Monday, July 15, 2013

one year

a year ago today, mom dropped us off at the shuttle to the international terminal, and as the bus drove away, bella piped up, "wait!!! we forgot yaya!!!!" i burst into tears, even though i was excitedly anticipating the adventure we were about to embark upon.

it's hard to believe that we have been in germany for an entire year. the time went quickly and was filled with many ups and only a few downs.

i can say, without a doubt, that i love germany. there is so much i love about living here. from the amazing parks, to the amazing pools, to the way germans , generally, are so honest. everything beautiful and clean and old.

there have been some not so great things too-staus (traffic jams), neverending construction and a language barrier have proven to be worthy adversaries at times, but we are getting over the language thing and i can actually pretend for a minute that i know what i am talking about.

i think the homesickness was relatively low and mostly i felt sad for bella more than for myself. but we have all acclimated wonderfully and there are times where i feel like i could stay here forever (don't worry mom and dad, the government won't let us do that!).

things have changed quite a bit for us too! we have added little cora to our brood, bella has become quite the amazing big girl, and i think joel and i have become stronger than ever before. there is something about being completely isolated from all things familiar that will beat you down and build you back up like no other experience. we both love new and different experiences and moving here has definitely fit that bill!

some highlights of our time so far:

  • having cora! birthing in germany is so different from back home, and i am so glad i had the experience. i did things that i never thought possible and survived! (yes, i realize women have been having babies since the dawn of time with no pain killers, but i never thought i would be one of them.). it was a pretty incredible experience that, while painful, i would do again. maybe a little differently (note to mothers birthing in germany: just say no to the little white pill.....), but not much. 

  • fests! germany sure knowns how to celebrate stuff. and they celebrate ANYTHING. pumpkins, strawberries, apples, sand, beer, wine, beer, beer.....did i say beer? they sure love their beer here, and often times, it's cheaper than water. so, be frugal and have a beer! 

  • food! i never thought my pallet was that adventurous, but i am starting to realize that i do not discriminate against food in the slightest. i love all types of food. in hawaii, i really enjoyed filipino food (and i still do!) in georgia, i got on a bbq kick (because how can you not!?) and here i feel like i could eat schnitzel and brats until my eye balls fall out. and don't even get me started on their potato salad (kartoffelsalat). or that homemade garlic sour cream stuff (knoblauchsauce) they put on their fries. mmmm. our and the joghurt dressing!? i die. maybew this is why i have had a little trouble shedding those baby pounds....that i gained AFTER i had cora.....yikes....
  • snow! after living the last 8 years in warm climates, the winter here was a welcomed experience. we had one of the coldest, longest winters in the area, and we loved it. i'm sure many of the people here would shoot daggers from their eyes at me because of this statement. so be it. WE LOVE THE COLD! 

thing i love about germany and germans

  • they are actually pretty fantastic drivers. people let people in, they merge like a zipper (how it should be done) the pass on the left and slow people (generally) get to the right. even though traffic is a nightmare, they seem to figure it out and it definitely could be worse considering 3 lanes of traffic go down to one. 
  • they are very honest people. this is a general statement based on my experience, and i could be off base, but things are very different here than i am used to. people kind of self regulate to an extent, and it works. there is just kind of the belief that people will do the right thing, though i am having a hard time coming up with a good example. it's in little things, like public transportation, where, if you were a seedy person, you could get away with not paying for it, but people follow the rules and do what they should. granted, if you get caught, there are hefty fines, but we have been riding for a year and have never been asked to show proof that we bought tickets, or have traveled in the appropriate zones. 
  • most speak at a minimum 2 languages. not all. especially the older crown. but many people speak at a very minimum german and english. and they speak english as though it were their first language (though they will tell you they don't speak it well. and they will say well, not 'good'. which is better grammar than most americans use!). many people speak even more languages. i've met plenty of people who speak, at least in part, 4 languages. 
but not everything is perfect

  • they cut lines like nobodies business. if you aren't pushing up against the person in front of you, or if you look distracted, they assume you aren't in line and will cut in front of you. to that note, if you are in line, forget personal space. the person behind you will be breathing down your neck. it is very intimate. and not in a good way.
  • especially since they often don't wear deodorant. holy sweat glands, people have a tendency to stink. which is only exacerbated by the fact that.....
  • ....they like to bundle up. even in 80 degree weather. in may, we hit 70's and there were people wearing heavy coats, scarves and hats, babies in bunting sacks and the little old ladies would consistently stop me and scold me for not bundling my babies.  70's in my world means i am in a bathing suit. 
  • speaking of older ladies, they like to scold you for just about anything and will not hold back. granted, i have no clue what they are saying, but it's generally along the lines of, "put a hat (or coat, shoes, gloves, etc.) on that baby!" one lady even told joel he needed to support cora's head more when we were sitting at a table. she was 4 months old and sitting up by herself. but clearly, she looked like she needed some more support.....
  • do not order something to-go, then change your mind and sit down. they will run you off. even in a hospital, the day after you have given birth. in many places, you pay extra to sit, and so ordering to-go and sitting is a no-no. 
we have been to some pretty cool places so far, and have only been slowed down because we had a baby and had to wait for her passport, then joel went TDY for 9 weeks, so we have only just been able to leave the country.

  • lots of cities in germany: rothenburg, heidelburg, triberg, munich, and all kinds of little villages along the way. legoland, pools that are more like waterparks and tons of fests all over the place. 

  • switzerland: rhine falls and konstanz

  • france: strasbourg

our bucket list is long and lengthening, and later this year we have trips to london, scotland, rome and paris planned. 

all in all, it has been a crazy year! not every minute was easy-joel's 9 week TDY, for instance, was challenging to say the least. but every bit of it has been an amazing adventure. 

i can't wait to see what our second year in germany brings!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

clean eating: coffee and wrap up

(i wrote this on day 2, then never finished or hit publish because kids. yes, i am aware that is not a proper sentence, but kids. kids. and i kids. )

today i want to talk about coffee.

since becoming an addict a mother, i have developed a dependency  started feeling like i can't get through the day without a cup (or 4) of coffee in the morning. 

i start my mornings off like a champion. the sun starts coming up at 4 am and since that has started happening the babies have been waking up earlier and earlier. it also finally gets dark at 10:30 and since that has started happening the babies have been fighting sleep. bella is in a pretty decent routine, but each night at bedtime, she says, "but momma, it's still light outside!" and i explain to her, each night, about how the sun works. it's all very exciting and no. 

in the wee hours of night, cora decided it was time to partay and we played on the floor for about 2 hours. by that i mean, i sat in the chair crying while she flip flopped around on all the furniture. they say this is a phase because she is learning new tricks and i should enjoy it. they clearly have no children or had them long enough ago that they forgot what a nightmare sleep deprivation can be when your 3 year old wakes up ready to take on the world, right after you get your 7 month old back to sleep. 

enter that glorious bean, slow roasted and ground down to make the most amazing thing since sliced bread. possibly more so. 

on day one of our challenge, i tried to drink my coffee black with just raw sugar. i couldn't do it. i have some grade a coffee but i like it sweet. so i broke down and added creamer. it was a moment of weakness (she said, starting in on her second cup of vanilla nut). but i have started doing some perusing of the internet now that my eyes have been pried open. 

first of all, would this be too much to ask for?? i guess since the sugar is probably of the white, refined variety, this is a no go according to the rules. but i also may see if i can get some at the commissary once we are out of our 10 days.....

photo credit
Carrie at Deliciously Organic has several recipes for natural coffee creamer. they sound pretty yum. i may try the french vanilla one tomorrow morning. 

French Vanilla
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons maple syrup

Whisk together milk, cream and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cut vanilla bean in half, and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla bean to milk mixture. Turn off heat, cover the pot and steep for 30 minutes. After mixture has steeped, strain through a fine mesh sieve, pour into a glass bottle and store in the refrigerator. (If you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand, simply replace it with 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract)
it sounds pretty high in fat, but i think i may be able to use less of it since it will be pretty sweet. 
here are a few more . looks like i may need to head to the store today to gather some of these ingredients. it also looks like you can make ahead and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. 

clearly, i lack some follow through. i planned to blog every other day or so. i blogged once. so, i will just lump it all together with observations and what i've learned.

i am an addict. sugar, mostly. since having cora, i feel like i *need* it. i never have craved sugar before, except when i was pregnant with bella. i'm pretty sure the hormones from pregnancy make crazy anyway, so let's just add sugar dependency in there as well.

those homemade coffee creamers are for the birds. after whole milk, heavy cream and maple syrup, i feel like i am drinking my daily calorie allotment in the wee moments after waking. and they weren't satisfying. i mean, it tasted like i put milk in my coffee. if i wanted milk in my coffee, i would have put milk in my coffee in the first place and called it a day.

i HATE the way vanilla extract tastes and cocoa powder is just gross. and that should have been my tip off before i started, really. so, homemade creamer = fail in my book.

over all, we didn't really change our diets much. i guess we don't eat as poorly as i thought.


one thing i learned was that there are more junk foods out there with less than 5 ingredients that aren't sugar and are recognizable. it was kind of odd and the OPPOSITE of what i thought i would see. the ingredients in bugles are "degermed yellow corn meal, coconut oil, sugar, salt and baking soda." and according to the label, have 1g of sugar per serving. which absolutely astounded me. not that they are healthy, by any means, but strictly going by the "rules" they are almost acceptable.

ruffles original potato chips are made of "potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower, corn and/or canola) and salt" and are gluten free! again, not arguing the health qualities of chips. but the original flavors of these chips don't seem to have the laundry list of ingredients, or chemicals, that i thought they did.

the other thing i found interesting, is how common potassium chloride, an ingredient in lethal injections, is in food processing and also in many "substitutes". before we started, joel was eating a bag of....something.....and we were talking about ingredients. he said, "i'm sure this is fine..." and we looked at the ingredients. the first 5-6 were recognizable, the next was something sciency sounding, and the last was potassium chloride. our conversation went a little something like this--

me: that's bad.
joel: really? what does it do, cause cancer? (because everything does)
me: i don't know. i just know it's bad. (because whatever he was eating was most likely bad.)
::searches google for 'potassium chloride food'::

me: o.O it's used in lethal injections. 
joel: o.O ooookkkaaayyyy..... (slowly puts the bag down) 

now, granted, you would have to eat like 15 bags of whatever he was eating, in like a day. but should we ever consume any amount of it in the first place? then i read an article that said it is only legal to put it in food in the US. it is banned everywhere else.

to wrap it up and cut this short:

we will continue eating the way we eat. mostly fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy that are organic, grass fed, free range, etc. and we will enjoy our coffee creamer bought from the store. we will eat chips at a bar-b-q and enjoy ourselves when we are out with friends.

bella loves her veggies

life is too short to be too restrictive. we ate 90/10 before, and we will eat 90/10 now. i will continue to cook as healthily as possible, and try to make the best choices i can, but ultimately, 
i don't want food to be an obsession for my girls.
 we should eat to sustain life, give ourselves the energy we need to function and eat cleanly in order for our bodies to function properly, but not to the point that it becomes more than that.

 if they can't get through a meal without analyzing every bite-be it for calories, fat, ingredients or if it fits with a certain lifestyle, 
then i have failed them. 
i want to teach them about whole living-not just a means to an end.