a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'd give them points for honesty.

Fake customer service really cracks me up. Sometimes I wish they'd just fess up and admit they suck at doing whatever it is they're claiming to do. For instance, if you try to call the clinic for an appointment here, you'd better be prepared to wait 10 minutes on hold before ever talking to a real person--and that's on a good day. Sometimes they'll never answer at all. Are they on another line for half an hour straight? Out to lunch? Left work early? Who knows! But while you're waiting the horrible elevator music will occasionally be interrupted by a cheery recorded voice proclaiming, "Thank you for your patience! Your call is important to us; please stay on the line and a representative will be with you shortly." Personally I think I'd appreciate a little honesty in this circumstance. Maybe something like this...

"Thank you for holding. As if you have much of a choice."

"Your call is an annoyance to us. Please hang up now and save us both the trouble."

"While you're waiting, please feel free to calculate exactly how much this call is costing you."

My favorite is when you've been trying on and off all day to get through to the operator and make an appointment, only to have them FINALLY answer the line, and then they transfer you for a bogus reason to another line--which of course isn't answered, and suddenly you're right back where you began, dazed at how close you came to reaching your goal, only to have your hopes and dreams dashed.

I'm not bitter, though.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just some shots

the b

the b

the b

the b

the b

the b

They're maybe not the best pictures of all time, but it's getting harder and harder to catch her holding still. That's her these days, though--on the go. She's standing on her own for a few seconds now and she's really into dancing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In which I want an iphone so bad I could burst...

I can't believe that it's Sunday and that tomorrow is a week from when Evelyn turned 11 months. All week long I've been meaning to take her "official" month marker pictures, and have not done so. I've been busy, well, making busy work for myself mostly--obsessively planning things that are still too far out of my control to have any sway over (in this case, the PCS move), and yet still I plan. I research, I make excel spreadsheets (I'm not kidding), I organize my thoughts and print things out to put into page protectors and make little binders of crazy organization because it makes me feel like I'm doing something productive. In a way, it does end up being productive. I become really well informed about whatever it is that I'm obsessing about, but if I'm being honest, there's got to be a more streamlined, time-effective way of going about this all.

I've been meaning to post more lately, but I'm still soaking in all of this "having my husband living with me thing." It all seems totally normal now, but in a large part, this blog was a means to express myself in his absense. I came here to chronicle Evie moments for him to see or to chronicle ideas when I didn't have anyone else to act as a sounding board. In all of that I really found that I enjoy writing as an outlet, although I'm still horrified that I'll come back in a few years and cringe at all of the things I write about...that ALWAYS happens. But as trivial, mundane, eccentric, or silly as any of what I write about may be, it helps me to keep moving forward, to serve as another mechanism for organizing my thoughts and motivate me to do more, do better.

In the coming weeks, I'm bound to blabber on about our coming move. We're about 12 weeks out now from moving back to America and are starting to make concrete plans for shipping our belongings home, our travel arrangements, where to stay, what to buy, etc. It's now been over 3 years since I've set foot on American soil and as I make our preparations I've started to have this creeping feeling of apprehension...I think I may have a bit of culture shock upon returning to the states. Of course, I have researched this too:

Honeymoon Phase - During this period the differences between the old and
new culture are seen in a romantic light, wonderful and new. For example, in
moving to a new country, an individual might love the new foods, the pace of the
life, the people's habits, the buildings and so on.

Negotiation Phase - After some time (usually weeks), differences between the old and new culture become apparent and may create anxiety. One may long for food the way it is prepared in one's native country, may find the pace of life too fast or slow,
may find the people's habits annoying, disgusting, and irritating etc. This phase is often marked by mood swings caused by minor issues or without apparent reason. Depression is not uncommon.

Adjustment Phase - Again, after some time (usually 6 – 12 months), one grows accustomed to the new culture and develops routines. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host country no longer feels all that new. One becomes concerned with basic living again, and things become more "normal".

Reverse Culture Shock (a.k.a. Re-entry Shock) - Returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above. The affected person often finds this more surprising and difficult to deal with than the original culture shock. (via Wikipedia, that most reliable of sources)

I love the little casual throw away addendums, "Depression is not uncommon" or about reverse culture shock being "more surprising and difficult to deal with." Sweet. ;) Oh, and I almost forgot--not only is this returning to America from Germany, it's returning to civilian land from army world. I never knew it was different until I crossed over. It's a happy and sad thing, but I'm not sure I quite fit in anymore.

But seriously, Justin and I were watching the previews on a borrowed DVD the other day and I was taken aback. Not only had I not heard of any of the movies (or some of the actors), but there were tons of cultural references being thrown around that simply flew over my head. And then there are the phenomenon I am aware of, but completely detached from--Twilight? Yeah, couldn't care less. Highschool Musical 3? 4? What are they on now? Sorry, I haven't watched television or most movies in over three years. I think there may be some catching up that is possible, but really, I'll just have to get used to having a pop cultural reference gap from the years 2005-2009. I missed those years. Sorry. Ask me something about schnitzel or Belgian beer.

And THEN, (and this is really another post in the making) I've started researching things we'll want to buy on our return to the states. We're going to be in the market for a car, cell phones, a dining table, a washer and dryer, etc. Tons of stuff. These are all normal purchases people in America make from time to time in their lives, but I am totally overwhelmed by all the new cool stuff that is out there. The iPhone?? So what if I haven't used a cell phone regularly since 2005, I need a phone that can voice recognize and answer my questions and has a built in digital compass for when I get lost in the woods. I have such gadget lust, it is hard to describe to you. I vascillate between being totally convinced that this phone will CHANGE MY LIFE to realizing I'm being seduced by the dark side. Not that there's anything wrong with the iPhone--not that I wouldn't love to have one...I'm just thinking it may be overkill to jump straight from training wheels to a corvette. I've been living a very laid back lifestyle over here, not so much by choice as by necessity, but it is what I've become used to.

Anyway, it's all stuff rattling around in my head. If any of you would like to give me product endorsements on things I really should look into getting, please by all means send them my way! ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eleven months old today!!!

Evie B,

This month’s primary nickname has emerged as “B” or “Evie B” or one of several other variations on the theme. “B” is multipurpose—is it for bumblebee? Baby? Beautiful? All of the above. Likewise B, you are developing many new faces, and I can’t soak up enough of you.

Your daddy is home. He came home on the 22nd of May and this is the first of your “birthdays” for which he is present. You and he have adjusted better than I could have dreamed to one another, and although you still prefer me for certain things (nobody does comforting like Momma), your eyes light up when you see your daddy of a morning. As I’m writing this letter to you I’ve just asked him if he can think of additional things about you he’s noticed that I should add—“Umm…just that she’s freakin’ AWESOME.” You cannot imagine how much he loves you. I think even he is surprised by it.

With so many friends now home, we’ve been doing more socializing than we were before, and you are such a trooper. (Nearly) Always polite, quiet, and bright eyed, you charm guests and enjoy watching the grown-ups interact and visit. The only difficulty is because you want to go until you drop; you’re an energizer bunny and it is very difficult to tear you away from the fun for some much needed rest. It’s been unchartered territory in many ways this month, adjusting to a New Old way of life. It is new and sometimes difficult and a bit frustrating at times, but I’ve never been happier in my entire life.

You are growing and learning so much every day. Your father has commented that you’ve gotten noticeably bigger even since he’s been home. You certainly are a handful these days. You are so close to walking now—pulling up is so easy it’s a joke to you now and you cruise from furniture to helping hands to boxes to Chokydar with such rapidity I know your first unassisted steps are near. You are daring in your exploration, and have managed some really impressive feats—using a box to climb on in order to get to things otherwise out of reach on the ottoman, for instance. You are such a clever girl and squeal with a glance over your shoulder, mischievous gleam in your eyes and a sweet smile on your lips when you are called out before doing something out of bounds. You smile and giggle, then turn to scoot off for something else of interest, most likely also out of bounds.

You’re babbling more and more these days, and “mama” and “dada” are frequently heard, if not particularly assigned to the proper parent. I have the very distinct impression, however, that you understand more of what I’m saying. Your facial expression changes not only in response to my tone, but also certain words. It’s incredible and has me suddenly very conscious of everything I say.

With your daddy home, I am now turning my attention to the coming months and the preparation for our return to the states. It promises to be a busy time, squeezing in some last travel opportunities, planning for a trans-Atlantic move, and saying goodbye to friends and the only home you’ve known. I am so grateful for your flexibility and easy going spirit—I think you will take the changes and excitement in stride.

I cannot believe that next month you will be a year old. The time is really slipping by now. I feel as though I blink and another week has been whisked away. We see babies out around post with their parents walking like newborn colts and know you are not far behind. The changes that will come in this next year are sure to happen so fast, it blows my mind.



Sunday, June 14, 2009

Regrets, I Have a Few by Merrin Dungey

I read this article in Parents magazine and got a real kick out of it. It's quite funny, I think mostly because I know exactly what she's talking about. For those of you who are sharing in this crazy trip of motherhood, I think you'll enjoy it too. I don't know if it will hit home with you "not-children-having" types, but if you feel like clicking through, by all means, do. If nothing else, it will provide you an opportunity to sigh and shake your head in an exasperated but amused way, "Oh, those people with babies. It can't be like they make it out to be..."

If in the future you then make the transition from being a "not-children-having type" to one of us, maybe you'll think back on this article, look it up in the archives and go, "OH!!!"

In the meantime, fill your houses with dangerously sharp objects, appreciate your body, take a leisurely shower and a ridiculously long time getting ready in the morning, and sleep in until 10 am for me. Or even 8. Gee, I'd even kill for 7:30...

Still, I wouldn't trade her for the world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not pictures of Evelyn

A lot of people I know are having babies nowadays. I suppose it's just "that time" in our lives. One trend I've noticed, however, is that these first born babies very often look strikingly like their fathers. Somebody jokingly said it was Mother Nature's way of reassuring the husband of his paternity, but whatever the underlying reason, it certainly held true with our first born. Evelyn looks very much like her daddy, so much so that I'm always a little pleased when someone remarks how she looks like me--it's not something I hear often.

A little while ago Justin's grandma mailed me some pictures of Justin as a baby. I was really amused to see them and am really amazed at how much Evie does look like he did as a baby. Ah--I forgot to mention this bit--Justin was also born in Germany while his father was stationed here with the army in '83. And Justin's father was also born in Germany (in the same hospital as Evie actually) while his father was stationed here. Kinda neat that it worked out that way, huh? Well, some of these pictures were taken in Germany. I think Justin traveled back to the states when he was around 3 months. The captions on the back read:

3 mos. taken in Germany

3 mos. taken in Germany

5 mos.

5 mos.
5 1/2 mos.
He is doing pretty good
Raymond Lawrence Watson II (Justin's dad)
5 1/2 mos.
6 mos.
Justin 6 mos.
James 8 years

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

C IS for Cookie

I remember thinking the world had gone too far when I heard that "they" had come out with "A Cookie is a Sometimes Food" to try and teach Cookie Monster that it's not okay to eat a diet comprising entirely of baked goods. The entire point of Cookie Monster is that his diet is wholly unrealistic and therefore an example of what not to do--isn't it obvious that you shouldn't subsist on cookies alone (however much I wish it were possible...)?

I feel a bit insulted sometimes by culture today. I think we miss out on something when the world is too sanitized--when it's not okay to find humor in our flaws and weaknesses and--gasp--even in the flaws and weaknesses of others. As I think about lessons I hope to pass along to Evelyn (for instance--self acceptance, compassion, social tact...) I also am aware that I want her to recognize that there IS such a thing as an undesirable quality. Winning is typically preferred over losing (although there are valuable lessons to be learned from being the loser). Being fit mentally and physically isn't as hard as society might have you believe and while it's good to love yourself as you are, you should also be the best you can be. You should not allow others to make you feel guilty for your success--nerds rule in the end. I'm really going stream of consciousness here and rambling more than making sense--but I think you catch my drift.

I came across this article today on Babble, Parenting Without Fear. The article is along the same lines as another article I had posted previously, The Overparenting Crisis and discusses the fact that parents fear for their children today over things that in generations past were considered safe--even wholesome. Now, I'm not saying that there aren't areas of parenting that have changed over time for the better. You can't argue the statistics that show it's safer for newborns to sleep on their backs rather than tummies to help prevent SIDS (although my mother managed to successfully raise three tummy sleepers...) or that seat belt safety should be taken seriously (we used to ride unbelted as children around the neighborhood...it was a favorite game to go all floppy and allow yourself to roll around the backseat as the car turned...) but since when did we worry that our kids are going to end up with less than 800 on their SAT verbals because in most strollers, they sit facing the street and not their mother? In the article, I discovered that the released versions of "old school" Sesame Street come with A WARNING at the beginning that labels them "for adults only." No joke.

Well, rebel that I am, I think I just may let my child watch (GASP!) Sesame Street. What kind of parent am I???

Oh, and here's a link for "adult eyes only" so you can enjoy some classic Sesame Street moments too.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Everything is tastier


I just had to share my breakfast with you.

For months and months while Justin was gone, I didn't have much of an appetite, or even when I did, I didn't have the energy or time to make wholesome delicious meals. I often found myself eating protein bars, frozen dinners, cereal, mac and cheese, or something equally bland and uninspiring. Not only was it difficult to find time to make "elaborate" meals for myself, it just seemed like more trouble than it was worth to prepare something for only one.

Since he's come home, however, we're taking time to cook together and are eating healthier (and much more delicious!) things. I'm finding new recipes and trying new combinations. Life is literally more flavorful with him here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome Home Ceremony & Celebration

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Welcome Home Ceremony

Yesterday the post officially celebrated the homecoming of 2BCT 1AD's deployed soldiers. Free food, rides, and entertainment are organized and it's a nice end to a long year's journey. We spent the afternoon with friends enjoying food, beer (well, some of us had beer, others had cheerios or diet coke), and good company.

Evie was a trooper. She fell asleep in the stroller on the walk home, but wanted to remain part of the action when we brought the party back to our place. It was a fun day all around.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Maple Oat Nut Scones

Maple Oat Nut Scone

When I was in college, there was a period in which I went to Starbucks on the corner of George Street daily. Every day. I would stop by on my way to class, on my way to rehearsal, or make a special trip out, just to sit there with my coffee and study or read. I absolutely loved it--it was such an indulgence and made me feel so relaxed and happy.

My default drink was just black coffee, although if I were feeling super fancy I might get a chai latte or an caramel apple cider. I knew I was in trouble when my body had become so accustomed to the caffiene in a venti (20 oz) black coffee that I was STILL nodding off in my Wednesday afternoon class. (In my defense, I was an art history major and the majority of my classes took place in the semi dark, looking at slides...still...)

Often I was in a rush and would forgo a meal at the dining hall in favor of getting something to eat at Starbucks with my coffee. (The foolishness of living off of scones, black and white cookies, and coffee cakes shall not be discussed.) One of my FAVORITE things Starbucks offers is their Maple Oat Nut Scone. I'm just a sucker for baked goods and I love a good scone. Especially with icing. And nuts. (To illustrate my love of scones--I told Justin when I knew he was thinking of proposing marriage that if he were to acquire a scone to accompany the engagement ring, it wouldn't hurt his chances of me saying yes.)

Needless to say, over the past 3.5 years, I've been missing my Starbucks. Of course they have Starbucks in Europe, but the closest to us it several (3?) hours away and they don't carry the same kinds of baked goods as American Starbucks. So when I came across this recipe from recipezaar for a Maple Oat Nut Scone, Starbucks style, I knew I HAD to make it.

I wasn't holding out much hope that it would be as good as the real thing, but in fact I think it actually might be. I made a few alterations to the original recipe (linked above) when I made my scones--my variation on Charmie777's scones follows:


For the scones:

1 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned)
1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real
kind, you know NOT in a plastic bottle)
2 1/2 tablespoons
cold butter (small pieces)
1 large egg
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream (I used heavy
1/2-3/4 teaspoon maple extract (all I could find was maple
flavoring, but it worked fine)
2/3 cup (or maybe a bit more) coarsely
chopped pecans

For the maple glaze icing:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
(again, I used maple flavoring)
5 teaspoons maple syrup
add water to acheive desired thickness and consistency

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Using a food processor or blender, finely grind oats.
  • In a mixer, mix flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking powder.
  • Add maple syrup and butter and mix well.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg with the cream and maple extract.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well.
  • Add pecans and mix just to incorporate.
  • Place dough on a floured surface. Knead and pat dough into a 8 to 10 inch
    circle and cut into 6 wedges. (The original calls for 8-10 wedges, but I
    like mine big--like at Starbucks!)
  • Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place wedges on top and bake for 13
    to 15 minutes, or until light brown.
  • Remove scones from oven to wire rack. Let cool about 3 to 5

Mix glaze ingredients until smooth. Adjust the amount of water to get to the
desired consistency. I like the glaze to be rather thick. Spread lots of glaze
over each scone and dry about 15 minutes before serving.

They came out so close to the real thing, I was amazed! If you're a scone fan, you must give these a try!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Granny Progress

My granny buddy

My granny buddy

111 squares

The granny afghan continues to grow. I have 10 rows x 11 rows now, making for 110 little squares. I think when I finish this project it would be wise to do another pattern (maybe a ripple!), but this one is so addicting--it's just like popping popcorn. One more. Just one more. Okay, one more. They make up so quickly and it's so fun deciding which color to add on next. I think I have one instance where there are two squares using the exact same color combination, but I think all the others are unique variations.

I haven't yet decided how big I'm going to make this one. I love blankets and I always seem to make them HUGE. Shouldn't blankets be big enough so that they can cover two cuddling?

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