Friday, November 30, 2012

Bad choices include

-facial tattoos
-drugs
-spitting into the wind
-eating a container of prunes at once
-letting my baby sleep all day and now dealing with an awake baby all night.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eggshell with a star

This is kind of what it looks like, but with a yellow star painted on the other side.

A year after we were married, Chris had a study abroad in Amman, Jordan. I went with him. That's where I met Katie and Bridget.There are a bunch of stories I could tell you about that trip, but all I really want to tell you tonight is that I bought a fragment of an eggshell there. There was this place Chris and I went to quite a few times called Wild Jordan Cafe. They had really amazing smoothies. Seriously amazing. And they had this gift shop where I bought a fragment of an ostrich egg shell that had a star painted on it, and then a hole drilled in it so you could hang it up. I don't think it was meant to be a Christmas ornament, but it certainly looked like a super one. I really loved it. When we packed our stuff up to come back I packed it really really well. I put it in a little box lined with toilet paper, and then rolled that box in toilet paper and then wrapped it up in all my clothes. I was confident you could drop my suitcase a number of stories and that ornament would not break.

When we got back to the states, I found a little paper slip in my suitcase saying that TSA had searched my bag. My clothes were unrolled. The toilet paper was unwrapped (well, torn). The box was unwrapped. My ornament was unwrapped. It was broken in three pieces.

...
...
...
...

(Isn't there a section of pages in one of the Twilight books that is totally blank to show how devastated and empty Bella feels when Edward left her? That'e exactly how I felt about my eggshell.)









A little piece of me died that day. So sad. They had to break it? Chris was really angry on my behalf (seriously, so nice a husband. I think there was a recent conference talk that said the defining characteristic of love was loyalty.? Someone should look that up for me, because that is an interesting statement.). Anyway, Chris thought I should write to TSA and complain, and I was about to, until I realized I would have to tell them how upset I was that my eggshell had been broken in a cross-atlantic flight. I can't imagine they would have taken me seriously. "Sir, I am irate! Your heavy handed baboons broke my eggshell!"

Luckily, before I had tossed all the pieces away, Chris superglued them back together (seriously so nice a husband). So I still have it, and I told you all that because today I hung it on our Christmas tree. It looks swell.

We actually don't have that many ornaments that aren't the shatterproof balls I bought the other day. I mean, we don't have that many ornaments with a history. But the girls and I will be making some this next week. And our town has a Christmas Market this Saturday.

Oh UPDATE!!! I ended up making a combo of Peanut Butter Blossom Angel Eyes and brownies for the Kindergarten bake sale. They were awesome. I think I knocked their socks off with my American Stupendousness. Actually, I think I did impress them, because I brought cookies at all. They have pretty low expectations of the American parents I think.
See ya, lovely people (heh heh).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Probably the best post of NABLOPOMO 2012

Hello Anna fans.
I am Chris. You might know me from my glamour shots posted here all the time. Anna said that tonight I could either write a guest post or help cut out construction paper circles for a Relief Society activity going on tomorrow.
I decided to write even though I couldn't think of a topic. I don't want to write about work because I have to live it 12-13 hours a day, and I don't want to write about anything too deep because I haven't written in a while and am out of practice. I suppose I didn't so much decide that I wanted to write as much as I decided to not cut out circles. Circles are so lame.
I will, for this post, present three lists.

List 1: Best 5 books I have read so far in 2012
This list is a little hard because, while I have read a lot of books considering I have been gone a lot this year, most of them were garbage. Anyway, here they are:
5) Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (I think the title explains itself)
4) On Writing by Stephen King (A book all about writing books)
3) The Hobbit (In preparation for the film)
2) The Lord of the Rings (The first time I have read it. I was really affected. The Mordor stuff really depressed me for a while. It was hard to get through it.)
1) I am Legend (This is such a great story. It is pure survivalist scenario stuff. The great thing about the whole zombie genre trend is that the stories are rarely about the death or the danger, it is how ordinary people cope with it and try to carry on living through it. It is so adventurous. But this is a short story and well worth the handful of hours it will take to get through it. Anna, you are going to have to read this as my pick for you to read the next time we do our 'pick a book for the other' game.)

List 2: An incomplete and capricious list of dream jobs, money not factored in
5) Lighthouse Operator (You get to sit in a tower in the ocean and play with a huge flashlight!)
4) Independent Copy Editor (I imagine myself sitting at home and tsk-tsking all of the typos and grammar errors I find)
3) Detective Agency and Dessert Cafe Bistro Proprietor (Every time I get an IKEA catalog, I thumb through and pick my perfect detective desk and chairs, and also the best setup for the cafe side of the operation {including full kitchen and lighting set ups}. This whole dream is fueled by Nero Wolfe novels and what I imagine Guy Noir's office looks like) 
2) Running and Cycling Store Owner (I love running and riding bikes and I would make a FANTASTIC salesman for this stuff. It has changed my life. Also, I would have to set up along some converted Rails to Trails area, and those are fun)
1) Firefighter (I like adrenaline rushes {thanks for fueling that addiction, Army} and helping people, and I have done the EMS thing for a few years and had a lot of fun.What is not to love about radios and lights and bunkbeds and horrific accidents and human tragedy? Other than the horror and tragedy, of course)

List 3: I figured by the time I had written these other lists, I would have thought of something by now. Nope. I will fake it:
5) It turns out I am a huge fan of France. I really liked the food and the language. I didn't like the road signs and that I don't speak any French. I felt so absurd saying Bonjour and Oui; like I was living out a college Sophomore co-ed's dream, but I really did love it there.
4) I accidentally brought two tan shirts instead of one tan shirt and tan underwear to work this morning to change into after morning PT, so it ended up being a very self-conscious day.  
3) I stretched for about 90 minutes yesterday night while Anna fed Gracie and watched Downton Abbey (not even trying to start anything here, but that show is pure Jane Austen fan-fiction meets Daytime Soap romance) and I feel so limber. I would like to turn that into a habit, but it will probably never get further than this sentence.
2) I will probably deploy as a dismounted Platoon Leader to Afghanistan next summer. At least that is the latest word. I am getting close to finishing up my current job as a combat platoon leader, but there isn't anyone to replace me yet, so I might stay until we get downrange. I know I wasn't going to write about work, but I am at the bottom of the barrel here for ideas.
1) I am really excited about Christmas in Paris. We are hoping to take a day and go see Mont Saint-Michel, which I learned about watching Carmen San Diego so many years ago. Also, I hope to spend hours and hours in the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. I love art museums. One of the best days of my life was spent all day in the Art Institute of Chicago from opening until they sent the closing alerts over the loud speakers to get out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Heads up-- this is not a post worth reading.

So I've been reading poetry lately.

Frankly, I'd like to see that sentence on more of your blogs. Seriously, why not poetry? It helps you think better. I really believe that.

Anyway, I've been trying to read Elizabeth Bishop, Yeats, and my favorite, Rilke. Seriously, Rilke rocks the house.

Okay, since I wrote that last bit Grace woke up, and I put her back to sleep...several times. I also watched the last two episodes of Season Two of Downton Abbey as I've been rocking her . It made me very happy to have such a happy ending (minus the whole Mr. Bates in prison thing). Man, I love happy endings. I don't even care if it's unrealistic.

Oh, and I bought a 7 foot artificial Christmas tree today. I didn't think it would fit in the Corolla with me and the three girls, but it was the last one left so I bought it anyway. And it fit! Bless that Corolla.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Today's Post



So...Nablopomo Eh? It's 11:15 and my children are finally asleep. We are still paying of that long car ride. Here are some things I thought about today:

-Today's family home evening lesson may or may not have left our daughters thinking that the Holy Ghost ate Heavenly Father. Not sure what happened.

-We're buying our first Christmas tree tomorrow. Someone gave us a mini-tree the first year we were married and we've been using that ever since. But not this year, baby!

-I love my German classes. I really like learning languages. Today, I was the only student which was a little awkward for introvert me. Luckily, everyone paid in advance, so I felt like I was on scholarship.

- For our first advent we are having a Fondue party. We have 2 fondue pots that we haven't used in years. Today at Aldi I found two cheapo fondue kits. We considered long and hard who we should invite. To be the perfect party we had to have the right people--you know the right mix so we have the right dynamics. Everyone has to be interesting, relaxed, and fun. We decided to invite five people: our family. Maybe not Gracie if she has prior arrangements (i.e. a nap). I'm pretty excited.

-Also, I really want a red bead garland for my Christmas tree but I am not sure where to obtain one here.

-Good night monkey heads, I'm sleepy.



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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sundays are the hardest and CERN!

The Large Hadron Collider was happy to see us.



Is this true for anyone else? I feel like Sundays are the hardest days of the week. It should be easy because it's a day of rest, but guess what, it is not a day of rest. In our house it is the day of anti-rest. Church messes up everyone's nap time which means everyone is grumpy.Chris and  have started a new campaign to make Sunday a day of happiness and joy by planning family activities, for Sunday. Last Sunday was pretty good, we went for a walk. This Sunday we played hide and go seek for quite a while, and that was pretty fun. But when we weren't playing, the children were paying us back for driving for ten hours yesterday. Gracie in particular. She took no naps today. Not one. She is four months old. There was so much crying in our house today.

But whatever, the goblins are asleep now. Here are some photos of Cern to cheer me up. By the way, it was all we hoped and dreamed. And it was...uplifting. Seriously. It made me want to be a better person because the universe is SO AWESOME.




You can't see the sign above the door so well but it says "European Organization for Nuclear Research   Cern." In this picture the girls are saying, "Yay, Science!" Except for Gracie, she's saying, "Can I get a beer?"

Eating our breakfast at the Cern bus stop bench because that's the type of traveling family we are.
 

The building with the Large Hadron Collider is behind them.



The girls are picking dandelions.


I turned around for two seconds and then I look to find Jojo and she's climbed up into this display and is trying to lift this weight.

Oh, you know. The girls were just playing a game where they could increase electromagnetic charge in order to push protons together. (True fact--I don't really know what I'm talking about when I talk the stuff that's going on at Cern. Except I know they invented the World Wide Web there.)


 Cern being scientific or Cern trying to start a first discussion?


So many dandelions! Which is what my kids will remember from this visit. That's just fine.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nablopomo...still

Sorry guys! We went out of town and I did not blog. But I'm still with you. And guess what, I counted all the countries I have been too. And now I will list them for you because I know you are really, really interested. Feel free to make your own list as well. FYI I am not counting countries from before I was four, because I can't remember Brazil that well. And I stopped at the airport in Guatemala for a few hours, but I don't count that either, but I still wanted to brag about them both so I mentioned them just now anyway.

In order (ahem)
Honduras
Argentina
England
Greece
Cyprus
Egypt
Jordan
Palestine
Israel
Austria
Germany
France
Switzerland

That's 13!

Hmmm, I just realized that most people who read this blog have been to more countries than me. But you know what, I ain't even mad. It just means you know how cool traveling is. You know where I need to go? Asia. (And maybe Australia, but they have nasty sharks there.)

Also, it turns out I am really bad with GPS's. By that I mean sometimes I forget when I've programmed it to avoid certain things. Like when we moved to Georgia and I programmed it to avoid highways and then the next day Chris flew to Nebraska with it and drove all our earthly belongings in a huge Uhaul truck for hours, trying to get to Georgia on BACKROADS. I don't think we figured it out until the next day even. That was a fail time. This time, I had set it to avoid tolls....uh. Switzerland is full of tolls. Our three and a half hour trip from the Black Forest to Cern actually took...over six hours. And we almost died driving up windy back roads in the mountains of Switzerland and France in spooky, thick fog. By the way, it turns out that our GPS doesn't tell us when we leave one country and go into another, and since we were on the back roads, the borders were not always even marked so we kept asking each other, "Wait, what country our we in now?" "Is this the European Union or not?" It was a little surreal to not know what country we were in.

BUT it turned out that by avoiding tolls we actually saved 140 Euro. So...we decided to do that on the way home too. It was easier to tell what country we were in because the Swiss helpfully hang flags out of their windows a lot. Kind of like returned missionaries. (Side note, when my brother Tom got back from his mission he hung a Jolly Roger up in his room. I thought that was funny.)

So Cern was really cool. I will have to post about it tomorrow. After our visit, we drove past it later that day on our way into the city and Sophie pointed and said, "Look Dad, Science!" So it is girl, so it is.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Short, fake post

So this morning I decided to do my annual post about Feminism, but my friend Diana pretty much summed up how I feel here.

Then I was going to write a post about the meeting I went to tonight about Chris's potential deployment. But I didn't learn anything new from the breif. Not the Commander's fault, but all he did was confirm that some people are deploying but we don't know who. We''ll know in January.

But instead, I just want to post this fast so I can spend the rest of the evening with Chris talking about Geneva. So I will.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Spirit---almost

So I decided we're not going to make Gingerbread houses. We're going to make Hexenhauses. A Hexenhaus is the witches house in Hansel and Gretel. How are they different than gingerbread houses you might ask? Mostly, I think they have just have a cool name and a lot of charm. Kind of like me. Also, they might be shaped more like the photo above than other gingerbread houses you have seen.

So, for Family Night tonight we had the awesome idea of teaching the girls the joy of giving to others. Our ward is collecting toys for an kind of orphanage, and we thought it would be fun to take the girls to a toy store and let them each pick out presents to give to the kids. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Chris got home at 6:30. We ate, got ready, and were in the car by 7:15. We got to the store at about 7:35, or in other words, the girls bed time. This, I think was where we went wrong. After 7:30, things get crazy in our house.

It's hard to be a little girl surrounded by toys you are supposed to give to someone else. It's especially hard when it's past your bedtime. And it's ALWAYS hard not to run up and down the aisles whooping at the top of your lungs.

And, if you are a little baby, apparently it's really hard not to explode your diaper all over your dad. Hahahaha. Actually that was kind of the awesome part of the trip.


So, it wasn't the huge success we were hoping for. But, there are going to be some really happy little kids on Christmas day (maybe not ours). And, it was pretty sweet to see Jojo pick out a doll for "a boy baby." And Soapy finally picked a Wedding Barbie saying, "I really really want this for me too, Mom. But I know we're not talking about that right now. And there are four so we can give this one a sad girl I guess." And Gracie needed a bath anyway.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Some things

This is unrelated to the post, but I took this picture on a walk today.

So here are a few things I've been thinking about lately:

- Since I have left my parents house I have changed in superficial ways that I never thought I would, like I'm now the type of person who likes to sip fruit tea and eat fancy cheeses. Wut? Anna Kohler what happened to you?  I also rarely wear shirts with words on them---well, unless they are play clothes. And I never buy shirts with funny sayings on them. This is almost anti-Kohler. But I still think cake in milk is a great idea. And I love Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh is the best actor/director ever. Sherlock Holmes rocks the house. And this song will always be a part of me (and a part of every Nablopomo I ever do). Also, alarmingly, this song. Man, I really wish my brothers read this blog so they could help me write a list of things that are definitely Kohler.

- I got a pomegranate and deseeded it under water. It was a GREAT success until I had some and realized that I don't really like pomegranates. Chris ate it for me.

-So my brother-in-law Nathan just put up this post about what he would do with a million dollars. I would like to kindly ask him, and anyone else who doesn't know what to write for a blog post, what things they would buy for $100 dollars. This might help some people know what kind of things to get people for Christmas.

- I love my primary class. It's so fun to teach the last half of the Book of Mormon to boys because it's so bloody. Ha! I taught about the destruction of the Jaredites today. You know, where over 2 million people die in war and the last bloody battle ends with Coriantumr cutting off the head of Shiz. And then Shiz still throws up his hands in the air and tries to breathe before he collapses. So gross. You know what picture my manual recommended I use to teach this lesson? Ether sitting and recording the history on the plates. Probably the ONLY boring image of the whole time battle. But I understand, because it was also probably the only non x-rated one. Still it was funny. I taught my boys fun words like "carnage" and phrases like "drunk with bloodshed." And then we also had gummy-candy. So fun.

-I decided that we are going to make AWESOME gingerbread houses this year. That is all.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Laughing baby

video
For your viewing pleasure this Nablopomo evening I give you a video of a laughing baby. The screaming you hear is all from Gracie. She screams when she laughs.

Friday, November 16, 2012

What can I bake that says USA in a good way?


In order to understand what is going on at Sophie's kindergarten I take my camera every few days and take pictures of the new flyers on the walls. Then I go home and translate them using Google Translate. I look a little ridiculous taking close up pictures of the Kindergarten's walls, but not as ridiculous as when I have no idea what's going on. Also, somehow I feel that when you embarrass yourself in another country it's not for real.  Anyway, I translated a flyer today that said the Kindergarten will have a booth at the town Christmas Market selling cookies and they want people to volunteer to bake cookies. All the proceeds go to the school.

First of all, I was excited because it's cool there will be a Christmas Market in our town.

Secondly,   I was wary because I have had an unsuccessful baking experience already with the Kindergarten. I posted about it on my Family blog but, I'm also going to copy and paste it here, at the bottom of this post. Or actually, I think I will make it its own post right after this one. Anyway, if you are not familiar with it, I recommend you read it here now so you know why I was wary. Go. Read.

Okay, I noticed on the list that people had signed up for un-normal things like Angel Eyes, and Lebkuchen. I actually know what Lebkuchen is but Angels Eyes...I do not know your "angel eyes." When I googled edible angel eyes, this came up, which is actually better than I was fearing. But I don't think that's quite it.

Determined not to be that 'Merican family I pinned down the Kindergarten director to find out how fancy these cookies are supposed to be.She said, not so fancy. Nothing special. They just can't be cream-filled-- By which I think she meant they can't be refrigerated.

No problem. I don't even know how to make cream-filled cookies. So now the question is what do I make?I can tell you are as riveted by this question as I am.

So, my first thought was: peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss in the  middle. Peanut butter is so America and so delicious. Then I could name them something charming in German, like "Christmas acorns" or "angel eyes." (The more I think about angel eyes the more creeped out I get. What ARE those things?)

But then I thought, well, chocolate chip cookies are pretty America too. And that would be cheaper to make.

And then I thought, you know what's so America, and so delicious, and I bet they haven't had much before, and so cheap? Brownies. From a box.

So in conclusion, I kind of want to just make some brownies, which I wouldn't do for a US bake sale because that is kind of trash, but here maybe it would not be trash? Maybe it would be a delight? Or maybe it would be trash. What do you think?

Also, while you are thinking about cookies, my ward is having a cookie exchange, and I need a good cookie recommendation so that I wow the Bishop and get my tithing reduced because that's the way things work.

Okay, that is all.

Blend in with the natives--Fail (repost)

Blend in with the natives--FAIL

I have lived in a few different countries (*yawn* oh, so cultured), and I have to say that German culture is the most similar to my own. There are no weird facial expressions to decipher, no awkward moments when one of us laughs at something the other doesn't think of as humor, no clear division in the type of clothes we wear(uh, at least when I wear my nice clothes there is no division). We have the language barrier of course but other than the other differences seem very small.

Today, however, I was reminded that I am very much a foreigner. Sigh. The fact that we have so much in common only makes my gaffes embarrassing instead of expected.

So, Soapy's kindergarten had a shindig planned for today. I thought I was tracking what was going on.The theme was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." The kids were going to dance and sing. The older kids were going to put on a mini play and the adults were to bring  treats. I signed up to bring a chocolate cake. Then I saw the sign up sheet asking what what Soapy would be dressed up as, a beetle, a flower, or a bee. She wanted to be a flower (note: she always wants to be a flower), so I signed her up for that--then I began freaking out a bit.

I learned something about myself this week. Not only am I terrible at making things like costumes, I get really really stressed out about the whole thing. It's really funny, because I have so many resources at my fingertips, courtesy of Google. And flower costumes are not hard. But still. It's ridiculous how much I fretted. I may have wrung my hands once or twice.

Turns out, I was totally stressing about the wrong thing.

No one cared about the costumes. Some parents just put their kids in brightly colored t-shirts and called them flowers. FYI after my hard work, Soapy's would have actually been really cute except for some language barrier issues:

1) I thought the event would be inside so I let Soapy be a little purple pansy in a short sleeve purple t-shirt. Language barrier. It was outside. But it's cold outside so she was a little purple pansy in a brown hoodie. No big deal.




Here's the best picture you're going to get of her in her costume. She's sucking her finger because she's nervous.

2) I thought we were supposed to be there at two to get ready. Language barrier strikes again. It turns out,the whole thing started at two, so instead of being able to carefully staple some large petals into her elastic belt, I just tucked them in and hoped for the best as they led her out in to the dance area. Little bit bigger deal. Most of them fell out during her dance, specifically during the crawling part (seriously, why did they have a crawling part?). Oh well. It only took me hours to put that together. I was pretty proud of Soapy though. I had to wake her up from her nap and she was feeling kind of nervous and grumpy. Despite her costume falling apart around her she carried on remarkably well. Especially considering her dance partner was the same boy her bit her on her first week of school.
Notice how she continues even while having to hold a fallen petal in her hand. I think it confused the boy.

Check out the biter's angry/freaky expression.

A few petals later...

Soapy did awesome, and was super cute. I loved that once she found me in the crowd and saw me smiling she brightened up completely. There are some moments of being a mother that make me feel so terrific. Making costumes, not so much. Being there for a nervous Sophie...definitely a good moment.

Anyway, back to me, it turns out that all along I should have been concerned about the cake. I didn't think much about the cake before I made it. I made Better Than Sex Cake. It's a delicious cake. But it's not a fancy cake--I was way out of my league. It turns out these were cakes to be sold by the slice for MONEY. Here are some pictures I took of the cake table I saw when I went to drop off my cake:

 



We had to leave early to get to a birthday party, but I sneaked in to take some pictures of the dessert table so I could post them on this blog. I wanted you to see the juxtaposition of my cake next to the others...but mine wasn't even out. Ha! So I don't have a picture of my cake, but the general feeling of it was like this. Except mine was adorned with aluminum foil and Pyrex. The saddest thing is that out of politeness I couldn't just take it back, and out of politeness they couldn't just give it back so...I'm pretty sure my cake got thrown out and they will return my Pyrex (and probably the aluminum foil as well because this is Germany and we RECYCLE EVERYTHING), and tell me it was lovely. Dang it. Chris and I were cracking up all this evening though, and wishing we could eat that tasty, ugly cake.

Finally, here's a picture of Jojo, just because she's a cute kid. She kept yelling "Hooray Soapy!" through the whole thing.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nana's Stories

Chris's mom decided last year sometime to start a blog for her grankids. Every so often she makes a recording of herself reading a book and then posts it on the blog so her grandchildren can hear their Nana reading to them even though they are in different states or countries. Chris's dad adds books now too. At the time I thought that was a good way to keep connected to grankids. Now I think it is a brilliant idea. Here is why:

Chris is often gone. Even when he's not training he has other late night things he has to do. Like tonight he has to go out to a dinner ceremony for his troop. Oh Army, you and your mandatory fun. (Fun fact- Chris has to go participate in the Turkey Bowl. It's not voluntary. Honestly, I'm not sure Chris knows the rules of football so this could be interesting.) Technically, I am invited too, but I went to one of these dinners and it was so un-fun that Chris and decided never to pay for babysitting again for one of these things. So he goes and leaves as soon as the mandatory part is done.

What this means is that when I put the girls down for bed it is me vs. them. They are actually really good about going to bed. They have a routine of toothbrushing, books, and songs that works really well. BUT if a certain little baby is crying her lungs out, it's really hard to read books. That's where Nana's Stories is INDISPENSABLE. If I pull up the blog, Sophie can even scroll to the stories she and Jojo agree upon, and make them full screen. So awesome. Tonight we definitely used Nana Stories. The girls wanted some Ballerina story and Go Dog go.



The girls love listening to these stories. And they respond to their grandparents as if they are actually talking to them. Greg (Chris's dad) recorded Go Dog Go a while ago (Do you not know this book?  It's a great book. You should know this book.). Throughout the book he is asking them questions and pausing to let them respond. Oh my goodness. The girls were jumping over themselves answering the questions. It was pretty funny.I started thinking about the fact that my girls would be able to play these same videos for their kids (if the internet still exists, you never know...) and I got a little weepish. But not crying.






video

The best part of this video happens in the first 10 seconds.


In conclusion--thank you in laws on behalf of myself and the girls.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Allowance

So not long after our arrival in Germany, Chris and I looked at our finances and decided that since we were actually making money we should give ourselves a larger allowance. This has been a really fun development. Now instead of feeling a little guilty about buying stuff that is not for "the family," I feel obligated to spend my money on myself because it is in the budget. Chris has been buying camping stuff. It's pretty cool, and I would tell you about it but he gets a lot of pleasure from explaining why it is so awesome so you should really ask him. (Also it's cool but boring.) I have been spending my money on...hmmm. I don't quite remember. Probably charity and stuff. But, I know what I am buying next. It is this:



This is the 88630 Charcoal SunRise Clock.™   This is one of those clocks that simulates the sun rising.  I have been doing some research and this one seems to be the best. I'm really excited. It's really dark here now...kind of all the time and it really hits me hard. I'm really hoping this will make my life feel like this guy:





Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This has been bothering me for a while

 So, lately I have been seeing a lot of life hacks lately. You know, those tips of ways to make your life easier. And some of them seem really awesome. For instance, I recently read that it's really easy to take seeds out of pomegranates under water. The next time I eat a pomegranate I will totally do it that way. I think I last had a pomegranate 10 years ago.

Here is one life hack I see a lot of that bothers me a bit.


Here's my questions: Who has a clean dustpan? If you own a clean dustpan, you're doing it wrong.

And that is my post for today. Thank you, thank you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Laternefest


So today was Laternefest. I have been pretty excited about it for a while. Little 3-5 year olds running around a night with their little self-made lanterns? Singing songs about light? With their sweet little matching mittens and hats? I was prepared to die of cuteness.

Here's what I forgot: Laternefest is part of Martinstag, which is a religious holiday. And religion...here is what I have to say about religion:  Religion does some amazing things, also some horrible things. But what I think most people forget when they talk about religion, is that, most of the time, religion does really really really boring things. Seriously, if religion were only amazing or only terrible the churches would be packed. But they are not, because most religious services make people do this.

So Laternefest started in the Catholic church and I didn't even have to understand a word of German to know it was boring. Everyone was bored. If I am going to be bored it is at least going to be in a meeting where I believe the doctrine being taught.

After that we went out into the streets with the little lanterns, but Sophie was kind of freaked out to walk in the middle of the street because we have brainwashed her to think that means death, and Jojo's little electric tea-light kept going out, and Gracie started howling so...it wasn't all I imagined in my dreams. At least the lanterns were pretty charming.

By the way, earlier this week I found myself thinking,"Why don't we have awesome holiday traditions in the USA like they do here?" Then I reviewed the holidays and realized our holidays are SUPER AWESOME. We carve squash into scary faces to remind us of death. We paint eggs to remind us of Christ. We explode gunpowder into pretty designs to remind us of freedom. Our holidays are SWEET! I have never really gone all out for holidays, but now I think I will. That's what I really really like about living in different countries: it makes you reevaluate your normal.

Happy Laternefest. Maybe we will not celebrate it next year (unless Sophie has a speaking role, which she might. Ughhhh).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Doctor Who


So. Does anyone else watch "Doctor Who"? Because Chris and I just checked out a season from the library and we are pretty hooked.  I had been hearing that it was kind of cool so I checked out Season One; however, it turns out "Dr Who" is the longest running science fiction show ever. It started to 1963. Season One was ridiculous and terrible. So...I did a little hardcore research and read that it got really cool around Season Five. So then we got Season Five and,by the way, it is really cool. It's super compelling.

Why is it so cool? I asked Chris this and he said, "It's because it's not like anything I've ever watched before." Which I think is pretty true. Bridget recommended the show "Sherlock" a little bit ago, so we checked it out, and we liked it a lot. We recommend it also. An intense mystery show with a quirky detective is a plot line Chris and I really like. It's scary at  normal times, it's funny at certain times, and every so often we get these little moments to show us that Sherlock is a really good guy and not a jerk. Sir Conan Doyle, bless his heart, made famous a genre that I just love. It's predictable in a thoroughly enjoyable way.

"Doctor Who" is not so predictable to me. I am never really sure if I am about to be terrified, or laugh out loud, or just be totally intent on trying to solve the problem on hand. And the problems...are ridiculous. I guess I am not super familiar with the science fiction genre but I think I like it.

Also, I think the reason this show is so compelling has a lot to do with two people, the main character and the director,because I think they rock the show.

Okay, now I'm off to bed.




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gambling is a bad choice


Today we went to a birthday party for one of Sophie's friends. It was at the bowling alley.I'm pretty lousy at bowling, but bowling with little kids is way more fun than bowling with grownups (it turns out I had to bowl a lot on my mission, weird no?), so the party was really fun. I had just started (my first bowl I hit 0 pins, and I think my second bowl I hit four), when Chris sidled up and asked if I wanted to make a small wager that I could beat him. Despite the fact that Chris (and every other human being), is better at bowling than me, I immediately agreed. I kind of like gambling. And I could get FIFTY DOLLARS if I won. FITTY DOLLARS!

I tell you what, my game PICCCKKKEEDDD UPPPPPP after that bet. Seriously, I have never played such a good game in my life. Three strikes in a row. Then I did one of those things where all the pins go down but one. My next bowl---I hit that one lone pin dead on. I was on fire.

And guess what, I was beating Chris. I was beating everyone. I was amazing. Until suddenly in the ninth...hole? inning? Bowling time? Maybe bracket? I do not understand your bowling lingo. Anyway, in the ninth thing I suddenly lost my game. And it would have been okay, I was head and shoulders above everyone else except for Chris, who was also playing the best game of his life because FIFTY DOLLARS!!! So I lost. I bowled 146 and I lost. To smug-weaselface Chris Lewis even. Don't even ask me what he bowled, I'm so mad. Sniff.  FIFTY DOLLARS. Sigh.

Don't gamble kids.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rocken it with Neitzche (and two photos of Leipzig)


We went and paid our respects to Freidrich Nietzche today, because that's what you do if you are awesome. I brought one of his books, "Beyond Good and Evil" for him to sign--that didn't happen, so instead (per Chris's suggestion) I made a crayon rubbing of some of his name onto the title page. Why Nietzche you may ask? Isn't he the "God is dead" guy? So...Nietzche did say some not so flattering things about religion, but I ain't even mad, because that guy was a  brilliant genius. Not just a genius, but a brilliant genius. And his life was pretty dang hard.  Nietzche rocks. The truth is, I have been planning this trip since I remembered he was from Germany.We added Leipzig to our itinerary only after discovering it was only half an hour from Nietzche's grave (but I'm so glad we did as I will soon tell you).

So,the title is a funny joke because Nietzche was born and buried in Rocken. How often do you hear jokes about Nietzche's home town? Not often enough.

This is me in the middle of making a rubbing. I stopped because the girls found a ladybug on the tombstone and we had to talk about it. Also, Soapy is wearing a raincoat over her sweater. This is what happens when your winter coat breaks. Don't worry grandparents, a replacement is coming.



Yup, there are three statues of Nietzche in this picture and two of them are naked except for hats.


Jojo at the door of the Church Nietzche was buried at.


Perhaps actual descendants of chickens that lived in Nietzche's town.


Nietzche's house looked at us disapprovingly.

Okay---So then we went to Leipzig! What a beautiful city! Lisa, I am so jealous you got to live there for 6 months. Maybe it's my favorite place in Germany so far. So pretty and so interesting and so full of cool history and cool things.  We didn't take many pictures because the sun was setting as we got there (it was dark before five.) But we liked it mucho mucho. We went to the Auerbach Keller where Goethe visited so often and included in Faust. And Greg and Trish, FYI I felt cool knowing that connection to our Auerbach. We went to some other places and despite screaming kids, and incovenient nursing times, and everything involving traveling with three kids, we made it to Vespers at the Thomaskirche and we were able to hear the St Thomas Boys Choir--which I really really wanted to do, but I didn't think we would be able to make happen. By the way...that is a beautiful choir. I am considering living in Leipzig so that I can just go sit in this church every day and listen to those little boys sing hymns. So beautiful. Leipzig is a little ridiculous. I mean, Goethe, AND Bach AND Mendelssohn AND Wagner AND Mahler? Truth be told, I've only been home from the place a few hours and I've already written an opera. It's about you dear readers.


This is how Gracie spent most of our time in Leipzig.

We went to a GDR museum and I told Sophie to stand like Lenin She did, and thought it was so funny she kept doing it off and on for the whole trip. Oh, communists...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Excited! And Science!

Science for Thanksgiving!

So, on a regular basis Sophie or Jojo will ask how long it is until her birthday. Unfortunately for them, their birthdays are in July and April so it's a LONG time away. To try and make them not feel sad, I explain how far away their birthday's are in terms of other exciting things happening. For example, I'll say, "Well, before your birthday is Valentine's Day, and Daddy's birthday, and Christmas, and... The happy result of this is by the time I am finished Sophie, Jojo and I are super excited to be alive because we have so many exciting things to look forward to.

I bring this up because pretty excited for this weekend. Tomorrow we are going to Liepzig, and some places round about there. Saturday we are going to a birthday party. Sunday is the first Sunday we will be going to church as a family since September and it's also Martinstag, and Monday is Laternefest. For Laternefest Sophie made two lanterns in school and she and Jojo and the rest of the towns kids are going to march around town holding these  little lanterns on Monday night singing and eating bratwurst, onion cakes, and drinking non alcoholic Gluhwein. Oh Germany. You are too charming. I am going to photograph the heck out of you.

So that's cool, but wait Thanksgiving is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate our nations first Thanksgiving than by going to  CERN to see the Large Hadron Collider? There's no better way. I am super excited. I keep telling people that we are going to see it and they ask me what it does and...I start mumbling about protons and god particles and then I fall silent because I realize I know very little about anything at all. I plan on researching enough about it that I can ask our tour guide one not-so-ridiculous question. Also, I'm not going to lie, I have definitely had some daydreams about taking pictures of my girls at Cern and then having them eventually work there and having those early childhood photos hanging on the walls of their offices next two their three or four degrees. Confession: I would love it if my girls were scientists. Or engineers. That's why I got so excited when I discovered they liked legos. We're on our way

 Oh, and CERN is right by Geneva so we thought we'd go there too. And we're going through the Black Forest on our way down (I'll let you know if it's really black). Man, I'm SOOOO excited.  Oh and for Christmas we're going to Paris! Squeak! I'm so excited to be living my life right now. Whoop Whoop!



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sad list

This picture came up when I Googled images of "sad list" so I thought I'd just go with it.


So, I have been thinking for the past few minutes about what I should write about tonight. I kind of want to make a list for this post--I really like lists. I was going to make a list of what I did today, but it wasn't very exciting--though it was a good day. Then I was thinking I could make a list of awesome things about myself. This is always a fun thing for me to do. It turns out-- I am pretty awesome. I mostly like people, but I like myself best. Seriously, I'm so brilliant, and funny, and socially adept interesting.

But, I'm not quite in the mood for a bragalog. So maybe I will do the opposite. A sadalog. [Why is everything so much more fun to say with -alog added to the end of it? Holocaustalog. (I almost deleted that because I thought some people might find it offensive but then I remembered I have no Jewish friends. Not on purpose, I just don't know any Jews. {Maybe I'd have Jewish friends if I didn't make jokes about the Holocaust.})]

So anyway, I don't know if this is a good idea but here is a list of things I've failed at.

Driving stick
The math portion of the GRE
Basketball tryouts in high school
Putting on eye shadow
Rolling my Rs (super embarrassing since I've learned Spanish, Greek, and am now trying to learn German)
Cartwheels
Not yelling at my children
Going to the temple regularly
Breastfeeding*
Making my bed


Oh man. This is too hard. I know this list is small and boring, but I keep writing stuff and then deleting it because I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO KNOW! I don't recommend making a list like this. I just feel like I have all these mediocre depressing secrets now. Also, I think I should try more daring things because even my depressing fails are kind of boring.

*I have since succeeded at breastfeeding, but I failed after 2 months with Sophie. By the way, breastfeeding is something so natural that does not come so naturally.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Night

Yum.
So, I was going to write a long, tormented post about Barbie dolls, but Chris came home early tonight, so we are going to eat Lebkuchen, drink fruit tea, and Caro while we watch a show. Then we'll wake up tomorrow just in time for the polls to close in the US. So Barbie will have to wait. In the mean time, feel free to click here to watch democracy.


Monday, November 5, 2012

This is what I would tell my husband if he were here:



So Chris is away again. He comes back tomorrow and he won't have to be gone overnight again until next year sometime. It's not a big deal anymore when he's gone. I usually get a lot more done because I don't have anyone fun to waste time with in the evenings.  But one of the nice things about being married is that I have someone to tell everything that happened to me throughout the day. You know, all the important stuff and all the unimportant stuff. But my buddy is gone, and noone else really cares---except you dearest blog. So here is what I would tell Chris if he were here.

Sophie loved the new program they started for her age group at school. Every Monday in November we get her there a little early for something called "Rainbow Solar Group." I think it's an exercise class. Sophie reported that she got to chase all of her friends around in a circle and then she lifted someone's feet off the ground and then someone lifted her feet off the ground. Whatever. She loved it.

I almost went to the car place to get our car inspected but then I chickened out last minute. I recently got new tires put on our car and the guy spoke NO ENGLISH. The only way it worked out was that I knew the type of tires I wanted and knew how to say "tires" in German and I just kept saying it over and over again until it happened. This time I want a check up, and I want to know what needs to be serviced and I am a little worried that saying "tires" over and over again won't do the trick. There's a place on post with English speakers that would do it but a) I don't like them b) I don't trust them and c) they take a million years to get an appointment. This other place is in the next town over and comes highly recommended by other mothers at the Kindergarten. I'll do it tomorrow. Probably.

I cleaned the house today. Again. Having German classes in my home makes me clean more than ever before. I love how my house looks/feels. I do not like how much time it takes. I think I am getting faster at cleaning though.

Larissa, the eleven year old girl who comes and babysits during German classes, was sick today and couldn't come. Despite that, the four girls were really good and only interrupted us at the very end; however, our house is now trashed. Totally trashed. There is play dough ALL OVER our living room.

I ate chocolate and cookies for breakfast and lunch. This happens sometimes when Chris goes away.

I ate Chris's prepackaged brownies too, for a snack. I feel kind of bad about that. But they were delicious, and I was hungry because my breakfast wasn't very filling.

Also I am now going to fold all our laundry while I watch an episode of Sherlock. That is a fun show.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kleintierausstellung -Small animal show

 
So for the last few weeks there has been a sign on the wall near our house advertising a Small Animal Show that went down this weekend. There was a large picture of a rabbit on the sign, and since it was on the way to school the girls and I have been talking about it every day.

 I wasn't exactly sure what it would entail. Germany is such a charming mystery to me. If we were in rural Nebraska I would assume it was a showcase for buyers and breeders of rabbits and poultry. But, this is the magical land of Bayern, where they have cabbage festivals and only serve bubbly water, so I also had some hopes that it might be some kind of rabbit circus, or rabbit grooming contest. It's not that ridiculous an idea. Everyone in this town seems to own their own personal huge rabbit. I thought maybe what I had assumed were pet bunnies were actually extremely competitive racing hares or something. Maybe this was a really big deal in this town. The sign was pretty large.

So today, after church, the girls and I bundled up (FYI it's nice in the winter because if you don't want to comb your little girls hair you can just put hats on them, and then when they take off their hats everyone will just think it's hat hair) and we strollered our way up to the Kleintierausstellung with high hopes. (Chris was at work.)

Turns out... it actually was just a showcase for buyers and breeders of rabbits and poultry. It was a small warehouse room with wire cages filled with birds and bunnies. I was the only one with children. Was it weird and dissapointing? No way. Man, I have never seen such large and beautiful rabbits. Seriously they were as big as Gracie and so soft looking. And those chickens--Zowie! Seriously beautiful chickens if you can imagine such a thing. And I did not think pigeons grew that big.

I think the show people were confused that we were there, until they realized I didn't speak German and then they smiled and made some gestures like, "Oh, let the nice imbecile do what she likes. She's harmless." The only weird point was when a nice old man, seeing the girls were really interested in the animals, showed them some recently laid eggs and started talking to us about them. One of them was totally covered in blood and he picked it up and talked to us about it a lot, gesturing with it. I'm not sure what he said, and I'm not sure if my face conveyed an appropriate reaction to a conversation about a bloody egg. But whatever, he was nice. It wasn't even weird acutally, just kind of funny.


We didn't stay long, just looked at all the animals, got surprised EVERYTIME the roosters crowed (they crowed like 30 times while we were there), almost bought a turkey as big as Sophie that had lovely foot feathers, then left. Definitely the best part of today.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My favorite knock knock joke







 Me: Knock Knock










You: Who's there?










 Me: Africa












 You: Africa who?











 Me: African love you!













You.