Friday, July 17, 2009


I admit it. Sometimes I do listen to and/or read news that clearly has a bias to it. For me the key though is humor and reason. Left or right, you have to engage me (not yell at me) in order to get my attention. Thus, George Will is oddly compelling. He is enough to make a girl become a conservative. ("Claire, stop with the craziness!")

Rachel Maddow is my favorite "liberal." She is cute and makes me laugh. I love how she sometimes will be delivering a story with a note of incredulity in her voice as if to say, "Dude, I can't believe it either!?"

When she had on Pat Buchanan yesterday, I did not think that they would agree with each other, but I did not think that I would start banging my head against the computer like I did.

(Note: Rachel is NOT the one who made me want to bang my head against a wall.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I Should be Blogging About

These days I have my head in a book and my eyes on my laptop. Unfortunately, I have not be able to enjoy the lazy days of summer because I am working on a research paper. I need to finish is by the end of the month in order to have time to edit before my presentation in September.

So I have not blogged about the things that may be note worthy, such as . . .

1. Governor Palin's resignation. I do not care how she spins it, she is quitting her job. Now, she may be quitting her job to pursue another one or because ethics complaints have made it difficult or she is running out of money or she is sick of media scrutiny of her family. But make no mistake, she is quitting. I just do not want to see her in four years running for president. Sometimes you do have to hunker down and keep going in the face of criticism. Clinton did not resign. Heck, even Bush did not resign and lord knows that his numbers were not good at the end. The voters trusted you, Ms. Palin. How are they supposed to trust you again.

2. If she did resign because of media scrutiny, I do understand that. Take the recent Vanity Fair article. It was a model of non-journalism and all around hatchet job. There was nothing new and only innuendo. Sad really.

I make fun of Fox, Rush, Ann C. and the like, but really anyone yelling at me and making stupid remarks annoys me; thus Keith Olbermann also makes my hair hurt and why won't Chris Matthews tone it down a notch? Vanity Fair used to be my favorite magazine, but now I am not so sure.

3. The Sotomayor confirmation hearings are underway providing a bit of political theater for those on vacation. I cannot figure out what Lindsey Graham's problem is. Yesterday he sat like a cat ready to pounce. He asking stupid questions ("Do you know what realism means? What is a strict constructionist?). He does know that she went to law school, right? He called her a bully while bullying her. "Do you have the temperament to be on the court?" Well, she did not throw things at you after 30 minutes of condescending conversation, so I would say that she is covered. By the way, Sen. Graham, would you ask a man those questions?

4. The German is on vacation and able to take on the Dude more often so that I can get some work done. Loving Husband points are starting to add up. Oddly enough, our little one, who would sleep all the time, is going through sleeptus-interuptus stage. Around 1am or 2am he wakes up and starts talking to himself. This goes on for about an hour or two before going back to sleep. Normally he would then sleep until 8am, but these days he is up at 6:50am. You could set your watch by it. Hopefully it will pass soon.

5. I took up a cooking challenge from Christina over at AmiExpat . My Red Berry Pudding (Rote Grütze) is not the exact same recipe that she used. I had four different kinds of berries (blackberries, strawberries, red currants, raspberries) and no cinnamon. Still tasty and all homemade, even the vanilla sauce that made with real vanilla bean!

6. Summer means bathing beauties, and it has been hard getting the Dude out of the water.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hooray for Hannover!

There has been a lot going on behind the scenes of the expat blogging community. Through a democratic process, the next Whiny Expat Blogger Meet-up is scheduled for September 4 - 6, 2009 in Munich . . . and I cannot go. I was very upset that this weekend of fun was scheduled for the only time that I have to do something (i.e. I am presenting a paper at a conference).

In an effort to see some old friends and maybe make some new ones, a few of us decided to have a mini meet up in Hannover. The German thought that a short weekend in Hannover would be the perfect first "family vacation" in which all three of us would sleep in a hotel.

It went . . . great!

Saturday morning we left for Hannover. We took the back roads and made really good time while enjoying the scenery. Just as the Dude had had enough of being in the car (two hours), we arrived at our hotel. The Hotel am Entenfang is actually outside of the city, but close to an SBahn that took us directly into the city. I would definitely recommend this hotel to families. Although not spectacular, our room was HUGE and clean, the reception was modern and airy. Everyone at the reception was very friendly and they put a crib in our room, and the breakfast the next day was fresh and filling.

We got a family package via the Hannover Zoo that was only 105 Euro for our room, breakfast, two tickets to the Hannover Zoo and a complementary bottle of mineral water. We arrived at 9:30am and thought we could at least park the car, but they let us check-in, drop off our bags and freshen up.

Off to the city we headed. We were met at the train station by Mausi and Dixie. Sadly, the rest of the gang (Jen, Alice and G) had to cancel at the last minute. "Should I take it personally?" the German asked. "No, sweetie, you know how it is; kids happen."

The four of us though walked and laughed and talked and were utterly charmed by the Dude. I was actually able to let go and just enjoy myself. If the Dude did not want to sleep, I considered it his problem. However, he is such a good kid, he took two 30 minute naps in his stroller; just enough to recharge his battery. First, we went to the park at the spectacular "new" Rathaus.

Lunch was scheduled at the Block Haus, which was just a short walk away. We went early as we were all starving! The restaurant was also super family friendly. The Dude flirted with the waitress and walked out with free toys!

As nice as the waitress was, she was also one of those Butt-in-skis who comes over to tell you how to parent your kid. The Dude still gets his pacifier as a soothing mechanism, and after he started to get fussy and I tried to finish my lunch, I popped it in. The waitress came over twice (!!) and took it out of his mouth and said, "Now don't you look better." I wanted to say, "It keeps him calm, but if you are comfortable with a screaming baby, so am I."

We headed to the Marschsee next and watched the carp fight over the rest of the Dude's breakfast roll. He got a real kick out of that; kept pointing "Oh! Oh!" As the four of us sat and enjoyed the sun and a beverage, I noticed smell coming from the stroller. Off in search for a changing table I went, but all I found was a shifty bathroom. When God gives you lemons . . .

I proceed to change the Dude while he was still strapped into his stroller. The back of the chair does not go all the way down, but I was able to pull out his butt and take off the diaper. Of course it was a big, stinky one. I used all of the wipes in my bag to get him and the stroller cleaned up. Two elegantly dressed women with large hats walked in. One of them actually wrinkled her nose when she saw the Dude's diaper. As I was about to get defensive, their dog walked into the bathroom and tried to sniff my crotch! That brought them down a notch.

After a lovely afternoon, it was time for us all to head our separate ways. We took the SBahn back to the hotel, and then came the biggest test of the weekend: How to Handle Bedtime.

Because the Dude has slept in his own room since he was 3 months old, I was not sure how he would handle being in a room with mom and dad. Neither of us wanted to go to bed with him at 7pm, which is his normal bed time. So we decided to let him roam the room as we sat on the beds watching TV. By 8pm, he needed to go to bed. We turned off all the lights and put him the crib and laid on our bed. The Dude stood up, stared at us and started crying. Do you blame him?

After 30 minutes, I decided to take a different tactic. The German got two beers and we went into the bathroom and closed the door. We drank beer and read the free newspaper. Within 10 minutes the Dude had gone to sleep. At 9pm I snuck back into the bedroom to go to sleep. Unfortunately, the German's snoring habit was a problem. He decided to take one for the team and sleep in the bathtub.

The Dude slept through the night no problem and I also got at least a good six hours. By 6am the Dude was awake, and I knew I would have to get up. I rolled over and saw the German. Huh? Turns out that the temperature of the bathroom kept going up and by 3am he could not take it anymore. I felt terrible that he did not come into the room earlier.

After showers and breakfast, we headed to the Hannover Zoo. I know that at a year-and-a-half the Dude cannot really appreciate it, but we wanted to do something as a family. It was so much fun!! The giraffes were the most impressive for the Dude, as well as the goats at the petting zoo. A 6 year old was terrified to go in, but our little one has no fear.

The Hannover Zoo is large. Between the feedings, shows, play grounds, boat tour and animals, you could easily spend a day there. But after lunch at 1pm we hit the road and headed home. The Dude slept the entire way.

It was, all around, one of the best ways to spend the 4th of July weekend, by making new memories with my family. There were no fireworks, but I could not have asked for more.