Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Welcoming 2014

I'll be out tonight welcoming this new year with great company, lots of food, good conversation, and at least one (or ten) viewings of this gem, that is obviously lost to the English-speaking world but a New Year's Eve classic here in Germany. Enjoy and hope to see you all next year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Recap

I know, I'm late. And I have to admit, I haven't even made a camera dump yet, so sorry, pictures still to come. But after all, I guess it's time to recap this wonderful last week (and yes, I totally took a complete computer break over the holidays).

Tuesday, 24th
We slept in, had a quiet breakfast, and an overall quiet day. In the afternoon, our neighbors came over and we had the first gift-giving. The girls loved their games and we played until dinner time. After dinner, the girls noticed that when Santa picked up their wish lists on Sunday, he had left something in their stockings that were hanging near the window: My Little Pony activity / sticker books!! They were happily playing until it was time for a bath and bed-time. Afterward, Richard and I exchanged our first gifts. I got a book of short stories collected by Neil Gaiman, one of our favorite authors, and Richard the new bassoon neck strap he asked for. Afterward we piled up the gifts under the tree and spent the evening watching the Nutcracker and going to bed early.

Wednesday, 25th
The rule was mandatory cuddling until the first light, and as soon there was just the tiniest hint of dawn (about 7ish) we got up. I couldn't get the camera out fast enough as the girls were already tearing through their boxes, gift wrapping was flying through the air, and there was lots of gasps and cheering. After the girls had opened all their gifts, Richard and I opened ours. He was truly surprised by the guitar I got him to play with Lily, who had also gotten her very own Lily-sized guitar. I got another Neil Gaiman book (seriously working on re-building our library!!) and a beautiful pair of diamond earrings; I obviously was a nice girl! After breakfast, Lily and I spent 3 hours setting up her Lego Friends pony ranch while hubby set up the Disney Princess castle for Violet and patiently helped her dress and re-dress her princesses. We watched Animaniacs, made bracelets, ate cookies, and had a great vegetarian risotto for dinner. After the girls had gone to bed that night, hubby and I spent some quality time together reading and had an early bed-time ourselves.

Thursday, 26th
My parents came for a visit and I made a traditional German holiday dinner of roast goose, bread and potato dumplings, pickled red cabbage and gravies. It was delicious. The girls got jammies and our parents announced that they had transferred some money to our account to buy bedroom sets for the girls and probably pay for our patio or some other project on the house. We were overwhelmed. Later, after we were stuffed from dinner we took a walk to the house to show my parents the latest progress. After the walk we enjoyed coffee, fruit punch, and holiday cookies. We really had a great day together! At night, the girls had their bath and went to bed while Richard and I enjoyed a movie and reading time.

We really had wonderful holidays with lots of quiet family time, good food, happy children, and lots of sleep.  Pictures will follow, soon, I promise!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 In Review - Twelve Things Of Thankful

Our awesome Lizzi has sure outdone herself, taking the usual review to the next level. Thank you so much, Lizzi, I'm excited to revisit my own year and see what I have forgotten.

Tons of cooking, baking, and a somewhat sobering realization right at the beginning of the year. And another scar added to my collection  :-)

I completed my re-cap of Lily's birth 5 years ago, had a very unfortunate bout of physical depression, but still managed to pull myself out for a nice Valentine's date with the hubby. I celebrated my last 20's birthday and created a list of 25 things I'd like to do before turning 30.

I found the FTSF-link-up and met Janine, something I'm incredibly greatful for. The hubby and I had a few great couch dates and enjoyed them properly! I also started to be more voiceful about being a family of Atheists. I have found that it is imporant to show that Atheists, too, are normal people, who want the best for their families and leave a better world for their children. And not to forget: I received my first Liebster Award  :-)

We celebrated Missy Violet's birthday with a day trip to Munich to visit Sea Life. Hubby and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and I gushed about the special bond between a dad and his daughter. We had our first ice cream of the year!

Month of the Blog Every Day in May challenge. It definitely helped me getting into a blogging routine which I have maintained ever since. I shared some songs, some pictures, and some of my greatest challenges. Plus a broken toe, followed by an ankle injury.

Summer arrived! My posts on whacky BMI-charts was featured on another blog, and we FINALLY received the building permit for our house!

I found the TToT link-up and "met" the wonderful Lizzi! I bought new running shoes, and we got to attend a wonderful wedding with the most beautiful flower girls ever!

Our family had a great vacation, and a number of wonderful guest bloggers filling in for me. I introduced the Doctor Who Wordless Wednesdays and finally made progress in my running routine.

Big races, nazis in suits, and a nasty, nasty bronchitis. Healthwise, this was not necessarily my year.

Hubby did well in his surgery; I recovered from the bronchitis and had a rocky start at work. I enjoyed two weeks of complimentary newspaper delivered to my door. Lily managed to amaze me once again with her kindness and clarity. We celebrated hubby's birthday and Halloween.

Meet Survivor Girl! There was a serious rant about the lack of respect we as Atheists were receiving from Lily's teacher, and my mom saved the day for us. Holiday baking was kicked off, and then there was a little history of my Thanksgiving.

Lily got a visit from the tooth fairy. I had my first tiny little link-up  and contacted a local humanist advocate group to finally stop the religious harrassment our family was facing in kindergarten. After a break for the holidays I wrapped up the year with Joy's awesome link-up.

Thank you so much again for this link-up, Lizzi!! May 2014 everything you wish and may not hope for any more!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Good Bye 2013

Another year has passed, I can't believe how quick 2013 came and (anlmost) has gone. Joy at I Can Say Mama created this wonderful link-up to wrap up this passing your and welcome 2014

Joy @ i can say mama: 2013 Wrap up

Gained or lost weight?
Both. I found out during a routine doctor's visit that I had gained about 3kg from the year before. Then the bronchitis let me lose a whole lot of weight. Now the weight is going up again due to holidays

Predominant feeling in 2013?
panicked; the house was sometimes just too much. There were panic attack, there were tears, there was the wish to just get out of everything.

Predominant feeling for 2014?
optimistic; some time this year we'll move. It will be a little sad, but also exciting. Moving into the home where we'll raise our family, that is our very own.

Something you did for the first time in 2013?
Broken a bone.

Something you did again in 2013 after a long pause?
Ride a bike.

Something you unfortunately did not do in 2013?

Word of the year?
Why?  - little children, you know  :-)

City of the year?
Erlangen, my favorite town!

Hair longer or shorter?

More or less money spent?
much, much more!

Highest mobile phone bill?
we only have pre-paid phones  :-)

Hospital stays?
No real stay, but one trip to the emergency room due to a pretty deep cut.

(Fallen) In love?
Every day  :-)

Most called person?
My friend Kathrin

Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with?
the family

What did you spend most of your time with?
Work, spending time with the family

Song of the year?
No clue  :-)

Book of the year?
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

TV show/movie of the year?
Doctor Who.

Insight of the year?
Life is easier if you keep your cool.

Three things you totally could have done without?
Incompetent architects, town officials dragging their feet, delays.

Most beautiful event?

More short-sighted or more far-sighted than 2013?
More short-sighted, as usual.

The most dangerous thing you did?
I don't usually do dangerous things. I' boring..

The most expensive thing you bought?
A house.

The most delicious meal or food you ate?
The special crock pot tomato sauce Richard makes. It's beyond delicious!! And since I've finally bought a crock pot again this year, I finally got to enjoy that goodness again

The best party?
The wedding we were invited for. So much fun getting to witness two people joining their lives because of love.

The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of?
Not to be scared.

The most beautiful present you gave to somebody?

The most beautiful present that somebody gave you?
Diamond earrings from the hubby. And of course all the crafts from the girls.

The most beautiful sentence someone said to you?
I love you.

The most beautiful sentence you said to someone?
I love you.

How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
With another family we are friends with. We have been celebrating together the last 2 years and will continue the tradition.

What will you have for dinner?
Chili and lots of finger-food

What drinks will be in your glasses to clink?
Champagne and orange juice

Will you ignite any fireworks?
Maybe, not sure yet.

What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamorous?
Comfy with a little bit of new-diamond-earrings-glamour

Did you have any resolutions for 2013? And how about 2014?
I made a little list of 25 things I want to do before turning 30, if that counts as resolution. Besides that, I usually don't do them, because I don't want to stress myself. My daily resolution is to make that day as good as possible.

What are your wishes for the new year?
Health for our family, a good, fulfilling job for Richard, happiness.

In one word: 2013 was...
... a challenge, but a rewarding one, with plenty of opportunities to learn and grow.

Thank you very much for coming up with this quiz, Joy! And a very Happy New Year to you!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Challenge 2013: Book 12 - The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared

I heard it was funny, but somehow put off my the German cover. Then I read an excerpt of Jonas Jonasson's new book in my magazine, and got this book the very next day!

The Hard Facts:
Title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared (yes, that's the title!)
Author: Jonas Jonasson
400 pages
Publisher: Hyperion, September 11, 2012
ISBN: 9781401324643

Find it at Barnes & Noble

The Story:
Allan Karlsson decides on his hundredth birthday that he is not old enough yet to celebrate it in the nursing home he lives at, and climbs out of his window. Trying to get as far away from the small town of Malkoeping, he heads for the local bus station, where he happens to get into the possession of a mysterious suitcase, which he spontaneously takes with him on the bus. He gets off in the middle of no-where, because that is how far his 50 kroner got him, and meets Julius, a petty criminal who lives all by himself in the old train station. They're sharing dinner and a couple of drinks when later that night the owner of the suitcase arrives to retrieve his possession. To cool his heated spirit, they park him in the cooling chamber, where they find him the next morning frozen stiff and quite dead. In order to escape whoever may follow the dead gang member to retrieve the suitcase, which they learned to contain 50 million kroner, they get moving on Julius' old handcar. The body is being stored in a shipping container headed for Egypt. n their lunch break at a hot dog stand, the two spontaneously hire the owner, Benny, as a driver and buy his old car to continue their journey. In the meantime, the search is on for Allan and the gang member; the police is quickly able to re-trace their steps, but are always just a little bit too late. During their journey, Allan tells his life story to his companions, of his time in a self-taught explosives-expert, his stay in a mental asylum, the time in Spain during the civil war, and his friendship with General Franco. As a gratitude for saving his life, Franco provides Allan with the funds to return to Sweden. Instead of boarding the ship to Sweden, he heads for America, where he helps solving the problem on how to build a nuclear bomb and befriends President Truman before heading for China on a mission to support the Kuomintang against Mao’s troops. Not appreciating how he is treated there, he decides to go back home to Sweden, but not without helping Mao’s bride to escape. He crosses the Himalaya by foot and ends up in Iran, where he is arrested. During his escape, he accidentally saves the life of Prime Minister Churchill and escapes to the Swedish embassy. A call to President Truman, who in turn  informs the new Swedish Prime Minister convinces the ambassador’s secretary to provide all formalities for his return to Sweden. Back in present-time, Allan, Julian, and Benny now not only run from the police who are looking for them in the disappearance of the gang member, but also from the other gang members, and end up at the remote farmhouse of Gunilla for the night. Benny falls in love with the “beautiful woman” and, as an almost-vet, helps her to heal her elephant Sonia’s leg. When Gunilla finds out that the police is searching for the three for murder, she is infuriated, but can be convinced to provide shelter for a few more days and then move on with them in a remodeled furniture truck that can accommodate Sonia. Just before they leave, the second member of the gang finds Allan and his friends, but before he can take use of his gun, he finds an untimely death under Sonia’s butt. After disposing of his body in the back of his car, which eventually ends up in a junk yard in Riga, the friends head off to stay with Benny’s brother, who can be convinced to forget their decade-long feud for a share of the 50 million kroner. On the way there, the friends are almost captured by the boss of the gang, but accidentally hit his car and decide, since Benny is an almost-doctor, to tend to his injuries on the way. Allan continues with his life story of meeting Albert Einstein’s mentally-disadvantaged half-brother Herbert, in Russia, where Allan ventured and involuntarily helps out Stalin with building a nuclear bomb as well. After ending up in a gulag, they manage to escape and flee into North Korea, where they meet both Kim Il Sung and Mao, who provide them with generous funds to thank him for having saved his wife. Yearning for some warm weather, the two of them end up in Bali where they spend their time sipping drinks at the beach. There, Herbert meets and marries Amanda, a lady of equal mental properties, who soon becomes governor of the island and later Indonesia’s ambassador to Paris. Her husband and Allan accompany her, where they get to witness a meeting between President Johnson and Charles de Gaulle before venturing back into Russia as a spy for the CIA. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union comes to an end, and Allan once again returns to Sweden where he buys and blows up a house successfully taking revenge on a fox who had killed his cat, and eventually ends up in the bleak nursing home. After the gang boss recovers from his injuries, he, too, befriends Allan, and once the police tracks them down, they all present a rather plausible story to divert any suspicion from them. And since Sweden is not too pleasant for some people with too much illegal money, the all, including Sonia the elephant, return to Bali, where Amanda now owns a large resort. Benny and Gunilla marry, and later, Allan and Amanda also find their happiness together.

My opinion:
Glorious! Such a must-read. Do yourself the favor and get it for yourself or a loved one as a late holiday present, you won't regret it! Jonas Jonasson’s writing is witty, sarcastic, and refreshingly na├»ve. His characters are indeed characters, of a very unique kind. It is a joy to follow Allan through his life; his view on everything is always so positive, with an innate feeling for fairness leading his actions. He is notoriously uninterested in politics, which helps him get along with people, and people in power all over the world. One review called it the equally ingenious but polar opposite of the other Swedish star writer, Stieg Larsson, and it's definitely not an exaggeration. This book is definitely something for interested teenagers, as it also offers a quick and entertaining walk through 20th century world history, describing the big leaders of the world as what they truly are: just people.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Memories

The winter holidays are celebrated differently in Germany. In our family, we celebrated a blended version of both U.S. and German traditions, leaving the backgrounds on why the gifts arrive when they do and how mostly to the girls’ imagination.

 As the girls are opening their gifts today in the evening of the 24th, let me give you a glimpse in the German holiday traditions of my childhood.

My entire extended family lived within less than an hour, so the gifts could be hidden very well from me as there were never large boxes arriving during the weeks leading up to the holidays. On the entire 24th, our living room, which is a separate room in my parents’ house, not an open living / sitting space as it is in most American homes, was locked to give the “Christkind” some privacy to prepare the room. At night, after the church service, my grandparents came over for dinner, and as my mom and grandma cleaned the dishes, my grandpa would read fairy tales to me from his ancient, big fairy tale book. Afterward, I had to go upstairs to my room to wait for the bell to ring and tell me it was time to go into the living room. Seeing the tree for the first time, all sparkly, lit with real candles, was magical. The gifts usually were placed on the couch (real candles, a small child, and wrapping paper are usually not a good combination for a quiet evening); I looked for my pile and started to unwrap.

On the evening of the 24th I was always allowed to stay up late, play with my new toys, try on my new clothes, eat cookies, and sit with my parents and grandparents. The next morning was usually an early one for me; I let my parents sleep in and made myself a breakfast of holiday cookies (the best of the year!!) and went on playing with my toys. For lunch my grandparents came over again. My mom would either make a pork roast, turkey breast, or sometimes even a traditional German holiday goose.

On the 26th, we would go to the traditional get together of my mom’s family at my other grandparents’ house, where there were more gifts, cookies and holiday bread, and playing with all my cousins.

I loved the holidays as a child, but I even love it more today, as I can be the onlooker watching our girls indulging in the holiday spirit. Giving is truly better than receiving!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful Gone Renegade Edition

Ten Things of Thankful

Somehow it felt weird not having a TToT link-up this week. Or next. This is the time when many things happen, spontaneous, unexpected, happy things that I am incredibly happy for. And just as I was sitting there, I found that the link-up is not so much at pause as I thought...

This week, I am very thankful for:

1. Lizzi, for creating this link-up, even when she's not only in a bad place, but broke through rock bottom and is sitting at the bottom of a 50ft crap pit. You are an inspiration in your strength to continue, to set one foot in front of the next, no matter how strong the wind is blowing. I am thankful to know you, Lizzi!

(now to the more trivial but still important thankfuls this week)

2. The bus driver handing out little chocolate Santas this Friday morning. Oh my goodnes, it SO made my day!!

3. Lily not only bringing home a beautiful heart-shaped wire ornament but also inspired me to finally take down the fall / Halloween decoration from our front door and craft some paper snowflakes with ther and Violet.

4. A spontaneous dinner with our neighbors tonight. So unexpected but fun!

5. "Nightmare Before Christmas" on TV

6. No pre-holiday stress, no waiting in line at the stores on Monday.

7. Plenty of vacation time, and colleagues who are willing to come to work so I can spend almost 2 weeks straight at home.

8. Somehow managing to take the high road in a situation that simply infuriated me. I don't know how I managed, but I did..

9. Cuddling with the girls on the couch, reading good-night stories.

10. More small translation jobs, with a prospect of regular work in the foreseeable future. It's great to be able to translate again, and for being paid for it!

Wishing everyone a relaxing weekend!

Spirituality And Atheism

The longest night of the year has passed, a new cycle of the light has started, winter has begun, a time of reflection for me.

Earlier this year, talk show host Oprah excelled once again at spreading her unfounded, unreasonable, and unwelcome opinion: Atheists cannot experience awe unless they believe in a god and therefore aren't Atheists (watch the video here).

Thank you once again for dehumanizing us a little more. Let me tell you, dear Oprah, you couldn't be more wrong!

I am a firm Atheist, meaning that I do not believe in gods, a creator, or any greater being, onlooker, or decision-maker. But I do experience awe, amazement, and also a sort of spirituality.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, spirituality is defined as "affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things" or "having a relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communion". 

I am in tears looking at pictures of the Aurora Borealis or the Eagle Nebula, experience the innocent, wise honesty of our children, or listening to a beautiful song. Throughout my day, I experience little moments of stillness and awe about the little things in life, sometimes as simple as a beautiful leaf or the color of the sky just before sunrise. But while religious people may praise their god or gods for it, an Atheist looks in amazement towards the universe, evolution, and perfectly randomly so many big and small things came together and composed this beautiful and unique world that it is today.

Wishing a good start into this winter, and a very Happy Holiday to everyone, no matter what you celebrate!

Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm Off Nerding

After a long, long, absence, Lisa McNamee is being revived tonight.  Have a wonderful start into this weekend!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's On!

Ok.. I like to think that I'm a very easy-going person. I'm opinionated, that may be true, but most of all I like to live according to the motto live and let live.  And I cannot stand if people try to interfere in how we live our lives. And I truly hate it, if they try it via our kids.  Since it's Lily's last year in kindergarten, her teacher there truly seems to be on a missionary trip on her.

These are the completely inappropriate things that have happened in the last month alone:
* She selected Lily to sing a solo during the church service they organized before the kids' lantern parade, fully knowing that we never attend any church service.
*A couple of weeks ago, Lily brought home a little coloring calendar from kindergarten, with bible quotes and "inspirationals" on every single page, with a pretty graphic illustration on the back on what sin and hell are, and that the only way to be happy is to be a Christian. Lily loves animals, and she loves to color, so there was no way we could just toss the calendar, opted to black out all the religious stuff instead.
* Telling Lily that this celebration is all about the birth of Jesus. Well, had she done her homework, she'd known that the pagan celebration is much older than Christianity, and next to none of the so-called "Christmas" traditions are Christian, but of pagan origins. Something else I'd like to put out there is that how it shall be possible to determine someone's birthday if even the year is unclear?
* Sending a porcelain baby Jesus home with Lily. This one was actually the little shove that pushed me over the edge. I'm sorry, but something like that is not welcome in our home.

We are Atheists, we are comfortable with our trust in reason, secular humanism, and science, we do not need to be "saved". We always accept people's faith, no matter what it may be. We have pagan friends, we have Christian friends, both Catholics and Protestants among them, Muslim friends, and of course friends all over the scale of Agnosticism and Atheism. It is possible to discuss religion respectful, or agree to disagree on that matter and just leave it be. But something I will never ever be able to understand is why som people just can't leave us alone. Is it because Lily has "recently turned into such a lovely girl" (quote her teacher) that she can't accept that someone can be raised without religion and be just as helpful, kind, supportive, and joyful as any other kid?

Well, as I've mentioned, it's on. I have contacted the local branch the Free-Thinker's Society in Germany, asking for support in how to handle the attack on our basic human rights of freedom of religion. I will contact other similar groups and I am prepared to take on the State of Bavaria, if necessary, to save kids in kindergarten or schools from unwelcome religious indoctrination of any kind. I will not look on any longer as our daughter is being abused as the play thing of a frustrated teacher on a mission. Enough is enough!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Holiday Edition

Won't be on next Wednesday, so, Doctor Who says Happy Holidays today. Stay away from snow men this winter!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap (Link-Up)

I'm excited to present my first ever link-up! Thank you so much for your support in that idea. As I love to bake and try out new recipes, I thought that a pre-holiday recipe swap would be a good idea. I hope that many of you will join and help create a little online cookie recipe collection  :-)

Thank you all and Happy Holidays!

Modern Cooking - Cinnamon Stars

This cookie is one of the Germany classics, but I've never made it myself. I remember my mom making cinnamon stars once but I didn't care for them. When I was researching new cookies to try the last years and found cinnamon star recipes, I was just scared off my the idea of rolling the dough between two layers of plastic foil to be able to work the dough that is very sticky. No thank you!

This year I finally caved, and let me tell you, it's EASY! Not a mess at all, clean-up is a breeze, and the taste is simply heavenly!

2 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
10 oz + 1 tbs powdered sugars
16 oz ground almonds
1 - 1 1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs honey

1 egg white
3.5 oz powdered sugar

Beat egg whites with salt very stiff. Add sugar and honey; beat until smooth and shiny. Fold in almonds and cinnamon. Let the dough sit for about 30 minutes. Cut a long piece of plastic foil; stick one half to the work surface with tape. Roll out dough in between the two layers of plastic foil to about 1/4 in. thick. Cut out with small cookie cutters (preferrable stars). Beat egg white for the glaze and stir in sugar. Ice the cookies with the glaze and bake at 300F for about 20 minutes (glaze should still be white and just start to take on color).

Let cool and try to store airtight in a cookie jar.


Tip: if you like some extra spice, add a pinch of ground pink pepper.

Everything's Going South

Discussion at "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" (German edition) a couple of minutes ago:

Geography question.
Candidate: So, is Reykjavik left or right from us?
Joker: Well, from my perspective, it's on the "right"...
Candidate: So south?


When I was in school, we learned how to read a map in 5th grade!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful 28

Ten Things of Thankful

Lizzi, the wonderful host of the TToT, has written a whole list of ten thankfuls about this hop, and she couldn't me more right about it. Dedicating half an hour, or how ever long it may take each week to think about all the big and small things that have happened in my life has made a change to the better. And it is amazing how such a seemingly small thing in fact makes such a difference.

This week's thankfuls:

1. Witnessing my coworker singing at the company holiday party. Simply stunning!

2. Getting to witness following conversation between the girls 5:00 one morning in my bed:
V: I love you, Lily.
L: I love you, too, Violet!
V: You are my very best sister!!
L: Awwww, that's so cute of you, Sweetie!

3. Hubby being fabulous enough to go and buy My Little Pony coloring books at the store.

4. Decorating the tree together.

5. More baking.

6. Natural vanilla.

7. Lily teaching the ABC to Violet.

8. Once again Lily: The advent calendar in her kindergarten class contained a treat on Friday, but there wasn't enough for all the kids. She suggested to all that if everyone would share, there'd be enough for everyone. That is the spirit of the season, and I could not be more proud of this wonderful little girl!

9. Hubby being the most supportive and kind parter I could ask for. He goes along with so many of my whims and barely ever complains about my excentricities.

10. My wonderful neighbors who helped me with the grand holiday surprise for my wonderful hubby.

Wishing all of you a great weekend! And remember, if you're a fan of baking and delicious cookies, please join the Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap this Tuesday, December 17 here at Life, Unexpectedly!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Favorite Holiday Traditions

Finish the Sentence Friday

It's Friday again. This week was busy, but also dragged for some reason. I have gotten another translation order, a much smaller project so far. It seems as if business is picking up eventually.

Finally, the countdown to the holidays has started for good, and Janine and Kate are chiming in with this week's Finish The Sentence Friday:

My favorite holiday tradition is...

... the quiet family time we spent on the 25th. We get up VERY early, when the girls get up. After opening the presents we have a yummie breakfast, and spend all day playing, taking naps, cuddling. We have a small dinner, as usually my parents come over for the big dinner on the 26th. I love the feeling of being cocooned in, just the four of us. It's peaceful, it's quiet, it's warm, so full of joy and excitement. Can't wait :-)

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Join the FTSF and tell about it!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wordless Tuesday - Late Edition

Somehow, yesterday felt totally like Thurday.. Sorry for not delivering your weekly dose of the Doctor, Susannah and Janine. I'll make up for it today  :-)

In my opinion, he's been unterestimated. This late Wordless Wednesday is in honor of Doctor No. 9!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do They Believe?

It's that time of the year, the season of coziness, of baking, and cooking, and eating, of getting together and enjoying each other’s company cocooned in our warm homes as the end of the year (and the dark season at the winter solstice on December 25 according to the Julian calendar) approaches.

It's the time of the year for our children to leave through toy magazines, stroll by the displays in the mall, and meeting Santa to tell them their wishes for the holidays.

Well, now it happened that Santa (or Saint Nick) visited Lily and Violet’s kindergarten to give them some chocolate santas and listen to their songs. When I came home from work Friday night, a slightly annoyed Lily met me at the door, complaining that they weren’t visited by the ACTUAL Santa, but it was only Manuel, their intern, in disguise. Violet, at the same time swore that the REAL Santa had visited her class.

A few years ago, when Lily was born, Richard and I discussed how to handle Santa, the German “Christkind”, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy in the future. We strongly believe not to lie to children. On the other hand, we both remember fondly the years of being excited about the respective figures coming to visit at their appointed time. So we decided to let things go. To let them make their own experiences. To think for themselves what to believe in and what not. We do not heavily support either way, even though we are known to mention Santa or the Tooth Fairy on occasion.

I'm not sure yet how the experience with the false Santa  has affected Lily. We’re definitely going to make the wish lists and put them out for Santa to find. There will the customary “T’was the night before Christmas” good-night story on the 24th. I know my parents will arrive with gifts that the “Christkind” has left at their house for the kids, and the in-laws will inquire on what Santa left for them under the tree.

Sometimes I think that they still believe in Santa and co. because they want to, not because they are deep-down convinced that they exist (except the Tooth Fairy, how else could possibly this coin have ended up under Lily’s pillow??). I don’t think there will ever be a “Santa isn’t real” talk at home; whenever they ask us whether they exist, we answer with the question “what do YOU” think?”, and leave it with that, because most of the time, they give themselves the best answers anyway.

Do your children still believe in Santa and friends? Do you support it or leave it up to them what to believe?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Out Partying

It's time for my office holiday party! I promise I won't drink too much, won't get food all over my clothes, won't give any embarrassing speeches, and be home before midnight  :-)

PS: I'm announcing a cookie recipe swap (link-up) next Tuesday, December 17 here at Life, Unexpectedly. I hope you'll all join in and share your very own recipes!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

RIP My Purse

My poor, faithful purse, which has been such a wonderful companion for the last few years, has drowned in a little bottle of elderberry liqueur...

On to finding a successor, that's willing to shlepp my stuff around while still looking great...

PS: would anyone be interested in a cookie recipe swap link-up?  Any thoughts?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week In Review - Ten Things of Thankful 27

Ten Things of Thankful

Weekend once more. I've been off the air for a few day due to professional reasons. The translation went well and I'm going to write my first official invoice!! Oh, and I'm planning on spending every single penny of this paycheck, just to celebrate it  :-)

Other things I'm incredibly thankful for this last week:

1. The first snow.

2. Spending an afternoon with Lily shopping and picking out our tree.

3. An awesome friend who invited us to the Cinderella musical she performs in. Next best thing to The Nutcracker if you're a little girl I'd say  :-)

4. Tons and tons of baking with the girls.

5. Finally been able to organize a D&D game again.

6. Hubby not getting hurt when he fell down the ladder this afternoon.

7. Having sent out all the holiday presents State-wards.

8. Spending my lunch-break with an Irish Cream Latte, writing holiday cards.

9. Cinnamon cookies. SO delicious!

10. Preparing dinner with the girls, and enjoying tons and tons for fresh roasted veggies.

Even though I was gone most of last week, I'll still take off tomorrow. Another Alien movie has arrived, which means date time!!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Weekend Recap - Thanksgiving Edition

Friday's visit by the tooth fairy was the start in a fun and busy weekend:

Thanksgiving Day for us here in Germany! I started baking and cooking around 9 am, as the night before I had an ingredient for the pumpkin pie missing and the stores were closed already. So I had an early start Saturday. The food turned out wonderfully and the greatest joy of that day was to share it with a bunch of wonderful friends. Around 8, the house emptied again, we could calm the girls down and put them to bed, clean up, and prepare the advent calendar for the girls.

I got up with the girls at 6:30 am. I cooked them old-fashioned oatmeal with apple sauce, let them open the first bag of their advent calendar (yes, until December 24, breakfast WILL include chocolate!!), and watched a fairy tale movie with them. I love those lazy Sunday mornings! We played some games, had lots of couples., and after lunch, we prepared for the fun activity of the day: decorating the gingerbread girls (and man) and the gingerbread house. Let me tell you, the girls took full advantage of the "eat all the candy you want now instead of dessert after dinner" compromise. Violet ate 9 pieces of candy for each one she put on the house and paid dearly for it with a tummy ache later. Dinner was easy with turkey sandwiches and pumpkin soup. Despite the sugar rush, the girls went to bed at their normal time and hubby and I got to have a little movie date on the couch, watching The Thing (yes, he loves to watch horror movies with me!!).

Little announcement: I have just gotten in a major translation project that is due Saturday (yay for holiday money!!), so you won't see much of me until after the deadline!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tooth Fairy Visits

Lily's been having a loose tooth.. since August!!  I don't know how she did it that is stayed put, until bathtime this Friday, when she spit it into the sink while brushing her teeth. A moment between terror and excitement was turned to excitement, followed by doubt about whether the tooth fairy would find her.. or would even bother to come visit her for only this teeny-tiny tooth.

Well, let me tell you, the tooth fairy found Lily, and she took that teeny-tiny tooth, leaving a coin in return. And from her running out of her room over-the-moon-excited with that little coin in her hand, I think it's safe to say, tooth fairy did her job.

On that topic, we had a little discussing while brushing Lily's hair tonight:
Lily: Mami, does the tooth fairy really exist??
I: I don't know, Lily.. What do YOU think?
Lily: Mami, I know the tooth fairy exists. She left me a coin, do you remember? That means she HAS to exist!!

Love my Lily!