Saturday, December 13, 2008

why, hello again!

So, it has been ages since I last posted. I tried to think of a reason but I couldn't really find anything other than the fact that my life has been really low key lately and I guess just a low key lifestyle does not a good blog make. A good blog post requires either crazy awesomeness or ranty worthy badness. I still don't have either of those two things, but I am still going to attempt a post and therefore you must suffer through my drivel. 

Christmas is coming and I am actually excited. I still have no idea what I am going to do but there are many offers on the table, which is nice. Really the most exciting part is Maria and Melissa. I can't believe it has been five months since I have seen either of them. All I can think about is how much I am going to laugh those eight or whatever days they are here. No one can make me crack up like those two and it is going to feel amazing to be able to just bask in it for a full week. 

In other news, Germany is unbearably  cold. I am not the type of person that gets cold easily, not at ALL. In fact, I am the exact opposite. I am always always always too warm when I sleep. It's like when people flip over the pillow to get to the cool side of the pillow, except I need a whole new fresh bed. At home I sleep in a minimum of two different beds per night, but here I am just NEVER warm. I don't think it's so much that Germany is colder degrees wise, but the house is wayyy older and the heating system is not as good. It's kind of nice though because I think because I am cold all the time I haven't put on any weight even though Christmas in Germany=a shit ton of delicious cakes, waffles, and cookies. Not to mention my Adventskalendar and then Nikolaus where I got tonnnnns of chocolate. Oh, yeah, and Gluhwein. 

I had a friend from college who always went on about Christmas in Germany and I always thought to myself "how different could it possibly be?!?" but she was totally right. It's totally lovely. The food is of course an amazing aspect but then their are the Christmas markets which are adorable and sooo fun. There are tons of gorgeous lights and it all just looks so much adorable on Germany's tiny little streets (even if they are terrifying to drive on).

Friday, December 5, 2008

i hate money.

i am feeling so stressed out right now and it is all because of money. it is even more ridiculous because at the moment i have more in my bank account than i ever have had before and it just isn't enough. i have to get christmas presents, have enough money to travel when maria and melissa are here and  i also need to sign up for my next level of german courses. that last one costs 700 euro alone. that is actually a great price considering it is 16 hours a week and four months but gah you have to pay cash in full and you need to sign up considerably in advance. the website says the class is almost full and it doesnt start until march. if i could pay in march that would be great as it would give me plenty of time to save up post christmas destitution but of course it needs to be paid to reserve my spot. i think i'll head over to the school monday or so and see how full they consider almost full and see if they can give me an estimation of when they think it will fill up for good. i remember when i signed up for this class it was yellow for quite a while before it got completely full. it's just german is SO important to me, it's why i came here. to learn the language, and i really can't do it without the classes. they guarantee me 16 hours of complete and total immersion every week and i neeeeeeed that to get better. i'm like hyperventilating right now. you can probably tell as there is nary a paragraph break nor a capital letter in sight. 

GR.

maybe if i write a budget here i will feel better.

my current account balance is around 650 euros. let's say i set aside 200 for christmas gifts. that leaves me with 450. ill get paid 500 euroes on jan 1st which is good because it will rejuice me mid travels. so that brings me to 950 euros, 700 of which needs to be reserved for my class. so 250 for traveling. aka, not enough. its actually super not enough because not is 250 euros not going to cover the traveling but it would leave me penniless for all of january. i need at least 25 euro to get through the month at the very least. it would be a sparse month but since my food and everything is paid for i would just need that for odds and ends here and there.

SIGH. i cant think about this anymore.

goodnight.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I CAVED.

So, I read Twilight.

I was falling massively behind on my reading list so I needed a book I knew I could get through in one sitting and I knew I could totally do that with Twilight.

These are my thoughts:

The characters are laughable. Stephanie Meyer either makes them insanely perfect, or something that bothers me even more, she deliberately gives them absolutely meaningless flaws. They are flaws that merely exist to make it more difficult for people to call her out on her terrible and uninteresting characterizations. Well, more difficult for a 12 year old anyway. 

The magic is also laughable. It's every single Vampire stereotype wrapped into one. Oh, no, correction, it's every GOOD vampire stereotype wrapped into one. Her vampires are strong, beautiful, intelligent and immortal. However, the sun doesn't burn them it makes them SPARKLE. Perhaps you think my summary is making it sound more juvenile than it actually is. Nope. Wrong. The vampires are so shiny they sparkle in sunlight. 

I pretty much have all the same exact criticisms for the book that everyone else does. I just find it totally hilarious that people who love this book most of the time love it for it's "great" romance. That is fucking hilarious. The book has the most ridiculously warped depiction of romance I have ever seen. The characters fall in love with one another before they have even spoken one word to one another. In fact, Bella falls in love with Edward whilst under the impression that he wishes her dead. They both have non existent personalities outside of the fact they love each other and every depiction of their "love" is a much clearer depiction of lust than anything else. And you know what? That is fine with me, books about lust can be great but it drives me insane that this book is parading around as the paragon of the ultimate romance when really it's nothing more than a 500 page exercise in unresolved sexual tension. 

In conclusion, everything about the book was 100 percent predictable and the writing was at times gag inducing.

I started New Moon yesterday.

Friday, November 28, 2008

kill me.

So, Thanksgiving went okay. I spent all day shopping and defrosting and prepping and then it was time to put the turkey in and WHATTAYAKNOW I have no fucking clue where the roasting pan is. But, like, I had already put so much effort in that I wasn't gonna waste it so I boiled it, haha. It was pretty plain tasting, but juicy and the boys loved it. The sweet potatoes came out PERFECTLY, but Max wasn't so into them. Mike predictably loved the marshmallows and ate a few spoonfuls of the actual potato part but was otherwise uninterested. We tried to find the wishbone at the end of it all but none of us could stomach looking at the inside of the turkey so we gave up.

It actually went fairly well and I would be more enthused but I am cranky. Right now, Germany can go fuck itself. I hate driving here so much, it stresses me like you can't even imagine. The streets are too tiny, there is no where to park and really the most annoying thing of all is that there are nine trillion rules you need to remember. Everyone else knows them because in Germany there is some pretty rigorous driving school required before you get your license, but for someone like me who is used to having signs letting me know when to stop and when I have the right of way and constant reminders of what the speed limit is, always being expected to know but no one ever telling you CAN GET REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING.

For example, there are no speed limit signs in Germany. They only have speed limit signs when you are entering 30kmph zones (in neighborhoods) and for like EXCEPTIONS. Otherwise, I'm guessing, you learn in driving school what speed limits are where. Or, in my case, you learn by getting a TICKET. FOR DRIVING 37 MPH (61 kmph). ON A MAIN ROAD. The speed limit on this road is apparently 50 kmph and just sjkdklehnrjkl gerklgner I want to kill someone right now. There are so many things about this road that would lead anyone to believe the speed limit is higher than that and I just can't FUCKING believe I have to pay 25 euros, and yeah that's shit, but this is just ANOTHER way in which I've fucked up. It sure looks great when the person you pay to drive your children around GETS A SPEEDING TICKET. DJSABNADLKJGKEJGNGJDFBGAKJBFDHJB DFHJB FBJBNERKJHBGHJREBHEBGHJGBERBGSJFGNJ
KGNJKFNBKALNFABIMREALLYUPSETRIGHTNOW.

Just one day late...

I am currently in the process of making my very first Thanksgiving dinner. Even though it's a modified version, it's still ambitious and I am very nervous. I bought a four pound baby turkey which I am currently defrosting using the cold water in the kitchen sink method. It should only take two hours and then the turkey itself should take just about two hours to cook. I roasted a chicken once before and it came out decent so I have my fingers crossed for this baby. Max loves turkey and is really excited so I don't want to disappoint.

I am also making sweet potatoes and corn. Let me tell you that it was a BITCH to find sweet potatoes. Of course, today I also had the obstacle of no car because mine is at the dealer getting winter tires put on so I needed to go to about a million super markets by bus, which is fine, but then I needed to get everything home, which was decidedly more difficult. In the end I went to three different super markets and only Real had sweet potatoes and they are...different. They were marked "Israeli Su├čkartoffeln" which translates to Israeli sweet potatoes so, yeah, fingers crossed they taste good. I was worried I wouldn't be able to find sweet potatoes at all because after I went through the potato section of Real I found nothing but they were actually in the imports section. They probably only had 10 potatoes total (but they were sizeable), I bought three and it cost FIVE euro. I think the potatoes cost more than the turkey.

Sigh, hopefully I will be updating later today to let everyone know how FANTASTICALLY it all went.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Life observations...

So, I am about to dig deep here. Some seriously serious reflection is going to to go down.

The topic?

KitKat bars.

This weekend Nicole went shopping and she bought a bag of KitKats and on this bag it read "New and Improved Recipe!!!" and this made me wtf. Because I mean how can you improve upon chocolate and some wafers. Not that I thought KitKats were the greatest thing ever, but just you can only go so many places with chocolate and a wafer. Right? Right.

So, you could say I was skeptical. Skeptical, but curious, so I took one of these KitKats with me to my German class since I always get super hungry and I figured a KitKat would be easy enough to consume mid Deutschlernen. 

WRONG. I don't know how they've done it, but Nestle must have made some kind of deal with the devil because KitKats are flufferin' awesome. Was I missing out before? Can someone unexposed to this new formula give me their opinions on KitKats. I was always fairly neutral... actually if we were to use the Trick or Treating scale for judging candy, it would get a one because I would only visit the house one time whereas a house giving out king size bags of Skittles would get a "as many times as possible without having to resort to costume changes" and the house giving banana Laffy Taffy would get the elusive "Costume changes PLUS bartering away all other candy for more banana Laffy Taffy."

But this new KitKat...well, it might just resort to plain old theft.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

America, the Beautiful...

Here are the 10 things I miss most about the U.S. of A. I wrote this list during my German class one day when I was bored because we were going over what accusatives are for like the 10th time and I my brain was going to implode if I didn't let my mind wander someplace happy.

10. Baja

Omg, I think about Baja all the time. It is hard to get both wraps and Mexican food in Germany and Baja has BOTH (their Mexican food being somewhat sub par but their wraps being OUT OF THIS WORLD) and I just want a barbecue chicken wrap with a side order of their spanish rice. Ok, yeah, I'm drooling, someone please Fedex this to me ASAP.

9. Wide Streets

I am going to a be a phenomenal driver upon my return to Commack. The width of the street I live on in the US is about four times as wide as any residential street in Germany. My mom told me before I came not to worry about driving on the Autobahn because the lanes are a bit wider to accommodate the high speeds. This is totally false. The lanes are smaller. You could probably say they are wider than MOST streets in Germany as they comfortably allow more than 2 cars to be driving at once, but compares to the vast expanse that is the Long Island Expressway, I constantly feel like I am about to trade paint with everyone around me. 

8. Free Parking

Parking is NEVER free. Even when you think it's free, it isn't. I can't even park on the street I live on without a permit. Parking lots in general also suck. At home there are jillions of spots free whereas here even the largest of parking lots sometimes require I circle through for over 10 minutes looking for a spot. And then a week later I'll get a letter in the mail letting me know it wasn't a spot at all and I owe Germany 15 euros. Curses.

7. Office Supplies!

Binders in Germany enrage me. They have only two rings and they are built to hold a LOT of pages and definitely not built for easy page turning. This has resulted in many torn pages. Also, try finding a good mechanical pencil in Germany. It's not gonna happen.

6. Starbursts

Yum.

5. Milk

This is more of a "this family" thing than a German thing (or is it? I'm not sure...) but the family I live with only buys fresh milk on occasion but for the most part uses condensed. Blegh. I looooove fresh milk and the thought of drinking condensed makes me want to vomit.

4. OMG TV on the Internet

Last year every single show I loved was on the internet. You can't watch them from Germany :(. Thank god Comedy Central is super generous and they stream their shows internationally so I still have South Park and the Daily Show. Also, thank god for youtube.

3. Free carwashes

My car is always a mess and it drives me crazy but something in me is opposed to paying to get my carwashed. Especially since in Germany you have to pay and THEN you have to do most of the work yourself!!! Isn't that ludicrous! I mean it's a bit cheaper but I'd rather pay an extra euro or two to have someone else do it, for serious. Also getting my car washed was always lovely because I could see my daddy! It's considerably less exciting when the only familiar faces at the car wash are two little boys who are either pouting that we are there in the first place or harassing me to buy them candy.

2. My bed

Anyone who has ever spent time in my bed can probably imagine the pain I am going through to be apart from this beautiful piece of furniture.

1. Target

Omg. I can't even talk about it. I might get teary eyed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ARGLE FARGLE!!!

grrrrrr. We went back to the pool today and the jumping platforms were closed AGAIN. I NEED to jump off the 7m one. I know I can go on the weekends, but, guh, I need to see Max jump off, haha. He is just so tiny! It's going to be so hilarious.

Something totally unhilarious, however, was when Mike hurled himself down the slide backwards and got a bloody nose. That was the first time one of them got seriously injured under my care, but Mike took it surprisingly well (considering he is definitely the one more prone to tears). He cried for a few minutes (completely understandable) and we sat outside of the pool for a couple of minutes. I asked if he wanted to go to to first aid and he said no and I thought that was fine because his nose stopped bleeding almost right away. I then said we could go home if wanted but he said he would stay and he didn't even pout when I told him to not go under water for 10 or so minutes so the blood could clot properly.

Other than that, the pool was the usual fun. I really love swimming and the indoor pools in Germany are just all kinds of fantastic. ESWE is where I take the boys and its like the "low brow" (meaning for kids, I've been to INSANELY gorgeous ones that focus more on heat and massaging, etc, but they are also way more expensive and Max and Mike would probably die of boredom -- actually JK, we would get kicked out because we'd probs play shark attack which always ends with us kicking strangers...) indoor pool and it has a Sprudelarium (sp?!) with all different kinds of massagers in it, a surprisingly fun kids pool with a great slide and then the enormous main pool that has places for laps and 1m and 3m springboards and 5m and 7m diving platforms. Oh yeah and the sauna and such is included, all for 8 euro for the three of us. The only downside is OMG MY HAIR IS ROOOOOOONED.

Oh man, I got so cranky in my German class today, haha. I was getting super bored because we were going over Accusative, Genitive, Dative, etc. for like the millionth time and while I TOTALLY understand why people would be confused it doesn't change the fact that it's really hard for me to stay awake during those parts, even though I totally should because though I'm familiar with the grammatical functions from Latin I, of course, don't know 100% how they work in German, so I really should have paid attention. But I didn't and we went around and I had like a slip of the tongue and I said the wrong thing and this one girl who is a super know it all and always corrects people and gives answers doesn't even give me a second to adjust she just shouts the answer and it's just, ugh, excuse me, but I am trying to learn German, too. Can I just have a second. And I would have gotten over it but THEN  we were going around and I did some math wrong and she attempts to correct me AGAIN and so, haha, not without a bit of bitchyness I go, "Ok, yeah, I get it, just give me a second" and she doesn't speak English but everyone got the idea because they all STFU. And yeah, ok, it was bitchy but my teacher totally backed me up and said that we all get our turns to answer so don't shout if someone messes up, just let them work through it. I usually know the answer and I never shout it, it's not that hard, we aren't fucking preschoolers.

Nicole is going away tomorrow morning until Thursday evening and she is super worried that I will miss Mike's foot doctor appointment because I almost missed a dentist appointment last week (thank god for small miracles, a chair broke and it was cancelled)  SO if you are a person who talks to me on AIM remind me like every time you speak to me.

FOOT DOCTOR FOOT DOCTER FOOT DOCTER FOOT DOCTER FOOT DOCTER

Monday, November 17, 2008

teh kyootnessss

Sometimes this job is such a looking glass into the future. I am literally elated right now because Max and Mike ate what I made for dinner and it wasn't 1) pancakes, 2) spaghetti, 3) grilled cheese, or 4) fried eggs, which are things I can always get them to eat. 

They complained that I always make the same thing, but really it isn't my fault because they would always pout at whatever I made when I first got here, so I just stuck with things Kelsi, their previous Au Pair, recommended I make. But I have learned that you must make them eat it anyway, even though they will pout, because kids really have no idea what they like and don't like and sure enough after less than 5 minutes they were both like "more please!"

And, sigh. Cutest thing ever. We were sitting at the table after dinner having flip flop drawing contests (this was, of course, because we have a notepad shaped like a flip flop) when for some reason IHOP came up. Mike was curious as to what that was and I explained it was the International House of Pancakes. The kid nearly died. Mike loves pancakes more than life itself and IHOP is pretty much his version of heaven. Sadly, I had to tell them they are only in North America (what a misleading name!) but his reaction is one of the moments I know I'll cherish about coming here. 

His response was:

"Well, okay, Ketlun, when you is going back to America, I am going to come wis you on ze plane and stay wis you for one week and zen every day we can go get pancakes. Oh, yes, and Max can come, too."

And then me:

"Yay! That will be so much fun. You guys should totally come and stay with me for a week in New York!"

And then they got really excited and started planning their trip and then!!! Mike was like!!! "Well, can we come by ourselves? Just me and Max" and I said they could if they wanted to and thennnnnn Mike said "Well, if we are coming by ourselves we are going to need really good table manners or Mami and Papi isn't gonna let us go!"

Ahhhhhh. I'm dead from the cuteness all over again!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

OMG, A CHIPPOPOTAMUS!!!

Sooooo, Viva Pinata is amazing. I liked it when I first played but then I got bored, but since Max has way more patience with video games, this morning he was in my bed before I had even gotten out of it with the DS in hand ready to play. He literally did not put it down until he mother pried it from his fingers at dinner time. The game really is so cute, though. I love the names of the pinatas. My favorites so far are:

Chippopotamus, 


Hootyfruity,


and MOUSEMALLOWS!!!




Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yays.

Today was really nice. I watched the boys 'til about three and they were sweet today and tons of fun. We played Viva Pinata like ALL day (I did ATTEMPT to get them outside, so I'm not the WORST Au Pair) and it was sooooo fun, except now Max totally has more pinatas than I do and he's been playing for a merely a day whereas I have been playing for 3 weeks. I hate stupid 9 year old boys and their ridiculous ability to master video games. 

Then once Frank got home I went to Nina's and it was so great. Her neighbor Claudia was there and, my god, her English is INSANE. She did live in the US for 11 years, but there are people in my German class who have been here that long and they can hardly form a sentence and I know people who've lived in the US that long and they still have some traces of an accent. Not this women. She sounded more American than I do! It gives me hope that one day I will speak German super well.

Speaking of speaking German (heh), WOAH did I use a lot of German today. Even when Claudia was there I spoke some German and also it was great when she translated because I would say something in English and then here it said in German right after, so I picked up tons of new words. And then she left for two or so hours and Nina and I talked loads in German and she taught me a bunch of new words. Dinner was delicious and I just really adore Nina. She told me tons of useful information like what she thinks I do well and what she thinks I could do to make Nicole happier and it was just so helpful. She also said some really nice things about me and how I do my job and that's always really satisfying, to know that someone thinks you are good at what you are doing. She said that Max and Mike say that they really like me and that Nicole told her Mike's English has improved loads since I got here. Now that both Opa and Nina have said they think I am a good Au Pair I think I can stop worrying about it so much just because certain people haven't said it. 

I am so grateful Nina and I became so close. She is so funny and crazy and their are so many fringe benefits to our relationship! The crazy woman offered to do my laundry! There is no way I am going to let her do it, but I thought that was so super kind. Considering we are the only ones in the house all day it's really nice to know she isn't just a a colleague, but she is really become like a surrogate Grandma! It's nice to have that being so far from home.

Sigh. I am tired, but I think I will do a German lesson before bed. I did that last night and I freaking dreamt in German. Hypnopaedia totally works.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Things are changing...

I feel like things are changing for the better here. I feel more comfortable than even and that I am really making the most of my time here. I was so worried that I would come here and be too afraid to use German and too afraid to sign up for classes, and truthfully, I totally was in the beginning, but I'm really starting to get in a groove now. I use German every single day and I am understanding more and more.

Really the biggest change of late is that I am really starting to feel comfortable with the family. Yes, I still mess up and I still sometimes feel like I don't know how to please them, but I am definitely getting way more comfortable asking them for help and being less intimidated when they confront me about the mistakes I've made. It definitely feels more like a gentle reminder now as opposed to harsh criticism, and I don't think it has anything to do with their delivery, just the way I was taking it. I kind of had this idea before I came that I was going to be the most perfect, best au pair they've ever had and that I would do no wrong and I am only now realizing that that is totally impossible. I mean, perfection is always a fairly lofty goal but throw two little boys into the mix? It's totally out of the question.

I do try really hard though, and for so long I was so frustrated because it felt like it was never paying off. Mike was still always flipping me off and saying he hates me (among other harsh things) and Nicole was still only ever listing off the days grievances and Nina was always hounding me to do one chore or that other and no one was even particularly acting like they liked me very much (the notable exception being Max, which is why I think I made it through that three week period) but now it feels like that is all behind me. 

Mike can still be pretty nasty, but it's rather rare and it is greatly outweighed by the fact he always wants to play with me and actually does show an effort to be more respectful when I ask. And just this morning I forgot my cell phone and left the bathroom light on, which earned me a sternly worded note from Nicole, which at this point still baffles me but at least it doesn't make me feel upset for a whole day and like she is going to come home from work and ask me to pack my bags for America. 

My relationship with Nina has also improved ten fold, and I think that is most the most unexpected and most greatly appreciated difference of late. We used to be cordial but now things are great and I think all I did differently was empty the washing machine more frequently and start learning German. She loves helping me and now that I make sure the kitchen is always super clean (I always cleaned up the boys' messes, but now if the parents leave a mess behind I'll get that too) she has been going crazy with doing favors for me. She cooks for the boys so I don't have to, she vacuums my hallway and she even did my laundry for me once! She also invited me over this weekend to bake Christmas cookies, and I don't know, maybe I'm lame, but it feels really good to have someone so interested in your welfare and making you happy. Other au pairs have had problems with her and several people "warned" me about her in advance, but now I am starting to think it has a lot more to do with THEIR reaction toward her than what she feels. I think I almost got on her bad side once because I would get annoyed that she would ask me to do stuff around the house, and it seemed like she was demanding, but I really think it was just a language barrier. When you think about it being polite is a pretty complex language thing that involves certain verbs and intonation and really I think she was just asking for help, not bossing me around, and I'm glad I did it with a smile on my face because it paid off like 1000 fold in the end.  Haha, I think there is some kind of deep life lesson in that. I dunno. You find it.

Haha, I feel like my blogs are all about the same thing. I need a more exciting life. Well, it's the weekend, I would say that might mean exciting things but Nicole needs me to babysit for a good part of tomorrow as well as tonight and then I'm visiting with Nina. Sunday I think I am going to the pool again and maybe I will FINALLY get to jump off the 7m platform. Crossed fingers.

In other brilliantly exciting news, Maria and Melissa are coming in a month and like 12 days :):):):):):) and I am SO pumped. Maria and I have discussed at length about what our first hug will be like, it's going to be EPIC. 

This reminds me...FAMILY -- Immediate or otherwise, please take pictures of my house and put them on the interwebs. I need them for something. Joanna, you have a good camera and you like to take pictures, I AM ENLISTING YOU TO DO THIS. I want you to take a picture of 1) My bed 2) Puppy 3) MY MOMMY. I DON'T CARE IF YOU NEED TO TIE HER DOWN. TAKE A PICTURE OF HER. 4) Dad sleeping somewhere, preferably with his mouth hanging open and his tum out. You know, classic Dad. 5) You, Mer, Dad and Mom all together somewhere. 6) I'm going to start reminding you now so you don't forget, but you better take a shitload of pictures of all christmas related events and gatherings. When Maria comes she better have in hand around a hundred annotated pictures of the entire proceedings. Like, "This is dad putting lights on the tree." "This is dad sleeping on the couch after he got approximately 1.5 strings of lights up." "This is mom putting the rest of the lights up." "This is the angel getting thrown across the room." "WHERE IS BABY JESUS?!?!" (I think that last one is in my head, but for some reason I feel like we lose baby Jesus every year.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

i love the Schwimmbad!!

So, I went back to the pool with the boys today but TRAGEDY the jumping platforms were closed :(. I checked the times and it looks like the only time we'd ever be able to make it there on time for jumping is if we go STRAIGHT after school on Tuesdays. 

I'm really excited that soccer is over because it was twice a week and it was from 5:00-6:30 and about 20 minutes away which meant we had absolutely zero free time two days a week so I felt like we never got to do anything fun. Now the only day we have a formal activity is Tennis on Wednesdays. Now we have so much more time for movies, swimming, parks, and, yeah, I'll actually need to THINK of stuff to keep them occupied, haha, but I'm thinking no matter what it will be way more fun than sitting in the car for 2 hours twice a week. 

Argh. My room is so cold. I think the heat in my room is broke. As is the light. But I'm too timid to ask Frank to fix it. Haha, I'm such a freak. I really need to ask him before it gets any colder, this can't be healthy for me. 

Well, I need to wash the pool smell off of me. Hopefully I'll have more substantial things to say tomorrow, but I doubt it.

Oh, wait. One more thing. Remember yesterday when I was all...I'm gonna study German ALL day tomorrow? I totally didn't. In fact, aside from getting the dry cleaning and doing some food shopping I laid in bed ALL day. :).

Well, there is always tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm a genius!

So, I had a brilliant idea today. For dinner the boys requested the German version of a pizza bagel. They aren't really on bagels, but they are tiny and round so in my head I think of them as pizza bagels. ANYWAY, I bought the kind with ham on it and I was just getting ready to pop them in the oven, when I remembered that we had a pineapple that reallllllyyy needed to be cut or soon it was going to go bad and THEN, I was like 'oh my goodness I shall put pineapple on top of these mini pizzas' and I did and it was delicious! Not to mention they looked ADORABLE. I would have taken a picture but my camera was two floors up and that is just too far. I plan on making them again though, because they were so tasty, so I'll plan in advance and take pictures again. 

In other news I don't have class tomorrow. The way my German class works is that I had a woman named Ute Monday through Wednesday and then a dude named Paul (rhymes with 'towel' in German) on Thursday. I think the purpose behind this is that Ute teaches us everything and we drill everything a thousand times and then Paul comes in and we have to use it. He'll mix up all the vocab and lessons of the past week and we don't learn anything new, per se, but we actually have to put everything to use and speak to him and our class mates and I find those days wayyyy more difficult. Within my class I am probably one of the best at memorizing and absorbing new material but I also have the least exposure to German. So on Ute days I am a star because she teaches us something and I can recite it back perfectly. Then Paul comes and uses a word we weren't taught specifically and I am like 'buhhhhh.' Ute is very careful to use the class vocabulary, and when she or someone else uses a word that hasn't specifically been taught she'll pause and demonstrate it, Paul just talks a million miles a minute and never explains a thing. 

Overall, I think this system is great though, no matter how stressful Thursdays can sometimes be, but now I feel like because we aren't having this class tomorrow I feel like I definitely need to make up for it in someway. Especially because Paul doesn't even let us speak in English during our break so Thursdays usually consists of 4 hours of exclusively German, in addition to it being German of a somewhat higher level. I just don't know how though. I think I will just sit with my Rosetta Stone the entire time the boys are in school. 

(Haha, omg, little aside, I keep randomly capitalizing nouns as I type this out. And the other day I said "was" instead of "what" when someone called my name. It's really getting in there!)

Sigh, I am le tired. I am going to watch Colbert (on recommendation of Meliss, apparently there is some exciting interview about Prop 8) and TDS and then...SLEEP!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sigh. So, of course, since I was so nervous about hanging out with these two girls today it went really well and I had a lot of fun. I am so in love with the indoor swimming pool and now that the boys no longer have soccer we are totally going every single week. I jumped off one of the boards that was 5 or so meters high, but I'm definitely waiting to jump off he 7m one until Max and Mike are there. I don't know why, but it felt like something I should do with them.

I am supposed to go back to the pool with Karinna and Natalie (I probably TOTALLY butchered the spelling of their names :/ oops.)  next weekend so yayyyy. I also got Burger King and it had been ages since I ate it and it tasted like America, haha. 

In other news, I finally got some feedback from Nicole about how I do my job and what they think of me. It didn't come up in the best of ways...but here is how it went down. 

So Mike has a jillion tests next week and he needed to bring home things to study and I was supposed to ensure he had it with him on Friday. So, I get him on Friday ask him if he has everything. Ask him again. I ask him about each individual test and if he has everything for each and every one. He replies with a very sincere yes each and every time. 

So what happens when I see Nicole this morning? 

He had absolutely nothing he needed. She then tells me that Mike told her I never go into his classroom and that I only ever ask him if he has his things once they are in the car. The first part of that is true, but only because Mike told me I was not allowed to! Truthfully I should have smelled the BS on that one, so I will take  the blame their but I ALWAYS ask when we are still at school. Why would I ask in the car? What purpose would that serve? And with the way Nicole was speaking it seems like she believes him, which is just ludicrous. Grr. Anyway, I tried explaining how things really go down and she told me that they boys see me to much as a friend. They see me as the 'best playmate in the whole world' but, to summarize, I'm pants at discipline. She also threw in an ominous "if we have time this week we should down and talk about this."

I am still somewhat pleased though. I knew going into this that discipline would something I wouldn't be very good at, so I am glad they do think I am good at something. However, I do think she was a little extreme in the criticism of how I discipline them. I make them do tons of stuff themselves (stuff that other au pairs did for them) and they have gotten to the point where they do it without me asking. Also, they know that the playroom has to be clean when they go to bed and then getting ready for bed can never go past 7:45. I'd say the school thing is my only weakness, but I also am hesitant to take too much responsibility for it because Max does absolutely fine in school. No matter how diligent I am with handing out discipline it's not going to make Mike any smarter or any more willing to be honest with me about his school work. I am absolutely going to make every effort to speak with his teacher and make sure he has everything he needs to have, but really that's about all I can do and I hope Nicole realizes that and is satisfied with it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yayyy. Today I had an extended 'conversation' in German. I say 'conversation' because it was with my friend Sabine and she was asking me stuff she already knew about me but just figured would be in my vocab, but anyway, she said I have a very good accent :). That makes me so happy because it's the number one thing I am most self conscience about. The American 'r' sounds really terrible in other languages, and most definitely in German, but they said mine were really good! I also made only one mistake in the conversation, I forgot an accusative, which I think isn't so bad!

This morning I decided to walk to the gym, so of course since I wasn't driving that means I forgot my keys and got locked out of the house. The whole house has automatically locking doors when they close behind you so I am surprised it took me this long to do it! And it happened at a relatively convenient time. Nicole and the boys weren't going to be home for several hours but I had plans anyway, so I didn't have to sit outside the house and wait.

I finally found a restaurant that had a reallyyyy good chicken caesar salad wrap! I have been craving one and this one was sooooo delicious. I have a feeling I now will be back their quite often. They had a super interesting menu, it had everything from traditional German food to Thai food, and everything we ordered was delicious. 

Sabine's friend was also at lunch and Sabine had just cut her hair and did a really awesome job, so we decided she should do mine too! My hair is like insanely long at the moment and in desperate need of some cutting, so, agh, I hope that goes well. Well, there is tons of it to work with, so even if I don't like it the first time we could probably just do a whole new hair cut a but shorter. I probably have enough length for 3 or 4 do overs at the point, haha. 

Lastly, Nina, the housekeeper here, made me a 'playdate' for tomorrow. It's her sons (pregant!) girlfriend and we are going swimming with one of her friends. Only one of them speaks English so that should be fun. I am actually really nervous though because I kind of have the vibe they are hanging out with me as a favor to Nina and I don't want to hang out with people who don't want to hang out with me. Nina is sweet, but she is the Pushy Grandma type and she probably painted this sad lonely picture of me to them, which is untrue and also it really doesn't leave me much opportunity to make an impression. Like they are probably going into this looking at it as a chore so I feel like I have an uphill battle to make them think of me as a normal person and not some freak. Haha, I am probably reading WAYY too much into this situation. I should probably just be happy I am going to go swimming tomorrow :).

Friday, November 7, 2008

100 Books

I'm gonna keep track of how many books I read this year. I am trying to get to 100 since I don't have school, etc. in my way.

1. LA Woman by Cathy Yardley
2. Bachelor Boys by Kate Saunders
3. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
4. Diary: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk
5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
6. How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater by Marc Acito
7. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
8. The Princess Bride by William Golding

FOB and I'm not leaving my room this weekend...

So, I need to get something off my chest.

I will always&forever adore Fall Out Boy. I say that with absolutely no irony or sarcasm. I think they are the greatest band ever (especially Patrick). No matter how mainstream they get or how many times people insist they 'sold out,' I'll always love them. I don't care if it isn't sophisticated or musically groundbreaking, I just never get sick of it.

And I mean I REALLY never get sick of it. Here is proof:

You'll probably need to click that to make it bigger, and when you do prepare for a shock. There are some hiiiiigh play counts. And of course this is only the amount of times I've listened to each song on my computer/Ipod. Which is only about half of the total since ever since I've been able to drive (and even before that when it was just my friends who could drive) FOB has been my driving music.

The reason I am posting about this though is because I feel like it's so lonely being a Fall Out Boy fan. Which is funny because they obviously have tons of fans, just not so many in the 20 year old intelligent female arena, which is where all my friends make their home, so I never have anyone to be excited with. They have anew album coming out in December and the only people I can ever talk about it with are Max and Mike and it's only ever me letting them know that come December they can say goodbye to all the mixes we made because we are only listening to FOB. They aren't at all excited (though I think secretly Max kind of likes them).

SIGH. Anyway. I'm feeling all sorts of pressure to be fluent in German, like, yesterday. The pressure is coming from no where but myself, but somedays I'll feel like I'm really learning so much and then somedays I can't even form a sentence. I just hate that I don't really have anyone to practice with. So, rather illogically I told myself I should lock myself in my room and practice all weekend but then I was like OMG CAITLIN YOU IDIOT. Go out with German people! Make them speak German to you. That would probably be 20 times more valuable than an entire weekend looking up things in a dictionary.

Ugh, speaking of German classes, there is now drama in that part of my life. We had a new person come into our class and he is from South Carolina and I would say about 35 years old. Fine. Whatever. EXCEPT yesterday he approached me about meeting on the weekends to practice, because he is rather behind as he missed the first two weeks and he really needs to learn as much German as possible before he starts his job in a month. Also, fine, okay, but his life is a hot mess. Like, really. And he gives me the creeps. He is like the definition of what people consider 'redneck.' He came here because he knocked up his girlfriend who is German. She has like a ton of debt here from her first marriage so she couldn't leave Germany whereas he was living alone and didn't have any debt so he decided to move here with her. She is in the middle of custody battle for her son who lives in the US with his dad (she met her first husband when he was stationed in Germany). Ok, that's fine, I don't have a problem with people having kids or moving to be with someone you love BUT HERE IS WHERE IT GETS SKETCHY...So, he is explaining to me how he met this girl, and the only conclusion I could come to is that THEY ARE FAIRLY CLOSELY RELATED?!?! I'm pretty sure they are first cousins. It was all really confusing (incest often is!) but from how he was talking they share a set of nieces that live here in Germany. He was calling these two girls his nieces, but they are also the kids of his girlfriend's sister. I would have just assumed that, okay, they aren't married but obviously if they had been together long enough he'd consider the girls his own nieces, but he has only been with the woman for about 3 months! He began dating her when she was in the US visiting her son, so he has known these "nieces" for even less time. And then he had mentioned that he had known his girlfriend since they were 3 or 4 years old and that whenever this woman visits the US she stayed with his mother because she is the only person the girlfriend knew in the US.

I don't know. Obviously I don't have all the details. But I'm creeped out. Perhaps I'll find out more when we do this studying or whatever.

I need to clean my room again. Omg, it was clean like DAYS ago, but this week it has SPUN OUT OF CONTROL. Here is a picture so you can feel sympathy for me because of the task that lies ahead.




Yeah, I don't know what happened this week. Probably, that I wasn't home for even a second and I was always showering in the 30 minutes I have between dropping the boys off and class, which means there are crumpled clothes EVERYWHERE.

I hope Nicole hasn't been up here as she would probably have a heart attack...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kids. So adorable.

So, today the boys and I were playing a little variation on monkey in the middle. It went like this. Two of kicked a ball back and forth between us, and the 'monkey' had to get it, but the catch was that at all times he had to be at least touching this giant green bean bag. Additionally, once he caught the ball he could ask us a question, and the person who got it right was the new monkey. 

Mike got the ball and he asked us what his second favorite color is. These questions are tough because it changes like every single day. Max and I were running through the rainbow and Mike had said no at every single one so then Max guessed white and then he added on "even though that isn't a color." And then I had a little *glee* moment because I was the one who had taught him that the other day.
 
It wasn't white, though, so then Max guessed black and he goes "I know that's not a color either, but, you know, kids."

I just cracked up right then and there. Mind you, Max is 9 and Mike is 7, making this even more hilarious. Seriously, Max sounds like a 40 year old man sometimes and I love it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

grrrrr.

Well, thanks.

Thank you Arkansas, California, Florida and Arizona for putting a damper on my election day.

Especially, you, Arkansas. You made a nice attempt at disguising your revolting bigotry and children will suffer for it.

YAY!!!!!!

My original plan had been to go to bed and wake up at 4 or so to watch the returns. I got to bed early enough to do this, actually a bit too early as I was up again at midnight, so there wasn't anything to keep me up other than a few articles on voter turn out. I decided to go back to bed, figuring I'd be up again in a few hours. Well, I did get up at 4 and I was actually a bit dissappointed! I only checked the NY Times website and the headline was "Obama and McCain split early states" or something like that so I figured Obama had only taken 1 of either Ohio, Pennsylvania or Virginia or perhaps none at all, since I knew there were some big guaranteed wins for him (NY: represent!) in the East. I did see however, that he was already significantly ahead in the Electoral college. That wasn't SUPER comforting though as the middle of the country is usually pretty red. So, I was going to stay up at this point, but I couldn't find anywhere that was streaming live results and I was neither going to sit there refreshing my computer nor go downstairs to where we have CNN International, so I decided just to go to bed. 

So, the next time I wake up it's 6am and if the election actually went the way I was hoping, I was figuring the winner would have been projected. I was super nervous though so I decided to check my email first. I have one email from my friend and the subject is "SYRACUSE IS ON FIRE." 

I almost had a heart attack. I thought for sure McCain had one and the liberal college scene was mass rioting. I didn't even bother reading the email and I checked NY Times straight away all the while shaking so badly and feeling like I was going to throw up.

First words I read:

OBAMA: Racial Barrier Falls as Voters Embrace Call for Change.

And then I jumped up and down and danced all over my room. Such a brilliant morning! I've watched his speech twice through now and I just really find him so eloquent, and if he is as good as he sounds I think America has a really bight four years to look forward to :):):).

Monday, November 3, 2008

New Beginnings...?

Well, I've been living in Germany for three months now, but for some reason tonight feels like I am starting over. Maybe it's because today was a good day after my very first string of very bad days and making it 'a new start' implies that I can somehow manage to maintain it. 

Also, my room is clean. That always makes me a feel like a new person.

I've been terribly homesick lately. I talk to my mom and my sisters a few times a week, but I only get to talk to my dad about twice a month and we always get so choked up because it's been so long we spoke that I don't ever get to talk to my Goofy Dad, just that Dad That Loves Me So Much and Is So Proud Of Me. And then yesterday we were able for talk for more than five minutes and he was making me laugh like usual and then we were both crying because it hadn't happened in so long. I feel better now, though. We are going to try and talk every Sunday. 

I was mostly homesick because there were two big parties here recently and they just made me want to go home and have one of my family parties. I love hanging out with my family. My parents and sisters most especially, but I also have amazing aunts and uncles and a ton of fun, crazy cousins. They also live both really (12 houses away) and relatively (1.5 hrs) close, so I see all of them all the time.  So, I am always around people who not only like me and know me (which is something that is hard to manage, and is also something that is really important to me, but, yeah, that's another post) but people who really, really, really love me. That's been the hardest part about being here. Any given person here has only known me for three months so how could I possibly love them and how could they possibly love me? And I'm just positively spoiled in that department, to the point where I really think I have trouble being acquaintances with people. Or even just casual friends. I always feel like its not worth the effort, so I never get close to anyone new. But now that I'm all alone I really need to change something. I love being here and I'm not homesick enough where I am thinking of giving this opportunity up, and I think it's really important for me to never stop thinking of it as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn German, an opportunity to live on my own and most of all an opportunity to really understand how I work and grow in the ways I want to, without any of the convenient excuses nor the usual coddling that keeps me well within my comfort zone.

Sigh. Way to be emo for the first post of the new blog, Caitlin. I think I shall force myself to talk about things that are brilliant, even for just a moment.

I've implemented a sticker chart for Max and Mike. It works brilliantly. They crave stickers. They'll do anything for a sticker. And it's way cheaper than pokemon cards. I was going through a pack a week, sometimes more if I needed them to do something they REALLY didn't want to do (in my weakest moment I gave Mike 4 packs of cards so he would do his homework, NOT good). Now they need 20 stickers to get a pack of cards. Which, at the rate they get stickers means a pack every two weeks. Also, their are better prizes if they get more stickers, so chances are I'll have to shell out 20 euro in a month or so which is actually wayyyyyy cheaper than the method I was employing before. PLUS, they have been soo sweet. Max actually opened the door for me once. My mouth literally dropped in shock. 

In other joyous news, I adore my German class. I was flipping ahead in the course book and I can't believe what I will apparently be able to understand in a months time. I'm really feeling optimistic about my speaking level when I leave.

Also, I'm just going to come right out and say it, but I'm totally the smartest person in the class. I haven't had that since high school and I am LOVING it. I get put in charge of helping others and just, guh, I really think it's in the cards for me to be a teacher. Then you ALWAYS get to be the smartest person in the class. And really this isn't me bragging but I think I am actually rather talented at explaining stuff to people. Tonight I was in the bathroom with the boys haranguing them to brush their teeth and Mike comes up to me and says, "Caitlin, you forgot to finish saying why you don't like the other guy. The one with hair like Papi."

He was of course referring to the fact that I had been telling them about tomorrow's election over dinner. The guy with hair like their Dad is John McCain. So, I started discussing it with him again and then he got all excited because he remembered the current President is George Bush (mind you, this is a seven year old who lives in Germany, so this is pretty impressive) from our conversation like a week or so ago and then Max joined in and he was all like "And the other guy is Barack Obama!" and then he pretty much recited verbatim everything I had said to him Friday at lunch (the kid has an insane memory) and I was like dying it was so cute. And then their mother was changing in the other room and she comes in slack jawed and she is like "Caitlin, are my children speaking knowledgeably about US politics?!"(haha, nottttt)

And it just made me feel so good! And in German class when I can help I love it too! And I don't think it's just a superiority complex. I think it's destiny! Heh.

Okay, I think I am done for now, haha. BUT, I am going to be really good about this blog stuff. I mean, I really have loads of spare time. I am the perfect candidate for a blog.

Peace!