Saturday, August 27, 2005

Pizza, Book Reports, and Daily Happenings

So here's what's cookin' tonight: Homemade Motherflippin' Pizza. I got this recipe for the crust from a friend. Delicious. Germans, you'll easily find quark. Americans, I am not sure what the equivalent is there...anyone know? Its like a mixture between cream cheese and yogurt, or just a thicker version of yogurt. Very nice.

While perusing my daughter's book collection the morning, I came across a couple books worth mentioning.

The first is Hat Pia einen Pipimax? by Thierry Lenain and Delphine Durand. This is an awesome story of a little boy, Paul, who learns that girls actually aren't missing anything (in a penis sort of way), but rather they just have something else. The book starts with: "Früher war für Paul alles einfach. Erstens: Es gibt die Mit-Pipimax. Zweitens: Es gibt die Ohne-Pipimax. Drittens: Die Mit-Pipimax sind viel stärker als die Ohne-Pipimax. Und warum? - Weil sie einen Pipimax haben." (Everything was easy for Paul before. First, there were the With-Pipimaxes. Second, there were the Without-Pipimaxes. Third, the WithPipimaxes are much stronger than the Without-Pipimaxes. And why? Because they have Pipimaxes.) Paul is happy he belongs to the Mit-Pipimax group. He feels sorry for the Ohne-Pipimaxes who are missing something and can't do anything about it. But, one day, a new student comes to their classroom who kind of shakes things up a little. Her name is Pia, and Paul is sure that, since she is clearly an Ohne-Pipimax,she only plays with dolls and draws flowers. But much to his surprize, he discovers that during drawing time, she is drawing only mammoths. "Was ist denn das für eine Mädchen?" (What kind of girl is this?) Not only does she not draw flowers, she climbs trees, and plays soccer, and even rides bikes. This had poor Paul totally confused. He concludes then that Pia must have something other girls don't. She must be an Ohne-Pipimax mit Pipimax. He starts to follow her everywhere to catch a glimpse of her Pipimax and therefore confirm his theory. He finally gets his chance at the beach when they've run all the way down to the water and realize they forgot their swim clothes. He was shocked at what he saw. No Pipimax!! Du...du...du hast gar keinen Pipimax?!" (You don't have a Pipimax?!) he stammers. "Nö..., ich habe eine Pipimaus!" she replies. From then on, the world is different for Paul. It was no longer the Mit-Pipimaxes and Ohne-Pipimaxes. Now there were the Mit-Pipimaxes and the Mit-Pipimauses (mice?). "Tja..., den Mädchen fehlt also doch nichts!" (Girls aren't missing something afterall!) Boys and girls are equal, but different.

The second book that we find highly entertaining is Von Kleinen Maulwurf, der wissen wollte, wer ihm auf den Kopf Gemacht hat by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch. Brace yourself for this. Its a book about a little mole who, when he sticks his head out of his hole one day, is rather unfortunately shat upon. The book is about his quest to find out who did it on his head. Walking around, with a big pile of shit on his head, he asks every animal he comes in contact with: Hast du mir auf den Kopf gemacht?" (Did you do it on my head?) Each animal - a bird, horse, rabbit, goat, cow, pig - denies having done it and then proceeds to prove it by showing the poor mole (and readers) what their poop looks like (sound affects accompany, by the way). Eventually, he comes across two flies - the shit experts! He invites them to an inspection. "Halt schön still" (hold still), they command while checking. Then they announce that it came from a dog. So he finds the perpetrator, Hans Heinerich, der Metzgerhund, climbs on his head, poops, then disappears back into his mole hole. What goes around comes around.

So, if you're looking to purchase a good read for your child, I would check out one or both of those!

What else? Oh yeah, remember the illegal cigarette ring that I thought was actually a drug ring? Well, I almost saw one of them get busted today. I was heading to the supermarket and I hear that polizei-over-a-microphone thing coming from a polizei van. I look over and he is addressing this young girl walking down the street. She looks over at him like, "Are you talking to me?" but then kept walking very steadily and innocently. The police van followed her a little while, and then decided to take off. She crossed the street and as I was passing her in the crosswalk, I thought: poor girl, she's getting harrassed for nothing. But then I turned around and she had taken off running! Then, later this afternoon, I saw her on the corner again with the one of those other guys...I guess it didn't scare her enough. Light neighborhood drama.

In other news, I collected 40 more hearts at Kaisers and now have 3 müsli bowls. Wahoo!

And I got my hair did (think Missy Elliott) today. I'm not gonna tell you how much it cost (since my husband might have a heart attack), I'll just say that, for the same price, I could have eaten at a five star restaurant (twice...eek!). I am lookin' FAN-CY! Yes I am. Yep. Yes-sir-ee. Allrighty. Righty-o.

I bought some chocolates to bring to my relations when I see them soon. Problem is, instead of locking them in a safety deposit box, like I should have, I put them on the freakin' counter. So, now they are almost gone. No need to bake when you have a stack of assorted milka bars sittin' in the kitchen. I highly recommend the trauben-nuss (with raisins and hazelnuts), by the way.

Okay, time to do some other things.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Winners and Losers

Thanks to a great tip from Elemmaciltur down in Munich, I've added a link over on the right to the Mama Jens' Cookbook. That way you don't have to flip around through old blog entries if you want to bake a flippin' cake. Enjoy!

So this morning, we had some family fun and played a game of Blokus (which of course we like to call Block Ass). Its a game where you have little weird shaped puzzle-like, plastic pieces that look like giganitc pixels and you lay them on this grid in a tetris-like way, trying to block your opponents and getting rid of as many pieces as you can. Our five year old is brilliant at it (Bragging Mama) and its good for the mathematic chambers of the mind.

Well, the end of the game brought a couple of important sentiments and subsequent lessons. The first was gloating. Even after I blocked his ass here and blocked his ass there, Big Daddy won by one piece. Well, of course he started dancing all around the kitchen and was sticking out his tongue and shaking his booty. Not wanting to encourage a child who already gloats all over town, I said, "Well, that is nice that Daddy won, but he doesn't need to gloat about it." She already understands this concept and agreed. But then the next sentiment came in: anger and disappointment over losing (from the five year old of course...I was too busy laughing at the booty to feel all that sad). So then we started the discussion of the Good Sport. That is the person who lost, but who can still keep his or her chin up and say, well, I did my best and it is okay that I didn't win this time....I am happy, however, for the person who did win. Well, this is all fine and dandy in theory, but it still sucks to lose. So, while I was trying to bring up the spirits of the five year old, my husband continued his gloating, but in subtext while trying to explain the concept of the Good Sport: "Yeah, sweetie, it is okay that I won and Mama didn't, for example. She can just congratulate me since I won and she lost. She lost, but she still did a great job. And Papa did a great job too and that is why he won." So, after we explained these important concepts, our daughter left the room to move on to a new activity, and Gloating Papa broke out into his booty victory dance again in the kitchen, sticking out his tongue at me. I, of course, being the Good Sport Mama that I am, gave him The Finger.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Apple Cake and Sweetness

Here's a trusty recipe from my sweet mama. It's a hit every time...and cakes just don't get any more moist.

Apple Cake
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup oil or a stick of butter (I used the oil here, but its nice to have options in case you don't have one or the other)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar (white fine too)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk with 1 tsp lemon juice and 1/2 cup sour cream)
2 cups flour (wheat is of course nice here)
1/2 cup walnuts (or almonds)
1/2 cup raisins

This cake looks lovely in a bunt form. The apples kind of rise to the top and it looks very fluffy and loafy. And with the whole wheat, apples, and raisins, it is actually a pretty healthy cake for your kids (if you supress the fact that you put 1 1/2 cups sugar in it...or you could of course do something very un-Mama Jens and decrease the sugar by half).

So, its Saturday morning and I am in the same position as yesterday with the same cup for my coffee (but the coffee is fresh of course). The big one is playing games on the computer (educational ones, of course), and the little one is trying to find a hole on the remote control to fit a marker into, pausing every couple of minutes to try to eat the remote control. They are both so freakin' cute. I love my kids.

Big daddy is sleeping. He has amazingly good karma right now, which we are all experiencing the side benefits of. Its teaching me a thing or two about good energy.

Little baby is starting the hard core separation anxiety. If one of us walks out of the room (doesn't matter who), she breaks into tears. It is usually okay if we walk slowly though. It gives her a little time to process what is happening I guess.

Have a lovely Saturday.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Random Friday Morning Wonderings

Its a Friday morning and beautiful outside today. Instead of saying something like, "I think summer has finally arrived," I'll just say, "It is a nice, warm, week." That way there is no confusion when suddenly, sure that "summer has arrived," you are fishing in your closet for a thick, wool sweater. Because it is so beautiful, I feel this extreme pressure to be outside right now. I will soon, after the baby's nap. Warmth. Sunshine. Vitamin D. Friendliness.

On this beautiful, Friday morning, I am wondering a couple of things:

What it is like as a young (sort of) adult living in America? How is the social climate, how do friendships work...? Here, we meet people so easily in the playgrounds. With more of a play-in-your-own-backyard culture in the U.S., I wonder where people meet each other. Through the schools, in the supermarkets? And what is the depth of the social interaction? Here, it is hard to become friends with Germans, but once you do, it is sort of like a long-term committment. With Americans, I get the feeling the friendships are easily made, but then easily left...more fluid-like. I wonder if that's true.

I am also wondering if we'll get to the states and think we made a very bad decision by moving. This is kind of scary. I don't think that will be the case, as we are very ready to leave here, but what if we do get there and are like, oh my god, what the hell were we thinking? It isn't like we can just pack up and go back. A couple of years ago, we would have never made a move like this. But now a couple of things have changed...the children and the school/cultural-educational situation for example. But another big one is simply that life is just too short. Because we are such "third culture kids," I don't think it is very likely that we will ever feel at home with any particular culture, and therefore, we may as well make it interesting and experience life in different places. Of course this isn't easy to do with children, but I think there are certain transitional windows where it works. And it is, of course, very enriching for them as well.

And are there places, apart from the more urban centers, where there is really this community feeling? Do people look out for one another? Are there places that feel like little villages? Do small, yet progressive-minded towns exist? One thing I am both interested in and scared of if the idea of a single family home. Do people in single family homes feel vulnerable? Can't anyone just come up on your property and peer through your windows to see what you're cookin' up for supper? Or is that just me being Total Paranoid Mama? When we were in the states not too long ago having a look at houses, I have to admit it felt kind of lonely in these old, empty houses. If your neighbors on both sides are on vacation, the next nearest humans could be pretty far away. So, this is bringing me to a refreshing new concept: townhomes or row houses. There are some big, old, beautiful ones out there. And then you can have your own nice space and yard, but still hear the rattles and knocks of other human beings which I think would make me feel a little better. And plus, you don't have to walk a mile to borrow an egg then. Anyways...we'll see.

Here it actually wouldn't be that strange if someone peeked their head in to ask me what I was cookin' up for supper, as we often just leave the front door open so our daughter and other children in the building can roam around the apartments, stairs, and backyard freely. I think I am just very used to city living. Always having noise and people around is kind of comforting. A couple of years back, we were staying in a gasthaus somewhere in the The Middle of Nowhere, and I couldn't sleep because it was too quiet. I didn't have the lulling affects of the tram, large trucks, and a constant stream of cars to carry me into sleep. I felt like I just had big, static headphones on. It was a little freaky. So, a single family home, must be very quiet too. Oh lordy.

Ok, enough wondering. Comments? Advice? Time to go outside.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Political Puppets and Bobby Valentino

I was pleasantly surprized today to see a puppet theatre being set up on the grass on Kollwitz Platz. Free, spontaneous entertainment couldn't be a bad thing, right? Wrong. Several children from the playgrounds made their way over and took a seat. My friend and I sort of half listened from afar while our children sat there attentively. All we could hear was that dry, fest-tent, microphone German coming through the speakers. It sounded in no way interesting, puppet show-ish, or entertaining. The guy may as well have been selling food processors for €5.99. In fact, for a moment there, when I looked up and saw something in his hand, I thought he actually was. My friend and I were joking that this was some kind of political speech. That is how dry the dude sounded. Well, next thing we knew, we looked over and the kids were holding freakin' SPD BALLOONS!!!!! Holy shit. Of course I perked up and went over to actually listen to what he was saying (even though he had a mic, he was very quiet), but then it was over. The giddy children were running back to their mamas and papas with SPD balloons and chocolate bars. Well, at least they weren't CDU...but still.

And speaking of, Angela has a big poster on Kollwitz platz. They didn't bother to do the moustasche on this one like over on Griefswalderstr., they just ripped it all to shreds. Lordy. I gotta get my digital camera organized so you can see what I mean here.

Onto other things. Now here is a song that has our whole family flippin' out and singing really crazy in the living room: Slow Down, by Bobby Valentino. Slow jams don't get any worse. The chorus just has us laughing our dang faces off!

Slow down, I just wanna get to know you
But don't turn around
Cause that pretty round thing looks good to me
Slow down, Never seen anything so lovely
Now turn around
And bless me with your beauty, Cutie

Okay, now let me just get this straight. The guy is walking down the street (Melrose), and he sees this girl who looks like "an angel" that is "straight out of heaven." But he only sees her from behind, and of course it is the behind itself that is so heavenly. He doesn't want her to turn around, because he has to behold the beauty of that "pretty round thing." Then, after proclaiming that he has "never seen anything so lovely," he commands her to "now turn around" so that she can "bless (him) with (her) beauty, cutie." Needless-to-say, the "cutie" part just about did us in with laughter. What is this world coming to??!!

I'm gonna keep this one short tonight. The lines on the screen are all blurring together, so I think I might be falling asleep. Good night.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mama Jens Gets Spiritual on Your Ass

There are a couple of themes running around in my head these days. One is letting go of material possessions. This has got to be one of the most liberating ideas I can think of. I have always been one to find "things" a little distracting...I like a clean, empty house. But an empty house is not the most comfortable and practical place to hang out, so we have accumulated. And accumulation just weighs one down - literally and spiritually, of course. So I am always try to get rid of things or at least organize them in such a way that they take up as little space as possible. But a much better solution is just to get rid of the damn shit.

You see, we are gonna make a pretty major international move here within the year and there's this small problem of getting everything from Point A to Point B. The door-to-door moving quotes are just outrageous. It seems crazy to spend that much money when you can furnish a whole house for the same amount (or much less, even). So, one by one, each piece of furniture is getting the following monologue from me: You are beautiful. You are a rare 1960's find. But you are not real. You are just a hinderance to my final goal. I will let go of you and you will be fine and I will be fine. If I need an equally beautiful and functional piece of furniture in the future, it will be no problem to find one. And, voilà!, one less thing to move.

If you could only hang onto a few material possessions, what would they be? For me I guess I would just keep the things that have nostalgic value - my journals, my paintings. For the children, I think it would be too stark to get rid of everything. I would take all their clothes and toys along so as to have some consistency in their environment. In general though, I think children are still pretty free of the distraction of matieral possessions. As long as the people that love and take care of them are there, they are pretty set. Of course, some children become really attached to one thing - a blanket or stuffed animal, but that again is an emotional attachment.

And here is a little something for you neurotic Mamas and Papas:

"If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so-called 'responsibilities' accumulate to fill them up. One master compares them to 'housekeeping in a dream.' We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the important things of life, but there never is any time. Even simply to get up in the morning, there is so much to do: open the window, make the bed, take a shower, brush your teeth, feed the dog or cat, do last night's washing up, discover you are out of sugar or coffee, go and buy them, make breakfast - the list is endless. Then there are clothes to sort out, choose, iron, and fold up again. And what about your hair or your make-up? Helpless, we watch our days fill up with telephone calls and petty projects, with so many responsibilities - or shouldn't we call them 'irresponsibilities'?" -Sogyal Rinpoche

We gotta just relax, man, and enjoy our lives and kids. There will always be time for taking care of the logistics. Now if only I can manage to really put that into practice. Holy Flippin' Neurotic Mama Jens.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The State and Good Happenings

AHHHHHH! My older one was in kita yesterday, the first day in two weeks, so I had Mama Break Time. What this meant was: I could acknowledge the presence of my younger daughter, I got to start the laundry excavation process, I went grocery shopping and actually contemplated what I was buying (if I need it, how much it costs, if it fits into meal plans, etc.), I ate lunch, I checked my email, and I even brushed my hair. It was amazing.

A little background info here on why I have been keeping my daughter home so much. The city of Berlin is broke. The decided to do away with the Vorschule program in public schools (kindergarten). That means the kitas (preschools) are supposed to do this job now for the five year olds. Well, call me Uptight Mama, but I really think (unlike a lot of people around here these days) that kids in this age should/can/are interested in beginning to read. So, I am kind of doing some heavy supplementation, homeschooling, whatever you would call it. Teaching a child how to read is pretty fascinating stuff. I look forward to seeing how it goes. Any tips on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

While researching "teaching children how to read," I also read a lot about homeschooling. I have also heard that homeschooling isn't allowed in Germany. It is very hard for people to slip through the cracks around here. The state also sent a dentist to the kita to check all the children's teeth. You could opt out if you wanted...but still.

Which reminds me of the visit I got from the Jugend Amt after my second child was born. That was total insanity man. First, I had gotten this letter from them saying they come around to houses of new parents to have a little check and that my appointment was on such and such a day at this time. There again was the option to cancel. Well, everyone knows that a new breastfeeding mama doesn't have two brain cells to rub together much less actually remember things like appointments or the option to cancel them. So that day and time came. My husband had taken the older one to kita, and I was enjoying Mama Sleeping In Time which happens basically never. Me and the new baby were nestled, slumbering, all super cozy...and then the door bell rings. I answered with the intercom, "Hallo?" It was Frau So and So from the Jugend Amt. Oh my God! I had totally forgotten to cancel that frickin' appointment. And not only that, the hallway was filled with the recycling I was gonna take out that day (meaning it was FILLED with TRASH) My hair looked like that of a rare, exotic bird. My t-shirt was covered in breast milk stains. My baby had a poopy morning diaper. The dirty dishes from the night before were PILED in the sink. This scene was not looking good folks. So I went to the door, said hello and shook hands confidently as though my hair were always styled this way, and explained that I had received her letter, and had intended to cancel the appointment, but had forgotten. She basically said, well, I'm here now, so let's have a look. So, I took a deep breath and let her into my TRASHED house and all these thoughts of how they were gonna take away my baby were running through my head. We went into the living room and sat down. We chatted a little while (she basically asked me a thousand questions about why I'm in Germany, am I married, what does my husband do, what do I do, where my fifth cousins live, etc.). Then she had a look at the baby and asked me about twenty more questions. Then she asked if I had enrolled in my rückbildungs class yet, as though that were a requirement (for those of you that don't know, this is basically a post-pregnancy aerobics class that most people take to get their bodies back into shape...the fact that it is basically standard is a bit creepy, but when in Rome...) . She also asked if I had enrolled my baby into a Pekip course, again as though it were a requirement, but THAT IS WHERE I FLIPPIN' DREW THE LINE. I said maybe I will, maybe I won't. The lady blabbed her dang face off for another 20 minutes and finally left me in peace in my filthy pigsty. Anyways, moral of the story: Cancel that appointment if you get one of those letters!

So those cracks. No slippin' through, ladies and gentlemen. They are all up in everyone's business, I tell you. Good: Your children will have their teeth checked even if you are a pothead fokker. Bad: Remaining anonymous and having the freedom to hide if you want doesn't exist, neither does homeschooling if you feel the schools are inadequate or don't suit your child's needs.

So, onto food. Last night we went to a pretty decent Mexican restaurant with some friends. It is called something like Coronita right by the Schlessisches (sssshhhleesishsish) Tor UBahn. I had the enchiladas with meat. They were rockin' and very authentic. We were a little puzzled by the red beets in my friends vegetarian burrito, however. Afterwards, we went to this awesome ice cream stand around the corner near Görlitzer Park. Now this place is worth leaving your kiez for. They had statues, and fancy tropical plants, and music, and even matching outfits and hats. It was a pretty happenin' Friday night, ice cream scene. All in all, nice evening. We have, by the way, mastered the art of dining out with two kids. Start early, leave early. Home by 8:00, everyone's happy. Easy.

Another good experience yesterday: I went to the post office, and the lady behind the counter made a real, bonafide joke that made me laugh my ass off. It was so awesome I could have jumped the counter and kissed her. For the sake of this post's length, however, I'll spare you the joke. The important part is that she made one. Amazing.

And my last and final great thing that happened yesterday, was that I collected enough hearts at the Kaisers supermarket to get TWO FREE BOWLS! Wahoo! You see, they give you these little heart stickers when you buy something (the more you spend, the more hearts you get of course). Then, you fill up these little sheets with them (this took me awhile to figure out...I thought they were for my daughter's sticker book for the longest time = Mama Moron), and when you get 40 you get a free müseli bowl. If you get more, you can get different things too, but I was after those little white bowls from the start.

Okay, enough is enough already. Goodnight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Biscotti and Kinder Museum

Okay, the biscotti recipe passed the Mama Jens quality control (I'm eating the last little wedge with some tea at the moment), so here you go:

Anything Goes Biscotti
1 egg
100 g powdered sugar
vanilla (use your best judgement here - I think a teaspoon or two would do)
50 g chopped almonds, toasted (hazelnuts, walnuts, your husband's nuts...they all work fine here)
50 g good dark chocolate (get fancy here, guys - lindt, imported real American chocolate chips, etc.)
50 g pinenuts (this is where you can get creative, and frankly i would recommend that as opposed to pinenuts, which just sound downright nasty. so get funky! use studentenfutter - i think that is trail mix in english even though it sounds like it should be hamster pellets, or some museli, raisins, whatever)
125 g flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

The batter will be very lumpy and crumbly. Just shape it into a ball and then flatten it out in a sort of loaf form on parchment paper. Bake 25 minutes at about 200 degrees celsius. Cut into slices and bake 10-15 minutes more. Super Baking Goddess told me that it should be just on the verge of burnt, BUT DON'T BURN IT, like I did (not that that affected my eating it). You don't want the stuff to be soft. And remember that it will get harder when it cools too. husband's Total Prevert mind is seeping into mine through semiosmosismeitosis.

About the grams, I just don't know what to say. Use your intuition here. It was kind of like a half a cup of everything. I am no Mama Mathematician, I assure you me, but I realize that a cup is about volume and a gram is about weight. So whatever. The cool thing about recipes like this (and quiche) is that they seem to be pretty open to interpretation, experience, variation, and a whole range of just plain fucking up. Enjoy.

Today, after I spent 10 minutes making 8 attempts to squeeze my car into an itty bitty parallel parking spot (just kidding, it wasn't itty bitty, I am just sometimes Mama Parking Moron) we met some friends at the MACH Mit! Kinder Museum in Prenzlauer Berg. What a great place. It is a former church converted into a hands-on children's museum. We've been pretty much loyal fans since we moved here. They have new exhibitions every couple of months with different themes, but the main attraction is this massive, wooden maze that reaches the ceiling (a couple of stories) in which the children can spend a couple of hours running about, chasing each other through, etc. There is also a cafe there for the Mamas and Papas to have a coffee in while their little wonders expend energy and learn about space.

Have a good night!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Moustaches, Haircuts, and Biscotti

There is a huge poster of Angela Merkel on Greifswalderstr. and someone drew a little square moustache over her mouth. Lordy. Comments are being added. I'll have to go back and write them down. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Our travel agent rocks. If you have to travel out of your kiez for one thing, I would recommend doing so for cheap airline tickets and friendly service. His office is small and disorganized and even kind of dirty, but he finds the cheapest tickets around and he is so friendly I could just kiss him. He has a very 1970's thing going on. Longish, parted (feathered even) hair. A beard, trimmed. Tightish jeans. Groomed and gold in that 1970's, early 80's sort of style, but like in the way that he doesn't realize it ever went out of (and then came back into) style. He never tries to pressure you into anything, and even says stuff like, "Go home and sleep on it and let me know," or "Yeah, I'll hold them a couple of weeks..." which is just not really typical business. So if you need airline tickets, or just want to check out a superfine hairdo, head down to Reisebüro, Prenzlauer Allee 221.

And on that note, I encourage you to check out the Wikipedia's definition and history of haircuts. This is some pretty informative stuff. Check out, for example what a Duck's Ass Haircut is, or that Jheri Curl involves a substance known as Jheri Curl Juice.

And speaking of a Duck Ass, since I am trying to clear my mind of a certain family drama, I will make biscotti now. A friend of mine (who used to run a cafe here and is a Superb Baking Goddess) gave it to me. It looks pretty easy actually. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Food and Entertainment

Husband out. Children slumbering sweetly. Mama blogs! Its a good break from my obsessive- compulsive online real estate searching. Holy toledo. So here are a couple of random ones for you:

Today, I watched Drama Queen Number One (the five year old) watch herself cry in the mirror. This was amazing. I decided, not necessarily because of the crying, that I want to take her to the Staatsballett to see the performance of Cinderella.

I made a mean Bread Pudding tonight.

Mean Bread Pudding
Take about four or five slices of bread and cut into squares. Whole wheat, soft sandwhich bread works well here...So does stale bread and french bread. Arrange the bread cubes and some raisins and almonds and whatever else you want in a baking dish (like a bread loaf pan). In a separate bowl mix together about 4 eggs, 2 and 1/4 cups milk, about a tablespoon of cinnamon, a couple of scoops of sugar (about 1/2 cup), a dash of nutmeg, and a couple of teaspoons of vanilla. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and bake in the oven for about 45 or 50 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with vanilla sauce or milk.

And speaking of dessert, Anne Blume on Kollwitz Str. wins my award for best food and desserts and coffee and atmosphere at the moment. Sitting outside there among all the tall flowering plants is so lovely. The selection of cakes is like Mama Jens heaven, and the other food is also great. There are high chairs, a changing table, and even a little stash (at child eye-level) of toys and books for the little ones. My daughter loves to order the milchreis with warm blueberries (but the blueberries must be cold and on the side), which comes in a huge, powdered-sugar dusted bowl that takes up half the table. I dig the schinken and alpkäse crepes. Oh yeah, and there's a beautiful flower shop next door and then a bakery next door to that. You can order all kinds of cakes there. Amazing!

This afternoon I went to the cinema with a friend. Mama Free Time. Boy oh boy was that satisfying. I realize though how jumpy I am. Every little rattle of the car makes me turn around in panic to see who is doing what to whom. It takes awhile to relax and realize you only have to worry about your own safety when you're ohne kinder. I saw A Love Song for Bobby Long. It made me want to live in the states...not sure why though. I think it is about that range of experience thing again. America is just so flippin' wild. There is a lot of crazy stuff going on there.

And last night, we rented Ray, the film about Ray Charles. Excellent. The little baby really made me want to have another baby. Oh lordy.

I really appreciate how films are so successful in taking you completely out of your reality. Good, healthy Mama Medicine.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Birthday Fun

Well, folks, I survived another children's birthday party. There were a few moments there when I wasn't so sure that was gonna be the case, but, alas, it is the next day, and I'm here, and I'm alive, or at least I think I am. I fall asleep so quickly these days, that its plain frightening. I don't even think I am aware of my head hitting the pillow, which I think actually would qualify as passing out. Knowing that I can pass from consciousness to subconsciousness, or unconsciousness as the case might be, kind of freaks me out.

Anyways, back to being alive. And birthday parties. Basically we invited enough people to fill a small stadium, but mainly because we thought the (fucking) weather would actually be nice, seeing as how it is August and all, and that we could celebrate in our big backyard. I know you're laughing that I would be so bold as to assume the sun would be shining. So what did we do, we packed 'em in. You can fit a lot of people in a hundred square meters, but just because you can doesn't mean you should. After everyone settled in, had a couple of cupcakes, a couple of gummi bears, and a couple of Mn'M's, the party was rockin'. We sang some children's songs, did the hokey pokey, had a pinata, and ate some birthday cake. The Sugar Bombs were havin' a great time! Then, we ran out of organized activities, so things started to get a little freaky. But, just at the right time, the horse and carriage pulled up!

Rewind to a couple of months back. I was sitting in the waiting room at the Frauenartz for my post birth check-up (stay with me here). The was a woman there who was newly pregnant and was asking me how life was with two children, logistically speaking. I lied of course and told her it was all cool and easy. We got to talking a little more and it turns out that her husband runs this Pferdetaxi business in Prenzlauer Berg. Crazy stuff, right? Well, one day not too long after that, I saw the horses and carriage driving around Helmholtzplatz. Since they were going about 2 miles per hour and I was stuck behind them in a car, I had some time to do some thinking. My mind started wandering and I thought it would be great to have something like that at a children's birthday party. So I started digging around in my bag and excavated a piece of paper and pen so I could write down the phone number that was posted on the back of the carriage (and written really small). Without hitting it, I got close enough to read the number, wrote it down, gave them a call, and Voila! Super Birthday Party.

So back to the present. When the horse and carriage pulled up, I told everyone to have a look out the window at our fat ride. The children were so excited and the parents were downright giddy too. So, everyone moved to the hallway (and this next part almost did me in) to start putting on their shoes, sweaters, raincoats, go pee, get a little snack, have a little breakdown, etc. Holy flippin' madness, I tell you. And then, AHHHHH! We were outside, in the fresh, rainy air and in the big wagon that held about 25 people. It was awesome. We took a little ride around the neighborhood and the children were so into it. For me, it satisfied a sort of Disneylandish birthday party urge as well as stayed downright true to history and nature, or whatever. They are called Luna Pferdetaxi and I would highly recommend them for such events or if you want to take a tour around Berlin. Very nice.

So I have been recovering today from all of that. A friend of mine came over this morning to visit. She is always talking about psychology and therapy (hers). For some reason, the idea of therapy just made me burst into really psychotic laughter. I just couldn't stop and it was pretty embarrassing. You know when you have the giggles and every little thing just makes you laugh more? Well, she kept saying, "What? What is it? What's so funny?!" and I just kept laughing and laughing. It was awful. When I finally came to, the only explanation I could come up with was that therapy just seems so luxurious to me. I don't even have time to pee sometimes, much less consider my mental state.

Okay, time to eat.