Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and being thankful

It is Thanksgiving today and this year we are doing absolutely nothing. So far I have always made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year here in Germany because the tradition was important to me. We have done it with different people but we have always done it but this year we are all sick and I just though ehh. Teddy is still too little to "get it" so we will skip just this one teeny weensy year and come back next year with a vengeance.

What I have been thinking a lot about however is gratitude, thankfulness, and being appreciative for what we have. I am so thankful that I grew up in a really loving family and had a spectacular childhood. However I know at the time I was not very thankful at all. I wanted lots of presents for Christmas and my birthday. I loved getting things and having things and I rarely knew their worth. It wasn't until I started working summers and part time during the school year when I turned 16 that I started to sort of "get it" but really it wasn't until much later when I had moved to Germany and was living on my own that I could ever begin to comprehend all the sacrifices my mother made for me and all the ways she made my childhood and life (even now!) so easy and wonderful.

Now some of this was due to being a kid and then a teen and having a brain which just wasn't mature and having lots of crazy hormones coursing through me. However I also tended to get things easily- my mom just wanted me to have a nicer childhood then she had had so she perhaps tended to swing in the other direction making sure I knew I was loved unconditionally not only through words and gestures but also by buying me things even when perhaps the money wasn't really all there.

Right now I am in a position to buy Teddy lots of stuff. Right now Teddy does not need or want lots of stuff but the day is coming in which this will change and he will start asking for things and I am sure I will have trouble saying no. My husband not so much :)

So we have been putting some traditions in place which hopefully will help us start on a path in which Teddy can be grateful for what he has. For his birthday he gets one gift from us, that is it. He also gets a party and all that but we think one gift is enough. For Christmas we will be doing one gift from us and a few (1-3) gifts from Santa, one of which will be a book! I should add that advents calenders are a big deal here. They are personalized, often small cloth bags, with little special gifts for each day, so he will be getting that as well.

It is hard because who doesn't love seeing their child smile or laugh in delight at receiving something but at the same time I know in the end it means much more when you have to wait a bit for it, when it isn't a done deal just by asking. I still remember not receiving a present one year for Christmas which I really wanted, Mall Madness, an amazing board game which I believe is still sold today for anyone looking for a great gift for their spouse or partner LOL. I was shocked and angry and couldn't believe it. I know my mom felt terrible but when I got it the next year you can bet I was more then thrilled and also thankful.

Besides limiting gift giving, I am planning on doing thank you cards with him,encouraging volunteering (something my mother also encouraged with me and which was such a wonderful experience throughout my school years), trying to be a good role model, focusing on reusing the things we have instead of always buying new things, getting him really involved in the home so he can more easily understand the work involved, and we will be doing an allowance once he hits 3.

What are some things you are doing to encourage thankfulness in your children? Or what were some ways your parents helped you to be grateful?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Family

My mom is coming to visit and I am so excited. It got me to thinking about some of the things I miss, having my mom and extended family on another continent. My mom comes from a big family and I always felt pretty close to my aunts and uncles but living here in Germany makes it hard to stay caught up and connected. Plus I miss out on a lot of fun interactions because when we do come to visit we are trying desperately to pack tons of things into just a few weeks of time.

I recently bought a sewing machine for a great price. I had one before in my teens but I only used it a few times until the needle broke and then I never touched it again. So now I have one again and don't even know how to thread it. This is the perfect example of one of those times where I wish I lived closer to my side of the family. One of my aunts is great at sewing and lots of different crafty type things and I would love to just bring my sewing machine with and have her show me the basics, and just hang out with her- she could probably even help move on from the sewing a pillow stage to actually doing something elaborate like a table runner ;) but since it will be about 4 months until I am back in my home state and there is no way I would ever bring a sewing machine in my luggage I will probably end up watching youtube help videos and hoping I don't break the thing.

Or a few weeks ago went to an awesome jewelry store with friends here. It has tons of beads, leather, stones, etc and lots of pieces already made for inspiration or purchase but the cool part is that you can pick out everything and they lend you the supplies so that you can make a bracelet or a necklace or earrings. It was such a cool store and I know one of my aunts would have loved it. It would be great to go there with her and my mom and make a day of it but that just isn't possible.

These are the little things that all add up. It is hard sometimes to not be able to have more time to spend with people that you care so much about and it is definitely one of the biggest drawbacks of living abroad. However enjoying visits from family you love is a wonderful cure for homesickness and I am looking forward to a great visit from my mom.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

18 months

Teddy is 18 months and a few ...weeks, and I never update this blog. I love the idea of it, and I would love to streamline it, give it more of a focus, update regularly, etc. But it just isn't going to happen anytime soon. I'm not going to take it down because I think a time will come where I will be able to use this how I want to and really get an interesting dialogue going about parenting topics, life, and all of that but it probably won't be for a few months or years and until then the updates will be sparse.

But as I mentioned before Teddy is 18 months and we absolutely love him to pieces. He rocks. He is all things amazing. He also drives me crazy, and is much too big for his own good. Can a certain someone now open every single door in our flat including the front door? Oh yes he can, and does! He loves to climb and bang and stomp and hit his head against things- seriously he cracks up if he can make a loud noise hitting his head against an object.

He is a little demolition man. He seems to have little to no feeling when it comes to pain. People comment often on the fact that he barely cries when he falls down, hits his head, etc. I mean right now he has both a toe nail and a finger nail which are bit brown and bruised and I have absolutely no idea how he got them because he never made a peep about it. This might have a little to do with our, "you're fine" mentality but it is mainly just him. We of course always offer a hug if he wants one- we aren't cold robots or something but for the most part hugs/kisses/cuddles are reserved for when he is sick or tired- and this is because he wants it that way or at least that is how we have interpreted the shaking of the head and the shoves when we have gone in for an unasked for cuddle.

He babbles a lot in his baby language and has recently started saying "Nein" German for no and "Nee" German colloquial for no, both are said with a rough clear shaking of the head. These words are also now said constantly even when he means yes. 2 weeks later and it is still at the point where it is cute... how long this will last however is questionable. He understands both German and English but still chooses to selectively listen as he pleases.

He loves to help me and it is crazy how much he understands in terms of the steps taken to get to a certain final product. For example he will go to the kitchen, go underneath the sink, grab a dishwasher tab, open the dishwasher, try to put it in the spot (still wrapped of course) perhaps successfully close the little drawer for the tab, then slam the dishwasher shut and try to start it. All because he has seen me do it and understands that this is how the dishes get clean. I also have been trying to include him as much as I can. We made cupcakes and he put the cupcake foils in the tray, handed me ingredients, then made a muck of the the silverware drawer- for example.

He loves going to the Tagesmutter and the daycare at my gym. They all love him as well. Of course for them he is a little angel who almost always listens which makes me happy. I was always much better for the babysitter as well.

He eats quite OK. We've stopped offering him so many snacks and choices after seeing how much better he ate for the Tagesmutter who doesn't really offer any snacks and who keeps meals very simple but wholesome.This seems to be working much better although I am still guilty of offering a bit too much if I think he hasn't had "enough" which I know is silly but I am the first to admit that I am not perfect.

He weighs about 30 pounds and we checked how tall he was but I have already forgotten- he is tall for his age but it is proportional. I don't notice it but I don't think you really do when it is your own.

I absolutely love this age and I love him and I am really enjoying life right now. I'm thankful for Teddy and my husband and my family and everything else. Since I don't want to get too sappy I will end it there.





Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall!

We had a terrible summer here in northern Germany full of lots and lots of rain and cold weather. However we now have been graced with beautiful weather in the 70s with not a cloud in sight and Teddy and I have been enjoying it completely. However I have also managed to stay caught up with the new fall season of TV and like most years I have been pretty underwhelmed. I don't enjoy most of the medical procedural type shows, nor do I like most sitcoms. The shows I gave a chance were;

2 Broke Girls: meh, I was already walking away doing things in other rooms by episode 2.
The New Girl: I like Zoey but do not think they have enough of a concept for a show. I didn't really enjoy the first episode much and won't be turning in for the second.
Ringer: I wanted to love this, it has Sarah Michelle Gellar and an interesting fun mix of drama/soap/intrigue but it is SO incredibly bland that I can't imagine that it will even last out the season.
Person of Interest: Another one I really wanted to like but after 2 episodes it just still isn't working for me. I don't think the partnership between the 2 main guys really works, although I find the action scenes pretty good.
Charlie's Angels: Turned it off after 2 minutes, enough said.
Revenge: I wasn't even going to give this one a try but it is turning out to be everything Ringer should be and a great guilty pleasure.
Up All Night: Fun, sometimes almost too embarrassing to watch but a great addition to Modern Family.
Terra Nova: I loved this, a nice fun family show with some great action, interesting plot lines, and a little bonus for me a bi-racial couple which I always love to see.
Hart of Dixie: I'm a sucker for shows like this, the first episode was a little hokey but I will watch a few more times before deciding whether I really like it or not.
I'm still looking forward to Grimm and Once Upon A Time more so Grimm because it looks a bit darker but it seems cable will stay my home for my favorite shows; Justified, Psych, Suits, Portlandia.
Although my ultimate guilty pleasure isn't found on cable- I will admit here that I love Supernatural. I used to make jokes about it until I watched a few episodes and fell in love with Sam and Dean. It has everything I love; sci- fi, action, humor, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and the actors are pretty cute too.
So what is your TV guilty pleasure? What new shows are you watching this season?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Toddlerhood

I've said it before, and I guess I am going to say it again. Toddlerhood is awesome. Seriously.

The changes that are happening every week are mind blowing to me. Things like trying to jump, doing stairs without holding onto things, or trying to pull on his own socks, may not sound like much but when you compare that to just a few months ago when he couldn't even walk it is huge.

Verbally he is still only talking in his magical baby Teddy language. But you can see the little gears in his head turning as he "converses" with us. Plus he now is able to follow short instructions... if he feels like it ;)

The baby months weren't exactly my thing, although I am excited to do it all again. But now I feel like I only see oppurtunities. He can do so much now and the list of things we can do together just keeps expanding.

We're having a lot of fun and life is good. I hope to soon start posting more once a few things become more settled.




Saturday, August 6, 2011

How staying at home works for me


I like staying at home with Teddy and even though I am sometimes very happy when bedtime rolls around, I thought I would share how I make staying at home with a very active one year old work for me…

*With the disclaimer that some of these things probably won’t work for you. We live in a big European city and have access to certain things which are hard to get in the States- I mean how many of you could really get by without a car? I know in Minnesota it is next to impossible. However some of these things can also be modified to meet your lifestyle. No gyms close by, or not in the budget? What about having the hubby watch the baby while you do an exercise video/garden intensively/do yoga/do Wii fit, a few times a week?

So without further ado, here are the things I do which allow me to truthfully say that I absolutely love being a stay at home mom!

In no particular order:
  • I spend a lot of time outside.
We live in a big city where everything is in walking or bus/subway distance. The only time I use the car is pretty much to do one big grocery trip a week (with visits to closer smaller markets, and the local farmers markets throughout the week), and to visit friends who live a bit farther out. Being outside so often and walking so often feels good and energizes me. Even on the days where I just feel like lazing around at home getting out makes the day go faster and Teddy loves it. I live in a super rainy gray climate so for you lucky ducks with nicer weather it has even more of an effect!

  • I have an awesome rechargeable cordless sweeper/vac.
Teddy is super messy and cleaning up after him after every meal or after he came in from outside used to involve using the broom and dustpan and crawling around on my hands and knees- not fun, and then often after that also pulling out the vacuum. Now that I have the sweeper I just do a quick sweep with it after every meal or whenever I see some stuff on the floor and it is so quick and easy. It is also especially great for sand after he comes in from playing in his sandbox. I wasn’t sure if it would really be worth it since we have a great vacuum but it does make a difference to have something without a cord which can be used on the little messes plus it is a normal height so I am not getting on my hands and knees all the time. The only problem is that it only works with hard floor surfaces but that is what we have in most of the flat so it works for us.

  • I work out, often!
There is a fitness center and spa 10 minutes walking distance from our house. The fitness center offers free childcare- which is run by great women and is also in an awesome space. The fitness center is also a spa so membership includes access to lots of different saunas, whirlpools, a swimming pool, tons of courses etc. Now we super lucked out having this so close to us because going there is great in so many ways. 1. I get a short break which can turn what started out as a rough day into a much better one. 2. I can relax and sweat it out in the sauna, work out, or take a course- no matter what I leave feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. 3. It helps me stay in shape which makes me feel better about myself.  The going often part is important because once it becomes part of my routine I am much more likely to just go and feel good. Whereas after a few days of not going the excuses start piling up and I get a lot lazier about it- forgetting how good it feels!

  • I meet up with lots of other moms!
We go to friends houses, to the playground, to the zoo (we are members because it is only one train station away), to the lake, and we meet up with other moms and their kids. It is great to see other little ones and enjoy them while moms do the same with Teddy. Plus it helps keep things in perspective; sure their little one might be a great eater but he also does some crazy high pitched shrieking thing which would drive me crazy. Plus moms “get it”, they get how rough and how awesome parenting can be and how some days you are just trying to make it through while others you keep tearing up because you can’t believe how lucky you are. Or at least the moms I like to spend time with do. I try to make sure to hang out with people who while they enjoy parenting also enjoy going out, spending time with their partner and friends, spending time on hobbies, as I find the talk that is focused solely on children gets old pretty fast.

  • I do my nails!
During nap time or right after Teddy goes to bed I do my nails 1-2 times a week. Nothing special I just throw on a bright happy pink or red and that is that. I do it because having painted nails helps me feel polished, and when I pick up one of Teddy’s toys for what feels like the thousandth time during the day, I see my nails and think- those look good!
  • I do my make-up!
In the morning, Teddy causes havoc in the bathroom while I do my make-up. It doesn’t take me more then 5-10 minutes but it makes me feel better about myself to think that I look halfway polished when I see my reflection throughout the day. When I look put together I think that I naturally tend to act that way too…. Sometimes ;)
  • I pick up things constantly.
I don’t let Teddy play with too many toys at once, and I only keep a smallish amount stored in boxes in his room and the living room. He can pull out the boxes himself and does but we always put things away after he is done. This involves just throwing everything back into a box so it takes under 30 seconds. I also am constantly moving things back to their rightful spot since Teddy likes to “help” by moving things to fun new locations. In some ways it can be frustrating to constantly be picking up, but I love that at pretty much any given moment you could enter our flat and it would look decent. Not perfect by any means but I try to keep clutter to a bare minimum- papers and plastic gets recycled right away and I don’t like knick knacks. Tables are always clear of everything besides fruit on the dining table. This is mainly because Teddy would just throw or break it but it also makes me feel less stressed to see our flat this way. Somehow everything seems more manageable when I see a lot of empty surfaces and minimal clutter. I have really had to work on this though as my natural attitude is to kind of ignore messes so picking something up right away has been an adjustment, but a good one!
  • I get my sleep.
Sleep is “my thing”. I think we all have something that we need to get, that we aren’t really willing to compromise on, and that is important to us. For my husband and I, it is sleep. So we get it. Teddy sleeps through the night and goes to bed between 7 and 8 depending on how the day went. Then we expect him to sleep till 7- haha expect, we would love for him to sleep till 7 and he sometimes does but other days he gets up earlier at 6 or 6:30. I’m not willing to get up that early so I give him a bottle, and bring him into our room. He then proceeds to play with blocks and books which we have in our room, but also crawls over us, crawls on top of nightstands, turns on and off our reading lamps, and causes a bit of mayhem. But the key thing is I am lying in bed half asleep and he is safe and I stay in bed till 7. It works for all of us and I feel pretty refreshed most days.
  • I keep music on throughout the day
I finally found a radio station I love and so I keep it on all day long. Teddy loves to dance to it, and I enjoy hearing music which also makes me want to dance or puts a smile on my face. I think time goes faster when I have music on during the day.
  • Use part of nap time for me time.
I try not to spend nap times cleaning although I do sometimes use part of the time to prepare a meal, even then I try to make sure that I leave at least 30-45 minutes for me. I read a book or the newspaper, eat something, surf the net, whatever I feel like doing. I think it helps me recharge and prepare for the coming 4-7 hours of Teddy time. Plus since Teddy is not cool with me doing these things while he is awake (well the eating is OK if I plan on doing lots of sharing J) it is nice to do them without stress or rushing.
  • I do stuff with my husband.
Once Teddy goes to bed and my husband and I have finished everything we need to get done we like to do something together. We play strategy board games, or the PS3, or sometimes we watch a show together but in general we tend to do stuff that allows us to talk and laugh with each other. We also go on dates pretty much at least once a week. Sometimes we go for dinner or meet up with friends and go dancing but sometimes we also just go for a walk. Either way it is nice to have nights to look forward to, and to spend time with my husband as just a wife.
  • I do stuff without my husband and without my son.
I do girl’s nights where I meet up with friends for drinks and chatting. I also go to a bi-weekly stitch and bitch group, and other hobby related activities. All of those things happen at night so they don’t actually cut into my parenting time but I am also trying to get a new thing started where my husband watches our son for a weekend afternoon and I do some stuff which I would love to do on my own… like shopping! Or going to the library without having someone whining after 2 ½ minutes!
  • I don’t hold myself to unattainable standards.
Although I do have an “ideal parenting style” which I try to be aware of, I also know that I’m still a young, new mom who is going to make plenty of mistakes. We’re all human and mistakes help us grow. Every day there are countless things I do which I could have done better when it comes to parenting but I try to focus on the good stuff and work on changing the other stuff as it comes. Laughing things off normally feels so much better than getting angry and frustrated; even when I feel about ready to explode because seriously why does changing a diaper need to take over 10 minutes of struggling and chasing, and oh gosh he just peed on the carpet again, and, and, and. But then I think about this cute chubby little boy running around, stopping to pee somewhere and me chasing him with a diaper and I realize it really isn’t that bad, and then he smiles at me and looking at that gorgeous chubby little face I can’t help but smile back, thinking the whole time I have it pretty darn good.    

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Time Passes

Sometimes I wonder if things can possibly keep getting better because they are already so good right now. I think Teddy’s personality right now is just so crazy awesome. He loves dancing whenever he hears music, this involves shaking and waving his hands, flinging his head forward and back, doing squats, and a recent addition is spinning in circles. He does this to 85% of music, and all the time in his car seat when we have music on. It is the funniest thing to watch, especially since he is pretty serious while he does it. He also loves to play chase now and laughs and when I say laughs I mean the type of laugh that is infectious and loud and sometimes even causes him to throw himself on the ground laughter, and will initiate chase all the time. Since this means just running away from me it isn’t always amusing for me but thankfully I’ve still got the longer legs and tend to fall over a lot less.

For me taking care of Teddy has really become more and more enjoyable as he has gotten older and I just wonder how it could possibly keep going on this way. I guess I will just have to wait and see. One thing I really love about having children is how they make you really enjoy the moment because there are so many fabulous… and less fabulous ones that you just have to soak them all up and laugh about the ones that make you want to scream.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Couldn't pick just one

 Mad, Madder, and Helping Mom ;)




Friday, July 22, 2011

Ladies Night

I went out with three mom friends last night for Flammkuchen and drinks. We were out for about 3 hours and the little ones were barely mentioned. It was an awesome night! We all agreed that we have to start doing it more often. It is so nice living in the city and being within walking and biking distance of friends, dining, and entertainment. It goes such a long way in feeling like a whole person and not just a mom. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Enjoying time as it passes

Teddy is currently taking everything out of the pasta drawer, trying to turn on and open the oven, and in general driving me absolutely up the wall- he has a cold so he is extra clingy and whiny. So I thought what a perfect time to post something on my blog.

We are planning on having more then one child but this time around I am not stressing one bit about when we actually start to try for the next. I LOVE having a toddler while not currently breastfeeding or being pregnant. There are so many lovely things which I can indulge in whenever I feel like it without a single ounce of guilt or thought.

In the morning I love to drink a huge cup of coffee. Then sometimes later in the day I'll drink a few more. It goes without saying that I have some diet coke as well and the best part is that there is absolutely no reason for me to care.

My husband and I go out for late nights and I am not exhausted, or having to worry about getting home to nurse, or pump. We just go out and have a great time and look forward to seeing our son in the morning.

I can drink whatever I feel like whenever I want. If I want a nice German beer on a beautiful evening with friends, then I drink one. If I want a cocktail afterwards or another beer, or a shot of Ouzo at our favorite local Greek restaurant, then I have one and enjoy it! No thoughts on the baby or child I might be affecting with my drinking, just enjoyment!

And my absolute personal favorite, I can take all the medicine I want!! I suffer from bad headaches and it is absolute bliss being able to take ibuprofen and aspirin again. I love it.

Of course the time will come when I am once again ready to give all that up for the feel of kicks in my stomach and the excitement of adding another wonderful child to our family but for right now I have to say that I wouldn't change a thing.

The cost of writing this post:

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Deutsch Donnerstag aka German Thursday

I thought it might be interesting to talk about some of the ways life in Germany is different then in the States especially as it pertains to motherhood. Since we just went through the process of finding a  "Tagesmutter"= "day mother"= "Childcare". I thought I could start with that.

*Here in Germany everyone is encouraged to send their child to a Kindegarten at the age of 3. This is paid for partially by the government (how much the government pays depends on how much you earn but by the age of three everyone gets at least some money towards it) and you can choose any kindergarten you like. As you can probably tell Kindergarten here means something similar to pre-school in the U.S.. There are long waiting lists so most people start looking for a kindergarten 1-2 years before they actually need to send their child to one. Of course you can wait but then your chances of getting into the one you want are much lower.

Before the age of three there is a mixture of what you can do. In the first year most parents have either the mother or father stay home. The government pays for 1 year of "Elternzeit"= parent time, so that all parents have this option. There is a formula for how much money you get a month which is basically 67% of what you earned in the last 12 months before the baby was born however not less then 300 a month and not more then 1,800 Euros a month. 
Everyone here also receives "Kindergeld"= Children's Money every month until the child is 18 which is just a monthly amount of money from the government to help pay for things for the child. For the first and second child you get 184 Euros, the 3rd you get 190 Euros a month, and for every child after that 215 Euros a month- but the birth rate here is very low so the chances of seeing a family with even more then 2 kids is pretty low. However all this support means that almost no one has to give their child to a daycare or child minder until the child is 9-15 months old. This also means that if you do want to start working sooner and have your child go to daycare before they are a year old that it can be quite hard to find a daycare which accepts younger babies.

So after the first year many families go back to having both parents work, although often one person only works half time. Between the ages of 0-3 parents can choose between a Tagesmutter=One person watching no more then 4 children in their home or a KiTA (Kindertageseinrichtung)= Daycare (most are owned by the government but there are also private ones and ones organized by parent initiatives).

We decided that we thought having Teddy go to a Tagesmutter would be great. They are more flexible with hours- we only wanted him to go for 2-3 days a week, which probably wouldn't have been possible at a KiTA, and we wanted him to be at first only with a few children in a home environment. 

But then came the hard part- actually finding one. I'll explain how that went in my next post on Germany.

*Obviously there are exceptions and lots of rules and guidelines and forms to be filled out for all of the different government funded programs, so everything I am saying is true in most cases but there are of course exceptions for how this all works.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mom Pet Peeve

When they say a product is washable, for example the upholstery on the stroller, and then it is so incredibly difficult to get the stupid thing off and back on that it completely negates the fact that it is washable.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Decisions, decisions

I'm not really a baby person. Seriously. I think they are cute and I love to snuggle with them, but then I hear that whiny wailing cry that newborns have and my back stiffens and I instinctively rush to give baby back to mom or dad. Then I think to myself, "I'm so glad that's over", and look over at Teddy pulling a picture frame off the shelf, or banging a hard object against another hard object, and smile at my toddler.

This lack of love for the baby stage is affecting my plan for ideal baby spacing. I kind of want them closer together just so I can get the whole baby baby stage over. While I know I will really enjoy breastfeeding again, and the cute tiny everything- for me it all pales in comparison to the awesomeness of a little person who is figuring stuff out and soon will even recognize himself in the mirror.Plus the whole having my body back just for me allows me to feel quite independent again which I love.

But of course it isn't all up to me anyway. Someone else has just as much involvement in the decision making process as I do, and who knows how long it will take this time. All I know is I am glad the first year goes by so quickly as I seem to love every new stage just a bit more then the last.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First Steps

I'm reading a very good and quite depressing book right now, Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and it has caused me to want to make some changes in my life. I often reflect on how lucky I am and how blessed I have been while at the same time being really lazy about working on myself and making positive changes in my life.

Procrastination is a big stumbling block for me, as is self-discipline. I've decided to stop making plans and start trying to do more and be more everyday. I realize that in all of this I really am my own worst enemy and that if I just start doing instead of worrying that I am going to see positive results almost immediately.

One of the first positive changes I have made has been the commitment to work out more so that I can stop being frustrated when I look in the mirror and start being happy about everything, including my stomach.

A second change has been the commitment to get our house cleaner and more organized. One part of this has been me putting more time into cleaning every day but another step has been buying a new washing machine and vacuum cleaner so that I feel more motivated to clean because I know my time is being used effectively and efficiently. This wasn't the case with my old vacuum- as I constantly had to take apart and clean the brush, or with our washing machine which was so small that it took 4 loads to empty our medium sized laundry hamper. No one wants to deal with a task when they know deep down it is incredibly inefficient.

Getting our flat more organized is a big task and I am trying to break it down into manageable pieces. I already have a feeling of success after tackling Teddy's room, and now I am on to one of our hallways. Hopefully I will be able to update later this week with another success story.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Getting my body back

I've lost the pregnancy weight and a few pounds more. I'm happy about that. Since it was the first baby I found it pretty easy to switch back to old eating habits and simply take in less calories then I use up. Especially since I spend most of my day lugging an almost 30 pound baby around, and we bike and walk most of the places we go.

More difficult has been getting back some muscle tone and definition. I want to look in the mirror and be completely happy with what I see. Right now my eyes glaze over when I get to the stomach area. I don't mind the stretch marks....too much... but I do mind the flabby soft skin instead of a nice flat stomach. I know with hard work and determination I can get it back to at least 90% of what it once was. Key words being hard work, determination, and discipline. Definitely not my strengths.

I'm putting it in writing here which will hopefully give strength to my thoughts. I'm going to work out, and train at least 2-3 times a week with NO exceptions. I can do this. I know I can do this. It isn't enough to want to change I have to just start doing it. I've been pretty good about working out and now I am just going to get a bit more serious about it.

I'm excited to start seeing some changes. Hopefully I will be able to update here in a few months with some great results. I'll definitely post about things that seem to make the most impact for those of you who are also trying to tone up a bit.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Room change

When we got back from vacation, I really wanted a spotless house and all the wash done. Since I knew that was clearly not going to happen, I settled on reorganizing Teddy's room. I'm really happy with the end result!

Here is how Teddy's room looked a year ago.


And here is his new "big 1 year old boy" room. It is amazing what a difference just moving the furniture around can make.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bad Mommy Confession #2

There are a ton of posts which I have started and need to finish- like the book review for Positive Discipline the First Three Years, but I never seem to have more then a few minutes on the computer lately and those posts need more time then that.

I want to update my blog more regularly though so I thought I would add a nice new Bad Mommy Confession.

You know that kid at the playground? The one with snot hanging from his nose, an untied shoe, dirt everywhere, and just a general look of uncleanliness.
That is totally my kid.

Which is awesome because before I had a child....(you know nothing good is coming when you hear the phrase "before I had kids") I was totally that person who was really grossed out by snot and very dirty children.

This is why I of course had a child who zones in on anything which can get him dirty in a new place, who constantly throws all of his food on the floor (seriously this is driving me batty, does anyone have any tips? We let him do some snacks on the floor but the floor can't handle much more of his abuse), and who has some sort of allergy which causes him to constantly have a runny, snotty nose which can't possibly be wiped clean.

I do try and wipe his face off but the kid hates it and I already have to do enough wrestling with him during diaper changes. So normally there is a nice layer of dried food (peanut butter is one of his favs), sand- thanks good weather!, and snot all over most of his face and clothes. I mean today he was pouring sand over himself like a shower, how am I supposed to combat that??

So instead of fighting it, I have accepted it. I enjoy the twenty minutes before breakfast where he looks clean and adorable and then the rest of the day I just look on in sweet acceptance as he gets incredibly dirty. Sometimes I even wipe his snotty face with my bare hands... I know in my head that that must be incredibly disgusting but for some reason it doesn't bother me at all. It also doesn't bother me when he wipes his dirty little face all over my clothes- because for some reason my clothes are much much better then any tissue. I love my son for the cute little man he is and have now become that parent who doesn't care that her child looks slovenly.

So sorry to everyone who has to look at my snotty, dirty child. I'm hoping he'll grow out of it in the next 10 years.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Teddy is one! .... for like 2 weeks now LOL

Teddy is one!
                                  
It's glorious the way he has started to stand on two feet holding on to nothing- well actually normally holding on to something he wants, I don't think he realizes standing while not holding a toy would probably be easier. He also has begun taking steps, well actually in typical Teddy fashion he started running. He ran from my husband to me at bedtime (a few steps away), and since that first time takes a few moments of every day to try it out again. He normally falls down after the first step or two but he is thisclose!!! to really walking.
He is into everything, everyone always comments on the fact that he has no fear and will try to get to anything. Even if that means climbing up a chair to get there! Unfortunately this trait is less amusing at other people's houses but we are working on it.
He is clingy! The same thing happened before he learned to crawl so I at least know the why and that it will be over soon but sometimes I just can't lug all 26 pounds of him and the groceries and the diaper bag up the stairs. Thankfully he has started enjoying climbing up the stairs. He reminds me of a little mountain climber, holding onto the railing and pulling himself up to the next step. Even though he is 2.6 feet tall he still has to put his foot to basically waist height to pull himself up to the next step.
He is not eating much, but open to lots of new tastes. His favorites are always changing but right now they are goat cheese and pesto pasta salad. He can chew anything but we are happy that his 2nd set of teeth are coming in on top. He is completely weaned from mama- at the end I don't think I could have forced him to nurse even if he had been dying of thirst so it was very easy for us. He now drinks about 400-600mL of whole milk everyday which I will probably keep up for at least the coming year.
He LOVES the playground. He gets this crazy smile on his face going down the slide, or swinging with me, the sandbox is also cool although the sand is mainly just thrown out in a very serious manner. Storytime on the other hand is apparently the lamest thing ever, he can't be bothered to sit with me for more then 2 seconds in which time he slams the book shut. As an avid reader I haven't given up I just read to him while he crawls around and sometimes away.

He literally never stops moving. Sitting and playing with a toy for more then 30 seconds happens once in a blue moon, although it is most likely to happen in front of a box of blocks or du.plos as throwing things out and then putting some back in is apparently very intense serious stuff which can't be hurried.

Diaper changes are probably the hardest part of our day now which I never ever would have believed four months ago. But alas the baby who once loved to chillax on the changing table now thinks laying on his back for even a millisecond is the worst thing ever. We've adapted and do lots of things while he stands or moves around but sometimes, like now when he has a bad case of diarrhea, this just isn't possible and then it is a battle of strength. A battle which I just barely manage to win.
Sleep is still going great. He still needs two naps and is doing a 3ish hour wake time in the morning before the first one and a 3-4 hour wake time before the second depending on how long the nap goes. Naps normally last between 1-2 hours for him although never less then 45 minutes and never more then about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Bedtime is 6:30 although we have been trying out 7pm to see if we can get his morning wake time pushed up to 7 am but so far it hasn't worked and he has continued to get up at 6 or 6:30 every day. He doesn't wake up in the night unless he is sick and even then he rarely does, which we love!
Theodor has left babyhood behind and now is becoming his own person with his own will. Exciting!!!! but also overwhelming especially as I just wasn't sure how to parent this age. I knew there was a LOT that I couldn't expect of a one year old but I also knew that just letting him do everything was not the answer. I purchased and read the book "Positive Discipline, The First Three Years" and could not be happier!!! I feel so empowered and now instead of being a bit nervous about parenting a strong willed toddler in the coming years I am excited. There is way too much good stuff to talk about from the book so I will save that for another post.
It hasn't only been Theodor's first year of life, it has also been my first year of motherhood. What an amazing experience to go through and one that I feel so blessed to be able to experience. The beginning was SO much more difficult then I ever could have imagined. I don't even know how I got through it to be honest but as things settled down I really came to enjoy taking care of Teddy full time. Every night I go to bed filling fulfilled and happy and every morning I wake up excited to spend time with Teddy and of course a little tired- I don't think I will ever get used to waking up before 7am!! Even though our days aren't exciting I find doing the little things like grocery shopping with him or folding the laundry can be a lot of fun or in some cases drive me up the wall as he throws a stack of folded laundry to the ground but I still enjoy it. I also love watching him learn new things as we go to more exciting places as he gets older like the zoo and the playground. Right now watching him full time is such a perfect fit for both of us and I feel so lucky that I am able to do it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Fun of Travel, part II

So lets start with before we even get on the plane or enter the airport terminal.

-Packing-
Unless you really won't need much at your destination you will probably need a diaper bag and a carry-on for yourself. I prefer a backpack for my personal carry-on because it doesn't need a free hand. You can also do a small trolley.

In your personal carry-on you can put things like an extra set of clothes for baby, and other items that you hopefully won't need. This is going to go in the overhead compartment so it won't be easy to get at it. Especially if baby is sleeping- so don't put in a book or something else you want to look at, unless you have a partner with who can access it for you.

In your diaper bag you want everything that you could possibly use for you and baby during the flight. Lots of snacks (if baby is on solids), milk powder for at least 2-3 bottles (if baby takes bottles), a few small toys (keyword: small), a book or magazine for you, snack for you, water,etc. The normal things you would take on an outing with baby. While it is important to have extra milk and extra snacks you definitely don't want to over pack. The fuller your diaper bag is the harder it is to get at the things you need. This is especially true if you are going on a short flight (2 1/2 hours or less). My diaper bag has a little changing pad included- if yours doesn't you might want to take one or if you don't have a portable changing mat, there are disposable ones which don't take up much space.

A word on snacks:
I like to do things which ideally don't crumble all over, and which can be portioned out well. For us that is food like fruit twists (fruit haha), cheerios, teeny sandwiches (already cut into quarters), dried fruit, etc. You know what foods your baby likes best and that is what you should go with. This is not the time to rigidly stick to any sort of nutritional guidelines.

What should baby wear?
The plane will be cold so make sure baby has socks or tights on. I normally have Teddy in a sweatsuit or PJs because our flights are so long and that is more conducive to trying to get him to sleep- when he was younger I always brought a sleep-sack as well. For a shorter flight and now that he is older I just stick to comfortable layered pieces. On our last flight he wore a long sleeve onesie, tights (soft cotton ones), fleece pants, a long sleeve shirt, fleece vest, and fleece hoodie. In the airport I took the hoodie and vest off, on the plane he wore everything and was at a comfortable temperature.

-The Airport-
Unless baby is just a wee little thing and you solely use a baby carrier. I strongly suggest bringing a stroller with to the airport. There are a few reasons for this.
1) There are times where baby needs to be not moving around or better said not running away from you at top speed. These are the times you strap baby in.
2) If you have any layovers the chances are good that a lot of walking will be involved and that you will need to be going at a quick pace.
3) If you arrive at the airport early and baby gets tired before the flight you can also do a short nap in the stroller.
4)Oftentimes people with strollers receive special treatment. I have skipped over at least a 100 people in a customs line due to my stroller (and Teddy being in the stroller). The security line is sometimes much shorter for people with a stroller. Airport and airline workers tend to have more sympathy for you and often offer to help in some way.
5) Storage! Depending on your stroller you can fit your carry-on in the bottom. Or at the very least hang your diaper bag from the handles. This can make a big difference in your overall airport experience!!
Plus it can also be used as a toy for baby. Depending on the age of course but currently Teddy loves pushing that thing around.
The most important thing is check it at the gate!! And make sure you request at the gate to have the stroller given back to you where you disembark instead of at the baggage area. Sometimes if it is a short connection that won't be possible but 99% of the time it is.
Also you should never have to pay to check a stroller or a car-seat.

Speaking of car-seats... we don't use them. On the plane. Honestly sitting in the seats is uncomfortable enough I can't imagine forcing Teddy to spend a whole flight not only stuck on an airplane but also constrained by his car-seat.Plus this sounds a bit morbid but I think if something happens on a plane the chances are pretty high that we will all die car-seat or not, so I choose not.So I don't have any advice on that but I do know there are car-seats which are made specifically to follow airplane guidelines.

-Checking In-
This part is easy especially if you are not alone with baby. The only important things I can think of are that babies almost always need a separate paper ticket and if you don't have one you'll have to buy a new one. This has happened to us before (the ticket was taken on the first flight and when we went to do our return flight they said that even though everything was in the computer without an actual return paper ticket for our son he wouldn't be able to fly.)Since we are almost always flying internationally Theodor has a passport which proves age and who he is. I am guessing that you should bring a copy of a birth certificate if you are flying somewhere where a passport isn't necessary but I would check the airlines website to be sure.

-Security-
Actually isn't that bad. If you have followed my advice and have a stroller with you ideally don't have to do anything besides push the stroller a few inches forward every few minutes until you get to the conveyor belts. Sometimes you will even be allowed to go to a special lane for families and people with strollers.
Once you get to the actual security area block out everyone around you and just focus on taking off your shoes, unpacking the stroller- keep baby in until last possible minute!, and don't feel rushed. Security probably won't help you but they really don't care if it takes you a few minutes. If anything just let the person behind you jump ahead.
You will have to fold your stroller and put it through the security belt but you will be able to carry baby through the scanner with you. If you have baby in a carrier they normally will make you take the baby out, but not always.

If you have a bottle already full with milk they will normally test it separately but don't worry it is allowed. As is any baby food and whatever else you have brought for baby. I normally just ask for warm water in the plane to mix the formula there but I have brought a full bottle with before with no problems.

-The Gate-
This is the place to let your child go crazy. Let them run, scream (within reason), jump up and down, walk all around the airport 10 times (with you! LOL), etc. Don't worry if your child is bothering anyone at this point- well I mean as long as they aren't harassing someone obviously then you should probably step in. Don't worry about the dirty floor if you have a crawler the chances are high that your child will get sick from the air in the plane anyway and this is there last chance to really move around for at least an hour or two, so let them do it. Of course if there is a Children's area that is even better, but not all airports have that. Try to do a diaper change a few minutes before boarding so that you ideally don't have to do one on the plane or at least not for a few hours.

-Boarding-
Now sometimes families with children under two will be allowed to board first, I prefer to board last. Boarding first just means more time trying to keep baby from moving around or disturbing anyone in a small space. Boarding last means no long line and that the flight will start soon.

-Seating-
If you have a small baby younger then about 6 months you might be offered a seat with a bassinet. The ones I flew on had a safety net which would be pulled over the top. Teddy thought this was awful and immediately started screaming and kicking to try to get out so for us it was a real bust, but I know babies who have slept wonderfully in them. It doesn't hurt to try one out once and see what your child thinks. However if you don't use a bassinet you don't want to go in one of these rows as you will not be able to put your diaper bag behind the seat in front of you since there is a wall.

Speaking of seating I prefer to sit as far back as possible and there are a few reasons for this.
1) Chances are highest of getting an empty seat next to me, which makes things a whole lot easier.
2) The plane is louder near the back which means baby makes less noise in comparison.
3) People care less that baby is crying. The closer you sit to business and first the more likely you are to be sitting near someone who hates children. This is my completely unscientific opinion based on my personal observations. Take it with a grain of salt. However I do know that I was most stressed when we were sitting one row behind business and the closed curtain, while we listened to the clang clang of real silverware. Sitting next to the bathrooms and listening to the flight attendants gossip? Not stressful at all.
4) Sitting near the back you are close to at least 2 bathrooms and hopefully a small space where baby can crawl or toddle a bit.
 
-The Flight-
If you are flying alone I like to introduce myself to the person sitting next to me and mention that my child is X months old and we are hoping this will be a great flight. I do this so that there is a bit of a connection between us and hopefully a bit of understanding in case the flight doesn't always go smoothly. If you are with a partner then you don't have to do anything because you have a buffer zone between your child and any stranger. Personally I like to sit at the window with baby because then they are less likely to touch any people walking down the aisle or try to pull something off the carts.

You should have a bottle ready or be ready to nurse during take-off. Wait to do this until the safety presentation is finished as otherwise baby might be done before you are even in the air.

Depending on the length of your flight after you have dealt with take-off you will want to do one of two things. Try to get baby to eat, or try to get baby to sleep. I normally now ring the bell to ask for warm water for one of my bottles at this time. If you have food which needs to be heated up for baby (I wouldn't recommend it if you can avoid it) then you can also ask for that to be heated at this time. Try to do this right away after you are in the air since they haven't yet started passing out food so they will be able to do it quickly for you.

If your flight is short  2 1/2 hours or less,
and your baby normally wouldn't take a nap during this time then just give them the first of many snacks, open up a book or take out one of the magazines for them to look at and get ready to do that whole parenting thing to the max for the next 2 1/2 hours. They will probably be coming with drinks soon and that will be a good distraction. Plus if baby is old enough to make choices you can let them make the big decision of water or milk or apple juice or whatever choices would be acceptable.
If your baby normally would take a nap during this time then try to get them to fall asleep while you are giving them the bottle or nursing during takeoff. I hold Teddy in my arms with my elbow resting on an armrest when he sleeps. The position is comfortable enough that I can also sleep or read a book.
If your flight is longer then a meal option will probably be offered or at the very least drinks at the beginning of the flight. Don't try to put your baby to sleep before this unless they are absolutely exhausted as the passing out of food and drinks will be relatively loud and probably wake baby back up.
Try to keep baby distracted with toys and snacks until the meal clean up has happened. Now the plane will start to quiet down. About an hour will have passed by this point and your baby will probably have been awake since setting out to the airport so this is a great time to try to get that first nap. I offer more milk and put baby into a sleep-sack and sort of rock him close to my chest. He is normally pretty tired by this point so I just do the things which sometimes help to get him to sleep. When he was younger I often got up and walked with him a little bit in the back of the plane rocking him and shushing until he fell asleep. Now I normally just look at a book with him, hold him in a curled up position, sing twinkle twinkle, and sort of rock him in the seat until he falls asleep. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

-Dealing with sleep-
This will probably be one of the most frustrating parts of the plane ride. I don't know why but Theodor is very good at fighting sleep on planes. He can be completely exhausted, closing his eyes, his breathing slows, and then bam bam he is shaking his head and talking trying to keep himself awake. Basically this is the point where if it is a short flight I decide to skip it and just try to keep him entertained and awake, and if it is a long flight I settle in for the long haul and precede to try to help him fall asleep over and over again until it takes. Sometimes this goes great and on other flights it has taken over 3 hours but that is when the mantra of "This is just X amount of hours of my life, we will get through this." comes into play.

-The Entertainment Systems-
If you are on a longer flight the chances are good that the seat has an entertainment system. We don't let Teddy watch TV at home but on the plane all rules are out. He is welcome to watch anything on the entertainment system or play with the remote (watch out that they don't hit the flight attendant call button), so far he still hasn't been interested but as he gets older I am hoping he will be able to spend some time on flights watching a movie or show. Although once he is really at a point where he finds that stuff interesting we will probably bring a portable DVD player or have videos on the laptop which are baby/toddler/kid friendly. Anything which helps pass the time on the flight without disturbing other passengers and while even allowing me to get a few bites of food in, or perhaps relax a bit is a plus for me.

-Diaper Changes-
Diaper changes happen just like at home, the space is cramped but I have never flown in a plane that didn't have a changing table. If the flight is long I normally do one before or after the first nap (depending on the timing). If the flight is short I normally don't do one.

-OH NO Baby is cranky!-
First off try to stay calm, you getting stressed will only make the situation worse. Second, if possible get up and go towards the back of the plane. If baby is crawling let him crawl a bit, or sit him down if baby is sitting. If baby is doing none of those things just walk around talking to baby, singing, doing whatever you can think of to distract and calm baby down.Maybe a diaper change (even if clean) if baby is still at an age which diaper changes are something positive. Do this for longer then you think is necessary at least 10-15 minutes and then go back to your seat and take out a new toy or snack. Hopefully things will have calmed down and you will have at least 30 minutes of calm now. If you nurse this is a great time to try nursing baby. Teddy never wanted to nurse on the plane but hopefully you will all be luckier then I in that respect.
If standing up isn't possible then try to take out a toy that is normally a good distraction. Jingling keys, favorite book, etc. If your partner is there make sure they get in the act- start a game of peek-a-boo, sing a fun song together, etc. Try to offer a snack, bottle or nurse as well. Anything to help baby calm down. Letting baby pull the window shade down and up a few times can also work as a good distraction.
Please don't let baby kick the chair in front of them or bang on the tray table in their frustration. There are other ways to keep baby distracted which don't so directly disturb the people sitting with you on the plane.
Repeat the mantra "There are only X more hours/minutes, we will get through this. Everything will be fine."

-Arrival-
Eventually you will arrive. No matter how bad the flight goes eventually you will get to your destination and it will have been worth it! You will be seeing friends or family, going on a holiday, or doing something else which is enjoyable or pleasent. Chances are very high that baby will have a blast and that you will forgot this flight within a few hours. Allow yourself a moment to bask in the fact that you just flew succesfully with a baby. Yay! Now allow all the other passengers to get off the plane first. They will be stressed and hectic while you will be basking in the pleasure of what is waiting for you. No reason to join the fray. Slowly gather all your bags making sure nothing has dropped under the seat and walk to the exit making sure to thank the flight attendants who were hopefully friendly and a help to you on the flight. Grab your stroller and/or car-seat which are waiting for you as you exit the aircraft. Get ready to enjoy yourself and head to whoeever is waiting for you at the baggage area.

Oh wait one thing, did you just deal with a time change? Of more then an hour? Well I didn't want to tell you this but time changes are actually the worst part of flying. Sorry.Get ready for a terrible night, how terrible will depend on how many hours time difference. 5+ time difference= probably waking up every hour, newborn style.

-How to deal with Jet-Lag and/or a Time Change-
When you get to your destination try to jump into that time immediately. If it is 1pm and baby normally takes a nap at 1 then let them take a nap. If it is 4 and baby is normally awake, then try to keep them awake. Try to do something outside to make this easier. Spend as much time in the sun as possible as that helps baby's natural clock adjust. If baby sleeps a bit longer then normal during a nap that is fine but try to keep it to no longer then an additional hour to help the night sleep.
Put baby down for the night at the normal bedtime- adjusted to the new time zone if you are in one. If baby wakes in the night, which baby probably will, deal with the nightwaking exactly as you would at home. If that means nursing and bringing baby in to your bed with you then do that, if that means letting baby fuss a bit then do that- although I highly suggest checking on baby to reassure them that you are there and that everything is fine. It can be very discombobulating for adults to deal with jet-lag and new places, obviously for a baby who doesn't really even understand what is going in this can be even worse.

Don't worry if you have a terrible night. The days will probably go smoothly as there will be so much action happening. It has always only taken 1-3 nights for Teddy to adjust and start sleeping through when we have been dealing with a 7 hour time change. It has taken less time when the time change has been an hour or less. Just try to stick to your normal routine. If naps in a bed aren't possible at least try for naps in a stroller. This isn't the time to allow your child to become over-tired.

Then get ready to do the whole travel thing all over again in a few days or weeks!