Potsdam Sanssouci

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The Rough Guide for Berlin lists Potsdam Sanssouci as the number one place to go in Berlin. The irony is that it’s not in Berlin. It’s not far, just outside of Berlin, in Potsdam, but still. I find that pretty hilarious. But the Rough Guide doesn’t lie, Sanssouci, and Potsdam in general, is a nice place to go.

When Brian came to visit us, we took him there on a Sunday that started out a bit rainy, but turned out to be a beautiful and warm pre-summer day, with a grand finale of a thunderstorm moving through the city. We just like taking visitors there, because it’s just such a beautiful and impressive place to walk around. The king went all out in Sanssouci, that’s for sure.

If you’re in the area, definitely pay a visit, you won’t regret it. Potsdam is a pretty little city and easy to reach on the train from Berlin, a mere half hour from the city. Potsdam does have one downside though, it’s hard to get your hands on decent coffee. But I’m willing to put up with that for one day every now and then.

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The Playground Diaries Part V

29 weeks

Wait, the diaries on Monday? Yep, for good reason. After Mari go sick the weekend before last weekend, sadly last Thursday it was J’s turn. So I stayed in on Friday, and took care of my girls and the household most of the weekend. So this will be the diary entry for the week, as I’m gonna skip this Wednesday because I have to prepare a talk for a conference on Thursday.

While a long weekend might sound like fun it wasn’t exactly. It’s hard to get any idea how much effort it is to take care of the household unless you actually do it. I had that pleasure last weekend, and my word, it is a lot of work. You don’t hear me complaining though. It was an experience. Of course I caught a weekend where Mari still suffered a bit from the aftermath of her infection, and pretty much pooped around the clock. But that just on a side note.

Anyway, there’s not too much to tell. There hasn’t been much time for anything else really, I managed to do some writing code, and I even managed to shoot some film on World Toy Camera Day. Finally a good opportunity to stuff some Ilford 3200 in my Holga and shoot a roll indoors.

Speaking of World Toy Camera Day, you should check out this video of a guy building a TLR out of nothing but cardboard.

And yes, that’s a digital photo. Weather and light was shit all weekend, what’s a photographer to do?

The Playground Diaries Part II

Another Wednesday, another day with Mari. To start off with, it’s her six-months birthday today, and I got to spend it with her. Hurrah!

Made in Berlin

Anyway, my lesson learned from last week was to make time to meet with friends when you’re out and about. So that’s what I did. They weren’t available right away, so I had some time to kill. The obvious thing is to get a nice flat white and enjoy that little bit of sun we got today.

Then I hung out a bit at the playground, which this is obviously all about. I only sat for about 30 minutes, but even in that short amount of time I was well entertained. I just sat there with Mari on my arm curiously looking at what’s happening around her, when a couple of parents came on the playground with their kids who obviously just finished school for the day. Here’s what happened:

  • All parents were busy digging through their kids’ backpacks, looking through their kids books and folders and for notes from their teachers.

  • At the same time they went through their lunch boxes, eating what was left as they went.

  • Apparently there’s either a lice check coming up, or two out of three parents are supposed to check their kids for lice. There was some discussion going on, but no consensus was reached. I left shortly after, though that wasn’t related to the fact that some kids there might’ve lice, which one mum implied jokingly.

  • One kid showed its mom today’s results from writing class, where she wrote the letters o, l and m a dozen times each, having to pick the one she liked best. She showed me the results as well, and I agreed that she’s done good work. Then she asked me if I don’t have any kids going to school myself, showing what seemed to be disappointment, but might’ve been lost interest.

I left the playground to meet up with some of J’s mum friends. I met them before so there were no big surprises, their nice people. We met at a freshly opened cafe specifically targeting parents with babies and toddlers. Dare I say they picked the right audience.

When I arrived a good dozen of prams were standing outside the cafe. It just occurred to me that I forgot the keys to our pram’s lock. So I pushed it to the very end of the windows where I also found our friends sitting inside, so I left it there knowing that I could keep an eye on it.

Inside it was madness. Kids and parents, more kids and more parents. I almost entered the play area with my shoes on, but I realized just in time that you’re not supposed to do that. It’s quite a feat putting shoes on or taking them off with a baby on your arm, but thankfully I managed to pull it off.

Anyway, we had some chit-chat, let the kids play together, each licking a wooden spoon and some toy pans and pots in turn, and talked about what J would bring back home from IKEA, where she went on her day off.

I’m still somewhat in awe about this parents world which has been something of a parallel universe for me until recently. Sure, I spent time with my daughter on the weekend, and when I come home from the office, but being out there with here alone is still a very new experience.

Thankfully I know enough to take care of her on my own, so I don’t embarrass myself in front of the supposably hypercritical parental audience. Phew.

Tune in next week for more tales of interest from the “Playground Diaries.”

Hei Mari!

I don’t really know how to start. If you follow my stream on Flickr, you probably know anyway. I just want to put this on virtual paper, so I can remember, and everyone else too, but only if they want to.

I feel like we’ve told the story a billion times already, and I used to think that it gets boring after a while, but every time we have friends over who are meeting her for the first time, the story of how Mari came onto this world is retold, and I don’t mind.

Hei Mari!

I went to Edinburgh for a conference more than a week ago, and while it was good fun and Edinburgh is an amazing city, I went with mixed feelings. There were signs that our offspring might come early, and little did we know it would actually do it.

I came back last Sunday, and Jördis picked me up at the airport. We spent the Sunday rather lazily, since we both haven’t really slept that much. I had an early flight back home, and plus daylight savings time switch, that added up to just about three hours of sleep. At night, when we were (again) lying around in bed, Jördis said: “Only four weeks to go.”

Four hours later, she woke me up saying that something was weird. We weren’t sure what it was, so we called our midwife, and she told us to go to the hospital. Which is what we did, and not really coming as a surprise, but still sort of pulling me into a weird reality, the nurse checked and told us that we’re not too far away from birth. I think you’re starting to get the irony of J’s statement earlier that night. Little did we know that the tiny one wasn’t gonna let that happen, and decided to come almost four weeks early.

The kind of sad thing about this is that originally we wanted to go to a birth centre, but as the little one was early, we had to go to the hospital. Of course it wasn’t bad at all, and you don’t think about it that much anyway. I’m just glad everything went well, and everyone is well.

We walked around for a while and then settled into a room where I slept on the couch for a little bit while J started to feel the contractions. For me, time seemed to run as slow as possible, and I started to wonder how long we’ll be there.

I’ll spare you the details of the birth, in the end it went rather quickly, we were told. It still felt like ages, but in the end you just don’t think about that anymore. For me, it was sort of a terrifying time. There was nothing really I could do, except to be there. I have never felt so helpless in my life, but afterwards I think I have never felt so happy in my life either. So I guess it evened out in the end. I could just stare at her forever. Suddenly, my life felt somehow complete. It didn’t feel weird at all, it just felt natural to have her around.

J stayed in the hospital for a couple of days, so that they could keep an eye on the tiny one, what with her being early and all, but on Thursday we could finally go home. Thank goodness spring has finally showed up in Berlin, just in time for Mari. We already took her around the block in the pram, and now she’s almost a week old, still insanely tiny, but still insanely adorable.

As for my new role as a dad, it also just feels natural. Sure, there’s a lot to learn, and it’s all new to me, to us, but I couldn’t be more happy about all of it. I did have one revelation on Friday, when I went shopping for some more baby clothing. I was shocked about the kind of clothes you can get in most of the shops. Everything’s pink, has bears or other animals, or even some stupid slogans on it. I want simple colors, nothing fancy, nothing more. No über-cute animal applications, not everything in pink, thank you very much. But that seems to be a hard thing to do.

I spent most of the week organizing things that we needed, and which we wanted to buy this week anyway, and to get the apartment ready for the new family member. Mr. T spent some nights alone at home, as I stayed in the hospital for two nights, but I bribed him with luxury cat food, and he didn’t argue, so it’s all good.

He’s currently getting some love, as he’s lying on my belly and both my arms while I’m typing this. I can’t blame him, and we’re gonna make sure that he still gets enough attention.

Hei Mari, and welcome, we could not be more thrilled to have you around.