Friday, April 25, 2008


...has been witnessed in increasing proportions of the last few weeks, but only quite recently has the temperature cooperated with the trend toward spring in the area. This afternoon, as the entire family was away for a vacation, and I have not yet left for Salzburg, I reveled in the luxury of lying in the sun reading snippets of the introduction to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and dozing in an attempt to dispel the conviction that is being formed in the minds of my guest family that my skin is unable to show tokens contact with the sun. The only expression I can formulate for my gratitude that the sun has returned has already been formulated by Mr. Denver... "sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy; sunshine in my eyes can make me cry; sunshine on the water looks so lovely; sunshine almost always makes me high." There you have it. And now it's stuck in your head.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Abendbrot, the closing meal of open-faced sandwiches was surprisingly entertaining this evening. Of late, Carolin, Felix, and I have been the only consistent attendees with Holger and Sabine making appearances later or even after the fact. Regardless of this fact, the table gets set with three sets of adult dishes on a matching plastic plate and cup from Ikea for Carolin. After a tiring day of swimming and taking the bus back home, Carolin was quite tired and rather crabby. We had had a clash of will a little bit earlier which was magnified by the girl's hunger and exhaustion so I chose the orange set out of the cupboard to put at her place.
Carolin's favorite color when I arrived here ten months ago was pink. This girl has pink possessions up the wazoo. But then, for some unknown reason, a couple of months ago she changed her mind and is now all about orange. So it is not surprising that when I looked up from buttering my bread I was confronted with a tableau of orange. My natural response was to share my observation with Carolin in the hopes that we could be mutually delighted in the abundance of her shade of preference, "look at how much orange there is there. Your plate and cup are orange, you fleece is orange. There's orange everywhere." To which comment she replied in a manner quite understated and serious, "yes, I know. And my underwear is orange too."
A bit later, in a rather rare moment of explicit affection as we were talking about my name, she declared, "you are my only Valerie. There will not be another one, and I don't want another au pair, unless it's Anja again." (Anja was the au pair before me, who stayed with the family for two years, and still comes by the house every couple of weeks).
I just thought I would share with all of you the fact that as difficult as this experience has been for me, especially in my relationship with Carolin, there are still those sweet moments that give me a glimmering of a notion that it has been worthwhile.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


to my friends Colin, Summer and Indy, who welcomed Sabine Selby into their family yesterday. I'm excited to get to meet her and to hear more about how the family grows.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Silver and Gold

Well at least the first half of the phrase is spot on.
They say to, "make new friends, but keep the old..."
Yet I must contend with the rigid appearance of those minereal assignments.

The past several years proved the adage half false.
First glancing showed silver, but second showed platinum;
and that which I thought undoubtedly gold, was only the fool's variety.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Swimming and earphones

Today was the first day of Carolin's new swimming class. She's in the seahorse level at the University here in town. It was so strange walking through the locker room with her, Felix on my arm, and having memories from two very different periods of my life flash through my head. The older of the memories came from the days when I first started learning to swim at BSU in a class with my brother and my cousin. We would all shower in a group, then chatter out teeth across the slippery tiles to stand in the gutter next to the pool and await our turn to jump in to the waiting arms of the instructor and start swimming. Although I was even at a very young age a quite timid kid, I remember looking at the tall strong teachers and thinking they were the most wonderful people in the world, and swimming must be one of life's great accomplishments, because "hey look what I can do!" The other memory was from at least a decade later when I worked as a lifeguard at the YMCA and all the instructors were my buddies. In the break room we would compare notes about the fact that the parents where both horribly meddlesome in trying to tell the instructors how to teach their children how to swim, and appallingly negligent in watching to see that their children did not drown, when they were not in lessons. As far as Carolin's experience went, I think it will take her another session or two to fully warm up to the very sweet teachers Kristina, and Coco, but I imagine that after that she will have a marvelous time with all the other Seepferdchen.
As Carolin was in the pool area, Felix and I were banished to the locker room (they figured out the meddlesome parent problem over here), and I was trying to figure out what to do to keep him entertained. As I had my ipod for me, I decided to entertain him with what is now the ol' mouth-as-improvised-speakers trick, that I learned sitting around with a group of particularly bored Gutenberg students in my living room (i.e. Erin, Molly, Noah, and co) on the night of it's discovery. If you've never tried it, this is a fun experiment in itself as you basically end up using the resonating power of you mouth to amplify the sound coming out of the tiny earbuds, but today it was particularly hilarious because of Felix's reaction. He has heard me sing multiple times every single day, so the boy is very familiar with the range and style of my voice, but he was utterly confounded by the drum, guitar, and male vocals that were issuing from my mouth. I wish I had had a camera along with me so that I could have captured his expression, but just imagine extreme bewilderment on the face of an adorable ten month old, and you've got it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Okay, I do realize that in my very last post I stated that there was nothing big in the works and that all my plans were fluid, but all of that has changed; and quite quickly at that. I have not had a chance to introduce all of you to Carlton Schmidt yet. That is partly because I tend to keep the most personal things in my life quite private, and partly because I just met him last week. I have never been one who believes in "love at first sight," or instantly knowing that this person is "the one," but I have to admit, I fell extremely quickly and hard. We actually met on the train last weekend, and since that time I have gone out with him nearly every evening after I get done working (which makes me very tired in the morning). I'll tell you more about him in a later blog, but here are salient facts you all should know about him. He's 27, a linguistics professor at the university here in Oldenburg, born to a British mother and German father, he has lived in Germany most of his life and... we're engaged. We haven't set a date yet, or really made any other plans, but I'm so excited I couldn't wait to post something. So there you have it.