May 29, 2009
May 28, 2009
After all, I don't want you to think I'm an ungrateful minger or a whore of the Infidel.
So, I have just ordered books by Emily Griffen and Susan Isaacs, as well as Outrageous Fortune by Tim Scott. Thanks, Lawyer Mom, Jessica and Ladyfi.
And in return I offer you: Anna Maxted, whose specialty is Fairly Serious Topics with a healthy dose of hilarity. I love her books. Well, Tale of Two Sisters was kind of boring but the others were great.
Oh, and Sara, about the Michael Damien date, I was only 13 and he was a perfect gentleman.
May 27, 2009
It's a book by Marian Keyes. Although Ralf did ask if it was about him when he saw the title and I told him it was more about how incredibly charming German men are in general, which wasn't exactly true but I think he bought it.
Yesterday I may have given the impression that I don't like chick books but actually, I enjoy a good beach read as much as the next person. In fact, I'm reading one right now.
I started This Charming Man by Marian Keyes yesterday and so far it seems to be following the same old, 'I have no self-control and systematically screw up my own life until I marry a millionaire' formula of books I generally dislike BUT this book is a cut above the others.
For one thing, the heroine is going through a bad phase that isn't 100% her own fault. I mean, her boyfriend is marrying someone else and she's bummed, it could happen to anyone. For another, Marian's heroines don't usually get a totally over the top and completely undeserved happy ending, which always makes me feel like I just wasted two hours.
Also, these points notwithstanding, Marian Keyes can really write. The passages where the heroine Lola chats with the kindly Muslim waiter Ibrihim and secretly worries that he's thinking 'Whore of the Infidel' about her while taking her order are hilarious.
Best of all, she's Irish, so I'm picking up all sorts of useful phrases like 'fizzog' and 'minger,' and 'great feed of beer.'
So if my next posts are all, 'minger this' and 'minger that' and 'shut your fizzog,' that's why.
P.S. I don't think it's her best book but so far I have no plans to publicly trash it unless, say, our Lola ends up marrying Bono after blowing up Charing Cross station in a freak accident that everyone forgives her for because she's so inexplicably lovable.
That would vex me.
May 26, 2009
May 25, 2009
It's called Hidden Meadow Ranch and you can get a virtual tour of the cabins on their Website. Well, cabins is relative, more like small rustic-yet-extremely-luxurious family homes. This is a 5-star facility that offers all sorts out outdoor activites in every season and amazing food, three fantastic meals a day plus snacks, all included. Great for family vacations.
May 24, 2009
May 23, 2009
Patti is someone who rises to every occasion, including battling cancer. She is truly awesome, not just fake awesome like me, so you should check out her blog and get inspired by how she cheerfully deals with everything from health issues to finding reliable Danish repairmen.
And as an added bonus, I don't take myself too seriously.
May 22, 2009
First of all, the Kindergarten was closed for some German bank holiday and Ralf announced that he was going to go play hookie with some other dads.
I'll just skip over that conversation.
Then K, our 5-year-old, cried all day about stuff like finding one of her toys two microns to the right of where she had left it. She cried through breakfast, wept her way through miniature golf, pulled herself together sufficiently to attend a birthday party in the afternoon, then promptly resumed sobbing when she got home until bed time.
Meanwhile L, our 3-year-old, has decided she's not actually potty trained any more.
By the end of the day I was completely done in. Ralf, having wisely abandoned his golf plans, rose to the occassion, making dinner and switching on Chuck without a word. In case you don't appreciate the significance of this, remember he doesn't like Chuck.
We graduated to fruity rum drinks and ended up having a very nice - if a bit silly - evening. To give you an idea, I ate a bit of leftover cold chicken, which gave me the hiccups. When Ralf called them 'chick-ups' I completely lost it.
The crowning moment was when we went upstairs to kiss the girls good night before bed. L had snuck into our bed, which she is not supposed to do. To throw us off the trail she created an elaborate 'fake sleeping child' in her own bed using her stuffed sheep and several pillows and blankets. We didn't catch on right away that it wasn't her until I kissed her head and it was a sheep.
Sheep trick - get it?
I guess she didn't realize that even if the sheep fooled us, we were bound to notice her once we went to bed.
May 19, 2009
May 18, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 15, 2009
May 14, 2009
May 13, 2009
Chevy Chase. I haven't seen him yet but my mom says he plays a real scary baddie in Season 2. OK he's a bit older than in his Caddyshack days but he's still the master.Adam Baldwin. I love Adam. Ralf has no idea. He was the bodyguard in My Bodyguard, then I don't know what he did until he suddenly appeared in Firefly, a cool sci fi cult show that Joss Whedon directed after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then he showed up in the final season of Angel as a wittily sarcastic demon. And now he plays the NSA agent in Chuck. He has this great expression where his eyes just glow with suppressed outrage that totally resonates with me. I wish I could look like that.
Life is good.
May 12, 2009
On the bright side, Julia likes me again but she's only nine and our relationship is primarily financial.
When I was an outspoken second grader with unkempt hair (the kind who raises their hand and announces in a high, clear voice, 'Mrs. Dean, Justin didn't throw that spit wad, it was Doug,') I tended to get hunted by large gangs of my classmates after school. I learned to fight, run really fast, climb like Spiderman, hide, remain still for long periods of time, find food, divide and conquer enemies and, when other options ran out, find adult help.
I don't want to paint the wrong picture here. I was not a skinny, asthmatic, fearful child but a big, strong kid with a cocky attitude so we were pretty evenly matched. Sometimes it was even kind of fun.
This went on for about 3 years and then I was suddenly reasonably popular again, at which point I promptly dropped all running and climbing activities and focused on feathering my hair and getting my mascara straight.
Bit of a shame, really - I could shimmy drain pipes like a monkey but my hair never turned out that well.
Here's my point: There's always a bright side. Life isn't about the bad stuff that happens, it's about the good things that happen in between.
For example, this week I'm a little unpopular but on the bright side, no one's hunting me with sharp sticks and I have a package of Tim Tams, which my mother thoughtfully brought with her.
Friends come and go but Tim Tams are forever.
May 11, 2009
Germans are pretty well known for being ‘sparsam’, which doesn’t exactly mean cheap but really kind of does. Certainly the average German knows the value of a euro and is somewhat less eager than, say, the average American, to throw their hard-earned mula at stuff they don’t need (status symbols don't count) and you never just 'split the check' at a restaurant.
The most legendarily sparsam Germans of all are the Schwabians in the Stuttgart area. Ralf’s dad tells the story of a Schwabian colleague of his who, while pleasant and easy to work with in every respect unrelated to money, once stopped talking to him for several days because he (Ralf’s dad) forgot to give him about 10 cents change after buying drinks.
There is also a popular Schwabian joke that goes like this (excuse my spelling):
Geht ein Mann durch die Wald.
(Goes a man through the forest.)
Kommt der Roiber.
(Comes the robber.)
‘Geld oder Leben!’
(‘Your money or your life!’)
Aber der Mann hat leider kein Geld dabei gehabt.
(But the man unfortunately didn’t have any money on him.)
‘Dann gib mir deine Uhr.’
(‘Then give me your watch.’)
Aber der Mann hat auch keine Uhr dabei gehabt.
(But the man also didn’t have a watch.)
‘Dann trag mich halt ein Stuckle.’
(Then carry me for a little while.)
Now, let me just say that I’ve worked with Schwabians and found them most of them lovely but they are a fairly parsimonious, hard-negotiating bunch and I get a kick out of that joke.
Remember our neighbor’s child Julia who I recently stiffed after she hauled away some recycling for me? She clearly has some Schwabian relatives. I approached her the other day and apologized for not paying her for a job well done and asked how much she typically earned for her work.
I’m trying to make amends for last week, although I didn’t make much headway this morning in Kindergarten, where they are clearly still annoyed with me.
But that’s another story. Back to Julia, who was immediately all business. ‘Ein Euro,’ she told me with no hesitation.
I handed her some change that added up to a euro, which earned me a small frown. ‘For each of us,’ she added.
Ah. Her friend. I handed over the rest of the change in my hand, which added up to another euro, mostly in 10 cent coins.
Julia carefully counted out and distributed the money while her friend rolled her eyes and muttered, ‘Geez, Julia, don’t worry about it!’ Then I was smiled at and thanked professionally.
There was no hand shaking, although there could have been. She also didn't say that it was a pleasure doing business with me, although that too would not have been out of place. And I bet if I had asked for a receipt she could have produced one.
Please note that there is no criticism intended here. That girl will probably have enough money saved for college by the time she’s sixteen.
Most of it mine.
May 10, 2009
Here are five-ish things I enjoy about Motherhood:
1. The amazingly honest and uninhibited way my children react to the world.
2. The plump cheeks, the musky scent, the yummy knees, the chubby feet, the perfect tushies, the general deliciousness of small children.
4. Their wild jigs of pure delight when something small makes them happy.
5. The feeling of deep, deep love and belonging. There is no other feeling like it.
I also get a kick out of diluting the Master Race with mongrel genes, bwa ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!! Although I'm actually mostly German.
And finally, I find their unquenchable interest in my life both unexpected and gratifying. Every morning K says, 'Mommy, tell me a story.' They want to know me. They are interested in what has happened to me and how I lived before them.
Or maybe they just want to put off getting dressed in the morning. But I prefer to think of it as genuine interest.
This morning I told them the story of Max, who was a far better mother than I am. He never sat at his computer typing frantically and shushing me while I made increasingly obnoxious bids for his attention. He sat with me patiently for hours while I played with blocks, gently sniffing each one.
Max was a ginormous dog we had when I was a baby. He may have been part Doberman. He was my constant companion. He shared his dog biscuits with me and kept his mouth open when I grabbed his tongue, as I loved to do when he yawned. I have a picture of us together when I was about 9 months old and he's the size of a small pony. A gentle giant. My only memory from my first year of life is Max, always there in front of me while I played.
One day my mother took us all to the store and left me in the car with Max, as parents were wont to do back then. It's not like anyone would try to steal me with a big killer dog sitting right there. Max yawned and I reached into his mouth and grabbed his tongue, laughing hysterically while he tried to close his mouth without biting me.
As you can imagine, passerby's completely panicked at the sight of a hysterical baby with her hand in a huge dog's mouth. I gather that my mom had some explaining to do when she came back to the car a minute later.
They love that story.
They love me. I bask in it and hope I don't mess up too badly.
Now I'm supposed to tag 5 other global moms. If you comment on the original post you will be included in the roundup here.
I tag Bebe (have fun in Rome), R, G (get well soon), Patty and Naturelady. And Ladyfi.
And Tara, Lucy, Lawyer Mom, Carol, Maven, Jessica, Debbie and Emily, of course!
Is that 5?
Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms.
And to my mom, too, who's arriving in Munich tomorrow.
May 8, 2009
But rest assured that there is Justice in this world for I have been scolded twice in the last two days on other topics.
First by my husband, who got an earful from K's Kindergarten teacher about his crazy wife and her unfounded paranoia about children being left behind in the countryside.
OK, I deserved that.
And just now I was cut down to size by little Kaye from next door because I didn't give Julia any money for hauling away my to-be-recycled paper and plastic in her little wagon. She rang the doorbell, asked if I had anything to recycle, I gave it to her and off she went. OK, yeah, she said something about pocket money but I assumed she was taking it somewhere where you get money for recycling, like aluminum cans.
Although come to think of it, if there were a place that gave you cash for paper and plastic we would probably go there twice a week instead recycling for free.
What can I say, I wasn't really paying attention. I was trying to decide what to do about the tick repellent, remember?
Anyway, Kaye rang the bell today and asked if she could brush our rugs for money. She asked very sweetly, then suddenly fixed me with a stern, fishy eye and advised me that she would only do it if there was actually some sweet lucre to be made. 'I mean, you, like, totally stiffed Julia!'
Note that these were not her actual words but they do pretty well represent the general tone.
I managed not to burst out laughing until after I closed the door. Then I felt kind of bad and decided to be more open and trusting from now on and also pass out coins to small children.
In he meantime, I guess I owe Julia a Euro.
May 7, 2009
I feel bad about this. First of all I hope no one else gets stomach flu, although the 'Warning - Stomach Flu' sign has been hanging on the Kindergarten door off and on since January so I'm thinking K was just the last one toget it. I made the wrong call yesterday but she was fine until this morning and I tried to make the best decision based on the information I had. So I'm not beating myself up too much.
OK, just a little.
But I really feel sorry for K. Not that her life is full of crushing disappointments and this was the one bright spot, but she was so excited about her 'big kids' overnight trip. And to totally rub in the misfortune, today's a gorgeous spring day full of special activities that she won't be able to enjoy with her friends.
It doesn't seem fair to get sick right on the super fun day, when there are so many boring regular days to get sick.
My poor little big girl. :-(
Any good tips on comforting a 5 year old after this sort of disappointment? I was thinking ice cream.
May 6, 2009
I've been more worried than she is. Not about the trip per se, I'm down with that.
But there's the ride home. She's driving home with another mom, which Ralf arranged but didn't' confirm. He doesn't believe that confirmation is necessary when he arranges something. I've seen this other mom several times this week but instead of simply asking her if she's still planning to bring K home Friday, I avoided the topic because I'm not sure whether to call her 'Sie' (formal) or 'Du' (informal).
I usually try to let the Germans take the lead on this but they are incredibly resourceful about avoiding the use of 'you' in conversation until the manner of address is clarified so most of the conversations with people I don't know that well end up being pretty stilted.
I'm not kidding. I have actually had this conversation, although not with Til Schweiger. I know I should just get over myself but I don't like to make grammatical mistakes.
Shocking, I know.
Anyway, instead of doing what any normal person would do and confirming K's ride home with this mom I instead asked one of K's teachers (who is definitely 'Sie') if the teachers would please make sure the kids all have rides home. She said, no, the parents had to arrange that.
At this point a rather long discussion ensued about how I expect teachers to not just jump in the car and head for home until all children are safely on their way while her eyes tracked around hopefully in search of a colleague to pass me off on.
Another worry has been K's anti-tick cream. Ralf was bitten by a tick when he was a kid and almost died so it's a sensitive topic. We did the FMSE vaccination and I packed tick repellant in K's bag. However, that stuff's poison and I don't want her and her 5-year-old posse playing with the stuff so I reminded her at least five times this morning to ask Miss Vanessa to help her with the tick cream.
Eyes glazed over with confusion, she nodded and said, 'OK, mommy.'
That wasn't quite enough commitment for me so I also asked Ralf about twenty times to speak with Miss Vanessa about this personally, which he promptly agreed to do without any snarky comments about annoyingly paranoid moms.
So far I've only been moderately (or, if you're Ralf or that teacher, extremely) irritating, but now I have a confession to make.
Here it is: K threw up last night. Twice. And I still sent her on the trip.
She had no fever, got herself dressed with no fuss and ate a reasonable excuse for breakfast and I figured that even if she has something, she probably got it from one of the other kids anyway.
If another mom sent her barfing offspring on a trip with my child they would probably find themselves on the wrong end of one of my rants (if I could get past whether to call them 'Sie' or 'Du'). I know that. But I just couldn't keep her home after so much build up and anticipation when she seemed perfectly fine this morning.
And believe me, I watched her like a hawk all morning and felt her forehead about fifty times.
Just out of curiosity, would you have done?