Archive for November, 2011

Daily Blogging

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

I signed up for NaBloPoMo without much forethought. Just went on instinct (which I’m trying to listen to more) and habit. (This is the fourth November I’ve done this.) And I’m so glad I did!

I love taking the time (forcing myself?) to reflect on me, the day, my family. It feels good to record these moments of our lives. I also love, love, LOVE, comments! I’ve had exchanges with good friend, people I haven’t been in touch with for a while, and total strangers who have discovered my blog (and I’ve discovered theirs in return.)

And for family and friends far away, I know they appreciate having a more regular glimpse into our lives…as well as the pictures of Annie, of course.

I’m grateful for having discovered blogging, and I’m very grateful for everyone who shares it with me. With all my heart, thank you.

Off to Hamburg

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

I’m getting on an airport shuttle to Munich in an hour and then flying to Hamburg. My presentation is tonight and then back tomorrow. Which is a good thing, as the Latern Fest is on Thursday, and I don’t want to miss that!

So I’m afraid that is all for today.


Monday, November 7th, 2011

5-years-old is such a fun age for lots of reasons. But one of the main ones is that I get to witness the transition between little child and big girl.

Some days I find Annie practicing her super-model poses (not taught by me, I swear!)…

And other days she still likes to snuggle up in the laundry basket!

What a monkey! I think I’ll keep her.

Better Busy

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

It has been busy lately. I am working more with both of my contracts, work that is more interesting, more challenging, more stressful. I was off to London last week for a work-related conference and I hit Hamburg next week to give a presentation to about 60 German business people on gamification. (In English, thanks to all that is holy.) Annie is in swimming twice a week and dance class once a week, plus various and sundry play-dates which are a requirement like air to breath for my über-social daughter. Markus continues to work mostly 6 days a week, although now that the summer is over, he is home for dinner some days, which is lovely.

And what is up with so many people  in my world having birthdays in October and November? I’m not willing (yet) to give up the hand-made birthday cards, but I’m thinking that the 60+ hand-made Christmas cards may not happen this year.

I’ve been feeling busy. And then a thought went through my head, as I knew it would. “Wouldn’t it be lovely just to have time to do crafts, organize my house, go for walks and hikes in the Alps?” the thought mused. And then, luckily, the remembering part of my brain chimed in and said, “Um…the summer of 2010? Hello??”

Right. I had nothing but time for several months two summers ago. Annie was in…school? daycare?…5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I took no German class, had no work, had no outside obligations of any kind. Oodles and oodles of time to do the things that I love most in life, learn new skills, connect with people, explore, get in shape. I sat on the couch. For hours and hours at a time. I don’t even remember if I turned on the T.V.  I just remember sitting there day after day.

So for me, it isn’t about having time. It is about having energy, something that I have struggled with most of my life. (As my family knows, who are driven mad with me constantly answering “tired” when asked how I am.) And right now, with big life changes on the horizon, and a happy and active daughter, and work that is interesting and that I am really good at…that give me energy. I may not be able to fit in making Christmas cards this year,  but it is a hell of a lot better than sitting on the couch. So to busyness I say, “Thank you!”


Saturday, November 5th, 2011

I had nothing today, so I went to the NaBloPoMo website to check out the blogging prompts. One that caught my eye was “What is your favourite part about writing?”

I can answer that. Last year a former professor, who was originally from the US but has lived most of her adult life in Innsbruck, started a writing group for English speakers. It is about once a month. We start with a warm-up exercise, usually something physical like walking around or writing with our left hand. Then we complete written exercises, some with materials we have started to write before the class. It is a good and intense three hours.

One exercise that I remember in particular was when the teacher brought about 10 very unusual instruments. I couldn’t have named a single one of them. I chose one and the writing began.

First we had to describe the instrument with no emotion. Simple factual description. Next we wrote from the perspective of the instrument, how it was built, what were its feelings and thoughts. Thirdly was a conversation between the instrument and someone who picked it up.

The story I wove was that the instrument was from South Africa and a couple on their honeymoon from England bought it as a souvenir. Once back at home, the couple played it seldom as life and family rolled along, as it tends to do.

The last part of the exercise was to answer the question, “What am I?”, again from the perspective of the instrument. Some in the group were quite literal, while others were a bit more philosophical. I remember really not sure what to write to answer this question, as I certainly had no idea of what the instrument was actually called. I sat for a long time and then this just come into my head and I captured it:

I am a memory, a reminder. Travels to a strange and far away place. My music brings back moments to those who brought me here.

I am a longing. To try something new, to be someone else. Someone who can make the sweet notes come together to form music, to form magic.

I am an object, an article. Set aside and forgotten for years at a time.

I am a distraction, an oddity, meant to show that those who keep me have travelled, were once adventurous.

I am an instrument, born to be played, to touch someone’s heart as they touch my body.

I am wood and metal. Disposable, degradable, one day to return to  the earth that bore me.

I am for you.

I really liked what I wrote, and the words just poured out without any planning or editing. And that is what I love about writing. When something that feels beyond me comes to the page. It makes me feel part of something bigger than myself. And that is a perspective I always appreciate.

A Good Hiker

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Well, I thought that we would be done with the sunnier weather a couple of weeks ago, but the last few days have been bright and clear. So on Sunday we decided to go for a hike.

Markus hadn’t been up this particular mountain before, and when he scouted it on the website, it said 60 minutes. That usually means 60 adult minutes, so often at least 80 kid minutes. Well, up we went. And up. And up. We didn’t check exactly when we left, but it was well over an hour and half hiking. And Annie made it almost the whole way, with only about 10 minutes on Dad’s shoulders. (She is heavy and that just doesn’t really work for a long time anymore!) I was super impressed. She talked, non-stop, for well over 2 hours. But Markus and I were there to spell each other off for the response part of the conversation and it got her up to the top.

There isn’t much Annie likes better than running down a hill. However, after 15 minutes of running and waiting and running and waiting, she did manage to get a blister. There was therefore some complaining back to the car, but I’ll take it for a good workout and a day in the fresh air.

I was so surprised that there were still baby sheep and goats on the hills….aren’t they supposed to be born in Spring? Anyway, they were super cute! As were Markus and Annie, of course.

The Tale of the Fork and the Spoon

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Annie has a great imagination. She can keep her and us entertained for quite some time with her tales. However, sometimes her imagination is just a wee bit too close to the truth and/or she is using her tales to get something she wants. (My mom said I could have chocolate for dinner!) One might even call it lying.

I’ve thought a lot about how to deal with this. I don’t want to squash her fantasy life, which I think is spectacular, but I do need to address the comments from her teacher and her friends that Annie can’t quite be trusted in what she says.

My current strategy is to let Annie tell any tale she wants, but when another person asks, either adult or child, if that is true Annie MUST then say if the story is made up or not. When Annie explains (on questioning) that the story is just in her imagination, I reinforce the behaviour with comments like, “What an interesting story and tell me more!”

I’ve filled the teacher in on my plan and she is going to give it a try at school. We’ll see how it goes.

I do want to be very careful with this, though, as sometimes made up stories are simply awesome.

More Halloween Fun

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

How could I forget the carving of the pumpkin pictures? Oh yeah, because of a canceled pumpkin-carving event on the weekend, plus the busyness of the last couple of days, it actually didn’t get done until after Halloween. Oh well…Markus and Annie had fun.

Annie wanted a mermaid (surprise!) so Markus one-upped the game and carved a Hello Kitty mermaid. It really worked I think.

Halloween (ish) 2011

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

On Sunday the Innsbruck Expat group had a Halloween party at a local restaurant/playground/petting zoo. There weren’t so many kids there Annie’s age, but she still had fun and didn’t want to go home three hours later. She decided to dress up in her fairy costume again (from her birthday), and she sure looked cute!

This place also has donkey/pony rides. We tried the donkey and were reminded why they are considered to by stubborn! After my hands were red and raw from trying to pull that critter by the rope, we switched to the pony. Muuuuch better.

Due to a incident with a too-hard licorice stick about a month ago, Annie had a couple of “wiggle teeth”. The last few days they both came out, giving the Tooth Fairy a reason to visit. Here is a good shot of the new look:

Yesterday Annie’s friend, Emily, also had a Halloween party. The house was amazingly decked out for the occasion. I forgot the camera, but Annie dressed as a very sweet mermaid.

We got to the party and I discovered that Austrians, when they do anything for Halloween at all (which isn’t often), only dress their kids up as witches and ghosts and scary things. Annie didn’t seem to mind, and I just sat back and marvelled at how, after three years, I’m still getting caught out by the cultural differences. Oh well…everyone is used to that crazy Canadian by now.

We are in the throes of deciding if/when to return to Canada, so Annie might be able to experience a real Halloween next year. That would be fun for all of us I think.