Friday, December 30, 2011


Today marked the third day this week that we went as a family to Bambados (indoor pool and water park). There isn't a whole lot else going on this time of year for little ones and my crazy bear needs some way to expend his wild energy. Our usual family walks are becoming far and few between these days, too, because little r just doesn't last long in the colder weather we're having. So Bambados it is, and let me just say, it's hardly settling. If you go first thing in the day, you can miss the crowds and we all know early works well for little r :) We made a fantastic discovery today: swimmies! You know those inflatable arm wings that kids wear?! I am no doubt way behind the curve on this one as I'm sure most mothers have discovered this secret. Little r is a fish in the water. Problem is, he doesn't swim just yet but he never got the memo. Instead, he flailing and kicking about making it near impossible to hold onto him. Of course the baby pool, as freaking awesome as they are over here in Germany, is no longer fun. My little man wants to be in the big pool all the time. Enter swimmies. So way cool. I was a little unsure if he would let us put them on. Turns out he'd been paying attention to all the other kids with them on and couldn't wait to have his own pair. These simple little arm supports opened his world. He loves being independent and Big R and I enjoy the break. I have fewer anxiety attacks and little r is having so much more fun. Not only did little r swim in the pool all morning practically on his own, but he also went down the huge water slide no less than a dozen times. Now this is no simple water slide. It's one of those water slides you see in water parks that twist and turn and take you through tunnels. He even went in the really fast slide in the intertube with us. The kid has little fear these days when it comes to water. Guess its time to find the boy some lessons :) Sorry we don't have any pictures to share because he sure is cute when he swims. We have our hands a bit full. Hopefully we'll figure out a way to water proof a camera soon - so stayed tuned! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 29, 2011

And, we ate the ginger bread house...

Yes we did, little r and I ate his ginger bread house. There are probably a million things wrong with me allowing this to happen, but honestly, I just can't stop laughing about it. It was darn yummy is what it was.  Never realized little r had such an eye for good food. Haha.  And here I was worried about the dog eating it!  Guess you could say we're a couple of suckers for cinnamon graham crackers, vanilla icing, and chocolate (for some reason neither one of us are too crazy about marshmellows). The only thing I'm disappointed about is that I didn't take a picture of it first.  Our friends had invited us over to make these little houses made of goodies this week, and they were a simple way to have fun. And, as it turns out, a pretty fantastic snack a few days later. It was another one of Big R's overachiever moments. He's like that especially when it comes to being creative, and little r never seems to mind the help.  The little house had a steeply slanted roof, a front entry way with Santa standing inside, and it even had a dormer.  Not even kidding you.  That's my hubby for you.  Being that little r and I started the project long before Daddy offered his help, it was in a sad state of disarray and thrown together mispodge of bricks and paste.  Man, I really wish I had taken a picture of it - oh well, we'll try to remember next time, and you can just imagine what it looked like in your mind. Little r and I were giggling so hard that I didn't even think to take an "after" picture either.

Fun can show up in places you'd never expect. I hope you all are having fun in a creative way today, too :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy days...

This could very well be a prematurIe celebration, but I'm at the point where every little bit makes me happy.  The monsters have released my little man, and sleep is starting to return to the household.  Yeehaaaa!  This has translated into a very happy little bear and an even happier Mommy.  I wish I could tell you that I discovered some genius solution for why my toddler has suddenly started sleeping again, but it remains a complete mystery.  At this point so many things were at play creating a perfect storm of issues resulting in insomnia and sleep deprivation.  Potty training somehow triggered nightmares, which started a fear of the dark, and translated into restless wakenings.  Believe it or not, we went from having the room be almost bright as day with night lights, to regressing into complete darkness again.  I started to realize that the "I'm scared, mommy" call was simply little r's way of telling me he didn't want to be in bed and was ready to play.  Manipulation is a powerful tool when it pulls at your heart strings, and when it has to do with fear, it's hard to tell your toddler he really isn't scared at all.

Somehow it all came together though and has gone full circle.  He's even asking to use the toilet.  Not much going on in that category, but at least the little guy isn't afraid of the toilet anymore.  Thank God for small miracles.  I was afraid we were looking at a year of toilet nightmares and dirty diapers, and I was NOT looking forward to any of that.

I also started to realize that he was getting bored during the day.  Let's face it, I'm not the most interesting cat in the room, and my toddler isn't the first person to make that determination.  I have many Mommy and wife things that need to get done throughout the day, which often translates into not being able to play with trains every solitary second like little r wants me to.  Our apartment is a really comfortable place to live, but these walls get old for a toddler whose brain is growing in warp speed.  Turns out the best recipe for sleep was Christmas - a little sugar crash and new toys wore the kid out and he slept until 7:30 a.m. the next day.  Not sure it's a good idea to feed him cookies and give him new toys every day, but it was a perfect Christmas gift for a worn out Mommy, let me tell you.  I'll take that any time he's willing to dish it out.

And then yesterday we made an even better discovery!  An indoor water park just 10 minutes from home. Bamberg recently opened its new Schwimbad called Bambados.  It has been heavily promoted and we were anxious to try it yet never seemed to make it over there.  We finally took little r yesterday and what an awesome place.  Little r was in heaven, and I found a new destination to add to our weekly routine to get exercise and have fun.  It's time for little r to tap back into those swimming genes he has undoubtedly inherited from Big R's side of the family.

Needless to say, the perfect storm has started to dissapate, and I am working on creating a more regular routine to help keep that growing mind in little r's head engaged so that he sleeps more soundly.  So far it's working, and I'm sure I could use some more structure in my life as well.  Hopefully this will calm my sanity until kindergarten starts - it's only a month away!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas cheer and choo choo trains

Christmas was quiet and intimate for our family this year.  No big family gatherings or party traditions. We instead had our first Christmas at home as our own little family and started what we hope will be new traditions.   It was a cold and blistery day, so we decided to stay inside and bake goodies and a yummy Christmas Eve dinner.

Despite there being only three of us in this house, we had no shortage of food.  Being his first Christmas away from his family ever, Big R had a list of items that were a must. Even little r got to pitch in and do his first holiday baking.

With the butter cake baking and the cookies mostly in our tummies already, we started making the traditional Swedish meatballs, ham, and other yummy treats.  
We used enough butter to make Paula Dean proud.
I should never be trusted cooking these things. Luckily there were a few left over for dinner.
Being far away was made easier by using Skype to video chat with our families.  We devoured our dinner...well, kind of, considering we'd been eating all day and had eaten most of the dinner before we sat down - oops!  And once little r was tucked into bed and Santa visited our house, I crashed while Big R stayed up late to call his family during their traditional Christmas Eve gathering.  
Little r didn't disappoint and had us up bright and early.  It was ok though because he was in the best mood. Seems to take the edge off the early rise when you have a sweet little boy to wake up to.  He had no idea how exciting today was going to be.  We weren't sure what he'd be like with his presents.  I always thought he would dive into all the presents and go crazy, but he was actually completely opposite.  He'd be so excited by one gift, that he'd probably play with it for hours if we let him.  The last thing he was interested in was opening more presents. It was super cute.  Somehow we managed to get through his mound of presents.  He is a spoiled little man - Santa (and all the grandparents) were very good to him.  Our little man loved all of his gifts (except the clothes, little kids never like those but Mommy does!), but I think his absolute favorites were his new Thomas the Train toys that he got from Santa (Daddy couldn't hold back).  The kid seriously loves trains - and cars, too, of course, but trains are his most recent obsession - actually, he likes most things that have wheels and can "crash" (don't ask...).

Here are some fun pictures of the shenanigans from our Christmas morning.   

Shiny train, Mommy!

So many cars - how can I hold them all at the same time?

Got to get them all lined up perfectly...

Choo-choo.  Notice the unopened present in the background.  

Oh, another present for me?!

I think the kid is a fan of Christmas, what do you think?

Merry Christmas everyone!  We hope your holiday has been warm, loving, yummy, and most of all fun.  We love you and wish you a very happy and safe holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What to do when your toddler starts waking up early

A few quick hints on what to do when your toddler very suddenly decides that three hours before sunrise is a good time to start the day.

1. Whimper to yourself quietly when you hear him calling for you at 4:30 in the morning knowing this has happened with enough frequency that it's going to be the norm for awhile.

2. Coerce your little man back to sleep for 20 minutes so you can trick your body into thinking you slept in.

3. Realize it's time to accept that early mornings can be productive and repeat the mantra, "I will become a morning person" over and over again.

4. Do a challenging yoga session while your toddler watches Sesame Street. You figure you might as well wake up every cell in your body despite the inability to bend over at this ungodly hour.

5. In addition to yoga, read 50+ pages in your book, take a shower, curl your hair, eat breakfast, and do the dishes all before even the dog wakes up for the day.  If you are going to be up, you might as well be productive!

6. Try not to cry when your neighbors comment on how tired you must be as you quickly realize your attempts at keeping him quiet are failing miserably.  Be thankful they have earplugs (yikes!) and that are super understanding about the whole thing.

7.  Look at the bright side, many people get up that early to go to a desk job that they hate. At least you get to stay home and play with your cute little man all day.

8.  Solicit advice from your friends on Facebook, someone has to have a good approach that will stick.

9.  Try not to drink copious amounts of coffee so that you can actually sleep when he finally goes down for a nap.

10. Channel your inner law student where you could think and operate intelligibly on a mere four hours of sleep a night.

And if none of these tips work succesfully, just count down hours until it's late enough in the day to have a glass of wine.  It's just a phase... you will both survive it, so keep your chin up, young person.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Please tell me this is just a phase

Little r has decided that he needs to add a little spice to my life. I was thinking things were getting pretty spicy, so I wasn't really prepared for this latest addition. Fortunately, for me, little r has nearly always been a good sleeper. Sure, he has his moments, but for the most part he goes to bed without a fuss and typically wakes up between 630 and 700, which can hardly be something to complain about considering he's only two.

Lately, and especially in the past few days, little r has decided that wake up time is at 5 a.m.  Mommy is NOT a fan.  I know, I should consider myself lucky that this is just now happening, but that thought doesn't make waking up early any easier.  Being that this has started happening with some regularity, I made the executive decision yesterday that he was going to start heading to bed earlier.  The only thing worse than getting up at the ungodly hour is waking up to a crankpot toddler.

I had also decided it was time to accept this new routine and embrace it with all that I could muster. Yes, big groooooan.  This could be a phase, but for some reason I'm not holding my breath.  I was clearly not paying attention to myself because when little r woke me up at 5 a.m. - on the dot (how do they do that?!) - I was anything but ready to accept the wake up call. It's like an alarm clock without a snooze button.  Should have figured all those years of snoozing too much would finally catch up with me!

This morning little r decided he was actually going to let me read my Nook and the news on my phone, things he rarely allows me to do with any regularity (I realize I just used the word "allow" with regard to my toddler, I know you parents out there understand EXACTLY what I mean).  Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for this sweet little surprise and neither of my fancy electronic devices were charged enough to allow more than five minutes of browsing.  Ah, Murphy, you got me again!

So, I snuggled down to watch Cars 2 (AGAIN) with little r in an attempt to keep him quiet and not wake up everyone in the building.  I'm convinced my neighbors really hate me at this point.  I have to admit, he was being pretty darn cute watching his movie.  I mean, look at this video - he cracks me up shaking his bootie.  Notice that the thumb is in his mouth the entire time though.  Just wish I could convince him that he's tired and should sleep just a little big longer, perhaps?

I snuck in a little catnap, and let little r watch his new favorite obsession again.  I can be a real sucker when I'm tired, and I have no doubt this will come back to bite me.  My adjustment to this new routine is taking a little time...hopefully I'll figure out something that will work well for all of us.  If you have any pointers, I'm all ears!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A little sister-time

After our wet and chilly experience in Rothenburg, I was a little concerned that all my plans with my sister during her visit would be somewhat washed out... We were armed with a little hindsight this time, and decided that watching the radar and being a little more in tune with little r's mood would do us some good and help the experience a bit.

Big R has had Erfurt on his radar as a day trip for some time now, and a friend of mine verified that the Weihnachtsmarkt there was a must see, so it was on our itinerary.  The weather was iffy at best, but we watched the radar closely and decided to let little r get in a good nap before heading out the door.  This looked like a place to see after the sun goes down anyhow.  Unlike our Rothenburg trip, the Gods were smiling on us and our Erfurt trip was a great time. It was an easy and uneventful drive (including a series of tunnels one of which was nearly five miles long!), and Big R's fancy new camera rocked the pictures and really captured the essence of our experience there.  Turns out going at night was just the ticket...

This was by far my favorite Weihnachtsmarkt yet.  It wasn't a terribly large market as it only occupied a small square in the Allstadt of this eastern German town, but it had so much character.  The ferris wheel alone (or "sit down wheel" as little r likes to call it) was cool all by itself.  Everything was festivally decorated and the mood was jovial.  It was just pretty darn neat.  There were also several other carnival rides, and quickly recognizing there was no escaping them, we decided "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and let little r have some fun.  He has to learn at some point how this whole thing works right?  My soft spot was the little choo-choo train.  This was a must, so we got in line right away, and let little r take a ride around the track.

After a few rides around the track, little r was pretty sad to say "good-bye" to the train....

He got over it quickly though, and we were proud of him for that.  Of course, it did help that daddy road in the bumper cars with him...
Hard to tell who is having more fun in this picture - Daddy or little r!
All was going well, until little r figured out that the objective of the whole ride was that people purposely crash into you.  Big R did a great job avoiding any collisions until the last minute or so of the ride.  Let's just say it made for an easy exit...

Despite Big R's incredible fear of heights, he was insistent that we take a romantic ride on the Ferris wheel.  It provided some amazing views of the Weihnachtsmarkt, although I'm not sure Big R saw any of them.  We found some yummy grub, grabbed a few tasty glasses of gluhwein, and enjoyed all the sights this beautiful little place had to offer.

The rain started as we were walking to our car.  Guess you could call it pretty amazing timing.

The rest of the trip was all about sister-time.  The little man is not only going through the fabulous terrible twos stage, but he's also getting in those dreaded two-year molars. Yes, still.... Big R graciously sent my sister and I out the door while he wrangled the little monster.  Big R is usually my photographer, so I don't have nearly as much to share in pictures.  I took my sister to Bamberg on the bus and we enjoyed an afternoon exploring the Grunermarkt and the Bamberger Weihnachtsmarkt.  The crowds were busy as we were easily reminded that this was the last weekend before Christmas.  We had lunch at a cafe that was super delish and then spent the afternoon quite literally shopping.  It was too much fun.  That evening I had our newly found and much adored babysitter take care of little r so that we could enjoy an adult night out at the local brewery here in Bischberg.

After many bouts of changing my mind and our plans, we finally decided with much persuasion by Big R, that he would stay home and take care of little r while my sister and I took the train into Munich.  She had a flight out the next day and had a friend from college she could stay with to avoid a ridiculously early rise making a long travel day even longer.  It was pretty clear from the minute he woke up that little r was just not going to have a good day, so the decision ended up being a good one even though it would have been just as much fun to have all of us there.

Seeing the Munchen Weihnachtsmarkt was a lot of fun.  The flavor is about the same at all of these markets, but this one was at a much grander scale and the crowds were bigger and more raucous.  It was also REALLY cold.  We had no plans in Munich other than heading to the Marienplatz to check out the festivities.  This was the first time since I was a little girl that I actually saw the Glockenspiel.  It has been under renovation for YEARS, and just finally was revealed to the public again this summer.  The Marienplatz looked beautiful with all the Weihnachts decorations and the large Christmas Tree or Christbaum.

We simply strolled around taking it all in with absolutely no agenda.  It was kind of a nice place to be. We had no idea what we would find, including the beasts. Yes, you read that correctly, we ran into a back of noisy beasts.  Sometimes you come across things in life that you decide would be best to not ask any questions.  This was one of those moments.

We still have no clue... we think it might have been some sort of tradition.  Whatever it was, it was at the very least truly BIZARRE.  Without realizing it, we found ourselves walking with this crowd of beasts as they clanked and prodded down the street frightening onlookers and whipping, yes, WHIPPING, folks with their furry hands.  Very, VERY weird.  It was so weird in fact that we couldn't draw ourselves away.  So, we joined them instead...

Once we escaped the mysterious enclave of beasts, we found ourselves a nice cup of gluhwein and bought some Weihnachts treats before settling down in a cafe for dinner.  

We had such a great time, but unfortunately it all had to come to an end.  We said our good-byes at the train station and headed our separate ways.  Man, I'm really going to miss her...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The romantic road leads to...rain

The much anticipated visit by my baby sister is FINALLY here.  The week is about making memories, catching up on things we've missed, and exploring a few Weihnachtsmarkts in Germany.  One place I was really excited to explore with my sister was Rothenburg ob der Tauer.  It's an old medieval town that sits along the famous Romantic Road through Germany, and I had been told by many that it has a Weihnachtsmarkt that is not to be missed.  Only an hour and a half away by car makes it also an easy destination to accomplish in one day.

We walked through the old fortress walls ready to discover this special little town.

And it really is a special place just as everyone had promised.  Then it came... the rain. We knew it was risky heading out when the weather has been wet and cold, but we were determined and thought it couldn't really be THAT bad, could it?

We attempted hiding in tunnels...
And inside a few stores...

And Big R did his best to take photos in between raindrops...

But the wrath was too great and the storm came with a vengeance.  And you think I'm kidding!  A little rain never hurt anyone, and we were prepared for the cold (and maybe even to be a tad bit wet). What we weren't prepared for was the downpour and the angry wind. Our crazy little bear had had enough, as did the rest of us.  Romantic city or not, we were uncomfortable, wet, and cold.  After shuffling in a tasty brat and potato pancake, we opted out of the gluhwein and ran through the town to our car.  We were quite literally drenched, and little r could have convinced an army we were torturing him.  He wasn't the only one happy we had made the decision to leave...

Safe and dry in the warm car, and we wrote off our experience at the Weihnachtsmarkt Rothenburg as an adventure vouching to make at least one more day trip to see the pretty little town when it is WARM and DRY!  As we drove home on the autobahn the sun peaked through the clouds and we all tried not to notice the open blue sky opening up as far as the eye could see.  Ah well... let's just say we'll be watching the radar closer this week hoping we can time our next adventure just a little better...