Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Padded Bikinis and Breastfeeding Dolls

We were watching ABC earlier and a preview for Good Morning America caught my husband's eye. He rewound the recording and played it back for me. In said preview, ABC expressed outrage over the Abercrombie & Fitch padded bikini for little girls (I am assuming that you have all heard about this already, so I won't go into too much detail), mentioning in the same breath breastfeeding dolls, followed by 'Is this too much too soon?'

My husband thought it would piss me off and it really did! How can you even compare a garment that is meant to sexualize young girls with a product that is intended to teach girls how babies are naturally fed? It is a total mystery to me and I will not tolerate it!

There are so many different brands of baby dolls available, all of which come with a bottle for feeding. Babies portrayed in books and on TV are all fed with bottles. Babies you see out and about in public are mostly fed with bottles (even breastfeeders often bring expressed milk in bottles to avoid nursing in public) I have also noticed that even zoo animals are being bottle fed more and more. What in the hell is going on?

Have we forgotten who we are? Are we willing to have our lives completely taken over by mega corporations who only care about our money? Can we not at least feed our babies natural food?

I have had enough! Breastfeeding is the most normal and beautiful thing there is. Without it, there would not be any mammals- yes, that includes humans- on this earth. I want to see it become the norm again.

I am not willing to have it portrayed as sexual or perverted or disgusting. The A&F bikini top in question is making girls as young as seven years old feel as though they might have to increase the size of their busts to be accepted by their peers and be liked. That is truly disgusting. It is outrageous to compare it to a breastfeeding doll. It is a scandal for ABC to even put the two in the same sentence.

Watch Good Morning America tomorrow and give them a piece of your mind online or send them a Tweet @ABC and let them know how ridiculous their comparison is!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Foreigner Friday: Turning Right on Red

Today I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on driving in the US. For those of you who do not know me, I love to drive! Granted, with two kids in the car it’s not quite as much fun as it used to be, but I still enjoy it. I would consider myself a good driver- if you exclude driving backwards, which I am awful at.
In Germany, it is ridiculously difficult to get a drivers license. You have to go through a driving school (Fahrschule)- there are no learner’s permits or kids being taught how to drive by their parents- and you have to be at least 18 years old. There is a set number of theoretical and practical hours that you have to absolve in order for you to be eligible to take the driver’s tests. There is one written theoretical exam as well as an extensive practical exam, in which you have to drive around town for around an hour in unknown terrain while being evaluated by an impartial (and usually very lovely and good natured- I’m being sarcastic) inspector who decides whether you get a license or not. The whole ordeal costs the average student around $2.000.
I was unable to afford the steep German prices. When I first came to the States in 2001 I was 22 years old and without a license. For a whopping $15, I got a Georgia license after taking a quick multiple choice exam, which I passed on my first try without having studied for it, and a 15 minute drive around the DMV parking lot.
Now, if you compare these two roads of license acquisition, I’m sure you will admit that the German one is probably slightly harder. Therefore (and because I have witnessed it first hand) I am concluding that the Germans are also better drivers.
Germans are very strict when it comes to rules, including rules of the road. Here? Not so much! As an example, let’s consider the rule that you may only pass on the left. In Germany, nobody would ever dare to pass another car in the right lane. I distinctly remember this happening when I was a child and there being so many horns blown by all the surrounding drivers that I was really impressed. Actually, it’s quite possible that they have the death penalty for such behavior. In South Carolina, everybody passes where they want to. Slow cars don’t keep right, they just drift around to wherever they feel they would like to be, and the other drivers just have to find a way to get around them. At first, I though it was fine to just pass wherever you wanted. I then learned that the law for passing is actually the same here…
I tried to get myself accustomed to the traffic laws here, but missed a few bits of information here and there. E.g. passing a school bus. I was driving along one day in 2001 when a school bus stopped in front of me on a country road. So, without thinking twice, I sped up and passed it on the left, nearly taking with me the Stop sign that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Ooooh, the people were mad! They honked and swore and shook their fists at me. Honestly, I had no idea what they were going on about. Until I spoke to someone who explained the law to me…
Turning right on red has been one of my favorite rules in the US. What an awesome concept! I just wish someone had explained to me that I can’t just go if there is nobody coming my way. I didn’t realize I still had to make a stop, even if it is safe to turn. You live, you learn.
Here is one bad thing about German drivers licenses: they don’t expire. Even if the person is 92 years old- like my grandmother was- they can still insist on driving- which my grandmother did. I don’t think I have to elaborate on why this is not such a good idea. If you are ever driving in Germany, beware of old men driving wearing hats.
Even though driving in the US is a little more chaotic, it is still enjoyable. At least it’s not insane driving like in some European countries I’ve been. Americans just have a different attitude towards the driving process. It’s like the people are in their living rooms- eating, drinking, smoking, talking on the phone, watching DVDs, reading, etc. Germans have no patience for such behavior- as with everything else, driving is a very serious business and there is no time for nonsense. (Insert smiley face here)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Foreigner Friday: On Being Homesick

I have been in South Carolina for 3 ½ years now. I really like it. And it has finally started to feel like I belong here, like I’m not some crazy alien creature that is trying to fit in. Admittedly, the first few years were very strange and I always felt as though I was on vacation. Or in some bizarre movie. That still happens every once in a while when I find myself in a place where nothing seems familiar, but it’s not the norm anymore.
Coming here was far from easy. We had to go through a lot of steps, including a sworn testimony in which I had to attest to the fact that I had never killed any Jews in WWII, etc. (Just a side note: If I had been e.g. a communist, I would not have been allowed to enter the country) I also was subjected to medical tests for all kinds of illnesses and had to get all my shots renewed, including a vaccine for Chickenpox, which I had already had as a child… Last but not least, the whole deal cost us quite a few Dollars.
Somehow, people are shocked when I tell them about the complicated process. The usual response is: “But you’re married to an American! Doesn’t that make you an American citizen???” Um, no. Quite far from it, actually. Can you imagine how many new American citizens there would be each year if it were that easy? I think four years from now I will be eligible to apply for US citizenship, if I wish to do so.
Even though I love it here and it is now my home, I still get pangs of homesickness for Europe. I suppose that this is normal- people tend to miss the things they are accustomed to and most familiar with. Most of all, I miss my family and friends. I wish everyone knew what a luxury it is to have family close by (provided they get along with them…)
I hope people understand that for every person who emigrated here, it is an adjustment. Even if it is a financial gain (which does not apply in my case), it is hard to be away from home. Not all the time, but some times.
Some days I look at my kids and think of how sad it is that my parents, my brothers, and everyone else I left behind is missing my children’s development. My parents still have not seen my son, who is now already four months old. Thank God there are affordable flights available now. Along with technology like digital cameras, Skype, etc. Imagine how it must have been for people who came to the US just a hundred years ago.
Even though this is my home now, I still get homesick for what I left behind. With my parents and in-laws living on two separate continents, no matter where we end up we will be apart from at least half of our family. It can be rough, but we knew that when we decided to get married. In 1 ½ years, when my husband retires from the Army, we will move somewhere new. Hopefully, this place will be our permanent residence, the place where we will all feel at home.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mummy Had a Bad Day

So today, I have been a bad mummy. I have been impatient and angry; I yelled at my daughter and got upset with my baby son. And for this, I owe them an apology.
The day started off wrong, I only got maybe four hours of sleep again. My daughter woke up around 6:15am, way too early. Everything I wanted her to do she didn’t want to cooperate on. She annoyed her little brother on purpose, waking him when he had finally fallen asleep. My son is not happy unless he is in my arms, crying constantly when I have to put him down to tend to his sister.
I may have been more patient had this not been the third sleepless night in a row. It also didn’t help that I overbooked our day, which meant that I had to clean the bathroom, cook a Spanish omelet (for the first time ever), and get everything else done and all of us out of the house by 9:15am.
I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. I know I try to do too many things. This is paired with my extreme exhaustion. Some days having two kids under the age of two really gets the best of me.
Here’s the problem: it’s not their fault. They certainly did not choose to be born this close together. I’m sure they would both love undivided attention from me. They weren’t really being bad today, they were just being kids. But because I was so overwhelmed I handled the situation poorly. I should not have gotten upset with them.
My children are my all. I don’t want to ever be without them and I don’t ever want to mistreat them. God has blessed me beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I had a bad day. I am apologizing to my children for not being my best today. I love them so much. Thankfully, I know they love me, too, and they will forgive me.