October 22, 2010

I'm NOT living through my children... exactly

K has been enrolled in gymnastics class since she was three years old so I was getting worried when she turned 7 and still couldn't do a cartwheel.

I'm a fairly easy going mother.  I mean, I'm strict about a few things, but I don't expect to live vicariously through my children. 

Except for one thing: the cartwheel.  I require that all of my children can do a perfect cartwheel by the age of 8. 

Why?  Because I never could, dammit.  I practiced all summer when I was 8 and I totally sucked.  I never got over it.

I reckon some people just aren't at their best when flying through the air. 

Recently we found a new hard core gymnastics class that meets 2 hours twice a week.  And after only 4 classes K can execute a flawless cartwheel.

She has now satisfied all of my vicarious ambitions for her.

Of course, I would also like see to see her happy, productive, self-confident and married to a good man with three kids and a satisfying career but I don't insist on it.  I'm just the mom here, not the puppet master.

Mind you, I'm not done yet messing with my children's lives.  L already do a fine handstand but we still have to nail that cartwheel.  And little Gerhard won't be able to do a cartwheel for quite a while.

October 15, 2010

You want to call him WHAT???

Me: Honey, I have the perfect name!

Ralf leans back in his chair and regards me warily across seven years of blissful matrimony.

Me: Gerhardt! Isn’t that a great name?

A pause during which several expressions cross his face, followed by no expression at all.

Ralf: You want to name our son Gerhard?

I nod.

Ralf: Gerhard Schroeder.

Me: Uh huh. I like that name.

Ralf: As in the former German Chancellor?

Me (frowning): Well…. yeah. Why not? He was a good Chancellor.

Ralf: Why don’t you just name him Elvis Presley?

Me (primly): It’s not at all the same thing. People have heard of Elvis.

Ralf: Or Barrack Obama?

Me (rolling my eyes): Way more people have heard of him, too.

Ralf: Yeah, in… He struggles to come up with a suitably obscure location. Texas! THIS IS GERMANY!!!

Me: Hey, what about Tex?

No response besides a slight widening of the nostrils.

Me (regrouping): Anyway, I want to spell it with a ‘t’ at the end, so it’s not even the same name.

Ralf: I refuse to discuss this.

That means he feels strongly about it.

Me (in a wheedling voice): We could call him Gary. Or Hardy. No one would need to know.

Ralf: Go now. Buy a fish. Name it Gerhard or Geronimo or whatever you need to get out of your system.

Me (parting shot): It’s not like I want to name him George Bush!

Sheesh. I guess we’ll have to call him Deke or Garbanzo after all.

October 12, 2010

My Big Man and My Little Man

My little man is growing and kicking up a storm but until my next doctor visit I probably won't have any news about him.  I'm growing, too, and people no longer tell me I look exactly like Kate Moss.

I miss that.

If the baby had been a girl I would have named her Annika but her surprise sex change has left us struggling for a male name that both Germans and Americans can pronounce and doesn't sound too Biblical.

For example, my favorite name Ethan is pronounced 'Ay-tan' here, which is stupid.  Ditto with other names I like: Justin = 'yoo-steen.'  Jason = 'ya-zon.'

My favorite German names have been overruled by Ralf, who assures me no self-respecting German would gives these names to a child: Markus, Dieter, Johann.

Cool international names such as Iago and Merrik have been overruled on similar grounds.

Other names we're I'm considering: Starbuck, Annikin, Meriadoc, Vlad, Iorich, Albus and Saturn.

But now a call out to my big man, who thinks I'm beautiful (or is at least wise enough to pretend he does) and says all the right things, for example:

When I was worried about cosmic radiation from flying: "The gummy bear needs to man up."

When I was worried about bringing another person into a crowded, depleted, irresponsible world: "Don't worry, this one will be the one who saves us all."

When I tied a jaunty ribbon around my middle: "That looks completely st... great!"

When I tried a new recipe: "Figs. With cheese." A pause. "Yum."

Isn't he wonderful? :-)

October 8, 2010

It's probably time to mention...

I recently posted a picture of me in my new dirndl. A few people correctly pointed out that you don't see much of the dirndl in the picture.

This was intentional. The dirndl picture camoflaged something I haven't felt ready to announce until now:

I'm pregnant!

Yes, it is true. Sorry, Kristina, I know this will upset you.

Although I thought I was done having children - and in fact swore never to be pregnant again last time around - a passing moment of baby notalgia changed my mind for about 5 minutes and that was apparently enough.

There are numerous reasons not to have a baby but there are even more reasons to have one, such as:
  1. Maternity fashion has come a long way since I was pregnant with L. Back then you had a choice between a too-short baby doll top with unflattering stretch pants or a floral mu-mu dress. Today, long empire-waisted tunics are in, praise the Lord.
  2. I have absolute power. I can yell, 'GET ME SOME FOOD!' day or night and I will be obeyed by total strangers.
  3. I somehow never threw away any of our baby stuff. . . it felt too wasteful to give away stuff before it was worn to threads.
  4. Actually, scratch number three, because IT'S A BOY!!!
  5. I'd never had an amnio before and I was always curious.
An amnio is where they stick a needle through your stomach into your womb to gather genetic materia in order to screen for down's syndrome. It's about as much fun as it sounds.

I don't know how it is in the US but in Germany they give you a brochure with a graphical cartoon of a baby floating in a disembodied womb with a big needle sticking in from the outside.

I found the picture distressing but received a disapproving frown when I cheeped in dismay and inquired if it had to be so. . . graphic.
"That's what happens," I was informed sternly by the medical assistant. "What else would the picture show?"

Ohhhh kaaaaay.

The doctor who did the procedure (recommended because the baby's small intestine echoed funny and was 'too pale' in the ultrasound, whatever that means) patted my hand kindly and informed me that although the procedure isn't fun, at least in Germany they use 'thin' needles.

It felt a bit like being congratulated for not having my baby in a barbarian country like the US where they still use railroad spikes but I appreciated the thought.

I was warned I would feel a prick and some pressure but it was way more than pressure. It starts with a prick sure enough but right as you're thinking now would be a good time to stop the needle continues to punch through your stomach muscles.

I had sore muscles for two days but the procedure only lasted 40 second. And we had our results the next day so I really can't complain, especially since our baby has the normal number of chromosomes.

Let me mention here that my regular doctor was on summer vacation when I was refered for ultrasound because the baby's kidneys looked a bit irregular. When my doctor returned after all the excitement (ours, not his) he raised a perplexed eyebrow and inquired mildly why we did an amnio in the first place.

We told him the whole kidney ultrasound story, whereupon he informed us that swollen kidneys are pretty common in boys. Then he rolled his eyes. 'Geneticists!'

We're actually still waiting on one more test for cystic fibrosis, not because anyone thinks our baby will have it but because - according to my doctor - as long as they have all that nice genetic material they like to test it for stuff.

Or they could be cloning me to introduce more American genes into the German genepool, but somehow I don't they are.

So... I'm about 6 months pregnant and still trying to pretend my life isn't about to completely change. I even went to my kick boxing class about 3 weeks ago but decided to give it up when I saw how nervous my high kicks made everyone.

K and L are thrilled to have a baby brother. L drew me this picture showing the baby growing in my tummy:

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