Aug 052012

Took a week off last week because 1) I was behind on work, 2) I was sick, 3) I was having technical difficulties, 4) it was my birthday, and 5) I was in a really crabby mood.  Not necessarily in that order!

But, now I have a build up of all sorts of little things to share, so I will just make this a quick update with photos.

Stephanie’s Birthday

Birthday morning I was greeted with these from my children.  Toppas are
German Frosted Mini-wheats, and a serious staple in our daily diet.

What could they be up to?

Its the Toppas Trial- Find the prize!
To Play: Choose one box.  Open box.  Examine contents.
May try again up to three times.
May keep contents of all open boxes. 
If prize is found, may continue playing.

Yes, this box actually had Toppas!
The other two were filled with body lotions,
coffee and hot chocolate, though :-)
And then hubby gave me homework!  He told me to go research cameras because my old one was always running out of batteries. New Camera, YAY!
But, the homework actually turned out to be more work than I think he anticipated. Because it turns out that models vary by country.  I mean the same brands, same general features, etc, but completely different product numbers and weird little variations.  It is a bit mind-boggling, actually.  And it is really tough to figure out what models in one country are the same (or similar) to the ones in another.  So, I started with US review sites, but quickly switched to UK sites, and then still had to make best-guess equivalent judgements on German products.  I tried looking at some German reviews, but that was frankly well beyond my current paygrade when it comes to German Language Skillz! Whee…  In the end, I wound up getting this snazzy little beauty!  Thank you David :-)
How meta- I took the photo of the box with the contents of the box!

More meta?  Me taking a picture of me taking a picture…..

Me taking a picture of Mom on Skype, with a picture of me taking
the picture in the corner….

Ok, enough meta….

It seems to to nice close ups… will need to play with that.

Ok, enough with the camera….


Next off, we went to France to get me a special lunch.  I found out that there was a Buffalo Grill in Strasbourg!  We had all had fun at the one outside Paris, so we decided to give it a go.  We only got sort of lost (wait… I see it, but you can’t get there from here!)  And, along the way we saw more English in France than usual.

But… what?
Oh!  But, Quick! (yes this was just across the street)

We also saw this guy.  Twice (U-turns are a staple in our French Driving repertoire)

This guy was out drumming up business for
a closeout sale at a kids furniture store.

And, then there was this.  Don’t let it be said the French have no sense of humor. Jerry Lewis or not, this is pretty hysterical.

Look Out!!!

Sad Buffalo
Unfortunately, the restaurant was not nearly as good as the one in Paris… And by ‘not nearly as good’, I mean it was actually bad.  Our first clue should have been the fact that it was mostly empty.  And it still took them 5 minutes to seat us- after they already had told us they would find us a spot.  We got our most stereotypically rotten French Waiter so far.  He refused to understand anything but perfect French, brought us the food as on the menu whether we requested anything special or not, and, when DD asked for new silverware because hers was dirty, we are pretty sure he just took it back and wiped it with a napkin.  It came back with napkin fibers in the knife!  Also, I ordered coffee with my dessert.  Two Euro.  This was it.  Not espresso.  Coffee!  And yeah, the cup is dirty.  DOH.

Let her eat cake?  NO!
Next, we tried to find me a cake.  Any cake, really.  We went to bakeries in Germany and France.  American-style cake is almost non-existent in these parts.  But, often there are whipped cream layered desserts that make a good proxy.  I would have settled for most cake-like substances.  But, alas, none were to be had.  Nr could I find any of my other, more common, pastry favorites.  At the final French bakery we found a palmier.  When I was young we used to get me awesome palmiers as a birthday treat, so mot a bad trip down memory lane. But, still tough to put candles in a palmier!

So, we skipped cake and did a movie (Dark Knight) with David’s work crew instead.  Fun stuff!  I even discovered salted popcorn in one corner of the snack stand.  Woot!  Score 😛  Forgot to get a photo of the event, though. 

The next night, to make up for my terrible cake luck, I made Birthday Pancakes.  Chocolate Chip for DD and me, and plain for the guys.  It has been way too hot and humid for baking, so it was a fine compromise.  Plus, it meant I could eat chocolate pancakes for dinner!

Blew out all my candles.  Knock wood!

Slice of Life

Next day we found a pizza truck selling woodfire pizza at our usual lunch-bakery.  Hey, not something we see every day!  Apparently it was Italy Week at Bauhaus.  Whatever the case, we grabbed a pie and found a nice spot at the local park to sit and eat it.

These guys caught my eye because they are all crouching.  They look like
they are shooting craps, but apparently they were just eating lunch.

Love the park trampoline!

This guy was… er, he was washing his shoes in the fountain.  No clue.

DS’s favorite… Whatever he can find that he
can make dangerous…. Sigh.

My hair did this when we got home:

Ringlets?  Really?  The weather was making my hair really curly!

Allergy Arrest

Now, I mentioned I had been sick.  After the cold I got at the beginning of July, I got a nice viral sinus infection.  It lasted about three weeks.  And, viral.  No antibiotics. Fun! 

Then, as soon as that started to fade, I suddenly got a bout of the worst allergies I have had in a very long time.  My eyes were glued shut in the morning, I could water a plant with the tears during the day, itchy, sneezing, the whole deal.

So, since you can’t get antihistamines at the local supermarket, we headed over to the pharmacy.  After enlisting David’s help to describe my symptoms, we managed to convey what I needed.  The pharmacist headed to the back and brought back two different packages of the same stuff:

Pretty and pink.  What could go wrong?

I had never used this before, but, being desperate, we took it.  At home I did the research.  Turns out it is generic Zyrtec. Zyrtec has a good rep for low side effects and is known for its ability not to cause drowsiness.  Yay!  But, it takes a while to build up in your system.  Boo.

I took my first dose, tried to ignore my runny .. well, my runny-head.  And got to work.  But, I admit, I was not at my most efficient.  Around three I started feeling really tired. I thought that maybe the lack of sleep the night before had wiped me out.  Or, maybe this allergy was actually some sort of weird cold and I just needed to rest it out?  So, I laid down for a while, and then got up and wrote some more.  Shortly after dinner, I laid down again to ‘rest my eyes’.  I conked.  For 12 hours.

The next morning I woke up with eyes glued shut and all the same allergy symptoms as before.  So, a little groggily, I took my next dose.  Yeah.  You already know where this is heading.

It turns out that about 12-13% of the population gets drowsiness as a side effect for Zyrtec.  Of those, a small percentage, like ME, get severe drowsiness and- apparently, narcotic-like loopiness!  I spent the next 14 hours *stoned*.  Time would just sort of pass, unacknowledged.  I sat down to write to one of my editors, and sent it.  Then I looked at the clock.  Three hours had passed.  It was just a normal letter!  The kids would ask questions, and sentences wouldn’t form. Coherent thoughts were few and far between.  I suppose if I were less of a control freak and had nothing pressing to get done it might have been an interesting way to completely tune out.  But, as it was, I did not have fun.  I didn’t exactly have unfun, either.  I largely just didn’t care much about things. 

I was grateful that the kids are old enough to take care of themselves and to understand why mom was floating out of her gourd all day!  (They tell me that I actually act pretty similar when I am extremely under-slept, so I guess that makes sense). 

So, anyways, no more hot pink generic Zyrtec for me!!!  Yowza!

Crowd Funding:
Black Forest games has an in house pet project that they decided to put up for crowd funding on  To get things started, they made a video, and, of course, they needed an English Speaking announcer.  After testing various folks in the company, David got chosen.  So, now he is a slightly frantic talking owl.

They are actually doing quite well.  Which is good, cause it is a nice project.

The link for the kickstart page with the full video is here.  It is quite fun and well worth the watch if you a) like games or b) have ever met David.

Moving Day

Since the company recently moved to Offenburg from Kehl, a couple of David’s work buds were moving this weekend.  Since I was wrapped up with overdue deadlines, we sent our Menfolk to represent.  DS had a really nice time and, I am told, made himself quite helpful!  DH woke up this morning with astoundingly sore arms, but otherwise weathered the experience well.

I don’t have many photos because David said the crew were a little camera shy and I don’t want to upset anyone.  But, here are a couple:

DS and Sarah, unloading the van
See the wires hanging from the ceiling?  Lights are not part of German
rentals.  There are 25 wires meant for lights.  No fixtures.

DS got a little tired
Hulk has nothing on Vladimir!

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