Tag Archives: visitors

Big Ive’s First Day of German Kindergarten – 15 August 2012

Big Ive started at the German Kindergarten on Wednesday, August 15, 2012.

It had been 7 weeks since she’d been in the building because of the summer break and our travels.  She was excited about going, but I think she thought it was going to be like it had when I followed her around on Friday afternoons.  She wasn’t ready to be independent and go away from me sitting on the “Mom Bench”. [[“Mom Bench” is the wooden park bench they have in the hallway outside of the first classroom.  They call it the mom bench because moms (and dads) sit there waiting for their child(ren).]]  I was trying to be as uninvolved as she would let me, but she was being clingy.  She really wanted to play but was afraid and apprehensive to be without me.  Which is kind of funny because it seems like all she wanted to do was play withOUT me on Friday afternoons and here she was only wanting me WITH her.

Still puffy eyed from sleeping, eating “flocken” (Haferflocken = oatmeal).

She is such an independent little girl.  I wish I could describe this sauntering stride she has when she’s going places.  You can just see she’s on a mission.

The grandparents came along for this momentous occasion.
And to help with Little E.

Little E chillin’ in the stroller. 
We had to bring diapers and wipes along because Big Ive refuses our attempts at potty training.  I am going to try that single day toilet training method after I read the book.  Fingers crossed it works!

One of the teachers, who speaks very good English, got paired up with Big Ive.  I think they pair up the new children with one main teacher so they have an adult they get used to and feel ‘safe’ with.  All of the teachers look after all of the children, but this one is especially looking after Big Ive right now in the beginning.

She tried to lure her into the classroom with a puzzle; Big Ive loves trying to do puzzles.  Big Ive thought the puzzle sounded Great!, but she didn’t want to go into the room with the teacher.  After a little convincing she did go to the table and play with the puzzle for a few minutes.

Any Kindergarten would not be complete with out a snack time.
Later, when other kids were snacking Big Ive sat next to one and promptly proceeded to steal his food.  Grapes, I think.  Food thief on the first day.  Great…

The teacher then pulled out the bucket of play dough.  Big Ive loves to play with play dough, as I don’t let her play with it at home.  I don’t want to deal with the mess and cleanup so we never take it out.  Bad mom, I know, but it’s what we do here.  Plus, that 1 year old younger sister who walks and can reach 6+inches onto the table?  Yeah, she’s another reason to not play with play dough at home.

They went outside to play after a bit.  Big Ive did not want to put her sneakers back on for some strange reason.  You usually can’t get her to stop asking to play outside and here she was not wanting to go out.  The teachers asked.  I asked.  Still, “No.”  Then I told her she could play in the sand with a shovel.  That was the best idea Ever to this ginger toddler.  Her face lit up with the word shovel and she tried to run outside with her Housschuhe (inside shoes).  Got her sneakers and hat on and she was off to many adventures on the playground.  After I saw that she was fine without me outside I asked the teacher if I could go for a little bit.  We agreed on an hour, with me returning at 11:30, just in time for lunch.

When they went inside she did end up having a crying fit and they tried to call me.  Our house phone battery was dead — Woops! — and my mobile phone doesn’t get good reception in the part of the house I had it in — Woops!  The teacher got her to calm down when she told them they were going to sing songs in a circle for the 2 birthday kids.  She calmed down and was fine.

Little eaten lunch of fish sticks and tater tots.  The fruit for dessert was a big hit, however.  She ended up staying in the lunch classroom well after all the other kids had left to keep eating fruit.  She finished the grapes and then started in on the honey dew melon.  Apricots were not a favorite that day. 

The lunch teacher told Big Ive to come get her once she finished with the fruit and then she would finish wiping that table off.  It was cute.  I’m glad they allow the children to eat as much or as little of everything they want.  No one forces a child to eat.

And on the walk home she HAD to carry that birthday chocolate bar in her arms and hands the E N T I R E way home.  There was no prying it out of her hands.  I at least convinced her that it was too hot and melty to eat on the way home and to wait until it had cooled off in the refrigerator for a bit.  She seemed ok with that answer.

I don’t know where she came up with this carry it in her armpit move.  It was hilarious.  I think she was treating it like a shoulder bag.  She usually pins her arm to her side to prevent the bag from slipping off.  Anyway, it went from armpit, to hand, to other armpit, to folding it in half in her hands because it had melted so much, to draping it on her forearm.  Funny kid.

She did let me put it in the fridge while she took a nap and promptly requested it once she awoke.  That kid doesn’t forget much.

“Take a pikchure, Mom.  Take a pikchure.”

It was a good start to school for her.  The next day I stayed only about 15 minutes.  She cried as I walked away.  The teacher said she cried for only about 2 minutes and was fine the rest of the day.  The 3rd day she cried for just a minute as I walked away.  I heard her stop crying even before I got to the gate of the school grounds to walk home.  Every day since then it has been me asking for a hug and telling her to say, “Tschuss Mom!”

She loves school.  She loves to play with the kids and toys and games.  She loves the teachers.  LOML and I are so happy that she likes it there and is being immersed in this new language.  The kids like her and play with her and ask for her and are excited to see her.  It makes me smile.

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Switzerland :: June 2012

This will be a mostly photo post.  Too many photos to share of so many good memories of this summer’s traveling.

Our European vacation started with a drive to Switzerland.  We stayed in a hostel in a village called Gimmelwald up in the Swiss Alps.

As you can see by the sign below, it is a new building.  : )

We stayed in what they call the Family Room — a small room with 3 sets of bunkbeds.  There are no locks on the doors to the rooms.  There might not even be a lock on the doors to the hostel.  I didn’t check that.

View from the window in our room.  Breathtaking.  The room and hostel may not offer very many amenities (pay showers for instance), but the views and experience were more than worth it.

Having a little snack picnic on the lawn by the hostel.

Big Ive and the wild chickens running around the hostel lawn.  Of course they would have chickens.  Ok.  So, they’re probably not ‘wild’ chickens, but they certainly didn’t seem to belong to anyone.  The egg selling lady up the street had her own pen of hens.

A daddy and his daughter.

Sorry I don’t have as many photos of Little E.  A lot of the time she is strapped in the stroller or sleeping so all of the photos look the same everywhere we go.  I keep telling LOML I’m going to make a flip book of all the photos of Little E in the stroller. I’m sure as she gets a little older and more of a stable walker I’ll take more action photos of her.

Watching the clouds roll in.

Big Ive playing in the rain.  She was having fun with the watering can and the gutter drip.


When you walk out of the cable car landing area you are greeted by this big metal slide.  As you can see by this photo, a lot of the days had fog — or cloud — during parts of the days.  It was so strange to watch the clouds descend around you obscuring your view of the mountain across the valley and the house just up the street from you.

Big Ive was excited about this slide but afraid to go on it by herself.  I had to go down with her a few times.  Our friend, Judah, went down with her a couple times.  There were a few slightly older kids that were trying to help her down while I waited at the bottom to catch her.  She loved climbing the stairs to the top.  And then she would chicken out and climb the stairs back down.  On the last day we were there she finally got over her fear and wanted to keep going down it repeatedly.

We took a bunch of walks around this village, to see the Alpen animals, to see the sights and views.  One day we took the cable car to the another village up the mountain a bit and walked back on the path.  The morning started out cold and overcast and dreary.  By the time we started our walk back to Gimmelwald it was completely sunny and had warmed up considerably.  My mom and I were using my umbrella to shade ourselves from the sun a little it was so sunny.

Notice all of the tidy, perfectly stacked fire wood.

Our friend, Judah, MomMom, Big Ive and my mom, Gampers.

3/4 of our family.  Little E was sleeping in the stroller during this walk and photo op.

Checking out the wild life on our walks.
Goats: check.
Cows: check.
Chickens: check.
Snails: check.
Ponies: check.

One of the days it rained a lot in the morning.  We took a cable car to the valley below and drove into Interlaken.  We walked around near the river, which is an amazing pale blue/green color.  It’s basically all Alpine snow melt and spring water and has lots of minerals that give it that incredible color.  I wanted to make sure Judah and my mom got a good view of the water as it really is unreal.  We did some touristing and went in shops.

Need more cowbell?
They were selling cowbells of all sizes in just about every shop.  This was the biggest one I’d seen all day.
The cows don’t even wear bells this big.

So … you totally can’t tell the color of the water by this photo…

This kid sure has a thing for umbrellas.

Since we stayed in a hostel we were able to use their kitchen to cook all of our meals.  Which means we had to bring all of our food along to cook.  We got to the hostel in the late afternoon / early evening so the kitchen was in use from people cooking their suppers.  We had an ice chest full of food and 2 grocery store bags full of more food and supplies.  My mom and I were trying to figure out where to store it all.  The people looked at our stuff.  And looked at us.  And then they asked how long we were staying.  I said 3 days and we’re cooking all of our meals.  They did a double take at the amount of food.  And there’s 6 of us, I added.  The relief that came across that young woman’s face could be felt.  She didn’t want to be judging us on the amount of food, but she couldn’t understand why 2 women would need so much for only 3 days.

LOML had plans of renting bikes with Judah and going on some cool hikes.  But he came down with the cold we brought back from the States.  Adventure plans were toned down.

The morning we left we ate breakfast in Germany, lunch in France and supper in Switzerland.  That’s pretty cool.

And then we drove to Italy for most of a week.  Italy photo post coming soon.

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Stuttgart Wilhelma Zoo – a must see if you are going any where near Stuttgart

My friend, BGM, from back home had a business meeting in Stuttgart in June.  Since it was a reasonable 2.5 hour drive from our village I told him I would make every effort to go see him while he was here in Germany.  I’m so glad we were able to make it.  It was a really fun day trip for me, the girls and my mom.

The internet said it would be a little less than 2.5 hours to drive one way.  I figured it would take us 3 with stops having to deal with children.  It took us a little longer than 3 hours because we ran into all of the road construction happening in Germany on our way over.  It was delay after delay.  Because it took so long my mom and I almost decided to NOT go to the zoo because we wouldn’t have much time before we had to meet BGM.  I was thinking it might not be worth the money for the entrance fee for a short 1.5 hours in the zoo.

I. Was. Wrong.

This zoo is beautiful.  You MUST go see the Wilhelma.  It is actually not a traditional zoo.  It is a botanical garden wrapped around and intertwined with a fantastic zoo.  They have exotic plants and animals.  And the grounds — the gardens, oh my goodness — are just immaculate and gorgeous.  No wonder it was a private retreat for kings in days past.  The architecture of the zoo/botanical garden is Moorish as this was the “in” style at the time.  I really like Moorish influenced architecture.  I like the detail and symmetry and ornamentation and the domes that are prevalent in that style.  Unfortunately, during the war a lot of the historic buildings were destroyed beyond repair because of the bombings.  Some were restored.  Some were rebuilt in the style.

All of the glass greenhouse buildings for the different climates are similar to this one.  Ornate metal and glass work.  Beautiful.

I had to keep telling Big Ive to stay away from these little fountains when we walked by only to walk past a couple moms and their toddlers putting their feet in one because the day was so warm.
I would have NEVER thought to do that on purpose.  The water was a little too green for me.  I like my water nicely chlorinated in pools.

I really like this shot.  The differences between the smooth cool grey and the bright spiky green.

We first walked through a number of botanical gardens representing different parts of the world.  It was a hot muggy day in Germany and we walked into the desert building first.  Of course it would be a hotter house than the outside!  Take a look at these incredible barrel cactus.  I have never seen prettier fuzzy barrel cacti in my life.  Growing up in the desert and I had to go to Germany to see  beautiful cacti.  Go figure.  : )

Then we wandered through the rest of the buildings.  One had a little koi pond with these GIANT koi fish.  They made LOML’s big koi in our little pond look like miniatures.

Little E was cooing and pointing at the koi here.

There was a building full of orchids.  I have never seen that many different varieties of orchids ever.

There were peacocks running around the park freely.  I squawked at one and it squawked back loudly and started following us.  I thought I remembered they could be a little on the mean side so we quickly got away from it before it could let us know if it was nice or not.  Not taking chances with the girls so close.

Can you see this one?  He was trying to hide from us in plain sight.

We saw exotic birds.  I squawked at one of those, too, so it would talk back to us.  The girls seemed to like it.

Some of my conversations with my children might be described as squawking, too, so I’m sure all of the Germans thought we were just loud squawking US tourists.  Oh, well.  When you find something that works, go with it.  Right?

Mountain goat animals.  I think.

Then we saw the elephants, okapi, giraffe, and finally had to stop for ice cream.  It was a hot day, remember?

Right as she slopped some on her shirt.

My mom got some good video clips of the girls eating the cold ice cream.  Little E was confused about it.  She didn’t appear to like the intense cold, but once she started to taste the sweet ice cream she really liked it.  Big Ive didn’t hardly even eat all of the ice cream sticking out above the cone before I had to trick her into giving it to me so I could stealthily throw it away.  I felt bad about throwing so much away but I couldn’t even finish mine so there was no way I would be able to eat the rest of hers.

There was a water fountain in a small courtyard by the ice cream shop.  A handful of kids were playing in it.  When Big Ive finally was done with her ice cream the water had been shut off.  It was kind of sad.  I was actually getting ready to fill our drinking water bottles with the water and then it was off.  Sad.

Check out this monkey exhibit.  There are no walls or ceiling.  They surrounded their play structure by water.  How cool is that?

Flamingos that greeted us on the way in and out.  Pretty pale pink birds.

We drove to see BGM at his hotel for dinner.  I had plans of going back into the city center to walk around, but the drive out of the city to get to his hotel took twice as long as it should due to rush hour traffic that we just went to the restaurant across the street.  The girls were not on the best behavior at supper, but we ate early and only 3 other tables had people, most of whom seemed amused at my children running around.

It was a really fun day.  I’m so glad BGM came to Germany and had an evening to spend with us.  I’m glad we had to go see the Wilhelma.  We are planning on going back as a family one Saturday and spending more time in the zoo and getting to see the city center walk platz.

Little E fell asleep before we were out of the hotel parking garage and I think Big Ive was asleep before we got to the autobahn.  My mom and I used the limited maps in our Germany guide books to go a different way than the GPS suggested.  We only argued with her for about 15 miles and made it home in about 2.5 hours.

It was late.  We were tired.  But it was a good day.

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Horses and Wild Raspberries [and other daily happenings 08.07.2012]

Yesterday afternoon my mom, the girls and I took a walk on one of the paths around our village.  LOML had to stay in the house working on homework for his online classes.  We were sad to leave him.  The walk was about 1.6mi according to mapmyrun.com’s estimate.  Part of the walk was up a pretty good hill and then through a wooded gravel road that we’ve walked on a number of times with LOML.  This was the first time I’ve turned down the quarry truck road toward the village.  Usually we turn around and walk back down the hill the same way we came up.

I was feeling adventurous with my mom and our new stroller that afternoon, so we went for it.

New stroller in single seat mode.  Can be turned so it’s forward or rear facing.  It’s awesome.
And the double seat mode.  We also have an infant bassinet attachment.

The girls had just gotten up from their naps and Big Ive was not in the best mood.  Normally I would call off a walk by myself and the girls if she was acting like that, but with Grandma’s help anything is possible, right?

We met some other US people that live in our village.  They were walking to the soccer field, which is the same direction we were going to see the horses and up the hill.  They had never been.  When we were almost home they had caught up to us.  It made me happy to see they decided to try out a new path for their family walk.

Big Ive being little Miss Independent.  She had to zip her own zipper.  She could not let Grandma help.

“Don’t step in the mud puddle.”

Big Ive had to take photos by herself.  “Pichures! Pichures!”  The little stinker didn’t want to listen to a word I was saying.  Nor Grandma.

One of the horses snorted and it caught us all off guard and we all jumped.  I made fake snorting noises with my lips and the horse obliged us and did it’s snort a few more times for the girls.

Horses in the ‘hood.  Yo.

Little E was all quiet and content for the vast majority of the walk.  …  Until we stopped to pick the wild raspberries and left her facing the sun.  That’s when I remembered I could turn her seat to face me.  She was out of the sun and she could see mom.  A win win.

Picking wild raspberries with Big Ive for the first time.  She L O V E D them.  Why wouldn’t she?  She’s a fruit-eating fien
d.  She didn’t care if there was a little dirt on them.  I was a good mom and picked off the bad parts.  : )

I suppose it was the first time picking wild berries with Little E, too.  But she stayed in the stroller.

Most of the raspberries weren’t ripe, yet.  We have a date with LOML for Tuesday to go pick more because I’m sure they’ll be ready in 2 days time.  Hopefully no one else got the memo that the raspberries are ripe!

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[and other daily happenings 08-12.05.2012]

I just watched Little E stand up in the middle of the floor, not holding onto anything and take 6 steps!  OHmygoodness!  The most steps I’ve counted has been 8 so far.

Loot and plunder Krabbel!

Time out from plundering to suck her thumb.

And I realize that none of these photos show her walking even though I lead you in with that first paragraph about my 9-month old walking.

UPDATE 12 May 2012: Little E took her first 2 steps a couple days before she turned 9 months on Saturday May 5.  This week she has started walking just about everywhere.  She is a very UNsteady walker and falls down repeatedly.  But, she always gets back up.  For some reason she seems to do better when she is holding a toy in her hands.  : )  Silly baby.  She looks like a little zombie the way she walks: wide stance, wobble, unintelligable babble, sometimes a questionable smell like that of an undead…  Just kidding.  I keep her diapers changed right away.

On Tuesday May 8 we had lunch with LOML at the cafe across the street from the church after the morning women’s bible study.  It was impromptu and nice.  Our church is closer to his jobsite so it worked out for him to get away for an hour and eat with me and the girls.

Tulips are almost all done blooming around here now.  I wonder what flowers are next around here?  I have been seeing more geraniums in window boxes and pots this week.

Another side of that is that almost every single deciduous tree has all of its green leaves now!  The tree tunnel road is now green.  It was brown sticks for the longest time.  Grasses got green.  Bushes got green.  Small saplings and other little trees got green.  And now, finally, the big trees that cross over the road are green.  It is crazy beautiful.

It looked green to me in December (compared to Phoenix desert, just about anything looks green!) so every day that we get more green is just amazing to me.  I can’t believe it can get greener!

Interesting heart shaped flowers in the front planter box.  When they first started growing it looked like strange celery.

04 May 2012
LOML surprised us at Kindergarten Friday afternoon by coming home early.  It was so fun to have him show up and get to watch and play with Big Ive and her friends at school.

Building a horse barn.


Eating all of the fruits and veggies in the kitchen.  We were trying to leave for about 20 minutes while she kept eating.

06 May 2012
An old friend from university is in Germany this week for a conference for work.  He drove the 4ish hours over here from Munich to spend the day with us.  It was so much fun.

10 May
Big Ive still says, “Doot”, and signs food when she is asking for food.  I have no idea how she changed that word around.  That was one of the first words she said.  She still says “Wow” when you ask her to say ‘pretty’.

She pointed to her happy birthday banner when I told her to say happy birthday to her Auntie.

I just asked her to say ‘little’ and she said ‘baby’.  I’m always telling her Little E is little so she needs to be careful.

My OCD child neatly placing the wooden blocks in perfectly even rows in the box, one at a time.

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I Am.sterdam

some buildings in Amsterdam

We traveled to Amsterdam the only whole weekend my parents would be in town.  It seemed like a great idea when we were planning it, but executing it might have changed my mind.  We had originally planned to drive the 5 hours there, but due to car issues and stress involved with LOML having to do all the driving and we’d already done 3 other 4-5 hour weekend drives since we’ve moved here we decided to use the train.  We figured with 2 extra adults it would be cake to navigate the trains.  With a toddler, a baby, a giant double stroller, luggage for all, toys for said children, and winter coats.

The first train left a town about 20 minutes from us at 6:30 in the morning.  We are not all usually up at 6:30.  And it was COLD.  I think the thermometer in the car said it was in the single digits or teens (F) that morning.  The kids were toasty warm in their 4 layers of fleece blankets in the stroller but we were getting cold waiting the 8 minutes for the train outside.  Got on that 40 minute train on problems.  Big Ive was awake and walking around the entire time.

say cheese!

In the 15 minutes at the train station between trains I had to find the bathroom and take Big Ive to change her.  It was located in the basement.  The stairways seemed to get worse looking each one we went down.  And when we got there we had to pay 1 euro to use it.  It was bright, clean, shining, new.  Such a contrast to the basement and pee-smelling stairwell we just walked down.

The next train was uneventful and kind of fun.  We sat by a young man who seemed pleased to have 2 cute children sitting near him.  He engaged Big Ive and even tried to get Little E to smile at him (she slept most of the time).  Big Ive got a Kinderfarhkarte from the conductor as he checked our tickets during the trip.  She liked the idea of giving the conductor a ticket.  It was cute.

readin' the magazine on the train

This train went up the Rhein river. [SIDE TANGENT: I never know if I should spell the names of places the way that country does or the way we do in English.  I guess I don’t understand why we don’t just call them and spell them the way they are.  Why do we need to change it, other than if we don’t have those characters in the English alphabet?]  It was really nice views of this region that has lots of castles, villages dotting the river banks and wine grape vineyards.

She almost fell asleep here.

The next train we got on was supposed to take us all the way to Amsterdam.  We found a Kleinekinder room (small children) that was available.  Naturally, we snatched it up.  There was a large table, room for the stroller and seating for about 6 or 8.  It was nice and would have been perfect for the rest of the trip.

There was a big snow storm in the Netherlands that knocked out most of their train systems.  They got around 14cm of snow in a place that rarely gets snow so they were not prepared for it.  We rode our 4th train to the German border where we then got on a bus that would take us to Utrect, about 25 miles from Amsterdam.  The bus ride was 2.5 hours.  Thankfully Big Ive slept a good portion sitting on Grandpa’s lap.  He had a good nap, too.  So did I.

Our 5th train was a short, slow commuter train into Amsterdam.  We all stood in the entrance alcove of the train for this ride as it was packed to the gills of everyone who missed other trains.  There was a young man sitting with his bike near us.  Big Ive offered him a pretzel and he ate it.  She tried offering another one — that had been in her mouth — and he smartly turned that one down.  : )

By this time I was pulling out all of my mommy-of-toddler bag-of-tricks.  I was reciting her favorite books for her.  I was trying to remember all of those silly little kid songs that you learn.  I was feeding her everything and anything we had left in our bags.  I pretended the pompom on her knit winter cap was a microphone and sang into it.  She thought that was funny and has since done that a few times.  We were rapidly approaching our Big Ive limit just as the train stopped.

All in all, the train (and bus) trip wasn’t terrible.  LOML and I think there are pros and cons to both driving with 2 kids and taking trains with 2 kids.  I’m not sure we would attempt another big train trip with the kids alone, though.

view from our hotel room

On the walk to the hotel an accordion player and alto saxophone player were playing Indian/Middle Eastern style music. I mention this because it was the first time I’ve heard quarter tone music played with a sax. It was interesting and good and neat to hear. It was far too cold, and we had been. Traveling far too long with too many delays to stay a while to hear more. I can’t imagine how cold the sax players fingers were, though. That’s dedication for a few euro coins from passersby.

We went on a canal cruise on Sunday. [My timeline is off for this post.  Sorry about that.  Can’t remember straight anymore…]  Big Ive had a great time. She colored for a while. Whenever we would go under a bridge she would say, “Whoah.” it was funny. I got a short video clip. If I can get it to upload here I’ll include it in this post. She is such an out going kid. She wanted to brush the hair of the lady sitting in front of us, and the guy sitting at the table with us. She tried to get him to color with her and kept saying hi to him. At one point she managed to stand all of her crayons on end. When she tried to fix one she got her sleeve and most of them were knocked over. That was the end of that.

"Water!" Big Ive signing water in the canal boat

"Look what I did!"

She was flirting with the guy sitting across the table from her.  She kept trying to get him to color and play and talk with her.

choppy canal ice

Little E was good, too. She slept part of the time in her car seat (no surprise there) and was happy after I fed her when she woke up. She protested when I put her back in the car seat to leave, but quickly fell asleep on the walk to the cafe for lunch.

Big Ive asleep in the stroller on the cold streets of Amsterdam

Big Ive fell asleep in the stroller on the cold noisy street of Amsterdam, like she did on the subway in Paris.

Big Ive asleep on streets of Amsterdam

We walked to a small convenience store to get drinks on the way back to the hotel.  She stayed asleep when we got back to our room.  I don’t know if we’re considered smart or bad parents for leaving her to sleep in the stroller and not moving her to a bed when we got to our room.  We didn’t even remove her mittens.  My justification was that she needed a good nap and I didn’t want to risk waking her by moving her.  So, here I sit in our room typing on the iPad over 1.5 hours later and she’s still sleeping.  [She ended up getting a good 2+ hour nap in.]  In her stroller.  At least I reclined the seat for her.  She still has her little mittens on, too.  Little E was up for a few minutes to eat and play when we got to our room but quickly put herself back to sleep.

LOML and I are enjoying the quiet by surfing the web nets on our iPads. [Another side tangent: I didn’t see why everyone thought iPads were so cool when they came out. I didn’t get why people would spend so much money on an over-sized iPod touch or a small laptop. But, having used one for the past 6 months on a daily basis, I like it. It’s convenient to do a quick check of email, FB, or the web.  Also, the speakers make a great music player for Big Ive to go to sleep with.  And since LOML was in Germany away from us for 3 months I used it in the middle of the night when Little E would get up to eat to chat with him. The flashlight aspect was really nice. No light to turn on and brighten the whole room (or wake my sister when I lived at my parents for a month). No big whole computer to heft around while holding a newborn for feeding. Easy 1-handed (either hand) use. We still use it every night for Big Ive’s music and middle of the night illumination for feedings (which Little E seems to keep doing with the same frequency as before…I fear she’ll never grow out that right now). I downloaded a few toddler apps for Big Ive, too. She LOVES them and keeps asking to “play!?” “Play!?”

My parents went off by themselves to walk around and explore the city of Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon.

That night (Saturday) my parents offered to watch the kids for us so we could go out to eat.  LOML and I had planned on going to a cool restaurant somewhere in the city, but I was so tired from not enough sleep, lots of travel and 2 small children that I barely was able to stay awake to eat at the restaurant in the hotel.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was, though.  Who knows if I was just really really tired or if it was good food.  : )  If I remember right I had some sort of tuna appetizer (raw with some greens and vegetable chips) and mushroom risotto for the main course.

Sunday we did the canal cruise.  Sorry, again, that this is all out of order.  Then we had lunch in a little organic cafe called Carla’s.  It was good food.  That’s when Big Ive fell asleep in the stroller on the way back to the hotel.  My parents went off on their own for a while again.  I think they felt bad that Chris and I couldn’t explore or visit any museums because of the kids.  Since we’ve done these weekend trips a few times already in the 2 months we’ve been here we’ve learned to not have very many expectations on what we can do and see in a city.  And that is fine.  There will be a time in our life when we’ll be able to visit numerous museums a day and eat nice dinners without worrying about who is watching our children.

Big Ive and dad

Sunday evening we all went out to dinner to a nice Italian place the hotel recommended.  We only got a little bit lost looking for the street and the restaurant.  We actually walked right by it and had to turn back around.  It was good food.  I ended up ordering the exact thing LOML wanted and they only had 1 plate of it left so I stole it from him.  I offered to let him have it, but he ordered something else and said it was good, too.  This place has a giant wheel of cheese where they prepare a special table-side spaghetti dish.  They pour flaming liquid into the hollowed cheese wheel, dump the pasta and stir and scrape the cheese into the pasta.  It looked really good–2 other tables nearby ordered it.

Big Ive selecting her dinner choices

"Yum! Yum!"

On Monday my mom and I went out for about an hour alone.  No husbands and no children.  It was a nice little break from them.  She was looking for a fabric store that she had passed on Saturday when they went to the Anne Frank House.  We didn’t see it going down the street, so we went to the grocery store and picked up snacks for the train ride home.  Walking back up that street we found it, only for it to be closed on Mondays.  Oh, well.  There was some really cool looking fabric there.  She might just have to come back.  : )

Walking back to the hotel we came across what we thought was a very small Dutch cheese shop.  We walked in because they had the cheese making machine working in the first room.  It was neat to see.  As we kept walking, the shop kept going and going and going.  It was little room after little room.  We sampled one of the fresh Dutch cheese wheels and I had to buy one.  I also had to buy another package of stroopwaffles–fantastic little Dutch cookies.


We collected children and husbands, checked out of the hotel, and headed down to the bloemenmarkt.  It was sunny and seemed a little bit warmer, which was nice.  There was no cold wind to sap the warmth out of the sunlight.  We walked all along the bloemenmarkt.  LOML bought me a package of 100 tulip bulbs so I can plant them here at our house.  I asked my landlady if I could plant them out front and she said it was happy and I was welcome to plant them where I wanted.

After that it was lunch time.  We found this food place that was huge and overwhelming and full of delicious fresh food.  It had 2 levels of food stations (salads, build your own stir fry, meat, sandwiches, pizza, customize your own smoothie, etc) you picked from.  It was really good food.

Then it was time for the train ride home.  This leg of the trip was supposed to take 2 trains.  Because of the issues with the Dutch rain system our high-speed train wasn’t able to get up to high speeds.  When it got to the Dutch boarder we stopped for an hour and waited for another train coming from Frankfurt to meet us.  We disembarked, walked to the other side of the track and got on the new train.  Those people got on our train.  This new train got up to about 260km per hour.  My dad thought they were trying to make up for the delays by going so fast.  We ended up taking 3 trains and got in 1.5 hours later than scheduled.

It was quite the feat to get Big Ive to stay content while we were stopped for over an hour.  We walked up and down the cars of the train again and again and again and again.  She would say hi to random people sitting on the train.  Some people she would just stare at.  Others she would completely avoid.  Strange child.

I did get her to go to sleep around her usual bedtime.  She slept on the train, stayed asleep as we put her jacket on and placed her into the stroller and stayed asleep as we transferred trains twice.  I didn’t think she would stay asleep but she was out.  She tired herself out by running the train so many times.

family self portrait in the hotel room


And then Tuesday morning I ended up with a stomach bug.  LOML got it Tuesday evening.  And my mom got it Tuesday night / Wednesday morning.  We think Little E might have gotten it Friday night when I was at band practice because she was all out of sorts and had a gurgly tummy.  We’re all better now, though, and it was a short illness whatever it was.

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2 Month Germany Anniversary [and other daily happenings 10-02-2012]

LOML and I laughed at the thing I’m not supposed to blog about again last night.  It was still really funny.


My mom and I (and Big Ive) split a banana split dessert at the restaurant last night.  It was so good.


Little E is a baby that crawls around putting every little thing in her mouth that she can find on the ground.  Big Ive did not do this.  I was so happy to not have to worry about every little spec with her and now I feel I’m going to be a vacuum-crazy mother to keep her from ingesting too many things that are not food!

And if I’m going to compare


Big Ive carries around this cabbage patch looking little doll.  She is very much a little mommy to her doll.  She is concerned to have the doll wrapped in a blanket.  She carries and holds it so gently.  She has the “mommy rock and sway” already down pat and she’s not even 2, yet!  A few days ago she started pretending the doll had stinky diapers and tried to change them.  She says, “Shh, shh, baby” like she does to her sister when she fusses.  She pretends the baby is tired and needs to go to sleep.

I will try to get the rock and sway on video soon.

I’m loving this new pretend play phase we’re entering.  The other day she started handing out something from her hands to everyone.  I was feeling sick and told her I had an ouch on my tummy and to get me a band aid for it.  She looked in the diaper bag for the real ones.  That’s when I told her to get me a pretend one.  And she happily obliged.

We have never tried to get her to play with dolls.  There have been a few in our house this entire time (hand-me-downs or gifts, we haven’t purchased any).  I don’t feel like it’s something I need to overly encourage her to do.  If she wants to play with dolls, she will play with dolls.  If she would rather play with her cars on the floor and vroom vroom around, then she can do that.  (She saw the kids at the kindergarten running cars around on the floor and totally mimicked them the other day.  It was super cute to watch.)  I feel there shouldn’t be gender-specific toys.  If I had a boy he would be allowed to play with dolls as much as he wanted, too.  That’s why the girls have a tool-belt to play with, and cars and blocks and trains, as well as, the little kitchen, little purse-like bags (all kids go through a phase of carrying around bags on their shoulders, though), and a few other somewhat-more-‘girly-toys.

Although, I do draw the line on the princess crap, or diva or other things like that.  And any sort of pants that have words written on their butts.  Those are not necessary for little kids or adults!


Little E is sitting up by herself so well now, too.  Less than a month ago she literally would slump forward only propped up by her big belly.  Now she’s sitting up straight playing with toys.  She tries to get to a sitting position from crawling and is not quite there, yet.  So far she’s only face planted hard once, so I think we’re doing well.  : )  I’m sure there will be more opportunities for that to happen in the future.


I love the way Little E lights up and squeals when she sees Big Ive.  Those girls sure to do love each other.


My parents have to go back home on Sunday.  I’m sad about that.  It has been SO much fun having them here visiting for the past 2 weeks.  Not to mention it has been wonderful to not have to do the dishes and laundry because my mother has been amazing with all of her help.

The weather has been VERY cold while they’ve been here.  I thought I was doing well with my first ‘cold’ winter, being a desert native.  I was wrong.  This less-than-freezing-temperature weather is COLD.  Go figure, it’ll get back up into the upper 30s and low 40s (F) the week after they leave.  I tried to get them to extend their stay longer, but I don’t think it’s working.


Kindergarten play time this afternoon.  LOML said he’s a little jealous that he has to work while we get to go play with all the kids on Friday afternoons.  Maybe he’ll have to join us one of these days and experience the fun for himself.


I ported my blog to a Word document so I can print it for my Grandparents who don’t have the internet.  It ended up being almost 40 pages when I put all of the photos in and formatted it.  I guess I’ll have to do that more often, so it’s less paper to print and mail each time.  I think this is post number 22 for me.  I have never stuck with a journal for this long.


This day marks 2 whole months we’ve lived in Germany.  It still feels kind of like we’re just on an extended vacation.  Or perhaps we’ve just effortlessly moved into this new normal.  I’ll believe the latter.

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[and other daily happenings 02.02.2012]

I think my parents are having a good time here on their first visit (of many!) to Germany.  My dad went up to the Getränke yesterday to buy more beer.  And he stopped at the Metzgerei because he found this house meat loaf thing that he liked and had to get more.  And their house-made sausages and blood-wurst.  So far he’s been able to meet all of the employees that speak English.  : )  He took a walk/run on some of the exercise trails around our village, too.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was playgroup in the morning and my parents came with.  We sat on the carpet and sang a few German songs with the kids.  Then, out came the balls and one of those crawling tunnels so the kids could play for a while.  Big Ive LOVED the crawling tunnel.  Most of the kids went to get their snack and she kept crawling through it.  Every time she would get out of the tunnel she would look at me and sign ‘more’, asking if she could go in again.  It was so cool to have her communicating with me via sign language when I wasn’t prompting it.  Not to mention it was nice to see her have fun and interact with all the other kids.

There was another 6 month old baby there.  She was about half the size of Little E.  I asked her mom how old she was, she said 6 months, and then I told her Elsie was 6 months (well…a few days away from being 6months) and the mom just about bulged her eyes out she was so shocked my not dainty child was the same age as hers.  It was kind of funny.

Big Ive took a good while to warm up to the rest of the kids there.  It’s been too long since we’ve had regular contact with other kids.


On Tuesday we decided to walk up to the restaurant to see if they were open for lunch.  They weren’t.  It was a good walk, though.  I wore Little E in my Moby wrap and Oma and Opa were in charge of walking with or carrying Big Ive.


Big Ive is starting to try to say more words.  She said sorry, work, yogurt (which she loves), Little E’s name.

She has been adding moves to her dance repertoire, as well.  There was a dance troupe on tv and she mimicked some of their moves.  She dances differently for different styles of music.  It is fantastic to watch.


We built some awesome lego towers with Big Ive yesterday morning.  The first one Opa started to build with her.  It was thick and not always symmetrical.  Big Ive had issues with the little pegs sticking out of the sides.  She always wanted to build more on them to cover them up.

And then she started building blocks by herself.  Only the blocks with 2 prongs would work for her.  She used up all of the loose blocks on the ground and kept asking for more so my mom had to take apart the big tower and help her sort out the 2-prong blocks so she could make her own tower.


Little E had to ‘help’ with the tower building, too.  Exhibit A:


Since it snowed a couple of inches on Monday (I think?) my parents took Big Ive across the street to go saucering on Grammy and Rapunzel’s front hill.  She went down a few times by herself, but then got scared.  They have a big dog that just wanted to play and Big Ive is not used to big dogs.  When Oma suggested they saucer down together Big Ive thought that was a great idea.

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Our First Visitors! [and other daily happenings 30.01.2012]

My parents are in town for a couple of weeks to visit us.  It is so much fun.  And so strange to have my parents come stay and visit me.  I’ve always lived in the same city as them so it is strange to have them come over to my house and stay the night.

walking in our village with the grandparents

We went for a walk today to visit the metzgerei.  We got some yummy sausage, salami, olives (for LOML), little hotdog things and this loaf of meat that was pretty tasty.  There was a new lady working the counter that spoke pretty good English.  I do not complain about any German’s English — there’s no way I could — as they speak English about 1.5million times better than I speak German.  .

The lady gave Big Ive a small packet of gummy bears.  They kept her happy on the rest of the walk back to the house.  We stopped and took photos of the church in town and the construction on the house/barn building near the church.  I took some other nice photos of my parents walking with the kids in the stroller.

Big Ive walking with Oma

at the bus stop in our village

Like usual, Little E was sleeping the entire time.  Every time she does that I wonder when this easy streak is going to end.  Like, it can’t stay this good forever, right?

village church

church door


On Friday night I had to call in sick for band rehearsal.  Both Big Ive and Little E were sick, but Little E was far worse.  This cold or something hit her really hard.  It is so sad to see them sick.  It breaks my heart because there’s not much I can do.  We gave her acetaminophen or ibuprofen throughout the day and night.  She would have a short mostly happy reprieve for a little bit and then melt into her cranky, fussy, sick little self again.

I ended up sitting up all night with her on the sofa.  I had to hold her just so in order to get her to not cry for 30-60 minutes at a time.  That was the first time I have had to stay up all night with a kid.  Big Ive’s been sick before but nothing like this.  Or she was no where near as needy as Little E is.  Some time during the night I took her temperature and it was around 101.5 F.  Not terribly high, but higher than I’ve ever noticed in her.  About 3am the fever broke and she finally slept for 3 hours straight.  Then LOML was up to drive to the airport to pick up my parents.  And shortly after I went back upstairs to try sleeping a little longer Big Ive decided to wake up.  I got her back down and laid on the floor with Little E for another hour.


Sunday afternoon my dad and I took a walk around our village.  I showed him the places we go and the things we do here.  It was nice to walk and chat with him for about an hour.

creek that runs through the village

neatly stacked woodpiles


It was snowing today.  Not much, but enough to stick on the ground and look white.  My parents must have brought the cold spell.  It has not been this cold since we got here almost 2 months ago as it has been these past couple of days.  This desert kid thought she was doing so well not feeling too cold all this time…and then we went for a walk yesterday.  My legs were cold and I was starting to feel the cold seep through my layers.  Guess it’s time I invest in long johns or tights.


Little E is so close to crawling.


barn / house construction in town

barn / house wood pile

big tree up the hill near-ish the church

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