Friday, May 31, 2013

Movie Night

Finish the Sentence Friday

It's Friday! I've been trying to take care of the hubbie the last few days, who has had oral surgery on Wednesday; of course, he didn't want me to take care of him, so at least I tried to give him space. He's had two bad nights without sleep (only Ibuprofen 400, no good American drugs for the poor guy), but got out his tubes today, and a good dinner in his belly, so I hope for a better night tonight.

Lily is still asking where Daddy's teeth were, since he should put them under his pillow so the tooth fairy could bring him some presents for being a good boy.

And since it's already Friday, I'm linking up with Janine for Finish the Sentence Friday. Today's cue:

Your favorite movie of all time is...

nuff said  :-)

A First Date

On the last day of the "Blog Every Day in May"-challenge, Jenni asks us to share a vivid memory.

It was a cold day in November, 2005, when I was getting ready for a first date with the guy who ended up being my Mr. just a few months later.  I wore a comfortable outfit, jeans, an ancient sweater, and my favorite black leather jacket. I headed out to Bamberg, about a 40 minute drive from my place, to meet up and see what to do for the rest of the day. I had only seen him in pictures, but tried to curb my excitement, since we all know how pictures are. When I pulled up to the gate of the post there, I saw a guy who kind of looked like in the picture, ust better!! We went for a walk in town, browsing through book stores, and along the rver walk. That was where he took my hand. We sat down on a bench and talked, and talked, and talked. As dusk was setting in, we walked back into downtown to have dinner at the Mexican place, The food was ok, not good, but that didn't matter any more. At some time, before the food arrived, he touched my face; his eyes - they spoke more in this moment than words could have ever said. Since neither of us knew their way around in Bamberg very well, we decided to go back to his place to watch a movie. He had just gotten Sin City, which I had already seen but didn't mind watching again. At some time during the movie, he kissed me. This night I did something I usually didn't do: I stayed with him. Nothing happened, except sleeping in each others arms until the next morning. We had breakfast together and kept talking. We had lunch at a Greek restaurant just a few minutes from the post; we still go there for special occasion. We started talking about a future, how we imagined our lives, a family. I left after dark that night; I would have loved to stay, but I had school the next day, and he had to go to work. He let me borrow a book to make sure to see me again.

That was the beginning of a story that still continues. We have added wonderful memories of an engagement, a wedding, four moves, two children, and many, many memories of our daily lives together. I wouldn't want to miss any, whether it was good or not so good, since I know deep in my heart that even the not-so-good days with him are worlds better than any good day without him could ever be.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Letting Go..

The day before last of Jenni's "Blog Every Day in May"-challenge is under the motto "Letting go"

I'm not doing good at letting go, but there are moments when we don't have a choice. Lily has always been an independent little girl; she was never the big cuddler and stopped nursing at 15 months. Quickly I became pregnant again, and her little sister was her polar opposite. Violet was always my baby; somehow, I still see a baby in her, even though she almost has her first month of kindergarten under her belt. As a baby, she always wanted to be held by me, she slept with us much more than Lily ever did, and kept nursing. She decided to stop at 21 months. And it was hard on me. I tried to stretch this final time, to keep the nursing time before bed or at night, but it was over. I might never nurse a baby again, and that makes me sad. I am glad that it worked out so well with both of our girls, but when this final tie of physical dependency between us was cut, it was hard on me. But in the end, I had to let go. Ever since, we're trying to encourage Violet to be more independent and self-assertive. Given her personality, it will be a piece of work, but we're seeing progress. I think it will be a process of letting go on both sides.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Challenge 2013 - Book 5: The Jewel Of Medina

The book I actually wanted to review this month is actually very popular, therefore I had not been able to get it in the library yet. So bummed I went to find another book, stumbling upon this book, which has already caused major stirs before it has been even released. It's a fictional novel based on the early life of the third wife of the Prophet Muhammad, Aisha bint Abu Bakr.

The hard facts:
Title: The Jewel of Medina
Author: Sherry Jones
432 pages
Publisher: Beaufort Books, 1st edition (2008)
ISBN: 978-0825305184
Find it on Amazon

The story:
Aisha, a little girl in Mecca is suddenly confined to the house by her parents. There, she has to await her wedding, expecting the groom to be her childhood friend. However, the 6-year old finds out on her wedding day that not her peer is her intended husband, but the Prophet Muhammad, 50-something at that time. She is in shock and wants to refuse, but then submits to her fate, expecting to be released from confinement and moving to her new husband’s home. However, her confinement continues until the age of nine, after the family has relocated to Medina to escape persecution in Mekka. Once she has moved to the house of the Prophet, she quickly assumes the role of head of ther Harim, the women’s household. She is being raised by her sister-wife, Sauda, and enjoys the attention of the Prophet. The years pass; several battles against their enemy, Abu Sufyan, the rich merchant who has expelled Muhammad and his followers from Mecca, take place for survival and control of the area. Muhammad marries several more women, some of them being war widows, others securing political alliances. Aisha is dealing with her jealousy towards these women, which is a frequent issue between herself and the Prophet. At some point, she decides to run away with her childhood friend to be free from the increasingly strict rules the wives of the Prophet are submitted to and become a Bedouin warrior. When she notices that her friend has different plans for their future than she does, she decides to return to Medina, where her welcome is rather cold from the masses. Under pressure from his comrades, the Prophet sends her back to her father’s house until he has a revelation of Aisha’s innocence. However, their relationship keeps experiencing its ups and downs as more women join the Harim and Aisha’s position is in danger. Eventually, after his mistress Maryam falls pregnant, the Prophet accuses Aisha of lying about her own pregnancy to gain attention. The Prophet retreats for prayer and meditation for guidance on the future; while he is withdrawn, Aisha tries to visit him in his refuge, trying to explain her situation to him an plead for forgiveness. On the way back, she has an accident and miscarries. However, due to another revelation, Muhammad forgives his wives for their constant quarrels and disharmony in the Harim. The wives reconcile and Aisha is confirmed in her position as head of the Harim. The book ends with Muhammad’s death and the beginning of the quarrels on the succession as head of the Umma, the community of the early Muslims.

My opinion:

As I mentioned, there was an enormous controversy about the release of this book. The first publisher retreated from the contract due to threats from fundamentalist groups. The author, however, managed to get the book released after all and the publishing rights sold to other countries. To really form an opinion on the controversy, I talked to a colleague of mine, who is a fairly liberal and low-key Muslim (believe me, only she can fast for Ramadan for a months and no-one even noticing, I admire her!). What I needed to understand was how offending a piece of writing about the Prophet and his wives would actually be. I came to understand that it is understood that even though he had a total of 13 wives, he had only had a marital relationship with his first wife; the ones who followed were mostly widows he married to be able to protect and support them or women who secured a political alliance. Thus, depicting the Prophet, who is considered a man without sin by Muslims, as a man who married women because of desire and had marital relations with all of them would indeed be offending to them. Furthermore I learned that according to Islam, the genre of "historical novel" is an issue because filling in gaps in history by fiction distorts the truth and should therefore not be practiced. I believe a "normal" Muslim would resort to simply ignore this book, as it is not even a very good or entertaining piece of writing; more radical ones may, as it has happened, turn to threats in order to prevent the book from being released.

 Let me add that even Islam scholars cannot agree on an opinion of the book; while some endorse it as a good insight in the life of the early Umma, others condemn it as blasphemy.

To sum it up: not really worth your time.

There's Music In The Air...

Today, Jenni's prompt for the "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories. Here, the full spectrum of my weirdness eclectic taste can be seen:

I am one of the weird people who actually believe that John Lennon's world would work.. If there was not the inherent sense of entitlement, greed, and the need for reward... would that make me a realistic socialist?

Perfect song to indulge in after a break-up. And I had my share of these as a teenager and in my earliest twenties.

A festival favorite. I worked as a security guard at the Taubertal Open-Air in 2003, and was SO looking forward to HIM. Well, it was the time before Vile Vallo sobered up; the songs were unrecognizeable, and Vile Vallo would have fallen flat on his face without the microphon stand. This is a recording of 2005. (Hubby interlude: "Are you listening to horrible music again" - Me: "No, just hanging out with the girls listening to old stuff" - He: "But you should have outgrown that stuff YEARS ago!!" - Me: "Not really.." - Hubby: "So you're sitting there, listening to horrible music...")

Since I'm married to a wonderful bassonist, I get to listen to this one and many other beautiful bassoon concertos whenever he practices. He used to play this one for me often enough while being pregnant with Violet; she loved it when she was born. (Right now, however, she claims that she does NOT like this one!).

I wished you all could see Lily rock off to this one. When it comes to music, she couldn't be more her daddy's daughter. I see her standing on a stage with a guitar and a microphone 10 years from now! (I prefer the life versions, they are just so much more "raw"!!)


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Picture Time

Today's prompt at Jenni's "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge? Pictures only!

December 2006

December 2007
December 2008

December 2009

December 2010

December 2011
December 2012

Monday, May 27, 2013

To All Of You Out There!

Today's prompt in Jenni's "Blog Every Day in May!-challenge: A letter to my readers! For some reason, writing doesn't come easy today, but here it comes:

My lovely readers out there:

Today was not a perfect day. I hardly slept at night due to a restless little girl in bed next to me. I went to the finance department during my lunch break to hand in my tax return just to find there being 48 people in front of me; and after 8.5 hours of work, I joyfully headed to my last appointment of the day; the dentist. There were some minor repairs scheduled, and since I'm not yet scared of the dentist and also don't plan on changing that anytime soon, I asked for the anaesthesia. A good hour later, I walk home with half my mouth properly numbed up. The hubby almost breaks in half laughing at me (you look like you had a stroke!!), the girls think my speech is funny, and I cannot eat until the drugs wear off. Let me tell you, reading Aesop's fables as a good-night story while not being able to ariticulate was not a good idea, I think Lily thought I was wasted, even though I'm sure she doesn't even know what "being wasted" is.

In the end, I decided to start dinner before I could completely feel my mouth again, which was an adventure all by itself. Why am I telling you that? I'm not sure, maybe I don't really have anything to say today. Maybe: check when you have been to the dentist last and go make an appointment if it's time. Have your fillings and sealings checked regularly and your teeth cleaned. Not just for having good-looking teeth, but because bad teeth can make you seriously ill.

That, dear readers, was the Public Service Anouncement of the day.

Love,  Stephanie


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Social - Summer (Where Art Thou??)

Sunday Social

Joining Ashley today for another Sunday Social, trying to channel some summer into plain depressing late-May Sunday:

1. What is your best summer memory as a kid?
Oh, the fairs and our summer vacation with my parents. I appreciate all the times they took us to visit foreign countries. Due to our family situation, our kids won't get to travel around Europe that much, as the long vacation is always going to be spent in TX.

2. What is your favorite summer drink?
That's easy, German ice cream coffee or sun tea.

3. What is your favorite summer TV show?
Don't really think I have one. Our two favorite TV shows are over for the season (Doctor Who) or only have a few episodes left (Game of Thrones). Somehow, I consider the idea of summer TV shows weird; when it's summer, people are supposed to be outside, bbq, picnic, etc., not watching TV.

4. What is the best outdoor summer activity?
Going to the pool or the play ground of course, or one of the local theme parks.

5. What are your summer vacation essentials?
Sun screen, bathig suits (for beach vacations) or good shoes (for vacations in the mountain), a hat, a big smile!


On today's prompt of the "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge, Jenni asks to share something we've read online and discuss, if needed.

Even though we are an Atheist family, my husband and I have become fans of the new pope, Francis, fairly immediately. He's such a stark contrast to the last two popes, who have been quite removed from th real issues in the world, offering leadership on issues they have no experience about, and reveling in their splendour while large numbers of their flollowers were living in extreme poverty. How could "god's voice on earth" gorge himself while their flock is starving, insisting that the only way to be a good person is to believe in their god.

Francis has been different from the beginning, from refusing to wear the flashy ceremonial garb to being the first pope in decades to be close to his followers and not hiding in a car with bullet-proof windows like his predecessors.

His latest coup is his private homily of May 22. I almost didn't believe what I was reading there. Not that "salvation" matters to me, since I don't believe in god. But the fact that the leader of the Catholic church admits, that it's not as important what to believe in but rather being a good person is such a leap into the right direction for the church, I would have not expected it. The fact that the pope encourages cooperation rather than damning believers of other faiths or free-thinkers to eternal hell (again, not that I was scared of hell, it is just an expression of respect and the willingness to acknowledge other opinions) is amazing to me.

I hope that Francis has a long papcy, because by now, I think that he might be the greatest impact in centuries. Under his leadership, almost everything is possible. I honestly don't know how he managed to be elected pope, given that his two predecessors in office made sure that the curia is growing increasingly conservative, but maybe a larger number of men of the church actually embraced some reason and the necessity of change and a new course.

I, for once, have to admit that I'm looking forward to what's coming next!



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Me From Other's Perspective

Today, Jenni's "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge promts to share something - good or bad - that someone told me about myself that I will never forget.

Well, there are two things that kind of stuck with me. The first one was back in highschool, I think 7th grade or so. I was definitely an outcast and one of the weird kids. I had major body image issues that I was keeping to myself. So one afternoon in recess, some girl mentioned to me: Wow, you have beautiful eyes! A few of the other kids came over to look at my eyes and agreed that they were very nice. It was definitely a major compliment to me, since it came from kids that usually spend their time ignoring or bullying me. I think, I felt a tiny bit beautiful in that moment.

A not so nice comment came just about a year or so ago from my mom (yes, the usual thing). I've cut any ties to my sister back in 2011. Long and painful story, but I feel better with the situation as it is; I should add that the initial prompt "ok, we are no sisters any more!" came from her, and I just went with it and following through instead of rowing back, apoligizing, etc., as it has been numerous times before. Ever since, mostly my mom keeps badgering me to make up with her, to seek her out and talk about it. I refused over and over again, because it would be her turn to contact me, not vice versa; and since she doesn't seem to see the need to talk to me, I'm (again) fine with it. The comment that really stuck one day, after discussing the whole matter for the nth time was: "You are so cruel and cut-throat, I wouldn't want to have you as an enemy!" Thank you, mother! I know that you claimed time and again that you would NOT chose sides in the matter, but I also know that you have picked your side from the beginning, the side you chose probably once the test back in 1985 was positive. It hurt me, it really did. But I am starting to come to terms with it. I know that she will never be on my side, no matter if I'm right or not. I also know that I can be stubborn and insist on my point if I feel right, which I definitely am in this case. If that makes me cruel and cut-throat, so be it. I know that this is not who I am. There are plenty of people in my life who can attest to that. So once more, her opinion should not cut as deep as it does.

What are the most interesting or memorable things you have heard about yourself?


Friday, May 24, 2013

Bear With Me

Today's cue at Jenni's "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge is quite a difficult one: My 3 worst traits. It can be difficult to be that honest with oneself while also being open to so many other people about it, but here it is:

- Perfectionism. I know, this one can be a good one, but I tend to be obsessive and also transfer it to the
   girls. They are little, and I honestly had to learn that their crafts won't be perfect. I had to learn that it's ok if
   the elephant looks more like a blue blob with ears and eyes somewhere on its back. But if I just let them
   do it themselves, they take so much pride in the result, it's heartwarming. It might not be perfect, but it's
   theirs, and that makes me proud.

- Intolerance. Yes, I admit it. I try to be tolerant, and expand my horizon all the time, but I do catch myself
   still looking down on people for a different life style, their looks, etc. I try to improve myself on a daily
   basis, but acknowledge that I still have a way to go to be the tolerant person I want to be.

- Impatience. Yes, it sucks. It's probably the trait that I hate most about myself. I hate standstill and I always
   have to be on the move, do something, be productive. Working on calming down and take it as it comes.
   Be patient when the girls take a little longer than normal getting ready for bed or to get out the door in the
   morning. Laugh and enjoy the moment rather than being always a step ahead.

What are your worst traits?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

School Doesn't Teach That!

I really love today's prompt of Jenni's "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge: Things you've learned that school won't teach you.

I appreciate that I had the chance to go to school in Germany, but still there are plenty of skills that no school will be able to teach you. The greatest skill life taught me is patience.

I've never been a patient person. I'm a planner, doer, and control freak. If there's an issue, I'll go and fix it. Until I encountered the first major obstacle, when there was nothing for me to do but wait. Needless to say, that didn't go well; it's embarrassing to mention, but tantrums ensued that would have made every toddler proud.

And thanks to the Army, there were plenty of occasions to practice patience. Waiting for orders, waiting for appointments at the on-post hospital, waiting for the hubby to come home.

And once we finally received our ETS orders, I got to keep learning: waiting for the call back after a job interview, waiting on the decision whether we would get the apartment, and most recently, waiting on our building permit.

There are times, when the learning process is difficult. When the uncertainty causes me having panic attacks and insomnia, but I have learned methods to cope. I have learned that there are things I cannot influence, and freaking out won't help a thing. So I need to distract myself, even if it's hard in the beginning. I have learned how to calm myself actively through meditation and breathing techniques.

I have to admit, I am almost thankful for all the challenges, because it helped me acquire a skill that helps me whenever I have to leave my comfort zone: being patient, wait without freaking out and driving the hubby up the wall by running around like crazy, trying to do something, no matter how senseless it is. Patience to focus my energy on enjoying my time with my family, give the best I can at work, and don't waste my time on worrying and generally freaking out.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Educate Me!!

Today, Jenni put down a great, big soapbox for me to get on and hand out a piece or so of my mind. Thank you for prompting me to rant!

Well, I know that quite a few people out there are educators of some sorts. I, myself have worked as a paraeducator at a Kansas middle school for about 6 months. I was excited and had plans to study to become a teacher myself, but just a few months later, this dream had turned sour.

As a little background: I grew up in Germany; our school system has been called cut-throat, because children are forced at quite an early point in life to chose their path for their career. Our elementary school is 4 years, and afterward, the kids have to decide on which secondary school to attend: there is the lowest tier, which means another 5 years of school, and traditionally an apprenticeship (e.g. carpenter, car mechanic, hair dresser, etc.) afterward. The second tier is another 6 years of school, usually followed by either a job training (e.g. office clerk, nurse, IT-specialist, etc.). The third tier means another 8 year of school and provides all the requisites for going to university.

Back to the actual rant: U.S. educational system sucks. "No Child Left Behind"? Seriously? Tens of thousands of dollars for a college education? Really?? How long will the U.S. be able to compare with other school systems? If it continues as is, not much longer!

No Child Left Behind is probably the worst idea ever. Instead of giving as many kids as possible the best education to their abilities, it simply dumbs down the requirements so that even mentally disabled children are able to graduate high school. I do not want to suggest that there should not be an education for mentally disabled children, but it should be an education catered to their needs. And a couple of "special needs" classes or a para-ed won't do it! At the same time, gifted kids aren't challenged enough. I am aware that there are "gifted" classes, but again, not enough. What is the sense of having kids with an IQ of 60 and those with an IQ of 130 study the same things in the same class room? Is anyone actually profiting from a learning environment like that?

What I really appreciate is the integration of disabled and non-disabled kids, but why not have joined recess, gym classes, or home economics and separated academics classes? Because some parent might be offended? Are we selling the future and potential of our kids for the benefit of everyone "feeling good"?

Ok, we've all graduated high school. Congratulations! On to college! You want to be a nurse? Fine, get your Bachelor's, take on about $20k to $30k in student loans, maybe get a Master's for another $40k, and welcome to the oversaturated job market, where you might be earning $40k a year, if you are lucky. Or you want to become a chef? Welcome to one of the wonderful culinary school. It will only cost you about $15k, and you will get a nice minimum-wage job at a warm-up kitchen after you graduate; you're welcome! Ahh, you don't know what you want to do? Come and earn your Bachelor's in Business Administration; cost see above (nurse). IT-specialist? Go ahead, only about $25k, but you'll get loans! And maybe even a job later to start pay them off. Do you get what I mean? We are forced to go into debt in order to be able to get a job that barely covers the cost of living. And the CEOs of the universities laugh their butts off while building new stadiums to rake in more cash from advertisement deals while the lecture halls are crumbling, there is a lack of teachers, and those who are there are oftentimes underpaid. When our daughter was born, we received several ads to open a college savings account for her, since she'll need it to have a chance later in life. This is so dismal! When I started college back in 2003, tuition at public universities in Germany was 0. Yes, you read it correctly, it cost no tuition to go to university. I believe in 2006, a tuition of a maximum of €500 per semester was introduced to cover the additional cost of an increasing number of university students. If you are low-income or a parent, you still don't pay any tuition. And you get government loans of which only 50% has to be paid back, at minimal interest.

Do you see why we returned to Germany? I feel that our daughters have a real future here. I feel that their lives are not sold for profit; that they can achieve anything if they only work hard enough.

Thank you for the stage!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Personal Top 5

Today's prompt on Jenni's "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge is to to make a list of my favorite posts from my archives. I chose to make a top 5, because five is a good number. Here we go (in no specific order):

1. Lily's Birth Story
    - Part 1
    - Part 2
    - Part 3
    - Part 4
This was my first series. It happened to be that this year, the days of the week aligned just like they have been 5 years ago, and since I haven't shared Lily's birth story yet, it was a prime opportunity to share the journey that ended with getting to hold our beautiful daughter.

2. Violet's Birth Story
Sorry, just love to read the birth stories all over again.

3. When Mommy Brain Hits
A little trip into my brain. Ironic, funny, sad??  You decide!

4. I Am Beautiful
On body image and the importance raising our daughters healthy and happy.

5. 3-Hole Devil's Food Cake
A recipe I love to share over and over again. It's easy, vegan, absolutely delicous, and quick to whip up should an unexpected visitor show up on your doorstep (we Germans are all about coffee and cake in the afternoon, it's what hospitality means around here!). ENJOY!!



Monday, May 20, 2013

House Update - The Struggle Continues...

And here, the "Bog Every Day In May"-challenge has made it on our house journey page, as indeed, it is what we struggle most these days. I am totally aware, that this is most definitely a first world problem, but still, we've gotten ourselves into it, and need to figure it out.

So, a few weeks back, in the end of April, I've had a letter from the district building department in our mailbox. I was cautiously excited, hoping for the building permit (haha, says Murphy). Well, it was a letter telling us that they would reject our application at our expense if we would not recall the application voluntarily because the total squarefootage of the house in relation to the property size (Geschossflaechenzahl, short GFZ in German  --> a bonus point for you if you can pronounce it!) was much above the legal maximum. Ok, panic attack is coming on since I have no idea what the GFZ is and what that means for us. I call our building engineer and learn from his assistant that he is out of the office already and would not be in the next week due to vacation. In the meantime I google all the information and double-check our building application just to notice that about all the info in the application had been entered incorrectly. The size of the property was entered as 120 sqm instead of 164 sqm, and instead of 2 full levels they entered 3, increasing the size of our house by 50%. Come Monday, I call the office again and tell them to contact the architect, who has mastered this piece of work (= building application), and tell him to double-check it. The assistent promises that the issue will be taken care of and that she would call me back on Wednesday at the latest. Well, Wednesday passes, Thursday is a public holiday, so I call back Friday, since the assistant has not called me back as promised. She tells me that she doesn't have any info yet but calls in to check; a minute later she returns with the information that indeed, there were mistakes in the building application (duh!!), but that our building engineer will have to look at it on Monday.

Come Monday, he really calls me, just to ask what the matter was, as the only info he had received was to call me back urgently. I explain him again what had happened and he promises to check and call me back immediately. Indeed, he gave me a call back a few minutes later and confirms that there have been major mistakes but that they will send in the necessary paperwork to correct the matter. More time passes, and the following Monday I call in again, since no-one gives me any info. I learn that my building engineer had had an accident the week before but was now back in the office and would take care of the issue. This night we received two pages with correction to sign as appendix to the building application, which we return immediately. However, when I called the district building department to confirm that everything is fine now, I learn that indeed no paperwork has been received to correct the matter, and that another minor issue has, as well, not been taken care of. Pretty annoyed I call our building engineer again to ask what the matter was. He informs me that the case worker has been on vacation and will take care of the matter in person as to not having to take the "official" route.

So I hope that tomorrow, we will finally learn that everything has been figured out and corrected. Keeping fingers crossed and knocking the heck out of all the wood around me, trying to keep Murphy at bay. Richard and I have asked ourselves multiple times if there was any way out of the whole matter, but of course there's none. Too much money has been spent already, so the only way to go for us is forward. We know that once the house is actually built and we have moved in, the struggles we're facing now will not matter any more, but right now, we're at a point where we're not even looking forward to owning a house any more. All he stress, issues, and obstacles we've faced so far before even a single worker has set foot on our property to start building has taken the fun out of it all. Had we known 9 months ago what we know now, we've never even set foot on the path of building our own home but waited until the right house had popped up on the market; yes, buying an existing house would have been a lot more expensive in terms of fees and taxes, but it would have saved us a lot of nerves and stress on the way.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Social - Summer Time

Sunday Social

Linking up with Ashley for a brand-new Sunday Social!

1. What is your favorite kind of surprises?
Good ones, I'd say. We've gotten way too many "bad" surprises recently, mostly bacause of the house. I guess I love birthday, Yule, and Mother's Day surprises, too!

2. Flowers or chocolate?
Hard one.. I think I'd go with chocolate, if it's of the dark kind. Otherwise flowers!

3. What is your favorite summer time activity?
Everything outdoors. Probably going to fairs, because the girls love going on the rides, and I love to get a bag of sugar almonds and watch the hubby getting tipsy off a "Maß" of German beer  :-)

Easy riders  :-)
4. Do you have any vacations planned this summer?
Actually, we do! I booked an apartment in the Bavarian forest for the first week in August just last Friday. Really looking forward to getting away for a little and have a change of scenery.

The tree-top trail in St. Englmar (Source)
 5. Favorite summer holiday?
Any holiday that gives me the day off, so I can spend it with the family. If I have to pick one, I'd probably say mid-summer celebrations. Can't beat celebrating the longest day of the year!

6. What is your dream vacation?
I don't have THE dream vacation, because there are so many places I want to see. I want to go to Rome with the hubby, see Hawaii and Alaska, go to Cuba with my friend, go on a Safari in South Africa and visit Marrakesh in Morocco...

Love Those Blogs...

Today's cue for the "Blog Every Day In May"-challenge: Five of my favorite blogs (in no specific order):

Life Unexpectedly
No, I'm not putting my own blog here; it's my blog's twin (only in name), written by Chantel. She's not posting that often, but whenever she gets to the keyboard, it's a gem that really makes me think.

Two Martinis
Lisa's writing is just so refreshingly honest. And reading her posts make me feel the air of the city a litte...

The Adventures Of Our Army Life
I just love Jen. Period.  :-)

A Dose Of Jules
Julie is an artist, if I've ever seen one. She writes poems that are just so to the point, and her photography is awesome!

The Wondering Brain
My guide to managing to do it all: marriage, children, work, school, just everything!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Being Ugly

Today's prompt at the "Blog Every Day in May" challenge: Tell a story from your childhood.

Well, do you remember when you have felt ugly for the first time? I hope you never have, but seriously, most of you who will read this are girls, and I suppose the large majority of us has felt ugly at one or the other time during our lives. I do remember this moment quite vividly... I was 5 years old, as old as Lily today. We've had a picture day in kindergarten, I had been so excited. I had been allowed to dress up in a skirt and blouse, and we were going to the gallery in the newly-built wing of the kindergarten to have our picture taken. The photographer fixed my hair, and I posed. I felt pretty, and it was exciting.

A few weeks later, we got the pictures back to take home so our parents could select which ones they would purchase. I saw how my mom's jaw dropped and she frowned when she looked at my pictures. And then the bomb went off: she said, she didn't like the pictures and wouldn't get any of mine. They picked several of my pretty sister's pictures, but none of mine. I asked my mom why, and she said that she didn't like them, she didn't like how the photographer combed my hair in a side part and didn't like how I looked in it. I remember how I begged her to buy at least one of my pictures. She did, at last, pick one of my pictures. And I felt ugly for the first time in my life.

Today, this picture is still hanging in my parent's staircase. It is one of the few pictures of me as a child that I actually like, because I look like a girl, not like a boy, who occasionally wears girl's clothes. But the picture also always makes me remember how I felt back then, a quarter of a century ago, and I know that I will never hurt my girls like that!


Friday, May 17, 2013

When I Was Younger...

Another Friday, time to Finish A Sentence!

When I was younger, I wanted to...

... look like her - ghastly, right (Source)

... be a fire fighter. (Source)

... or a vet. (Source)

... and get married wearing a big, white. princess dress (Source)
 Well, today, I chose to be brunette, can't stand hot pink, and love my curves. I got married in a small ceremony, wearing an ivory mermaid-style dress. I work in finance, and kind of happy that my girls want to do what I do when they grow up. They don't really know what I do, heck sometime's I'm not sure myself what I'm doing, but I'm happy with my life!

How I Love Them!

For today's "Blog Every Day in May" challenge I'd like to share a favorite picture of myself with you!

This picture was taken in early December, at 7 months pregnant with our Lily. It was such an exciting but also stressful time. I was working a full-time job, studied for my second Bachelor's Degree, and grew a little baby inside me. At this point, we did not know that only a couple months later we would have a daughter.

I had been struggling with my body for such a long time, battling various eating disorder since being a teenager. My husband was worried about me getting pregnant and having to deal with the weight gain, how I would take the changes in my body. Shall I tell you something? I loved it! I loved seeing the changes and how pregnancy and birth has shaped my body. I'm not all firm anymore, the six-pack is gone, but I enjoy my new curves, knowing how my body was remolded carrying those beautiful little girls in it.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Will You Be Gone??

 Today's cue in Jenni's "Blog Every Day in May"-challenge: Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it?

Well, I call him my "bane of existence". There's this guy in the office, who has the talent to turn my best mood sour once he enters th office. If it rains - Oh dear, this weather sucks, Germany sucks!! All this rain, all the time..  If the sun shines - Oh dear, it's always so HOT here.. Germany sucks, there's no good weather here... Discussing retirement in Germany - Oh goodness, Germany sucks! In my home country, if you reach retirement age, you get 75% of your last income, no matter how long you've worked... On being selected for a pilot project at department level - This sucks, it's so unorganized, no-one can do that, we're only doing this to make the department head look good to his boss!  On sleep - Oh dear, all you guys sleep way too much, I only need three of four hours! You all miss your lives!!  On free-time: Oh, I never have time for anything, that sucks so much! I work this day job, and then I play piano Friday and Saturday night, and Sunday for bruch..  On back issues - Ouch, that hurts so much!! NO, I'm not going to see a doctor about it!!

Ok, you get the impression. If he's not complaining about any- and everything, bad-mouthing Germany and Germans, families, etc., he's getting on all of our nerves using us as guinea pigs for his new career as a magician. Yes, there are actually people who have work to do, who want to go home to their families at a decent time, and have a good time at work.

What am I doing about it?? Wait it out, I guess. He's talking a lot about his goals, and I hope that once this project he's working on is over, he will move on to become the manager he dreams to be, and there will be no 8:30 a.m. cold shower any more!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Today...

Today, Jenni's "Blog Every Day in May" challenge asks me to describe a typical day of my life (including pictures).

Well, I've already blogged about my typical day as a mom with a career, and also a not-so-typical day, when I took a day off to head down to Munich with the whole family to celebrate Violet's birthday.

So, what's really left to tell you?  Maybe a not-so-typical day at work?

Today, instead of getting up, running to get ready and run out the door to catch my bus, I took my sweet time to get ready, had breakfast, put out the girls' outfits for kindergarten, did Lily's hair, filed a whole bunch of paperwork that was lying all over the house, prepared some healthy kindergarten lunch (about which they both complained tonight), and around 45 minutes after my usual time, I idled out the door, because today was not a typical work day, since my colleague and I were heading out to the big city to meet people at the headquarters (therefore: no pictures!!).

That's where I was today! (Source)
We had a lot of fun, meet nice people, and gathered all the information we had come into headquarters for, and then some. I got back home a little later than usual, around 6:15. We had dinner together, Richard had prepared an awesome Spanish cream spinach tortilla that even the girls loved. After dinner, we headed out to the playground for some fun time before bathtime and bed. Right now, the hubby is putting the DVD in for a little spontaneous movie night, so off I am.

PS: Can you guess where I was today??


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Oh Happiness...

Jenni at Story Of My Life asks today to share 10 things that make me very happy. Nothing better to make my day than thinking about things that make me happy.. Here it goes:

1. My family.. All three of them!!

2. The first colored leaves in fall (Source: Forestfoliage)

3. The first green leaves of spring (Source: Wikipedia)

4. The smell of a summer shower (Source: Crimsoncorvus)

5. The first snow in winter (Source: Noworkday)

6. A great book (Source: Phlmetropolis)

7. Watching a new episode of Doctor Who with the hubby (Source: Telegraph UK)

8. An afternoon with good friends and good wine (Source: Etsystatic)

9. The sparkling in the girls' eyes when the see the Yule tree for the first time.

10. Weekends!!

What makes YOU really happy??


Monday, May 13, 2013

I'm Sorry...

Today, Jenni's Blog Every Day In May challenge asks me to issue a public apology. Well, here it is:

I'm sorry for being me. Actually, not really.. But I am sorry that YOU have a problem with me being me. Unfortunately, I will not change who I am just to gain your approval. Why? Well, because the only people who really matter (i.e. my hubby and our two wonderful girls) love me just the way I am. They love me even tough I'm OCD at times. They love me even though I color my hair darker despite the fact that they like me better with my natural color (as voiced by Lily today). They love me despite being impatient, moody, grumpy, overworked, etc. They are my rock to ground me; therefore I will have to inform you that YOUR input doesn't matter. I will never be the housewife you expected me to be. I will never apologize for loving my girls and not yearing for a boy. I will never give up the job I love. I will not apoligize for being successful, since I have worked hard enough for it. I will not apologize for the fight I have not initiated. I will not allow you to abuse my daughters and get away with it. And I will not forget about it for the sake of your precious harmony.

I am me, and if you cannot accept that, I'm sorry for you.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

At the end of this wonderful day, I would like to say "Happy Mother's Day" to all this wonderful moms out there, birth moms, adoptive moms, fur-baby moms, moms of butterfly babies, expecting moms.

A mother can have so many faces, but I strongly believe that a mom is not always born once a baby enters this world. Sadly enough, there are many women out there, who don't appreciate this wonder for a second. My heart goes out to these children, as to the moms who were never able to hold their babies. I'm thinking of all of you today!

Source: National Harbor

Sunday Social On Past And Future

Sunday Social

Joining once again Sunday Social with Ashley and Neely for Sunday Social. Today, it's all about the Past and the Future:

1. 1 year ago I was...
... just returning from our lsat vacation the the U.S. We've been to the in-law's new ranch and visited our friends for the last time in their old home in Graham, WA. We met a few new people, caught up with our old friends, met my friend's new baby boy and I was finally able to meet one of the hubbies good friends from his time in Hawaii. Oh, and Lily got to re-connect with her all-time favorite Uncle David  ;-)

2. 5 years ago I was...
... enjoying my first year as a mom of an outside-baby. And we were getting ready for yet another life-changing event, the hubby's separation from the Army and our move to our new home in Washington.

3. 10 years ago I was...
... just graduating High School, not looking forward to my summer job, but definitely anticipating moving away from home and start college in September.
4. 1 year from now I'll be... 
 ... doing mostly the same as today. I'll be working more actively towards a promotion and hopefully decorating our new home like a little mad-girl. And I'll prepare being the mom of a first-grader!!

5. 5 years ago I'll be...
...hopefully reading the next (maybe final??) book of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series. I might be finished by now and look forward to the TV series. And we'll most likely make the difficult decision on what secondary school Lily is going to attend in September.

6. 10 years from now I'll be... 
... busy saying "no" to a couple of feisty teenagers. And the hubby and I will once again enjoy some of the freedoms of having older kids, like going on couple-vacations; oh, and I'll hopefully be busy preparing for a trip to Cuba with my best friend!