Monthly Archives: April 2014

4 years of Big Ive

Big Ive turns 4 on April 10.  It is always hard to imagine she has been with us for so short and so long at the same time.  When these milestones come up I always think about how it feels like we never had a time without her.  I know that’s not true, of course.  But sometimes memories play tricks on you that way.  Sometimes, I think, when we love people so much we forget a little bit that life existed before without them.

I think back and remember her birth.   Remember that we were so lucky and blessed to even have had this baby.  Remember that she came out a whopping 9lb 6oz, 21.5in at 41weeks 3days.  Remember the crazy events that lead up to a scheduled c-section birth (she flipped breach at nearly 9.5lbs).  Remember the worry when she didn’t cry right away, when they finally got her to it sounded like an engine starting up with small whimpers consistently growing to bigger and bigger until the relief of a great cry.  Remember the shock of having a redhead (we love it, we just weren’t really expecting it).


I think back and remember her first year or so of life.  The head-shaping helmet she wore for 3 months because of mild plageocephaly.  Remember feeling guilty for not being able to enjoy her first 1.5 years so much because of the unplanned pregnancy of Little E.  Remember the worry when the pediatrician said she didn’t have enough verbal words, and at the same time remember feeling defensive and maybe a little smug that she had so many signs.  Remember how little she felt up until the day Little E was born.  And then how completely huge she instantly became, when I wasn’t expecting it, when I didn’t know it would happen, after Little E was born.  I remember how much this tiny toddler/big baby loved her baby sister, how much joy she had.  Remember thinking that Big Ive should somehow look much bigger next to a newborn Little E.  Remember how she used to click her tongue to make a kissing sound when she gave you a kiss (and once every very little while still does).

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I put her name in the skinny part on her left temple, but blurred it for my semi-anonymous blog.

from phone 118
One or 2 days before Little E was born.  She climbed up and fell asleep like that.

First time meeting Little E at the hospital the day she was born.

Signing ‘juice’ Big Ive style.  There were a few months where she added a few new signs a week, thanks to my little sister who is majoring in Sign Language Interpretation at college.

double binky!
Double binkies in Switzerland Christmas day 2011.

I think back and try to remember the third year of her life.   And I don’t remember so much.  Because I was a sleep deprived mother of 2 very young children (one a baby who didn’t sleep through the night until after 1 year of age and thought no solid foods were good until 8 months of age…).  But, that’s ok.  Because I know we had a good year.  I remember traveling.  Remember Big Ive sleeping in every place we traveled (Paris subway? check.  Florence city streets? check.  Beaches of Croatia?  check. …).  Remember starting to attend the Kindergarten in our village, attending Krabbelgruppe, so many walks around the village, times on the playground, picking flowers out in nature.  Remember right at her 2nd birthday she decided she would really start to talk.  And then 4 months later we threw her into the German-speaking Kindergarten and watched as her English language progress suddenly stopped for a few months.  Just to pick right back up, but this time concurrently learning German.  Remember when she started to remember things (like my parents house, and how it takes 2 airplanes to get there).  Remember when she couldn’t hardly ride walk her Laufrad (balance bike).

My stacker of blocks kid.  She has always been good at stacking blocks and working puzzles.

Easter morning 2012.  My favorite part is her still-swollen-with-sleep eyes after just waking.

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LOML giving her the tour of the cathedral in Metz, France.

Sass and a map at a vineyard in France, spring 2012.

How many dandelions can a little girl pick? Summer 2012, along the wooded path around our village.  The sap in those dandelions stained that flower dress that day.  I still have the dress.

Totally rockin’ it on the first day of real Kindergarten, August 2012.

I think back and remember her 4th year of life, the one she just completed, now starting on her 5th year. Remember that she spoke very little German at the beginning of the year, only to have it suddenly explode and she became a near-fluent 3 year old German speaker.  Remember the times my heart swelled when she, out of the blue, says that God loves her and lives in her heart. Remember when she suddenly could out-run me on her Laufrad.  Remember all the funny things her brain puts together and spills out her lips.  Remember the wonderful feeling of a content child feeling safe and falling asleep in mom’s arms.  Remember bringing her to my German classes and she responded to the teacher, talking about her bike.  Remember when she ran up to our Landlord and hugged his legs outside of the Kindergarten one afternoon at pickup (and remember the look of shock and joy on his face).  Remember her asking for her babysitters to come back to her house soon.  Remember the look of her face when she tells you it takes 2 airplanes to get to Gampers’ house.  Remember the heart-wrenching sadness she felt when LOML was apart from us and she told me she missed her daddy.  Remember how much better and how willing she is of a helper with chores and me around the house.  Remember how caring she is when I had a sore back, or was sick.  Remember her ‘softing’ my hurts away.  Remember her addiction to her pacifiers.

After opening her new birthday present of puzzles, April 10, 2013.

DSC03118Trying out the Laufrad from Uncle Fred, Spring 2013.

DSC03307Drumming on toy kitchen pots and pans.

DSC03561Walking to the beach in Croatia, July 2013.

DSC03934Castle tour July 2013.  Note the dinosaur in her hand and the over-thrilled expression.

DSC03960She is often finding a place to sit like this to just observe the world.

Running in the fountain, when Uncle Robot and Tia were in Germany.

DSC04621At the playground near my parent’s house.

DSC04722One of my favorite photos of both girls together — perfect capture of their personalities.

I like the expression she has in this photo New Year’s Day 2014.


I look forward to the future.  I made the commitment to live in the today and not be sad about what is in the past, and I’ll continue to do that with you, looking forward to the many years to come of our lives together, watching you grow.  You and me, we’ll keep living life in our little family, on our crazy adventure.  I love you, Big Ive.  You’ll always be my Big Ive-baby.

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Rambling Thoughts for the Day

  • I made a great post for Big Ive’s 4th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  So, in my brain, I have this epic post waiting to go out on her birthday on the 10th, and can’t write any others until it is published.  Not like we’ve done anything spectacular the past few weeks that the general public, friends, and family really care about, though.  :)  That’s why there’s been a little bit of silence from HausMiller.
  • Tonight I made homemade mac-n-cheese and used a French shredded cheese mix, along with some Velveeta.  It turned out surprisingly incredibly delicious.  Perfect combination of French cheeses and American processed cheese stuff.  Normally I don’t use Velveeta (I don’t think I can readily buy it here in Germany), but a friend gave us a block as they were moving away.  And I can’t let perfectly good food product go to waste, so I’ve been trying to incorporate that into our meals the past few weeks.  Totally doesn’t mesh with the healthy eating we’ve been trying to do for the past month or so.
  • Big Ive was chatting with a friend at Kindergarten this afternoon at pickup.  She said a whole sentence in German, but didn’t know 2 words, so she substituted the English words.  The German kid gave her a slight funny look but kept going with the conversation.
  • Big Ive managed to misplace all of her pacifiers.  [[I know, I know, she’s nearly 4 years old and still uses pacifiers.  It’s really not that big of a thing here in Europe.  It is not uncommon to see kids with them until age 4 or 5.  The plan is to get rid of them on her 4th birthday.  We’ll see if that really happens…]]  And she came up with this idea that somehow someone came into our house and took all of her pacifiers.  That was the reason we couldn’t find any when we had 4 the day before.  And then she told one of her friends this at school today.  Crazy kid.  It’s awesome to see her brain working on these things.
  • I witnessed an I-have-more-Oma’s-than-you fight between three or four 2-4 year old’s at the Kindergarten this morning.  One kid’s Grandma (Oma) dropped her off.  Then another kid said, “I have 3 Omas.”  This was countered by Big Ive saying, “I have 2 Oma’s and 2 Grandma-grandmas.”  The mother of one kid came and clarified she had 2 Omas and 1 Urgroßmutter (Uroma…great grandmother).  Then Big Ive said the names of her grandmas, which really confused the mother.  She had no idea what Big Ive was saying, as one of the names is a nickname, although Big Ive did say it all correctly in German.
  • All of our neighbors and acquaintances here in our village are convinced I speak great German.  I think my German is not so good — I feel like I can barely function when I have to.  I had to translate for a friend with their neighbors in February.  As I was walking home from Kindergarten drop off one morning, a person in our village came out their front door when they saw me.  They verified that I knew German.  I said yes.  Then she asked a couple of questions, which I tried my best to answer.  When I was going to leave I said something incorrectly 3 different ways, which she finally laughed at and then told me the correct way to say it in German.
  • I always feel like I’m a little slow when having a conversation in German.  The German will say something.  And when they’re at a point where I’m supposed to respond, I take just a bit too long translating back what they were saying, formulating a response and translating that into German, they get this look on their face.  If they know English they have then started to say what they said by this point.
  • A mother at Kindergarten pickup asked if Big Ive will be going to the actual Kindergarten class in the fall.  I didn’t quite understand what she was saying.  I mean, I understood the words, but wondered if I somehow didn’t know about different school options here in Germany that I suddenly needed to become aware of.  Anyway, after a couple back and forths, it came to be that she thought Big Ive was 5 and of Kindergarten class age.  She is only turning 4 on the 10th, so she has another year of pre-school here.  Then the mother commented that she was a tall girl, also.  I smiled and said something along the lines of, have you met my husband?  She smiled back.
  • We are planning a birthday party for Big Ive, later in April.  This will be the first time we’ve had a kid-party.  Ever.  And I think we’ve only ever been to 1 other kid party.  I’m concerned about doing it ‘right’.  How American do I make it?  How thoughtful to the Germans do I make it?  Will any German kids even show up?  What if ALL of the kids we invite show up out of sheer curiosity of ‘the Americans’?
  • I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve watched the movie Frozen in the past week.  A friend let us borrow her copy.  The German language DVD comes out in about a week, which I am planning to buy for the girls. [[EDIT 07.04.2014: I ordered it on so it should be here soon.]]
  • LOML and I have decided that if the girls are going to watch TV it should be German language TV shows.  That way we can call it education and not feel so bad about the screen time.  Ha!  Our landlord is working on getting us German TV instead of the military cable we’ve had (which stopped working a few months ago and we’ve yet to troubleshoot why.  No big loss, we didn’t watch it much more than kid shows anyway.).
  • LOML and I joined the gym in a German village about 5 miles from our house.  We’re probably the only Americans with a membership.  The gym is pretty cool.  They have a full sauna (with 3 or 4 different sauna rooms) and everything.
  • LOML bought me a FitBit.  Did you know they can help track your sleeping, too?  Not sure of the accuracy, but it sure is interesting to see it every morning on the computer.
  • Lastly, I am not a fan of the Daylight Saving Time change that happened here in Germany on Sunday.  From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t save any energy and actually causes more accidents the weeks after the change.  Where’s the world petition to end this nonsense?
  • 07.04.2014   We got the girls a sandbox for the backyard and our Landlord let us put it under a big tree by the swing set.  Big Ive was making sand castles from her star-shaped bucket today and she told me 2 were for Queen Elsa, 2 were for Princess Anna and the big cobble stone she put in there was the mountain that Christophe had to climb.