Saturday, August 30, 2008

Knirri, Knarri, Knorri

What's Steph been doing these days? That's a very good question. What does a person do in Switzerland in between nannying and waiting for school to start? Lots of interesting things, of course. I've been up a tree, over the river and through the woods, roasting marshmallows, investigating castle ruins, riding my bike, and making all sorts of interesting rail trip plans, including a potential concert in Zurich (Jason Mraz) and an expedition to the largest glacier in Europe. Unfortunately, I'm afraid there isn't much that's interesting to tell about it all. So, I'll just sort of summarize a couple points of semi-interest in no particular order:

-Climbing. I had fun learning to use this nifty climbing gear last weekend. Unfortunately, thanks to where Dominic and Raphael are standing, you can see that I'm not especially high up. I should have told them to squat. But, If I remember correctly, I actually had been much higher--at least another 20 feet or so--and I was on my way down at this point. That was it, I'm pretty sure.

-Bikes. I've ridden my bike more this month than I have in the last ten years all put together I think, and it's been quite fun. At least the riding DOWN-the-hill part has been. The riding-back-up-the-hill part isn't going so well, to be quite frank, so I had the brilliant idea of adding a motor. How hard can that be? They sell kits and whatnot, so I'm sure it's quite manageable. I thought it was a pretty good idea, so I mentioned it to a couple people. Except for Emily, who knows brilliance whenever and wherever she sees it, the others were entirely opposed to the concept. Gregg said I should learn to shift properly, and Davorin said if it was a little extra oomph I was looking for, he would advise eating a bigger breakfast.

-Haircuts and small towns. I got my hair cut down the road yesterday by a very lovely lady who speaketh no English. Now, I mention this partly because it was a major accomplishment in German for me to make an appointment, show up at the right time, tell her what I wanted and then chat about our families and all sorts of other things for a whole hour entirely in German. But remember how I said that I keep meeting people who know things about me, even though it's the first time we've met?! In our first conversation, I told her this much about myself: My name is stephanie. I don't speak much German. I'd like to make an appointment. That was a week ago. By the time I showed up for my appointment yesterday, she mysteriously knew where I lived and who I worked for!! And although she politely asked me where I'm from, I can't imagine that she didn't already know that too. crazy little town. Nice lady though. And a pretty good haircut too.

-In other language news (this topic just never wears out, does it?), today I was out shopping in Basel with Aubrey and Mallory and we got stopped twice by people who overheard our English. The first was an Obama campaigner making sure we were registered to vote (and, to her credit, she did ask fist if we were US citizens...otherwise it would have been great fun to tell her we were Canadian). The second time was when Aubrey and I were sitting outside the Starbucks chatting and a guy stopped short next to our table and said, "HEY! ENGLISH! Where are you from?" and wanted to shake hands. Upon hearing we were from the states, he declared that we don't speak real English. He, on the other hand, is from Bristol, where presumably they do speak real English, and, he said, "that explains why I sound a bit like a pirate." Indeed.

-Pippi Langstrumpf (aka pippi longstockings) and Goodnight MoonI've been reading lots of children's books lately. This has been good for my vocabulary and grammar. I read goodnight moon 5 times the other morning, and while I have to admit I didn't want to read it a 6th time right then, I do like reading to the girls. It also is my personal relationship barometer with them. When I started nannying, they sat a good safe distance away when we read. I don't know how they could evensee the pictures. I felt like one of those people that does story time at the know, that miraculous ability to hold a book up, face out, so everyone can see and yet still manage to read it at the same time? That was me. Except I improved the trick by also sounding out German words, or by translating English books on the fly. Well, as of yesterday, the personal bubbles have shrunk to the point that I can't see the pictures because there are two little girls snuggled up, leaning in, pointing and talking about what we're reading. That's a big improvement, I think.

Nannying this week has had me thinking on the topic of time and what it means to make the most of our days. In many ways, ever day looks exactly the same right now: the same playground, hide and seek, coloring every day (I draw a lot of bunnies and horses for M2), the same books and songs, naps, diapers, messy meal times and lots of cleanups of every sort. But there are little changes--new confidence and coordination on the playground, some creativity in finding new hiding places, recognition of more colors (or at least possibly an improved application of "red," which for a while was attached to every color in the rainbow, with the occasional variety of "dunkel rot" (dark red), also liberally applied). But while these days seem the same, all these little changes will amount to a tremendous difference in a few months and years. There's a gap in knowledge and ability between them at this point, and that's only due to an extra 2 years on M1's part. 2 years isn't very long! That helps me keep perspective. Every day of loving them, listening with my full attention, teaching and correcting gently, and encouraging them builds into who they are becoming through all these similar-seeming days (or at least I hope it does). So that's that. But, I think even for us, there are lots of small decisions and habits we make each day that individually or on a daily basis truly are small, yet over time they are who we are becoming, for better or worse, and our lives go by so fast.

Now, I was sort of thinking about this tonight as I was stopped to talk to the neighbors pigs, Knirri, Knarri, and Knorri. As I was scratching one of them behind his big pink ears, I said, "well, dear, you're so sweet, but I guess your days are numbered, huh?" and what should spring to mind but Psalm 90, and "Teach us to number our days, that we may present to you a heart of wisdom...O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."


  1. Sounds as though you will make a very good Mom, sweetheart.

    Those names sound familiar (Knirri, etc.)-- are they part of some story?


  2. "Conversations with Knirri, Knarri, and Knorri", the new children book by Steph. =)

  3. unfortunately the conversations tend to be one-sided and would make for very short books...

    Yeah, dad, I don't know about the names. They might come from something. The chickens, by the way, have disappeared, so unless they've taken up migration...I think they've preceded the pigs in their presumed fate.

  4. Knorri makes me think of Knorrli, the mascot of the Knorr company - so the names may have piggybacked from an association with a bouillon cube and presumably their final destination.

  5. Knirri, Knarri and Knorri turn out to be the three pigs in the Dutch version of the three little pigs, as far as I could discern from Google-- being utterly illiterate in Nederlander.

  6. Stephanie! You've had this for so long and I knew nothing about it! I guess I have some catching up to do... it's fantastic though, from the looks of it you're having a blast, I'm so excited that you're doing well in German! I'm in China right now and school is a bear, but I'll try to shoot you an email when I get a sec. God bless your studies and travels!