Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A few things I've learned...

This week has been rather normal in the scheme of things.  Somehow I feel like the normalcy is teaching me a few things about myself, about Germany, about being a mom, and about being a pet owner.

First, this is what happens when the winter decides not to come on time - FOG! And we are getting lots of it. Turns out we moved to Germany in time to experience the driest November on record.  Not only have we not seen any snow yet, but they are fighting forest fires in the Black Forest, and the rivers are running dangerously low.  Neither of which are things Germans are accustomed to. The fog is thick like soup and when it clears it leaves a fine dusting of frost on everything.

Second, the Germans are insanely bright when it comes to intuitive thinking.  (Is that an Oxymoron?)  No one likes scraping frost off of a car window first thing in the morning.  Even the Germans hate this with a passion.  To avoid this dreaded past time they lay blankets, cardboard boxes, or sun visors across their windshields to block the ice.  It's genius really.  Lucky for us, we have our one vehicle in a cozy garage to hide from the frost at night, but if we ever need to escape the scraping, I'm going to throw a blanket on the windshield.  Just genius!

Third, when you have a front door that locks automatically when you shut it, taking a walk with a toddler and a dog can become an occupational hazard, or rather, it can be taking a huge risk.  What do you do when you decide to roll down a hill with your toddler and laugh uncontrollably, only to find out an hour later when you are ready to escape the cold that your keys are no longer in your pocket?  You panic, of course.  You probably know by now that's my response for everything.  It works though.  If I keep up these types of shenanigans, I won't need to worry about dieting because I race around and sweat like a banshee until I find what I'm looking for.  I'm inside a warm house now, so clearly this had a happy ending.  Let's just say I have developed multiple steps for ensuring the keys are in my hand when I walk out the door, and securely zipped in my pocket until we return.  Can't say I'll be rolling down any hills in the near future either, but you never know.

Fourth, sending out Christmas cards before Thanksgiving isn't apparently necessary to make sure all our friends and family get those cards before the holidays.  It's the first time I've ever been early for something like this in my life.  You can thank the thousands of miles between us and you for the early arrival of our card.  At least this way everyone should have our address.

Fifth, it hurts like a mo-fo to get in your two-year molars.  You also get symptoms like a cold, so you can't breath, you cough, and you have a nasty headache.  Yet, despite this, my little man is sleeping like an angel.  He's just a crazy man when he's awake, but we'll cut him some slack.

Sixth, when your dog gets old on you the good discipline goes out with the youth.  My beloved pup turned 13 years old this month and she has added some interesting new spice to our lives.  Her loss of hearing apparently makes her think we can't hear either.  She's starving all the time and gets into the trash and eats off your plate like a dingo.  Where did my good 'ol girl go?  It used to take her forever to find the perfect tuft of grass to poop on.  Now grass isn't even necessary.  Any 'ol surface will do.  Yep, the pup is getting old.

Seventh, all hell breaks loose in the house when your outdoor cat is too wimpy to be out in the cold.  Sergeant Pepper races around the house howling all day and uses Lucy as a punching bag.  Keeps things rather exciting.

And finally, cows are scary, horses are cool, and pajamas with our favorite cartoon characters on them makes bedtime (and nighttime) so much easier.

Yep, I've been learning a fair amount this week.  I'm sure I've left off some good parts, like lattes with our new espresso machine are heavenly, but I'll save those for another blog.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas festivals, Gluhwein, and good friends

After spending Thanksgiving day eating a wonderful meal with our TDS work family, we got little r home and snuggled down to prepare ourselves for a big weekend of Christmas market exploring.  We had somehow made plans with different groups of friends to go to the Weihnachtsmarkt Bamberg three days in a row.  Each day provided us with a completely different set of memories.

One thing we were not particularly prepared for was little r getting in his two-year molars.  He has been an uncomfortable and out of control mess providing a little added spice to our outings.  On Friday we had some good friends from the TDS family pass through our town and explore the Weignachtsmarkt with us before heading home.  We opted not to drive and instead took the bus into town with our friends, their two month old angel, and our crazy teething monster.  It was super cold despite it not having snowed yet, and we probably weren't as prepared as we should have been to keep warm.  It didn't take us long to find a Gluhwein stand so we could quickly start thawing.

Gluhwein stand at the Bamberg Weihnachtsmarkt where everyone is huddling around a warm cup of heaven.
Gluhwein is heavenly.  I suppose it's somewhat like drinking a hot tottie on a freezing cold day except that it tastes a million times better.  It is usually prepared with red wine (although it can be made with white wine as well), heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus, and sugar.  As much as I love red wine, Gluhwein has quickly become one of my favorite traditional treats here in Germany.  We tried Gluhwein from a few different stands throughout the afternoon and we were amazed at how different the drink can be depending on how it's made.  Little r didn't have anything warm to drink to escape the cold, and he was uncomfortable and ready to head home, so that's exactly what we did.  We stopped at our favorite local brewery for dinner to share a little of our town's awesome German food and beer at the Sonne Brewerei, and little r had his "apple beer" (applejuice in a small beer mug) and was all smiles.  It was a fun evening even if little r added a some extra spice to the experience.

Saturday we had plans to meet with a group of friends at a brewery downtown to take in some warm German food before heading out to the Weihnachtsmarkt.   We were a little nervous because little r refused to nap and we didn't want a repeat of the night before.  Turns out we had nothing to be afraid of. He had as much fun as we did hanging out with our friends.

After a scrumptious traditional German meal at Klosterbrau in Bamberg, we did a little window shopping.

and we marveled at how beautiful Bamberg was at night with all the lights...

and then we walked through a sea of Christmas lights and decorations as we found our way to the Weihnachtsmarkt...

After walking around the market enjoying the sites and laughing with friends, we found ourselves on a cozy corner street standing at a bonfire sipping Gluhwein and listening to German Christmas music.  The children were running around chasing lights in a mysterious glee and we were snuggling up to our loved ones taking it all in.

I think we were all sad that the evening had to end.  Our little bear didn't even last for the ten minute drive home...
And finally, on Sunday, we had plans to head Bamberg for a small Christmas market with our German neighbors where they were also meeting up with some other friends.  Knowing that we should probably not push our luck and take little r out into the elements a third night in a row, Big R stayed home so I could enjoy a baby-free German adventure.

My German is improving ever so slowly, and I was looking forward to spending this time with my German friends in Bamberg.  I asked them if they would speak mostly German, especially to each other and with their other friends.  My listening skills needed the practice and I promised I would try my best to talk in German as much as possible (hinting that I would probably get better after a cup or two of Gluhwein!).  The small market was called Adventsmarkt to celebrate the start of Advent.  Unlike the Weihnachtsmarkt, it was for this weekend only.  Adventsmarkt was set up around St. Elizabeth Church where the famous Sandkerwa festival was held every summer. This festival was very small and had more of an artist's flare in a tiny little corner of Bamberg.
St. Elizabeth is a small, unassuming church in the medieval part of Bamberg.

Me with my wonderful German friends.

Me with my a group of new friends out to enjoy the Adventsmarkt.

Although it was a small market, it was teeming with people.

Artisan sharing his craft with onlookers.
The options being minimal for food, we found ourselves walking through the streets of Bamberg as my German friend showed me all the best places to eat, play, and shop.  It was great!  Armed with all the best sites to this romantic German town, getting a regular date night in play is now a must.

Our stroll ended at the Weihnachtsmarkt (of course), so that we could enjoy some bratwurst and Gluhwein.  The tummy growls ended and our fingers started to thaw, and we all stood together at a Weihnachtsmarkt stand to eat and drink over stories.
I listened closely and followed more of the conversation than I expected I would.  It was interesting to hear all the different dialects, and I was amazed at how difficult it was to speak in a way they could understand.  My friend was impressed by my confidence in ordering and speaking to strangers.  Hey, when it comes to food and drink, I am ON IT!  We snuck away from the group to indulge in a crepe filled with kindershokolat (UNBELIEVABLE!), and then said our good-byes to her friends and walked through the market to do some more people watching and find some more of that heavenly hot drink.  Both of my friends work for the University downtown, so they showed me some places off the beaten path and shared stories and history.  I loved it.  I had only wished that Big R had been sharing it with me.

Today was the beginning of another week of work.  Big R has a couple weeks of work hell before him as he prepares for a courts martial, and I am recovering from a very full weekend and taming the little teething monster.  We had a great time this weekend with all our friends at the Bamberg Weihnachtsmarkt, and I am so looking forward to seeing more of German during this amazing time of year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I keep having to remind myself that it's almost Thanksgiving.  You would think all the constant chatter on Facebook about Thanksgiving and all the emails and text messages that have been exchanged about what friends and family are making for the holiday would make it a little obvious.  Despite all that, I've still been distracted.  Today it finally started feeling like Thanksgiving.  The holidays are in the air.  I had lunch with a friend in downtown Bamberg today, and the Christmas market is well underway and will come into full swing this weekend with the beginning of Advent.  The weather shifted as well.  We have been spoiled with a warm fall with crisp mornings and sunny afternoons, but I think that is gone by the wayside as winter is on its way.  In Bamberg the valley fills up with ice fog in the morning that feels like a cloud full of ice. When you walk through it you can feel the icy mist touch your face.  Feels somewhat magical to me even if it chills you to the bone.

We get to enjoy another long weekend as a family.  No plans to leave home this weekend - at least not far from home.  We'll be spending Thanksgiving Day with our TDS JAG family, and we have plans to spend some time this weekend with friends exploring the Christmas market in downtown Bamberg, which we have been told is all about the experience of warming up with a cup of Gluhwein and walking through the sea of nativity scenes and beautiful lights.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family.  We hope you have plans to spend Thanksgiving with close family and friends.  Stay warm and have a peaceful holiday.  You will be in our thoughts!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book club

Have you ever had the joy of being part of a group of ladies (or men) that are so incredible they add true value to your life?  I was blessed to have had such a group in Richmond that I sadly had to leave behind.  I was worried it would take years, if not several more assignments, to find such a great group of people again.  I am elated to tell you that I have had the pleasure of joining a group of ladies for a book club here.  This group of women are the type you write home about.  They are intelligent, light-hearted, thoughtful, serious, insightful, and they emit positive energy.

Last night we met for our third time to discuss a book that was a little different than most you might find in a book club.  When my fellow JAG-spouse and good friend asked if I would be interested in being a part of a small book club, I was a little skeptical.  I enjoy reading, but I don't give myself much time for it, and what I had heard of other book clubs in the past honestly scared me a bit.  My chosen career in the legal field results in an incredible amount of reading, and it's not typically the type of reading you would do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  That said, I started realizing that I enjoyed reading most when the books were slightly more "light" and allowed you to escape to a place that was familiar and entertaining.  Not that I don't enjoy or appreciate a well-written novel that is seeping with culture and richness, I just find that I won't take the time for it.  Embarrassing as that might be to admit.  I was also a bit nervous about having the time to read a book every month.

Well, this book club was more than I could have expected, or just what the doctor ordered.  We have an eclectic mix of nonfiction novels deep with history, "light" satire, and great classics.  I am finding that I read much more quickly than I ever expected, and I'm enjoying reading again.  Most importantly, I am in love with the group of ladies I get to spend an evening with once a month.

Last night I had the honor of hosting our group.  It was fun to have people over to our little abode and it motivated me to get a few decorating projects done and scrub the house clean (thank you, ladies!). Our group was small last night, and those that couldn't join us were sorely missed.  But we were still able to have a great time talking about life, and, oh yeah, the book!

Thank you, ladies, for being such an amazing group of women.  You filled a void I was missing having to leave some great friends behind, and you far surpass any of my wildest expectations.  I can't wait until next month!  

p.s. little r ate green beans today - GREEN BEANS!  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Awesomeness factor

Just a few awesome things I'm pondering about on this chilly autumn Friday...

1. Little r is eating greens.  Yes, it's an unbelievable thing, but it truly happened.  The past three days he ate spinach leaves and broccoli - BROCCOLI! Repeat after me: "This is not a fluke."    

2. Despite my chocolate binge yesterday (and a plate of pasta I ate last night), I somehow lost two pounds this week. Go figure. 

3. Big R built the coolest cat "box" EVER for me.  Not exciting news for most, but if you have an indoor cat, you have to check this thing out.  This has got to be one of the most rockin' things Big R has ever come up with.  It's a litter box and eating station combined. Check it:

4. Winnie the Pooh has entered the building... It is now little r's favorite movie.  Music to my ears and my heart.  Pooh bear takes me back.  Although, it took a little bit to get little r to stop calling him "poop" bear.  Hahaha. Now he just goes everywhere singing, "honey, honey, HONEY!"  Gotta love it.

5. Sounds like my little sister might be coming for a visit in a few weeks.  YES!!! 

6. I managed to complete my painting projects, even though daycare cancelled on me, by optimizing little r's naptimes this week.  Let's just say, little r got the memo and gave me a solid couple of hours each day, and mommy turned into a painting maniac.  Living room, hallway, and kitchen - CHECK!  

7. My awesome hubby bought me a brand new iPhone. Sweeeet.  My dependence on technology has now taken complete hold of me and I will soon join the masses and be even more hooked on my phone.       

8. Little r joined the circus.
Daddy found this tent for him and it oozes awesomeness. Little r thinks it's the coolest thing in the world of cool things.  Here's him dancing the jig in front of it (the picture is blurry because my camera couldn't keep up with his boogey, but the sentiment is hilarious - you get the picture):

What sort of crazy awesomeness is happening in your life right now?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Yummy things

I just found myself eating chocolate...a lot of chocolate.  Why is this a problem?  Technically I'm on a diet. Have been on a diet now for the past few weeks just praying giving up my favorite foods will help me shed a few pounds.  It's been good for discipline, but I'm not seeing much change on the scale just yet.  Diets are a really annoying thing, aren't they?  I'm trying to figure out why I decided I needed to diet in the first place. I had promised myself to stop being so obsessive about my weight and focus instead on taking care of myself.  Then I plopped right down into this country that has the most amazing food - croissants, schnitzel, beer, wine, and...chocolate :)  Despite having a pretty regular yoga practice and hiking all these mountains, er, hills everyday, my waist band is very generously enjoying my new life in Germany.

Not that I give a rats bahoody if I get happily round (I refuse to use the word "fat" - I think it's a nasty word), I would just like to be comfortable in my clothes and I hate the idea of having to buy a new wardrobe for my ever-expanding booty.  So, I joined my running buddy here on a diet plan.  We were both looking for some motivation from each other, although I think she needs much less than I do.

Enter chocolate... What happened?!  I honestly have no clue.  I went running with my running buddy and I just can't seem to stop feeling hungry today.  As I sat in my living room reading my favorite blogs and pretending to research environmental law issues, everything around me became a piece of chocolate. It was uncanny really.  I can thank my sweet hubby who is an adoring chocolate fanatic for having chocolate on hand for me in the fridge.  It was supposed to be off-limits, and I had been doing such a great job eyeing it every day.  The urge overwhelmed me and before I knew it my legs were involuntarily leaving the chair and walking me to the kitchen.  And there it was... in its scrumptious package - RITTER SPORT chocolate with whole hazel nuts.   Only the best chocolate EVER.  Have you ever tried the stuff? If you are a chocolate lover like I am and haven't had the joy of tasting this insane creation of milk chocolate loveliness, let me know. We'll send you some.  How I lasted this long is as much a mystery as what prompted me to attack that chocolate like a cat on a tuna can.

Eh, the diet can start again tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Terrible, horrible, no good very bad day

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like the universe is against you? I'm stuck in one of those and I don't want to start over, I just want it to BE over.

It started out like it was going to be a great day. Little r slept until 7:30 a.m., which was lovely. Then it seemed everything went awry. Little r's diaper leaked and everything including the precious "dankee" was soaked in urine. We did a quick cleanup party and I handwashed the dankee so I could quickly get it in the dryer. Your life should not be mandated by the lovely your child carries around and yet I allow it to control me far too much.

I had made a last minute decision to head to post with Big R so that I could pick up some things at the PX. That was probably where I made my mistake.

After spending an hour at the community center so little r could play until everything on the post opens (I realize we have to reduce hours for budget cutbacks, but come on, army!), I bundled the little man up and strapped him in the stroller to walk across post. I made myself a list and after five toddler meltdowns and three stores, managed to walk away with only two of the items on my list of ten. And no, it wasn't because I forgot or was frazzled, it was because the PX failed me miserably. I broke down and scheduled a hair appointment on post (praying this isn't a poor decision) while bribing little r to stay calm with gummy bears. At least one thing was accomplished today.

Finally we headed to the bus. I've had a few occasions where I had to ride the bus with little r sans stroller, which has now made it a near impossibility to keep him in one when we are on the bus. He was being cute and behaving so I was happy and reflecting on my crazy day capitalizing on the things that went well.

Then the unthinkable happened… I am mortified just thinking about it. Little r was getting a little rambunctious as he was standing in his seat to look out the window. When the bus came to its next stop, the bus driver got out of his seat and walked back to me. Like one of those bad dreams where everything moves in slow motion and fire was shooting out of his eyes. Then he let me have it. Short of kicking me off the bus, he sternly told me to control my child. It always sounds scarier in German, too. The older and snobbery woman sitting in front of us nodded her head in approval at the tongue lashing I just received. Awesome. Can I crawl in a cave, please?

I somehow fenagled little r back into his stroller and pushed back the tears of shame. I got off a few stops early and stopped at my favorite bakery for comfort food (so much for my diet).

We made it to the house and the delivery guy practically pounced on me. This is starting to become an annoying occurrence where I am signing for everyone's packages simply because I happened to be home. With my arms absurdly full with my neighbors packages and the few things I got at the store, I worked our way up the hill to our door. I got little r parked in front of his lunch and a movie and I went to retrieve the dankee that I soon discovered was still completely soaked. Yes. My day needs to end.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 14, 2011

Truth of the matter...

Sometimes you just need to give into the reality that life follows you wherever you go.  We live in this beautiful place and are in a position to travel to incredible locations easily and affordably.  The truth of the matter is though, life is still life, and moving to a foreign country is no cake walk no matter how incredibly "cool" it might be.  I've always been a "glass is half full" kind of person, and I really dislike being that person to complain or accept when things aren't going perfectly well.  I have to let you in on a little secret, this move to Germany was not devoid of stressful moments, depressed feelings, and frustration.  We live the high life, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be here. That said, sometimes I have to let myself be ok with accepting that not everything is perfect and to admit that I don't have all things under control.  Things are just harder over here.

Life is a funny thing.  We get very accustomed to our American ways and the comforts that we feel in our customs.  When you travel to a foreign place, it's new and exciting and you temporarily adjust to the oddities or discomforts of being in a country that speaks a different language, but you get to go home and fall back into the swing of life in the comforts of the place you know best.  When we moved here, it was definitely new and exciting - it still is - life goes on, however, and I'm not sure I was as prepared for dealing with the punches life can throw at you while living in foreign place.

The language barrier.  Before we moved to Germany, we had already decided we were going to dive right in and learn the language.  Living in Germany is the best way to do this, right?  This is true, I only imagine this has to be the best way to learn and master the language because you are able to practice it every day.  I thought it would come quickly though. I really did.  I wasn't prepared for the immobilizing fear of speaking German or how difficult it would be to understand what people were saying or asking me.  I found myself almost in tears on many occasions just wishing with all my might that I knew German already.  I will say you get much more comfortable in those awkward situations over time, especially when you are willing to learn.  But buying food is one thing - it's not too tough to order a beer or translate a menu.  Set up internet and telephone in your house with a large German company without speaking a lick of German and you have a true challenge on your hands.  Before you know it you're asking a salon for an oil change or a chair manufacturer to dogsit.  That or you have paid a month's salary on a phone bill because the rules were in German.  It's fun to be able to look back on those moments with some comedy and laugh.  We all have our methods of dealing with these situations.  I have lost my ability to be embarrassed or to care too much what anyone thinks of me.  Big R has decided that it's best to let me be the one getting embarrassed and he steps out of the way and let's me take charge with gusto. My German is even more horrific with a shot of gusto, but at least it's horrific with some consistency.  My goal is to have this language nailed by next summer. Lofty goal, you say?  Just watch me...

Let's now throw in a little mix of the military.  Yes. Not sure I have much to say here that I haven't said many times before.  I know the Army has been doing this for a long time. Maybe that is why it seems so incredibly unreal for things to be so difficult.  It's not that people won't tell you what you need to know.  The problem is, you have to know the right question to ask and the right person to ask it.  Enter here story about passports, drivers licenses, and...I'll stop here - I'm feeling my chest tighten, so I'm going to change the subject.

I was embarrassed to admit that I found many of these challenges overwhelming.  Recently I started to notice that it wasn't just me.  Other Army spouses were dealing with many of the same frustrations and having very similar reactions.  Turns out we are all only human, so I suppose that makes it ok for me to admit that a really awesome situation can often be overwhelming as well.  What helps get us through all these stressful situations is each other.  We finally started meeting more people and have made what I think will be some life-long friends.  Not only has the administratively challenged Army provided us with some awesome new buddies, but we had the incredible fortune of having our new neighbors speak English and we have quickly become friends.

So, the truth of the matter is, we have gone through a lot since we moved here. It hasn't been easy, and we are constantly feeling overwhelmed with administrative processes gone awry, jobs that we hate, or customary differences making things that we are accustomed to being simple be ridiculously difficult.  But we are making good friends, adjusting to the customs, and learning German.  When the hard stuff finally becomes customary, you might just have a tough time getting us back. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Last minute decisions…

Faced with another fabulous four-day and no plans, Big R and I agreed to meet up with a family member of a good friend in Munich for dinner. Already having something scheduled in the morning, we were going to hop on the train with little r in tow for a traditional German feast in the capital of Bavaria.  We were an hour out from catching the train and she had to cancel on us. All dressed up and no where to be and we found ourselves in search of a new adventure.

Thinking we could do this Munich trip must have happened while we were delusional and taking little r on an adventure during his naptime was nothing short of wild craziness.

Nuremberg is a quick 45 minute trainride from here and we'd heard it was a pretty fabulous city. The weather wasn't stellar, but a part of me wanted to see how little r would do riding a train and exploring a city on foot.

He did…well. As well as any two year old would do on an adventure when he's taken clean out of his usual naptime routine and instead asked to ride a train, walk an overwhelming city, and stay out of trouble. The train can get crammed, so packing light is key. I really wanted to see how things would go without a stroller, etc., on the train and walking through town so we could have a better idea how to plan for future trips.

I knew we were bonafide nutjobs - eh, oh well.

The train ride was easy and fun. We bought a local day pass and little r was beside himself with excitement. (Note to self, if 45 minutes was a long train ride for little r, the bigger train rides could be a major challenge.)  The main train station drops you off right in the Altstadt, so we had an easy stroll to the tourist attractions.

Nuremberg's old town is very well preserved and most of it is a pedestrian zone, which was a huge help with little r. The city was setting up for its Christmas festival (which starts the day after our Thanksgiving) and all the shops were already stocked with beautiful Christendkindles (Christmas) goodies.

Window shopping was at the top of our to-do list on this trip and we had a lot of fun with little r taking note of all the gifts we want to get for family.

Turns out quite a bit of the city was spared from bombings in the war. We had always thought the city was leveled. The churches all had immaculate designs.

Little r was especially infatuated with knocking on all of them (an interesting phase).

The Imperial Palace sits at the top of the old city in Nuremberg. I was probably the most excited to see this on our trip and so was little r - his very first castle!!!
I'm headin in, Mommy.

Wow, this castle is so cool!

YAY! My very first castle! This is awesome!

You can only see the inner part if the castle by guidedtour, and we decided not to subject other innocent bystanders to our wild bear. You could still see all the castle grounds though and the views from the castle were definitely picture worthy.

In fact, at one point we heard a tour of folks giggling. Honestly, this isn't something you hear much on a tour - a laugh, yes, but a giggle? We looked out across the way and saw that saw that in a window in plain view a woman had walked out of her shower and was very (un)humbly displaying herself for all to see. Full frontal - no joke. She probably toweled off for five minutes giving the tourists a show. She didn't seem to notice she was the main attraction nor do I think she cared much. It was a brilliant display of European culture. Haha. And we didn't even take the tour!

As we left the castle we found ourselves inside a quaint little restaurant enjoying a cup of soup to warm us up.

And of course on our way back to the train station we got our fix from the almighty Starbucks. We just can't help ourselves.

Despite my arms feeling like I just finished a ruck march from carrying little r around all afternoon (little r is insistent that only I carry him a phase he needs to outgrow fast, please), I have to say it went well. We definitely learned more about traveling with him. First and foremost, the stroller is far more important than we ever wanted to admit.  It's just too much work to do this kind of trip without having him strapped down occasionally.  We were exhausted and little r was beside himself. He refuses to miss a thing so sleep doesn't happen and he runs around chasing birds and giving Big R heart failure as he runs from one exciting thing to the next.  The train might not be the best option for long trips, but we will probably get brave and try it again. Next time the stroller will be in tow!

Here are a few more pictures from our quick trip to Nuremberg.  We plan to head back for the Christkindlesmarkt, so we'll have many more to share of a very different Nuremberg soon.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's all about a picture frame...

Little r has been blowing our minds these past couple weeks with how much he's remembering and saying.  We love that he is really starting to remember faces and names now, and he connects people to his memories.  It literally feels like this transition happened over night.  Where did this little boy come from?

This morning we were in the middle of our usual morning routine having breakfast together (need I say it?) in front of the television while little r watches his favorite movie of the "mood."  He randomly gets up out of his chair and goes over to the picture frames we have sitting on our bookshelves next to the TV.  He grabbed one and handed it to me, and then grabbed the other.  Each of these pictures were of his grandma's.  One was with my mom on her horse out at her ranch in California, and the other is of Big R and his mom sitting on a rock along the Potomac River.  He put the pictures on the floor and started talking about them and to them.  He said, "Hee-ma [Grandma] on a horse!" and "Daddy with Hee-ma on the water!"  It was really sweet, so I had to take a picture of it and share this story (especially since today is my mom's birthday).

Monday, November 7, 2011

What about this little boy?

Motherhood is something I knew I always wanted.  What little girl doesn't?  I can tell you though that I was not prepared for how amazing it would be to be a mom.  More than that though, it's incredible to watch your child grow into a person.  I want to know when little r went from this completely dependent little baby to this vibrant young boy.  And he's only TWO!!! Time has flashed before my eyes, and I find myself in awe when I look at him and watch him do his little r things.

When we found out we were going to have a baby, I can't remember feeling one way or the other about whether I wanted a boy or a girl.  I am probably not unlike many women and probably wanted to have a girl only because that's what I knew best and it seemed a girl is what everyone wanted us to have.  Now that I have this crazy little man in my life, I can't imagine it any other way.    

Having a boy has been very cool. From what I can remember, I was always a bit of a tomboy, that or I just didn't want to accept that being a girl was anything less than being a boy.  Guess the feminism set in at an early age.  Not that you can't do all the things you want with a boy or a girl (and many people do), but I'm starting to see that gender can make the little ones different.  With little r it was clear from the very beginning that his veins were teaming with an overabundance of testosterone.  It's been cars crashing, balls throwing, and girl hugging from the start.  

Just like any mom, I think little r is the cutest and smartest two year old EVER.  His smile lightens a room, and when he giggles you can't help but laugh with him.  He can also stop a room in its tracks with his scream that he often does just because he can.  The intelligence of this little man baffles me.  He can remember the darn-dest things, and I find it amusing to see the little mannerisms he picks up from us.  

So, what is this little man up to these days? 

He loves walking his puppy.  We do this every day.  There's a field near our house where we let Rani run off-leash, and little r always says, "puppy happy!"  The poor old girl is going deaf, so calling her back can often be an adventure into itself.  I tend to use my low, gruff voice and cup my hand over my mouth when I'm calling her (not sure why I do this - she can't hear me either way).  I started to notice that little r does this, too.  He'll get this stern look in his face, put his fingers in his mouth, and growl, "R-A-N-I!"  The crazy little man has also learned that "puppy eeewww" is not to be messed with.  This somehow became the phrase we use to describe animal excrement, and it's pretty hilarious.  The other day he was walking her up the hill on a family walk, and she went to pee.  He dropped the leash and ran behind me screaming, "PUPPY EEEWWWW!"  Try not giggling at that. I chuckled for at least five minutes...

He loves snuggling with his kitty.  The older little r gets, the more attention she lets him give her.  You will notice that she is quickly searching for her escape route...      
He loves reading his National Geographic magazines just like his Daddy...

And he adores riding the "boo bus"... and the train, and taking trips in Daddy's car.  The kid loves everything that moves and has a window so he can watch the world around him and take it all in.  

I could just eat him up.  He might not be the cutest thing in the whole wide world, but he is definitely the cutest thing in mine.