Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf and other Stressful Things

Oh boy am I ever reaching my mama patience limit. One child is eating seriously everything that comes into her path, whether that means a nice, ripe, organic banana or a shoe that has been walking the ever-so-delectable berlin sidewalks (as a matter of fact, she is eating my Wallpaper magazine at this very moment). She requires constant attention just to stay of mother nature's little flaws. I am anxiously awaiting the day when she does a little inspecting and then some careful, conscious contemplating about whether or not she wants to actually eat that dust bunny or that small, perfectly choking size and equally-covered-in-dust toy of her elder sister that she just found in the corner. The elder sister I speak of is in an similarly frustrating, but totally different phase at the moment. She is Drama Queen Number One, which means every slight brush against a chair that might cause a little tickle of pain merits howls and screeches that could wake up the neighbors on the other side of the neighborhood. The first 100 times or so that she did that, she got the proper, "Oh sweetie, are you hurt, darling? Come here and let mama kiss your owie and make it feel better." But now, no matter how much pain and how much blood, she gets, "Chill out! Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?" to which she howls louder, saying through sobs, "No, it really hurts this time!"

For those of you who don't know the story, it goes something like this:

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!"

The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

"Don't cry 'wolf', shepherd boy," said the villagers, "when there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill.

Later, the boy sang out again, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.

When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!"

But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.

Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!"

But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.

At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.

"There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?"

An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village.

"We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"

Which reminds me of another person being called that boy these days:

Anyways, so I brought Suicide Baby and Drama Queen Number One with me to a little meeting this morning for this photo project I am working on. Its a darned good thing that "sense of humor" is a concept most people understand and appreciate, though there are definitely days when I would say otherwise (see German Oma entries). Here I was, shoveling bread, then breast into one mouth of bottomless pit baby and trying to keep Drama Queen Number One happy with a glass of milk promises of chewing gum to come. My arms must have been a blur to the old man sitting across from me, as they moved from one side of the table to the next with super mama, unconscious professionalism. I was downright moved by the fact that through all this double teaming, I was able to have a whole conversation, without too many lost, breastfeeding-brain thoughts, with a sense of seriousness and professionalism to boot. I extend a heartfelt pat on the back to me. Nevermind that my nerves are totally shot.

So to gulp down with all that stressful energy, here is a lovely

Carrot Cake Recipe:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (i would use about three times this can never add too much cinnamon i say)
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup cooking oil
4 eggs

mix wet and dry ingredients separately. bake at around 350F or 200 C for about 30 to 35 minutes. top with cream cheese frosting.

so as to not leave you hanging here:

cream cheese frosting:
beat together two packages of softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter also softened, and 2 teaspoons vanilla until light and fluffy. gradually add 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, beating well. then, after coming to terms with the fact that you are putting this much powdered sugar into something you will actually eat and offer to others, beat in another 2 to 2 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar until icing reaches spreading consistency.

i think i'll make this one for my daughter's birthday next week. i would also like to try making a banana cake and a strawberry cake (which should be pink, of course) as well. they all sound healthy at least. if you know any good recipes for the latter, please let me know!!

okay, time to feed the masses.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Health Food

Wow...its been awhile since my last post. Its been busy around here, I tell you. To find the time to do something as recreational as blogging is quite a challenge, seeing as how I have thousands of kids and all. The first thing my husband says every morning when we awake to the little one sticking her tiny pointer finger in our nostrils is "Geez, why do we have so many kids...?" The days are long and repetitive and busy.

The weather has been wacky, but that is nothing too unusual. It feels strange to wear a jacket at the end of July, but I guess I've experienced much weirder things. Still, even though it has been cold and rainy, there is that August stickiness in the air.

The blueberries are good and fat and cheap right now, which is seriously exciting as far as I'm concerned. Today I bought tons of them and washed them and froze them. I am really craving blueberry pancakes at the moment, and these big blueberries are perfect. The little, very purpley ones are nice too, but these big ones with the white, seedy centers which turn all purple when baked are even better. And I let go of one final American thing - American pancake syrup. I have replaced it with proper Canadian maple syrup. In addition to the positive political feeling I get from this switch, the taste is just incredibly better.

Ingredients of Canadian Maple Syrup: Maple Syrup

Ingredients of Aunt Jemima Lite: water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar syrup, cellulose gum, salt, caramel color, sorbic acid, sodium benzoate, natural and artificial flavors, sodium hexametaphosphate.

And here is where I become really scared about the idea of living in the states. Its not just the politics folks, its the food. What has become of the American food? American supermarkets with all the packaged stuff with a list of ingredients that takes 10 minutes to read is just plain scary. The last time we were in the U.S., one relative gave my daughter a package of those goldfish crackers. Since my daughter has a peanut allergy, we have to read all the ingredient labels carefully. Well, the list on this box of goldfish took up the whole side of the box. A good rule to follow: If you see a list that long, it isn't safe to feed it to your children, peanut allergy or no peanut allergy. Hopefully, when/if we move, we can figure out a way to remain relatively healthy.

Speaking of healthy, I went to the cinema at Potsdamer Platz a couple of weekends ago, which was such an amazing Mama Jens free time treat. The best part of the experience was learning that they sell Ben and Jerry's ice cream there, and, as is the case with Haagen Daaz, I simply couldn't resist. The chocolate brownie madness, or whatever its called, just rocks.

Sleepy now. More later...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

No Cake for the Mother Scratchin' Ass Heads

Four years is just WAY TOO LONG for me to live in any one city - even if I have changed apartments a couple of times and rearranged my furniture monthly to simulate moving. I am so ready to be out of here, I cannot even tell you.

Because my Mama Jens hardcore gypsy desire to throw it all away and leave immediately is so super strong right now, every little awful interaction I have with locals is magnified. Someone in my state is especially sensitive to ämter and beämter, let me tell you. If anything were easy in this regard, I think I would die immediately from shock. What I would like to know is if Germans actually feel a sense of satisfaction when dealing with the overly difficult bureaucratic system. If it were too easy, would it just be boring or dissatisfying or what? Please enlighten me here. As Beppe Severgnini put it, "Americans see no existential significance in, say, getting a phone installed (the struggle, the pleading, the long wait, the final victory)." Having spent my adult life training on the German version of bureacracy however, I probably won't know what to do with myself when I move back to the U.S. one day and it takes me about an hour to get a phone, a place in a school for my daughter, a new apartment, a couple new Social Security cards for fun, whatever.

To avoid delving further into my current depression and frustration for various aspects of life here, I will share another recipe. This one is far the best homemade chocolate cake I have made. Let's call this one:

Don't Share with the Bureaucrats Hershey's Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar (wahoo!)
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups hershey's cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of boiling water

combine dry ingredients in large bowl. add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. stir in boiling water. pour into pan(s). bake 30-35 minutes. rockin'.

Have a nice day.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Random Bumblings

My favorite topping for pizza is sardines. The craving started with my first pregnancy, and revisited during my second. I still crave them, but I think its waning. It seriously disturbs my husband. He always says things like, "Now why would you want to go and ruin a perfectly good pizza like that?"

This old guy offered my 8 month old baby a lollipop the other day. Fur-reaky.

And I got another good asshole comment today. I get a particularly large number of them in the same location, around SBahn Schönhauser Allee.

It occurred to me last night that there is all kinds of crazy awesome stuff happening in this city. To think that last night there were thousands of people at the Olympic Stadium for the U2 concert, and then a couple of nights before thousands and thousands for the Live 8 concert...its just amazing. I am so out of touch, I tell you. Good ole Mama Jens, at home in her nest, with her thousands of children, sleeping like the sweet little bundles of joy that they are. No drinky drinky. No smoky smoky. Only brownie, milky, sleepy, sleepy. Holy flippin' Jesus.

Speaking of which, here's another recipe I like to call:

Brownies as Good as the Ones from the Package
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup hershey's cocoa (good luck finding this stuff!)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir together butter, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

But, yeah, we Mama Birds like to keep our nest in order. One night before an early morning departure for a trip, my husband went out to a concert. Normally that is fine and well, but when we have a big trip like that, Mama Bird starts to get a little anxious, if you know what I mean. Well, around midnight, when he WAS NOT HOME YET, I sent him a sweet little sms. When he received it, the friend that was with him said, "Oh, I bet thats ...smsing to ask how the concert is?" And he replied, "No, actually, what she wrote is: It is time to get your white bird ass back to my mother fuckin' nest."

Which reminds me of the big peacocks on the Pfaueninsel at the far western side of Berlin. Whoa. They get rigid and shake and then fan out their enormous set of feathers. I wish I could do that.

Its been raining every afternoon this week. I keep promising my daughter that she can ride her bike home from kita, but then its raining and we have to take the train instead which means Shönhauser Allee which means mean, nasty city people. Arrrrrgg.

Gelato. The one at Kollwitz Platz, next to the little international press stand is the best one I've come across. Any other recommendations on this topic are more than welcomed. I'm always up for a good ice cream cone. They just added a new flavor: erdnuss cookies. WOW WOW!!!! You gotta try it.

Okay, I think I need some sleep. Good night.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Catholic Guilt

Okay, I'll just say it: Catholic Guilt is my biggest problem. Though I gave up Catholicism at a very young age, the guilt is still with me. My husband often suggest therapy, but I actually studied counseling0, and so know there is no hope for the poor Catholics. I am keenly aware of when it crops up in my day-to-day life and interactions, and try to not be controlled by it, though that usually doesn't help much.

One place that just makes it all so painful and apparent is on public transportation. I have to say I think the way the tickets are randomly checked by civilian-clad checkers, who call for "Fahrscheine bitte!" in this voice that incites terror as soon as the subway doors have clanked shut is just plain crazy. I bet even non-Catholics feel a wave of terror and panic when they hear these words. For me, it is just horrible. I always feel like, "Oh shit! They caught me!" even though my properly purchased and stamped ticket is in my pocket. What's up with all the secret terror random check stuff? I much prefer the upfront Paris metro, which doesn't let you in until you've put your ticket through the machine and pass through the turnstyle or doors.

When we first moved here, I never bought tickets. I figured it seemed pretty pointless, especially since I never saw anyone checking....until one time I was on a train and the doors shut and that awful "FAHRSCHEINE BITTE!" was yelled out and I didn't have a ticket. Now this evokes a different kind of Catholic guilt altogether. This is guilt when you actually have something to be guilty about. It doesn't matter that we're just talking about a subway ticket here. They caught me!!!!! My heart was pounding. I started sweating. I thought about breaking a window. And phew! The doors opened and I jumped out before they could check me! I remember the distinct feeling of punk rock mama as I ran down the platform pushing my stroller. They weren't gonna catch me, those fucking bastards. Of course I immediately bought a ticket then and got on the next train to complete my journey. I have never been so bold as to go ticketless since.

And speaking of Catholics, Pope Benedict's VW is on display in a glass box at the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden (mall, for those of you Americans reading). It has big stickers all over it, saying "Pope Mobile" and things like that. This is what it looks like:

Somehow is it just too new to impress me. It was bought by an online casino firm for something like 244,000$. Nuts, eh?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Blueberry Muffins and Speedy Chickens

For the germaphobes: I like to buy my fruit from one of these local fruit and vegetable stands/kiosks. They have an awesome selection and the fruit and vegetables are always very fresh. But for those of you who like to buy those pre-packaged fruit salad things, watch out. Everytime I go in there, the lady is cutting up all this fruit and making those things. Her hands and apron are always filthy, as though she had just been out in the field picking the potatos herself (do you pick or pull potatos?). Not only that, she then rings people up, handling all the change and unwashed vegetables and then goes right back to her cutting board. Eeewww. My advice: Buy a couple of pieces of fruit, go home and wash them, chop them up, and voila! ...a fresh, fruit salad - fresh being the important ingredient here.

And speaking of fruit, I love the little blueberries in the baskets. They are sweet and perfect for my baby to practice her pincer grip with. Very cute.

And on that note, I will impart a Mama Jens recipe on you.

Real, American, Freakin' Blueberry Muffins:
1 and 1/3 cup flour (can also substitue whole wheat or spelt flour - very nice)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
Blueberries (you can also substitute chocolate chips, bananas, shredded carrots and raisins, etc. here)

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately. Pour into muffin cups or well-greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

About the measurements - I have no idea about the grams, milliliters...just use a regular coffee cup to measure. It all turns out basically the same.

I just pulled an insect out of my baby's mouth. It was one of those bugs that is a cross between a mosquito and a dragon fly. As I am not nature mama, I have no idea what it was. All I know that it was dead and dusty in some corner and now it is soggy and in pieces in the trash. Yuck.
Bad blogging mama, pay attention for God's sake.

So this morning, it took me approximately 55 minutes to do all my errands. It went something like this: Conny's container to buy a small suitcase and a picture frame, then home to drop off the big suitcase that was so ridiulously draped over the stroller. Then paper store to get some envelopes and drugstore to get diapers, then home to drop off bulky items. Then fruit stand and porno bakery, then home to drop off again. Then grocery store and home. The whole time, there is this old guy standing next to the entrance of our flat, under someone's balcony for rain protection. He was watching me, going in and out, in and out with my stroller, umbrella, suitcase, bags, etc. I felt like a speedy chicken mama. As a matter of fact, I kind of look like a speedy chicken mama, or someone on speed at least.

And speaking of speed, what is with the out-in-the-open freakin' drug dealing ring in Prenzlauer Berg????? These guys loiter in the same places - positioned throughout the district - day in and day out. The "franchise" closest to me has been there for about two years now. He is really weird. I've seen him in various drug deals and he does strange things like leave stuff on peoples' car tires and in bushes and such. They're so obvious, I'm surprized they haven't been busted yet.

Have a nice weekend.