Thursday, November 28, 2013

Notes from up the mountain

We have spent this week in Colorado ski country, having an extended family reunion/Thanksgiving/memorial for my husband's grandparents.

Herein I offer some random observations...

Altitude sickness blows. I breathe hard walking around a room and a cup of coffee gives me a hangover-style headache. But at least I'm not throwing up like one of my daughters.

It feels really strange not to be responsible for making the meal. Like I'm slacking or something....

Ladies in peri-menopause do not need a heavy coat in the snow.

Smart Water is my friend. I can't even count how many liters of the stuff I've had in the last 4 days.

Despite the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies, and all the wonderful times with the extended family, I cannot wait to go home. Sea level, here I come!

I sure wish these folks were closer. Wisconson, Iowa, Arizona are all much too far away. What a marvelous group of human beings!

Tomorrow, we all say our final goodbyes to Nana & Papa. What an inspiration to us all!

I am so very grateful for my wonderful family, the chance for us all to be together, and the opportunity to celebrate the lives of Will and Lois Clark.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blind date

Tonight I had a blind date.

Yes, yes, I'm married. But the BlogoSphere lends itself to interesting social interactions.

This is my third blind/blog date.

First was Elizabeth from Flourish in Progress. We met in Brentwood on New Year's Eve, 2011. We had lunch, which lasted over 3 hours. Finally, my husband had to extract me. We were yapping up a storm.

Next, I met Jen, from '"Jen" e sais quoi' in Portland. Along with her short people. It was a fabulous lunch. It was marvellous to meet her and her sons,

Tonight, I met up with Sars. ( We talked and talked and drank and ate French fries. Eventually, Miles again had to extract me. Too much fun! We've already decided we need a second date.

How interesting is it, that the InterTubes create a new community? I knew, even before I met her, that Sars was someone I could speak the plain truth to? No need to sugar-coat or worry about appearances?

I am so appreciative of the opportunity to meet people.

Thanks, y'all! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Meanest Mother Ever, episode 1

Oh what a cruel person I am!

The little girls have really been getting on my nerves lately. They will not follow instructions. At all. And it's getting very tiresome. So this morning, I decided to teach them a lesson.

I gave them 15 minutes to get dressed. Then I told them to come down to breakfast. Only one girl appeared. 

"Aeron. Are you coming to breakfast?" No answer.

"Aeron, are you dressed?!"

Pause.... "Almost!" was the answer. Yeah, right. I believe that.

So I marched up the stairs, and found the child completely nude, reading a Garfield comic. I grabbed her by the wrist , and marched her down the stairs. About halfway down she started whine, kick and scream. I reminded her she'd been told to get dressed and now it was time to eat breakfast. She tried to grab a throw off the floor but I wouldn't let her.

I sat her down on the stool and gave her her breakfast. I suggested that she might want to hurry up so she could go back upstairs and get dressed. So, you know, she didn't have to go to school au naturel.

Claire kept laughing at her and Cameron did his part, chortling and shaking his head. FXSG was very polite and pretended not to notice that the little girl at the breakfast bar was starkers.

She ate much quicker than usual, then ran upstairs and got into a colorful ensemble and even brushed her teeth without being told.

Mama -1/Kid -0!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Weird things

This morning, I woke my daughters up at 6:45am, as usual.

Scruffy was in Sphinx pose at the foot of Aeron's bed, looking inscrutable. Claire was wrapped in blankets like a large fuzzy purple burrito. Boo had the covers over her head and was lying perfectly still, so I wouldn't know she was awake.

Me: "Good morning, girlies! Time to get up!"

Girls: ...

Me: "Boo. Don't forget you need to write in your journal."

I whipped the covers off her and discover she was butt naked. Again. I un-rolled the Claire-burrito and she moaned in disapproval.

Me: "Up! Clothes! Shoes! Now!" I went back to Boo's bed. and when I leaned on it, I felt something hard.

It was a thick, chewed-on T-Bone.

Me: "Why is this in your bed?!"

Her: "It's cool."

PS: On the way to school, I asked the child where the beef bone came from.

Her: "I found it at church!" 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cognitive Overload

I got a lot going on.

A set of squirrelly twins.  A teenage boy. A Foreign Exchange Student from Germany. All who need to be driven various places. A blended family. Schedules that change on a dime. A house, a garden and a shit ton of dishes. A husband who works two jobs.

So, I realize we're behind the 8 ball and the girls need to do a book report due on Friday. They haven't even chosen a book, much less put pencil to paper. I tell everyone we can't go to the youth group thing tonight. Wails abound.

I spend about a hour researching level appropriate books online, then checking to see if our local library had them. Not much luck there. So, as I picked up the kids, I found a teacher and she gave us permission to check in her classroom books. We found two books and then I hustled the girls home, fed 'em a quick snack and then told 'em to READ!

I run off on an errand. I also email the teachers as I never saw the packets with actual instructions for the assignment. Just the form about choosing the book.  Then, I get a phone call. It's one of the girls. I argue with her until she says something about the report being due on October 28th.

Whoa. Wait a minute.... It did seem kinda fast and I never saw the instructions and oh, wait, it's a costume thing and....

Well, damn. I'm trying to get the girls to do a month-long project in 2 days. Whoops.

Don't I feel like an idiot.

This is what my good friend B the psychologist calls "cognitive overload". It like trying to keep too many tennis balls under the water and inevitably, one pops up and smacks you in the face. 

If I'm having troubles keeping track of things, which is my full time job, I might add, how in the hell do women who work outside the home do it?!

Ladies? Any suggestions?

Moments in the Alps

 Another NOTE: I wrote this on June 20th.

Yesterday, we drove into Austria. Our first night was at a pension in Heiterwang. Looking at the scenery was like looking at a picture postcard. We had an excellent dinner and a rest full night.

Sunday found us at Sudnighaus.

Moments, in no particular order:

Driving up the mountain, our GPS ran out of road. We were off the map. Said my husband, "Here be dragons!"

Aeron said, as we approached 6000 feet, "OK, I'm completely out of my comfort zone!"

We watched 3 cows chase a car out of a country lane. Literally, the car got a few meters up the lane, was stopped by cows in their way/looking in the windows, then the car reversed back down.  The lead cow actually galloped after the car.

We can see/hear a rushing stream out our bedroom window.

Dinner was marvelous; a creamy garlic soup, a buffet salad course, a schnitzel with ham & cheese, roasted potatoes and wilted spinach, then this traditional Austrian dessert of an eggy fritter with currents, napped in a apricot sauce. Dear lord, we are all gonna waddle outta  here by Wednesday....


Today, we awoke to.....wait for it.....snow. Our hostess Margot was shaking her head in disgust as she was covering her pots of flowers. By lunch, the snow turned to rain. I declined an invitation to hike in the slush, and handed all my warmest clothes to the Wee Lassies.

Breakfast was a buffet of ham, cheese, lox, fruit, muesli, jams, house-made bread and kugelhof, coffee, juice and the local sweet butter.


And so it went for 6 days.  We hated to leave.

Randon thoughts through the jet-lag

NOTE: I wrote this in July. Forgot to post it. Did I mention jet-lag?

Ah, home again! As nice as it is to go away, it's always nice to come home. Sleep in your own bed. Use your own shampoo. Have a shower where the shower curtain (should one be present) doesn't stick to your butt when you attempt to shave your legs.

The causalities were as follows:

1 dead blueberry bush
1, possibly 2, dead rose bushes
1 leaking toilet

Considering the heat, I'm surprised more stuff isn't dead. The grass is a beautiful emerald green, thanks to the diligence of Randy, our next-door neighbour.  

Half an hour after we arrived, we discovered Mitzi in the garage. Bloody and not happy about it. So, off to the vet I take her. She'd been wounded, developed an abscess, which then burst, but was too big to close. The tissues all around her eye were infected and she looked like a a zombie, poor thing. She stayed the night and was surgically tidied up the next morning. Now she's stuck in the house and not happy about it.

The cats took their vengeance for abandonment by peeing on absolutely everything in the garage. But hey, not in the house. So I'm gonna call that a win. Miles went on a Laundry-Paloosa and now there is clean stuff all over the house. Don't try to sit on the sofa. If you can find it. (Hint: it's under the shambling mound of towels and comforters)

Miles also went through the massive pile of mail. Couple of bills didn't get paid before we left. Whoops. ("Ah. So that's where the trash cans went...")

Yesterday we discovered that we have mice in the house. So, that's fun. Lots of cleaning out of cupboards and giving the cats a talking to about doing their jobs.

So, it's Monday morning and I'm quite certain Miles was thrilled to go to work.

Here are some random thoughts swirling about my brain about our trip:

Berlin is so quiet. Not a lot of cars, the people are relaxed. Weird. Also, it's kinda freaky to see the grand old buildings of what used to be East Berlin positively riddled with bullet holes.

Here's a question. Germans are so very efficient. Yet, there is not AC in any of the houses, not ceiling fans or any sort of circulation system. Thus, one opens the windows for some air. There are no screen on any of these windows, and they have mosquitoes! One cannot hide under the covers, 'cause it's too damn hot. So you wake up covered in bites. Aeron had 23 bites one morning.

German seem to eat nothing but bread and sausage. after a couple of weeks, even I started craving a salad, and that's saying something. I don't think I'm gonna be able to look sausage in the face for a least 6 months.

In Germany, beer is a breakfast food. Also, beer is cheap. Wine, however, is pricey.

The biergarten is to Germany what the cafe is to France. Hot and tired after touring a cemetery? Plop down at the biergarten and have a drink! They are everywhere!

Bavaria was beautiful. Ludwig II, a.k.a. Mad King Ludwig, picked a gorgeous spot for his castle. Shame he didn't finish it. 

Austria is awesome. Stunning scenery, excellent food (salad buffet!) amazingly friendly people. Plus, snow in June!

Tuscany looks a lot like North County, but greener. Which means it was Allergy City. Kayla was our Zertec pusher.

Venice is a crumbling glory. Though, at time I felt like a rat in a maze. 

Imagine 20 people in a large villa. The phrase "herding cats" came up quite often in conversation.

Florence needs a good power-washing. 

Children don't need to speak the same language to play together. We had kids that spoke German, Serbian and English all together and it worked just fine.

It was a wonderful trip. 

New material!

Things have been hoppin' round here.

School started. The Wee Lassies are now in 3rd grade. ( did that happen?!) The Boy is a sophmore and we now have a Foreign Exchange Student from Germany (hereafter to be know as FXSG)

FXSG is a nice kid. Playing football at school. Joined the Kindness Club. Kicks a soccer ball around with the neighbourhood short people. And he's funny.

During a conversation 'round the dinner table:

Me: "In Phoenix, during monsoon, if it rained, we'd get so excited we'd go dance in the street."

FXSG: "Ja. We do this in Germany when the sun comes out."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An explaination

It's been a while since I posted. It's not that I don't want to. It's just, well, I don't have much to say.

Life is clocking along, everything is ticky-boo.

8 year-olds aren't nearly as funny as 4 year-olds.

We're hosting a foreign exchange student from Germany. That's been fun.

Shall I just quit? I dunno.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More photos from Kayla

I know I've been totally lame about blogging. There have been major technical difficulties here. So, I offer up a link to Kayla's blog. Lotsa photos and pithy commentary.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Humidity, nettles and thunderstorms

Today was *much* cooler, albeit with astounding levels of humidity. Probably about 80%. The breezes made it much more pleasant than yesterday. Still, we got hot and tired.

My brother-in-law Trevor and his lady friend Katie arrived today. They did pretty well with the jet-lag.

The 8 of us walked to Koningstrasse, the main downtown shopping area of Stuttgart. We wandered, saw the Schloss of the Kings of W├╝rttemberg, had drinks, took a ton of photos, etc.

After a nap all around, we gathered back at Bloomie & Fatma's for BBQ.(The walk over included a very brief encounter with a stinging nettle. Ow.) Chicken, pork, and sausage with bread and potato salad. With beer and a yummy, gooey dessert by Rita, Bloomie's mom.

Just as we were serving dessert, about 9:30pm, the wind picked up. We all ran for indoors. The heavens opened, and rain came pelting down. Thunder rumbled, the Wee Lassies had a freak-out.

By this time, Katie & Trevor were cooked and it was time to say goodnight. We walked back to our apartment in a rain-washed night.

Tomorrow: pick up rental cars for the trip to Austria and a visit with my husband's elementary school buddy, Greg Larson.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The ancestral homeland of sweat, or; Mein Gott, I miss my ceiling fan!

It's been very hot here in Stuttgart. Really, really, really hot. Most houses don't have AC, or fans of any kind. I'm dying!

Two days ago, we walked down to the town center. It was a long walk, 3 hours in the hottest part of the day. When we got back to our apartment I took a shower, and didn't want to put any clothing on. But I did, as the whole gang was going to a beirgarten for dinner. I mooched a ride with Fatma and the boys, tho. Everyone else walked.

Yesterday, I didn't leave our apartment. I was just so worn out. I laid on the bed, read my military science fiction and napped. That's it. We also met our hosts. Lovely people. They have an 11 year old son, Janis, who is in 6th grade. Andrea brought out snacks and wine to the front garden while we soaked our feet in a cool pool. It was lovely.

Today, we took a cable car up the hill to a graveyard nestled in the forest. Some beautiful gravestones. Lots of war dead. We walked over to a nearby beirgarten for a cold drink before we hoofed it down the hill. By the time we got back to our apartment, I was dripping with sweat, rather queasy and an alarming shade of red. I started stripping as soon as I hit the door and dove immediately into a tepid shower. My loving husband brought me a liter of cold water, some of which I poured over my head.

Supposedly, it will be much cooler tomorrow. Boy, I hope so.

Addendum: We hung out with Andrea & Ingo this evening. Andrea's English is better than her man's. We covered background, and social customs. We decided Janis will come to the USA as an exchange student. A pleasant evening.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Arrived in Stuttgart!

After travelling about 26 hours, we made in to Stuttgart. We made it losing only one bag (Cameron's) and only mostly exhausted and grimy. Pam & Terry were there to greet us, which was a good thing, 'cause Aeron was *done*. Poor kid had passed out on the way from the airport in Frankfurt. When she woke up, about 15 minutes before we arrived at the Blums, she was sniveling, disoriented and miserable. Boo was cuddled by Gra-Maw and passed right back out. Claire climbed next to Pam and did same. Cameron, who hadn't slept at all on our travels, also found a horizontal surface and collapsed. Kayla, Miles and I kissed and hugged everyone, gave gifts, had coffee, champagne and a beautiful, tasty cake in honor of Pam & Terry's 50th wedding anniversary. By this time, I was getting bed spins and my head was buzzing from fatigue, so I also crashed for a nap.

After some down time, we walked over to an outdoor restaurant for some dinner. Claire, Aeron, Anton and the ridiculously cute Emil played at a small park adjacent to our cobblestone dining room while the grownups chatted and drank beer. We noshed, we shmoozed; it was great!


We have been in Stuttgart for 4 days now. Jet lag still strikes at moments. I had a 3 hour nap, then had lunch at 4pm. Brot, with ham and Gouda. Mustard, of course. My love for a ham & cheese sandwich is clearly genetic. I sat in our tiny garden with my sandwich, some sliced apple and a glass of pinot grigio. Ahhh.... Oh, and some military SciFi. It's been miserably hot; many sweating Clarks. But we've discovered gelato makes it better!!!

Many photos of this once in a lifetime trip over at Kayla's blog;

We miss all our friends!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

T minus 2 days.

Packing is about half completed. There are baskets of clean laundry all over the house. There is folded laundry in the family room. There are empty Target shopping bags all scattered everywhere. Partially filled suitcases line the floor in the Boudoir.

We're eating frozen chow from Trader Joe's, 'cause I'm too busy to make a proper meal. No one is complaining. ;-}

The neighbor's cat bit me yesterday (my own fault!) so I spent the afternoon seeing the doctor and getting meds and tending my wounds. I'm on two kinds of antibiotics, plus got a tetanus shot. Sigh....

Everything is coming together. No one is freaking out. Yet.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yoikes and Away!

Today, we starting PACKING!

Actually getting out suitcases and putting stuff into them.

I've got lists. I bought all kinds of stuffs for the trip; travel hair brushes, bags of new socks, colored pencils, etc. Time to do this thing!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Get ready.....

And so we begin the most difficult part of any vacation.

The packing.

  • I have 3 people to pack for, plus 1 to supervise. Right now, the problem I'm having is my desire to be prepared for any and all eventualities. My list gets longer every day, it seems. At what point to you say, "Enough!"?  

  •  I want to include a first aid kit. Bandaids, Neosporin, cortizone cream, travel-sickness meds, Motrin, Benedryl. When you write it all out, it seems excessive. But my kids are lively, fall down a lot, get motion sick, etc. Do I hope for the best? Pray the plane is equipped with  bandages? Hope nobody gets barfy?

  •  How do I keep the Wee Lassies from climbing the walls during our 10 hour-plus plane ride? Pack lots of stuff for them to do, I guess. 

  • I  have gifts to take. Some of them are heavy. Some are breakable. Do I put them in carry-on or checked luggage? 

  • I want the kids to look decent while we're across the Pond. Don’t want to embarrass the grandparents. How on earth am I gonna get the Boy to pack a respectable shirt or two? (Have a stash in my bag, that's how!) 

  •  Ack! We all need sturdy walking shoes. Must go shopping....

  •  Plus, I have to set up the house for an extended absence. Gotta suck up to the neighbours, who will water my roses and feed the kitties. Also, I'd like to come home to a clean house. We'll be exhausted when we return and I want to be able to fall into a clean bed. But that means cleaning it whilst tearing around getting packed. Oy. 

So, you see how this is going. 

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Grand Tour!

The Fab Adventure is going walk-about!

Our family will soon embark on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe. I will be posting photos and highlights here.

Stay tuned for our adventures in Germany, Austria and Italy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

That does not compute

It's 7pm and my little girl who stayed home from school asks to go to bed.

"Mama, will you snuggle with me?"

"Of course, hunny."

The girl brushes her teeth and we climb into bed, pulling the covers up to our chins. She sighs contentedly in the darkness and loudly whispers, "Mama, when you snuggle with me I feel all safe." She wiggles closer. "And when I snuggle with Blue Bear AND you, I feel extra, super-duper safe!"

"I'm glad, sweetie," I murmur.

Then she says, "I feel safe with Daddy, too!" as if she's afraid I will think she is playing favorites.

"I feel safe when I snuggle with him, too" I confide.

She turns her head to look at me and says in a completely baffled tone, "You snuggle with Daddy?!"