Saturday, June 30, 2007

Books - June 2007

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
It's not often that historical fiction feels like a beach read, but this one did.

The World According to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson
I read this for a book group. Half the group found him funny and the others agreed with someone who said he and Anne Coulter should be locked up in a cave together to wallow in the hate. I just think he needs to have a margarita and cheer up.

The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman
A foodie's delight. Not as funny as his buddy Tony Bourdain, but probably more accurate. Make sure your fridge is full before you read it, because you'll feel suddenly hungry every time you pick it up.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene
I just adore slender novels that pack character and story and education into every sentence. This novel about Vietnam and war and love makes every word count.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Excerpts from my Sent Mail

Lionel Richie is in town, so that's what I'm working with here.

I hear she is expanding her evil empire.

I will not be compensating you for pain and suffering due to injuries sustained during my Kool-Aid purchase. Please wear your safety helmet next time.

No! Please intrude!

It's like an episode of the X-Files where all the alien abductees are drawn, zombie-like, to an abandoned bridge so they can re-board the mother ship.

How to know you're a star

"A family friend told PEOPLE Tuesday morning: "(Paris Hilton) has been missing her pets a lot. And she loves fast food. She's looking forward to In-N-Out Burger and Taco Bell."

Later in the day, two Taco Bell reps arrived at the mansion and announced they had a delivery of four bags of food from Paris to the media. They then handed out taquitos and chips to everyone, including police officers."

This despite all my pining for some lousy Nachos Bellegrande. Note to Taco Bell reps: I expect you to arrive no later than today. I'm allowing for travel time. Andale.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Here's a sign that maybe it's time to start fleeing the neighborhood:
Bird Flu Cases Confirmed in Southern Germany

Yes, that's right, the plague has crossed the Czech Republic border and landed in our back yard. We shouldn't be shocked, since Nurnberg is only 120km from the border, but still. I plan to ditch the Deutsches Hanchen (that's German chicken) in my freezer and use this as an excuse to eat steak for the foreseeable future. Also, an excuse to remain inside and re-watch all my Aaron Sorkin DVDs.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scare Tactic

I was terrified of becoming a parent. I had heard so many stories and warnings, all those people telling me to "sleep while you can!" and bemoaning their ignorance about current cinema since they hadn't been to a movie in a year, and shaking their heads about how their marriage would never be the same. I finally held my nose and jumped not because I thought it was going to be fun, but because I imagined there must be some redeeming factors once the kids get older, or everyone would be an only child like me.

Since Theo arrived, I've realized that a) I was probably tuning out some of the glowing reports, figuring they were just saying that stuff because they thought they should and b)it's really hard to write and speak about positive events while remaining humble and self-deprecating. And I like humble and self-deprecating people. Ergo, most of the people I talk with and read about don't gush over how much fun it is to watch a five-month-old finally manage to get his left big toe all the way into his mouth.

I hope I can find a way to write and speak about my child that conveys the humor and beauty I feel as I watch him grow, without boring everyone around me to tears. Because everyone knows that there's nothing more boring than hearing stories about someone else's kid (unless it's watching someone else's vacation video).

Just then I deleted the beginning of a sentence that read "Sure, I get tired and frustrated every day..." because I think there's enough information out there about the fatigue and frustration. So for today, I'll share with you the information that Theo is currently sucking on his left big toe, that it cracks me up every time he does it, and leave it at that.

Because, trust me, it's a hoot. Really.

(This post inspired by Susan's post at Friday Playdate.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Parenting Tip

For a rosy-cheeked baby, install terry cloth sheets just as baby learns to scoot from one end of the crib to the other, especially if he's not quite holding up his head yet. He'll have a rug-burned face in no time.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

These are the things I'm tired of

1. Trying not to end a sentence in a preposition
2. Wearing a bra to bed
3. Blowing my nose
4. Keeping up an acceptable pedicure so I can allow myself to wear sandals
5. "Friends" reruns
6. British television ads for women-only car insurance
7. To swaddle or not to swaddle
8. Carrying wet laundry from the washer upstairs to the dryer downstairs
9. Dental floss guilt
10. Guilt caused by the luxury of being tired of first-world problems

Friday, June 15, 2007

Movie Stars

Forgive me if this is the current equivalent of dragging out the slide carousel and inviting you to sit through my photos of Yellowstone Park, but I know you'll indulge me. My clever sister-in-law has assembled an entertaining video from our trip to Tuscany last month. It stars Theo and his two French cousins, Chloe and Clement, with a supporting cast of family members.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bad Blogger

Since I seem to have Bloggers' Block lately, I'll take this opportunity to direct you elsewhere. Really, you should read these:

Belgian Waffle, an Irish expat in Belgium, whose daughter ("the Princess") is on the cusp of taking over the world.

Smitten Kitchen where you can read a recipe for homemade Oreos.

Sweet Juniper, who write about parenthood with intelligence and wonder and personality and grit. They also take amazing pictures of things like graffiti and architecture and their daughter, Juniper. Also, they put together alphabet books featuring graffiti and mythology.

JDubBlog, wherein a young American extends his love affair with Berlin. And hits on some chicks.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Holy shit! It's Mister Fucking Rogers!"

There are so many emotions involved with having a child. I've only had Theo for four and a half months, so I'm sure I have barely scratched the surface. But besides all the frustration and delight and fear and all the other things I feel, I am simply grateful for the chance to take care of another human being, and to watch him become whoever he is.

I remember in 2003, hearing on the radio that Mr. Rogers had passed away. I happened to be spending most of my day in the car, and I listened to NPR for hours as they replayed his interviews and as people - famous and regular - talked about what he had meant to them. Today, I happened upon this article about Mr. Rogers, and it reminded me of that day. I remember wondering exactly how such a person could even exist in such a complex and difficult world. Maybe that's why I liked his show so much when I was a child.

I hope I can focus on the gratitude as he did, and have the curiosity and sense of humor about my child that he had about all children. You should read about him, and remember watching him put on his sweater (did you know his mother knitted all those sweaters for him?). It will make you happy.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Father's Day

Since I'm the milk machine in our household, Jeff has taken on the title of Burp Expert. Jeff took the month of May off as parental leave, so for the past few weeks I would feed Theo and then hand him off to Jeff. Sometimes he would let loose with an enormous belch (Theo, not Jeff) just as we made the transfer, and we would laugh and Theo would give us a big, gummy grin. Around lunchtime on Monday, he finished nursing and started to fuss like he usually does, a sign that he wants to sit up and get on with the day. But as soon as he sat up and I patted him on the back a few times, he began to cry inconsolably. He wasn't interested in eating more (shocking) or in staring at his gorgeous mama, or in dancing around the room to the Talking Heads.

I think he missed his dad.

I've done enough complaining about German life and its quirks that I think it's time to show the other side of the coin. This is a community-based culture, where neighbors don't hesitate to tell one another how to sort the recycling, and where old men in the empty grocery story parking lot feel it is their responsibility to shout menacingly at clueluess drivers who aren't following the preferred traffic pattern. These same community values mean that people who have babies are expected to want to spend a bunch of time with them, and to care for them with quality, unbureaucratic health care, and to have the opportunity to return to work after their babies are a little older. Even the dads.

So Jeff got to hang out with Theo for a whole month (and another month later this summer), and I got to relax and leave the burping to someone else for a few weeks. And now Theo gets so excited when Jeff comes home at night that he practically wiggles across the room on his own. Theo, I mean; not Jeff.