Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Do You Like Being Pregnant?"

This is another post I've been wanting to write for awhile, and figured I'd better get to it, since my days of actually being pregnant are numbered!

"Do you like being pregnant?" or "What do you think about being pregnant?" is not a question I've been asked a lot, but it's one that makes me think a little bit.  When reminiscing about pregnancy, some women will get a far-off, starry-look, smile wistfully, rub their bellies and coo, "I loved being pregnant."  Others will flatly state that they were sick and uncomfortable their whole pregnancy, and hated it.

My answer is, "It's ok."  This annoys Kevin, who sometimes gets frustrated about my lack of enthusiasm about things.  I guess, though, it's more accurate to say that is has its pros and cons.


  • People are nice to you.
  • Maternity clothes are cute.
  • As my belly has gotten bigger, my butt looks smaller.
  • You can wear tight clothes and it's cute, because you're supposed to have a big, round belly.
  • Feeling baby grow and move is pretty cool.
  • Having a little person growing inside of you is kind of fascinating.
  • Having nausea for 3 months (I know some people have more!) straight
  • Heartburn
  • Back pain
  • Can't sleep on my belly
  • Since July, can't sleep on my back, either.
  • Rolling over in bed is an Olympic feat.
  • Muscle soreness in parts of my body that I didn't know had muscles that could get sore
  • Bending down and picking things up can be excruciating.
  • Realizing how much you rely on abdominal muscles for lifting and carrying things, because, where did they go?
  • Not being able to eat/drink particular things
  • Belly gets in the way of everyday activities, like cooking, washing dishes and even showering.
Despite definitely being uncomfortable, I know that I've had a much easier pregnancy than many women, both in terms of medical risk and discomfort.  So, even though I do a lot of complaining in my head and to my husband, I remind myself to be grateful that I haven't run into major issues.  And let me tell you, even though my back and leg pain can be grimace-worthy at times, I would take it a hundred times over that first-trimester nausea.

Now, looking back at the pros/cons list - even though the quantity of the "cons" list beats out the "pros," the vice versa is true when it comes to quality.  Having a baby grow inside of you is just pretty darn cool.  I would do it again.  Maybe even another two times.  At least, the pregnancy part - I'll have to let you know about the labor and delivery part.  I will tell you, though, that the cons are significant enough that there is no chance that we would ever be the Duggers or anything.  One more time, yes, Two more, maybe.  Spending the next 20 or so years of my life pregnant (assuming I was young enough that it would even be possible), ABSOLUTELY NOT.

So, we're within in the two week window!  Think good thoughts for us, and we'll see what happens!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dropping the Baby, Reprise

Ok, so this is the photo I posted last week, questioning whether the baby had dropped:

However, I suspected that it might have appeared that way because it was the first photo I've taken in awhile without my maternity belt, which holds up my belly and takes pressure off my back.  So, the next day, we took another picture with the belt on, to see if my belly still looked low.

It's definitely up more than in the previous picture, but is it still lower than before?

It's hard to tell in this shirt. I haven't noticed the other signs of the baby dropping, such as "lightening." I'm still hungry a lot, and I still get out of breath quickly.  But anyway, does it matter?  Baby will come when he or she comes, right?  Here is this past week's photo:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dropping the Baby

Over the past two weeks, two people have suggested that it looked like Baby was dropping.  Really?  I couldn't tell anything.  I figured I was probably just getting bigger.  So, I can't say for certain, but I think Baby might have really dropped last night.  Or be in the process of dropping.  I don't know how it works; I'm waiting for a midwife to call me back.  Tell me what you think.  This is from a few weeks ago:

...This is probably about 2 weeks ago:

...And this is from last night (I'm just 35 weeks):

At first, I thought my belly might just be a little saggy because I'm not wearing my super-sexy Gabrialla Maternity Support Belt (which has been miraculous in saving my back, but does not look nearly as neat and tidy as this one):

Not me.
But then I've been having some cramping all day that suggests something might be different.  Now, I'm going to tell everyone not to worry; that, from what I read, Baby can drop anywhere between 2-8 weeks prior to labor (I'm hoping to be right in the middle of that), and the first is usually farther out.  However, I am freaking out because I AM NOT READY FOR THIS BABY TO BE HERE. I just ordered a cradle mattress today!  I still have 2.5 weeks left of work to do!  We have to paint clouds on the ceiling of the nursery, wash baby clothes, and pick out cloth diapers!  Just typing those last three sentences gave me heartburn.  That, or the big bowl of chili I had for lunch. 

I've had several firm discussions with Baby about how he/she needs to stay in my belly for at least three more weeks.  We'll see how well Baby listens.  :-)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Birthin' Babies

I've been rolling around a post in my head for awhile about my desire for a natural, unmedicated childbirth, but haven't quite gotten to it.  But the fact that I've been tearing up over a stranger's pending birth experience since yesterday has inspired me to finally get this out.  This internet stranger, MODG, has been hoping and trying fervently for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), and despite her best efforts through diet, acupuncture, etc, it looks like she will have to have a scheduled Cesarean next week.  Her heartbreaking account and expression of her desire for a natural childbirth really resonated with me, and while it really captured my feelings, I still want to articulate it for myself.

(This could be a long one!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Roadside Find Into Barnyard Treasure

Kevin's parents magically find all sorts of treasures on the side of the road.  We've been offered a sewing desk and concrete forms, just off the tops of our heads.  I don't know if it's a New Jersey thing, or if his parents just have the right kind of luck.  In any case, their most recent find ended up being a real treat for us: a changing table.

Kevin and I never planned on purchasing a changing table - we have an old, low dresser that we planned to paint and put rails on to upcycle into a changing table.  When they found this beauty on the side of the road, though, we knew it would be easier and nicer than our idea.

After a little research, Kevin's parents discovered that this changing table is actually part of the same collection as our crib!  You can't really tell from the photo (maybe a little on the front left rail), but it's pretty banged and scratched up.  That was okay, though, because it needed to be painted white to match the crib, anyway.  Kevin's parents were nice enough to paint it before they came down this past weekend to help us with the nursery.

We popped on some custom knobs I ordered from Etsy:
And, voila!

Kevin and me and the changing table
Kevin's parents and the changing table
We're still going to paint that old dresser white, and just use it as a dresser.

By the way, do not be thrown off by the blue room!  It's blue, like the sky, not like a baby boy!  That's not to say that we are not having a boy; just that you shouldn't think that we know something you don't.  If you haven't guessed, we're doing a farm animal theme.  More pics to come as we actually get the thing together, but if you want a better idea, check out my Pinterest board.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meanwhile in Columbia, MD...

Tuesday's election and this image:

reminded me that I wanted to write a post about the Virgin Mobile Free Fest that my friend Danielle and I went to last month.  The only reason I wanted to go was to see Ben Folds Five, but there were a two other acts that Danielle wanted to see, and luckily, they were on right before and right after Ben Folds.  It ended up being a lovely, sunny autumn day and I enjoyed all of the performances.

Now, what does that have to do with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado?  Well, anyone who has been to the venue that hosted Virgin Mobile Free Fest knows that you would be hard pressed to attend a concert there without catching at least a whiff of the sweet herb.  I can tell you that I've never been to one, and Virgin Mobile Free Fest was no exception.  Luckily, especially now, it's never been more than a passing sniff, which makes me chuckle, but I've never experienced any effects from it.

But here's the funny thing.  Late in the afternoon, as Danielle and I started packing our things to leave, a young woman, probably in her early twenties, turned around and said something to me.  I thought she said, "Are you guys leaving?"  I was a little befuddled, because she was sitting literally four feet in front of us, and I couldn't imagine why our spot would be more appealing.  I decided what I heard didn't make sense, so I asked her to repeat herself.  Turned out she was asking, "Do you have any weed?"

I just looked at her, bewildered, shook my head, and said, "No," laughing.  Because:
  1. If you've ever met me, you know that I don't exactly give off a pot-smoker vibe (or do I?), especially now that I am a working professional in my mid-thirties, and not to mention that:
  2. I was, at the time, very (I think) obviously seven months pregnant. 
I will say, though, that I was flattered that she thought I was so hip that I might just be stashing some Mary Jane in my Vera Bradley bag.  Either that, or she was really desperate.

Anyway, here is what about seven months pregnant looked like, if you're interested:

Not at the concert.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

"Pretty good, I just have a little cold."

For the past week, the title of this post was my answer to the previously-mentioned question, "How are you feeling?"  And, aside from the sore throat, sniffling and coughing, I did feel pretty good.  I was actually kind of amazed at how good I felt.  See, in May, during my first trimester, I got three or four colds in a row.  My colds always run the same course: sore throat, runny nose/stuffy head, coughing/itchy throat.  In May, each time the itchy throat started to fade, it would turn into a sore throat and we'd start all over.  So, I had waves of a cold for about six weeks straight.  I'm guessing it was a combination of weather changing and my compromised immune system.

Having a six-week cold that you can't take medication for is no fun; what made it even worse was the first trimester complaints that accompanied it - the exhaustion, nausea, and lack of appetite.  I was in a complete yucky haze.  So, just having just regular cold symptoms was not that bad!

Some people have asked me if it's worse being sick when your pregnant.  Other than that first trimester crap I had, no, not really.  I didn't feel any sicker this past week than I have with any other cold.  The thing that makes it harder is that I can't load up on cold medication to get me through the day.  According to the advice of my midwives (this is not my medical advice, please consult your physician!), with a few exceptions, I can take almost any single-symptom medication.  So, obviously, I shouldn't take my favorite Aleve Cold and Sinus with cough syrup (which might be a questionable combination under normal circumstances). And, of course, I shouldn't take more than one single-symptom medication at a time.  So, I have to decide which is worse at any part of the day - the sinus pressure and stuffiness, or the coughing?  Do I want an expectorant or a suppressant?  Is it less than four hours until bedtime?  If yes, then I probably want to wait until bedtime so I can sleep okay.  Which I guess is another challenge to being pregnant when sick - I don't get as good of sleep as I usually do.

Luckily, this hasn't been to terrible of a cold - I've actually foregone the meds a lot, deciding to only take them if I really couldn't sleep or function.  Although they say it's technically "safe" to take certain ones, I can't imagine it's the best thing, especially if you can avoid them.  I'm feeling more or less better now, though, so I'll have to find a new answer for next week. :-)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"How are you feeling?"

I'm finding, as a pregnant woman, there are a few questions you get asked ALL. THE. TIME.  Which, truthfully, didn't get tiresome to me until this weekend.  We're in Pennsylvania Dutch Country for a "Baby Moon," and have been having way more interactions with strangers, friendly strangers, than usual.  In any case, the top two questions, regardless of where I am, without a doubt, are:

1.  When are you due?
2.  What are you having?

Since I typically see the same people on a regular basis, they all know the answers to these questions.  It also seems to me, that, before this weekend, I was asked them so sporadically that I never minded answering.  But here, in Lancaster County, everyone wants to know.  Waiting in line at a chocolate cafe - the server wants to know.  Just got out of a the car in front of a furniture shop - the shopkeeper wants to know.  We're at a bed and breakfast, and have eaten with new people everyone morning, all of whom WANT. TO. KNOW.  I guess it's not that I mind them asking; I'm just kind of bored with giving the answers.  Making a joke about a Christmas baby, hope not right on Christmas, oh, you're mom/sister/son/best friend's birthday is in December, too? Ha ha; no, we want to be surprised, it seems like everyone is finding out these days, yes, yes, Christmas Surprise! Someone made the tax break joke this morning (hope that's born before January 1st!), which was a refreshing change of pace.

(Oh, so in case I don't know you that well, or haven't talked to you in awhile - December 23, and we're not finding out.  :-))

One question that I'm still not sure how to answer is the third most common one, "How are you feeling?"  I don't know for sure, but my sense is that this is slightly different from "How are you?"  Usually, when someone asks how you are, they don't really want to know - or, in any case, they don't want to know too much.  They want to hear that you're "fine," or, at the very worst, maybe something like, "a little under the weather, but pretty good, thank you!"  I kind of feel, though, when people ask a pregnant lady how she is feeling, they sort of expect you to be a little more honest.  Like, not graphically honest, but they expect you to have a small ailment, like being "a little nauseous," or "some back pain," or, "somewhat tired," but, of course, overall, "pretty good."  I almost feel like I should have a minor complaint - which I always do, don't worry!  But I do wonder if I'm misreading this.  What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Morning" Sickness

I just happened on a post I wrote in my first trimester, intending to put it up right after we went public.  Considering it's about 20 weeks later, at this point, that obviously didn't happen.  I saw it as a public service announcement as I was writing it, though, so I do feel it's my duty to share it with you now.

SPOILER ALERT:  My "morning sickness" did subside by a few weeks into the second trimester, so I haven't been one of those horrible cases I refer to.

WARNING:  This post contains a lot of vomit.  Ok, actually, it doesn’t contain any vomit but a lot of talk about non-existent vomit, so if you’re sensitive, you might want to skip it. People need to know this stuff.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

20 Down, 20 To Go!

It's hard to believe, but as of Sunday, we are halfway through our first pregnancy!  I haven't decided yet how freaked out to be about that.  In any case, here's what that looks like from the outside:

Or, at least, as of last Wednesday night.  Which is apropos, because that same morning, we got to take a picture of Baby on the inside:

Baby's noggin, which I'm sure is enormous.

Pretty cool! I had been feeling Baby moving around for about 2 weeks already, but Baby still isn't big enough to feel movement from the outside.  So, it was pretty cool for Kevin, especially, to see Baby moving around on the screen.  I think it made it more real for him.  Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I've said that I thought it was so weird that there was a little creature growing inside of me, and Kevin would respond with, "I think it's cool!" or "I think it's awesome!"  It's not that I don't think those things, but I also think it's pretty weird.  I also understand that millions of women grow little creatures inside of them every year, so it's not uncommon, but when you spend the first 33 years of your life not having a being inside of you, it's something you kind of marvel at.  But, after seeing Baby on the screen, I think it made Kevin really realize that THERE IS A LITTLE PERSON INSIDE OF TRACIE, because afterwards he said, "That is kind of weird."

For inquiring minds who don't already know, we're not finding out the sex.  We both really like surprises, and figure there aren't many really good surprises in life, so let's take advantage of this one.  We understand that is causing many of our friends and family much consternation, as they aren't able to buy adorable pink/princess or blue/baseball stuff for Baby.  I appreciate your frustration, but I just encourage you to be creative in your gift-buying. :-)  In any case, Baby will be born around Christmas, so there's all sorts of opportunity for holiday adorableness.  :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dude, Kevin's Gonna Be a Dad!

...but you knew that.  I meant to post this a few weeks ago.  A few days after learning I was pregnant, I wrote about how the...discovery unfolded.  I wanted to remember it, but didn't want to wait for 12 weeks when I could finally write it here.  So, I tried to make it entertaining, but feel free to skip if this is not the type of thing that interests you.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tracie's College-Friends Reunion Weekend

Last weekend, five of my close college friends came to visit.  I think the last time we were all together was at one of our weddings back in 2003, so it was very cool to see everyone.  I have a great picture from the wedding, but, believe it or not, I still did not have a digital camera in 2003, so I'd have to go hunt it down and scan it, and that just seems like a lot of trouble right now.  Here's a picture of us from the weekend, though:

Liz, Me, Jen, Angie and Amy

Our friend Becky couldn't make it, because she's about to give birth any day now.  We gave her a pass.   Although, I'm sure she would've very much enjoyed floating in the pool with the rest of us.

Jen especially loves the pool.

That's essentially what we did all day, other than eat and chat.  Saturday night, we went out for dinner and karaoke, a definite pastime for us.  Funnily enough, Liz and I didn't even go to karaoke until after we had graduated, when we drove up every Tuesday to join Angie and Jen.  Amy never got into that with us, but she was still game and sang, too.  In fact, all the girls sang, but the guys (Kevin and Jen's husband, Joel) sat out.

Awesome collage, right?  Thanks, Picasa!

We old-time karaoke-ers finished up with Like a Prayer, an old group standby.  So much fun!

For a weekend we started planning maybe back in February, it was hard to believe how quickly it came and went.  Despite some of us not having seen each other for what, almost 10 years (Not me.  I go to all the weddings.), things were very much the same, although we have all, of course, changed.  In some ways.  :-)  I was also struck by how very different this group of friends is from the group of friends I have now, in their personalities and the types of things we talk about - but I treasure both very much. Even though we are all flung across the country with growing life responsibilities, I hope it won't be another nine years before we can all get together again.  And I hope everyone can come next time!

Nice photo of everyone.


Jazz hands!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crazy King Ludwig and His Castles

When I went on my first trip to Europe with the IUP Chorale in 1998, we visited one of King Ludwig's castles, the Castle Linderhof.

Thanks, Wikipedia!
Linderhof had some crazy amenities, including the "Venus Grotto," which is a cave with a lake featuring scenes from Wagner's operas.  Apparently, Ludwig was a great "lover" of Wagner, if you catch my drift.

On our Germany trip, Kevin and I visited what is probably King Ludwig's most famous castle, Neuschwanstein.  You've seen it, even if you haven't heard of it.  Images of it proliferated those college poster sales, and it's the castle that Disney's Cinderella castle is based on.

The poster picture you've probably seen probably looked something like this:

You can buy this poster from
 Since we were going there in December, we had fantasies that the castle would look as beautiful and ethereal as it does in this photo, but, in reality, if there had been this much snow, we wouldn't have even gotten close to the castle.  And I don't think we could have seen it from this angle, regardless.

But more about the castle in a minute.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bun in the Oven!

In case you missed it somehow because you read blogs but not Facebook or email (or maybe you don't know us, in which case, WELCOME!):

What we shared on Facebook.
We're due right around the end of December, so we're looking at a little Christmas baby!  Which was unintentional, by the way.  When I realized it, I was like, "ooohhhhh...."  I was focused on getting pregnant, not when the baby would be born!  Whatever happens, he/she is sure to be the best Christmas gift ever!

And, speaking of he/she, to answer the second question everyone asks, no, we are not finding out the sex.  There are so few good surprises in life, we want to be surprised.

We hope to keep updating this latest project on the blog, as well as some of our other ones!  Yes, I still need to finish Germany, and yes, we planted a garden that I would like to tell you about.  At 12 weeks, I hear that more energy for me is right around the corner...I hope.

For now, enjoy some outtakes from our "Bun in the Oven" photo shoot:

We tried looking like we were patiently (or not-so-patiently) waiting.

Our eager anticipation started to look a little like crazy.  I'm guessing this will be me closer to December?

And, of course, obligatory hand-heart belly shot:

With the bun, of course.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pool Opening 2012

We used our pool for the first time this summer this past Memorial Day.  It reminded me that I never posted pictures from last summer's Fourth of July/Housewarming Bash!  Let me tell you, the pool-opening went much more smoothly this time around.  We had a custom-fit cover made for the winter months, whereas last year the previous owners had essentially thrown a tarp over the pool and had it weighed at the edges with logs.  The cover made all the difference.  Last year, the pool was filled with all sorts of dead critters, leaves and grime, but this year there was just a little crud and it took us (Kevin) only a weekend to clean instead of, oh, I don't know, a month.

Anyway, here are some photos from last year's inaugural party.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Rothenburg ob der Somethingoranother

It's really Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but it took us weeks of talking about our trip calling it variations of that before we remembered it consistently.  We had initially planned to do Nuremberg and Rothenburg in the same day, but when the Deutsches Museum was closed, we decided to split the two, instead.  It worked out, really, because Rothenburg was so charming and pleasant, and the weather so lovely, it was worth spending the day.  Although, I guess if we had saved Nuremburg for that day, too, it would have been been pleasant, as well.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is interesting because it appears to be so quaint and old, but apparently much of it was rebuilt in the same medieval style after being destroyed in World War 2.  In my opinion, it was the most picturesque town we were in, but, while it wasn't overcrowded, it was definitely touristy.  Rothenburg is famous for it's Christmas shop and handmade wooden ornaments.  We perused THE Christmas shop (Kathe Wohlfahrt), and I spent A LOT of money, but felt a little hoodwinked when every other cutesy shop had the exact same stuff.  The ornaments and decorations are really made in Bavaria, but not exclusively for that store. 

We also had doner kebab for lunch.  It's kind of like a gyro or something similar, and is apparently very popular in Germany.  Who knew?

Since Rothenburg ob der Tauber is so picturesque, I'm just going to share a bunch of photos we took there.

This is just as you walk into the picturesque part of town.  When you first get off at the train station, it doesn't look very promising.  But once you walk through the city gate, here's what you see!

There is a medieval wall that goes around the city that you can walk most of the way around.  It's a little treacherous at some points, but the views are great. Into the city, that is.  At some points, if you look to the other side, you can see the tourist parking lot for the town, which takes away some of the charm, I think.

We happened upon an awesome playground...

With a spectacular view into the valley and the Tauber River.  If we had had more time, I would've loved to figure out how to hike down there and explore it.

A few more views of the town...

"Ausfahrt." Because Kevin and I are twelve.

The Christmas Market.

We also bought a cuckoo clock in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  We thought it would be a good honeymoon souvenir.  Although, apparently the place to get a cuckoo clock is the Black Forest, which we skipped.  It seems like Bavaria is a good second, though.  I would post a picture of our cuckoo clock, but it is still safely packed in its box in our bedroom.  Maybe someday you (and we) will get to see it.  :-)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh, speaking of pork knuckles...

I found a picture of me with the pork knuckle on Kevin's iPhone!

THUNDER SLEET! (Germany, still, Part Whatever)

I know it can't possibly have been three months since I last posted, but apparently it was.  We've been working on some projects around here that I'd like to post about soon, but in the meantime, maybe I'll finish writing about Germany?

After our day exploring Munich, we had intended to visit the Deutsches Museum, but once we got there, it turned out the museum was closed for a special staff day that day.  It was a little frustrating, because we had just checked their website that morning.  So, we spontaneously decided to go to Nuremburg, instead.

When we arrived in Nuremburg, it was bright and sunny(ish).

After going to a cafe for a snack (flammkuchen!), we came out to a miserable rain.  Kevin had a few sites he wanted to see, which we attempted, but it was just so rainy and windy that we ducked for cover in a pub.  It was packed with other like-minded people, but we got squeezed in at the end of a table.  I wasn't particularly hungry (it had only been about an hour since the flammkuchen), but Kevin ordered Nurnburg sausages, and was in love. The sauerkraut that came with the sausages was particularly good - almost a little sweet.  I actually attempted to replicate this meal for Kevin's birthday in February.   They also had a basket of pretzels on the honor system - you ate what you want, and then told the server how many you had. 

We ventured back out.  By now it was dark, and the weather had let up a bit.  We decided to split up - Kevin was going to some scenic viewpoint, and I wanted to check out the Christmas Market.  After all, Nuremburg has the most famous Christmas Market in the world, and isn't that why we were there?  Not long after we split, the fine mist in the air exploded into a THUNDER SLEET.

I actually burst out laughing at first.  It initially seemed almost festive, and then it started thundering, and I was like, "What the heck?  Is this a THUNDER SNOW?'s a THUNDER SLEET!" I actually continued perusing the markets, in surprisingly good spirits, but the wind picked up and flying ice persisted, so I gave up and found shelter in a regular shop.  Then, Kevin and I had a little trouble figuring out how to get back to the train station from where we were, getting soaked more thoroughly the whole time.  The worst part was definitely sitting on a train for the next two hours soaked completely through.  It was a relief to get back to the hotel, put on comfy (DRY) clothes, and head to the hospitality lounge!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Pork Knuckle

During one of the first few days of our German trip, in Cologne, Kevin almost accidentally ordered a pork knuckle.  He actually asked for the German word meaning "pork knuckle", not realizing it was pork knuckle, but quickly changed his order once our server clarified what Kevin had asked for.  To us, "pork knuckle" just doesn't sound appetizing, especially given that so many people think that it is the same as "pickled pigs feet," which it isn't.  It would really be more accurate to call a pork knuckle a "pork knee" or "pork elbow." Nevertheless, it still retained that aura for us.   Even with that, though, I chastised Kevin for changing his order.  "Who knows?" I exclaimed, "It could be delicious!  We should be adventurous!"

What I actually meant was, "I'm curious about pork knuckle, but I am too chicken to order it myself. You should get it so I can see what I think."

"You're right," he replied. "Darnit, I should've stayed with the pork knuckle.  The next time I see it, I'm going to order it!"

This sentiment was reaffirmed when his alternate order, a plate of pasty sausages and limp french fries appeared in front of him.

"I'm in Germany and I'm eating hot dogs and french fries!" he lamented, shaking his head.

So, after our very long day in Munich (which truly didn't seem so long until I wrote that last entry), we ended up at the Wirtshaus zur Brez'n in the Schwabing neighborhood.  This was a little by accident.  After riding the ChristkindlTram, we had checked out Munich's medieval Christmas market, where the food smelled delicious, but we weren't quite ready to eat.  So, we continued on to the Schwabing Christmas market, but by the time we got there, we were cold, tired, and slightly damp, so we decided to find a place to sit down and warm up before hitting the market.  Given that the tour books had described Schwabing as a bustling college neighborhood, we assumed this would be easy, but we circled the blocks by the subway station for 10-15 minutes before finally finding this promising-looking pub.

Our intention was to go in and have one beer, which we did, and watched as it began to snow outside.  How festive!  As we got up to brave the Christmas market and find some dinner there, we caught a whiff of something delicious.  We only briefly considered whether we would prefer to eat market food in a wet snow or stay inside this cozy pub.  Since we had already settled our tab and given up our seats at the bar, we approached the hostess for a table.  The place was pretty bustling now, so where did she end up escorting us?  Right back to the bar.  We felt like jerks, having not ordered food from our original bartender, and here we were, back at the bar.  I tried to hide my face, worried that he would take it personally.  "It's not you!" I wanted to say.  "We just changed our minds!"

As I scanned the menu, I tried to figure out what the delicious thing I smelled had been.  I could only come to one conclusion: the pork knuckle.

So, I ordered it.

This is not my pork knuckle.  I borrowed this image from

I have to confess.  When I hesitantly took the first bite of this creation, I believed in that moment that I was tasting the most delicious morsel to ever enter my mouth.  It was salty, flavorful, juicy, with just the right amount of crispy skin.  It was like heavenly bacon, but instead of just one little strip, it was the whole chunk of meat.  I gorged myself, carving around the bones, until I could eat no more.

This was a mistake.

Not only was I outrageously full that night, bloated and uncomfortable despite a long walk back to our hotel, but my stomach burned the entire following day.  What had made the pork knuckle so delectable, the salt and fat, had ravaged my stomach.  The only thing I wanted to eat that next day was fruits and vegetables - and good luck with that in Germany, especially in December.

So, my mouth remembers pork knuckle fondly.  My stomach - not so much.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Long Day in Munich is Long

When we checked into the Hilton Munich Park Hotel, overlooking the English Gardens, we were surprised by a swanky, newly-renovated room on the 14th floor, and this:

We still don't know if it was complimentary because Kevin is a Gold Member, or because he told them it was our honeymoon when he made the reservation, or if it was a gift from a mysterious benefactor.  We loved it.  After so much meat and starch, our digestive tracts appreciated some fresh fruit.

Also spectacular was the Hilton Honors Lounge.  No cans of soda and stale snack mix.  Instead, there were mini-sandwiches and appetizers or desserts, depending on the time of day, and free beer, wine, cocktails, and fancy coffee.  I actually accidentally ate dinner in the lounge one night.

We stayed the most days in Munich, but ended up feeling like we never really "got" the city.  Because of the dreary weather and multiple side trips, we never quite found the charm of the city, although we know it's one of the most popular in Germany.  I think we might also not have spent enough time finding the nooks that would've endeared it to us - we caught some touristy stuff, but truly spent more time using Munich as a jumping point for other destinations than exploring it fully.

Our first day, we made sure to catch the Glockenspiel, which was cool, but let's just say that I wouldn't try to set my watch by it.  It's quite a performance, though, and if you want to see it, be aware that it doesn't "perform" every hour, so check when it's scheduled, depending on the time of year.

The Rathaus.  In the center, framed in green, is the Glockenspiel.

 We then had coffee at the bustling Cafe Glockenspiel, where I drank a Cafe Glockenspiel, and it was delicious.  We wandered around the Christmas Markets around the Marienplatz (the main square in Munich), visited some historic churches, including Asamkirche, which was pretty fantastic inside:

You can see how fantastic I thought it was.
We also went by the Viktualienmarkt, a huge outdoor food market.  So many different foods to explore!  If it had only been a nicer day, we could have made a lovely picnic lunch.  As it was, we tucked ourselves in to the nearby cozy Cafe Rischart, where I had a deliciously unhealthy pretzel stuffed with cream cheese and chives.

There was no way we could forgo the Bier and Oktoberfest Museum - once we finally found it!  I found Munich to be a horrible city to navigate.  I know many old cities have winding, crooked streets that make no sense, but I think Munich was especially challenging because it is so big.  And the Bier and Oktoberfest Museum is tucked away in an alley with a tiny sign that I couldn't even see until we were right in front of it.  I didn't even want to follow Kevin up the alley it was on, because, to me, it clearly wasn't there.

The museum itself was pretty interesting - as much as we could get from the few English-translated signs.  The first part basically traces the development of the beer industry in Germany from each pub having it's own brew to more regional and national breweries.  As you might guess, the second part does the same for the famous Oktoberfest - how it started as an agricultural fair, got a few more fun attractions to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig, and grew from there.  The museum is in a four or five level rowhouse (or whatever you call them in Germany) with stairwells seemingly in every corner.  Kevin and I got separated, and had such a hard time finding each other that he almost went back to the hotel - our agreement should either of us get so lost we couldn't find the other.

Then, we made our way to ride the ChristkindlTram , or Christmas Tram.

It's essentially just an old streetcar that's been decked out for the holidays, or, as our friend Darra put it, "It looks like Santa Claus vomited inside." We rode the ChristkindlTram on a very special day, though - December 6th - St. Nicholas Day!  Purely by accident, we rode the only day during the holiday season that St. Nicholas rode the Tram, as well.  We had a short chat with him, but I was so starstruck that I didn't ask him for a photo together.  So, here's a picture of St. Nicholas:

And here's a picture of us on the ChristkindlTram:

You'll just have to use your imagination to picture St. Nicholas there with us.  Did I mention there was gluhwein on the Tram?