2 or 3 years into a birthday for their child.

Jane is going on a trip while  pregnant. This means baby is going on the trip too, technically. I say “technically” because “technically” the baby is not considered alive until they come into this world, you know, on their “birthday” as we previously discussed.

Personally, I believe the baby needs to be born before people can start documenting his or her visits to places. I would say “My mother went to Maine while she was pregnant with me.” but I would never say that “I went to Maine.” because it is not actually true. My mother would never have uploaded a photo of herself titled “Baby’s first trip to Maine” while she was carrying me because that sounds bizarre.

Otherwise known as “vacation” where people happen to be pregnant. Do we really need a special term for this? We travel a lot guys, I’m spoiled… what will I do… declare that I’m going on like five babymoons? And all of them I will document how much baby enjoyed its visit to Italy or Ohio or whatever.

I don’t like the term babymoon because like the traditional honeymoon term, it is thrown around with the idea that this is the one big trip before people maybe never travel again, as if your life will be over when baby arrives. Maybe that’s true, but I just think the term is excessive. Unless I have hyperemesis gravidarum, I plan on traveling multiple times while pregnant and then again when the baby is born. (Yeah, yeah… laugh it up parents when I eat my words later!)

We’ve all entered a Twitter contest or two before, but don’t be that person people have to de-friend when they enter 10 baby contests per day and stop posting real content entirely. I will re-follow people post-birth when they stop with the contest spam. Or maybe not?

I’m always irritated by people who aimlessly drive around the block wasting gas because their baby is asleep and then try to blame it on the baby and look for commiseration on social media. If they want to waste fuel, money and time driving the baby around, they shouldn’t blame it on the baby. We all feel bad for folks with cranky, colicky, never-sleeping babies, but this is a blatant waste of an increasingly limited natural resource and the parent, the adult, made the decision to keep driving. They’ll find no pity here!

I’ve only really noticed first time parents doing this. Funnily enough, this “keep the baby sleeping” trick doesn’t work as well when there is a toddler blabbering in the back about how they want a snack or need to go potty.

FWIW, my mother of nine children never kept driving us around because the current baby was asleep. If people are going to have more than one child, they might as well start practicing the baby-in-car to baby-in-house transition. I’ve heard you get bonus points if you successfully transition a sleeping baby to a crib.

I have so much beef with these scans. I think the technology is amazing and it’s exciting that parents can see their children’s faces before birth, but I do not want to see a picture of a baby covered in amniotic fluid squished in my friend’s womb.

It’s just… too personal for me. Maybe they’ll also upload some pictures of their endoscopy for us to see, no wait… they wouldn’t do that. Or would they?? I don’t know any more. Can we just wait until the baby has been safely born and cleaned up a little before we start posting pictures of him or her on social media?

I mean… how would you feel if your slimy, distorted face was paraded around the internet before you were born? Would you be OK with that decision being made for you? I would be fine if my mother only shared pictures like this with family privately. I actually don’t even necessarily need to see photos of babies covered in blood and placenta. I’m sure people should take them if they want the photos, but again… maaaybe not for the whole world to see?

Even worse are when people use their 4D scan as their profile or cover photo, or both. When it’s their profile photo, every time they show up in my newsfeed I can see their fetus again. Remember… until a baby is born, it is still a fetus inside a womb. Not all friends and family might appreciate seeing a fetus all throughout their newsfeed, even if they are over-the-moon excited for you to become a parent.

This seems to be one of the most irresistible crimes and I can totally see why. It seems harmless. There is no sweeter face in the world than someone’s own baby’s, of course they want to post their baby’s beautiful face everywhere they can! But it irks me because this is supposed to be their profile photo, not their baby’s. It violates their baby’s online privacy and misrepresents who they are.

Profile photos represent who we are every time we make a comment or post online and sometimes those comments might not be appropriate to appear like they are coming from a baby. How does it look to friends when it appears like someone’s baby is complaining about the weather, the situation in Iraq or explaining views on breastfeeding in public?

If we would turn the tables, how many of us would be weirded out if our mothers made our picture their profile photo and then started posting all over Facebook? Would you be upset if it appeared like you were making statements that were really your mother’s thoughts and words? I would find it really strange if my mother did that.

From the privacy perspective, most profile photos are always public. On Facebook, we can hide old ones, but current ones are visible to people even if they are not friends. Do people want strangers or people they are not friends with anymore to be able to see pictures of their little one because they use them as their profile photo or cover photo? It is something to be aware about.

After reading more and more about digital trust funds and the privacy of children who grow up with their whole life on display on the Internet, I have some conflicted feelings about posting photos of children online. Kay and I haven’t decided how we would handle it some day, but personally I draw the line at using my own baby’s images as my own profile picture without their permission. I still want to be “me” even if I am a mother one day. If I want a baby picture as my profile picture, I will use one of myself as a baby. That way it is still me in the photo!

Aside from the public profile photos issue, I think sharing a photo of parents and baby together as a profile picture is a much more realistic representation of people as parents. Pictures of people with their babies, spouses, friends, etc have always been fine for me because they still show people being themselves with their loved ones.

And for those very concerned with privacy, pictures of pets or symbol pictures always seem a safe bet. I’m just always surprised when friends who always had a non-personal photo switch to a picture of their baby almost immediately after giving birth or when strong, independent women do the same thing. By using just a photo of their baby, it always feels a bit to me like they are throwing away a bit of their former self as they fall head over heels in love with this new little person.

So… those are my peeves. They are just some small things I notice all over and wonder why certain people do them and others not. Overall, I am happy to be able to witness my friends’ kids growing up when in another generation, this would have been impossible. And seeing the outpouring of love and joy in everyone’s lives is really quite astonishing at times.

So parents, are you guilty of any of the items on this list? Did you have any parenting peeves before your first child that you totally do now?

Non-parents, any other pet peeves not listed here that really get to you about your parenting friends?

My first gluten-free cookies

I tried my first gluten free cookies awhile back from the Blackbird Bakery book that my friend gave me. They tasted delicious, but they didn’t  turn out quite the way I wanted.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get used to gluten dough and batter. I always compare it to gluten substances and I never know how the consistency should be.

These cookies were based on ground cashews and while they tasted great, they were a little hard to scoop neatly onto the tray for pretty cookies.

Not that their form mattered much… they all melted together!

The recipe said to put the cookies on two trays, but I didn’t account for having European-sized trays versus American-sized trays and having not made them before, I had no idea how much they would spread.

I cut them up into rough cookie shapes when they cooled. The actual cookie is pretty darn thin, which is OK because I wanted to use them for the ice cream sandwiches recommended in the book!

The book told you to make your own ice cream, but we didn’t have our ice cream maker yet, so we bought whatever Jamaican ice cream is in Switzerland, because it was pretty similar to rum raisin.

When was the last time you made ice cream sandwiches? These cookies were so good, I finished them on Tuesday night after having made them on Sunday. Mmm Mmm! 🙂