Birthday Boy

Can you believe this baby is four years old today? It seems like I was blogging his birth just yesterday.

Even though we celebrated with a party last weekend, we stuck candles in his morning breakfast roll and let him blow ’em out FOUR times in a row.


Birthday Bash


I took the day off from work Friday to prepare for a weekend birthday bash with our German family. We had 14 people in our house to celebrate eight July/August/September birthdays.
Some fun facts:
– The ages we’re celebrated were 4, 12, 13, 26, 27, 35, 73, 74.
– We had THREE pairs of siblings in that mix.
– We had a mix of American and German birthday traditions.
– The last time our Tante Bärbel (73) spent a birthday in Germany with her family was when she was 15. She wasn’t with her family the following years, and then eventually got married and moved to Italy.
– Tante Bärbel (73) and Tante Mali (74) were young children during World War II, and never had a birthday party for all the reasons you can imagine.

My intent this weekend was to make up for that.

Germans tend to keep birthdays pretty low-key.

As an American, I do not. 🙂 Continue reading

Birthday Photo

I was mortified when Martin shared this photo (and a few others) in an email blast to our friends and family so many years ago. Not only was I oblivious when he snapped it, but I didn’t know until almost a week later that it was circulated around the globe long before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Continue reading

My Birthday on the Road


I turned 34 on our last day in the Netherlands. The evening before, our host Benita surprised me with a homemade cherry cheesecake. It was made using quark, which is this dairy product popular over here in Europe, but not so much in the United States. It does incredible things to the texture of cakes, and this was no exception. It was the best damn cheesecake ever. Continue reading

Party Time

[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]W[/dropcap]e hosted a birthday party for Lola over the weekend. There was only one thing that Lola requested and that was simply a “Frozen” party. When I asked for specifics, she simply offered up, “You know, with Anna, Elsa, and Olaf.”

So I consulted to that almighty party resource of the Internets: Pinterest. It was crazy. There are about one million ways to throw a Frozen party, and most require at least a month of planning and crafting. We only had a few days. Nevertheless, I did find some clever ideas, and Martin and I ran with it. Lola loved all of it and we had a very sweet time with her friends.

Lola and a few of her classmates enjoyed the following:

– A game of “Pin the Carrot on Olaf.” Martin drew Olaf by hand based on photos he found on the Internet. He’s always been really good at that. While Martin drew on paper from our big paper roll, I cut carrots from orange scrapbook paper.

– “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman” craft with marshmallows, chocolate chips, candy corn, and pretzel rods. The kids ate him when completed.

– I bought light blue Gatorade and peeled off the labels. They were then referred to as melted as Elsa Water. Bottled water was Melted Olaf.

– Frozen strawberries with drizzled white chocolate were “Hans Frozen Hearts.”

– Carrots and pretzels as Olaf parts.

– Hershey kisses as Anna’s chocolate


Thanks to Pinterest for all the inspiration!

Happy Birthday, Jill!

This cutie-patootie is now a loving wife and mother of two little girls, a super-fun awesome auntie to my three, a step-grandma to one (hahahahahaha!), a hardworking police detective for all, a kick-ass friend to many, and one of my most favorite sisters ever. She’s also celebrating a birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jill!


Our bedroom looks like a home improvement store exploded into it, but our master bathroom is completely empty and completely repainted. Tomorrow will be new flooring, new sink, and other updates. Until then, Martin and I are crashing on the pull-out bed in the family room. He’ll watch a movie while I surf Pinterest for other home improvement ideas. You know, since we’re on a roll …

Flashback Friday: Cake


[dropcap style=”color: #9b9b9b;”]W[/dropcap]e’re celebrating a birthday next week, so I went shopping today. Miss C will be 11, and since she’s still in Ohio with her Dad and siblings, what better time to sneak away and pick up a few items for her, right?

While at the book store, I ordered a caramel frappuccino and took my time walking through the aisles, adding books to my basket, checking out the newest titles. Before too long, I ended up in the parenting book aisle, and I smiled at the rows of familiar books I read while pregnant with my own babies. I think at one point, I owned all the baby name books, and I noted that the mother on the latest edition of “what to expect” books looked even more fresh and hip than I remembered her.

Then I noted that after three whole bookcases full of pregnancy and babyhood books, there was one bookcase devoted to raising toddlers and preschoolers. And then it stopped. When I tried to find the books that provided guidance on how to raise tweens and teenagers, the section morphed into books on ways to deal with a problem child or a specific special need. It took some investigating to find the few books that are specific to raising a tween or teenager. I looked at the other aisles, even asked the nearby book clerk if there was a section I was missing (there wasn’t), and later did a search for more tween-specific books online.

Compared to all the books available for the first few years of life, there really isn’t very much out there for parents of tweens and teens.

No wonder the prospect of raising a teenager is so daunting!

After years of being offered advice on how to feed our kids, swaddle our kids, get them to stop crying, introduce them to Mozart, get them to aim for the toilet, how to feed them, get them on a sleep schedule, how to plan the perfect birthday party, how to make flashcards, how to overcome separation anxiety, how to keep them alive until about the age of nine … the parental advice business runs cold.

It’s as if the book industry said, “Hey, once they are ten, the cake is baked. Good luck.”

Good luck indeed.


For today’s Flashback Friday post, I’m sharing this entry from 2006 when we celebrated Miss C’s birthday at our townhouse in our old neighborhood. It was the first birthday party we had for her since moving back to the United States, and it was so much fun. And super hot. The strawberry ice cream cake we got for her promptly melted between the time we took it out of the fridge to the time we lit the candles and sang to her.

But with ice cream cake, who cares? Soggy deliciousness.

You can read it HERE.

TBT: Happy Birthday, Jinger

Today’s #TBT picture is in honor of my youngest sister Jinger.

It’s funny that I can’t remember where I put my keys yesterday, or the password I just reset this morning, but I vividly remember the morning in 1986 when our babysitter Joanne woke my sister Jill and me up to tell us our parents left for the hospital, and then later that afternoon when my sweet Aunt Eileen came to pick us up from preschool, yelling down the hall “You are a big sister again! She’s here!”

Continue reading

Birthday and a Broken Down

1:22 p.m. – Waiting for hamburgers after playing in a giant inflatable water slide! #summertime

1:45 p.m. – Water fun!

3:15 p.m. – There was some confusion how the birthday boy should eat his cake.#gobigorgohome

4 p.m. – Birthday boy opening gifts with his brother and mom.

6:30 p.m. – Sign of a great time = children who absolutely did not want to leave.

6:45 p.m. – Both kids are already asleep!!

7:15 p.m. – If your minivan is broken down and you gotta wait for a tow truck, wait next to some train tracks so you can be THISCLOSE when the trains go by!!!

7:46 p.m. – I don’t know which of my men is loving this more: my son who is watching or my husband who gets to drive the van onto that truck!!!

8:43 p.m. – I’m currently in the middle seat in the back of a giant tow truck with these two who think this is the BEST NIGHT EVER!!!! (And they are right.)

10:33 p.m. – We are home! While needing a tow truck wasn’t our number one pick for how to spend a Sunday evening, we really did have a great time! Two things that made me laugh …

  1. Lola as we climb into the tow truck cab, sniffing the diesel and oil: “Ohhhh, it smells so nice in here!”
  2. Mr Tow Truck Driver (who looked to be in his mid-20s) as we pull away from the gas station: “You guys messed up.”
    Martin: “Oh, really? How?”
    Mr TTG: “You didn’t get the apple cinnamon donuts [sold at the gas station]. I get one every time I take a call there. I got two, actually, so I have one in the morning. My wife is going to be so jealous.”
    Julie: “Ha! How long have you been married?”
    Mr TTD: “Three weeks.”
    Julie (as Martin starts laughing): “Oh, yeah. YOU won’t be eating one in the morning. You’ll learn.”

10:45 Meant to post this earlier! Proof Martin is home and proof that my son looooooves cake!