July 24, 2009

Hawaii or Bust

OK folks this is it - tomorrow we embark on our two week vacation. First we will go to LA to visit my family, then we will attempt to fly standby to Hawaii. W

Please wish us luck because our fallback plan is driving down to, say, Orange County. No offense to OC but Hawaii is better.

Not sure what my Internet availability will be so if I seem to vanish off the face of the Earth for two weeks, that's why.

Be good.

July 23, 2009

Emotional Intelligence

Yesterday in the car:

K: I want a piece of gum.
Me: No.
K: Yes.
Me: No, you already had a lolly at Kit's house.
K: Then I won't talk to you ever again.
Me: OK, I'm here if you change your mind.

L started crying at this point because she had sensed a sweet in the offing with no additional work on her part and letting go is hard.

Ralf chimed in with a story of a study someone did with five year olds, which is K's age. They put one marshmallow in front of each child and gave them a choice: eat it now or wait three minutes and get two marshmallows.

Years later they re-interviewed the same kids, now grown up, and found that the ones who could wait were far more successful and happy than the ones who couldn't.

K: You mean if they waited three minutes they got two marshmallows instead of one?
Ralf: That's right.
Thoughtful pause.
K: Can we go there now?

This morning while I was drinking my coffee:

L (who is three): Mommy, I want another cookie.
Yes, people, I bribe my kids with cookies in the morning so I can finish my coffee in peace.
Me: Can you wait about three minutes until I finish my coffee? Then I'll get you a cookie.
L: If I wait three minutes I want two cookies.

Oh, and a new post over at MOG: http://ls-workgirl.blogspot.com/

July 22, 2009

The Answer

Compuserve ad from 1982. Pretty visionary on the technology side, not at all on the fashion side. Or maybe white leisure suits are still to come. . .

When do you think this ad first appeared?

July 20, 2009

Time to buy some new underwear

Is there anyone out there whose mom didn't tell you to wear nice looking undergarments in case you get in an accident and wind up in the hospital? Mine might have mentioned it once or twice but the thought of trained medical professionals viewing my tattered underwear as I bled out my life somehow never really inspired much fear. I mean, I figured if that ever happened I'd have bigger problems, y'know?

What she should have said was this: 'You never know when your oldest pair of underwear will somehow wind up in your bag of Target returns.'

That might have gotten my attention.

Yes, somehow my oldest, tattiest pair of underwear did find its way into my bag of Target returns yesterday. They were freshly washed but had recently fallen victim to Ralf's annual attempt to do a load of laundry, which had left them an unusual and unsavory rust color.

Incidentally, I still have several pairs of high school jeans so I'm unlikely to throw away perfectly good underwear just because they're really sad looking and some ambulance driver might laugh at them.

BTW, I have nice underwear, too. Just not in my Target return bag.

They guy processing my returns whipped them out of the bag and held them up at eye level as he thought about what they could possibly be. To judge by the blank expression on his face he was still wondering as I snatched them back and stuffed them into my purse. Then he seemed to get it.

'We sell new underwear here if you need any,' he informed me helpfully.

'Thanks. I know.'

'Right over there.' He gestured.

'OK. Got it. Thanks.'

'I think they're even on sale.' This comment was followed by one of those male shrugs that are supposed to communicate, 'I'm just saying.'

I wanted to stalk off huffily but he still owed me money.

I guess it could have been worse.

Could it have been worse?

July 19, 2009

Wild Bday Party

July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. As you can see, I'm finally turning 5.

Tonight Ralf is taking me out for dinner and the new Harry Potter movie. AND he got my blog printed as a book! It was over 300 pages so technically speaking, I've written a book over the last year. If only it had a plot.

You too can get your blogs bound here or else do what Ralf did and use their software to extract the blog content into a .pdf file, then print and bind it for free at work. Which means I get a real grown up dinner with my movie instead of El Balazo take out.

This morning K gave me a 20 eurocent coin she mooched from Ralf to buy myself something and with a bit of additional prompting, a rather nice picture of a mermaid in the ocean that she colored. L gave me nothing but her everyday cuteness, although she did comment that it's not much of a birthday without a cake.

Happy birthday to me! I can't wait to celebrate tonight with Ralf, Harry and Voldemort.

Oh, and here's my favorite quote of the week from Debbie: "I'm thinking if we could somehow tie environmental issues to that thorny issue of extramarital flings, our elected officials alone could reduce our country's greenhouse emissions enough to save the polar bears."

Well said.

July 15, 2009

She Strikes Again

Nothing says thank you like a roaring kitchen fire in summer, right? It wasn't even my fault, the parchment paper I was using to bake french fries inexplicably burst into flame in the oven. This would have been a good time to flood the kitchen to put out the fire, but sadly, the two events were discrete.
Fortunately for our friends, we're moving out this weekend to new digs and new appliances.
This is just a quick post because I'm busy designing the last word in compensation solutions but I wanted to share a few observations I've made in sunny CA.
1. Solar Panels - Where the hell are they??? The sun shines 362 days a year here, people!
2. It's freezing - Except in my car and outside I'm generally freezing my butt off. Should I really be wearing a thick Lululemon sport jacket in high summer, chic and fashionable as it may be? Is it normal to send my kids to school in jeans and long-sleeved shirts in July so they won't catch cold indoors? Am I turning German?
3. Hang the DJ - I'd forgotten how much I dislike chatty Northern Californian DJs, who seem to view playing music as a regretable but necessary interruption of their own eloquence. Get a blog!
4. Whole Foods - I love you. I can't afford you, but I love you.
5. Trader Joe's - I don't love you quite as much as Whole Foods, but I do love you.

July 14, 2009

Two perspective on talent management

Perspective 1:
Perspective 2: How do you roll?

July 12, 2009

Living in America

Maybe all my blog titles will be song titles from now on. . .

The first week has raced by, very busily for Ralf and I and very happily for the kids. They like their kindergarden and are having a blast with the week-long slumber party we've arranged for them with our Californian friends.

A few highlights:

Leafing through People Magazine's tribute to the 70s. K wanted to know about Star Wars so I explained about wars in space, bad guys with super mind powers, light sabers (she already knew about that one from her breakfast cereal), etc. She took it all in but when I made the spurious claim that Star Wars is the most famous movie ever, she scoffed. 'More famous than Pufnstuff? I don't think so!'

Letting my youngest raise herself. A few months back L announced she was ready to ride her bike with no training wheels. I hesitated, she cried and insisted. She was so positive. Finally, heart in throat, I strapped on her helmut and let her go. Perfect execution, just a big wobbly and only one spill. That's why when she announeced she was ready to sleep commando (i.e., no diapers) two nights ago, I let her. Sure enough, she was up to the challenge. I think I'll just retire.

Repaying our hosts with a flooded kitchen. We're staying with friends who kindly stepped in when our July house fell through. They have two kids of the same age but not so much space, which makes their hospitality especially generous. Last night after dinner I loaded the dishwasher, added soap and turned it on. About an hour later while we were playing Scrabble, which Ralf the German always seems to win, there was an ominous 'bloob bloop' sound. Soap foam was gushing out of the dishwasher like in an I Love Lucy episode. Ralf, who lives with me and still loves me, immediately assessed the situation. But I ask you, why call it 'dish soap' if you can't use it in the dishwasher???

Another busy week ahead but I'll do my best to keep up with your doings.

July 7, 2009

I've arrived

Just a quick update: We're in California, the flight was uneventful, the kids were rock stars and I watched 17 Again on the plane. And I admit that I loved it against my will. How fun to get your teen age body back and go to school with your own kids! The only drawback would be that I'd probably still like 40 year old men and my classmates would think I'm a skanky ho.

So, that's the news.

July 4, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

We're goin' back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali.
We're goin' back to Cali.
I don't think so.
Remember that song? Great song. I've always felt it was written especially for me.
I've been holding out on you just a little about living in Germany. The truth is that since moving back to Germany last September I've been determined to spend summers in California. My reasons are thus: 1) I want my kids to be half American; 2) I want to spend face time with my colleagues, instead of being on the phone every night; and 3) I want to shop on Sundays, dammit!*
* The Germans, who treat smoking everywhere, even delivery rooms** as an inalienable, God-given right, have managed to make it illegal to smoke in restaurants but still hold firm on the concept: 'And on the 7th day He rested.'***
** OK, I said that for effect, I don't think even the Germans smoke in delivery rooms.
***If monks had been women it would have been, 'And on the 7th day She shopped' and Germany would be a vastly different place because of that one little word change.
But going back to Cali is not so simple. For one thing, the company we work for, after spending quite a bit to move us back to Germany and rent office space for us here, is understandably reluctant to finance our trip to California.
For another thing, the friend who was going to let us have her house in July made some dramatic life changes and is now moving abroad and renting out the house, so instead we'll be imposing on a mixed bag of colleagues and friends and moving around frequently in a borrowed car with 2 small children and enough personal effects to get us through seven weeks.
Which, as Sara kindly pointed out, could put a damper on the shopping.
Added to this, the theme du jour seems to be, 'You shouldn't have moved to Germany, mwa ha ha ha ha....' Which is good because a huge welcome would have been so embarassing.
There is also an emotional price to pay. Our 17 year old cat is clearly depressed by our pending departure. A friend of ours will be staying in our house while we're gone to look after him but he knows. He's a loving fellow and a dear old friend who values routine and having his family around him. He's been a little under the weather lately and I am not without worries on his account. May he please be well until we get back.
And finally, the piece de resistance, if you will, is our vacation. The money we might have spent on plane tickets to Hawaii will instead be spent on short-term daycare. Normally budget constraints would have forced us to forget about Hawaii and drive down to San Diego instead. However, my mother works for Hawaiian Airlines so the four of us are going to attempt to fly standby to Honolulu out of LA, where we will be visiting the rest of my family. And it gets better because hotel cancellation policies in Hawaii make it impractical to book a hotel in advance, since we may not make it to Hawaii at all.
I leave to your imagination a family of four with too much luggage and fairly uptight, control freak parents trying to fly standby out of LAX with no hotel reservation on the other side.
I know I seem incredibly easy going but I'm not at all about travel.
Suffice it to say that this summer will be something new for us. Everything will not be planned to the nines and there will be multiple logistical and professional challenges to work through. But our friends have really pulled through on accommodating us and our family and friends - not to mention Target, Pottery Barn and Whole Foods -are so excited to see us that we're going to try to make the best of it, have fun and do our part to generate much-needed business revenue in bankrupt California.
Anyway, that's the update on my end. If I'm quieter than usual for a bit, never fear.
I'm just in transit.

July 3, 2009

Olympic Day

This morning our Kindergarten had an Olympic Day for the kids who will be going to school next year, which I dutifully attended.
Picture about 30 kids sitting on benches outside. One by one they run through an obstacle course that includes benches, a jump rope, a hoolahoop, some climing, digging sand, throwing and catching a ball, that sort of thing. The first boy goes and does a creditable job. The entire course takes several minutes. Then the next child. Then the next. A hot sun. A smattering of polite clapping.
I've had high school on the brain lately and found myself picturing these 5- and 6-year-olds in high school. I could see it all: The jock. The dork. The fattie. The spaz. The rich bitch. The gawky girl. The cheerleader. The undersized hottie. The class clown. The normal kid. The good egg. And K, who is not so easy for me to place, although if I had to I'd say she's mostly normal, a little gawky and definitely a good egg.
Kind of like me.
K went toward the end, which turned out to be a good thing since my seat was stolen by another mommy the second I stood up to watch her do her stuff. She performed each task adequately, without embarassment, distinction or flair. Unlike the girl right before her who stopped and waived at the audience after each step. Or the skinny little boy who tripped over his own feet. Or the chubby little girl that someone had unkindly dressed in dirty white spandex shorts.
K was surprisingly good at hoolahoop. I myself was school hoolahoop champion by the age of 8 so it would appear that there is a hoolahoop gene.
All in all K didn't seem to take the obstacle course too seriously. She went through the motions and waited for refreshments to be offered.
A lot like me, really.

July 2, 2009

Thanks Hit40!

Hit40 recently awarded me one of her many blogging awards - thanks Hit40!
Apparently I don't have to do anything to earn this award. No list, no nothin'. It seems that my previous lovableness is enough.
To pass on this award I nominate all of you who regularly comment and make blogging fun. Those of you who are trying to increase the number of comments you get on your own blogs should definitely go suck up to these guys.
Kristina (I know, you don't do memes, but do I love your blog)
G (sorry you're last but you have the shortest name)
This is off the top of my head with no memory aids whatsoever so if I forgot anyone please feel free to appropriate this award for yourself. You know who you are. And I probably love your blog.

July 1, 2009


I love this picture although it's an interesting statement. Once when I stayed with friends at their (totally luxurious) cabin I discovered a huge stack of Better Homes and Gardens dating back to the 1920s. Whoa. I spent most of that weekend time traveling.

The post-war articles in the 20s (I forget which war) were all about frugality. Frugal was chic. I read an article explaining how the good housewife has pride in frugality, uses breadcrumbs to make muffins or oatmeal, that sort of thing.

The 50s were quite different. There were big color advertisements for enormous cars - would you believe in all those years average MPG hasn't improved at all? - and disposable utensils being thrown away by laughing, attractive people.

Today in the new millenium frugality may be making a comeback. Not like the 20s or anything but modest inroads.

What do you think?
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