Category Archives: Life

July 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Alright folks, I’ve been a bit lazy, but I’ve got lots to update you on, so I’m taking part in a 30 day blogging challenge with my fellow bees!

See the full details over at Licorice & Olives:I’m going to hold myself accountable for posting a minimum of three posts per week, so you all will have at least 15 posts to look forward to in July with a mishmash of house, cooking, traveling and workout posts!

Feel free to join if you’d like a little summer motivation as well. It’s hard to find time with all the swimming and grilling, but it feels good to get going again!


From foodie to celiac

For over half a year I knew I should get tested for celiac disease, but I waited. To be honest, I did not want to find out. I knew enough about the disease to know how life changing it would be and I didn’t want to contemplate what those changes would mean for me, Kay and the  lifestyle we enjoy together.

Maybe all my symptoms were not such a big deal. Maybe they weren’t related. Maybe they would solve themselves somehow if I exercised and ate more fruit and vegetables.

I mean, I love food. Who doesn’t? I was always proud to eat anything, although I’m not the biggest fan of sauerkraut, which ironically is gluten free. I love traveling and trying all the local specialties. Kay and I are always cooking different types of food at home and at work I am known as the “cookie monster”, although I think this is just a nicer term for “garbage disposal”, because if there is any food around, I will eat it.

So when I went in for my blood results, my heart dropped when the doctor told me my gluten antibody levels were through the roof. It wasn’t 100% medical proof, but I knew then that my entire world had just changed.

I slipped into a dark emotional hole. I was supposed to keep eating gluten before my biopsy, but it took several stressful weeks to even schedule the appointment. With all the uncertainty about my health care, each gluten overdose renewed all the symptoms that had started driving me crazy.

At the same time, I felt stupid. I didn’t realize how long I had been putting up with things that I considered normal. Things that I considered passable as they slowly got worse and worse over the years. How I put off visiting the doctor because I was apprehensive about insurance costs and revealing a preexisting condition that will follow me around for the rest of my life. So when I went to the doctor because I couldn’t sleep at night from skin rashes, I was desperate for relief, not more waiting.

I’d been working out for a month and I felt like a whale when I looked down at my belly. I felt ugly inside and out. I was also surprised how much the news depressed me. I’ve known depression before and I know that it can be related to celiac, but I wasn’t prepared for the feelings of hopelessness and anguish that came with the gluten-free sentence.

As I work on my Swiss naturalization, the realization that I cannot eat zopf or aromat anymore came as huge blows to my Swiss pride. We have so many nice bakeries in Switzerland. So much wonderful Italian cuisine. Our go-to meal of fondue and bread is out. No more beloved älplermagronen. No more pub beer or my favourite affordable drink in bars: panache (shandy). But what hurts most is thinking about my mother’s food. Her cookies and breads. Her rolls. It’s enough to make me want to crumple into a pile and dissolve into nothing.

Everybody says it will be OK. I can eat other things. I can still eat the same recipes if I change things, but it’s not true. I will never eat my mother’s cookies from my childhood again. I will never eat fresh baked Zopf from the bakery again. There is a whole lot of “never again” going on right now and it’s too much to take at times.

The fact is, gluten is in a whole lot of things, cross contamination is a real worry and some things just cannot be gluten free. Like samoas from Girl Scouts or Swiss army chocolate that Kay brings home.

The biopsy confirmed everything 100%, My villi are flattened to hell. It’s pretty clear I cannot ignore this anymore without risking serious malnourishment or worse things. And I’m ready to start feeling better and having more energy in the future.

Although I’m still looking forward to traveling, I do dread eating abroad and all the stress and worry I will have wondering whether the food in restaurants is safe for me. No more trying every food possible. I must be extremely cautious.

I know it could be much, much worse, but having lived a very blessed life so far, I can honestly say that this is the worst thing to ever happen to me.

…and donuts! No more donuts!?

Daily Life auf Deutsch (& wanting to pull my hair out)

Like any other couple, Kay and I share the responsibility for maintaining our household together. We usually consult each other before making decisions regarding travel, large household purchases or social events, but aside from that we trust each other to get shit done.

Since we have switched to German during the week and because we live in Switzerland, much of this coordination is done in German. I am still by no means fluent, but we talk about things so regularly in German that sometimes I struggle with the English expressions for some things.

Still, sometimes it seems SO difficult to organize things here, either because of the German miscommunication or because of the traditional husband-wife stereotypes still prevalent here. Sometimes I wonder if more of my problem results from the latter…

One morning while Kay was in the army I had a surprise ring at the doorbell in the morning while I was finishing up to leave for work. I was caught off guard and didn’t have a lot of time, but I invited the guy up to answer the door and his questions.

Kay had emailed the bathroom guys (per their request) to cancel the appointment that day because they had already fixed our grout and delivered the extra bathroom tiles, so I had completely forgotten about it and was wondering why they came. Apparently they had a double delivery of extra tile scheduled and wanted to know where to put it.

Fine. I can deal with that. Extra, extra tile is never bad.

But the guy also pressed the grout issue. I told him it was fine, it was fixed, but he wanted to go to the bathroom to make sure. I humored him.

I showed him to the master bath and explained that the problem with the grout was beneath the towel hooks, which I had already remounted by myself in Kay’s absence. You couldn’t see any difference when they were remounted. The guy seemed a little unsure about my explanation, but I assured him it was fine and that was the last thing for the bathroom portion of the house to be “done”. But he didn’t trust me. He actually asked me,

Say what??

Yep. He was questioning this poor housewife’s ability to know what flaws we outlined during our home inspection and which ones are repaired. Considering that I am the one that found out about both grout problems and complained, I am confident that I am perfectly capable of signing off the agreement slip without phoning my husband for permission.

So I told him, “No, I don’t need to call my husband. Everything is fine. And anyway he is in the military so even if I wanted to call him, he is unavailable. Where do I sign? Are we done now? I have to go to work!”

But I was still so annoyed that once again someone thinks that I’m helpless or inferior to my male counterpart, when usually Kay is the one asking me if all the mistakes are fixed or if we are missing any details.

Later, the same week, Kay messaged me asking me to call and coordinate with the window people to come fix the window issues in the flat. After playing phone tag while the company sorted out why I was calling in the first place, I was speaking with a woman about a time when the guy could come take a look at the windows.

I told her that it needs to be early in the morning or late in the evening because I work during the day, so she asked me, “How about 10am?”

Well, no. Because I work 40 minutes from home so I cannot leave for a 10am appointment without taking a half day. I told her that doesn’t work since I work from 8-5 and asked her if I can have an appointment after 5pm.

“How about 5pm on Tuesday?” she responded.

I don’t think she really put two and two together with the working 40 minutes away and working 8-5. I asked her if we could push it later, at least until 5:30pm, which is a stretch for me but I could do it.

“Sure, 5:30 is great! We’ll see you on Tuesday at half past five!”

Only I totally forgot about the appointment because I missed my ical reminder and Kay was gone so I went to work a little later at 8:30am and came home at 6:00pm, thirty minutes too late. Oops.

But the worst part is that I rescheduled the appointment for 7:30am the next week and the window guy surprised me at home the night before, at 6:10pm. 6:10pm! He gave me a whole schpiel about how 7:30am was sooo early in the morning for him and me and wouldn’t it be better to just do it now if I had time. It was bizarre.

If 6ish was a better time for the guy anyway, why didn’t the lady on the bloody phone just work with me when I told her my working hours were 8-5?! Was she trying to make life as a DINK harder?

I might not be able to express myself fully or completely naturally in German, but I know enough that I hope I can get my point across without terribly offending all of Switzerland. I know it’s awful that I’m not at home all day cleaning the house and letting workers in and calling Kay to ask if everything is OK, but I could use a little more faith from these people.

My mother raised me to be a strong, independent woman and I am perfectly capable of taking care of things by myself while Kay is gone.

Do you ever feel like people treat you like the smaller half of your marriage?

A History of Long Distance

Here I was almost forgetting what long distance is like when it strikes again. I should say I have it lucky compared to some gals, but I can’t help missing the man when he’s gone.

When we started our relationship in 2008, we had over 3 months where we didn’t see each other before Kay visited me in America and it took me 5 months to secure a job and residence permit in Switzerland. We started off like any “normal” couple where I lived at my host family’s house, working as an au pair and I would see Kay on the weekends.

With his first job out of university, Kay worked hard to find a flat before I moved over so that when I visited him on the weekends we wouldn’t be shacking up in his parent’s house. (Awkward.) During the week we talked on instant messenger or he would phone if he was out of the country. He had acquired a job that would require some traveling when he was trained up.

When I started my German courses in early 2009, the train connections to class brought me half way to Kay’s flat, so I would often jump on a train in his direction instead of heading home. I would either spend a couple hours with him and head home or spend the night and take a very early train back to my host family in the morning so that I could still take the kids to school. Pretty soon with class, I was seeing Kay every single day whether it was for a long time or not. I started doing wife-like things like completely reorganizing the kitchen (I asked first!) and buying pots and appliances here and there.

In the summer of 2009 I finally secured a design position, but it required me exiting the country for the duration of the visa process. Naturally I used the 2.5 months to spend time with family in America and Kay even traveled with me for two weeks, but it was another long summer apart. When I arrived back in the autumn, Kay’s job had developed into a full-force 50% or more traveling gig.

For the first months of our relationship, I felt like it worked out well to have him travel because although we had decided to move in together rather quickly, we still had a lot of time on our own with his traveling. For us, it didn’t make sense for him to have a flat he would only be in 50% of the time and for me to acquire a flat if I would be at his place every time he was in town. I went home for Christmas while Kay stayed. It was the most depressing Christmas after we’d spent the last one together and I vowed not to take holiday without him again if I could help it.

But as 2010 wore on and my visa troubles reemerged, Kay’s traveling started to wear on us. It was especially upsetting when he would find out he needed to travel with less than 24hrs notice or when he would unexpectedly need to stay longer even when he was at the airport coming home. Nobody likes saying goodbye to their man in the morning only to receive a phone call during the day that he won’t be coming home that night. We could barely plan any activities to do at home with his flighty schedule.

When he arrived home from Brazil after traveling three weeks longer without me, he proposed. But for the rest of the summer it seemed like I hardly saw him. We got married less than three months after he proposed because of the residence issues and Kay managed to fly home a few days before the wedding, marry me and take me to Amsterdam for a minimoon before he was off the next week.

Now for the past couple years I’ve been rather spoiled. Kay changed jobs and he hasn’t been traveling nearly as much. Maybe a week or two here and there. But there is still always his annual army time. Last year it was almost “easy” to have him leave for three weeks before our religious wedding in the States. I was so busy with last minute details and DIY projects I honestly didn’t miss him that much.

In fact, it was so easy that over the year we’ve talked more increasingly about what will happen when he wants to go to school for an MBA in a few years. Kay is planning roughly to go to school in 4-5 years and we are not sure which country he will be in and if it would be worth it for me to quit my job and travel with him for 1-2 years before we return. It is not exactly easy for me to find English-speaking jobs in Switzerland so for the moment I’m pretty set. But I wonder how I could endure a whole year or two of long distance. If he would move to America for instance, weekend trips would not really be possible. If he moves to London or Paris, flying or taking a train for the weekend is much more realistic and affordable, although still a sizable drain on finances.

He’s even requested at work if he can do an extended trip for 10 weeks to build up sales, which would be a mini-test to see how we do with long distance again. Honestly, sometimes when he is abroad is not so bad as long as we send regular emails, skype or instant message when possible, and when I know for sure when he’s coming home. When he’s in Switzerland in the army… it’s another story.

This week he left for the army and he told me he would come home on the weekend, but on Friday he unexpectedly found out that he would be required to stay over the weekend and today he told me he won’t be able to call me until Wednesday. He can’t do anything about it, but it upsets me, because I didn’t plan anything for the weekend thinking he would come home and in Switzerland everyone plans their social life two weeks in advance so most of my friends are busy.

I thought I was doing fine with him gone, but honestly finding out he’s not coming home is such a disappointment that it depresses me about his absence. I start thinking about the little things like sleeping next to him and putting my arms around his neck. Just having his presence in the flat. Then I start thinking about how I’m 25 and this is maybe the best physical time of my life and my husband is gone. Why can’t he go on trips when I’m 50 and sagging? (Kidding, I probably won’t want him to leave then either!)

So I thought about my pros and cons of long distance:

Long Distance Pros:

  • I can hog the entire bed
  • Stay up as late as I want
  • Have as many girls nights I want
  • Full control over music in the house
  • The house is so much cleaner! (Sorry Kay, it’s true!)
  • Time to chill alone, which I really appreciate sometimes
  • Eat whatever Kay hates

Long Distance Cons:

  • I get lonely in the house
  • We can’t plan weekend activities together
  • I get used to living alone and it’s hard to go back to normal when he comes back (this is maybe the worst part!)
  • I have to carry all the groceries home myself… ugh heavy!
  • I loathe cooking for just myself so I eat a lot of crap instead of cooking
  • Sometimes I get upset if I don’t understand something important in German and he’s not there to explain

I also find it really hard to communicate long distance sometimes. I’m much better about writing lengthy emails about the banal things I did that day, whereas Kay views his daily activities as boring so he just writes that he loves and misses me. When we speak on the phone during his army stints or via Skype, it’s even worse. We are both pretty bad about talking on the phone and usually our phone calls last 5-10 minutes max.

Sometimes if he’s busy in the army I’ll only get a 5 minute phone call and it’s just not enough time to say everything I want to… but every time we talk on the phone my mind goes blank, so even if we have a whole 10 minutes, I can’t think of anything to say until he hangs up. It’s always during the day or later in the evening I realize I forgot to tell him something important that I want to talk about. Take today for example… I wrote our building manager (auf Deutsch!) about the electricity in our flat and he asked me if I want to go to an appointment during October. I can’t go because it’s a work day, but Kay could possibly go if he takes a day off and I completely forgot about asking him because I was too preoccupied with his news about not coming home! I just sat there on the phone whimpering.

Also, sometimes I get paranoid that something terrible will happen and the Swiss government is going to deport me because my husband is away. I know this is all in my head, but I worry nonetheless and I always feel more validated when Kay is here. The worst is if I get a letter in German about my residency while he’s away. Even if I totally understand the letter and what to do, it makes me feel all upset when he’s gone. Maybe I’m just crazy. Kay thinks so.

I’m still so grateful we’ve never had to do a year or more apart like some couples, but long distance seems to be a part of our relationship that is not going to be over for awhile. I’ll take all the Kay time I can get in the mean time.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? What are the pros and cons for you?