Saturday, December 31, 2011

First Daddy & Me Project

Today we put away the Christmas tree and decorations and, since our little boy has become so mobile, officially folded up the blankets that were getting into his way, and put up the "baby cage" (also called a playpen, but I had to look it up on Google to learn that) so that every once we can do things like go to the bathroom and other selfish, useless activities.

PJ was disappointed to see the tree go but quite interested in his new toy. He quickly turned the set up into his first daddy & me project. I think it might have taken just a few minutes longer to complete, but both my boys had a good time.


And now PJ has his own little space in the living room for when he isn't busy taking over the rest of the place!



xo

Friday, December 30, 2011

Spinach!

Little man is still stoked about solid foods. We have a growing list of foods that he enjoys, including squash, apple, pear, carrot, potato, and even salmon. Today he had his second go with spinach. The first attempt led to a great amount of spitting but the second was wildly successful. He was reaching for the cup and biting towards the spoon, quickly finishing his serving.

Because, really, who doesn't love Spinach?



xo

Thursday, December 29, 2011

For the Record: Christmas Socks

For the record, the size of Christmas socks does not reflect the specific family member's importance within the family.


Really, it doesn't. I swear!


xo

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

American Christmas Part 2



I always knew my brother had connections but I had no idea they reached into the US Post Office/FedEx. Its got to be true 'cause his Christmas package - sent second to last - is the first one here.

I suspect my brother and his charming girlfriend are just as concerned about PJ styling as the Mr's sister. Little man got some serious threads! We may need to install a video enhanced door bell just to keep the storm of little (and big!) girls who are already chasing our guy. Here is his next suit:


Thanks bubby and babe and way to go, especially for your first time. Feel free to send some more of that toffee any time of the year. Seriously. Really. Any time.

And, by request, a bonus video. Check out little man's belly airtime:
video




xo

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Beautiful Christmas!

As promised in the last blog entry, some more, very beautiful pictures. Merry, Merry Christmas!

Our little man right where he loves to be: in the center of attention!

What cha doing?

The new Steinbach clan!

If we reopened the model contest, I think we know exactly who'd win. Hands down.
 
These pictures were taken by the extremely talented, very professional Aline Lange. If you are in the greater Heidelberg area and looking for professional photos, you're in great hands with her!




xo

Sunday, December 25, 2011

PJ's First Christmas


This year, PJ's first and our first as parents, we celebrated the traditional German Christmas Eve with the Steinbach family and are now as I write this celebrating American Christmas in our own home.

Christmas Eve, aka "German Christmas"
Yesterday afternoon, little man couldn't wait for it to get going: he cut his nap down to about 30 minutes and then was ready, ready, ready to go.


First our little guy impressed the Steinbach family with his new 'crawling' skills, getting into and under all sorts of furniture. He had a three piece suit on at first but quickly worked his way out of his pants and into far more crawling-friendly, leg freedom.


After another excellent dinner we posed for the traditional Christmas Eve picture. Note that for the first time ever I am not wearing red and the Mr. is not wearing black or grey.



PJ then changed into his little tuxedo for his very first gift exchange.

He had already enjoyed his brand new and super high chair from Oma and Opa and then got to play with his new wooden toy from his aunt S-Squared and Uncle Hottie.

The same aunt and uncle gave me a very personal and touching gift: a personalized birthday calendar with my entire family: the Mr, PJ, Trick, McLaughin, Cassidy, Jetton, Preston, Paulus, Steinbach, Kretz, Hillenbrand, and Lynott members. This is especially fitting for me since I forget birthdays all the time and I've got one heck of a great family on both sides of the ocean.


Then the Steinbachs opened their gifts from us: pictures of the new Steinbach clan (that's us, Pickles and Onions) and a personalized photo book of PJ's first five months.

Then the party part of the Christmas Eve got going at the Mr's Oma's home. It always starts with sekt and ends with whiskey, with some singing and eating in between...


...as well as quite a lot of arm wrestling. Strange, right? But fabulous!

This year I got into the fun for the very first time too, losing quickly and thoroughly to S-Squared.






 As expected, the Mr. continued his reign as King of arm wrestling for the third year running.
 

All in all, PJ did an awesome job, staying up about 3 hours after his normal bedtime and then sleeping a number of hours so that the Mr. could claim his arm wrestling crown before we moved back home to our place. All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Christmas Day
Then this morning we started American Christmas. Turns out Santa lives with us! Who knew he was so damn cute, right?

PJ opened the gift exchange, carefully opening his first gift from his daddy. He took a rather unique but effective approach, using mostly his mouth.
 

When the paper was finally removed, little guy was thrilled with the contents, since it is so true: Metallica's "Unforgiven" is his most favorite lullaby.

Not only was this PJ's first Christmas, and my first entrance into the arm wrestling competition, this was also the first time ever that the Mr. failed to guess his Christmas gift!

Merry Christmas from Pickles and Onions!

Believe it or not, more pictures to come soon!



xo


Friday, December 23, 2011

Gimme Grannie!


Two days ago we got to spend some 'quality time' with Grannie and Grandpa in the US over skype. PJ has already decided that my netbook belongs to him, so it should be of no surprise that his first real across-the-floor & get-out-of-my-way movement was towards his grandparents on my laptop.

I promised to load a pretty video of his scooching - here it is! You can hear my mom, Grannie, encouraging PJ throughout the video. If you look closely you'll catch his bottom lip going out (right before I say "bottom lip out"). The past few days have taught me that when the bottom lip comes out, I better watch out! PJ has decided he is gonna get something and I better not get in his way.

He's kinda like his momma, eh?

video

Since then he hasn't stopped moving and is actually getting faster. He also discovered the fun of removing ornaments from the Christmas tree too; the bottom branches are now bare!


xo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hands and Knees

Little man is getting up on his hands and knees already. Granted, the pose lasts about as long as my downward facing dog does these days (which is best count in milliseconds), but still. Pretty cool.


video

I'd load a longer video but as soon as he sees the camera, he just hams it up and stays on his belly. What can I say, he's like his mommy.



xo

Monday, December 19, 2011

By Request: Update 2 "The Ugly: Breast Feeding and Mother Guilt"


*Warning: Grown-up language and a nursing picture*

You may or may not remember the struggles with breastfeeding that little man and I had at the start of outside-adventure together. A few of you definitely do because I've been asked recently for another update.

The reader's digest version: I like breastfeeding. PJ likes breastfeeding. The struggle was worth it. I am proud of us. To all new and about-to-be mothers, I recommend giving nursing a damn good shot.

The longer version is somewhat more complicated:

PJ was exclusively breastfed for about 6 weeks before he started stealing food and we introduced solids. He still nurses anywhere from eight to ten times a day and is gleeful (seriously, he giggles and wiggles around with joy) when he starts to nurse. Breastfeeding doesn't hurt anymore - it should NEVER hurt after the initial soreness and once the relationship is established - and I enjoy the spike of relaxing hormones during and after each nursing session. I love the growing weight of my little man in my arms and I love dosing off while he wraps his tiny fingers around my thumb. I love how when he is finished he dramatically smacks off and then cuddles his head against my breast with a satisfied smile. I even like when he wiggles and giggles through an entire meal. I love how convenient and simple nursing has become for us both. I'm looking forward to the day when PJ starts to reliable sleep more than three hours at a time - and Lord knows there are times I wish I could unscrew one of my ladies and hand it to the Mr so that he could take over the 3 or 4am feeding - but I'm extremely thankful that our nursing relationship works.

As the weeks somehow fly by, I become even more grateful for the love from the Mr., the real information and foundational support from the La Leche League, and for the encouragement that I got from a myriad of people, both in real life and over the Internet. I kept going because I am incredibly stubborn and strong willed but your back-up and support as well as your permission to turn to formula made my stubbornness a little less than insane. I don't know how to say thank you enough.

But I am also becoming even more pissed off for the shitty information and treatment I got from the "established" medical community. Some of that treatment included:
  • smashing PJ's face so hard into my breast that he got scared of my breast ... as well as holding my breast so tightly while smashing my infant's face against me that I literally had a bruise the shape of said "professional lactation consultant's" hand on my breast for a number of days.
  • hurtful statements that broke my confidence like "well, I guess you just aren't cut out for nursing" when sore nipples are pretty normal for a first time mom
  • alarmist and untrue statements like "he isn't getting enough to eat!" while he was gaining weight just fine
  • retarded statements like "wait 1.5 hours so that he is really hungry" when he needed to suckle for more milk and comfort and I needed him to demand more milk AND "you need to pump to stimulate more milk" when I didn't need to pump I needed my baby on my breast
What I really needed was to hear "this is so normal" and "it takes a little bit of time and skill but you two will do this" and other informed and true statements. Thankfully I did, finally.

In the end it took us about 10 weeks for our relationship to really get established (the pain completely gone, his latch regularly successful, I aware of his early hungry signs, etc). With a good support system and without horrible advice at the beginning, I think it may take less for others. So, yeah, I recommend giving nursing a damn good shot. But even more I recommend doing what is right for you, for your child, and for your family. And only you know what that may be. For us that was breastfeeding with supplementing and then breastfeeding exclusively and now breastfeeding while introducing little man to solid foods.


At 6 weeks, when nursing just started working.


Just yesterday at 23 weeks




xo
Oh, and I still fucking hate that damn pump.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is Little Dude Styling?

I'm sick. Whoa is me. Whooooaaaaa is me. I am not a very good sick person, but I am an excellent complainer. I'm deep into my third day of complaining about being sick and being a general PIA. I'm also into my third pot of homemade chicken soup

Yesterday we were suppose to go to the Christmas market and introduce PJ to Santa Claus. That didn't happen. Today we were suppose to go to Oma and Opa's for lunch. Thankfully, little man and the Mr. were able to go and I'm at home relaxing, eating chicken soup, overdoing the vitamin C and getting some more sleep. 

Whooooaaaaa is me. 

Since little man was going to see his dear Aunt S-Squared (for a collection of her outfits, click this link), who is quite the style goddess, I had to make sure that he was decked out in absolute adorable-ness. That's not all that easy for me since, as S-Squared has told me twice over the years, my style is "boring" (and that was the nicest word she could find and she really tried).

Not that she doesn't have a point. I tend towards simple cuts, solid colors, and stuff that I can wear for years. I tend to tease S-Squared about being hit hard with the style stick because she always looks put together and just awesome (well, except for those very unfortunate boots she wore for a little while). 

So I dug into PJ's drawers and did my best. Here we are for your comparison efforts. Me, simple black shirt with hair pulled back, neither complementing anything (and no, its not because I'm sick ... this is just me, causal & boring); PJ in dark brown overalls with plaid, button-up shirt that both matches his overalls and complements his little red cheeks.


Here is little man in all his glory, right next to the Christmas tree. What a cutie-pie!

Did I do a good job?


xo

Thursday, December 15, 2011

20,000

Holy jeepers! I looked at the stats for Pickles and Onions this evening and discovered that we've had exactly 20,000 page views. How 'bout them apples!


I dug a little deeper and it turns out we also have 25 official followers and something like 50 "hidden" followers. Each blog post is read by an average of slightly more than 100 readers from all over the world. We have followers from every continent except Antarctica. That all seems pretty remarkable to me since I originally started this blog to share little stories and random pictures with just family and friends in the US.


Over the past three years, this blog has grown significantly to include deep thoughts, bizarre complaints, and very popular videos. I thought this would be a flash-in-the-pan kinda thing. Instead I cannot imagine my life without it.


So, thanks for taking the time to be part of the Pickles and Onions journey. Thanks for your comments here, on Facebook, via email, and in real life. Please stick around; we love having you here!


xo

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ruining Dinner

These days I'm cooking a lot of dinner and while doing so I'm trying hard to make it colorful and healthy. For example, tonight we had fish, potatoes, and steamed broccoli; a nice, balanced meal. In general I try to eat relatively healthy. I don't do fast food - in fact, I drive the Mr. nuts with my inability to order correctly at McDonald's (in my defense they make it way too difficult) - and with my sensitivity to fructose, most processed foods make me ill.

But I love me some brown sugar frosted Poptarts. L.O.V.E. And you just can't buy brown sugar frosted Poptarts in Germany. Maybe because something like that can't get much more processed or unnatural. That seems to creep the Germans out. Fair enough. But I still love my brown sugar frosted Poptarts.

Occasionally I get a care package in my mail with some inside. Usually they have gotten a bit beaten up in the international mail, are in a bunch of pieces, and I have to toast them in my oven. And I still do a little happy dance; they still taste super yummy; and I'm still sad when I run out (which always happens way too quickly).

So imagine my joy when an extra large box of brown sugar frosted Poptarts was handed over to me this morning at my MOPS meeting. Poptarts that didn't get crushed in the mail. Poptarts in one piece that I can - and already have - toasted in my toaster.



Sometimes you just gotta forget being healthy and ruin your dinner.


xo
ps. I still ate the fish, broccoli and potato. I need the calories for nursing. *cough*

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

5 Months: Movin and a Shakin

Little man is now five months old and he is just a movin and a shakin! There is a reason I called him "worm" while in my belly - he moved as much inside and he does outside.

video

It really is remarkable just how much ground he can cover with his belly movements. Once a worm, always a worm!


xo

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Tree!

Last weekend we got our Christmas tree and decorated it. We've learned over the years - this tree is shorter and leaner than those of Christmas past. We can actually walk past it without risking an ornament falling to the ground. Little PJ helped pick out the tree ...

... but then was rather skeptical on the ride home. I guess we could have put some more thought into how we were going to get the tree home.

But we all got home nice and safe and then had a great time decorating the tree together. 


Hope everyone is starting to get into the celebrating spirit!


xo

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maxi-Beautiful-ness

We've got two babies in the house! Our little guy and his new friend, born just one day after him.


She, a German, got to experience the American system. Me, an American, got to experience the German one. Throughout our pregnancies we exchanged notes and it is amazing to me how different the systems are. In Germany there are more appointments, more ultra-sounds, less questions, less planning. My gyno had heard of a "birth plan" but had never seen one before. Now, the different systems continue: she is back to work doing an awesome job at balancing and finding joy in all parts of her life. I'm still on leave thankful for a generous social system that gives me the chance to be with my little boy and still have a paycheck coming in.

Really, for this one, Germany gets an A++++++

During our pregnancies, we had totally different symptoms. I slept all the time; she slept maybe five or less hours a night. I was nauseous and smelled everything; she sailed through the first three months. I had a little dancer that people could enjoy from the outside; her little one was active but a little more discrete. And while we both reached our 42 week of pregnancy and we were both induced, our births ended up totally different too. 


So, it shouldn't surprise us that our bundles of joy are so very different: PJ who never stops going, my little sparkler (he did that while I was pregnant too), and her chilled, hang-out dear. Long and lean Duracell baby; dimpled little Buddha baby.

But some things are the same. These babies are miracles, tenderly and deeply loved both their parents, with huge smiles, adorable giggles, and wonderful futures. And they have kick-ass moms.









xo
ps. who got the A Christmas Story reference?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stupendous Solids

Should have known it was coming faster than I expected (or hoped) after the high chair: PJ is eating solids! He has been staring us down and trying to steal food (with at least one success) for the past two weeks. Although he is a little younger than five months, we offered him the chance to eat some carrots and he leaped at them, quickly swallowing each and every bite. 

We started slow: 

video
But by the second night he was going crazy, getting more involved in the process, and eating almost half a jar before rejecting the spoon.

video


Extra points for those that can identify the music in the background. Seriously, this kid has no chance of having bad taste in music!

As much fun as it may be to share some more solid food with PJ, the diapers are significantly less fun. Thanks to the person who so cleverly designed this onsie: 
The fun part

The Not-Fun Part

My, my, how does the time fly!



xo

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Markets!

The Christmas season has started big time in Germany and that means Christmas markets, glühwein, and unlimited waffles. I still love my waffles! This weekend our small town had our Christmas market and we all checked it out.

Small side story: on our way to the market, I decided to take out some trash. Normally the Mr. takes care of this chore but the bag was sitting there, ready to go, so I picked it up and carried it down the stairs. Turns out that we are only allowed to take our trash out during specific times of the day...and this wasn't one of those times. I'm not sure why but I felt the strong need to rebel on that one; I was super quiet and threw the trash out anyway.  The Mr - ever the German - actually hid behind some cars in case I got "caught". Look closely and you'll find him:

Back to the point of this blog ...

Before we could hit up our little town's Christmas market, the Mr. had to take care of something very important: voting on a policy question. One this I like about my hubby is that he always votes, taking advantage of his vote to impact his country. This time little PJ went with him and already learning about democracy and voting!  Super, right?

As soon as that happened, we were off to the Christmas market. Naturally our little guy was quite the star! I think we spoke to more people this year than any other year. PJ stayed super warm, all cuddled up to his papa in the Ergocarrier (love the Ergo!). The Mr. got some glühwein, I enjoyed some hot juice, and we ate yummy market food.

video

A very successful start to the holiday season!



xo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sitting Tall

For about as long as we have had Mr PJ's bouncy chair, he has spent at least a little bit of breakfast, lunch, or dinner time in it, like on Thanksgiving.

At first PJ sat in the chair for a short period of time. Over a few weeks it grew to last almost the entire meal time, as long as we played with him a little bit and generally included him in conversation with our verbal and nonverbal communication. But over the past two weeks he has grown increasingly impatient in his chair during meals, demanding more and more often to sit on our laps. There he would watch us eat and explore the table with his hands.

Since he can sit with the smallest amount of balance support, I decided to perform an experiment and ordered a hanging high chair. To say that PJ was pleased to join us at the table would be downplaying his joy big time. He was stoked, swinging his legs, playing with his spoon, and banging his hands on the table top.
video

It seems that more solid foods are really just around the corner. 



xo

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How Are Babies Like Pets?

Remember the post "Things to Say ... and Not"? Number 8 on Things Not to Say was: 
-----
8. Oh, I totally understand. My dog/cat/hamster did that and …
Really? My child, your pet? Um, thanks, I think we aren’t quite on the same wave length.
-----
I still think this is a seriously shitty thing to say to new parents. But it turns out that at least one thing is the same:
video


...the fascination with washing machines.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day 2011

Thanksgiving is by far my most favorite holiday and being away from my extended family and my country has always been difficult. It just doesn't seem right that Germany keeps trucking on when there's Thanksgiving to celebrate. Each year I ensure we partake in turkey and stuffing and a round of thanks. In 2009 and 2010 we hosted a collection of guests. This year we were hosted by the lovely L family for a Thanksgiving lunch instead of dinner so that we could all enjoy a bedtime-friendly holiday together.

Dinner was yummy...
The fabulous turkey Professor cooked. It was even yummier than it looks.
We were all - even the little guys - mesmerized by the turkey carving. 

The pumpkin pie came out really well this year (finally!).
 ...company pleasant...

 
We took time out to enjoy a good book.
The little guys getting comfortable with each other.

...and traditions were upheld. I have so much to be thankful for this year that I was a bit concerned they were going to cue the orchestra while I listed out my thanks a la Oscar night. They didn't. Good people.

Turns out we all had much to be thankful for, even PJ who after some excited shrieking and desperate grasping enjoyed his first morsel of adult food (he will still be waiting to make this a habit): 
video


With a child these traditions become even more important and it becomes even harder to be away from home. I want PJ to grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, knowing that it is a special day for him as a key aspect of one of his two cultures. I want him to look forward to the special day just like I did and to trust that it will come, that family and friends will come, that thanks will be shared. I want him not to believe in a fairy tale about Indians but to learn to stop for a moment - hopefully more often than just once a year - to give thanks because he is indeed a very lucky boy.

And, really, aren't we all?




xo
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