I Did It!

Yeah for me! NaBloPoMo is done, and I made it through posting every day of November.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Internet. Internet, without you, my life would be far less…and more. Less educational, as you are always a source of news, facts, German translations and odd tidbits of knowledge. Less of a mother, as you provide me with endless craft ideas, parenting tips and inspirational messages. Less of a community member, as the blogs I read from friends and strangers alike make me feel connected to people throughout the world. And far, far more lonely. I can’t even imaging what this crazy adventure to another country would be like without Skyping and blogging and emailing and Facebooking with the people who are most important to me. Impossible, I suspect.

So even though it is so long for now, you’ll be hearing from me soon.

Almost There

Only one more day (after today) to post for NaBloPoMo. This is my second attempt and, at this point, I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it.

I decided to do this as I needed some structure in my life. I was coming off of a very low period over the last few months and believe the adage that sometimes you have to force yourself to act in the way you want to be, and then hopefully your emotions will catch up.

And I’m happy to report that this has pretty much worked in my case. Of course, there is no empirical proof or statistical analysis for how much writing here has lifted my spirits, but I’m pretty confident that it has helped. (Except for yesterday…but we’ll just ignore that minor blip.)

I also realize that overall I’m fairly positive on my blog. When I look back I tend to capture the good things in life and focus on moments I’m grateful for. I do of course sometimes write about the dark times, but my brain is extremely talented at remembering all of the negative things that ever happened in my life…like, since preschool…so this is a welcome balance to my internal dialogue.

I’ve loved the comments, both on the blog and in personal emails, and know that there are a few of you out there who check in every day knowing there will be a post. Nice not to disappoint! And I really love doing this with other people, both those I know and those I don’t. It helps me feel a sense of community in this (my?) increasingly fractured world.

Thanks for joining the journey everyone. December may be a little light with the posts as I take some of the pressure off of blogging and transfer it to card-making. But come next November, I pretty sure I’ll be doing this again.

Why Should the Kids Have All the Fun?

I’ve discovered a new craft. Actually, it is just an extension of paper crafting which I have been doing for a while. Ready for it….adult colouring!

It all begins with a Digital Stamp, which is really just a digital image (clip art?) that someone has designed. You can get them for free or buy them for a few dollars. They are jpeg or png files, so after downloading you can put them in Word or Photoshop to manipulate and then print them.

Then the colouring begins! Digital stamps can be coloured digitally of course, but the fun for me is colouring with pencil crayons, markers, paints, ink, chalk, or even crayons! Cut them out, attach them to a card, and good to go.

I’m still new at this, so the best I’ve come up with is very basic and monotone. Here is an example:

(I can’t find the maker of this image at the moment, but will fill it in when I can. Crediting artists is very important.)

However, when you become really good (or are just naturally talented), the colouring can have shading and multiple hues and look like this:

(See Pattie’s blog for image credits.)

Of course you can spend absolutely oodles of money on this, especially on the special Copic markers that were originally designed for Manga comics. But I’m making due what I can find amongst children’s crafts supplies and am still really enjoying it. I actually don’t remember enjoying colouring all that much as a kid, so maybe that’s why I’m so excited about it now.

A couple of months ago I joined a network for digital stamp enthusiast called Crafter’s Digital Art Center. After a call for business-minded crafters, I’m now on their board of advisers for the next few months. It is fun and keeps my brain busy. I feel like I’m on the other side of the AbeBooks Advisory Group all over again. Hilarious! But our group is a lot less cranky.

The other great thing is that this is something Annie and I do together. We look through all my saved images and I print them full size for her to colour, while I do a smaller version for me to make cards with. Excellent bonding time for sure.

And I was shocked how big the “industry” is. Even the small number of sites that I’m aware of have over 100,000 members combined. Now I’m sure there is lots of duplication there, but still. At first I was surprised that people devote so much effort to this, but I guess in terms of your entertainment time, it is a great deal better for the mind and spirit than watching another reality TV show. And now that I’m addicted, it feels totally normal.

I’ve even done a tiny bit of colouring on my Christmas cards (as with every year, I use the term “Christmas” loosely in terms of when you will see them in you mailbox), but since there are so many I didn’t go crazy.

I wonder what is next. Rediscovering rug hooking? Let’s hope not.

A Taste of the Other Side: Day Two

That was a great day. O.K. I’m exhausted and I have to sort of force myself to feel its greatness, but still.

The day started well, with Annie occupied in her room until 7:30. (I wish I could say she was reading books, but really I left her dvd player, a snack and water up there to tempt her to not come down the very loud and creaky stairs.)

The morning was spectacular, with the sun reflecting off the mountain snow. Bright and not too cold (about -2C), I became committed to spending a good part of the day outside. I picked up Chloe and Julian around 10, and spent a good while making sure everyone was warmly dressed. There wasn’t enough snow to bother driving somewhere farther away to slide, so I took us all to the big park near the city center. There is a small hill there, with still enough snow that the girls could use their plastic sliders! They went up and down for about half an hour while Julian ran and rolled around until pretty much all of the dusting of snow was gone. Then we played for another hour in the rest of the playground.

Next up was lunch and hot chocolate at the cafe. A round of bathroom breaks and diaper changes, and off we went to the Christmas Market. Julian fell asleep on the way in the stroller, which made things quite a bit easier. The girls went on a pony ride, two rounds on the carousel, ate a treat and then watched the puppet show. After sitting for half an hour at the Kasperltheatre, though, they were very cold and some tears ensued. We rushed to the car and all was well.

At home I guess they needed some alone time. I read to Julian, Chloe coloured, and Annie put on a dress and fairy wings and danced to some music. Dinner was uninspired but eaten, and then Margriet came to pick her two up.

I enjoyed the day and love that I was able to help out a very appreciative friend. Now I’m off to tuck a tired Annie into her bed. I’m pretty sure I won’t be far behind.

A Taste of the Other Side

My friends Margriet and Philip were moving house today, so I offered to take their children Chloe, 4, (often discussed on this blog, as she is Annie’s best friend) and Julian, 2. I picked up the three of them from school and we made our way home.

Mostly it was quite fun. At one point I could really see the appeal of a gaggle of kids filling up the house. However, after a few hours my patience was starting to wear a wee bit thin, even though the kids were being great. But regular kid great…playing, screaming, dancing, making a mess, asking for something then not eating it. It was so calm in the car after I dropped them off. Annie was doing her usual non-stop chatting and I just listened and interjected when appropriate and relaxed.

I have all three for the whole day tomorrow again. I’m hoping that the snow we had today sticks so I can find a hill and we can go sliding. That will wear them out nicely I think. As well as keep them relatively contained. You can only run so fast in a bulky snow suit.

To all those mothers that have more kids than hands (like my own), I salute you.

Learning All the Tricks

We were at cousin Lili’s birthday dinner tonight. She had asked for a Friendship Book so we gave her one covered with horses, which are her current passion. All of the children share around Friendship Books here in Austria, writing about likes and dislikes and favourite things. It has been a tradition for decades.

It was a very nice, relaxing time with the family.We had a casual dinner of different fishes on toast, and Lili really liked her gift.

I also learned two interesting things about Annie. One is that she likes smoked salmon. This makes me very happy as, although high in sodium, it is very good for Omega-3 oils. More salmon means less trying to remember to add the flax to Annie’s cereal in the morning.

The other concerns a story I already told on this blog about how Annie pushed me out the door the night she slept over at Oma’s and Opa’s. I was a proud Mama, thinking how independent my girl was and how much she loved and wanted to play with her grandparents. So today I got the real story. The second that she had shuffled Markus and I out the door, she looked up at Opa with her big blue eyes and said, “May I have an ice-cream?” She knows I’m somewhat restrictive about sugar (compared to Austrian’s anyway, who must have the highest consumption of sweets in the world) and wasn’t going to risk asking this while I was in the room. That girl. It is going to be a fine line I will need to teach her to walk between getting what you want out of the world, which is a great thing, and manipulating the people around you. Not so great. I think I have some work ahead on this.


After 24 days of daily posting, I don’t seem to have much to say today. Plus I’ve already had a healthy serving of Bailey’s, which doesn’t help the creativity.

I think I’ll just hand in one of my “this post sucks” cards (how many of those do I get??) and go to the office and work away on Christmas cards.


National Treasure

I almost forgot to post today and then sitting here I was thinking, “I got nothin’.” So I started going through what I had done today, and one of my favourite parts was listing to the CBC. I’m sure I’ve gone on (and on) about this before, but it’s my blog so I’ll rave if I want to.

I love the CBC. Love it! I can’t imagine that there is a better radio station anywhere. At least not in English. I’ve listened to BBC and NPR, and the CBC kicks their butts. Or at least I think so. Perhaps being Canadian sways me, as I get the jokes and savour the nuances. But really, I just love the incredible variety of things talked about.

Most days I’ll fire up Q, the podcast, and listen to Jian Ghomeshi, who is perhaps the best interviewer of our time. Because of the time change, I also occasionally listen to the Maritime radio live (the first Canadian broadcast of the day, of course.) Makes me wish I had made it that far east. Someday.

I’ll listen to any program if the topic at all interests me: Quirks and Quarks, DNTO, Canada Reads, the Massey Lectures.

Today I was listening to Tapestry, which is another favourite. I’m a spiritual person with undefined religious affiliations, and I enjoy pondering what I personally believe about the spiritual topics being discussed.

The podcast I played was a listener-request for the interview with Rabbi Harold Kushner, who wrote the book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” a story written in large part to address his experience with his son’s death. Rabbi Kushner was funny in a sweet way, obviously wise, very humble and imperfectly human. His conversation this time with Mary Hynes was about his new books, “Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World.”

Being someone how actually has the opposite problem, in that I too-often dive head-first into life without checking out how deep the water is, I was interested in how this would apply to me.

There were many things that struck me about the discussion, particularly about the fear of failure or the fear of success. Perhaps the point that stuck with me most was that Kuschner believes there is not success or failure, there is success or forgiveness. He has seen time and time again people who believe they have failed being forgiven by the people who love them. Of course, this isn’t always true, especially for individuals who don’t achieve what they were hoping to in a very public way. However, I think this philosophy is very true in my life. The people around me for the most part don’t judge me or hold it against me when something falls apart. They value that I tried and moved on. And I tend to provide the same support with the family and friends in my life. What I’m really bad at is forgiving myself when I “fail”. This program today was a great reminder to do less judging and more forgiving, both to those people in my life but mostly myself. It is a tough lesson to learn.

*On that personal note, it probably is a good time to mention that I’m pulling this blog off the search engines for a while. I’m going to make more of an effort to find work, and first interviews are like first dates…you don’t want to give your whole life story during the initial meeting. So if you are one of those folks who types website addresses into the Google search box instead of the top URL address bar, you might have to change your ways for a few weeks. Email me if you are having trouble and I’ll walk you through it.

Simply Free

*Update: So yeah, that didn’t happen. When we got to the concert our contact was frantically on the phone, looking very worried. Apparently the tickets weren’t at the box office and, to make a longish story shortish, we didn’t end up going. Markus and I caught a movie instead. But Annie gets to spend an overnight with Opa, which is pretty super in her books. She actually was literally pushing us out the door “go, go, go”. She grabbed my coat, pulled me into the hall, and then shut the door on us. Love you too sweetie. Separation anxiety is certainly not an issue in this family.

A regular at the cafe gave us free tickets to a concert tonight. A Simply Red concert. Simply Red? I can’t believe they are still performing.

Here they are, for your ’80’s viewing pleasure. (Love the hair!!)

Welcoming Winter

First day of winter skating! It was lots of fun with Annie and friends Chloe and 2-year-old Julian. So sweet.

Suiting up


Annie only needed a bit of help before she was on her own like last year.

Chloe had a great time too!
I don't have bad posture...I'm holding hands with wee Julian
How cute is this little guy? Markus and I are constantly threatening to steal him away.
How cute is this little guy? Markus and I are constantly threatening to steal him away.

Hopefully coming soon…tobogganing!