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Friday, May 30, 2014

Funny Friday - Choo Choo!

Today’s post is an episode of a monthly feature. It’s called Funny Friday and is a collaborative project that I’ll post on the last Friday of every month. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Here’s today picture. It was submitted by Baking In A Tornado

  • Aren't you too young to be a train wreck?
  • If your little brother is Thomas, then you'd be… Hiro, right?
  • When you're done running over your buddy, it'll be his turn!
  • This is you - being a really useful engine?
  • Which one's your favorite episode? Colin's (at age 2) all time favorite was "Thomas loses it". It has been viewed 16.262.729 times. The 729 clicks wasn't us. 

Thomas and Friends, trains... what little boy isn't into it?

At this point, allow me a flashback of my own.

C's railway phase started when he was roughly 18 months old, and he had a vocabulary of about 30 words. Apart from mommy, daddy, ball, car, a couple of animals and food items, the thing he probably said the most often, unmistakably accompanied by shoes being placed in front of me, was "Colin wanna go station, watch t'ains!"

It didn't take long, and mommy figured out the best times to go train spotting: 9:45am, 11:45am, 13:45pm nap! 15:45pm. Why? That's when the TGV, train à grande vitesse = French for really, really fast train, passed our little town's station on its way from Zurich, Switzerland to Paris, France. What an excitement!

Give or take a year, and the interest in trains was gone, courtesy of Lighnting McQueen.

 
 


     
  

 
 
  

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile: 


Baking In A Tornado
Black Sheep Mom
Someone Else’s Genius 
Confessions of a part-time working mom

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Different somehow

This morning, kindergarten kids and their families were invited to a special event. 



For the past few weeks they had been taking a look at themselves: who am I, what can I do, what are my strengths, what are things that other kids can do better? What is it like if you can't see, hear or walk? Also they visited the local home for the handicapped. 

Today was an opportunity to show us parents what they've learned and let us experience first-hand what being different somehow was all about.


Welcome! Here we are, singing the rainbow song for you!
My mom, the designated photographer, in action
Balancing acts
Feel the texture with your eyes closed
How about tying that shoelace while wearing gloves?
Wheelchair rides - some of the kids were racing around
skillfully, then they hopped off and ran away
Can you recognize sounds like the dropping of a ping pong ball
or the scrunching up of a newspaper?
Which cubes match?
All the pairs were different rattles
How about with cotton in your ears?
This exercise was C's favorite: you could get
M&Ms if you guessed right ;-)



Those glasses made you see - nothing!
No, the animal you're groping isn't a dino!
Stevie? Ray?
Sorry, Noel, I can't help myself...
Give the donkey its tails back - with blindfolds on!
Some regular schoolyard fun
Together we're strong!
What an incredible cake buffet!
Yes, that's where my lemony puzzle pieces ended up!
Reunion of the busy moms. Let's take a pic;
who knows when we'll see each other again!
I thoroughly enjoyed this course of the senses, especially the "blind" experience. Yes, I put on the glaucoma glasses and stalked around with my white cane. I felt completely helpless even though I had accompanied C before and "knew" where the thresholds and the bumps were. I called C for help, and I was very grateful to feel his little hand in mine. He kept asking "what's this, guess?" and held something for me to touch, just I couldn't see where. "Put it in my hand, please!" 

There were baskets with stuffed or wooden animals, and I had to admit that had I not seen the chimp before, I wouldn't have a chance to find out what it was. A teddy? 



A huge thank you to all the teachers who arranged and cared for this morning!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Be safe in the Net

Once upon a time there were two part-time working moms. One lived in the Netherlands, let's call her Antje, the other one in Switzerland, well, that was me. We both enjoyed playing Hatchlings Egg Hunt on Facebook, and over time, started chatting and became friends. So far so good.
 
One of her real life friends, let's call him Eugenius, started playing and chatting, too. He was an international Headhunter and always made sure to tell me about his latest openings as Head of HR EMEA of company X or Y. Another real life friend, we'll name him Willem, you guessed right, added me to play and chat, too. He was some executive hotshot with a sports car, always happy to flirt and pay me compliments. We were one merry Facebook community.


Antje and her family were planning a vacation in Switzerland and suggested to meet. Sure, that sounded like fun, meeting my online girlfriend in person! We exchanged mobile numbers and agreed upon a specific day.

When that day came, she texted me, and we met. I really didn't think much of it, and it all had to do with the fact that I knew that she was a married woman, mother of two, holding a decent job and having a nice picture on her FB profile, yada.
We had a lovely brunch, laughed and talked.


At some point she said "hey, this is great, you are just as I imagined you'd be, and my husband has sooo lost his bet!" Turned out he was a bit worried that I might be an old, fat, bald and ugly guy!


I was a bit shocked but had to admit that there might me lots of people pretending to be someone else on the Internet.

Antje smiled and said "you know, he's not so far off. Our friend, Eugenius? He is a divorced dad with a teenage daughter who's on Facebook, too. He felt he had to be careful about having ladies post and comment on his wall, so he signed up for an additional account, using a different name and identity."

Wow, like a parallel life? Clever! Imagine the possibilities! You can literally be whoever you want!

Her smile turned into a grin "you didn't hear it from me, but his other account? It's Willem!"

Geez! No way! Eugenius was this decent, reliable, nice guy, and Willem, well, it was clear that he was too good to be true, but I suspected that he was married and looking for an adventure!

What does that tell us?

Things are not always what they seem to be!

I am writing this post as a favor for Sam with SingleHop who asked me for a contribution. They are running an initiative to educate people on the importance of online safety and privacy concerns.


Now - even though I work in the IT field, and we are a certified distributor of a leading firewall and Internet security solution - I may not be the best person to give advice, which the story above demonstrates. Also I log on to public wireless nets at the malls and such. I post lots of pictures of myself and my cute son on this blog, and worse, on Facebook, even though I am a aware that they can be viewed and used by potentially bad people. I still believe in the good of people. Call me naive.

However there are a few things I'm doing right, and I'd encourage you to do so as well:
 
 
  • I have passwords that include upper case letters and numbers. Unfortunately I can't do iEmoji in passwords, now this would be really cute!
  • My password has nothing to do with my BOD, my son's name or the like
  • I don't write passwords on sticky notes and pin them on the computer or carry them in the wallet - don't laugh, I know people who do it because they can never remember otherwise
  • I don't share my password, bank code, credit card details, etc. Sounds like a no brainer. Still we know that clients or ours try to send this kind of  info via email and complain about that %&*@! firewall not allowing it.
  • I don't put my phone number in profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn and such
  • I back up my data on an external hard drive plus a cloud and encouraged my boss at work = hubby to store weekly backup tapes in a safe deposit box at the bank. We even tested whether the magnet rays of the security screening hurt our data. Imagine the frustration when one day you want to restore your files, and that backup tape is empty!!!
  • I am aware that said is said. Any email can be forwarded to people you wouldn't want to read what you wrote about them in an email. So I dutifully refrain from sending messages like "you're supposed to call back that pushy bitch, she needs you to hold her hand while she installs a patch."
  • I never, ever open attachments that come with messages like "you are a winner" 
  • I don't click on links in messages that look like they were sent by my bank, stating that someone tried to hack my account and they need me to verify my logon data. Even though they come with the correct logo and some fancy lawyer language
  • I don't add FB friends who have no common friends - but as we know this doesn't protect me from the Willem's of this world, hahaha! No hard feelings!
 Enough preaching. The net offers a lot of fun opportunities, and we should enjoy them, keeping in mind that things are not always what they seem!

Just be sure to use a condom when you have cyber sex. There are a lot of ugly viruses out there!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Girlfriends are tough finds

Last week I came across a post from Sarah, actually it was an open letter to Match.com where she wrote about how hard it is for a single girl to find… not a man for a date, but a girlfriend to shop with, to meet for drinks, catch a movie or just hang out with. 

Of course putting aside How to make friends as an adult tipsshe is painfully right!

This is Ch and me - late 70s, early 80s. We grew up together. Today we live about the same short walk away than back then. But we're still talking about having that glass of wine one of these days. 

My high school friend and maid of honor. F lives even closer than back then. But we saw each other more when we were both living and working in different states. 


Once you graduate from school, where making friends was somewhat easier - at least in my days when it wasn't all that important what label sported your clothes - and enter the workforce, it gets more difficult for several reasons:

You have to re-invent yourself as a working girl, figure out office politics and who to have coffee breaks and cafeteria lunches with. Here's an ugly thought: isn't it like 100 times easier for smokers? They have their matches - pun intended, thank you very much - cut out by default! See you 20 feet from the entrance, friends!



Workplaces are more diverse in terms of age, martial status and hierarchy, which can make for interesting and challenging times, but are probably harder if you want to make friends who have got common interests and values. 



And let's be real, school or work are not only the no. 2 location to fall in love at, but also to find a friend. 

What's no. 1? Being introduced by other friends. Bummer: you need friends to meet friends! 

You know what that feels like to me? You need a Green Card to apply for a job. But in order to apply for a Green Card, you need a job. This is enough to cover in a separate blog post. I was just thinking about the time I wanted to make new friends after moving to California alone. Working would provide opportunities. Just I wasn't allowed to work. See?

But even if you are eligible to work and actually got  a job, this is what happens: If you're good at what you're doing at work, then you're probably too busy to get out much - especially when you've got no friends. Result? You don't mind putting in more hours at your desk. Result? You don't get out at all. Result: At least you may get a promotion, yay! Result? More responsibility, more hours… Talk about a vicious circle. 
Her best friend is probably the pizza delivery person!
So clearly it must be easier to make new friends once you're married with kids? Provided you are so lucky as to get to that point at all. Sarah mentioned coming across lots and lots of mommy meetups. Think mommy and me class, playgroup - there must be plenty of opportunities! Right?

Any activity that takes place at a specific time is a challenge of its own. Ever changing sleep / food patterns, full diapers and / or clothes drenched in milk or - sorry - vomit, just as you are about to leave, a repair person announcing their visit within a six hours time frame, you get the picture. 

Suppose you make it there on a regular basis, and meet a fellow mom who makes it most of the times, too, who seems "normal" (there are lots of strange mommies out there), and your kids like each other, and you actually manage to meet up a couple of times outside class? You know what happens? She goes and gets pregnant on you! Not with one baby, but twins! I have never seen A again.



Oh, or my mall buddy, C? Whom I managed to meet about 3-4 times a year even though she had to take and pick up her sons to and from international school and race to photography class or yet another European destination to explore? Goes and moves back to California!



Then there is a part-time working mom, also called A, whose girls Colin adores and vice versa. We never get so see each other much, though, because when our kids see each other, we are at work. Huh? How..? My mom babysits - sometimes for the both of us at the same time!
Recently C has become a big boy and calls their house:
"Hi, this is Colin. Are the girls allowed to come play? Aha, J is in school. R then? Around 2pm? What, my mommy? Sure, she agrees. Oh, you want to talk to her?"


2009 / 2013 - I'm positive there'll be a 2017 picture!
A word about strange mother figures: If I was to be friends with a local woman who has a kid or two in C's age, (yes, before I went back to work 2-3 days a week, I was someone who drove an hour and more each way for baby play dates / coffee among mommies),  I can't be picky. 



I must be open for her to be 10 - 15 years younger,  have a tattoo and / or a nose stud and look at me funny when I mention a movie or music that was before her time. That's fine. 

What I expect are some common parenting values. No food throwing, no painting the walls, washing their hands between playing in the sandbox and snack time, no jumping on the sofa, a no means no and no dinner - no cake policy. It's a royal pain to try and teach your kid the dos and don'ts when the other mommy allows her children everything and more. 

Luckily I have a wonderful friend who exceeds all of those requirements, she's even my age, our boys have been best buddies from birth, plus our husbands like each other! 


2009 / 2013 - I'm positive there'll be a 2017 picture!
Last time I saw D? I think it was Halloween! Have I mentioned she works 4 days a week, and her day off is Friday? Yeah, I work on Fridays.



I don't have a sister. Well, not a real life, real family kind of sister.  That's where B comes in. 

I met her on Facebook, back in the days when we were both playing Sorority Sisters. These days we send each other care packages: Swiss chocolate vs St. Patrick's day items. And we comment on each other's posts: 
There's more where this one came from. She is funny, has 3 adorable kids, her dogs eats candy, and she and that life of hers would make for a kick-ass blog, but so far she has refused. 

What's more important though, we messenge. Is that a proper English word? We send each other messages using the messenger. 

We are in our PJs (at least I am), our house is a mess (at least mine is), we rant, we cry, we laugh, we encourage each other, send memes and dinner pictures. And I don't know how many times one of us has written "I'm on my way". The bad news? We live 4,000 flight miles apart. But we will have that coffee! Soon!