30 November, 2008

Now more dangerous than ever!

We've had a busy weekend-- S and B belatedly celebrated their birthdays and we took 8 kids to the theater to see the Meerkats. It's a documentary for kids and follows the life of a family of Meerkats who are living in the Kalahari desert. The footage was amazing-- some parts of it were filmed in the animals' burrows including a scene where they were being chased through the tunnels by a cobra!

Speaking of the dangerous creatures, S and M completed another exam on Saturday for Taekwando and have now earned their yellow / green belts!

28 November, 2008

Storytelling at its best

I love NPR and thanks to the wonders of broadband Internet I listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered every day.

Every Thanksgiving a southern Georgian author named Bailey White shares one of her short stories. Her style recalls that of Flannery O'Connor, and her voice and accent bring back warm memories of my own southern relatives. This tale is such a treat-- ENJOY!

27 November, 2008

Stand by me!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Today's not a holiday here so we'll be caught up in the normal routine. I think, though that I'm going to run out and buy a couple of turkey breasts to cook up-- maybe I'll force everyone to sit through a dramatic reenactment of the pilgrims' first year. ;-)

You'll probably all be cooking all day today-- may your turkey be tender, your onions perfectly caramelized and the wine good and copious! :-)

I saw this clip over at Linkateria and loved it:

"Stand by me" is a featured song around the world in which 37 musicians from five continents assemble together to create one unified track. The musicians have never met in person and connect through their music. Each track is added to the song as the musicians are recorded LIVE outside across the globe. The end result is a remarkable human connection and a powerful song.

18 November, 2008

Guardian angel

This afternoon I walked down and met my kids halfway on their walk home from school! Passed the bullies on the way and we all gave each other the evil eye.

S and B were bubbling over to see me!

HI MAMAAAAAAAA! What a nice surprise! Hey, and you're the second person looking out for us today!

Oh really? Who was the other person?

We'd noticed Y's dad following us, but when we turned around he stepped behind some bushes!

This was the dad who scared off the bullies yesterday and brought S and B home. I just called his house to thank him-- his wife laughed when I told her I think he's wonderful, and said she thought so too.

She also said that there's another mother who's noticed these kids bothering smaller children on the way home, and we've all decided to report every incident to the parents and the school. This is the first time in a while that I've felt empowered about the whole situation...

Maybe there is hope for the world?

17 November, 2008

Here we go again...

My kids were bullied on the way home from school today. The two hyenas from S's class spit on them, kicked them and pushed B out into the street. A parent drove by, chased the bullies away and brought S and B home in his car. Both were crying, B's new pants were torn up and he had a scrape all the way down his shin.

I was livid and drove straight to confront one of the bullies and his mother. She and I know each other through the school, and she invited us in so that we could all discuss it calmly. It all started out with everyone claiming that the other one started it, but within a couple of minutes the boy tripped up in his story and started crying. The mother realized that he was in the wrong and made him give B EUR20 from his allowance to pay for his pants.

The other mother then showed up and we all continued the discussion, but this time it went differently. The other boy is a superb actor and feigned surprise that we were even discussing this at all. He still maintained that it was S and B who started the whole thing. And then that it was someone else. His mother was furious with him, furious with me, and furious with my kids. How dare they bother her child?!

This kid bullied a little girl out of B's class a couple of weeks ago, but when I brought it up she just refused to listen. "I know my son is no angel, but he's definitely not aggressive!" Even though I've seen him be so with my own eyes!

I don't understand what's going on here! We are not living in an urban environment where one would expect this kind of aggressive nature from elementary school children! I feel completely helpless-- on the one hand I want to be able to foster my kids' independence and let them walk home alone from school. On the other hand, I need to know that they're safe and secure and not being accosted when I'm not there!

When I called M to tell him what happened his first response was: "Why does this type of thing always seem to happen to our kids?!" But I don't think it's just us-- it seems to be happening to a lot of people, and no one does a damned thing about it!

Is it just Germany, or does this type of thing happen in other places as well?

13 November, 2008


I was craving comfort food this afternoon for lunch and was thrilled to find this recipe for Pumpkin Gnocchi over at Vegelicious. I'd been searching for a good way to use a beautiful Hokkaido squash that I bought at the farmer's market and wanted to cook up something wholesome and healthy. For the children, of course... ;-)

The gnocchi had a great color and texture and the sauce gave a kick to the traditional mild flavor. It turned out just as delicious as it looks / sounds.

The only downside is that I couldn't stop eating them and am now so full I can hardly move!

Pumpkin Gnocchi


* 1 cup pumpkin, cooked and mashed (1 small pumpkin, about 2 pounds or 1/2 kilo)
* 2 cups flour
* 1/2 teaspoon allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* pinch garlic powder
* pinch cayenne pepper
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tbs. soy margarine
* 1 tbs. red chili pepper
* 1 tbs. vegetable bouillon powder
* 12 sage leaves
* 2 teaspoons nutmeg
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut the pumpkin, if it is organic you can leave the skin on, if not, cut away the outer parts, de-seed and cut into medium size chunks.
2. Place them in a pot with very little water and steam them until soft..is only about 5 minutes or so.
3. Remove from the heat and puree or mash with a potato masher.
4. Add the pinch of garlic powder, the pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. of nutmeg, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the allspice and mix well.
5. Slowly mix in flour and knead until it forms a smooth dough. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour until it is a smooth ball of dough.
6. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
7. Divide the dough into bite sized pieces.
8. Mark them with a fork.
9. Cook them in boiling water until they float
10. In a smaller sauce pan, saute garlic with olive oil and soy margarine.
11. Add the red chili pepper, the vegetable bouillon powder and the sage leaves.
12. When ready to serve, pour the sauce over the gnocchi and mix well.
13. Dust with cinnamon and grate a bit of soy cheese over the top.

10 November, 2008

2008: Year of the Tick

Remember this? And this? Now it's my turn. :-P I've got a great big Borreliose bullseye on my thigh.

Generally the danger period for ticks and Lyme's disease ends in September. Which means I also haven't been giving Disaster Doggie her anti-tick meds and she's been bounding around unprotected for almost 2 months. Given her track record with health disasters and the fact that half the humans in her household have had it I'm not taking any chances. Will take her in to the vet for a blood test on Thursday. *sheesh*!

I'm also a little freaked out about Lyme's in general. S and M haven't had the symptomatic rash, but 20% of the people who are infected never get it! I guess the only thing I can do is just be vigilant and have them see a doctor if they ever start having headaches / joint pain / partial facial paralysis, but the problem is that by then it's usually too late.

This is just another one of those things that's better not to even think about or else it will drive me nuts!

06 November, 2008

Vacation photos

Our camera died just at the end of the vacation, which might not be such a bad thing-- maybe the new one will be able to take pictures without a date stamp!

05 November, 2008


Remember this kid? He and his brother are apparently the main suspects in an explosion in a local parking garage last Sunday. Luckily no one was hurt, but the damage topped EUR 10,000...

04 November, 2008

This cracked me up!

DH sent me this video yesterday and it cracked me up. (Seems the media have me confused with someone else--- I sent off my absentee ballot about a month ago!)

(***Note: this video is customizable, just click on the clip and you will be sent to moveon.org's website where you can fill in any name you like and send it to all of your friends. or enemies... ;-) )

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security! No matter what your convictions are it's important that your voice is heard! Please go out and vote!!!!

02 November, 2008

Would you like fries with that?

Because it's cheaper and healthier we usually prepare and eat most of our meals in our camper. Yesterday, however, we decided to end our vacation on an elegant note and ate dinner at a local hotel whose restaurant is recognized by Michelin.

When the waiter got to our table he smiled kindly at the kids and mentioned that chicken nuggets or schnitzel were also available "just in case they don't find anything they like on the menu."

M and I looked at each other and smiled- that definitely wouldn't be necessary. We've always encouraged the kids to be intrepid eaters.

Shortly thereafter we watched in fascination as B worked his way through a huge bowl of mussels and clams. S enjoyed a salad and then they both tucked into steaming plates of nettles gnocci and a couple of lobsters.

It was such a pleasure to see the single-minded concentration and the joy with which they savored their food!

It's funny how sometimes the pleasure of parenthood sneaks up on you! I felt suddenly ambushed by delight and pride in these two openminded, interested little people! This meal will stand out in my memory as exceptional, and it's only partly due to the chef's stellar talent with truffel sauce!

01 November, 2008

It's even nice here when it's blustery!

We're rounding up our vacation here in Umbria. Our luck with the weather didn't hold, but at least it's been relatively warm and we've had a lovely time. I think that at least 40 percent of my calories this week have come from Truffel oil and / or Perugian dark chocolate. Not a bad achievement, if you ask me!

Monday we farted around in Perugia and celebrated S's 9th (!!!) Birthday. Tuesday it poured- we attempted to explore Siena, but got so drenched that we ended up scrabbling back over the cobblestones back to the car at breakneck speeds much like the famed horses in the Palio.

We moved on and the rain cleared up just as we reached Pisa, so we were able to get the requisite pictures of S and B holding up the tower.

Thursday we played a no holds barred game of football and wandered around a picturesque old fishing village on the lake.

Yesterday we "did" Rome. Walked around all day and saw the sights- I've been there a couple of times before, but was much younger and must have been too enamoured in the boys, or later in my new husband, to have really taken it in properly. The whole city is one big open air museum! Amazing!

And throughout all of this I've somehow managed 2 to 5 hours a day in preparation for my exam. The oral half is on Monday and I'm a bit apprehensive since I've spoken so little German this week...

Maybe all that truffel oil will have helped grease the mental gears a bit?