Category Archives: Family


Writing Valentiny Stories

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I’m participating in Susanna Hill’s lovely “Valentiny” story contest. For more entries, hop over to Susanna’s blog and read them all.

Special Delivery

Every year, Pepper and Mom exchange Valentine’s cards. And they have an extra lovely breakfast to celebrate.

This year, Pepper wants to do something special.

She makes many cards.

She makes them extra fancy.

Pepper hands two cards to the mailman.

She gives the rest to her friends.

Pepper wonders when her cards will arrive.

Not today.

Not tomorrow.

And there’s no mail on Sunday.

On Monday, Grandpa calls. He’s ecstatic. He got Pepper’s mail.

Pepper is happy.

And she’s also worried.

Mom shakes her head. “Why are you so jumpy?”

She puts up all the cards Pepper got from her friends.

Pepper sighs loudly.

Mom wrinkles her forehead. “Aren’t you excited?”

But Mom looks troubled, too.

Pepper doesn’t sleep well.

On Valentine’s Day morning, Pepper has no card for Mom. And Mom has no card for Pepper.

It’s a very quiet breakfast.

Until the mailman arrives.

And he delivers Pepper’s card for Mom.

And he also brings Mom’s card for Pepper.

What a special way to get them.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


Christmas is a wonderful/stressful Time

Christmas is a wonderful time.

Christmas is a stressful time.

Christmas is a wonderful time…

I could go on and on. Because both statements are certainly true and both statements certainly take their turns.

The truth is, however, that Christmas isn’t that stressful for me. Our celebration is low key. Our food is fun but doesn’t take days to prepare. We don’t have a strict schedule around here, so come on over and have a glass of champagne with us. (Hey, I’m German, so if there’s a celebration, there has to be Champagne).

But then there are the presents and I find those stressful.

We tried for years to go minimalist and even that was stressful. For one, you’re constantly explaining yourself. And on top of that, if you only give e.g., three little presents, those three had better be wonderful.

And then there’s the clutter…. Which is why I’m currently in a major decluttering process so that after the wrapping paper is torn off, our house doesn’t explode.

And least but not last, there’s my own gift…. perfectionism.

I LOVE to find the perfect present for the right person. And it took me some grief to understand that that’s only possible (in most cases) when I see people frequently. Otherwise, the gift search is fun for me but doesn’t really match their desires, and so I had to give in and wrap up gift cards for older nieces and nephews.

But for my own kids, I like to think big picture. Can there be a theme? And adventure? An experiment?

So last year, I had great ideas.

I built a vet clinic for my older daughter.

I built a coffee shop for my younger daughter.

Both were huge hits.


This year, however, I don’t have ideas like this. The girls are more into “ordinary” things and I honor this. But I still expected more from my own creativity. And that caused me to stress.

Until I let it go. Because grand ideas come and go. But more importantly, my own expectations are purely my own. And my kids will very likely not realize that this Christmas eve I’m not staying up to build.

But instead, I might just have a celebratory glass of champagne.

Here’s to ease, relaxation, and happy holidays.


Thoughts on/in Cursive


My daughter is working hard on her handwriting. And so I told her that with the progress she’s making, we should be able to start cursive soon.


Her eyes got big. Her hands a little jittery.


Yup, really.

Cursive, as you probably already figured, is a big deal for her. Some kind of rite of passage for growing up.

I believe that we pick our own rites. What’s important to one, might not be important to another. However, writing cursive as a stepping stone for growing up makes perfect sense to me.

  • Little kids don’t write cursive. So when you do, you officially enter the older group. And because there are only two groups, you’re pretty much grown up.
  • You become an artist. Cursive is flowing, and beautiful, and – without a question, artistic.
  • You get to use ink. In Germany, and in our family, starting cursive means starting to use a fountain pen. So all the sudden, a new medium is at your disposal.
  • You can read notes and texts that were impossible to decipher before. All the sudden, you can dive in historical texts.
  • You get to truly be able to become pen pals with your grandparents or other folks who use cursive in their letters.

Needless to say, the elimination of cursive in more and more schools makes me sad. And worried. (You can read more here: )

But even if it’s no longer a mandatory subject, it will always remain an artform. A meditation of some sort. And, for some, a rite of passage.