Granola, granola everywhere

So I would say that in comparison to US moms, Germany moms are much more “crunchy”. They breastfeed, they wear their babies in slings wrapped around them, etc. I’m not saying that one way is necessarily better than the other. But I do think that each family should work out a routine that best fits their personalities/lifestyle.

At the last birth preparation class, one of the mother’s turned to me and asked “How long did you breastfeed?” I proudly answered, “Nine months!” Her reply, “So short? I breastfed my son for almost 3 years.” Granted, this woman was not not actually German (Italian) but as you can see, most Europeans are generally a bit crunchier than Americans. Doesn’t matter, I’m still proud of my 9 month stint as personal milk supplier. In Germany, there are free breastfeeding classes and insurance covers for midwives and lactation consultants to help you. And there are plenty available to come to you when you need them. In the US, I had a phone number I could call with questions. And when a friend of mine got a pump, I was the one who helped her figure it out. My mother really couldn’t help me, because she breastfed one of her kids and only for a short stint. I now know that she probably didn’t produce enough milk because no one had ever really taught her what to do. Her own mother was told formula was actually better for babies.

So, I thought going into tonight’s informational meeting at the local hospital, that it’s Baby Friendly certification from the WHO would make it a really great place to give birth. Hmmm….

Granola Hospital Midwife: “We recommend a relaxing bath to relieve labor pains. Oh, but we only have one bathtub, so if you are in that room, and another woman wants to use it, then we will ask you to go to another room.”
Husband looks skeptically at the bathtub.
Me: “Well, that’s not so convenient…”

Granola Hospital Nurse: “We are Baby Friendly, that means we have no pacifiers. If you would like one for your child, you’ll have to bring your own from home.”
Husband looks slightly alarmed.
Me: “Great, one more thing to remember to take to and from the hospital.”

Granola Hospital Midwife: “We no longer have a nursery. It is best for the baby to be with the mother 24/7. Just as they were for the last nine months.”
Husband: “Aww, that’s nice.”
Me: “Ummm, what? The only sleep I got in the 6 weeks after O was born was on the one night the nurse convinced me to send him to the nursery for a few hours. They changed his diaper and rocked him and held out as long as they could before bringing him back to feed. How am I going to survive without my one night with 4 solid hours of sleep?”

 

Yeah, that last bit was the deciding factor. Unless the baby is crowning or my water comes gushing out like in the movies, then I’m going to squeeze my legs together and just deal with it for the 45 minute drive to the Women’s Clinic in the city. I’m not saying that if you want your baby with you 24/7, then you are bad/crazy/whatever. I’m just saying that I need that option. It helped me to be my best mom self to have one night when other people looked after O and I could let my body recover. And Lord knows, that child needs me to be my best mom self, because even at my best, I am far from perfect.

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My life, as told by Sophia Patrillo

Picture it: Germany 2014

A young(ish) wife gets off the train after spending the day working in the city. She makes her way through the streets of the small town. It’s a beautiful sunny day. Suddenly, she sees him: her husband, sitting outside a cafe eating an ice cream cone. She smiles thinking she’ll surprise him. As she walks on she sees someone else sitting at the table. She doesn’t know this person. Maybe her eyes are playing tricks on her. The sun is low, maybe she only thinks the two are at the same table. She makes her way forward debating whether she, too, should have some ice cream— her waistline is not as slim as it once was! As she approaches the table, she realizes she’s made a grave mistake. The other person is sitting at the table with her husband. She’s shocked.

That young woman was me. And the other person at the table, was my own son. His hair was so long and wild, that he looked like a new person after a haircut! Look how grown up this child looks:

All smiles after a haircut and an ice cream cone.

All smiles after a haircut and an ice cream cone.

My kid eats broccoli!

I mean, I’m not trying to brag or anything, but yeah, I’m bragging. Because what mother isn’t thrilled when her three year old loves a veggie? A weird, tree looking, full of vitamins and fiber veggie? Exactly. I mean, the only thing I can think of is that I love broccoli. So he’s been getting it since the womb. And I never really listened to the “don’t eat this or your kid will get gas” breastfeeding advice (actually, some of that advice, I didn’t get until after the fact, and since he wasn’t anymore gassy on the veggies than off, well, I just kept eating them). So we eat a good bit of it in our house. And Oma makes it quite often, too.

So today I was at home and I wanted some soup. Hmmm…. I had some beans and some tomato sauce, I could make minestrone… again. But really, it was already late and I needed to have dinner ready in less than an hour, so, no, no minestrone. Then I spied the broccoli chilling in the fridge. I thought, What the heck? I could try some broccoli soup. How hard could that be?

Well, it did turn out to be a bit of work (and a few too many dishes to be washed). But oh my word—- it was an AMAZING soup! Like Armin even complimented it (that says a lot, normally I might hear a pleasant grunt if he likes it— he really doesn’t understand that you’re supposed to kiss the butt of the woman who makes all your meals). So, I’m posting my recipe here. I found a recipe online, but i didn’t have everything it called for, so I kind of made up my own way. If I don’t write it down, then I’ll forget. Feel free to try it, maybe your kids will eat broccoli too.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

1-2 Tbsp butter (I used unsalted b/c that’s what they sell here)

1/2 small onion (finely diced)

1 tsp garlic (minced)

3+ cups of broccoli (florets and some stems, roughly chopped)

3 cups of broth (I used a bit of both: chicken and veggie)

3 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup cream or half and half

1/2-1 tsp salt

1/4- 1/2 tsp pepper

2-3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (grated)

  • Saute the onions in the butter until soft and golden.
  • Throw in the garlic and broccoli.
  • Add the broth really quickly, saying “Oh crap! The broccoli’s gonna burn!”
  • Let that simmer for ten minutes or until the broccoli get pretty soft. Go ahead and drag out the blender while you wait. You can also start melting the 3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan.
  • Take portions of broccoli and broth out and blend/puree in the blender. The recipe online was all about putting it in a new bowl or something so that you could puree every last bit, but I thought that I’d save a bowl and keep some broccoli chunks. (Good thing, because O kept asking for more broccoli in his soup!) If I were smart or savvy or whatever, I could have also had one of those hand-held blender things, but I’m not one of the cool kids. Keep your soup on low while you work on the milk mixture.
  • When the butter in the small saucepan is melted, add in your flour, stirring really well. Then add the milk and cream. Keep stirring while it all heats up.
  • Add the milk mixture to the broccoli slop and viola! You have cream of broccoli soup. Add in the salt and pepper and Parmesan. I’d recommend tweaking those amounts to your family’s particular tastes.
  • When you 3 year old spills it on the table. Point out that it looks like snot. This will actually encourage him to eat more of it.

If you like to live dangerously and callously pour in the milk without measuring, have no fear: you can always add a bit of cornstarch to thicken it up when you’ve outdone yourself on the liquids. I live very dangerously, thus, I know this trick well.

Anyway, it’s that time of year for soups and warm drinks. I’m hating the cold here in Germany, but at least I can find yummy ways to warm us up!

 

O started school!

All geared up and ready for school!

“Geht zum Kindergarten, NOOOWWWW!!!!” (go to Kindergarten, now!) This is now O’s morning mantra! He stands at the back door yelling this about 5 times while waiting for me to grab my purse, find my keys, put the dog in the kitchen, tie my shoes, etc. He loves going to the Kindergarten. I love that he loves going. Part of the orientation set up is that the parents bring the child and stay for an hour or more at a time. Then after a few times, the parent leaves the child for consecutively longer times each day until child and teacher and parent are all ok. Well, the first day we went, O didn’t want to go home. When the day came for me to leave him for about a half hour, he kissed me and said “bye, mamma!” Now, he doesn’t even stop what he’s doing to kiss me bye. I might get a “Ciao!” or a “Tchuss!” Then, I usually have to br

ibe him a little to get him to leave to go home without causing a scene. lol!

It’s kind of funny though. In the US, O stood out with his blonde hair and blue eyes, but here, all of the boys in his class have blonde hair and blue eyes! But, I think O is still the cutest. I might be partial, but c’mon, look at this kid. Isn’t he cute?

What a ham!