Early blessings

Yesterday we celebrated Ashlyn's eleventh birthday. She had a great day at school with a lunchtime chorus of "Happy Birthday" and ended the day with takeaway Chinese and doughnuts. She is continuing the celebrations today by bringing cupcakes to her youth group after school.

I was thinking about the day that I became a mom for the first time, eleven years ago. I had been on bed rest for exactly a week with unexpected complications when my water broke. Allen, who had been up all night finishing his thesis, was not excited about having to come home from work and take me to the hospital. He just wanted sleep!

After determining that my directionally challenged girl was breech, a C-section was scheduled. Several hours later I was resting in the recovery room when Allen brought my newly bundled baby girl to me. He told me, "I called my grandma and told her the name was Ashlyn. I hope that's okay". What matters???? I was somebody's mom. It was overwhelming. I looked at this new life and just could not believe that I had been chosen to care for her. I love those first hours as you gaze at a new baby straight from Heaven.

My friend Melody later told me that she had seen Allen in the nursery with Ashlyn as the nurse bathed and examined her. She said that she wished that she had her camera because the look of pride on his face was priceless. I am so glad that I have that memory. I couldn't be there to see all of those firsts because I was medicated, but I can imagine it. A good memory that I have of the surgery is being completely toasty warm. Strange memory, but it was a feeling that even your inner core was warm and comfortable. Karma? Medication? Warm blankets? I don't know, but it was nice.

Many of my memories of the time immediately following her birth are fuzzy since I must have had a good dose of drugs, but I do remember that. I also remember seeing the first pictures of me holding Ashlyn. I love looking at them, but I also wonder why nobody removed the temperature strip on my forehead (from surgery). I didn't even know it was there, but I'm sure others saw it. I guess we just get caught up in the moment!

We brought Ashlyn home from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving that year. It was entirely unexpected! She was due exactly two weeks before Christmas, so I was pretty much planning a Christmas baby. Early blessings it was. We were, as you can guess, not ready for Thanksgiving that year. My family drove up from three cities to see us and H.E@.B. was a big help with the trimmings!


Big news!

Well, on the scale of big news issues in other households, this might not be so big. But in our household, this is great news!

Ta-da! I.have.found.a.babysitter.

Yes. After living here for 14 months and exploring various avenues of teenagers, I have finally found one. The best part is that she is no longer a teenager. Yep. A true adult! She is one of the younger teachers at Ryan's school who was interested in watching the kids when I asked at the school.

She came over yesterday evening to meet the kids and to find out more about each others' families. She is German, but she knows English fairly well (hey, I can understand her). She received her education with children and was really great with the kids. This also makes me worry less if something were to happen while we were away. We would have a certified teacher who knows the area/language and can get the appropriate help.

This gives us such options-dinner, movies, holiday parties-yay!

I often remind my husband that moving is very traumatic for women because we have to find new:

  • hairdressers
  • gynecologists (honestly, right?)
  • babysitters

These are very important people in women's lives (at least this one), and we can't get just anybody to do the job. I hate, hate, hate leaving my old ones and asking around until you find someone that you can trust. By then, it's time to move again!!!

Not having family around and moving frequently means that you need to make adjustments and find means to help your family. For us, living further away from the primary military (and thus english-speaking) community has limited us in finding childcare. We just don't want to drive the children to places and create a late night. We have discovered that late nights=chaotic mornings. Blech.

I do have a cousin serving in the Air Force who lives about 30-40 minutes away, but his deployment and the distance have limited that option of asking family to help. I know he and his wife would be more than willing to help though!

The only down side is that our new sitter mentioned that she lives at home currently, but plans to move to Kaiserslautern at some time. She will continue to work in our town though. I am just hoping that the long commute doesn't take her away from us.

Now, with my husband being away the past few weeks, I need some "Me Time". Now I can go to a girls' event with some friends this weekend. It is much deserved.


My new mantra

" She believed she could
So she did. "

(In the lateness of the evening, I didn't give credit where it is due. I saw this on a Hallmark item recently. A coaster maybe? Love it! )


Monsters and their spooky castle- a sneak peek

I am finally able to access them! Whoo hoo!

It's late, so I will just post a few of our pictures of Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt (ummm...yeah, from October) and provide details later!

Keep in mind that this was "Family Day" and kids were encouraged to come. I seriously wonder how scary things are on Halloween night!! These guys looked pretty real....and tall....and eerie.

The pin face and white-face monster were really creepy. The kids didn't seem to mind them very much though. Is that a good or bad thing?

This picture is just because.

Logan and I waited a while while the kids tried out the "burning stake".


It's the little things

It's been a chaotic weekend, and it's only Saturday afternoon. Today has been a flurry of laundry, sorting, whining, kids running, baths, drama because the planned sleepover friend now cannot come tonight, toys scattered, gloomy weather, headache, Wii supplies everywhere, torn books, what are we having for dinner worries.

In the midst of all of this I wiped my baby's hands and face after he had yogurt. I usually just do the quick scrub and wipe around the face without really noticing. Today I really looked. Looked at his big blue eyes, the long eyelashes, the smooth skin, the smile looking back at me.

I'm glad that I did. I really needed that.


St. Martin's Day or Martinstag

St. Martin is a cherished man who was a Roman soldier in the 4th century who later became a monk and led a simple life. He cut his cloak in half to provide a beggar with warmth during a snowstorm. In Germany, on the eve or on November 11th, children celebrate this man's generosity by making paper lanterns and parading through the streets singing songs about him. It is implied that the children are also singing for treats, similar to a Halloween tradition.

Last night we met at Ryan's school and watched a brief presentation by the school children (in German, of course) on St. Martin. The school children had made these amazing brightly colored lanterns-suns, owls, penguins, multi-colored. They were beautiful!

We then lit our paper lanterns with these little electric light wands and followed the parade through the town. Every so often the band that accompanied us would stop and play a song. It was amazing how the townspeople all gathered around and watched-taking pictures and singing along. Watching others seems to be a popular pastime here. I like that the pace of life is slower here.

We returned to the school and stood around the bonfire and ate pretzels and bratwurst. They were also serving hot Gluwein and a "kinderpunch" (a warm , fruity drink).

St. Martin's day is also associated with goose (ugh-not a fan) and the beginning of the fasching season. Let the fasching begin!

(Of course, I cannot get our pictures to upload. I will post them when possible. I found some other online images-you get the idea).

The business of being organized

Not that I am anywhere near this state of mind, but is there such a thing as being too organized? I think there are definitely so many tools that one can use to help get organized, that you can easily get overwhelmed. Consider just one aspect of organization: calendars.

I am guilty of having too many calendars! I have a large "More Time Moms" one in the kitchen that all of the kids can look at to see what is going on in our household for the day/week/month. Nicholas especially likes to use this one. He often tells me the dates and what is going on :).

I also have a purse "Whomi" calendar where I write down things while I am out and about, or appointments as I make them outside the home. I like this one because it saves me having to have papers with this information collecting in my purse.

Here is where it gets crazy, I also have a desk calendar that I write most of my plans, birthdays, addresses, weekly lists, etc. Nobody really references this but me. I love this one because I usually get a ME one. I think I want to get a fun one like Paris or London themed one for 2009. I just can't give this one up.

And last but not least, I have an online calendar with Cozi. This is a great site! You are able to post pictures, an online journal, make lists, use the color-coded calendar, etc. I can't give this one up either. I just like looking at what is going on in this easy to read calendar. The colored dots are simple to see that daughter #1 has things planned most days, every week. Sigh.

The obvious problem is making sure that what is written on one calendar--is written on the others. Double scheduling or forgotten events have happened! This is where a personal secretary would be great for every family. Keep up with appointments---return correspondence---file necessary paperwork. I digress.

I opened my pantry, and what do I see?? Two computer printed calendars that I occasionally list household chores and menu plans. This is so I can see when I needed to change sheets, wash windows, washed pillow covers, etc. I can also plan ahead sometimes and have items for a particular meal ready, if it's on the calendar, that is.

Too much?!? Stop me now.

As I am looking ahead for Christmas gifts, I am considering getting Ashlyn, Lauren and maybe Nicholas a planner/calendar. Am I creating planning monsters? Ashlyn and Lauren have had planners before, but they are not dedicated users of them. Not yet. We'll see when I am finished with them. Bwahahahah.


I miss these guys

These are two cute little guys that used to reside in my house. These pictures were taken in February 2007, when Ryan was barely two and Logan was five weeks.

Ryan was such a sweet little person. He has a great smile and knows how to use it to his advantage. "Yes, I know I have just unrolled the whole roll of toilet paper.....but I am so cute. Here, let me hug you and remind you!". That was then.

Since school started we have earlier mornings, and he is such a grump. He takes a daily nap and we try to get him to bed early, but he is still an unpleasant little person. There is whining when he didn't want that cereal...or bowl...or somebody gave him a funny look...or called him that. Eeeek!

Logan. What can I say? He was peacefully sleeping in the five week picture. The boy does not stop until his head hits the bed for nap or bedtime. I love this age with the hugs, the sweet words and phrases, cute expressions, the new abilities to make things work....but I live for those moments when he is contained in his bed and not moving.

I miss these guys. I think I didn't relish the time when they were sweet and sleeping. I guess I was busy.....with life. I was making other plans. Or whatever.

I know many moms that feel this way. Maybe that is what being a grandparent is all about-taking the time to relish and embrace the true childhood.

**I am still working on posting our monster castle experience, Halloween and anything else of picture importance. I have uploaded them, but cannot figure out the storage system that my husband has set up. Bear with me until my computer nerd can remind me how to find the picture files again. Sheesh.


My mantra

"Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week"

~Spanish proverb

That's just fine, because I plan on putting my feet up this weekend!


The paper solution

Squash a kindergartner...save a tree!

I'm not really advocating to harm a little person.
However, this is the amount of papers that my own kindergartner brought home in one day. And there are millions more like him-bringing home a tree a day of worksheets, art, etc. Okay, it wasn't exactly a tree, but I did count eleven papers. And that doesn't count the packet of homework sheets that arrived in his folder as well!

I love seeing his work, but I just wonder-how much is too much?
I took this next picture to exemplify kindergartner logic. It seems that he was missing a sticker from the teacher for some particular reason, so he came up with his own solution. He added his own pumpkin sticker.
Never mind that it obviously doesn't match the teacher's stickers.

**I did notice a few days later that the sticker had been removed at school. Hehe.

***Side note-I don't know what's going on with the square haircut look. We had it cute short so that we could give it that "rustled" look, but apparently if you don't do that daily you get the "square" look. Ugh.


This is what I am lovin' today

I loved the fact that I could get some quick shopping done at the local German supermarket (on a much smaller scale) and have it home and unpacked by 8:15 a.m. You see, if I waited to go to the commissary on base, I would have to wait until it opens a few hours later. Then you factor in the 30 minute drive each way...you get the picture.

I picked up some washing detergent, apples, yogurt, brotchen (rolls), cafe au lait, butter and spatzle. I bagged it quickly (you have to bag your own stuff with your own bag--very quickly or you get "the look") and Logan and I were done. He was happy that the lady at the bakery gave him a brezel (pretzel). Maybe she felt sorry for him because he was still in his jammies. I just can't manage to get six people up, dressed, fed and out the door by 7:05, so something had to give.

I love the fact that I had the patience and finally found my debit card. It has been missing for five days, but I have checked my account online frequently and notified my bank. Cancelling the card would have meant filling out a new form, faxing it, waiting for a new card, blah, blah. Apparently it was hiding out with my gas ration folder. I guess that is the last place I used it.

I love the fact that tomorrow will be the beginning of the end of the election speculation. A lot of big decisions are being made today, and I trust that the person chosen will lead our nation to the best of their ability. This day doesn't have as much meaning for me as far as the true "voting" feeling though. It just doesn't have that same effect on you when you fill in the papers and put it in the postbox.

I am also ecstatic that I found this cool gadget that will allow me to have unlimited phone minutes with my family for free (okay-there is an annual very low fee, but no biggie!). Friends can also call me at a US number. No more mis-dialed numbers and panic when a foreign-speaking person answers. I shudder when I think of the money spent on long distance (and postage) these past nine years.



Obviously, we have made the trek to Legoland in the past. Here are the girls in front of Legoland Windsor in 2001.

Ashlyn got her first taste of speed-and a drivers license!
Fast-forward to 2008-adding three more kids. This is Logan at the beginning of the day. I took this picture because I also have one of the stroller, and all of it's effects at the end of the trip. There is quite a difference! I have just a few pictures to post because, well, the computer is being stingy with sharing pictures from the folder at the moment.
Ashlyn and Ryan decided to try the pulley ride. Unsuspecting Ashlyn soon learned that Ryan was not about to pull his own weight! Smart Boy.

This time we saw many beautiful sights in Germany made of thousands of legos. We made mental notes of fabulous places to visit. Here is Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. It is quite a sight. We have been to visit it twice, and I suspect that we will see it again when we have guests visit.
What would a trip Europe be without posing with the Beckhams? Oh wait, they are in the US now, right?!?I added this picture because we were in this HUGE park with so many things to see, and Logan was standing in the middle of the walkway, playing with a leaf...and eventually became inteterested in the drain. I'm not sure that I will ever understand the mind of a male. I will try and post as the computer allows. I have several other posts, but I am getting a message stating that it could not make contact with Blogger-saving and publishing may fail". This has got to be a conspiracy.