Friday, October 5, 2007

Weekend News & More "Poop Shelf" Insights

More on the "Poop Shelf" Toilet
So I've gotten quite a few questions regarding the rationale behind the German poop shelf. After checking online AND talking to various Germans, here is what I have. It is basically meant for them to check their feces- color, consistency, etc. If it's too dark it might indicate blood in the stool, and if it's too light it might indicate kidney/liver problems. They can also check for any parasites like worms, etc. I assume this was probably more common when meat was not cared for as it is now, and since they eat so much pork here, that may have been a bit of a concern. I was also told that after age 40, people here are encouraged to take an annual stool sample to their doctor for analysis. The shelf not only allows them to examine their waste better, but it also helps them collect a stool sample with much more ease. So there you have it. It's basically to monitor your own health. I ran across some interesting sites on the internet discussing it so I've included some of that below. Incidentally, the poop shelf's actual name is a "flachspuehler" or "flatflusher" in English.

The shelf toilet is nearly identical to a standard thunder mug in all ways except one: instead of an open pool in which to drop our kids off, a shelf protrudes into the middle so that the bum cigar might rest above the water before being flushed into oblivion. The following illustrations show the difference between the American standard crap-trap and the German flachspueler:

(Images from Scott Anderson's excellent piece, German Toilets).

The flachspueler provides several benefits to the wind jammer, but also has some downsides:

No splash. Doen't have far to fall, landing safely on solid ground. The stench. Not immediately submerged in water.
Show and tell. By sitting around for a while, the shit can be examined for color and consistency. Misshapen or odd colored stools help in the early identification of health problems. Leaves a trail. A shit on a shelf leaves a trail after the flush which can be an embarrassing reminder of who was here last. One solution to this problem, though, is to lay down a folded sheet or two of toilet paper on the shelf before dropping trou.
Water conservancy. Uses less water, which is not a small consideration on the Continent.

And this lovely quote from the following URL:

"The question of the toilet is VERY EASY to anwer. As practically every German is health-insured, we tend to go to the doctor (as recommended) at least every two years for a throrough (and practcally cost-free) check-up. For that, you will have to bring some of your, er, feces in a specialized container the doctor will give you. So how do you get at your, er, sausage if it is swimming in water? With a German toilet, this is dead easy."

Pretty interesting, huh?

Had lunch with a few gals from German class today. All are moms with school-aged kids attending the Bavarian International School. We went to lunch at an Italian restaurant, which was really nice because I didn't have to think about what I was ordering since the menu was written in Italian and recognizable to me. I called Gerard and he brought Gerrit to lunch with us.

We met a potential Tagesmutter for Gerrit this afternoon. She is a young mom who stays at home with her 14 month old son and is willing to take in a few other kids a few days a week. I am hoping she will be able to watch Gerrit Monday and Friday mornings while I have German class. She seemed like Monday might be a possibility, but she's waffling on Fridays so we'll have to see how it goes. I'm not interested in finding two DIFFERENT Tagesmutters for Gerrit. I'd rather just have one he goes to consistently. We have a trial run with her Monday while I attend class.

This evening we met with our midwife, Regina, again. This time we worked on some labor positions and breathing techniques. She gave me a lot of positive feedback about what I was doing naturally, and it made me feel good. Physically, I feel really ready to have this baby any day. I'm very uncomfortable and I feel like his foot or back is pushing on the same spot in my belly ALL THE TIME. It downright hurts unless I press right back on it. My ankles are also swelling up a lot whenever I walk or stand for long periods of time. Mentally, though, I'm just not feeling ready to do this again. I have been super nervous about this whole delivery. I had hoped to feel more secure but I don't think it will happen. Regina has offered to take care of Gerrit for us, as has Liesel, while we are in delivering the baby. It feels really good to know that people are being so supportive right now and offering up so much help.

Regina also mentioned that teachers are the "worst" to work with in the delivery room. When I asked why, she said it is because they always want a plan and they have high expectations for themselves. They want to follow exactly whatever it is they read in a book and are hard on themselves when things don't go accordingly. Gerard just laughed at this. Apparently, he thinks this is a perfect description for me.

We spent the day putting *more* IKEA furniture together (it's never-ending) and doing our weekly shopping. We bought a few gifts for Gerrit from the Toys R Us in town. This evening we actually called a few people we haven't been able to talk to in a while, Theo & Sal, mom, dad, Gerard's folks, and David Ciardi. It was really nice to hear some familiar voices and catch up a bit.
Gerrit helps Daddy put IKEA furniture together
while Mommy makes a B-Day cake.

My two boys were a big help bringing in the groceries.

I actually managed to do something I don't do all that often... cook. I usually say that I "heat" rather than "cook." I need to follow recipes. I'm not one of those types that can wing it in the kitchen and look in the pantry at the ingredients and whip something up. I'm horrible at that. But tonight I was quite proud of myself. I haven't been able to find breadcrumbs so I got a hold of some Zweiback toast and put it in the blender to make breadcrumbs. Then I mixed some olive oil, parmesan, and garlic with the crumbs and used it to coat some chicken that I had stuffed with an alouette-type cheese spread. I baked the whole thing and then baked some diced red potatoes with onions, butter, garlic, and rosemary. To my surprise, the meal was not only edible but tasty.

This was a major accomplishment for me, particularly because I still have no clue what the oven settings here really mean. In the U.S. I am used to seeing two knobs- one for temperature and one for the type of baking you want- bake or broil. In some cases there is only one knob. At any rate, here the ovens seem to have a huge selection of baking options, but I don't know what they mean. They only have pictures so I can't translate any words. There are something like eight different pictures with various lines- straight, squiggly, and round things that might resemble fans (which I'm assuming are representing convection oven cooking). I think the straight lines are cooking over or under or both, and the squiggly might be grilling or broiling? It's all a mystery to me. I'll need to sit down with some understanding German person to find out exactly what all these settings mean.

After Gerrit went down this evening, Gerard and I worked on Gerrit's birthday cake. I had baked it earlier today. Since Gerrit is so obsessed with fish right now, I decided to shape and decorate it like a fish. I thought it would be a fun activity for Gerard and I to decorate the cake together. Now that it's done, though, I *know* that Gerrit will be excited to see it but likely upset when we actually try to eat it.
Tomorrow we are supposed to go to the Sea Life Aquarium in Munich to celebrate Gerrit's birthday. We've invited Regina, her husband, and their son to celebrate with us. Unfortunately, after all the walking and standing I did today, I am REALLY swollen and in a lot of pain. We had planned to take the train into town tomorrow, but I may not do so well with that right now. I think we'll reassess when we see how swollen I am in the morning. If we don't go to the aquarium tomorrow, we might just go to the local indoor swimming pool in town and then take Gerrit over for a playdate with Regina's son. Either way, I'm sure Gerrit will have a good time.

At this point, unless something drastic happens tomorrow, it looks like Gerrit will get to keep his birthday to himself. People had been speculating that this baby might have the same birthday as Gerrit since the due dates are virtually identical. I wonder if anyone has a betting pool going about when I will deliver. My prediction is that I will deliver the same day our cargo arrives, and I'm predicting that day will be the 12th. Anyone else wanna place a wager?


At October 6, 2007 at 5:04 PM , Blogger Anastasia L said...

Wow - I'm totally impressed by the fish cake!

At October 6, 2007 at 9:20 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Yeah, Miss I Can't Cook, but I can assemble a mean looking fish cake! Whateva!!! *insert snapping noise and some neck movements*

I hear ya on the swelling. Today, at lunch, I wondered if one could pop from too much swelling.

At October 6, 2007 at 9:22 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh, by the way, you were able to find so much info about the "poop shelf" online, why not look up the oven stuff online, too?

Maybe you already have . . . or not.

At October 8, 2007 at 8:08 AM , Blogger vicki suraci said...

I think the cake is great!!! Maybe we will try a rice krispies treat train, I've always wanted to make one of those! Getting excited about coming there, If you MUST deliver before I come, go ahead, you have my permission...luv mom


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