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My sister’s wedding day

September 21, 2014

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for two weeks.  And that is about how behind I am.  We came back from fiesta USA to rainy Bonn. We all had jetlag and now a cold for me and Elena. She started a new Spanish-German pre-school which means we are “settling in,” a.k.a 3 hour school day a.k.a I get nothing done. But Diana and Rafi’s wedding was every bit as glorious as expected.  We loved being in San Francisco, and I am still dreaming of Whole Foods.

IMG_6226But before the big wedding weekend, we reunited with Luis and headed south to a tiny beach house in Santa Cruz.  We shopped the main strip, ate at Betty Burger and Hawaiian fast food shacks and ran up and down the beach.  We drove up to the Redwoods, where my parents took me when I was eight, looking up, up and up at the trees that are what America has instead of Europe’s middle ages fortifications.

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We walked out on the long pier and looked at all the sea lions jumping on and off the beams.  One hundred meters from the dock, whales were feasting on a bumper crop of anchovies.  Seeing whales is one of my favorite things in the world.  Then we drove back, discussing the great American donut, and got into full wedding mode joining in on the centerpiece making, and putting on our best for the rehearsal dinner at Le Colonial (I made Luis promise to take me back someday, it’s so romantic).

Then it was finally the BIG DAY.  I didn’t expect to feel as nervous as I did, it was almost as exciting as my own wedding.  And getting four dressed-up people somewhere on time is a big feat.  We took the official photos then drove in rush hour to the wedding venue with just 10 minutes before it was time to walk down the aisle. During this time, Elena -the flower girl- almost fell asleep in the back seat and woke up very grumpy and overwhelmed by the hundred-plus loud people.

Despite our numerous practice runs, she refused to walk down the aisle with her basket, so I had to rise to the occasion and live my unrealized fantasy of being a flower girl for the second time 30 years later.  (My advice to flower girl mommies, make sure to get to the venue 30 minutes ahead of time and sit quietly in a corner for at least 10, even if you have to start the pictures earlier).

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OK I’m coming down.

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Yes there’s a bird in my hair.

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Just in case…

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Brother in-laws looking sharp.

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Ok let’s go to the wedding now.

Diana and Rafi wrote their own vows, and Rev. Peg Morgan did the ceremony, which felt perfect since we have known her so long. I don’t have tons of pics ’cause I was partying, but #unamascuevas will get you some more.

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We’re married!

A wedding toast, to my sister

September 20, 2014

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My sister has always been my champion.  In my early memories I remember not liking her that much because she was so cute that all my friends wanted to play with her instead of me.  But by the time I was about 15, I had gained hero status in her eyes and she would come in my room and organize my collections of art supplies and we would listen to Ani Di Franco.  I was always saving my Halloween candy, waiting for some unknown special occasion, and she would come in and eat it.

I can tell you that over the years things have changed a lot.

After Lucia was born last March she came to visit me in Bonn and organized my jewelry collection, which was in total chaos after years of shopping in foreign countries and moving houses without sorting.  Then we went to the Haribo shop and she bought 7 kilos of gummy bears.  She packed them all in her suitcase, but first she took a photo of Lucia laying on a pile of candy.

When I went to college I can still remember how she cried and cried.  When it was finally time for graduation, each student could choose who presented us with our diplomas and I picked her.  The person presenting the diploma gave a speech and she was by far the funniest one in the house.  I was so proud.

My sister has always supported me, I know she would do anything for me, and I have to say maybe I have even taken it for granted.  As the big sister, I have always been charging out into the world and she has followed me, whether it was hanging around annoying me while I played with my friends as a kid, coming into my teenage cave to mess with my stuff, or visiting me in college.  She has been there at every important moment; my own wedding, graduation from grad school, at the birth of my daughters.  When I had to move our house by myself to Germany because Luis had to be at a conference, she flew out to New York for a week to help me pack. Luis and I used to travel a lot for work so our house was full of change from different foreign countries.  She collected all the change from every corner and sorted it by currency.  Then she packed her suitcase full of all the best miniature shampoo bottles we had gotten from our trips.

I can think of all the not so fun things she has done for me and I wonder if I have ever done anything for her.  It’s possible that I am just a selfish person and she loves me anyway.  But the thing is, that when we are together, nothing is not fun.  We could be moving an entire messy apartment in 80 degree heat and sleeping on the floor, and it would still be fun.  And that makes me feel like the luckiest sister in the world.

Now it is finally her big day and I have to officially share her with Rafi.  Now Rafi gets to take her home and they can have fun doing all those things that really aren’t all that fun. Diana, you really are all grown up now.  Even though you have a candy bar at your wedding.  I am so happy for you and Rafi.  I hope you have lots of cute babies. I hope we’re still hanging out when we’re 70, and you can organize me while you eat candy in your dentures.

Writing a wedding toast to my sister whose wedding is tomorrow

September 6, 2014

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The flower girl gets a special present at the rehearsal.

In between chasing a three year-old and nursing a five month-old I’ve had to find time to write a wedding toast to my number one cutiefiles fan and sister Diana Freeburg. 

As some of you oldtimers know, Diana was the first blogger in the family.  Luckily the blog has not been swallowed into the internet’s deep black belly of nothing and is still accessible to you and me.  It is before the time of links and photos and grams and hashtags, just one young 18 year-old writing to the world. 

It starts off very deep,

Nov 20 2003:

here’s my favorite joke.
why does a chicken coop only have 2 doors?
BECAUSE
otherwise it would be a chicken sedan!!

On Sept. 15, 2003, we get a brilliant double post.

Dear Diary,

I ran my whale Spork through the washer and dryer, and look! he is as pristine as ever! Have you ever seen a beluga so happy and fresh?

 

Dear Diary,
My parents are going to be here in a matter of minutes bearing zucchini bread and my moose belt, i am so excited, my pants have been falling down for weeks.
love,
Diana
 
Then on Oct. 4 2004, Diana foreshadows this very moment!

Dear Diary,

I can’t wait to be a 20 something. I have less than a year until I’m a 20 something. granted that something is a zero. isn’t that crazy!!? That means all sorts of things. Backpacking through Europe. Getting a real job. Wearing high heels. 10 year highschool reunion. Not being skinny anymore. Marrying the man of my dreams and living happily ever after…
Love,
Diana

Well Diana, that day is almost here!  You got the man of your dreams and you’re not even 30. At this very moment you are drinking champagne in a very cool bar with beautiful people while I am home with my sleepy head girls.  So have fun! Stay tuned for a wedding toast post.  Now its time for me to write the real speech for tomorrow’s big day.

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Best rehearsal dinner ever.

Hot times summer in Seattle

August 28, 2014

IMG_6204Hello from Seattle! It’s Lucia’s first visit to cutiefiles homeland and we’re having a great time at Grandma’s house. There is no place better than Seattle in August. We sit on the deck in the evening as the sun sets and the air is delicious.

Elena spent two weeks learning some American customs at SportBall camp – a genius franchise that takes the best of drills for sports like Hockey, Volleyball, Soccer, Football, and Golf and combines them with story telling.

Golf: Did you get the little rabbit in the hole? (Putting) Did you make the ball fly like a bird? (Drive)

Volleyball: Something about Spike the dinosaur.

Jumping jacks: Put your hands out like a rocket, then in like a star.

Then there was one about flying donuts where they caught hoola hoops soaring through the air.

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Twenty years later I am back at Hiawatha playing field.

It was genius. Everyday she gave Coach Sebastian a high five and then ran back and forth for three hours. They discussed the Seattle Seahawks and Richard Sherman. She came home and showed me how to “pop a squat”, then she asked me to “give a clap.” Go team America.

Lucia’s favorite sporting activity is to lie on the floor and kick, then she pulls her blankie over her head and kicks really fast and pants, then she pulls the blankie off. It’s quite a lot of cardio. She’s also just about sitting on her own.

As for me I’ve been happy to hit the yoga gym a few times where I have seen more tattoos in one class than I see in a year in Bonn.  And then of course there’s pushing the stroller up the big hill with one hand while pulling Elena up it with the other.

Snoqualmie Falls.

Snoqualmie Falls.

Freedom fries.

Freedom fries.

While we’ve adapted quickly to America there are still a few shocks.  We went dress shopping for me for the wedding and had to stop by Victoria Secret. Elena gasped when she walked through the door, “its a pink store!” While I was in the dressing room, she jumped on a pink couch shouting “I love pink!”

I gotta say, I really like the grocery store selection, being able to understand when people tell me I have a cute baby, random conversations with anyone I want.  Today I asked the daddy at the beach to help me get a giant spider out of Lucia’s stroller.  That was dramatic.

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Astrid, so friendly!

Times are good but they are flying.  The day goes by in a blur, so its good to try to write things down.  My mom called this time the lost decade.  I can see why.  I can hardly remember what happened this morning.  Elena has enough energy to push you past your limit, but at night she sleeps in a Hello Kitty sleeping bag next to a bear wearing a dress also sleeping in a sleeping bag.  Who can stay mad?

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Can’t beat the blur.

But I’m writing this as I am about to leave Seattle after four fun weeks.  We kicked it off with my cousin Ben’s wedding, and then partied a week later at Diana’s bachelorette.  Lucia and I flew down and had a girls weekend in Sonoma.  Fabulous.

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What happens in Sonoma, stays in Sonoma.

Between the party weekends, I hit the coffee shops in the morning while Elena was at camp and did some work.  Now we are going to meet Papa in San Francisco and wait for Diana and Rafi’s big wedding day next week.  Believe me, he has been missed!

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XX OO Grandma.

Bats, and when you are tightly wound

July 16, 2014

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My super mommy friend Mary across the pond sent me this one: When You are Tightly Wound.  The whole thing is beautiful and rings OH SO true, especially today. Kate writes,

“There is a lot of mom-shaming around these days despite our best efforts to cover it up with positive op-ed pieces on Huffington Post. Disdain for the working mothers, the home mothers, the breastfeeding or formula or unvaccinated mothers. We shame ourselves into thinking we’re the only ones who are overwhelmed, who cry in the bathroom, who sit in the grocery store parking lot as a “vacation.”

There is no moral to this story except: I see you. I see you out of the corner of my eye feeling tightly wound and it’s okay. Find 30 minutes of silence and remember two things:

1) We are lucky to have kids and most of our organs and dental floss.
2) You hid dark chocolate in the freezer. You can eat it now.”

It came just in time:  after I put two kids to bed and cleaned the kitchen. I sat down, finally to some peace, but its 10:30 and time to start getting ready for bed myself.  Who knows when one of the girls will wake up again, the night like a relay race between small, medium and large beds.  There are wedding registries I should be buying things from. I agreed to copy edit a series of economics articles for a PhD friend to submit to a journal (god help me).  Kate writes,

“Yesterday I went to the grocery store for the fifth time in one week. This is either a sign of hopeless irresponsibility or early onset dementia. I never remember to buy honey.

Somehow there is something on the calendar every day for the next six weeks. Last month I bought a pack of 22 baby hair clips. There are only 7 left. It all feels very tragic.

A list of unfinished projects sits on the stack of Martha Stewart magazines I never read. I want to paint the living room but I don’t know how to paint a living room.

Every week or so someone texts me, “How is your writing going?” “

Elena has been sick for three days so that means I have been full-on mommy. At the doctor I realized her tummy is probably hurting because lately she has been eating mainly plaintains and cheese.  This is not the secret to good digestion.

Then I went to the grocery store, and as wonderfully advanced as these Germans are on affordable day care and child friendly events, the grocery store is a nightmare.

Picture me with a baby strapped on my chest and a tired sick three-year-old sitting in a too-small cart.  I’m unloading all my groceries onto the belt, then packing them into the cart and bags as fast as I can, trying not to drop bottles of oil, wake up the baby, or anger the customers behind me.  No one offers to help.  The cashier tells me she hopes I will not be so stressed.  With all its problems, the ample grocery baggers in the US seems so very civilized.

Yes, life is about grocery stores, baby hair clips, and small bits of poetry you most likely won’t get down.  This is how it is now, and it feels very precious and like a moving train.  Not a high speed one, but one that is shaking and rattling and somehow overflowing with diapers and water bottles and cute baby hats.

Today we were outside sitting in the yard and Elena did not want to go inside.  It was the perfect temperature and the light was pink.  I did not want to go inside either.  So we just drew ice cream cones in pink chalk.

And then even though Elena has been sick, and it was past her bedtime, I took her down the street at dusk to watch the bats.  She has been watching a cartoon version of Stella Luna.   Our favorite part is when the baby bat clings onto the mommy bat’s stomach while she flies.  To me, bats are a sign that the world is still wild, their secret lives in dark corners, their delicate senses, the only mammals that can fly.  They come out when the sun is setting near the river, swooping and flapping and cutting through the sky with wings shaped like knives.

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Happy Mother’s day times two

May 11, 2014

Mother’s day is extra great with a new baby.  Time is going so fast, Lucia is about six weeks and has outgrown all her newborn clothes.  She is almost ten pounds now and is already wearing size three months.

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Lucia tries on auntie Diana’s old dress.

Elena greeted me at 8am with a giant bouquet of flowers. “Happy Birthday! You are three already.  Chocolate and flowers, I went to the grocery store.”  I had to force myself to wake up to convince her not to eat the chocolates. Then she brought me an empty mint box with a green ribbon in it, “It’s a dinosaur.” Perfect.

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Thank you for these beautiful flowers.

The dialogue is now a steady stream, and her favorite words currently are already, today and also.  Really you can add them to any sentence. We were in the kitchen getting her breakfast. “I want a banana already.”  Then she peeled it, demanded a knife to cut it into pieces, but refused to eat it.

Me: “You’re a pill.”

Elena: “I’m not a pillow.”

Then she takes another banana and holds it to hear ear, “I’m calling Felix today.” When life gives you squished bananas and a three-year old, make banana bread. Which we did.

But first, Grandma came to visit!  She brought us American essentials like 2 pairs of crocs (very big and very small), Tillamook cheese, and a correctly sized bread pan (perfect for banana bread).20140511-224501.jpg

The week went fast, we did a lot of things, starting off with the fair at the Rheinaue eating ice cream and watching Elena ride flying cars, moving on to Lucia’s first doctor visit, a trip to Obi (the German home depot) and a little gardening.  We got ambitious and headed to Maastrict, where we ate pie in an cafe and working flour mill that got its start in the 7th century — De Bisschopsmolen.

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We also headed down the Rhine to the tiny town of Rolandsecke to visit the Arp museum, my new favorite place in Bonn.  It was built in an old train station for Hans Arp, a dadaist and contemporary of Matisse and Picasso. If you are nearby, you have to check out the exhibit Rapunzel & Co, one of the best art exhibitions I have seen in years.  The cafe is in the hall of the old train station, high ceilings, chandeliers, art deco, modern art.  A perfect date night – just two years off.

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Where are the hipsters and their cocktails?

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Lucia spent lunch on a glowing bench.

Then we headed to Remagen to the Peace Museum – “the bridge at Remagen.”  It’s housed in old towers of a bridge destroyed in WWII.  When the American allies crossed the bridge it was a key turning point in the war. Veterans from both sides have met over the years in the museum, and it tells the local story of the war in an authentic way.  Small – but very interesting and powerful. After my mom’s fourth visit to Bonn, I was happy we could discover these hidden gems so close to home.

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We have had family here since Lucia was born. Now we are basically on our own, no magic elves picking up the kitchen while I’m breastfeeding, making sure there are vegetables with dinner, or taking Elena to preschool in the morning. (Thank you family!)

Motherhood continues, and it is such a gift.  I am grateful for my two beautiful daughters and wonderful mother.  Before she left, my mom gave me what I consider the ultimate compliment, “you have your own circus now.”

 

“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.”

― George Eliot  (Thanks Mom and WSUU)

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Molasses Cookies

April 26, 2014

1. Crave Molasses cookies for one week. Tell Elena we’re baking cookies, she says “Let’s do the making.” Feed baby.

2. Find recipe on I-phone. Thanks Martha.  Bring baby bed into kitchen, put baby in.

3. Take butter out of fridge.  Try to guess equivalent of grams to 1 1/2 sticks (we’re in Europe here).  Tell Elena to cut butter into pieces.  Elena cuts one piece, drops butter.  Baby cries.

4. Look for Papa.  He is asleep. Get Moby wrap, strap on baby.

5. Elena runs to get eggs out of fridge, prevent her from dropping them onto floor.

6. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl. Use last of Nutmeg imported from US.

7. Since baby is now asleep, put her in other room.  Tell Elena to stir.

8. Elena drops dry ingredients.  Baby wakes up.  Go to living room to rub baby’s tummy.

9. Sweep up dry ingredients, an estimated 1/3 cup.  Try not to get mad, Elena will look guilty.  Make up for lost ingredients by throwing in more flour and spiceks.  Remember to turn on the oven.  Baby wakes up again, strap her on again.

10. Kitchen looks like small cyclone came through.  Take selfie for posterity. 20140426-201959.jpg

11.  Mix butter, sugar, egg, molasses together. Add dry ingredients. Realize you used baking powder instead of baking soda.  Baby brain? Sleep deprivation? Hope for the best.

11.  Pinch cookies into small balls, roll in sugar.

12.  Give Elena the spoon to lick. Put cookies in oven, careful bending down with baby strapped on. Cook for 12 minutes.

"Doing the making"

“Doing the making”

Cookies will be puffy instead of cracked, but still tasty thanks to foolproof butter-sugar combination.  As soon as they are ready Elena will bump knee on chair and require you to blow on it.  Enjoy with milk, but try not to get crumbs on babies head since she is strapped to you while you’re eating.  Realize it’s time to make dinner. As you cook, Elena will practice jetes and arabesques in the kitchen.  Feed baby again.

Inspired by how to put a toddler to bed in 100 easy steps

Bonus pics

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NB: My brother, Alex Freeburg, started a law firm in Jackson Hole, where he does criminal defense, including DUI, as well as landlord tenant and civil rights law.

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