rope. tree. fan. spear. snake. wall.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

more opinions about me

Mama? I love you, but you're just a little bit evil.
-the Sniglet

more opinions about dinner

He: Mama, what for dinner?
Me: Chicken noodle soup! Homemade!
He: Aww, why you hafta everytime make things I don't like?
Me: No, this is great! If you're sick, it'll make you better, it's like medicine!
He: Mama. I ate this soup one time and then I got a liiiiiiittle bit sicker.

Ignatz redeemed...this time

Oh, right! I should have mentioned this sooner. Remember the Lost Wallet, With Housekey Attached? Well, um. It has been found, in a place I was sure I'd looked, but not thoroughly enough. In DrBob's drawer.

We have a...a thing-with-drawers (in German it's called a Kommode, *snork*) in the front hallway, with one drawer for each family member. For hats, scarves, mittens, that sort of thing. I did a cursory sweep through all of them, but failed to spot the black wallet in among DrBob's all-black accessory collection, because I didn't really expect it to be there, because everyone in the house knows which drawer is theirs. With one exception.

Yes, things do wind up in the wrong drawers, occasionally, but only - ONLY - on DrBob's watch. For instance, if the Sniglet's hat finds its way into my drawer, it happens on the day DrBob picked him up from kindergarten. We also have a shoe-shelf, and we all put things on it when we first come in, just to get our hands free for shucking jackets etc. We're all supposed to clean our stuff off the shoe-shelf right away, but we don't always. So Ignatz remembered leaving his wallet on the shoe-shelf, but didn't know what happened to it after that. I did posit that it might have gotten swept up in one of DrBob's cleaning jags, but DrBob, angry about the lost wallet, did not appreciate being accused, and hotly denied it.

However. Everybody knows which drawer is whose. Nobody ever puts anything in DrBob's drawer, except for DrBob. When he gets on his cleaning jags, he just wants every loose item out of sight - he does not, um, agree with my filing system, so he just throws everything in the nearest handy out-of-sight place. Frankly, all the evidence points to him this time. Of course he will never, ever admit that he might have been responsible for this, which means he won't apologize, which is unfortunate.

Do not let this lull you into thinking Ignatz doesn't have a problem with disorganization. He does. He never did find his pencil-case, though he managed to replace it with this funny Japanese thing my SIL sent one Christmas when, she told me, she was absolutely without inspiration and just threw some stuff in a box (1: thanks, Shel, those presents turned out to be really useful. 2: here we have reason to be glad Ignatz the Pack Rat never ever throws anything away). He never did find those other two house keys he lost, either, or any number of hats and gloves.

So yes, he is disorganized. But the point I wanted to make is that, while I do believe Ignatz has ADHD, and therefore has challenges to overcome that other kids don't, I also want you to notice that he lives in an environment that exacerbates his problems. Largely due to me, because I have organization problems myself, and I don't want you to think I'm ducking my responsibility here. But incidents like this one really, really don't help. Because if all the evidence points to DrBob, and he authoritatively denies his role in the latest crisis, then either Ignatz's self-esteem will have to take a hit, or else his respect for his father. Neither way is good.

This time Ignatz gave his dad a big hug and a thank you for finding his missing wallet. Nice that he remembered to say thank you, since that's a chronic problem. But I think that means he's shouldering all the blame for this mistake. Again.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Elemmaciltur said...

Go knit and find yourself some peace!
Arrgh. I re-designed the sweater for Ignatz and it's much too small, since he decided to resume that whole growing-thing we thought he'd given up on. So now it's a sweater for the Sniglet. I made the neck too tight and had to frog it - after I cut the yarn, so I'll have to make a bigger neck with not-enough yarn, so more ends to tuck in, which is the single most hateful thing about knitting. See, even knitting can be stressful when I Get Like This.

Don't worry though, I go through these phases. At some point it'll all just go away and everything will be fine.

Also, DrBob is sick and increasingly grouchy. And the yard is full of (frozen, thawed, and now re-frozen) cat poop from the neighbor's cat. And the house needs reorganizing, which means another trip to Ikea, but not until I get everything cleared out and...well, reorganized.

Hm. So all in all, I guess I'm glad that I never got an answer on my job application. Even though it looked like a pretty cool job. I really don't have time for that right now. Of course, not getting a regular job means I should be picking up more freelance work here and there, which will leave me less time to find a regular job.

So now I'm watching the Finns slaughter the Russians (ice hockey - a rerun, no less) and while it doesn't help me get my work done, a bit of vicarious violence is doing wonders for my mood.

battling overwhelm

DrBob had an article that needed proofreading, I got that done yesterday. 24 pages on self-fashioning via the Spanish colonial bureaucracy, urgh. He speaks um, somewhat disparagingly of historians these days, but I keep wishing he still was one. Then I might understand, oh, 10% of what I'm called on to proofread. Oh well, at least he's not a linguist. Speaking of which, I've got a linguist who wants some proofreading done. I'm still thinking about it.

And DrBob's just gone back to a website we translated awhile back and he found a few mistakes. So now he wants to go back over the whole thing, consisting of approximately one skillion jillion pages, which needs me. Um, isn't he supposed to be working on that book which must be done by July or "It's All Over" (whateverthehell "it" is)? Hellew, focus? Plus I've been here so long, doing this one specific thing - proofreading English texts written by Germans - I can't tell anymore what sounds like good English and what is bad English that I've just gotten used to.

My brother sent me some inheritance-related paperwork ages ago that I still haven't read. Apparently I have to deal with the IRS this year, because I had taxable income. Yay.

It's snowing again. I've had this cold for weeks, and am now being attacked by several months' worth of PMS, for no reason that I can think of.

Oh, I took Ignatz to Munich last Thursday! Exhausting, but productive. He went and started growing again, bizarrely - I think he was a size 128 for about three years - so he suddenly needed a buncha new shirts, right on the heels of my deciding that I'm not going to buy quick-disintegrating catalog crap anymore, which means going to an actual store. Of which - dig this - there aren't any in this town! Wah! Not one kids' clothing store, unless you count the used-stuff store, which apparently chooses their open hours via the dartboard method every day. Besides, as my readers with sons already know, between age 6 and 13 or so they totally trash their clothes, so nothing survives to be resold, and the used-stuff stores only have girl clothes in these sizes. So anyway. Due to a very annoying local tradition called Mad Thursday, Dorfener kids - and no other kids, anywhere in Germany - had the day off school. Woot! So that's done. Oh right, and we saw a movie too. Um, Zathura. A science fiction story about why you have to be nice to your little brother.

Training the intern at work has been um, wearing. She's nice, and she's smart, if a bit nervous, and she's not making any serious mistakes. But the job is so complicated that the only way to teach it is to have her do it while I watch over her shoulder and explain each new situation as it arises. Which, it turns out, is basically a recipe for a splitting headache that is now going into day 3 (yes I have taken something for it, lots of something. In fact, hot stock tip here: Advil).

Mrs Next Door wants to give up her English conversation class and asks if I would like to take over. Four students, one hour a week, €20 per class, so I would have to, about 35 classes, I think, to make up what I paid for the TESL course which I have never yet used. I should do it just for that, so the course will not have been a total waste. At the moment, though, I don't feel like it would be wise to take on yet another thing. If I got a pet rock, it would probably die of neglect in a day or two. I have a few days to decide whether I want to teach the class, and should probably not make the decision in my current, crappy mood.

I have lots of other things to be crabby about too, but this has gotten long enough. Even I find me tedious at this point.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

is it just me...

Nearly every girl figure-skater has included this move in at least one of her routines this Olympics. Excuse me, why are they all doing this? Is it graceful? Is it attractive? No! Every one of them looks like a dog at a fire hydrant.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


alala --


A level headed person who always makes the wrong decision

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Sorry for the long silence, I'm feeling like a flaming poisonbitch and didn't want to share the hate. No reason, probably just hormones.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

a small problem with watching hockey on TV

I'm not really a TV person, though I don't pretend this is any kind of virtue, which I think differentiates me from most non-TV people. It's mostly circumstantial in my case: most of the good TV is on in the evening when I don't have time to watch it, and I'm much too disorganized to remember things like what day it is, so I never manage to see the same show twice.

And while I don't think I'm better than people who do watch TV, I do try to limit the kids' access somewhat, just because I strongly suspect that if I didn't impose limits, they'd never do anything else. So those are, more or less, the reasons why we have such a tiny television: TV doesn't feature largely in our lives, and we don't want the kids to get too fixated on it. Plus, there are few attractive yet affordable televisions, and the one we thought was cute happened to be also very small. And mostly I don't mind having a small TV, except for two weeks every four years, when Olympic ice hockey happens and I can't see the puck.


You are from Seattle...met Dr. Bob and moved to Germany?

Yeah, ~d and Linda both asked about that. Right, some people don't know that story. I get to tell it a lot, and I never know which parts to include. I don't want to leave out any important or interesting details, but I don't want it to be all long and boring either.

I'm not really from Seattle itself, but from its catchment area. You know, every small town has teenagers who can't wait to graduate and move to "the city". Well, Seattle is our "the city". And unless you're actually from Seattle or thereabouts (or, oddly enough, Japan) you probably won't have heard of my hometown.

So anyway, um. Uh, 1993 was a really bad year for me, and I uh, went a little crazy. Lost a couple jobs, wrecked a romantic relationship, did some scary risky stuff, traveled a lot, and basically acted like a person who had nothing to lose. Which I wasn't, so that was really stupid. And part of that was that I just sort of... up and... went to South America. For no particular reason, with not a lot of money and no specific plan, just this weird restlessness. I went with Cindy, a woman I barely knew, and when we landed in Quito with our Lonely Planet Ecuador guide, another tourist (Nigel) noticed he had the same book as us, and asked if we wanted to share a cab into the city. We snagged another tourist (that was before the Ph.Ds (yes, two of them), but he eventually became Dr.Bob) in the airport, and a third (Anders) attached himself to our group as we were leaving the airport.

And the five of us were all there for different reasons, with different destinations, but we kind of separated and recongregated in various constellations over the next month. This is where I can easily bog down in extraneous detail, because some of the story is really cute. But that is the gist of how Dr.Bob and I met. The story comes up often because I am a Foreign Wife, so people are always asking me "So, did you meet your husband in the States, or here?" To which I reply "um, neither!" And then the whole sordid story comes out.

Incidentally, we lost track of Cindy and Anders, but we're still in touch with Nigel. He's visiting us this weekend, in fact.

So that's how we met. How we wound up here is an even longer story, pieces of which will find their way here, over time.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Does he know he's disorganized?

Someone - Vicki? I can't find the comment now - asked this one. I asked him. He said yes, he knows, so I asked if he knows because we keep telling him, or does he know it for himself. A little of both, he said. I think he realizes he's disorganized, but figures it's just a basic feature, like being thin and blond, not a choice. Not something he can or should work to overcome. He used to shrug and offer "I'm just lazy" as an excuse for not cleaning up after himself. Heh. No, I didn't let him get away with that one. So he stopped trying to use it as an excuse, but he didn't stop being lazy.

So there are two possible explanations for what is going on here, in my extremely unprofessional, huge vested-interest, totally subjective Mama view. One: he genuinely does not give a rat-butt about losing his stuff, flunking out of school, living off his parents forever (SO not gonna happen), and basically being a failure by current social standards. Or two: his self-esteem is so battered by the constant criticism from parents and school authorities that he's retreated into a kind of learned helplessness, where it doesn't even occur to him that he can do anything to change his situation. The therapy is supposed to help with that. I don't pry too much on that, usually just ask how it went. I should probably set up an appointment to talk with his therapist soon.

One problem with Ignatz is that he really takes the criticism on board, but not the praise. I know that one all too well: my dad was very, very critical sometimes, but also sometimes nice. My mom was nothing but supportive. Guess which stuff I internalized. So I understand where he's coming from on this, but it makes it very hard to do any kind of balanced discipline. We do praise as well as criticize, but he doesn't hear or remember the praise.

Oh, and? Another coup in his project to supply everyone in town with a key to our house. Yes, he lost his house key again. Third time. And this time his wallet was attached to it, with his insurance card in it. I thought, if I attached the key to a chain wallet, and he could actually fasten it to his clothes, that it would be harder to lose. It's things like this that make me really paranoid. To lose something that's big, and chained to you? That really takes effort. Not to mention that he didn't even let us find out about it for nearly a week.

Yet again: argh.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It's raining

I read somewhere recently that the People Responsible For This Stuff (the city and state officials whose job it is to keep count of things like snowplows and sandbags) are exceedingly worried about the floods they expect this spring when all the snow that has been accumulating over the last four months melts. I read elsewhere that the weatherdudes were predicting a solid week of rain. Looks like it started today, so we could see those floods pretty soon. Dorfen will be safe, due to a very nifty system of canals that will channel the excess water to an artificial pond - the system was designed by Mr Next Door's grandfather, actually. But I remember the terrible floods that happened in late summer 2003, and I'm concerned about conditions elsewhere.

Also: I ordered the cowboy rainboots sent by slow/cheap mail, since I was certain I had at least four weeks before it warmed up enough to rain. So not only are we looking at a potential environmental and humanitarian disaster, but I find myself without suitable attire for the occasion. Oh, no!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Are we ever going back to the States?

That'd probably be my number-one FAQ, actually, and it's really a hard one to answer. Put as simply as I can, we have to go where the jobs are, so if someone offers Dr.Bob a job in the States, we'll have to move. If he finds work here, we stay here. The American academic community is much, much better than the German - even now, with those morons trying to shut down liberal professors, and federal funding headed down the toilet, it's still better than the monument to ass-kissing that is German academia - so it would be good for him to be there. But Germany is a lot more family-friendly. Speaking of families, we have lots of relatives here. I have family in the States, but none of them are near a university that would hire my husband.

Hee, sidenote: back in 1996 when Dr.Bob started the Ph.D program in Madison Wisconsin, the German friends and family were all, "Aren't you happy to be moving back near your family?" at me. Uh, yeah. My family's mostly around Seattle. We do not consider 2000 miles "near".

So basically, professionally speaking we would both be better off in the U.S. We would make more money, we would pay fewer taxes. But as a family, we are better off here, because we actually get to see our kids from time to time. Americans work too much.

I am certainly more comfortable in the U.S. I really hate how difficult everything becomes when you have to do it in another language. I hate even more how this does not seem to be the case for other expats. I miss my family a lot, and my friends, and also stupid things like Target and decent peanut butter and roads that are a bit wider than the cars. I miss the Pacific Northwest like you wouldn't believe. Everything about it. But the kids have an extended family here, and after five years they have really put down roots. Moving them now would be hard on all of us.

I try to visit about once a year, if I can manage it. It gets more expensive as the kids get older, but I can also work more as they get older, so that evens out, more or less.

But as I said, we have to go where the jobs are. If some university in the U.S. offered Dr.Bob work, we'd go. We'd have to.

Blogging the Olympics

Somebody's doing that, right? Probably several somebodies, I can't be bothered to check. Yesterday was some men's skatey-thingy - um, figure-skating, and I wrote something incoherent and then deleted it. The gist was something like oh my god what the HELL is he wearing? But now I'm watching men speed-skate in their bizarre little stretchy outfits, and I am increasingly convinced that they are NOT wearing something. Namely, underpants. Ooo, it's some kind of relay too, so when a new guy comes on, the going-off guy gives him a big ol' helping shove on the butt. The Church Lady would have a fit.

Thanks, Dr Internet, for the conjunctivitis tips. I will put them into action as soon as I can track down a chamomile tea-bag. Bet Mrs Next Door has one. I got this from Ignatz, though, and he's all better already, so even if the chamomile doesn't work, I only have a couple more days of this.

Great stuff, chamomile. I remember filling the kitchen with chamomile steam to clear up baby Ignatz's stuffed-up nose.

not a great start to a day

Bleah. My left eye is red and puffy and oozy and achy - I woke up several times in the night to find that my eye was glued shut by gunk on the lashes. Yuck. Dr.Bob says it's "augencatarrh". I haven't google-translated that yet, but I think it means something like "eye-snot". Anyway, apparently it will go away on its own, or I can go to the doctor and get eye drops. €10 copay? Nothanks! Guess I'll wait.

I have to go to work today! Am I supposed to put makeup on this thing? I have to meet the new webmaster looking like a prizefighter! I was going to go to curry night, too. But I feel yucky. Not flattened, but coughy, sneezy, generally icky.

Also. I have the dreaded VPSV: Very Persistent Song Virus. And what do you do with such a song virus? That's right, you share it! Click at your own risk. Well, actually you'll have to click twice, once to get to the page and then again to hear the song. So there's still time to turn back! Right, you've been warned. From Emma Bull's blog, I give you: yet another gem from the mighty Weird Al. And like Em says, listen all the way to the very end.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

cleaning out the attic, metaphorically speaking

Wow, my blog.txt file is getting full. Every time I open it, it makes a noise like an old man getting out of bed. I should throw some stuff up here.

Here are a couple of charming bits of information ganked from Kelly...
This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz
Okay, I have absolutely no idea what that says about me.

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high
Kelly's an espresso too. We were college roommates. You can imagine the fun we had.

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Gorgeous Magician.
Where You Lived: Mongolia.
How You Died: Natural causes.
Oooo, I like this one. I was gorgeous! And Mongolian!

Nothing tomorrow, because I have to go to Munich and Do Stuff, but thursday I will answer the other two questions: are we ever going back to the States, and whathehell is up with that kid. Actually, I can answer those both right now: I dunno.

Monday, February 13, 2006

hm, what was that thing...?

I spent the entire weekend and most of today sweating bullets over that job application. Gah. Did I mention how much I absolutely hate this process? Seriously, between job hunting and dental work without anesthesia? Um, gimme a minute... no, I need more time to think about it. I'll let you know when I decide.

Anyway. With a little help from Dr.Bob - actually a little? It is to scoff. He did the whole thing for me. Which is not to say I didn't try, I did. I wrote a whole cover letter, IN GERMAN, and sent it to him for proofreading. He rewrote the whole thing. So, um, guess I still have a way to go with that whole "Learning German" thing. (Yes, Nate. Air quotes.)

Hm. Digress much? Oh right. The job application. It's done. The email is written, the resumé and various certificates are online. I'll send the email in tomorrow morning at eight, so as to look all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Yeah, right. We all know how I really look in the morning - hey wait. We don't! Most of my readers have never seen my morning face! Hah! (Shut up, Kel)

Didja get that? It's done! More or less! It's good practice! You never get the first job you apply for, right? Probably not. But still. I finished something excruciating and I am drained and exhausted and need a big ol' break. Huh? What's that? Did you say...HOMEWORK? Oh yes, that is due in about two hours, isn't it? Have I even looked at the assignment? Uh, that would be a 'no'.

Right! Off to do that, then! No problem, no problem, plenty of time to sleep when I'm DEAD.

this winter in pictures

If you follow this link, there's a Sueddeutsche slideshow of the conditions in eastern Bavaria. Vorheriges Bild means Previous Picture. Nächstes Bild means Next Picture. You should probably be glad you can't read the captions. Especially the one about the school bus driver who died of a heart attack while driving a busload of kids. I think the kids are all okay, but Jeez.

We are. So lucky. To live here. And not there. I sure wouldn't want to be on top of my house, trying to clear the snow off before the roof caves in.

but I'm much better now.

Your Inner Child Is Sad

You're a very sensitive soul.
You haven't grown that thick skin that most adults have.
Easily hurt, you tend to retreat to your comfort zone.
You don't let many people in - unless you've trusted them for a long time.

I mean, I was like that. As a kid. But I'm fine now. Honest. Don't worry, okay?

this is going to turn into a shoe-freak blog any day now

Okay, I was going to give ~d first shot at this image, because she's the one who found them, but I just ... couldn't ... resist! Darrgh!

Are those fabulous or what? Boy, if I had a daughter... muahahaha...

But sigh, I couldn't possibly get them for myself. I already have a pair of embroidered purple satin Chuck Taylor All-Stars that I never wear. Because they're too nice and I don't wanna mess 'em up. I couldn't find a picture of them on the net (guess my google-fu is not strong enough), so you'll just have to use your imagination, sorry.

Did you get the boots?

People ask questions and make Very Helpful Comments in my comment section, and I always mean to answer them, really-truly, but... I... don't. Other things happen, I get sidetracked. Gee, can't imagine where Ignatz gets that whole disorganized-thing.

So I wrote an entry answering the three latest questions, and it came out desperately long and tedious. I'll have to break it down into chunks, or lose my audience. We'll try one question per post, yeah? It's the only way to keep me on track, I think.

So yes. I ordered the boots, um, yesterday. The paisley ones. The blue ones are certainly jaunty, and they remind me a bit of my Mom's art, but remember those old Highlights magazine bits where they showed a big picture with lots of little things hidden in it, like a key in the bark of a tree? Right, well, I look at those artsy teal boots, and I see... pizza. ~d is right, the paisley ones are more versatile.

Later entries will answer questions about Ignatz and whether we will ever return to the States, but I am still slogging away at that job application. Gark. Must go do that.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

more scary weather

Did I say it was only snowing a little? Well, it was, but it continued doing so ALL DAY, so there was still about 8 inches of snow for me to clear from the driveway and front walk. This picture isn't here, it's a bit east of here, in Lower Bavaria. Yep, some bad craziness, and it gets badder the further east you go. Y'all might remember that ice rink roof collapse in Bad Reichenhall last month that killed 15 people? There was another one, worse, at an exhibition hall in Katowice, Poland. A grocery store roof in Töging caved in a couple days ago, and a school in Austria had to be evacuated on Wednesday. No one was hurt in the latter two, fortunately, but other places have been less fortunate. The snow is too wet and heavy this year; and usually we have periodic warmups that melt some (or all) of it off, but this year it's just been accumulating; and snow that sticks usually starts in January, but this year it started mid-November. All that means that roofs meant to take the normal burden of a subalpine winter are just not up to this.

Oh dear.

Friday, February 10, 2006

snowed in

Okay, there was no Thursday blog entry because I am a total hosebag, and that's all there is to it. Um, not to say that anyone else is a total hosebag for not writing on a Thursday - because you all have, you know, lives and stuff - but I have sort of set myself the goal to Blog Whenever I Can, and when I fail to meet the standards I set for myself, I get to be a hosebag.

On Fridays I have all the excuse I need, because I go into Munich to work at the AHF and don't feel right about blogging on company time. And today I was going to meet with the New Webmaster (yay! They found someone! That's another entry in itself - the entry, incidentally, that I should have written yesterday) and then we were going to plan our vacation with H and G, which is yet another entry. Wow, yesterday I didn't write because I didn't think I had anything to write about. Stupid, much?

ANYWAY. No go. None of it, because the roads are insane. Because it's snowing only a little, but the wind is so fierce that it's snowing sideways, and there are a lot of places where you can't even see the road. And trucks are stuck. We got past the one in Isen, but the one in Mittbach thwarted us (and the snowplow that was trying to dig it out) and we had to turn back. Mr Next Door didn't make it to work today, Mr Down-the-Street's car was smushed (he's okay, but they have to buy a new car now), school is cancelled because none of the bus-kids (which is half of the students) can get into town, and it's chaos. Dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

Which leaves me no choice but to stay home and put together a resumé and cover letter for a job I want to apply for. Well, no, I don't want to apply. I just want to have the job, by some miracle that doesn't require the whole application process, which I find absolutely excruciating. Gurk. So um, this is me, stalling. You know what? I'm tired. Maybe I'll take a nap, and put the application together later.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the kids' toothpaste...

...comes in a tube that is remarkably similar in shape and size to that of my Body Shop Vitamin C SPF 15 Daily Moisturizer.

No, I didn't actually smear kiddie-toothpaste on my face. But almost.

or maybe these.

Oooo. A dilemma.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I. Need. These.

I can't remember whose blog led me to these, but Oh. My. God! In case it's not absolutely clear from the photo, they're rainboots. Cowboy wellies. Check out the site, there's like a million kinds. What a fabulous idea.

<...scampers off to find out about international shipping rates...>

oh, now what?

So Friday was the letters from school to say that Ignatz is often without the necessary materials? Right. German schoolkids all have to have these little zipper-cases where they keep their pens, pencils, scissors, eraser, etc. On Monday afternoon he lost his. And so he returns to school without the proper materials immediately after we got the stupid letters. Why? He decided to take a different way home from school Monday afternoon, one that did not involve much in the way of sidewalks, slid/fell down a steepish hill, and didn't notice that his pen-case was missing until this morning.

You see? You SEE? Of course he doesn't do this stuff on purpose, but he still manages to do something several times a week.

This is just so depressing.

So we Talked about it, scarily, after dinner. Because there are two things going on here. Firstly, he has trouble focusing. Secondly, he doesn't see any reason why he should. He thinks homework is stupid, he doesn't want to grow up and get a job. I don't know what alternative he thinks there is, but he doesn't like the path that the rest of us follow.

For the first, there are things we can do. Therapy. Maybe medication. Mnemonics and lists and coping strategies. But we can't put any of them into effect without his cooperation, and this is where the second problem comes in. If he doesn't want to do it, we can't help him much. We don't know what to do about that.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I'm a little...disappointed...

Well, the Hawks lost, with a little help. I like to think that I am fair-minded enough that I would also be upset if the Steelers had been on the receiving end of such bad refereeing - yes, I would be upset. That was undeniably unfair, and nobody deserves that. No, not even the Rams. Dr.Bob was so mad he couldn't get to sleep last night. Anyway. Props to the Steelers, they were awesome, and I wouldn't have minded losing to them if it was fair, because I was just so pleased we made it to the Super Bowl at all. But this was uglier than necessary.

That was my first Super Bowl in a pub. It was fun, if loud, but the whole experience would have been better if I'd had a local hole to crawl into. As it was, the game ended around 4 a.m., and I got to hang out another hour in the bar with some very nice people, but also some distinctly creepy ones. Then I had to go to the train station, where I found out that the first train home leaves at 6:19, not 6:02 as I had thought, and from the other train station. So I went to the other station and found my train and got on it and there was some kind of problem that made it leave 15 minutes late and oh man was it hard to stay awake on that trip. But I'd very wisely brought my mp3 player, so the walk home (about a mile) was easily chugged with the help of the Hives. When I got home the boys were just finishing breakfast, and since I had my Doc Martens on anyway, I figured I might as well take the Sniglet to kindergarten. But walking slowly with a five-year-old is um, very different from charging along in time to Veni Vidi Vicious, as it happens. I practically fell asleep on my feet. So that is why I staggered into bed at 8 this morning. And the Best Husband in the Universe did not go to Munich today, even though he always goes to Munich on Mondays, so he was able to fetch the Sniglet from kindergarten and I was able to sleep until 1. I am so lucky.

And that was my football experience. No more Super Bowls in pubs. I'm getting too old for this.

Unless it's the Seahawks again.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

two letters from the school yesterday...

Dr.Bob read them, they were upside down to me, so I asked what they said and he rattled it out in German. Um, helpful, thanks. I caught the word "wiederholt", which I think means "repeatedly", and the impression that Ignatz is um, disorganized, often doesn't bring the materials he needs to class, and doesn't complete assignments because he didn't have the right book or something. He has also been moved to a spot in the classroom where no one sits next to him, because he chatters and distracts the others. Constantly, and despite repeated um, whaddyacallits. Hey-stop-thats.

Dr.Bob says the teacher warns the kids that they're getting a letter home, and that Ignatz should have told us. This happens a lot, actually, we think things are going pretty well for him because we haven't gotten any bad news lately, and then bam! (Sock! Bif! Pow!) A phone call, a note from a teacher, something. Always a situation that Ignatz knew about but didn't tell us.

Now. Ignatz In Trouble gets a long lecture from Dr.Bob, who is, let's face it, considerably more, um...intimidating than he realizes. He's big and muscly, and has a powerful scowl, and can talk for a long time about something that has ticked him off. It's not something he wants to hear, so when I try to tell him that he's kinda scary, he tends to shrug it off, or get angry. But Ignatz is a little guy, not given to confrontation of any kind, and frankly? I can see why he wouldn't want to tell his dad. Those lectures are really, really horrible for him. I can also see why he wouldn't tell me, though that's a little different. My main failing as a parent is that I'm completely unpredictable, and he never knows how I'll react. Which is scary in its own way, so as I say, telling us he's messed up again probably never seems like a good idea to him.

Dr.Bob disagrees. The kid gets in trouble anyway, so why wait? Well, I can answer that one. When you have bad news, and you know you'll get in trouble for delivering it, you can find all sorts of reasons to wait. And in fact, we found the letter when we got home from Munich, and Ignatz was safe at the Oompas. Heh. That's the best time to deliver bad news: when you're not in the same town as the person you have to tell.

So anyway. Yet again, the school has contacted us to tell us our son is not doing well enough. I don't know what the hell they expect us to do. Really, if there was anything we could do about it we would have done it a long time ago. But they're all, "Please talk to him..." Hello? Are they seriously suggesting 1) that it's that simple? And 2) that we haven't tried that?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

okay, howbout now? Can I panic now?

So, work! Not exactly rocket science, but complex because each case is slightly different. Some of the differences only come up every few months, by which time I've forgotten how I dealt with them last time. I'm still stumbling along, asking for help at least once a day, and I've been on this job for nearly a year. Yeah, one day a week, but still. Many, many tiny details, too many to keep in my head. I try to write it all down, but still, situations come up that I don't recognize.

And now? Now we're getting interns! I have to teach them my job - IN GERMAN. Um, ack?

Friday, February 03, 2006

cool toy

Me on Sunday:

Found this via AKMA (thanks!). Here's how to make your own.

Bad news for people with brothers.

Sorry, guys, but here it comes: I win. My brother - not yours - is the coolest brother ever in the history of the universe, because not only did he send me THIS, he FedExed it so it would get here before game day. That is how cool my brother is, and and there is just no beating that. Ever. Now I will go watch the Super Bowl at the Arc and the other fans will be blinded by how tragically hip and fabulous I am. But if I am hipper than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of a giant of hipness. I so do not deserve this, but I'll take it anyway.

Thanks a million, bro. I will really and sincerely try not to forget your birthday again this year.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

again I wonder about my WeatherPixie

Isn't this weird? It looks like heavy fog and a tornado. At night. Okay, the fog I can see out my window, and it is indeed night. But tornadoes? Hardly ever in central Europe. Certainly not at night, as far as I know. And never in the dead of winter. Okay, this pixie gets her information from the weather station at Laim (pronounced like "lime", not like "lame"), but that's not really that far from here. Maybe I should switch to the Munich airport pixie. Anyway. Once again, my weatherPixie appears to be, um, a bit of a stranger to this whole "reality"-thing. Bit like Condoleezza Rice, but with better hair.


You will go to jail for:
Accidentally finding area 51

Take this quiz at

THANK you, cmhl! That is awesome!

More about the special school

I mentioned this before, that there is a school for Ignatzes, basically, about half an hour from here. Specifically, it is a school for "children with above-average intelligence who, due to particular learning or behavior disorders (e.g. dyslexia or concentration disorders) are not well-served by the state school system" (my translation). Sounds pretty much perfect, except for one thing: it's a boarding school, and he's only 11. I know, the English do it all the time, but it's not something that Americans tend to think of first, and I'm not altogether comfortable with him being gone so much.

Hmm, but it would be so good for him to be around others like him, and with teachers trained to deal with distractibility and disorganization, who accept it as normal instead of judging and criticizing. He could be normal. That would be so good for him, not to feel like a freak all the time.

So anyway, we've debated about this for over a year now, and finally decided we should at least call the school, make an appointment, check it out, not commit to anything, but find out about it. And oh no, it's full-up and there's a huge waiting list. I don't know how we didn't foresee that, given that it took nearly six months to get an appointment for him to be evaluated by a psychologist in Munich, eight months to see a pediatrician, and after that, a year before the child psychologist here in town could clear a space in her calendar for him. We already knew that there are too many kids with problems for the amount of help available. I don't know why we didn't apply that knowledge to this school as well.

So we'll send in his paperwork and get put on the list. There is a slight chance that they might let him in sooner if he totally bombs out of regular school.

Mhm. He can either limp along for seven years at this school that is a fine school yadda-yadda, but is not right for him, and not very good for him. Or he can crash and burn and then, maybe, have a chance at a better environment. Fucking hell, those are our choices?

Well, yes, I guess so. I guess there are limits to what is available and that is the situation we are handed, and all we can do is deal with it the best we can. Time to think about bootstraps.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

found something

Well now. I've had a post in the works for quite some time about the vast amount of so-so bookage out there and the difficulty of finding something that will capture Ignatz's imagination when there is so much out there that is just not. that. good. And occasionally I find a really good author and I go visit her website hoping she will lead me to other really good authors and she's all "I really love the Magic Treehouse books" or whatever. Sigh. No. Because we need and deserve books that are all that, and those books are only half that.

But anyway, this post I've been working and working on still doesn't say what I want it to say in less than a kajillion words and I don't want to make y'all read for hours and hours. Upshot = a good book has style and substance. A good premise is essential, okay, but a writer also needs to love language, needs to dive into it like taking the Nestea Plunge, roll around in it, and cough up words you would otherwise never have learned.

So here, via slacktivist, is Litline's 100 Best First Lines from Novels, and you may not agree with them all (I don't), but if you read through them you can get a sense that sentences have balance, and the right word makes all the difference, and a good idea by itself is not enough to carry a book. The best writers know this. Well, lots of people know this. Very few know how to do it, though, which is too bad.

Incidentally, great writing isn't limited to Great Works of Literature. From my 5 Guilty Pleasures meme awhile ago, some of the authors I mentioned in the bit about genre fiction have that gift. I'll let you know if I find any more.