Monday, June 30, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

When it starts to rain, do you know what my kinds reach out for? Nope, not their raincoats, nor their rubber boots nor their umbrellas...

They would quickly seek out their drawing materials and start to draw a smiling sun; one after another. One of them would be assigned to draw more; one would start running around the house to distribute the drawings of the smiling sun from one window to another, from one glass door to another.

They would place those drawings where the sun usually shines through. Why? Because they believe that when it starts to rain, the smiling sun would stop the rain from falling. And oh, how they believe this.

And you know what, most of the times, the rain would stop. That is, as long as the rain doesnt start pouring like crazy; because by then, I would tell them, it would be too late.

I dont know, is this the power of their belief; of being positive or is it really the power of the smiling sun? Maybe both :)

Actually, the magic of the smiling sun against rain is a childhood 'belief' coming from me. As a child, my playmates and I would usually draw smiling sun on the pavement to chase the rain away.

Since the girls have used up their chalks, they've decided to draw using pens and papers instead :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Remember, Moms' Have Third Eyes

I always tell the girls, mamas have third eyes.

On our way home after a long drive, MC squealed:

MC: Mama, here is where F and I went around our bike.

We were shocked, my husband and I. Because the said street where MC and her playmate were supposed to be riding their bikes is a part of a busy national road. Plus, we always tell them to drive only around our streets! They dont have any business going that way at all.

Well, we immediately told her that that road is off limits and would remain off limits until we said so. She nodded and said, 'okay, I would also tell F.' Of course, it doesnt stop there.

I was driving and the girls with F, were in the car. MC started telling F that they are not allowed to go biking in that particular road because mama and papa said so. F was surprised that we knew about it. Asking, 'and who told them about it?'

I had to butt-in, 'I always tell MC that all mamas' have third eyes. We know what is happening even though we are not always around. We simply wait for our kids to let us know what they did because it is by doing so that we learn to trust them to do things alone.'

The three girls simply nodded in silence. And I hope those nods also mean they understand what I told them!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Fireman's Hat

After asking the girls to tidy up their rooms, MC found her fireman's hat then she run to me saying: 'Mama, when we dont want to play with our fireman's hat anymore, I want you to give it to my group in kindergarten.'

Of course I said yes and though I didnt ask why I heard the reason.

It turns out that in her group, there is only one fireman's hat and she's been seeing a lot of big fights breaking out because more than one kid would want to use the hat at the same time.

Yes, she wants to avoid those fights so she's giving her fireman hat away. She's an angel, my MC :D

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Diego is verliebt

I was talking a stroll with the girls when we saw a boy from the neighborhood following two girls on his bike and chatting with them.

MC immediately told me, 'Mama, Diego ist verliebt' (in love).´ With a smile, I asked her why she say that.

She said, 'I know it. I know that he is in love with the two girls.' On which I replied, 'how could he be in love with two girls?'

She pondered my question while observing the three in front of her. And then she nudged me, 'Mama, Diego is in love with the blonde-haired girl only.' She is an observant little girl because that was my bet, too.

But I wonder how she could she know that someone is 'in love'! Hmm...

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Big C

It creeped into our family. The big C.

All along we thought it was another condition, but it turned out to be the big C. What shocked us most was that -- it's been there for two years now. Nope, we didnt know.

And now we know. Would it be better, not knowing?

You see, the one affected doesnt even show any slowing down. Keeping up to appointments, driving to vacations, grocery shopping, mowing lawns, maintaining the daily dose of everday life as it used to be; even with the big C lurking beside every move.

Admirable, really. To keep up with life. As normal as possible, except for the extra doctor appointments. That is not only thinking positive; but living positively.

Now here's another big C.

The C of challenge -- to keep the shocking big C away for as many years away. Or at least, to keep the possible pain of big C to as minimal as possible.

Help us pray.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ich liebe dich

My playtime English course in a nearby kindergarten came to a close this Wednesday.

Although I was prepared for this day, I didnt realize that the scheduled brown-out would make a chaos out of that day. Read here why.

Anyway, though I arrived a bit late for our last lesson; the kids were excitedly waiting for what that day would bring; just like me.

Since it was the last day, I simply repeated our past lessons just like a review by singing songs and playing games and some surprises (I gave them each a surprise gift and their certificate of attendance), and oh how we played!

I also taught them how to say 'Ich liebe dich' in English ('I love you'). I told them we would surprise the people who would pick them up after the English lesson by saying 'I love you.'

And so after singing our goodbye song, the kids crowded the door and ran to their grandmas, grandpas, mamas or papas - whoever came to pick them up and in a sing song way said 'I love you' and translating those words to 'I love you means Ich liebe dich.'

Oh, even I melted in my own corner while trying not to shed a tear. The first few ones who heard those words were caught in surprise and wasnt even able to respond though I saw them giving the kids big hugs.

But the most touching scene was from V.

She actually whispered to me before going out to meet her papa to repeat the words again and I told her 'I love you.' She was still so very unsure so I said I would bring her to her papa and if needed, would help her say those words. So I held her hands and brought her face to face to her papa who doesnt have an idea why I have to be there, too.

Then with a little prodding from me, V said the words, 'I love you.' And the papa, who's got big muscles and an earring and a shaved head; took her in his arms and said gently, ' I love you, too.' Well, V cried buckets of tears and papa simply held her. I am proud that she get to say those words, as V is one of those who is really so shy when it comes to trying out her English. And with those words, she did it!

And I had to get out of there or else I would be crying, too.

I am going to miss those kids. And I do, I love them, too :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Who needs househelp?

I wont be needing househelp for a long time now. Why? Look at the photos.

The kids have been a great help. They volunteer for household chores with glee. The photos show IC dragging the vaccuum around the kitchen, trying her very best to get all the dust and dirt on the floor. While MC tries her hand in cutting the tomatoes, bell peppers, etc - ingredients for our big dinner that night.

When a friend came for a visit the past week, MC offered the use of her room and she was the only one who cleaned, tidied her toys and prepared her bed for our guest. IC volunteered to clean the living room and she vaccuumed, too! And for the past months, IC and MC's been making their bed all alone; even our bed, without us asking them to do it!

Well, with the kids helping -- it could mean longer time to clean and longer time to cook but no problem as long you are already budgeted your time so that dinner would be cooked and the house is clean when the guests came.

I just wish that they would continue doing this as they grow older. Or is this wishful thinking :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Pre-schoolers Visit Bakery, Bank

MC's kindergarten continues with their program for the pre-schoolers and the past weeks they had exposures in the local fire brigade; where the highlights would be the kids being allowed to hold the water hose while on a drill, and of course, they rode the fire truck complete with the lights and sirene! They visited the local police force and they got to ride the police car, of course.

Last week, they went over to the neighborhood bakery. MC told me they were allowed inside the bake shop, given a tour and in the end, got to mix their own dough and asked to shape their own bread. These bread where pushed in the oven and were given to the kids before they go back to kindergarten. Plus, they were asked to dig into a big basket full of bread -- they each got a bag of bread each, not to forget the baker's hut!

Here is MC, proudly displaying her treasures. She generously gave IC her own share, too.

And then, a few days later, the pre-schooler were off to the bank. They were told how a bank operates by showing to them how all the machines operates esp the ATM machines. They were shown the vault room in which the kids were so fascinated they kept on saying it was where the gold treasures are being kept in prison (they associated the cell-like door in prison ;D). KNow what they got from this visit? They all got a gift certificate for five euro, now that's generous!

And then MC gave us a tip saying: 'Mama, dont you know that you could bring your jewelries and other valuable objects in the bank and put them in a small box and that would be safe; especially if we would be going in a long vacation and nobody would be staying in the house.' Talking about the safe deposit boxes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Soooo Tired :D

IC's candid camera zzzzzzzzz moments :D

Why dont kids look so adorable sleeping? Sometimes they sure do looked like they simply tipped over for being soooo tired :D

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

yes, one cherry is enough to loose a costumer, LIDL

It was only one piece of fresh cherry to taste for my little IC and there came a loud snarl behind us 'Oh nein, oder? Dass muss nicht sein! Sie mussen garnicht das kind eins geben!' (Oh no or? That should not be? You must not give a cherry to the child!')

IC who was a bit shocked, looked with large questioning eyes at me. I simply nodded and smiled at her. Since IC already took a bite in the cherry, I let her eat the rest. It is only one cherry, after all. Thinking the LIDL store personnel protested in fury because it is unhealthy, I let it go.

But while picking up more cherries for my basket, I felt something prickling on my mind. I needed to know why she snarled at us. Something isnt right here. I am saying snarled because she really sounded like she's snarling from her little corner there, she didnt even approach us, she hissed out those words.

So after packing some cherries for IC, I decided to approach her and asked, 'what are you really saying about the cherry? Is it because it is verboten?' And she almost hissed with her big eyes and yes, snarled at us again, 'yes, it is verboten. Because you must pay for it first!' After that 'oh so polite words,' I turned around because I was surprised with her vehemence.

I felt violated. There are, after all, more polite words that could be used. There are after all, direct ways to tell us about this. She snarled at us because giving a child a piece of cherry is verboten. Huh? I lost my energy to shop even though I have already a handful of items in my hands.

I have been doing my grocery shopping regularly in LIDL since I arrived in Germany almost 8 years now. I shop at LIDL at least twice, sometimes even thrice a week. I am a regular costumer. A few times, the kids have been given a grape or two, a cherry or two -- to taste; I have also seen some people pick a few fruits, too. Nobody went hysterical about it. And there was no notice or anything that indicated such things are verboten.

And now because we were caught with one cherry in the hand, we were made to feel like a low life? Is it fair to be treated that way?

I was violated. I was offended.

I approached another mom who was at that time also in the store and told her what happened. I simply needed to speak up. She said denying a child one piece of cherry is brutal; after all, we are buying those cherries, too. That's what I thought, too. Well that's that.

That decided it. I brought everything I have in my hands back to their proper places (yes, I even brought those items in their proper places even though I am so offended I am ready to burst) and went out of the store. IC was protesting but I told her that the service in that store is not good that is why we would not go back to LIDL.

And yes, that story would not end in my blog. I would write a letter to the LIDL store telling them of my experience. A copy of that letter I would send to the main headquarter. And I am writing my letter in English and not in Deutsch, I dont really care if they would even bother to translate them.

The thing is, with that letter, would also come my peace of mind. I dont know what should be done about that and am not waiting for any freebies nor any special

And now I dont wonder why consumer confidence in Lidl is lower than in other discount stores here in Europe. Aside from these and other issues . I am sorry to hear that employees in LIDL are not having a great time in their company; but should that reflect their service, t00? I guess if you dont feel respected, you cannot respect back.

And then I told my husband about the story. You know what he said? That I should have asked the store personnel to weigh that piece of cherry and pay for it. Well, he's a genius. Why didnt I think of that! Tsk, tsk :D

You have lost one good costumer, LIDL.

P.S. And now I am thinking of going back simply because I sooo wanted to pay for that one piece of cherry. Or should I tack a zent into my letter? I am still so affected I am irritating myself :D

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm 39

I turned 39 today. Nope, I am not afraid to tell everybody my age. I love birthdays and I love the added years and I love the life I am living and I love that I feel good!

I have three simple wishes for my birthday:
1. A dinner in a Mexican Restaurant
2. Some Pandora charms to add to my collection
3. And a plane ticket to the Philippines!

I got my first two wishes, we would have dinner this Saturday as tonight is parent-teacher meeting for the incoming grade ones. And I got my Pandora charms from hubby, IC and MC. As for the plane ticket to the Philippines... one could hope, right?

My in laws gave me their birthday gift last week and am thinking of buying books from the money I got or maybe a bag or a pair of shoes :D

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wine Tasting

Knowing that our guest is a wine lover, we decided to bring him to our favorite vineyard for a wine tasting. The last time we did this thing was when a friend and her sister came over for a vacation and that was in 2004 when I was pregnant with IC, meaning, I didnt get to enjoy it. Now, who could stop me from indulging a bit?

First stop, train station. We had to pick up my husband from the station and drove straight to Alsheim, around 45 mins away from out place, where Winegut Nibelungenhof is located. This photo is taken right in front of the door to the wine cellar.

And look, they've been there so long. And I hope they would keep it much, much longer, too. The vineyard has 8 hectares and 14 grape varieties.

Well, the kids got their 'kiddie wine' first. Here's MC showing off her wine glass. And she later asked when she would be allowed to taste her first wine (she was allowed to smell some of them) to which her papa replied 'you could celebrate your 18th birthday doing wine tasting if you want.'

IC cant wait anymore, she had to drink. She slept thru the whole ride and was real thirsty and hungry! And yes, we did get some bread and cheese during the whole program as going for a wine tasting in an empty stomache speaks only of disaster!

They look tired and not drunk, they got only grape juice :D

At first, the owner, Engr. Andrea Balz-Ries, was a bit hesitant when she started the wine tasting, as she said, her English is already rusty. But nope, she did well!

But first about wine tasting -- it is composed of three elements: color (swirl and watch the color of the wine); smell (swirl and really drive your nose in the wine glass for the best 'smell') and taste (sip slowly and let it settle in your mouth first).

That ceramic pitched in the middle of the table? That would be for the 'extra' wine in your glass, the rest that you dont want to drink anymore. Because you see, you are supposed to go for a wine tasting and not for a drunken evening :D
Here are the first bottles. We started with white wines first because the vineyard owner said the last drink we usually have are sweet such as cola, such that when we start with red wines, we wont be able to understand the taste of it at all.

Well, she must have her photo taken, too. The last bottle on the right side is the grape juice.

We took a break and decided to tour the wine cellar and went really underground.

The kids wanted to check it out, too, but decided to go up as it is really too cold down there! I was shivering!

Here's another wine cellar, not so deep like the other one.

And here we are back to the wine tasting stube; more wine bottles! I already stopped after the ten bottle but I cant resist the red wine that came later!

These are the best wines in the house! They only produced a few bottles of them because the grapes harvested for these wine are limited. The one with the red label is the 2006 Ortega dry berry selection.

Here we are with the husband and wife team.

We ended up with these bottles. I think that would be 19 wine assortments!

The husband and wine team, they really studied about grapes and vinery. And they are hands on on just about everything.

Of course we had to find out what their store room looks like! With more wines all over.

They are still waiting to be labeled.

We ended up buying wine enough to fill our basement wine stand :D Well, it was a heady experience, this wine tasting, not only because I got a bit drunk, hahahaha. (Oops, is that is not drunken laughter!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Nail Cutting

So, do you regularly cut the nails of your kids? Well, I do.

I normally cut their toe nails and finger nails twice a week. How would I know that their nails needed cutting already? Because I also cut my nails twice a week. When my nails are already long, then that would mean the kids' nails needed cutting, too.

Yup, I dont need long nails. I have never had use for long nails ever since I can remember. But I sometimes put nail polish on my toe nails; especially during summer when I would have to use those sandals and flip flops and my toe nails would be peeking out.

Going back to the kids, MC confronted a friend on why he is biting his nails. She told him that biting one's nail is not good. The friend answered, 'my mom doesnt cut my nails. ' It turned out he nail bites because he wanted to keep his nails short!

I dont know, would you be too busy not to notice that your kids needed their nails cut? I hope not.

And please, dont be too busy to notice that your kid's runny nose needs to be wiped, too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Growth Overnight

How could she have grown up so fast after staying away from our sight only 24 hours?

I posted a few days ago about MC's overnight in kindergarten. That at first, she would definitely not go. That at first, she's afraid. That at first, she wont enjoy it. That maybe she simply had to pass on this program.

So we let it go but we tried to talk to her about the benefits of staying overnight in kindergarten - like she would be with her friends, that she would be with her teachers, that they would enjoy loads of suprises, that this program is definitely for pre-schoolers only; that it is really a privilege to join and to enjoy.

It was a long process, read here. But I guess, we underestimated her. It was the whole family who bought her to kindergarten to find her a sleeping space and prepare her bed. And we dawdled a little, I took some photos, we talked to some moms and chatted with the kids; until we simply had to go for we have nothing more to do.
Where to go with MC's things? Friendly chaos.
And she and one of her closest friend found a corner, inside the castle :D
Her sleeping area
MC was smiling when we left, already busy in her corner with her friends. We didnt think that would be that fast, huh. Of course Papa cant resist reminding the teachers that they could call us anytime. He even told that maybe we should put the telephone near us when we sleep, which made me smile, really.

Going home, IC was a bit sad because she said she also wanted to sleep with her sister. And Papa questioned me on why I have only three plates out for dinner. Erm? Where are you, dear papa :D I guess it is us, the parents, who arent really prepared to let go!

But you know what, we were a bit apprehensive because that night was a stormy night with thunder and lightning, I cant help thinking about the kids.

The morning after, at 9 am, I picked MC up in kindergarten. She's ready. Her airbed and sleeping bag already folded and are in pushed in one corner, together with her backpack. She greeted me with a big smile exclaiming she had a great time.
The goodbye song before finally going home
I also talked to the teachers who said, it all went ok. Nobody really noticed the storm that night; which is a good thing. As for MC, she enthusiastically told me her stories from last night.

She was bursting from so much stories to tell: that they had to ride the fire truck (complete with blinking lights and siren) going back to kindergarten as the rain shower was too much; one teacher who managed the barbecue for the kids had to stay outside in the rain or else dinner wont be ready; that another boy squeezed in with her and her friend because he wanted to sleep with them; that she and her friend got a warning because they were still talking when almost all of the kids were already asleep; that the boys slept earlier than the girls; that they didnt shower only washed up; that her airbed became the center of attention as most of the kids simply wanted to jump up and down; that she didnt get to cook her famous scrambled egg...etc!

But the first thing I really noticed was this, she's only gone overnight but she's grown. She has collected confidence during the 24 hours away from us. She's acting more and more like a big big sister to IC; she even started babying IC. She wants to help in more chores. Her decision-making process is faster. And in her own words, 'I can do more, Mama, trust me.'

And I only picked her up a few days from the overnight stay. I guess, growth overnight is indeed possible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dear Guests

If you plan to come and stay with us for a few days, please be informed of the following:

1. The bathroom and the guest toilet both dont have locks on them. If you dont want anybody to intrude (anybody meaning the kids); make sure you told them you are inside or you are making noises so they would not barge in.

2. Actually, all our rooms dont have locks on them, so there!

3. There are danger all over our place especially in the carpetted areas where beads, dried leaves, stones etc. might be lurking to pick you sensitive soles. Bring your own house shoes or if you dont have a pair, let us know so we could provide for you.

4. Before taking a sit, make sure that the chair/sofa/couch is empty. There could be dolls, stuff toys, etc that could create uncomfortable feeling on your behind.

5. Ignore the syringes in the bathroom, they are only toys.

6. Dont drink those pink and full of glitters bottles, they are not meant to be consumed as they are only for decoration.
here's the pink bottles
7. Better ask before using those pink shampoo, pink lotion, pink toothpaste and pink soap; or else you might get kicked out of the pink room :D

8. A little bit of muscles wont hurt as you might need to carry the kids all over the place; as their sign of being kind to you.

9. Oh, and you are expected to help a bit like babysit, drive the kids around, shop, clean :D

Well, that's all! I hope you would enjoy your stay with us.

This post is dedicated to LSJ who recently visited us :D