Monday, October 18, 2010

The secret life of blogging?

A friend and successful blogger told me this weekend that a blog is not a diary: it is not where you share your most personal experiences with everyone, his brother and his dog (if his dog happens to be online). In a blog you have something to offer, something to teach, the reader can walk away enriched in some way by your words.

I'm not so sure.

This morning I was confronted with an ad for [another!] reality show. Bret Michaels, Life As I Know It. You know, the guy from Poison? So I moused over the ad to see the preview and thought, Why?? Who cares about this guy and his life? Because he was famous, I assume. We see people in the news, on TV, on stage and we want to know more! But at some point we lose interest in their faces, bodies or voices, and they (hopefully for them) realize this and either get out or do something new. Maybe they recognize the demand from our voyeurism and start a reality show!

Fair enough.

But what about Big Brother? Or The Biggest Loser? Or The Hills (etc.)? (I don't know if this last is considered a reality show but it looks like one and has had the same effect.) Some Nobody exposes their personal life on television and gets famous.

Now I'm not prepared to do an analysis of the sociopolitical effects of reality shows in the second decade of the new millennium. But I'd like to know: is this what we want? To root into people's personal lives, know their secrets and their failures? Why? To feel better about ourselves? Or is it just curiosity? The insatiable desire to know things just because they're on the internet or television?

I do not know. But with this I come back to my friend's statement. Are blogs the proper venue for discussion of our personal lives?

Why not? It seems to be where the audience's interest lies. Sure, they should be well written, since reading is so more work than watching (therefore we are more willing to watch crap than read it). And it can't hurt to have a moral or informative aspect so that readers can apply this intimate knowledge to their own lives.

But I think that in the end, we just want to know about other people's lives. Hopefully not just out of Schadenfreude, but so that we can learn more about our own.

And besides, we bloggers love to write - and our own lives are our best source of material.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall festivity

It was kids' day yesterday (but isn't every day?). We went to another Fest, this time the Jugendfarm Kastanienfest. They did it all: pony riding, paint spinning, bread baking (over an open fire), climbing of insubstantial constructions, the ever-present Wurst, and lighting something on fire so that they could put the fire out.
It was fun.

There was a tiny spider on the back of the saddle. I barely got her off the horse.

International Velvet.

Looking down from one of those insubstantial constructions. I don't know if there were nails and garbage up top, I never went up there. But there was plenty underneath.

Fire! Fire! First we got smoked by all the manure and garbage they put in, then we were nearly charred by the flames. Finally a light shower, just in case we were also alight.

All in all a fun day. Fun with friends, fun with food, fun with fire. What more could we ask for?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This is the park near our house. There are still flowers blooming amidst the changing leaves. So we have green grass, yellow tree, red bush, purple and yellow flowers. I love when it's colorful.

Chloé in the park. Not colorful, but the falling leaves mark the season.

The dying leaves have taken up residence on the steps.

The church next door. With lamppost, Chloé and dying leaves.

Downtown Kornwestheim, metropolis that it is. But that doesn't matter since they have chosen such fantastic fall trees for this walking street.

I loved this picture in the camera, and I love it even more on the screen. A park bench, a brilliant yellow tree, a lamp on a path in the park. Such beauty surrounds me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love. Please.

I went to see the movie "Eat Pray Love" the other day and it's taken me a couple of days to realize that I'm completely dissatisfied by it.

First (and maybe least important). Why was she blond? Was it important to the story? I didn't understand any reason for her to be blond. Maybe the real Liz is blond, but does that affect the story? I felt like I didn't see the character, just blond Julia Roberts. If she had been brunette, I would have accepted her as the character, but she remained the actress for me.

Second. "I don't have to love you to prove that I love myself." Okay, I can understand reluctance to start a new relationship when she's spent so much time and energy learning to NOT be in a relationship. Ultimately it's her decision - that's part of that learning-to-love-yourself. But she doesn't make the decision to be in love with Felipe. She decides to go back to New York and be miserable with herself (I guess). It's not until she's two hours from her plane and she's saying good-bye to Ketut that HE tells her, essentially, not to be stupid and go be in love. I thought the lesson here was empowerment, not look for your power and then hand it to someone else once you've found it.

Third. She's in a taxi driving madly through a dirty, hazy, overpopulated chaos that is India. She sees children digging in garbage and begging at her window when the taxi stops. Then the taxi drives through a gate into tranquility - the ashram. This is where she can sit in peace and quiet to reflect and meditate. So she finds an oasis of peace. Wow. Well done. I'd be more interested in a peace won in that chaotic world. That's the peace we have to fight for every day.

One thing I DID like about the movie were her no-sex male relationships in the first two parts. I find this a significant part of her search for self-awareness. She was not pursuing a relationship and did not fall into one. For someone who "has not been out of a relationship for more than two weeks since [she] was 15," (loosely quoted) that's not an easy accomplishment. I loved that she made friends and discovered new interests. A great start.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Mia and Aidyn already know when they're doing something wrong. I hear them giggling in the hallway and so go around the corner to see what they are doing. I'm greeted by two screeches and two babies suddenly scrambling on all fours in two different directions. On the floor I see the two spoons from the diaper bag, a toy from the diaper bag and a jacket. Hmm...What were they doing? Nothing seems amiss. I'm left wondering.

I just caught them eating a page from one of Gaetan's comics. They didn't seem at all phased that I found them doing this, even after my cry of "NO!".

Maybe their sense of guilt isn't refined enough to know what's illegal and what's not.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I've been thinking of the first time I saw Chloé after Mia and Aidyn were born. It was in the hospital after I hadn't seen her for four days. I felt like someone had teleported six kilos (13 lbs) out of my belly and just left everything else inside to find its way back to its normal position (which is pretty much what happened). My belly felt heavy in all the wrong ways. I could walk but not far and my two babies were being cared for on the other side of the hospital. I was pumping milk every three hours hoping to avoid a Milchstau. Even at night, although I'd been sleeping poorly for months and was so tired that I sometimes felt like I was in a fog.

She came in slowly, holding her best friend Benno's hand. I imagined they had told her she would see her mommy but she wasn't sure she believed it. She seemed to hesitate, let the grownups come in first. As she came through the door, she saw me, but remained shy, and took another couple of slow steps, still holding Benno's hand. Then she seemed to decide that I was real and she ran up to me.

I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her into my lap. Her grandmother tried to scold her but I just shook my head. Then the tears came. Feeling her skin, her hair, her weight, I couldn't stop them. I looked at her face and smiled to reassure her. I kissed her cheek and hugged her head to my chest. "Oh, my Chloé. My Chloé. My Chloé. I missed you." I smiled at her again. I kissed her again.

But she was so BIG. A GIANT. Her head was huge. She was tall. Her hands were nearly as big as mine. Was she this big when I left on Saturday?? I thought. But of course she was. I'd been looking at two brand-new people for four days. And even their three kilos were, thankfully, tiny bodies. Compared to this little girl of two years and four months, they were minuscule. Or she was a giant.

I wish I had a picture of her on that day. To remember this feeling. But a picture wouldn't capture the feeling. She didn't really look any different from the Friday before I left, or the Saturday I went home from the hospital, or the Thursday the babies came home. And I have these photos. It was one of the most emotional moments of our lives, and we can only capture this in our minds and our hearts and, hopefully, our words.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Oh. My. God.
My ever-well-behaved three-year-old just locked me out of the apartment.
Obviously it's turned out okay and the "just" implies that I didn't have to wait for Gaetan to come home in the evening to discover me still shaking with rage on the balcony. But it was an alarming five minutes.
I suppose my mistake was telling her NOT to close the door. Presumably she wouldn't have thought of it if I hadn't alerted her to the opportunity.
Let's back up a little. Our balcony has two doors, one from the living room and one from Chloé's room. Normally in the summer (when the weather acts like summer, anyway), both doors are open and the air and inhabitants of the apartment are free to move about between indoors and out. But at the moment the balcony is off-limits because 1) the babies are not allowed out on the balcony because they a) dig in the flower pots and b) eat every bit of garbage, leaves and dirt they can get their hands on, and 2) one of the cats fell down a hole in the roof yesterday...right, that story doesn't belong to this post. At any rate, there's a hole in the balcony that we don't need the cats to jump into. So the balcony doors remain closed.
The door from the living room was tilted (open from the top - the only way to open the door is from the inside, close it and turn the handle) and I left through Chloé's room to hang the laundry out on the balcony. "Do NOT lock this door," I said as I pulled the door closed (but so that I could push it open from outside). As I hung clothes on the other side of the balcony, I heard the soft clunk of the handle being turned into the downward, locked position.
I didn't panic. This had happened before. I walked over to her closed and now locked door.
"Chloé," I said loudly (since the door was closed - I wasn't yet angry) and firmly. "Open the door."
She shook her head.
"Chloé." More firmly. "Open the door NOW."
She shook her head.
Now I was starting to panic. "Chloé! Open the goddamn door NOW!"
She shook her head. Calmly. Went back to looking at her book. 
I breathed, loudly. Paced twice to the other door and back, possibly to be sure that it was really not open.
Not open.
I pounded on her door. "Chloé! Open this door!"
She shook her head.
"I can't get in! Do you want me to wait out here until Daddy comes home?!"
A nod.
"What if something happens? If the babies fall, I can't get to you!"
Try another angle. "Okay, if you want your door closed, open the other door. I don't care. Just open a door."
Scheisse. Fuck.
I paced a few more times. Wondered what I was really going to do if left out on the balcony in my pyjamas all day.
I went back to the door. I was about to lose it. "Chloé, if you open this door now, I won't be mad. If you don't open it now, I'm going be FUCKING PISSED and you're going to be in BIG FUCKING TROUBLE later!" At the periphery of my fear was what the neighbors were thinking of me screaming curses at my kid.
Shake of the head.
Breathe. Breathe. How do you reason with a three-year-old?
"Listen, Chloé, I'm serious." I tried to sound calm and, you know, reasonable. "Something could happen and I can't help you if I can't get in." Pause. "I mean it, if you open the door now, I won't be mad. Just let me in."
She stared at me for a few seconds then put her book down and came to the door. I could see in her face that she had conditions she wanted met but didn't have the language to voice them. Just as well.
She turned the handle and then threw herself back onto her bed. I took a few deep breaths and sat down next to her. "Chloé, like I said, I'm not mad. You let me in and that's what's important. But if you EVER do that again and try to lock me out, I'm going to be VERY mad. And I'm going to fix the doors so that you can't open and close them like that. Big girls like you are able to open and close the doors but if you can't let me in when I ask you to, then I guess you're not big enough. Okay?" I waited. "Do you understand?" She glared at me but didn't say anything. Close enough. "You know, if the problem is that you want to be left alone, you can tell me that, and you can shut your door and sit by yourself for a while. Okay? Just let me know."
Who knows what I might be letting myself in for with that last offer, but I felt like I needed to give her a little support as a "big girl." I don't know precisely how to fix the doors but I have friends who (apparently) can't trust their children and they've changed the handles so that they aren't tall enough to turn them. I had thought (or hoped) that I wouldn't have to do that, that I could trust Chloé not to be stupid. But she IS only three. How much can we expect?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What I learned today

When the 3-year-old tells you she washed her hands, don't wait for water to pour out of the bathroom before making sure the faucet has been turned completely off.

A foot can be a very long distance for a potty learner.

Two quiet babies could be ...
..emptying the bottle of sunscreen on themselves, the floor and the contents of the diaper bag.
..under the table contentedly tearing apart and chewing up a kleenex.
..eating kitty litter (thank goodness I just cleaned the box).
..discovering the tactile joy of digging in the flower pot. And discovering the flavor of marigolds.

Bibs are useless with babies who stick their fingers in their mouths and then grab their pants, feet and hair. And then chew on the back of the chair.

Even a fall of two centimeters can be fatal for a juice bottle.

It takes 3 minutes and 23 seconds to put all of the DVDs back on the shelves.

Fuchsia crepe paper turns little wet fingers and lips fuchsia.

The sun bleaches out carrot and tomato stains. But you still have to wash them first.

Toddlers understand everything you tell them, they just don't want you to know it.

My daughter is manipulating me with her little round baby eyes.

My son has his father's puppy-dog eyes. And he's manipulating me, too.

What did you learn today?

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm a mom.

But that's not all I am.

At least in theory. In reality it's difficult to be much else. Like the workaholic who defines his life by his job, the mother has a job that becomes her life - the fullest-time job, a job that she loves without limit despite the pain and anxiety it occasionally brings.

Maybe I should specify that I am a mother of small children, and possibly mothers of older children would claim that because of the reduction of their working hours they find the time to be something more than a mom. To find their selves. The rest of the self that got left behind with the birth of their children.

I mean, their children can walk, feed and clothe themselves, go to school. So much!

But what happens after that - when they start dating, driving, drinking? Then the maternal anxiety returns.

If it ever went away. Because that is the hardest part of being a mom: the worry. We worry about what could happen. We worry about what the children are doing, and what they're not doing. We worry that we're not doing enough, or that we're doing too much. The responsibility is the proverbial weight on our shoulders, and even the most caring of husbands and fathers aren't able to carry a part of this weight.

So who are we moms? Is it different for the stay-at-home-mom than for the working mom? You know, you Rabenmütter, abandoning your children to pursue your own interests (right, or the survival of your family). Sometimes I envy you. But not too often. You have the job that ends at 5pm, but you still have the job that never ends waiting for you at home.

Is it different to be a mother of one? Two? Four? Twins? Triplets? What about when your children are 30 and getting married and having their own children? How are we moms then?

I guess I'll have to wait a few years to find out.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Just a few Chloé-isms (keeping in mind that this is her speaking to me, not to her dad):

Est-ce que daddy's coming?

Benno hurt sur le doigt.

I want auch juice dans my cup.

Maman auch. Maman too.

I cannot.

I too.

Mommy auch is big.

Qu'est-ce que tu mach?

Est-ce que tu fais des courses? Est-ce que tu fa- go shopping?

Poop de chien.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


  • Ahhh! Ahhh!
  • I'm so hungry! It feels like my stomach is slowly disintegrating due to an overabundance of acid. But all I can say is 'ahhh!'
  • Look! She's getting the spoon. And she's going to the frig. We should get something soon.
  • Yeah at least this time she didn't just put us in these chairs and leave us here.
  • Well, you know, all she hears is 'ahhh!' so I imagine it's hard to tell what we're saying. Even I don't know what I'm crying about sometimes!
  • I've started chewing on her chin between screams when she picks me up. That's a clear sign of hunger, I'd say.
  • Good idea! I'll have to try that. Ahhh! Where's the goddamn food?! How long does it take to heat up a bowl of carrots?
  • She's still making milk to go with it, so it takes longer. I was drinking it just to make her happy but I think maybe this time I'll pass. Eventually she'll get the picture. We don't want milk, just FOOD!
  • Okay! Here she comes. She's sitting down...Hey wait! ME FIRST! Aahhh!
  • Ahhh! One spoon?! Come on! I said I was HUNGRY!
  • Ahhh! I've got carrot stuck in my throat! Drink! I need a drink! NO! No more carrot. Drink!
  • Oh yeah. I love this orange juice. Way better than water.
  • Where the hell is MY orange juice? Ahh!
  • Damn, it's hard to keep this stuff in my mouth. My tongue just keeps rolling it out the front.
  • I know! Open your mouth a little wider. That helps.
  • Hey, lady, give me that spoon. I'm taking over. GIVE-ME-THAT-SPOON. Ahh!
  • No! Don't wipe him off! Feed ME! He doesn't care if he's got carrots all over his hands and up his nose!
  • Of course I care. But I'd rather eat. And SOMEONE needs to take over that spoon. She really doesn't know her business.
  • Okay. I think I'm about done. I'm feeling very heavy...and sticky. How about another drink? No, bleh, bleh, no more food. Drink. YES. Thank you.
  • And now the milk...No thanks, lady, I'm done.
  • Yeah, I don't want any milk, either. 
  • Now what do we do? She's looking at us like she doesn't know what to do..
  • I don't know...Smile at her? That usually works.
  • Okay!

Mom: Hey my happy babies! Are you done? 

    Thank you

    Dear Writers Group,

    Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm. I've had (for me) a very productive day today. This afternoon we discussed what we needed to do around the house to help me reconnect with my environment. Then I promptly went about removing cobwebs and organizing my vanity. He cleaned out the cupboard so that we can find the baby food without undue search and stress. Tomorrow we'll continue with the decluttering of the living and baby rooms.

    And just as important as my conquests in the tangible world, I wrote today. So special thanks to Liz for giving us those minutes of free time to write about ANYTHING. It might be crap, but it filled a few lines of paper and released some words stuck in their [imaginary? at any rate protean] box.

    I'm crying now.

    But that's alright. My emotions rarely stay in their box. Maybe my words should take a lesson...

    With love, your

    So now I'm off to write some more stuff for you, fair Reader, and for me. So stay tuned.

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    This is the third time I've accompanied Chloé to her room, pulled down the blinds halfway and told her she could play a little but to go to sleep for a while. And it's worked! She played for about 3 minutes and then went to sleep. Wow. It makes me wonder if I could have spared myself all those times I held her in my arms in a dark room singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" over and over - or did we have to go through that to get here?

    Generally, though, Chloé is a good sleeper. The first year of her life she woke up every two hours in the night and only slept for brief intervals during the day, but once we established a single day nap, she slept, wherever we were. Even at a friend's house, much to the despair of the other mother whose son wouldn't sleep a wink and would kick and scream until let out of his room.

    Mia and Aidyn seem to be following the same pattern: a few mini sleeps a day now. Unfortunately by the time they've established their afternoon nap time, Chloé won't be sleeping at all anymore. Luckily I don't need much sleep...

    Thursday, March 25, 2010


    Mia has started rolling. Unfortunately she only rolls in one direction and so is a victim of Newton's First Law: an object will continue to move in the same direction unless acted upon by an outside force (the DVDs, the couch, Aidyn's head).

    The two of them kick each other, steal each other's toys, hold hands, hug. But it all seems unintentional, good or bad. Either way I want to foster friendship. Right now they're looking at each other and cooing enthusiastically. That's encouraging.

    Mia is also getting her first tooth. As I probably mentioned in posts about Chloé, this is VERY early for our family. But at any rate, I don't know whether to attribute her periodic discontent to teething or just general infant grouchiness. So I give her the homeopathic sugar balls [placebo??], a cuddle and her binky. She calms down for a few minutes and she's off again.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010


    This was my night.

    "Waah!" Baby #1. Alarm clock says 1:07.

    Then "Waah!" Baby #2.

    Milk all around.

    Back to bed. All four of us (daddy included).

    "oooaaaiiihhh." Baby #1 is...singing.

    Love-love-love. Baby #1 is sleeping.

    Baby #2 is coughing.

    Into the baby room. Salt water in the nose. Seems better. No need for cough medicine.

    Back to bed.


    Am I asleep? Possibly.

    Door slamming. Pitter-patter-pitter-patter. Our door opening. Slamming. Pitter-patter-pitter-patter. Toddler into the bed.

    I am no longer sleeping.

    I might be sleeping.

    Scratch-scratch-scratch. On the bed. The cat.

    Oh-my-fucking-Christ. Someone's gonna die. Felinicide (?) is probably not a crime, relatively speaking.

    Instead the cat gets thrown out of the room. Door closed. No cat, no crime.

    I might be sleeping.

    "Wehn, wehn." Baby #1. Not a cry, just a whimper.

    Binky to the rescue.

    Baby #1 is sleeping.

    I'm sleeping.

    Scratch-scratch-scratch. On the door.


    Cat is thrown into the hallway. Door closed.

    Again. And again.

    I am sleeping.

    Scratch-scratch-scratch. On the door. Alarm clock says 5:45.

    Daddy gets up.

    I am sleeping. Until 6:15.

    The day has begun again.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Now is Now, Part 2

    I know what I'm talking about here. Two and a half years ago I tried to have my first baby "naturally" and she just wouldn't come out. Labor failed to progress.

    Four months ago I experienced the same thing. After about twelve hours of what I felt were fairly uncomfortable contractions, the midwife and doctor told me again that labor wasn't progressing and we needed stronger contractions. My mind said, "Uuhhh, stronger?" My head nodded and my mouth smiled and said, "Okay." A few hours later we hadn't come very far (a centimeter?) and decided on an epidural. A few hours after that I had a fever of 40° C (104° F) and the doctor said, "Okay, let's take them out." So much for natural.

    Not long after that I was lying on the operating table looking over at the two babies they had surgically removed from my body. Neither was moving or crying and they were pumping air into the first one and bouncing the other around. The first one had blue feet. I thought, "Yeah, blue is not right." But I had a high fever and was numb from the waist down, what could I do? After a few minutes they put the little girl on my chest so my attention was focussed on her. She seemed okay to me. But then they were both taken to children's intensive care and I went to operative intensive care because we all had an infection of some sort and they weren't breathing properly.

    They let me go to the maternity ward later that day but the babies stayed in intensive care for two and a half weeks. Not because they were too small or too young like many twins; they were each three kilos and it was two days before the due date. Because they got sick in the womb. He breathed some baby shit [meconium] and needed a while to get it all out and get his lungs in shape. She needed a little care but mostly stayed because he stayed.

    I was wheeled down to them the first few days and sauntered over the next few to bring pumped milk and visit for minutes or hours, depending on the state of things there. Then I moved into a room near the ward for a week and a half to easily visit and nurse. And bond, assumably.

    But it was very difficult to find my place in their lives there. The nurses are the moms, making the decisions and giving the care. Like I said, I nursed. And not always. Half of the time they were fed before I got there. And nights were incredibly difficult since they were uneasy at night, eating often and not sleeping well, and I was so tired from the last months of twin pregnancy and the 24 hours of labor (not to mention the subsequent illness) that I fell asleep some nights at 7:30 and let them feed them until early morning.

    Now four months later we're a big mostly happy family at home. One baby has slept through the night several times, the other sleeps in at least three hour intervals. We nursed well for two months. Then I got lazy (honestly nursing twins is not the picnic that it is with one baby...but more on that in another post) and now they're getting mostly industrial milk and some breast milk.

    They smile and laugh. They kick and grab and roll. They only cry when they're hungry and when they're frustrated. They are good, happy babies. In spite of all the "unnatural" influences and the intervention of modern medicine.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    The new me

    Actually it's the same organizationally-challenged me as before, but with a goal. That's right, I've got a Goal. An Objective. A Plan.

    Well, "plan" is going a little overboard. Just ask Gaetan; he thinks the words "plan" and "I," spoken by me, don't belong in the same sentence.

    But I digress.

    In our writers' group a couple of weeks ago, we set goals. It was great. Little goals, big goals, near goals, far goals. Realistic goals, unrealistic goals. You get the picture.

    So a few of my goals were about blogging. This blog. Writing something, ANYTHING, in this blog.

    Thank goodness someone has taken charge and kicked me in the butt.

    Thank goodness that person was me.

    Again, digression. But really, as the title states, this post is about ME so we'll all just have to get through the digression and babbling.

    My first goal is to inform you, Reader, that I will be posting regularly. Of course, "regularly" could be once a year, but I'm going for at least every two weeks, hopefully every week. Really I have enough stuff to write every day, but my organization and time-management dysfunction restricts me.

    I'll be writing quite a bit about my family life with three children, two cats and one husband. I'll try to get some cultural commentary in. And I'll try not to be too positive, too negative, too hostile or too kind. Or I'll be all of those.

    I look forward to sharing with you! So much has happened recently, I hardly know where to start. Probably in the middle. I'm sure it will be soul searching and soul soothing for all of us.

    If you should feel compelled to comment at any time, please do! We'll interact. It'll be great.

    Til next time...