Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holidays

Holidays are fun, wonderful things that bring people closer together and provide a break from our everyday lives. Unless you are 2. Then they are just exhausting. OK, I guess they are exhausting no matter what age you are; you're just better able to deal with it when you are 30 than when you are 2.

Ilya made it through about an hour of opening presents Solstice morning before she put her head down and told me she was tired. Tired! My daughter does not DO "tired." This is the child that took almost a year to sleep through the night. This is the child that, to this day, wakes up every night and comes upstairs to share her awakeness with the rest of us. This is the child who takes AT LEAST an hour to go to sleep for every nap and every bedtime. For her to freely admit that she is "tired" is such a rare moment. Like a butterfly landing on your shoulder: its so unbelievable and precious you don't know what to do.

The really crazy thing is, I KNEW it was going to be too much for her and I couldn't stop myself. I have such fond memories of glowing trees, baking cookies, littered wrapping as gifts are revealed. I wanted all that for Ilya. We had our dear friends Brendan and Stina (aka Uncle Brendan and Aunt Stina) over. Grandma Tutu, Uncle Hugo, Aunt Brandy, and Mana (aka Grandma Mel). I made pancakes and we opened presents.

Then - because that wasn't enough - I invited many more friends over for dinner. Such a fun day - full of friends, family, generosity, love and connection. I felt touched to have such wonderful people in my life. Ilya had a wonderful, exhausting time, and she did sleep well that night.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How I Spent The Last Three Hours

The following is an excerpt taken from a Skype conversation I had with my friend while trying to put Ilya to sleep

[12/16/10 9:06:01 PM] Lena Eivy: I am currently engaged in a battle of wills - to the death - with a two year old who insists that it is NOT time for bed. Technically, she's right. Bedtime was TWO HOURS AGO! xMy current tactic: the supernanny. Everytime she gets up, walk her back to her room without making eye contact or saying a word then close the door. So far: Ilya 28/ mama 0. BUT it only takes 1

29 and 1 poopy diaper
Friend: awesome. drug her?
Lena Eivy: with what? I've got some run in the fridge
Friend: children's benadryl
Lena Eivy: we don't have that. besides I can't drug her every night...can I?
Friend: ...no? just enough times to set the pattern. Possitive association, late = sleepy

Lena: 30 and 1 naked baby

Friend: is she having fun with the game? Maybe you need to make it less fun for her... somehow...
Lena Eivy: I don't know how she would be having fun. I am not speaking to her, making eye contact, or reacting in any way...on the outside...

31

Lena Eivy: Help! I'm caught in a bad episode of "the supper nanny" only there is no super nanny

Lena Eivy: 32 and another naked baby
Lena Eivy: I love her tactics, though. "I'm hungry" "im thirsty" "I want to cuddle""I want to read another book" "I'm having a hard time going to sleep""Would you sing to me?""I love you, mommy""I want to wear a tutu"
Friend: ... I want to wear a tutu?
Lena Eivy: See how hard it is to remain passive

Lena Eivy: 35 naked baby x 3
Lena Eivy: 36
Lena Eivy: Having a toddler might kill me

Friend: and you're up to how many?

Lena Eivy: 41, but she hasn't gotten up for the last 6 minutes. cross your fingers
Friend: crossed

(4 minutes later)

Lena Eivy: did you uncross your fingers? shes at it again
Lena Eivy: 44
Friend: sorry

Lena Eivy: ahhh - she using the heart stings, "I'm really sad" "please sing me a song"
Lena Eivy: a minute ago, it was "I don't want you here. where's daddy?" Now, its "mama, I love you. I'm sad. I need you"
Friend: awww
Lena Eivy: don't you start too
Friend: yep. sounds like a stubborn child.
Lena Eivy: don't feel too bad for her. now, shes chirping like a bird
Friend: I wonder where she gets that

Lena Eivy: wait. hold everything. the sounds from the room have ceased. hold your breath. don't make a sound. this might be it. dare I look?
Friend: no
Lena Eivy: I dare and... YES! WE HAVE SLEEP

Total time from bedtime to sleep: 3 hours.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Preschool

Ilya's preschool is this little haven of joy and love and perfection in the midst of a crazy toddler world. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is only two hours a day twice a week or maybe its because the teachers actually went to school and learned how to deal with toddlers (I'm envisioning a place much like Hogwarts where they teach you magic spells and Jedi mind tricks - that was Harry Potter, right?). Whatever the reason, every time I walk into the classroom, I find myself very aware of every word that comes out of my mouth.

We walk in the door and Ilya's teacher warmly welcomes her with a smile and a comment about some twig or leaf that Ilya inevitably finds on our walk over. I tell Ilya that it is time to use the potty to which she replies, "I don't have to go." My daughter has a bladder the size of a peanut. She peas, on average, 5 times an hour. Sometimes she just sits on the potty for the entire hour to streamline the process. So, she knows, and I know that the changes of her "not having to go" are about as large as actually getting 8 solid hours of sleep a night (in other words, slim to none).

Teacher Linda smiles at Ilya as I madly search my brain for some sort of enticement to get her to sit on the potty that doesn't make it sound like I regularly bribe my child (because, as everyone knows, only bad parents do that).

"Why don't we just try," I lamely suggest. This doesn't even merit an answer from my daughter as she prepares to begin her day. I quickly grab for her hand and try again, "We sit on the potty when we get to school," (LAAA! I am the textbook of good parenting).

"NO!" crap. If we were at home, there would have been promises of food followed by veiled threats to take away the "big girl underwear," but we are not at home. We are at school, and bribery and threats are looked down upon. So, I do what any good parent would do in my shoes.

I give up.

Not surprisingly, when I pick Ilya up two hours later she is dressed in a completely different outfit, and I am unceremoniously handed a bag of urine soaked laundry. Awesome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ilyaisms

I realize that I haven't posted in quite some time, and, to be honest, this won't be a proper post, but I wanted to write down some of my favorite Ilyaisms before I forget them.

* Dandelions are called "wishes"
* Bows are called "rainbows"
* Ice cream cones are called "pine cones"
* When the kitty sniffs her palm, she squeals with excitement and proclaims, "the kitty gave me an apple"

It is not irregular for us to walk down the path looking for wishes while eating pine cones, wrapping presents in rainbows and eating apples from the kitty.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Learning about Community

So, I learned a valuable lesson this evening...only I'm not quite sure what it is.

Adam was working late as he tends to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays when there was a knock at my door. It was the daughter of one of the people in my community named (shall we say...)Winny. Now, I have met Winny's father for all of 3 minutes, and all I know of Winny is that Ilya loves her (Ilya tends to love 11 year old girls). Winny confidently walks in and says, "My brother is going to Karate and I want you to watch me."

What an odd request. Did her father send her? Is she acting alone? I was so taken aback that I used my default response and said, "Sure!" Winny's face lit up and she called her father to tell him that she had found someone to watch her so that she didn't have to sit through her brothers boring Karate class. It took several minutes for her father to understand WHO exactly was going to be watching his child (I don't think he even knew my name, and about half way through the conversation they started referring to me as "the person renting Kibby's unit"). Awesome. It feels good to be loved.

About two minutes after she got off the phone with her dad, there was another knock at my door. This time it was Winny's best friend and fellow community member, (shall we say...)Sky. Sky and Winny made themselves at home. Rearranging my furniture to generally suit their needs (they were making Hawaii) and playing with Ilya.

I was both fascinated and appalled by the lack of pretense that these girls displayed. They had inturrupted me in the middle of dinner to invite themselves over, asked to be fed (even asked me to make them cookies - for the plane trip to Hawaii), made a mess of my home, then after an hour, left. I mean, how cool would it be if we all just did that? Asked for what we wanted. All the time. Regardless of all the manners we've been taught. What would our world be like if we didn't worry what people thought about us. If we did what we wanted and were true to ourselves, living in the moment. All day long.

Half way through the "playdate?" I was thinking that I needed to make sure that set up limits for the future, but by the end of the evening, I realized that I really enjoyed their presence. Ilya had a blast, and I think I learned something much more important than how to say "no".

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dinner Party

I'm throwing a dinner party tonight for the first time in what seams like ages, and I think I might be going a bit overboard. But, seriously, what is the fun of life if you don't go a bit overboard now and again (and begin a sentence with the word "but").

In danger of ruining the surprise for my wonderful friends that are coming over, I will be turning this blog into a cooking blog, just for today. And maybe some other time I decide to cook like this. (Ack! Started a sentence with the word "and," what is this world coming to)?

It feels a little weird writing this in present tense as I will be updating throughout the day, making this (as in now) past tense and the completed dinner present tense. Oh blogging! How you baffle my mind!

I will be using recipes from the vegan cookbook, "The Conscious Cook" by Tal Ronnen, which is my absolute favorite vegan cookbook ever. Out of respect for the author, I will not be posting the recipes, but I will say, if you ever thought vegan food was bland and boring, you should really try some of these recipes. Delicious!!

Starter (not to be confused with the appetizer): Crackers and cheese. I know what you are thinking. Bland. But no! (I did it again - began a sentence with "but" - I give up). This cheese is from the distant land of Wisconsin where I had the honor of witnessing my dear friends get married over the weekend. The cheese was a wedding favor, of sorts, so really, cheese and crackers are exciting and authentic.

Soup: Celery Root soup with Apple

I saved this dish for last as it didn't require any chilling, cooling, curdling or other complicated, time-consuming thing. I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. Isn't it pretty?This is the way it was supposed to look (picture taken from the cookbook):

Main Dish: Pepper Crusted Portabello Mushroom in a tomato hollandaise sauce accompanied by mashed potatoes

Meat and potatoes. Simple and delicious. Well..vegan meat (aka mushroom) and potatoes with cashew nut cream rather than real cream...but essentially its the same thing. I was impressed with the flavor of the mushrooms and the creaminess of the potatoes.Here is what it is supposed to look like (picture taken from the cookbook):

Desert: Banana Pecan Cheesecake with a Rum Sauce

I must say, this cookbook is delicious, but it is NOT simple. Actually, I have no one to blame but myself as I didn't read over the recipes until 2pm (considering dinner is at 8, I figured I had plenty of time). I knew I was in trouble when the cheesecake demanded at LEAST 4 hours. EEK! So, I started here. I chose the cheesecake mostly because who makes a VEGAN cheesecake? How cool is that? And I had a lot of bananas that needed to be made into something. Didn't quite turn out like the pictures, but it was good none the less.

Can I just say that maple syrup, butter, and rum is THE BEST COMBINATION IN THE WORLD.

Again, what it is supposed to look like (picture taken from cookbook):
Post Dinner: Had a blast catching up with friends. Really missed "dinner club" that I did in college where a group of me and my friends would get together every week and cook for each other. I want to do that again...Any takers? Seriously.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Finding Balance

I find myself struggling with this concept of community.

When I think of community, I think of all the good things: shared meals, friends for Ilya, support, connection, shared ideals, community events...There is, unfortunatly, another side of community that I had a vague concept of before, but which now is becoming a very solid reality. Everyone is in everyone business ALL THE TIME! I am the queen of finding judgement in words where none was intended, so take this with a grain of salt, but it seams to me that everyone has an opinion of everything that I am doing, from how I raise my daughter to Adam working in the common house. I am trying to step back and really hear what people are saying when they make these comments, but I admit - I feel devastated every time I hear something. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I had someone to bounce my thoughts off of, but Adam is gone all the time. He works until 6 everyday then goes off to teach Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm going out of my mind a little. I'm surrounded by people, but I still feel totally alone.

Don't take anything I say right now too seriously. I'm just feeling down. On the upside, tomorrow, I get to go watch my very best friend get married. I miss her so much it hurts, and I'm so excited for her wedding. I just wish she were moving to Seattle afterward.

I think that eventually I will be stronger and learn so much from community living, but it is hard right now.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Bed

There is something really wonderful about a new bed. Maybe its just me, but bed is my safe place. It is where I relax and let go of worry. I want it to envelope me and hold me close. Sooth my soul.

I have been lacking this very key component of my life for the last 10 months. This is not to say that I didn't have a bed to sleep on, because I did. I was generously offered beds by so many people and they were comfortable...but they weren't mine. My bed. Waiting just for me.

It arrived today. It is waiting for me upstairs. I think a glass of wine. A good book. And an evening in bed sounds just about perfect right now.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sky is Falling

Do you ever feel like if anything else bad were to happen, you'd just explode?

I can't even count the number of awful things that have happened in the last month. I mean really awful things. Its hard to stay positive in the face of so much negativity. I feel like crying - collapsing into a puddle on the floor...but, as far as I know, that won't actually HELP anything - it would just freak out my daughter (lets be honest, if someone turned into a puddle in front of me, I'd be freaked out too).

In the midst of all this awfulness there have been sparkling gems. How do you thank the people that stand by you when you are at your worst and need them most? How do you possibly put into words what that support means? When times are good, there is a very abstract view of what friendship really is - someone to talk with, pass the time. Its when times are bad that I think friendship moves from becoming a luxury to an essential component of life. Friends are there to remind us that there is goodness in a dark world, to overwhelm us with their generosity and love, and to help us strive to become better people. I hope you know who you are, dear friends, that are guiding me through this time. Without you, I don't know if this world is a place that I'd want to be.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Travel Plans

Its about that time.

I can feel the bottoms of my feet itching. Straining to reach into the earth and grab hold of the ground, planting me firmly in place. Growing roots.

Apparently, 10 months is the maximum amount of time that I like to travel before I start craving my home. Or, I could just be feeling this way because I know that we're leaving for Seattle in a little more than two weeks. Regardless of the reason, I find myself perusing the furniture on amazon and comparing internet provider prices.

We've been exploring less and planning more - although last weekend, we did visit Coronado Monument.
We leave on Friday, October 8th for Wisconsin to go to our friend's wedding. They are getting married on 10-10-10 (how cool is that?). We leave Wisconsin on Monday the 11th and get back into Seattle at 11pm.

Ah Seattle. I can't wait for you to embrace me with your cool, wet skies. Your coffee addiction and strict recycling laws. Your tourist spots and delicious happy hour finds. I'm ready for you. I'm ready for home.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Profound thoughts from my daughter

Every once and a while (alright, usually everyday), I marvel at how simple, pure, and wonderful life is through my daughter's eyes. Here are some of Ilya's rules:

1) Everyone is a friend

When we go to the fountain or playground to play, Ilya constantly looks for other little people. Once she spots such a person, she immediately stops doing whatever she was doing, walks up to this person and attempts to hold his or her hand. Words are not necessary. Sometimes they are exchanged, but usually they simply hold hands and continue to play together. It doesn't always work - most kids are not as nice as Ilya...which leads us to:

2) If someone doesn't want to hold hands, simply look for someone else who does

Eventually, she will find some nice child who is as enamored of holding hands as she is. This is accompanied by huge smiles and, "Mama, she's holding my hand!"Holding hands and playing is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes there are stumbles.

3) When you fall, get a kiss, then keep playing

My daughter doesn't cry when she falls. She doesn't collapse into a pool of misery. She walks over to me (usually with her new friend in tow) and calmly asks for a kiss. Once she has received said kiss, she continues with the play.

4) Question everything

When I was tucking Ilya into bed last night, she looked at me and asked, "why do we dream?" I almost cried.

5) When you are sick, nothing helps as much as a cuddle

Ilya was sick yesterday with a fever. The only thing that she wanted all day long was for me to hold her. Best sick day ever.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Roald Dahl


Apparently yesterday was Roald Dahl's birthday. I know this because I have a child which means that I am suddenly privy to a whole world of holidays and events that I never knew existed when I was childless.

A new children's bookstore called Almosa Books just opened up near us, and to celebrate Rhald Dahl's birthday they were having a sort of party with lots of sugar, balloons, and a Roald Dahl story read-a-loud done by none other than Willy Wonka himself (or one of the employees pretending to be him).

Now, I am the first to admit that there have been days when I was teaching that I would present material to the students that I hadn't thoroughly looked through previous to class, but it has never ended well. Willy Wonka apparently hadn't read the story he picked out prior to the read-a-loud. It was the story of Little Red Riding Hood as told by Roald Dahl (who admittedly is a bit...dark). The audience was comprised of 2, 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Everything was going fine until he got the bit about Little Red pulling out a gun and shooting the wolf between the eyes. There was a silence in that bookstore that could be herd miles around. Wonka quickly finished the story and mumbled something about his other stories being much too long to read aloud before he made a mad dash for the safety of the back room. Ilya was oblivious, as were most of the other kids, but some of the mothers were shooting bullets of their own with the looks they gave. I found the whole thing rather amusing, but I'm that kind of mom.

Anyway, happy birthday Roald Dahl. When Ilya is old enough, you will definitely be on the reading list :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

motherhood



I'm beginning to get the hang of this "mother" thing, and it has only taken me two years (famous last words - I know as soon as I publish this post, the sky will open up and a reign of toddler terror will engulf me the size of which has never been seen before)!

The hardest part of being a mom, for me, is not the diapers or the temper tantrums, but the tedium of everyday life. Everyday is the same - we wake up with an entire day ahead of us and my job is to entertain and expose this child to a variety of experiences that will open her mind and broaden her horizons while working around her nap and food schedules. But I'm tired. And there is only so many times you can go to the zoo before the thought of looking at another gorilla makes you break out in hives. And I'm still struggling with this awful hormonal post-pardon depression thing which does NOT make getting out of the house any easier.

So, I decided to simply my life. Awhile back I discovered that if I made the same dinner menu every week we saved a ton of money on ingredients (not as much stuff went bad and we could buy in bulk) and I no longer stressed about what I was going to make for dinner that night (its Friday, therefore it is pizza night - easy). I decided to do this sort of thing with parenting.

Tuesday is zoo or aquarium day
Wednesday is story time at Barns and Noble followed by carousel ride
Thursday is library day
Friday is museum day followed by picnic in the park
Saturday is friends day
Sunday and Monday are family days with daddy

Easy.

Of course the key to happiness is flexibility so these are not set in stone but rather a blueprint for a day so that I have one less thing to stress about at 7am.

I've also been walking/jogging every evening after dinner which has really helped with the depression thing.

Like I said - I've got things figured out for now... I'm sure everything will change tomorrow but I'll face that hurdle when I reach it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ireland

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to explore Ireland. Maybe it was the rainbows with the pots of gold at the end or the little leprechauns running around the country side. Whatever it was, I've had this idea that Ireland is a magical place ever since I was a child so when I realized that place tickets were actually cheaper if we stopped over in Ireland than flying directly to the states, I jumped on the opportunity. It was only after I bought the tickets that I realized that international vacations are rather expensive and we were just starting to get back on our feet after Adam was laid off at the beginning of the year. We certainly weren't in a position to be tromping around the world living it up.

Keeping all this in mind, Adam and I decided to try traveling in a way that we had never thought of traveling before: with strangers. We have a friend who is from Ireland so we contacted her and asked if she might know anyone we could stay with. Then we also put out some requests on couchsurfing.com

We spent the first five days of our vacation staying with my friend's brother and his family in Dublin. They are the nicest family. They welcomed us into their home, fed us, and made us feel instantly comfortable. Their children played with Ilya and they showed us all the good places to visit. We loved wandering around Dublin city, but what I will remember most fondly is the kindness and warmth this family showed us.

The next leg of our journey took us to Kilkenny where we had arranged to stay with a couple that we found on couchsurfing.com. This wonderful couple, who we had never met before, picked up us from the train station and drove all over the city showing us around. They took us to all the big spots like Kilkenny castle, but also showed us their favorite local places. Right before we left, they took us to this old church (built in the 13th century) that we could explore. It wasn't on any map and if we hadn't known someone local we never would have seen it.

We are currently staying with our friend's other brother in a small city called Clonmel. He drove all the way to Kilkenny to pick us up and has been giving us rides into town everyday to go to the music festival. He's taken us to the coast and shown us all of his favorite local spots as well.

Six months ago, the thought of staying with complete strangers would have terrified me, but looking back on this trip, I know that it is these people that I am going to remember most. While I didn't see any leprechauns or even any rainbows, this trip has been the best trip that I've ever taken.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

what I learned

When I set out on this adventure I knew that I needed something different in my life. I was looking to break out of my routine and learn new things. I was looking for something challenging and new. A deeper meaning and understanding of this world. I wasn't exactly sure what I expected to find, but looking back on the last 5 months, there is one theme that has stood out more than any other. One profound idea and insight that I've gained that has not only helped change me into a better person, but restored by faith in humanity.

Kindness. Kindness in all its forms and from all different people. It is so easy to fall into daily routines that are safe and protect us from ever having to make ourselves and our loved ones venerable to ever having to rely on the whims and fancies of those around us. The thought alone is slightly terrifying, but it was a side effect of the choice we made when we decided to give everything away and move to Magdeburg, Germany.

On almost a daily basis we found ourselves helpless in a face of a new challenge, from little things like ordering food in a restaurant to big things like where do we live and how do we get our visa? For every challenge there was always someone there to help us. Granted, most of these people were our friends, but our friends showed us such kindness that it almost makes me cry just thinking about it. They gave up their time to help us deal with bureaucratic issues. They gave up their privacy to house us. They gave up their possessions to make our lives more comfortable. When we had a problem, they stood behind us until it was fixed. I've rarely witnessed such generosity with such pure intention. I will forever be grateful to have gotten to be a part of my friend's lives while living in Magdeburg, and I miss them more than they know.

It wasn't only my friends that showed us kindness. Complete strangers went out of their way to make our lives better. From the college kids that gave Ilya their last ice cream on a hot afternoon in the park to the woman in the social security office who cut through weeks worth of red tape so that I could get my social security number that day.

I didn't set out to put myself or my family in such a venerable position, at the mercy of strangers, but it was one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. My goal now is to pay all this kindness forward. Maybe that is how I change the world. One person at a time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Slavery Through Bureaucracry

Forgive my ranting but I am hoping that sending this sad story to all four of my readers might help me feel better and restore some semblance of goodness in the universe.

I was hired to be an English teacher at a school that shall remain nameless (because I am a wuss and don't actually want them finding this post). One month before I began, I was sent what looked to me like a book but which turned out to be a packet of detailed personal information that I needed to fill out in order to be employed. Included in this packet were questions about if I had adopted my child or convinced her naturally, a request for a bank account number (since I didn't have a bank account, I used a friend's account) and proof of health insurance. I diligently translated the entire document, answered all the questions, and provided all the requested information.

Skip ahead to the end of May. I had been working about a month and it was payday. I was called into the office and informed that they weren't going to be able to pay me until they received a bank account, proof of health insurance, and a tax identification number...oh, yes, and they needed this information yesterday. When I told them that I had already turned in this information months ago, the lady looked at me confused and told me again what she needed. I asked if I could use a friend's bank account since I didn't have one of my own. She said that would be fine.

So, I called Adam, who was diligently working at home, and begged him to get to get our friend's bank account info (again) and bring that and the health insurance documents into the school. Adam missed half a day of work getting this information to the school so they could have it that very day. I had to wait to get them the tax card because I needed to go into the foreign affairs office (again) to get it and I couldn't do that until Friday as I was busy working! Had they told me I needed it earlier, I would have gone in earlier and gotten it.

Two weeks later, I still have not been paid. When I ask the lady in the office about my pay, she informs me that I need a social security number, and that they can't use the bank account because it wasn't in my name....grrrrrrrr........

I tell them I don't have a bank account number (again), and they tell me that they will write me a check once I get my social security number. She tells me to go to the social security office the next day during my break to get the number. I do this and upon my return get yelled at for not being on campus! .... grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ............

I leave Germany on Saturday. Today, Tuesday, they inform me that in order to get my pay, I need to get different health insurance. Are you fucking kidding me???? I'm leaving in four days! I'm not getting new health insurance when the health insurance I have was good enough for the government to issue a visa with it!!!!

Needless to say, I will not be returning to work for the remainder of the week. I'm owed two months worth of pay, and I am so pessimistic that I will ever see a cent.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Future Plans

Alas, our time here in Germany is coming to an end. It has been a wild, wonderful adventure that has helped me grow and learn so much. There are so many things that I will miss terribly about living here, but I am also very ready to move on to the next stage of our lives. All these thoughts will be in another blog post. Today's post is dedicated to our future.

For those of you that are interested, I am outlining our travel plans through the middle of July:

This coming Saturday, we will leave our flat in Magdeburg and depart for Berlin where we will stay until Tuesday. Tuesday we will be catching a flight to Dublin Ireland. We don't know anyone personally in Ireland, but through friends of friends and couch surfing, we have people to stay with the entire two weeks we will be in Ireland!

We're spending 5 days in Dublin then traveling to Kilkenny where we will spend three days before heading on to Clomnel. Clomnel is the city that is hosting a giant theatre festival so we will be spending an entire week there. Our flight leaves Dublin on the 13th of July heading for New York.

We plan on spending four days and three nights in New York visiting friends and staying with more couch surfers before leaving for New Mexico on July 16th. I don't know how long we will stay in New Mexico, but I want to show my family some of my favorite places - like the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns. It would also be fun to take Ilya to the Balloon Festival in October.

We will be going to Wisconsin in October for Brendan and Stina's wedding and probably heading back to Seattle after that....but who knows what will happen. The only things set in stone right now are: Ireland, New York, Albuquerque, and Wisconsin. I am excited to be traveling more and meeting new people, but I miss Seattle terribly and can't wait to see my home again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The World Cup

I am viewing Germany in a whole new light since the beginning of The World Cup. This once fairly normal German city has been transformed into a shouting, honking, horn blowing mob intent on making as much noise as possible in support of their soccer team. I find myself being judged not on the way I look or speak, but on the quality of my nation's soccer team (which is doing "better than expected" so I'm alright).

My friends and I took a night off from my beautiful daughter and made our way across town to the Magdeburg stadium where a giant screen was broadcasting the Germany/Australian game live. Other than the lack of admission cost, you would never have known that this wasn't an actual live game. Thousands of Germans filled the stadium equipped with black, red, and yellow flags, outfits, and noise makers. Beer and Bratwurst were readily available for a small mark-up (which was still incredibly cheap by US standards) and cigarette smoke instantly and permanently enveloped the crowd.

I was prepared for the drinking, and eating, and even the smoking, but what really amazed me was the shear volume produced by this crowd of people. In addition to the shouting and the giant air horns that every third person seamed to have, the fans in South Africa were making so much noise behind the announcer, it sounded like a bee hive was in the microphone. I couldn't hear well for several hours following the game. I'm old. I know.

The ride home was astounding. Germany won 4-0 and it was as if the fans in the stadium multiplied and NEVER STOPPED CHEERING! Every car was honking and shouting various forms of the word, "Deutschland!" At the round-about in the center of town, cars had simply stopped while drunk Germans hung out of windows and walked around to other cars drinking, shouting, and honking. There was a mob of people standing in the center of the round-about with German flags drinking and dancing. Someone overheard me speaking English and called me "Australian!"

At the bar my friends and I went to following the game, we were mistaken for Britons and made fun of because the UK's goalie is no good. No argument there. We were, however, grudgingly respected when they found out we were from the USA because the USA did, "better than expected."

This is the reaction from the fans after Germany scored one of its goals - my favorite part is Brendan!

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Men's Day


I've been meaning to write this post for a while. A week ago from last Thursday was a holiday here in East Germany called "Men's Day." According to my friend, "Men's Day" came about during the East German times as a response to a religious holiday that is right around that time. Everyone in Germany celebrates it as "Father's Day," but here in East Germany it is celebrated with . . . Gusto!

On "Men's Day," all the men attach a wagon to the back of their bicycles and fill that wagon with beer. What are you going to do if you have a wagon full of booze attached to your bike? You're going to ride your bike around town drinking, of course. Which is exactly what they did. The city was full of men riding (falling, swerving...) bicycles all over town, drinking beer. AND THIS IS THE OFFICIAL WAY TO CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY!!! Its like a cross between St. Paddies Day and Bike to Work Day all in one.

I was warned to stay inside all day, which is what I did...although I did notice the group of 8-10 men sitting in my courtyard with a SHOPPING CART (I kid you not) FILLED with beer which they proceeded to drink beginning around 10am and ending sometime well into the evening.

The picture above is of my friend, Sebastian, who never even drinks wine when he comes over for dinner on Men's Day. In the woods. With his men friends. Drinking. He claims he wasn't drunk in this picture....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ilya's Birthday Party

For Ilya's second birthday, we decided to throw her a surprise party (when you're two, its hard for things NOT to be a surprise).

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Then we all sang her happy birthday over a strawberry shortcake.
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Just in case you were wondering: this is what happens when you feed a two year old a lot of sugar.
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Happy Birthday Ilya!

A Letter to My Daughter on her 2nd Birthday

Dearest Baby Girl,

I hope that you can look back on this when you are older and understand just how precious you are to me. Every day I watch you grow and learn, and I marvel at how incredible you are. You sing wonderful songs, making up your own lyrics and tunes, dance fun bouncy jigs to just about any music, and jump everywhere. You talk constantly, usually asking your dad or myself to do something for you. Sometimes these requests turn into songs. "Can you get the strawberries for me? Can you get the 'Strawberry Ice Cream, Chocolate ice cream, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum'"

You are so smart. You recognize many letters when we read and have all your books memorized. Your favorite books right now are Corduroy, Curious George, and Brown Bear. You speak in complete sentences and have just recently begun carrying on actual conversations with us. "Did you sleep well?" "I slept well. Would you get up with me?" You still like to parrot everything we say, but you also respond. You love to identify animals and count. You can count to 20 in English and 13 in German. Did I mention you can speak German? You are creative. You produce the most beautiful art, and you are always finding new ways to use ordinary objects.

You are sweet. Every time you hear a baby cry, you look at me with a pained looked and say, "mama, that baby is sad." I breaks my heart. When you see someone that is sad, you always try to give them a hug, even if it is a stranger. You learned to share somewhere and work hard to make sure that everyone has something (pretzel sticks, flowers...etc). When you wake up in the middle of the night, you like to curl up next to me for about five minutes before going back to your own bed, and you give the sweetest kisses. All the time.

I am telling you this so that you never doubt just how special and absolutely amazing you are. I am also telling you this so that you know that you are loved. Deeply and Forever.

Happy Birthday my little Illy Billy Boo.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dance!

I start work today, so this is going to be brief - just wanted to remind everyone to DANCE! video

A Picture Post!


I have been accused (by my dear husband) of "hoarding" my pictures and videos. This is not intentional - I'm just lazy and it takes a remarkable amount of work to transfer the photos to my computer then upload them to the blog. Case in point: I have been working on this blog post for the past 4 hours.

Here we have it. In no particular order (because I think I mentioned - I'm lazy) - pictures and video of the past few months.

Here is my baby girl at a park collecting dandelions. She has made it her personal mission in life to pick every dandelion that she finds.


This is my favorite cherry tree in that same park right next to my work. We've been picnicking here every chance we get.

I took this picture from a park in the back of Alle Center. The older looking tower in the background is The Dom - the oldest and tallest cathedral in German. I don't know what the closer one is called but it made for a pretty picture.


At the Irish Folk Festival with our Hungarian couch surfers, Emrey and Age
e (I know I just butchered the spelling of their names - hopefully they are not reading this). A really nice pair and our first introduction to couch surfing.

Playing football in the park with our friends...

Until Ilya got the ball and refused to give it back :)

In front of some of the few remaining sections of the Berlin wall on a weekend trip to Berlin we took with our friend, Emily, who, despite being American, gave us an amazing tour of the city.


Jewish Memorial in Berlin - a vast landscape of rectangular blocks o
f all shapes and sizes meant to symbolize the uniqueness of each Jewish person hurt during the war.



My new bike and Ilya's new bike! I LOVE my bike and want to figure out a way to get it back home for less than $100. Any ideas?

Daddy and Illy playing in the sand together. Such a beautiful father/daughter moment.



This is the outdoor library. You can just walk up and take any book you want. You can also leave any books you don't want. What a great idea.


This is a picture of a toilet inside the Hundertwasserhause (One of the last buildings build by Hundertwasser). They charge you 1 euro just to use it, so save your money and enjoy this picture instead :) The picture below is the actual Hundertwasserhouse - I didn't take that one - I got it here.

View from the top of Johanaschurcha (I'm so not spelling that right, but I looked and couldn't even find the correct spelling on the internet) - That lit up round building is the largest structure built entirely out of wood - or something like that. Inside it is a science museum showcasing scientific advances throughout time.
Adam, Ilya, and our friend, Robert on our way to the top of Johanaschurcha - I made it to the top then promptly turned around and ran back down. Stupid fear of heights.

Silly Illy


At the zoo - I gotta say: not my favorite zoo. The elephants were kept in an enclosure much too small for them as were many other animals. There was a wonderful playground section, though right inside the petting zoo. Adam summed it up, "Its a zoo built for humans not for animals." You could actually reach out and touch the elephants they were so close.

From left to right: Amelie (Stina's sister), Stina, Brendan, Dinosaur Dave, Ilya, and Adam at the zoo.

We visited this wonderful little town called Wernigerode‎ (prounced: vinager rhoda). Adam will be your tour guide.

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Gratuitous adorable picture of my daughter and a video that it too cute for words.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Updates

First, I'm sorry that I have not been as diligent at updating this blog as I wanted to be. Its actually a good thing. I tend to write when I'm feeling down and lonely. When I'm happy, I forget to update.

We have been having a wonderful time. The sun is shining (most days) bright and warm. There are so many amazing parks I never noticed when they were covered in snow that are now covered in all sorts of flowers. Its like the city has come alive. There are children everywhere (yes, most of them are without parents, but its a German thing), and bikers have taken over the city.

When we first got our bikes, I seriously considered turning around and giving them away. Biking around with Ilya attached to the back is REALLY hard - kinda like dragging a 40 pound boulder everywhere you go (yes, I did just compare my child to a rock, but in a good way). I took four or five biking trips to the city center and nearly died each time, all the while dreading the expiration of our tram pass (the countdown to when I would be forced to use my bike as my sole means of transportation). The pass ran out Friday and Saturday, we jumped on our bikes to see if I would even be able to bike all the way to work with Ilya. I don't know what happened. It was like my body suddenly decided that it was a BIKING GOD because I hardly broke a sweat going from my house all the way at the other end of town (at least twice the distance to the city center). Going home was no problem at all and we even rode to the park for good measure to play ultimate frisbee with our friends.

That is the other thing that I love here. My friends. I have the greatest group of friends ever, and they all love Ilya.

I am carrying on conversations in German - I probably have about a 40 word vocabulary but I understand quite a bit more. I ask people to help me all the time with Ilya's stroller and THEY UNDERSTAND ME! Its really thrilling. Ilya's teachers only speak German, but I still managed to understand them gushing to me about how brilliant she is (Ilya currently speaks more German than the other kids in her class who are all native Germans). I start work on Tuesday where I will have 20 first graders all speaking to me very fast in German. At once. Fun!

See how boring happy, positive posts are. Maybe thats why all the best writers are always depressed. I still hate all the smoking that takes place here... :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kindergarten

So, imagine all the fears and adjustments involved sending your first child to school for the very first time and multiply that by (oh, I don't know) A MILLION, and you have an idea what Ilya's first two days at preschool (or Kindergarten as they call it here) was like. All of the typical fears are there: will the other kids be nice to her? will the teachers be nice to her? will she eat well? will she miss me too much? ... etc ... Then there was the added difficulty of not not understanding a word anyone was saying, and, of course, teaching styles are very different here.

Apparently, I am the only one who is struggling. Ilya spent all morning in preschool by herself today (the teacher told me to go, and - not being able to speak the language - I couldn't argue even though I really wanted to) and loved it. When I walked in to pick her up expecting shouts of joy and bear hugs, I received a passing glance and demands to know where daddy was. Awesome.

I guess in addition to being brilliant, Ilya is also completely comfortable without mommy and daddy. She doesn't seam to mind that no one understands her; she keeps talking away and making friends with everyone. Now, if only I were as comfortable without her as she is without me...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Couch Surfing

For years we have been listening to our friends, Brendan and Stina, rave about the this wonderful thing called couch surfing. Basically, its a website whose members can get in touch with people from all over the world who are looking to meet new people. Most people use it as a way to find free places to stay while traveling. The theory being that people offer up their couches for travelers to save the expense of a hotel and meet new people in the process.

Adam and I signed up a while ago but we hadn't used it until today. We offered our fold out couch and a Hungarian/German couple contacted us looking for a place to stay while they visit the Irish festival on Sunday (which we will also be attending).

Meeting new people is hard for me. I'm shy to my core and I always find making small talk uncomfortable and awkward. Adam claims that he struggles in this department as well, but I marvel at how open and interested he is with any new people we meet. He was so excited to get to host this couple.

Adam met the couple at the train station and is currently showing them around Magdeburg while I wait for the little one to wake up from her nap. We are all planning on going to the festival together tomorrow and I'm having some friends over for dinner tonight.

The point of the rather rambling post is that I think that it is important to step outside of our comfort zones in order to really experience all that life has to offer. I basically left my comfort zone a few thousand miles away when I embarked on this journey and I'm so glad I did. It hasn't been easy (in fact, next to giving birth, it is one of the most difficult things I've ever done), but I am meeting so many amazing people and experiencing so many different ways to live that it more than makes up for any discomfort that I might be feeling.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Parenting Styles

I am not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination. I run out of patience after the third or forth time Ilya pours everything she owns on the floor and refuses to pick it up. I let her eat dirt, small bugs, things covered in dirt, food off the floor...you get the idea. My point is: I am the last person who should be judging other parents and their parenting techniques.

With that said, I am going to "discuss" some "interesting" parenting styles I've noticed here in Germany.

First, there is the "absent" parent. Now, I am the first to admit that American parents can be a tad...overprotective of their children. Circling around them constantly like a bumble bee. Applying gobs of creams and bandages for every little scrape and bruise. Never letting them out of their sight for an instant. The "absent" parents in Germany are pretty much the opposite of that. Children just walk around all the time. Unsupervised. Alone. All the time. I'm not talking about older children either. Little kids - 5 years old sometimes. I caught one of these children decorating the sandbox with his pee at the park. When he noticed that I had noticed him, he quickly put himself away and proceeded to play with the wet spot.

Second, there are the smokers. Apparently, the whole, "cigarettes and can kill you and your children" campaign hasn't quite reached these German people. I swear, 90% of the population smokes - all the time. Mothers will plop their babies down in the sand then sit right behind them and light up. It hurts to watch. Its not just a couple of random, uninformed parents either. Almost every time I take Ilya to the park, there is at least one group of parents smoking right next to their kids.

Third, there are the givers. When Ilya was born, I was unofficially invited into the very exclusive "mothers club." I instantly shared an incredibly personal experience with millions other mothers all across the county. This would manifest in knowing glances as Ilya had a meltdown in public as well as unsolicited advice about everything from breast feeding to preschools. Germans take this club much more seriously. When I take Ilya to the park, random parents will pick her up when she stumbles, lend her toys to play with, and try (unsuccessfully) to talk to me. Parenting is seen as much more of a community activity. I like that. What I don't like, are the parents that take that a bit further. On three separate occasions since arriving here, random parents have shoved (not offered, mind you but SHOVED) candy into Ilya's hand then smiled like they had done their good deed for the day. Have you ever tried taking candy from a baby? Because it is NOT easy. Thanks for being nice, but stop giving my child sugar!

Enough ranting and raving. Ilya and I bought bikes yesterday and I can't wait to ride around exploring the city. Everything is flat and bikers get their own lane ON THE SIDEWALK. How cool is that? As soon as Ilya's seat arrives and Adam gets his own bike, we're never going to use the tram again!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pieces Falling into Place


I know that things can always get worse. I know this, but there are times when it is just hard to believe. One week ago this was our condition:
* no job
* no income
* a vacant house in Seattle costing us beaucoup bucks each month (and utilities, too)
* a city where everyone smokes, its cold, and no one speaks English

Did I forget anything? I'm sure I did, but who cares because that was LAST week. THIS week everything has changed.
* Adam got a job telecommuting
* Our house rented
* I got a job which includes pre-school for Ilya
* It suddenly warmed up like 20 degrees - I'm not even kidding. One day it was FREEZING and the next I just needed a sweatshirt.
* Our friends and neighbors returned from their various holidays (that's what everyone here says - instead of "travels", its "holidays")
* I successfully bought groceries without having a nervous breakdown! (See, what happens when you buy groceries here is that the checkers ring you up, during which time you must be bagging your food - in your own bags or using ones that you are currently buying - so that you are able to pay for the food the moment the checker is finished. If you fail to do this (which I usually do because I am just not quick enough to get everything bagged up and put away while taking care of Ilya and trying to figure out just how much I owe) then both the checker and the person behind you glares at you and huffs and impatient sigh. Sometimes there is even an eye roll).

Its still up in the air if we will stay through June (or possibly longer), but right now I'd say there is a pretty good chance.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Our Adventures Complete with Pictures

About two weeks ago, we hoped on a train and visited our friend, Sebastian, in the tiny village of Schnellmannshousen (literally translated to quick-man-house). Here we are in front of Schnellmannshousen (from left to right) Brendan, Sebastian, Adam, Ilya, and Stina. See the tree line in the back? That is the old East/West Germany border. We visited with his family, ate traditional German breakfasts (consisting of lots of meat, cheese, and breads) and saw a real castle in the much larger village of Eisenach (which we Americans were very excited about, while our German friends were slightly baffled by our enthusiasm - I guess that's what happens when you grow up a mile away from an enormous castle).

Ilya was adorable and did, what I like to call "the castle dance." I tried to upload a video, but our internet connection flat out refused to do anything so complicated.

We visited the east/west Germany border and learned what life in East Germany was like from my friend's parents.

While exploring Magdeburg, we found an ancient Roman burial ground beneath an old church that has been turned into a community center.


It is still very cold.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Post About the Good Things

Too often, when we are surrounded by challenges, I think that we forget to take stock of all the good things that surround us. I am facing many challenges here in Magdeburg, Germany but I have also experienced some absolutely amazing and wonderful things as well.

1) Good Friends: I have met and reconnected with some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Brendan and Stina are like family to me, and they continue to do so many little things to make me feel comfortable and loved. I love that they live right across the court yard so that I can visit them whenever I want and sharing meals together is easy. Our upstairs neighbors are a couple of college boys who are kind and fun. We met another woman named Christina from TN living in Magdeburg with her German boyfriend who has been incredibly open and kind. Our friend, Emily, is also working at Berlitz. She's travelled all over the world and has a lot of great stories to tell.

2) Affordable living: I think I've mentioned (but its worth repeating) we have furnished our entire flat with furniture that we were either given or found on the street. There is a store that is completely free, and groceries are so cheep compared to the US (.32 euros for bread - thats about 50 cents). Heath insurance is cheaper and better.

3) Public Transportation: The tram is awesome. It runs frequently and gets you where you want to go quickly (granted, Magdeburg isn't that big).

4) Our flat: despite its view of our neighbor's living room, it has high ceilings, huge windows, and is just about the perfect size for us (I love living in a small space - who knew?)

5) Smaller Carbon Footprint: No one here uses a dryer to dry their clothes. They have about 10 million different recycling options, including a program where you buy the bottle in addition to its contents, and don't get your money back until you return it. Less people drive. Bikes are everywhere - on the sidewalks - I've almost been run over twice. I thought I would miss my dryer, microwave, and dishwasher, but I don't. I do miss my garbage disposal.

So, its not all bad. My biggest frustration is the language barrier. Things that should be easy, like getting a background check for work, become insurmountable obstacles in the face of a language barrier.

Life updates: Adam still hasn't found a job and our house in Seattle isn't renting. The part time teaching position I was able to secure probably won't even cover the cost of new plane tickets, so we're thinking that we will be forced to return from our adventure early. We have return plane tickets already paid for on April 20th. We'll lose our apartment deposit here, but its cheaper than new plane tickets.

Of course, part of me just wants to throw caution to the wind and take off for Thailand, knowing quite well that Adam won't be able to look for a job, let alone work from Thailand, but I do get sick of being so responsible.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Complaints - skip this post if you don't want to listen to me whine

Did you miss me?

I know that I haven't been checking in, and I have a really bad excuse. I didn't want to talk about this, but, hey, if you can't tell your own blog (and the multitudes of faithful readers and random strangers that might stumble across it) your deepest darkest secrets, who can you tell? Here goes: I'm really miserable here. I want to go home so badly, I can feel it with every fiber of my being.

I've spoken to people who have seen the world, and they always talk with such wonder about the places they have been and the people they have met. I've always admired and envied those people, but now I'm beginning to think that you just have to be a certain kind of person to do well living that life. I like routine and comforts (such as a big soft mattress in a heated room). I like being able to talk to people and ask for things that I need (like directions, how to mail a letter, how much a certain item is when shopping), and I can't have or do any of those things here.

We've been sleeping on a fold out couch for the last month and every night I wake up at least 10 times trying to get comfortable without pushing poor Adam off the bed. My back hurts all the time. After last nights winter storm, I'm beginning to think that the weather is never going to warm up. What I really miss, though, is being able to do things for myself. I can't order food, read a map, read anything without someone helping me. I feel like a bad mom because there is nothing free that I can take Ilya to do other than explore a frozen city (which we've done...lots...despite the snow and ice). The language isn't so much a barrier as it is a enormous, solid, impenetrable, concrete wall. Never again will I take for granted all those little conversations I have in a day. A man walking past me bumps my shoulder and says something (probably an apology, but he could have just challenged me to a death match for all I know). Once I finish buying food, the cashier says something ("have a nice day" or "wait, you forgot to pay for that"). I startle an old woman while calling after Ilya who says something - a man sits across from us on the tram and tries the entire trip to get me to understand what he is saying by repeatedly pointing at his mouth - If I don't understand it the first hundred times you say it, I'm not going to understand it now!

I feel stupid all the time.

I feel isolated.

I feel helpless.

I really don't want pity or tearful pleas begging me to come home (thanks mom). I just want you to know. And maybe a queen sized mattress.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A New Low

Yesterday was one of the worst days we've had since arriving. Adam's boss very kindly told us (after being asked several times by Adam) that he was going to reduce Adam's hours to zero. Reduce Adam's hours to zero? Is that the nice way of saying, you no longer have a job? Apparently, it is. So, our sole source of income has been canceled and our house in Seattle is not renting. Awesome.

I think I went into shock, a little - it doesn't seam fair after working this hard to get here that we should have to turn around now.

So, we aren't going to. We are OK through the end of March and I'm confident that our wonderful property manager will get our house rented as soon as possible. Once the place is rented, we don't really need that much money to survive here. I'm going to try to get a job (turned down the first one because they weren't going to pay me enough...oops), and I think, if worse comes to worse, we can live off my income alone. Rent in Magdeburg is dirt cheap - about $400 a month for everything including utilities - and as long as you buy food in the grocery stores, food is relatively cheep as well. We won't be able to travel much or go on any expensive outings, but we're in GERMANY - we don't need to do anything but explore.

I'm trying to sound positive, but this sucks. I'm so mad at Adam's boss for laying him off like this. We spent all day yesterday looking for a telecommuting job for Adam - keep your fingers crosses (or press your thumbs, as they say here).

IN OTHER NEWS:
We leave tonight for a quick weekend trip to visit our friend, Sebastion and his family. Its about a 4 hour train ride, but by this time tomorrow, I'll be looking at castles and marveling at the history that this country holds.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Traveling Is Not What It Used To Be

I remember wandering around the deserted streets of London at 3am, alone, just to just to see what the city was like at that time of night. I was young, fearless, and anxious to see the world, and I prided myself on never worrying about being lost. I felt confident that I could get out of any situation and eventually find my way to something familiar if I just walked far enough. After all, being lost is part of the adventure of traveling.

That adventure, like so many others, has become part of my BB life. Before Baby.

A couple of nights ago, Adam, Ilya, and I went to dinner at a friends house in the main part of Magdeburg. We left early to get Ilya home to bed and hoped on the number 5 tram which has always taken us to our part of town. This night, however, for reasons unknown, the number 5 tram decided to go in a completely different direction. About ten minutes into the ride, I realized that nothing looked familiar - in fact, things looked depressingly ominous. The buildings were all boarded up and street lights were few and far between. I kept waiting for things to look better, but as we got further away from the city center, things just looked worse. Eventually, we decided to get off while we still could (by this point, there was just us and one other person sitting in the front), and emerged on a completely deserted, dark, boarded up street straight out of a scene from a horror movie.

"Previous Me" would have made some sort of joke and started walking back towards the city center. "Previous Me" would have been fearless and excited by the adventure.

"Current Me" was terrified.

Fear for my baby girl overshadowed all my logical thinking. My heart was racing, and I was convinced that we were going to be mugged, probably at gunpoint, right then and there. Thank God Adam was there to figure out what tram we need to take to get back because I was useless. It didn't help matters that Ilya decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to squirm, scream, and try to get out of the carrier.

Not to keep you in suspense (and worry my parents unnecessarily), we made it to the tram stop going back to the city center, caught a tram, then caught another one that did actually take us home.

Everyone tells you that becoming a parent changes everything, and you believe them...to a point. I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that becoming a parent would change the very core of who I am. I'm not better or worse. I'm just different.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where am I?

My camera is fully charged! Finally! In honor of this occasion, I would like to play a little game I like to call, "where am I?" Here goes.

This is the Earth

This is my street

This is the bar beneath my flat (the open door is the door I go through to get to my flat)

This is my building (notice that the door to my building is right next to the bar the is beneath my flat)
This is what it looks like as you enter my flat. This hallway area is like our "mudroom." The door to the left is the bathroom and straight ahead is the rest of our place.

Here is our bathroom sporting a lovely little girl used to show size comparison.

Here is our living room/office/kitchen. The door straight ahead leads to our bedroom.

Here is our fridge - I've had meals bigger than this fridge. Notice the lack of a microwave, dishwasher, washer, and dryer.

Here is our messy bedroom.

I hope you've enjoyed this pictorial tour. Stay tuned for more.