Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Reason I'm Not Writing

We have gotten a new computer a few weeks ago after Violet considered it a good idea to take a nose dive off our couch with our laptop (RIP laptop). It's a nice computer with a much, much bigger and better monitor. Richard and I are spending quite some time in the bedroom now watching movies on our new computer. But as awesome as it might sound, it just adds to the general writer's block I've been experiencing. I just cannot write on this computer!

With our laptop I could get comfortable in the corner of our comfy couch, create my little private bubble and tip away. Now I'm sitting on a fairly uncomfortable chair we have kidnapped from the kitchen, my back hurts, and I'm trying to form somewhat personal and intimate thoughts while sitting up in the open (I generally don't like people sitting in my back).

I am currently not at a lack of ideas. I am carrying my little black notebook with me wherever I go, and I am writing in it. The other night I came up with a poem in the shower (!!!), got out, toweled off, and put it down before it vanished. Not sure yet if I will share it at some point. I think I need to make peace with this computer and create a space for me and my thoughts again. I hope this will happen once we're done with our larger-scale apartment remodeling. As of now, our porch is becoming greener, the sunflowers and sweetpea plants Lily and I sowed out in the end of April are growing like weeds, and the pumpkin seeds I sowed a few weeks ago are also showing plenty of green (hoping for some home-grown Halloween or Thanksgiving decoration this year!). I will definitely keep you updated on other remodeling projects about to happen in the near future (hopefully).

Until the new guy (I decided it's a he) and I have become friends, I will tag off to the living room and scribble in my note book.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bookclub Edition 1: Elizabeth Gaskell's "Wives and Daughters" (or: 1001 Footnotes)

Guess what, people: I am able to READ again. Not that I forgot how to at any time, but finding the time to sit down with a good book was near impossible. Since December I have now been taking the bus to work, which means about 1 hour per day TO MYSELF! And since I have an awesome employer who seriously provides a library for its employees, I also have plenty of access to books of various qualities. And since my interests are also wide-spread you may look forward to interesting (or less so) book reviews. My goal would be a book a month, but honestly, I'm not holding my breath, and I'm definitely NOT stressing; so here we go!

I came across "Wives and Daughters" after finishing a similar book written by a more contemporary author and remembering having watched about 15 minutes of the BBC mini series when we still had access to Netflix. During the first 20 or so pages I seriously pondered putting it down again since I had some difficulties getting into the style of a 19th-century female author. But pressing on, I got into it, and was kind of sad when I was through. Yes, there is no big, exciting story with dramatic crises (at least not for the 21st-century reader), but Elizabeth Gaskell describes her characters in a very detailed way that still leaves enough room to identify with the main character, Molly (wishing for her to grow some serious balls) and develop a deep dislike for her selfish and egocentric stepmother, Hyacinth.

The story: The books starts with a scene when young Molly, daughter of the doctor of the village of Holligford, is invited to the annual ball at the Lord and Lady Cumnor's mansion for the first time. She suffers a heatstroke and is brought into the house by the governess, who promises to wake her in time to return home. However, she is forgotten and wakes at dark, being usered through the large house and forced to dine with the Lord's family, and possibly to spend the night had her father not showed up to "save" her. Years later, Molly is 17 now, her father, widowed since Molly was a small child, finds a love note from his apprentice to his daughter and decides to get her out of the house. Hesitantly Molly follows the invitation to stay with the wife of "squire" Hamley, an old family of land owners in Hollingford, to provide her with company; there, she also meets the family's sons, talented and handsome Osborne and slower, rather awkward Roger. During her time away from home, Dr. Gibson is convinced b ord Cumnor that it might be the best to remarry to provide Molly with a mother who would guide her during this difficult time of growing up. His choice is Hyacinth Kirkpatrick, the Cumnor's former governess, who also has a daughter, Cynthia, in Mollys age, who is going to school in France. Molly, at first devastated about the news of her father's second marriage, arranges herself with the new situation after being given advice by Roger to think about her father's happiness before her own. After the wedding, the life at the Gibson household changes dramatically with the new Mrs. Gibson taking over the household, but Molly finds a confidante in her stepsister after her arrival in Hollingford. Some time with highs and lows follows, especially after it has become clear that Mrs. Gibson wants to see her daughter married to Osborne Hamley, whose father, however, sees him marrying a rich heiress of old blood. During a futher stay at the Hamleys, during which Mrs. Hamley dies, Molly learns about Osborne's secret wife, a former French servant girl, but pledges to never mention this secret to anyone. While Osborne continues to fail in his university career and is forced to return to Hamley Hall, Roger earns all the academic honors that were expected from Osborne. During a visit back in Hollingford, Roger meets and falls in love with Cynthia, who by then is known to attract men; it is then when Molly notices her own interest in Roger, but suppresses her feelings for him in favor of Cynthia's happiness. When Roger embarks on a research quest to Africa, he leaves Cynthia with an open engagement. Short time later, Molly learns Cynthia's dark secret: she is unhappily and unwillingly engaged to Lord Hollingford's land agent, who lend her money once and offered marriage a short time later to the distressed Cynthia. Soon, he insists on her fulfilling her promise to marry him, while Cynthia tries to end the engagement by repaying him the loan and ask for her love letters back. As the agent refuses, Molly intervenes and forces him to return the letters, risking her own reputation as she is seen with him in "promiscuous" situations. As the scandal unfolds in rural Hollingford, Cynthia leaves for a longer visit with her aunt and uncle in London, returning with yet another suitor, who she finally, after long encouragement from her mother, agrees to marry. After Osborne's sudden death and the unexpected appearance of his wive and young son, the Hamley family requires once again Molly's help and intervention, which he offers until she breaks down fro exhaustion. A short time later, Roger, who by then had received the news about his broken engagement and his brother's death, returns a changed man, who, for the first time, sees Molly for the beautiful young woman she has become, but doesn't dare to propose, being ashamed of asking her after an engagement with the capricious Cynthia. Upon his return to Africa he asks her for a flower from a bouquet he brought her and promises to return to her after his researches have ended in another six month.

The story ended here, cut short by the author'S sudden death, but from conversations it is known that upon his return from Africa, Roger would present Molly with the dried flower and propose, which she would, of course, accept. Mrs. Gaskell writes in the wonderfully "antiquated" style of the period. The text is full of quotes from poems and fables as well as hints to famous characters from classical myth and history. While for today's reader (like me) it can take some time to get used to it (the many, many footnotes in my edition were mostly more disturbing than helpful), it is worth the effort, since Gaskell rewards with immaculate detail and a journey into a time the reader would want to encounter while at the same time be happy to not be entangled in all the little detail and formalities of 19th century rural England. The perfect unusual chick-flick!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pretty Much Absent

Hi everybody, it's me again.. I know you haven't heard much of me these past weeks and months; I used to write a post a day pretty much for months last year, which I had to give up due to heading straight for total exhaustion trying to do it all and ever since I have been trying to getting back to some sort of a routine. There are many ideas flowing around in my head, which are forming to very coherent constructs at the oddest times of the day (e.g. while laying awake for a few minutes after nursing Violet at 3 in the morning or while walking downtown during my lunch break). For some reason, I seem to be creative when I am least able to write, and at night, during those couple of hours when the girls are in bed (and sometimes even Richard), I sit and seem not to be able to form a coherent, sensible thought. And to be honest, I'd rather NOT write than writing trash, out of respect to you, my readers, and a little bit out of respect to myself.

Probably this little blockage in my head that keeps me from expressing myself gives me some time to collect myself, digest some pretty heavy loads I've been facing (partly ignoring them for too long) and which will partly find their way into some future posts. Richard and I have been using the time to spend some evening quality time together, enjoying old favorites and discovering new gems. But still, I've been doing a lot of thinking, general and more particular. A couple of weeks ago I met my best friend for brunch and she brought me a little calendar with a collection of mostly African proverbs and sayings, which have also inspired me and directed me in a direction I feel is helping me getting over some things I will never be able to change and grow by acknowledging them.

In order to not be caught off guard any more, I decided to carry a notebook with me. I dug out a little black note pad Richard bought me as a journal a long time ago, I think when I was pregnant with Lily and wanted to write down some of my weird pregnant thoughts (guess what, of course I was way too busy to do so). I hope that soon I will be able to return with more regular posts, so keep your eyes open!

Monday, May 2, 2011

If You Can't Say Anything Good...

Today, going through my Facebook page, the only thing that came to my mind was a German proverb, saying "If you can't say anything good about the dead, don't say anything at all" (it is my current Facebook status; in German, since the hubby wanted to avoid extensive FB wars almost sure to ensue).

Of course, all this refers to the death of a person hated and hunted as few in the last years. But seriously, public parties to celebrate a man's death?? Barack Obama calling it "good news", David Cameron said he was "happy", and our very own Secretary of State, Guido Westerwelle was "celebrating the very good news". Again, seriously, people?

No doubt, Osama bin Laden was not necessarily a good person. He caused a whole lot of grief and sorrow to many, many people. One may hold him responsible for the general anti-Muslim movement in the US; please don't forget that Muslims were among the victims during the 9/11 attacks, and their families now have to deal with the doubled burden of having to do without a loved person AND being Muslim in the US. He caused death, upheaval, and chaos, but beneath all this, he lived and died for what he believed, and this is more than many people can say of themselves. Osama bin Laden was born into a rich family, enjoyed an excellent education in the West, but turned to fundamentalism at some point, which started his career as being outcast, banished, hunted.

But for all the bad things he has caused, we cannot forget those who are now grieving for him. He had a number of wives, children, and grandchildren, who are now mourning the loss of a loved one. Am I the only one who thinks that public celebrations are disrespectful to the pain this family is feeling? If anything, I go with what our Chancellor, Angela Merkel published after the news broke: relief. Not happiness, not joy, but relief. There may be some people now who can lay back and sleep better knowing that this "enemy of the state" is no more. I personally never felt threatened or scared, and now feel no relief but mostly disgust of people's reaction. I can understand that the families of bin Landen's victims feel that justice has been served and may be able to deal a little easier with their loss, but those crowds at Time Square and the White House? Is this really necessary? Please, if you think it is, tell me, maybe I'm just too much of a liberal humanist to understand.

Thus, today, a day that may stand recorded in history I would like to ask for moderation and keeping those in your thoughts who are in pain, whether it is for the death of the man they called husband, father, or grandpa, or for the renewed pain of having lost a loved one during the attacks of 9/11.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ADHD, Or Simply Being Three

It seems that ADHD is the most over-diagnosed disorder among children nowadays. Whenever parents can't (or don't want to) deal with their lively offspring, it's an easy excuse to medicate them into compliance. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to say that there is no such thing as ADHD, or that any parent should ignore potential indicators of this disorder, but it puzzles me that the number of diagnosed cases of ADHD among 3 to 17-year olds has risen by an average 3% every year between 1997 and 2006 according to a 2008 study conducted by the CDC, which amounted to 7% of children and teens in this age group in 2007.

Why all this unusual collecting of data? Well, I, too, wonder sometimes if Lily might be affected. Everyone who knows her also knows that she is a very spirited girl. She rather jumps and runs than walks, delights us on occasion with the most epic (and random) temper tantrums, is known to play with five things at once and simply hates sitting still. Looking at the symptoms of ADHD I am less concerned with her being hyperactive rather than inattentive. She has sometimes driven me nuts with her inability to focus on one activity, not even a new toy can hold her attention for very long most of the time. Thinking about these things sometimes just makes me wonder.

Having the oldest child among my family and friends with whom I get together on a regular basis, I sometimes feel left alone. Since moving away from Washington we have not yet found a parent group that fits our needs and therefore our primary source of inter-parental exchange is gone. What remains is often-times the internet, and with it its infinite amount of information, which leads almost automatically to a certain degree of (oftentimes misguided) self-diagnosis.

Luckily, there are some people in my life, who have more experience working with a larger number of children at different ages.Watching Lily whenever she sees her, my best friend, who is an elementary school teacher, complimented us on how wonderfully Lily is able to play and concentrate. If a school teacher tells us that our, in my eyes sometimes giddy little girl is able to concentrate better than some of her 3rd-graders I feel ashamed again for watching her, trying to identify patterns in her behavior that are considered abnormal. If one can believe accounts from people who have witnessed me in my early childhood, it is said that Lily is indeed a mini-me (which then again makes me wonder when I changed to be the sometimes timid introvert I am now, but that's a different story).

I don't want to say that people should close their eyes from obvious problems their children might have; if you have a concern, please talk to your child's health care provider about it. But please also note that all children are different. Some are more active, others rather sit in a corner with a book; most likely both of them are normal and healthy as can be, they are just different. I could tell that much about my two girls after just a few weeks after Violet's birth. Most children will not be able to quietly sit through a feature-length movie but rather get up and do something else for a while before returning to the couch, which is perfectly ok. Most three-year olds will rather play with 5 different toys at once than sit down and study the alphabet or numbers. Most of them will rather run around and get dirty than sit at the dinner table and only get up after everyone has finished.

There is a time and place to teach them all these important lessons. But at least during these very early years, let's our children be just that: children. Their lives will be full of pressure and stress early enough. Let's just give them these few years to be who they are and to what they do best without worrying too much or always compare them to the child that is best in the respective area. In future, I will focus more on Lily's own achievements and all the things that bring joy to her.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Home Is Where The Heart Is...

It is our last evening here with our friends in Washington. Tomorrow, come 4:30am we will pack the luggage and kids in the car, me most likely squished in between the girls under a whole bunch of bags on the backseat, and head out to the airport. While, on the one hand I am looking forward to returning to normality at home, I do not want to leave all those people behind once again.

Taking in consideration the often-cited saying (see headline), in have to say that my heart is all over the place. I still miss people terribly that I am friends with from when we lived in Kansas. And even though I did not like Kansas in particular (can you say: tornado!!), I felt like I left a part of me behind when I left the place where I was welcomed with so open arms, the place where Richard and I had our first home together, where I got pregnant and brought our firstborn daughter home.

Here in Washington, we have spent 2 years, building a family away from our actual families. Arriving here in July 2008, I thought it to be our home, where we would raise our girls and build our life post-Army. Little did we know that we would end up at almost the exact place where we started out in 2005. When we left Washington last year, I left my home to a uncertain future, just the way we did for our move there. And once again we pushed through it and build a new home for ourselves, meet new people and reconnected with old friends.

Now, as I am getting ready to return to Germany, I feel it more than ever how much I will miss Washington once we're back. I felt elated as our plane from Texas descended upon Seattle, and I know that I will feel the same once our plane will hit German ground. And while my home will be wherever Richard and the girls are, I know that a piece of me will remain in Washington, with those people who have been more than friends to us, who have taken us in as family, and with all those wonderful memories we have shared during our 2 years here. But while I am sad I also know that this family will always be there for us, and we will return to create more and more wonderful memories for everyone to cherish.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Things To Do At The Alamo

As some might now, this little liberal is currently holding out in Texas. So far (and it is already towards the end of our visit), it has been quite nice, much better than I had expected. Last Sunday, after the major sicknesses in our family had passed (and Grandma Powell's had just come on), my sister-in-law, Ruth, and her family took us downtown San Antonio for the usual tourist traps, like El Mercado (note to self: there is a reason why the Mexicans don't eat at the food court there), the River Walk (didn't end up making it due to tired kids), and of course, the Alamo.

Listening to general conversation in the car on the way there and later looking around at the site itself, there seem to be a few fun (or less so) activities to do at the site Texans are most proud of:

1. Taking a leak. Not recommendable if you plan on returning to Texas anytime in this life (just ask Ozzy Osbourne). Also: there are respect and yuckie factors involved!!

2. Taking a tour. Unless you are a high school class on a field trip it is kind of unnecessary at the Alamo. Just take your time, read the information provided everywhere, and you should be fine.

3. Take an audio tour. Are you seriously charging $6.00 for this friggin audio tour? I actually couldn't believe it. Take advice from #2 and spend your six bucks at the Haagen Dazs just across the street.

4. Nursing. Yes, you heard right, nursing. That's how I made my visit to the Alamo memorable, right on this little bench outside the Alamo Museum. Why? Well, Violet was hungry, I was getting uncomfortable, and Melanie (aka "Tinkerbella") and Matt were checking out the museum. Being in Texas I almost expected at least some weird looks (I was for once nursing without a cover, since it was hot and we didn't have our blanket with us), but surprisingly: nothing! I even overheard a comment from a young woman walking by saying how cute it was. Well, never underestimate Texans!

Unfortunately, this moment will not be documented for generations to come, since Miss Violet decided that she was done just as Auntie Ruth was about to shoot the epic pic :-(

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You Can't Say No To This.. It's Free!!!

Last Friday I went downtown in my lunch break to run a bunch of errands for our impending vacation in the US. As I am walking, minding my own business, someone suddenly stepped into my way, holding out a fan of scratch tickets to me. I tried to politely refuse but was met with a wave of words, from which I could hardly make out the words "doesn't cost you anything", "takes you only a minutes", and others along that line. Slightly annoyed I took a ticket and noticed relieved that I had won a "small price". Happily taking the pen he handed me (I am one of these people who are always happy about receiving pens, since there never seems to be one at hand if I need one), his speedy monologue continued. Being presented with a chart about rates and plans, I was showered with information on how I could receive two cell phones plus some wonderful flat rate all inclusive package at no cost. I attempted several times to politely interrupt him, referring to the cell phone I already had and barely ever used. Ignoring this, the waterfall of words continued without me even being able to take in much of what he said. A few minutes later he had finished his speech and I again reminded him - this time slightly unnerved - that I already had a phone and didn't need two more. Seriously, for what does one person need 3 cell phones? Unless you have a business and want to separate your private life/cell phone from your business, one doesn't even need two. He looked at me fairly blank and said: You can't say no to this offer... It's free!!

At this point, something snapped inside me. As calmly as I could, I told him again that I could, because I have absolutely no use for two more cell phones and awesome plans attached to them. Heck, I barely ever use the cell phone I have, except for calling Richard or friends for a minute or two if I'll be late, etc; all the talking I do from my home phone. And even though I know that it wasn't his intention to do so, I was annoyed by how he took excessive and useless consumerism for granted. Just because it doesn't cost me anything right now doesn't mean I absolutely need to have it. My life is cluttered enough as it is, without two more cell phones to keep track of. Why is it, that something should suddenly gain a purpose just because it does not cost me anything at this point?

It does not make sense to me, thus, I walked on running my errands, contemplating senseless consumerism in this world. I know, I'm definitely not beyond being sometimes a thoughtless consumer, but especially recent scandals concerning food have made me become more aware of certain things. I am on the brink of becoming a vegetarian (if Greek and barbecue meat weren't so good), insist on organic animal products and buy other organic food and clothes whenever feasible (not for every price, and please, organic bananas are a joke!). Consuming is part of our daily lives, and in itself nothing bad (why not take advantage of the offers available), but after a certain point, it's not merely consuming any more. This is to actually taking a step back and thinking before buying the next-best thing next time, just because it looks like a good deal, since just because it doesn't cost me anything, it may still not be free.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Do you know those moments in life when there are decisions to be made that are just going to change your life? When I look back, there are several of those. There was the decision for Richard to leave the Army and to move to Washington instead of staying and moving to Alabama or the decision to leave the States and move back to Germany just after Violet's birth instead of waiting a couple more years as we had planned before she announced her impending arrival.

Sometimes I revisit these crossroads, wondering what would have happened had we decided another way, didn't make a decision at all. And I have to say, even though at some point I might have wished to have decided differently, I am no happy for the way everything has unfolded. I am a firm believer of the butterfly effect, and without all those decisions and sometimes struggles we wouldn't be where we are now.

The crossroad that I most frequently revisit is one that I faced back in November of 2005. I was in my last year of college and seriously asking myself what to do. Many of my friends were already sending out applications for jobs or university while I was not yet quite sure of what to do with myself except that I wanted to go live abroad, to the US to be exact. It was at that point that I got in contact with a concert agency that operated offices in the US, UK, and Germany. They were looking for a translator/interpreter who would be the liaison between them and the German-speaking artists and agents. I was in heaven when they asked me to come to an all-expenses-paid interview to Liverpool. But just a week before I was supposed to fly out to meet the agents, something happened that I would have never imagined: one night, when the TV program was too bad even for my standards, I surfed Myspace (back then, Myspace was still the site of choice for most) and stumbled over the profile of this guy. He was kind of cute, but actually that wasn't what caught my eye. What really got me was what he said, and I just couldn't help emailing him. A day later I actually had an email back; after exchanging a few more emails I took the plunge and asked him for his phone number. We talked for more than 2 hours that night, and the next, and the one after, and then we agreed on a date for the following Saturday, the day of my interview in Liverpool.

There I stood at this crossroad, contemplating my future. There was the job too good to even dream about; and then there was the guy, who I knew was my soul mate without having ever met him in person. I took a deep breath and stepped on the path that might well decide over the rest of my life. I called the concert agency and canceled the interview. Call me crazy, but I gave up the job of my life for a first date with a guy I haven't even met in person, and I haven't looked back ever since. Five months later we were married and this year we will celebrate our 5th anniversary in one of the places where we've been most happy: with our friends who have become our family in Washington.

When I revisit this crossroad it is not because I regret my decision, because I know that my job would only kept me happy for a little while; what I really wanted was a family. I revisit this point in my life and wonder, whether the other path would have just been a little detour that would have led me back to the other one, or whether it would have meant a completely different life which I don't even want to imagine. I am happy with my life, happier than I would have ever dared to dream. Without all of these crossroads and the decision we made, we would not be where we are today, and at least I can't imagine my life without my soul mate and our wonderful little crazy girls!

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Is Happiness??

This question was thrown out by my friend Miranda the other day on Facebook. My nice and short answer was the following: "Having a family, the girls' smiles, having not to worry about money, enjoying my job, health..."

In fact, I think it is a lot deeper than that. Thinking about this question during the last few days, I believe that, at least for me, there are two levels of happiness: the "would-be" and the "is". The "would-be" is when I'm dreaming about things and situation I guess would make me happy. I sometimes dream of having enough money to own a nice, 5-bedroom house without a mortgage, never have to work again unless I feel like it, spend all the time in the world with my family, travel the world with them, and never have to worry about it.

Luckily, I am realistic enough to know that most likely, this scenario will never happen. But there's still the "realistic" happiness, and yes, I am happy beyond anything I've ever dared dreaming of. I am lucky enough to be married to a wonderful, gentle, and down-to-earth man; we have two healthy, beautiful girls; I have a job I actually enjoy and earn enough money to be comfortable; we live in a very nice 3-bedroom apartment with awesome neighbors; we have a wide circle of acquaintances and friends. And then there are still those little moments that make me stop in the tracks and smile, most of them involve the girls doing something absolutely adorable, and my heart feels as if it wants to break through my chest.

Yes, I am happy with my life, even without all those "would-be's". Thanks, Miranda, for pushing me in this direction!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Violet's Smile

Violet has her Daddy's smile. It hit me today when she sat on Richard's lap and both were just radiating at me. My Dad had said from the beginning that she looks a lot more like Richard's side of the family (his mom in particular) than Lily does, but I have never noticed it as much as today. She has his lips that are thinner than mine and those adorable little dimples in her cheeks, just like him. I love those moments when, out of a sudden, I am stopped in the tracks by little things like that. Those moments that make me smile and open my heart, being washed over by a wave of love and pure happiness.

I remember when Violet was born and the midwife student commented that it looks as if Violet had dark hair; Richard responded that she would be looking more like him then, since Lily had blond hair like I. Once she was cleaned up she turned out having strawberry blond hair and was even lighter than Lily was (she actually did have darker hair at birth). But despite her blond hair and blue eyes, she turned out looking like her Daddy and, as far as one can say at this point, is also very similar in character to him while Lily is always commented on as being a mini-Stephanie.

But while they might look like us or are even similar in character, they are still personalities of their own, changing, adapting, growing; and I feel honored to be there for our little girls supporting them to become the women they are supposed to be. In the meantime, I enjoy spotting every little similarity, difference, and everything in between about them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Firefighter-Butterfly Dilemma (Please Read & Vote!)

I know, the title sounds completely weird, but it just describes a surprisingly difficult decision (if not of far-reaching consequences) I have to make soon: There is a carnival party at Lily's Kindergarten in a couple of weeks, and I can't make my mind up as what to dress her up.

Lily is a girl with many interests, and one never knows what she will feel like doing or wearing next. Most of the time, if asked what she wanted to wear, she'll just get some shirt and a pair of jeans. Sometimes, however, she will insist on dressing up in one of her nice dresses and ballet flats even though it's just a lazy weekend at home or dance through the house in her little ballerina suit all day long. She loves trains, fire-engines, lego and dolls; butterflies, bunnies, lions, crocodiles, horses, hippos, and penguins, and many, many more things. Going through the carnival section, I have seen tons of costumes, most of which I just couldn't imagine Lily wearing (I'm sorry, but I consider a toddler in a corsage kind of inappropriate) or are just not right for the season. The two choices I am down to at the moment is buying her a butterfly set or a fire fighter costume.

I know she would be ok with either outfit, but the fire fighter she would LOVE! I'm sure she would also like the butterfly costume, but the fire fighter she would go crazy over. So what is the problem you may ask? The problem is that for quite a while I almost constantly have to deal with the accusations that I try to turn our little girl into a boy just because I let her be herself and don't doll her up constantly. Yes, she is a tomboy at times, but that is not me steering her in a direction, it is she expressing herself. Yes, I am really sick and tired of these accusations, and that is why I hesitate to go with the fire fighter. The easiest solution would be simply to take Lily to the store, but knowing our daughter I have no doubt that we would leave the store with butterfly wings and a fire fighter helmet, and that she will insist of wearing both for the party. Maybe this would actually be the best (and funniest) option, but one that will definitely cause a lot of raised eyebrows.

What are your thoughts about it? Input and a vote would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Caution: Serious Rant!!!

Ok, I've tried to deal with this whole issue privately, but even after a week, I'm still about as pee'd off as I've been in the beginning. If you're not interested in rants, please don't waste your time, because there will be plenty on it *family friendly though!*

As it might be known, I have a sister, whose daughter is almost exactly a year younger than Lily. Ever since I've known her, she's almost constantly been sick with the sniffles and coughs. At least whenever we are around. And just as regularly, our girls end up with coughs and sniffles just after seeing their cousin. I am a person to whom consideration is important. I would never subject other kids to my kids' bugs. I rather cancel a play date or family get-together than risking other kids getting sick because of Lily or Violet. To us, that is just the right thing to do, going along the line of putting your kids before your own needs or interests and being considerate to other people. And if others don't understand that, their bad.

However, at this point, I am just furious. It has not only happened a couple of times that our girls ended up sick after meeting with my sister and her daughter, but on a regular basis. And it's not an accident that our girls get sick because of playing and spray contamination. My sister openly supports the germ exchange by making them share spoons (yes, she still spoon-feeds her 2-year old, and does the same to Lily if given the chance even though Lily eats by herself since she's been 9 months old!!) and cups, even though she knows that her daughter is sick. She doesn't cover her mouth when she's coughing either. I caught my niece coughing in Violet's face while my sister stood by and watched. Being this inconsiderate to other people, adults or children, is what just makes me freak out. I have not had any contact with my family for a week now because I won't be able to speak to my sister, not even for a minute, this is how mad I still am. Even though I am a very peaceful person, I want to punch her in the face each time Lily or Violet wake up coughing their little lungs out. The other morning I was nursing Violet and she hat to stop every few seconds and draw some breaths through her mouth because her sinuses were so congested; it is heart-breaking to watch my poor little girls suffer just because one person is just too inconsiderate at best and simply mean-spirited at worst to protect them even the least.

Some helpful suggestions how to handle the situation or how to calm down would be highly appreciated!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Three years ago today was Superbowl Sunday for most. For us, it marked the first day of our new life as parents. After having somewhat recovered from nearly 60 hours of labor and a birth that went nothing like I had imagined, we were finally able to hold our daughter. I cannot describe this moment. It was, as if my heart had been born into this world, and I would do everything I had to to keep her safe. Yesterday, Lily celebrated her third birthday. Since this sunny and freezing February day in Kansas we have moved three times, met a new family who will always be in our hearts no matter how far we are away, reconnected with old friends and added another little wonder to our family. When I look at Lily today I cannot imagine that she used to be this little helpless baby of from 3 years ago. She has become a strong person who has lived through all the changes in her young life with an amazing spirit. A kind heart that displays a compassion rare in someone as young as herself. A little rebel who makes us rolling on the floor laughing. She is our little sunshine who can brighten up a room at 6 am and a little tornado who can tear up a living room in mere moments. At this evening three years ago I would have never imagined the joy ahead of us; and even though my nights might be busy at times and our bed crowded, even though candle-light dinners with just Richard and I happen a few times a year at best and the entire house is always covered with toys, I wouldn't want to be a single day without my girls. Being a parent is not always a walk in the park, but every day our girls are repaying us a thousand-fold and more without even knowing it. Happy Birthday to my big girl; I love you more than words could ever express and I'm proud that you call me your Mami!