Archive for January, 2011

One of the things that I admire most about driving in Germany are the streets.

They are so smooth.

I mean, smooooooth.

Now, maybe you don’t understand what I mean when I say smooth so let me broaden my definition.

There are NO potholes.

No bumps.

No nothing.

And well, I suppose that hitting a pothole while driving fast would not be a good thing.

Which makes driving fast on such beautiful smooth roads so lovely.

This week, our Mazda 5 was in the werkstatt, getting a new windshield and replacing the driver’s side panel (which was leaking water whenever it rained, which in this part of Germany is oft).

So they gave us a car to drive while ours was being fixed.  I was more than happy when they called to say the part was not available and had to be ordered so they had to keep our car a few more days.


Now, just before we purchased the Mazda, we were leasing a Citroen C4.  It was pretty basic, but had some perks.  But, it was nothing in comparison to the 2011 Executive Edition I drove this week.

It had automatic everything.  E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. (except transmission – which is good, because I love driving a manual)

Parking assist on all sides of the car, very lovely warning tones, automatic wipers (that worked!) and the list goes on and on … from heated seats with multiple settings to a warning light on the driver’s side outside mirror letting you know when a car was in your blind spot …

Oh, did I say it was lovely?

It was so comfortable.  Oh! and it had a massager built into the driver’s seat.

Separate heating controls for driver and passenger, great stereo, and the best part – not only was everything logically laid out, it was well within the reach of the driver.

Now, maybe you don’t realize that I am 5’1″ on a tall day. So driving a car with proper positioning is very important to me.  I hate feeling like I am sitting on top of the steering wheel because of the pedal placement.

But really and truly, it was fun to drive.

And fast.  With 6 gears, going 180km was a breeze. (and fun!)

We have our Mazda back and love it too – sliding doors plus kids is a huge plus with the teeny tiny parking spots here in Germany.

But it was sure nice to have such a kick-ass ride for a few days.

Read Full Post »


It just hit me today.

I have been exceptionally crabby.

I am homesick.


Read Full Post »

In case you didn’t realize it, I live in a small town called Dülmen.

This year, we are celebrating our 700th anniversary.

That’s like, a super duper long time, don’tcha think?

I had hoped to offer up this cool little town as a meeting place for the Annual Whiny Expat Meetup – but it looks like we will be in Minsk for most of the year.

I am not sure exactly when that will happen, but BJD and I anticipate a move in early March.  February is chock full (is it chock or chalk – I think chock, right?) of birthdays, with Giant Baby turning 2 on the 27th.

Speaking of her, I have to say I am so in love with her.  She has taken to sign language beautifully – and signs as often as she can, mixed with spoken words.  She enjoys singing and making music.  Her most recent pleasure came  from opening up the drawer with the pots and pans and pulling out two lids and banging them together.  (quite loudly I might add)

And she is in absolute love with her older brother – who has his moments of typical older sibling don’t wanna be around you-ness.  As a whole though, he is turning into such a wicked cool person, complete with a temper (thanks to me – hey I have to have some influence in his life cause that boy is a carbon copy of his dad).

Last week, Bubba Joe had a horrible case of asthmatic bronchitis. It flared up the night before BJD left for Minsk for the week.  I took little man to his ped who upped the dosages of salbuterol (I think that’s the german equivalent to alb*terol), followed up by his inhaler (with steroids) and if it got worse, to give him a steroid suppository.

He hates those.

He does okay with the breathing treatments – every 3 hours was about the right time for him to have his next dose.  But that night, with his dad gone and knowing how bad it was the night before (he barely slept because of his coughing), I made the decision to give him a suppository.

He hated it.

And me.

He started crying.  Poor kid.

I started crying.

Which led us to hugging and crying together.  Giant Baby had no clue what was going on, but kept signing mommy cry … cry, no cry.

I explained to Bubba that I knew it was uncomfortable but that the medicine was necessary for his lungs to function properly.  That it hurt me too to see him in pain and worse, to cough so much.

And it brings back all those emotions that I have been facing the past 4.5 years … before I would have felt like an absolute failure.  It was my body that was damaging him in utero, my body which failed to do the one thing that only a woman can (squat and give birth) – such a basic principal yet I failed.

I am not so good at accepting my failures.

But this time, I just dealt with it.  I handled it as it needed to be and none of it was overwhelming.  I cried because he was so angry that I had to give him his medicine “there”.  And he cried because he has a hard time figuring out the right words (much less the right language) to explain how he is feeling.

My depression is subsiding.

I  know it.

I can feel it.

I am still on meds – and will be for some time.  Especially if/when we move.  But I anticipate that by the end of 2012, I will be able to manage my life even better than I did last week.

Read Full Post »

My thoughts on the written Word

My name is Alice.  I am 36 years old.

I am of the generation that grew with the use of computers, and subsequently, the internet.

During my undergrad years (god, how pretentious is that? to call out and signify that I had an undergraduate experience infers my intellectual superiority in having also a graduate experience … I digress) I was active on what was then a users’ board.  You had an ID and you could hide behind it.  I wrote much poetry, or should I say, bad, horrible attempts at poetry.

I am a product of the 90s.  I won’t go into much more about that, because this post is really about something else.

The power of the written word.

Do you remember when we used to write letters?  Real, honest to goodness, putting the pen to the paper kind of letters?  And we (cough, I mean I) wrote them because $400/month long-distance bills got you (again, I mean me) grounded.

Do you remember the thought that would go into these letters?  The glory of discovering the erasable pen, only to find out that it smudged when your palm lay on it?

I have a small cardboard box in my storage room here.  It has moved with me from my parents’ house, to my own home with hubby, to Germany.  It is full of handwritten, stamped, mailed envelopes and letters … most of them are from undergrad (again, pretentious, I know, but then again, this is my blog).

I have one letter my great-grandmother wrote me while she was still alive.  I think that letter is from the mid-80s.  In it, she asks if I have stopped chewing my nails.  (Nope, never did quite kick that habit.) And she shares bits and pieces of life, all on one page.

I have many letters from my best friend from high school – I attended Ashland University, she attended Toledo.  Cell phones were too expensive at the time, as was long distance.  Even the price of a stamp was something we’d save our money for.  In her letters, we talk about school, family, boyfriends, and life.  Nothing truly substantial.

But I keep them.

There are many more letters in that box.  And as I was pondering the meanness persistent on the internet.

When you write a blog or comment on one, or participate in an online forum or social networking site, do you really consider what you are presenting?

Do you realize that who you are, as an individual, regardless of gender, race, religious beliefs … it is you who create your online you.

Okay.  I know.  Sounds so ridiculously obvious, but how many of us have seen comments on blogs that might be masked as “educating” others, but really, what it comes down to is what my mama always said “Alice, it’s not what you said.  It’s HOW you said it”.

I have a long history of speaking before I think.  My mouth wags faster than a ducks’ behind (another momism). My foot … well, you get it.

But I would like to think that overall, I am careful about the words I choose when they are in the written form.

Words have so much strength and power.  I’m not talking about leaders of countries or whatnot, I am talking about everyday citizens.  You and me.

One part of my life is cloth diapering.  I joined an online forum http://www.clothdiapernation.com.  On this specific forum, you are (allegedly) held accountable for your written words.  Therefore, there is no edit.  No delete.  What you write is what you wrote.  No chance to change it … only to explain it away.

On that site, I have been blasted for being a troll.  Whatev says I, with a major eye roll that only a product of the 90s can accomplish.  I shared my experiences blah blah … and guess what the beauty of the internet is?  I can find people – I mean, you can too.  Just google them.  So I googled one of my loudest bashers and turns out she is an elementary school teacher in central Ohio.

An elementary teacher from Central Ohio.  Yeah, that had to be italicized because I just can’t get over that some of my friends might have such a hateful individual teaching their child in my own backyard.

I am also a member of another online forum – http://www.preeclampsia.org.  Now THAT is a class act, if I do say so myself.  They are very open and caring people who run the foundation behind the website.  Everyone there has been affected by a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy in some way.  Yet, there remains a dignity, a compassion, even when there is negativity.  It’s more like you are speaking with someone face to face.

Because I guarantee that central Ohio  teacher, were I standing in front of her, in a group of mom’s hanging out, she would not have spoken to me the way she did.

As an expat (an american living in Germany, soon to be Belarus – yup, no official date but it’s a comin’), the blogosphere (what a cool word) has been my savior, my lifeline.

But even here I have witnessed expats alienating themselves based on their views.  Again, it is not about the right to have a view.  It’s not what you said, but how you said it.

I ask you, do you realize how you come across?

When you comment, do you think about how you would write something were it on pen and paper?  Not pencil, not erasable pen.  But good old ball point  pen and paper.

Little comments, like those on social networking sites, remind me of those notes we used to pass in class … “what are you doing after class?  wanna go to convo?” or “leave me alone! you’re not my friend anymore!” or “can you believe my parents caught me?”

Blogs, however, are like reading someone’s personal journal.  Only it’s not private but public.  And it can be misleading.  Or not.

And forums, well, they have every possibility to be that clique – you know, the one I never belonged to?  Honest, I didn’t.  I was a band geek.  An outsider.  Shopping at Fisher’s Big Wheel while my classmates wore Benetton.

It really saddens me when I see highly intelligent people present themselves as loons.  Straight out the textbook Class A Loons.

Look, you are allowed to be you.  Don’t let me change you.  And don’t think that I want to.  But remember that your words reflect you.  And you reflect so much more than one individual.  You represent what you share yourself as – I represent survivors of preeclampsia, expats, a bit of a granola crunchy mama, a postpartum depressoin survivor, a yarn snob and so much more.

So just remember to think twice before you hit send, or publish or ok or whatever you hit.  Think about the impact your words have on the world.  Because trust me, they do.

Read Full Post »