Friday, October 31, 2003

Boo! Happy Halloween!

We had a fantastic time at trick-or-treat! My friend Irena came for a visit with her 4 daughters, and we had fun showing them a traditional American Halloween. I just realized that all the pictures I took of all the kids together are on my regular camera. I did get individual shots of Mike and Annabelle though on the digital.

Here is Annabelle as Hello Kitty:

And here is Mike as Death (with Eddie as Death's Cat):

Irena and I left Fred here to hand out candy. He went through 398 pieces of candy in 45 minutes and had to turn off our porch light at quarter till eight. Fred says that our Jack-o-lantern was quite the hit. We named him Pukey the Pumpkin:

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

One of my loyal readers (hi, Gretchyn!!) sent me an interesting tidbit today. We can file this one under Weird German News. Apparently, police in Berlin recently nabbed a vicious crow by . . . get this . . . getting it drunk:

The bird eluded its captors after attacking a woman and a young girl at the weekend until cat food soaked in high-alcohol fruit schnapps proved too tempting to resist.

''The crow was completely smashed,'' said a spokesman for police in the western city of Dortmund.

Police said the crow was sleeping off its hangover in a local animal home.

Now I want to go to Berlin to party with the birds!

Speaking of parties, we're getting ready for the Halloween festivities here. Mike is going as Death again, so that's easy. Annabelle's Hello Kitty costume is ready to go--now I just need to figure out how I'm going to color her nose yellow. Do you think it's OK to paint a child's nose with yellow fingernail polish? It doesn't specifically say NOT to on the bottle . . . "Do not operate heavy machinery while applying polish. This is not a food product. Do not use while sleeping. Exposure to flame may cause an even bigger flame. Not legal US tender."

My friend Irena is coming for Halloween with her girls. We're very excited about showing them Halloween American-style!

I just hope we have semi-decent weather Friday night. It's rainy and yucky right now. I've laid in over 400 pieces of chocolate, and I'd hate to have to eat them myself. (Yeah, right. Actually, I'll be lucky to make it Friday night with 300 pieces left.)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The kids and I took yet another USO tour today, this time to Ladenburg. Ladenburg is the second oldest city in Germany, with the first oldest being Trier. It was especially interesting to us, as we have recently launched an intensive study of the Roman Empire. Today in Ladenburg we got to visit some Roman ruins.

When I say we recently launched into studying the ancient Romans, I mean REALLY recently--yesterday, in fact. I ordered some great looking books from my Usborne book consultant and a couple more books and even a PBS video (The Roman Empire in the First Century) from Amazon.

The kids were very excited planning our project. There are so many different facets to explore--arches, ruins, Roman numerals, mythology, even Latin. After a couple months of study, we hope to make a pilgrimage to Rome--talk about a field trip!

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Sunday, October 26, 2003

It's been a rather quiet weekend here, so I'm afraid I don't have much to report. If you go here though, you can see a webcam of downtown Mannheim.

And here are the boots I just ordered for Annabelle:

Aren't they pretty? I think I'd like boots like that. Guess I'll just have to live vicariously.

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Thursday, October 23, 2003

I did it!! Wow, I can't believe the language school is that close to my house. It would be just over 5 miles door to door if I didn't have to drive a mile out of my way to go through the post's front gate. It wasn't that hard and there was a ton of open parking on the street. Of course, I left at 1:45 for a 3:00 lesson, so we had some serious time to kill when we arrived there at 2:00. Go, me! I feel so liberated!

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Welcome to Panic City! If you've been following the tale of Bonnie Drives in Germany, you know that I have thus far confined my driving to right here on Sullivan Barracks, with the exception of two trips to Taylor Barracks to check the mail while Fred was gone. The day has come though for me to venture forth and try REALLY driving on the outside.

The kids have their German class this afternoon in Seckenheim. According to the directions I got off of Yahoo.de, the language school is a mere 9 kilometers (multiply by 6 and drop the final digit to get miles--5 miles!) away from us. We have been spending close to an hour each way on the streetcar to get there. So today we are going to try driving it.

I have to admit: It's not the actual driving that scares me as much as the whole parking business. The last time I parallel parked I was 16 and taking my driving test for the second time. Do you think I could get one of those signs for the back of my van like they used to have on The Partridge Family? CAUTION: NERVOUS MOTHER DRIVING!

So light a candle, say a prayer, send positive driving vibes my way! Serenity NOW!!!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Here's a first for me--dealing with a German telemarketer! Some fellow was taking a survey, and even though I told him "Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut," he seemed hell-bent on getting answers from me.

I was rather proud of myself. I was able to tell him my age and Fred's age and the kids' ages. He asked my occupation, and I told him Hausfrau, but only because I don't know how to say "homeschooling domestic goddess" in German. Then he asked me a bunch of questions about some tax and whether I thought my life was better or worse for it. I told him I don't know beans about German taxes but that life seems pretty darn good overall. (Actually, come to think of it, this was probably my first German obscene phone call, and I just THOUGHT he was talking about taxes.)

And in other news, snaps for my sister Jenny!! Annabelle wants to be Hello Kitty for Halloween, and is planning on wearing a white sweatsuit with her Hello Kitty dress from kindergarten on top. I am going to make her a white hood with cat ears and a pair of white mittens, but I can't find my box of patterns. I think I must have put them in storage, including the pattern I used when she was 3 to make the hood and mittens for her red kitty costume. At any rate, I found myself over here without ready access to the American pattern companies. But Jenny bravely ventured into the fabric department (a place she has never, ever been before) and overnighted me not just one but TWO patterns for cat costumes! Miniwave in celebration of Jenny! She has made Annabelle one happy kitty!

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On Sunday morning, we caught the train and headed north toward Bremerhaven to pick up my car. It was a fast trip but a very good one.

I had bought tickets but hadn't made seat reservations for the first train. In 1987 when I was a student here, I never made seat reservations, but then again I was never looking for 4 seats together! So finding seats was a trick--first we wound up in smoking and then we wound up each taking a kid and sitting at opposite ends of the cabin.

We stopped in Hannover on the way up for the afternoon to see the
23d Trampoline World Championships. The finals started at 1:00, and we arrived 15 minutes late only to find this sign on the box office window: "All reserved tickets not claimed by 12:45 will be sold." Yep, they had sold my tickets and didn't seem terribly bothered by it. Fortunately, I had printed off my confirmation email, so I stuck that under the lady's nose and pointed out that nowhere did it say anything about being there by 12:45 or else. Also, Mike and Annabelle gave outstanding sad puppydog eyes. So finally she asked if the kids would sit on our laps. We said of course, and she sold us tickets and took us in.

Turns out Mike no longer fits on a lap. Period. Fortunately, Fred and I were able to just scrunch him in between us, and AB sat on my lap. They were great seats though, and the 2 tickets cost us only 30 Euro instead of the 54 that 4 would have been.

The competition itself was just awesome. The men were especially amazing, and the height they attained--especially on their tumbling routines--was just amazing. It was short though, since it was just the very best of the best. We were out of there by 4:30, so we went back to the station and had a snack before getting on our train to go on up to Bremerhaven to get the van the next day.

The low spot to our trip was that Mike really hasn't been feeling well. He has some sort of bug that makes him spike a fever several times a day. Motrin brings it down, but eventually he started getting an upset stomach, possibly from the Motrin.

He was feeling sick and grumpy on Monday morning as we were getting ready to check out of our hotel. Suddenly, he pointed at the door and wailed, "Oh, NO! They want us to make up the room!!!!" Um, no, honey. That's the placard you hang on the door to let the maid know the room is ready to be cleaned. You know: "Please make up room."

We got the van, which arrived safe and sound though with a dead battery. We had to turn it off to get gas, so we then had to buy 40 Euro jumper cables at the Aral station and ask a nice German fellow to help us out. We didn't turn it off again for the rest of the 7 hour trip home, and the next morning it started again just fine.

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Saturday, October 18, 2003

For the past few days, we've been noticing signs appearing on doors throughout our neighborhood. The signs show a ghost and say BOO! We chalked the whole thing up to some sort of unit function or inside joke and didn't pay much attention to it.

Last night Fred and I were watching Survivor (yes, it comes on here but not until Friday) when the doorbell rang. I hopped up to answer, but when I opened the door, nobody was there.

Instead there was only a brown paper bag full of Halloween goodies and decorated with one of the ubiquitous ghost signs. There was also a note indicating that we had been "spooked." The note instructed us to post our ghost prominently on our front door so that we wouldn't get spooked again and to pass the spooking along to 2 of our neighbors (in secret, of course).

So tonight we put together goodie bags of our own. I printed a couple copies of the instructions, and Annabelle drew our ghost signs. We chose 2 of our neighbors, and Fred and Annabelle slunk out in the dark to do the spooking. Mission accomplished!

Isn't this fun? I swear, living on post is like being back at college, only instead of a dorm room, everybody gets a house! In fact, we had a neighborhood Oktoberfest this afternoon that was basically a keg party with good food.

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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Fred came home today!!

For those of you who haven't been paying close attention, Fred was back in the States for the past 10 days--in Charlottesville, VA, for a conference and then in Burnsville, NC, to visit his parents.

I must admit that the first Fred-less days were rather fun: Nachos for supper and staying up late watching TV. After the first week, we were still eating nachos and we were still staying up late, but the thrill was gone. Still, it's not good form to whine too loudly about your husband being gone for a measly 10 days when you're surrounded by women whose husbands are in Iraq for a year. So I kept my mouth (except, of course, to eat the nachos).

And in other news, Annabelle was disgruntled last week when her Brownie troop voted to study Slovakia for Thinking Day instead of Australia. As of tonight (Brownie night), however, she is all smiles because . . . get this . . . her troop is planning a trip TO Slovakia! How cool is that?!

Speaking of Annabelle, here's a picture of her lying on her top bunk, surrounded by her critters:

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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The kids and I just got back from yet another USO tour, this one to Weinheim, a little town between here and Heidelberg. If you click on the virtual tours button on the town's homepage, you can see 360-degree photos of some of the same things we saw today: the enormous cedar tree, the market square where we had lunch (I had the most amazing cream of zucchini soup with shrimp), and the pedestrian zone.

We were blessed with much better weather for this week's tour than last week's. It's gorgeous here today--mid-50s and not a cloud in the sky. Hard to believe that this time last week we were shivering and wet in Worms!

The kids tried out a little of their newly acquired German today. They wanted to buy little toys in Weinheim, and Mike managed to inquire as to the cost on his own. He seemed really shocked when he understood the answer: "Zwei Euro? Two Euros!!" And then at the end of the tour, Annabelle shyly told our guide danke.

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Monday, October 13, 2003

I'm always looking for ways to make the blog more user friendly. Today, one of my friends (hi, Ivy!!) pointed out that when you use the links in my writing to access a different page and then return to the blog using your back button, you get sent back to the top of the blog and have to scroll down to find your place again. So I went through my Black Forest post, and I think I have the solution to this problem. I have revised all the links in that post (and will continue to do this in the future) so that they now open into new windows. When you're done with the linked material, simply close the window and you should be back where you started in the blog. Let me know how this works out for you.

Today is Columbus Day and technically a holiday. But Fred's out of town, so it all kind of feels the same to us. We went ahead and did school this morning. We're taking all of tomorrow off to go on the USO tour of Weinheim. Gotta love that flexibility!

We're eager for Fred to come home (on Thursday!!) and also eager to get all the stuff he's bringing us from the States: white sweatsuit for Hello Kitty costume; goop for Mike's hair (two tubes!); litterbox deodorizer; Lancome pressed powder. You know, the little things that make a house a home.

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Sunday, October 12, 2003

I just realized that when I view the blog through AOL's browser, my picture quality goes WAY down. When I view it direct through Internet Explorer though, they look just fine. So if you're accessing the blog through AOL and wondering why you're seeing the family pictures of Dorian Gray, that might be the reason! Stupid, stupid AOL.

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Let's travel back in time now to Labor Day weekend. As you may recall, we were on the horns of a dilemma: while not wanting to waste our very first 4-day weekend in Germany, we were also eager to spend some time at home. We compromised by spending Friday and Monday at home and making a short overnight trip to the Black Forest on Saturday and Sunday.

Our first stop on our weekend tour was Freiburg, the Black Forest town where I spent my last semester in college. After we checked into our hotel and had an amazing lunch of cordon bleu and potato croquettes, we drove back into town and spent the afternoon wandering around the old part of the city.

Smack dab in the center of the Old Town sits the cathedral. We enjoyed looking at the various gargoyles. I was especially interested in finding the one that shoots water out his rear end, as I had told the kids all about him. Unfortunately, we couldn't find him--I believe he must be hiding behind some of the scaffolding that is set up around much of the church right now. Fortunately, I was able to find a postcard featuring him, so I could at least prove his existence.

The next day we set out early for our drive home through the Black Forest. Our first stop was Feldberg, the highest point in the area. We took a cable car up to the top.

Once at the top, we didn't stay for long. It was REALLY cold up there, and we weren't dressed for it at all. We did see the monument (don't ask me to what--I don't remember) and a pretty mountain lake. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes and then headed back down the mountain to our nice toasty car. (Have I mentioned yet how much I like the automatic seat warmers in Fred's Blazer?!)

We stopped for lunch at the lake resort of Titisee. The kids stopped just long enough to pose for a picture beside the lake:

Then they ran off to try the turbo-bungee-trampoline:

From Titisee, we headed off to Triberg, home of the cuckoo clock. Here's a picture of LOTS of cuckoos:

Triberg is also home to Germany's highest waterfall:

No visit to the Black Forest would be complete without a nice big piece of Black Forest cake. While Fred and I enjoyed the Schwarzwäldertorte, the kids had ice cream and hot chocolate:

We arrived home Sunday night exhausted and thankful that we had one more day off before plunging into the next week.

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Friday, October 10, 2003

Just got back from the Heidelberg Holiday Bazaar! I went with a couple of my neighbors, and we had a blast digging through piles of Polish pottery and other assorted treasures. The Belgian hot chocolate alone was well worth the trip.

And in other news, a bar in Hamburg is offering something new: Männergarten. It's a daycare service where women can drop off their men. The men get beer and "boys' games" while the women go shopping. Everything I needed to know I learned in Männergarten?!

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Thursday, October 09, 2003

We started today at the USO office, where we signed up for next week's tour of Weinheim. Weinheim is a little town just northeast of here. The USO brochure says that we will:

Travel by streetcar for a day of shopping, sightseeing, and exploring in this romantic city. This nearby town has more than its share of interesting stories from the plague to banished queens. The Market Square is perfect for lunch at one of the many quaint cafes.

After we signed up for the tour, we got on the streetcar and headed off in search of our newest adventure. I've gotten quite handy at navigating the website for our local transportation authority. Today I had planned and printed a route that would allow us to go south to Neckarau to find a toystore and then back up to Seckenheim for Mike and Annabelle's German class.

I like to try and group several outings together in one day to make the most of our streetcar tickets. A regular one-way adult fare is almost 2 Euros, but they also sell a ticket that's called a Ticket 24-Plus. This allows up to 5 people to have unlimited travel in a certain number of zones for 24 hours (and all weekend on the weekends!). We buy the 8 Euro ticket, and that covers enough zones for us to explore as much of Mannheim as we would like.

The streetcar tickets are also valid on the busses and local trains. Today we took the streetcar for a few stops and then transferred to a bus for the remainder of the ride to Neckarau.

We found the toystore without any trouble and had a great time shopping there. I bought a couple of the puzzles I've been collecting as well as a few easy-to-read books (in German) for the kids.

We had planned to spend the time until German class exploring Neckarau, but I had forgotten that the stores in lots of these little towns close up for a couple hours in the afternoons! So instead of hanging out there in the empty streets, we got on another streetcar and went back into downtown Mannheim.

We had lunch at Yam Yam Thai Fast Food, just down the street from the open-air market. It had been recommended to us by a defense attorney here who is actually from Thailand, and it was quite delicious! I had a moment of panic, when I realized that I didn't know how to say "garlic" in German, and what's the point of ordering Thai food if there's no garlic?! Fortunately, the lady in line ahead of me was able to help me out: it's Knoblauch. So we ordered the sweet-and-sour chicken, pork mit Knoblauch, and pad thai. We each took a dish, ate for a while, and then rotated the plates around.

After lunch and a quickie trip to Kaufhof to use the restroom, we got back on the streetcar and headed out to Seckenheim. Today Mike and Annabelle's language teacher taught them the alphabet in German. Then it was back on the streetcar for the ride back home. We saved approximately 12 Euros today by buying the Ticket 24-Plus instead of point-to-point tickets.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Have I told you lately how rotten my cat Eddie is? He is this rotten:

Eddie never lets the fact that he doesn't have opposable thumbs stand in his way. Tonight he created the mayhem you see above by opening the bathroom cabinet. He probably went in there looking for his food but was overcome by lust for the extra roll of toilet paper.

I've had to start locking the door to my bathroom, because it's a sliding door, and he has figured out how to open it. Mind you, I'm not so shy that I can't have the cat in the bathroom with me; it's more the whole being-exposed-to-the-neighbors-through-the-windows-of-the-next-room thing that gets to me.

I made the mistake of opening the bathroom window for him the other day so that he could look down at the ground two floors below. He gets a charge out of being up high, so I figured he would enjoy that. Well, he did. This morning when I was drying my hair, he sat under the window and gracked indignantly (this cat does not say meow; he says "grack!") at me until I opened the window for him again. You all know how I feel about cold weather, yet there I was huddled against the space heater at the other end of the bathroom, trying to ignore the 45 degree air that was coming in the open window.

Rotten cat.

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It's a circus here! Watch Annabelle do a trick; now watch Mike!!

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And the winning color in the grub suit election is . . . [drum roll] . . . RHUBARB!! Thanks to everyone who voted! The rhubarb grub suit has been ordered and is on its way to me, along with a pair of shoes and a polar fleece sweatshirt.

And in other news, I continue to expand my comfort zone for driving. I have gotten quite proficient at driving to the commissary and the USO and have even passed through Friendship Circle a couple of times to get to stuff that's on the other side of Sullivan Barracks (like the PX and the post office). Today I made the dramatic step of driving all the way over to Taylor Barracks to check the mail. That's at least 3 miles away. If I keep up at this rate, I'll be able to drive all the way to Wal-Mart before Halloween!

A random note or two on the animals over here: have I mentioned that the squirrels are a rich chestnut brown? They seem much more elegant than the scrubby grey squirrels I'm used to from the southeastern part of the States.

Also, we have hedgehogs! They're just cute as can be. I found this out a couple weeks ago when I heard a bunch of preschoolers in the common area across the street from me yelling "Hedgehog! Hedgehog!" At first I thought they were just playing a game in which one shouts "hedgehog" at one's opponents, but then it hit me--perhaps there really was a hedgehog! Sure enough, I walked over and they were standing in a circle around the most befuddled-looking critter I've ever seen. I explained how they would probably not like it if they were encircled by 30-foot-tall hedgehogs who pointed and yelled "Human! Human!" at them. Then we stood aside and let the poor little guy totter off into a clump of bushes. Since then, I've seen a couple more.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

We just got back from the USO tour of Worms. Today was the miserable, cold, wet day that the weather forecast has been promising us since Saturday. So it wasn't the most comfortable tour, but it was still very interesting.

We went on the streetcar to the Mannheim train station, where we got on a regional train for the 30 minute ride to Worms. It was the kids' first trip on a train, and we got to sit in the upstairs part of a double-decker train, which was fun for them.

Mike and Annabelle each had a disposable camera, and even with the rain, we still took a bunch of pictures. The plan is for them to put together individual projects (e.g., a web page, a poster) on Worms to send back to their classes at Judson. Kind of a "reporter in the field" kind of thing.

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Sunday, October 05, 2003

One of the benefits of the new Blogger Plus status of my account is that I can put photos directly into the blog. Let's see if that's true . . .

Remember how plain and drab the front of our house was?

Well, for the past few weekends, I've been scouring Bauhaus for flowers to brighten it up. Now it looks like this:

Better, don't you think? Of course, the two shrubs on either side of the front walkway remain an abomination, even in their new trimmed state. But the windows and flower beds are certainly perkier looking.

If you'd like to see my flowers closer up, you can go here to see the pansies, here to see the heather, and here to see the chrysanthemums. (Apparently, I can either load the images directly into the main blog page, or I can just add links. That's nice--I don't want the main page to be too grahics-heavy.)

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Only 3 more days to get your vote in for the grub suit! I haven't gotten too many votes, but at this point exit polls show the color rhubarb to be the front runner.

If you haven't voted yet--and unless you are my grandmother or my aunt and uncle, YOU HAVEN'T!!!--do it today. Right now, we're 27 votes shy of the necessary 30 that it will take to get me to post a picture of the grub suit.

Remember, if you don't vote, you can't complain about the results later. So get out the vote!! Your grub-in-waiting is counting on you.

(If you HAVE voted using the email link to the right, and you haven't gotten a confirmation from me, send me an email without using the link and let me know. Sometimes that mailto link is less than reliable.)

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Saturday, October 04, 2003

Fred left this morning for his 10-day trip back to the States. He'll be in Charlottesville, VA, next week for the Worldwide SJA Conference, and then he'll drop down to Burnsville, NC, to visit his parents. I wanted us to take a military hop to Baltimore and join him and then continue on down to FL for my 20th high-school reunion with a return hop out of Atlanta, but it's just too soon. We've barely recovered from the trip here in August!

I drove for the first time over here. Sure, I got my license a couple of weeks ago, but I had been putting off actually getting behind the wheel. I started small--just up to the commissary and over to the PX. I don't know when I'll feel secure enough to hit the open road. (That sound you hear is every other driver in Germany sighing in relief.)

I dropped the kids off at the post theater this afternoon to watch some Pokemon movie. What a deal! Admission for the two of them was 2 bucks. They had a great time and are begging to see it again tomorrow (movies only show here for a couple of days at a time). Only problem is that they want ME to watch it with them. Ick.

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Friday, October 03, 2003

I went to the USO office this afternoon and signed us up for the Worms tour next Tuesday. That's not as disgusting as it sounds, I promise. The USO brochure says:

Explore nearby Worms and learn of its eventful past from the early Celtic settlements, Roman occupation, and medieval majesty to the burning of the synagogue in 1938.

The USO has so many tours, and they all sound interesting: October alone is filled with shopping junkets to Poland, the Czech Republic, and France; tours of the many little towns and villages in our immediate vicinity; spa days; a river cruise; a wine tasting; a medieval dinner; and a class on making apple strudel. Never before have I had so many people putting forth so much effort to ensure that I enjoy myself. I swear, this is like being at camp!

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Did you notice that the ad is no longer at the top of the blog? I've been trying for days to upgrade my account to a Blogger Plus account. That is a paid subscription that would allow me to ditch the ad as well as put photos directly into the blog itself. Every time I went to the upgrade page though, I got a "please check back later" message. So I emailed them to ask what was going on, and I got back the following email:

>>Hi Bonnie,

>>We are currently in the process of revamping our billing system and have not been offering upgrades for users. However, as a courtesy, I have upgraded you to Blogger Plus25.

>>I hope that you enjoy it!

How nice is that?! Last night when I went to bed I was pondering the idea of moving the blog someplace else and ditching Blogger in favor of another system. (I'm also distressed to see that my August archive is temporarily MIA--thank heaven for backups!). For now though, I think I'll stay put.

On a different topic, after we picked up Annabelle from Brownies last night, we went to a local Gasthaus for dinner. We couldn't have looked more American if we had tried--Fred's army haircut, Annabelle's Brownie uniform, Mike's skateboarding duds. The waitress even handed us an English menu. When she brought the meals out, both kids spoke up clearly and said "Danke." It surprised me (these kids can be shy about stuff like that in English!), but it really shocked the heck out of the waitress: "Ach! Sie sprechen DEUTSCH?!" Needless to say, the kids were beyond thrilled to be mistaken for German speakers.

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Thursday, October 02, 2003

It looks like we're expecting a week or so of nasty weather. Today was beautiful though, with a high in the 70s, so the kids and I rode our bikes up to the streetcar stop and went downtown for a while. I had a mission in mind: to find the children's library.

You might recall Annabelle's anguish at being unable to get a library card for the library here on post (only those 10 and up need apply). Well, today she was our lucky charm! Turns out that she could get a card for FREE, whereas Mike and I would have to either pay or get the coupon out of the Mannheimer Familienpass (which we don't yet have). So Annabelle was the only one to get a card today but was very willing to check out books for the rest of us.

The library really is incredible. Besides all their offerings in the book department, they have an extensive collection of videos and DVDs, computer software, and even board games! We didn't have much time to browse though, as we had to hurry off to Seckenheim for Mike and Annabelle's first German class!

The kids were very nervous about whether they were going to love it or hate it, so we committed ourselves only for the month of October with the understanding that we'll reevaluate in a few weeks. When they came out of class though, they declared it to be lots of fun and their teacher to be "REALLY nice." Mike said he thought that they definitely should keep doing the classes, that it would "help us get fluent." Nice to know they're motivated!

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Our kitchen has an alcove in the front of the house where one might put the world's tiniest table and chairs. We have chosen instead to stuff my computer desk and a bookcase into that space. I spend most of my computer time on the laptop, which I usually set up on the dining room tabe, but sometimes--like now, when the kids are busy playing Neopets on the laptop--I wind up in here instead.

It's a cozy spot and will be even cozier after the radiator under the window gets fixed. In the meantime though it's still a pleasant place to sit. I especially enjoy being so close (two feet, maybe) to one of my windowboxes full of pansies.

Yesterday I was sitting here working on the computer, when our cat ran across my desk and jumped into the window. When I first saw what had attracted Eddie's enthusiastic attention, I thought it was the world's biggest bee. But then I looked closer and realized that it was a hummingbird! He came back to visit the pansies later in the evening as well. I hope he'll stick around.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

It's a good thing that the heat came on yesterday. Today is dreary and in the upper 50s. Unfortunately only about half of our radiators are working, so I guess we'll need to put in a work order. I'm just glad I got to figure out that there's a problem before the REALLY cold weather sets in.

Speaking of REALLY cold weather, it is time for me to order a grub suit. For the benefit of readers of the paper version of this blog, I will have to attempt to describe this garment: Picture a polar fleece sleeping bag with a hole at one end for your neck. Now add cuffs at all four corners for your hands and feet. Lands End calls it a "Snuggle Sack," but let's face the facts--it's a grub suit.

The big question is what color grub do I want to be? I am leaning towards either the Liberty Blue or the Rhubarb. Our cat has black fur, so I think a darker color would be better for hiding all the cat hair I'm sure I'll accumulate over the long, cold winter.

I can sit here all winter, freezing and unable to decide on the color, or I can pass the buck and let you, my readers, make that decision. Yes, it's election time here in Blogland. Email me to vote for the color of your choice (again, I like the dark blue and rhubarb, but all the available colors are in the running). I am ordering the grub suit one week from today and promise to defer to the will of the people.

If at least 30 people vote in our little election, I will post a photo of me modelling the winning grub suit. And if a really ugly color wins, I'll pretend I'm California and just have a recall.

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