Thursday, October 14, 2010

recent stuff...

Three kiddos is a bit of a challenge, but we are finally getting the hang of it. The boys just adore their little sister, and are quick to entertain, comfort, kiss and cuddle her. She is a fantastic sleeper. If only she could give Jacob a lesson or two...*sigh*. The boys are in preschool, even Jacob! He is potty trained, except while sleeping, and no longer uses a pacifier, and even sleeps in a big boy bed in Joshua's room. So many changes all at once. I think he had a rough time adjusting for a bit - an extraordinary number of fits pitched - but he is finally settling into his own little groove. Joshua is getting so big and independent now. He dresses himself, and, for the most part, picks out his own clothes. He plays soccer and had his first game yesterday. He just loves it, grinning the entire time he runs up and down the field. Both boys are taking swim lessons once a week, and are enjoying the water time.

My parents arrived here in Germany a few hours after Evy was born, and stayed for a little over a month, helping around the house, with the boys, and with Evelyn. Mom helped me reorganize the pantry, the kitchen, the laundry room, etc. Dad was awesome in doing the around the house stuff that Brad generally has difficulty getting to. He mowed the lawn (with some help, lol) and took out the trash, fixed the clothes dryer (yippee!) and did so many other little helpful things. It took some real adjusting once they left. Just having an extra set of hands to hold a baby was invaluable! We were able to take a few little jaunts around Germany here and there while they visited. I wasn't 100% up for a ton of travel just yet, but we were still able to see some sites. Mom and Dad had such a fantastic time here (yippee!) that they are planning to come back for a month in May, and then possibly to spend Christmas with us in 2011. Won't that be fantastic? The weather was very cooperative, for the most part, while they were here. We were able to take the Rhein River cruise, a few days in Rothenburg, some time in Heidelburg, and then just some small trips in the immediate area. I am hoping to take them to Nuremburg when they come again in May, and to Rothenburg again, maybe Paris! Everyone needs to see Paris.

Brad's mom and stepdad were able to come out for a bit in September. His mom was here for two weeks, and his stepdad was here for a week. We spent 4 days in Paris and at EuroDisney. We did the Eiffel Tower, of course, going all the way to the top. It is such an amazing sight. The kids had a blast with Grandma and Papa, as always. We were fortunate enough to be able to head to EuroDisney, which was certainly a big hit! The boys are more aware and have a better time each time we are able to go to Disney. Grandma and Papa went with us to Disney World the first time we took the boys - back when Jacob wasn't even a year old and Joshua just 2. I was so glad they were able to go with us again while the boys were old enough to remember. This time they remembered a lot about the park and the characters and were thrilled to see Tigger, Goofy, the Princesses, Mickey, and all the rest. The grandparents of course spoiled them rotten, but a few days of that won't ruin them permanently. Joshua told his Papa Gary, "Papa, do you want to stay here and watch me grow up?" That pretty much broke my heart. They want so badly to be around family, around their grandparents. And, they want a dog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And Then They were Five!

Tomorrow our newest addition will be a week old. Evelyn Jane was born last week, July 21st, at 5:19 am. She weighed 8 lbs, 12 oz, and was 20.7 inches long. We are a little unsure of the first name - she changes so much each day it is hard to know if Evelyn really suits her! But, so far, Evelyn it is, and we are calling her Evy. She is well loved by her big brothers. Joshua and Jacob were so excited to welcome her. She was greeted by both brothers with kisses and hugs. Joshua is over the moon about having a sweet baby sister. He had been telling us for months that we were, indeed, having a "gril" and that he wanted a baby sister. Jacob isn't so sure about the boy/ girl thing, but he does all he can to soothe any crying by giving her what he thinks are pacifiers. In actuality, he keeps giving her the tops off of a bottle!! But the intention is very clear. They seem to be handling the changes very well. They love on her, and step up to help whenever they can.

Daddy is already well wrapped around her little fingers. He doesn't want to put her down, and has figured out how to do a great many things with his little bundle of joy firmly in place in his arms. Two days ago he managed to change Jacob's diaper, bathe both boys, dress both boys, read to all three kiddos, and get both boys into bed, all while holding Evy! He is becoming very accomplished. He loves to hold her and talk to her, and he spends a great deal of time rocking and singing with his baby girl.

Seeing all the pink in the washer and getting the chance to dress her in all these cute clothes is a lot of fun. But mostly, we love watching her coo and sleep and curl her little fists. We love to just stare at her, and when she is awake and staring back, anyone would be hard pressed not to be transfixed!

Welcome to the world our newest little one. We are so very glad to have you with us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Break!

It is officially Spring Break here. Since this is really Joshua's first one, he has been a bit confused about not going to school or church. I guess he thinks on the days you don't go to school, you go to church! This morning, after being told we weren't going to school because it is Spring Break, and we aren't going to church because it is Thursday, he said, "Well, then we need to watch a movie." I am sure there is some 4 year old logic in there some where. I just haven't quite figured out how to connect the dots!

My good friend Mandy organized some great outings for the week to help keep all our little kiddos occupied and out of the house. On Monday we went to a town called Speyer and visited the aquarium there, Sealife. It was probably the perfect size for toddlers. Not so huge as to be overwhelming, but with plenty to see ending with a ball pit play area. It probably took an hour to get through the exhibits, and with lunch and ball pit playing we spent about 2 1/2 hours there. We are pretty excited about discovering Speyer. It is about an hours drive, and there seem to be a lot of kid friendly things to do there. The most exciting for Joshua and Jacob was the Technik Museum which had huge planes, trains, and engines displayed outside. There was even a two story slide coming down from one of the planes. Safe to say the boys really want to go back!

Tuesday we headed to Kinderspiel. Kinderspiel ("children play" in German) is a huge indoor play area with anything you can imagine. There is a train, a race track, ball pit, trampolines, several playscapes, huge lego blocks, play houses, play castles, a spidery thing you climb up then you slide down a slide, little cars, a snack area, and much more. It is really huge, nicely kept, and bright. Because it was a bit of a dreary day, we didn't even make it outside but apparently there is a mini golf course, more play equipment, ping pong tables, volleyball and who knows what else! There is also plenty of tables around for you to have a birthday party or any sort of gathering really. We enjoyed it a lot. The boys were especially excited about the train. It ran on a quarter past each hour beginning at 3:15, so they were able to ride it a few times while we were there. Before the train began, though, Jacob would just peer over the fence forlornly. He wanted so badly to ride it! You can probably tell by the pics!

The best part of our daily adventures for Joshua has been spending time with his friend Emma. She is a playmate from school, and he just loves her. She is five and cute as can be, vivacious and tons o fun. Joshua is thrilled being able to spend time with her. I can always motivate him to get dressed or get in the car, or eat breakfast, or whatever, if I tell him we are going to see Emma!

Wednesday we were at Yabadoo. This is another indoor play space, and where we had Joshua's birthday party. The best thing about Yabadoo for mommies is that you can be in one central location and pretty much see everything going on. Even if the boys take off in two different directions, you can pretty much keep an eye on them. There is really only one corner that isn't visible because it is behind the two story tent tower the kids climb that is in the middle of the back half of the place. This is pretty much the favorite place to be for most of the kiddos. Joshua hasn't quite figured out how to get to the top just yet. He definitely can, but by the time he has climbed all but the last 4 feet or so, he stops to look around and say, "I can't do it." Thus losing his momentum and focus and he slides all the way back down. I am pretty sure he will get it the next time we go, though, because he is figuring it out. His favorite thing is a dragon moonwalk that inflates and deflates a mouth the kids climb into and it seems like the dragon is eating all the kids. He LOVES that! Jacob spends most of his time on the trampoline and begging people to jump with him. I have made it clear that I am not jumping on any more trampolines until AFTER this baby is born!

Today we were headed to bowling on Vogelweh, but with the boys being extremely tired and me having a ton of work to do around the house, I called it off. That, and being told, "Bad mommy" for the umpteenth time was enough for me to decide no bowling. Joshua is not very happy about the result, but I think the respect message just may be getting through to him. Being a consistent disciplinarian is not as easy as some people make it look. I certainly have more appreciation for my parents nowadays!

All in all we are doing great! We ordered a bunk bed for the boys' room, but I still have ambition about redoing a captain's bed set we bought on Ramstein Yard Sales. I am hoping to get that started today so that Joshua can begin sleeping in a big boy bed, in his room, as of Sunday night. It just needs to be painted and then put back together. I have the paint already. I just need to get to it! We also bought a matching dresser that I am painting, and we plan to keep that in the room after the new bunkbeds get here. Not sure what we will do with the Captain's bed, maybe sell it or give it away or keep it depending on space issues. We have wanted a nice twin over full bunkbed for awhile, but couldn't find exactly what we were hoping for. Luckily, friends of friends are PCSing here and has movers coming to their home in May. They agreed to allow us to have the bed delivered to them and they will be bringing it over when they move. We won't see it until around July or August, but it is really happening!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mr. Independent

Joshua is doing all he can these days to be "on his own" - except, of course, sleeping in his own bed! He really likes to help me in the kitchen, and here are some pics of him making his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I have heard the 4's referred to as "fabulous fours" and I can totally see why. He is so eager to do the next thing, to be independent and to learn and explore. It is an amazing thing to watch. He sets the table, clears the table, dresses himself, gets shoes for himself and for Jacob, runs in to comfort Jacob when his little brother is sad, and just generally tries to be a little grown up. Amazing little man.

Spring in Germany

It is officially spring here in Germany. To me, that means we haven't had any snow, sleet, or hail in at least two weeks! It rains every few days, but nothing torrential so far. Overall, spring is very much here and very much welcome.

The boys are enjoying their time outdoors, and I am LOVING letting them be outdoors! A huge windstorm (with winds over 90 mph) bent our trampoline in two, after less than 10 uses thanks to a crazy long winter. I was pretty devastated. It seemed a huge expense, but so worth it since the boys were having so much fun playing on it. To just see it destroyed so quickly was a bit disheartening, to say the least. Luckily, my resourceful hubby was able to track down replacement parts. This wasn't easy since the trampoline is now discontinued. The parts finally arrived about two weeks ago, and on Monday with the help of our landlord's sweet father ("Opa"), Brad was able to replace the bent pieces and the trampoline is as good as new.

Opa doesn't speak much English, and our German is pathetic, so we do a lot of pantomiming. He has been working in our yard to prepare it for Spring and Summer, and it is looking great. Now we need to get out there and mow! He must have felt a bit sorry for us and our sad trampoline because he came by the week before replacement parts made it and had a long pole he thought we could use to straighten out the bent pieces. I had a very difficult time communicating that we had parts coming. He was trying to explain to me what he was planning to do, and clearly just thought I didn't get it. He asked me, "Man home? Braut? Home?" And since Brad was on call, I tried very hard to explain he was at work. So, Opa tells me, "Hospital? Ok, Morgen, I back. Man, back." I know "Morgen" means morning, and I know "nacht" means night, so I am sadly trying to say, "Nein, morgen. Nacht." We didn't see him again for about a week!

Joshua has officially begun soccer and T-Ball. He is the youngest by a year on his T-Ball team, and that makes him the smallest, and the least coordinated, out there. I was fairly impressed watching him, though. He has a pretty good arm and can generally throw where he wants. Watching him run is a bit like watching a wet noodle run, but I have been reassured by the other mommies that one day he will just get it. I hope they are right. He followed instructions fairly well, and did what everyone else did. At this point, that is about as much as I am asking out of him. That, and I want him to have fun.

He has now been to two German soccer practices, consisting of 4 to 6 year olds. Now, granted the other kiddos have been playing together for months at least, if not the past few years, I still die a thousand little deaths watching my son out there. He is a hundred times improved from his first practice, but it is still painful to watch. They all speak German, but this doesn't seem to bother Joshua at all. The coaches will translate for him, a bit, but for the most part it really isn't a problem. The real problem is how distracted he gets. A car goes by, he runs to the fence to watch it. He will only kick HIS soccer ball. He wants to go sit on a cool little bench while everyone else is still kicking the ball. But, like I said, he is getting better and I am hoping that each practice sees a bit more participation in actual soccer. His American soccer begins in two weeks. I have no idea what to expect and am just hoping he has fun while at the same time PARTICIPATING!

The boys are really doing amazing things these days. Joshua is learning to read, and loves it. He has the "Bob" books and they are terrific for repetition and sounding out. He is also learning to count by 5's and 10's to 100, and is really good at it. We have been doing some simple addition and just working on him getting the concept. He has begun drawing and coloring more, which is pretty encouraging. For awhile there, he wouldn't draw at all because he couldn't make the pictures look the way he wanted. Frustrated perfectionist? Maybe. But give him some sidewalk chalk and he becomes a little artist. I love watching him just get out there and create. He has such a great time, and gets very very messy.

Both boys love to sing and enjoy singing TOGETHER. Listening to them sing "Amazing Grace" at the top of their little lungs is enough to make me feel like my heart is going to explode. Our going to bed ritual lately has been comprised of both boys sitting on my lap as we rock and sing our litany of songs. There really is no sweeter cap to my day than cuddling with both my boys and hearing them sing praise to our Lord, even if they aren't really aware that they are doing so.

Jacob is making amazing strides. The two year old year is such a year of wonderment, change and growth. It seems like 3 and 4 is more a refinement of what they learn at age 2, but 2 is that year where everything just sort of begins to happen. He is singing, knows his alphabet and the sounds of each letter, is attempting to learn all his colors, LOVES puppies (well, dogs - but they are all puppies to him), he loves to be rocked and held, has the cutest way of mimicking everything Joshua says ("5 more minutes" is my current favorite), and he is still very solidly earning the euphemistic description of "my passionate one." He pretty much does everything with passion. He laughs and sings and plays with passion, and he fights and screams and pitches fits with equal passion. He is also attempting to determine boundaries and limits, which makes me more than a little passionate at times!

I am now 25 weeks pregnant with baby #3. This little one is kicking and moving all the time, and makes for a very reassuring pregnancy. Being of "advanced maternal age" (choke, choke), we had to listen to the complete run down of potential problems and complications. Any reassurance I can get I am embracing wholeheartedly! I have cut back on the caffeine and while still eating in mass quantities, I am attempting to eat more nutritious options. Not much in the way of exercise, but I am trying to carve out time on a consistent basis. Jacob and I go for a walk three days a week for about half an hour, but given his dawdling and propensity for stopping to smell the roses and look at windmills, not sure how beneficial it is exercise wise. I have been tired, but with both boys still napping it has been wonderful being able to take naps while they do. Joshua is about out of the napping every day stage, though, so I am not sure how much longer that is going to last.

Overall, life is just beautiful. I love being a mommy to these wild little men, and I am so happy and in love with my husband of almost 9 years (hard to believe, but yeah, 9 years in June!) I have struggled a good deal this move with so many changes, not being able to talk to my good friends and family, and with just the adjustment to a different country. It has been much more difficult to integrate here than any other place I have lived as a military wife. But, praise God, I am finally finding my groove and friends and the house is coming together, and we have consistent internet! Brad is working on the phone issue, and the "touch of a finger" ability to contact family and friends will be very comforting. Both boys are now in preschool - Jacob 3 days a week from 9 to 11:30, Joshua 5 days a week from 9 to 12, so I have some time to myself. The thrills of grocery shopping without a toddler in tow cannot be overly stated. Brad was working a ton for awhile, but with the trauma inspection over he is much more available. I am super excited about the timing - no lawn mowing for me!! Time to get the boys outside on the trampoline. Woohoo!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back online, and boy, do we have some stories to tell!

I love having the internet, and will not take it for granted ever again.  Spending the last month and a half traipsing to the library on base whenever I have the chance has not been very satisfying.  We have someone who helps with Jacob a few hours a week, a German woman named Beate, and I use the time she is here to grocery shop without kiddos and use the internet.  The library opens at 10 and I have to leave at 11:30 to pick Joshua up from Preschool, so that didn't leave a lot of time, even if I could devote all 1 1/2 hours to internet time.  

So much has happened in the last month, and I have to write at least the topic headings so I will remember to write each story in the near future, now that I can blog at leisure.  First, the second car pickup from Bremen.  Bremen is in Northern Germany, and with construction, rain, detours, etc., it was an eventful trip to say the least.  Next is Joshua's chat with Mater, then Jacob at the library, the new trampoline, and the list goes on.  I haven't even touched on attempts to shop, buying a sand box, and Joshua's love of peeing outdoors, even in 30 degree weather.

We are back online, and I hope to have some serious updates over the next few days.  Woohoo!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Movers are Coming, Oh, Yeah!

Even with my ridiculous delay, we have some success on the shipment front! We have our walk through, key turn over at the house tomorrow (Sunday), we move in on Monday, the first shipment of unaccompanied baggage comes Tuesday, FMO is coming with the items we will be borrowing for the duration of our stay here on Wednesday, and our big shipment of all our other household goods comes on Friday.

Unaccompanied baggage is about 1000 lbs of items we thought we would need quickly. Items that would be shipped on the plane and would get here quickly. This has the boys beds, linens, the TV and other electronics, some pots and pans, Joshua's bike and other toys we thought were important, etc. FMO will be delivering items we couldn't bring from the states but will be necessary here. A fridge, washer and dryer, some closets, etc. And our big shipment is everything else that didn't go into storage. What an exciting week we have ahead of us!