Anna's Sixth Birthday

Monday, August 27, 2007

It is hard to believe that Anna is now 6! On the 26th, Anna celebrated her sixth birthday. I suppose that every birthday of your kids seems bigger that the ones before and that they're more and more grown up. First they don't seem to be so much of a baby and then less and less of a child. Christine and I have been excited about this birthday for a while and Anna has been excited about it too. For the past week weeks, she would always ask how many days to her birthday.

For Christine and I six is the biggest birthday for Anna yet. Within the German school system, she is now old enough that she could go into first grade, but she would be one of the youngest kids, so we decided that it was best to wait another year. She is now what is referred to as a pre-school kid, meaning that she is in her last year of kindergarten. In many cities and villages within Germany it is possible for kids to start kindergarten at 3 years of age.

This year Anna wanted to be more involved with the preparation. She helped us blow up balloons before the party started, in fact she blew up all the balloons. I must say that this is most welcome, since in the past it would have been me blowing them all up! She did try to help with making the pinata but I don't think that she liked the feel of the paste and newspaper or so. She told Christine that she wanted peach and manderin cakes, so Christine made a Fanta cake and a manderin cheesecake. Anna also decided that the guests would like to have pasta with a choice of tomato or white cheese sauce. She also helped in picking out the decorations.

You can tell that Anna is getting older. Taking a break from the party preparations, we went out to lunch. When we were driving, I looked over and saw Anna crying. When asked why she was crying, she said it was because grandpa and aunt Betty weren't going to be able to be here for her birthday. Seeing her cry and knowing that she was now really starting to realize the distance that separates my family in the U.S. from her, almost made us all cry.

Anna invited 7 girls to her kiddie party. She invited 3 from our old village, Lina, and some from her new kindergarten. In all there were 5 additional girls at our house for this party. I was really amazed that the 7 girls were not louder than they were! They played hide and seek in front of our house, but I must admit that it looked more like running than anything else. The pinata was quite a hit, literally. I settled on the girls using an old badminton racket to hit it and after several attempts (and even a round without blindfolds) I took a metal pipe and broke it open. The girls were so excited when all the candy came flying out (just as I had remembered as a kid). It seems that pinatas aren't very common around here. If you'd like to make a pinata, I used the instructions from The girls seemed to have a good time at the party.

It seemed like the girls had a good time.

In the evening some family and friends came to celebrate with us. This was nice for Oma as both of sisters were there and they doesn't get to see each other that often. Anna really enjoyed it when everyone sang Happy Birthday. Since most of the lights were turned off and our house was lite by the candles on her birthday train, it gave a really nice mood to the singing. Besides the commonly known Happy Birthday, they sang a German birthday song that many people seemed to have forgotten the words, but was fun anyways.

Some Fun things about Anna's Birthday...

Also sharring Anna's birthday (from
Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984 and the first female vice presidential of the U.S. from one of the major parties, Geraldine Ferraro. Jazz musician, Branford Marsalis, and "Home Alone" star Macaulay Caulkin.

Popular songs in 2001 include: "All for You" by Janet Jackson, "I'm Real" by Jenifer Lopez, "Again" by Lenny Kravitz, "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys, "Drops of Jupiter" by Train, "If You're Gone" by Matchbox 20, and "Independent Woman Part 1" by Destiny's Child.

Anna was born in the Chinese year of the Snake. Her Native American Zodiac is the Bear. If she were a dog she'd be 0.856360078277887 years old.

Anna is 24.8 Mercurian years old and 9.7 Venutian years old. On Jupiter she is 5339.4 Jovian days old and 0.5 years old. On Pluto she is Plutonian days old and 0.024 years old.

I have posted some pictures from Anna's birthday at flickr. Flickr is part of Yahoo and they allow you to post and share photos on the net. They're doing some real interesting things there with pictures (I plan to to a post on them in future) .

It was a nice birthday. Our Anna is now 6!

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Doctor Doctor, Bikes, and Picasa

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Doctor Doctor, Bikes, and Picasa

As we prepare for Anna’s 6th birthday this Saturday, I thought that I’d write about a few different things.

If some of you think back, you might remember playing doctor as a kid or wanting to be a doctor when you grew up. Christine was telling me about Sarah wearing a doctor’s outfit that belonged to Lena. The glasses are an old pair belonging to one of Lean’s brothers. We took a few pictures of Sara in the doctor’s outfit.

You might remember that we recently bought a bike for Anna on eBay, well we went out for our first family bike trip this past weekend. We rode a trail near our home to one of the nearby villages. All together I think that it was about 6 kilometers, so Anna did a good job in riding that distance. Back when Christine was pregnant with Sarah, we bought a bike attachment. For lack of a better word, we have always referred to it as “the tent”. We bought a Cheetah 2 person child carrier made by Chariot Carriers at a local bike shop. The original intention was that we could attach it to either of our bikes and the girls could ride along with us. While we did use it this way a few times, we used it as a stroller quite a bit. The whole time that we stayed in Belgium, we used it as our primary stroller. Since Sarah seems to ride like a turtle at the moment, it might be a while before we can all ride our bikes, but with the Cheetah we have the possibility of riding together (allbeit Sarah in it). We're looking forward to when she can ride a little faster and we think that it probably won't be too long till she is without training wheels as well.

In some sadder news. the father of my friend Kurt passed away last week. Mr. Hillebrand had a stroke and was in the hospital for a few days before it happened. Kurt and I became friends back in 1985, when we were in student government together. So I’ve know Kurt and his father for around 22 years. I was the best man at Kurt’s wedding and he flew to Germany to take part in mine as a groomsman. It really meant a lot to me that he was at my wedding. From Detroit to Frankfurt is a eight hour plus flight each way (something that limits the number of visitors we see in a year!). Before I moved to Germany, Kurt and I went to the Detroit auto show on a yearly basis (about 4 times I believe). I'm wishing Kurt and his family well as they deal with their loss.

In Other News…


If you have a digital camera, there is a good chance that you have thought about organizing your digital photos. There are certainly a lot of programs that can help you do this, with varying degrees of complexity. I have used Picasa for a couple of years now. It is a program from Google. Like many things from Google it is integrated with many of the services that they offer. If you have a Blogger account, if you press the “BlogThis” button, you can post pictures to your blog. You can select “Order Prints’ to have your prints developed at a local store. Depending upon the price and service offered by the store, you’ll probably find this is cheaper than printing them out on your computer’s printer. On the organizational front, you can star some of your memorable photos so that you can find them easier. You also have the possibility of assigning keywords to your photos. Picasa even has some basic editing functions like red eye removal and photo rotation. From Picasa, you can upload pictures to the Picasa Web Album. This is a service from Google that will allow you to store your pictures online. I haven't used this that much, but I have found out that pictures posted on Blogger are stored here.

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Christine's birthday

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Christine’s Birthday….

August 14th is Christine’s birthday. Last year was one of those “big” birthdays, so there isn’t the adjustment that comes with one of those to deal with this year. I don’t want to say that it is a normal birthday, because there really isn’t such an animal. Birthdays mark that another year has passed in your life but it is also a time to realize, that you are lucky to be alive and have been blessed. It is a time to celebrate life, even if it isn’t a full-blown three-ring circus in honor of the event.

Last year since we both celebrated one of the “big” birthdays, we planned to have a bigger joint celebration between our birthdays, but it didn’t work out. So, this year we’ve decided that we wouldn’t attempt anything else so big. Christine’s mom will be here looking after the girls, so that the two of us can have our own quite celebration.

While Anna realized that her mom was having a birthday last year, it seems to have now sunk in with Sarah, that here mom is having a birthday. Sarah now seems to have “birthday awareness”. Anna’s birthday is 12 days after Christine, so August is a bigger birthday month for us (not to mention that we have several family and friends celebrating their birthdays this month). I think that it is special that the two of them share the same month but they each have their own days. Sarah’s birthday comes more than a month after mine, but within the space of a year is closer to mine and there is Christmas and New Years in between, so it seems pretty close together.

In honor of Christine's birthday I created several slide shows and have posted them to our channel on YouTube ( One of special note is one that I put together of the girls dressed as brides.

According to, Chirstine shares her birthday with David Crosby (of “Crosby, Stills, and Nash” fame), actor/comedian Steve Martin, novelist Danielle Steel, Far Side Creator Gary Larson, NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and actresses Susan Saint James and Halle Berry.

From ...

Christine was conceived on or about November 21st. In the Julian calendar here birthday is 2439351.5. She was born in the Chinese year of the horse. Her Native American zodiac sign is Salmon and her plant is Raspberry. Her birthday is in the Mayan calendar. As of August 13th at 2:02:42 AM EDT she was 21,562,682 minutes old. The moon’s phase was a waning crescent on the day she was born. In dog years she is 5.86066536203522 years old. (still chasing cats)

From ...

Also sharing Christine’s birthday but somewhat earlier…

1297 - Emperor Hanazono, Emperor of Japan (d. 1348)

1642 - Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (d. 1723)

1688 - Frederick William I of Prussia (d. 1740)

1740 - Pope Pius VII (d. 1823)

1777 - Francis I of the Two Sicilies (d. 1830)

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In the middle of vacation season

Thursday, August 9, 2007

In The Middle of Vacation Season...

As many of my colleagues are currently on vacation (or will be shortly) it seems that anytime you want to get a hold of someone that they're on vacation. Also this got me thinking about the vacation we took to Austria in August 2006. So I decided to post a few pictures.


Barry Bonds Breaks Hank Aaron's Home Run Record

Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's home record on August 7, 2007 (story at Yahoo) in San Francisco against the Washington Senators. Mike Bacsik was on the pitching mound. You could say that Barry comes from baseball royalty being the son of Bobby Bonds, a distant cousin of Reggie Jackson (Mr. October), and is the godson of Willie Mays. Some people will say that this record is tainted because of alleged steriod use by Barry Bonds. Dan Wetzel
talks about how the new record is tarnished for this reason and how baseball has been plagued by steroid use since 1996 and has been largely ignored by the commissioner, owners, and the sporting world in general. He has also indicated how Barry Bonds isn't the hero that Hank Aaron was and still is. One of the problems with the media and celebrity age that we live in is that athletes and other celebrities are constantly under the microscope and it is hard for anyone to be a hero under all that scrutiny. It is also maybe hard to see a long-time record held by a legend of the game fall. Some records seem like there so far out of reach that they should never be broken, let along by mere mortals. Here is a column by Tim Brown he isn't as accusative as Dan Wetzel. Only time will be able to tell us how MLB history remembers Barry Bonds and his new all-time Home Run record and what will your average fan think of all this in 20 or 30 years.

Van Halen Going on Tour With David Lee Roth

It was announced at yahoo the other day that Van Halen is going on tour with David Lee Roth and Eddy's son on bass. The tour is currently only planned for the U.S. and given the history of Diammond Dave and the band, there is a pretty good chance that the tour doesn't happen or is cut short, but for Van Halen fans this is pretty exciting news. When searching on Wikipedia, there were 999 entries related to Van Halen including a discography, one on the band members, and so on. I haven't seen any statistics on this but amongst Van Halen fans there is a debate is to who is better David Lee Roth or Sammy Haggar. The Sammy Hagar era is often referred to as Van Hagar, Sam Halen, and others. For the Dave fans, this has to be pretty exciting. I have seen Dave in concert on his "Eat Em And Smile" Tour and I saw Van Halen with Sammy on their "5150" Tour and again on their "Monsters of Rock" Tour. I would love to see Van Halen with Dave. I hope that this really happens and that they're able to record together again. Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 2007 Van Halen joined R.E.M as the latest inductees. In addition to Dave and Sammy, Van Halen was also fronted by Gary Cherone. For those of you that have been following the band's saga more closely then I, are probably aware of the rifts between Eddie and Sammy and Michael Anthony and how Sammy and the band parted only to tour together and part again. Dave has long been rumored to be rejoining the band several times and he did 2 songs with the band on their Best of Volume 1 and appeared with the band on the MTV 1996 Music Video Awards. So it would seem that we'll have to see if the tour and any new recordings follow.

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Friday, August 3, 2007


I found out that you can turn photos into Simpson's characters. I first read about this here. So without further adieu here we are as Simpsons....



Many of you are probably familiar with Wikipedia. It is a web-based encyclopedia edited by its users (here is the official "Wikipedia about"). This site is one of the more famous wikis. While this is not an academic web site, it is a handy place to get quick information on a subject. Posted towards the end of most entries are a list of sources used in that entry, so that you can probe further if you would like or maybe you might care to do some fact checking on the entry. This site has grown into one of the more popular ones on the net. Subject to the rules and conditions of the site, almost anyone can become a member allowing them to post and edit entries. If you know a lot about a subject and believe that an area of that subject is incomplete or inaccurate, this would be an opportunity for you to contribute. Some of Wikipedia's sister projects include the following sites: dictionary, news, learning, open content textbooks, quotations, free content publications, and media.

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