Sunday, January 29, 2012

Distracted Nursing


Remember when I was concerned about how long PJ was nursing and hoping that he would get faster, more efficient? Remember how more experienced nursing mommies told me to enjoy the time before distracted nursing began? Remember how I rolled my eyes?

Yeah, you were right. I should have enjoyed that time. Sigh.

Distracted nursing sucks. The world is just too interesting and PJ could miss something. It doesn’t matter if he has already seen or heard or touched whatever pulls at his attention: he must instantly pop off, twist his little body around, and then randomly pop right back on. This may be adorable the first time, sweet the second time, and cute the third time…but, frankly, its freaking annoying - and sometimes mildly painful - after that.

And we are way beyond the third time.



 


I had heard about nursing necklaces and scoffed (I seriously need to stop doing that). Yesterday while in Heidelberg I saw a chucky, inexpensive necklace with different types of beads out of stone, glass, and plastic; remembered the nursing necklace concept; and popped into the shop to buy it.

I tried it out for the first time today at Oma and Opa’s house. While we nursed, the room was loud and active with seven adults and two bigger boys. Previously PJ would have spent the entire time popping on and off, on and off. Especially since PJ loves playing with older children and these two boys are so gentle and inclusive with him.



But this time he remained relatively focused. Lets hope this is a trend!



Clever mommy.


xo


xo

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feature: Productive Parenting


Yours truly is featured today on the very cool Product Parenting website! Considering the awesome mommies that have already been featured this is quite an honor. Take a moment to check out the whole website and my mommy feature.

How 'bout them apples?


xo 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dancing Queens

It isn't easy to meet new people in Germany. In part because the culture is based on a much stricter definition of "inside" and "outside" relationships; friendships are taken more seriously, and most people don't move around too often. Put together, this means the vast majority of people already have their support structures, friends, family, hobbies, etc, and they don't really need a new person nor do they think they have time to dedicate to a new relationship.* All in all, it takes much longer to really get to know people, let alone get invited to their home or into their group.


Of course these are generalizations and should be taken with a grain of salt.** But before we move on and you think I'm just pulling it from thin air: two personal stories to highlight my experience: 


How people don't need a new person part one:
Years ago my now-husband invited me to meet some of his friends at a party. I was very nervous because my German was almost nonexistent at the time and I was walking into what I thought was a German-only environment (turns out they all speak great English - learned that years later). The apartment was packed with people and my then-boyfriend introduced me to a few of them. They shook my hand and then didn't talk to me. Seriously. Not even the usually annoying get-to-know-you small talk questions like: "where are you from?" or "how did you meet?" or "want a drink?" I sat on the couch, drink in hand, while people literally spoke over me but not at me. They weren't trying to be rude - I now know these people and these are decent people - but they didn't know me and so they just didn't talk to me. Nothing personal.***

How people don't need a new person part two: 
About three years ago in a conversation with my now-father-in-law about how I wanted to meet new people, I asked him how he meets new people. He looked at me with real confusion on his face and finally answered, "I don't need new people." End of conversation. Right-o

Anyways, all of this to say that I shouldn't have been surprised when I walked into my first German mommy group and no one talked to me. They looked up, knew they didn't know me, and then turned back to the people that they did know. I tried as hard as I could to break through that barrier, reaping a handful of answers and a few questions, but I was a new mom struggling with being a new mom and just didn't have the strength. 

I left each attempt - four in total - so lonely, so full of failure, and so empty of hope. I was already dealing with a lot and each experience made the dark seem so much darker.   

But then when PJ was six weeks old - and by rather strange turn of events - I learned about a mommy group hosted by the US Army. I sent an email to ask if I could join and got a welcoming response. So against my instinct, I drug myself to my first Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) meeting. 

Lets be frank here, I felt and looked awful. PJ was miserable, crying all the way to the meeting. I was expecting to be ignored in the best case and rejected in the worse. With trepidation I walked into the church and before I was more than two feet through the door, a stranger turned to me and exclaimed with joy in her voice and a smile across her face, "Well, I don't think I knew your face!"

I'm not too proud to admit that I cried. In relief. In hope. In oh-thank-god-I-came-here-ness. PJ liked it too: he slept through the entire meeting.
It has been about four months since that first meeting. I now know that I have stumbled into a group of supportive, encouraging, goofy mothers from all over the world. I look forward to seeing these women every two weeks and I'm so thankful for the friendships I'm building outside of the meetings as well. Frankly, I think I am a better mom because of them

Which brings us to the point of this blog entry: this weekend we had a mommy's-night-out. There was a Wii with some sort of dancing game. I learned that Britney Spears has nothing on us.


video video

The original video for Hit Me Baby One More Time was so lame in comparison. Next time we should seriously sell tickets.

xo


*Of course there are always exceptions. For example, when I first moved to Germany I met a lovely German woman. Over the series of a couple of months we slowly grew a friendship. Then I hit a rough patch and even though she lived in a tiny one room apartment, she let me sleep on her flip-out bed for countless nights. She loaned me money when frankly she was struggling too. She pulled me out into the world when I just couldn't. She called me, sent me encouraging text messages, and just constantly let me know she believed in me. Since then life has thrown us both a number of curve balls that floored us and some beautiful pitches we hit out of the park. We've lived in different countries for years but she remains such a wonderful friend. And she is an amazing example of the incredible reality of what German friendships can be. 

**There is an awesome book that goes into much more detail and with all sorts of footnotes called Germany: Unraveling the Enigma if you want to know more.

***There is one exception and I am so grateful to him that he may always get away with bullshit in my book. Including, but not limited to, shoving his naked butt into my face while drunk; pointing out that my boobs are huge in front of about five male friends; and licking my neck for some unknown reason while sober. What was up with that?


Friday, January 20, 2012

Mit Holland!

Last November Germany played against Holland, winning 3-0. At the time we didn't have anything orange in the house that was safe to give to a baby. So I asked "any Dutch colleagues want to fix that?"

Turns out one did indeed want to fix that. 


Daddy's response when he saw the Holland uniform laying on our coffee table was, "Nicole: what. is. that."
Good thing the Mr. is a very good sport!

So, do you think orange is PJ's color or should he stick to black and white


xo

Thursday, January 19, 2012

American Christmas Part 3

The final American Christmas package - the one from Grannie and Grandpa - finally last weekend. Thanks to the joy of Skype, we got to open it with Grannie online.

At the top of the box was a new hat with ears for little man. We promptly put it on and he was a happy camper. Looks like our man has gotta get hunting soon.



At the bottom of the box was a bag full of little play items for PJ. We slowly emptied the bag together, causing a bit of a dilemma for PJ: so many toys, so few hands.



We finally got to the bottom of the bag and it turned out to be a nativity set for little guy. It looks good, feels good, plays music, and (considering how enthusiastically PJ chews on the pieces) helps with teething. 


The set continues to be popular with little man. We find pieces all over the apartment, even the bathroom (telling mommy that she's has to get better at closing that door).

Then PJ wrapped up our last Christmas party with some daddy riding because what's better than that?



xo

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Open Letter #1

Dear Beloved Son,

I promise: it is not some sort of strange torture. It is not painful. Its not unfair. Actually, honey, its natural and refreshing and I swear if you just give it a try, it could even be fun.

Its called reliable, uninterrupted sleep, my love. Sleep that lasts more than 3.5 hours at the same point in time every night. Say, for example, between 1 and 6am. Or even 10pm and 4am. I know you can do both of those stretches (you've done them before). And didn't it feel great? Waking up so rested and peaceful after a good five plus hour stretch of sleep? Wouldn't it be awesome to do one of those - and if you really want to impress 10pm to 6am - every night? With just a little bit of effort, I bet you could do it. I believe in you!

Because, I promise, New Years Eve ignored, we are not throwing a party without you. We, your adoring parents, are sound asleep in our warm bed, being super boring. You aren't missing anything. Really.

I know that you're learning to crawl and suddenly able to see, hear, feel, process much more than before and your brain has to work through all the new sensations that you are enjoying. And your body is growing so quickly so I get that you need to eat lots and frequently. And I see your new little vampire tooth breaking through and that's gotta be tough. But I swear, if you could just sleep through all this you'll think it passes so much faster and you'll feel all bright and chipper in the morning.

More importantly - because lets be honest, you are already bright and chipper - mommy will be bright and chipper. She might even remember to brush her teeth or brush her hair or notice that she is wearing a shirt accessorized with your spit up before she leaves the house.

So, please, please, please, please give it a shot. Uninterrupted. Reliable. Sleep. All the cool kids are doing it.

Love,
Mommy

ps. Feel free to skip the 7pm to 1am stretch, mommy can't really enjoy that one all that much.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Three Pick-Me-Ups

Little man appears to be teething again, which means less sleep for us all; a little more crying; and a greater amount of 'Mommy-I-need-you-now' again and again and again. This all makes sense; I figure tiny bits of bone cutting through layers of skin has gotta hurt, especially when little man can't really understand what's going on. However, it does mean that mommy needs a bit of a pick-me-up to get through those more challenging moments. 

Thankfully I've got THREE!

1. My parents-in-law surprised me with my favorite flowers this past weekend and they are still brightening up our little home. Tulips - in January!


2. A good friend and I enjoyed a wonderful Italian meal with good conversation and shared laughs this evening. Girl power!

3. GIRL SCOUT COOKIES are in the house! Yes, I did indeed order 13 boxes. Don't judge.





xo

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Request: Sitting Video

video


You asked for it - here it is! A video of our little man sitting and playing with daddy.

xo

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yinzers: PJ's got a hug for ya

Although I'm not much of an American football fan, I went to college in Pittsburgh - graduating from the University of Pittsburgh - if I root for any team it'll be the Steelers. This past weekend they lost a pretty important game. My friends in Pittsburgh were pretty torn up about it if their Facebook messages are to be believed.

But its okay Pittsburgh, PJ's got your back. To take your mind off the loss, he started sitting for ya.

Forget about them dahntahn- look at me, sitting!

Comere for a biiiig hug

And with a supporter this adorable, next season will be even better.

Thanks at Captain Pittsburgh and Sparky for the outfit.


xo
PS - if you are a Steelers fan outside of Pittsburgh, check out this easy-to-use website for Steeler bars literally around the world.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Half Birthday!

Wow, it has been a crazy week. Must have been because I haven't blogged since Monday. The short version of the story is: started off quiet, took a turn into Sick City, rebounded with a wonderful visit at friends', and is now ending with little man turning six whole months old.

The longer version is: turns out little man is willing to spend time in his (previously hated) stroller as long as he can sit up and comment on just about everything that goes past him.



And: Holy moses - I found my ab muscles. Turns out ten hours of puking my brains out and then dry heaving for about another five hours should be considering one hell of an abdominal work out. Not one that I would really recommend but highly effective for locating stretched out abs. No gym membership needed - just eat something off.

I had been curious how nursing would work if I got sick. I learned earlier that during a cold I needed to drink extra, extra water and that sneezing really pisses PJ off. This time I learned that my body will still create enough nutrition for my son even when I cannot keep water in my body. That just seems miraculous to me. I also learned that while sneezing still pisses PJ off, he could seriously care less if I lean over his body to vomit while he is nursing. Seriously, people: my boy is already ready for frat parties. And, no, there is no picture of that one. Your welcome.

Thankfully, Opa was able and willing to come over on both Wednesday and Thursday to help take care of PJ. On Wednesday I was thankful that he could come but I also sorta expected him to come: he lives less than 30 minutes away; loves PJ; his wife, son and daughter are all out of the country; and he is retired. What else was he doing that could outrank our PJ?

Then PJ was ready for his nap, I was too sick to rock him after nursing, and PJ - who loves his structure - got more and more tired but was unwilling to sleep until I came over and did my job. I could almost hear his little voice chanting, "It is so difficult to find good help these days, dammit."

In my absence, Opa tried everything he could for over an hour, including singing, back rubbing, carrying, until PJ pushed his little arms off Opa's chest, looked him right in the eye, and then shrieked into his face without end.

Shrieked into his face. Without end. To know what that looked like, remember this blog entry?

I finally gave in and called the Mr to please come home, hoping that PJ would put on a more subdued performance for his papa. I also got a short reprieve and somehow managed to hold it together just long enough to finally rock PJ to sleep.

After all of that, imagine my (sheer) surprise when Opa was actually willing to repeat the performance on Thursday. Seriously, that is grandparent love right there. Kid shrieks in your face for an hour and you still give up your morning to spend time with him? And smile about it? Awesome.

Seriously awesome.
Opa, Oma and PJ in happier days.
And, we got to spend a nice afternoon with Little Precious's parents and younger brother (who is adorable beyond words). For one glorious half hour all three kids were asleep and the parents went wild....drinking tea and a beer and chatting. Mostly about kids.

There we are, wild and crazy:



And today my worm, my little man, my most precious PJ is six months old. Half a year. To celebrate, he is strutting his stuff in his little (borrowed) tuxedo and showing off his skills:

video



Six months old. Insane.


xo

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tell Me About Yourself Award


I was invited to be part of the the "Tell Me About Yourself" award by another blogger. The idea is to share seven things about me that you might not know. It seems to be a moving effort around the entire world. I'm stoked that I get to be a part of it. Thanks!

Since family and friends read this blog, I've had a tough time finding seven things that most of your don't know about me. Here we go:

1. I'm addicted to reading. Currently, I read about a book a week and that's with a infant in the house. Before little man arrived I read up to four books a week. I read just about anything - fiction, non-fiction, English, German - and can remember only two books that I put down and never finished.

2. I love peppermint. Mint anything: cookies, tea, After 8, alcohol, cake, candy, etc etc etc etc. I am in the wrong country for this; Germans don't like peppermint all that much. Or could this be the right country? 'Cause I always get double (at least) portions of mint-flavored goodies!

3. I met my husband in an English-as-a-Foreign-Language class. I was his teacher. It still took us about 18 months to finally get together. But talk about Hots for Teacher, right?

4. My favorite movies are Monsters Inc, Amelie, The Wedding Singer, The Princess Bride, and Hope Floats. Why? Because I feel happy after I watch them. Every time.
Bonus: I watch the last minute of Monsters Inc three times every time I watch the movie. Every time.

5. I have moved house more times than I am years old. I'm 31 years old. How 'bout them apples?

6. I do not like talking on the phone. If I talk to you on the phone, it is out of sheer love. My ear starts to hurt; I do it too much at work; and I just kinda run out of things to say if I can't see you. So, pop around. Skype me. Email me. Chat with my on Facebook or Gmail. Text me. Write on my Facebook wall. Comment on my blog. And forgive me for my lack of telephone skills.

7. Writing this blog has helped me transform almost my entire life. I've gone from a dissatisfied workaholic to a rather content woman. Since this one started, I've written through two bouts of depression; grown closer to some amazing family members (you know who you are and I love you both); and started to understand just how good I really have it. Starting this blog was one of the greatest ideas I ever had while drunk. Go red wine!





I get to pass this on to another person - YOU. If you take the challenge, please let me know!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Here's to a wonderful 2012! I hope you all failed to make resolutions, or if you did that you've already broken yours!

We enjoyed a pretty laid-back, baby-friendly-ish New Years Eve, unlike other years. We had raclette for dinner with ham, mushrooms, lots of different sauces, including sour cream. Had I made a resolution to lose more baby (cookie) weight, I would have broken it before midnight. Good thing I skipped making it in the first place.


Speaking of cookie weight - this one was (and is) super yummy!



Our little man was just as excited about dinner as we were. We could hardly keep him away from the table:

Raclette is a fabulous family meal because it takes hours to slowly melt the single servings of cheese with ham or mushrooms. Thankfully, little man was a real trooper and lasted almost the entire meal at the table with us, in great part because he looooooves chewing on his new-ish sippy cup.


PJ went to bed around 6pm (as usual) but as more party-goers filled the streets - and the air with their fireworks - he woke up quite frequently. The Mr. and I watched South Park and Dinner for One (seriously, click this link to learn about one of the most entertaining but bizarre German traditions) until about midnight, pausing to calm little man back to sleep each time he woke. Then the clock hit midnight and the German people once again lost their collective minds in firework excitement.

After years of trying I finally got a video:

video


And can you believe it? PJ slept through the first ten minutes of the chaos!



Who knows what finally woke him up but he finally came to join us and was enthralled with the noise, the sights, and the smell. Which is great because I think our downstairs neighbors spent half a year's salary on their fireworks.





So, here we are in 2012! A lot of great things happened in 2011 - the biggest being the smallest: our little man. Yet, I am pretty excited about 2012. There is a lot to look forward to: a shared month of parental leave in March; (hopefully) a new house; my return to work; some bundles of joy that will be born this year into other families; and tons that I'm not aware of yet. But the thing I'm definitely most looking forward is introducing our little man to his American uncle and his fabulous girlfriend in April. Exciiiited!

How about you guys - what are you looking forward to? What have you got planned for 2012?



xo

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