Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

We waved our flag today, just like every year.

I can't believe it's July 1st already. Homemade pizza and strawberry shortcake were part of our celebrations.

These past few weeks have been interesting as well as quite exhausting.

- We celebrated our 21st anniversary in the middle of June

- On the same day Boy15 forgot how tall he was and smacked his head on a door frame in a fit of youthful exuberance. Lots of blood and three stitches. Thank you.

- Three days later he left for Outward Bound in Schwangau with the rest of the 9th grade with instructions to get the stitches out 7 days later.

- The weekend before his brother left, Boy18 and a few of his friends got beaten up by some drunken punks at our local Stadtfest. They were all fine, just a bit bruised. The police are on the case.

- Boy18 graduated from high school the following Friday. The world is now his oyster but he's still looking for a sharp knife to pry it open with.

- We are re-doing his room completely and there are tools, building materials and dust bunnies spread all over the house. Vacuuming is an exercise is futility Boy15's room is next. Help.

- Both of our printers gave up the ghost in the same week.

- Vancouver's crazy, crazy house prices and insane buyers turned my parents into homeless millionaires for a couple of weeks when they sold their big house for even more than they were asking. Go figure. Last week they bought a smaller house and were able to put away a bit of spare change for a rainy day.

- Boy15 returned from Outward Bound in one piece. He loved it. We'll look at the 600 pictures he took tomorrow.

- I caught one of my baby toes on a chair leg today and it (the toe, not the chair)has turned interesting colours.

- My head hurts

I think I need a rest and I know just the place.

We finally (finally!) did something about this overgrown swing thingie that no one ever used.



My clever, clever husband made those Adirondack/Muskoka chairs with his own two hands (plans from Lee Valley). They turned out beautifully and are so, so comfortable.

Just right for a loooong nap. Wake me up on Monday, OK?

Oh, and Happy Canada Day to all my Canuck pals out there!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

a good day starts and ends with cake

You know something's up when your husband serves you cake for breakfast...


your peonies are in full bloom...

 your very best friend in Vancouver sends you nail polish that matches your petunias...

and you receive one of those docking station thingies for your ancient second generation iPod Nano. Because certain family members have noticed that you always seem to be at least five years behind the times and feel that it is time for you to move into the new millenium before it's too late.

(something old (like me) and something new)

And then you suddenly remember that it's your birthday (48! Sheesh!) and that you better go make some cake because that's the way they do things around these parts.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

It was a good day. Wish you could have been there.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

necessity is the mother of invention ~ Plato

This mothering gig is not always easy. I do love it, but sometimes you just wonder how you kept them alive and out of trouble all these years. You trust your instincts, you do what you have to do, and most of the time they turn out all right even if you're just making it up as you go along. We've been so blessed with our boys and we love them dearly.

This was what I saw first thing this morning. With a little prompting from their dad, my sweeties remembered that it was Mother's Day today.

They also remembered how much I love getting flowers.

The weather was so lovely that I ended up having my breakfast outside. A slice of brioche with delicious Danish butter and strawberry-rhubarb jam and large Milchkaffee.

We got home from vacation a week ago and I still have Denmark on the brain. Mother's Day always makes me think of a dear family friend, a wonderful Danish woman who passed away many years ago. She left me this keepsake, given to her by her daughter, her only child. It hung on her living room wall along with her collection of Royal Copenhagen plates. Now it hangs on our wall and reminds me how kind and nurturing she was even if she wasn't my mother. Read more about Auntie Joey in this post from several years ago.

My own fabulous mother in Vancouver is still as full of beans as ever and obviously talking someone's ear off on the phone since the line has been busy for ages. That's a good sign, I guess. I'll try again later.

Happy Mother's Day!


Friday, April 15, 2011

oh, hi!

Hmm, let's see. Since I last posted we had two more birthdays, four 12th grade final exams for the big guy, a spot of "am I going to make it through the 9th grade?" panic for the smaller guy and me feeling a little worse for wear throught the stress of it all. Not good for someone whose gut is already in a twist, I tell you. Lots of deep breathing going on.

What do YOU do when you feel stressed? I eat cake. No, actually I surf the net, but you can have some cake anyway if you like 'cause it's all I got today.

Mandarin cheesecake. Same procedure as every year for Mr. M's birthday.

This is a German recipe I took off the internet. Chocolate, hazelnuts and cinnamon were a nice combination.

Boy15 turned, well, 15 in March. He requested a N*intendo 3DS cake to go with the present he bought himself with his birthday and pocket money.

I tried my best.

He also asked me to try making a homemade Bienenstich  - sweet yeast dough filled with vanilla cream and topped with caramelized flaked almonds. There are lots of recipes out there if you want to give it a try. I looked at about five and sort of combined them all. Very tasty. You won't need to eat for a couple of days after a piece of this baby.

So, that will have to do you for another couple of weeks because it's Easter holidays and we are heading off to Denmark tomorrow. Internet connection is still an unknown but the odds are against it. I may have to read a book or walk on the beach or something.

I'll tell you all about it when we get back. I promise.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I feel so old

You know our first born? The one I used to call my tiny sweetheart when he was only a little bit of a thing? He turned 18 on Monday and is now officially allowed to drive by himself. Here he is many years ago practicing for the big day.

Boy15 decorated a cake for his big brother to commemorate this blessed event. You can bet he'll be hitching a ride from now on.

Despite being knocked out by a high fever on Sunday, the birthday boy managed to recover somewhat on Monday and ate his fair share of cheesecake, his favourite. Here's what's left of it. It was really, really good. I should know, I had two pieces.

Balloons were blown up, cards and money arrived from overseas and a brand new laptop was connected to the internet. Who could ask for more? It's exam season for those in their last year of high school so the Pac Man stress ball is going to come in handy, as are the Nintendo Power Mints should there be any cute chicks in the vicinity when all the stress is over. Little brother thinks of everything.

If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know that this is just the start of birthday season. We've got two more special days coming up in the next week and a half. I guess I better get baking...

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

buy the book

Attention bilingual and multilingual families world-wide: Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, teacher of English as a foreign language, independent researcher and writer on bilingualism and multilingualism and mother to three bilingual children has just published her second book.

Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families

Some time ago Suzanne asked me and many other parents of bilingual or multilingual siblings if we'd be prepared to provide information on language use within our families. I said yes, of course, so you'll see several (names changed slightly to protect the innocent) comments from me about our experiences raising two bilingual boys.

I must admit I have not yet bought the book, but will do so in the next couple of days and tell you what I think.

Here's a little peek at the contents for now.

Chapter 1 – What do we know about Bilingual Families?
Chapter 2 – The Growing and Evolving Family
Chapter 3 – The Sibling Relationship
Chapter 4 – Age Difference, Family Size & Language Orders
Chapter 5 – Gender & Language
Chapter 6 – Birth Order: A Child’s Position in the Family
Chapter 7 – Individual Differences: Same Languages, Different Language Histories
Chapter 8 – Bilingualism and Twins, Adoption, Single parents & Step-families
Chapter 9 – Five Themes on Family Language Use

Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families is available directly from the Multilingual Matters website with a 20% discount and through and

Suzanne also has a blog about her family's adventures with a couple of book reviews - Notes from the OPOL Family

Another site I've been meaning to mention for ages is Multilingual Living. The site's founder, Corey Heller, lives in Seattle with her husband and three children and has put a tremendous effort into providing learning resources and advice for families dealing with two or more languages. Read more about Corey and her crew here.

You might be wondering how my boys are getting along. Well, at 14 and 17 they still speak English-only to their mum so I guess we must be doing something right!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

joy to the world

After a visit with the in-laws yesterday afternoon to exchange a few little presents we headed home for a Swiss Raclette and some serious lying around on the couch and watching the snowflakes fall. Best winter ever.

Today was equally laid back. Just the four of us for dinner. The wee turkey is in the oven and we'll be having this for dessert. A mandarin orange trifle that I've been making for years and years. So easy and everyone seems to like it.

Check out my awesome trifle bowl. Talk about weird things to bring back in a suitcase - I got it at the thrift store for $4.00 when we were on vacation in Vancouver this summer. It survived the trip in one piece and will come in handy for future celebrations.

That's all I got for ya this year. Still feeling a bit cheesy. More doctors, more suggested treatments to come in the new year. Oh joy. I AM hopeful, though, that 2011 will find me with a bit more engergy than 2010 did.

Wishing you and yours all the best and for those who are celebrating this weekend...

Merry★* 。 • ˚ ˚ ˛ ˚ ˛ •
•。★Christmas!★ 。* 。
° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π_____*。*˚
˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */______/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
˚ ˛ •˛• ˚| 田田 |門| ˚


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

jolly old st. nick

Yesterday was St. Nicholas Day in Germany. Nikolaustag, they call it here. You put your shined shoes or boots outside the door on December 5th and St. Nick fills them with all sorts of goodies.

We use stockings instead of shoes because you can fit in way more of the good stuff. The kids now have enough treats to last until January.

Nick actually manage to squeeze this cutie into my stocking. I'd been coveting him for a while.

(Mr. M got ten back issues of Volks World magazine. You don't really want to see those, do you?)

St. Nicholas Day is just as much about giving as it is about receiving, sooo...

Our neighbour and several other friends got their very own  fruitcake

And the Thunderbird Diner is now open for business.

Here's the old guy checking out his naughty and nice list

And the dining room chairs getting in on the act.

Today, the day after Nikolaus, was not so jolly. Remember in my last post when I said I was done with being sick? I guess I'm not. Symptoms came back over the weekend and when I visited the doctor this morning at the university clinic, he ordered yet another colonoscopy and new, immunosuppresive drugs. Arghhhh!

Ho ho ho? Not so much. But at least I have chocolate! (and the world's softest sea turtle)

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot a bit like christmas

OK, I am SO done with being sick. A three-day hospital stay in August with four different septuagenarian roomates, endless time spent in various doctors' waiting rooms during September and October, and a 12-week course of prednisone that ended mid-November, complete with side-effects (chipmunk cheeks and tree trunk legs, anyone?) and withdrawal symptoms. Enough is enough. I'm feeling much better now, thanks, and it's time to get into the holiday spirit.

The Christmas season in German got off to a chilly start on November 28, the first Advent Sunday. Our Advent 'wreath' looks like this this year. Less is more, eh?

Obligatory poinsettia

A new addition to our collection of Lichterbogen

And one of the old faithfuls that has been lighting up our window every Christmas for at least a decade

Today is December 1st and you know what that means. Advent calendars all around. I got a chocolate-y one this year, as did my better half, and the kids are making do with one of these each. You're never, ever too old to snuggle with a moose!

I also ventured into a spot of cookie baking this morning but have not yet reached my full potential.

Most of Germany has had record breaking freezing temperatures and quite a bit of snow this week. Now it's our city's turn. Snowing like crazy out there, not expected to stop until Friday. Whoo! Or maybe not, depending on how you look at it.

So how's your winter been so far?

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

scary stuff

If you were looking to be scared out of your wits this Halloween, our house was not the place to be.

There was a wee pumpkin patch

some bat wings

and rocky road caramel apples for the kids, (OK, I have to admit that these are quite frightening due to my serious lack of caramel-apple-making-skills)

And any evil spirits spooking around outside were kept at bay by these guys

Actually, the scariest thing about our Halloween this year was the slug infestation on our deck. I have no idea exactly where they're coming from, it must take them days to climb the stairs from the garden, but they all arrive at the same time only to be flung right back into the compost heap. The other night I found one of the little beggars in our living room right on the door sill, half in and half out. Eeew. He got flung extra far. Must remember to hang out the no vacancy (for slugs) sign.

Happy Halloween!


Monday, October 11, 2010


(It's way after midnight here but I'm pretending it's still Monday)

To a Canadian, the second Monday in October can only mean one thing - Canadian Thanksgiving. We celebrated today with our usual turkey dinner. A ten pound bird served with apple and sage and cranberry stuffing, bacon-wrapped green beans, maple-glazed carrots and roasted potatoes. Leftovers await.

For dessert I made two pies, one pumpkin, one apple. Can you believe there are some people who don't care for pumpkin pie?

I'm one of those people who LOVES pumpkin pie and I had a little extra pie filling left so I put it in these ramekins and called it pumpkin custard. Guess what's for breakfast tomorrow?

As most of you know, I've been having kind of a rough year, but I also have so much to be thankful for. Here's just a small selection of things that have been on my mind today.

I'm thankful that my health issues turned out to be not quite as serious at they had originally though (more on that in another post, I need to get it out of my system but now is not the time)

I'm thankful for my family who continue to put up with me during this difficult time. What would I do without you?

I'm thankful that my mother is doing so much better on her new medication.

I'm thankful that we got all six cousins/grandchildren together this summer. Who knows when that will happen again.

I'm thankful for a wonderful holiday in Vancouver.

I'm thankful that I got to talk to my youngest brother and my niece and nephew on the phone today for an hour. I wish I could be four again like S. so I could dress up as a unicorn for Hallowe'en.

I'm thankful for the roof over our heads and the food on our table.

I'm thankful for these. Are they cute or what?

I'm thankful for the changing of the seasons and a place to sit and watch the leaves turn colour. So beautiful.

And...I'm thankful for YOU guys who keep on reading even though I've become what some would call a 'sporadic blogger'. Must try to improve, I've still got such an awful lot to say.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

drip drip drip

Hey, guess what? The colitis flare has morphed into something more sinister involving my liver and pancreas. Wonderful. So I'll be in the hospital for a few days getting things checked out. So much fun.

Monday, August 09, 2010

...and boy are my arms tired

All of me is tired, actually. I feel like I'm dragging a hundred pound weight behind me. Jet lag will do that to a person. We got back last Tuesday and I still don't feel normal, but there are a few reasons for that other than nine time zones.

The first four weeks of our holiday were great. The last two not so great.

I had a wicked, wicked colitis flare-up that continues to make me miserable. Of course we were camping at the time which made it so much fun. 25 pounds down now but not in a good way. Doctor's appointment tomorrow to get myself sorted out.

To add to that, a few days before we left to go back to Germany my mother had a small stroke and had to be hospitalized for two nights. She is doing well but had another episode on our day of departure (we were already in the air at the time and only found out later) and had to go to hospital again for several hours. Now we just need to make sure she takes her medication as prescribed and stays calm. Thank goodness one of my brothers is there to look after things or else I might not have come back as scheduled.

So as you can imagine I am not in the best of blogging moods although I suppose it would be a good distraction from all the stressors going on right now. I have lots of pictures and will try to get some up some time soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

the Great White North is calling my name

Our flight leaves at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning. Am I excited? Well, exhausted is more like it. I hate, hate, hate packing. But I am really looking forward to seeing my Canadian family again and meeting my three-year-old niece in person for the first time. Super duper family reunion planned. It's going to be a zoo. Good stuff.

I'll be back as soon as the jet lag wears off.

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