Sunday, December 31, 2006

A German Christmas

There are a bunch of photos in this post, but if you reach the end and are still wishing there were more, I've included a link at the bottom to the Christmas 2006 photo album.

This year we got our very first Christmas tree. We've always spent a lot of time around the holiday visiting family so it never made sense to decorate at all before. It was very special to experience the excitement with Andrew and Elijah as we watched Greg wrestle the 15-foot tree out of the van and up the stairs to set it up in our sun-room.
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Christmas tree photos courtesy of Greg (take photo at slow speed while camera is set up on a tripod, to recreate the light effects seen here.)
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These ornaments were purchased at a Christmas market in Trier that we shopped at a few weeks ago:
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The bells, balls and drops are handpainted and glittery, cream and burgundy. We loved them as soon as we saw them.

This set was bought around the corner, and as soon as I saw the colors I knew that they belonged on our tree:
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See if you can spot Greg in this ornament.
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No? Here, look a little closer:
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This month, I've worked a lot on making this holiday really meaningful for our little family. I discovered just how important that was when our attempt to celebrate Thanksgiving on our own in November ended feeling a bit hollow. From December 1st, I had the boys open a chocolate advent calendar, one day at a time, and told them the story that makes Christmas meaningful to our family; Jesus' birth, etc. We printed out coloring pages that I found online, and stopped often at the large nativity scene displayed in the store window across the street. I also told them about who St. Nicholas/Santa was (I related one of the many stories surrounding his life, where he anonymously gives gifts to an orphanage), since Andrew was asking "what's that guy doing?" about every Santa statue and picture we saw set up in town.

Here in Germany, they celebrate Christmas for three days, and we did the same. On Christmas Eve we ate a light breakfast and the boys opened some gifts.
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Hannah and I then threw ourselves into preparation for one hell of a brunch: fried or scrambled eggs, home-fries (chunks of potatoes fried in butter and a few spices until crispy and cooked through), Schenkin Spek (might be spelling this wrong -- I probably am, but it's sort of the German answer to American bacon, which you can't find here. Very very salty, almost no fat, kind of similar to prosciutto. Pretty much just super thinly sliced cured ham), and cinnamon rolls. Very tasty. Dinner was a light, spicy shrimp stew over basmati (Gourmet recipe).

The next morning, Greg went to pick up my brother Jonathan (Jom) at the airport, and they were back here towards lunchtime. Hannah and I once again cooked like mad, this time all day. Our Thanksgiving meal in November had flopped in several ways, mostly due to the fact that we didn't take into account some German ingredients, and also the size of my oven (for some reason we chose to make a whole lot of baked dishes, and my oven is tiny and has only one rack). For the big Christmas dinner, we decided that we would plan things out as carefully as was humanly possible.

We started by choosing dishes based on the ingredients available to us locally, as well as things that would remind us of home enough to feel traditional. We sourced our family cookbook as well as the Christmas issue of Gourmet for this. Our menu ended up looking like this:
Flank Steak (Grandma's recipe, which is marinated and broiled -- delicious!)
Braised red onions (from Gourmet, and uses fresh Thyme sprigs and apple juice -- ends up coated in this syrupy glaze)
Smashed potatoes (Greg's recipe with dried oregano, tons of sour cream and butter, plenty of salt, and some potato skin throughout)
Cracked Wheat Rolls (Moosewood Celebrates: buttery, slightly sweet, and crunchy with Bulgar -- always a huge hit, no matter who I make them for)
Sweet potato souffle (from our family cookbook -- we have no idea why this is called a souffle when it's actually a casserole of mashed up sweet potatoes with a sugar/pecan crust on top. Hannah made it better than ever by oven roasting the sweet potatoes instead of using canned, and holding back on some of the sugar, which brought out the tuber's earthy flavor.)
Caesar Salad (Our family recipe, modified slightly because we didn't have enough cheese to make it the "right" way, but it ended up tasting even better with all of the rich food we'd been eating)

For dessert I made cranberry cupcakes with Dulce DeLeche frosting (Gourmet recipe), and Hannah made an apple pie. We also had countless dozens of cookies, which we had made for neighbors and friends, but somehow still had too many of.
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(Colorful Rice Crispy Treats, Molasses Crinkles, Fig Swirls, Shortbread-Dolce DeLeche-Chocolate Bars, Chocolate-Hazlenut Crinkles)

We planned out to the minute what time each thing would hit the stove or oven, and shockingly enough, even with all of those different dishes and mostly just the two of us responsible for it all, we pulled it off without a hitch. It was the most fantastic dinner that Hannah and I have ever made, I think, and we got it on the table before 6pm. We were terribly proud of ourselves. (In our family, holiday dinners are usually served rather late, because there's always *something* that needs to be done, or the person responsible for a particular dish isn't being...well, responsible.)
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(Elijah, eating the frosting and pecans off of a cupcake)

After dinner we still had time to eat dessert with the boys, sing some Christmas carols around the piano, watch Andrew and Elijah open the rest of their gifts, and have them call family back home to say "thank-you" and "Merry Christmas".

We put the little people to bed, ladled out mugs of Glu-Wine (spiced, sweet mulled wine, pronounced "vine") which had been warming in a crock pot, and opened the rest of the gifts. The evening was lovely, and I feel like we were all able to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas, as believed by our family.
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(Hannah opens a tiny album I made for her out of a tic-tac tin, sort of similar to Grace's -- sorry, I forgot to get close-ups.)

The next day was relaxed, full of left-overs, new toys, and tons of good conversation. (If you know my siblings and I at all, you will realize that the latter is never difficult to achieve.)

Two days after Christmas, Greg drove Jom and Hannah back to the airport for their flight to Italy, where they will spend the next few weeks before Hannah returns to school and Jom comes back here for another week or so.

The day after they left, with Greg back at work and siblings traveling, I was more aware than ever of my roll as "house-wife", "stay-at-home mommy of toddlers", and "pregnant person". This plunged me down the steep side of an emotional roller-coaster, where I wondered if I was even a real person, and was certain that my identity as "Faith" had been lost entirely. It's rather cool how pregnant hormones can let me feel things so starkly. Oi. Thankfully Greg is amazing, and a good listener. I wrote a bunch in my journal, and was over it in about a day. Now on to New Year!

Still want to see more? Click here for extra photos.

Friday, December 29, 2006


I've just found the most intriguing site. It's terribly interesting and rather voyeuristic, but I'm not sure that's such a bad thing, in this case. Regardless, it's a fascinating project. Check it out: PostSecret

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Two weeks before Christmas, Greg and I took the boys and met our friends, Jeff, CC and their 3-year-old The Other Andrew to Trier. Trier is the oldest city in Germany, and has a beautiful, large market square, which is especially interesting at Christmastime. They have a fascinating history; a comprehensive explanation here. In it's day, the city was known as "The Second Rome", and was an imperial capital of Constantine The Great. Random trivia fact: Trier was the birthplace of philosopher Karl Marx.

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We explored and shopped at the markt platz, stopped to hear street performers play/sing traditional German music, ate fried potatoes and sauteed mushrooms with parsley and mayonnaise (strange, I know, but that's how it was served), took a look at Porta Nigra, and went inside the oldest German church, the gorgeous Dom St. Peter, (also known as Trier Cathedral), where the Holy Robe (thought to be part of Jesus' robe that he wore before he was killed) is enshrined behind the alter. We took a bunch of pictures, which would make this blog rather slow to load, so I am linking to the photo album of our trip instead. I've included comments as the title to each picture; if you have any more questions about what you see there, leave a comment here for me.

I'll blog about the Christmas market at Burg Lichtenberg tomorrow (hopefully), and then finally get to our Christmas celebration here at the House Of Darling. I'm so behind on everything, but since we've got so many great pictures I feel compelled to share all of it with you and not just skip ahead as I am so tempted to do. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jingle Bells!

Ok, the podcast is up. Fastforward to minute 43 to hear cuteness.

We're still alive!

Hi everyone! Terribly sorry for the long pause in blogging. (Alicia, I meant to write back to you, but it kept slipping my mind!) I've been crazy busy with Christmas gifts, etc. (Check my fiber arts blog if you're curious -- my family has already opened all of the gifts, so there's no possibility of spoiled surprises at this point.)

We've been to a Christmas market in Trier, a Renaissance festival/Christmas market at the castle in Burg Lichtenberg, Hannah flew in on Saturday and Jom will follow in a few days. I've knit a hat in two days, a pair of socks in three, created several tiny scrapbooks, done digital layouts, and stayed up until 2 in the morning wrapping gifts at least once.

We put up our Christmas tree, bought our very first set of ornaments, and I'm making an unusual tree skirt (sewn, not knit) which I'll post at the fiber arts blog in a few days. Hannah and I are still working on a garland that may or may not be done in time for Christmas.

Hannah and I will be spending the next few days baking like crazy to create gourmet cookie plates for the neighbors and for the Christmas Eve party we'll be attending.

If you just got our Christmas card and the return label says something about GA, please email me and I'll send you the new one. That was a mistake that made Greg oh so happy. ('Twas my fault, but I'm pretty sure it's not the end of the world)

We have tons of pictures from all of the above, and I'll post again when I can.

In the next hour or so my latest episode of my podcast will be up. If you want to hear the most adorable remix of Jingle Bells (courtesy of Andrew and Elijah), fast forward to somewhere around minute 45. (You don't need an iPod or anything else special to listen to a podcast -- just click "listen", and you can listen straight from your computer.)

Much love to all of you, and I hope that everyone is having a wonderful time preparing for the holiday.

Friday, December 01, 2006


It all started with these Advent calendars.
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There is an older lady that we often bump into during our morning excursions. She shops at the same places we do, often at the same time. Right away, she decided to "adopt" the boys, and every time she sees us she tells them things in broken English/German, and buys the boys treats (bananas, chocolates, cookies, whatever).

Today we saw her at the market, then as we were walking back home she caught up to us and asked if we were going into this one whole foods store we usually stop at. I indicated that we weren't; we'd stopped to watch a truck unload some furniture (the wonders of being a toddler's mom -- I get to stop and stare at anything). A few minutes later the lady came back with two advent calendars for the boys. I was so touched. Today is the first of December, and I'd forgotten all about the Advent remembrance. When I was little, several times I remember opening up window after window of a calendar, counting down the days until Christmas, thinking about the Christmas story, and I remember it really meaning something to me.

I have a Greek Orthodox friend in Georgia who has three little children, and as I got to know her, I became so jealous of their beautiful traditions surrounding their religious holidays. There was always something interesting and meaningful going on (including special desserts, crafts, etc.) that the children could actually get a hold of. They were always involved somehow, and that got me thinking about what I could do with Andrew and Elijah.

When we celebrated Thanksgiving with Hannah and her roommate a few weeks ago, something struck me. I had wanted to make it a very special thing -- Hailey had never experienced a Thanksgiving (being Australian, she'd never had the opportunity), and Andrew was finally old enough to understand it a little. Also, this would be our first real Thanksgiving on our own. Instead, it ended up being a dinner, dressed up food, dressed up us. But somehow the real meaning seemed to be lost. I thought of it all too late, but I began remembering the next day all of the little traditions that I've read over the years of how other families celebrate.

In my family growing up, there always seemed to be a general understanding of what the holidays were about (the major ones that we happen to celebrate: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas), which was probably due to the fact that my parents have taken the time to carefully teach us over and over the stories attached to the events, and how it's more than just Getting Together For A Huge Meal. However, we've kind of just fallen into traditions, like, the night before Christmas we usually read the Christmas story. On Easter, my Dad usually prays something about how we're thankful for the sacrifice that Jesus made for us as he blesses the food before we eat. On Thanksgiving, we....well I can't really remember what we do, but we do something. Everything that we do is very organic, grown out of the entire family's view and feelings towards that particular holiday, and everything that we do leaves me with that warm, special feeling I've come to expect around those times. As it turns out, when you take several of us out of the family gathering and set us off by ourselves, those organic things don't happen. Obvious, I suppose, but kind of an interesting discovery.

Greg's family has rather universal (by that I mean that I've heard/read that a lot of people do what they do), planned traditions like their Christmas Eve thing, which involves singing Christmas carols (interestingly and kind of endearingly always the same ones, although a formal list is never chosen ahead of time -- probably because the same people pick the same ones each year "on a whim"), having communion together, and reading the Christmas story from the Bible. On Thanksgiving they do something too, although once again, the tradition escapes me (reading selected portions from the Bible? Not sure.), and that particular one is shared among all the uncles, aunts and cousins at the grandparents house. Easter always includes a massive egg hunt, put on by the uncles, aunts and older cousins. These traditions also do not suit us -- not because there's anything wrong with them, but because they don't mean anything to us outside of the setting they were previously experienced in. If we tried to recreate them ourselves, one or more of us would end up feeling silly.

It is very important to me, however, that Andrew begins to understand the meaning of the holidays we celebrate. What is the point, otherwise, of getting a pretty tree, giving him tons of gifts, and eating rich food, if it is experienced devoid of any context? He has absolutely gotten his arms around the fact that people will be sending him lots of stuff in the next few weeks that he'll be able to open at some point. This excites him to no end, and has given him a terrible case of the "gimmies". You'd think that he was a spoiled rotten child by the way he talks about it. But I realized that it's totally my fault. I haven't given him any other way to think about Christmas.

This is the long way of saying that I have decided to begin to institute some of our very own traditions. I've always scoffed at the idea of singing "Happy Birthday Jesus" on Christmas, because it seemed so shallow, but the other day I was explaining to Andrew how Christmas is not about getting gifts (although he will get many), but it's about celebrating Jesus' birthday and the fact that he lived such a wonderful life for us. Andrew immediately announced that we'd be singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles. If it helps him understand it, and celebrate in the true spirit of Christmas, than Happy Birthday Jesus it is. There won't be a cake, of course, because we all hate cake, but it'll be in something else sweet and very special (to us).

The Advent calendar has presented another tradition idea that I intend to keep, and expand on. Before the boys took their naps, I allowed them to open the first window, making sure they understood that it was a Very Special Thing that we will be doing once a day as a countdown to Christmas day. As it turns out, each day has a tiny chocolate with a symbol on it. Today was a candle. They ate it gladly. After naps, we'll cuddle on the couch and read part of the Christmas story out of Andrew's Bible, and I'm going to print off some "Advent coloring pages" off the internet for them to decorate. We'll do similar things each day (I've found some crafts and stuff -- Google "Advent coloring pages crafts" and you'll find a bunch of such), following naps, so that they will begin to learn the story attached to this holiday, and maybe even start to grasp a little bit of the meaning and the specialness behind it.

I'm not sure yet what we'll do on the actual Christmas day; here in Germany, they actually celebrate officially for three days, from the day before to the day after, and that sounds nice to me. Greg will have off from work, so it'll probably happen naturally anyway, but I plan to have actual "things" going on each day, big or small. I'll let you all know about what we decide to do as the plans develop...I've got a few more ideas floating around in my head, and I want to talk with Greg about it more.

I hope that none of what I have written insinuates that the other traditions we've experienced are silly, innapropriate or devoid of meaning. It's just that, as our own little family is growing, we need to find things that mean something to us when we practice it on our own. I cannot stress this point enough, because I know that holiday traditions are something that are often very dear to the heart, and special to the memory.

For now, enough with the serious and the long. Let's look at a little bit of cute, shall we?

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Eating cookies and cold sausages on a bench. Lunch in Germany at it's finest.

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Elijah, ever prepared, has his umbrella up in case of rain (it was cloudy when we left and they were crabby, so everyone got umbrellas, and everyone smiled).

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The boys get these brightly colored eggs from the Egg Lady every Friday at the market. Elijah gets confused about things...before I noticed today, he'd already eaten half the egg, with shell. I managed to remove some from his mouth, but he definitely swallowed some.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Email

Please update your address books to reflect my new edress:
FaithAD@gmailDOTcom (obviously, replace the DOT with "." I'm just spam-bot proofing it.)

My Yahoo account will only be used for my mailing lists now, so make sure that your email doesn't get overlooked! Thanks!!

Kisses and baby bumps

Neither have learned to kiss with mouthes closed yet.
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No one seems concerned about the slobber factor. But really, nothing is sweeter than baby kisses, no matter how messy.

Today I was sitting down and felt the baby kicking pretty hard. I put my hand over the spot, wondering...and yes! I felt it! I called Andrew over, and he felt the baby kick too. His first comment "And the baby's kicking me because it wants to come out and play tiger and monster trucks with me."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The good, the bad, and the downright ugly

The belly grows.
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This picture is clickable and will drop you in the belly gallery.

Tulsi Mint tea by Yogi Tea is my newest drink of choice. I have a cup almost every night. It's soothing instead of "sparky" like most mints are (which I love, but am not in the mood at the moment), and has a sweet aftertaste. From what I can gather (I searched around online) it doesn't seem like you can get this in the US; you can't even find it on the Yogi Tea site, so it's not all that fair that I'm telling you about it. The only way I justify this is because if you don't already know about Yogi Tea and you're a tea drinker, find some! They have some of the most lovely flavor blends around. If you enjoy a complex cup, check them out. You will not be disappointed.

My day today started out well. Normally I save videos for when I'm cooking dinner or tired out in the afternoon and we're waiting for Greg to come home. This morning, I felt washed out when I hit the floor, so I put a long one in (Thomas The Tank Engine adventure of some sort), locked the front door from the inside (with a key, and the boys don't know how to work it), set the guys up with cups of cheerios and sippy cups of water and went back to bed. My door was open and I was sort of half awake, so I knew it'd be ok. A few times Andrew came to me with some sort of problem, and I fixed it and went back to sleep. The boys came to me at 10; the movie was over and they were bored.

I felt wonderful from the extra sleep. We were out of bread, and since we all enjoy making it, the little team helped me throw together a loaf.
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Having this much fun is pretty serious business.
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By the time the dough went in to rise, it was time for lunch. We had a fun spread of tacos from the night before and hotdogs. What could be happier for a toddler? They were in a fantastic mood as I put them down for their nap/quiet time. Elijah went to his bed and stood there drinking his bottle with a pleasant face while he waited for me to tuck him in. Andrew happily kissed me from his bed in the attic (he sleeps in "Hannah's" bed for his quiet times and then gets out to play with his spread of toys up there. He thinks it's great fun.) Everything was calm, and I looked forward to my quiet time, which is my "me" time to get things done -- no work, only play, I've decided (i.e. knitting, spinning, blogging, online snooping, etc.) The quiet time usually lasts a good 2 hours or so.

About a half-hour passed and Andrew came downstairs to use the bathroom. When he went back up, it was pretty clear that he'd decided his time alone was done. About every 5 minutes from there on, he had some sort of problem or would sit at the top step wailing his lungs out for me, threatening to wake Elijah with the volume. I was so mad. There was nothing that I could do, and I assure you that I tried everything. I got so frazzled, and of course Elijah woke up early.

The rest of the day went back and forth from bad to good to bad, and Andrew was unpredictable and terribly behaved for the most part. Maybe I should have spent more time with them in the morning? Maybe we should have gone outside and run around? Maybe this? Maybe that? I have no idea. I just know that by the time Greg came home I was just about to throw dinner off the balcony.

To add insult to injury, the bread pretty much didn't rise at all. We've got a nice tasting brick.

After we ate, I had to lie down for the next hour or so because my stomach was so tied up in knots from the stress. I hope to goodness sake that tomorrow is better. My plan is to start the day by throwing rocks off the bridge behind the house, which should be a hit. Should be.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Hey everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I've taken the week off from responding to emails and blogging, but I'm back!

Just because, here's a funny video of Elijah, trying an olive for the first time.

Hannah was here from England with a friend from school (she's Australian). We went to Heidelberg to see Schloss (castle) Heidelberg, and intended to go to the farmer's market as well, but we were one week too early. Oh well. She'll be back in two weeks for her winter break, so we can always go again.

Unfortunately my camera died after just these two pictures, but I will post more when Hannah comes back (her/Grace-and-Joy's camera worked for the whole trip, but she left her computer hook-up cable here)
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We also went to a castle today, which happens to be about 10 minutes from our house. We took the pics on real film though, so I can't show you for a week or so, or however long they take on post (so old fashioned, I know, but we were taking our annual Christmas shots, so it's traditional to use the "real" camera.)

More details about Hannah's visit and our German/American Thanksgiving tomorrow or sometime next week.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A beating heart

On Tuesday, we got to listen to the baby's heartbeat! You can listen too. Click here. For those interested, the heartbeat falls right between the supposed "boy" and "girl" range just like Andrew's and Elijah's did, so no clues!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The piano

**Edited to add (ETA) piano video clip**

Please brace yourself for a picture heavy post. The first picture is clickable and will take you to the gallery where you can watch a slideshow of it instead, if you wish. This will also allow you to see the pictures in greater detail if you should so desire.

When we moved, no one told us (and I'm sure that the Army should have!) that we might not want to take things like our washer, dryer, and -- oh yeah -- proabably not our piano. No one suggested storage, or hinted that the apartments might actually be too small to even get anything up stairs or through doorways. So. The washer and dryer are not much of a problem. They're clutter catchers in the fron entryway, but as it's a pretty large space, it's not very noticable. We can't hook them up, and the Army has supplied us with "lenders" that are hooked up in the basement (another post to follow this week about the insanity of that). However, the piano wasn't so easy.

First, they told us that there was no way they could get it up the stairs. Surely they would damage something or themselves on the trip up two flights of stairs. They told us they'd never been asked to move a piano -- does no one play piano in Germany anymore? They called in a special moving company to scope things out, and those guys tried to convince us to ship the piano back to the states for storage. I flatly refused. They said they'd talk to their boss and see what they could do. Greg told me to suggest the rooftop porch that we have off the kitchen. I suppose the guys didn't want to argue with a stubburn pregnant girl, because a few days later they called back with the news that they'd be here with a crane on Monday morning (today!)

I woke up at 7am to make sure that I was properly dressed and awake before they got here. When they arrived, it was pretty unbelievable. They really did have a huge orange crane. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. The last one is a little video clip. So sorry that I couldn't have gotten more -- Elijah woke and started yelling "Mommy!" from his room and the camera battery was running low.

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They were probably using ultimate self-control when, after all that, I told them that the piano would need to be moved all the way across the L-shaped house to the opposite side, and placed in the sunroom. But it's all done now. Thank goodness.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pink Hat

This is Elijah's new look. He puts the hat on himself. Don't dare touch it or try to adjust it in any way. You'll have a fit on your hands that won't be pretty. Not that it's happened to me or anything.
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As I've told you all, I've been doing a really big potty training push lately with Andrew. Elijah thinks this is fascinating, and started getting jealous. "Pee! Pee!" he'd yell, running in to the room. He'd rush up behind Andrew (who stands on a stool to pee), and push him, wanting to stand there himself.

Andrew started screaming at Elijah every time he'd charge in, and push him violently back out of the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. Sometimes Elijah would hit his head on the door-jam; all the time he would be pissed off. So the little man came up with a plan.

The small bathroom that Andrew usually chooses to use happens to have the light-switch panel just outside the door. Instead of trying to share the peeing experience with Andrew, Elijah has started just switching the light out on him instead. He's a quick learner.
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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I don't know about you...
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...But this is pretty much the cutest bunch of trouble I've ever seen.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


On Sunday, Greg walked in the door from work (he's working 7 days a week right now, which sucks), and said that a ton of people were walking around in the street outside, which was blocked off, and there seemed to be fair of some sort going on.

The boys and I pulled ourselves together (we'd been wandering around in sweatpants all day, since I delaired the day off from everything serious -- including getting dressed), Greg changed out of his military costume and we headed out.

Somehow, we'd missed the memo, but there were vendors all up and down the street and in the market square, selling everything from spiced nuts to clothing to sausages. Remember how I said that I was going off sugar? I may have fallen off the bandwagon a bit.
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Ok, it looks more like I jumped off. But could you blame me?

The heart was some sort of a lightly spiced ginger bread (not very sweet at all -- Andrew didn't like it), and the bon-bon thing...well, that was something else all together.
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My neighbor said it's called a Mohrenkopf, which means something about a little hat. The translation was unclear, but kopf definitely means head, and she says it also means hat. It was about as big around as the palm of my hand, and 4 inches tall. There was a waffle/wafer on the bottom, then gooey milky super sweet stuff all coated with chocolate dipped in almonds. Yes, it was good. My leg ached a little the next day, but I put it up and drank a lot of water. (More poison, please! No, I need to start being consistantly good, for real.)

There were also rides for the children including a jumpy castle (Andrew wouldn't go in it because there were bigger kids already jumping -- probably a good thing, since he might have gotten hurt, and then Elijah would have wanted to try), and a little merry-go-round. Andrew begged to go on the go-round, so we finally put him on...and about 5 seconds later, he was all fallen to pieces. I would have taken a picture, but Greg was refusing to jump on the moving ride with him. I passed the stroller to Greg and jumped on myself (my dad is getting nervous thinking about how dangerous this might have been. No worries, it wasn't going that fast.) Somehow, Greg thought that I'd gotten a picture already, so he didn't document me calming him or anything, but anyway, it all happened.

Yesterday I visited with my neighbor from downstairs and she said the "thing" was called Uerkaufs Offfener Sonntag, which, loosely translated means "The One Day In The Year When All The Shops Are Open On A Sunday And There Are Vendors And Rides In The Streets For Fun". This "thing" travels from town to town towards the end of each year, and it's the only day in the year when you'll find shops open on a Sunday.

This has nothing to do with anything, but here is Greg's van:

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Need more Faith in your life?

Click here to listen to my latest episode of The Knitting Cook. It's not all knitting and cooking, I talk about my life in Germany too. It just MIGHT interest you. Let me know if you do end up listening! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Will post more tomorrow (we accidentally ended up at a street fair -- check back for the full story). It's past midnight here, and I've only just gotten the show out, so I need to head straight for bed.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I am a tourist in my own town

Since week 9, I've been able to feel tiny flutters of the baby moving, just like with the boys. Yesterday though, I finally felt Tiny kick For Real for the first time. The boys were talking about stuff at the table with me, and suddenly the baby struck out, and I really felt it. So cute!

If you don't usually stop in at my knitting blog, you might not have seen Andrew's new hat. From the looks of these pictures, I think he may have wanted you all to see it too. (Click for bigger.)

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Today was market day, of course, and we got there an hour before it closed (they start shutting down at noon). Elijah was pretty fussy, but I had some little boxes of raisins in my purse, which saved the day. I always get them little things to eat when we're out, but when he starts freaking out before we can even get to the vendors, I can't hope to communicate with anyone properly. It's already challenging enough to struggle with the Deutsch (German) language.

I was much braver with my picture taking. I did get chuckled at by a passing shopper (an older guy), but I just smiled pleasantly at him.

Today we were at the cheese truck, and the lady got her mother (turns out be the egg-lady) to come over and translate for me. I was very proud of myself though, because I was able to communicate mostly without help ("Kann ich mal probieren?" pronounced kan ish mal probeeren and means "may I taste it?" Note to those who, for whatever reason, actually want to walk around saying this and feeling cool: the "r's" are rolled ever so slightly. Not a lot.)

I noticed that the egg lady also had handmade pasta at her stand, so we went over there, and ended up having a nice conversation with her. I love it when that happens.
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She has five children (her oldest daughter runs the cheese truck), and thinks it's terrible that the current generation here in Deutschland don't like to have children, and is quite pleased that I'm working on baby #3.
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For the last 52 years, she has been waking up at 3am to prepare for the market. I'm not sure what other places she hits; she must work several towns, because this market only comes to town on Fridays. She raises her own chickens for eggs, then brings some of them to a tiny one-man pasta operation. One of her daughters lives in New Mexico, US, so she goes there to visit once every other year, thus the great grasp of English. I'll definitely visit her cart again. She has lived a life of many stories that will be very interesting to learn.

The vegetable stand (which is the largest stand in the Markt Platz)
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Here is what we ended up with:
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My favorite lunch of a big soft pretzel and some cheese (along with a protein shake):
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Coffee from across the street (that I spoke of the other day). As you can see, one pour of cream hardly lightens it. You can see the foam from the brewing process on the lid.
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Maybe tomorrow I'll take some pictures of the boys playing outside with their new friends.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

That Good Coffee

Last night Greg and I watched Lucky Number Slevin. I had never heard of the movie, but it turned out to be very good. The plot was tight and engaging. We both enjoyed it muchly.

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To read a little bit about it, go to the IMDB. To read a lot more and spoil the plot for yourself, check out Wikipedia's description.

Really though, anything with Josh Harnett, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley has got to rock. (If violence and sex are a turn off for you though, you may want to skip this one, as it has elements of both.)

This morning I was feeling much better, so the boys and I set off on our usual little shopping adventure. Strangely, the street was quiet. There were almost no cars on the road, and the sidewalks were empty except one man walking his dog. We went to the whole food store first, and then the bakery (both only across the street, thankfully) but they were both closed. The produce stand was also closed down. I couldn't find any signs in the windows to suggest what might be the cause. I'm guessing it's a German holiday of some sort? Can't figure it out. We finally went over to another bakery, also across the road, which we've never visited. They have a little cafe (as do most), so I ordered pretzels for the boys, and a cup of coffee for myself.

To make my coffee, the lady pushed this button on her machine, and it ground the coffee, then brewed my cup, just for me. It had a layer of crema on top (that caramel colored foam that naturally tops a well brewed espresso), and was thick, dark and rich. In the States, we would call it a cup of espresso, but here, apparently that's just plain coffee, served in a regular sized mug. Very interesting. It was quite good, but since I haven't had caffeine in so long, I'm totally feeling the buzz. (For those concerned -- pregnant women are advised that it is safe to drink up to 2 cups of coffee a day, so I'm safe.)

In Germany, when you sit down at a table in a restaurant, it's considered yours for as long as you choose to be there. No one rushes you or imagines that you'll leave soon. In fact, if there's room at your table, another patron may even ask to sit with you (which you can refuse if you'd like), since there's a possibility of a long term unavailability of tables in a crowded place. The boys and I camped out in the cafe for about a half-hour, while Andrew stared at the table next to us where there was a lively conversation going on in German between four older folks, and Elijah jumped up and down in his chair and looked out the huge glass store-front. The people at the nearby table kept smiling at Elijah (I think he was making faces at them), and talking about him, but they could tell that I couldn't understand them, so I'm pretty sure that they also discussed the fact that I was pregnant too (I could just imagine "and a third on the way! Oh my!"). Or maybe they weren't at all.

In answer to Joycee's question from the other day: Yes, I do experience back pain during pregnancy. I have scolioses (spell?), and pregnancy makes that worse, generally permanently. The only real relief I've found is by regular chiropractic care throughout. Right before I got pregnant with Elijah, I got into a car accident (when I totaled the Jetta), so I was getting free care from my care insurance. It worked out to last almost all the way through the pregnancy, and was an amazing thing. (Who knew that a car accident could pay off so well?)

When I am pregnant, I get this click in my lower back where my spine meets my sacrum, and this occasionally prevents me from walking. I have to stop and stretch it out until my leg is "released", and then I'm ok again.

The best thing other than going to a chiropractor is regular Yoga and Pilates (for those of you who don't practice either, both borrow from each other extensively, so no matter what your workout video or class at the gym claims to do, they will certainly include poses from both forms. Hannah and I are work-out video/gym class junkies, and Hannah's a certified fitness instructor. We know.) Both of the above focus on core body strength (the strength that comes from your belly, chest and back), balance and flexibility -- all things that are very important to everyone, but especially to pregnant women.

Whenever I am doing my prenatal yoga or pilates videos, I feel so much better. I am more energized, and my back feels a good deal better. The cool thing about working out in this way is that it's very body honoring. There are always modifications suggested in the poses if something doesn't feel quite right. You can work out to the same video with progressive results, since the more you practice, the more effective the moves become as you get better at them.

Yoga and Pilates are appropriate for men and women of any age -- I would highly recommend trying them if you haven't yet.

If you need prenatal stuff, I recommend the following videos: Fusion Pilates For Pregnancy with Gennifer Gianni, and two Gaiam videos (you've probably seen this brand in Barnes & Nobel with yoga mats, etc.) Prenatal Yoga and Postnatal Yoga, both with Shiva Rea.

If you are not pregnant and would like to try out something cool that is also body honoring and pretty fun, check out Balanced Workout with Janice Saffell and Scott Cole. This combines Tai Chi with Kick Boxing in a fun and safe way. They never speed up too much, so if you're new to Kick Boxing, you would still be able to manage this. Scott manages to tie in the Tai Chi without being boring or spiritual. Love this video for when I'm un-babied.

Yoga, Tai chi, Belly Dancing, etc. are no longer the scary "spiritual experience" practices of yesterday. They have now morphed into mainstream, safe, effective ways to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance while learning about your body's needs and limits, quieting yourself and learning to be calm in the middle of whatever is going on in your day. In our culture today, we don't often make time to just be. These exercises help us to do just that.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

squishy (but tasty) bread

Yesterday, I made two loaves of bread -- one for me, and one for the kind neighbor who has befriended me. Unfortunately, when I went downstairs to deliver it last night, she wasn't home. I'll have to bring it down sometime today.
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(The squished one I'm keeping, of course. Took it out of the oven a little early and had to drop it back in the pan. Whoops!)

This bread is from the recipe that I shared on the most recent episode of my podcast. The recipe is all laid out in the blog, in case you're interested in making it too.

Speaking of making it too, a listener of the show, Lisa, made the bread already and loved it! Check out her blog. It thrills me to no end that I can share a recipe, and then people on all parts of the globe can make it and taste for themselves. I never imagined that I'd be able to share food quite like this. (This must mean that my mom is famous now, since it's her recipe!)

This morning while I was getting the boy's breakfast ready, they ran outside on the porch to play for a minute. Thankfully I'd already put their shoes on and managed to slip hats on each of them, because it was so cold, that I could see their breath.
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They didn't seem to mind though.

Since last night I've had a killer headache. I went to bed at 9:30 (the earliest in months!), and thought that would take care of it, but I've still got it today. It's so bad that it's difficult to bend over, because that just makes it feel worse. I took two Tylenols, which seem to be helping some, but I have a feeling that today the boys are going to have a video marathon while I knit, read Saveur and drink hot tea on the couch.

Tomorrow, I will answer Joycee's question about back-pain in pregnancy.

We don't celebrate Haloween, so I always forget it's approaching and end up running out at the last moment to pick up a load of candy for little visitors. Do they even celebrate it here at all? I haven't seen any decorations around town. I'm not feeling well enough to go out, so I suppose I'll just have to hope that no one will knock on my door tonight...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday's Markt-Platz

All of you are just waking up now, so I thought you might like to share in this morning's breakfast. Click here.

Here is a view of the Markt Platz from yesterday. I took the pictures as though I was shooting the boys, but "secretly" included the rest of the place too. I desperately don't want to come off as a tourist, and I never see people taking pictures here at all, which means the bloggers are either in hiding or non-existent, so I am very hesitant when it comes to shooting in public. People might say "do what you want! Take pictures! It's fine! Be who you are!" But for goodness sake, I do live here! It's quite a small town, and I see the same people every day, including the same rotation of shoppers who are out when I am. So there's no recourse. I must be sneaky.

Here you go (or you can click here to see the slideshow):
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First, I started out by snapping a shot of the boys, enjoying their market spoils. Andrew ended up finishing that entire pretzel, which is a first for him. The boys never figured out that there was candy inside of those whistles. They were given to them by the well meaning lady at the fish truck. I hate whistles. It's worse when the children blowing them are already high on the sugar from packs of gummy bears given to them by the vegetable lady.

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I still pretend to take a picture of the boys, but now you can see the market a little bit better. Directly over Andrew's head is the egg cart. That lady just lays the eggs out on the table in cartons, and you can buy them loose. Not entirely sure how you're supposed to get them home without breaking them, but I'm sure they're very fresh if they don't even have to be refrigerated at her stand (or I would hope!). Greg always buys about 5 dozen eggs for me at the commissary every other week, so I never have the need, but it seems that Germans buy eggs as needed, each day. Hmmm.

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The fish and seafood truck, where the lovely whistles came from. If you stood on the side where the awning is, you would see that there is a deli counter (just like the cheese truck, picture following) where you order. We picked up some Perch that I'll broil tonight with an orange marinade and serve with a spicy tomato-orange salsa. The tomatoes here are never hot-house ones -- just the kind actually ripened in the sun, so I've got to use them in everything!

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I started getting a good deal braver. Now I used the zoom, and hoped that none of the people at the egg cart would turn around and notice me. (I'm incredibly conspicuous as it is with my two children -- and the one kindergarten age but not in school! Add to that the American look to me, in a small town where we are the only foreigners, and you can see why we are remembered wherever we go.) You can see the produce stand further on behind the eggs.

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The cheese truck. You can ask for a taste of any kind before you buy, which is cool since there are mostly only types that I don't recognize. Andrew loves this part, because they give generous slices, and of course I always share part with each of the boys. This angle shows the deli counter part of the truck fairly well. Thankfully, once again, no one turned towards me while I snapped off the shot.

So there you go. You've visited a German market place. Cool, huh? My (German) neighbor never goes, but I look forward to it each week. I would have gotten a better shot of the vegetable cart, but we weren't close enough.