Saturday, March 31, 2007

Books - March 2007

The Big Rumpus by Ayun Halliday
I tried to read this before Theo was born and thought it was boring. Now I think it's hilarious. Raising kids as a normal human being (vs. those families in The Nanny Diaries) in New York. Plus, her husband wrote "Urinetown: The Musical." Possibly during potty-training?

Breakfast at Tiffany's and Other Stories by Truman Capote
Capote was, by most accounts, a talented, unhappy and manipulative man. His stories, especially "A Christmas Memory," reveal someone who knew all about love and its many guises. He also knew all about how to write a great sentence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Caring for an infant can be an exercise in frustration. It's impossible to know exactly what he's thinking, possibly because he doesn't know either. Sometimes when he cries so hard that his mouth is wide open, his eyes are scrunched shut, and no sound actually comes out of his mouth (unless you're a dog, who might be able to hear the pitch he's screaming), I imagine him being so pissed off that he's telepathically sending me a message saying, "Woman, do something to make me feel better and do it NOW! Get me back into that place where it was quiet and warm and no one was trying to wrap plastic absorbent pads around my midsection." He might even use a swear word if he knew one.

Throughout those first few weeks when he screeched for what seemed like no reason at all, he could always be calmed by nursing. When he suddenly became silent mid-shriek, Jeff would know that it was baby mealtime (or maybe it wasn't time, but Theo was getting a meal). Nursing is lovely and wonderful but it can also be boring, so I would entertain myself by popping in a DVD. I watched the last two seasons of The West Wing this way, and began watching Grey's Anatomy. I almost got through the first two seasons of the adventures of Meredith, George, Izzy, and Christina. It's probably thanks to them that Theo has gained as much weight as he has.

Recently, our DVD player started acting up. This might sound like a minor development, but not when you realize that this is the second DVD player lemon we've acquired since December. And that some of its controls are manual, so I have to set it up before sitting down to feed Theo. So you can only imagine my frustration when, each time I've used the machine for the past week or two, I've had to stop it, start it, rewind it, fast forward, open it, close it, and pick a bale of cotton in order to get it to work each time. This requires getting up from the couch multiple times, which is annoying in itself, but especially inconvenient when you have an infant attached to your, um, frontal region.

Today, I spent the entire 30 minutes of Theo's mealtime trying to get the (bleep)ing DVD player to work, and I never did get it going, and now I have three episodes left to watch and I'm never going to be able to see the last show when everyone wears pretty clothing and Meredith has to choose between Dr. McCan't Buy Me Love and Chris O'Scent of a Woman. I hope Theo doesn't have eardrum damage, because the entire time he was eating this afternoon, my face looked just like his used to and I was shrieking at a pitch that only the black lab downstairs could hear.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Lowdown

The Butler household is simply abuzz with new developments. These include:
-Adorable cooing
-Arm/leg flailing
-Busting out of clothing that once fit very well, thanks
-Enjoying sunshine ten minutes after a spring snowstorm
-Being entertained by friendly visitors from far away
-Eating every 2-3 hours

And that's just me. Theo is doing fine too.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

And now for something completely different

The kid in the red shirt makes my day. I hope Janet Jackson hires him to choreograph her next video. (via defective yeti)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Having a Baby in Germany
Part Three: Labor and Delivery

I've tried to compensate for how long it took me to write this post by making it the longest entry in the history of my blog. It's so long, in fact, that I've posted it on a separate page just to spare anyone who isn't interested in this topic the chore of scrolling through the whole thing.

When Theo turned one month old, I posted the story of his birth. Here, I'll attempt to answer some frequently asked questions about our hospital stay. I've focused on the unexpected experiences that seemed different than having a baby in an American hospital, so just imagine that between all the bewildering moments chronicled here, there were hours of normalcy and comfort. Overall, it was a joyful and memorable five days of our lives, and we're grateful for the kind care of the hospital staff.

Please post additional questions in the comments if you have them, or e-mail me for more details if you want them.
Read the rest of the post here.

Part Two: Care Providers and Hospitals
Part One: The Nuts and Bolts of the First Half of Pregnancy
Introduction and Disclaimer

Monday, March 19, 2007

Love it/Hate it

Expat Meme courtesy of Heidelbergerin.

5) Name five things you love in your new country:

1. The amazing selection of fresh-baked bread and pastries

2. Efficient public transportation, within urban areas and throughout Europe

3. Learning about new cultures (not just German, but Turkish, Italian, etc)

4. Good social service programs including parental leave, and universal and (mostly) smooth-running health care

5. Easy access to interesting travel destinations that I can enjoy without jet lag.

4) Name four things that you miss from your native country:

1. Mexican food and fresh salads and sandwiches with lots of veggies

2. Friends and family (notice that they're #2 after the Mexican food - sorry guys, but I swore I'd tell the truth when I started this blog)

3. Easy parking - plentiful and large parking spaces. Or maybe that's because I have a panic attack every time I try to back out of my scary garage.

4. Participating in the nuances of my surroundings - understanding posters and signs, eavesdropping on strangers, ordering food just the way I like it, reading a daily newspaper

3) Name three things that annoy you a bit (or much) in your new country:

1. Dead Sundays. When everything is closed on Sundays, we choose between a blur of errands or a sightseeing trip on Saturdays when businesses are open, then sit around on Sunday wishing we could have spread the activity out over the weekend.

2. Absence of air conditioning. Anywhere. Including hospitals.

3. Smoking. Everywhere.

2) Name two things that surprise you (or surprised you in the beginning) in your new country:

1. How cautious many Germans are when it comes to expressing national pride. This was especially evident during the World Cup, when everyone kept commenting on how unusual it was to see German flags flying.

2. So many smokers in such an environmentally aware and health-conscious population

1) Name one thing that you would miss terribly in your new country, if you had to leave it.

1. Cheap flights to cool, new-to-me destinations. Also, Haribo gummi bears.

I tag B, Mausi, Maria, Christina, and Isabelle.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pants on Fire

I totally lied when I announced the Oscar pool prizes. It wasn't so much a lie as a lack of follow-through. In fact it was only 50% a lie because Melanie and Kylee really will get their chocolate Oscar statues, or that's what Amazon tells me.

On the other hand, when I tried to order Karl's snazzy movie-themed cookbook, Amazon told me it is "usually" shipped in 2-4 weeks. And the last time I got a message like that, my order was finally canceled ten weeks later. So I sent him a different book instead, which allowed me to spend Theo's naptime surfing the Amazon cookbook section while also feeling smugly productive.

I had the feeling that I wouldn't be able to send Eurotrippen the chocolate Oscar, and sure enough I was right. In fact I didn't try very hard because I really wanted an excuse to shop at this little chocolate store in downtown Furth. Today I mailed her some very nice chocolate squares. I also included a bar of hot pepper chocolate and, since she recently announced her intention to write a book, some absinthe chocolate, since it can't hurt for inspiration.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Just can't get enough

I know you can't get enough baby pictures, so I've added a few more (see the sidebar). Besides our daily photo shoots, life is pretty boring around here. We've apparently acquired the world's safest yet heaviest carseat. Theo's not so sure how he feels about it (see photo). I love everything about it until the moment I have to haul it up four flights of stairs to our apartment. I'm not kidding when I tell you that my arms are now almost too weak to pick up my baby out of his bassinet. Those damn baby books didn't say anything about doing bench presses to prepare for birth. (I suppose they didn't say anything about eating entire bags of Twizzlers either, but I managed to do that.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Books - February 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Compelling story, especially just after having a baby. I can't recall reading another book featuring a main character with Down Syndrome.

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke
Good for a laugh, a fun read for anyone who enjoys Brits and/or France. The blurbs call Clarke the anti-Peter Mayle; they're right.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg
Some useful information if you can get past the condescending tone.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Oscar Pool 2007: The Results Show

Here they are, the second annual Oscar pool results. We at The Blythe Spirit HQ received a record number of 51 entries this year, and we thank you for your participation.

The big winner is Karl Stickel, of Seattle Washington, who chose 16 of the 24 eventual winners correctly. Karl was followed closely by a three-way tie for second place, among last year's winner Melanie Reed, Kylee, and B from Eurotrippen with 13 correct answers each.

Note that the strength of these winning entries rested heavily on the lesser-known categories (Karl nailed all the documentary and short film categories) and only one of them chose the Best Picture correctly. Lesson: pay closer attention to the short films on the Independent Film Channel and don't worry if you have no idea who is going to win the biggies. Either that, or just guess lucky.

Complete results:
Karl - 16
Melanie R - 13
Kylee - 13
B - 13
Karen - 12
Kerri B - 12
Daniela - 12
Kerri W - 12
Rachel - 12
Geoff - 12
Scott - 12
Mike - 12
Todd - 12
Ahnawake - 12
Darin - 11
Kathryn - 11
Jennifer F - 11
Stacey - 10
Sandi - 10
Kiki - 10
Hollie - 10
David B - 10
Francie - 10
Ingrida - 10
Erica - 10
Kendra - 9
Katie - 9
Ashley- 9
Melanie S - 9
Glendi - 9
Monique - 8
David C - 8
Anna - 8
Kristen - 8
Jeff - 8
Dan - 8
Amy - 8
Emily - 8
Britten - 8
Chad - 8
Jennifer W - 7
Kassie - 7
Martha - 7
Barbara - 7
Margery - 7
Joanne - 7
Erin - 7
Janice - 6
Gerry - 6
Julia - 6
Tracy - 4

Thanks again for your participation.

Oh? You were wondering about the prizes?
Karl will receive a copy of Movie Menus: Recipes for perfect meals with your favorite films. Melanie, Kylee, and B will each receive a chocolate Oscar statue.

Happy Viewing in 2007.