One Year After The Election

On the morning of November 8, 2016, I woke up with a sore throat and a fever. My husband had decided long before to take the day off to help look after our two littlest ones since their kita (German daycare) was closed. It was just a bonus that it turned out I truly needed him. It had started to snow, a rarity these days even in Hamburg (thanks, climate change), and as we all walked to the doctor that morning to get me some drugs the excitement in the air was one part snow and three parts the idea of our first woman president in the United States.

I snapped this picture to remember the moment.

I spent the rest of the day dying in bed, too out of it with fever and to do much of anything else but around 4 am I was suddenly wide awake. “I’ll just check how Hillary is doing and then I’ll go back to sleep,” I thought as I reached for my phone with both excitement and nervousness. It was moments before she lost Florida. I realized with horror that I was jolted awake by a sudden disturbance in The Force.

“She just lost Florida,” I frantically typed to a friend who was monitoring the situation in DC. “Talk me down.”

His advice: Calm down. There were still many states to go and after all, there was still Michigan.

I did not calm down. I didn’t go back to sleep either. I stayed up for the rest of the night, watching with a rising sense of horror and dread. When she lost Michigan and the electoral college, my friend, who had kept a clear and optimistic head and spent the entire evening trying to quell the panic of so many, finally wrote “I have miss Yoda’ed you and I am sorry. Panic.”

I got an instant migraine. I became nauseous. I was too in shock to cry at that moment. That would come later. How could so many of my fellow Americans vote for someone like this? A racist, a sexist, an admitted serial sexual assaulter, a draft dodger and tax dodger and con man and liar and…and…and…  I just couldn’t understand. But I wanted to. I’m trying to.

A lot changed that night. I changed that night.

I’ve spent the past year doing trying to do my part to stave off the real damage and danger I see to my fellow Americans. I’ve organized and participated in marches with Democrats Abroad Hamburg. I’ve written postcards and faxes (thank you, Resistbot!) and called my elected officials. I met Martin O’Malley, Robbie Mook, and Pete Buttigieg. I returned to the stage to process my own feelings about this election and the man who now sits in the White House. I’ve gently reached out to and had difficult conversations with Republican acquaintances and even more Progressive than I am friends to find ways to build bridges. I’ve participated in Q&A’s and panel discussions. I’ve spoken at vigils and marches. I started a book club that currently focuses on rural America because I want desperately to understand this part of my country.

And finally this: This week I begin my studies in Political Science and International Relations with the London School of Economics.

At The March for Democracy, a Women’s March sister march in January

At The Science March in April and at a vigil for Charlottesville in August

Telling Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook that Clinton won my county in Mississippi #proud

and with Governor O’Malley in March

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana at the Democrats Abroad Germany AGM in April

from our play Neuland/Uncharted Territory in June
We’re performing again tomorrow night/tonight in Lüneberg if you’re in the area!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Save The Day

vegan chocolate chip cookie doughYou guys, this election. I mean, on a scale of 1 to 10 how stressed out are you at this moment about this crazy election? I’m at like 11. If you are at all like me then right about now you are alternating between waves of nauseating panic as you refresh FiveThiryEight every 15 minutes and curling up on the couch in the fetal position trying to figure out how on earth we got where we are and where on earth we go from here. If this anxiety filled shell of a person sounds even a tiny bit like you, then I have something that might help get you through the next 36-72 hours, or 4 years, depending on how things go for you on Tuesday. That something? COOKIES!!! Guys I love these cookies. Seriously gooey on the inside with a little crunch around the edge, they are my idea of cookie perfection. The best part? Because they’re vegan you can just skip the baking part and dive right on into the doughy deliciousness. So make some for yourself today and some for your friends who might be a little sad/upset/in need of a hug and a cookie on Wednesday and we’ll get through this together, one cookie at a time.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Save The Day

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Cook Time: 12m
  • Total Time: 22m
  • Yield: 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • tablespoon milk alternative or water (I use coconut milk.)
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, but it totally makes the cookie, IMO)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). In a large bowl combine vegan butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until nice and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and your milk alternative and mix.
  2. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combine. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with baking paper and drop cookies onto the sheet by the spoonful. (I use a tablespoon to insure cookies equality because kids.) Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.
  4. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a plate or wire rack if you're fancy for another 10 minutes to cool completely.
  5. Or just grab a spoon and dive right into that dough. No judgement.
  6. Some things you might want to try: A little orange zest // Minced candied ginger // Letting the dough rest for an hour or so in the fridge // All good ideas but totally up to you.

To my baby girl on turning 4

I am 4On Monday you had a birthday, Baby Girl. At approximately 1:30 in the afternoon – while you were still playing or napping happily at your kita – you became one year older. How is it possible, little one, that you are this many already? This was a big year for you. It was the first year of your life without any major changes like a new little baby or a move to another country or a new school and in that relative calm you’ve thrived. You are now as fluent in German as any of your classmates and friends. I cannot tell you how proud it makes me to hear you and your brother speaking with such mastery a language I am only beginning to grasp. You conquered going to the potty in just a two short weeks and have been nappy free since October. Shortly before your birthday you decide to give up your beloved binky, placing them one by one in the pink bowl on your window sill for The Binky Fairy to take away.

These were the big things that happened this year. And, aside from the learning German, the things that should’ve happened this year because you were ready. We didn’t push you to do any of them. You made up your mind to do it on your own, and you did. I love that about you. I hope that you always have this same fierce determination to get things done.

But there are so many other things about this 3rd year to love and remember.
Your favorite colors are still pink and purple.
Your favorite thing to eat for dinner is spaghetti and meatballs. There is not a week that goes by that it is not your request for dinner.
Your favorite characters are Queen Elsa and Darth Vader.
You love to color and paint and create. Playdough is a favorite medium.
You make the most elaborate and imaginative Lego creations. You tell me, “I want to be an architect and build all the towers for you, Mama”.
You’ve learned all the words to “Let It Go” and act it out as you’re singing along. It reminds me so much of myself as a little girl, it’s almost like looking back through time. Sometimes we sing it together, you and I, and you still act it all out.
You are always singing a little German song about a butterfly.
Whenever the sun is out (kinda a rarity in Northern Europe) you run around dancing in the sunlight as shout, “Yay sun! I knew you could do it!”
Whenever there are puddles, you must splash in them. And not little feet stomps, but giant, leaping splashes.
You love swords and hold your own in great swashbuckling battles with your big brother.
You’ve always loved horses and this year you got to ride one for the first time. You were a natural!
I took you for your first haircut at a real salon. You sat in the chair perfectly still with the biggest smile on your face. Afterwards we went to a cafe for hot cocoa and cake. It was the first of what I hope will be many Girls’ Days.
You are a good little sister to your big brother, playing many games with him. I know some of them are not your cup of tea, but you give them a try anyway and usually find some fun, too.
You are a great big sister to your baby brother, helping and teaching him. I can tell already that you are going to be close to them both.
You are strong and brave and daring. You are smart and sassy and silly.
You make us smile every day with your sass and brilliance and imagination.
I hope you always dance in the sunlight and splash in the puddles and sing song about butterflies.
I love you.

New born Baby Girl

Birthday Trip To Wildpark Schwarze Berge

imageLast weekend, to celebrate our Little B turning the Big 2, we decided to have a family adventure and take them to a zoo. Not just any zoo, though.  It’s a zoo that they’ve been dying to go to since we first moved to Hamburg and saw its adverts plastered all over a million buses. To be honest, The Boy and I have been a little reluctant because it’s always tough to get this crew motivated and out the door in the morning. It’s almost impossible when there’s a cool new HUGE Lego Duplo playset in the house. And this zoo is way out there. Best case scenario, it’s 30 minutes on a train and then 30 minutes on a bus. Unless you miss the connecting bus and have to wait an entire hour for the next one. I figured that a birthday was special enough to warrant all the slings and arrows that come with traveling with excited and impatient and eventually hungry and tired kiddos, though. So, billing this whole trip as a surprise birthday adventure, we set off not telling them where we were headed.

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And Now My Baby is Two

BabyBoy2Weeks4 BabyBoy2Weeks5 BabyBoy2Weeks6 BabyBoy2Weeks3 BabyBoy2Weeks2 Baby Boy 2 Weeks1

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today, this little nugget came into the world. He was my third c section and my second baby in Denmark, so I knew what to expect. I was not entering into the unknown as I had with the other two. Gone was the apprehension that comes with the first, of not knowing and fearing what the pain will be like. Gone was the fear that comes with not knowing what to expect from giving birth in a system and culture that is not (completely) my own in a language I did not speak. They let me walk with my husband to the operating theater instead of being rolled, as I had been with the other two. Being rolled on a bed into an operating room has a very surreal and somewhat unnerving feel to it. Walking felt natural and I can remember our little guy kicking all the way, like he was excited to be on his way into the world. I remember saying, “I bet he comes out kicking and screaming”. The mood in the operating room was laid back. We were joking and laughing with the nurses, the anesthesiologist. It wasn’t my first rodeo. Soon enough the drugs kicked in and we were off. I had noticed that almost everyone in the room was a woman, and I knew the surgeon delivering our little guy was a woman because she’d stopped by to talk with us before the operation, so I was surprised to hear a man’s very authoritative voice. I even said, “Oh, there’s man in here.” My husband later told me that the man was clearly some kind of senior surgeon popping in for funsies and that I was not the only one who was surprised to see him. A few minutes later our little guy was born. As I predicted, he came out screaming. I had to wait to see my first two since they were whisked away for vital tests. They were returned a few minutes later all wrapped up and warm with just their little red faces peeking out for our first meeting. This little guy I got to hold immediately – all naked and new, his skin to mine – for just a few minutes before they took him away. As they laid him on my chest someone said, “Oh he’s peeing!” and I said “Oh I don’t even care.” because really I didn’t but also what was I gonna do? We snuggled for a few minutes and then he was off with the pediatric nurses and Daddy to be weighed and poked and prodded, apparently relieving himself again and spraying all the high tech medical equipment in the process. Everyone laughed. Someone commented (I like to think with admiration) “Ah, a real boy!” My husband also got to have a few minutes of skin to skin contact with him before he was swaddled and return to his very groggy but happy mama. And that’s the story of Baby Number 3’s birth.

These are a few of my favorite pictures taken in our first two weeks as a family of five. They make my heart smile.

Happy Birthday, little one!

Baby Girl with her new baby brother
B. with his new baby brother
Baby Girl with her new baby brother
b with his new baby brother

New Beginnings

The Forbidden City
This is the very first picture of me ever taken outside of the United States on the morning of my very first day as an expat. I’d gotten on a plane in Memphis a little nervous and a lot excited and landed bleary eyed in Beijing two days later still nervous and even more excited. (Don’t I look totally awesome with my red eyes and 14 hours on an airplane pallor?) I’d thrown caution to the wind to travel to the other side of the planet to be with a boy – THE Boy – and as I got off that plane a wave “Oh crap, now what?” hit me for the first time like a ton of bricks. I had no idea where to go or what I was supposed to do. We’d talked for months about me getting on that plane. We never really talked about me getting off. We never talked about the practical things like passport checks and security checks. We never really talked about where we were going to meet or what to do if somehow something went wrong. We never talked about the bigger picture and what exactly me getting off that plane meant. As I stood there … alone … in a completely foreign country … I did the only thing I really could do. I took a step forward. I trusted that he would be waiting for me on the other side and somewhat miraculously, he was. He’s been there everyday since.

That was almost exactly 10 years ago to the day. I was just a few months shy of 30 years old.Read More