Friday, August 29, 2008

What doesn't kill you, makes you a parent

According to the "experts," you have to actually give birth to a baby before you can officially become a parent.

Maybe I'm in the minority here but something about squeezing a human the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a large grapefruit fails to appeals to my delicate sensibility. Funny how you forget about all of that in the hullabulloo of pregnancy and baby anticipation. It appears that in order for you to hold your child and proceed with playing house, you must first endure agonizing labor and excruciating pain whilst resisting the urge to scream abuses at the now withered spouse who got you in this position to begin with.

Once again, I am reminded of the importance of reading the fine print in these darn pregnancy books littered throughout the house--each one abandoned at the chapter regarding labor.

Really you would think that given all of the advances in modern science that they would have conjured up a way to extract children from mothers without all of the fuss of surgery or forceps or physical maneouvering. At the very least, it seems reasonable for us to have made the process a bit more straightforward about delivery specifications. Is it too much to ask whether my child's head will be small enough to fit through my gateway to the free world? Or maybe they could just give me a window of time regarding how long this process will take? You know, kind of like the window they give you when you need your cable installed--October 17 between the hours of 1am and 5pm. I'm just asking for a little something here. Throw me a bone, huh?

But alas, I'm told that those questions and others relating to exactly how cute my baby will be (within a reasonable scope) have yet to be individually specified so we've been advised to learn about the things that medical professionals have discovered about the birthing business. So tonight and alllllll weekend, we're off to our childbirth classes to learn all of the details that hold no appeal like what a placenta looks like or how scared a real father gets at the impending arrival of his child or how quickly a fairly composed women loses all dignity in the throws of mindnumbing agony.

Sounds absolutely delightful, doesn't it? I can't wait.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I have a little help from my friends

Saturday night, we went to dinner for John's. As customarily happens everywhere you go with John, he was warmly greeted and treated like a special guest. He's the consummate ambassador and it was nice to see how welcomed the owners and waiters made us feel.

Since this was his first birthday we've celebrated together for four years, it was nice to end it with a bang. Prosecco flowed; the food was great; and the company was even better. We are reminded everyday here how important friends are when you live overseas. Friends fill in the gap left by family and make the tough days a little less difficult. I've said it before but we feel really blessed by the friends we've made since we moved here. Birthdays wouldn't be so special if we didn't have them to celebrate with us.

Here's to many more birthdays, many more dinners and many more laughs shared with friends.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

This one's dedicated to the one I love

Today marks another year and another birthday spent here in Germany, my love.

In fact, it is the first birthday in four years that we have even been in the same country on your special day. I was sad when you were in Austria, then London, then Africa, and then the Ukraine because I hate being away from you and I know how important your birthdays are to you. I am so happy today to be able to celebrate your life with you because you make everyday of my life a celebration.

One of the very best things about this international move has been the chance to spend more time with each other than we did in Atlanta. My nails are longer from not biting them off when you were flying to God-knows-where until God-knows-when. My hair is incredibly thicker due to the lack of hair loss from the worrying when cell phone connections were bad and days would go by without a phone call to reconnect. But my love is also stronger for you because those years in Atlanta reminded me how much I enjoy your presence and being married to you.

You make me laugh. You make me take myself less seriously. You make me realize that there is no one on this planet better suited for me than you.

I love you desperately and can't wait to spend years more birthdays with you in the future. Happy Birthday, Babe.

Yours truly and forever, me

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Looky, looky, looky

Let me begin by saying that I love that I am having a boy. A rough and tumble, snuggly, happy, mama's baby of a boy. I love the idea that I can be my blunt, unedited self without feeling like I'm going to bruise a sensitive pysche. I love that I can have the chance to pressure--I mean--gently encourage him to take after mama and play soccer. I love, love, am TOTALLY in love with the idea that I won't be doing hair for now. I love that I will get the chance to see the mirror image of my husband in a pint sized package. And I am over the moon in love with the idea that I have a better chance of getting folds of lovable baby thighs and baby cheeks to kiss alllll-over.

But, and this is a big one, BUT buying baby boy clothes is a real, flippin' bummer, dude....especially in Germany.

For starters, it seems that the general consensus amongst the fashion forward German buyer (and I use the previous four words lightly) is that a mother of a boy wants so desperately to label said child as male that nothing would please her more than blue clothes. Baby blue, navy blue, striped blue, any iteration of blue is the color of choice for baby boys. I am aware that this is not a problem only here but in the states, as well, but my gosh people, at least in the states you can find clothes matched with blue and other colors. Here, unless you go the brown, pastel yellow or light green route, you are stuck on blue. What's so effeminate about the other 6 primary colors? What did they ever do to get relegated to the girl's section?

To make matters worse, mothers of baby boys here seem to be CRAZY for cartoons. So on top of your ever so boring blue, you have to tolerate Snoopy and Charlie Brown, or Winnie the Pooh, or --even worse-- some silly saying about how dirty or naughty or cheeky the baby is. Excuse me, but I don't plan on having a dirty baby or one that is obnoxious so why would I want to label my child as such? And what ever happened to the good ol' polo shirt? I mean, my husband is of the XY variety and he doesn't any shirts that say"Mr. Roadrage" or "Proudly Sporting Unwashed Hands for 35 Years." Why should mini-J?

And finally, there is the material. Nothing says cuddly baby apparently like 100% polyester. It is true that I am having a fall baby but why must he wear flameable, synthetic material to ensure his warmth? Are velour or fleece garments the only ones appropriate for bundling a baby these days? I thought baby's were best dressed in 100% cotton but maybe I am wrong because it has been a chore finding non-synthetic fabrics around these parts.

De. Pressing, I tell you. It hurts my ever-lovin' heart. Shopping for baby boy clothes in this city stinks and my unscientifically unreliable research concludes that the same can not be said for girl clothes. Don't think I haven't wandered over to the girl section--which is practically the entire baby section--to see if I could find something passable for a boy. I can easily say that if you have a girl baby you are set...a boy, not so much.

So, what did I do but take matters into my own hands and have been painting onesies until I can seek refuge in the warmth of the over-consumerized marketplace that is the great american shopping mall this winter. These are just a start--I still have more to do-- but until then, these will have to do, pig. These will have to do.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


If it hasn't become painfully obvious by the amount of posts in this blog that revolve around traveling, we love to travel.

No where is too close, too far, too weird, or too remote. Just say the word and we're there. In fact, we both agree that we knew we could be happily married to each other after having so much fun on our first trip together almost--ee-gats!--10 years ago.

I'm not sure which is more fun for us: planning the trip, eating the food, or staying in the hotel but we love everything about going someplace new. I so enjoy getting sucked into the travel talk websites that allow you to read people's post about what they found interesting about a particular place and then making the difficult decision between what's more important: staying in the trendiest local hotel far from the city center or the cookie cutter one that is closest to all of the sites. We always wake up so excited those first few mornings to see what breakfast will be like. Will they serve eggs and bacon or pickled herring and baked beans? Or importantly will J get his much sought after pancakes that have been interpreted by the hotel chef? I love walking into the room every night to see that my bed has been made and my pillows fluffed. It is an added bonus if the mattress is comfy and the towels plush. But all in all, it doesn't really matter much whether those little expectations are met because I know that if we go together we will have a fabulous time.

To wrap up this phase in our relationship, we decided to take one last long weekend trip to Lubeck-Travemude on the Ostsee before our lives are forever changed. The only plans we made were not to make any, so J chose a spa hotel on the beach that specialized in relaxation, seclusion, and mindless entertainment. He swam and read and worked out everyday while I got massaged, facialed, and pedicured all the while trying to imagine how different our lives will be in just a few short months. At night, we met up for dinner and then drove around town, walked to the beach (too cold to swim!), and lounged at the piano bar. What I appreciated the most was just being able to talk about how well we have used our time as a childless couple and how grateful we are that we no longer will be.

One of many things that I hope we can hold onto as a family is our ability to be mobile once this baby comes. Obviously, we will have choose child friendly hotels and destinations and take our cues from the little one but one of our greatest wishes is that having a baby will expand our options for travel. Do I plan on taking my newborn on African safari because that's the type of thing we've always enjoyed? No, of course not. But do I hope to discover new places and take new journeys that encourage a wonderlust in the little bean? You bet. The best is yet to come.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Brandenburg Road trip

Well, I guess you couldn't technically call it a road trip because we were there in 1.5 hours and back less than a day later. Nevertheless, I think the scenic drive from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel rather than the town itself was the highlight of the trip.

We decided to take a quick day and a half trip there to meet friends and were really inspired by the landscape. While driving, it becomes clear why the region is known for it's well preserved natural habitat and the town is a nice stop over as it sits off the Havel river. On the way to our hotel, we drove through a village on the edge of town that was in the midst of a summer festival and has placed all along the road little scarecrows in the images of people. Only in Deutschland would such a thing be seen!

It also has the infamous distinction of having once housed one of the first concentration camps in Germany, as well as being one of the key locations where the Nazi's began testing the use of gas on their victims. Of course, they would rather be remembered now for their beautiful landscapes but the entire time we were there it was hard to shake the reminder of the dispicable past.

It is not what I would consider to be a tourist destination. If asked, I would suggest to people that they spend their time exploring Brandenburg's capital, Potsdam, although the town has a quaint little city center and many brick medieval buildings. It's just the type of place you visit because you can.