Archive for August, 2011

Getting around

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

My language class finished on Monday.  Benjamin starts preschool next Monday.  So, next week, our schedule as a family will be completely different.  Between now and then, though, we don’t have any need of our old schedule, we don’t need to be on our new schedule, and we don’t have anything in particular that we need to accomplish.  I’m in schedule limbo.  It’s a weird sensation (especially for me, tightly wound as I am).


Benjamin time

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

It’s inevitable:  having an 11 month old who doesn’t nap means that I don’t have a lot of time to spend one-on-one with B.  When Liam was very little, he napped for a few hours every day, and that gave Benjamin and I time to do things together:  read, color, build things, play.  As Liam has gotten older, his nap has gone away, and now much of my play time with Benjamin is now shared play time with Liam.

Much of the time, he doesn’t mind.  I’ve gotten better at finding things for all of us to do together (like playing ball, which Liam is amazingly adept at) but I miss the one-on-one time with Benjamin, and I think he misses it, too.  Sibling rivalry has started cropping up more and more, although he still loves Liam (he tells me so) and is still very affectionate and caring towards him.  I’m grateful that our reduced playtime hasn’t turned him against Liam entirely, but I know it’s something I need to address before it creates larger resentment.


Erste German class

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Today was the last day of my first German class.  It was definitely a helpful class — I can understand and communicate more than I could before.  Now it’s up to me — I have to study and practice, and I certainly get plenty of opportunities to practice.

We learned to describe time, use numbers, ask questions, introduce ourselves, ask for/interpret directions, order from a menu, spell, tell someone our phone number or address and conjugate regular verbs.  At the end of class today, we had a few minutes for open questions, and I also made sure I learned how to ask “Can I pet your dog?” because Benjamin has been dying to learn how to say that.

Dan had to forgo taking a German class this summer.  We couldn’t take class at the same time, because we have two kids that won’t sit through an hour of adults learning German.  Both sections of the summer class were at the same time, and we figured I was a higher priority because Dan gets to spend the day speaking English and I don’t.  Our plan for the fall, though, is for both of us to take class.  Benjamin starts preschool next week, too, so our schedule for this fall should be pretty interesting.  I want to make it a priority to get myself to a German class, though — I need to stay at least one lesson ahead of Benjamin, at least, and he has age on his side.


Sunday, August 28th, 2011

We’ve been in Austria for nearly 5 months, and there’s been something lacking from our experience so far:  mountains.  Today, we rectified that omission.

We headed out this morning — we were trying for “first thing” this morning, but didn’t actually leave the house until nearly 11.  As it always seems to happen with kids, the preparation and departure took far longer than expected.  We took the U-bahn to the train station and boarded a train (a big, double decker one) that took us an hour and a half southwest of Vienna.  We were a little concerned about two hours of train travel with the kids, but it actually went fine.  The scenery was varied enough to keep B busy for a while, and Liam promptly fell asleep.  I was planning on using my iPhone to entertain B if necessary, but I didn’t need to.  The time passed really quickly.  After we left Vienna, we were quickly in the countryside, and the hills and plains gave way to mountains and valleys — it was beautiful.  The mountains in this area seem to be very large, green and steep . . . less rolling than the Blue Ridge at home, and bigger, too (I think).



Saturday, August 27th, 2011

We’re getting a pretty massive thunderstorm in Vienna right now.  It’s been windy all day (and getting cooler since about 3:00 — woo hoo!) and raining on and off, and then a few minutes ago, the thunder and lightning started.  I don’t know enough about the weather patterns in central Europe to speak with any authority, but I imagine these winds and storms blowing right down from the Alps.  They have that kind of gravitas.

Back at home, everyone is hunkering down for a massive storm of their own:  Hurricane Irene is upon them with flooding, winds and general, low-level panic.  All up and down the east coast of the US, people are evacuating and bracing for intense damage.  In the DC area, they get it all:  hurricanes, massive snowstorms, flooding, tornadoes . . . even earthquakes, as proven earlier this week.  They don’t really specialize in any one kind of disaster.  We got to do all of them from time to time, with neither enough practice nor enough local funding to handle anything perfectly smoothly.  Everyone stocks up on toilet paper, milk and water and stays in.  I’m not criticizing — I think it’s a pretty good plan, and has served us well for everything from hurricanes to “snowmageddon”.

I think I’m safely out of the path of any hurricanes while I’m living here in Vienna, but I’m thinking of everyone at home and hoping that they all stay safe and dry.  I’m sitting here in a big storm, too — I’m with you all in spirit.

Baby teeth

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Being a mom comes with an inexhaustible capacity for worry.  It starts during pregnancy:  in the beginning, you worry if everything is ok.  Once you can feel the baby moving, you worry that he isn’t moving enough, or maybe too much.  Every ache or pain causes concern — it’s the physical equivalent of being in a dark and creaky house after seeing a scary movie:  everything is interpreted as a potential threat.  As the nine months wind to a close you start to desperately wish for the baby to be born, in large part because you feel like it will be so much easier to know if they’re ok once they’re on the outside and you can see them and touch them.


Benjamin and Santa

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Did you know that it’s 4 months until Christmas?  I do, because I have a 3 year old who asks me daily (often more than once) if it’s Christmastime yet, where Santa is and when he’s coming.

I’ve recently started introducing to Benjamin the idea of a Christmas list:  the idea that when he wants something, rather than demanding it today, we write it down and ask Santa for it at Christmas.  The idea seems to be taking root.

He decided, the other day, that he would like a red kite.  I told him we should write it down on our list for Santa.  He told me that he actually wants two things from Santa:  a red kite, and a yellow kite for Liam to chew on.

My 3 year old just asked for 2 things for Christmas, and one of them is for his brother.  I acknowledge that the request for the yellow kite for Liam was probably self-serving (if he has a kite to chew on then he won’t chew on mine), and that his Christmas list will grow in the next few months, but, still, it’s a cute and sweet thought for him to have.

I have great kids.

Nope, still summer

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

A week or so ago, I wrote that things felt chilly here, and that I thought maybe fall was upon us.  Nope.  Still summer.

It has been HOT here this week.  It’s been in the 90s all week, and before everyone from home hits me with, “Bah!  90s?!?  It’s August!  We do that in our sleep!”, I will remind you that no, in fact, you don’t.  When you go to sleep, it’s cool and pleasant — nice temperatures and not too humid, thanks to lovely air conditioning.  Most Americans venture out into the 90+ degree heat for only a few minutes at a time — until they get to their car, until they get into work, or a shop, until they get home.  (Hey, I’m with you — that’s how I like it, too.)  Inside, it’s 72-ish all the time.  If you really want to cool off, hit a movie or the mall — it’s often even colder in there.  (Last summer, when I was pregnant with Liam and suffering in the heat, I used to go to the mall and just walk around in the lovely, cool air conditioning.  Ah!)


Left out of the earthquake

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I’m originally from Maryland, but I’ve lived in Virginia for the past 17 years.  I’m in shock that there was a significant earthquake there today.  There was, a couple of years ago, a very small one in Maryland that a lot of people in my area felt.  I was awake, rocking Benjamin to sleep, and missed it entirely.  From what I understand, this was not something likely to be missed or mistaken for something else.

Now that I’ve made contact with my entire family (either directly, or through someone else) and I know that they’re safe, my mind is splitting in two different directions.  The first is shock and concern.  Hearing that there was a 6-ish earthquake in Virginia is a little like hearing that all the animals escaped from the zoo and took a stroll down main street:  both are, obviously, possible, but not something you really ever expect to see.  Virginians don’t expect to see earthquakes, let alone strong ones, so I worry that construction isn’t up to it.  I hope that injuries are minimal and few.

The second part of me is jealous.  (Yes, jealous.)  It’s not so much that I have I never felt an earthquake, but that I just missed out on a shared experience for the rest of my family and friends.  In the sense of common memory, I just became an “other”.  “Remember that earthquake?”  No, I was in Austria.  I’m a “Virginia Earthquake” outsider.  I feel like I missed out.


Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I have two amazing brothers, both younger than me (although in Peter’s case, not by much).  (I also have three sisters, but this post isn’t about them.)  Growing up, both Peter and Adam drove me crazy – they often terrorized my toys and took immense pleasure in destroying my overly particular way of doing just about everything.  But, even when we were little, and tormenting each other, we were always there for each other, and we all loved each other very much . . . and we all knew it, even when we didn’t want to admit it.