Saturday, January 21, 2012

Back to Real Life...if you can call it that

      Well, here we are again. I'm not entirely sure why I've been putting off writing another blog, but I suspect it has something to do with the relatively unexciting life I've been leading as of late...I think I've been waiting for something to happen so I can blog about it! Naturally, any followup to a blog encompassing Christmas and New Year's (and General Frivolity, etc., etc.) will be a bit of a letdown, and this time of year doesn't really help. I've never been a huge fan of the post-Christmas season; once New Year's and the Rose Parade have come and gone, everything seems to melt into a kind of grey, wet, rainy blur until late February or even March. This entry is turning out to be a rather random assortment of anecdotes, but read on anyway if you feel so inclined.

      I'm informed that this is about the warmest January Munich's had in...a long time, and indeed, even I haven't really been cold. Most temperatures have hovered around 0 Celsius, with the exception of one brutal morning when the kids and I walked to school in -11...burr! But today I awoke to the first genuinely snowy day Munich's had this winter, and it was gorgeous. Though probably not more than about 8 inches or so, it was tremendously exciting for me to see all the cars having to be scooped out from piles of snow and trudge through piles that went up much higher on my leg than accustomed. My family celebrated the new snow by building a snowman in the back garden and going to the nearby park to sled down the hill there (I went too! Anne took some I'm sure terrible photos of me sledding...if she sends them to me tonight I will include them. Oh, the lengths I go to to keep you entertained...). Here's the cutie backyard snowman (which, incidentally, Anne texted me about, referring to the "sexy Showmaster in garden..." good one, autocorrect).

Complete with buckethat, scarf, and skis. His nose fell off.

Me almost dying. Cliona's in the background in pink, Kilian in red, and Michael in brown next to Cliona.

      Cliona officially gave her Schnuller (pacifier) to the Schnullerfee (pacifier fairy) about ten days ago. Do tell me if there's any kind of similar tradition in the US: the idea is that when the child is ready, he/se leaves all the pacifiers in a basket at the hearth, and the Schnullerfee comes in the night and takes them away to give to other children and leaves a present in exchange. Kilian is of the opinion that the Schnullerfee is the same person as the tooth fairy, which would rather make sense; taking pacifiers doesn't seem like it would provide nearly enough work. Kilian also was responsible for a lot of propaganda in the week preceding the Schnullerfee's visit, constantly reminding Cliona that HE got a bike from the Schnullerfee and maybe she would too. (She didn't. Ouch).

      She's done pretty well without it, though I feel like she's done a little bit of regressing since. She has lately been insisting on help with going to the bathroom, putting shoes on, and making me brush her teeth for her. I've fallen into the age-old trick of telling her sadly that she's behaving like a two-year-old, and if she weren't being so frustrating it would be heartbreaking to see her little face as she frantically and hysterically yells "Nein, ich bin so!" and holds up three fingers. She also didn't realize until I explained it about two days ago that three and drei were the same age--no wonder she's been mad at me everytime I say something about her being three.  She also, when picked up from kindergarten, gives her normal scream of delight upon seeing me then remembers she's being ornery, collapses in fetal position on the floor, and starts screaming "Ich will hier bleiben!!!" (I want to stay here!)

      Kilian had his big birthday number 6 last Tuesday and of course received all sorts of cool presents. Cliona spent most of his birthday crying (the trauma of not being able to be the center of attention), but we muddled through somehow. With the birthday has also arrived the attitude of a thirteen-year-old, but I'm hoping that doesn't stay for long. He's often given to sweeping statements about how unfair I am ("My sister sits always alone on your knee and never me! My sister is every time first on the swings!"). None of which are true, I might add. When I made him get off the swings at the park a couple days ago because Cliona had asked to be first and then Kilian stole the swing, he sat there the rest of the time giving me the most evil look of death you could possibly imagine. Fortunately I am well acquainted with how to combat said look: ignore it. Indifference is a remarkably powerful tool when it comes to dealing with children.

Big six-year-old boy!

      Don't get me wrong, I adore my kiddos, but this was one of those weeks when we just really rubbed each other the wrong way. Monday Cliona woke up from a nap, started crying, which swiftly progressed to sobbing/howling, which continues for an hour and a half. When I went to bed that night the sound was still ringing in my ears. Mealtimes are also generally quite a challenge.  Kids started out as fairly picky eaters and lately have taken that to the next level and beyond...basically, unless it's pizza or pasta, dinner will involve tears and threats and maybe even throwing food. Kilian angrily told me the other night that he "hates salty food." Oh really, Kilian? Can you name me something salty? "You can't taste the salt in pizza." Oh ho ho, my friend, you lie. Cliona likes to tell me she's finished eating after licking off her spoon. She puts anorexics to shame. Given that they both weigh less than they should for their respective ages, there's only so much I can do as far as threats, but they're not having pasta every night of the week either...if anyone has brilliant kid food suggestions, I would love to hear them.

      Some recent Cliona conversational highlights:

  • On the way home from dancing, she bursts into tears and says tragically, "Ich will einkaufen gehen!" (I want to go shopping!) They learn early these days. Though upon being asked what she wanted to buy, the only thing she could think of was fish fingers.
  • On the way to the park, she bursts into tears (sensing a pattern?) and announces, "Wir haben keine Süßigkeiten mitgebracht!" (We didn't bring any sweets!) For the record, never once have we brought candy to the park. I am not an au pair who resorts to using sweets to evoke good behavior. Usually. 
  • When I took Kilian's birthday present away from her (an intricate set of rods and spheres you put together in geometric shapes (harder than it sounds), which Cliona's only interest in involves dumping the entire case on the floor), she tearfully told me that she loves me not. Kilian kindly translated that into a confession of hatred. Thanks, Kilian.
  • On the way home from the kindergarten:
         Me: Did you play with Victoria today?
         Cliona: Nein, sie ist im Urlaub (she's on vacation).
         Me: Where did she go? Im Spanien? (Spain)
         Cliona: NEIN, im URLAUB!

      Children aside, everything's been good, if a little quiet, on my end too. A long dry spell between Christmas and payday led me to find a lot of low-income activities, like visiting the Neue Pinakothek, one of music's many art museums, this one featuring art of the 19th century (with an impressive collection of Monet and Van Gogh, particularly); Schloss Nymphenburg, the former summer palace of the rulers of Bavaria, complete with massive gardens (490 acres), lakes, and impressive selection of fowl;  and a lot of sitting in cafes drinking cappuccinos and catching up on reading and German studying. I've become quite fond of the European manner of handling cafe guests, namely that unless you ask for attention, they leave you entirely alone. I can't imagine any coffee shop in the states letting me get away with ordering nothing but a hot chocolate and taking up a seat for two or three hours. 

      I've recently started doing some SprachDuo meetings. Quite a cool idea really--you meet up with someone who is a native speaker of the language you want to learn who wants to study the language you speak fluently. (There must be a better way to phrase that.) I've had about five meetings thus far with native German speakers, mostly one fellow named Andreas (who, to be honest, speaks English nearly as fluently as I do, but seems to have fun teaching me). It's very fun to have someone to practice talking to, and I'm quite enjoying myself! I can actually muddle most of the way through whatever I'm trying to say, even if it isn't always grammatically correct, but it's a start!

      Choir has started back up, and my choir director kindly acquiesced to my request (I will never be able to use those words separately...damn you, Pirates of the Caribbean!) to bring in Palestrina's Tu es Petrus so we could sing through it once. Brings back fond memories of that amazing recital in the Sistine Chapel my freshman year of college! We're currently working on the Messa Sicut Lilium as well as the Canticum Canticorum for upcoming concerts, and planning a Probewochenende (rehearsal weekend/retreat) for the end of April. Sounds good to me!  

     And to be honest, that's about it on my end! Compared to the excitement on Christmas, it's been a little weird adjusting to the slowness of it all again, but it's getting figured out. Hopefully by the next post I will have more adventures to report. Week ahead seems not too thrilling: two nights of babysitting, a birthday party with Cliona, choir rehearsal as usual, but we shall see! Hopefully some more fun snow will come my way.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Kilian and Cliona! Fun anecdotes--hope they have adjusted to winter and to their regular routine post-holiday. Glad you are enjoying your SprachDuo meetings -- what a great way to meet up with someone and to practice languages! I continue to be so amazed and impressed at your ability to live in a foreign country, speak a foreign language, get out there and try all sorts of new adventures and meet new people. I am proud of you!!!