Thursday, June 30, 2011

Some of little r's favorite things...

Food - little r loves to eat.  We recently went to one of our favorite restaurants, Baker's Crust, when Big R's parents were in town.  The server quickly brought little r a scrumptious looking turkey sandwich with soup.  When he saw that it was for him, little r clasped his hands, gasped, and said, "YUMMMMMM." And then there was this sweet, "oh, mommy, oh mommy..."  Needless to say, the kid loves his food.

Wearing Mommy's shoes. Another one of little r's favorite games.  He just looks so proud...

Riding his bike.  I swear the kid is 3 years old and not 22 months.  For the past few months now he has been riding his bike like a pro.  I have to run to keep up with him. The hardest part is telling him that it's time to go inside..."bye, bye, bike..."  saddest little voice EVER.

Pretending to drive the car.  Big R's parents are amazing and they graciously allowed us to borrow their car
after we sold our beloved hybrid (sigh...).  Little r thought our little SUV hybrid was pretty neat, but WHOA NELLY, that Mazda 3 is the BOMB!  Takes me 20 minutes every night when we get home from work to get the little guy out of the car.  If I listen closely, I swear he's saying, "zoom-zoom."  Yes, he is a boy, through and through, and just loves his cars.

And finally... little r loves snuggling up to his blanket and sucking his thumb on our commute as he daydreams out the window.  It was really neat when little r started to really notice his surroundings and watch out the window.  Every once in awhile I'll hear, "TRUCK," or "TRACTOR," or I'll even get a "BOAT" once in awhile.

I heart this little guy... he, of course, has many other things he loves, but we'll save those to share on another day...

Let's give milk another try...

Many of you already know that little r has a sensitive system when it comes to milk.  We discovered this when he was just a couple of weeks old because he would projectile vomit most of what he ate.  And when I say projectile, I am not being dramatic – it would come shooting out of his mouth exorcist style.  Since I was nursing at the time, the pediatrican recommended that I take dairy out of my diet for a week and see if there is any improvement.  That was the beginning of my 7 month hiatus from dairy, and oh how that hurt... I could probably thank little r for helping me lose most of my baby fat though.

So, I went cold turkey off of dairy while I was nursing, and when I stopped nursing we tried slowly introducing a milk-based formula.  That didn't work - his system just couldn't handle the milk protein.  Hello, top of the line formulas!  At a year, we tried it again, and still had no luck.  Little r has instead been drinking almond milk for the past 10 months.  I am happy to report that we may finally have had a breakthrough. I think his little tummy is on its way to maturity.  The teachers at daycare have been helping me introduce whole milk to little r, and so far so good. Not only that, but he apparently loves it!  Go figure!  Just in time for Germany.  Good job, little r - you make your mommy very proud :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

And the adventure begins...

Big R's adventures in Germany have officially begun.  Not only is he sending me pictures of incredible German food, but he is also making sure to send me pictures of his surroundings.

The picture above was taken on his first bike ride in Bavaria. The bike ride that started as a leisurely attempt at exploration and ended as an adventure he hadn't anticipated.  The language barrier might be slightly intimidating, but Big R refuses to let that slow him down and keep him from discovering this beautiful place.  Slightly frustrated with having only his legs to get him around, and not quite certain about public transit (although I think that will be quick to change), he hopped a ride downtown to pick up some new wheels.  A brief shopping trip later, and he was the happy owner of a shiny new commuter bike (still awaiting a picture of this fancy ride), helmet, and bike lock.  Figuring it was a good investment, Big R decided that it was worth spending a little cash to get something dependable... well, mostly dependable.

Big R hit the pavement on his new wheels to discover towns nearby. His destination was a small town just outside of Bamberg where we had seen several real estate listings.

The description of the town sounded quaint and perfect, and according to Big R, the descriptions hardly did it justice.  A perfect little Bavarian town - who could ask for more?!

When he decided to make his way back to town, his luck turned... yes, it turned right into a FLAT TIRE! Not even kidding you.  Big R and I have been riding bikes together for years, and we have never had a flat tire, not once.  He's more than 3 miles from home at this point, so he leaves his bike downtown at a friend's place (yes, he already has friends, are we surprised?), and starts the trek home only to be greeted with a massive downpour.  Ah, the joys of adventure, right?  Amazingly, his spirits were high.  I suppose that's what happens when life throws you a few curve balls in such a beautiful place - you just roll with it.

When the rain cleared up, he took another picture for me so that I could truly appreciate the beauty in what will be our new home:

It is absolutely unreal to me that we are going to live in such a beautiful place.  It feels like a dream. Someone pinch me please!

German food...

One of the many reasons I'm looking forward to living in Germany:

Big R was nice enough to send me a picture of his incredibly scrumptious looking German lunch. My fave - a little jagerschnitzel, french fries, and a local beer.  I'm currently counting down to the second until we join you in Germany, Big R!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

All safe and sound...

After what was no doubt a long night for them both, the sweet pup and tiger cat arrived safe and sound with Big R in Germany this morning.  The flight was uneventful and customs was a snap! With the exception of the airline temporarily losing Big R's bag, we really could not have asked for a smoother trip.  Word has it Rani has settled quite comfortably into her new surroundings and Sergeant Pepper has lived up to his tiger ways with many more stories to follow... Such a huge relief to have them all safe and sound in Germany.  Big R goes through in-processing tomorrow and the housing search begins!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bye bye, Daddy

Hard to believe this day is finally here.  Much of the planning and preparations have brought us to this moment when Big R gets on that plane to Germany with our tiger cat and our beloved pup.  We are excited for Big R to hit the ground in Germany so that we can make sense of all the advice we have been given and prepare the family for our time overseas. 

My heart will officially slow to a normal pace as soon as I get that message from Big R that all have landed safely and have successfully made it through customs.  This has been a really long week because we ran into one snag after another getting our pets to Germany with him today.  It truly is an easy country to bring a pet to in comparison to others, but it is still a massive coordinated effort to get your pet to the other side and successfully through customs.  Everything from the airline losing the reservations for the pets on Big R's flight and then telling us there was no longer any room for them on the plane, to having the USDA inform us that our tiger cat is ineligible to enter the country and would be required to stay in quarantine (a story for another day!).  Yes, it would not be an exaggeration to say I will feel like a normal person again as soon as everyone arrives safely at the Army base tomorrow.

Have a safe flight, Big R.  We love you to pieces and we'll miss you so much until we are reunited in Germany in August.  Give my puppy all the love in the world, and I'm sure we'll be writing story after story about our crazy tiger cat.  Tell the pilot to fly safe!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We had the most wonderful experience this past weekend camping on the beach with friends.  It was our first time swimming with little r in the ocean, and it was unforgettable.  As it turns out, camping on the beach with a toddler let's you experience things like this:

like this:

And like this:

 But most importantly, experiences like this:

Yes, this would be the beach at sunrise, or 5:30 a.m. for those of us that are not normally awake at this crazy hour.  Little r slept soundly in the tent with us until 4:30 a.m. when he woke us up just in time to enjoy a beautiful sunrise on the beach.  We were also witnesses of this:

 Thank you, little r, for giving us such unforgettable experiences.  We love you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Phase eine vollstandige

Phase one is finally complete... Months of planning, agonizing, sorting, arguing, laughing and crying, and I am happily sitting in a half empty room smiling. The Army lets you plan your overseas (or OCONUS) move in three phases - hold baggage, household goods, and storage. Hold baggage is a small shipment that is packed in a crate and put on a plane. This small shipment should arrive in Germany 30 or so days. These are the items you can't live without (well, can't live without for about 30 days...) The household goods shipment is everything else we want to bring to Germany. This shipment can take up to 60 days, hence the reason for the hold baggage. Then there is everything else that you do not really want to get rid of, but cannot justify shipping across the ocean. All three of these shipments are included in the weight allowance, which is just the Army's way of saying, we include all three shipments in the amount of goods we'll transport before we'll make you pay big bucks. Luckily we are no where near our weight least, I hope not!

Based on sound advice we got from many, we decided to have the movers scheduled for the hold baggage and household goods this week. Big R is less than two weeks from his move to Germany, and we have been warned it'll take at least a month to secure housing. Big R's goal is to have housing squared away, have our household goods unloaded, and then have me and little r show up to a nicely furnished home. This is a fabulous thought, and one I hope becomes a reality.

We decided to leave some of our furniture behind in storage, so the house isn't completely empty, and I'm not having the storage picked up until the end of July. We have borrowed things from friends, family, and the Army to fill in for the next two months that little r and I will be living in Virginia. I have to say, we have somehow managed to find a way to make a fully empty house seem somewhat homey. We kept a large rug in our front room that I've owned for nearly 10 years now. This large room seems quite cozy with this rug in it - guess you could say, it really brings the room together :) (Couldn't help the "Big Lebowski" reference!) I borrowed a crib from a neighbor and some toys from a good friend, so little r would be relaxed in this intermediate stage. So far everyone seems pretty happy. Even Lucy cat has finally calmed down (she's been on so much catnip the past few days to help her relax, we weren't sure if we'd ever get our cat back to normal).

So, we only have two weekends left before Big R takes that one way flight to Germany with the pup and our crazy tiger cat. Little r and I will be riding out half the summer here in steamy Richmond snuggling with Lucy cat. We have been fortunate to have some leads, albeit it small, on some housing located close to the Army post. We, of course, have a wish list, but more than anything we are hoping to find something suitable close to Big R's office. Three years of commuting just over 30 miles each way has worn us thin, and with the gas prices being nearly prohibitive in Germany, it seems like a logical goal to find something within 10 km of the post.

Now that phase one is behind us, we are breathing a huge sigh of relief in our super empty house. I haven't had time to get my head around the idea that Big R is leaving the country soon, and I'm focusing more on the little bit of time we have left here in this town that we've enjoyed so much. We have a couple of really fun weekends ahead with friends and family, so we're going to be sure to send Big R off with a bang!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Sometimes I feel like I just cannot get enough of being a mother. Maybe it's just that little r is the sweetest little boy anyone could ask for. Not only did we have another amazing vacation, but my little bear grew up leaps and bounds during our trip. His personality is forming into something magical, and I could just eat him up. He was a little slow on the up-take when it came to waiving and saying hello and good-bye. Instead, he learned quickly how to blow a kiss except the kiss would stop on his lips and he'd shyly hold his hand there. Then he finally started saying "byeee-bye" and "hi-ieee" and learned how to send a kiss far past his lips. Now the little bear has decided that kisses are a powerful thing. This picture was taken after a fun nighttime bath on our trip. little r put one hand on each side of my head and laid a big fat smooch on me again, and again, and again. My heart literally melted... What did I do to deserve this sweet little guy?

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Do you remember when something excited you this much?! Ahhh, to be a toddler again and enjoy simple things as you discover them for the first time. We just returned from an amazing vacation to New England where we were able to spend some valuable time with Big R's family and witness two of our closest friends say their nuptials. On this latest trip, little r discovered a new found love for water... yes, it warms my heart to say that my son cannot get enough of one my favorite things. We did name him, River, afterall... On our way to Salem, Massachusetts, for our friends' wedding, we did a slight detour to a beautiful beach in Rhode Island. We were able to sweet talk the State Park attendants into letting us swing in just for a peek. This was little r's first time seeing the ocean, and we were lucky enough to catch it in a photo. For the remainder of the trip, little r leapt out of his skin and yelled "oh, wa-ter-rrr" (with a sweet little Bostonian accent - no clue where he got that!) every time he saw a puddle, a sprinkler, a lake, or something as grand as the ocean.

The entire vacation was full of water experiences like this one. No matter how cold, dirty, deep or shallow, this little guy was going in, which meant not only did we have our hands full chasing him, but we spent much of the vacation with wet feet. We had major alligator tears galore every time we had to pull him away or had to keep him from diving into a cow pond.

In addition to all the outdoor adventures, we were also able to take little r to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT, where he saw seals, sea turtles, and river otters for the first time. He's finally at an age where he comprehends what he's seeing and he truly loves animals. This was such a fun part of our trip. I think the seals were especially exciting for my little water bear. In this picture he's admiring Susie, a seal that just celebrated her 38th birthday!

We are now home and getting back into the 'ol routine. Tonight little r was watching "Deadliest Catch" with Daddy and he was ecstatically gasping and yelling "oh, wa-ter-r-r-r" at every scene. Too cute. Just love my little guy...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heat anxiety...

Summer decided to hit Virginia with a vengeance. It's almost 10:00 p.m. and it is still 80 degrees outside. I spent my formative years in Las Vegas, so this really shouldn't be terribly dramatic, but really it's not the fact that it is dreadfully hot outside that is disturbing me. The source of my anxiety has everything to do with getting my pets to Germany. To protect the animals, the airlines have a strict policy that an animal is not permitted into the cargo hold if it is greater than 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the tarmac. The process of getting my puppy to Germany is not an adventure that I'm enjoying, and my anxiety levels are rising exponentially each day we get closer to her flight.

Have any of you ever tried to bring a pet overseas? To say it is challenging is putting it lightly... Germany is thankfully pretty laid back about animals, so unlike Hawaii or England or many other countries in this world, there are no quarantine requirements - huge relief. Instead, you just need to be certain your pet's rabies vaccinations are administered within a year and greater than thirty days before the pet's arrival into Germany. To bring a pet into Germany also requires that the pet have a microchip installed. And of course, the final requirement for pet travel is a health certificate issued within 10 days of the flight stating that the pet is in good health for air travel. Sounds simple enough, right? HA!

So, here is how all of these details get complicated. You know, I really can't make this up, so just hold on for the ride. First, the rabies. No problem. Only one of our three pets needed a rabies vaccination. My faithful pup, Rani, has also had a microchip since I adopted her over twelve years ago, so this whole travel into Germany thing is getting even more simple. I called well ahead of schedule to talk with the Army veterinarian to make sure I completely understood all we needed to do and when. Everything was in order, and after my conversation with the vet tech, I had decided I would call to get everything scheduled when we returned from our vacation out west. Little did I know at the time, that things were just starting to get interesting...

The microchip requirement is tricky because it must be compatible with the European system. One thing I've learned all too painfully during our preparations for our move is that the United States does things differently than the rest of the world on just about every level - should we blame capitalism? (a topic for another day.) The microchip then needs to be linked to the rabies vaccination and then also referenced in the health certificate. I threw in the towel with the Army vet. Not only did you have to get an appointment more than three weeks in advance (who has time for that type of planning?!) but they don't have any of our pet's records, which causes more problems. So, I brought all three pets to our local vet to take care of everything. The image was definitely amusing, I'm sure - me, an old pup on a leash wanting to have nothing to do with being in a vet office, and two small carriers with screaming cats. I was so thankful that both of my cats have absolutely no issue with getting in the carrier otherwise the date with the vet never would have happened.

Kudos to the vet and the vet tech for the work they did that day. The vet did an exam on all three of them, including new rabies vaccinations and insertion of the microchip on each pet. All this was done while Sergeant, our crazy tiger cat, decided he needed to take a piss and a dump like nobody's business. The vet said that was the first time she'd seen a cat use a litter box with an audience before - the cat has no shame... Turns out Rani needed a new microchip because her old one is not compatible. That creates a minor complication because we need to be sure the authorities and any future vet realizes that she has two microchips because both chips will register. Not an additional complication we needed...

Now that all that is behind us, the next step before the flight is getting them into the vet for their health certificates. My vet decided to get herself certified to do international health certificates, so I no longer have to depend on the Army vet for anything at all. It'll probably be on us to get the certificate translated into German, but that is the easy party (I think).

The actual travel situation has become the most complicated part of this move. Big R is taking Rani and Sergeant with him to Germany when he leaves in a few weeks (yes, just a few weeks! Another blog soon to follow will address other details about our crazy move!), and Lucy, our orange fluff ball, will be going with me. Might seem like an odd partnering of pets, but here is why we are doing things this way. Summer is an extremely difficult time to put a pet on air travel - well, in the cargo hold that is. We decided early on that we would bring the cats into the cabin to take away any additional issues. I might be an independent and strong woman, but I'm no super hero. There is no way I can handle two cats, a toddler, a car seat, and carry-on luggage on my own. Well, at least not without creating several carbon copies of myself. The risk would be far too great to wait until August when I leave for Germany to put one of the cats in cargo because it's just too hot here in Virginia that time of year. There in lies also the reason the pup is going to Germany with Big R and not staying here with me.

We really thought this would be the end of the surprises, but the Army loves to keep life interesting. We figured there would be no reason why we could not leave direct out of DC to Frankfurt. But we were wrong, of course. The contract flights are required to leave out of Richmond, through DC, and then onto Germany. The layover in DC is either 40 minutes - I would not lie to you, this is seriously one of the options - or five hours. The flight from Richmond is a small "puddle-jumper" so the cargo cannot carry a dog crate. Even if it could, 40 minutes is hardly enough time for the ground crew to get luggage from one plane to another let alone a dog, and I'm not sure a passenger can go from the express flights to the international terminal in that short a period of time. So, we got creative... I called the airline and got Rani and Sergeant booked on the flight from DC. I'll drop Big R off at the airport so he can board in Richmond, then I'll pick up the pets and drive to DC. Once Big R lands in DC, he'll come back through security and get the pets checked in. A five hour layover should leave more than enough time to allow this to happen (fingers crossed). Then I'll sit at the airport until the flight takes off to be sure that Rani got on the plane and wasn't restricted from the flight because it was too hot.

This leads us back to my "heat anxiety"... Why is it so freaking hot?! Please tell me this is a heat wave that will end. I'm going to drink a glass a wine and pray for a cold front to hit the area three weeks from now. Think cold, people!