Category Archives: Parenting

My Favourite Things 2012

Out with the old & in with the new?  Yes but before that, move over Oprah it my turn to announce my favourite things for 2012!  Now this list below isn’t exactly what every person desires, hopes for or even wants BUT I think I wouldn’t be alone in saying that many Mommies around the world would think my list is well… pretty good.

Some are old-time favourite and some are new discoveries that I think are just fabulous.   Whatever tickles your fancy these things could bring joy to your life just as it has with mine 🙂

Here are my picks for 2012, in random order.

sale1.  After Christmas Sales.  You heard it from me folks. Once the Viennese puts down their Gluwein and move forward into the New Year you will have to fight the crowds to scoop up Christmas decorations at a special discount of not 10% off but 11%!  Truly amazing eh?!

2.  Motivation to keep my house clean.  Is it wrong to hope that he will appear after I clean the toilets… every time?

3. Gangnam Style.  Everything!

facebooksomeecards4.  Someecards humour.  For times when you wanna say it but don’t.  Post it instead 🙂

5.  Letting Daddy take over for a day.. or two.

6.  Taking a night off from motherhood to catch up with the girls.

7.  Nuff said.  Lifesaver.  Long live vodka.

50 shades of grey8.  50 Shades Bandwagon!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my latest reading material.

earplugs9.  Earplugs.  Any kind.  For the sake of a good night sleep next to the husband “who never snores” and the children who dare to wake from a nightmare.  “Sorry honey I swear I never heard little Bobby cry…”  Works like a charm.

Pinterest home2
10.  Pinterest.  Even though I always turn to Pinterest for ideas I must also thank Pinterest for pointing out to my husband that an organized household can be achieved.  This website has killed my “it can’t be done” card.

11.  Finally, a special thank you to for helping me reverse the signs of age, stress and depleted energy and even giving me a little boost or nip and tuck here and there…  Now all my Facebook friends will know my little best kept secret…. that I am not a wrinkle free big boobed goddess.  Damn it.

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Playmobil what isn’t to love?

If you were born less than 37 years ago chances are you owned a Playmobil toy.  These miniature size plastic movable toys are as popular today as they were when they first hit stores worldwide in 1975.  What started out as the basic themes of construction sites and knights have multiplied into any theme imaginable.  I bought this farm set for my children for Christmas and of course it was well received.  After dumping out the teeny tiny pieces we quickly built our set and the playing has never stopped.

The attention to detail is what I find so fascinating, which helps me understand the price tag that comes along with such a great activity.  From this particular set nothing was forgotten, heat lamps for the mama pig & her piglets, labeled battery for the wire fence, even the cow poop was included (my kids found that quite amusing).  Not sure if this farm set sold in North America would also include the solar panels on the rooftops, just like you would see here in Europe.  So environmentally friendly 🙂

The big question however, still remains.  How long will it take before one of these pieces falls victim to the vacuum cleaner?

“Mommy.. Where did Grandma go?”

There comes a time in every child’s life where he/she will question death.  “Mommy, where did Grandma go?”  How would you respond?

  1. “Ah sweetie, <kneeling beside the child> Grandma’s in a beautiful place called heaven.”
  2. <With a hug>“She’s no longer with us but will always be in our hearts.”
  3. “Your father forgot to renew the plot tax so they dug her up to make room for Frau Schmitt.”

Answer #3 can be a true if you live in Vienna.  You see, when a loved one passes away, your options for a final resting place can be limited.  Since 78% of Austrians are Roman Catholic they still believe in a burial rather than a cremation and living in a highly populated European city = a lot of bodies to bury.  The question remains, when real estate is at such a premium, can cemeteries accommodate everyone?  Not exactly.  Here families do not buy plots to lay their loved ones to rest, rather, they rent them out for 10-20 years instead.  If they wish not or forget to renew the plot agreement and do not pay the tax the likelihood that the plot will be rented to a new family will be inevitable.

Where do they put the remains of an exhumed grave?  Dunno?

Zentralfriedhof (German for Central Cemetery), which is located on the outskirts of Vienna has a total of 2.5 square kilometres and contains about 330 000 graves today.  Over 3 million people have been buried here, which is almost double the population of the city of Vienna.  Popular on the tourist attraction list, people from around the world visit  Zentralfriedhof which is packed full of famous people.

Just check out just some of the famous people who are buried here:

One thing I can vouch for is that Austrians do take pride in their cemeteries.  It is the family’s responsibility for the upkeep and most plots are immaculately maintained, however you will see the odd overgrown “forgotten” plot.

Strolling through most cemeteries usually eases my spirit.  I don’t know what it is but I always feel a sense of peace and love and  I enjoy looking at the tomb stones and wonder what the lives of these people were like.

Whether you are a religious person or not I highly recommend a visit to Zentralfriedhof.


Isn’t there a waiver I need to sign?

Now that spring is around the corner playgrounds will once again be buzzing with activity. It’s been over a year since we moved here and it has taken me this long to get used to the playgrounds. You’ll know what I mean if you visited one.  To a kid… it’s the “most awesome” playground ever.  To a North American mother… it’s an accident waiting to happen.  I come from a land of caution.  Where things are padded, protective gear is worn and waivers are signed.  Playgrounds are pleasure habitats where kids can be kids and parents can take a break from daily chores to hangout.  Kids can yell , scream and play tag, while parents socialize and update their Facebook status.  Back in my day I don’t remember parents hovering around supervising and I could probably show you plenty of scars from my childhood thanks to the cushioning of a pavement surface.  Times have changed and playgrounds have evolved.

North America vs Austria… there are differences.  I’ll get to safety later but first point out the most obvious difference.  What to bring.

  • Snacks.  Check.
  • Juice.  Check.
  • Wine… wait…check?

You can drink alcohol in public places here in Austria so technically I could bring a bottle of wine to share with the other mom’s (I know, how great is that?). If this were legal in Canada I can visualize special “lemonade stands” set up  next to playgrounds all across the country.

Child: “Daddy look what I found!  A worm :)”

Parent: “Hey what do ya know, me too!” <chewing and swallowing with a shutter> Hiccup.

Still haven’t found any mom’s who feels that drinking a glass of wine while watching the kids play is totally ok.  I know they’re out there… somewhere.

Ok down to safety.  Austrians still build playgrounds using natural elements (which I think is fantastic).  Soft ground is provided however, the added safety rails are nowhere to be seen.  As a worried mother of two I do understand the “North American attitude” with regards to safety however, as (once upon a time) a child I get how cool it is to test out your balance and coordination on equipment like this.

I’ve only had one “hold my breath” incidence when my son lost his balance at the top of a rope pyramid.  Thankfully,  due to the multiple cross ropes on the apparatus he ricocheted all the way down before smashing head first into the ground. There’s one thing for sure.  Kids do learn quickly.  He brushed himself off and climbed back up.  Perhaps I worried for nothing?

So for now I join the other European parents & caregivers and urge my kids to explore, challenge and most of all have fun with the equipment they are given.  Secretly I still cringe and pray that they don’t come crashing down on their head….again.

“OK Kids, what shall we read about tonight? Drowning? Starving? Or Burning to Death?

“Mommy, mommy read me a bedtime story please?”  Every child loves bedtime stories right?  What better way to ease into a good nights rest and have sweet dreams than to read a good ‘ol fashion bedtime story.   Well  I’m not so sure that these “Austrian classics” will do just that.  While my husband and I were shopping for new books I came across this one.   “Der Struwwelpter”(Shaggy Peter). The cover looked interesting to me so I investigated only to become horrified at the illustrations it contained.  “Oh that’s a classic storybook.  Every child in Austria grows up with this book” my husband said.  “Let’s buy it”.  Now I’m always up for new adventures, so I considered and thought hey why not scare the kids into behaving properly?  My husband turned out fine and he seems to have no long-lasting psychological issues from his childhood (at least I think so)… let’s give it a go.

The book which became popular after its third edition was published in 1858.  It has 10 life lesson stories which covers topics such as drowning, bullying & teasing other children, consequences of not listening to parents and being blown away forever in a wind storm.  Personally, I find the book so shocking (in the eyes of young children) that it’s comical. I was anxious and curious to see the kids reaction to the book.  The verdict?  A total success.  Kids enjoyed the stories and found the illustrations as funny as I did. Perhaps my giggles while reading along with them had something to do with it.

Here are a few of my kids favourites:

“Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug” (The Dreadful Story of the Matches), a girl plays with matches and burns to death.

In “Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” (The Story of the Thumb-Sucker), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb-sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.

“Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar” (The Story of the Soup-Kaspar) begins as Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.

So there you have it parents.  Scare tactic could work for you or could be just “another bedtime” story .

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Be careful what you say to a pregnant woman.

While cleaning up my computer the other day I came upon this.  A statement that I wrote in a heat of a “mommy meltdown moment” after my husband gave me the “disapproved” look when I couldn’t tell him off the top of my head when the last car service date was.  I do have to admit that my husband and I are both “organize freaks” and I’m pretty darn good at keeping things in order.  However, it was one of those days (Mom’s you understand) where the 16 tasks I normally simultaneously perform weren’t working.  And that’s when it happened.  KABOOM!  Arms waved, fingers pointed, trucker mouth exploded… it wasn’t pretty.  Needless to say he handled the situation well by silently leaving a box of chocolates that he found in the kitchen cupboard at the door to the office while I finished writing the following.

I am Thomas’s wife…

I have advanced degrees in early childhood education, accounting, public relations, automobile mechanics, landscape design, interior design, culinary arts, photography, psychology, computer maintenance, chemical engineering, Jewish History and Swahili.  I also read minds.

 I am Thomas’s wife.  Of course I am responsible that you have worked for 12 hours, that your meetings ran late and that your coffee got cold. Also that you were under the impression that when you would finally arrive home late at night, that you would be presented with a 3 course meal accompanied by the finest selection of imported beer and wines, have your mail waiting for you in the office, be welcomed with freshly laundered towels, have a fully fed, squeaky clean, little sleepy but happy to see her Daddy 17 month old daughter waiting at the door and a sexy wife ready to report her daily task accomplishments.

 It wouldn’t be a problem for me to create a diverse weekly menu, shop a many grocery stores to get the best deals, dust, vacuum and mop the house, restock toiletries, linens, diapers, baby wipes, and beer, finish all laundry, weed, feed and water the garden & hanging baskets, not to mention water the indoor plants, scrub the bathroom showers and sinks, change bed linens all while entertaining, feeding, nurturing, bathing, and bonding with our high maintenance yet loving daughter during my 9th month of pregnancy.  I do this with joy even when I’m carrying around your soon to be 8lb son who likes to substitute my uterus as a punching bag.


I am Thomas’s wife.  I am expected to know dates….. expiry dates on all perishable items in the house, due dates of all bill payments, birthdays, anniversaries, Dr. and Dentist appointments, our last car service date oh and yes to have full detailed knowledge of all car, house and appliance warranties and policies.  Give me a second and I will tell you our car’s VIN numbers, passport issue dates, instructions on recording home video to DVD, dates and times of our daughter’s past medical vaccinations, oh and what the final score was the night Manchester Untied won the European cup in 1999.

 I am Thomas’s wife.  I understand that your responsibility as the Hotel Manager requires you to work all day at the office, catch up on e-mails at home every evening and make numerous phone calls on the weekends leaving less than desired time to spend with your family.  So when I am saying that I do not have time to get everything completed on my own I am lying.   It is not a problem to juggle my careers of cooking, cleaning, parenting, cheerleading, car fixing, gardening, decorating and baby making.  I can set aside all the time that I spend coupon clipping and washing my hair to become more productive.

I am Thomas’s wife, a personal secretary, gofer, chef, housekeeper, gardener, mother, computer technician, postman, painter, life coach, weather expert, human jukebox, TV repairman, and bloody Santa Claus (where’s my milk and cookies).  AND I do know when the builder will be planting the tree in our front yard I’m just not telling you.

2 weeks before my son was born

 I am Thomas’s wife.  I always know where to find the cheapest deals, who to negotiate with, when to visit during slow times and how many rolls of toilet paper we have left in the house.  I take personal blame for lack of talent in Canadian TV sitcoms, traffic jams, grass which needs cutting again and Timmy’s Ice Cap machine breakdowns.

 I am Thomas’s wife.  I am expected to smile, inspire, perform, create, organize, and complete any task that I am given – all while maintaining beautifully manicured nails and toes, up-to-date hair rinse colouring and smoothly shaved legs and waxed bikini  line. 

I do all these things and love it.

It’s been 6 years since I wrote down my frustrations and looking back today I can see that I’ve learned a few things.

1.  What the hell was I thinking?  No wonder my nickname is Marthamel.  No I am not Martha Stewart.

2.  Got my cleaning schedule all wrong.    I changed my approach to what’s called “let him clean too”.  Amazing how effective it is.

3.  Hydration.  Must stay hydrated.  Vodka soda works best for me.

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