Saturday, June 30, 2012

3 Generations

Think they might be related?


Friday, June 29, 2012

Happily Married: House Rules Edition

I'm a pretty relaxed house keeper. So is the Mr.

That's a nice way of saying our apartment is (and soon our house) usually pretty darn not clean. Lord knows when the windows were cleaned last and there is no regularity in when or how we clean. In fact, while typing this a collection of dust went rolling past my toe.

But it drives me nuts when people put their shoes on the furniture. I'm good with bare feet but not shoes, even house shoes. Does it make sense? Maybe, maybe not but there you go: I don't like shoes on furniture.

We've talked it through and we've agreed no shoes on the furniture.

That's a nice way of saying I get pissy when shoes are on the furniture and the Mr. doesn't put his shoes on the furniture anymore....when I'm around.

I recently came home and I found the following pattern on our sofa.

What could that pattern possibly be from?


Can you believe that?! The Mr. has been stepping onto the sofa with his shoes for who knows how long to close the windows! Can you believe it!?! Yes, you've got to get up on the sofa to close the window, but with shoes? When I've made it very clear I hate shoes on the furniture?

I just can't believe it. Just. can't. believe. it.

Big, fat frustrated sigh.

On the other hand, the Mr. who is also a 'relaxed housekeeper,' goes nuts when anyone eats in their beds. Even in movies, he sighs and shakes his head, because that is "disgusting" and "who wants to sleep in crumbs?"

We've talked it through and we've agreed no eating in bed.

That's a nice way of saying he gets pissy when I eat in bed and I don't eat in bed anymore...when he's around.

But then I got caught red-handed.

Thank God one of us has a sense of humor.

May we still be laughing this often when we're 35, 45, 55, 80.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

First Time to the Zoo

This weekend we had our first family trip to the local zoo. It is small but the space is used well, including a nice range of animal habitats and playing areas for children of different ages. It was a great afternoon out.

The entrance

We got to rent a little wagon for PJ to ride in. It was quite comfortable...

 ...but far more fun to push!


We saw gorillas and seals and turtles and camels and so many other animals but the highlight were the goats. Most likely because they were PJ's size and their area was set up like a petting zoo.

Goats Galore!

PJ checking out the goats.
PJ was interested in the little animals but rather cautious at the same time. He never did touch one; there is plenty of time for that next time.


The time flew too fast and we had to leave before we could check out all the animals. PJ definitely had a good time

And so did the Mr. and Mrs.

ps. Remember me at 40weeks? I had it so much easier than this poor, very pregnant goat. Good lord.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freddie 2.0

While we were in the US, PJ built a friendship with my friends' little puppy dog Freddie Fourpaws. Everyone was pretty sad when we the relationship went on hold because we flew back to Germany, especially since hardly anyone we know here has a puppy.

But no fear: solutions will always be found!

At the American baby shower way back when, we were gifted a toy from Sweetheart's dad's own childhood. (Yeah, how freaking cool is that!?!) It is a dog that makes a really loud 'barking' noise when pulled along the floor. I'm pretty sure that most of us had one when we were young. It also has a bunch of metal and floppy ears and other pieces that most likely led it to being pulled off the market but, hey, we are all still alive and kicking.*

As little man has grown in confidence walking - no more crawling in these parts - he has started to befriend this dog toy, even starting to pull it behind him. For some reason I started calling it Freddie, even petting it and pulling it along too. PJ gleefully picked up on that and there we go: certainly not an upgrade, but the continuation of a lovely friendship.

Just don't tell Freddie Fourpaws.

PJ and Freddie 2.0

PJ making Freddie 'bark'.

*I'm not sure yet how, but I'm positive that statement will come back to haunt me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By Request: Update 3"The Ugly: Breast Feeding and Mother Guilt"

I have been contacted again by a few readers for an update about breastfeeding.

Holy freaking cool is that? People are reading this blog! Remembering this blog! Asking for updates! My ego rejoices!!

Yes, two exclamation points.

And ... back to the point of this blog. Back in July 2011, I posted a blog about my struggles with early breastfeeding. Then in August, I posted an update. Followed by another one in December based on request. Then I sorta let it die. I thought I had covered the topic and frankly, I don't really think about nursing that often any more. But it turns out there are people out there that want an update from a "normal" mom, especially after the whole TIME thing (link does not go to the original story, but a commentary on Huffington Post). So, here ya go, dear readers.

I'm still nursing my little boy who is now 11 months old. All those things that I was told back in the day and did not believe - easy, natural - have become totally true. Nursing is super, super easy. It is natural. It is awesome. Yes, I just wrote that, nursing is awesome. I truly enjoy breastfeeding my little boy and I know that he truly enjoys breastfeeding. Two very happy people. Neither of us are planning on stopping any time soon.

We finally meet the expectations set by the medical community and society in general. So, we are all happy, right?

Wrong. Because, strangely, once a baby hits six months old and then as the big, first birthday gets ever closer, the expectations change and the pressure to stop builds and builds and builds. Suddenly all that hard work and all that dedication isn't wanted any more: it is time to wean. Now. There is some sort of invisible (to me) boundary in which nursing is about the best for both mommy and child and into a strange, slightly incestuous world in which a nursing mother is forcing her child to remain reliant upon nursing because (whispered in heavy voice) "it feels good for her."

Yet, this ignores a massive and growing amount of research supported by leading organizations around the world that clearly and repeatedly states that a nursing relationship should continue for at least 12 months (the current majority) or 2 years (the largest growing group right now). And, more importantly, to me, the expectation to wean doesn't come from the fact that the baby needs to stop or the mom needs to stop or because that's how nature needs it to be. But because you, or they, are not comfortable with my baby nursing when he can eat other food, crawl, walk, or (god forbid!) talk.

Notice that the verbs are different: you, or they, want us to stop; nothing needs us to do so. I'm happy. PJ is happy. So, frankly and with love in my words: please respect that I am doing the best for my child. If you don't agree, I grant you full permission to complain about it to someone else that will never tell me about it. And we will all win.

But vent aside, the nature of our nursing relationship is changing. Now that I am working and PJ is snacking more, our nursing sessions are slowly reducing during the day. Thankfully we are able to gently reduce and the Mr. is supportive of helping us through the transition. For example, this past week I was in a full-day workshop from Wednesday to Friday that cut out our late morning session. To help ease the transition, the Mr. brought little man to the workshop at lunch time for the afternoon nursing session. That's support. Additionally, when we are out-and-about PJ is offered a snack before nursing and many times that's enough. But when its not, its not and we nurse.

Although many people with no experience in being a working and nursing mother have told me that continuing our nursing will be "impossible" - I know that it is possible: I have found role models in strong, confident, professional women who even travel and still nurse their children far past the one year mark. To them I look and to them I am thankful.

To those readers that asked for an update: Thank you. I hope I met your expectations. In the end, my key message for you is: if you want to breastfeed your baby, it will most likely start out really tough. Growth spurts will be tough. But stick it out. Ask for help from people who have not only breastfed but support your hopes (whatever they are). It gets better; actually it gets great. Natural. Easy. Real.

For everyone else: thanks for reading.

Happy mommy and happy baby


Oh, and I still fucking hate that damn pump. I doubt that will ever get better.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sweetheart Visits Again

**Whoops - I forgot to hit "publish" about, what, three weeks ago?**

Remember how lucky I was to share my pregnancy with a close friend who was pregnant at the same time? And how her precious one was born just one day after PJ and how our little babies - mine the long and lean Duracell baby and hers the dimpled little Buddha baby (nicknamed Sweetheart starting now) - finally met each other in December?

Sweetheart was back in town and our little ones got to play together again. Supposedly babies don't play with each other until they are two or so years old. I beg to differ.

Our little ones warming up to each other in the Schwetzingen Castle gardens.

Later the little ones playing at the standing table together.

Sitting next to each other, playing together.

Our little ones are still so different but they are both equally special. I sure do hope they get to spend a lot more time together in the future!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Return of the Bouncy Chair

Remember the blog that I wrote in April about returning to work? No? You can read it here.

In that post I wrote how the Mr was "loving the time without me putting my nose into his parenting all the time. He might have mentioned that aspect of me working a few times...okay, more than a few times." And I posted a picture to make my point, adding the caption "I do not recommend this approach."

Really, go back and read the entry.

Welcome back.

Anyways...a few evenings ago the Mr. ran into our bedroom, which I am currently using as an office as I try to balance family and work needs, proclaiming he had just made the BEST VIDEO EVER!


Yes, that would be my 11 month old child bouncing pretty energetically on his infamous bouncy chair with no safety harness, a hard floor below him, a metal fan within head-hitting range behind him, all while wearing no pants but for some reason socks and the German soccer jersey. And his dad's hands are busy making a video on our camera.


I have no desire to be a limiting parent who follows her kid around repeating: don't touch that! watch out! danger! etc etc etc. But at the same time ... well, I would not recommend this approach.

So it's a pretty good thing that I'm not always around because PJ had a great time building ever-better balancing skills as well as confidence in his abilities; the thrill of the bouncy chair seems to have dissipated; the Mr. enjoyed tons of PJ smiles; and - even I have to admit - it is a pretty awesome video.

My fearless, adventurous boys. Mommy's gotta keep up, huh?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting Ready for the Move

So we bought a house. Still can't get over that. Anyways, we are working on getting the house ready for us to move in, which means: painting! Thankfully the weather has been decent, the PJ-sitters and helpers very handy, and we have been able to get a lot done.

Don't we make painting look like so much fun?

Yeah, it is about as fun as it looks. 

We are also getting ready for the actual move, which means: packing! We've gotten the first boxes up the stairs and starting putting them together.

Who knew putting boxes together could be so much?


Me either.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Enjoy a Laugh: Temper, Temper

We knew from the start that PJ had a strong will. And good on him! He has been perfecting how to best verbalize his (strong, clear) desires since birth (remember this one and this one?) but he is just starting to explore how to best utilize his entire body.

I know its not suppose to be funny, but come on, its pretty hilarious when a baby pulls out these tricks. For the record, I had just told him for the ten millionth time that he may not grab the camera.

And then it was over, finished, done. And we went back to playing and practing how to walk. I really hope this kid has an awesome sense of humor or he is going to have a lot to throw at me in about 13 years.


Friday, June 8, 2012

11 Months!

Holy crap-o-la little PJ is eleven months old...and taking his first steps. He has been running about with his push wagon since he was about 8 months old and decided two days ago that it was time to go solo.

I was finally able to snag a few of the steps on camera - whoops, held the camera incorrectly. I had to get him from behind because he still loves to ham it up for the camera. So either turn your head or the computer 90 degrees to enjoy the show.

Eleven months. Walking. Double wow.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Our house! (Raw)

If you aren't my parents, sister, or called  Farm Girl (out of love), feel free to close your browser: this is a boring post.

For those named: I know, I have basically failed to provide the pictures of our new house that you have patiently (or not so, wink, wink) asked for. Since there are soooo many pictures, I'm posting them here (maybe temporarily).
"America" room. 3rd floor
"America" room 3rd floor
"America" bathroom 3rd floor

Kid's room, 2nd floor

Bathroom, 2nd floor
Kid's room #2, 2nd floor
Parent's room, 2nd floor

Living room, 1st floor
Dining room, 1st floor

Entryway, 1st floor

The very happy home owners

And, as a special treat, our little boy, standing alone. He may have a lot in his hands, but he is standing up all on his own!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Why My Brother-in-Law is Pretty Cool

A few weeks before we flew to the States, my brother-in-law turned 25. 25 is an awesome year - right in the middle of a great decade of fun. But for a lot of good reasons, he didn't get to celebrate his entry into his "mid-20s". My sister and I agreed that we needed to do something for him when we all got together in Hilton Head. Brownies we agreed because he likes brownies. Funfetti icing we agreed because that really annoys him. And we knew he would totally get the joke and appreciate it.

So, as soon as we could, we ran out and picked up a box of brownie mix and funfetti icing to bake back at the place we were staying and surprise him for a delayed birthday.

But then we got busy looking at alligators, whipped by jet lag, thrilled by the ocean, eating ice cream, taking bike rides ... and just, well, we just ran out of time. We never forgot; we just failed to bake the damn brownies.

Lets just say the birthday surprise was really delayed.

Then we got back to Ohio and got our shit together (thanks Mom!). We missed the funfetti but finally greeted him with some brownies and a happy birthday song.
Mom with the fabulous brownies and a candle that matched his shirt.
Lets just say that Uncle B was totally not expecting a birthday surprise. When he walked through the front door at my parent's house and my sister, parents, and I started singing the birthday song ... he started to sing along.

He didn't know whose birthday it was but, to quote him, "someone was singing and so [he] jumped in." It was only when we got to "Happy Birthday, dear Bxxxx!" that he actually realized we were singing for him

And that, my friends, family, and readers, is why my brother-in-law is pretty cool: he leaps right towards whatever comes his way. There have been times that took my breath away when I heard about one of his leaps, but this kid lands. He might roll a bit or flub the landing, but he lands. When he sticks the landing, he usually doesn't get that what he just did was darn cool. And when he flubs the landing, he brushes himself off, complains a bit (cause lets keep it real, we are all human), and moves on. Moves forward.

Then he leaps right towards the next thing.
Uncle B and his brownies. I missed the leap towards them.
The other thing about my brother-in-law is his sense of humor. At the end of our Hilton Head trip he didn't have any clean shirts and my sister made him borrow one of hers. One of her v-neck, shaped t-shirts. Not only did the guy put it on, and let us make a ton of jokes about the whole situation, he also posed for a series of really ridiculous pictures.

My favorite of the ridiculous pictures.
And that is why my brother-in-law is pretty cool.

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