Really, really old

I’m an American.  We count things as “old” when they’ve been around for 200 years, and “really old” when they existed when our country was just a conglomeration of colonies.

In Vienna, I am surrounded by things that are “really old”, or even, my new classification of “really, really old” which pretty much accounts for stuff old enough to not quite make sense to my brain.  (Like, for example, the building I live in, which has been around since at least the 16th century.)

There are also plenty of new things in Vienna, like the Starbucks that just went in on the next block, about 1 minute from my front door.  I’m excited about it, and I stopped in yesterday to check it out.  On my way home, I noticed a sign outside of the restaurant next door, pointed directly at the new Starbucks:


And I had to laugh.  Yep — really, really old.

My own words

Things can get crazy here pretty quickly.  This afternoon, I had just made Benjamin lunch and set it on the coffee table when he asked me to identify something in a new book of his.  I turned my back on the coffee table for all of (literally) about 30 seconds when I heard a crash and turned around to see Liam, covered in tomato sauce and Benjamin’s lunch (pizza) face down on the floor.  The pizza wasn’t that hot (thankfully) so no harm was done, just a big mess and a need to reinvent lunch for B.

I picked Liam up, picked the pizza up, put Liam back down (he was covered in sauce, and I didn’t feel like smelling like pizza the rest of the afternoon) and turned around to get a napkin (again, maybe 20 seconds of walking from one side of the living room to the other to pick up a napkin) and turned around to see my very fast youngest child assaulting my computer (which, very foolishly, had been left on, unlocked and within reach of my kids).  By the time I got to him (about 4 seconds later) my computer was covered in pizza sauce, he had completely changed the way my Outlook interface looks and started to compose a message to a listserv at MITRE.  (I still haven’t figured out how to change the interface back, because babies have special computer ninja powers that allow them to access otherwise unknown features of applications and the operating system.)

At this point, I, my youngest child, my floor and my computer are covered in pizza sauce, when about 90 seconds earlier life was peaceful and I was feeling quite together.  A little frustrated, I sat down, scooped Liam up (pizza sauce and all) and said, “Argh, Liam!  What am I going to do with you?”

At which point, Benjamin came up to me with a patient and understanding expression and said, “Mommy, I know little brothers sometimes mess things up, but Liam doesn’t mean to.  He’s only a baby.”

After removing my jaw from the floor, and saying something like, “I know, baby, I’m just frustrated”, he responds with, “Sometimes people get angry, but it’s ok” (still patting my shoulder).

I guess he’s been paying attention, after all.  And, he’s right.  So, I gave both Liam and Benjamin big hugs and lots of kisses, cleaned everyone up and we all shared leftovers for lunch.

(Thanks, Benjamin.)


Too much noise

One of Benjamin’s many books is one that was also a favorite of mine as a little kid, “Too Much Noise”.  It’s a folk story about a man named Peter who is unhappy that his house it too noisy, so he is advised to fill it with all manner of loud barnyard animals.  After the animals have been removed, he finds that the noises he used to find so bothersome are now pleasant and peaceful.

I love that book — I loved it as a kid.  I’ve enjoyed it, now that I’m the mommy, because it really provides some wisdom that can be applied to anything from holidays to house guests to bringing a new baby home:  nothing will make you appreciate how easy your life is like having it be hard for a while.

That’s what this is like:  living in Vienna is my “Too Much Noise”.  This is so much harder than anything I’ve tried to do before — when I go back to the US, where I speak the language, where I have the support of my friends and family, where I understand the culture and the etiquette and how everything works, I will be able to do anything.  Short of an incident that would require a call to some sort of emergency services, I really think I’ll be able to handle just about any eventuality.  (And hopefully, I’ll also learn some things here about enjoying what’s around you, taking the kids out and about, and being a little less hard on myself.)

If I can do this, what can’t I do?