Saturday, April 27, 2013

Getting ready for baby

With just a couple weeks to go until the little one receives his official eviction notice, I am in that oh-so-fun part of pregnancy. Not being too sarcastically dramatic, there are some reasonably fun things about this part of pregnancy that I shouldn't push aside too quickly. I mean, when else can you feel like an alien is alive and moving around inside your tummy, or eat like a maniac (because face it, you are quite literally starving ALL THE TIME) with no looks of judgement, or receive never-ending assistance from people that genuinely want to take care of you because you are so very obviously pregnant?

caught a glimpse of my reflection

All that aside though, this part of pregnancy can be a little rough as well. It's not the most comfortable time, to put it mildly. Your inner organs are smooshed, you have to pee constantly, sleeping is almost comical, your energy level is nil, and forget trying to pick anything up unless you have at least 5 minutes to accomplish this task. These are the more obvious reasons that the ninth month of pregnancy is slightly unbearable. There are other things that make the later term of pregnancy a tad bit unnerving...

Probably the most difficult parts, for me anyways, is the not knowing. Being completely unaware of when the little one will come into the world is kind of a nightmare for a control freak. In that way it's somewhat liberating and good for me, but it's also a source of anxiety. And the anxiety comes not only from being unaware of the "date" the little one will arrive, it comes from not knowing how he will arrive. I mean, how am I going to be truly certain that it's "time"?

In the movies it can't be more clear, right? The woman wakes up with a shooting labor pain or her water breaks at 3 am, taps her husband on the shoulder, and the next scene is them grabbing bags and rushing out the door. Don't I wish it were this obvious. And maybe for some it truly is, and maybe it will be for me this time around. Guess only time will tell.

I wasn't even giving it a second thought until about a week ago, and all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with anxiety about the whole thing. And it really is unreasonable to worry about such things. Being aware and ready is one thing, but letting yourself worry unnecessarily about something completely out of your control is a good way to make yourself crazy. Enter me and my silly self. Why in the world am I feeling such anxiety you ask? I've been wondering this myself, and I think it's a whole gambit of reasons, not the least bit of which is that I now have another little one to worry about. You never really hear people talk about this factor of labor when you have other kids at home, but it really is a HUGE deal. Making sure we have a plan in place for little r when I need to head to the hospital is paramount in my mind right now. Then there is Big R's crazy job that has him all over Bavaria and in court pretty constantly these days. The baby is coming no matter what, but it sure would be nice if we didn't have to worry about it.

And my mental concerns aside, there is the physical fun that tends to get my wheels turning. Just as was the case when I was pregnant with little r, I'm having constant fun with contractions this time around. It's not uncommon for pregnant women to have false labor weeks before the real deal, and I am clearly not an exception. The contractions are constant and sometimes a little too regular just to keep me guessing, but despite all that, my cervix is locked up like Fort Knox. ::sigh::

So, we are assuming and hoping the little man hangs tight and waits until his due date to arrive. But like all women at the end of their pregnancy, we are still waiting on pins and needles wondering when he will decide to make his debut... Until then, I will continue to laugh hysterically when my belly peeks out of even my largest maternity shirts, sigh when I have to get up from a dead sleep to pee for the fifth time, and grunt when my clumsy self drops something forcing me to bend over and pick it up.

Little r keeps telling me his baby brother is going to be here soon and that he is going to pop out of my belly button. Sometimes it feels like he might do just that! Either way, we are ready for you, little one. We can't wait to see your sweet little face and hold you in our arms.

I'll keep you all posted to let you know when he arrives. :)



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Being showered with friendship

When the military moves you from one post or base to another every couple of years, or sometimes as often as every year, you find that you are often constantly in the mode of seeking friendships. It seems, the older you get, the more difficult this becomes. So, military spouses and kids tap into all the resources you can imagine to meet all the amazing people that are in the same situation you are. Even the shyest of personalities come out of their shells in search of supportive companions. What is amazing is that sometimes you can get exceptionally lucky, like I have, and end up at an assignment that surrounds you with incredible women and friends. What started out as a tiny duo of just Kimberly and me nearly two years ago when we first arrived in Germany has grown into a wonderful group of over a dozen women. The best part of our group is that although we have many common interests, we are vastly different in so many interesting ways. Do you know how incredible that is and how much that can enrich your life? I just adore it in so many ways.

So, this past weekend, my wonderful group of friends all came together to celebrate the soon-to-be newest member of our family with a beautiful baby shower. I never expected or anticipated a baby shower for my second, and I was so excited when Kimberly told me that she and Mary wanted to host one for me. Not only was it a great excuse to get all my friends together, but they are the most incredible hosts!

One of my gifts was this beautiful flower arrangement,
and all of the guests were able to take home a pot of herbs.
The theme of the baby shower was "Grow" because my family is growing. The colors were yellow and green so they had daffodils, tulips, and other spring flowers along with all different types of herbs decorating the table and the surroundings.
My beautiful host :)
We were also blessed with the most incredible weather. This part of Germany went through the longest and darkest winter, so the sunshine was a huge welcome for all of us. Kimberly set up a table on her porch, and we were able to sit outside for the entire baby shower. It was nothing short of fabulous!
Such a beautiful group of women :)
And the flowers and decorations were stunning!
Baby showers are often about the gifts, but for me, we really didn't need much this time around. My first baby shower for little r provided us with more things than we ever needed or could ask for, so we are in terrific shape for the new little one to arrive (especially since we are having another boy). That made the gifts for this shower even that much more fun because everyone got me things they knew I would need but would never ask for, or other things that were thoughtful and adorable. (I did create a small "wish list" on Amazon to give everyone an idea of the things I might like, as well.)

Here are a few photographic moments captured during the gift opening at the baby shower. One special gift was that my German friend, Nina, was able to be there (my friend, Anette, sadly couldn't make it). Baby showers are an American tradition that they don't do here in Germany, and it was interesting to watch her take it all in.

The cards were all special - I hope to keep them for a long time
I had huge bags of gifts full of diapers - both cloth and otherwise...
of books...
and other incredibly thoughtful things for me and the baby and for little r!!!
And you can never have enough laughter with this group!
Nina got me a German memory box
and she also made those gorgeous paintings I hung in the baby room.

We skipped all of the corny games, and instead spent the afternoon enjoying each others company, great food, and much-welcomed sunshine. I couldn't get enough of it. I think many of us were there for close to five hours and it felt like only two. One really thoughtful idea Kimberly and Mary did for me was create my thank you cards and had everyone address theirs, so that all I had to do was write a note inside each one and drop it in the mail. Isn't that the sweetest idea? I'll definitely remember that for the next baby shower I am lucky enough to host for a friend.

"Thank you" cards creating for me by my hosts

Yes, it was absolutely the most wonderful afternoon. I didn't want it to end, and I smile every time I think about it. I am so thankful for the friends that I have here. I love that we are all so different and bring such amazing and interesting stories to our group giving us things to talk about for hours. If this is what being in the military as a spouse is all about, then I'm really looking forward to this life we have ahead of us. Right now I feel like an exceptionally lucky person to have these women in my life.

Mary and Kimberly, my beautiful hosts!

Leah, Liz, Bana and Anna-Lissa
Nina, Me, Meg, and Jessie

The best part was, while us ladies were enjoying our afternoon making memories, Big R took the little man to the Volksfest in Nuremburg for their own adventure with other friends of ours. It became a pretty incredible bonding experience for both of them.


Thank you to my amazing hosts, Kimberly and Mary, and to all of my wonderful friends for such a memorable afternoon. I hope we are able to stay in each others lives in one way or another throughout our husband's military careers and beyond. I love you all!






Saturday, April 13, 2013

Searching for the healthier cookie

I feel as though I am in constant search for that perfect recipe that makes chocolate chip cookies just a wee bit healthier. It's not so much that I'm a health nut or anything along those lines (although, we know I have a tendency to be a bit anal about these things), but it's more that my family (me especially) has zero self-control when it comes to freshly baked cookies at our disposal. In fact, as frightening as it might seem, it's not terribly uncommon for us to devour a batch of freshly baked cookies in a mere couple of days.

There's nothing healthy about eating a dozen or more cookies in one day, but with a healthier recipe, I'm hoping to save our systems from going into a diabetic shock or at least put some level of "goodness" in our bodies. So, I've been searching...and searching...and searching... I keep trying all these different low-fat or alternative recipes using sugar substitutes, vegan approaches, or gluten free ingredients. They are generally edible, or at least we have no issues eating them, but they are just no stand-in for the good 'ol fashioned Toll House recipe from the chocolate chip bag. A cup of butter and heaping amounts of brown and white sugar create the perfect cookie. But seriously... who can eat just ONE perfect cookie?! Not this gal...

I'm happy to report, I think I finally found my recipe! It's made with less than half the sugar (that could easily be substituted with applesauce or other favorites - agave nectar used to be my old standby until I starting reading that it isn't all that great for you), and it's 2 to 1 whole grain to white flour (not the recipe for my gluten free pals). I also added some ground up old fashioned oats to provide some good fiber, protein, and iron to the mix, and some chopped nuts for a little more protein. What I liked most about this recipe is that the cookies are REALLY good, they aren't too terribly sweet, and the grains add a moist consistency that I love. The recipe also leaves room for me to try some other substitutes if I'm really feeling like I need to go healthier.

I found this recipe online, and changed just a few things around based on what I had available in the pantry or my personal taste. It was really fairly easy, so you should absolutely give it a try.

Here's the recipe for my latest attempt at a healthier cookie:

Minutes to Prepare: 30

Minutes to Cook: 15

Number of Servings: 50


2 c. whole wheat flour

1 c. white flour

3 tbsp. ground Old Fashioned Oats

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. white sugar (or substitute with your favorite sugar alternative)

2 large or medium eggs (or equivalent amt of egg white)

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I prefer dark!)

1/4 c. chopped peacons (or other nuts, if preferred)


Step 1:

Combine all dry ingredients (except for the sugar, nuts & chips) in a large bowl.

Step 2:

Beat the softened butter,sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs one by one.

Step 3:

Add the dry mixture to the mixer gradually, alternating with the water, until it is all mixed thoroughly.

Step 4:

Add chocolate chips and nuts. Mix in well.

Step 5:

Place in small scoops on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes at 350. Let sit on cookie sheet for another 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

NOTE: These cookies "poof" rather than "spread", so you can place them fairly close together on the cookie sheet. If your scoops are the size of a soup spoon or smaller, you should be able to fit 24 on a large baker's half sheet cookie pan.

Makes about 48 cookies, after allowing a little bit of "snitching" from the bowl!

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!





Monday, April 8, 2013

My sweet boy

dear little r,

you have grown so much since I last wrote to you. it's amazing to watch you mature and become this sweet little boy. the last few months have been difficult, and i'm so proud of you for how well you are managing through it all. losing your papa was so hard for you, and for your mommy, and the emotional stress and all the unanticipated travel was a lot for us all. you often tell me that papa is in your heart and that he is playing there with rani and having fun. but you really miss him. it took a little while for you to find yourself again after papa died, but i'm happy to say you are on your way back and cute as ever. your finally sleeping better and laughing all the time. you are still three though, so you are incredibly good at keeping my life interesting :)

here are a few things you are up to lately. you love to talk. oh my goodness, do you love to talk. the good news is you are much easier to understand these days, well, mostly... and you are using your german so much more, which has been really fun. you have discovered the joys of role play, and i swear you can play in your room with your toys for hours and have a ball. the talking never stops, and daddy and i have a great time listening in on all the stories you are creating with your trains, cars, and legos. you also sing all the time. some songs we recognize, some are in german, and others we think you just make up.

you are mesmerized by so many tv shows, especially the ones where you can sing along or dance. i think your favorite though is watching daddy's car show with him (top gear), and of course, there is always nascar! you seem to finally be over the itch of watching the same show day after day though, and like mixing it up with something different during tv time in the afternoon.

lately your daddy has been sending mommy away for little breaks with her friends, so that he can have fun and play with you. you love this bonding time especially when daddy helps you build things out of your legos or draw big airplanes. in fact, daddy let mommy go away for a whole weekend with her girlfriends while you and daddy took care of things around the house. he even gave you a haircut, which apparently took thirty minutes and happened in three different rooms. you came out looking handsome as ever (and mommy promptly made sure to get you a professional haircut as soon as we had a chance - haha).

snuggle time with daddy!
don't you look handsome after your haircut?

your love of furry creatures only gets stronger by the day. you and lucy are now the best of friends. most of the day is spent watching you chase her around the house or carry her from room to room. you hold her tight and say, "i love lucy, mommy, she's so soft and cuddly." apparently she is mommy and little r's kitty - haha.

you love that lucy will now sit on your lap, too!
lucy is so soft and cuddly, mommy!

you also absolutely adore lando. he went from being a military working dog to quickly assuming his position as the protector of our family. he proudly walks you to and from school every day. he's not terribly sure he's supposed to listen to you yet though, but you never give up trying with the commands.

lando quickly gave up on this game, but you were all smiles anyways
walking lando has become one of your favorite things to do

you always say the cutest things... some of my favorites are when you say, "that's disgusting," or "stop it, mommy, you're driving me crazy," or how you answer when I ask you if you are ok with a very proper, "yes, i am!" i often tell you that i love you all the way to the moon, and last night you told me that you "love me all the way to the airport." i thought that was the cutest thing ever! if you fall or run into something you very quickly respond with, "i ok, mommy, no worry, i ok," and if you do something accidentally that you know was a bad thing you start pleading with apologies, "sorry, mommy! so sorry, i not do it again, mommy, i promise." And probably your favorite thing to say is, "after later," in response to just about anything i ask you to do. we're still learning about the concept of time, so everything occurred, "last night" or will happen tomorrow. mostly you are just a bundle of cuteness and i can't stop smiling at you all day long.

you've learned how to wash your own hair, and you pretty much get yourself dressed...well, most of the time. and you are the biggest helper. you help me make your snacks for school, we cook dinner together nearly every day, and you know how to operate most of the electronic equipment in the house (probably better than i do!). you ride your bike like a pro and you have physical strength that even amazes your gymnastics teacher. and you are now swimming like a fish! it's pretty incredible to watch how fearless you are in the water. the germans look at me like i'm letting you drown, and when they realize you are swimming all on your own, they applaud you. it is fun to see a little peanut swim so well. lately your favorite things to eat are fruit loops for breakfast, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, apple sauce, fish sticks, apples, bananas, and strawberries, and, of course, cheese. you are also pretty fond of schnitzel, and you absolutely love german pretzels.

i'm happy to report that you are finally out of diapers...well, you were... it's been a rough month, so we regressed a tiny bit, but i have faith that you will be back on track soon. i have to be honest with you, buddy, i think this whole potty training ordeal has probably been some of the most stressful parenting yet. we'll get through it though, i just know we will. daddy has promised you some awesome and fun things as incentives, so hopefully we'll make it.

daddy has promised you a model boat if you get rid of those diapers!

at this point you have completely given up on taking a nap and have for quite awhile now. although you fade quickly in the afternoon and can sometimes get a little cranky, you are so good about bedtime. you enjoy your bedtime routine including wearing mommy's robe and reading whatever happens to be your favorite book that day. you've memorized many of them, so i often have you read them to me, and that is so much fun. and then in the morning you like to come cuddle with mommy and daddy for a little bit before waking up for the day.

and finally, i think you are really getting excited for your baby brother to get here. you always tell me he is going to pop out of my belly button, and that he'll be really small but he'll get bigger, so not to worry. you are so understanding about how mommy isn't able to do as many things, especially carry you like i want to. but daddy really loves that he gets to carry and cuddle more with you now. but mostly you are just wondering when he will finally get here, and your eyes get so wide when i tell you that mommy's tummy is going to get bigger still.

dr. r is listening to the baby sleeping

i hope the new addition to our family is fun for you and doesn't confuse you or make you too jealous. you will always be my sweet little r and i will do everything i can to make sure you know that i love you more each and every day, even when your brother is finally here. your daddy and i are having such a wonderful time watching you become this amazing little and sweet little boy that has a huge heart.

we love you








Monday, April 1, 2013

Cozy room for the baby boy

My growing belly has been a constant reminder that we have a little guy joining us very soon. This year has been rather distracting emotionally and otherwise, but we could wait no longer. It was time to put a cozy room together for the newest member of our family. Knowing that we had an impending move in our not-too-distant future, we were trying to figure out how far we should take things with decorating the baby room.

Up until now, that spare bedroom has been used for everything from storing our bikes to holding all our random junk to being a designated "cat room" for the little box. It was quite literally a mess. The walls were painted white and they were in terrible shape. It was making me sad that our new little baby boy was going to sleep and snuggle in this filthy space. It definitely needed a huge makeover.

When little r got his new bed last fall, we had moved all of the baby furniture into the room and we reorganized by finding new homes for other pieces of furniture. But it sat that way for months. I had a vision of a cozy room with warm walls and neutrally calm decor. Big R jumped on board pretty quickly with my vision and we found ourselves at the OBI (hardware store) buying paint. We figured, it needed to be painted white anyway, so we might as well put the effort into a color we truly wanted.

Let me preface this by saying that we are absolutely miserable at the whole painting thing. It clearly takes rocket science or an insane amount of paint here in Germany to make the walls look nice. These plaster walls and the different paint types than we are used to creates a disaster for our impatient personalities. We somehow salvaged the creative painting style on the walls, and we are just hoping visitors don't look too closely - haha.

Painting in progress - this doesn't do justice to how terrible it actually looked!

We also decided we needed to buy a little more furniture for the little boy. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that after some extensive internet searching and visiting several different stores, we ended up at Ikea. Haha. I'm not sure what we would do without that store. At this point I'm convinced that nearly our entire house is decorated with furniture and other items with Swedish decor (we also have an incredible collection of allen wrenches). We had a few options and ideas, and decided it was worth the drive to the Ikea in Regensburg because they seemed to have more of the items we wanted in stock. The Ikea trip was a success! We found exactly what we were looking for. It was also the first time we were able to leave little r in the supervised child play area because he is finally potty trained (only to be called on the loud speaker an hour later because he decided potty training was for the birds and my life would be far more interesting if I were to experience cleaning poop from underwear in an Ikea bathroom - ah, I love my life). As soon as we got home, little r helped his Daddy put the baby's furniture together.

I heart watching my boys work together

The room was painted, the new dresser was put together, and all the furniture had found its place in the baby's room. Only one thing missing - a chair for mommy. For some reason the German's do not typically put chairs, rockers, gliders, or anything along these lines in the baby room. I was talking to some of my other German girlfriends about this and none of them understood why this was. Let's just say, finding a comfortable sitting place for a nursery and snuggling the little one is hard to come by here. So, we instead just purchased a cheap glider from the large PX. I'm actually pretty surprised by how comfortable the glider is, especially since I'm not generally a huge fan. And it randomly matches everything pretty darn well. How do you like them apples?!

I got all of little r's old baby clothes out of storage and organized everything by size. Got things tucked away into drawers and smiled at how tiny the clothes were. I was surprised that I recognized and remembered every last piece of clothing from when little r was a baby. Wow, where did time go? I can't believe that little baby is now a boy. Amazing...

Decorating also included hanging some pictures on the walls. My friend, Nina, made some beautifully sweet artwork for me to give the baby room a personal touch. She knew I was sad that moving this summer meant I might not get to put much of a room together for the baby. It was probably one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. The challenge was doing a proper hanging of these four pieces of artwork so they would look nice. Wow, and we thought painting was the biggest obstacle! I am seriously not cut out for this whole interior design deal. We ended up using a string, ruler, and level method. It took forever and the process was intensely frustrating. I'm still not convinced the pictures are properly straight or hung in a good place on the wall, but somehow I doubt the baby will mind much.

This was Big R's idea, and it was a brilliant one
...although, I'm not convinced these pictures are all that straight!

Everything is neatly in its place, the pictures are hung on the walls, the clothes are tucked neatly away, and the room is feeling cozy as ever. Here are some pictures of the baby room. What do you think?

I love how warm the color on the walls feels

And here are a few pictures of the room lit up at night - cozy, cozy :)

We love this blue dresser from Ikea - fits perfectly!
These toys have already seen so much love - donated from both me and little r
The soft light will hopefully be a comforting touch for a sleepy baby
Nina's pictures give the room a special touch - we love them
A cozy spot for snuggling :)

Now we are just waiting for your arrival, sweet boy. We still have about a month before you are supposed to be here, but I know it'll go by fast. We love you so much, and we can't wait to hold you, and kiss you, and love you to pieces.