Wednesday, July 31, 2013

House Update - And So It Begins...

Believe it or not (I honestly can't quite believe it), but building has started on our lot!!! On Monday afternoon, I received a call from our building site manager, informing me that the house has been measured in and that they need the owner of the other lots around ours to sign off on the wire construct. I was flabbergasted, to be honest, and called the other owner immediately. He agreed to come to the site early Tuesday morning and sign off on it, so that the foundations can be built. Right now, the base of our house is drying for the next two weeks, until the builders arrive again to start building the walls. I am SO excited, I tell you, even though I do not look forward to all the work painting the walls and putting in the flooring, and I definitely hate moving days, but I am looking forward to living in this new house.

*picture to come soon*

At the same time I have to admit, I almost had a small panic attack last night when I was brushing my teeth and it suddenly hit me that it is actually happening. Early next year at the latest, we will move out of this place that has been our home for the last 3+ years. The place that was our first home together in Germany, where Violet lived for basically all her life, where we have celebrated many birthday parties, established our annual Thanksgiving Dinner for our German friends and family, tried and established new holiday traditions, etc. We have wonderful neighbors and the view from our windows at the back cannot be matched. And it honestly makes me sad. It is a very nice place to live, with just a couple of flaws, being that it is now just big enough for us, but if we have company, it quickly becomes crowded. And we don’t have a yard. We have a small balcony, but not enough space to do all the things you can do in a yard. So we decided to build the house that is more or less perfect for us. But like before all our moves in the past, I am becoming nostalgic about it, remembering all the fun we had in our place, and wonder who might move to this place next. I really hope it’s going to be a nice family, because the saddest thing about moving will be that we do not live next to our current neighbors any more. 

But enough with the past, right now we are enjoy the present and look forward to what’s coming next. The vacation that starts on Saturday, maybe a few extra days at home the week after, the girls’ summer break from kindergarten and Lily being a pre-elementary child in kindergarten afterward. This next year is going to be exciting!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Challenge 2013 - Book 7: The Whisperer In Darkness

I had actually read another book for this month, but it was just too awful to share here. Yes, I even finish garbage, there are actually very few books that I have not finished once started; there are a few that I consider almost impossible to read. Instead, I ventured in the realm of a Master of Horror, H.P. Lovecraft.

The Hard Facts:
Title: The Whisperer In Darkness
Author: H.P. Lovecraft
384 pages (as part of an anthology)
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1st ed. (10. February 2007)
ISBN: 978-1840226089
Find it on Amazon

The Story:
Unusual strong rainfalls in Vermont wash out strange creatures, according to witness reports of locals. The public opinion is divided between believing in these sightings, which are similar to local legends of monsters in the mountains, and writing them off as some country bumpkins’ hysteria. This second opinion is also  shared by Albert Wilmarth, a specialist in the area of local folklore and myths from Arkham, Massachusetts. After publishing several articles in regional newspapers on that issue, he is being contacted by Mr. Henry Akeley, a rich man living secluded in a mansion in exactly those mountains that are said to be populated by alien monsters. They are corresponding over several weeks by letters, which convince Albert Wilmarth that those aliens mentioned in the legends of both Native American tribes and early settlers in the area are indeed real. Akeley provides several pieces of evidence, including photographs and a voice recording of a human and alien performing a strange ritual, some of which being intercepted by the monsters’ human supporters. After Akeley’s letters are getting more panicked as he is being attacked by the monsters and their minions by night, Albert Wilmarth suddenly receives a machine-written letter from him, which not only describes his new contact with the aliens and the knowledge he has gotten from overcoming his fear and embracing the information they offered to him but also issues an invitation to come and see the new revelations for himself. Still slightly suspicious, Albert Wilmarth heads up to Akeley’s mansion to face the aliens. He is being picked up at the trains station by a strange man, whose voice seems oddly familiar, and taken to Akeley’s house. He was being prepared that Akeley had fallen sick and could not receive him properly or spend much time with him that very day. Albert Wilmarth is still taken to a room where he finally meets Akeley face-to-face; the atmosphere in the room seems strangely charged, and he is welcomed by a nauseating smell. Akeley, wrapped up in blankets, barely moving, and only whispering to his guest introduces him to the true purpose of the aliens’ presence on earth, about their main station on a dark planet behind Neptune they call Yoggoth, and their ability to transport humans far beyond our solar system to show them their true home millions of light years away. After a short break, Akeley shows Albert Wilmarth to the aliens’ way to travel with humans, transplanting their brains into strange machines that give the ability to see, hear, and speak while preserving the brain and therefore the human consciousness almost eternally. After strange conversation, Akeley and Albert Wilmarth retire for the night. Albert, however, lays awake terrified and unable to sleep, until his attention is suddenly caught by noises in the room downstairs. He hears bits and pieces of the conversation that is about continuing with the plan, and contains both his and Akeley’s name; he can make out the voices of the human minion and at least two aliens. After everything has quieted down, he sneaks downstairs to the room he and Akeley had the conversations that day and finds, besides several of the human transport machines Akeley’s clothes, and his hands and face as wax forms in his chair. In panic he flees from the mountains in Akeley’s old car and returns to Boston. As he writes down his memories of the episode, he hears the big news of yet another planet being discovered in the solar system: the dark Pluto.

My Opinion:
H.P. Lovecraft is an experience that needs a certain time of preparation, in my opinion. He is celebrated as one of the Masters of Terror, but if I just pick up one of his books to read, it feels empty. The TV and movie industry of today bombards us with so many impressions that it simply becomes difficult to let go of all that and experience something much more plain but with endless room for imagination. Forget X Files, Star Treck, etc., and imagine yourself to be a person in the early 20th century, where movie theaters are just coming up, where entertainment is mostly music from a gramophone or going to the theater with real actors. In this time, Lovecraft writes his horror fiction, based upon his very own pantheon of monstrous ancient creatures, like the famous Cthulhu. He hints a lot of things, but never fully explains them. He leaves open ends, he leaves room for feelings, emotions, and all sorts of fears and horrors not born from his description but from the reader’s own imagination. Are the aliens truly evil? Who knows; maybe they are really just on earth to harvest a metal that is crucial to their society’s survival. But maybe, they are indeed preparing an epic invasion to raise the old gods. We never know, at least’s, Lovecraft is not telling us.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekend Recap - Summer Fun

Last weekend was busy, once again, so I don't feel like boring everyone if I share all about it!

I had to work fairly late late that evening and went right at making pizza for dinner. We expected a couple over for dinner and some gaming a short time later. It was a great evening of good food, good conversation, and some gaming. Looking forward to having them over more often!

It was announced to be the hottest weekend of the summer so far, and darn, was it hot! I went and bought some groceries for the weekend with Violet in the late morning and got them ready to head out to the pool around noonish. The water at the pool was so cool and refreshing, and the girls had fun playing at the playground while warming up from a dip in the pool. We headed back home shortly after 4pm. I took another trip to the grocery store while Hubby prepared a yummy dinner of grilled brats, salad, and olive ciabatta bread. After the kids fell into bed, we enjoyed a little date on the couch, watching “Skyfall” and enjoying some iced wine on fruit and yogurt as dessert. Around 10pm, both girls woke up from nightmares (and sticky rooms) and moved to our bed. The night that followed wasn’t the best for anyone. Hubby moved to the couch while I was the designated water-bearer for the girls all night long.
Ice cream at the pool

I was simply exhausted out of my mind when the girls got up around 7am, so I went back to bed after they had been provided with breakfast and slept like a baby until about 9:30. We had a quiet family breakfast and decided to visit the family fest a local club had organized in Erlangen. We headed out shortly after lunch and had the greatest time! The girls enjoyed so many different activities and we had some time to relax as well. We had a snack there and enjoyed the outside despite the heat. Luckily, there was plenty of shade, which made the temperatures easier to bear. Around 4pm we headed home and the girls went down for a pre-dinner nap. We had left-over pizza with some cucumber slices for the girls and a caprese salad for us for dinner and watermelon for dessert, so yummy! After watching the beginning of a wonderful thunderstorm and dancing in the living room, the girls went down for the night. Hubby spent the evening playing some online games with his friend in the U.S. and I watched a few documentaries on TV. One day, even I may understand Einstein’s theories of relativity, if nice white-haired scientists on TV explain it so wonderfully  ;-)
Lily working a small caterpillar

Violet enjoying the bouncy castle

Lily watching the puppet player

Snack Time!

The girls making their buttons

A clown!!!

We really had such a fun weekend; I have yet another extremely busy week ahead of me, and then finally: vacation time!! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Social - All About Food!

Sunday Social

I'm linking up once again with Ashley for the Sunday Social, this week featuring one of my hobbies, food!

1. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
CHEESE. Hands down. There are so many different varieties, and they all taste so different; I just love cheese (even though my life on a diet of cheese only would not last very long I guess... ).
2. What's your guilty pleasure / comfort food?
My guilty pleasure would be dark chocolate ice cream. In serving sizes of a pint, please!  My favorite comfort food is the good old spaghetti and tomato sauce. This one never fails to lift my mood!

3. What is the weirdest / craziest thing you've ever eaten?
Probably shark. I know, it's not ├╝ber-exotic, but I don't eat stuff like snails or absolutely gross stuff. But when I found shark steak on the menue of this restaurant in Bulgaria (I was 12 or so), I just couldn't help but bite the Great White One back  ;-)

4. What foods do you avoid at any cost?
Anything that contains dead land animals. So whenever we are out and are served soup, I need to inquire if it's based on beef or veggie stock (and being where we are, it usually is beef). There have been instances where I was hungry enough that I have not asked the question and just told myself that it's probably veggie-based. The benefit of the doubt  ;-)

5. What meal reminds you of your childhood.
Again, spaghetti with tomato sauce. My dad made the best, until he decided that I was old enough to cook myself and didn't make it any more..

6. Share your favorite recipe and the story behind it.
There's this chocolate cake recipe. I have the recipe from my M-I-L; she made it the first time for me when she was visiting when I was about 4 months pregnant with Lily; instant addiction, I tell you. Hubby, the good soul he is, made me some while being in labor several months later, which was probably the last thing I really enjoyed before having our first baby. It's been a constant family favorite for short-notice visits, birthday-parties, or just to calm the occasional chocolate cake craving.

I'd like to send you all off into the new week with this absolutely awesome new find in the area of guitar music. Let me know what you think!

Have a GREAT week, everyone!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Week In Review - Ten Things of Thankful (3)

Ten Things of Thankful</


Yet another week has passed. Work has been busy, the weather was a little too hot for my taste and two days were extremely muggy; I start getting in general vacation mood. Just one more week until we take off!

This week, I have been especially thankful for:

1. Having an awesome orthopedic specialist, who keeps seeing me on short notice and does a great job fixing my foot.

2. Getting to watch Lily being absolutely over the moon for the "Mia and Me" coloring page I got for her. She's asked for it for a while, and when I finally brought it home for her, she colored it the very night, not even wanting a good-night story, and took it to kindergarten to give to her friend, who also likes Mia and Me. Such a sweet girl!

3. The tunderstorm on Thursday that cleared all the mugginess out of the air.

4. Receiving the letter from the insurance with the confirmation that they will cover the expenses for hubby's dental treatment, and having gotten an appointment with the orthodontist to discuss the treatment during the next 2 or so years.

5. Getting to listen to Violet telling me all about her day in kindergarten o Friday.

6. Having two dirty girls happily storming into the house after playing outside all day.

7. A wonderful evening of meeting a wonderful couple and playing D&D.

8. This beautiful dark yellow (nearly) full moon, sometimes hiding behind dark clouds that I got to watch from my spot on the couch for most of the week.

9. Getting to watch this absolutely crazy weather this morning. The sun was shining, everything was just nice, wen suddenly, out of the blue, it started to rain. It kept raining for about 5-10 minutes, and we all wondered where THAT came from (and Lily was running around the house from window to window, looking for a rainbow).

10. Date night with the hubby tonight!!

Thanks so much for hosting yet again, Lizzi!!

On Blogging

Finish the Sentence Friday

Once again I get to link up with Kate and Janine for "Finish The Sentence Friday". This week's prompt:

The best and worst parts of blogging are...

... the fact that blogging feels like a time machine.

I've literally felt like I don't have time for anything else any more during those past few months that I am actively pursue blogging more seriously. Don't get me wrong, I don't neglect my family or job, but after a whole day of work, after we have played with the girls, bathed them and put them to be, after I spend some time with the hubby, I usually get online and work on my blog for a couple of hours. I write my post, I respond to comments, which is very important to me, I read and comment on other blogs, which I love. I really enjoy people from all corners of the world, with different lifestyles, in all sorts of stages in life and share in their adventures. But when I have the third load of laundry still unfolded in the clean laundry basket after a few days, it makes me think. I had planned on taking up sewing or crocheting. Nope, the sewing machine my mom gave me about 2 years ago still sits in the closet unused. I have been thinking about doing an Etsy shop with crafts; nope. I feel sometimes as if blogging eats up all my "free" time, but I simply cannot stop because I enjoy it way too much. My day simply needs more hours!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Of Time And Children

I noticed that time passes different since having children. The time around the holidays and birthdays becomes more special, we see time passing day by day, watching the kids grow, learn, and turn from babies to toddlers to little girls.

I remember Lily outgrowing her first newborn outfits. I did not want to accept the fact. She was wearing her newborn suits probably a week or two after outgrowing them, just because I was simply not ready to acknowledge that she has already grown so much, and will continue to grow for the next 12 to 15 years.

She continued to grow, and at some point, I did not notice the change from 12 months clothes to size 18 months or even 2T. Then it was time to unpack all the newborn outfits as we prepared to welcome another little girl into our family. And I was looking at my little Lily, not being able to believe how much she has grown, and that she had ever fit in those teeny-tiny onesies; she was still my little girl after all! This changed after Violet joined us. Seeing Lily with her little sister was undisputable proof on how time has gone by. And it did not slow down. Before I knew it, Lily started kindergarten, and in just a few weeks, she’s going to start her pre-school year in kindergarten, and darn is she excited about it.

My tiny baby, Violet, is attending kindergarten now as well; she’s making friends by herself, and tells me about her daily adventures (which are mostly “I played with my friend Katharina in the play kitchen” and “I fell during play time in the yard and hurt myself”). I don’t know why, but it is much harder letting go of the baby with Violet than it was with Lily. Maybe because Lily has always been the independent free-spirit, maybe because she became a big sister at only 26 months, maybe because she’s my strong-willed girl who puts people in their place if they overstep her boundaries. Violet is even at age 3 still my skinny little snuggle-bug, who loves to cuddle under the blanket with her nucki, her two bunnies, and preferably me.

But while time flies most of the time, there are days I wished would end preferably right after breakfast. Those rainy days where there’s nothing to do, the kids and I are feeling the cabin-fever, and I’m pretty sure we all know that this day would be awful. The girls are arguing and trashing the house. If Violet’s not arguing, she’s attached to my leg so I have shake her off to get to the bathroom, and there’s no chance of nap-time whatsoever. But even those weird days usually end sooner or later, and once I’m reading a good-night story to Lily and get to cuddle her to sleep, I wished that the time would just stand still – if only for a little while.

Time itself has also become more precious. I try to live my life more in the presence, don’t obsess too much about the past and don’t worry too much for the future (still working on that!). I love the moments when Violet comes in my bed to cuddle in the morning or Lily runs me over and hugs me when I step in the door after work at night. There are mornings where I get to enjoy my morning coffee and read a magazine while the girls play in their rooms. I enjoy being able to sit on the porch with a glass of wine at night or have a movie date on the couch with the hubbie. Those moments are much too precious to waste with regrets and worries.

And as I sit, watching time pass by, I sometimes wish for a split second that it could be April or May of 2010 again, those few weeks I still treasure so much, with a 2-year old and a newborn, all four of us spending our days together, enjoying little outings, and catching our breath before the storm of giving up our lives in the States to move over the big pond and start our adventure of living in Germany.

Is there a time in your life you wish you could re-live over and over again?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Modern Cooking - Couscous Salad

I promised more couscous recipes, because couscous is awesome. It's quick to prepare (at least the pre-cooked version), it's versatile, and absolutely yummie! As we're having a heat wave right now, and no-one really feels like adding the extra heat from the stove or eat a warm meal, we're having tons of salads. The other day, I stocked up on veggies to prepare this refreshing dinner, which even Miss Lily enjoyed.

Couscous Salad
1 large zucchini, finely diced (and peeled to hide it from Miss Lily)
1 large yellow bell pepper, finely cubed
1 bunch of red raddishes, chopped
1 cup of feta cheese,  diced
1 cup of pre-cooked couscous
2 cups veggie stock, boiling

1 cup sour cream
2 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
majoram, salt, and pepper to taste

Place couscous in a large salad bowl, pour boiling veggie stock over it and cover. Let the couscous sit for about 5 minutes, stirring once. Let the couscous cool; add veggies and cheese. Mix together the sour cream, olive oil, balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Season with majoram, salt, and pepper and pour over the couscous and veggies; combine and serve.

We enjoyed the couscous salad with sardines and tuna, but it would also be awesome with grilled chicken. This salad also works well with different veggies such as tomatoe, cucumber, cooked egg plant, carrots, corn, beans, etc. Add chopped chilies to spice it up a little, or try a lemon dressing. It's so versatile! I can't wait to try more of it!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I Wonder...

Here are a few things today that really made me wonder..

Why do people feel obligated to staple envelopes that say in big bold letters DO NOT STAPLE?

Why did I get a soft case just in time for summer shoe sale?
Why do people never EVER read instructions before doing stuff, and then are surprised when you give them a summery of what ACTUALLY to do.
Should be must read in my company! (Source)

Why do kids have to go through the 10-year old stage? - And is there a way for my girls to never turn 10? Please????
I'm scared!!  (Source)

Is there anything you really wondered about today?? Please share!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Recap - Wedding Fun

What a weekend it was, I tell you! Sunday night, I felt like I needed at least a whole new weekend to recover from it, but we had so much fun!

Whenever I plan on coming home early from work, bet on it that I'll be stuck much longer than I had planned. We celebrated my neighbor's birthday with yummie muffin pizza, flavored sparkling wine, and cake. Later on, the guys arrived for a night of D-20 Modern; it was interesting, with tons of twists and turns; finally, no headlessly stumbling around in post-apocalyptic Maryland, but danger's not banned by any means! We wrapped the game up early to get some rest before THE BIG DAY.

I got up with the girls at 6:30, made breakfast and relaxed a little with my giant cappuccino and a magazine. We adults got dressed and ready and packed the hair stuff for the girls. We headed out around 9:30 am, stopped for a car wash (not too easy on Saturday mornings!!) and arrived after a very scenic drive around 11:30. The bride and groom were still out having their pictures taken, so we used the time getting introduced to the groom's family and getting the flower girls ready. After the happy couple came back, everyone headed for the church. We got a quick introduction and explained to the girls that they would get to go in with the bride and groom and we'd be waiting for them inside. The church was an old Renaissance pilgrimage church; when the choir started singing and the priest walked in with the girls and the bride and groom, I so had to try and hold bak my tears. The girls were so beautiful, walking in so solemn and concentrated on their duties. Lily looked like a perfect little angel when she handed the rings over to the priest, and both girls came over to sit with us. The service was beautiful (yes, even I as an atheist can say that), and the couple radiated happiness all the time. After they had said their vows, received communion, and were blessed, the girls went back in position and led the newly-weds out of the church. They were not allowed to toss flowers in the church but showered everyone in petals once we outside congratulating the happy couple. Many pictures were taken before heading to the hotel for the party. We had so much fun, the cake was yummie, the buffet delicious, and the cake, well, who can say no to a Lego-inspired groom's cake? Throughout the celebration there were little details displaying the bride and groom's love for Lego. We left around 9 pm to head home after an eventful day and arrived home around 11 pm and followed suit.

The girls got me up at 7:30, way too early after the night before. We kept it slow all day long. I tried to keep off my feet to nurse my leg, which was swollen pretty badly the day before. After lunch I took Lily to the playground while Violet took a nap. Lily and I built a sand castle, and while she played with the other kids there, I finished my book and took a nap on our picnic blanket under a maple tree. Glorious, I tell you. I woke up when hubby and Violet arrived. We rested a little longer while the girls kept playing. Around 5 pm we headed home; the girls splashed with the girls downstairs while I prepared dinner. After shower and bed-time I spent my evening with my laptop and a glass of wine on the porch, enjoying the perfect weather.

I was definitely not ready for Monday today, and took a little nap while cuddling Lily to sleep tonight. I'll definitely going to head to bed soon tonight! Sending you all a very good night with a few pictures from Saturday:

The flower girls with the happy couple before the ceremony

Lily handing the rings over to the priest

The girls having fun with the flowers after the ceremony

Love this cheesy smile!

Lily goofing off with her basket

The treats

The girls admiring the groom's cake!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Week In Review - Thankful

Ten Things of Thankful

I've decided that Lizzi's Ten Things of Thankful (TToT) is the perfect way to recap the week. While there are things I am thankful for every single day (like my family, my friends, my work, general health, etc.), there are special things happening every week - big and small - that are worth being thankful for.

Here are this week's 10:

1. Being greeted with a beautiful home-made gift (a syrup and jelly) from my coworker on Monday morning. I felt like it was my birthday even though it wasn't. And seeing her reaction about me (and another colleague of mine who got the same gift) being so excited about it. She was so truly happy that we loved it so much, which, in return, made me happy. No better way to start into a new week!

2. Not having a management position at work. Seeing all the crap my poor boss had to go through this week, and all the overtime she had to put in while not being appreciated the least made me really happy to (a) have her as my boss because she always appreciates our work, and (b) not having her job.

3. The beautiful weather. It's been perfect, simply perfect all week!

4. Having the kids I have and not the neighbor's kids.

5. Being able to have a lovely Friday evening celebrating my neighbor's birthday (not the neighbor from no. 4) and playing D&D afterward.

6. The wedding we were invited to attend. It was so beautiful witnessing a couple dedicating themselves to each other. It was such a wonderful ceremony and celebration afterward, I cannot say enough how thankful I am having been invited.

7. Lily. She surprises me over and over again. She and Violet have been flower girls at the wedding; and while Lily has been unsure whether she liked doing it or not, she did so well. Watching her walking in in front of the bride and groom, next to Violet, carrying the rings, I nearly cried. She had the most solemn look on her face, full of concentration and tenderness, which I will never forget. (yes, I'm tearing up all over again now). I'm so proud of her, and of course of little Violet as well, who did a wonderful job!

8. The beautiful moon I got to watch on our way home from the wedding.

9. The nap on the picnic blanket I got on the playground today while Lily played.

10. Sitting on the porch with a glass of blush wine, writing this.

Thank you so much for hosting once again, Lizzi!

Sunday Social - TV Time

Sunday Social

Once again, I'm linking up with Ashley for the Sunday Social. It's been busy this weekend, and quite honestly, I need another weekend, I'm so not ready for a new week of craziness! But since things are as they are, let's have a look at my sometimes somewhat embarrassing TV history (and present):

1. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
As a little kid, definitely THIS!

And I liked (and still like) those 1-hour fairy tale movies I now watch with the girls.

2. What is your current favorite TV show?

Don't judge!!
I would like to say that it is THIS show, but some wonderful execs decided to axe it after only about 11 episodes!!
Yes, I'm still in denial!!

3. Which reality TV show would you NEVER do?
How about: all of them! I hate reality TV, even though I admit the guilty pleasure of watching "Wife Swap", even though it's more a case of "Fremdschaemen" than actually enjoying the show. 

4. Which reality TV show would you LOVE to do?
See answer to no. 3. But if you count game shows as "reality TV", I'd love to do Jeopardy or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, even though I'd probably embarrass myself in national TV.

5. What is the TV personality / character that you feel is most like you?
If I had to pick someone, I'd say Miranda from SATC. I'm a career mom, who used to be such a tough girl before being a mom, and since that day had to learn to accept her "new" self.

6. Which TV character would you want to date?
No words needed!

Have a good start into this coming week, everyone!

Saturday, July 20, 2013


We're out today, attending my wonderful friend's wedding. I'm so excited, even if it means a Catholic service (yes, I'll be attending church!!). I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Fun at a certain otehr wedding back in 2006...

Friday, July 19, 2013

What Church Taught Me...

Finish the Sentence Friday

Linking up with Janine and Kate for another "Finish The Sentence Friday". I first thought about skipping this one, since well, as an atheist, the topic could be a hard one. But when I thought about it, there are plenty of things even I, as an atheist, have learned from the church.

In church, I learned...

... that I don't like organized religion. I remember the last Christmas service I attended with my family. I think I was 16 or 17 years old. My parents attended the local Lutheran church regularl... once a year for Christmas. I remember the minister taking the pulpit and talking about visiting a local family, who had lost their son in a car accident the very day, Christmas eve. The way he talked about it, the whole "God calls the best ones first" just seemed like a very cruel joke. How could you go to a woman's home, who had already lost her husband to a horribl desease a few years earlier, and tell her that her young son has died, but don'T worry, everything's better now. It made me mad. If a minister would ever come like that to my home, I'd probably beat him bloody on the spot.

A few years later, my colleague's husband died from cancer. It was a very emotional time for me, since I had just had a baby, who was born the day before his birthday. He died Easter Sunday. I remember going to the wake and coming home breaking down crying, crying for my colleague, crying for her husband, who has been such a special person, crying for their sons, and crying for their family, which would never be the same again. I went to the funeral, a Catholic service, and the priest's lamenting about sin, and what a sinner he had been, and mercy - maybe - I had to hold myself together to not walk up and tell the guy to shut it, saying what a wonderful person he had been, how much he loved his wife and sons, how unique his humor had been, how much he fought, and how hard he fought just to lose nevertheless. But this service wasn't for me, it was for his family, and I hope that it gave them some solace, even if it didn't give any to me.

If church taught me something, it is that I don't need it.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Things That Happen Around Here

Our life is fun, crazy, and sometimes somewhere on the edge of insanity. Work was extremely busy today, almost to the point of admitting myself to the next mental institution (or massage therapist) after a courier delivered a hot mess to my desk, yahoo! Hope that we're finally popping open the chapmagne tomorrow!

When I got home, the hubby had yummie stuffed zucchini in the oven, and while the goodness finished baking, the girls and I whisked up a batch of banana muffins, since the oven was already pre-heated and we had some bananas ready to be turned into muffins in our fruit basket.

After dinner, the girls and I headed downstairs for some play outside. Just after getting out the door, Violet decided that she had to go potty and went back up. As she was climbing up the stairs and took off her shoes, she suddenly let out her tell-tale sqeaking, and when I had caught up with her, I just caught her tinkling right in my shoe. Thanks a lot, Sweetie! The poor little thing was so embarrassed she started crying, I just couldn't be mad. I carried her into the tub and rinsed her off before taking care of the clothes and my shoes.

Back outside, poor Violet promptly fell and scraped her second knee, just in time for the wedding on Saturday. They will look so perfect in their cute little dresses with scraped knees and bruises  ;-)

Bath and bed time was uneventful, and I were finally able to put on my brand-new Asics and go for a run with my neighbor. Well, it did not go well. I had to stop after only about 4 or 5k because my leg was hurting and giving way under me. The game plan right now is to rest the next two days due to D&D night tomorrow and the wedding on Saturday, see how it goes Sunday, and if it hasn't gotten better, I'll be back at my doctor's office on Monday. Keep your fingers crossed that it won't be anything serious.

tomorrow  ;-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It's Wednesday...

... but somehow it feels like later in the week. I feel stressed as there is still a bunch of stuff to do for the wedding on Saturday, I need to get birthday presents for my neighbor and the twins, and definitely need a fix for the mess that's my hair. I feel like there is not nearly enough time to get everything done.

On the upside, I received the results from last week's blood tests in the mail. I did not expect it quite yet. I will need to increase my dose of medication by 50%, but I'm sure that it will help me get some much-needed energy back. I've been seriously slacking for much too long.

News from the running front: not so great. I hurt my achilles tendon and had to rest today. I hope to feel better tomorrow and be able to run about 5 or 6 k, we'll see. And: I finally managed to go and get new shoes. I noticed that the gel cushions in my old shoes has worn out and didn't quite do their job any more. So I spent today's lunch break to pick out new ones. I love Asics, and stayed with this brand again. The Nimbus-14 sport gel cushions in the major pressure area, the heel and front foot. I felt the difference to the old shoes after just walking around in the store. The fit is better, the cushions are fantastic, and I'm really mad at my achilles tendon because I want to hit the road with my new shoes!

Scratch no. 21 off this list

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hubby's Treasure Chest - Pony Edition

The girls are huge fans of My Little Pony, and frequently torture their poor Daddy with it. Being the wonderful dad he is, he lets them watch an episode every once in a while and even got them little figurines as stocking stuffers last yule and took them to a date to BK when they had the MLP toys with the kiddy meal. To decompress (and let me in on the fun as well), he found those gems - don't ask me where..

Male MLP humor  ;-)

I'm so glad that has never happened to me before  ;-)

That's one way to say it...

Don't mess with books!!

Don't really know what to say..

Twilight Sparkle is by far my favorite pony, since she owns a library  ;-) Who's your favorite?

Going for a second round with Elleroy

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Recap

I've stopped the weekend recaps a while ago, since my weekends are oftentimes very much alike, and somehow I felt as if people won't really be interested to hear once again that I got to sleep in one day, that I watched an early morning movie with the girls, played with them, made breakfast and cooked dinner. The last two weekends were a little more exciting than most, just because weather actually permits to go out and do stuff!

Barbecue time! It was our annual department barbecue at my colleague's beer cellar. We had so much fun, the weather was perfect, the kids had fun going to the playground with a colleague's older daughter and a buch of other kids, and the hubby was able to have some good conversation with the other husbands and enjoy some beer from the barrel. We didn't head home until 9:30, which is very, very late for the girls, but they were doing so well.

Late Friday night for the girls means sleeping in Saturday morning? No way! Bright and early at 6:30 I found myself in the kitchen preparing breakfast for two happy girls. Later in the morning, we headed out to Erlangen to try and find a dress shirt for the hubby for next week's wedding. He didn't quite like any, so he decided to go with one od the shirts he already owns. We headed home, had lunch, and I went to buy some groceries to cover us for the rest of the weekend. While the girls had their quiet time I baked a cake to snack on as my friend was going to come over before attending a birthday party in the area. The girls were excited to have their favorite auntie over and play with her. We had some good talks and I got some valuable tips for the race in early September, sinc she had run a half marathon some years ago. After she left and we had dinner, we had some more playtime outside and after the girls had gone to sleep, I went for a run. I took the route I'd done before and was able to finish once again. Hubby and I relaxed afterward and went to sleep fairly early.

I got up with the girls around 7 am, made breakfast and we watched "Chicken Little". I noticed that I was simply not ready to be awayke yet, got the hubby up and went back to sleep. Fast forward to shortly after noon, when I wake up from deep sleep. Wow! I get up and ready, prepare lunch for the girls and afterward we all head out to the playground with an afternoon picnic. We had a lot of fun, the girls played with the water pump and we built a sand castle, which Lily promptly destroyed trying to make a pool in the castle's inner yard instead of pouring the water in the moat we'd dug. After playing for a few hours, we headed home for some pre-dinner quiet time for all of us. I enjoyed some sun with a Corona on the balcony while the girls napped. After a dinner of salad, grilled mushrooms, brats, and freshly-baked bread with herb butter, we went downstairs for some more playtime. Once the girls had gone to bed, I took off for yet another run, and made the route I plan on training on for the race. It's about half the distance I'll be doing in September, and the game plan is to be able to run the distance fairly easy and probably run the full distance about a week before the race as a final preparation. I'm fairly optimistic.

I hope you all had a good start into this week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Social - Music Edition

I'm writing today from a sunny spot on our balcony; the kids are resting after a fun-filled afternoon on the playground building sand-castles and canals while I relax with a Corona, trying to figure out dinner. Last week, weather has been nothing short of picture-perfect. Not too hot, sunny every day, nice, cool evenings, just how summer should be, if you ask me.

Like every Sunday, Ashley is once again hosting her Sunday Social. Today is all about music!

1. What is your all-time favorite song?
Had to say, I don't really have an all-time favorite song, more a soundtrack of my life. A song that always manages to make me tear up is this one, maybe because I love the movie with Salma Hayek (no judging, PLEASE!!)

2. Who is your favorite band / singer?
 Again, there are several. I've shared a few during the "Blog Every Day in May" challenge a while ago., and whenever I name a few, there are others popping up in my head that I thoroughly enjoy and missed. If I have to name someone I consistently and thoroughly enjoy at the moment, it's Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

3. What song reminds you of your childhood?
I have to say, my childhood was dominated by really, REALLY bad music. But every once in a great while, I got the opportunity to go through my dad's old LP collection with him (which my mom hates). So if I have to name something that's lovely (in comparison to most, that's simply puke-worthy), it's my dad's old Beatles LPs

4. What songs put you in a good mood?
Oh dear, now I REALLY have to dig deep in the dark pits of my musical favorites, but honestly, I am a sincere lover of Bollywood movies, unabridged and in its full glory. The music always puts me in a good mood, even though I most likely will start crying about 5 minutes in. But honestly, just try NOT to dance to one of these songs!!

5. What is your music to rock out to in your car?
I'm boring, the girls and I usually jam to Radiohead  :-) My 3-year old loves to sing along to their songs, and I tell you, it's beyond adorable!

6. What is the most embarrassing album or song you own?
Thanks to many, many moves in my adult life and therefore many a purging session, I don't own any of the horrible music any more. But I used to own "Quit playing games with my heart" by the Backstreet Boys that I was over-the-moon excited when I got it from my parents for Easter about 15 years ago. I think this one didn't even made it over the big pond when I moved to the States.

Sunday Social

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thankful For So Much

It's once again weekend, a much-needed weekend. One week closer to our vacation, I really can't wait. The first guest post came in this week for scheduling, and I'm excited about it. Boxing is about to start on TV, yay for me!

But besides that, there's so much more I'm truly thankful for this week!

Ten Things of Thankful

1. First of all, since I missed it last week, I'm thankful for this link-up. It's a great way to recap the week and focus on how lucky I truly am. Thank you so much, Liz!

2. Yoga outside on Monday. There's nothing more meditative than yoga while looking at a roof of light green leaves and listening to the birds and the wind.

3. Having a job where my work is appreciated on a daily basis.

4. People who stand by their word, which resulted in my office getting yummie gourmet cake from a business partner plus two bottles of Moet et Chandon champagnes in our office fridge from my department head.

5. Having been able to learn to listen to my body, at least most of the time.

6. My work hours being so flexible.

7. Having gotten a good result from the thyroid ultrasound. For some reason, I was very nervous this year and had a bad gut feeling.

8. Having a wonderful daughter, who does act out but thinks about her behaviour and draws her conclusions.

9. Sid Meier's "Pirates" (sorry!!)

10. The barbecue with colleagues we got to attend on Friday. I really work with a bunch of awesome people!

Enjoy your Sunday, everyone!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Five Going On Fifteen

Lily is having a stubborn streak once again. There's lots of moping, pouting, stomping, and little outbursts around here, and I honestly can't wait for this phase to pass; but no matter how challenging it is right now, there are moments that make me incredibly prout of our little girl.

Monday morning was not Lily's day. She got up in a very foul mood, and decided that she did not want the cereal Daddy had prepared for her breakfast. She complained and tantrumed, without success. She ended up pushing the bowl of cereal across the table, making a good deal of mess, and stomping back into her room smashing the door. I was more than annoyed (can you say 5 going on 15??), but didn't have time to sit down and talk to her as the bus tends not to wait for me.

When I came home in the evening, I was met by a very happy Lily. She's had fun in kindergarten and playing in her pool in the afternoon. She hugged me as soon as I walked in the door and apologized for her behavor in the morning. I was surprised, hugged her back and told her that everything was fine. But I was really surprised when I heard what had happened that morning after I had left. While Richard was in the shower, she came out of her room, cleaned up the mess on the table and when Richard was coming back, he found her sitting at the table, eating her breakfast. She went up to him and apoligized for her behavior.

I have to say, I'm proud of her. Yes, she still has to work controlling her impulses, but she's 5. She has the skills to sit and calm down, analyse her behavior, and draw her consequences from it. She got some extra hugs and cuddles after the entire story came out.

PS: I got a cute little clay owl as a surprise gift from her today. So excited about it  ;-)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hubby's Treasure Chest - Big/Small Screen Edition

As I have mentioned before, the hubby has a vast treasure chest of stuff he found in the big wide world of the internet. Today, interesting stuff from the big and small screen:

I usually don't like wrestling, but this is awesome!

I bet you knew that something Dr. Who-related would be here, right?

No words on that!

Firefly. If you don't know this show, you shoudl check it out!

From the news..