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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Bugging Out

I am not adapting well these days.

 

Ugh. Some cultural differences are easy to just get over. Some are not. Where I come from, if there’s a bug or a rodent in the house, you get rid of it. Or you call a guy and he gets rid of it. Or he comes and sprays something that probably will someday kill him, too, but then all the little unwanted things are dead and you forget to worry about the exterminator’s health.

But. Here. Here in this godforsaken hell-hole of a bunch of nature-loving freaks….

Oh mah gawd. GAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! We have spiders in the garage the size of my palm– OK, not that big more like O’s palm- larger than anything I am comfortable with. My husband argues “they aren’t poisonous”. Well, no, technically, they are venomous, not poisonous. And maybe, as he says, they rarely bite people. (I don’t believe that he’s never been bit by one because he doesn’t pay that much attention to what’s going on around him or even on his body and he probably wouldn’t have noticed it was a spider bite just a red itchy spot that went away after some time.) But this guy proves they can bite and it will hurt, even if you won’t die from it. Ick. But Germans still seem to embrace these disgusting things.

 

Now, moving on to to other lawfully protected species. Wasps. Did you know that in Germany you aren’t supposed to kill a wasp’s nest?

Wait, whut?

 

Are you serious? Are you freaking kidding me? They are F—ing WASPS for crying out loud. And they have nested in the rolling shudders on O’s window. Our landlord told us to just roll the shudders up and down a lot and hope they go away on their own. You know what that does? Pisses them off. Like, a lot.

I do not understand Germans. Wasps serve no purpose in life other than to screw things up. They kill bees. Don’t you freaking hippies know that there’s a bee shortage in the world right now???? Kill the wasps. Oh, but no. If you google it in German, you’ll find on every forum where someone needs to get rid of a nest that “wasps are important predators in our ecosystem and it would be a shame to kill them”. Well, guess what. They never ate the damn aphids that killed my cilantro, so they really serve no important purpose in my ecosystem.

 

This is what my life has come to. I am seriously losing my shit over insects. And my husband could care less. Being so intellectually evolved and all, he has no caveman instincts to protect his cave. Grrrr…..

If they weren’t in the bleeping wall of O’s room, I’d go all redneck and fashion a makeshift blowtorch and burn their nest to nothingness. As it is, I’m going to put on something low-cut and flirt with the fire department. Internet rumors say they “might” help you if you can prove that the wasps are a danger or if the nest is too close to where children are. Let’s just hope they don’t tell me to just keep his window shut…

 

Just another little gripe session

I’ve made a decision. I’m buying our house. Let me re-phrase that, when we have money saved in like 8 years and we can buy a house, I’m picking it out. I might let my husband express his opinion, but I will make the decision by myself.

This apartment has been nothing but one problem after another. The kitchen is a disaster. We bought a fullsize dishwasher b/c the small one we had was way too small. We measured everything and thought, ok, perfect, just enough room for a regular sized dishwasher. Well, guess what. The wall is crooked! So, while there is enough room at the front to put the dishwasher in, but it stops about 2/3 of the way and gets stuck on the wall. Our old apartment was pretty awful, and I will admit that this place is an improvement. But seriously y’all, I was only able to deal with the old apartment because I could close my eyes, take a deep breath and remind myself that it was only temporary. Now A says that we have to stay here until we buy a house (in 8 years)! Gah!!!

Oh, and the only reasons I relented and accepted this apartment is because the rent was slightly less and it had a yard for O to play in. Guess what, he doesn’t like to go outside and play by himself.

If you’ll excuse me now, I’m going bang my head on the wall. I’ll try the wall where the dishwasher belongs, maybe I can knock off some of the plaster so I can get my dishwasher in place ._.

 

 

Update: Our landlord came over tonight. He had to take out a cabinet next to the dishwasher, but now the dishwasher is under the counter and working. Oh, and now there is only one cabinet and an oven in between the sink and dishwasher. One less foot of dripping water when I load the dishwasher! Now, where in the heck am I going to stick this cabinet???

Reality check: where are my priorities?

About three weeks ago I wanted to cook something. I looked on the counter. I looked in the fridge. I came to a conclusion: “I don’t have a single onion in the house. What is my life coming to?”

Now most people would think, “So what? Ya ain’t got any onions. Just go buy some more.” But the thing is. I’ve always had onions. Like, I’ll buy more before I run out. And then they just stare at me from their two separate bags (because of course I buy them in bulk). It is the staple of almost every single dish I every learned to cook. It’s probably just a south Louisiana thing. I’m sure my mother in law doesn’t use onions every single day. I’m sure she wouldn’t have a moment of self-doubt if she found her onions were no more.

I’ll blame my lack of onions on the move from one city to another. Yeah, that’s it. Everything was just in a state of upheaval. Boxes of stuff in two separate apartments. Driving almost everyday back and forth. At one point, Husband stayed in the new city with his parents and O and I slept in the apartment in Mössingen.

Now we’re all sleeping at the parents’ house in the new city. We still can’t use the sink b/c the dishwasher isn’t hooked up. I’ll have picture of my stupid new kitchen to explain that story on another day. But things are getting a bit back to “normal” whatever that means… I bought onions. There’s not much else to eat, but we have onions.

Next I’ll be dancing naked by a fire in the forest

Warning: this post will contain references to my right breast (or the mole that used to live under it). Any family members out there that read my blog who might be uncomfortable with that, please just wait for my next post (it’ll be about Paris and have nice pictures, promise). To all my friends- well, it ain’t any worse than what you’ve heard come out of my mouth before.

It all started with a little mole that I noticed after taking a shower one day. It was dark, it was fairly new and it wasn’t all nice and even. But it was small and I didn’t have insurance, so I figured it could sit there for a while. I’m certain it grew a little over time, but it wasn’t as big as a pencil eraser.

Fast forward 2 years (yes, I know, too long to wait). Armin scheduled a dual appointment with his dermatologist. Because, you know, like most people in places like Germany where people have easy access to good affordable healthcare, he goes in regular intervals to the dermatologist. I show the ugly bugger to the doctor, who decides that although it doesn’t look to be too bad, it should go. Why? Because it is in an awkward spot and he already has to cut a good portion around it, but if it were to grow much bigger, then it would be much more complicated because he’d have to cut into my boob or something. At least, I think that’s what he said. He was speaking in German. And not just plain old German, He’s Schwabish- a totally different dialect that is insanely difficult to understand because they all kind of mumble and talk fast (imagine a non-English speaker trying to understand Ebonics).

So last week we go for our appointment. Did I mention I’m a terrible patient? I can’t deal with the sight of my own blood. I want to vomit or pass out. I also have incredible anxiety when I have any sort of procedure done. To the point where my Ob/gyn sedated me once. So there I am, praying to God that I don’t puke on myself, literally grabbing the table that I’m laying on. Shaking like a leaf- not because I’m cold- although that would be possible as I’m just laying there topless (it’s a whole different immodest world over here, y’all). I watch the doctor come in and he goes to the sink. And he uses some sort of hand sanitizing liquid. No, he did not WASH his hands. Just rubbed the mystery solution all over them. When I say I was horrified, I mean, I was FROZEN in fear. My God, was this man going to touch me with one of those dirty hands covered in mostly dead germs????? He treats patients with Herpes for f***’s sake!! I wasn’t sure what I could do about it. If I said something would he get angry? Leave me with some garish scar? I mean, he was cutting under my boob- did he know how make it hang a little more lop-sided? Then I saw him open the package of surgical gloves. To my relief, he at least put those on correctly. I think I would have died if had messed up that process. I mean really. I would have had to say something, or just leave. Just leave and find another doctor.

The actual procedure was only as bad as I assumed it would be. I felt minimal pain thanks to a local anesthetic. But I could feel the knife against my skin, and then him tugging my skin with the stitches. I could also hear them talking, and then something with the last stitch wasn’t right and he had to cut it and do it again. I just wanted to die. I mean seriously y’all, I know it’s all in my head, but it was just horrible.

Of course, the horror and humiliation live on. Because of the location of the stitches, I can not wear a bra. I do NOT have small boobies (they just look small in comparison to the size of my big ass). The last time I was out in public without a bra I think was 7 or 8 years ago. Some things just aren’t meant to co-exist: my boobs and a bra-less lifestyle are in that category! All movements= jiggling. Jiggling skin that is attached to the stitches- maybe you can guess how good that felt. So the next day, I send the Hubs to the pharmacy to get an ACE bandage so I can at least control the girls, if they can’t get the support they are used to. The pharmacist who is a bit of a douche, refused to sell it to him. He stated that it wouldn’t work and I didn’t need it and I should wear a sports bra. If I could wear a sports bra, don’t you think I would be doing that by now, ya big idiot?!? I eventually made it to a different pharmacy, was waited on by a woman and got what I needed.

IMG_1936

This one inch incision has been driving me bonkers for exactly one week!

Anyway, that’s my story about how after only a year in Germany, I’m becoming some sort of bra-less hippy. Darn.

Jubiläum! (Anniversary)

A year ago yesterday, I arrived on a plane in Stuttgart to begin an interesting new path in life in Deutschland. So today, in German fashion, I brought a cake to school to celebrate with my classmates my anniversary at Vivat Lingua (my school, that I started the day after I arrived- jetlagged and all). I didn’t think much of it, just an excuse to eat cake. But the head of the school, Adelheid, is so nice, she had chocolates and a little plant in a pretty cup for me.

Last summer in Germany. Let's hope this year is a little bit warmer.

Last summer in Germany. Let’s hope this year is a little bit warmer.

It was such a different day today than a year ago.

For starters, Spring is trying her best to come round. We’ve had a few lovely days this week. I even wore a skirt and no leggings today. It was fabulous. Last year at this time, it was not very good weather and it was cold. I remember needing to wear my coat.

Another thing that has changed: my weight, for the better. I’ve lost 15 pounds over the last year. I had gained quite a bit after the wedding and before the move. Unfortunately I haven’t really achieved that awesome all-Euro wardrobe yet, mostly because I lost weight and now I can just wear the clothes I had in Louisiana.

I walk everywhere and only drive two or three days out of the week. (HUGE difference from wasting my life away in that little blue Corolla in BR traffic) … hey maybe this is related to the above…

I’m no longer shocked by the weird hairdos of the local youth.

I have friends from all sorts of places, but not very many German friends. Maybe after I stop learning German in a class with a bunch of foreigners and I get a job.

I finally understand how to sort trash and recyclables the “Deutsch way” (i.e. very complicated).

I came here barely able to ask people “How are you?” Now, I’m in the C-1 level. Today in class we listened to a comedian joke about a European initiative against the privatization of water, then we read a short paper on it, listened to an interview about water conservation and researched on the internet about this initiative. All in German!

A year ago, I really didn’t understand the concept of trying to conserve water. I always thought it was pointless to try to teach Louisiana kids about that sort of thing. We’re surrounded by water there. It’s waiting in the clouds above us for the right time to fall on our heads as we run through a parking lot to our car. It’s under the ground if we dig deep enough. Bayous, rivers, creeks, canals, swamps- you name it, we got it! I couldn’t fathom a world where people actually thought about that stuff. Then I came here. Water out the tap is fairly expensive, and has so much calcium it’ll eat your washing machine if you don’t add a special anti-calc powder. People collect rain water to water the garden. They don’t use the hose. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a hose in anyone’s yard. Every appliance has energy efficient what-nots and the toilets have various options for how much you want to flush!

I care more about electricity too. I mean, I cared before in the sense that I wanted to pay as little as possible. But I’ve been hanging my clothes out to dry outside the past few days. Simply because it was so nice outside that I knew they would dry quickly and I could do a few loads.

Speaking of the environment: Sunday, I went walking on a trail on a mountain, through a forest-y type area… and I liked it!

Globalisierung (globalization)

I promise to have a nice long post about Germany’s version of Mardi Gras. Soon. But I lost my stupid camera somewhere in this mess of a house and honestly, you need the pictures to really understand what I’m talking about.

But, my friend Brooke made a suggestion when I was visiting home back in December and I think I’ll take her up on it: I should post when I have those moments of “WTF, Germany?” So here goes my first crack at it…

I’ve noticed that the younger generation in Germany and many other countries have embraced the globalization of the world and even more so, embraced English. So you see a lot of ads in English. Even for companies that are totally German. You also see cheeky little signs or cards in gift shops with English phrases. And even the kids wear clothes with English on them. It’s interesting and sometimes a welcome break for my brain.

The only slight problem is that, like in most other languages too, a word can mean one thing on its own but when coupled with another word, takes on a whole new meaning. Let’s go over some examples I have seen recently:

1) The first time I noticed it, I saw a cute little house outside the pet store. It said in big bright painted on letters: CATHOUSE. Umm, yeah. Guys? We call those “Cat Condos”. There’s a different kind of kitty in a Cat House…..

2) Then there was the ads for the gym in Reutlingen. Featuring the new “Lady Area”. I’ve heard of a “Ladies Only Area” or the “Women’s Fitness Section”. But the only time I ever heard of a lady area was in nursing school a 15 year old had an itch in her “lady area”.

3) Continuing on with this theme, here’s the last WTF? for this post. Written on the jackets of a girls marching troop in the parade “Magic Muffins”. I’ll just let you think about that one on your own for a while.

Oddly enough, I recall asking A once if there are various words for female parts (for science). He said he only knew of the more medical term Vagina (yep, it’s the same, just gets a capital). He was too busy in high school playing dungeons and dragons to be asking the girls what they called their Lady Area.