Saturday, August 05, 2006

Out and About with Nee

We went to the garden center yesterday and only *nearly* came to blows over nothing (the joy of Nee and John shopping together), but then we both took a chill pill and managed to enjoy the rest of our shopping and even find a few cute (and cheap) flowers to put in our window box.

I managed to restrain myself from buying a 2-foot-tall garden gnome, even though my paycheck from my recent teaching gig was burning a hole in my pocket. They were much cuter than the smaller ones. John, being the connoisseur he is, added to our cart a couple of bottles of the garden center’s *very own brand* of mead and blueberry wine. Classy. (Which we already knew from the days of the High Class Clock.)

Since we were going to be on the same street to go to the garden center, we stopped in at the Burger King for lunch. I think I am developing an allergy to American-style fast food. I started coughing after I was done eating, and I just couldn’t stop. I think it was all the grease coating my throat. And I only ate 4 of Hannah’s fries and 2/3 of a Whopper. You would think the coke would have cut right through it. Then in the garden center, pushing around 50 pounds of dirt and plants, my stomach informed me that the whole trip might have been a bad idea. I didn’t end up being sick, but I hate having a stomach-ache. Hence the cranky-pants attitude mentioned above.

Hannah disappeared yesterday afternoon as soon as we got home from the garden center to spend the night with her friend and has only been by long enough to pick up her car seat on their way to the JumpInn. I am telling you, that place is on one of the lower levels of hell, right next door to the Chuck E Cheese. The place itself is not *that* bad, but it is almost impossible to get there from our house. I know that sounds stupid, but it is on the opposite side of town, across the train tracks, and all the streets in the area have been under construction for years. We have been there a couple of times now, and we have never been more lost, even when trying to find our way on the autobahn. I’m just glad it is the friend’s parents and not us taking them there, because that is another source of cranky-pants in Nee’s family.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hannah Fannah Po Pannah

Some days it seems like Hannah is growing up in one of those nature films with the action speeded up. We let her ride the bus into town with her friend recently (after a test run of riding alone to meet me at the bus stop), and they only went a little out of bounds (of course, that means next time we say ‘no’). She has her own set of house keys, and we can trust her not to lose them and to use the crosswalk alone to go to her friends’ houses on our street. And she cleaned her room all by herself last weekend with only a little prodding/threatening from John.

But then other days I can still see the little kid in her. Now that she’s on summer vacation, we can catch the morning programming on Nick; she still talks back to Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer. She sometimes takes her doll to the store, but only in the stroller, not in the grocery cart. And she rereads her beginner reader books at bedtime.

And there are some things that are just pure Hannah. Like the game she invented with her dad: I didn’t catch all the rules, as I was weeding out my email, but it involved dice, little toys as place-markers, our tile floor, play money, and claiming and naming floor tiles/countries. It was the map game.

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After watching Dungeons and Dragons with us last night (I will never get those brain cells back), she started a “What I Did on Summer Vacation” essay: “I watched a film, and at the beginning it was pretty bad, but the ending was good.” Despite declaring that she does not want to attend Swedish school next year, she said that maybe they could use it in their mini-newspaper they put out twice a year.

She has also declared that she doesn’t want to attend ballet, yet when we leave her lessons, she dances all the way to the car, doing fancy jumps and twirls. Next year she will get to wear a black leotard instead of the pink with the ruffle on the butt, but even that has not been much of an enticement. Her class has two boys in it, and they recently started lifts (well, the girls are jumping and spinning, and the boys give them a little boost as they go by), which Hannah really seemed to enjoy, so maybe I can remind her of that when the *agony* of going back to lessons seems too much for her in September.

When we first made our plans to go to Sweden for a week of vacation, Hannah was adamantly against it. On principle, I think. But we dangled the sweet, sweet carrot of a trip to Astrid Lindgren’s World and to Legoland (the original in Denmark!), and she has come around. To the point that she has already started packing, even though we aren’t leaving for 3 weeks. At least she’ll be well-prepared to entertain herself in the car, if she can even carry her suitcase by then.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I made straight Bs on my qualifying exams, so I get to start upper-division coursework next semester! I know in my heart that my paper was not B-worthy, but at least it is over. I have a sense of limp-bodied relief now that my grades are in. Whew!

Monday, July 31, 2006


I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to get back into blogging. When I was doing school stuff at the end of the semester, I totally blocked my normal impulse, which is to mentally tell stories to you about stuff I come across. I've managed to turn that back on, but the next step of putting it in blog format is not coming so easily to me as before. Oh, well, I am sure that a couple of crappily useless posts like this one will see me back to my old, mile-a-minute blogging.

While I was gone from here, Germany hosted the World Cup. John and I are not exactly what you would call sports fans, but we actually watched a good bit of it. I think that in the early rounds, John probably watched one match a day. Germany played really well, so the whole country was at fever pitch for most of the month. We knew not to count on getting to sleep at a decent hour on the nights Germany was playing, because our neighbors would be yelling and celebrating, and then a couple of hours later the drunk ones would stagger home, stopping for a loud, drunken chat right under our balcony. This was even a problem (not so much the drunks) during one of my late-afternoon classes; there are pubs (televising the games) within walking distance of the building, and it was boiling hot, so the windows had to stay open--needless to say, it was hard to concentrate on Toni Morrison with all the shouting and cheering.

During the World Cup, everyone put flags out. This is Germany, not America: *no one* keeps a flag outside their home. I guess Germans are very touchy about coming across as nationalist, so those kinds of displays are limited to sporting events. But during the World Cup, people hung the German flag from their windows, painted it on their arms and faces, wore it as a cape, attached it to their car windows, wrapped their babies in it, you name it. It was quite touching, really.

George Bush came to Germany, and I saw on the news that he had mastered the European kiss greeting. John and I have had trouble with that one, because we are just not kissy people, but I declared that I would be damned if George Bush could do it and I couldn't, so I have redoubled my efforts at not looking like a social retard to our close friends. Then Shrub affronted the German chancellor with unwanted physical contact. *sigh* What kind of role model is that?

[At about this point last night, Blogger ate the rest of my post. I tried everything I could think of this morning to reconstruct or find it--the one time I typed directly into my Web browser--and I ended up with a bit of lame at the end (well, lame-er than before). But then I remembered that I activated the setting to have my own posts emailed to me, so the original was in my email. Ka-Ching!]

Our cat had a couple of bladder infections, so John took her to the vet for a shot. We were supposed to give her two more at home, but I managed to squirt one of the them onto her fur instead of under her fur thanks to her squirming, plus I poked myself in one finger and scratched another finger with the damned tiny hypodermeric needle, and that hurt like a bitch for about a week. Stupid cat. The other cat has continued with her whiny ways, and one night I threatened to cram her down the throat of a neighborhood dog who was barking all night. She's fluffy--she'd definitely dampen all the sound.

As much as I would like to think of this as vacation time, I just can't seem to get into that mind-set. Saturday I spring-cleaned the upstairs bathroom, and you have *never* seen grout that clean (the whole room is tile). Sunday I did the downstairs bathroom, which includes moving out the washing machine and cleaning under it. I also repotted some plants, did a little laundry, shopped for groceries, vacuumed under our bed (and the furry cat had shed the equivalent of a mink coat under there--ick!), and sorted through the piles and piles of papers and books that were drifting through our living space like academic tumbleweeds. Today I took a few photos on my way to pick up Hannah from school, but I haven't done anything with them yet. So look around at my photo links in a day or two for something new.

Hannah's superpower of kicking over coffee cups has expanded to breaking thermometers (4 at last count) and losing her school supplies.

We were having such hot weather that people were talking about another "summer of the century" (the last one was in 2003), but a cold front has come in, so we're saved! Yesterday the highs were in the 80s, but with about 1000% humidity, so it didn't make much difference. This morning we woke up to temps in the low 70s and light rain, and John is in heaven (except he has to ride his bike into town later this morning). And Hannah is going on an outing today, so she'll be hiking around in the woods up above the castle in the muck. I told her not to get eaten by a wild boar, or a swarm of slugs.