Tuesday, April 28, 2009

He can expolde from the other end, too.

I was going to write a post later in the week updating you on all the things the Dude has learned to do over the past few weeks. Last night, however, he demonstrated a new trick that could not wait.

We are very blessed with our baby. He is such a good sleeper, so when he gets restless in the night, I often worry. The exploding poop, thankfully, was just a small blip. It also proved to be a coming attraction.

Around 1:30am this morning I awoke to the sound of the Dude crying. It was nothing heavy duty, more of a mewing really. Sometimes he throws his teddy bear out of the crib and wants it back later. So I got up and stumbled down the hall. I turned on the hall light and stepped into his room. I could smell the vomit from the doorway.

As I looked down in his crib, the Dude looked up at me with tired eyes as if to say, "Mom . . . WTF!" He was clutching his bear and still had his pacifier in his mouth. Other than the fact that he was sleeping in the wrong direction, nothing seemed out of order; that and the vomit that was all over his clothes, bed and crib.

I immediately went into calm mommy mode. Because of the exploding poop incident, I always have fresh PJs, sheets, teddy bear and sleeping sack in the closet. I took everything out and put it on the bed. I got a wet towel to clean things up with and started to undress the Dude and strip the bed, putting the soiled items in a pile in the middle of the room.

The entire time only the hall light was on and all I made was soft soothing noises. This was intended to keep the Dude calm and from completely waking up. The German had to come in and help me finish making the bed. Everything took about 15 minutes, and remarkably, the Dude went right back to sleep.

Because the smell really grossed me out, I immediately put everything in the washing machine. After getting a drink I went back to bed, but I was WIDE AWAKE. Also, the smell of vomit had gotten into my skin and it was all I could think about.

I have no idea what brought that on last night. We have been weening him off formula and giving him regular milk. Needless to say, I gave him formula this morning.

This morning the Dude got up at 8am. When I went in he was still pretty sleepy. There was still the lingering smell and I realized that he had even hit the carpet, which led to me scrubbing on my hands and knees while the Dude pretended to climb Mount Mommy. From the position of the baby when I saw him (on his stomach laying in a crooked position) and the splatter of the vomit on the bed and floor, I determined that he must have been lying sideways on his stomach when he woke up and got sick . . . I could really work for CSI.

Motherhood, isn't it grand?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Someone You Should Know

During my stay in Washington DC for Overseas Americans Week, I met a lot of interesting people. But one person stood out among the crowd, Paula.

Paula told me her story. It started out as a love story; girl meets boy. They got married and moved to his home in the Middle East. Everything was okay and they even had children. But on the inside the marriage was marred and damaged by domestic abuse.

Finally, in 1999, Paula fled with her children back to the United States. Unfortunately, it would take years of court battles, hiding and continued abuse before Paula and her family were safe. During that time she was confused about laws and sometimes could not find the help that she so desperately needed.

Out of her story, the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line was born. The crisis line is a nonprofit organization, which helps Americans living abroad who are experiencing domestic violence or child abuse.

It is the mission of The American Domestic Violence Crisis Line to serve Americans being abused in foreign countries.Our crisis line number is toll free internationally by calling the local AT&T operator from the country you are living in and asking to be connected to 866-USWOMEN . . .The American Domestic Violence Crisis Line, 866-USWOMEN, is the only international toll free domestic violence crisis line serving abused American women and children in both civilian and military populations overseas.


The work that they do is AMAZING! They offer three different kinds of services: outreach, safety planning, and support services. Being an American abroad can sometimes be a very isolating experience. Those that are experiencing domestic violence are even further isolated by feelings of fear and shame, which is what makes the crisis line so important.

When I met Paula, I asked here where most of the callers come from, and I was surprised by her answer. Although the most shocking cases are from the Middle East, most callers are actually located in Europe. I was stunned. I know so many American women married to Germans. Although we seem so happy, you never know what your friend is going through.

If you know an American living abroad who is in this situation please pass on this information. There is help available. Also, if you can, be sure to donate. Nonprofits such as this cannot do it alone.

The crisis line will also be visiting Germany in October to do training for individuals who would like to volunteer. Be sure to check my blog and their website for updates if your are interested.

As I looked through the site, I found this link, from a Today show appearance from May 2007. Click on the picture to open the video. It is something to think about.

A mother and a hero
A mother and a hero

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I blame the Computer

Yes, I know that my blogging has been somewhat sporadic over the past few months. 3 posts in January and 2 in March is pretty bad. Not only have I not been writing, but I have also not been reading others. I sort of went underground. But I do have an excuse; I blame the computer. No, my laptop did not die. I got a new one.

My old Toshiba is about 6 years old. My grandfather got it for me when I was doing my field research in Germany. He could not believe that I did not have internet access. "In this day and age!" The Old Girl served me well. The hard drive had to be replaced once, but other than that I did not see the need for a new one.


But, she started to get slower; not all of the new programs worked. Also, the keyboard was starting to stick and the word "Enter" was fading from view. As someone who has been in a long marriage, I started contemplating trading her in.

The New Yorker offered to help me out. Because I usually work more hours than I am paid, I had stocked up some credits. Buy getting me a laptop, we could even things out and she could deduct a company expense. It was a win-win situation. So, I took the plunge.

The New Toshiba is shiny and big. She is faster and has a better memory. But for the first few weeks I did not really use it. I felt like I was cheating on my old computer. Eventually though she lured me away from the past. Isn't she pretty?


Not everything about the "new" is good. For example, all of my blogged bookmarks are on the old laptop. Without the bookmarks, I did not think to check on my friends. Her speed got me addicted to watching TV on the net. Instead of writing, I ate potato chips and downloaded Grey's Anatomy (legally, from itunes, of course). The New Girl began to instigate some bad habits.

Yesterday I said, "Enough!" I went through my blog and updated my links. It is a good thing, too, because some of you have moved!

All in all I am satisfied with my New Girl, but I HATE Vista; well not so much Vista as the 2007 version of Microsoft Office. I cannot find anything! And its all in German! Ugh. I have decided to uninstall it and reinstall my English 2003 Office. It is a little bit better, and at least I can understand the help function if I cannot find something.

Furthermore, not all of my old software programs work on the New Girl. For example, there is no driver for my digital camera. I have to download all the pictures on the Old Girl and then transfer them. How screwed up is that! I feel like Microsoft is in cahoots with Fuji to force me to get a new camera.

So, I told you that I had an excuse about the blogging. I did not say that it was a good one. However, I am trying to mend my ways. Bear with me and we will figure things out.

"Hi, my name is Claire, and I am a new laptop abuser."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twittering is for the Birds

Back in February I visited Jen down in Boweltown. She introduced me to Tilman and he and Sparky tried to introduce me to some new technology. You see, I had no idea what “Twittering” was.

Twitter.com is a website that provides “micro-blogging” services. You can write a post, similar to a blog, but not no more than 140 characters. Started in 2006 (2007?), “twittering” has become the “it” thing to do in the internet.

I have decided that it is a load of crap.

First, Twittering is different from blogging in that it lends itself best to real time updates of important events. Blogging involves more of a narrative. When Brian Williams visited Jon Stewart at the Daily Show, he was asked if he “tweeted.” “Nothing in my life is that interesting.” If the anchor of the Nightly News does not have anything interesting to report, then my life certainly does not rank either.

Second, like Blogging and Facebook, Twitter seems to be an internet fad. My opinion on this was reinforced by the Ashton Kutcher vs. CNN smack down . . . not really . . . more of a one sided challenge that resulted in an anticlimactic end. When then next big thing comes along, I am certain that Ashton will move on with it and his 1 million tweets as well.

Finally, I am not sure that the constant 24 hour update is necessary. Do I really need to know what a congressman is thinking DURING the speech of the president? Couldn’t I just listen to the speech myself and form my own opinion and then may listen to him later?

Twitter, Facebook and other “social networks” reinforce those horrible high school experiences in which the person who has the most friends, i.e. popularity, wins. I spent years coming to terms with the fact that I don’t need to be everyone’s darling. Am I less of a person because I don’t have tweets? I am going with no.

When I joined Facebook, it was to get in touch with friends from the past. But in the past few months, it has only led to contacts from people I don’t remember or ex-boyfriends who dumped me but now want to be “friends.” It is frankly a little bizarre.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Are we there yet?

What a long strange week it has been.

I came to DC to promote the voting rights of Americans living abroad. In the course of five days I met with congressmen and staffers, NGOs and bureaucrats, activists and interest groups. Although we all agree that citizens need to be able to vote, how you get there can be VERY different. In fact, it is going to take a few weeks to process everything.

Naturally, Murphy did have a good laugh at my expense at least once. On Wednesday, I left the place that I am staying early in the morning. I was in my brand new gray dress (which is very Michelle Obama and I LOVE it) and black heels. It was going to busy day. Along with my meetings I was supposed to give some remarks at a reception. Naturally, as I walked to the bus, I noticed that a run had started in my hose.

My first meeting was downtown and luckily there was a CVS across the street. The receptionist was nice and let me use the restroom to change. Unfortunately, the lock on the stall kept popping open. As I struggled with my hose, I had to keep pushing the door shut. The more I pushed, the further it popped open. With my dress around my waist and my hose around my knees I shoved hard and the door flew the other way. I teetered and like a tree being chopped, I fell out of the stall.

Thankfully no one witnessed my fall from grace and after about ten minutes I was able to get my self together. Naturally, I did not need the extra hose that I had bought and of course it poured rain the entire afternoon and my umbrella was in . . . . Naturally.

Overall it has been a successful trip, and now I am READY TO GO HOME! DC is like a universe unto itself. The German was frustrated that I did not have access to a land line so that we could chat. “Doesn’t anyone have a phone??” “No, sweetie, they all have Blackberries.” He now calls it Blackberry-City.

Being away has helped me come to a very important conclusion:

I am very happy with my life at the moment.

I have been in a funk, a fog for awhile. There was something itching, and I could not figure out what. Using my political science training again has given me a new sense of purpose. But nine days away from my boys makes me realize that they are the backbone of my life. They give me strength and energy and immeasurable amounts of love. When I reflect upon all that I gave up for my life in, I realize that I would not want to be anywhere else.