Sophisticated Morning Talk between Spouses

If you want to watch harmonious gender division, come and visit us on any given school day early in the morning.

What you will find is the wife in action  (aka, multi tasking to make sure the children will go to school on time, neatly dressed, their lunch boxes filled with nutritious, delicious goodies)  and the husband sitting on the couch, reading his TIME magazine.

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In his mind, there is no better time to strike up a meaningful conversation with his wife than between 7.15 and 8am. The wife loves his attempt of keeping her informed and educated about bigger things in life other than the stain on his shirt and a reminder for an oil change.

It goes something like this:

Husband: “Did you know there are more than 100 million sharks killed each year?” (Times, March 18, page 9)

Wife, thinking: Did Cruz feed his fish yesterday, need to go to pet store, we are running out of fish food.

Aloud: “Mmh?”

Husband: “Hey lovey, listen to this, this is funny,  ( quote) “We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone.(Times, same edition, page 8)  These delegates….”

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Wife has water running, concentrates to make orange juice out of concentrate. Is thinking to herself  “what was this all about?”

Aloud: “Mmh, interesting.”

Husband thinks this quote is hilarious, wonders why wife isn’t laughing and gives in to his desire to read it again. Still, no response from wife.

Somehow this reminds husband of an article in the PROVINCE from a few weeks back: “What about the story on gentrification in downtown Vancouver?”

Wife is thinking: I need to remember to write the cheque for school, how much was it again?

Husband rambles on, “Listen to this, this is quite interesting, “All you need to know about sequestration but were afraid to ask…”

Wife, aloud: “Boys, you need to give me your thermo containers back, hurry.”

Wife is cooking lunch, ravioli in pot is heating up, starting to boil and all she hears is this:

“….pulling out of Iran over next 22 months.”

Wife thinks “What is going on in Iran, who is pulling out? Is America pulling out?

Wife is brave (or dumb) enough to open her mouth to ask this question to her well informed, well read husband.

All he does is looking at her, shakes his head in slight desperation and thinks, Help, whom am I married to.? Aloud he says:

“Iran? I said Afghanistan – do you remember, it is the longest mission ever Americans were involved in?”

Wife thinks “Oops, need to get my ears checked, why is he talking to me now anyway, I am cooking lunch?”

This is the one that nearly killed her: “Lovey, can you get this, listen up  The record for continuous gum chewing is 135 sticks over 8 hours. Assuming he chewed one fewer stick during the final hour than each of the previous 7 hours, how many sticks did he chew each hour?” (Times, Feb.25, p.53)

Wife thinks,  He must be joking.   Aloud: “Mmh, clever question!”

Isn’t my husband a sweetheart? I consider myself a lucky woman, being married to this fine, young, well informed man! As I said earlier, he makes sure I am in the loop of what’s going on around the world. Unfortunately, most of the time I have no clue what he is talking about; and I mean literally. I have no clue what he is jabbering about, I have never heard of these words before! He is a native speaker and therefore comfortable with the TIMES vocabulary, not me!

Still, I appreciate his efforts and hopes that after all these years some of the more sophisticated words may have rubbed up on me – or not!

This reminds me of an incident from a long time ago.  I did my PADI diving course in Byron Bay, Australia. On the first day of the course we were discussing what you can’t do under water, wetsuit and all. One of the things you can’t do is fornicating! Did I know what that means? Of course not. I was the only foreigner amidst a group of Australians. They swore themselves to secrecy and kept me in the dark for the whole week – meanwhile my brain was working overtime about the action called fornication. What is it you can’t do under water with your wetsuit on….?

 

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The Illuminators

If you read some of my posts before you know that Canadians don’t really care about fashion (check out: “High Fashion”) and Vancouver has been voted as one of the ‘most unfashionable cities in the world’.

Canadians wear what they want as long as it is ‘comfy’and protects against the weather. But let me tell you this, as unfashionable as they are in the clothes department, Canadians know how to dress up their houses during the Christmas season!

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If you are North American and you are reading this, please excuse my ignorance.Of course you are used to twinkle lights on every house, bush, tree or ornaments attached to your property. I, on the other hand, am a money conscious, energy conserving, disciplined German housewife! The only extra-vaganza my parents indulged in was the lit up pine tree in front of our house. In Germany, electricity is expensive! We turn off the water while we brush our teeth. By November we bought a whole seasons’ supply of candles from IKEA. My mom said she wanted to create a wonderful, cosy atmosphere.-but I figured they wanted to save energy!

Let’s go back to fashion in Canada: Nobody gives it a second thought if you wear your pyjama bottoms to the shops, nobody cares if you wear shorts in the middle of winter (aka, now) or if you prefer flip-flops over winter boots. Everythings goes and I am loving it!   I noticed a certain change of consciousness when the season changed from autum to nearly winter:  At the end of November an invisible switch switches on in the brain of most Canadian house owners!

Even if the average house owner is not interested in the latest fashion, they sure know how to decorated their houses for the season! I believe there is a secret competition going on around here who can outshine the neighbours with the brightest, most colourful and fancy arrangements. All I can say is this: What Canadians saved over the previous 11months in fashin goods, they will spend on their electricity bill at the end of the year.

Normal and unassuming during day light, houses transform into a festival of extra-ordinary illuminations as soon as it gets dark!

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It is a feast for the senses! All this was prepared by caring husbands who gave up their free Saturday: Every single light bulb was single handidly polished before the string was artfully stapled around every window frame and along the gutters,

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I personally prefer ‘simple’over éxcessive’.2012-12-03 11.06.45

I keep our light decoration inside the house and wouldn’t want to force my light spectacle on innocent by-passers. But this is me- and this is what life is all about: We are all different- We all like different things! And this is how it should be! This is what makes us all so extra-ordinary!

Whay do you think of this one?

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I nearly crashed into the nearest lamp post when I saw this house. All I could think of is this:

“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”.

Guidelines for Cheating Husbands

When I read about the ‘David Petraeus Affair’ I felt strangely compelled to write this post. There is nothing new or surprising about married men in powerful positions cheating on their wives. It seems to come with the job description. Mr. Petraeus is just another man in a long line of others caught with his ‘pants down’.

But this incident made me wonder: If the Director of the CIA can’t keep his extramaritial affair a secret, WHO can? I believe the lads in the cheating department need some help!                                                                                                                          Ladies, don’t get me wrong, I am on your side!. There is no excuse for a lying, cheating other half. But if men do it,  at least they should conduct their affair with some integrity and with no pain inflicted to their wives.

Considering my real life experiences either as ‘being cheated on’ or being ‘the other woman’, I am actually unqualified to write these guidelines ( as far as I know-). But, during my years as a coffee lounge owner I listened to enough real life break-up stories and I read enough Jackie Collins novels’ to know HOW the straying guys get caught.

Therefore, my housewive brain went into overdrive and I came up with these few, but simple guidelines for the cheater or wanna be cheater:

Gentleman, IF YOU DO IT, DO IT RIGHT!

But first of all let me tell you: You should be ashamed of yourself; there is NOTHING extra-ordinary about having an affair! If you are adament about having ‘a woman on the side’, at least make sure you

DON’T GET CAUGHT (This is why having á secret affair ‘is called secret)!

This involves                                                                                                                                                KISS & DON’T TELL!  Nobody wants to listen to a tattle tale. Haven’t you outgrown your bragging stage yet?

Try to keep your ‘lady of lust’ in the dark about your personal life and who you really are!                                                                                                                                           This in turn means your affair doesn’t know where you live (remember the movie”Fatale Attraction?”) , what your telephone number is or how to get hold of you via e-mail.

Make sure your ‘side interest’ doesn’t have any friends, i.e. she can’t brag about you!

Destroy all written evidence on paper or on electronic devices. Remember, if your wife does the laundry she will search every pocket of every piece of clothes you own!

If you need to use modern telecommunication devices keep in mind, deleted messages are still traceable. My suggestion for secret communication? Buy yourself a trained, mail pigeon! You only need to explain the arrival of the bird to your wife. I am sure you will find a plausible explanation!

If you mentioned you are going out of town, leave town as promissed. You never know if your wife took one innocent look at the mile reader before your departure…

If you are a well known public figure, make sure your other woman lacks ambition. God forbid she would use you for her own personal enrichment. (this is only applicable if you violated rule No.2)

If you are important and interesting to human mankind, start a blog or write an autobiography. If you have more pressing matters to attend to and need a woman to write your biography, make sure she is a) a good writer and b) totally unattractive!

Don’t make promisses like “I am leaving my wife and kids for you”. All hell breaks loose if you don’t follow through. Women can be quite persistent and nagging about these issues…

If all this sounds too complicated, follow the advice of our good friend Michel. His philosophy in life is:”Keep it simple, stick with your wife!” ( the one woman only- rule)

Now, most people I know would call this the norm, but for any cheaters or wanna be’s this may sound extra-ordinary indeed!

STAYING DEBT- FREE during CHRISTMAS TIME

Is this the impossible task or a mindset?

My legs were begging me “come on, let’s move”and my head told me “I need to think about something”. Therefore, I went for a run!

It was pouring down with rain, but the small gesture of tying my shoelaces only reconfirms the old saying:  Mind over Matter;  if we really want to do something we will do it -regardless of the circumstance(s)..

Yesterday was Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving. Two days ago my new neighbours across the border praised the Lord; Americans were thankful for what they have and were counting their blessings.

Yesterday, Canadians and Americans alike were counting their blessings for the opportunity to purchase consumer items tax free.Yesterday, we were grateful for the invention of credit cards and we praised our banks for their willingness to lend us money.

It is a crazy world we live in: We purchase in the name of ‘keeping up appearances’, in order to keep our children happy, to look good in front of our neighbours… or for whatever reason we decide to open our wallets for.

The real Christmas frenzy hasn’t started yet, but Black Friday is a good indicator of what to expect. Tempted by too many Special Deals and Big Savings for items we don’t really need we spend and spend. The sad, but true fact about money is, you can only spend it once! Therefore we should ‘hand it over’  wisely. Apparently not so. It is much easier to spend invisible money  (i.e. put it on credit) than real bills and coins because we can’t see and feel them.i.e. it is so easy to lose track of expenditures!

As a citizen of the modern world I own both, a credit- and a charge card. And truth to be told, I love them both! But, before I put them to good use I always think of my father. His philosophy on credit cards is:”Only charge what you can afford to pay back straight away. If you can’t buy it now, save up for it!”

I like this particular pearl of wisdom from him and live accordingly. The banks don’t like me much, but my frugal spending habits have served me and our family well so far.

BUY within your budget. Honestly, how hard is that? Such a simple formula, but so hard to live with!?

Everyday we are listening to radio and TV reports of how much the average US and Canadian citizen spend during the most wondewrful time of the year! There is more spending frenzy between now and Dec. 31 than at any other time of the year and the individual debt is pilling up.

Dominic came home the other day and gave me a big, fat kiss! The kiss was one of relief and happiness. He just listened to another disturbing report on the radio about the hardships individuals are facing when they can’t pay off their Christmas debts by next March or April.”I am so happy you don’t behave like the rest of this continent”, refering to my conservative, old-fashioned budgeting.

I liked this spontanuous and small gesture from my husband. And yes, during Black Friday I joined the madness. But, I knew my limit and stayed within it.

Ïf running in the pouring rain is a mindset, so should be  debt-free shopping. Both take discipline and a certain mindset – and this in today’s world seems extra-ordinary. Don’t you agree?

WHEN IN SEATTLE, EAT!

Here is my account of our road trip to Seattle. On our quest to take the children places, to widen their horizon and to appreciate city life, we discovered that it is the simple thing that kept our boys happy!

Here we go again: During the recent long weekend we took the opportunity to spice up our‘daily life’ and took our boys across the border to visit Seattle.  We like to describe ourselves as ‘cosmopolitan parents’: “It is our duty to take them places and to let them explore other cultures ( I am not sure if Seattle qualifies)”

If it wouldn’t be for the border control, Seattle is only a hop and skip away from Vancouver (i.e. a two hour car ride).

Seattle, the birthplace of our modern, coffee drinking civilization (i.e. Starbucks)!

The first ever Starbucks store!

The first ever store!

Seattle, the home of one of the richest man in the world. The man, who made sure computers are a household item (Microsoft)!

Thanks to the invention of TV shows (in this case I – Carly), our boys were familiar with the city and the Space Needle way before we arrived.

During this recent trip we took the Sumas border-crossing, followed by a beautiful ride through winding, picturesque countryside through rural Washington State. I always ‘make sure’ that our children appreciate the beautiful surroundings they find themselves in. During this trip it somewhat back fired on me: “You always tell us to look at mountains, they all look the same.” Or a better one is: “Everything is beautiful here!”

Can I blame them? Not really. We moved to B.C., one of the greenest, most beautiful places on earth.                                                                                                                                                                               For 15 years now we are in the parent business and we discovered it is much easier to go with the flow and the ever changing times than to bang our head against the wall – wishing the ‘good old times back’. Gone are the days when our –now- teenager was happy to draw for hours, play with his Lego blogs or stare out of the window to count cows during a car trip. Nowadays it is the screen in front of them instead of the screen ahead of them which holds their attention. It is the 21th Century and hand held devices rule when it comes to entertaining children during a car trip!

We arrived, fought for a parking spot and started our adventure!

First stop: Pike Market at the Waterfront

A very crowded Saturday

It is Saturday and very crowded. We are six, only two of us have a mobile phone and we are all wearing dark jackets – in case of separation we will have a hard time relocation each other again! Needless to say, I love all this hassle and buzzing around me –  our boys couldn’t care less. 

If fish throwing, singing fish mongers can’t hold their attention, what can? And guess what? They didn’t appreciate some of the advertising either!

The simple solution to a complex dilemma?   An authentic Gyros Food stall:  Give the children food and they will be happy and contend!

Second stop: Space Needle

It is a 41 second elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle. Once at the top you are rewarded with a 360 – degree panoramic view. This trip alone set us back $120.00! I personally have no problem spending all day at the top to make sure I get enough ‘views for my money’. Unlike our boy. Money doesn’t mean anything to them. If this isn’t bad enough, five minutes upon arrival and a sprint around the platform we heard the first:”Can we go now?” Followed by a: “Are we done yet?”

Parents can only take so much nagging, so we followed our credo: Go with the flow and give the children what they really want: Food. This time we landed in the massive Food Hall next to the Children’s Museum:  It was MOD Pizza for four of us, Subway for our oldest and Big Food (aka a hot pork sandwich) for Dominic.

Third stop:

With a tummy full of food it is easy to enjoy The International Fountain. The fountain spouts  water to the backdrop of classical music and finishes with a grand finale.  It is simply put, Spectacular!

Fourth stop:

As young as our children are, the already know the universal truth: Goods in the USA are cheaper than in Canada and the choice you have here is much bigger! Therefore, it was enough sightseeing for the day and we headed for the next shopping mall and outlet stores! Let me rephrase this: A nirvana found for parents and kids alike. During the next few hours all we heard was the happy chatting of four happy boys comparing the newest Halo games while trying on Nike shirts or searching for the perfect winter sweat-shirt.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, educational or eye-opening: When it comes to children and being an extra-ordinary parent, we keep it simple: we offer them what they want! Food and outlet stores! Quite simple, really!

There is a Sucker Born every Second

My book has arrived for its first proof read- slowly but surely I am moving towards publication date! It is exciting and very scary indeed. For the previous five months I have been bombarded (I really MEAN bombarded) by US based marketers with their free telesiminars, video calls, and free subscriptions, free listen –ins etc. All in the name of book promotion to the masses! Three hundred million people across the border are reasons enough to listen to the tips and tricks of these master marketers.  I have to know what makes American tick!                                                                                   This is what I learned: By far the most important, single item on the list is to have a good sob-story to share.                                                                                                                              Oh these Americans, they still LOVE the old fashioned “From Rags to Riches” tale.  If you want to connect, to really connect and gain credibility in the American market you should have risen like a phoenix from the ashes – e.g..

Escaped a destructive husband and marriage.

Survived a near fatal car crash.

One should have been broke, bankrupt or nearly broke with maxed out credit cards.

One should have experienced the death of a loved one.

Other good topics are being evicted from the house, become unemployed, lived on the street, being a single parent…

Now I begin to panic:  What happens if you Don’t have a story to tell? What about if your story is about ‘the deep desire to follow your heart’, and your only life motto is “to JUST DO IT” (Nike, I love you for this slogan).

Very soon I will find out if  “Only a sad story is a good story” Or if I will stand a chance in the US market with my “happily married, three children, fun life story”.  One thing is still for sure, none of these ‘suckers’ will get my money!

My husband is deeply concerned that I will eventually break down and will part with my money to get the help they promised. As I said in blog “ Ïmpulsive Decisions, write a book & shrink my waist, I don’t believe in short cuts. In order to reach the No.1 spot on Amazon .com I actually want people around the world to read my book and recommended it to their friends- i.e. the old fashioned way. It may take much longer than any tried and tested road map from Mr. Marketer, but at least it is honest and much cheaper.

On this note I will raise my glass to every wonderful, unique individual out there who prefers to explore the path of the unknown without the help of an expensive guru! The road ahead may be more bumpy, but at least it is your own!

Prost to being extra-ordinary!