Sunday, January 27, 2002

Diary: 1/27/2002

Dear friends and family

First things first: Debbie is having a fantastic time in Cleveland - it seems that the sales are in full bloom and ripe for picking! While she is away, and unable to edit what I'm writing, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge something:

Many of you have written to say that things here sound hard, to wonder how we are making it, to ask how we can keep a sense of humor through some of the things that have happened. The answer is simple: It's all Debbie.

I would have been on a plane, tail between my legs a week after we arrived if hadn't been for her love and good humor. She is the strongest person I have ever known, she has surprised me in ways and at times I could not have imagined. She has had days that would have sent me over the edge, and she has handled them with grace and finesse.

She is a walking, breathing, living miracle, and it's about time I took a moment and acknowledged it. I've tried before, but those attempts ended up being "backspaced" away into the cybertrash.

So now we go back to the week in review:

As you can imagine, this was a quieter week.

After the "star spangled dryer" performance on Sunday, we were on the phone bright and early Monday to see about a replacement. Things were getting down to the wire with Debbie's packing - and some of the stuff she needed was wet in the washer!

We had assurances that the new dryer (number 4, for those who are counting) would be delivered Tuesday. Which was cutting it close, but we'd make it.

On Tuesday afternoon, the repairman called me to ask if we wanted to do some wash over at his place. Meaning, of course, that it wasn't going to make it. We took him up on the offer. He is actually a neighbor, so it wasn't a big deal and he feels very embarrassed and responsible for the situation somehow. Of course, this isn't his fault. But if you are offered a Bauknecht dryer - run in the other direction!

Tuesday night we held Isabelle's birthday dinner. For her cake, she took a page from our friend Michael's book and asked for a chocolate-chip cookie dough cake. Yup, another raw one. It is a sad and twisted statement to make, but Debbie is actually getting very good at making these. This one actually had a vaguely cake-shaped form as it sat on the plate. Isabelle was in heaven. I'm just thanking God that none of us are prone to diabetes.

On Wednesday morning we dropped off the girls at school, and then drove out to the Geneva airport. Everything went smoothly, even security. They did ask Debbie to remove her shoes - and Joram's shoes!!; and they weren't sure whether to allow or confiscate Joram's baby spoon and fork (they didn't). On the one hand, such things are a hassle. On the other, they are doing their job and a little hassle is worth it in times like these.

The 8 hour flight from Geneva to New York was relatively uneventful. The plane was partially empty and Debbie had an open seat next to her. Joram was awake the entire way, until 5 minutes before they landed (of course!). But Debbie managed to get him loaded into the stroller and keep him asleep. And the security folks at JFK bent the rules a little and didn't make her take him out to put things through the x-ray. Again, they are doing their job, but being human about it too.

On Thursday the dryer arrived, but it wasn't until Saturday that had time to run a load of cloths. So far, no sparks. We will keep everyone posted.

On Saturday we celebrated Isabelle's birthday again. This time we went over the house Chris and Karen Ayres (and their daughter Elyse). The girls had fun playing, the adults had fun complaining about life, work, etc, and everyone had some birthday cake. A great time was had by all.

Sunday was mostly spent cleaning and finishing homework. Heather had a birthday in the afternoon - with a Harry Potter theme. We dusted off her costume from Halloween and off she went. Isabelle and Leon spent the afternoon watching "The Princess Bride" and eating popcorn. Then Leon finally caved in, wimped out, and bought McDonald's for dinner. Up until now things had gone so well!

As I mentioned before, Debbie is having a wonderful time. She is actually at her main class right now as I type this. She has had a chance to see some of her friends and family (but not enough time, and each visit is painfully short) and also get some necessary shopping done. After getting used to Swiss cars, roads, shops, and houses everything seems oversized and stretched out. But this is not a difficult adjustment to make.

This week will hopefully be uneventful as well. Debbie leaves the US on Wednesday, and arrives here Thursday morning. Other than that it's the usual stuff - homework, cleaning, organizing, etc. Hopefully the dryer will not enter the conversation!

As always we hope that this letter comes at a time that is calm and healthy for you. Please drop us a line if you have the time and desire.

Leon, Heather, and Isabelle (and Debbie and Joram of course!)

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Diary: 1/20/2002

Appologies for the lateness of the diary this week. Some last-minue developments have gotten in the way of normal life.

Starting on Monday, the wallpaper hangers arrived. We can't say that they were the best we've ever seen. In fact, they were probably closer to the worst. On the first day they came in and were clearly told to begin work in Joram's room, and not to start anything until that room was complete. They immediately moved furniture out of 3 rooms, took all the face plates off the electric outlets (Jorma had always wanted to see what was in those), and to go into Joram's room. Where they proceeded to smoke while they worked. "Furious" does not come nearly close enough to describe our reaction.

In the end, the work was done and we now have some brighter rooms. But the process of getting there made for a very rough week.

Also new this week is our dryer. After looking at the "old" one (dryer #2, delivered 2 weeks before) the service tech stated that there was no way the machine could ever have worked. Just out luck that *we* got the special one.

Also during this week the window repairman came. Nearly every window handle in the house was defective - they didn't close all the way - and the weather stripping had to be replaced as well.

On Wednesday, we celebrated Isabelle's birthday with all the girls from her class. Actually, the party was held at Isabelle's friends house - Joana. We combined parties to save on costs, headachs, and stress. For the most part, this plan worked. Although we're not sure if you can ever reduce stress when inviting 14 6 and 7 year old girls.

On Thursday we received a rather rude shock - our first electricity bill. This covered our first month, from mid-November to mid-December. The total was 1,075 swiss francs (roughly $662). Talk about sticker shock! We are still working with the rental company to work this out. The previous tenants paid an average of 350 swiss franc a month, so we assume that there is a problem in the electrical (heating) system. At least, we HOPE there is a problem.

On Saturday there was a hot-air balloon festival in the village of Chateau d'Oex. We've been to the festival in Chagrin but there was no comparison. About 75 balloons were launched at this one, all of them floating gently in the cold still alpine air. Some of the pictures should be spectacular.

We had some friends over for dinner Saturday night, which was a great way to end a lovely day. Then on Sunday we went over Leon's boss' house for a traditional Spanish meal. It was a great evening.

But one more surprise lay in store for us. When we got home, Debbie wanted to dry some cloths so that she had everything she needed for her trip this coming week. After putting the close in, she turned it on and was treated to a beautiful display of sparks and fireworks. The lights in the house went out as the main fuse tripped.

When the smoke cleared and the lights were restored, we were left with another dead dryer!

For those who read this and think that we must have been in tears, you should understand that this week has been too overwhelming from the start. By this point, it was down right surreal! We shut everything down, packed up for the night, and figured we would handle it in the morning. How, we are not sure.

This coming week is going to be intersting.

Of course, Debbie is flying out to Cleveland on Wednesday. For those who want to check in with her when it's not an international call, the number is 330-405-1357. And she flies in on Wednesday Jan 23, and flies back again on Wednesday, Jan 30.

This will leave Leon to fend for himself against all manner of strangeness - from what to serve for dinner to getting the dryer fixed. We hope.

Debbie, Leon, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Diary: 1/13/2002

Dear friends and family:

Considering the activity from the last few weeks, this was a quiet and slow time for us. Not that the change from break-neck action was unwelcome. It was nice to have some space to breath and let things get back to normal. And it's not to say that the week was without any highlights at all!

On Monday, Allison and Michael left for home. We had an amazing couple of weeks with them, and got to explore some parts of Switzerland that we may not have chosen to do on our own. Everyone was very sad to see them leave, especially Joram. He has become very attached to Michael ("Ma" as Joram called him). For days afterward, Joram would eat very little, and wandered around the house calling "Ma! Ma!" - you could see that he really thought Michael would jump out any minute. It was heartbreaking to see, although he seems to be better now.

This week marked our return to "regular life" - work, school, laundry, groceries, etc. It also marked a chance to finish the cleaning and organizing that we've been putting off since the beginning of December. We are finally storing the last of those items we realize we don't need, pulling out those that we found out we need (when we thought at first we didn't), etc. The desks are getting straightened, bills are getting paid, and computers are finally getting sorted out.

Speaking of getting the computers set up, our DSL internet is FINALLY set up. What this means is that Debbie has her laptop back and can get onto her email whenever she wants! In the next few days I'll be setting up the girls with email accounts. For now, if you want to contact us via the internet, you can use the following:

Leon's email (duh):
Leon's instant messenger screen name (AOL or Yahoo): adatole

Debbie's email:
Debbie's instant messenger screen name: (AOL or Yahoo): adatoda

This also means that I can start updating the web site again. I've started by posting all the "Adato Diaries" and pictures will be coming soon. The site already has a good collection of things from before the move. You can take a gander at .

On Wednesday, more US friends came to visit. Doug and Janis were helping Doug's Mom fulfill a lifelong dream of skiing the Alps, and they took a day off from the slopes to come over to our place. It was a very low-impact visit - just some food, drink, and conversation. But it was great to see familiar faces and hear about their experiences at Zermatt - the site of the Matterhorn and a really nice ski resort.

For those who are keeping track of the never-ending saga of our house and the problems in it, we finally got the cook top fixed (it had been shattered since the day before Christmass. The dryer is still not working right, even after they replaced it with a whole new model. While the repair guys were supposed to arrive Monday, it was a no-show. Tomorrow (Monday) the wallpaper folks will finally come to change 3 rooms. This had been planned since we moved in, but with the holidays they didn't have time before now. We are still waiting to hear when the people are coming to fix the tile, the window handles, the shutters, and the broken glass in the winter garden.

On Friday, Heather went off to her first day of skiing with school. Imagine *this* as your normal school experience: Starting in mid-winter, you get every Friday off - completely off - from lessons, and go to a ski resort instead to practice on the sloaps. Can you believe it? Heather started off in the most beginner group (I don't think the kid has ever been on a toboggan, let alone skis!). But by afternoon she had moved up a group. We are excited to track her meteoric rise and have visions of her eventually challenging Picabo Street.

Saturday was "toy" day for the grownups. Leon went out and bought a new flat-screen monitor that is to-die-for, plus a printer to replace the one damaged during the move. After seeing how nice and warm Heather's ski coat was, Debbie stopped at the sporting goods store and bought herself a similar one. Then we spent the day cleaning, organizing, and hanging out.

On Sunday we didn't even leave the house! After pancake brunch we had an informal Sunday school session, and then spent the rest of the day straightening up some more. The housework just never seems to end.

This week should be relatively easy. Leon has some new contractors starting at work so that should take up a lot of his time, plus his boss and project manager both return from vacations. On top of the "normal" work it should be a hopping time!

Isabelle is sharing a birthday party with another girl on Thursday, so that will be exciting. The other girl wanted a "purple" party. I'm assuming everyone here knows what Isabelle wanted for a theme. So they compromised on a Purple Pooh Party.

And of course, we have to get ready for Debbie and Joram's trip the following week.

Please take care, keep the cards and letters coming (especially to Debbie's email now that it's running!), and let us know if there is anything we can do for you!

Debbie, Leon, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram

Sunday, January 06, 2002

Diary: 1/6/2002

Dear friends and family:

We hope that everyone's New Year was enjoyable (whether that means a quiet evening with friends or raucous partying with strangers). Ours was definitely closer to the "quiet evening" side of things, but that's jumping ahead...

Monday was New Year's Eve of course. However, we really didn't have any huge plans. Following the Adato tradition, everyone got to "order" their choice of New Years meal. Heather requested brussels sprouts. Isabelle asked for brownies. Michael wanted exotic fruits (starfruit, pomegranite, passion fruit, cumquat, pomello). Leon asked for a brioche bread with brie baked inside. And Debbie and Allison agreed on borscht (admittedly a do-it-yourself job as Manaschewitz does not exist here). Since Allison shared her idea with Debbie, she also got an avocado. We all got a good taste of everyone elses's food, and went to bed early (with stomach aches. WE have no idea why.). Actually, Leon and Debbie went to bed around 11:30, and Allison and Michael stayed up to ring in the new year (no Times Square though - midnight here is still only 6:00pm for Dick Clark).

For New Year's day we decided to climb a mountain. A ski resort in Leysin features a "resturaunt tournant panoramique" - it's literally a round glass building that overlooks the alps, lake geneva, and some incredible ski runs. The resturaunt inside turns slowly in place, so that you get to see everything around you as you eat. It was breathtakingly beautiful and pretty cool to boot.

We took our big trip on Wednesday. Waking at 5:00am, we quickly drove down to the train station and headed south-east to Italy. It was only 2 hours and 50 minutes to Milan, so we spent the day exploring. It was relatively warm (40 degrees), sunny, and everyone was friendly and helpful. We picked up a few nice souvenirs and even got to see Leonardo DaVinci's "The Last Supper".

Thursday Michael had another chance to go snowboarding with Luca, the wild and crazy Italian. While he risked life and limb, Debbie Allison, and Joram ventured back to Montreaux for some power-shopping and Leon stayed home with the girls to clean, organize, and veg.

By Friday everyone needed to recharge. The big delimma was that we had to prepare for Shabbat dinner. Our solution was to have a "breakfast for dinner" Sabbath. Pancakes and eggs. It was quite a site.

Saturday was Michael's birthday. As a gift to him, we did NOT drag him to the stained glass museum. Instead, he was left home alone. Everyone else had a fun time looking at some breathtaking windows - some from as far back as the 1100's and others from contemporary artists. The museum itself is in a castle in the village of Romont, so the drive and the area were also fun to see.

When we got home, we had to prepare the birthday feast. Most of the meal was not far out of the ordinary: lamb, potatoes, and green beans. However, we had a special birthday cake planned - cookie dough. Not baked cookie dough, mind you. This was a huge globber of uncooked chocolate chip cookie dough formed into a vaguley cake-shaped mound and topped with candles. Not only tasty, it was entertaining too as we watched the kids bounce from wall to wall after they ate a slice of the stuff.

Today was Allison and Michael's last day here, so they needed to spend time packing. We ran up to a local zoo to get out of the house for a couple of hours, and then spent the rest of the day getting organized for the week ahead.

Of course, this week will mark our return to reality. The kids go back to school, Leon goes back to work, and we have to focus on all those things we've procrastinated on: changing addresses with various companies, getting the dryer fixed (nope, it's still not right), getting the stove top fixed (the top shattered when the guy came to fix the burner 2 weeks ago), etc.

We get a small break on Wednesdy when Doug and Janis come in from Brooklyn, Ohio. They've decided to spend a week skiing the Matterhorn (the resort is named Zermatt), which is only 3 hours from here. So we're going to hang out for the day and ignore our work some more.

And, of course, we're now getting ready for Debbie and Joram's big trip home. For those who missed the details, they are:
Flying home January 23 (arriving that evening)
Flying back January 30.

During that time Debbie has to shop for all those things we can't find here, take a couple of ophthalmic courses, visit every doctor we've ever known to update prescriptions, and visit every person in Cleveland. So if you haven't gotten on the list yet, hurry up.

We hope this letter finds everyone in good health and better spirits.
Debbie, Leon, Heather, Isabelle, and Joram
(and, for another few hours, Allison and Michael)