Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Olivia’s friend Norah

Today I would like to introduce my friend Lisa, and her daughter Norah.  Norah is just one month younger than Olivia, and they used to live just a few blocks from our house, so we went on lots of long walks together.

Here are Lisa and Norah:

Lisa carrying Norah

(We were hanging out at the Karlsruhe Palace one afternoon back in June)

Norah and Olivia like to play together, but I’ll be honest with you… 3 and 4 month old babies really have a tough time playing together.  It’s pretty hard to do much when all you can do is lay on your belly and flap your arms.

But sometimes we put them next to each other too, and that was always interesting!

“Let me hold your hand! Err… I mean crush it…”

“Your ear looks interesting.  Can I eat it?”

“Yeah yeah, whatever.”

“La La La La” Sings Olivia.

“”What is this crazy girl doing next to me?” Says Norah.

“What is this prickly green stuff?”

OK, I know Norah and Lisa aren’t in this picture, but it was an awesome picture, and it was from the same day as all the rest.  And Lisa took it.  So I guess it belongs in this post, too.

I think I can safely say that Lisa become my best friend here in Karlsruhe.  But as fate would have it, she and Norah had to move away just 5 months after we met 😦  She is now living in Berlin.  But I am crossing my fingers and hoping that someday she will come back.  After all, I really think Olivia and Norah miss pulling each other’s hair!

Bye Norah!  We miss you!


Back in August we went to the “Artgerecht” family camp at Umweltzentrum Drei Eichen.  The camp was in Buckow, which is about an hour east of Berlin, in the beautiful Märkische Schweiz (a nice mountainous area covered in forests and lakes.)   This wasn’t just any old camp… it was all about raising babies, and the whole idea was that we lived as a “clan”, where each family supported the others.  We had seminars every day on various baby-related topics, such as breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, and of course… EC!  Most of the families at the camp practice EC, even with mulitple children.  One family had done it with all four of their kids!  I am secretly in awe of their mom, so I am really happy to learn that they will be moving close to us sometime next year!!  They also have thier own blog, which you can read here.

It was so cool to see so many babies and toddlers running around without diapers.  Some with no pants, some totally naked and covered head to toe in dirt…. it was just beautiful.  It was also nice to hear so many peoples’ stories and experiences.  It really made me feel better to see that a lot of EC-ing parents actually do use diaper back-ups most of the time.  From what I read on the internet I was feeling like we were the only ones not going “all in”.

The whole “clan” aspect of the camp was very cool, too.  We shared a tee-pee with two other families.  You would think that with three babies we would have been awake all night, but would you believe it: each of us only woke up for our own babies, but not the others?  Olivia and I woke up a few times to nurse every night, but the noise never bothered anyone else. And I never woke up for anyone else’s babies’ cries.  I guess mother nature really has our ears trained well.

It was nice to have so many people around to help each other out.  This is something which is really missing in our modern society, where families rarely live in the same house as their relatives, and neighbors stay our of each other’s business.  We really are very much alone and the burden is heavy.

The nature, the people, the babies… being able to relax and just go at our own pace… all in all it was a wonderful experience.  The only thing I would’ve changed is to have made it longer. Well, that and have more food available.  The kitchen seemed to be pretty skimpy and I often went away a bit hungry.   But that was ok, it was still worth it.

And here are the pictures!

Here is me airing out the sleeping bags before our trip. Olivia is helping me pack!

Since the drive up to Berlin was about 7 hours, we decided to spend the night in Berlin before continuing to the camp in Buckow. We didn’t bring a crib, so we just pushed the beds together up against the wall to make a family bed. Here is Olivia rolling around on the bed. And yes, she did discover that light-switch pretty quickly!

We took a whirlwind tour of Berlin on our way out to the camp in Buckow. This is the Brandenburg Gate from the car! 

This is the teepee village. Ours was the extra big one on the right-hand side. We shared it with two other families.

Olivia shared a sleeping bag with me, which was definately the best since the temperatures were in the single digits at night. It was so cold that I really couldn’t take her potty at night. But inside the down sleeping bag it was nice and cozy! She usually slept from about 10pm to 7am, waking up only once or twice to nurse. (basically the same as her schedule at home)

We gathered all our own firewood

I guess I must have a good “mom” vibe going… I even attracted other people’s kids! haha. It takes a village…

One evening we made “Stockbrot” (bread on a stick)

Oscar helping Johanna to make a bowl with burning coals

We did tons of diaper-free time, so we used quite a few pairs of underwear!

Olivia got to try out her teeth on lots of vegitables! She didn’t really eat anything the whole time, though.

Olivia really enjoyed having quality time with daddy.


Our first train trip

Last week Olivia and I took a day trip to Stuttgart to visit a friend of mine who recently had a baby.  It was Olivia’s first train ride, so very exciting!  We took the TGV – the French high speed train – on the way there, which was fantastic since it only took 37 minutes!  (The trip is normally about 45-60 minutes by train, and well over an hour by car)  Trains really are fantastic since you get to skip right over all the traffic jams.  Of course, it also forces you to travel light, which is tough when you have kids, but still definitely do-able with some planning.

I skipped the stroller completely and only used my front carrier.  I packed all of our stuff, including 3 huge tupperwares of home-cooked food for my friend, into one of those granny-style rolling carts, and pulled that behind me.  I had planned on taking the bus to the train station, but as usual I got pretty behind, and ended up having to drive.  I pulled into the parking lot just 7 minutes before the train was supposed to leave!

I ran all the way to the platform – Olivia observing contentedly from the front pack – and arrived huffing and puffing with 2 minutes to spare.  Olivia did not seem a bit concerned.  We found a nice seat and I took her out of the carrier and held her on my lap the whole trip.

Oddly enough, there was a group of Americans just two rows in front of us – some teenagers and one mom.  The mom saw me with Olivia and kept telling the teenagers “now that is ONE cute baby!”  they didn’t seem to care at all, and acted more like their mom was embarrassing them by going ga-ga over some baby.   I guess that’s teenagers for you…

 Olivia did really well on the trip;  mostly she just sat there looking around the seats.  Even the pressure changes due to all the tunnels didn’t seem to bother her a bit. Once we got to Stuttgart we took the subway to my friend’s house, and spent a wonderful day with her.  Her baby slept basically the entire time while Olivia played with her toys 😛  Then we went out for coffee together before I finally had to catch my train back home.

The return train was full of commuters and for some reason stunk like sweat… I picked a compartment where the people had opened a window, and sat right next to the window.  It didn’t seem to bother Olivia at all though.  I ended up nursing her, and then she napped in the carrier for the rest of the trip.  I would have thought that the huge “whoosh” made by trains going the opposite direction would have woken her, but it didn’t, thank goodness!

So we arrived back home safe and sound, with a nice day behind us.  The whole experience was so easy and simple… I hope that our upcoming airplane trips go this well…. knock on wood!

Chicken, Apples and Leeks – the German Pizza Experience

Today I had planned to make my usual rounds to our neighborhood butcher, baker, and produce stand while taking a walk with Olivia. Our morning started out just fine, and we got lots of stuff done.  We got back at around 2pm, giving us plenty of time.

Or so I thought.

After nursing Olivia I couldn’t get her to burp. And from there things descended into belly pains, and after some time she was all out screaming. I couldn’t hold her in any position except for tummy down on my arm (the classic “colic carry”). This went on for two full hours.  Strike all plans for dinner… There was just no chance.  So I decided to order pizza.

Now, I’ve been living in Germany for six years, and the weirdness of their pizzas is nothing new to me. I’ve seen everything from cauliflower to potatoes on Pizzas, and no one even thinks it’s strange. In Paderborn, where we used to live, eggs sunny-side-up was very popular on pizzas. (It’s actually really good, and I ordered that a lot). But today I ordered a pizza that is strange even by German standards. It was called “Pizza Take That” from  “Hallo Pizza Karlsruhe“, and had curry chicken, leeks, bacon chunks, Parmesan cheese, apple slices and almonds! And to top it all off, the cheese was Gouda, not some cheapo “pizza cheese”.  It was one of the best delivery pizzas I have ever eaten.

Pizza "Taste That"

Pizza “Taste That”

But there is something I’ve stumbled upon since moving to Karlsruhe that is even stranger yet.  At first I thought it was just the restaurant in my nieghborhood, Bombay Palace / Pizza Weiherhof which is an Indian restaurant and Italian Pizza place in one. (they have two names, but only one building, one telephone number, and their menu has the Indian food on one side, and pizzas on the other.)  And then I noticed that they ALSO sell Mexican food ( it runs under the pizza side of the business).  Well, OK.  maybe it’s a good business model for them, and I suppose that Naan bread could probably make a good pizza bread too.  But then we started getting ads for more delivery places in the mail:

Wok Man Menu

Wok Man Chinese and Italian Delivery Service. Say what?

Pizza Point Menu

Pizza-Point – at first glance it seems like they just sell pizzas. So far so good.

Pizza Point Inside the Menu

But wait… what’s this I find on the inside of the Pizza Point menu…? American style burgers and “fingerfood”? Chicken Wings? Chicken Strips? Huh?

Pizza Turbo Menu

But the best is yet to come… Pizza Turbo… looks innocent enough…

Pizza Turbo Menu Inside

But inside the Pizza Turbo menu… after all the pizza… “Gyros”, “Indian Specialties”, “Mexican Specialties”. That’s four different countries! My eyes are hurting.

By the time my Pizza comes, Olivia is feeling a bit better; enough to sit on my lap, but not enough to be put down. So I hold her with one arm, and try eating with the other. But it is sooo hard to cut pizza with only one hand. After about three bites I realize what an idiot I am. Why the heck am I using a fork and knife?! I’m American! We eat pizzas with our hands! (like, duh!) Astounded at how quickly I’ve begun to lose my heritage, I quickly pick up the pizza and stuff my face with it.  Ahhh… Now that’s better.

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