Friday, October 29, 2010

The wildlife 'round these parts is going to kill me dead

I was at the doctor today getting checked up before traveling.  In DK you get multiple midwife appointments, but only a handful of doctor appointments, today was my second visit.  He didn't really do anything that the midwife didn't do last week, except he used an old fashioned tube thing to listen to the baby rather than a fancy doppler-sonic thingamabob (it's official title, I'm fairly sure).  We discovered that I've gained about 8 kg since I got pregnant (that'd be 16 lbs, my American friends, which is why we'll stick to kilos because 16 is A LOT OF POUNDS) and that I'm within the happy normal range for pregnant women in their 20th week.  We also discussed why I am still in week 20, for like the third week in a row.  See, according to my reckoning, after I Googled "when will I give birth" (and this reasoning was supported by the midwife), a girl starts counting from the first day of her last period and then you just count 40 weeks and figure you'll give birth in week 41 or 42.  But then during the ultrasound the technician narrowed the due date down to a very specific time frame.

YOU WILL GIVE BIRTH ON THE 19TH OF MARCH 2011.

Oh, I said, sure thing. And I wondered if I could hold off until the 25th, which would be my husband's birthday because then I wouldn't ever have to buy him a birthday present ever again because LOOK AT OUR CHILD, THIS IS WHAT I GAVE YOU THAT DAY!

But then Because It Is Written, the doctor takes the date and subtracts back (the week of the 19th being now made week 40, although on the Danish calendar it is something like week 12 or some such nonsense) and tells me, no, NOW I'm just about STARTING week 20.

Dude, I have been 4.5 months pregnant for half a month now.  I feel like someone stopped me halfway through a marathon and said, "now hold up there lady, KEEP JOGGING THIS IS NOT A BREAK, but we just have to hold you here for a bit FOR THE FUN OF IT."

I know this is completely irrational, but meanwhile, I'm gaining weight and I had to finally take out my belly button ring because it was starting to feel like someone was constantly tugging on it, but it was okay because I was half way there and now WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M NOT HALF WAY THERE  YET??

Right.  So, fat but healthy, I waddle my way home on foot because I am not crazy, y'all, I am not getting on a bicycle.  And the sun is out and the seagulls are squawking and the wind, for once, is not trying to peel the skin off my face and I'm thinking, hey this is pretty nice and then suddenly from my left what I took to be a large bush was in fact a short bush topped by a pheasant and this pheasant decided I must be The Very Devil Himself and so leapt from his perch with this horrible noise that can only be described as "sheeeeeeeit" and flapped not a foot from my face before winging off into the sky.

Sorry, I didn't have a camera on me at the time and it was TRYING TO KILL ME

And I screamed "Sweet Jesus, Holy Mary Mother Mother of God!"

Growing up, pheasants were something you saw stuffed on a wall or in a biology lab.  I've seen a few in DK running around in fields and once pointed out one on the road, "honey, slow down, psycho bird in the road" and he was all "you mean the pheasant" and I was all "yeah, whatever, it's obviously suicidal, slow up a minute."
Is this not the face of a psycho killer bird OF DOOM?

And here was one launching itself at me!  No wonder you have to kill them, they're after us!  They'll kill us all!  

I had half a mind to turn around and go back to the doctor and say "I'm afraid I may have just suffered a major myocardial infarction, could I have an EKG and permission to toss back a whiskey?"

A few weeks ago we had a much nicer wild beast in the garden.  A hedgehog.  Again, growing up these were things you saw stuffed or in zoos or other controlled settings, not wandering around in the garden.  I've seen hedgehogs a few times, in Israel (that was my first time seeing them in the wild and it was, well, surreal - that was also the night that we saw cows wandering through the banana fields and I wish I could tell you that we were doing some awesome drugs, but no, we were stone cold sober... and very confused), in Germany (usually flat on the road), and in DK, but never in my own yard.

The Danish Boy took this photo... about about 5 others, 
just to capture that cute "I'm in yur garden, nomming yur grubs" look.

Poor thing probably just wanted to find some peace and quiet, not the paparazzi that greeted it upon arrival.  Now had it launched itself at me, I may have had to rethink my position, but as the case may be, they seem to be mostly harmless.

Except it did mean that I was running around outside in only my slippers... I could have caught pneumonia or something.  Or maybe it was trying to sneak up to the house when it was seen by my husband.  Hmmmm, innocent hedgehog or cunning assassin?  Well played, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, well played.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On the road again...

So in a week I'll be winging my way through the air back to the Q-Zone.  That would be Qatar, for all of you who don't live in my brain and know all the shortcuts.  I've managed to convince the dig director that I can work for seven weeks (I tried to convince him that I could work for longer but he seems to be very leery of the idea) and finally it looks like I'm just about on my way!

I lack dig maternity wear.  I lack maternity wear that is appropriate for warm weather.  I lack maternity wear that is light enough to be worn in warm weather, covers enough to be decent by Qatari standards, and is sturdy enough to handle finds processing which usually involves rusty nails, broken pottery, and a lot of dirt and crumbling plaster.

My camera is dead and so's the iPod.

I'm 4 and a half months pregnant, I can only touch my toes because I'm very bendy in certain spots.  For example, that ability of mine to put my feet behind my head?  It's because of talent like that that I can still clip my toenails.  But I see the day in the not to distant future when I'm going to need help tying my shoes.  Or I'll just switch to flip flops because I'll be living in the desert.

It's going to be AWESOME!!

There are those who wonder why on earth a pregnant woman would go off a do such a thing?  I mean, shouldn't I be home taking care of myself?  Shouldn't I be there to share with my husband the joys of every painful bowel movement and exciting gas bubble?  I mean, it's not like I'm just working a 9-5 in an office - I don't get to go home to my husband at the end of the day.

For those who wonder, yes, my husband will miss me, but he would much rather that I go and do what I love to do than sit around not doing it.  He knew what he got into when he took up with an archaeologist.  He also knows that my last husband disapproved of me going off to digs without him and I left him and moved to another continent AND I'M NOT ABOVE DOING IT AGAIN.

Still a bit confused?  Okay, although I know it is in no way similar, it might help to think about archaeology as kinda like the military.  We aren't shot at (usually, but I've friends who excavate in Iraq and parts of Central America are really hairy), we aren't defending the innocent or freedom or democracy or our homeland, we don't risk death every day, and we are certainly not heroes.  But we do often work far from home for extended periods of time and form strong team bonds that are really hard to explain to the layman.  We also see our job as something more like a calling or vocation.  You don't just do it from 9-5.   You may only dig from 9-5 (or from 7-3), but you do paperwork for several hours and talk about what you did and plan for the next day right until you go to bed.  "Bed" often happens to be on location.  Yeah, of course we sit back and relax.  But give us the opportunity and we'll often volunteer to work longer, harder, and on our days off.  We're sick, we know.

So even though I'm pregnant, *not* going would be very upsetting.  I'm rather frustrated that I have to leave after only 7 weeks.  My team will still be in the field!!!  These are not my co-workers I'm talking about, these are my comrades.  Go ask someone in the military about their unit.  I can't say archaeologists share the same strong bond, but it's sort of similar.

Alas, I'm sort of on track to give birth before they're out of the field... bad timing on my part.

Strangely, if I was in the military, I'd have a better chance at continuing my career even with maternity leave.  Archaeology is really backwards in some ways.  No one really wants to hire a pregnant woman, even for a short duration.  Most archaeology jobs are currently short contract anyway, so there is no maternity leave.  Get knocked up, get knocked out.  And once you've given birth, there is a great amount of pressure to stay out of the field.  I know only a very few female archaeologists who have had a child and then returned to fieldwork.  They are far outnumbered by the women who "retired" to have families.    Some female archaeologists have pointed out that they felt they had no choice but to give up the idea of having a family in order to have a career.  I do expect to face a problem getting back to work.  Women without children and, obviously, men will be chosen over me because there is less risk of them getting homesick or having to fly home for a family emergency (at least in the eyes of the director).  But I'll persevere.

In the meantime, I'm going to waddle around the camp, eat enormous amounts of curry (there's a local Indian restaurant for the men who work the fishing trade and it's FANTASTIC), and continue to scare the living daylights out of any tourist (native or foreign) that sticks their head into my tent.

Monday, October 25, 2010

And I feel fine...

I read this blog post on a pregnancy website just now and I gotta say, "Amen, sister!"  Then I read the comments.  Sweet Jesus there are a lot of people out there without a sense of humor.

Here's the conversation I get from well-meaning people, who I know mean well, hence the "well-meaning" part of their title, but are one day going to get popped in the kisser by an angry pregnant woman.

Them: How are you feeeeeeling?  *note: the word "feeling" is drawn out long, and hard and the head ALWAYS cocks to one side.  Why is this?
Me: Fine.  A bit tired.
Them: OooooO? *note: also pronounced O-uh! with the "uh" being higher pitched. Why?
Me: I guess I'm just not sleeping so well.  *note: I mean, no shit Sherlock, I've got a freakin' melon here jutting out from my gut, it's not exactly a pillow, now is it?
Them: Ah.  Well, it will only get worse once the baby's here! *note: Why is this always said in a chipper voice?  Like this is supposed to comfort me?  What I want to say in response is:  OMG!  You mean once the baby's born I'm not going to get 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep on my tummy?  Holy crap, why didn't someone tell me this 5 months ago!?!


I've given a variety of responses to this.  Once I said that was why I was going to drink lots of whiskey, so the baby would sleep better after nursing.  Strangely this did not go over well.  Then again, rereading the comments on the linked blog post, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.  Once you get pregnant you are no longer a real human being with feelings and emotions and wants and needs.  You are a vessel for the growing spawn bundle of crying pooping joy and other people's expectations.  You have no personal space, that belly is for other people to touch - so offer it up freely like the sacrificial goat.  You have one job, and that is to enjoy the crap out of your pregnancy, never complain - remember, there are women out there who would kill to be in your place, KILL! - you are a symbol, a cypher, and so not important compared to that precious future serial killer Hitler bundle you are carrying!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vignettes with my husband

The AG Learns Why Moms Say Really Annoying Things Like "Did you look in [insert obvious location]?"

DB (in the bathroom): Do we have any eye drops?
AG (in bed, reading): Um, yeah, in my purse, downstairs in the plastic ziploc baggy in the main pocket.

Later, DB climbs into bed for AG to administer eye drops.

AG: So are we out of eye drops in the bathroom then?
DB: Oh, I don't know, I didn't check.
AG: You were in the bathroom and didn't bother to look in the medicine box?
DB: No, I figured it was easier to ask you if we had any.
AG: Arrgh!



The DB Has A Revelation

Alot: Meow.
DB: What? (Yes, he speaks to the cat in English.)
Alot: Meow.
DB: Do you want food?
Alot: Meow.
DB: You have food.
Alot: Meow.
DB: See, look here, in the bowl.
Alot: Meow.
DB: Do you want Daddy to do the trick?
Alot: Meow.
DB (picks up food bowl and stirs the food with a finger before setting it back down): There, look "new food!"
Alot: Meow.
DB: Argh!  What do you want cat!?
Alot: Meow.
DB: Do you want to go out?
Alot: Meow.
DB (gets down closer to the cat and rubs the cat's head): What is it?!?
Alot (flops down on floor and presents belly to be scratched): Meow.
DB: You want to be rubbed?  Is that it?
The DB rubs the cats belly vigoursly, Alot purrs and stretches with obvious contentment.
DB (to the AG): This is just like having a baby, you don't know what they want and they can't tell you and you just have to keep guessing until you get it right!


Yay, You Aren't Depressed

AG (over dinner): So I started my novel today.
DG: You did!
AG: Yup.  I think I wrote over a thousand words.
DG: Drat, we finished drinking all the apple juice - um, well, there's a bit left.  Cheers!
AG: Uh, oh, cheers.
DG: I am SO PROUD OF YOU!
AG: Why are you getting teary eyed?
DG: Oh, I am just so happy for you!
AG: Oooookaaaay.
DG: And I'm so glad that you aren't depressed!


And When We Run Out of Wood, We'll Just Burn Money

DG (having stuffed the stove with wood and set it alight): Now that's what I call a fire!
AG: Yup.  Definitely a *big* fire.
DG (disgruntled): But you're always cold!?
AG (taking off her sweater because it's now reached the first circle of hell in terms of heat): I'm not complaining.  I'm just saying it's a big fire.
DG: Harumph!
AG: I really appreciate it, I do!  I'm just sayin', maybe we don't need such a big fire.  I can wear sweaters!  And maybe it will make the wood last longer.
DG (definitely grumpy): We're going to run out of wood.
AG: Yes, see, so maybe a smaller fire?...
DG (practically vibrating with dismay): It doesn't matter, we're going to run out of wood anyway, and I'll have to do something about it at some point, but at least you're WARM!
AG (flings arms around husband, extreme grumpiness is often cured by over-the-top displays of affection): Oh thank you, baby, thank you for keeping me so warm on these cold nights in this horribly cold country!
DG: *sniff* (hugs back)


One of These Days, He's Going to Get a Kick to The Head

At least once a day the following conversation is heard in the house -
DB: My god you're pregnant!
AG: Yeah, I know.
DB: But really, baby, WOW!  You're huge!
AG: Thanks.


The Pellet with the Poison is in the Flagon with the Dragon

AG (opens the orange juice carton): Whew!  Dear god almighty!  I think the orange juice has gone bad.
DB: *sniff* Nah, it's just the stuff around the top.
AG: Eeeewwwww!  Well I'm not drinking it!
DB: It's fine!  I'll drink it. (Pours good sized glass and takes a large swig.)  It's fine!
A little while later.
DB: Maybe I shouldn't have drunk that orange juice.
AG: Well if you die, don't come whining to me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trainspotting and tebirker

First of all, I just want to say Thanks to all the readers out there!  You guys rock.  Give yourselves a big ol' hug for me!  Go on, no one's watching.  Unless you are reading this at work, in which case, tell your boss you were just trying to get that itch on your back.  Pesky itch.

So a couple days ago I had one of those mornings where you think you may have ended up in a montage of some badly written comedy.  First of all, right after I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair, I reached down, grabbed the body soap, poured a big ol' handful into the palm of my hand and slapped it onto my head.  There was that moment of "wait, this motion feels mighty familiar!"  Followed by "damn it, that was the SOAP!"  I used my head to lather up the soap and wash myself.  It's a rather expensive soap and I was not about to waste the suds.  Then, while making my breakfast I put the peanut butter in the fridge and the butter in the cupboard.  (What do you mean, you don't eat peanut butter and nutella sandwiches for breakfast?  Yogurt is for yeast infections!)  The good news is that it's pretty cold in my house, so when I discovered my error a little while later, nothing had happened to the butter.  My brain was so out of it I ended up making myself a cup of coffee to compensate.

Big fat aside: I gave up coffee for the pregnancy because I drank A LOT of coffee.  I would drink until my heart fluttered and my hands shook.  I'd stop drinking it after three or so in the afternoon, because then I couldn't sleep at night, but, yeah, a lot of coffee.  It took three days to get through the withdrawal.  Worst three days of my life.  Migraines like you couldn't believe.  I could barely eat.  And since I was new to this whole pregnancy thing, I didn't take a single pain killer or drink a watered down cup of coffee to ease my pain.  It was cold turkey baby.  Ever seen "Trainspotting"?  If I could have opened my eyes, I bet I would have seen a baby crawling across the ceiling.  It was horrible.

But on the up side, now if I need to jolt myself back into alertness, it only takes a small cup of weak coffee.  Or a soda.  Oooh, I let myself have a Sprite-like soda the other day and it was like POW! ZING!    And a small coffee - it's amazing!  And probably safer than me walking into a semi because I just didn't see it.  But I'm still only drinking coffee when I absolutely have to, most of the time it's green tea or hot chocolate.

So now that I was ridiculously clean and had saved the butter and was oh-my-god-I'm-AWAKE alert, it was time to finally make the tebirker.

Tebirker - croissants that aren't quite croissants.  Danes eat them for breakfast with butter and jam, or just butter, or nothing - the food fascists are probably freaking out right now "jam?  She ate them with JAM!? Revoke her residency!"  I got the recipe from Atherosclerosis, a fellow Californian and a total foodie.

Here's how the tebirker are supposed to look (photo nabbed from Atherosclerosis's tebirker post):



And this is what mine looked like (note, I am NOT a food photographer):


They tasted good.  I mean, that's the main thing, right?  Were they worth the effort to make? (The rolling!  The never ending rolling!)  Eeeeehhhh, that was A LOT of effort... and they make them up at the bakery with marzipan in the middle... I really like marzipan.  I mean I *really* like marzipan.  I probably could make mine with marzipan... *sobs* Don't make me roll any more tebirker!  Rolling things with yeast is a [insert explicative of your choice].  They get all elasticky.  You roll and it shrinks!  Shrinks!  When I worked at that pizza restaurant we had a rolly thingy to roll the pizza dough.  If I was going to make tebirker again, I would demand my husband buy one of these things.  I roll enough pizza dough by hand in this house.  I am not going to roll out tebirker too.  Pie crust is SO EASY compared to this.  You roll pie crust out and it STAYS PUT.

[Explicative explicative] tebirker.

Positive side to this experiment, the DB said, "oh, so now when someone asks you what kind of bread you would like for breakfast, you can say tebirker."

Dude, wait, what?

He hates rundstykker, he knows I'm not a fan of rundstykker (buns with hard outside and soft inside, the crust tends to cut my gums, some people love them, but I am not a fan - give me regular old soft buns or biscuits PLEASE, but rundstykker are What One Eats for Breakfast In Denmark), he knows my love of pastry and yet NEVER MENTIONED THIS BEFORE??

Yeah, so positive: I now know what to ask for.  Negative: apparently this has been an option for some time and I'm only just now hearing about it.

He then went on to say that I'm only supposed to ask for one tebirke, because to eat many tebriker is to be bad.  Or not so much bad as we-will-look-at-you-with-condemnation-in-our-eyes-and-tell-you-it's-un-danish.  He added "blah blah blah you shouldn't ask for tebirker and the pastry you really love, the spandauer, because then it's really bad blah blah blah."

Spandauer (or what we call in the US, a danish):


"WHAT!?" I hollered (pregnancy hormones now in full outrage - how dare some mealy mouth Danes stand between me and breakfasty goodness!), and it was a good "what," I rolled my H (thanks Danish, I can now roll just about every letter of the alphabet in the back of my throat), gave the A a good "aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh" and ended the T at a shriek.

I think my husband added "but of course I'll let you eat whatever you want, I'm just warning you what others will say" but it was hard to hear him over the steam whistle that was going off in my ears.

Food Tyranny!

I remember commenting once to my mother when we were at a restaurant and either my sister or my brother was busy smashing all of the food on their plate into one big pile of mush, that they would then happily eat, that this was "gross."  My mother gave me that look that mother's get, that "we may not spank in this house any more missy, but I'd be willing to make an exception this once" and said "if [sibling in question] likes to eat [his/her] food that way, then there is no reason to make rude comments about it, now is there."  You have to remember that we kids were a group of picky eaters - us eating (especially if it was even remotely healthy) was always more valued than the manner in which we ate it.

That's the rule in the AG/DB household too.  So I will make sure my guests have access to yogurt and museli and cornflakes if they really want to pass up Sunday English Brunch (every Sunday I fry bacon, eggs, and tomatoes, boil up some baked beans and toast, er, toast).  But if we are having a "Danish" breakfast (you'll see why it gets the quotes in a moment) expect it to be heavy on the danishes and light on the crispy buns - but the crispy buns are all for you, my dears.  Eat up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Musings at 19 weeks

I swore I'd never wear leggings.  But then I got pregnant and fat and couldn't wear my long underwear and since it was deemed that all pregnant women are always hot, there isn't any maternity long underwear in the land of cold-flesh-stripping-wind, so I succumbed to the next best thing.  At least I'm not wearing them under sweaters and pretending they are the same thing as pants, because, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, they are SO NOT. Yes, chick on the bike with the floral panties, you may want to reconsider your fashion choices.

Anyway, in this post I want to take you back a few years, to a time when I was dedicated to the idea that I would never have children.  I'm not a fan of kids.  I can think of a few that I like, some quite a lot, but generally, they piss me off.  And babies?  Seriously, socks and duct tape were invented because of babies.  I can think of 100 reasons to not have children.  Many of which are very noble, like “there are too many people in the world, I should not add another mouth to it!”  Others less noble but no less valid like “I really am grossed out by poop.”  Standing in line behind a woman and her brood of snotty entitled brats, I'm the one usually thinking, "enforced sterilization, brilliant idea!  We can put it in kool-aid!"

I still have those thoughts, by the way.  Don't think the "joys" of impending motherhood have made me baby-crazy.  I see a screaming child throwing himself on the floor of the supermarket while his mother begs him to stop and offers him chocolate and I'm thinking, "if I run you both down in the parking lot, Darwin will thank me.  I'll get a motherf*cking medal!"

Years ago I didn’t even think I had what it took to be a mother.  The culturally reinforced idea being that the “Perfect Mother” is patient and caring and loving and calm and, above all, happy to sacrifice every ounce of their soul to the care and nurture of their child. You hear these ideals all the time from mothers, don't you?  The "I gave it all up for my child and it was the best thing that ever happened to us" "Once I knew I was going to be a mother, nothing else mattered" "You stop being selfish the moment you become a mother."  Quick, quick, tell me more about how you gave up saving gorillas and a place at Harvard Law school for your child!  I can totally match that.  I gave up… heroin.  Yeah.  Actually, I was *going* to be a heroin junkie, but I gave up that dream for the sake of my child.  The sacrifices I make, you wouldn’t even believe it!  You also hear the scorn in their voices when they talk about women who put their children into daycare and rush off back to work (and who worse yet, are glad to talk to adults again), who, oh the horrors, dyed their hair while pregnant (it totally gives your kid autism, dontcha know), the women who hire nannies and then ship the spawn off the boarding schools. Okay, I'm totally with you on that one.  Hiring an au pair so you can keep up with your book club-museum openings-Sex in the City-lifestyle?  Why the hell did you bother to breed, you cow!  And since I knew that I would not want to stop being an archaeologist and going to far off places,  I just figured that children and I would just not mix.

But I've come to think about motherhood differently, obviously, before I got pregnant (so this is not the hormones talking, I thought this stuff out long and hard).  I changed my mind and figured, hell yeah, I can totally do this, I have amazing genes and gifts that should be passed on to posterity!  If other women can keep up with their careers and have grown up jobs, why is this denied to archaeologists?  Why can’t I have it all?  Why can’t I just try?  Why, since I certainly don’t fit into anyone’s idea of a cultural norm, expect to fit into the über-narrow category of “Perfect Mother?”  Why should I even try - the “Perfect Mother” usually turns up on Nanny 911 or Supernanny begging for help because she’s too patient and caring and has become nothing but a breeding doormat with a brood of future sociopaths!  

This change in thinking is because I've been reading a lot of blogs over these last few years - written by women who may not necessarily fit the culturally accepted idea of the “Perfect Mother,” but who rock at parenthood all the same. Women like The Bloggess, as well as Dooce, the Pioneer Woman, and Aunt Becky (from Mommy wants Vodka), gave me the confidence I needed when I began to realize that I wanted to make little Archaeospawns with the Danish Boy.  You don't need to have all the things that THEY tell you make a “Perfect Mother.”  What you really need are balls.

Metaphorically speaking.  Although the other kind do help with the conception bit of Mommyhood.  

(And I do know of a number of individuals who have balls, who make excellent Mommies, although we call them Daddies, but I'm talking about the cultural ideal of "motherhood" to which I think many women feel the need to live up to.  Fatherhood comes with it’s own set of problems.)

Dooce taught me that you can have severe post-partum depression, ending in a full on break-down, get hospitalized, and still be a great mom (no one's died - I say, SUCCESS!).  Pioneer Woman taught me that you can end up living a life you never expected and you are quite possibly not qualified for but still successfully raise kids in circumstances you never imagined and that it's okay to not do laundry and miss sushi.  Aunt Becky taught me that you can be full of compassion, patience and respect for people, and sometimes you can want to beat them with baseball bats, get uproariously drunk and dance on tables, and this is okay too.  The Bloggess taught me that you can be off the wall, slightly nuts, and absolutely glorious and still be a mom.  

Then there's all the real-life moms I know...

Actually, they intimidate me because they are totally grace under fire.  Ladies, could you please bitch a bit more about your kids?  The times you want to bop them on the head or run away and join the circus because at least then you'd get some peace and quiet?  I mean, I get why you don't, because some nutjob (or ex-thing) will call child-protective services on you and trolls will leave nasty messages telling you how you have simply RUINED your child's life because don't you know EVERY CHILD IS A GIFT FROM GOD?

Despite having too many fantastic real-life roll-models that totally undermine my confidence levels, I realized that I have many excellent Mom qualities that are going to help me be an awesome mom.  Ever seen the contents of my purse?



Half of that stuff is first aid stuff.  The Tic-Tacs?  Actually holds painkillers.  The silver pill packet? Antihistamines.  Ray Bans?  'Cause a girl has to look cool, you know. (Hey I had a lot more money last year.  I worked in the desert, I needed sunglasses.  I lived in a tent, I deserved Ray Bans.)  I have eye drops and hand creams, lip balm, cuticle cream, iodine wipes and band-aids.  Hair clips and bobby pins (I may need to pick a lock) and throat lozenges.  I have a bus pass for Århus.  I have scratch paper and pens because I need to write stuff down (ISBN numbers for books I want, addresses, things I need to buy or remember) and my husband is a journalist who never remembers to carry a pen and notepad of his own.   I am PREPARED.

I may get distracted and put the peanut butter in the fridge and the butter in the pantry, but I know where almost all of my husband's belongings are at any given time.  I have cat like reflexes - my husband came THIS CLOSE to grabbing the door of the wood stove, which was HOT, with his bare hand, and I reached out, grabbed his hand and yelled "NO!"  I can also whip up a risotto out of whatever is in my kitchen.  I'm a lot more patient than I thought I was (dig with a stark raving lunatic who can't find his ass with both hands and a map, if you manage not to kill him - or even lose your temper with him when he totally screws up, *and* successfully excavate a square despite his best efforts, you are WAY more patient than Job, who was actually really kinda whinny).  And did I mention I have balls?  I can say "no" and risk you hating me forever and ever and I know you totally mean it this time!  I catch my kid eating dirt?  Ah, well, it's full of minerals, how about next time we eat some carrots, m'kay?  Skin your knee?  Uh, oh, do you think we'll have to amputate?  No? You think you're going to make it?  Well aren't you brave!  Let me just bind that up for you and you can be on your way then.

So thank you to all the moms out there who gave me insight into the workings of the mommy mind, those who blazed a trail for me to follow, those who tripped, fell, broke a limb and lived to tell me “dude, there is a serious pot-hole up ahead, watch your ass!” I say:

THANK YOU!  I AM GOING TO TOTALLY ROCK THE SHIT OUT OF MOMMYHOOD!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hair!

Take a moment and enjoy this brief musical interlude from the musical "Hair!" (You can keep reading while it plays, nothing happens on screen.)



"But on the plus side," said my mother, "you'll have the most beautiful head of hair!"

I'm growing out my hair because
a) it's something I do about every 10 years
b) I'm too lazy to go get it cut
c) the cost of getting a haircut in Denmark is about a weeks groceries for two adults without dietary restrictions

The beautiful hair I was expecting, however, was supposed to be on my head. This has not necessarily been the case.

I'm not just hairy here. I'm hairy here, there, and everywhere, momma! HAAAAIIIIIRRRRRR!

I am a naturally hairy person anyway.  I trim my arm hair because it gets over 2 and a half inches long.  That's like 10 centimeters, non-American folks.  That's not arm hair, that's a freakin' pelt.  My leg hair isn't a forest of earthly delight, it's the jungle.  A bloody tropical rainforest.  To wax I need to buy two waxing kits and expect to only some of the hair from the knees to the ankles.  I tried an epilator once.  Ever get your hair caught in the wrong end of your hair dryer?  Yeah, it was like that.  And that was before I got pregnant.

Pregnancy and it's hair giving hormones have really upped the ante.  Whereas I had to pluck my eyebrows from time to time to keep them from becoming caterpillars, now I have to continually pluck to keep them from joining up with my hair line.  Yes, my eyebrows and my head hair meet across my temples.  Pull my hair back in a ponytail and I look like Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

I have dark belly hair that I do not even know what to do about, apart from the obvious "don't wear a bikini!"  I really couldn't anyway, I've got so much Down There Hair that the razor burn would be noticeable from the other end of the swimming pool.  Not that I can see over my belly to shave.  I'd have to hand the blades to my husband.

It's not that I don't trust him.  It's just on the list of things I am not particularly inclined to ask my husband to do for me.  I much prefer to ask him to accept me for who I am, hairy beast and all, and demand he tell me that I'm sexy.

I have hobbit feet.  The hair on my toes is curly.  Typical.  I always wanted curly hair.  I obviously forgot to include "on my head, not my feet kthnx" when I was wishing on stars.

My underarm hair grows faster than the weeds in the back yard.  And like the weeds, they seem to be spreading.

But, let's look on the bright side!  It's all VERY SOFT HAIR.  Dark, thick, and luxurious.  Soft as velvet.  And about as densely packed.  I now have a "nap" or "pile" to use textile terms.  There is a reason the cat likes to cuddle with me, I'm fuzzy.  In fact, this is me:


Only I have dark hair.

THEY tell me it's all going to go away after birth.  I'll suddenly start losing the hair on my head.  Bald spots will appear and they might not go away.  Be grateful for the hair you have now!  Revel in it's... uh... soft and furriness!  Baldness awaits you!

Fabulous!  Doesn't pregnancy sound better every time I talk about?  I should give motivational speeches at high schools.

Dear teenage girl thinking of getting pregnant so your boyfriend won't ever leave you - is it worth hemorrhoids, a hairy belly and bald spots??  Is it really?!  'Cause I haven't even gotten to discharge, varicose veins and stretch marks yet.  And that's just while you are pregnant!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Speaking of growing up...

On Sunday we bought ourselves a little trailer.  Putting all the garden rubbish into the back of the car to take to the recycling center/dump was slowly driving my husband insane.  I think it dates back to when DB was younger and his dad did the same because he was too cheap to buy a trailer, instead he'd make 20 trips to the dump in an afternoon.  The young DB would spend all day very carefully loading and unloading trash from the car, because his dad didn't want the interior of the car to get messed up.  "Why don't we have a trailer?" I can imagine him asking in a high squeaky voice (my husband does not have a high squeaky voice now, but he looks like the kind of kid that probably did).  "Be careful, now!  We don't need to have a trailer, son.  You are putting that in the wrong way!  The car is plenty big enough.  Watch out you are going to scratch the upholstery!" his father would reply.  Now, watching my husband first lay out a cardboard base and then carefully pack boxes and bags of weeds and leaves into the car, you can see he's reliving prior traumas.

There is a sort of logic in using the car rather than buying a trailer.  Trailers are not exactly cheap.  Used trailers are available, but for some reason, most Danes selling them think that they don't depreciate in value.  "For Sale - 1 trailer, 20 years old, 1 m x 2 m x 1/2 m (3 feet x 6 feet x 1.5 feet), some rust on the axel, undercarriage, wheel wells, wheels, and hitch.  Wooden slats need replacing.  But it still works, I just used it to take a full load to the dump on Saturday.  3,000 DKK/$600."  Meanwhile the same trailer brand new is 5,000 DKK/$1000.   (By the way, all price conversions are approximations.  The dollar to kroner value fluctuates and since this isn't baking I don't need to be precise.)

But months of determined searching finally paid off.  DB found a used trailer that was in fair condition for 600 DKK/$120, at a used trailer/caravan dealer he's familiar with.  There we discovered that another new used trailer in better condition had just come in and the guy was willing to sell it to us for 700 DKK/$140.  So we now have a trailer.

We also have a caravan and a huge family car.

"Oh my god," said my husband a few months ago when the trailer subject was first raised.  "We've become Danes!"

Never mind that he actually is Danish, the last thing my husband wants to be is like every other Dane, driving the Volvo with the trailer full of garden clippings to the dump and then washing the caravan in the driveway.

"Don't be silly, baby," I said, likewise bristling at the accusation, "we've become my parents!"

My parents used to drive a minivan (now it's an extended cab truck, but it still seats 5 comfortably), have a HUGE trailer that my dad takes to the dump every 6 months (no trash pick up in the country, you shlep your own trash to the dump), and a tent trailer that we've used for family vacations for years.

"Yup, you're right," he paused.  "Thank God!"

I'm not sure how many men thank their lucky stars they've become their in-laws.  I can't imagine it's a large number.

On the way home Sunday night, my husband continued to muse on our encroaching ordinariness.

"Our kid is going to think we are so boring.  We drive a Volvo, take the garden trash to the dump..."

"Sit and watch Barnaby (Midsomer Murders) on Saturday nights," I added.

"Yeah," he cried, "and only 5 years ago I was still going to clubs!"

"Five years ago?  Heck, 8 months ago I was swinging around tent poles while ridiculously drunk, in the desert, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of fellow drunk archaeologists," I had to point out. "Besides, our child is also going to think it's completely normal for mom and dad to speak two completely different languages and eat lots of curry and garlic and jalapeños and for mom to every now and then go off into the desert, get really dirty, drink lots of beer, and find old stuff people threw away.  Don't worry, our child's version of normal is not really going to be all that normal." I felt better, reiterating that we are still not normal.

He thought for a moment, "so wait, who was actually there to see you swinging around that pole?"

Monday, October 11, 2010

When I grow up I'm going to eat cake for breakfast!

Actually, I do eat cake for breakfast.  But I always make sure I have a large piece or two of cheese as a side dish.

No, that is not a pregnancy thing, this is something that was agreed upon with my mother when my sister and I were younger - we could have a piece of cake for breakfast as long as we had something with calcium in it.  Or something.  So a piece of cheese and a glass of milk were somehow decided as enough "good" food to counteract the sugar we were happily stuffing into our little faces.  (Despite this, I've only had one cavity.)

I think the poor woman was just glad we'd eat something.  My sister and I were amazingly picky eaters and very difficult to get off to school.  We liked learning, but we hated that we needed to do it so early in the morning.

Anyway, I am now an adult so I *could* leave the cheese out.  But I love cheese and eat it with everything.  If it's not part of whatever I'm eating then I have it on the side.  Cheese is an especially good side "dish" when you are eating something very sweet.  Like pie.  Or, as in this case, cake.

The cake I made over the weekend was Carrot Cake.  I love carrot cake.  I do not understand why Danes insist on having layer cake (not what you are thinking people who do not live in DK, I'll explain later) for birthdays when there is carrot cake in the world.  My first wedding cake was carrot cake.  It was marvelously good.  For my second time at bat the altar I went with layer cake because 1) you are not going to get a good non-layer cake in DK and 2) always get the best cake you can have wherever you are.

(Number one is slightly incorrect, I've had some good homemade cakes from a few proper domestic goddesses who were Danish, so it can happen.  However, only one of them has made a wedding cake before and it was such a trial she swore she'd never do it again.  I don't blame her.)

So what is a Danish layer cake?  Well first you go to the store and buy these cheap thin sponge cakes, usually three come in a pack.  You also buy whipped cream in a spray can, strawberries and bananas (no matter what season it is - buy frozen if you must), butter and coco powder.

***If I ever have to make this cake, I am going to make it from scratch.  There is no call for the use of the nasty pre-made plasticky sponge rounds that they call "kage."  I understand that there are some childhood loves that defy reason as you age - like my deep and abiding love for Kraft Mac n' Cheese, despite it's horribleness - but honestly, this is a crime against nature.  (With any luck I will never have to make a layer cake from scratch.  Sponge cake is a nightmare.)***

You melt butter with some coco power to make a chocolate glaze.  Some sugar may be involved but I'm not always sure.  Cut up strawberries and bananas.  Now assemble thus: one round of sponge cake, pour a bit of chocolate glaze over it.  Layer of strawberries and bananas. Next round of sponge cake.  More chocolate glaze, fruit, and final layer of sponge cake.  More coco glaze.  Now use whipped cream to coat the side so you can't see the layers and for any decoration you may wish on the top.

Nine times out of ten it's as bland as boiled rice.  That last special time is probably when the cake has been made from scratch with fresh ingredients.  Then it's actually really good and you wonder why you keep getting stuck going to birthday parties with sub-standard layer cakes.  This is a mystery of the universe.  You will never receive the answer.  A word to the wise - do not ask your Danish host/hostess for cheese to eat along side your layer cake, they get weird about it.  But if you have layer cake sitting in your fridge, eat a slice of cheddar with it.  It will make it all so much better.

So back to my carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (see, sometimes you CAN put cheese on cake).  I had a variety of recipes to choose from and so I took a little from here and a little from there.  I am thrilled with the cake, but the frosting was WAY too sweet and I cut the sugar significantly.  I'll probably also up the amount of cream cheese because I like my cream cheese frosting to be, well, cream cheese frosting, duh.  But for your sake I give you the recipe as I made it.  Danish equivalents in parentheses.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) vegetable oil (rapsolie worked fine)
  • 2 cups (475 ml) white sugar 
  • 2 tsps (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (475 ml) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps (10 ml) baking soda (bicarbonate or natron, I believe it is in Danish)
  • 2 tsps (10 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps (7.5 ml) ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground ginger
  • 3 generous cups (700 to 900 ml is fine) of grated carrots
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts if you wish
For frosting
  • 1/2 cup (118 g) butter, softened
  • 8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups (475 ml) powdered sugar* 
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts if you wish
*Originally the recipe asked for 4 cups, I used 3.  I suggest you start with 1 cup (250 ml) and work your way up as needed.  Just so you know, Jamie Oliver's recipe uses one cup, which is why I make this suggestion.  Somewhere there is a middle ground.

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C).  Grease and flour a 9x13 pan (22 cm x 33 cm? I don't know the measurements of pans in DK - I just go by looks, call me shallow, and my pan looked like a 9x13).
  2. In a large bowl beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 tsps (10 ml) vanilla extract.  Mix in flour. baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.  Stir in carrots.  Fold in nuts if using.  Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.*  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.**
  4. To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1 tsp (5 ml) of vanilla extract.  Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Frost the cooled cake.  Sprinkle with nuts if using.
*The more carrot you add, the more liquid the cake and thus the longer it will take to bake.  Mine took just over 50 minutes.  
**I lack wire racks and I don't have a plate big enough to hold a sheet cake.  I usually ignore this part of any recipe unless I'm making an American style layer cake and need to cut the cake in half to make 2 equal sized layers.  Because I don't have two pans of any shape that are the same size.

Friday, October 08, 2010

OMG do you remember this?

I blame my friend Heather who linked originally to "C is for Cookie" and then I found the Sesame Street playlist.  Apart from my personal anthem, "I love trash" there was also this song.  When I was little I knew the lyrics by heart.  It's a little high pitched, so if your cat runs away and your dog begins to howl, I'm sorry.  But I forgot how completely amazing this song was.  Especially for 1982, when this song first aired.



I don't know how I'm going to do it, but Sesame Street is going to be part of my child's childhood.  Even if I have to pirate every single episode and burn 100 illegal DVD's to do it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Who's a Domestic Goddess?

Yeah, I'm a Domestic Goddess!

Nigella can totally bite my increasingly padded butt.

Goddesses produce miracles and I have not ever seen one miracle come out of that woman's kitchen.  Unless you call someone else prepping all your food and putting it into little glass bowls so that you can easily grab and dump in "2 teaspoons of extra fancy spice only available at the corner Asian shop that everyone has because they obviously live in a large cosmopolitan city with a thriving immigrant community and that I didn't even have to go get because I have a producer and minions to do these things for me" a miracle.  I do not.

Try making a miracle without a production company, woman!

Did Jesus ring his agent to bring wine to that wedding in Cana?  Nope.  'Cause then it wouldn't have been a miracle, right?  I mean, back in the day when someone showed up with a keg of beer at your house it wasn't a miracle, it was "knowing who to call at 3 in the morning."  Unless of course you don't know the guy and he says something like "I found this keg and I figured you'd like it and the companionship of my 5 underwear model friends."  Then it's an act of God.  But it still isn't you preforming the miracle.

Domestic Goddesses make rolling pins out of wine bottles.  They decide that if they want to have battered deep-fried onion rings and they don't have a deep fryer then by-golly there will be deep frying in a frying pan with less than a centimeter of oil in the bottom BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT YOU'VE GOT.  Domestic Goddesses look at a recipe where 50% of the items are things that can't be gotten where they live and then find alternatives and substitutions and BLOODY MAKE DUE.  Domestic Goddesses  make Greek yogurt by using coffee filters (this actually makes my husband a Domestic Goddess, but I'm sure he won't mind).  Domestic Goddesses have flattened chicken with cans of un-marinated artichoke hearts and then made up a marinade for the artichokes because half of the brilliant dishes that come out of their kitchens begin with a can in the hand and "I've got an idea!"

I'm pretty sure I've said all this before.  But I think it needs saying again.  Lest we forget and all that.

The next time you find yourself standing in front of a stove, exhausted, brushing hair out of your eyes and possibly mixing some ingredient or two into your hair, but still cooking, goddamnit, because ya'll gotta eat - that is the freakin' miracle.

And that makes YOU a Domestic Goddess too!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Tale of the Mad Baker and the Bad Cat

This story ends happily.  No one dies.  There are cookies.  Find nihilism and philosophical musing elsewhere today.

You were warned.

Once upon a time the Archaeogoddess was happily into her second trimester of pregnancy.  A time known by THEM to be a time full of vim and vigor.  And she decided when waking up on Saturday that the day would end with cookies.  And a pie.

Because why bake 6 dozen cookies if you can bake 6 dozen cookies and an apple pie with a crust topping?

She'd never baked an apple pie with a crust topping, being simply lousy with pastry and lacking a rolling pin.  But how could that possibly dent the enthusiasm?

First there was shopping.  Along with cookies and pie, our heroine decided to make double baked potatoes and saltimbocca pollo.

It all began with brilliant precision timing.  Potatoes in the oven, cookie dough mixed and popped in the fridge, chicken breasts butterflied, flattened, seasoned, topped with parma ham, rolled up and tied with string... and then it started to fall apart.

The potatoes resisted efforts to be baked.

The saltimbocca required much more butter than previously anticipated.  There was just not quite enough butter for pie dough.  But that's okay.  Instead of peeling apples, the Archaeogoddess was poking potatoes with a fork every 20 minutes for another hour.

Finally the potatoes were done and the cookies could be started.  Enter a Bad Cat.

Ever try to bake cookies with an inquisitive cat?  A cat who has two singed whiskers because he got too close to a heat source?  A cat who often leaps before he looks, resulting in falling into toilets, landing in sinks full of water, going head first into a potted plant that was on the counter, and who, while diving into a paper bag, slammed himself into a wall?  Okay, he's not just inquisitive, he's also a little special.

The Bad Cat would not stop trying to get onto the counter where she was rolling cookie balls, the table where she was cooling cookies, and the oven where she was baking.

So the Bad Cat had to be removed from the kitchen.  This meant that the Archaeogoddess was now trapped in the kitchen while the sounds of a displeased Bad Cat and his little paws emerged from under the door.  At least the cookies were safe from his hairball butt, but alas they were not safe from the greedy tummy of the Archaeogoddess.  Despite the recipe distinctly saying "makes 6 dozen cookies" only slightly more than 5 dozen made it into the cookie jars.

Dinner was fabulous.  The Bad Cat pouted and finally left in a huff to get his own dinner at his real home.

Sunday rolled around and once again supplied with more butter, although she forgot the ice cream, the Archaeogoddess began to make her pie.  The small problem of "no rolling pin" became a pressing issue.  The Bad Cat was no help finding an accommodating wine bottle (empty, in the recycling bin) nor in cleaning off the label.  He happily slept on the rocking chair as she attempted to removed the sticky bits with fingernail polish remover (fail) and window cleaner (fail) and when she finally accomplished her task with waterproof eye makeup remover.  But the minute she began to roll out the dough, there he was at her feet meowing and pawing at her legs.  He was again banned from the kitchen.

The pie was amazing.  And there was enough left over dough to make an apple turnover, despite the Archaeogoddess first attempting to eat the dough as it was.

Raw pie crust is not nearly so tasty as raw cookie dough.

That night, having eaten a bit too much sugar for her own good, the Archaeogoddess was sitting on the couch watching old Dr. Who episodes on her computer.  Suddenly the largest spider she's seen outside of the Middle East scuttled across the floor.  Without shrieking (which would wake her husband), she vaulted over the end of the couch and dived through the door to the office.  She then ran through her office, the dinning room and the kitchen (totally expecting to step on or run into another spider) to grab the heaviest glass she could find.  Then it was back to the living room to climb over another couch to sneak up behind the spider and carefully set the glass down over the spider.  It was now trapped in front of the TV.  And the adrenaline rush meant that the Archaeogoddess was not going to be sleeping for a very long time.  Fair enough, the spider had to be watched.  What if it pushed over the glass?  What if it made a break for it?

The hours ticked by.

Then the Archaeogoddess's husband, the Danish Boy, came down to see what had happened to his wife.  Half asleep, he carefully removed the spider and dropped it off outside.  After first swearing he couldn't possibly go back to bed, he did.  While he agreed it was a REALLY BIG SPIDER, it was not exciting enough to keep him up.  The Archaeogoddess was too scared to google spiders in Denmark.  She watched another Dr. Who.

The Bad Cat was absent during the proceedings.

Monday, having only gotten to bed at 6 in the morning, the Archaeogoddess was having a pajama day, complete with Bad Cat and apple turnover.  A knock at the door startled both heroine and cat, who was enjoying a belly rub, having been denied apple turnover yet again.  At the door was the Bad Cat's owner, who proposed the following:

How would the Archaeogoddess like to adopt the Bad Cat?

Absolutely!  What Joy!  

She went back inside and that night they opened up the can of cat food that had been languishing since they'd promised to not feed him anymore.  Suddenly the Bad Cat became the Much More Polite and Calm Cat.  The way to a man's heart is though his stomach - this is true for all species.

Today the Archaeogoddess and the Danish Boy went and bought proper quality cat food for a castrated cat over a year old.  The Archaeogoddess may be stuffing herself with cookies and pie, but someone in this house will be eating correctly.