Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Translator's Day


Back in 2006 I graduated from translator's school and passed the state certification exam just days before leaving to the U.S. with hubby. I expected to be working in my profession that is also my passion, but had to come to terms with reality soon enough. I don't know if it was the locations we lived, but I never got to work as a translator. I went on to earn a business degree and have worked in that area ever since.

Luckily, I got in touch with a former class mate of mine, who is now working as a free-lance translator and received my first project from her last November. I have been translating at nights ever since, and I am very happy to be able to finally earn some money with my passion.

Thus:  Happy Translator's Day everyone!!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things of Thankful (67)

Ten Things of Thankful

This last week was stressful. I was extremely busy with a big project while still adjusting to our new schedule with Lily being a first-grader. Calvin did not get the cuddles he needed, Violet did not ge the cuddles she needed, and I did not get the sleep I needed to function at 100%. I did get caught up on sleep a little this weekend, and tons of cuddles did happen, for which I am incredibly thankful!

What else happened this week (aka: the 10 things I'm especially thankful for):

1. Fall officially started, so Calvin took me out on a mommy-son-date to Starbucks to have a Pumpkin Spice Latte, yum!!

2. Lily enjoying school so much. Tonight, she read her first full sentence. I can't wait for her to read her first book  :-)

3. My hubby for being the partner by my side, my foundation to ground me, my rock to steady me. It's been stressful those last weeks, but it has been good tackling everything hand in hand with him.

4. The smell of freshly-baked pumpkin bread and apple pie in our home, and sharing this goodness with wonderful friends.

5. Getting to celebrate my dad's birthday with the entire family.  I have to admit, I never even realized how much I did miss my sister until we were re-united again earlier this year.  I'm so looking forward to meeting her every time!

6. Learning that this pushy guy who kind of pleaded himself into the position of parents' speaker in Lily's class is also an atheist like we are, fighting to improve the situation for our atheist children (ethics class in the morning instead of the afternoon, no forced school prayer for them, etc.)

7. Everyone is recovering well from their cold, and Calvin was spared completely so far. Loving the boost for his immune system from nursing  :-)

8. The time with my grandparents. I was talking to my mom about how, when I was a child, the best chocolate in the world was the small piece our grandpa snuck us after dinner..  Wonderful memories!

9. Violet being such a big help taking care of her little brother. For all the times she doesn't accept personal space and - driven by her curiosity - stands more in the way than anything else, I'm thankful for her compassion and love for her little brother that at any time I need someone to have an eye on the little guy or to entertain him while I cook, she's here to sing for him, play with him, rub his tummie, etc.

10. Wonderful neighbors to move in towards the end of the year. I can't wait  :-)

Have a great new week, everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Did you know that today, September 26, is the tenth annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day? I certainly was nut "aware" of it until Heather, fellow mom of a Lily and most of all mesothelioma survivor has contacted me to share vital information on this horrible disease.

Unlike breast cancer, prostate cancer (in recent years at least), or leukemia awareness, mesothelioma does not have a lobby that is being heard, even though the disease is extremely deadly and also very preventable.

What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an agressive soft tissue cancer that affects either the abdominal cavity (peritoneal m.), the heart (pericardial m.), or - in two thirds of all cases - the lung (pleural m.). In most cases, the life expectancy after diagnosis is less than a year. Among the patients under 45, about 37% survive for five years, among patients 45 - 54 years of age, the 5-year survival rate drops to about 20%. (source: Asbestos.com) In comparison, the 5-year survival rate of stage IV breast cancer (the most serious stage) is at 22%; stage II and III have a survival rate of 93% and 72%, respectively. (source: American Cancer Society)

What causes mesothelioma?
Asbestos, a group of naturally occurring minerals, which are used as an insulating material in buildings, ships, etc., is the only cause of mesothelioma. Even a very short exposure of less than three months can cause mesothelioma, which oftentimes lays dormant for 15 to 20 years or longer until the disease breaks out. (source: Wikipedia)

Who is affected by mesothelioma?
Besides asbestos miners and their family, military veterans are a group with above-average mesothelioma rates. With asbestos being used as insulating materials for ship pipes, military personnel working on ships or in shipyard were often exposed to asbestos for years. And even if they did not work with asbestos directly, secondary exposure from asbestos dust from clothes, hair, tools, etc. is nearly as dangerous as working with the material directly (source: Mesothelioma.com).

How can I protect myself from asbestos?
Unfortunately, the United States are one of the only Western nation that has not yet banned asbestos as a building material. Especially if you live in an older house, there is a good chance that it contains asbestos. While asbestos most likely does not pose an acute risk while being undisturbed, home improvement projects may disturb the asbestos layer and release dangerous asbestos dust into the air of your home. If you are building a home, inform yourself about the materials used and opt for asbestos-free building material. Should you need to renovate your home and asbestos is used in your home, invest in a specialist to remove and dispose of the abestos safely. It may be costly, but it may just save your or your family's lives.

Luckily, Heather, the daughter of an asbestos miner, is one of the 37% surviving mesothelioma, but it came with a price. In 2006, she had one of her lungs, the left side of her diaphragm and the lining of her heart removed. Ever since, she is working hard to raise awareness of this horrible disease. For more information, visit The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog and meet Heather and other survivors.

Please also share about Mesothelioma Awareness Day to draw attention to this disease and the fight against it. Thank you to Heather for sharing her information with me!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Imagine... Peace

In honor of today's World Peace Day!

I have had the chance to meditate over this song a lot in the past weeks as I am often listening to it while nursing Calvin. It has so much truth in it, and a vision that is simply - and unfortunately - too good to be true. But a girl can dream, right?

Please keep a look out for a mini-series philosophing on this song coming soon on this very blog  :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (65)

Ten Things of Thankful

Today was bazaar day. I was selling the clothes Lily and Violet have outgrown to clear out our storage and let me tell you, I am so exhausted. Calvin is, too, and is currently sleeping peacefully besides me.  Can't wait to head to bed shortly, so looking forward to SLEEP!

But before I call it a day, here are my 10 thankfuls for this week:

1. Lily feeling better again after catching a stomach bug, running a fever and throwing up on Friday. Even though she's still resting a lot, she's keeping her food down and is fever-free.

2. Violet being a big help these days.She's really happy proving to us that she's a big girl.

3. Afternoon naps with Calvin.

4. A good, hot shower after an exhausting, muggy day.

5. Making good sales at the bazaar today, even though I encountered a few people who were of the mind that they were doing me a favor taking the clothes off my hand and almost expected me to pay them (I'm sorry, I won't sell you a brand-new dress for a euro!!).

6. Stuffed zucchini shared with friends.

7. Getting to celebrate Lily's first day of school and that so far she truly enjoys going to class. She's very good at doing her homework and insisted on going to her classroom by herself this Friday (we are walking to school since there is no school bus).

8. Good friends. Can't buy them for money, because they are invaluable.

9. Hubby for doing computer stuff for me that I have not yet bothered to learn even though it's probably incredibly easy.

10. For new doors opening as others close.

Hope you all have a great new week!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rich Life

Finish the Sentence Friday

I can't believe it's Friday again! Time just flies like crazy these days. Last week, Lily has *finally* started elementary school, Violet is continuing her speech therapy and is making progress, and little Calvin had his well-baby exam and doing just fine. I, myself was not doing too fine. I was working - overworking myself. Since I'm on maternity/parental leave, I am supplementing our income with freelance work translating and similar language services.

One really important thing I have learned this past week is that life is way too short to do that to myself. The money wasn't worth it. I didn't sleep enough, I wasn't able to spend enough time with my girls. I didn't eat or drink enough and extremely stressed out because of the tight deadline. At 1 am the day of Lily's first day of school I decided that I had to stop that craziness. I emailed the customer and informed them that I was not able to complete the project. I felt lighter. I did not want to spend this special day in Lily's life stressed out about when I could return to my work and then pull an all-nighter. I got some sleep, and I enjoyed Lily's day.

Life is indeed too short to waste it with stress. Instead, I will focus more on filling my days with tons of cuddles, laughter, playing games, taking walks, and enjoying having my family around me.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (65)

Ten Things of Thankful

Conversation between hubby and me yesterday:

Hubby: What day is today?
Me: Friday.
Hubby: REALLY?!?!?!?
Me: Yup.
Hubby: I thought it was Wednesday!!!
Me: Nope, it's Friday..  Why do things like that never happen to me when I'm working??

Without further ado, on to my ten special thankfuls this week:

1. Violet not being seriously injured after her tumble off the swing on Sunday.

2. Meeting with several friends this week. Tuesday, our former neighbors came visit us to meet the baby, on Wednesday, Lily, Calvin, and I went to meet a friend of mine in town, and Thursday a friend came over to hang out.

3. Taking Lily on a shopping trip to pick her outfit for first day of school. Love to spend some quality time with my Lily-Pie  :-)

4. Violet finally having her big-girl bed so I can climb in bed with her for some cuddle time after the good-night story.

5. Baked goods; tons and tons of baked goods.

6. Not having to go to work after a night of next to no sleep. Hubby and I were able to trade naps and somehow survive the day.

7. Getting to playing with teeny-tiny baby feet!

8. For hubby, who spoils me in everyday life. I may not be getting flowers for Valentine's Day or our anniversary (which I am totally fine with), but today alone he let me get some rest in the morning after a crazy night with Calvin, made me sit down while he cooked my lunch, and cooked dinner in the evening. Yes, I'm a lucky girl!

9. Natural remedies for bloated babies.

10. Starting a German story time for expat children here pretty soon. Our family knows how important speaking the language is for proper integration, and one cannot start early enough to get familiar with a new language.

Wishing everyone a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

What I'm Up To In September

Last time I was updating I had just returned from a long, involuntary hiatus and incredibly uncomfortable from a pregnancy-induced liver cholestasis. I was also only 4 days away from meeting out little boy, but I didn't know that back then. Now, our little guy is already a month old (can't believe that!!), currently sleeping on the couch next to me, being simply incredibly adorable  :-)  What else is going on here right now??

I'm currently...

... reading:  My weekly cultural/political magazine, and about to tackle Christopher Moore's "Sacré Bleu", which I simply couldn't get into before.

... trying: To be better about going to bed early; and since this effort is mostly futile, I try to get naps whenever I need them.

...  anticipating: Lily's first day of elementary school next week.

... buying: Clothes for Calvin, last items off Lily's school supply list, a lamp and curtains for Violet's room.

... lusting for: everything fall.

... enjoying: this incredibly sweet baby smell.

... cursing: All the paper work we had to file after Calvin was born; but we're about done for now, I hope  :-)

... listening to: John Lennon, Simon & Garfunkel.

... watching: Doctor Who.

... devouring: pumpkin bread.

... waking up: Whenever Calvin does.

... feeling: very, very lucky to have such a wonderful family and to be able to spend tons of time with all of them now.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Calvin's First Month

I can't believe that our little guy is already a month old. These past weeks just flew by. He's been growing like a weed, putting on weight, and being simply a ray of sunshine in our family. He's a very cuddly little guy and generally prefers women over men (yes, a ladies' man already!!). His sisters at least are totally in love with him, and so are we!!

Here are is current stats and favorites:

Height: tbd (at the well-baby visit next week)
Weight: also tbd
Clothes size: He's still wearing a couple of newborn outfits his aunt has sent last week, but mostly he's wearing 0-3 months clothes now.
Number of teeth: none

Favorite food: mommy's milk
Favorite toy: not quite sure yet. He's mostly cuddling with a security blanket Lily gave to him, but also has a plush tiger and plush smurf.
Favorite book: so far, he's not very interested in books yet, but I tend to read out loud to him if I read my weekly magazine (note to self: an article on Ebola may not be too interesting for a one-month old...)
Favorite outfit / piece of clothing: none yet. I love his "handsome" onesie on him, or his "My Mommy can do everything except sleep in peace" shirt  :-)

Likes: cuddling, singing, getting his little toes tickled, getting warmed by the space heater.
Dislikes: bathing, changing his clothes, having a tummy ache.

Happy 1-month birthday, little guy!!

Calvin at 1 month

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fall Baking Fun - Streussel Fruit Sheet Cake

Fall is upon us, and with it tons of local fruit is ready to be harvested and turned into yummie baked goods.  A couple of weeks ago, I found locally-grown plums in the store and picked them up, along with a cube of fresh yeast to make a delicious streussel sheet cake.  Since Lizzi (aka the Considerer) asked for the recipe, here it comes!

Tons of fresh fruit (plums, apples, berries, cherries, mix and match, or stay with one type of fruit), if necessary cut in halves, slices, etc.

1 lb. flour
1/3 Red Star® cake yeast
3 oz. sugar
3 oz. butter
a pinch of salt
1 egg
1/4 - !/2 cup of milk (luke warm)

Streussel (optional):
3 oz. flour
2 oz. butter
1 oz. sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

Mix about 1 tablespoon of sugar with half of the milk. Crumble the yeast into the milk and dissolve. Let sit in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile mix sugar, salt and flour in a large bowl and make a dent in the middle. Cut butter on the edges. Pour the yeast-milk mixture in the middle and add the egg. Mix and knead the dough, add more milk if necessary. Let the dough rise at a warm place until doubled. Knead dough again on a floured surface and roll to the size of a baking sheet with a rolling pin.

Spread fruit on top.

If desired top with streussel.

Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.


Monday, September 8, 2014

ER Adventures

Sunday afternoon, we went with some friends to a beergarden in town that celebrated its 25th anniversary. The girls had fun playing at the playground there and running around with their friends while we adults enjoyed cool drinks and conversation, until a nice gentleman brought a crying Violet back to our table. Obviously, she had fallen backwards off the swing and hit the ground with her head. Quickly, we collected Lily, who went home with our friends and we took Violet to the ER.

There, we waited while TWO adults skipped the line ahead of us.

At the same time, two totally drunk teenagers were lying on the emergency vehicle driveway and were picked up by two police cars later.

Calvin used the chance and the audience to rip the hugest fart you could possibly imagine out of such a small person (or any person at all). I think most people in the waiting room turned their heads, but for some reason I was the only one giggling. Especially since his daddy went to change THAT diaper (which turned out not nearly as bad as it sounded).

After I complained to the nurse there that people keep skipping ahead of us, they immediately took our information, and not too much later, Violet was called in to be seen by the doctor. Fortunately, she did not have a concussion, just a mild whiplash and a bump on her head. I think we really need to get a bubble-wrap suit for our Sweetie  :-)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (64)

Ten Things of Thankful

Our weekend is half over already, with not much on our schedule for next week. I'll need to run some errands in town one day and meet my mom to pick out sports shoes for Lily another. One more week with our Lily at home before elementary school will start. Can't believe that so soon, she'll be a 1st-grader!  I can still remember her being the little baby just born. And a blink of an eye later, she is the big sister to two little siblings and will start first grade.

Here are the ten things I'm incredibly thankful for this week:

1. Our baby smiling. He's been trying to a couple of times, but today he gave me the brightest smile you could imagine. His whole face was lighting up with this smile. So beautiful!!

2. Finding a new and absolutely delicious chocolate cake recipe. Thank you, Pinterest!

3. Getting wonderful back-rubs from hubby as the muscles in my back knot up from nursing and carrying a baby around for most of the day. I see a visit to my chiropractor in the near future.

4. Family. I am so thankful that we are all getting along again and enjoy each other's company.

5. Meeting a colleage from out-of-country for a drink this week. It was so great to meet him again. And he was excited to meet little Calvin, who had a great time on his arm :-)

6. Support from the hubby, who gets up, helps the girls to get ready for the day and takes Violet to kindergarten when I'm in no shape to leave the bed because Calvin has kept me up most of the night. Hope poor baby will get rid of the tummy aches pretty soon!

7. Kids who eat most veggies, and sometimes even request oddities like spinach, caulifower, or brussle sprouts.

8. Enjoying walks to and from kindergarten with the girls. The time with just one of them is really precious to me.

9. Finally, FINALLY having the girls' furniture delivered. Even though it's not perfect and complete yet, they do have proper furniture in their rooms now!

10. Being surrounded by so much love and support. The girls who are more than happy to help out taking care of their little brother and hubby who's doing his best to take as much load as possible off my shoulders. He sure is such a passionate dad and husband; I couldn't imagine a better family!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Excited For Fall

Finish the Sentence Friday

And just like that it's Friday again. Somehow, Fridays feel different now that I'm home, because afternoon naps also happen on Fridays nowadays, not only on weekends. And since I am well-rested now (somewhat), I'm linking up with Kristi and Stephanie for yet another Finish The Sentence Friday. Today's cue:

At the end of summer, I always feel...


- for my favorite season to start.
- for the heat to be over.
- for colorful leaves.
- for lots and lots of pumpkin goodness.
- for Halloween fun.
- for Thanksgiving somewhere down the road.
- for cocooning a little bit on yuckie days.
- for some purging and organizing.

Yes, I admit, there may be a tad bit of nostalgia for summer dresses, ice cream in the sun, and pool time, but generally, I'm looking forward for fall all year long  :-)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

And The Furniture Saga Continues...

Yes, we're somehow still in the midst of moving. Over the last 3 months, Lily has been sleeping on the floor on her mattress and slats, Violet's wardrobe did not survive the move at all, and Calvin's room is used for storage until he inherits Violet's furniture. And I think it's save to say that it wasn't for a lack of organization on our end.

In mid-may, I went furniture shopping for the girls' rooms with my mom; and learned that I was indeed pretty late since the delivery time of the furniture we picked would be about 10 weeks, to be delivered in the end of July. I was a little shocked, but guessed that it was alright, since we'd still have a few weeks time to set up Calvin's room before his arrival.

So we moved, made do with the furniture situation as it was, and waited. As the 10-week period drew to a close, I called customer service to see when they would deliver the furniture, just to learn that the manufacturer had a huge back-log and the furniture would not be delivered until mid-August at the earliest. Which would be after Calvin was born, meaning that neither his room would be ready for him nor would I be able to set up the girls' furniture with Richard. After protesting profoundly, we were offered free set-up for all the furniture, which we accepted, not having any other chance.

At the end of August, we were finally called to set the delivery date for all of our furniture at the beginning of September. The delivery of our wardrobe went fine, but on Tuesday, when the girls' furniture was set to be delivered, I received an early morning phone call informing me that the furniture would not be delivered that day due to several workers calling in sick. You can imagine, I was more than bummed, especially since the day later, when they wanted to deliver the load, we already had a few appointments. But since we were sick and tired of the preliminary furniture situation, we juggled around a bit and were able to have me be home to supervise the delivery and set-up.

Wednesday arrives and the workers were even early. Poor Lily had to be woken up and she moved to the couch to finish her beauty sleep. The workers were even done early, and informed me that not everything could be set up since a few parts were delivered broken and a whole pack of parts was missing all together - no idea when it would be delivered. Later that day, when I got to inspect the rooms, I found chipped of pieces and edges in this almost €1,400 per room set furniture!  On top of that, the slats and matress we got for Violet did not fit the bed frame, even though it was supposed to.

And there I was again, calling customer service, taking pictures, writing emails, wondering, whether it will ever end.  Definitely a never-ending story!