Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Incident Report

I was pretty excited this morning when I dropped Evans off for school and had minimal drama.  The crying has all but stopped except for that split second when he realizes I'm sneaking towards the door.  I am really starting to like his teachers and I feel a hundred times more comfortable leaving him there then I did where he was going before he started this program.  I also think they baby him a bit which I have no problem with since he is BY FAR the youngest child in the class.  Besides, who couldn't love that face?  (I'm just kidding, slap me, I really hate it when parents say crap like that).  Anyways.  This morning after school drop off I headed to a MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) meeting that I have just started going to every other week.  I always try and keep my phone on me when E is at school just in case they need to reach me for anything.  We had an instance in Atlanta when I had to pick him up early because he had a fever and I just like to be reachable when he is not with me.  When I checked my phone part way thru this meeting I was shocked to see that I had a missed call and message from Evans' school.  Here is exactly what the message said:

"Hi, Mrs. Deaner, this is blah mer mah, I'm calling from building #*$, where you came in to see the Director for your son's, Richard's, his, Richard, errr, or Evans you call him, at the #*$.  Just to let you know we are obliged to call when there is a hit injury.  And it's NOT a problem we just wanted to let you know that while he was playing, a friend mistook one of their toys, and it flew towards his head and he has a, err, little red swelling there, but he's okay, it's going away, and they put an ice pack there, cleaned it up and gave him TLC of course they will let you know, but this is just to let you know, this is a courtesy call and if you need to call to find out anything further please call us at XXXXXX and we will get more information to you or if you would like to see him.  Otherwise he seems to be doing fine. Thank you very much.  Bye."

Now seriously, I just sat here and transcribed this message word for word and I cannot stop laughing.  I can't say that I found it as entertaining when I first listened to it because I was slightly more concerned in the moment for my potentially concussed child.  Which is y'alls favorite part?  Personally I like how the other child, the "friend", "mistook" one of the toys and it "flew towards Evans' head".  Hmmmm.

When I arrived to pick Evans up (and no, I did not feel the need to see him, frankly I probably wouldn't have even put ice on it myself) he was perfectly happy and playing though he did point to his head multiple times.  The teacher was VERY concerned about the "incident" and asked if I could please review the INCIDENT REPORT!  Waaa?  An incident report?  These kids are two years old!  I mean, I don't find it funny that my son was hurt but when the teacher told me that Evans was minding his own business, reading a book when a little girl hurled a large hard plastic PONY at his head and that he "DIDN'T HAVE A CHANCE", I had to chuckle a bit.  I mean, I'm sorry, that's funny.  Poor kid neva. hada. chance.

Just out of curiosity as I was signing all the "hit incident reports" (which I really hope I can get a copy of for the baby book) I asked what would happen to the actual "perp" of the hit incident.  I was vaguely aware that they don't punish the children with timeouts and I was genuinely interested.  I did not expect the teacher to respond with "oh, we do not tolerate this sort of behavior and if it happens again, she will be suspended".  SUSPENDED?  Are you kidding me?  I know I wasn't there and that perhaps there have been other "assaults by equine" but suspension of a two year old from part time toddler preschool seemed a little extreme.  I mean, it could be Evans attacking with that same pony next week and I would DIE if my child got suspended from school for something like that.  Or, I might think it is funny.......until I have to stay home with him all day long!  :)

Bottom line, I'm pretty laid back about things like this.  I would never demand to know which child it was that hit him or complain that something more should have been done.  I was never upset and I was mildly amused.  I am definitely relieved that E was not the "hitter" and I don't think he will be suffering any long term negative effects from the hit incident.  If push ever came to shove I think Evans could handle himself and if not, I might just suggest that he start wearing that plastic football helmut again.  Can't wait for school on Friday!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Perfect Time of Year

What can I say?  September does not get any prettier than in the Rheingau Region of Germany.  If you can get past the dread of the impending winter and fear of spending the next seven months with no sunshine, it is hard not to enjoy yourself.  With as much as I moan and groan about the weather from November to May, I have to say that September makes it worth the wait (someone please remind me I admitted this when I crank up the gripe come January).  So, what makes even the prettiest September weather better?  Only a visit from Buddy and Susie!
 My parents arrived on the 14th and Evans could not have been happier, though you cannot tell from this picture, he was ticked about having to stay in the stroller.  We took a Sunday afternoon trip to Rudesheim where we rode the cable cars over the vineyards to take in this view.
Evans didn't even glance back at Deaner and me as he chose just who his favorite people were.
We ate dinner out most nights in fabulous wineries with food to match.
We took a day trip to Koln, Germany since my parents had never been.  I probably should have checked the forecast for the day before wearing a dress but I'll choose not to think about that any longer (really, have I learned nothing living in this sort of climate?).
Evans had a jacket, he just refused to wear it at first.  At least you can tell what an awesome time he was having.  :)
Cologne Cathedral from the bridge.  You can pretty much guess the temperature.
The bridge behind us in the above picture has become one of the better known places for "lovers" (shudder....I hate that word) to leave a "love lock".
These engraved padlocks are locked to the bridge to symbolize "everlasting love" (though good luck finding yours if you decide it important enough to ever remove this gesture).  Couples attach the locks and then throw the keys over the bridge and into the Rhein River.  Enough to keep your love alive forever, no?  :)
I promise I am not being cynical.  I actually spent the greater part of our afternoon attempting to find a place where I could have a "Deaner hearts Gleatie" lock engraved to bring home to my husband thus ensuring another another visit to Cologne in the near future.  Would you believe, that despite all these hundreds of thousands of locks, I couldn't find one?  I know, I know.  Ridiculous.  While dining here....
a restaurant where I had a clear view of the bridge, I asked the waitress for a quick place to grab a lock and have it engraved.  The conversation went along these lines:

Me: "Where is the easiest place around here were I can buy a lock for the bridge and have it engraved? (I want to demonstrate just how clear I was).

Waitress: "What?  A lock?  What for?"

Me: "You know, a padlock, to lock on to the bridge over there"?

Waitress: "A lock on the bridge"?

Me: (patiently) "Yes, like one of the hundreds of thousands already locked to that bridge"?

Waitress: "Hmmmm, I have never heard of this, I will have to ask someone else".

Ok, I was a bit floored.  She returned to tell me that I would have to order one from the internet.  WTF?  In all fairness, I must admit, she ended up being more right than wrong.  While I did ask one more person she directed me to a locksmith who charged 1 euro per letter and was closed for lunch until 3pm.  I still feel like I must be missing something here but that is where the search ended for the day.  If there were vendors somewhere in Cologne busy etching hundreds of locks a day for outrageous prices, I did not find them.  I am, however, considering a new career.

We spent most afternoons with Buddy and Susie down at our favorite place on earth, the wine stand.

I always have plenty of bribes up my sleeve to keep Evans in one place but more often then not, this is how he ends up spending his time at the wine stand.
All that running around made for some pretty sound sleeping (by all).

We were blessed with a week of great weather, great food, great company and good wine.  Every year my mom, my sister and myself host a cocktail party around Christmas for all of our lady friends and each year we have served this Sekt from Biebrich.  We found it at Trader Joe's one year and had to try it considering this castle is only about 3 miles from my house.
I found it only appropriate to show them the real castle on this trip.  You know, so it's really authentic when we serve it this year.
I can't quite decide why Evans always looks so happy in his stroller!  We were forced to leave about 5 minutes after this picture due to a screaming tantrum.  Anyways, I've come to the end of my pictures for the most part.  Or at least the part to which I am willing to continue uploading them.  It has rained every single day since Buddy and Susie left, it's gotten chilly and we are basically suffering from B&S withdrawal.  I'll leave y'all with this picture and a promise for more because we have more Grannies arriving on Friday!  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Salsa Verde Enchiladas

Every once in awhile I come across a recipe that immediately becomes part of our family's permanent dinner rotations.  I have discovered several new recipes lately that are well worth sharing but I wanted to start off with one of our staples.  Anyone else love enchiladas but feel like they are the biggest pain in the a#* to make?  I have a recipe that I used to pull out every now and then because it was AWESOME but it took me all afternoon and every single pot and pan in my kitchen.  These salsa verde enchiladas are not only easier than your run of the mill enchiladas, they taste better AND did I mention they were weight watchers?? (if you follow the recipe).  :)  Deaner and I enjoy these at least once a week, typically on a Thursday, because I can make them in the afternoon and set them aside for later (if we are forced to go by the wine stand).  While the actual baking of chicken can take up to an hour I try to start them when E goes down for a nap and I know that many people roast chickens as meals and use the left overs for their shredded chicken.  SO, without further ado, I give you the most tasty, most incredible and toddler consuming chicken enchiladas.

1.  Bake your chicken.  For Deaner and I only, I use three HALF chicken breasts because we are lucky enough to have these at the commissary.  However, in the past month or so, Evans has decided to horn in on this deal and gobble down his fair share of dinner, so I've upped the recipe to 3 full chicken breasts.  Place raw chicken in baking dish and cover completely with chicken broth.  You can also use salted water but to each his own.  If I remember the broth at the store, great, if not, oh well.  Bake for @ 45 minutes on 350 degrees F or 177 degrees C.

2.  When chicken is done baking pull out of broth and set on cutting board.  Shred with two forks, removing all the gross gizzardy veiny chicken parts.  Place shredded chicken in a mixing bowl.

3.  Mix shredded chicken with half a jar of Ortega Salsa Verde salsa and mix well.  Enough to make shredded chicken wet.
4.  Add 1-2 cups of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese.  Weight watchers probably calls for only 1 cup.  I didn't claim I was following the WW recipe to a tee!  Deaner prefers his enchiladas without cheese (obnoxious) so I typically make his before adding a large pile of cheese to mine.
(sorry, couldn't get the picture to rotate)

5.  Use soft tortilla TACO shells to wrap chicken into enchiladas.  I like to use taco size tortillas because they are more manageable however you can use fajita size.  Burrito sized are just too big, sorry.  Place in baking dish once rolled.  

6.  Spoon remaining Ortega salsa verda on top of enchiladas.  Top with shredded Monterrey Jack.  
7.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling (beware.....if your husband is weird and doesn't like cheese, his might bake faster).  

Serve with tortilla chips and extra salsa is desired.  I apologize for not having a picture of the finished product but they were gone too quickly.  I cannot stress how much my toddler loves these.  I have started doubling my recipe and individually freezing the extras for Evans to eat during the week.  They are so easy to pull out of the freezer and warm up in the oven.  Add a cold beer and you have the perfect late in the week meal.  Great company food as well as I've never met anyone that doesn't love there.  Happy Eating!!  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Morning Time Blues

I have to say that this whole school thing is taking some getting used to.  Evans is not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination.  When I picked him up from school on Friday his teacher reported that he had been a little whiny but not as bad as he had been on Wednesday (his first day).  Hmmm, I found this interesting because no one ever told me he was whiny on Wednesday, rather that he was "very funny".  And I don't find his whining very funny.  When I arrived on Friday his classmates were all sitting around a little table doing some activity while Evans was being rocked on the teacher's lap.  Not a great sign.  This morning we got out of the house on time only to be stuck in awful traffic.  At this time of year, at this particular time of day, the sun is brutal on the Autobahn.  Even Evans can't take it and is forced to wear his shades on the way to school so that he can watch The Lion King in the car.  As you can see, we have to eat breakfast and have our morning juice in the car on the way to school.  This morning Evans cried when I dropped him off, as usual, but I'm pretty used to that.  When I arrived to pick him up, I was pleasantly surprised to find him sitting around the table with everyone else, coloring a picture, while wearing a plastic football helmet, complete with face mask.  When I reported this to Deaner he asked "Well, was everyone else wearing a football helmet too"?  Umm, no honey.  But whatever!  He wasn't crying, he wasn't waiting for me by the door and he wasn't being rocked on the teacher's lap like a baby.  I'd say this was an improvement!  I wish I had my cell phone with me to take a picture.  Looking forward to Wednesday!

We have not had a ton else going on in our house.  I would like to ask that if I ever mention any plans to buy Evans another mylar balloon that someone please stop me.  We bought a great Thomas mylar balloon for Evans' birthday party three weekends ago and I have to say, it has been the source of much angst and frustration around here lately.  How does the dang thing still have helium in it?  Evans has become completely and utterly obsessed with his "boon".  Boons are a great idea in most homes.  Not in homes where the ceilings reach 20 ft, at least.  Deaner and I have made more trips up the stairs in the past two weeks to fetch the "boon" off the ceiling of the second floor that I should have lost 5 pounds by now.  I extended the string on it once so that I wouldn't have to jump when it was on our regular height kitchen ceiling and yesterday it dawned on me that I should have extended it further a long time ago.  After about 5 trips up the stairs I'd had it.
Now Thomas can be pulled down from the ceiling even by Evans.  Frankly, I'm thinking Thomas might have some sort of horrible accident tonight after bedtime so that we don't have to have anymore boon anxiety.  When E woke up from his nap this afternoon the first thing I could hear coming from his room was "booooooooooooon".  To think that Deaner and I actually discussed taking it to the base and getting it re-inflated.  While I'm on a semi similar subject, beach balls make horrible toys.  I think it might disappear too.  

Anyways, I'm off to try and make my house look presentable before my husband gets home from work.    It's hot again today in Germany and isn't doing my for my productivity.  Maybe I'll just read.......

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Luxury Beyond Words

I would like to ask for a moment of silence.  Behold the sight.  The most decadent of luxuries to ever enter my German home (well, that could be debatable).  What does this robot like space age looking machine do?  It produces ice cubes.  Those little nuggets of frozen water that cool your drink with a frosty deliciousness.  The same ones that everyone in America takes for granted.  After nearly four years abroad it is surprising the small things that you miss.  A couple weeks ago I dropped in on my friend Elysia to borrow some party supplies and she asked if I could stay for a drink.  Considering it was only 10am we stuck to coffee and diet Coke but the most magnificent thing occurred.  She served me my diet coke with ice.  I hardly notice it anymore that nowhere in Europe serves soft drinks on ice but I did notice how great it was on this particular day.  It was hard to imagine what life would be like if you could just reach into your freezer and grab some ice cubes or better yet (and TOTALLY unheard of) place your glass against the ice dispenser on the outside of the fridge door.  What if you could have ice without having to fill up ice trays with water, walk slowly across the kitchen and lower into a freezer drawer (whatever German thought that up was half smart) while dodging a child hurdling themselves at you with G force and then being able to gently shut said "drawer" without spilling water on everything else in the freezer?  Well y'all, all my dreams are about to come true.  While Deaner's dad was in town for Evans' birthday I happened to lament about this tragedy of European society.  And this is what showed up on my doorstep this afternoon.  Happy 32nd Birthday to ME!!  My very own Palm Springs Ice Machine.  This tiny guy can produce up to 30 pounds of ice a day!  If I decide I want to enjoy an icy diet Coke, I can have large ice cubes in 13 minutes.  If I'm really in a tight spot, I can have small ones in only 9 minutes!  A little piece of (American) heaven sitting right in my very own laundry room.  Thank you so much Old Dad and GrandMag!  I'm thinking of hosting an ice party for all our German neighbors to show them how great ice can be.  I should probably get to planning that because it will be snowing here before we know it.

I'm sorry to say that the arrival of my ice maker completely trumped my son's first day of school.  Let's just say this, I am hoping that I can only improve on our morning routine.  It didn't help that I was the only set of hands here to help and that I needed to be out the door by 7:45am.  Uhhh, that is hard.  I know all you out there with more than one child are probably thinking "pfff, try having two kids (or three or four)" because that is normally the response I get when I state that something is difficult for me.     However, I knew around 7:40a that there weren't going to be any "first day of school pictures".  This is what I managed.
And in the car watching The Lion King, eating breakfast and stuck in traffic.
Let's just say that I'll try a little bit harder on Friday when Daddy is home to at least hold him still for a picture.  Traffic was awful and I just knew we were going to be late.  I was a little miffed when this is what was holding me up at the back gate security check.
Ahhh well.  Evans survived his first day.  He was so excited running into the building until he realized that it led to a classroom.  He cried just like I knew he would but his teachers seemed great and he was not sobbing when I came to pick him up.  He was, however, scrubbing his eyes and standing by the door waiting for me.  His teachers said he was "very funny" which I suppose could be cause for concern but we shall see.  It's way past time for bed in Germany!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School Eve

The day that we all (me) have been waiting for to arrive is finally here.  After waiting (im)patiently for seven months to make it off the waiting list, Evans is into preschool and starts in the morning.  This start has already been delayed once due to illness and despite the fact that I have been on my death bed for the past week, come hell or high water, Evans is going to school tomorrow.  No more late nights of drinking beer, carousing, and sleeping until 9:00am for this kid!  We have to be up and at 'em and out the door at 7:45am tomorrow.  I cannot say that I am looking forward to this aspect of Evans' three day a week toddler program.  Who ever thought it would be a good idea to start kids at 8:30am and only keep them until 11:30?  I might have less of a problem with the 8:30a if they would just keep him until after lunch!  This three hour window is not going to allow me to get anything worthwhile done and it is going to make it a lot harder for me to claim I don't have time to go to the gym.  Especially since it is located on the same base as the fitness center.  Grrrrrrr.......but I know that it will be good for Evans to get back into a solid routine and make some new playmates.  Perhaps he will even lose some of his "german accent".  E's backpack is packed and he even practiced wearing it this morning, which is a huge improvement from our last stint at school in Atlanta.  Then, he acted as though I was stabbing him with hot daggers when I tried to get him to carry it on his back.  I'll give a full report tomorrow and take pictures.  I just hope he doesn't have a meltdown when I drop him off.  God knows we have been there and done that.

In other news, there has not been much else to report.  I have been under the weather and battling a massive sinus infection.  Last Wednesday I went to bed afraid that I was getting a toothache.  The last time this happened was over ten years ago but required a root canal.  Scared that would be the case again I was actually proactive and went and saw a German dentist on Thursday afternoon.  You want to talk about frightening?  Think large German scraping around in your mouth, pounding on your teeth that are throbbing and the grand finale.......touching each of my teeth with dry ice to see how I responded.  Not pretty.  Only to announce that there was nothing wrong with my teeth (besides the other small cavity that needed to be filled a later date).  I left having been told to be less zealous with my self bleaching and with not one, but TWO other appointments, for cleaning and filling.  Sigh.

By Friday it became obvious that I was suffering from a bad sinus infection and that the toothache was just the first sign that it was coming.  Of course, this was on Friday AFTER all the doctors closed for the weekend.  Thankfully Germans aren't much for Labor Day and I was able to see one on Monday.  I'm now on antibiotics three times a day for TEN days.  To think that I actually look forward to taking those pills in hopes of getting closer to feeling normal again.  It was not the best holiday weekend in our house however the pain was eased by the kickoff of college football.  Only the greatest time of year!
Evans quite enjoyed watching the Dawgs play despite a concerning performance.  UVA and Ole Miss pulled a W for the first week so it was a good day.  

Deaner left this morning for Belgium for work.  I thought he was in Brussels and was confused when he was describing to me where his hotel was.  I could not place it in my mind despite dozens of trips there.  And that is because he is not in Brussels, rather Mons, and clearly I wasn't paying attention when he told me that.  Off to bathe my dirty child and put him to bed.  Stay tuned for school news tomorrow!  Happy Tuesday!