January 30, 2010

A Fresh Start

It's Saturday. No work, no errands, short post. All week long my girls get up early and go to school. K trudges through the snow for 20 minutes - she'll be one of those know-it-all grandmothers some day. Sometimes when I pick them up in the afternoon I have to work.

There's not much time for free play because there's always someplace to be, although we're not so crazy with the activities and play dates as many families we know.

So this weekend is about play. I toyed with the idea of going to Ikea after viewing Karin's inspired presentation on organizing space but scratched that. Besides I prefer to go with Ralf so he can carry the heavy stuff.

My kids are upstairs playing dress up. They sound happy. I will go check on them soon and make approving noises. Unless they are making a huge mess. Then I will... do nothing. Maybe a mild, 'Is this really necessary?' sort of comment.

I shoveled snow again today. You have to or you're liable if someone slips and hurts themselves. It's a lot like mucking stalls, really, and I've certainly done my share of that. Poop, snow, same diff. I'm even good at it, but don't tell Ralf. I don't want him getting any liberal ideas.

Here come my girls. They want to show me the belly dance they've been practicing, with costumes.


January 29, 2010

Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now, Baby

Ralf is in California for a week and I'm alone with the kids in a very snowy place. Between being sick and the constant snow, it hasn't been an easy week.

The other night I had a call with a really great customer. I scheduled it for 9PM, which is about an hour after the kids are usually asleep. They're good sleepers so this strategy generally works well. But for whatever reason, L couldn't sleep and pattered downstairs at 9:30PM. I ended up having to barricade myself in the bathroom to finish my call in peace. L cried for a bit then eventually went back to bed on her own. I ran up after the call to apologize and cuddle her.

Long after she forgets all about it my heart will still have a little chipped piece.

This morning I found a note from the teacher saying K's been late to school several times this week. I should have known, really. When it's warm the kids ride their scooters to school but in the snow they walk, which takes longer. But they leave at the same time. The older girls in the group can go a lot faster and they've been leaving K behind. Not her fault at all.

So, I was calculating how quickly I could get L dressed and drive K to school when the phone rang. It was another mom saying her kids were leaving early today. Perfect! I helped K into her boots and gloves and opened the door - only to find that the big girls had already left! I was about to go grab L to drive K to school in my bare feet when Kaye from next door ran back and grabbed K's arm to hurry her up. Yes! But no, K burst into tears.

Exasperated, I told Kaye to go ahead and pulled K back into the house angrily, scolding her for acting like a baby. I was angry because now I had to run to get myself and L dressed, go outside, scrape the car and drive her when she could have just gone with Kaye. It's one thing if she gets left behind, it's another if she bolluxes a perfectly good solution.

It all ended well with Kaye's mom driving both girls but I can still hear my own angry voice in my ears. All I want to do now is drive to the school, pull K into my arms, hug her very tightly and tell her how wonderful she is.

There's plenty of literature about how parents can damage a child with harsh words but none about the damage parenting does to parents, about how it breaks your heart a little bit every day when you aren't as perfect and loving as you'd like to be.

At this rate, my heart will be in ragged splinters by the time my beautiful girls grow up.

A heartfelt TGIF to all you multi-tasking mamacitas!

January 28, 2010

I'd Rather be Throwing Up

Thank you for your kind wishes yesterday and all that virtual chicken soup, which was really all I could manage to eat. I feel better today, although still weak as a kitten, and alas, several pounds thinner.

Just kidding about that 'alas' part.

I've said this before but want to mention again how much respect I have for single parents. This morning there was nothing I wanted to do less than stand up, dress two kids in full winter gear, fix breakfast, pack lunches, check homework, assemble stuff for a school project, scrape ice off the car and shovel snow out of the driveway but there was no one else to do it. So I did it.

It'll be a long week, especially if this snow keeps up, but then my hubby and chief snow shoveler will be home. Men and women who do this alone don't get a break.

Now a few words about snow. It's really a bit sad that Ralf is gone this week because it's exactly the kind of snow he likes, clean and powdery. And I just read a lovely post about the joy of shoveling snow.

I hate it. I should have people for that.

Then again, I insisted on marrying a German, although technically, I didn't realize Bavaria was part of Germany at the time. And it wasn't exactly Ralf's idea to spend his life with a delicate LA orchid like myself, at least not until he proposed.

So, here is my winter litany - I'm still working out the kinks:

'I am a lucky woman. I love my husband. I have two beautiful children. I have floor heating. Winter sucks - I mean, winter is my friend.'

At least the girls like it.

January 27, 2010

Whiny Wednesday

Ralf is in California this week.
L was home two days with the flu.
It's -10 degrees outside.
I feel sick.

On the bright side, my neighbors are being very supportive, watching my kids when I have calls, stuff like that. No casseroles as yet.

Ooooh, I shouldn't have thought about casseroles. Or food. Food baaaaad.

Germans are very helpful once you establish a relationship. Maybe that's why they're a bit standoffish with strangers - I mean, if the expectation is that you help people you know, you have to pick and choose who you know carefully. Maybe friendliness to strangers only works in a culture where no real help is expected.

I think I'm babbling. Must lie down now. . .

January 24, 2010

Politically Incorrect Sunday

In grade school we told jokes on the play ground.

Knock knock. Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

What's black and white and red all over? A newspaper.

We made fun of different races - for some reason the Polish were popular:

How many Pollocks does it take to change a lightbulb? (I forget how many.)

There were the Chinese jokes that either zeroed in on the inability of Chinese people to pronounce the letter 'R' or else made fun of their names.

'Yellow River' by We Pee Freely.

Incidentally, the Germans have their own version of these jokes.

What do you call a Chinese butcher? Ping Sau Hi (in Bavarian this means, 'Bang! Pig Dead').

None of these are particularly funny (unless you're 6, in which case they're hilarious) but at least the humor is comprehensible.

Years ago when I was a starry eyed computer programmer we had a global team meeting in Madrid. Yes, those were really the days. One night at a tapas bar a French colleague tried gamely to explain several French jokes with absolutely no success.

For example, there was this story about a small dog crossing a busy street in which the humor lies in the double meaning of the punchline, which was, 'Bang zee dog!!!!'

Then, to everyone's surprise and increasing alarm, he collapsed onto the floor howling with laughter. 'HAAAAAahahahaha HOOOOOOhoohoohooooo WAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA!!!!'

Finally he pulled himself together, reclaimed his chair, lit a cigarette and informed us calmly, 'It's funnier in French.'

I guess it must be. It can't be less funny in French.

January 22, 2010

My Friend Julie's Status

What ever you give a woman she will make it greater. If you give her sperm she will make a baby. If you give her a house she will give you a home. Give her groceries she will give you a meal. Give her a smile and she will give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges whatever she is given. So, if you give her crap .....

January 20, 2010

On Bodily Fluids

Don't worry, it's not as gross as the poop post.

I mentioned recently that my cat Guthrie now expects me to cook for him. Although the vet warned us this isn't such a good idea, the other day I made lamb stew and he was so excited I caved and gave him some.

Ralf warned me not to in Guthrie's hearing, which may explain what happened next. As if to express disapproval of Ralf's warning while at the same time validating it, Guthrie threw up in Ralf's shoe.

There's more. We're a family of four and mess happens. Last night L snuck into our bed and peed. Fortunately this doesn't happen often but it happened last night.

There was, however, a sliver lining: K lost a tooth yesterday and I had completely forgotten to put something under her pillow. When I got up to change the sheets I remembered.

So it all worked out for the best.

Well, except Ralf's shoe - I've been trying to spin that but I got nothin'.

January 18, 2010

On Lame People and Infused Water

To continue the thought from my recent post about the Josephine trilogy:

In the end, Napolean was defeated not by brilliant strategy but by the greed, mediocrity and lack of gratitude of those closest to him. He divorced Josephine in order to provide a 'blood heir' to France, although most of his family who shared his blood deserved slow death.

It was sloppy, sentimental thinking on his part but then he didn't have me to advise him.

Anyway, the Josephine trilogy was a great read that did not leave me wondering why I bother with book club.

Now a few words about infused water.

One evening last week after dinner Ralf presented me with a gift certificate for an Ayurveda relaxation massage. Yes, I know, he's taken. Anyway, Ayurveda relaxation massage is code for 'scented oil rubdown.' This includes a scalp massage, which I think is why people get massages in the first place.

After the massage I was given a glass of water infused with herbs. Very refreshing.

I frowned speculatively at the herbs floating in my water, thinking I could do that myself at home. So when I got home, I filled a big pitcher with filtered water, a stick of cinnamon, and a handful of cloves and cardamoms, then let it sit for a bit. It tasted great!

Now I'm all about infused water. I'm going to try cucumber and mint next.

January 17, 2010

On Breaking Eggs

K: Mommy, can I break the eggs when we make pancakes?

Me: No! Last time you got egg everywhere.

K: I know but I want to try.

Me: I know, Sweetie, and I'm glad you to want to try things, but I don't want to clean up a big mess right now. Can you understand that?

K: Yes, Mommy. Can I break the eggs when we make pancakes?

Have I mentioned how much I love my children?

January 14, 2010


My book club is reading the Josephine trilogy by Sandra Gulland, which is a historical romance written in a diary style. Not at all my type of book.

(I prefer sci fi romps with political undertones where the bad guys get told off scathingly before they die.)

And yet, it's really good. Believable. Intriguing. The villains are strangely charming and likable. Josephine is a kind person trying to keep her children safe while taking enormous risks to help others. Napoleon is scrawny but still kind of hot, with his cold grey eyes, huge personality and complete lack of humor.

The worst people in the book are Napoleon's immediate family. I hate them. I want to slap them upside the head. Whereas I have a sneaking fondness for the architects of one of the most monstrous civil wars of all time.

Everyone is in debt, everyone socializes with murderers, everyone is feckless and desperate and yet... you gotta like 'em.

Now, that's good writing.

January 12, 2010

Saved by the Antifreeze

Me and my world famous arms were driving to the gym the other day in below freezing whether when I discovered that the windshield wiper fluid was empty.

For those of you who have never driven with frozen water vapor on your windshield, that's bad. I made a mental note to discuss this seriously with Ralf if I survived.

My window was rapidly icing over with traffic coming from the other direction and there was nothing I could do about it. My wipers scraped pathetically over my windshield with a loud crunching noise. I was flying blind.

For several seconds that felt like hours I debated pulling over but my cellphone was dead and I didn't fancy being stuck on the side of the road until spring.

And then it happened. A truck driver zooming past in the opposite lane cleaned his own windshield and the excess spray somehow found its way to my windshield in passing. The ice melted and my wipers authoritatively nudged the slush aside. I could see again!

Who says miracles never happen?

January 7, 2010

Mazel Tov! (Hope that means thanks...)

My new BFF Magda has awarded me this award. Well, strictly speaking she awarded it to all of us because you guys are so awesome.

No, really, here's exactly what she said:

"She even has the best commentors. Sharp, stylish, funnier than shit. Well informed. Goddess. Are you sure it is ok that I share the blogosphere with you?"

Well, that's just about the nicest thing anyone ever said to me. Except maybe Absence of Alternatives, who said I have Michelle Obama arms. I've been preening in the mirror ever since, trying to look more stylish and godlike.

Anyway, I accept on behalf of all of us fabulous bloggers with Michelle Obama arms.

Although I'm willing to exclude Solipsist from that last bit. You're welcome.

I'm supposed to pass the award along as Magda did so beautifully (you should check out her blog list). My problem is that all of you deserve it and many of you already have it.

So, if you follow this blog consider yourself awarded and thanks (as always) for the great comments.

January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolution

I just have one: I want to be better about keeping my laptop turned off and packed away when my kids are home.

If it's work, that's one thing, but I want to limit personal computer usage to times when kids are out of the house or sleeping. Like on weekends. I don't want their foremost mommy memory to be me hunched over a black box. I've made good progress on this during 2009 and in 2010 I plan to make even more until I'm like a real mom.

Other worthy goals like excercise, eating more cake, etc., can wait. I mean, I excercise anyway, sometimes, so why add pressure? And it's not like I need more commitment to cake.

I have vacation until Thursday and it's been nice having so many days off in a row at home. I've baked cookies with my girls, done a bit of sewing and spring cleaning and we've caught up with several of our good friends like Claudi, who designs technical outdoor wear and has an office full of buttersoft fleece samples. I could spend all day in there.

I've also been working on the illustrations for a children's book I'm writing. Probably not for publication but some day we may self publish and then I'll do a giveaway or something like that. The stories are dreamed up by Ralf at bedtime and written down by me. Here is an example.

And here is one of my illustrations. As you can see I'm not an illustrator but I've been inspecting lots of kids books and they don't seem to be that picky about artistic talent.

OK, everyone looks kind of flat and, er, broad-shouldered but it's my first drawing in about a decade. I'm bound to improve. Right?

January 2, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

You can never go back to a nicer time but you can (and in fact, must) go forward. And who knows how nice the future will be?

This year was our turn to host the NY party. We were supposed to do it last year but I was too sick. So you can imagine how sick I was. This year I was also sick but nipped it in the bud so the party was on.

It was a great success, although I did almost burn down our house when I put L's ski jacket on a candle while I helped her take off her boots. Ralf is still making snide comments about that even though it's a whole new year and it's time to move on, don't you think?

So, party? I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Mostly. Welcome to our home. You look marvelous. Please come in and have a drink. Dinner will be served shortly.

Getting ready to party with my girls.
Of course, the secret to any successful party with kids is an attic and a DVD player.
I love the illusion that that's all my hair. Dinner. Food is important.Fireworks at midnight followed by dancing.Kids still going strong.Kids out by 3AM, party starting to wind down. Happy New Year!
Related Posts with Thumbnails