On Why reading to your child is important

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

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I wrote an article on reading where I described my son’s favorite book and my passion for reading to him. Also how I want to get my son interested in books. I do order books constantly when I am not in a bookstore to browse which is actually one of my favorite things to do. I ordered some books for my son but somehow they have gotten lost and mixed up. A few weeks ago a package arrived out of the blue in my mailbox. This is why I love to order online. Every time you receive a package it seems like a gift to yourself from yourself! Awesomeness!

So I unwrapped the envelope of my lost order and out fell The story of Babar”. Instantly a thousand memories flooded back into me when I saw this book that I actually did not have ordered but was so happy to have received. I remembered the entire story almost by heart having read it so many times to my sister and brother when they were kids. And my mom read it to me almost every single day when I was tiny. I remember Babar was our friend. My siblings and I used to love this story so much. Babar was definitely our friend way back then maybe because the story was just so sad and we wanted Babar to feel better. If you haven’t read the story yet (and I recommend you do) here is a little insight. Babar’s elephant mother is killed and he is chased by hunters and escapes to a foreign world of the city. He returns to his community and finally becomes king of the elephants. Enough, this is not supposed to be a book review! 🙂

When this book arrived the other day I just realized again how important children’s books really are. And how important it is to read to your children. I forgot about this book I have to admit after all these years. But it finally arrived here. Back with me. I was so happy – all these dreams, love and forgotten memories came back up. Having been through so much reading I know how a single book can make you happy. How a single book can guide you and simply this magic that comes for a fairytale like this can inspire. So I want my son to know this as well. I want to help him to find the pages and words that he needs to make sense of this beautiful world – the same chance I had in life.

I will read Babar to my son when he is ready. These days we are more into “Where the wild things are” by Maurice Sendak and “The very hungry caterpillar” and a plethora of Pixi “Connie” booklets in German.

Connie

Since my second address is either Barnes and Noble or The Strand Bookstore my son’s address is the same. Our next goal is; besides discovering our neighborhood,  to go to the Public Library. Reading fairytales to my son will help him make sense of this big world outside – just in time. And of course I am proud and honored to be his mother who is reading to him all these great stories  while he listens in wonder.

 

The Book Review: “Never can Say Goodbye” – Sari Botton and others

“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.” –  F. Scott Fitzgerald

Okay, I have to admit it. I love New York. I wanted to move to New York City since I have started watching Sex and the City which was in roughly 1998. In 1996 my mom took me to New York to go shopping because I passed my final exams in High school. The seed had been planted. I finished High school and joined the police but in the back of my mind was always New York. I loved this city more than anything. I wanted to go back there, succeed there and make a living. And I did in 2005. I passed the exams to join the United Nations in New York. Finally the city was mine. I did it all, believe me. Times Square, all the museums you can find recommended  in the  “TimesOutNewYork” magazine I visited.

I spent days in Central Park. Walked the entire City of Manhattan and discovered new things every single day. It is this love/hate relationship that I have with New York. Kind of like you cannot live with it but you cannot live without it. And as soon as I am not in New York I do miss it like crazy. Weird, I know. The book I am reviewing here is in several respects to its predecessor “Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York”. It speaks to readers who live, are living or have left New York City.

“Never can say goodbye”focuses more on writers and artists who have made NYC their home no matter what. Or  readers who have just spent some time here – like on vacation. These are the people who will enjoy this book the most.

Here are some good quotes from the book I want to share: 

“New York is a city where there are always a million exciting things to do at any given moment, and a million other people who are doing them at the exact same moment as you are. That hot new play? Already sold out. That enticing MoMA exhibit? At last report, the wait is over twelve hours. How about something simple, like a blanket, a bottle of wine, and a nightfall screening of Paper Moon in Bryant Park? Sure, if you don’t mind homesteading a coffin-sized plot of grass at around four in the afternoon, then fending off claim jumpers for the next five hours until sundown. That’s assuming, of course, you have any time left over to do any of this when you’re not either working or drinking to work off the edge from the working or trying to do regular-life kinds of stuff like buying groceries and picking up dry cleaning.”   -Adam Sternbergh

This is also true:

“People often mistake New Yorkers for rude and mean, but they’re really just no-nonsense and efficient. They don’t have time, regularly, to be warm and friendly with everyone who crosses their path. Nothing would ever get done. But when the chips are down, when it matters, they drop their cool exteriors and become unabashedly human.” -Sari Botton

Overall this is an entertaining collection of stories about the city that never sleeps. A great variety of writers address one of the most interesting places on earth. I read this book form front to cover in just about two days and I highly recommend it for any New York City lover.

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

On departure: Love Note to my husband 1/32

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people.”

My love,

I miss you so much. You left a couple of hours ago and the house is empty. Empty of your presence, empty of your smile and warmth. Our son is still up, confused where you are and is waiting for his good-night kiss.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Time passes so fast. Looking out into my backyard I realize that the leaves (feathers)  are changing. I haven’t noticed all week but things change. You are gone. I know that it most likely will not be for long and that I have to be patient and you need to work. But still… c’moon!

——-

My husband’s first assigned in Mali was okay because we could at least see each other every four weeks. Needless to say, this time around we will not have that much time to spend together. Well, unless of course I fly there and it is a family mission so I try to see the best in things and stay positive. It is an adjustment as we both know – especially with our son. I am a single parent for now while he is gone. Sigh!

We just had the best two months ever being together non-stop and traveling. We had date-nights which I think is very important if you have a relationship/marriage like I do. We do not get that much alone time usually when my husband is home so we make spending quality time together a priority. Of course it does not have to be anything major. We do enjoy the simple things the most: A candle, a bottle of red wine, popcorn and hours of talking and philosophizing. It was also very important in the time we do spend together to actually BE together as a family. My husband and son are very close which is a beautiful thing to watch.

When my husband got picked up earlier from the airport shuttle service it was horrible. To see the ones you love the most in this world go makes my heart hurt. It is the same every single time at the Airport Frankfurt (“Valley of tears”!). My parents dropped me off and the crying just did not stop. Or, my mom suggests, “Hey, let’s all have a coffee somewhere!” while I on the other hand just try to make the waterworks stop. Oh, I am getting off on a tangent here. 🙂 With all these goodbyes in my life already one might think that I am used to it by now. That parting gets easier. Well, noooohoooo! Not for me. It sucks. I wish I could have all my loved ones around me every single day all day long. Maybe not that crazy but you get the point. In close proximity maybe but not 8,000 miles away. Sniff! My mom tries to be a goodbye pro by now and waves and waves, closes the door and then cries a bit. But never really in front of me which makes departure a little less dramatic.

So yes, I do miss my husband like crazy at this point. These last 30 minutes today before they picked him up I was desperately clinging to him, exchanging just weird comments about food, printer, water fountain etc. kind of like if this would somehow mean he didn’t have to go. Don’t even ask how I looked after he left. Hello waterworks! Now I am sitting here alone in the kitchen writing along in silence. Saying goodbye to him never ever gets easier no matter how many times I rehearse them.

I have to admit that I sometimes admire people who just remained in the same town their entire lives with their families, kids, a nice garden with two garages and a dog and a cat. All of course close to their parents place, walking distance. And they do not really know what I am talking about here. For them airport means holidays or vacations. Then again, this is my life and my choice. We both decided to go through with this for now so “lighten up Bob and wipe away those tears!”

I will be sending my husband daily Love Notes through this blog because I love him. Simple as that.

Mon amour, be safe out there. À bientôt. (or see you soon which sounds nicer than goodbye I think)

<3

How to: Croque Monsieur/Croque Madame

A little history about Croque Monsieur first (Again, I am married to a Frenchi): 

Croque-Monsieur was originally a melted cheese and ham sandwich sautéed in butter. Eventually other Parisian cafés began  serving their own vearsions to the point where the sandwich evolved to the way it is served today, with a topping of béchamel sauce, grated cheese, then run under the broiler until bubbly and golden. The croque-madame is a variation of croque- monsieur which features a fried egg on top. Croque means “bite” according to my husband, so it is also important for the bread to be crunchy while the inside is oozy with melted cheese.

What you need: Saucepan, Toaster, Baking sheet, skillet

How to make it: 

4 tablespoons (60g) butter

4 tablespoons (30g) flour

1 cup (240ml) milk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 dashes ground nutmeg

8 slices sandwich bread

4 slices ham

3 cups (300g) Gruyère cheese

4 large eggs, room temperature

Preparation: 

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C)

Cooking:

In the saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk well. Slowly whisk in milk and cook until thickened. Whisk in mustard and nutmeg. Set aside. Lightly toast the bread in the toaster. Place 4 slices on the baking sheet. Spread a little sauce on the slices and  top with a piece of ham . Place 1/2 cup (50g) cheese on each slice of ham then top with the remaining slices of bread.

Evenly divide the rest of the sauce over the top of the sandwich, add the remaining cheese, and bake for 5 minutes. While the sandwiches are baking, fry the eggs in the skillet (this is for the Croque Madame only).

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Turn off the oven and preheat the broiler. Run the sandwiches under the broiler until they are bubbly and slightly browned. Top each with a fried egg and serve hot. (Crocque Madame)

Ideas and substitutions: 

Serve the sandwiches with  simple green salad for a light lunch or dinner. Tonight I added  a little Caprese Salad (mozzarella, tomatoes, basil with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper).

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Optional additions to béchamel sauce: finely chopped onion, fresh tarragon, or parsley.

 

Bon appétit.

 

 

 

 

Beauty: Latest purchases

My family and I were on a little road trip the other day and I discovered the Anthropologie store in Westpoint/Connecticut. I love this store and all the little details about it. You can find anything to decorate House & Home, find the nicest vintage clothing along with a plethora of accessories and shoes. I recently shared that I am loving Barr. Co products these days and guess what? You can purchase them at Anthropologie! Yes! So it is tell and show time now because why would I buy anything new if I cannot share it here right? haha!

While I navigated through the store I instantly fell in love with these Monogram cups.

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They are the perfect size for a nice cup of coffee and made out of stoneware. With the initials (available from A-Z) they make this cup just “my cup”. And his cup. We have been using them ever since I bought them. Please also note the book that is so comfortably resting next to the soap and hand creme. I purchases this as well mainly because of all the beautiful pictures, articles and interviews.

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I would have stayed in the store a lot longer but while I was browsing and totally forgot what time it was my husband and son came in to “get me out of there” because they were hungry and wanted to go home. I will be back for sure – just to look around a bit. 🙂

Have a great weekend.

 

 

About the other mothers.

“Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing to do.” – Matt Walsh

Oh parenting is such sweet sorrow. Intentionally I wanted to go to bed early today but what can I say. I had a cup of coffee too late today and am all antsy now. So here I am writing what is on my mind. ha! Scary! I just checked on my son if he is not getting too cold in his room. I put the fan directly on him because it is just so freaking hot outside. I do not want him to get too cold at night. Little things like that. Today I just thought about other mothers. I saw too many not to think about them at this point. Many other mothers I just find annoying and upsetting I have to say. I just try to understand how they can be so mean to one another. I mean c’mon, we are all in the same boat. The other day we were out and about but stopped at a health food store. I found this free magazine “Fairfield Parents” and there was one questions they discussed: “Can mothers who use the cry-it-out method be friends with mother’s use the attachment parenting method?” There were just so many crazy responses in the comment section of this article that it made me throw up. Basically the attachment-parenting mom’s said they CANNOT under ANY circumstances be friends with the cry-it -out moms. It is just barbaric to let the kid cry blablabla child abuse etc.

I mean I can just go on and on with this. I have “friends” who sign their 3 months old babies up for a violin class. WTF? And when I question it they look at me like “WHAT, you are not giving your child the chance to discover if they love this?” Yeah…. I guess when the child is  three months old he can play the violin. He does not even know where his nose is. 🙂

The other day someone asked me if I have a picture of my son in my wallet. Well, no, I do not. I do not have 1000 pictures in my phone either. I have a couple. What it all boils down to is that I do most things differently than other women with regards to parenting and I simply refuse to change it or apologize for it. This is just me doing my thing with my son.

In the beginning I really let it get to me however. That I did not use cloth diapers but disposable diapers, that I had my son vaccinated against everything and anything and that my mom helped me out all the time in the beginning. And when he started eating I gave him the pre-made food from the store sometimes instead of home-cooking all the time. But we traveled so much that it was easier but no one cared about that. They judged me. How can you NOT cook for him EVERY DAY?  And the worst again was, that I let him cry sometimes for half an hour before I picked him up.

Throughout my pregnancy I did everything right according to others and the books. I did not touch raw meat, camembert, alcohol, drugs etc. All I did was waiting for this baby. I wanted this baby more than anything else.  Besides that I worried, longed, loved and analyzed. What else would you do if you are German? This is simply who I am. I am imperfect and I like myself. I love myself. And so does my husband. Jackpot! 🙂

I am just wondering why so many parents think that there is only one way to get out of this parenting thing with a well loved and adjusted kid? Who decided that you have to start being some sort of exhausted, selfless perfect person as soon as you conceive this baby? I am just wondering sometimes.

People should  just broaden their pea-brained perception of things and let others live their life with whatever flaws they have. And everyone has some flaws – nobody is perfect. I love Augusten Burroughs. He is just a great author who said, “I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself amide entirely of flaws, sticking together with good intentions.”

And I love imperfect normal mothers. (Hello Diana!) My husband has taken me to the train station (5 minutes driving) in the morning and left the baby at home  while he was sleeping? Is this okay for you?  Then you are “My kinda mom and I love you!” 😀

Before I had my son I did not know all these things about myself. I actually almost knew nothing about myself. I did not know that I enjoyed to rock my son to sleep in a chair after a while or carrying him around for hours when he was a newborn. Or that it is the best thing ever if they make a poop. These little things once you have a baby … nothing else really matters.

I have heard it before that it is the hardest thing ever to raise a child or that it is tough, but I never got the meaning of it until I had my son. It is a full-time job. Sometimes there is just this fine line. I have given all I can give the entire day. I loved him, played with him, fed him, give to him, give to him for the rest of his life. But I just cannot forget myself throughout this process. Then everyone is okay and balanced.

All I want to say here is: YOU are a good mother and so am I. We do the best for our babies, the best to make them as comfortable as possible and give them everything within our means. Sometimes we are just different as are our families, our lives, and our children. Sometimes love just sounds and looks different.

Thank you for reading .

The Book Review: Charles Bukowski’s “The Bell Tolls for No One”

“The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.” – Charles Bukowski

As a Bukowski-fan I have to write a review about the latest book that has been published by him. If you have never heard or read anything by Bukowski I want to give you a little insight first. Henry Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was a German-born (yay!) American novelist and poet. He has written many short stories as well. He moved to Los Angeles at a young age and his later work was strongly influenced by the economy and culture in his surroundings. Throughout his books there is this line of poor ordinary Americans, alcohol, drugs, writing and a plethora of relationships with women. [In his book “Post Office” he describes the drudgery of his work as Hank Chinaski at a post office. (my favorite book by him so far – “Pickle Factory!”)].  He died of leukemia 1994 in San Pedro, California.

I gave my mom one of Bukowski’s books to read once. She read the first 10 pages and put it down with disgust. Bukowski has just an acquired taste to his stories – mostly short stories, very pornographic pieces and very shocking details at points. I have to admit that it made me uncomfortable at points as well reading his books – simply because of all the alcoholics, all his drinking which is a lot (like he was drunk 99%  of the day and while writing basically), adultery, gambling and just simply “hanging- around -doing nothing- lifestyle”.

In “The Bells Tolls for No One” he meets women or characters who come with no backstories really. They just pop into his life in a bar usually, get wasted with him and talk for hours while he writes things down that he might need at some point for a story. And of course he drinks and drinks and drinks with all of them.  Most of his “friends” are motivated by alcohol, drugs, unhappiness, boredom and just craziness. Reading Bukowski gives a great insight on how the hardcore drinking life in the suburbs was like (and most likely still is). He has this unique style of describing sexual violence like you are having tea with a friend at home. Like okay, this is normal. It just happens. Then in the next minute he is totally honest and captivates observations that are just not blurred by alcohol and drugs. (the remaining 1% I guess)

Reading Bukowski in public is awesome. People who know Bukowski will comment when they see you with one of his books somewhere. When I read “Post office” I took the book with me wherever I went to just finish it. So one day in the elevator at work there was a man looking at me, then at the book, then back at me. He smiled and said: “I love Bukowski. I read all of his books. He is amazing.” I wanted to ask him what he loved so much about him but the elevator door closed. I can imagine what it was.  I guess people have specific opinions on Mr. Bukowski and all his writings. He is just a “dirty old man” as many of his readers call him with just a little mix of Ernest Hemingway’s style of writing.

Get ready for some humor, relationship troubles, booze, drugs and sex. Lots of sex! There is this repetitiveness  – almost like all the Bukowski books are in a way the same but each and every one is just unique and a little special and a tiny bit different. When I started reading the book I thought it was just great how he switches between fantasy, drunkenness  and reality. I was wondering throughout the entire book how it is possible to find true meaning in life with a lifestyle like his. How can one comfortably live like this and be happy or enjoy life?

In “The Bells Tolls for No One” only two stories have not been published previously. “A Kind Understand Face,” and “Flying Is the Safest Way to Travel.” All the others ones have been published in one of his more than forty-five books! This book is published by “City Lights” and edited by David Stephen Calonne who did a great job with all the little cartoon throughout the book as well as the introduction.

Great read overall and shocking but comfortably awesome.

Happy reading!

 

 

My family and sharing details with the online community

I started this blog a while ago and have been thinking a lot about what I share publicly and what not when it comes to my family lately. Blogging has become a part of my daily life now. I am planning my next blogs, writing things down as they pop up in my mind, working on my actual blog to make it look nicer and believe me all this takes a lot of time. And as my readership grows it is even more of a pleasure to do what I really love the most – writing.

During the day I have to take care of my son and I just do not have the time to really sit and get things done. I have to wait until he sleeps at night or I work early in the morning. Of course I have some time whenever my husband is around to play and entertain him; however, mostly he is with me.

These days I am thinking about my son and how he grows up so fast and how he will be able at some point in his life to look back at all these articles I have written and see all these photos of him in my little online place here; all these thoughts and stories about our life. I also think what I post about my husband – what I can share and what not.

I am always aware what I post here – when it comes to actual writing or pictures. Just nothing weird or embarrassing or strange stories or inappropriate photos – neither about my husband nor my son obviously. I have seen blogs for example that show how babies are potty-trained all naked and stuff. I mean c’mon! Whatever makes anybody happy, right?! But for me there are just boundaries and things like that are just not okay for me. With my husband it is simple. He is usually proof-reading all my posts and is my best critic. But my son has really no say in all of this. He cannot say yet if he would like these picture of himself  displayed online on my blog. Maybe he will get upset at some point when he is older and reads what I have written about him so far?! Maybe he will have a different level of what’s comfortable for him?

I have always had a diary of some sort and have written things down. However, my generation is really the first to do online documenting this way. When I was in high school there was no Instagram, Facebook or online blogging. Makes me sound old for some reason. 🙂

I am figuring all this out as I go along. When I first started I had no idea what I was doing here at all. I could not even share a link. When it comes to computer stuff and technology I would say I am little “slow”. (ahem… Hello Thomas and Alex from WP Engine!) ha!

So I have been thinking about having my life, or part of my life online here, all on display for everybody to read seems sometimes weird. I do not know most of my readers personally and I guess I worry too much at points. (German!) Well, sometimes I even question the whole blogging thing. Like what happens if I have nothing to say anymore? Or am I not good enough? Or is all this even dumb or pointless to have an online blog? I could just keep a diary for myself as I used to when I grew up, no? Why do I have this feeling that I want to share my life with you out there? Then, the other day there was one email that popped up from a reader telling me that he really likes what I write about  and that he can connect with what I have to say and that it makes sense to him. So just for this one reader it all made sense and it makes me feel okay again. Simple as that.

Lately these topics just came up with bloggers writing about their family, especially kids and it just made me wonder and ask myself how my son would feel about all this because he cannot tell me yet. Am I protecting my family enough by sharing certain things and do I make anybody feel uncomfortable in the long-run? I try to keep as much privacy as possible – being respectful and careful about his little voice and keeping in mind that this is my family I write about at all times.

My husband tells me he loves my blog. For my son I hope that one day when he will be older he will love going back to this blog to read all the articles I put about him or his dad. I just hope he will love it as much as I love writing about it all.

What is your take on this topic? How do you balance it all out and where are your boundaries?

Thank you for reading. <3

 

How to: Soupe Gratinée à l’Oignon (French Onion Soup)

“The story goes that late one night, faced with a very hungry King Louis XIV, the palace chef improvised with what was on hand and created an onion soup. Its ingredients were onions cooked in butter, with Champagne added to make the broth.”

No matter what diet I am on – there is a time when I  just crave comfort food. For me it is anything with bread and warm cheese. Being married to a Frenchi I know how good French food is by now. The other day I was at Anthropologie in Westport Connecticut and I found this book: “French Comfort Food by Hillary Davis. Of course I had to purchase it (next to some other things ahem…).

My husband makes the best French Onion Soup hands down and believe me, we tried them all on a “French Onion Soup Tour” we invented. We traveled through the U.S. and tasted and tested Onion soups in Restaurants. Weird? Maybe, but we loved it. So today I made MY first Onion soup and it has been approved by my French husband. Yes! 🙂

So here is the recipe according to the book:

What you need for 4 portions:

A large soup pot and 4 soup bowl.

4 large onions

3 tablespoons (45g) butter

2 tablespoons (30ml) cognac, plus 2 teaspoons (yes, plus some for you while cooking)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

4 tablespoons (60ml) extra vigin olive oil

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon flour

4 cups (1liter) chicken stock

salt and pepper as desired

12 slices baguette

1 cup (100g) grated Gruyère (I put some more cheese of course – gotta be as cheesy as possible!)

Preparations: 

Peel the onions and then slice in half. Slice in thick 1/2 inch (1.5cm) pieces. In a small bowl using a fork, mix 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons cognac, mustard and thyme leaves. Preheat the oven to broil.

Cooking: 

Melt remaining butter into the olive oil in the pot. Add the onions. Cook very slowly on medium-low heat until they have a deep brown color, about 17 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the sugar, and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the flour, and stir well to cover the onions. Pour in the stock, stir, place back on the heat, and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Whisk tin the butter and cognac mixture and bring back to a low simmer. Now prep your soup bowls. At the bottom of the bowl place a slice of baguette – put 1/2 teaspoon of cognac on in. Now pour some of the soup on top. Now I put 2 more slices and top of the soup and add cheese to finish your bowl. Now put all your soup bowl in the preheated oven and broil for approximately 5 minutes on high.

I cut up some parsley to decorate the soup once I took it out of the oven.

Bon Appétit!

Thank you for reading and feel free to share.

<3