2-Do-Shay (or a two show day)

Back in a London! Just mom and I. After Sadie and mom did Paris, it was my turn. I’ve been listening to the Hamilton sound track for 4 years so if I could see Hamilton on the West End that was my dream come true.

Hamilton did not disappoint. It was the best musical I’ve ever seen. Watching King George in London gave it an additional fun flare.

While in London, why not have a 2-Do-Shay, that is theatre speak for two shows in a day. Our second show was the Play that Goes Wrong. It had us laughing through the whole show. Nice to see some British theatre.

Besides the 2-Do-Shay, we shopped and ate our way through London.

London, we love you so much.

So happy to be with my mom!

British Tea at the English Rose Cafe

All they serve is chips – Hipchips

Inside the beautiful Victoria Theatre

Hamilton!!!!!

Breakfast at Duck and Waffle! 40 stories above the city.

Our compact luxury hotel involved sharing a bed, sorry mom

Berglin’s and Fryxell’s visit to Switzerland

What are the ingredients for a perfect vacation? (Thought I would use a recipe theme since Bethany is such an amazing cook.)

1.)Planners (Jess and BQ) – Impeccable attention to detail and always 5 steps ahead. Reservations made well in advance for everything.

2.) Attenders (Berglin’s and Fryxell’s) Always ready to make it a great time and ready for anything. No fun suckers in the group. Very low maintenance group and always LOTS of laughs.

3.) A great atmosphere – chalet in the Swiss Alps… with a roaring wood burning fireplace, hot tub, and incredible view of the mountains. Need I say more?

4.) Amazing food – lovely breakfasts in the chalet with coffee and a great view of the mountains from the living room. Lunch reservations at some great places in the mountains and incredible dinners whether it be at fun, unique restaurants or amazing dinners cooked by BQ in the chalet. All fantastic.

5.) Active, super fun activity… like skiing! We skied our hearts out for four days straight and got our fill of the most amazing skiing you could ever imagine.

6.) Hilarious inside jokes made all week. What did you eat?? Ostrich. I need everyone to Focus. We’re havin’ cheese… on everyTHANG! I want the red one… I want to go first! Sledding craziness.

SO MUCH FUN! An experience we are all so thankful to have had. One we will never forget.

Thank you so much, Jess and Bethany. We love you and will be forever grateful for this incredibly PERFECT vacation!

Love,

Kacie, Terry, Dawn and Eric

The Major Thing

My parents visited us last week in Switzerland. They timed their trip to see McKenna perform in the high school performance of the Little Shop of Horrors. It was fantastic having them here and I thought them being here for the play would be the major thing the girls appreciated about their visit. However, the night after they left I asked the girls what was the best part of having Grandma and Grandpa here and they surprised me with their answers. The major thing to them was not the big event of the play. It was the every day moments of fun and love that they shared. For Sadie, it was making a fort with Grandpa, baking with Grandma and the Swiss raclette dinner we had at our house. For McKenna, it was the conversations about politics she had with Grandpa and the amazing hugs from Grandma where you can “feel the love passing through you”. For me, it was the road trip to the Christmas markets with just the three of us in the car for hours to get to Strausberg, France and Basel, Switzerland. So fun to experience these amazing European Christmas markets with my parents.

There was a beautiful blog reflection this week about the eulogy President George Bush gave at his father’s funeral that perfectly described what played out for us last week during Grandma and Grandpa’s visit. The advice was “Don’t make the minor stuff the major stuff. Have fun, play games, have family dinner, be kind, do good in your community when you have opportunity, show integrity when no one is watching, and love your spouse fiercely. Fight for your family. At the end of your life this is what will matter to your children”.

Thank you mom and dad for fiercely loving us and never allowing distance to take away the major things. We cannot wait to spend the holidays with all of our family and friends focused on the major thing (which I know is not the perfectly wrapped presents but is a good reminder for me as I online shop late into the night 😜).

Blog post referenced included:

https://refuge.church/2018/12/07/the-major-thing/amp/

McKenna as the voice of the plant
Sadie was super proud of her sister
McKenna’s friend Clara as Ronette was amazing
30 meter live tree in Strausburg, France

Bethany’s new friend

The markets Even better than I thought

Raclette never disappoints

Sadie and Grandpa’s fort

October and November…oh my!

I have been committed to capturing the major moments of our experience as a family living in Europe on this blog. So I will fulfill that commitment tonight with a some of the highlights of the last two months.

1). A visit to beautiful Greece: Jess, Sadie and I spent fall break in Athens and Sani Resort.

Beautiful island tour

Great day in Athens guided by Stavros

A handstand at the Acropolis

A weird experience at the “fish spa lake”

We loved Greek Food! Especially tazikki!

Sadie’s first time diving!

Sani Resort was beautiful!

Celebrated our 20th anniversary at Sani Resort

2). A Service Project to Cambodia: While we visited Greece, McKenna went with 30 of her year 11 classmates to Cambodia. They built a house and taught English to Cambodian children.

3.). A fun mom and daughter weekend in Paris: Sadie joined me in Paris for the weekend. Flew over and back by herself. It was such a great time.

4.) A NFL game in London!

4). Another Swiss Thanksgiving: This year’s challenges different than last year’s in terms of getting a turkey but just like last year it all worked out.

Two 5 kg birds from Coop at home delivered by the post!

A great celebration with GMI & CPW expats

A trip to KFC for lunch on Thanksgiving- chicken is almost turkey!

Sharing the Thanksgiving tradition in the office

5). Tons of work travel: Trips to Spain, UK, France, Australia, Germany, US. Always happy to see George in the Geneva airport and even happier to see the ones that make my life complete.

It’s taken some grit…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written down my thoughts. For sure one of the answers is I’ve been busy, but the true answer is I could not reconcile how the last few months have felt. I could not decide between posting a picture of the amazing view from our new house or a picture of boxes all over inside.  Once again so many “firsts” for us combined with “seconds” and even “thirds” as we passed 2 years on this journey of not living, working or going to school in our home country. As I scrolled through my pictures and saw the cover of the book GRIT (thank you my friend Jodelle for the recommendation) finally my feelings were reconciled. It’s taken some grit the last few months. I felt the need to find more resilience. I got frustrated with our unplanned move of houses within Switzerland, the hard stuff of leading a business with limited scale and not being able to talk to my French speaking neighbors. None of these a big deal. But as a self admitted learning and change junkee had I overdosed?

At the same time, I was watching Sadie really picking up speed and finding joy. What I am witnessing is the individuality of the change curve. It has been different for each of us in this family in terms of when we each needed to find our grit and for how long we needed that grit. I led out on the curve of change and my passion for learning fueled me. I was running at a 1 mile pace for two years. Sadie needed a lot more resilience up front and her passion came later and it is fueling her now. I was carrying her in the beginning. Jess, McKenna and Sadie have carried me over the last two months. Jess has always said to the girls “when the going gets tough, the Quam’s get going.”. The key word being the Quam’s. I had always thought of grit as individual and thought of it more in a moment than over the course of time. Today I realize it can be a team support. Lending your grit to others is powerful. Sadie lent her grit to me through perspective and humor during our move. As I tried to clear a space on the unpacked table for dinner she saw my frustration and perfectly placed the comment “well, at least our heads are on our necks”. Hard to argue with that.

So what has brought the passion the last few months:

Teddy loves being back with Jess and walking daily along lake Geneva. Teddy’s resilience was tested this summer with so many weeks away from Jess (💩 💩 💩)

Sadie is playing soccer with ISL and her good friends Nora and Margarita. A novice at 12 years old is completely welcome. I love that.

Jess is the school treasurer for ISL. He is giving lots of time and talent to a great PTA. Also found some fun in London at an NFL game and a beautiful Swiss fall.

McKenna continues to rock the change curve and will be the plant in the Little Shop of horrors at school this fall. On her way to Cambodia now for a school service trip.

Bethany is learning from the world with trips to Germany, the Netherlands and Greece this week.

Now I just feel grateful.

Browsing the Baltic

The Disney Magic was the perfect vessel for us to see 5 countries in 7 days. All places none of us had been to before (minus a quick Stockholm Metallica concert for Jess).

1) Copenhagen, Denmark was the start and end to our trip. A very progressive city with deep historic roots. For sure worth a visit!

The canals and architecture are beautiful

Tivoli Gardens a really neat amusement park

The number of bikes in the city was crazy!

2) Tallin, Estonia was next and before this trip not a country on our travel country plan. With only 1.3 million people it is a small country that in 1991 gained its independence from the Soviet Union. We learned that they are proud of their independence and especially happy to be a NATO member. 🙂

Another bike trip & hand stand in Europe!

3) St. Petersburg, Russia next up! We were all very interested in going to Russia. The city had lots of culture with ~200 museums and is known for their ballet. It was cold and wet which apparently is the normal with only 60 days of sunshine a year.

4) Helsinki, Finland reminded us so much of Minnesota. Beautiful lakes and trees and McKenna fit right in with all the blondes. Fantastic ebike tour! All over the beautiful country of Finland (happyebikes).

5). Stockholm, Sweden was a great country we could have used more time in. One we would return to for sure. We saw the Vasa a Swedish ship which sunk about ~400 yrs ago and after about 350 on the sea floor was raised and restored. We also hit the ABBA Museum – Fun!!

Recovered sunken ship @ the Vasa Museum

ABBA with 2 new members!

Lots of great family time on the ship. A much needed week together leaves us feeling grateful, blessed and ready to continue the adventure.

I’m sure they washed the windows a minute later

McKenna & Jess competing in “So you think you know your family?”

Dinner-mates – The Drake’s from TX were awesome!

Chocolate, Cheese, and Cheerio!

Hello from Bethany’s sister, Kristen, guest writer of this post. As soon as we found out the Quams were moving to Switzerland, we started making plans to visit. We hadn’t been to Europe together as a family, and Skyler (13) and Luca (11) were at a good age to make some memories. We took the train up to Lausanne from Milan after visiting Rob’s Italian aunt, uncle and cousin. (The Pizza, Pasta, Pronto tour — we have been quite happily eating and drinking our way through Europe!)The temperatures had been in the 90s and it wasn’t much cooler in Switzerland when we arrived. The kids were excited to see their cousins and play in the pool. We ventured out to see the city of Lausanne and took in the amazing views. Our first full day in Switzerland was spent tasting the local delicacies. It was hard work but we were up to the challenge. After all that eating, we spent the next day being active, climbing trees…and paddling in Lake Geneva.Then it was onto the last leg of our adventure: London. We celebrated the 4th of July (affectionately known in England as Traitors’ Day) quietly in a pub. The big event that brought us to England was Wimbledon. We had wonderful seats in the shade for the second round matches on Center Court. Rafael Nadal beat Mikael Kukukshin in 3 sets.It was really hot and Rafa needed to change his shirt between sets, but Bethany and I barely noticed.Keeping with tradition we sampled Pimms Cups and the famous strawberries and cream.The grounds at Wimbledon were beautiful. Attending was a bucket list item for sure, and we’re so grateful for the opportunity!We finished our time together with more sightseeing, including the Tower of London. It’s been the trip of a lifetime and we’ll cherish the memories forever. Thank you, Quams, for everything. We love you!