Man Vs. Machine

The most recent additions to the steaming pile of proof that my daughter’s proficiency in the art of living gracefully may not have come from her mother:

  • I keep showing up to doctor’s appointments with a couple of jokes in hand but no clue about what was on the list of discussion items that her father and I drafted in advance of the visit. The best joke: When the doctor said, ‘Your baby is turning over already! And she’s only four months old! Usually babies can’t do the things she’s doing until six months.’ I said, ‘Yes, we’re very proud of her. At this rate, she may be ready to graduate from college two months early!’  I’m sure that the doctor was also amused by my description of the Republican Texas governor’s support of an HPV vaccine mandate, but shouldn’t we have been talking about how the baby’s mole is kind of shaped like China?
  • We went to a great seafood shop over the weekend and brought home some mussels, some oysters, and an oyster knife. I am pleased to report that all oysters were opened and consumed without any puncture wounds! This is a first for me. We were careful to enclose each oyster in a kitchen towel while prying it open, which saved my hands but almost destroyed the towel. Though it was completely covered in shattered oyster shell and soaked in seawater, I thought I’d throw it in the wash and see how it came out. There was a not-so-fresh mop in the laundry room, so I threw that in the load, too. Then, instead of running the load, I let a few hours go by, forgot about the items in the washer, and started another load. What was in the new load? The one that was about to be covered in oyster shale and the remnants of 24 sea creatures? Oh, that would be the baby’s diapers.  Number of days without an oyster-related accident: 92 0.
  • My sweet mothering skills have been bested by a dishwasher. Lacking an expert opinion (see item 1, above,) I simply guessed that one more time through the laundry cycle, plus pre-wash, soak, and extra rinse, would rid the diapers of any abrasive matter. Our dishwasher, on the other hand, tests the clarity of the first rinsewater in each load and adjusts the water usage, soak time, and agitation based on that reading.
  • I got yelled at for crossing the street against the light. The older gent delivering the many-decibel lecture said something along the lines of, ‘It might be green now, but it was red when you started and you have a baby in that pram!’ I was suitably chastened, not by having stepped into a completely empty intersection all of three seconds early, but by not thinking quickly enough to shout back, ‘Did the dishwasher send you? Big Dishwasher is Watching Youuuuuuu!’ while running maniacly down the street.

And that was how I learned the word for dishwasher in German. The end.



Reasons That Today is a Good Day

I bit into a carrot today and realized I had forgotten there was a difference between crispy and crunchy. A crunchy carrot sure beats the alternative, but when you bite into a crispy carrot it shatters into a bunch of little pieces of freshness that shatter some more when you chew them. Awesome.

It is sunny and warm today in Hamburg.

The leftovers from last night’s dinner (a pile of savory crepes with layers of smoked salmon, spinach, barlauch, and lemony creme fraiche tucked between them, and the resulting stack sliced into wedges,) were even better today. Maybe everything tastes better once the dishes are done.

There were a number of Deaf parents at this morning’s baby swim class, which meant that the teacher acted out all of the instructions rather than just barking them in rapid-fire German. So nice to not have to worry about confusing ‘down’ with ‘drown’! Although my German Sign Language skills are… weak. I only know the alphabet and a few expressions in American Sign Language, and my signs today were confounded by holding a splashing baby. God knows what came across when I tried to sign, ‘Sweet baby!’: spelling it out in German necessitates the use of an umlaut and a ß… I got the usual polite nod and 1/8th smile in response, which is much better than a shocked flurry of ‘that’s SO rude!’ signs, especially as I plan on stalking the Deaf parent community for all of my baby class needs. Imagine a Pilates class with clear signals about which lower abdominal/pelvic floor muscles to flex! In my current class, when the teacher comes close I grunt like I know what I’m doing, but since I just figured out that anspannung (contract the muscle!) and entspannung (relax the muscle!) are not the same word, I’m pretty sure I’m still missing some key instructions.

Still, it’s a good day.

Cultural Differences : Ice Cream Edition

There will be challenges raising a bicultural baby: language, certainly, and location, and if she pays any attention to financial news at all she’ll be buffeted with battle-ready aphorisms about how the dollar is ‘struggling’ against the Euro or the Euro is ‘weakening’ against the dollar. Pick a side, kid! The thing I’ve been most worried about, though, is humor. It is difficult to grasp humor in your non-native language, and hard to pick up the cues in an unfamiliar culture. There have been times in Germany when I wondered if I was missing the joke, or if the joke just wasn’t there in the first place. Imagine my pleasure, then, in coming across this billboard:

Romeo and Julia Flavored Ice Cream!

Let’s Play

Where To Begin?

How to play: This billboard is funny in about nine different ways. Which is the funniest? Choose from the options below, or add your own.


  • Imagine what romance really tastes like. Smoldering looks, holding hands, kissing. The only taste in that group is the taste of someone else’s saliva. Romance tastes like spit.
  • Then why is this ice cream so Cremissimo? Creamy spit?
  • It claims to be the creamiest declaration of love of all time. I’m not kidding. It says that! ‘Die Cremigste Liebeserklärung Aller Zeiten’. The Creamiest Declaration of Love of All Time.
  • In the German word Liebeserklärung, meaning Declaration of Love, the word ‘berserk’ features prominently. Granted, they dropped an r, but I think beserk makes more sense than berserk anyway.
  • The ice cream as pictured looks pretty nasty, with rivers of berry sauce and plasticky-looking chocolate hearts
  • The graffiti to the left of the picture is part of the advert. It says ‘R+J 4eva’ or similar.
  • The ice cream brand is Langnese, which translates to Long Nose

Juliet, well done on your apparent escape from the clutches of a berserk defacer of public property.

Romeo, congrats on the ‘long nose’, but you’ve got to think of a way to declare your love that is less… creamy.

Julia, white-and-dark-chocolate-hearts or no white-and-dark-chocolate-hearts, this is not going to end well. Run. Run!


Update: I just did an internet search to confirm that this billboard was a prank, and it’s not! Being Germany, the first Google result was a page describing the minute specifications of the packaging. The second listing was an overview of the Romance Ice Cream Series Cremissimo from Langnese, now featuring Casablanca ice cream. Casablanca is white chocolate with creamy (of course) nougat-flavored ice cream, and the website describes the inclusion of chocolate sauce and almond pieces as bringing you to a Happy End.

I guess this is what comes of a country with no ready access to tubs of pre-made frosting. Rather than the romance-novel-friendly spoonful of Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting, you get ice cream in the flavor of Doktor Shiwago.

Revived! (and some pictures for Ali K.)

The blog died for a while, but now it’s back! Thanks very much to Ryan at Please Don’t Bother Us We Only Build Bigtime Serious Corporate Websites But We Fixed Yours For Free Because You Accidentally Got Transferred to the Service Desk and You Seemed So Clueless and Really It Only Took a Minute But Please Don’t Recommend Us To Your Similarly Amateur Blogger Friends Media! Ryan’s company took this website from a blank screen (the result of a failed updating attempt wherein I, noticing that I had clicked ‘Duh, of course!’ button in response to the software’s insistence that I backup the website before updating rather than the more appropriate, ‘Wait, what?!’ button, closed the browser window in panic and reopened it to an eerie silence,) to a fully updated, restored version. I was in the middle of insisting that I compensate him for his time when Ryan gently asked how, exactly, I had heard of his company given that they were based in Sweden and worked exclusively building websites for enormous corporations like IKEA. I realized that paying them for my project would be like throwing a single M&M to a tank of hungry sharks. So, long story short, we’re back, there’s a company in Sweden that will shortly be receiving some homemade cookies, and I still haven’t backed up the website so I hope you’re memorizing every word.


I found a silk tie printed with elephants which was begging to be sacrificed on the Easter alter used:

The Elephant Egg

When Frida’s little buddy the Elephant saw it, at first she was excited:

I'm an Elephant, and you're an Elephant Egg!

And then she was confused:

But, wait, I thought I was a mammal?!

So thanks again, Ryan. None of this would be possible without you.