31 December, 2005

Happy New Year!

Happy holidays, everyone! Only have a minute to write-- we're at my parents' place in Jordan (Ontario) and it's snowing outside and looks so peaceful!

Which is about the opposite of the atmosphere here inside-- the kids have been relatively quiet and well-behaved up until now, but their energy reserve is reaching a critical point and they could explode any minute! We're going to pull on some snow boots and go outside and explore the beautiful nature reserve behind Mom and Dad's house.

Aside from having to dodge the two little ticking time bombs that keep whizzing past we're feeling relaxed and happy. Had a fun Christmas with T and C in NJ and are really enjoying hanging out here with my Mom and Dad.

This evening we're going to go to a family-style New Year's Eve celebration. Apparently they ring a bell and celebrate the new year at 8pm!!! Which is perfect-- I usually dread that tension-filled countdown til midnight! It will be nice to get it over with early and then relax for the rest of the evening... ;-)

22 December, 2005

Good wine and a new gadget

Am feeling a lot better today. Turned in my three-months'-notice this morning, and as CH has said, it's nice that we've received closure before the end of the year.

M and I received a good bottle of Medoc as a gift a few months ago and decided to save it for the day we made this decision. That day has passed in a haze that was (unfortunately) not alcohol induced, but we've bounced back and I think we're going to open it this evening.

Was interested to read more about the chateau it comes from and just did a search on Altavista. Unfortunately failed on that front, but found a fantastic gadget called Babel Fish. If your Altavista search pulls up websites in a foreign language you can just click on a "translate" link at the end of the entry and Babel Fish automatically translates the web pages for you!

I've had a lot of fun playing around with it! And am so grateful that I don't have to physically insert this Babel Fish in my ear like you have to do in Douglas Adams books. Yech!

21 December, 2005

What were they thinking?!

Am still feeling too shellshocked and worn out to think up anything interesting to post.

But I have to laugh remembering a post that Defective Yeti wrote last week about that horrific "My Humps" song by the Black Eyed Peas.

That song is just about the most tasteless piece of trash I've ever heard! And it's everywhere! One of the comments on that posting that cracked me up:

"To me it doesnt become truly appalling in quality until the part about "all dem breassss inside dat shirt"

It doesn't even rhyme. If it was "all dem breasss up on dat chesssst" then I could give it a pass."

20 December, 2005


it's gone through. am not sure if I want to laugh or cry right now. maybe both. We'd decided earlier that I would at least stay here until the boys finish school at the end of June. So there's some time to process it. Am completely shellshocked for now...

19 December, 2005

A glimpse of what he'll look like at 12

Watch out, girls!

I guess I can forget about grandchildren...

We had a busy day yesterday and B and S were even more wound up than usual at bedtime. In theory they were upstairs changing into their pajamas, but the giggles and thundering footsteps told me otherwise.

I was in for the shock of my life when I walked into their room: let's just say they were doing scientific experiments to better understand magnetic currents.

By sticking two magnets together.

On either side of their scrotums...

18 December, 2005

Now we know why Rudolph's nose was red

Took a deep breath before plunging into the shark-infested waters of the supermarket yesterday. As with every Christmas season, people are becoming increasingly frenzied as the countdown begins.

Of course I realize that this is normal human behavior, but somehow it still takes me by surprise every year again. And that doesn't make it any safer to deal with when you're half-panicked and flailing wildly yourself.

Leave it to the Belgians, though, to come up with an appropriate solution. As many of you know, beer is not the only Belgian passion. Wine ranks right up there as well, along with various carcinogenic fried delicacies.

So some genius at Delhaize decided to manufacture a dose of holiday cheer by setting up a wine tasting right in the middle of the swirl of shoppers. There was actually an unmanned table set up with uncorked bottles of decent-quality wine! And the atmosphere was hilarious! Everyone standing around, sniffing their glasses very seriously and peering at the color regardless of the flourescent lighting.

The architect of this particular sales gimmick should be shortlisted for the Nobel peace prize! I was actually able to finish my grocery shopping with my kneecaps intact and without being hit by stray bullets! Shoppers were practically whistling in the checkout lines!

Merry Chrishmash...

17 December, 2005

Look out Dieter Zetsche!

S has really taken off with reading. Something has clicked into place and he's reading everything that's not nailed down. This morning he was trying to sound out the word "cent". And of course the "c" tripped him up. So we reminded him that sometimes "C" makes a "sss" sound and asked him if he could think of any other words that worked this way.

YES, he shouts, triumphantly: SUBARU!

Is this a consequence of living with a bunch of males? The auto industry has permeated every aspect of our lives! Some days I feel like a member of a cult!

Am remembering when B was two and we asked him if he knew of any words that start with the letter Z. What was his answer?

Sebring Convertible...

Which actually might have been a premonition about a move to Germany, because that's definitely how the Germans pronounce it: Zebring .

15 December, 2005

Pass the eggnog...

Just back from our office Christmas party and am feeling positively grinchy. It all just felt so forced and fake. Too many politics in the office at the moment for people to really relax and let down their guard.

This picture was taken as Santa was handing out presents. S is so full of expectation here-- and his present was the second-to-last, so I saw him growing increasingly worried that Santa had forgotten him.

The heartbreaking thing is that the office Santa seems to have mixed up his gifts and S got a christmas ornament while other kids received playmobil and fierce-looking dragons. He was so incredibly disappointed! And what can you do except to sympathize and say that even Santa can make mistakes sometimes.

Fortunately, though, C bought a present for him as well-- some hotwheels and a stopwatch, which were perfect!

B sidled over at some point with a funny look on his face and said: "That wasn't the real Santa." and when I asked why he said "Because he shoes were brown." ???

14 December, 2005

Trip was ZU- PAH!

We're back from our visit to Stuttgart and really enjoyed it. Still no final word on M's package, so we can't make a decision, which took a lot of the pressure off. We had a lot of fun!

Looked at some houses, and just explored the area. Loved Tubingen, which is a quaint little college town up in the mountains. If we do decide to move we would like to look for houses in that area. (It was cloudy and my pictures were dreary so I borrowed this one from imogen)

It was a real comfort to realize that because of my Dutch I can actually understand a lot of German. Get the feeling that it wouldn't take much to at least build up a foundation, and realize that the kids will probably adjust quickly to the German schools.

I feel really sick, though, when I think of leaving the friends I've made here. I am very open and have a lot of acquaintances, but it's very rare that I find people who really "get" me. And I've actually found a couple of them here. And we'll be able to e-mail, but it's just not the same. Have to get used to the fact that it might take a while to find that again, and that can be a depressing thought.

Otherwise I think the move would be very positive for all of us. I look forward to the chance to explore another culture in-depth and to try my hand at a new language... Maybe I could even learn to like spatzle! ;-)

07 December, 2005

What goes down must come up...

Does this look like a boy who has just received the bike he has been asking for from St. Nikolaas? Poor little guy managed to pick up a stomach virus and spent the early hours of tuesday morning hanging over a bucket.

Major milestone in the life of a parent: B is now old enough to actually hit a bucket from 2 feet away-- he's finally become a good shot!

M worked from home to stay home with him, and within a few hours he was good as new and pedalling around the living room.

Have to leave tomorrow at 5:30 am for a conference in Paris. And am currently seeing double and am experiencing strange rumbling noises coming from my own body. Was feeling sorry for myself but didn't have time to sit down because S arrived back home early from football practice after throwing up on the field... lovely...

This weekend in NL to celebrate Sinterklaas. (again. am starting to tire of that man...) and then monday through wednesday in Stuttgart for a "look see". That's actually what they call it. Can't read that term without thinking of "Monkey see, monkey do" for some reason. Ugh, was going to make a banana joke and my stomach lurched.

All in all too much on our plates at the moment. (urp.)

I'll close this with a couple of photos of a toy B got when Sinter Klaas came to school. The good Sint has obviously picked up a few of his toys in China this year...

05 December, 2005

This is just too weird!

OK, so now I'm really paranoid. After work this afternoon I turned on my car to head home-- the radio came on and was blaring the exact same man sharing his ideas about mind control and conspiracy theories! In fact, he just picked right back up where he'd left off when I'd arrived at work 6 hours earlier! Very spooky!

Mind control and electronic harassment

So I was playing the traffic game this morning on the way to work; aggravating other drivers who try to speed past everyone waiting in line and cut in at the front. This is the reason I do not usually drive to work-- I get so annoyed at their arrogance and refuse to let them cut in front of me, which usually leads to red, screaming faces in their car and a point to the end of the line from mine.

Anyway, was flipping through the radio stations and came across one that's usually just static. And there was an interview going on in english, which is very unusual. And the sound was weird-- very digitalized, and obviously the signal was being disrupted by the FBI or jammers from outer space.

So of course I stopped to listen. And the guy being interviewed had apparently written a book about government sponsored mind control. He was postulating that LSD was introduced by the government in the 1960's as a sort of mass experiment in mind control. (??? Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't people take LSD in order to lose control of their typical thought patterns?)

And then he started expounding on electronic mind harassment. He cited two different occasions when he felt as if there were some magnetic forces beamed at him. Oh, and one time in a mexican restaurant when his face suddenly got very red and flushed. (I'm sure that had nothing to do with the salsa or margaritas!)

Sadly I missed the end of the interview. But now I'm worried that maybe he was talking directly to me--- Could this be a warning? I've noticed a couple of dot gov IP addresses in my blog traffic lately-- maybe I'm under surveillance?!

03 December, 2005

Revelation of the day

S just realized something very important: It would hurt if you dove into a pickle-juice filled swimming pool without goggles and opened your eyes!

Pressure cooker

The tension level at work is out of control lately. Yesterday I had (at least) one person hyperventilating at my desk! (and it wasn't me!) I might have to find a kevlar suit -- next week I've got to ask for two days off to go have a look around Stuttgart.

We're getting closer to the deadline and still haven't been able to make a decision. (It's hard to decide something when the goal posts keep getting shifted, hidden, sold for scrap...)

M is still negotiating salary, among other things. We've been going over spread sheets ad infinitum to play out different scenarios. I really hate having to think too much about money. Confided to CH that sometimes I wish I lived in a society where we could pay for everything in livestock. It just seems so much more straightforward to me!

But then she reminded me that in those societies I'd have to share my husband with three other women and feed and clothe their children...