September 19, 2010

September 12, 2010

Anatomy of a Birthday

  • A batch of pink cupcakes for K's birthday.
  • A batch of chocolate chip cupcakes and a chocolate cake to take to school.
  • A sour cream chocolate cake with chocolate icing and smarties and a batch of pink and blue cupcakes for the birthday party.
  • A cheesecake and chocolate chip cupcakes for Sunday coffee with friends.
  • A flourless chocolate cake for the parent's association.

That's pretty much been my week. Oh, and the birthday party itself, which was yesterday.

The invited kids were a mixed bunch of different ages and genders, so we needed a variety of program points.

Ralf was worried that the children would not follow the program.

I shrugged. 'So we'll crank up the music and toss in a bag of chips.'

I never worry about stuff like that. My worries are much more abstract.

We started with snacks and music, which the girls danced to on the table while the boys hid behind the book shelf.

Then, for the little ones we played 'bang the pot', which is where you blindfold a child, give them a spoon and send them tapping around on the floor while the other kids yell, 'Warm! Cold!' until they bang the pot. They get to eat the sweet that is under the pot.

The big girls sat in the corner during this, nonplussed, while the boys ran up and down the stairs.

Then we set up a 'beauty corner' and the big girls were roped in to put make up on the little girls. At the same time, we gave everyone a new t-shirt and invited the to decorate them with specially ordered iron on decals.

This won over big and small girls alike but the boys were still bored.

Next Ralf took all the kids outside for relay races and ran them mercilessly for about an hour while I ironed on the fiddly decals. I hated to miss the games but could hear how much fun they were having. Ralf may have missed his calling as a camp councilor or little league coach.

The girls kicked the boys' butts.

After this we had cake and presents and then the parents came to collect their worn out, t-shirt sporting offspring.

Whew - one birthday down, the next one in less than two months...

September 10, 2010

I'm the only man in Germany...

Recently Ralf and I had a minor argument about the division of household duties. We both work - although he works more - and we both have evening calls with California. He generally takes the kids to childcare and I pick them up, drive them to gymnastics, play with them, finish up any homework, feed them and put them to bed. I do all the shopping and most of the cooking and regular doctor's appointments.

I also supervise our maid, which Ralf never helps out with.

Ralf handles all 'projects', such as the garden, garage and bathroom fixtures, as well as interfacing with any Bavarian handymen. He also bathes the kids about once a week, files our taxes and insurance claims and plans our vacations.

Our kids aren't very clean.

Some of the things I used to do in the US now fall to him because they either require more boyish charm or knowledge of German bureacracy than I have or more patience than I can muster without my head exploding.

Things recently came to a head when it was time to buy K's school supplies. We got a list from the teacher and you know how the Eskimos have 13 words for snow? Well, those wacky seal-fur wearing nomads with their frozen water obsession don't have a patch on the Germans, who have about 51 words for 'notebook.'

To make a long story short, I delegated the procurement of school supplies to Ralf.

I suppose as a married man with a wife known not to be in a wheelchair or hospital, Ralf may have lost some face doing women's work like buying school supplies. Which he then grumbled about at home.

Ralf: I'm pretty sure I'm the only man in Germany who isn't divorced or widowed that has to go buy school supplies for their kids.

Me: Really? That's probably why most of the German men we know are divorced.

Actually, that's not fair. Although there are a number of single dads at our Kindergarten, two are widowed, and none of our married friends are divorced yet.

Then we had our recurring, 'You want me to buy school supplies, let's move back to California' discussion while I was making dinner.

Now, of course, I can make fun of Ralf for just about anything. For example:

"I'm the only man in Germany who has to put the toilet seat down!"

"I'm the only man in Germany who has to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket!"

"I'm the only man in Germany who has to carry his dishes to the kitchen!"

You get the idea.

September 9, 2010

Tracking Your Blog Stats

A few people asked me how I knew what keywords led to my site.

Blogger actually provides this service for free.  When you go to for your profile, there's a new 'Stats' tab:
If you click into 'Traffic Sources' you'll see where your visitors arrive from and the key words:

Google Analytics does a more thorough job but you need to add code on your blog to get it to work. 

If you don't use Blogger, try Googling 'track blog stats'.

September 8, 2010


I was just kidding yesterday when I said explanations are tedious.  I usually love explaining things but I spent hours on Blogger trying to upload more than one picture and gave up in disgust.  I'll try to circle about about our vacation, unless I get distracted by some other topic.

In the meantime, here are some recent searches that have enticed a global audience to my blog:

September 7, 2010

I've Been a Mom for 7 Years

Hello! We're back from vacation. I had some work to catch up on and it took a few days to download the pictures but now I have my ducks in a row.

But first, happy birthday to my wonderful 7-year-old daughter K. I felt deeply connected to her the minute she was born and she is exactly the child I expected to have with Ralf - tall, smart, competent, impatient and determined. She's all alpha and we couldn't be more proud.

Happy birthday, baby girl!

In contrast, the constant senseless joy and playfulness radiated by our youngest child raises certain genetic questions. We adore L heart and soul but neither of us is sure how we got her.

And now some vacation pictures from the Italian alps and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

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