Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Such a mess

Sorry that you haven't heard from me in awhile. I wish I could tell you we were living it up or traveling the world, but we spent the entire weekend huddled down at home fighting the flu bug. It's been ugly and I swear there's no end in sight...

Little r and I were already battling colds we brought home from Austria. Then at 3 am on Saturday morning, little r woke us up in a panicky scream. It was probably the first time I questioned my habit of checking on him in the dark. It took me a few to figure out what the disgusting gooey crud was that I put my hand in when I went to pick up my crying kid. Gross. Poor little bear was so confused.

Luckily that was all the puke we saw that night. I didn't realize it was the beginning of a long week though. By Sunday I was tossing my cookies and Big R was not far behind. To make my life more exciting, little r developed an ear infection amidst all this mess so his misery increased 10 fold. And did I mention that my crazy Lucy cat pooped out a penny?! I mean, really?! We are all such a mess!

I really thought we were on the tail end of the madness until little r cried about his tummy hurting this afternoon. We got to start the fun all over again only this time little r was in a deep snuggle on my chest when he threw up. Being a mom has so many exciting perks - ha!

We spent the afternoon snuggling and moaning together as we picked through soda crackers and sipped on hot chicken broth.

We're hanging in there. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There has to be, right? Until we get there though we need a big quarantine sign on our door. I'm hoping next time I write it'll be about healthy things. Until then, this girl is going to get some sleep...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 24, 2012

Challenge update

I started Phase 2 this week and I will soon be at the half-way mark of my 12-week challenge. One thing is for sure, Jamie Eason kicks some serious butt. The first phase wasn't that bad. I was sore, sure, but other than being a little time consuming, the workouts were very doable. Besides, there was no cardio in Phase 1, so I wasn't terribly fatigued.

Enter Phase 2 - ah, holy hell. This phase is hardcore. As my friend so eloquently put it, I really could have gone for Phase 1.5. Jamie steps it up about ten notches with this second phase and I am feeling every muscle in my body - oy!

So working out 4-5 times a week at the gym for four weeks has to bear some results, you would hope, right? I can certainly notice a difference but the changes are subtle.

I've lost only about three pounds total. However, the first phase was not about weight loss, so it's not a good gauge for progress. My friend, K, suggested I take measurements to avoid getting discouraged, and that was really great advice.

As much as I'm embarrassed to share, here is a "before picture". I forgot to take photos at the start, so this was taken a couple weeks in.

So far I've lost 1.5 inches in my waist, 2 inches in my hips, 1 inch off my thighs, and 1 inch from my chest (probably the only measurement I wish was heading in the other direction). I haven't lost any inches from my arms yet, but I can see strength and definition I did not have before. The best part is that I didn't start taking measurements until the start of week 3!

Here I am after Phase 1. Not sure you can tell the difference yet, but I notice the subtleties. (btw, it's super embarrassing to take a picture of yourself at the gym - lucky for me the gym wasn't too busy and hopefully no one noticed!)

These results are certainly motivating and it's a good thing because Phase 2 is extremely challenging and very time consuming. We are now in the gym 6 days a week and doing cardio 3-4 of those days on top of lifting weights. This workout is not for the weary - it is no joke!

Being in the gym all the time is not making me like it more or helping me feel at home there. Unfortunately I'm hating more now than I did before I started.

I've also developed a new pet peeve - people that don't put their weights away! It's always those men that stack on the 45-pounders that leave their weights, too. Something tells me I will have a newfound addiction to the gym soon though. I was already feeling it this morning when I was sensing worry about what I was going to do to stay in shape when this program is over.

One thing I truly miss is my yoga practice, and I look forward to getting back into that when my butt is kicked into gear at the end of the 12 weeks. Even if I can find time, my muscles are too fatigued to have a safe and enjoyable yoga session.

I will also enjoy running the trails around our house again. I could technically do my cardio sessions at home, but after a rough workout, it's nice to be completed when I walk in the door.

All this aside, I'm excited to be seeing results and even more psyched to see things at the finish line. My eating habits are 10-fold better, and it's rewarding to be taking such good care of myself and my family by feeding us all well.

I'll give you another update when I start Phase 3 in a few weeks. Stay tuned and thanks for all the support :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My little bear is growing up...

I'm happy to report that we've had vast improvements in going to kindergarten this past week. My screaming child has been replaced with a little man super excited to go to school. It has been a huge relief to me not to walk away from a child in such angst.

One thing that I think is helping a bit is that little r is making friends. He really looks forward to seeing his pals at school. His best friend is Linus. Linus is the son of my friend, Nina. We often cross paths on our walk home, and the boys love this time together.

After we had coffee together early last week, both of the boys have been constantly asking about the other. It's really cute - Nina and I are both enjoying watching this little friendship grow.

I also have to mention that little r's behavior has matured overall recently. Our ski vacation to Austria this past week was easy peasy. It was almost unreal how much better he was compared to our previous trips. Except for a few toddler moments, little r was a pleasure to be around all weekend. Even meals were enjoyable :)

My grand efforts to follow the advice from the book Bringing Up Bebe have apparently been worth it. Probably the most notable is the advice on snacking - or should I say, not snacking?! I have been careful not to be constantly giving little r food. It is kind of amazing how much we American mom's do this with our children. I now only give little r a snack in the afternoon. I also rarely let little r watch tv while he's eating, something I was getting really lazy about.

It's funny how well children will eat when they are hungry at meal times. He eats nearly everything we give him now. During our Austrian trip, I didn't give into his whining for snacks at the table before our dinner arrived. I instead explained to him that our food would be coming soon. He fussed a little, but not like I would have expected. When dinner came to the table, he would eat like a champ and sit through almost the entire meal. It was awesome!

Yep, he is becoming quite the cutie pie these days and growing up right before our eyes. My next big project is hopefully teaching little r how to stay in bed, or at least play in his room, a bit later in the mornings. Oh, and I'll be really happy when the dreaded sock fuzz scare has ended. (Any advice you can give on how to help little r get over his extreme fright of the bathtub would be super helpful.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alpbach and the Austrian Alps

I think Big R would agree with me when I make the statement that this was very close to one of the best weekends we have ever had. I could probably write a dozen blog posts about our Austrian skiing adventure, but I'll spare you and just hit the highlights and share some of our adventures through photographs.

The drive to Austria was painless and easy. When I planned our winter vacation in Austria I was looking for a family friendly Austrian ski resort in a comfortable and quaint town. Somehow I hit this one out of the park. It was all we could have asked for and more.

We stayed in a little Tirolean town called, Reith im Alpbachtal. The ski resort is called "Alpbach," but it's a large mountain comprised of three separate bases spread out across about 10km. We found our destination, and the barn we called home for three nights, with ease. Yes, you read that right - we stayed on a farm in a barn. We were sharing a roof with about 20 cows and probably a dozen pigs.

In the winter they bring all their livestock inside to keep warm. There's an indoor barn attached to the family's living quarters, and many of the farms in this area turn their living quarters into apartments to rent for those seeking a wonderful Tirolean adventure. The gasthaus was perfect for our needs - comfortable, charming, spacious, and full of friendly Austrian hospitality. My German came in handy as well because the host hardly spoke a lick of English, or if she did, she decided I knew enough German that she didn't need to bother. I probably only caught about half of what she was saying, but I got the gist of it, and somehow we always had everything that we needed during our stay.

We had a little time to spare before picking up our friend, J, from the train station, so we quickly settled into our hotel, and then took a stroll around Reith to explore all the charm offered in the quaint little town. There was very little information available online about what to expect in this area as far as restaurants or anything else really. So we were pleasantly surprised to find out the village had much to offer. Including homemade donuts - who doesn't love those?! (I'm in the middle of my 12-week challenge so I just stole a couple bites from Big R to taste - yum!)

There was a beautiful church in town with an adjacent snow-filled cemetery. If you look closely at the wooden door on the structure in the cemetery you can see a skeleton - spooky...

Although the village was small, it was full of Austrian charm. And we quickly discovered that the base of the ski mountain was in the village, and a mere stone's throw away from our hotel. After J arrived and was happily settled into our room in the barn, we found ourselves enjoying an authentic Austrian meal in one of several excellent restaurants in the village. Dinner was lovely, but there was nice skiing to attend to, so the boys quickly ate up, and climbed into their gear to hit the slopes. When Big R and J returned later that night, Big R looked at me with wide eyes and said, "OH MY GOD! AMAZING!!!!" Guess that's sums it up :) Here are a few shots from their AMAZING night skiing adventure.

And don't you worry, after we ate another insanely good Austrian meal the following night, Big R sent me out with J to get in some incredible night skiing as well while he enjoyed some bonding time with little r. And Big R's description of how awesome the night skiing was could not have been more spot on!
We kept telling J that he must have said all the right things to the Sun God because the weather was absolutely incredible for our trip. The first full day we were there, it was sunny and warm and the snow conditions were fantastic. We took our time getting up, and we enjoyed our breakfast at the farm, got in some good snow time with the pup, and then gathered our gear to hit the slopes.
The day started with little r trying skiing for the first time. The backdrop for this adventure could not have been more breathtaking... Can you imagine learning how to ski here? I mean talk about spoiled!
One of the reasons I chose Alpbach for our destination is because they have a kids' center where they offer child care during the day while you ski. What was especially cool about this kids' center was that it was located at the top of the mountain. So, we enjoyed lunch in the sun after some morning skiing, and then grabbed the bus to the main part of the mountain where we could take little r to the kids' center and enjoy an afternoon on the slopes sans toddler. Little r was especially fond of the "flying train." I think being able to take the gondola with us helped little r feel like he was part of the adventure.
After a couple hours of skiing, it was time to pick up little r. So, he and I headed down the mountain in the flying train, and enjoyed some hot chocolate at the base while Big R and J enjoyed one last run for the day.
It was a small outdoor "bar" with stools and wooden tables with music playing for all to hear. We have gotten somewhat accustomed to always hearing American music everywhere we go. Here they played the local goods. Little r was having a blast dancing to the fun polka beats of the more traditional German and Austrian sounds. He was quickly making friends with all the ladies as well. By the time Big R and J arrived, he was sacked out.
The next day the sun turned to snow, so it wasn't as brilliant, but the skiing was still amazing. We took little r to the kids' center so we could spend the morning skiing. The Austrian slopes are not your grandmother's ski trails though, and Big R taught us the hard way why we appreciate the term "packed powder" far more than we ever realized. Try losing a ski in four feet of powder. It's not an easy task. After Lord only knows how long of climbing around in the powder and bemoaning how we would get Big R safely down the mountain on only one ski, we somehow managed to retrace his crash and locate the precious ski. We all got safely down the mountain with just enough time to spare to enjoy the snow before it was time to pick up little r.
Little r was so good for them at the kids' center that I had to let him try skis again. The guys at the rental place thought he was so cute, they practically gave us the rentals for free. Little r loved every minute of it. Next year he'll be ready to take the bigger lifts and attack the slopes with gusto!
We found ourselves back at the base of the mountain enjoying each other's company, sipping on gluhwein and beer, and playing with little r in the snow. It was a perfect end to an awesome day of skiing.
We got lucky each night finding a great restaurant to enjoy the local cuisine, and the last night did not disappoint. Because it was a Sunday night during a big holiday week for the locals, we ended up eating at the restaurant at the base of the mountain in Reith. The atmosphere was perfect though, and little r was so exhausted from his skiing that he fell asleep on my lap after dinner. It was an unexpected treat to slow down and enjoy a glass of wine with Big R and J before heading back to the gasthaus.
Zum Voll!
It was sad to see J go, but we couldn't have been more happy that he make the trek across the Atlantic to spend this awesome weekend with us. Just made it that much more special to have his company here. We were enjoying our time in Alpbach took much to hit the road right away, and since we didn't have time to go tobogganing we rented a sled and got in a some more fun before driving home.
It was such a great weekend, we really didn't want it to end. The gasthaus was perfect (and ridiculously affordable - only 19 EUR/person a night), and the skiing was like none I've ever experienced before. You know this will be on our calendar next year - at least once! The Europeans love their ski vacations though, so things book up quickly. Maybe if we're lucky we'll make it back one more time this season. If not, we'll surely come back for a quick summer get-away.
Auf Wiedersehen, Alpbach! You know we'll see you soon :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And...the little bear skis

We just returned from our insanely awesome weekend in Austria skiing in the Alps. It was absolutely incredible. But, before I tell you all about our trip to the winter wonderland, I need to share the details of our little bear trying skis for the very first time.

One of my prideful moments has been telling people that I learned how to ski in the Austrian Alps when I was a five years old. For some reason it made me feel so very cool that I could say this. It doesn't make me a better skier, obviously, but it just felt neat to say that my parents were able to give me this awesome thing in my life. I am elated to give something similar to my little bear. He got to experience his first ski trip in a magical place in the Austrian Alps at a mere two and a half years old. What a lucky little bear!


Somehow this little guy is a natural on skis. As I'm sure most two year olds must be, he's completely fearless. Yes, my crazy toddler going through his irrational fear stage has somehow decided that bugs are going to end his life, but skiing down a mountain is, of course, a nonissue.

We had decided we were going to give it a try - rent skis, and just see how he does. Turns out he took to it right away :)

Watching him get into his rental gear was a treat into itself. The equipment is so tiny! One of my favorite comments of the day, and probably something I'll remember for a lifetime, was when little r had his boots on and we took him over to get his skis fitted. Looking at little r, the rental guy asked us very seriously, "what level of skier?" Because in Austria, seeing the slopes littered with little ones on skis is far from unusual. I chuckled and said, "Ja, beginner, bitte." Maybe he was being "cute" but I appreciated the comment :)

We headed out to the slopes and got little r on his skis right away. The kid could hardly wait. It was ridiculous how excited he was to try it. The ski resort was extremely family-friendly, so there were a few options for the beginners, and the beginning beginners. I turned in my skis for a snowboard over a decade ago, which meant Big R was on daddy duty for this skiing adventure.

Little r was having some trouble figuring out that he was supposed to stand up on his skis. That and he's independent and hard-headed, so he wanted to do it all by himself. So, we decided to just let go...

And this is what happened...

We were all shocked! He skied like a little champ - it was too cute!!!

What we didn't anticipate was how exhausting the lift would be for him. Something so simple to us was a lot of work for little r, and he'd get about half way up the lift and be done. Both he and daddy were ready to turn in the skis for the day.

The ski resort was made up of three separate bases, so the place was massive. Where we were staying was in the smaller part of the mountain, so we headed to the main lodge to go to the top. Also, oddly enough, the kids' center where the child care was located was at the top of the mountain. Hilarious, right? We assumed this made certain that people couldn't leave their kids - hahaha. Little r was super excited to ride the gondola, or "flying train" as he liked to call it. We noticed right away that the kids' center also had a smaller ski area for lessons and little ones. So, I quickly decided that we would try the skis on little r again the next day where he could ride up the smaller ski hill on a magic carpet. And it worked! He skied for over an hour. The kid was so freaking happy :)

He took to it like it was nothing. My heart was dancing watching him have so much fun. It certainly helped that the magic carpet lift was inside a tunnel - that in and of itself was pretty darn cool for little r.

We are already making plans to go back in a couple of weeks, and we're hoping this is the first of many, MANY years of skiing for the little bear..

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What do you miss?

Yesterday I enjoyed a lovely afternoon with my new German friend, Nina, that I met through the Kindergarten. Last week she invited little r and I to join her for coffee in her home, and I was all too excited to accept her invitation.  I had been studying my German in anticipation of this event, and it was barely needed.  Turns out Nina teaches English here in Germany and her English is probably better than mine.  In fact, her accent is almost nonexistent and it comes across more British than anything else.  She still spent most of our time together speaking in German and letting me practice speaking what little German I could, which I appreciated.  Knowing that I could break into English was an added comfort as well.

Little r and her son, Linus, played together really well. Linus will be three years old next month, and it's amazing to me how much they grow in just six short months.  She kept telling me that Linus was the same way as little r when he was that age, and yet Linus seemed so much more grown up and patient than my crazy little man.  I think it was fun for little r to have another boy to play with.  Seems as if all my friends here that have small children all have girls, and it's just not quite the same.

While we were enjoying our tea and our lovely German cakes (I indulged ever so slightly simply to remove any appearances of being rude - no one wants to be THAT girl that won't eat cake!), and she kindly asked me in German if I missed being at home in the United States.  I said, "a little bit" in response, but she wanted more, so she asked what it was that I missed.  "Friends and family," was my best response.

Although she still didn't want to believe me, we got into a nice discussion about the things Big R and I truly like about living in Germany, and how we haven't been terribly anxious to go back...at least, not yet...

It got me thinking about what it is that I miss about being home in the U.S.  Honestly, being closer to friends and family really is not only at the top of the list, but also pretty much IS the list.  Oh sure, I miss the conveniences that go along with familiarity.  We all get comfortable going to the stores we like and buying food we are accustomed to.  None of these things are a necessity though, and for certain none of them are things I can't live without.  We have all of the other comforts of home available to us here.

I do miss the ease of speaking English to take care of things.  Although it's getting easier the longer we are here, there is still a small level of angst every time we have to call the cable company or get the car fixed, and the vast unknown about certain things can be slightly scary at times.  That aside, we have managed to surround ourselves with friends, including awesome German friends, that can help us if we need it. Our German is coming along well enough, that we can communicate our needs with the landlord if necessary or stumble our way through a phone conversation with Kabel Deutschland.

I, of course, also miss working.  Being a lawyer here in Germany does not come easy.  I am thankful for this time with my family though.  If we had stayed in the United States, I would most likely be working somewhere and I wouldn't have the experiences I have spending these formative years with little r and doing the list of projects I've been able to conquer for myself here.  Things always happen for a reason, right?

There is no doubt in my mind that at the end of Big R's tour here, we will be ready to go home. But will we? I think there will be many things on my list after we return to the U.S. when someone asks me, what do you miss about Germany?  

Monday, February 13, 2012

I better, Mommy

So, little r did much better today going to school. Not perfect, but I got a whimper instead of a scream, and he walked into the classroom on his own with a little encouragement instead of being pealed off my body from his monkey grip. We're making progress. It's the first time in over a week that I left the kindergarten with a smile in my face.

I'm not really sure what, if anything was different today. Could be that it's downright balmy at 18 degrees instead of the frigid temps we've had the past couple weeks. It was literally almost 20 degrees warmer this morning than it was last week. That's nuts to say when it's still only in the teens.

Whatever it was, I really hope this is a start in a positive direction. Little r did say he was going to work today to make money - hahaha. His latest adorable phrase is "pretty cute" and he's more than pretty darn cute when he says it. Do you think his job is exuding utter cuteness? If so, he should be cleaning up today :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My little Bebe

Last week an article was sweeping the internet titled, "Why French Parents are Superior," by Pamela Druckerman.  I read the article, and quickly shared it on Facebook and found that many others were as mezmerized by it as I was.  Pamela Druckerman is an American that has been living in Paris with her English husband and her three children.  She's a writer, and when she quickly started observing the vast differences in children's behavior in France versus how kids behaved in America, she was determined to discover the French secret.

I didn't waste any time ordering her book for my Kindle, and I read it this weekend like a famished schoolgirl sitting down to a fancy feast.  Overall, little r is a fairly well-behaved child. Mostly, that is.  Compared to some, he is an angel, compared to others, he is a beast.  Just like I imagine most American new mom's, I devoured as many parenting advice books as I could both during my pregnancy, and often since, for pointers on how to raise my child.  I should have acknowledged that an overabundance of information can be equally as harmful as being naive.

Big R and I accidently did some things right. Little r was thankfully sleeping well through the night at two months, he puts himself to bed without much of a fight each night, and generally behaves well enough that we can often enjoy a meal out with friends at a family-friendly restaurant.

That said, since we've been here in Europe, I haven't been blind to the observation that European children are generally more well-behaved in social situations.  As decent as little r might be, I can't help but wonder often what I'm doing wrong...  Isn't that what we are trained to believe?  If our children are misbehaved, it's clearly our faults.  So, I've been hungry to discover a good approach to child rearing to keep our lives calm.  We want nothing more than to travel this part of the world as much as possible while we are living in Germany, and doing all that traveling with a little less toddler angst would be great. No, it would be exceptional!

So, I devoured Pamela's book.  It was fascinating.  Honestly, much of what I was reading made absolute perfect sense.  I also realized that I use a similar approach with little r, except that I intermix my approach to discipline with things our American culture have taught us.  One key lesson I took in from her book is that it's not just doing things differently, it's looking at your child differently.  The French believe that you should feel the rhythm of your child to develop a solid cadre.  Count me in! I'm ready for a solid and relaxing cadre - you don't have to ask this girl twice!

I don't believe there is a right or wrong way to parent. Well, aside from neglect or abuse, that is.  But as far as raising your children, we all have approaches that we best relate to and are comfortable with.  How strict you decide to be, whether you allow your children to eat what they want, and things along those lines are every parents' prerogative.  For me, I notice that Big R and I really enjoy being parents, but we also really enjoy being adults as well.  What I'm seeing around me here in Europe is that parents tend to go along their lives without letting their children consume who they are.  I think this is important, at least to me.  It's important enough that I was excited to read Pamela Druckerman's book to see what kind of knowledge she portrays and if I can glean any pointers on how to enrich our lives.

The book is excellent. I really enjoyed reading about her experiences in Paris.  The French are not terribly similar to the Germans, but they aren't completely dissimilar either, so I was finding some points where I related to how she was feeling on several levels.  She also admits that although she's living in Paris, and had raised all her children there from birth, she's not French, and much of the parenting approach is something that seems to be learned over a lifetime of being a part of the system.

Here are a few of the points that I hope to incorporate in our approach to parenting to help enrich our lives:

1. Education, not discipline. The French view what we would call discipline as education.  Everything you do provides a basis for learning.  Simply saying, "no," for example, without an explanation is not good for anyone involved.  You need to talk to your child about why what they are doing is not allowed, instead of creating a confusing barrier.  They instead use phrases like, "you do not have the right to do that," which is oddly empowering and communicates to the child that there are some things they can do, this is just not one of them.  I had starting taking this approach to some degree when little r was really small. I've always talked to him like he was a little person, and try not to treat him like a "baby."  I notice, often, that he really does understand what I'm saying.

2. There is no need to yell.  Speak with conviction, but do not yell.  If you use the right tone, and you are confident in your authority and that your child will do what you say, apparently it is much more effective.  I've tried this, somewhat accidently, in the past.  It does give the intended result...sometimes, but it's a definite work in progress. It's something that I plan to continue working on.  No one likes to yell, and it does nothing to create calm.

3.  Give your child independence with limitations.  Your child needs limits, but they also need to understand and discover the world.  This approach that we have learned in America where we cower over our children constantly, can be exhausting for both the child and for you.  There is an idea that you can actually have an adult conversation while your child is playing in the same room or in the park while you watch.  Something that seems so foreign to me, but also so incredibly desirable.

4. Patience and frustration are things a child needs to learn and understand.  The French say that a spoiled child is an unhappy child.  It's ok to not give into everything your child thinks he wants or needs.  They implement this idea in many ways including mealtimes.  The French have three meals a day and one snack around 4pm.  This schedule is implemented as early as when a child is two months old.  Even when they are told they will get a treat for being good, they have to wait until mealtime to have it.  This idea that I am so horribly guilty of that we need to stuff our child's face with food at all times of the day to keep them happy teaches them no patience.  It's ok to let your children get frustrated.  It might not be a fun reaction initially, but they need to learn this to prepare themselves for the world.  Teaching themselves how to distract their attention away from what they want builds incredible self control.  Being that little r has inherited probably the worst set of "patience" genes from both my side and Big R's side of the family, any possible way we can promote this would be a very positive thing!

5. A child should say, "hello," when they arrive, and "good-bye" when they leave. This is a very French thing, but it resonates well with me.  Apparently it is impolite not to say, "bonjour" when you first greet someone.  Children are not excused from this expectation.  The idea is that children are to be acknowledge as well, and they are not to hide in their parents' shadow.  I think it's a great habit to get little r doing, and I think it will give him much respect in his years to come if he is used to always saying, "hello" and "good-bye." It's a little thing, but it seems like it could make a big difference.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect that reading a book is going to suddenly turn little r into an angel child, but I like having an approach to things that make sense to me.  When my mom stayed with me when little r was just an infant, she would comment often on how mothers today are overwhelmed with information, it's no wonder we are scared we are going to do something wrong.  There are so many do's and don't's and proper and improper approaches.  We get scared into thinking that letting our child have some independence is somehow going to kill them, so we childproof our homes to the extreme and we make our parks so sterile they don't even encourage creative play.  Then again, saying "no" is not a bad thing either. I am confident that just because I don't let little r do certain things will not somehow inhibit his brain development.

I believe that in our hearts, all parents are equipped to know how to understand their child.  We just need to stay attuned to that and listen to our gut and not get distracted by what all the experts tell us to do.  Well, that's what I believe anyhow. We'll see if we start noticing a difference in little r.

If you haven't read the article, and you are interested, here's a link to it in the Wall Street Journal:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577196931457473816.html?fb_ref=wsj_share_FB_bot&fb_source=profile_oneline

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kindergarten tears

We are coming to the end of little r's first two weeks of Kindergarten.  I'm honestly in shock that it's been two weeks already, and yet it's surprising how quickly we fell right into our daily routine.  Our routine still needs some work and a little getting used to, but we are making great strides.  

So, how is little r liking Kindergarten, you ask?  He is actually doing quite well at school.  Nothing I should be too shocked about, but I am relieved that it's going as I had anticipated.  What I hadn't anticipated though is how much little r would dread "going to" school.  He enjoys himself immensely when he's there, and he's always having the time of his life when I pick him up at the end of the school day.  His teachers tell me he is adjusting really well and is learning the rules quickly.  Little r just hates, and I mean HATES, going to school in the morning.  

For the past week or so, every morning has been a struggle.  Getting him dressed, packed, bundled up, and into his stroller for the walk to school is a challenge of gross proportions.  Little r is NOT a fan.  I was a little worried that he hated school, and that I was somehow torturing him by making him go every day.  But that couldn't seem further from the truth.  Instead, I think these past six months have built a really strong bond between us, and once he figured out that school was a daily event, and that he was no longer spending his entire day with Mommy, well...I suppose that's all it took for him to get disappointed...

I have this child that went to daycare nearly every day for the first two years of his life.  Except for a few minor phases, little r rarely protested my leaving him with his teachers for the day.  Even once we moved here and I would put him into hourly care on occasion, he did really well, mostly... 

So, it has been a bit of a shock to see little r so torn apart when I leave him at school every morning. His teachers have to pry him off of me - literally.  I am told that it barely takes five minutes and little r is happy and playing with the other children, which is a huge relief.  Not that I don't want my little man to love me with every cell of his being, what mom doesn't?  But man, this phase is tough!  Big R keeps reminding me that this phase will soon be replaced with a child that will most likely push me away and be embarrassed in my presence.  "Eeeeww, kisses, mom," and "don't take me to school, mom, that's embarrassing," and all those other awesome things that young children say.  

To embrace this clingy phase of dependency and separation anxiety, I have vowed to hug him longer, kiss him more, and cuddle him to pieces.  Having more time in the mornings to get things done also translates into more free time in the afternoons to play with little r.  He, of course, loves this.  

I am hopeful that little r will accept, sooner rather than later, that school is part of our daily routine. I want him to look forward to seeing his friends and playing in his classroom like he did his first week, and no longer dread getting dressed and being dropped off at school.  Until then, I will remain strong and hold back those tears that want to come every time he screams for me like he's being taken from my side for an eternity, and instead relish the cheer I see in his eyes when I pick him up from school and he talks endlessly about all the things he did that day on our walk home.  

Just another fun phase of motherhood.  If you have any advice on how to help little ones adjust more quickly to being separated from "mom", I'm all ears. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Challenges can do the body good

I'm a little over half way through Phase 1 of my 12-week fitness challenge. As much as I've enjoyed focusing on my fitness, I have been a little concerned about the amount of time needed to dedicate to this program. In fact, I have almost been frustrated with myself for committing to it because it leaves very little time for the list of projects I wanted to tackle with little r starting school. Fitness was always on the agenda, but I was looking more at a regime that allowed me to do it all from home...

I was telling all of this to Big R on our walk home from taking little r to kindergarten, and almost as if he'd had husband training on saying all the right things, he tells me that he can definitely tell a difference already. Now that's exactly what this girl needed to hear to stay focused on the goal. It IS a lot if time, but as my mom so kindly reminded me, time spent at the gym working out is NOT wasted. I also remember that one of the reasons I'm doing this now is because I may never have this kind of time again - or at least for a long time.

So, I haven't had significant weight loss yet, only a few pounds, but I am noticing changes in my body. Phase 1 is not about weight loss anyhow - it's about building muscle. Jamie Eason makes it very clear that she wants all caloric intake to go right to muscle production, which also means no cardio. I'm surprised by how much I miss running, and it's something I'm really looking forward to in Phase 2.

The challenge is also about eating well. This has been difficult for me. I'm not sure why because I have made the move toward healthy choices for me and my family awhile ago. All I can figure is that it's mental for me. More veggies also means more shopping time, and I dread shopping. Although I will say that I have been rather proud of my cart these days. When was the last time you looked at your cart and wanted to give yourself a pat on the back because it was full if nothing but produce, lean meats, and eggs - nothing processed and very little packaged. I'm finding that I'm noticing other people's carts now, too, which is something I never paid any notice to before.

This is what Jamie Eason has done to me. Here is my typical lunch:

Spinach leaves, arugula, Avacado, scallions, chopped walnuts, bulgar and lemon-olive oil dressing. Very tasty and refreshing, I might add. And the bulgar helps give it a little extra something to help it stick longer. I guess I can thank being at home for this. Making this to pack for a lunch the next day isn't impossible, but preparing it in my kitchen to eat at lunch is definitely a perk I haven't had in a long time.

Some parts of the eating plan are a little arduous. I have to eat my weight in egg whites and I cannot have hardly any dairy. But this has inspired me to be creative with my meals. The other night I was actually sick of eating salad so I created this:

Talk about tasty and it couldn't have been easier. If nothing else I have become super hyper aware of what I'm putting in my body and I think twice before eating something that doesn't resemble a vegetable.

Knowing that I need to keep this up long after the 12-week challenge is over, I'm being realistic about certain things. Instead of saying "no" to everything, I am doing things in moderation. Wine and beer only on weekends or special occasions, only a bite of desert when we are out for dinner instead of ordering my own, and things along those lines. So far it's working.

I hope to create a couple dozen healthy meals for my dinner rotation and train myself how to shop smart. I also broke down and bought one of those veggie choppers because it takes a long freaking time to cut veggies! And let's be honest, who wants to break out the food processor and clean it every day and for every meal?! (and I have to plug it into a transformer that is the size of my head - just not worth any saved effort...)

Not sure how all this will turn out come May when I have hopefully completed this challenge. I will say that it's teaching me things about myself, so even if I don't look like Jamie when all is said and done (because that is the goal, right???), I will feel like a different person from the inside out.

I promise to keep you posted on my progress.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


We finally have possession of little r's passport. Only took some serious acts of patience to get this important document in-hand. I'm sure we won't even need it now, but it'll give this mama some piece of mind knowing we have it.

I'd like to create a rant about how ridiculous the process was to get a passport for a minor on our post, how the hours were impossible, and the one single employee there is greatly overworked, yadee yada... Honestly though, I'm just so relieved to finally have it that I'm putting that whole stupid mess behind me.

I wish the photo in this post was the one on little r's passport, but the powers at be don't let you smile in your official passport photo. Apparently you are not allowed to look happy when you are on vacation or maybe a sour face matches a more accurate portrayal of folks when they undergo international travel. I'm sure it's an important reason. When I had little r's photo taken for his passport, he was in the sweetest mood. Although the photographer said we couldn't use it, the picture was so darned cute he had to let us have a copy. I'm glad he did because I love it :)

Now it's on to happy travels for this family. We start with Austria as we take little r and the old puppy skiing in the Alps this weekend. That's exciting enough, but to add a little more something special, Big R's best friend is flying out from Boston to ski with us! We can't wait, and I'll be excited to tell you all about it when we get back.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, February 6, 2012

On the warmer, sunnier side of things...

This morning was frigid and leaving little r at kindergarten was difficult today.  That said, I had to provide a quick blog update because picking him up from school was a completely different experience.

Before I even had a chance to tether Rani so I could head inside the Kindergarten, I hear this little voice hollering, "Mommy! Mommy, you're here! Mommy, mommy!" And sweet little r was running out of the door.  I was a tad bit earlier today to pick him up than I have been, and there was a flurry of parents leaving the building, which was the only reason little r found his way out to me.  I hollered back, "Don't forget, we have to get your backpack!"  And he did a 180 degree turn and ran back in and down the hallway.  I barely got my foot in the door, and he was running toward me proudly carrying his backpack.  It was really cute - the whole scenario.

As we are leaving to walk home in much, much warmer weather, little r and I quickly partnered up with the other German mother that I ran into several times last week.  Our little ones forced us together, but in all reality, I think we have been curious about each other for months now and we enjoyed the walk home so we could get acquainted.  She knows English fairly well, as it turns out, but she told me (in German) that she would speak only German and let me practice unless I struggle.  Nina is her name, and we had an entire conversation on our way home. I was surprised at how little English was spoken by either of us. She complimented me on how good my German is already. HA! That made me feel good. She was being "nice," but I was surprised at how much I knew how to say, and more by how much I understood of what she was saying to me. I want to know more! (I told you before, I have very little patience - hahahaha.)

Turns out our boys are pretty close in age.  They are not in the same group at school though, so they weren't familiar with each other yet. That didn't stop them from becoming instant friends.  Her son was a tad taken aback by little r's English, but I'm betting that won't last long.  Dare I say, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship...for both of us :)  

Baby, it's cold outside...

This was the third day in a row of waking up to negative temperatures. I had forgotten how cold that can feel. We stayed inside most of the weekend because little r is fighting a cold and frankly, it's not terribly pleasant to feel your limbs go numb.

This morning we had to face the cold to bring little r to kindergarten. I had convinced him most days last week to do the trek from his stroller. This was a huge relief to me because my arms were getting tired from carrying him most of the way, and it was much easier to keep him warm under blankets.

This morning little r decided he was walking and nothing was going to change his mind. Regardless of how much i bundled him up, the little guy didn't last long before he was freezing.

As much as he seems to enjoy school, he is not a fan of me leaving. I guess you could say he's reached that clingy phase, and it's only been made worse by Big R being gone for awhile. Good to know he hasn't grown too sick of me and does still love me, but that'll break your heart... Just hoping he gets over this soon.

The walk home was brutal. I couldn't get little r's cries out of my head and the cold was biting right through me. Despite having two layers of pants on, my thighs went numb from the cold. Droplets of moisture stand no chance in these temperatures, so the puppy's whiskers were frozen from her breath and my gloves were iced over from little r's tears.

The sun is shining, and even though it's cold, it is unbelievably beautiful today. I'm going to let the rays of sunshine lift my spirits as I get myself to the gym. I hope you all have a beautiful day as well and stay warm wherever you are...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cuteness factor...

Kids are cute, just one of those things that keeps you lovin' them after they keep you up all night or wake you up for the day before dawn or make shopping a nightmare. But sometimes your kid tips the cuteness scale. Little r did that repeatedly this week.

Like when he said, "River's hot" on the way to school one very cold morning and I realized he was referring to the "steam" coming from his mouth. Or how he keeps running around the house saying "River's cute" with a huge smile on his face. Or when he is finally aware of the icky phlem In his throat from his cold and when he coughs he says, "ewww, gross! River cough!"

But this morning he topped it all and melted my heart. When Big R has to be away from home we always tell him "Daddy has to work." when he thinks about Big R he'll randomly tell me that "Daddy work!" This week he told me a number of times that he wanted to give Daddy a hug. This morning when he said, "Daddy work," I said, "yeah, Daddy is still at work. Do you miss him? Mommy really misses him." and he replied, "I do, too..."

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