Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Social on Bunny Day

Sunday Social


Happy Bunny-Day everyone! Time to link up with Ashley again for Social Sunday. Today's cues are:

1. What is your favorite type of workout to do?
The yoga class I take with two of my co-workers each Monday. Especially the sleeping part in the end!
 
2. What is your favorite guilty pleasure candy or sweet?
Baked goods of all kind or dark, dark, dark chocolate. I'm such a sweet tooth in general!
3. What is one thing you continuously forget to do?
Doctor's appointments for myself. I usually only go and see the doctor if I'm hurt. Or just appointments in general...
4. Do you prefer post-its or phone reminders? Why?
Post-its. They make my computer at work so much more colorful. I never use my phone for anything but the occasional phone call; sometimes it's sitting in my purse for a week or so without power without me even noticing.
5. What is your favorite picture currently on your phone that always makes you smile?
 I don't have pictures on my phone, see question 4. The favorite picture on my camera would be this one of our two little bunnies baking cookies:

Looking very enthusiastic, right?

Have a good start in this new week everyone! I hope this week will stretch forever, since I'm off work!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

North Korea At War

I just came in the news and I'm still kind of shocked, even though I've kind of saw it coming. North Korea declared in their national TV program that they are actively at war again with the south.

Some of my readers are military wives. Some of my personal friends are military wives, and we even have one close friend set to start a tour in South Korea this summer. We are beyond relieved that one close friend has just returned from his tour there and is now safely back in the US.

What I am asking myself is: what is necessary on top of what already happened for someone to step in? I am calling on the US, the UN, the NATO. Yes, I am specifically not mentioning Germany here, because our military is forbidden by our constitution to start a war. That is why our military was not involved in the Iraq war. It was clearly an attack without clear provocation. We were, however, involved in Afghanistan, since it was considered a defensive mission after the Taliban had attacked the USA. We currently have some defensive missiles stationed in Turkey after the government has called for help since Syrian attacks had hit targets in Turkey and have caused casualties among the civilians there. Therefore, without a clear UN or NATO mission, we cannot attack.

But why hasn't the US military done anything? They and South Korea are the first targets, as this madman Kim Jong Un has declared on several occasions (as I recall, Saddam Hussein has not made threads that clear). He most likely has nuclear bombs and missiles that can carry them (Saddam Hussein did not; indeed, in order to justify the mission there, explosives where re-classified as weapons of mass destruction). Why is no-one coming to help the people, who are starving to death and are put away in labor/death camps by the tens of thousands? Didn't the US claim Saddam Husseins acts against the population as another reason to invade? Well, Hussein was definitely no innocent when it came to acts agains human rights. However, the North Korean regime is above and beyond that!

I know the reason why the US has not invaded North Korea, but that's not up to discussion here. What's important now is that world leaders work together beyond primary interests and politics to de-escalate a situation that is probably one of the greatest dangers to world peace and might just develop into the first nuclear conflict after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War 2.

I am scared. I am scared for this world and I am scared for our friends and their spouses. Something has to be done, and quickly.

What is your opinion on the current situation? Are you concerned or do you think Kim Jong Un just rattles his sabers a little louder than usual?

UPDATE: This is the witness statement Ms. Soon Ok Lee, a former inmate of one of North Korea's notorious interment camps has made during a hearing at a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titles "Examining The Plight Of Refugees: The Case of North Korea". It is a very difficult read describing in great detail the inhumane cruelties the inmates face every single day. I was in tears and had to stop several times, but I would still recommend the read just to know why I feel so strongly about this case.

Easter Fun With The Girls

As our little ones are getting older, I'm trying to establish sone fun Easter traditions to welcome spring. Yes, even though yesterday, there were still some snow flurries in the air, spring cannot hide forever. And while it is, I will finally get to ordering the new summer tires for the car.


Back to the topic: Lily came home from kindergarten with a fun little project the other day: growing cress sprouts on cotton wool in a plastic cup. Well, plastic cups don't look very nice, so I cleaned some egg shells and tried it that way. The girls stuffed the cleaned shells with cotton wool, sprinkled the seeds on it and watered them. After a couple of days, the seeds started sprouting and the girls have given them to friends as little gifts for Easter. The sprouts don't just look nice once the have formed little green shocks of hair on the egg shells, they also taste great, for example on cream cheese bagle, in salad, or just as a snack by themselves.

Lily and Violet at work

Have fun with this little project!

Friday, March 29, 2013

My First LIEBSTER Award

OMG, I am totally so excited (being giddy like the girls watching "The Wiggles")! The awesome Stacey at This Momma's Ramblings nominated me for the Liebster Award; thank you so much, Stacey!!!



Ok, here are the rules of the Liebster Award (Liebster, as Stacey has pointed out, means something along the line of dearest, beloved, or favorite):

  1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves
  2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, then create 11 new questions for the blogger's you pass the award to
  3. Choose 11 new blogger's (with less than 200 followers) and pass the award (and link) to them in your post.
  4. Go to their page and tell them about the award.
  5. No tag backs. 

11 Random Facts about me:

  1. I am a translating nerd, who gets upset about bad translations, grammar, and spelling.
  2. I have read my favorite book at least 8 or 9 times.
  3. During Middle School, my best friend and I signed up for library duty to have an excuse to be late for
      class.
  4. Our French teacher brought alcohol to a class cheese tasting in 10th grade. Germany is awesome!
  5. I'm convinced that my mother is disappointed that I am not the disappointment in the family.
  6. I cannot imagine living in a climate that doesn't have four seasons for any extended period of time.
  7. I used to be an Army wife.
  8. I used to model for a nude painting class when I was in college. It paid very well!
  9. I was engaged twice before meeting the Mr.
10. I spent a summer as an exchange student in England and loved it. My liver probably didn't love it that
      mucht!

Stacey's 11 Questions:

1. How long have you been blogging?
I've started Life, Unexpectedly in early 2010. I have shortly written a blog back in 2007/2008 to keep our families updated on the pregnancy and the baby.

2. What are your hobbies?
I'm boring, I don't have any interesting hobbies. I love to read, blog, watch movies with the hubby and play D&D or (more recently) D20 Modern table top role playing games.

3. How many children do you have or would like to have?
We have two girls; I would love to have another one a few years down the road.

4. What is your favorite tv show?
Dr. Who

5. What is your favorite color?
Purple

6. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
In Seattle, with enough money to back me that I never have to worry about anything. We have lived in the greater Seattle area for almost 2 years before deciding to move our family back to Germany for the security provided there, and because Germany is nice, too!

7. Do you have any pets?
No, but once we have the house, we would like to pick up two kitties from the shelter.

8. Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
I have 5 earrings and used to have my belly button pierced, but never put it back after my first pregnancy. I also have 3 tattoos.

9. What is your favorite dessert?
The plum crumble Adele, my exchange mom made for me. With a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

10. Are you a night or a day person?
Night person turned day person. Still not quite comfortable with it.

11. What is your favorite Season?
Fall, hands down. But spring is nice too!


I would like to pass the Liebster Award on to these wonderful ladies:

  1. Breanna a Adventures in Mommy Land
  2. Sara at Family Organic
  3. Laney at Owl Always Blog
  4. Julia at A Dose Of Jules
  5. Lisa at Two Martinis
  6. Kimbra at Mommy's Rambles
  7. Sharon at Mom's Madhouse
  8. Bri at No Boys Allowed
  9. Stephanie at Stephanews 
10. Sara at Super Punk Rock Mom Blog 
11. Collette at Zenith Thinking

My 11 Questions to you:

  1. Do you prefer tea or coffee?
  2. What was your favorite class in high school?
  3. What's your favorite breakfast food?
  4. Why is your favorite book your favorite book?
  5. What was your favorite game to play as a child?
  6. What is a treasured holiday (any holiday) tradition?
  7. Do you rather wear skirts or pants?
  8. If there's anything in your past you could change, what would it be?
  9. Do you prefer flats or heels?
10. What is your most-used social media and why?
11. If you could travel anywhere in the world with a no-limit credit card, where would you go?



Enjoy the questions, ladies, and again thank you to Stacey for nominating me!!

Me Hanging With Celebrities


Finish the Sentence Friday





No, not really, but it's Finish The Sentence Friday, hosted once more by Janine and friends, who came up with this goodie:

If I could hang out with any celebrity, it would be ...

David Tennant! David Who?? Right, Doctor Who!! - Are you confused now?

For anyone who don't know this guy, he's the wielder of the sonic screwdriver, master of the tardis, Time Lord. Doctor Who. Well, he used to be, before Matt Smith took over. But he was by far the Doctor with the nicest hair, who has also taken out Edward Cullen. No, not really, but he took our Rob Pattinson's character in Harry Potter 4. And honestly, his hair is much more awesome than Edward's!!

Why I would like to hang out with him? Because he's British, and I love British accent. Because he's cute, he's played Hamlet, and is a well-known nerd. Also, he's my only celebrity crush who my hubbie likes, too. Oh, and did I mention that he has awesome hair??

Team David!!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thirsty Thursday - Why I Got Home So Late Today (And Frozen Solid)

 Obviously MARvelous

It's this time of the week again: Thirsty Thursday blog hop, hosted by the marvelous Mar.

Before I hop away today to enjoy some date time with the hubby (he picked episodes of Myth Buster for the source of entertainment tonight), I would like to share what happened today on my way home from work.

First of all, I was late. An hour late, to be exact. Since tomorrow is a public holiday in Germany, our office closed official at 4pm; but I am also on leave next week, so I needed to tie up some lose ends before heading out today. When I got off the bus I went right into the corner store to pick up some chocolate bunnys for the girls and some champagne for the adults at the egg dying get together at a friend's house tomorrow. By then, I'm seriously late. So I hurry up to get home when I see a friend from the neighborhood, whom I haven't seen in a few months. We stop and talk for a minute, until the topic goes to baby. She confessed that she had always wanted a third child. She has two girls a little older than mine and told me that she also had two pregnancy losses after her second daughter, one of them was at 22 weeks. After those losses she developed serious migraine head aches, as she still yearns for the third child that most likely she will never have. I told her that I knew hos she felt; she interrupted me telling me that I couldn't possibly known when I confided in her about the panic attacks that sometimes go on for days thinking about maybe never having the third child my heart yearns for. She looked at me standing in the cold, and then said: Oh my goodness, you DO know....

Here we were, the girl from Kameroon so far away from home, and the girl who has moved across an ocean twice. What are the chances that we two would ever meet? And what were the chances of such an intimate conversation in public, in the cold, in the fading light of a really crappy later March evening? Well, this is life, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love Is Just Love

I am seriously sick of the whole matter. I planned on writing a more-or-less Pinteresty post for everyone wich kids or spouses who are about as Toy Story addicted as our Lily (which is to follow sometime soon). Instead, when I scrolled through my personal FB page, I was confronted with the religious right bashing an "issue", which should not even be an "issue": gay marriage.

Let me start to say, I even dislike the term "gay marriage". Marriage is marriage. Period. It should not matter who the parties are, as long as they are consenting adults. It's called tolerance!

What I am appalled by most in the entire debate is, that most people who are against same-sex marriage claim to be Christians on a crusade to defend "traditional" marriage. Here, the they start to lose me. What is traditional marriage? Go to different cultures, and you will get a lot of different responses. Heck, there are even cultures where women oftentimes have several husbands (due to a serious shortage of women in the society).

But back to the issue at hand: There's a nice little chart our there on the internet, showing different models of "traditional biblical marriage":
That's all traditional according to the Old Testament!!
To be honest, I would be quite against my husband having any more wives besides me, or concubines, and I would DEFINITELY contest to marrying his brother should something happen to him (since we obviously don't have any sons). Yes, the old testament also mentions homosexual relationships and seriously condemns them. But that is Old Testament anyways, whose laws have been revised by the New Testament (see food laws).

And what does Jesus say about same-sex relationships. Nothing! Seriously?? Yes.

Ok, what does Jesus say about love in general? According to Jesus' teachings, love and compassion should be the supreme forces in all of his followers (sounds a little bit Buddhist to me!). He teaches to love thy neighbor; he himself sat with the outcast of society, the prostitutes, the lepers, and other people deemed scum by the pious ones. He never judged but welcomed everyone with open arms. It is him who said "he, who is without sin cast the first stone". According to the bible, Jesus was the only human being ever without sin, and since he was not judging so should no-one else.

But what are the so-called godly Christian followers today doing? They are judging. They want to take the opportunity and right from people to live in a secure and acknowledged relationship together, with all rights and authorities to take care of each other in all situations of life. I am married, and I want everyone else in this world, who wants to enter into this commitment, to be able to do so as well. I want good people to be able to adopt chidlren, who were cast away, and give them a good home and the love they need to grow to become strong members of this society.

You know what I think is really sad? That I, as an Atheist, have to teach Christians about their faith. I have read the bible cover to cover and studied it intensly for years. I am an Atheist because I am convinced from the bottom of a heart that there cannot be a God. I have dedicated my heart to science and the things I can see and smell and touch. I believe in enjoying the life we are given and to try our best to leave this world better for our children. Not because I fear any retributions or punishment later in life but because I feel that this is the right thing to do. If I believe in anything, it is love, and its power to change everything, one heart at a time.



Linking up with Amanda:

Modern Hippie Momma


Monday, March 25, 2013

Kiddo Humor

You know what one of the perks of little kids is? Their sometimes accidential humor that just cracks you up and sends you into hysterical laughing fits.

Yes, sometimes kids are not funny, especially when they are trying to be; I'm still not sure how I should best react to Lily's "jokes", which are random and not funny at all. Sometimes I pretend that it was funny (don't really like to lie to our daughters), othertimes I'm honest and tell her that it was not funny (don't want to crush her either).

But there are those priceless times when they just put something out that seriously cracks me and the Mr. up big time. Whether it is science talks that end up in a discussion about zombies, or a talk about religion, that - what else could it be - ends up in a discussion about zombies (yes, Lily likes zombies right now; her nerdy parents are kind of proud). And then there's Sweetie (aka Violet). She sometimes doesn't quite listen what we say, or doesn't understand the topic of a discussion, but still wants to take part. Her current favorite contribution is "Toy Story!!!", which, at the right time, can be just beyond hysterical! Oh, and their discussions about MLP - don't let me go there, I already start giggling.

Yes, those girls have a sense of humor; they're still learning, but getting there. And I love it!



Linking up with Rachel for:

 

Sunday Blog Hop - Monday Link-up

Night Owl Blog



Laney, a very talented owl lover (and blogger) started this nice little Sunday blog hop with a bunch of interesting questions, which I have totally missed due to a nice little time difference. But there's always a Monday, so here we go:

1. How did you come up with the title of your blog?
Back in early 2010 when I started it, our lives had gone from normal to whirlwind;I was pregnant unplanned and as a result, after thinking of different options for our family, we decided to move back to Germany. So at a time, when all I craved was security and stability, I had to deal with a wide open future. Life is just that, unexpected. You never know what's waiting just around the corner.

2. If there was one blog post that you’d direct your readers to, what would that be?
all of them. LOL

3. What is your go-to quick fix meal when you’ve didn't get out of the office been very, very busy?
spaghetti and tomato sauce

4. What is something you’re looking forward to this coming summer?
Hopefully watching our house being built, spending a lot of time outside and teaching Lily how to be a fish in the water like her Mami  :-)

5. Do you have any goofy talents or specialties?
No, I'm boring...

6. If you could be a character from any book throughout the entire story, what book-what character?
That's difficult. Maybe Smilla, the main character of my favorite book, Smilla's Sense of Snow. She's strong, educated, knows who she is and what she wants. What hurts me a little about her is that she's lonely. In the beginning, she doesn't even realize it, but as the story unfurls, she yearns for someone to share her emotions with just to end up being betrayed (kind of).

 
 7. What is the best piece of blogging advice that you’ve ever received?
I haven't gotten much of any blogging advice, so I just go with the flow, get lost, and try to find my niche.

8. What is your biggest dream?
Go on the honeymoon trip to Rome we had planned back when we were married in 2006 (and come home with a special little souvenir)


9. What is your favorite Saturday morning like?
Sleep in, have a nice family breakfast on the porch, play outside with the girls.

10. Why do you blog?
To have a space to myself where I can be me, without the usual filters of daily life, to meet people from different parts of this world I would have never met otherwise, to learn other people's way and broaden my horizon.

Thanks for hosting, Laney!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bloglovin - I'm In

I bet all of you have heard that Google Reader is going away. It seems, that Bloglovin is the way most of you are going, so here I have signed up as well. Please follow me on Bloglovin if you haven't done so yet!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thanks everyone!!

Weekend Recap

Sunday.. Again.. Why can't weekends last longer?? I can impossible cram all the necessary cleaning, baking, and spending plenty of quality time with the Mr. and the girls in 48 hours, especially since I use a good portion of them catching up on sleep as well. So, here's what we managed to do this weekend:

Friday:
The kids and I prepared the dough for the Easter cookies after dinner. Once the girls were in bed, hubby and I enjoyed our date night in with a movie (Princess Mononoke; nice movie, not necessarily for small kids); he spoiled me with home-made guacamole and did indeed find a few bottles of Corona in the small store right by our house for me. Gotta love this guy!! Got to bed not too late, which I guess was a good thing.

Saturday:
Since I went to bed fairly early for a Friday night, I managed to get out of bed with the girls around 6:30. We had breakfast together and watched a cartoon movie on TV. Afterward, we had fun coloring and I chased them around the house and caught up on the cuddling with them. After lunch we cut out and baked the cookies, followed by quiet time  for all of us. Late afternoon I ran out to the corner store to pick up some veggy goodness for dinner. I made brown rice with sauteed veggies (carrots, leek, bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms). Lily woke up from her nap feeling quite under the weather. She didn't eat much and retired to the couch right afterward. There we cuddled a little more before bathtime. Since Richard was having plans to play a game on the computer with his friend in the States, I retired to the couch with a glass of wine and a microwave chocolate dessert and watched "Monster". The movie was very sad I thought. I felt for this girl; all she wanted was being loved, but she was abused and failed on so many levels, it was simply heartbreaking. Another fairly early night for me; this weekend was really great on catching up on sleep!

Sunday:
The hubby and I got to sleep in, while Lily taught Violet how to play Uno. I had to go and give them extra cuddles for being absolutely adorable!! I went to the bakery near our house to buy bread for breakfast, since both Richard on Friday and I yesterday were brain-dead and therefore stuck without bread on a Sunday in Germany (absolutely EVERYTHING, except restaurants, some gas stations, and a few bakeries shut down Saturday night at 8pm). As my luck goes, the bakery was pretty much picked clean by 10am, but I still managed to buy some baguette and soft pretzles and we had a nice family breakfast. After cleaning up, the girls and I iced the cookies we had baked Saturday and I got started on my first attempt of baking with fresh yeast. The coffee cake turned out well. We vaccuumed and steam-cleaned the house; Lily was being a big girl and vacuumed her own room, we were very proud of her! After cleaning, we had lunch and the girls went to their room for some quiet time. Later in the afternoon we had hot chocolate and yeast coffee cake. It turned out quite good, even though I think I need to give my aunt a call for her recipe; it's simply out of this world!! Since Lily still felt a little bit under the weather, we tried to keep it easy, watched Toy Story 3 and cuddled on the couch. For dinner, we had some whole wheat spaghetti and tomatoe sauce and sampled a few of the Easter cookies, yum! Since Richard's friend didn't make it to the game last night they're playing right now while I'm catching up on my reading list and laundry.

Another thing to note about this weekend: Violet only had one peepee-accident during the entire weekend! Her diaper was even dry in the morning. We're very proud of our little girl. The next step is working on number 2, but so far, she hasn't been ready for it. Nevertheless, I am seeing no diaper purchases at all for us in the near future!!

Sunday Social: Spring, Where Art Thou??

Sunday Social


It's time for Sunday Social again, hosted as usual by Ashley! This weeks questions are in honor of the season that seems to never arrive here: Spring!

1. What is your favorite thing about spring?
The air smells different, it smells like a new beginning. I love that scent, along with the fresh new green and the pastel colors everywhere!!

2. What is your favorite kind of flower to grow or receive?
My favorite flowers of all are my two litte girls, Lily and Violet (yes, named after flowers!!) Of the botanical kind, I love the good-old rose (my husband ordered the perfect arrangement of deep red and creme roses for my wedding bouquet) or colorful tulips.

3. What is your favorite nail polish color?
Natural shades, a very light pink with a hint of sparkle or a nougat brown shade.

4. What is your favorite outdoor activity?
Playing ball in the park or having a picknick at the playground

5. Do you have any fun spring plans? Details! :)
We would like to take the girls to the zoo or a theme park nearby. Just get out of the house already!!
 
Thank you for the questions, now I really can't wait for spring to finally remember that there's still a tiny, little country named Germany somewhere in Central Europe
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Talking Religion With Our Kindergartener

I have blogged before on how annoyed I am with Lily's kindergarten shoving religion down her throat. I know, I know, it's in the curriculum. But still, tell the kids the story and be done with it. Don't teach them the songs and don't tell them that this is the reason for celebration instead of one option some people (ok, approximately 1.3 billion people) celebrate these days.

Thanks to the kindergarten teacher's love for religious indoctrination of little children, Lily sang me a very disturbing song while I was making my first coffee of the day and finishing with the statement: Jesus is alive!

Ok, again, thank you, kindergarten teacher. So before my coffee, I sit down with our 5-year old for a talk.

I asked her, what the teacher had told the class about Jesus. She said that he had died and then risen from the dead. I told her, that Jesus indeed had lived a long, long time ago and that he was a very good person who was always nice to everyone, helped people, healed them, and taught them how to create a better society by caring for each other. However, he also thought that he was the son of the god that the Jews worshipped, which is most likely not correct; some people in the government didn't like that the people followed Jesus and also didn't like his teaching so they figured out a plot to have him killed.

She followed me through that, repeated some parts to be sure that he had understood everything, and asked me about the empty grave in the end (thank you, kindergarten teacher, for teaching our daughter about grave robbery). I told her that some of his friends had taken his body away to keep it safe somewhere else, and that his friends, who believed to have seen him after his death were extremely upset and only thought to have seen him. And no, he did not rise from the dead, because if you're dead, you're dead. Except if you're not, and then you're a zombie, added Lily (a zombie conversation that I do not want to share at this point ensued).

While we are Atheists (and no, not one of the ones just waiting for a reason to believe!!) we respect other people's faith, no matter what it may be (ok, except Westboro Baptist, those are just disgusting!!); unfortunately, this is not always true in return. I seriously cannot stand if people, who consider us "lost" try to "save" our girls. We are raising our daughters to be critical free-thinkers, who look at matters from different aspects before forming their opinion. If they decide at some point, that Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other religion is for them, we are standing behind them and support them in this decision. This summer, they will visit a Catholic wedding ceremony for the first time, and I am sure that there will be much to be discussed afterward. I just wished that the government would stay out of how we raise our children!

This One Time I Was Incredibly Bored...


Finish the Sentence Friday




Sorry, missed "FTSF" due to Friday night date with the hubby. I still checked out the question, and since I have an almost incredible answer, I will resond today.

So, one time when I was bored out of my mind, I found the Mr. 

Yes, that's correct. I was a student back then and had just returned "home" to my tiny little student apartment from a weekend at my parents' house. I was bored out of my mind, nothing to do, only crap on TV, and none of my friends was up to doing something either. So I was surfing around MySpace (back when it was still cool) and stumbled over the profile of this incredibly cute guy. I clicked on the picture and read what he had been writing; at this moment, I knew that he was THE ONE  :-)

Have a great day everyone!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Date Night

Another Friday about to ring in another weekend. This weekend, we plan to get some down time before Easter madness starts. I promised the girls to bake Easter cookies this weekend, and I'll definitely have to go to the store to buy Easter candy for the kids' baskets (last time I sent the hubby, he accidentially bought mostly booze candy LOL). We might go to the pool Sunday, but that's still open. For now, it's date night with the hubby; when I checked out the movie rentals at the library yesterday, I thought that it was time to get in some nerdy points with the Mr. and picked up:

Princess Mononoke

Along with a little bit of:
Home-made guacamole


... and a little bit of:
Corona. How classy  :-)

Enjoy your Friday and hope to see you tomorrow!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thirsty Thursday - Confessions

Obviously MARvelous

My thanks to Mar for hosting the blog hop!

I noticed something today as I was leaving work about an hour late: I miss girlfriend get-togethers. The other day, I happened to stumble in an unexpected afternoon with three other girls; we hung out, and several bottles of wine later (none for me since I was driving), I was elated.

Today, I closed the office with two of my co-workers, after which we spent some time chatting about the latest TV-shows, relationships, children, and whatever. I don't know if it's the spontaneity, which doesn't happen much any more with two little girls, or spending time with women my age without the little ones; not sure, but I enjoyed the time.

I know that Richard keeps telling me to take more time for myself; but to be honest, at the weekends I just cannot get myself to leave the girls alone. He deserves a break, and I need the time with them. Until a few weeks ago I didn't even miss time with my own friends, most of whom live at least an hour away. But ever since this afternoon I realized, that I need girl's time. Whether it is joking about motherhood, talking men and relationships, or just about TV, movies, and fashion (a bottle of wine doesn't hurt either).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Love Story With Pink

I have never seen myself as a girl mom. Having been quite a tomboy myself, with a wardrobe full of jeans, black, and the quite lonely splash of red or blue (yes, I was able to get dressed in complete darkness and still rely on being dressed appropriately) and a healthy dislike of pink and frills, I was seeing myself chasing soccer balls with my sons.

When we were pregnant for the first time, I asked Richard to not find out the gender as I wanted a surprise at the end. To be honest, I was so thankful when he came back from the bathroom to announce the two blue lines (yes, I was so chicken that I peed on the stick and ran) that it really didn't matter if we would have a boy or a girl. Our first feeling was "girl", but as the pregnancy commenced, I let myself be convinced that we would most definitely have a boy (carrying low, carrying small, and all the other old wive's tales). We prepared neutral and decided to get the gender-specific outfits later; to be honest, we didn't get much of anything clothes-wise, since my friend had given me couple of bags of her hand-me-downs from her son so we would definitely get through the first couple of weeks (and baby wouldn't care what she would wear anyways).

Come February 2, 2008, when after almost 60 hours of labor (could a girl do something like that to her mommy??) at 12:40pm I got to hold our DAUGHTER for the first time. I have to admit, there was a split-second of shock when the doctor announced that we had a girl. But then, there was only bliss to be able to hold our healthy child and having given my husband the daughter he wanted.

At this moment, I was re-born as a girl mom; I didn't know it yet, but I was. I left the hospital in black pants and sweater, a black diaper bag, and our little girl in brown sweat pants, beige sweater with a teddy on it, and a Whinnie The Pooh hat. Yes, at this point, someone had already congratulated us on our "cute little boy". A few days after her arrival, my co-workers threw me a surprise baby shower at the office, where I was presented, among others, with a PINK diaper bag. My co-worker, who has three boys and always wanted a girl, insisted, that a GIRL mom needed a PINK diaper bag. I believe it took me a few days until I could make myself use it for the first time, I just wasn't a pink girl, was I?

And that was when the flood of pink outfits arrived, and after a while, they weren't even that bad any more.. I even started LIKING them and cooing over those adorable little outfits myself. What the heck was wrong with me? And then, the day came where I got my first pink item of clothes myself, just to match with our little girl and show to the world that I was indeed a proud girl mom.

I would have never thought that motherhood would change me so much, but it did. I'm still not fashionable, a jeans and t-shirt girl that is horrible at accessorizing. But I have a wardrobe now where I cannot get dressed in the dark any more. I have embraced a female side about me that I have not known existed before I had a daughter. Don't get me wrong, our closets is not flooded with pink everything (having a daughter named "Violet", you may take a lucky guess regarding the main color in her closed), but we three girls do indeed enjoy some well-dosed pink every once in a while.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Powell, Party Of Four, Forever?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself those past few weeks. I have the baby fever really bad at the moment, but with the house and Violet having her issues, right now is definitely not the time to expand our family. However, deep down I feel like I’m not done having children yet for good. From the time I was seriously thinking about family, I wanted three children; if possible, two close together and another one 5 or 6 years after the second.
 
Then, I got married and became pregnant a little over a year later. Once we had our little girl, I wanted to have a second one as soon as possible. As she approached 9 months, the time I wanted to wait until trying for another baby, there was no way we were ready to add to our family. I felt I didn't even have enough time to spend with Lily; however, when she was 15 months old, she started asking for a sibling. To be honest, I was not ready for another one, but Lily was lucky and September 16, 2009 at 4:30am, two little blue lines smiled back at me from a pregnancy test (I would find out that I had been 10 weeks pregnant at that point). Our little girl was over the moon, and we adults were panicked. We tried to decide how to continue from there, as we both knew that something had to change; in our situation back then, having another baby would have really stretched the finances and I already felt enormous pressure as the only bread winner in the family. So we decided to pack up and move back to my native Germany, 6 weeks after our second bundle of joy had arrived. And for once, most things seemed to be in our favor. I found a great job, the social network is a lot stronger in Germany, and we moved to a nice 3-bedroom apartment that we could have never afforded back in Washington.
 
Even with all the change she had to go through, Lily has always been a very independent child; Violet, however, was her polar opposite. She has been suffering from separation anxiety and attachment disorders since she was a little baby; even today, as she approaches her third birthday, I can hardly leave her sight without her following me or crying for me. Those past months, I havenoticed that she is working on taking teeny-tiny baby steps towards becoming somewhat more independent. We are sure that once she starts kindergarten in fall, she will make enormous progress, which now sends me in a huge baby fever. I miss having a huge baby belly, I miss holding my newborn child, I miss nursing, to experience all that just one last time; to have the time to really enjoy this special time as a family since I had to start working full-time much too early after the girls were born.
 
A couple of weeks ago, Richard and I talked about our family and our plans for the future, and as just the idea of never having another baby again sends me into a full-blown panic attack. Richard, however, confessed that he cannot imagine having another baby and going through all of this again, at least not now, maybe several years down the road. 
 
I admit, he had to do most of the work so far; we had decided not to put Lily and Violet in day-care but keep them home until kindergarten (in Germany, children start kindergarten at 3 years). As Violet is now signed up to start kindergarten as well, Richard is turning towards looking for work outside the home once again. And there, I can definitely see his point of view; I am not SAHM-material, as much as I love the girls.I do admit that I would love to work less to spend more time with the girls (even though after a stressful, cabin fever-filled weekend I am looking forward to get back to work). I know that if we decide on having one more, things would be different; we would send the little one to day-care earlier so Richard doesn’t have to give up his job again. I would stay at home longer (maternity leave in Germany is for 12 months) and maybe even cut back on hours afterward. 
 
We have two beautiful girls for whom I am thankful beyond words. I do enjoy every second with them, but somehow I feel as if our family is still incomplete. Lily would love another sibling, she already asked for it, but Violet is definitely not ready for one yet; and Richard and I both believe that we need to care for the girls we have before adding one last child to the family. Maybe my baby fever will pass and in a few years Richard and I will enjoy the freedom of having two girls who can be left in Grandma's care for a weekend while we head off to Rome for a very belated honeymoon. Or we might "fill up" the house we're building (to say it in Richard's words). I know that now is not the time to think about expanding the family and that my reason has to be stronger than my heart, which yearns for a baby. I know that once the time comes, Richard and I will make the decision that is right for our family; I just hope that my health will stay strong for a few more years, so we will still have all the options. And should we remain a family of four, I think that I will be able to learn to say fare-well to my unborn third child and enjoy the family that I never thought I would have.
The Powells: Mr., Mrs. + two beautiful girls!
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Me And My Cup Of Chamomile Tea

Yes, I know the title is bad. I just had to rhyme a little, because it makes me smile and forget about the fact that I just feel crappy right now. I've started feeling sick yesterday after sharing a bottle of prosecco with my friend Brooke. I couldn't sleep well, had weird dreams, and was definitely not ready for work when the alarm went off. Somehow made it through the day and enjoyed cuddling with the girls while watching Simpsons after dinner.

My fellow blogger Laney at  Owl Tell You Like It Is posted the question who has influenced you the most in your life - personally or professionally - and why? Since for some reason I couldn't respond to her post, I am linking up and answer it here!

Right now, my huge professional role model is my current boss. She is also a mother of two, who has been working while her husband raised the kids. She is a hard worker and a fair boss, who demands the best of everyone. Her knowledge puts everyone in the office and even some of her bosses to shame. I know the difficulties we are facing being judged for how we raise our kids with me working and Richard being home. It must have been even worse back then for me, but still she managed to rise to the position she is in now while being there for her family.

Personally, it's the hubby, hands down. He's such a good person; according to one of his best friends a better Christian than most Christians he knows, even though we are Atheists  :-)  He is patient and compassionat for what he does. And he still tries to better the world. We were once at Hastings waiting at the check-out. There was a group of handicapped young people in front of us; one of them wanted to rent a video game but the person at the check-out wouldn't give it to him because he didn't have a rental account there. Richard put it on his card, knowing that he would end up having to pay for it, which he did. But he made that young man so happy; yes, it sounds sappy, but I fell even more in love with him at this point.


I'd love to hear who influenced you; looking forward to reading your responses!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Weekend Recap

And here I sit, Sunday evening already, eating microwave veggy lasagna (bad, I know), being slightly tipsy (thank you to my friend Brooke, who brought the prosecco). And what a weekend it was!

Friday:
This Friday was a TGIF-kind of day. I had done some overtime, it's a busy time in the office. And my special co-worker needed to make quite sure that I will NOT miss him during the next three weeks! Richard had prepared meat-loaf with roasted root vegetables and a mushroom gravy, perfect for a snowy day! Unfortunately, we had to postpone our date night, since hRichard expected a friend over to prepare for a game scheduled for Sunday.

Saturday:
Richard and I got to sleep in (yay!!) until about 10am. We planned to take a trip into Erlangen (again!) to pick up a few things, until the girls decided that they rather play with the twins from downstairs. The weather was quite fair again and the snow of the last days was melting. We adults used the child-free apartment to do some cleaning and one-on-one time. Later on, we had one of the twins over for some play time. I prepared raw vegetables with a sour cream dip, grilled meat-loaf (cheese for the pescetarian in the family) and brown mushrooms in balsamic dressing, perfect spring dinner just a day after a winter meal. Crazy German weather! After the girls had gone to sleep, Richard and I enjoyed some home-made tiramisu and a movie for our date night and went to bed early since we had plans for Sunday.

Sunday:
We got up earlier, around 8am; I baked some bread rolls and enjoyed breakfast with the girls. At 9:30 we had our bags packed and headed off for the indoor pool. Since Lily decided that she didn't want to continue her swim class, we are trying to go to the pool at least every other week to keep her in practice; and Violet enjoys the water, too. We had lunch at home and the girls took some quiet time until my friend Brooke and her family arrived at our house. We had cake, coffee, beer, and prosecco and just enjoyed ourselves. Come dinner time I was not feeling so well, so we just baked some pizza baguettes. The kids went to bed early, they were just SO exhausted. Richard is spending the night playing with his friend on the computer and I just try to relax a little and prepare for yet another week. Just two weeks to go until I have a week off!!


Sunday Social

Sunday Social


Today's Social Sunday is as usually hosted by Ashley; thanks for the great questions!

1. What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
 This one depends. If I feel cozy, I might just bake some chocolate cake, make some tea and watch movies with the girls all afternoon. If I have cabin fever because it is the 10th rainy day in a row I might take the girls to the Playmobile Fun Park, the indoor pool, or just meet up with a friend.
2. What is your favorite thing to do on a summer weekend?
 Be outside! Have a picknick at the playground, go to the pool, take a trip to the zoo. Just spend as much time as possible outdoors, because rainy days will come way too soon.
3. What is your favorite spring activity?
Right now I try to get a egg-dying party for a few of Lily's and Violet's friends. We also enjoy the first mild days of the year by coloring the street with chalks and blowing bubbles.
 
4. What is your favorite way to spend a winter day?
 Make some spiced wine and bake cookies with the girls.

5. What is your favorite season and why?
 That would be fall. Most of the time, I just got sick of hot weather and enjoy the first chilly days. And I love watching the leaves change colors. Autumn is simply beautiful here in Germany!

6. What is the best birthday you ever had?  
 I would say my 24th birthday; a few weeks before, our child I was hoping for so long was born. I was cuddling with our newborn daughter, watching The Motorcycle Diaries and Richard made spinach lasagna for us. I was in heaven...

Thanks again to our wonderful hosts for coming up with these great questions. Looking forward to reading other people's responses!
 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday Date Night - Saturday Edition

Since the hubby expected a friend last night to be nerdy with (i.e. setting up the D&D campaign for tomorrow's game), we decided to have our Friday Night date tonight.

Our plans? Watching "The Illusionist"...

Edward Norton

...eating some of this goodnes...
Home-made tiramisu

...with a little bit of South African awesomeness...
Cabernet Sauvignon

Hope to see you all tomorrow!



Friday, March 15, 2013

Something Stupid...


Finish the Sentence Friday


Since I don't have much to day today, I'm just trying another fun link-up hosted by Kate. The "Finish the Sentence Friday" question of the week:

I did something really stupid once when I decided to trust a guy I knew I couldn't trust. What happened? During my time as a party girl I met a guy; we hung out for a while. After we almost got into a routine police control with my car and I later found out that he was carrying some dope in his pockets, I ceased all contact with him.

Fast forward a couple of years, I was about to graduate from college and was newly-engaged to the now-Mr. I was having a couple of drinks and a shisha at a local bar with some of my friends, when I stumbled upon him by accident; he was hanging out with a friend, who was from Turkey and told me he had cleaned up and tried to live straight-forward now. I had just returned from a trip to Istanbul with my best friend a few months ago, so we started talking. As the evening went on, we all decided to have some tea at the guy's friend's home. My former friend said he just needed to run home really quick to pick something up and would meet us at his friend'S house. Already guessing what happened? Well, of course, he did not show and his friend tried to hook up with me even though I had told them earlier that I was happily engaged. I ran out of the place yelling at him and probably waking the entire house, I didn't care.

Was I naive? Definitely. Did I know better? Well, I certainly had a bad gut feeling. I still believe in the goodness in people, but will certainly listen more to my gut and my brain.

I was embarrassed enough not to tell the fiance at this point; I confessed a couple of years later, and he was pretty amused. LOVE this man!!




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crafty "Cowgirl Jessie" Costume

After the girls got the "Toy Story"-DVD box set for Yule, Lily has been a declared fan of everything Toy Story. Needless to say, that she asked me for a Toy Story theme party for her birthday. Since her birthday was during carneval, I decided that we would put a "costumes welcome" on her invitation. As an extra surprise for her birthday, I decided to try and sew a "Cowgirl Jessie" costume for her.

Since I am everything but talented but very motivated, I tried an easy way to get as close to the "Jessie" look as possible. Here's the result:

Cowgirl Jessie

For this cosume you'll need:
a pair of blue jeans (I just took a pair from her closet).
a button-down shirt or blouse in white or cream (I bought a shirt at H&M for €9.95)
some yellow felt fabric (the with from shoulder seam to chest on the shirt)
some black and white cow-pattern minkie (dalmatian pattern works, too!)
total cost for fabric round €5.00
Cowboy hat (€2.00)
red felt-tip pen
needle and threat

For the shirt:
Cut the yellow felt to fit the front of the felt between shoulder seam and chest section; mind the pointed border. Stitch it onto the shirt. Cut two sections for the sleeves from cuff until mid-forearm. Stitch onto the sleeve and cut the fringes. Draw red embroidering onto the felt (or do the embroidery, if you are talented!)

For the pants / chaps:
Cut the minkie to the length of the leg and with of the front part of the pants plus some extra for the seam. Stitch onto the jeans.

et voila  :-)
I did it, Lily LOVED it, perfect  :-)

Modern Cooking - Spanish Veggie Tortilla

Tonight was a "what are we going to cook"-kind of evening. Lily asked for eggs, potatoes, and carrots, but I didn't really feel like breakfast for dinner. But we came close to her requests, as my Spanish veggie tortilla came to mind. A Spanish tortilla is much different from Mexican tortilla and can be compared more to an omlette. I had it the first time about 8 years ago when one of my favorite teachers from college hosted a barbecue to celebrate the upcoming graduation at her home and served this dish.

Spanish Veggie Tortilla

Ingredients (for tonights tortilla):
5 small potatoes
1 large red bell pepper
1 zucchini
brown mushrooms
5 eggs
some milk
rosemary, marjoram, salt, and pepper to taste
some parmesan cheese, grated
olive oil for the pan

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Cut potatoes into small pieces and add to skillet. Cut bell pepper, zucchini, and mushrooms to bite-sized pieces and add to skillet. Cook until slightly browned; season with rosemary, marjoram, and pepper. Slightly beat eggs; add about 1/4 cup of milk, season with some salt and pepper. Pour egg mix over veggies, reduce heat to low medium and cover. Cook until egg mixture is set and firm. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, cut in wedges, and serve.


Why we love this recipe so much? Because it's versatile. You can use about any veggie you have laying around; we even have used it before to turn some left-over grilled vegetable into another dinner. You can prepare it as the main dish with a side salad or serve it as a side with steak, chicken, or at a barbecue. It's even a perfect dish to bring to a pot-luck.

Try it and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Atheist Alternative To Easter

Yes, I'm not only a fan of the winter solstice or Yule celebration, but also love Easter. No, I am not talking about the barbarical celebration of a poor fellow being nailed to a cross, falls into coma and somehow lives to tell about it. I am talking about the spring celebration that's happening between the end of March and mid-April.

Yes, I am serious. Besides going to church (sometimes several times) during those last days of the "Passion of Christ", most of today's Easter traditions are more Pagan then Christian:

Easter is scheduled around the start of spring (March 20), but also encorporates a lot of beautiful Pagan traditions to welcome spring. Even though I am an Atheist, I still enjoy a lot of Pagan traditions year-round. Most of all, because the reasons for these celebrations can be clearly explained by science; besides that, I feel very connected to nature, and therefore love to celebrate the seasons as they change.

The Easter egg and Easter bunny both stand for fertility and are the symbols of the Nordic goddess Freya, whose domain is love, fertility, and family. (Please forgive me if it makes me smile if I see churches decorated with Freya's eggs during Easter!)

Thus, I am looking forward to preparing Easter baskets, coloring and decorating eggs, and hoping for some nice weather to have a Easter egg hunt outside in the garden!


Fun fact: Violet was almost 13 months old when she got to celebrate her first Easter; she was born the day after Easter in 2010 and 2011 had an extraordinary late Easter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Does Our Daughter Suffer From PTSD

I have a little shadow; her name is Violet. She follows me around and gets upset if I leave anywhere without her. She constantly follows me around to inquire whether she could come with me, whether we are having plans to go out or not. Except of work, I hardly ever leave the house without her, but still, she needs the constant reassurance that we would not leave her behind. Richards joked at some point that she might have been abandoned in a past life. However, we're also very worried about her. We thought her attachment, which was extreme from early infancy on, would pass, but so far, it hasn't.

I have talked to one of my best friends about it and she mentioned the possibility of infancy PTSD to me. I couldn't imagine that. Nothing really "traumatic" had happened, she was never abused or neglected and born int a loving family even though we all went through a transition during this time. Early into the pregnancy we had decided that it would be the best for the family to relocate to Germany once Violet was born. So we had been packing and sending boxes. I suffered from a certain anxiety during that time, which I considered normal considering the prospect of packing up a family of four and moving to a different country on another continent without having jobs, without having a home (we were to stay with my grandparents untiil we had found jobs and a new home). About two weeks before Violet was born, I received a phone call from my parents; my grandfather had died from a brain aneurism. I was shocked, but was not in the emotional position to really accept the grief. Once our baby had arrived, the stress started of sending out the last boxes, getting all her travel documents and organize the move. On the day of the move, I was a mess. I hardly didn't sleep, cleaned the entire house taking care of a toddler and a newborn while Richard stood in line for 2 hours to cancel the last utilities. We moved and lived with my family for two months before moving to our own apartment about an hour away.

Last week, I stumbled over an interesting article by Julie at Life.. According to Julie on parenting an anxious child. This post got me to do some research, where I came across this article on PTSD in young children published by the Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health (MACMH). Even though, as I mentioned before, she was never abused or neglected, I am wondering whether she has experienced the whole move as something more traumatic than we had thought before. I acknowledge that Lily, almost 2.5 years old at this point, had sufferent from night terrors for about two months after the move and slept in our bed every night during that time, which she had never done before as she was always a good sleeper. But she recovered and became her old self again.

Violet, in contrast, is still displaying many symptoms described in above referenced article by the MACMH: "difficulties in going to sleep (,) disrupted sleep, an exaggerated startle response, increased irritability or fussiness, and / or intesne separation anxiety." During the first months of her life, no-one but me could comfort her if I was around (and she always seemed to know). She never was able to fall asleep by herself until she was about 2 years old. She still is not sleeping all the way until the morning but wakes up and needs to be picked up from her room. When she was about 4 months old, she had a phase when she would wake 5 or 6 times per night (yes, I was a zombie during these months), and she still has extreme separation anxiety. She accepts me going to work, but when she knows that I am home, she will inquire over and over again whether I would stay home, and if she gets the notion that I would go somewhere (whether I actually do plan to leave the house or not), she will ask over and over again if she could come, too, even when we already put on her jacket and hat. I am not even able to go to the basement to get soemthing from the freezer without her following me. Until now, I thought she was just very attached, but this article really got me to think. I cannot bring it over me to push her away from me and purposefully do things without her. I truly believe that this would make things worse rather than curing anything.

I hoped for the longest time that she would rally and detach herself naturally, but as her third birthday approaches I wonder whether she actually does need help. Next month we have her 3-year check-up and I will definitely will talk to her doctor about the issue. I hope that I am just an overly anxious mother, but should she need help, I want her to get it as early as possible to be able to lead a normal life.

Weekend Recap

Oh dear, it's Monday already! That means, one day closer to another weekend. Last weekend was a lot more busy than we had planned, but we enjoyed it nevertheless.

Friday:
Richard and I had a cuddly Friday night date on the couch after the girls had gone down for the night. The movie changed on short notice (from "The Illusionist" to "Burke & Hare"), and the wine came from France, not South Africa (note to self: don't wait buying the wine Friday night after work). I really enjoy our new "tradition" of spending the Friday nights without computers and enjoy each other's company more.

Saturday:
The plan was to go on a short trip into Erlangen to buy a new music stand for Richard and check out shoes for the girls. Our trip ended at the corner store, where the car decided not to move any more. Luckily, our neighbors are mechanics and helped out. Obviously, the battery had lost it's charge over the cold winter and only driving very short distances most of the time. So we spent the afternoon outside with the girls enjoying the spring weather. I cooked spaghetti with shrimp, red onions and olive oil, yummie. We're really glad that the girls are good eaters and love sea food. The evening until bed time was spent playing games, Lily telling us a picture story, and blowing bubbles on the porch. In the evening, Richard played computer games with his friends in the US while I called a friend of mine and spent some time working on my blog.

Sunday:
The morning was spent with some cleaning. Around 10:30 we headed out to collect a signature on our building application; luckily, the battery in our car had recharged and everything went well. After lunch and baking a bunch of muffins, we headed out to visit a friend of mine. We relaxed and talked while the kids played; after the rain had stopped we even got to go to the playground for a while. Yes, I'm definitely ready for spring! On the way home we treated the girls to some BK (the "My Little Pony"-toys were a hit!). After coming home I went to collect another signature on our building application; when I came home, Violet had already gone to sleep; I helped Lily with her shower, read her a good night story and cuddled our little girl to sleep. The evening was spent quiet, doing some laundry and preparing for the new week.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Social

 
Sunday Social
 
It's Sunday again; the end of the weekend marks Sunday Social, this week hosted by Ashley.
 
1. What is one movie you are terrified to watch?
The weird thing about scary movies is that they are terrifying the first time but lose their impact when I watch them a second or third time. However, a movie that I am terrified to watch is "Grave of the Fireflies". It's the story of two war orphans starving to death in WWII-Tokyo. Richard watched it years ago and is still not ready to watch it again. I bet once I will, I will have to sleep with the girls that night, just to assure myself that they're ok.
 

2. What is one TV show you have always wanted to get into but haven't yet?
Honestly? Venture Brothers. The hubby is a proud nerd and I share some of his passions (say: tabletop role-playing games), but never could get into that show.
 
3. What is one daring activity on your bucket list?
Travelling to Cuba. Even though it's not really daring since I am a German citizen and we don't have an embargo with Cuba. But since I am not the daring type, I just claim that one.
 
4. Would you ever travel alone?
I have travelled alone to England before (from Germany) to attend school there during summer to prepare my for my high school finals. For a real vacation I prefer to travel with the family or a friend.
The Sands, Paignton, England
 
5. What activities do you like to do alone?
Blogging. I hate if the Mr. hangs around and peeks over my shoulder. He doesn't do it very often, and I think when he does it, it's mainly because he hates having me peek over his shoulder in general, even if he's only reading headlines or comments on Fark.com.
 
 
Thank you again for the great questions!