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Monday, April 11th, 2011
4:46 pm - Another month down, about 6 weeks to go.
I'm starting to feel somewhat prepared and ready for the birth and arrival of the baby, but also really emotional, a bit overwhelmed, and plagued by very dark thoughts and dreams. Today I can't even think the phrase "The Day Everything Changes" without wanting to burst into tears. It doesn't help that my husband has been away for work for the last month or so and I'm not quite sure when he'll be back. Hopefully this weekend, but who knows. He really helps keep me relaxed and grounded and I feel a little adrift without him here!

I finished Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and it was really really great. Every pregnant woman and birth partner should read it. I'm now finishing "Birthing from Within", and I don't like it as well (her writing is a little..adamant), and it is a much more emotionally difficult book, but it does have a lot of good info and exercises. One of those exercises is to write down what you are afraid of, and think of how you will deal with that if it arises (rather than just trying to brush those fears under the rug and not think about them). I don't really have solutions for these worries yet though; advice from personal experience would be appreciated.

I am worried about getting a midwife in the hospital who I do not get along with. There are only so many who speak enough English, so asking for a different one may not be an option.
I worry that having someone with whom I am unfamiliar be my birth attendant will affect my ability to relax and focus.

I worry that my husband will not be assertive or knowledgeable enough to contradict the midwife or doctor on my behalf if an intervention is suggested that I do not want. I am not good with confrontation at the best of times, let alone while trying to give birth!

I tend to get very emotional and teary when I am stressed or overwhelmed, and I don't want to appear weak (Wow, that was really hard to write).
I want to be brave! And strong! But I can barely get blood drawn without tearing up and nearly having a panic attack, so going to the hospital is very scary for me. I don't like to not be in control in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Teeny tiny hospital with a very cozy L&D wing helps, but it also makes me worry about it being too crowded when I am there.

I've already done the best that I can in terms of choosing the right hospital for what I want, talking over my birthplan with one of the midwives, taking a tour, talking to someone who recently had a baby there, etc, so now all I can do is hope things go well and make my little mix CD and motivational posters to bring with me, and try to educate my husband on how to be a good Birth Partner.

PHEW, just writing all that down helps a bit.
Lately I oscillate between being lonely and wanting company, and hating everyone; or at least wanting everyone to shut up about the baby and pregnancy etc.

Aside from the emotional stuff, I've felt pretty good lately. I've been walking, swimming, and doing yoga and I feel healthy and strong. Everything is fine with the baby. So far I really couldn't have asked for an easier pregnancy, knock on wood!

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Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
9:39 pm - Entering the 3rd Trimester!
Wow, it's been 2.5 months since I wrote in this thing! Luckily though that's mostly because the 2nd trimester was such a non-issue! I really felt like myself again, and have gotten used to this whole "being pregnant" thing. I've even gotten used to feeling the baby move and kick and such, which is beyond weird! The Sea Monkey is now more often referred to as "Squirmy Worm" or "Sand Worm", as I can see her movements through my belly a la Dune; and like a Dune sand worm she is attracted by rhythm :P

Back at the beginning of February Joe and I went back to Baltimore to see friends. It was really interesting for me to notice the change in male behavior towards me now that I am pregnant. I think pregnant women emit some kind of pheromone that tells men we need help and protection or something, because waiters, flight attendants, friends, etc, were all extremely nice and helpful to me even when it wasn't obvious that I'm knocked up. I was horribly sick on the plane coming home (not from the plane, from the flu or food poisoning) and one older flight attendant was SO KIND to me! He inquired why I only wanted the salad for my meal, then brought me ice and a whole large bottle of water, and anything else I needed the whole flight :)

Joe as well has been extra protective, cuddly, and considerate; which is to be expected. I've found myself much more needy as well and I hate to be apart from him. He has to go on another trip in two weeks and it's going to suck so much! He should only be gone 2 weeks, but I know it's going to suck :(

Even the cat has been more cuddly than usual! We joke that she's just hovering over me so she can eat the baby when it comes out.

The typical annoying aches and pains have started up now that I'm getting bigger. I've gained 10 lbs in a month, and while that doesn't sound like much my body is having trouble keeping up. I have hip pain again and when I walk too long it feels like things are pulling in my belly. I get sharp stretching pains behind my belly button (and her kicking doesn't help!). This I am really not excited about as I walk to work and for exercise, and I don't know what I'll do if it stays/gets worse! I want to try to get to the pool more often, but that costs money and requires driving.
I've had to start taking iron and thyroid supplements as well, and I'm trying to cut down on the sweets even though I have been craving them.

I was reading more of Ina May's book today, and it struck me how I'm doing SO MUCH preparation for what will probably only be one day's work! Yes it's a life-changing event and it's important to be in the right mental state and know what to expect and everything, but I feel like we make such a huge deal out of something that is relatively brief and unpredictable. The real hard part begins when we leave the hospital!

I'm honestly glad that human gestation takes 9 months. It really takes that long to assimilate everything, and even then I don't think there's any way to really be ready. Joe and I set up the pack n play we'll be using as a crib in our bedroom, and we've both caught each other standing in the doorway staring at it in terror :P This is getting real!

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Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
10:53 am - 2nd Trimester, much better than the first.
Welcome any new readers who found me through FB! If you could see the link, it means I trust you enough to welcome you into my very private thoughts, specifically about my pregnancy. Please feel free to comment.

First three months I was tired and a little cranky, and lacked motivation, but I really didn't notice how NOT-myself I was feeling until I woke up in week 13 or so and realized I was back to normal! The last few weeks have been great. I have my usual holiday crafting and baking motivation again, and I've even been pretty good about doing housework! I've been working and not hating it, I have more energy, and I don't usually need a nap in the afternoon anymore. I'm a little concerned though because I was accessing some pretty deep, dusty, places in my brain during that time, and I feel like they are harder to get to now and I haven't finished excavating them.

The amazing sex drive hormones are still there, but not quite as high as the first 3 months (booo); I hope they don't continue to decrease. The dreams have been something else though! Holy shit weird dreams, and my brain is doing some interesting playing around with ideas about birthing.

I still haven't done any birth art. Even though I'm starting to show a little bit, I feel like I'm starting to do a little bit of mental avoidance about the whole thing now that time feels like it's speeding up, and I need to stop that. I need to be present with this and deal with things before it becomes overwhelming. I found a local German woman with whom I was talking via email about the whole birth process here and I was hoping she would be a great information source, but I haven't heard from her in weeks and I think she had her newest baby, so I don't know if she will be able to help me or not. I'm feeling a little better about the whole hospital thing now though; there was about a week where I was like "fuck it, I want a homebirth", but I think I will be able to find a hospital I like.

I'm still feeling a bit superstitious about buying things or even picking a name for the baby (we'll learn the sex tomorrow). I don't know if that's really out of fear of losing it, or fear about dealing with the reality of the baby coming! Probably some of both.

A friend with 3 little ones recently made a post about fighting to keep your personality separate from being "Sea Monkey's Mom" that really struck a chord with me. I feel like it's a bit like joining the Spouse's Club: Yes, I fit all the criteria for being a member, but I don't really feel like I have anything in common with these people and don't like most of them. Even though most of our best friends are having or planning to have kids, I still feel like we have a lot in common with our ChildFree friends, and I don't want to lose that perspective. I HATE smug mommy-types. The internet is a wonderful thing and I already know tons of cool moms, but it's still really weird to me to be joining the mommy club.

I didn't get to go to yoga today because of surprise snow, so I'm going to go hang out on my mat for a bit. Might post more later and work with the book a little.

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Saturday, November 20th, 2010
8:06 pm - Feeling Lazy
And not in a good "Oh I've had such a long, productive week I'm going to treat myself to a couch-binge!" sort of lazy. This is the kind of unmotivated boredom coupled with mild anxiety that makes me think I'm depressed or something. And even if I am, so what? What does one do about a general malaise, in NOVEMBER? November is the month for malaise. Friday I was glad I didn't have to work, and stayed in bed hiding in sleep (that's how it felt) until about 9am. I felt like I needed a good hide.

They asked me to cover for the special ed aid for a full month, and despite the month having a lot of holidays in the next few weeks, the idea of working every day and not being able to go to yoga or to knitting, and having to wake up and get to school and have a lunch every day, was pretty anxiety inducing. It comes and goes. Some months I feel totally normal, and other months I want to hide in my house and only come out when I run out of all food. Having Joe home helps, usually, but he's been home and I've still been in un-motivated, un-creative, hiding-mode. I don't even feel like knitting or spinning or baking or even reading so much. I just spend hours procrastinating on the internet. Clutter and dishes pile up around me, and I feel like shit.

Luckily, I guess, another sub is going to take over most of December, but a lot of people are gone in December so I'll probably work a lot anyway, which is FINE. I like variety, I would rather be a series of different teachers than the same one for weeks on end. Also, being SPED aid is more like babysitting than teaching. Not the best allocation of my talents, IMNSHO.

One of my neighbors, who had a baby last year, is moving and had a yardsale today. I got a large box of nearly all her too-small baby clothes, and a worn-but-usable fancy Eddie Bauer stroller for $25. Strollers are really expensive, and I didn't want to have to buy one immediately so this should last us through the first few months when I plan to wear the baby as much as I can, but we may need a stroller once in a while.

I made the mistake of asking her how her birth here went, as she went to the hospital I'm planning on going to, and was rewarded with exactly the type of horror story I was hoping to avoid by having the baby here in Germany. Her midwife was on vacation, and they didn't provide her with another. The doctor was concerned that the baby's heartbeat wasn't strong enough, and she was given an IV, hooked up to a monitor, forced to stay on the bed, and eventually coerced/threatened into having a c-section she did not want. That is my nightmare. Stories like that make me want to attempt an unassisted homebirth (or with a midwife on skype like my friend did). Fortunately though, my neighbor mentioned that the other woman in the room with her had a perfectly normal natural birth, so I can still hope to get what I want. I'm going to ask lots of questions about birth plans and my rights and such when we go to visit the hospital in a few months. I think we're also going to pay extra for our own room, hopefully with a birthing tub. Apparently "birthing centers" are popular here in Germany, but there doesn't seem to be one close, or I would go that route.

I was starting to get comfortable with the whole giving birth thing, by reading Ina May's book, but I'm so scared of hospitals and IVs and such I'm not sure now that I will be able to relax enough in a hospital to get the results that I want. I agree with Ina May's assertion that so many women have problems with labor because we're wired not to give birth in an unsafe environment, and hospitals usually do NOT feel like safe spaces.

I still haven't worked up to being able to do any baby art, but at least I'm starting to work with some images in my head, and not avoiding the whole subject like I used to. It helps that Joe is just sooo happy lately and specifically excited about the baby :)

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Sunday, November 7th, 2010
1:15 pm - Musings on Pregnancy. part two
If you bring forth that which is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth that which is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
-Gospel of St. Thomas

My yoga teacher gave me this book, and I really feel like it was one of those good, serendipitous things that tells you you are on the right track. The author uses quotes that I love and paraphrases some of my favorite Buddhist teachers (Thich Nhat Hahn and Shunryu Suzuki), but it is not a Buddhist book per se. The section I am reading now is about Mindfulness and I think I should go back and read my Suzuki and Hahn books this month as well. I already feel better after my first entry; like I have opened a window and the light and fresh air are already clearing away some of the shadows.

November is a month for Thanksgiving and reflection. I always feel like November is a between-time: the harvest season is over, the year is done, but the sun does not return until December. It's a time of waiting and accessing what you have and what you want for the new year.

I am grateful for being here in Germany to have this baby. We did plan it this way, but most people do not have that option, and the state of the US health system right now is not something I wanted to deal with in this regard. I'm scared to try a home birth, so the German system of a hospital room with your own personal midwife is a great option IMO. The Germans are also much more interested in trying for a natural birth than most people in the US.

I'm also thankful for having this time to spend with myself (and in the future with my baby) and not have to work every day or worry about childcare. I eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired, and generally have the luxury of being able to pay attention to myself. I don't always enjoy my enforced-vacation time, as being tired more often is frustrating, and I have not had the urge to make stuff that I usually do, which leads to boredom, but I recognize that I am lucky to have it.

I have a desire to get back in touch with my spiritual side. I use that word because I don't have another word for it, but I used to be more contemplative and mindful, with a pagan bent, and I'd like to reconnect with that. I want to start celebrating the seasonal Holidays again and perhaps eventually find others to celebrate with. It's come to my attention that there are actually a lot more pagan-atheists (those who use the mythological figures as symbols) than I had thought, and that gives me hope of creating a practice that I can enjoy and share with others, including my child.
Of course it makes sense that the idea of the Mother Goddess would be forefront in my thoughts now, but I feel like we've been apart a long time and need to get to know each other again. Unfortunately all my books are in storage at my mother's.

One thing that the book emphasizes over and over is drawing on the support and collective wisdom of other women, and I've never been very good at that. I find it hard to make connections with other women, and am not very close to the other women in my family. I feel the lack of it, but tend to feel judged by other women or at least uncertain about being accepted by them. I have many friends, but no one here that I would feel totally comfortable talking about this sort if thing with. My yoga teacher is nice, but she intimidates me a little and I don't really know why. I'm a bit anxious about who my midwife will be, as I'm so picky about women.

I think that's another thing I am anxious about: turning into ONE OF THEM, the annoying mom-types I see all over the base. I remind myself that it will just be Me + one, but it's hard to hold on to that when you know that most of these people didn't used to be like they are now. I can't even explain what it is I don't like about them, which makes this hard. Maybe it's just a general fake-ness and obsession with things that seem unimportant.

I'm also completely sick to death of the whole "Culture of Fear" thing that is IMO ruining childhoods for children everywhere. Not letting kids play in the woods, climb trees, go trick or treating door to door... the new playgrounds on base have no swings or merry-go-rounds or tall things to climb on, most likely because they fear litigation. I hate it.

That's enough for today. Maybe I'll work up the courage to do some sketches later and post them next time.

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Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
2:53 pm - Musings on Pregnancy. part one
I decided to do some writing here instead of on paper in case any of you who used to read, and who are thinking about such things, might benefit from it. I'll try not to ramble TOO much, but some of it will be stream of consciousness.

I'm currently about 11 weeks pregnant and I'm reading Pam England's "Birth from Within". I'm not even halfway through the first chapter and find myself crumbling into tears, completely confused about what I am feeling. She's talking about creating Birth Art, and just the thought of making something throws me over the edge. I have no idea why. I can't even tell if I'm scared or angry or ashamed or just overwhelmed. I obviously have some baggage related to this whole thing that I need to explore and work through, and I'm going to try to do that on here.

She says "For each woman, the most important thing she needs to know (before going into labor) will be different. I would encourage a mother to ask herself 'What is it that _I_ need to know to give birth?' Her answer must be found within, not given to her by an expert. Each mother needs to find her personal, heartfelt question... If someone else can answer your question, you're not going deep enough."

When I read that the very first thing that came to my mind was "Who am I NOW? Who will I be when this baby is born?" This whole idea of being pregnant and being a mother is so totally divergent from how I think about myself, and I really need to spend some time reconnecting and re-defining and just coming to terms with it!

I think I spend most of my time still in a sort of denial about it. I'm not showing, I'm not often nauseated, I know it's true but I can just sort of not think about it and it goes away. The idea of miscarrying, while scary of course, does not upset me like I feel like it should if I had really embraced this new state. I'm just sort of like "Oh well, guess we'd try again some other time". I don't WANT to be that attached to the creature inside of me right now. Perhaps I feel like it's too dangerous. Being ambivalent is safe. But then why does the idea of creating birth art with images of pregnant women or fetuses scare the crap out of me?

Another of the exercises in the book is to write about your ideas/assumptions about pregnancy and motherhood, and where they come from.

Not to get all Freudian, but I'm realizing I have a lot of unresolved issues surrounding MY mother, and even maybe the word "Mother" because I associate it with her. Perhaps in my head I'm scared to be a "mother" because I don't want to be her. It's not that we have a horrible relationship, but somehow she wears the demon mask and it is her voice that whispers judgments and uncertainties in my head. I would not want her at the birth of my child. She was actually fairly snotty about my announcement that I was pregnant, and remarked "I thought you said you were going to WAIT!" and "Well, don't expect me to come out there to visit. I suppose it will be a long time before I see that baby." Thanks Mom. I think my sister said something to her about how that was really rude and she sent a congratulatory email and a care package after that, but of course I had been afraid to tell her in the first place because I knew she would react in some horrible way. Apparently even though I am 28 and married with free health care getting pregnant is IRRESPONSIBLE. My mom got pregnant soon after getting married, and I think she regrets it, but unlike her my husband and I have been together 6 years already. The honeymoon is over!

Growing up, getting pregnant was right up there with going to jail or dying in terms of "things that you must never do, ever".

Wow, this book is really hard to read. Every other page there is something that makes me cry. I have my work cut out for me.

current mood: overwhelmed

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Monday, January 18th, 2010
2:55 pm - For those not yet converted
Lady Gaga interview on Oprah. I love her so hard!

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Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
1:07 pm - Statuesque. By Neil Gaiman, with Bill Nighy and Amanda Palmer
Watch it quick before someone notices and they take it down!

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12:40 pm - Xmas and NYE
Sorry to be lazy but I put up a few new blog posts over here! Lots of pictures!

NYE 006

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Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
12:11 pm - Birthday Wishes and Looking Back 2009

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
Planned a wedding and got married
Moved to Europe
Bred and Hatched baby snakes
Helped shear sheep and washed and prepared fleeces for spinning
Started Substitute teaching

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't really make resolutions, but as always I need to find ways to get more exercise.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
Probably watching fireworks in Frankfurt.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully No.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just Germany. More big plans for next year!

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
An internet business selling my yarn/fiber stuff
A better grip on the German language

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day Joe and I went ring shopping, and our wedding day of course :)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
sounds narcissistic, but planning that wedding so quickly, and being happy with it.

9. What was your biggest failure?
falling out of the exercise habit.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
nothing out of the ordinary, but we got new knives a week ago and I've already cut myself twice.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My 50 gallon corner aquarium, which I miss terribly.
A new computer for my mom.
And I'm getting a drum carder for xmas, but I didn't pay for it so that doesn't count.

12. Where did most of your money go?
FOOD. Car, rent.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Anything Lady Gaga.

14. what do you wish you'd done more of?
Gone to Yoga at the awesome Patterson park studio

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Made excuses about working out. (SECONDED)

16. What was your favorite TV program?
-Top Chef
-No Reservations

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate? I don't think I hate anyone.

18. What was the best book you read?
The Omnivore's Dilemma, and all the Sookie Stackhouse books were fun too :P

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Bat For Lashes

20. What was your favorite film of this year?
Watchmen, also Star Trek was a lot of fun.

21. What did you do on your birthday?
If I remember correctly we went to Cheesecake Factory and saw Harry Potter.

22. What kept you sane?
My wonderful Husbeast, who knows how to calm me down and make me laugh when I'm being a stressed-out nervous wreck. Also my spinning wheel.

23. Who did you miss?
I miss everyone, now that we've moved! SO MUCH!
Also, my fishes, Charlie our other cat, and the geckos and snakes. And my Mazda.

24. Who was the best new person you met?
Frank and Maria here in Germany are pretty cool.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
no. I hate trying to think of this crap.

25. What things are you looking forward to in 2010?
Seeing lots of new places! Also going home to visit friends and family!

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Saturday, December 12th, 2009
2:41 pm - German Christmas Markets and French Onion Soup!
All of Germany is getting ready for Christmas, and many towns have Christmas Markets: richly decorated stalls setup in town squares and pedestrian zones, strung with lights and selling gifts, ornaments, and hot mulled wine (Gluhwein).

Last weekend we joined some friends from Frankfurt and drove out to Ronneberg, a 13th century castle that is famous for it's medieval events. They have a medieval market this time of year unlike other Christmas markets. It's really more like a small Renaissance Festival, complete with patrons dressed in wool and fur garb, and minstrels playing carols. It was colder than expected, so I was a bit envious of the long wool cloaks with fur collars!
(click any picture to go to Flickr and see the whole set!
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We drank gluhwein, ate meat on a stick, and had lovely fried apples for lunch, and bought a bottle of blueberry wine in a funny bottle.
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The inside of the castle was also full of vendors, and you could climb up the tower, and also have coffee and cake in one of the main halls.
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Old St. Nick!
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We also visited the Christmas Markets here in Wiesbaden and in Mainz. The one here in Wiesbaden is large and beautiful, but I think the Mainz one had more interesting vendors, including one that sold spices, and one that sold only marzipan!
Wiesbaden Shooting Star Market
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Mainz Christmas Market. I wish they'd had the lights on!
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Last night was Joe's company Holiday Party, held in the ballroom of a very fancy local casino.
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It was fun to get dressed up, and dinner was wonderful, but it made me miss the Agora Holiday party at the Engineer's Club, and all my amazing Agora
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I did win a bottle of local sparkling Riesling in the raffle though!
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We got all the Giftmas presents sent off yesterday, and today I'm cleaning the house and made French Onion Soup! It was delicious! Here's the recipe, tweaked from a few online:

Sarah's French Onion Soup

5 medium onions, sliced thin
3 TBSP Butter
3 TBSP flour
1 TBSP sugar
1 1/2 cups ale or other medium-dark beer
3 cans beef broth
2 TBSP brandy (optional)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 TBSP fresh thyme, or 1/2 dried
1 Tsp Herb de Provence (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1 slice rye or pumpernickel bread per bowl,
grated swiss cheese

Melt the butter in a soup pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring often, until onions are beginning to brown and are very broken down. Add the sugar halfway through to aid the caramelization process.

Add the flour and stir. Cook one minute.
Add all the liquid ingredients, and the herbs. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into oven-safe crocks or bowls, top with a slice of bread and lots of grated cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly. ENJOY!

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Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
9:22 am - Pumpkin Oatmeal!
The other day I made pumpkin bread with raisins and walnuts, but they only had canned pumpkin pie mix in the large can, instead of the small canned pure pumpkin that I needed. I subbed out some of the sugar and it came out fine, but I was left with over half a can of pumpkin pie mix!

I plan to use some more for pumpkin cookies, but in the meantime I've been eating Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal for breakfast:

1 serving of oatmeal (I use the Quick Oats, not instant) prepared as directed.
1 small handful each of raisins and walnuts
2 tsp dark brown sugar
a generous sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice mix (or just cinnamon)
2-3 TBSP canned pumpkin pie mix
a splash of milk

Stir it all together and enjoy! Tastes like fall! I like to think I get extra vitamins from the pumpkin and protein from the walnuts ;)

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Saturday, October 10th, 2009
7:51 pm - Crossposting because I'm lazy
New blog posts about our trips to Munich and Frankfurt! Get the whole story, with pictures, HERE:


and view ALL the pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/redqueen715

Here's a sneak preview!
Bavarian panorama

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Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
7:56 pm - Deflated.
Joe and I stayed home today to wait for our "Unaccompanied Baggage" shipment of kitchen goods and my spinning wheel to arrive today, which it did around 10am.

After hanging the curtains, I pulled out my wheel and realized that I had forgotten to pack any spinning fiber in the basket. Great. Spinning wheel and nothing to spin! At least a local shepherdess has promised to send me some fleece as a welcome present soon.

We started unpacking the boxes and putting things away, and when we were getting to the bottom we realized that we were still missing stuff. A lot of stuff. An ENTIRE BOX OF STUFF.

My blue and white Japanese bowls
Most of our drinking glasses, including Joe's collection of pub pint glasses
A few pots
My jars of tea
ALL the silverware

The boxes are unmarked, and Joe is not hopeful that the lost box will be able to be found. I'm trying to be optimistic, as some of that stuff is irreplaceable. This discovery effectively took the wind out of our sails, and we have been moping around our now-cluttered apartment ever since.

current mood: disappointed

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Friday, September 18th, 2009
2:37 pm - Out of the Hotel!
We're in an apartment! We decided to take another look at the place on base that they were offering us, weighed the pros and cons of living in that apartment and living on base, and decided to take it!

It is much smaller than the house we are coming from, but we expected that. It has a nice new kitchen, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and lots of closets.
It does not have any outside living space, but it looks over a grassy park/playground area, and has good light and windows that can be opened. It is walking distance to the PX, the Commissary, and either of the schools I may be working at, so we can probably avoid buying a second car.
It is also walking distance to the train station and the downtown shopping area. It also has parking. So all in all we expect it to work out well for us :) I haven't lived in the same house for 3 years since moving out of my parents' house! Hope I don't get too bored of it!

No pictures for now because we don't have wireless internet yet, and I don't have my photos on Joe's computer.

Our "Short Shipment" of stuff is being delivered on Tuesday! In this shipment is our kitchen stuff (pots, pans, dishes, etc) and MY SPINNING WHEEL! I am very excited :)

German class is going well, but it is a bit slow for me and Joe, who have experience learning other languages. I got a 97% on my midterm.

We will have a landline phone soon and will be able to call the US for free! We do not yet have cell phones though, which is a little inconvenient. We were discouraged to learn that there are no All-of-Europe plans, only German plans.

Email me if you have questions!

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Saturday, September 12th, 2009
8:07 pm - Bacharach and Koln!
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Click any picture to visit the flickr page with the rest of the set!

For Labor Day weekend J and I had hoped to do a nice, long, European adventure, perhaps to Amsterdam or Prague or Austria, but since we needed to have our rental car back Monday morning, and had things to do on Friday morning, that really didn't leave us much time. Also, apparently we need to get a special pass to drive in Austria AND our friends there were busy. So we stayed in the general area and did some exploring.

When we took our Rhine cruise, we passed a little town called Bacharach that we wanted to visit, so Friday after our errands we drove down the river. Driving down the river is not nearly as scenic as taking the boat, and some of the castles you can't even see from the road! But while the boat took 3 hours to reach Bacharach, we were there in about one hour. Unfortunately it was raining.

Not the best day for touring, but it wasn't too cold so we braved the rain and hiked around the vineyards, old towers and ramparts, and took pictures of the ruined church that is now an amphitheater. Back down in the village (full of lovely half-timbered houses) we found an inviting little restaurant for lunch where the owner spoke English.
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While eating our lunch, J happened to notice a few photos and a signed paper above our heads on the wall. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be a signed photo of Gackt the Japanese Pop Star! Apparently he had been visiting the town while shooting a movie, and the restaurant owners got a picture with him and a note from him! How random! The owner heard us talking about it and showed us a collection of photos that the production company had sent of Gackt around Bacharach. Small world!
Gackt in Germany!

After lunch the rain began to lessen, and we decided to climb up to the castle we had driven by on the way there. As we arrived the rain stopped and the sun came out!
I LOVED Rheinstein Castle. It is a small, cozy castle high on a cliff above the Rhine, with two lovely garden courtyards with fantastic views. It's a museum now, with the rooms decorated as they were for the Archbishop of Mainz. The pictures of this fairy-tale place speak for themselves I think!
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Saturday we drove up to Cologne, to see the huge Cathedral and some art museums. Unfortunately we got a late start, and hit rain on the way, so we didn't reach our destination until after 2pm. J had never been to a Gothic Cathedral before, (not even St. Patrick's in NY!) so this was a big deal for him! The cathedral is awe-inspiring, and we enjoyed the stained glass, but it's not in my top 5.
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Koln Dom

After the cathedral we had lunch at a Mexican/Italian restaurant with horrible service. That's one thing somewhat annoying about the "No Tipping" thing here. The servers already get paid by the hour, and people don't generally tip, so there is no incentive for them to be nice to you. It took us over an hour and a half to get an order of fajitas and a burrito. At least the food was surprisingly decent.

After lunch it was getting late and we only had time for one museum, so we visited the Wallraf-Richartz Museum. This impressive museum houses artwork covering every genre from the 13th century through the 19th century, but has an especially large collection of medieval devotional artwork (which I was not particularly interested in). We need to go back so we can visit the Ludvig Museum that has an amazing collection of art from WWII onward.

We took a detour through the German countryside on our way home.
Cows near Koln

Sunday and Monday were spent going to BBQs, doing laundry, going to my knitting group and the grocery store, and studying in the park for our German class.

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Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
4:45 pm - Rhine River Cruise!
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To celebrate the end of summer, J and I went on a river boat cruise up and down a romantic section of the Rhine River. The Rhine runs from Switzerland to Holland, but the most scenic part is between Wiesbaden and Koblenz. Due to funds and time we took it from Wiesbaden to St. Goar. If you are going to do the cruise, buy the day pass online at www.k-d.com and save a bunch off the ticket price.

Also plan on taking the train home because going upstream, as we learned, takes FOREVER!

We got on the boat around 10am, and it was bright and sunny, but the day was only going to get up to about 70 degrees. It has been fairly hot here, so I'm glad I looked up the weather for Saturday in advance and knew it would be cool! When the wind kicked in we were quite cold sitting on the roof of the ship, but that's where the best view is.

This stretch of river has 9 riverside towns, 12 castles, 2 monuments, and innumerable vineyards climbing the steep slopes of the river. Apparently, the slate of the mountain sides holds in the heat after the sun goes down, making the grapes that grow on them sweeter than those grown on the flat fields above the river, making for better wine.

We reached At. Goar around 1pm, and hat lunch at the Hotel Markt, recommended by Rick Steves in his Germany 2009 guide. The Rick Steves guide so far has been pretty good in terms of detailed and interesting information and recommendations on attractions and food, however the city we are living in he suggests you "Too big and too famous, Don't waste your time on it". HA!

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I had Saurbrauten, which I didn't know was a specialty of this area, with a glass of local Spatenbruger white wine. It was delicious! I keep attempting to like potato dumplings and failing though :(

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We did not have time to visit the castle, but it's supposed to be one of the more interesting ones to go in. The castle directly across the river looks like it has been renovated, and the guidebook said that a rich Japanese guy bought it in the 90's, intending to make it a Japanese destination resort, but his proposed plans and additions to the property were turned down by the German government, and he simply abandoned the idea! I think it's empty now, which is a shame because it would make a great hotel.
"Japanese" Castel
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Here's my other favorite shots from the trip! All there was to do on the boat was eat, drink, and take pictures, as I FORGOT MY KNITTING!

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Go HERE to see the rest of the set!

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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
6:38 pm - Germany! It Begins!
We made it! And so did the cat. A bit traumatized, but she's adjusted to the hotel room pretty well.

We're staying in a military hotel in Wiesbaden, off base, thankfully, and within walking distance to the downtown shopping district and many beautiful parks! Wiesbaden is a truly beautiful little city (just under 300k people) and I am looking forward to exploring it!

It looks like we will not be able to live off base :( We were not sure that we wanted to, but we liked the idea of having a downtown apartment and being able to walk to the bar and the bakery etc. At least on base we will have a full-size US-style kitchen and 110 power outlets (So I can use my mixer!) We will probably be in the hotel for about a month though until a place on base opens up, which is going to suck, but whatever, at least they have free breakfast, free laundry, and free internet.

Aside from Joe's sponsor, and a few guys from his shop and their families that we went to dinner with the first night we were here, we haven't met anyone yet. I hope to make some friends soon though, because the days while Joe is at work are going to get boring fast! Also, TV here sucks.

I'm excited about going to my first knitting meetup tomorrow night! I found them on Ravelry, and there is a group that meets in town on Thursdays (mostly Germans and expats I think) and one that meets on base on Mondays (mostly stay-at-home-moms).

I miss my spinning wheel :(

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Friday, August 21st, 2009
1:06 pm - Almost There!
Craigslisted the last of the furniture yesterday, and have been camping in our house since Tuesday. No bed, no tables, chairs, dishes, etc! Sleeping on a borrowed foam mattress on the floor, eating out or on paper plates, giving away all our food, condiments, and booze!

It's nice to have some downtime though to read, knit, and blog, via borrowed WiFi.

I'm glad we've had the chance to do some last minute hanging-out with friends, going out to eat at our favorite restaurants and to the movies.

Monday we saw District 9, which was quite good and not what I expected. Not a feel-good action flick, but worth watching.

Tuesday we went out to dinner at Harryman's House in Reisterstown with Tim, Erin, and Nick. I wish we'd known about this place sooner! Their food was great, I had Tuna Tartare and a Beet and Goat Cheese salad, with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc. The entrees looked amazing, but pricey.

After dinner we saw The Time Traveler's Wife. Tim and I had loved the book, and I came to the movie with both excitement and trepidation, as movies are never as good as the book.
The movie was decent, but lacked the depth of story and feeling that the book has. Those who had not read the book enjoyed it, and everyone cried, which is a good sign.

Wednesday we were at the mall buying books and looking for laptop batteries and decided to see G.I Joe. Joe was a big fan of the toys and cartoon growing up, so he really wanted to see it.
I expected it to be pretty bad, and it only slightly exceeded my expectations. I could appreciate them wanting to keep the spirit of the cartoon, and I'm sure pre-teen boys everywhere loved it, but there were some glaring flaws in the writing/story I couldn't get past.

After cleaning out tons of junk from the basement, and a harrowing task of getting our HUGEW coffee table to Beth and Jenn's house, Thursday we went back to the mall for one last dinner at Chevy's. Joe and I love their chicken floutas, and Mexican food is notoriously hard to come by in Germany! The floutas (like a taquito) come with sour cream, guacamole, mango salsa, beans, tamalito (like a corn tamale, yum!), and this amazing habanero jelly to dip them in. SOOO GOOD and only about $10!

We have friends coming down tonight and staying through Saturday, then we're off on our plane Sunday!

We might have internet at the hotel in Germany. I hope so. All our guidebooks got packed in the moving shipment! Rats!

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Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
11:18 am - Going Away Party!

Saturday August 1st!
We'll be firing up the BBQ and mixing Mojitos starting at 6pm!
Food/drinks/games welcome!

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