Another Lent where I disappoint myself. Living in the predominantly Catholic Bavaria, many people give up something for Lent. Sugar, alcohol, smoking or swearing are the common vices selected from which to abstain. 

 As seen in the photo for this post, I gave up swearing and sweets. Wanting to shed the holiday kilos that I’m still carrying as saddlebags, I thought this would be the perfect motivation. I would set a stellar example for my children in my dedication and discipline. Also, the 5 Euro penalty (1 Euro for the children) per infraction should motivate too, as I hate losing money.  
Twenty-four hours into Lent the kids began bartering.  

 “What about Sprite? Does Sprite count?”

 “Yogurt with Smarties?”

 “Honey Loops?”

 “Sugar Smacks?”

 “But it’s cereal, Mama.”
This is what happens when intentions are not pure. I selfishly thought about my saddlebags and not my religion.  
My photo documents the adjustments to the fast. To my shame, no sweets for the children became 2 sweets per day only. Yes, I folded. I couldn’t hear the whining and begging anymore.    
Then came the loophole. Visiting my son’s former kindergarten to catch up with our favorite teachers from his formative years, a teacher explained the Catholic fasting rules from her church. Sundays are fasting free. Meaning, you can break your fast for 24 hours.

 I was skeptical until our local paper published an article written by a priest confirming that yes, you may break your fast on Sunday.

 Sunday at my house is now like Christmas, Easter and a birthday party in one with Xbox marathons, chocolate, Haribo, crepes and eating tablespoons of Nutella out of the jar (no double dipping though, you have to get a new spoon).

 It still doesn’t seem right to me. Can’t I/we hold out a measly 40 days?

 I owe the kitty 20 Euros and I still need to fess up to the frosting I consumed while making a birthday cake. The fasting is wreaking havoc on my conscience.  
Next year I’ll be smarter. I’ll give up lobster, Beluga caviar and 40 percent cacao chocolate.  I shouldn’t have too much of these anyway…


Fist Bump

Seeing that I speak English all day to children as well as non-native speakers where I need to speak slower and with a limited vocabulary, it’s no wonder I’ve lost a bit of my advanced, erudite English. Now I’m just showing off. I keep my vocabulary limited, nonsuperfluous. Actually, I never use words like superfluous. I tend to speak slower in English, except during my daily conversations with Mom and Sister, or with my native English speaking friends here.

What struck me lately is how I am no longer current with the latest American slang.

For example: “Drop the mic”. Continue reading “Fist Bump”

Perfectly Speaking

I accept that I may never fully understand the dative and accusative cases in German and will continue to mix up the der/die/das of nouns. I’m ok with this because it is not my native tongue. I’m envious of my children growing up bilingual German and English and how they switch effortlessly between the two. I even quiz them randomly to test if they know the der/die/das of certain nouns.

“Fledermaus?” I asked my seven year old.

Continue reading “Perfectly Speaking”

White Elephant 

The Hostess peered into the gift bag and carefully peeled away the tissue paper. She looked up at us, her guests, and giggled,
“A small bottle of champagne!” she held it up for us to see and reached back into the bag, extracting a tall, thin glass carafe with a cork top.

“Ohhh! What a lovely shape! What a nice size!” several crowed.

“You didn’t want this anymore?” one woman asked.

“No,” the regal, salt and pepper haired woman answered, “I just didn’t have space anymore and I realized what a shame to throw it away. It just sat there in my pantry collecting dust.”

Several nodded in agreement. Didn’t we all have items like that in our pantries?

Continue reading “White Elephant “


As if Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December wasn’t bad enough for waistlines, one hardly has time to get adjusted to New Year’s Resolutions when Fasching, the Mardi Gras of Krapfen Eating Gluttony Contests begins. Krapfen are glorious fried puffed dough with a filling and a sugar glaze, aka donut. No, these are not official donut eating competitions, this is just my struggle with myself. How long can I hold out to not eat any of the brightly colored, over stuffed, over sugared delicious round puffs of fried dough. And yes, they have a plethora of red jelly filled donuts. My favorite. I can usually hold out until the end of the first week of February, then it’s no holds bar on Krapfen consumption. Look at the photo. How could you resist this selection? They do this on purpose. They have a paltry selection the ENTIRE year, the usual marmalade filling for donuts being apricot. Apricot?  Really?  Who likes apricot marmalade? The next widely used donut fillings in Bavaria are vanilla pudding followed by Nutella (no complaints there). But still, quite the meager selection. When February rolls around, they offer such a creative palette of donuts that I can’t help myself. To make matters worse, they start selling the donuts earlier each year. This year my local bakery started the second week of January. At this rate we’ll be eating jelly donuts instead of figgy pudding in December.   

Maybe this is the point of Fasching. To have one last hurrah before really buckling down and starting New Year’s Resolutions. Because January was just a dress rehearsal.  
My favorite jeans still don’t fit.  
Passt Schon.  
Hau rein and have a Krapfen.

Everyone knows what a Haiku is, right?  


Haiku is a Japanese poetry form consisting of 17 syllables over 3 lines.

 The first line contains 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the third 5 syllables.

 Didn’t you all write Haikus in elementary school? I feel like we were always writing Haikus.  


I compose Haikus in my head when jogging, swimming, or to calm myself from shouting out in a plane during turbulence or running out of the car while stuck in traffic. It keeps my brain active and focused. I think I read about Haruki Murakami thinking up Haikus when he’s out running miles and miles.


On Sunday, I enjoyed a hot bath and read my favorite women’s magazine, which will remain unnamed since I don’t have an intellectual property lawyer in place yet. A Haiku popped in my head about the magazine. I was especially tickled with myself because I composed my first Haiku in German. I got out of the tub and wrote it down. Later that evening, I thought I’d email it to the magazine’s editorial department as they encourage letters from their readers. Why not? Everybody loves a good Haiku!


I’ll paraphrase as I don’t want to get myself or anyone else in trouble. I’m not mentioning any names, only my own. I’m the butt of my own jokes.



Hallo Magazine Redaktion!

 Haiku über die Name Zeitschrift:


3 syllables Name Zeitschrift

gut für die Badewanne

immer was neues



 Name of Magazine

good to read in the bathtub

always something new


 Then I followed with nice, genuine compliments about the magazine.


Servus aus Bayern!


 Imagine my delight when I received a response!


Liebe Frau Tolan,

 Thanking me for my email and positive feedback.  

 Wir wünschen Ihnen und Haiku auch weiterhin viel Spaß beim Lesen Ihrer Name Zeitschrift!



 We wish you and Haiku continued enjoyment reading your XX Magazine!


? ? ?

 Did you catch it?  

 At first I didn’t. I had to read it over a few times.  

 She though someone named Haiku wrote the Haiku poem. When I read my German sentence before the Haiku again, I realized that it does indeed read like Haiku wrote words about the magazine.  

 And Haiku would probably be in elementary school.

 Friends, my German Haiku writing is at a child’s level.


 I called my Bavarian for Foreigners Editor and read my email and the response. I thought she had an asthma attack from laughing so hard. I myself nearly grabbed my inhaler.  


“Maybe she thought Haiku was a strange spelling for Heiko?” my friend asked.


“Do you know what a Haiku is?” I asked.


“Actually, no.”


So in fairness to the editorial assistant, maybe Japanese Haiku poems are not part of the German school curriculum. Ever.  


I’m now wondering if I need to go back to German classes, if my Haikus are reading like an eight year old wrote them . . .