This is Me in Grade Two…


(Originally published 22 April 2007, am republishing…well…have to get back into blogging. Throwback Thursday is as a good excuse as any!)

Mrs. Halleberg was my grade two teacher. On parent’s night, each student had to make up an individual star made of construction paper. Mrs. Halleberg would then write adjectives to describe her students and put them up on the bulletin board in the hallway. She wrote ‘Chatterbox’ on mine and ‘Motor Mouth’ on my friend Lorraine’s. I guess your individual development really doesn’t change much after your first five years–hence, thirty years later I am nick-named Princess Donkey.

I’ve kept this character sketch that a fellow classmate wrote of me in Mrs. Halleberg’s grade two class.

The great thing is: thirty years later, I still have friends from Grade 2: Lorraine and Michelle.  Lorraine is my first close long-time friend to have a baby (Baby Betty). Michelle lives in or around Wakefield and is studying to become a nurse. We had another friend, Winnie Wong. I don’t know where she is now though. I think Lorraine says she is in Toronto.

I did, however, say hello to my former classmate who wrote my character sketch this year when I was home at Christmas. I found out that he and wife were living just up the road from my parents. They’ve had a baby too. I had three weeks to kill in Whitehorse this year and them up–out of the blue–and asked if they wanted to go skiiing. I didn’t think they would remember me–but they did. I told them that I had this character sketch that he had written about me–and that I am positively horrified that in grade two, my hobbies included doing chores around the house.


Well..we have some BIG NEWS. B.I.G. We’ve been telling everybody by phone, but now it is offically on the blog.

Jman is diaper-free. Ever since we moved into our house, he was right away interested to use the potty. Then, right after his third birthday, he decided: No more pampers (“Pas de pampers, Maman. Plus“). Which literaly means: no more diapers. None. Not even at night.

And voila! Magically, there are no more.

I am so pleased. I thought potty training would be difficult as you read about how people have to train their kids by giving them treats or as my FRIEND from Whitehorse mentioned: put Cheerios in the toilet so he can aim.

We have had a few close calls when he has been in his snow pants and he needs to pee. OR when we are in the Grand Place parking in Vevey and we peed on a tree. And one time when we were in a store and I should have just popped outside rather than try to find the bathroom. But essentially, he has been doing it on his own.

We are quite aways away from him going potty by himself, but somehow, it is just easier not having to change his diapers anymore. I guess it the next step and we are excited about the change.

We are officially looking for an au pair…

After a few months of struggling long hours by myself with the boys and being unable or too tired to move my projects forward, we are officially looking for an au pair. I originally didn’t want to discriminate between fille au pair and a garçon au pair, but honestly, I don’t really want a young man in my house. I don’t want to teach him how to live with others. I don’t want him to disrespect our space (messy room, food all over). I certainly don’t want to make him have to clean the bathroom more than once…and now, I am sterotyping.

I don’t want him to think it is his home, becasue basically, it isn’t. And I think males somehow just naturally think they own the place.


Here is my online profile for our family on Au Pair world:

Dear Au pair

We love to laugh and do arts and crafts. We love to run outside and play in the mud. We are boys. We like to make noise when we can, but we also like to read books and dress up (pirates, super heros, ninjas, more…).

We have bikes and scooters. We use them inside and out. We love to play in our kitchen and often make meals and afternoon tea.

We are going to take music lessons, swimming lessons, and football camps this summer. So we have a calendar full of activities.

About us

We are a Canadian-Swiss family living in Switzerland. We speak English and French. We live in a house in a Swiss country neighbourhood, but only 15 minutes to Lausanne and entire the Lac Léman region but also close to outdoor recreational areas like the Pacots. We are close to public transport (trains and bus).

We are an international and bilingual family. We have lived in Canada, the USA, France, and Switzerland. We are happy to provide an opportunity to learn and practice both English and French.

Maman is a web consultant and communications specialist and works from home. Papa works in a technology company in Lausanne.

We have a private bedroom ready for you on our main level. It has a bed, drawers, closet and desk. There is a bathroom and shower on the main level too.


We would love an au pair who loves to play inside and out. We like to go to parks and down to the lake. We need a bit of help to clean up our rooms and downstairs … when we’ve played too hard and it needs a tidy up.

We would also love if you would be able to cook some meals traditional to your country. We love to cook and experiment with food.

Our parents expect you to be non-smoking, appropriately dressed, responsible, and emotionally mature youth who respects our house and shares our space. You will be expected to make your bed and keep your room clean. We would like you to help clean up after meals and help do the dishes. You will also be expected to clean your bathroom weekly and take your turn with the vacuum and the mop.

Once you are here, we can look at everybody’s activities and create a schedule that works. We will work together to choose the right language course from the numerous possibilities in the Lausanne / Vevey area.

We would love to teach you about Switzerland and our Swiss family lifestyle and learn about yours as well.


That is it. We are actually looking for an au pair from the European Union as we don’t want the extra effort associated with an au pair from other countries. Also, it would be less of a culture shock (especially if they were coming from a country close to Switzerland).

So…that is it. I am scheduling a few Skype interview tonight. Hopefully, we will be up and running in four to six weeks.

I will let you know how things work out.

Disappointed in this advertisement for Lee jeans


I saw this bill board today walking home from downtown today. I don’t know about you, but really, the only thing it does for me is disappoint me.

I am not really a fan of Lee jeans. I found my brand a long time ago (you know–when you can go into a store, tell them the size and style–and you don’t even have to try them on?) But I can’t seem to buy them in Switzerland–and worse–I can’t even seem to find them online. Hence, why I am on the lookout for a new brand–one more available.

My main problem with this advertisement is that it just lacks creativity and connection. In a world of new media, and the internet, and a million ways to connect with your audience, it chooses to show two girls sort-of-getting-it-on. (Yawn)

How am I supposed to relate to this? Am I supposed to want to be one of those girls? Soooo not happening. On second thought, I don’t even know if this advertisement is supposed to attract men or women.

I am a 41-year-old mother of two boys. I feel I have a disproportionately large butt (disproportional to the rest of me that is). In my family, we have a love-hate relationship with our butts. We even have a term for them: the Marryat butt! (I think that could be another blog post).

I am not attracted to this advertisement. I am a real woman in the real world with real woman problems.

In this world where it is so easy to identify and reach out to potential customers, why can’t Lee jeans have a simple pair of jeans on their advertisement? With a web address where I could go try them on?

Make me feel great BEFORE I even get to the door.

I feel like telling Lee jeans: come on guys (because obviously the making of this advertisement did not have any real women involved)–come on into the 21st century. Have you learned anything in the last decade? The age of Mad Men is over. O-V-E-R-!

I don’t want you to tell me what I should look like. I don’t want to look at suggestive (to whatever gender) pictures on your billboards.

I am telling YOU! Connect with me. Ask me what I want my next pair of jeans to feel like. Make it happen.

I am woman. Hear me roar.

My Mum’s leaf quilt

Dorothy Burke ¦ Quilter ¦ Whitehorse, Yukon

My mum is a quilter. She lives in Whitehorse, Yukon and has been quilting since the late 1980s. (When she reads this blog post, she will tell me the exact date and the exact project she started working on.)

She quilts for a number of reasons: to express her creativitiy, for the company (of other quilters), to keep learning new things…and more I am sure.  She has really progressed over the years too.

She emailed me this picture of a quilt she just finished a few weeks ago. I was super impressed. Mainly, because I know the story behind the quilt.

In 2004, she won the aggregrate trophy at the local horticulture show. She wrote in her 2004 yearly letter:

“This year I went all out and entered the greenhouses, garden and yard as well as 31 entries in the bench show. When I went to check on the exhibits on Saturday afternoon, I was quite surprised to see how many ribbons I had won. Overall, I won second on the octagonal greenhouses, fourteen firsts, six seconds, four thirds and seven participant ribbons in various classes such as quilting, jam and jellies, flowers, herbs and vegetables.”

She won $60 from Canadian Tire, a trophy to grace her mantlepiece for a year, and two tickets anywhere in Canada from Air Canada. She took my dad to see the colours in Algonquin Park (Ontario) that fall.

She and Dad spent a day walking and hiking in the park and collecting leaves. They pressed and preserved them. When they got home, Dad helped her create leaf templates from the leaves they had collected.

She started this particular quilt project in April 2012 and finished it this September.

I like a number of things abou this quilt. I like that she collected the leaves from Algonquin Park. I like she made them into fabric and designed them onto this quilt. I like, that if you look at the quilt, it looks like these leaves just fell from the tree onto the quilt. I like that my mum free-motion quilted around the leaves (meaning, she did everything herself at her own sewing maching). The leaves are attached to the quilt, but not quilted (contributing to the effect of having just fallen onto the quilt).

Quilting is an art. Further, it is a regional art. If you notice quilters around the world, they tend to quilt landscapes and nature native to where they live.

My mum makes quilts for your bed. She makes hangings on the wall. She makes pot holders and placemats. Regardless what project she creates, they all tell a story of who she is and where she has been.

My mum is 74 today. She has type 2 diabetes and limited vision. She is tiny (just over four feet) but she is a little dynamic ball of business.

I love you Mum.

Dorothy Burke ¦ Quilter ¦ Whitehorse, Yukon