Saturday, August 30, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (63)

Ten Things of Thankful

Last night has not been one of the "good" nights. It was a back and forth between hubby's snoring waking up the baby who, in return, woke up the hubby with his complainy-squeal, and mommy (that's me) did not get any sleep at all. Plus, we're currently taking care of a lot of 5 kids total (no casualties as of now, but hubby and I sure count down the hours until our little guests get to go home), so quiet time is not happening. But still, last week was again full of things to be thankful for!

1. Fall fruit, which translates into yummie streussel cakes!

2. Sleeping in with Calvin. There's nothing better than cuddling up with the little guy after the 6am feeding and sleep another 2 hours or so.

3. Hubby being a gem and taking Violet to kindergarten the last week so that Calvin and I can sleep in.

4. A great afternoon with a friend and her baby, who is only a good month older than Calvin.

5. Cuddling with the girls before getting up in the morning or at bedtime.

6. An awesome and supportive boss. I've been doing the paper work for my extended parental leave last week (I won't be working full time until the little guy is 2) and couldn't remember if we had agreed on an arrangement once I'll work 30-hour weeks again. I called to check what she'd prefer, and she told me just to write down what I prefer and if another arrangement would prove to be a better fit, we'll be flexible and re-arrange my hours.

7. This!!

8. Fall shopping (yes, I've started browsing!)

9. Lily being excited to start first grade. I know, in the years to come there will be plenty of moments when she wishes she wouldn't have to go to school. But right now she can't wait until her first day of elementary school.

10. Getting the furniture delivered on Monday and Tuesday. I've only ordered the furniture for the girls' rooms back in mid-May.. At least, they are going to set everything up for free for us since they went over 6 weeks past the agreed delivery schedule.

What are you especially thankful for this week??

Friday, August 29, 2014

Easy Four

Bath time sometimes is quite a pain in our home. From stalling to undressing in slow-motion to tantrums over having to wash themselves or arguments on whether or not it's a hair wash day.

This evening, we did not only have to get two but four girls ready for bed. Friends of ours who are in the midst of a move asked us to take their girls overnight so they can catch up on their schedule and finish the move on time before hading over the keys to the old place on Sunday.

The two little girls arrived this afternoon; after some drama just before dinner time they played quite nicely until bathtime. We called the girls to brush their teeth, hunted for jammies, fresh undies and socks, ensured that rooms were picked up, set up two beds for our guests, and finally showered four little girls.

And for some reason, this bath time with four girls went smoother than it often is with only our two girls. No arguments or questionings, Violet managed to undress in record time, there was no whining or stalling and in no time, our two little guests called their parents to say good night, I read a story to all of them (no arguments there either!!) and four little girls were put to bed.

So, to the question of the day: Why is it easier to get 4 girls ready for bed than 2??

Anyways, I'm actually looking forward to pancakes for breakfast tomorrow!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Money In Your Pocket

In just 3 short weeks, we'll have a first-grader in our house. As another way to mark that new stage in Lily's life, we plan on starting her on an allowance.

With Lily being our oldest, she oftentimes ends up to be our "lab bunny". We agreed to give her a euro a week for personal necessities like extra candy or, if she decides to save up, a small toy. At the same time, we will probably add a chore to her duties around the house, probably engaging her more in taking care of the dishes (set the table, help loading the dishwasher, etc.).

If you have kids yourself or in your family, when have they first received an allowance? Did the kids have to help out more in exchange or was it a benefit without duties attached? I'd appreciate your thoughts and advice  :-)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (62)

Ten Things of Thankful

Blink. Week over. Yes, I totally stole this from Dyanne, but it's the best to describe this week; and it makes me panic just a tad bit because Calvin is now another week older, and before I know it, our baby won't be a baby any more. And then Lily is graduating, and Violet will move out, and ... I know, I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself now, but still...

Back to the 10 things I am incredibly thankful for this week:

1. Lily enjoying her vaulting class. She looked so natural performing her excercises on the horse, and we're happy to have a holiday gift of more classes for her.

2. Violet being happy spending the mornings home with us while Lily was at her riding class. We played games, did jigsaw puzzles, or read stories.

3. Sleeping through the night. Besides waking up once around 6, Calvin and I slept in until 10:30 in the morning. I so needed that!

4. Cooking dinner with the girls. Lily wanted to make a carrot soup from one of her books for a few days now, and tonight we finally got to it, and it was delicious!

5. Growing closer to hubby with each of the kids. Even though with another baby in the house, there's even less time for just the two of us, but we enjoy even the short moments much more than before we had kids. And seeing him with his children just makes my heart want to burst with love for all of them.

6. My mom and aunt coming over to meet baby Calvin. I haven't seen my aunt in quite a while and we all spent a fun afternoon.

7. Not being confined any more. We went and visited my sister on Monday and went into town for a shopping trip later in the week, enjoying what would be probably the last ic cream outside for the season  :-(

8. Having a tea party with the girls. Lily and Violet prepared coffee and pancakes and set the table in Violet's room. SO cute!!!

9. Going out. A colleague had invited me to a traditional German pre-wedding party and I attended with Calvin. It was great getting out of the house, connecting with some colleagues, eat yummie food, and show our adorable little boy around  :-)

10. A hubby who shares the household chores without complaining. And he even does a really good job  :-)  Yes, I know I'm lucky!  We have a clean house now!!!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Waiting For Fall

Somehow it seems as if this year, the seasons are about a month ahead of how it should be. In late March, the girls and I had our first picnic of the year at the playground, wearing short sleeves, which is very, very unusual of Germany. And now, in mid-August, the hight of summer, it basically feels like September. Lily has been asking me when Calvin gets to wear his cute little summer outfits. As it looks now, he won't be wearing them at all  :-(

On the upside, we're definitely entering my favorite season! I am looking forward to this season all year long. I can't wait for the foliage to turn into all possible colors, take walks in the forest to collect leaves, acorns, and chestnuts for crafts, fall cuisine, Halloween with trick-or-treating with the girls, the lantern parades, and in a few months one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving.

Our plans for the coming months:

- visiting my colleague at her alottment with the girls and help her harvesting her apples and giant zucchini.
- going shopping with Lily for her first-day-of-school outfit.
- spending a day at the wildlife park.
- visit my friend in Munich.
- making it to the corn maze before it gets cut down in mid-September.
- taking the girls horseback-riding.
- buying a kite and take it out with the kids.

Am I excited? Totally  :-)  What are your plans for fall?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What We're Up To - First Week With Baby

I can't believe that it's been a week already that we've welcomed our little boy into our family. And even though I've done my best to rest to recover from the birth, we've been busy to run some essential errands and also received the first visitors to meet little Calvin:

On Tuesday, we receive the first visit from the midwife (did I mention that I love this woman??) and relax a lot. I get to take a long afternoon nap with Calvin, which I really needed after basically not sleeping at all during the night of Sunday to Monday.

On Wednesday (the EDD), Calvin had his second well-baby visit and we ventured out for the first time as a family of five. Calvin is doing well, his hip sonogram looked great and he only lost a little bit of weight. The midwife also did the newborn screening for metabolic disorders. Since we haven't heard back from the lab so far, we assume that he tested negative on everything. Lily went to a birthday party and baby Calvin received his first visitor, Lily's friends' mom who was kind enough to take Lily to and from the party.

On Thursday, poor Calvin spent over an hour of crying during the morning because of a tummy ache. It's fairly difficult to burp him, so we know we need to watch that more carefully. In the afternoon, Lily had a friend over to play while I played board games with Violet while Calvin slept on my arm.

On Friday, the midwife came over again; Calvin had almost reached his birth weight again. Later in the morning, we ventured out to Forchheim to submit all our documents to have Calvin's birth certificate issued. We had lunch in town before heading back home. In the afternoon, a family friend came visit to meet Calvin and we all had a great time.

On Saturday, we all ventured out grocery shopping for the first time. I spent the afternoon laying on our bed cuddling Calvin and enjoying his newborn smell. Pretty low-key day for us, time to relax and unwind.

On Sunday, my mom and aunt came over to meet Calvin. The girls were so excited to see Oma, as usual. It was a pretty relaxed visit as we didn't stress out about having the house in perfect condition. Unfortunately, my dad felt under the weather and did not come out.

On Monday, we went to visit my sister to look at her new home and run some errands in my former home town. As a surprise, my dad also came over! My sister loved to see Calvin again, and my dad is so in love with his first grandson. The girls played with their cousin all afternoon long; it was loud, but the girls did fairly well as a three-some. We came home late, had grilled cheese for dinner and a quick bedtime. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the drive home a couple of times and also while watching TV with Calvin. I probably should take more breaks!

Today, we finally received the birth certificates, so we can start all the paperwork registering in our town, applying for the monthly government child benefits, the parental leave benefits, and his insurance card. Calvin also had his newborn hearing test today and passed wonderfully. Lily started her 4-day horse riding class and also had her last appointment with her ergotherapist with a laughing and a crying eye. In the afternoon, Lily went to play with a friend while I did board and card games with Violet and Calvin cuddled with Daddy. Violet and I took Calvin out in his stroller for the first time to buy dinner.

Even though it is stressful sometimes, and there's definitely some guilt on my end over not being able to give the girls the attention the need, we have definitely settled into our new life with baby. The girls are in love with their brother and a big help watching him so I can take a shower or brush my teeth in peace. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us. Next week, Violet will go back to kindergarten, and only a few weeks later, Lily will have her first day of first grade. Life definitely won't be boring for us any time soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (61)

Ten Things of Thankful

Saturday again, this week just flew by. I can't believe that last Saturday I was itchy and miserable, thinking about which one of the girls to take grocery shopping (early riser Violet had the honor because Lily had just woken up by the time we were ready to head out); this morning, I was thinking about the same when it dawned on me that we ALL would go shopping because there's no way I could lift all the groceries only days after giving birth. It definitely start to realize how our lives have changed in the little details since Monday. I know that some changes are only temporarily, others definitely permanent, with the arrival of little Calvin.

This week's thankfuls (and I do apologize that they are  VERY baby-heavy!!):

1. First and foremost we are incredibly thankful for a healthy baby. Even after two births, I was still nervous, hoping that everything would go well; and even though the birth did not go as planned, we once again could welcome a healthy child, everything else is secondary.

2. Said baby being an incredibly good sleeper. I am totally not sleep deprived as he only wakes up once or twice a night for 15 minutes at the most.

3. Maternity and parental protection laws here in Germany that allow me to take quite some time off work to take care of my family without having to fear losing my job or facing bankruptcy.

4. Violet taking to her little brother so well. When we first told her that there was another baby on the way, she was not happy, but with my belly her excitement grew as well and she's doing so well taking care of Calvin now. It's a joy watching the two of them together.

5. Family somewhat nearby who checks up on us and comes visit. I easily feel cooped up and get into major cabin fever, and unfortunately, the weather is not nice enough right now to allow for short walks in the neighborhood, so their phone calls and visits sure are a nice diversion for me.

6. Living in a family friendly town. There are so many summer break activities, especially for Lily, to keep them busy. Next year I'm definitely getting her the summer break pass with even more activities in the area.

7. Finally getting used to diapering a boy. Even though I have some 6 years + of diapering experience, I felt like such a dilettante when I changed his first diaper; my sister confessed later that she had to hold back a good laugh watching me struggling, but probably she hadn't been any better  :-)  After two days of practicing I now manage to change his diaper without having to change his entire outfit most of the time.

8. So many friends in town who offer to help out with the girls should we need it. So far, everything's been very easy and relaxing, but who knows, there may be a time when we need it.

9. Guilt-free dessert. All I say is warm brownie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. yummie!!!

10. Last but definitely not least a wonderful midwife who has taken me on for the post-natal care on quite short notice. She's such a great person and I've been in love with her from the beginning.

I wish everyone a wonderful weekend. About to watch a boxing match with Calvin, even though he's probably going to be totally unimpressed and sleep through most of it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Calvin's Birth Story

First of all, thank you everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your well-wishes for the birth of our son. On more or less popular demand:

Primary Baby Stats:
Name: Calvin Johannes Powell  (Johannes is the German version of "John" after my grandpa Johann)
Birth day & time: Monday, 08/11/2014, 1:07am
Weight: 7lbs 12oz
Height: 20-3/4in
He likes: Sleeping, eating, sneezing, pooting
He dislikes: diaper changes, undressing, ultrasounds, especially on his privates

His Birth Story:
I was quite miserable for a couple of weeks already, not sleeping well and my liver cholestasis had flared up bad time again. And since my body was getting ready already, I was very anxious for our baby to be born. As our EDD approached, we decided to get together with my parents and sister to visit a nearby open-air museum and walk all afternoon to maybe kick-start labor.
When we came back around 7, I was pretty exhausted and felt a little crampy. While hubby took care of the cats at our friends' house, I prepared dinner for the girls, helped them brush their teeth and shower. We cuddled a little, I read their good-night story and off to bed they went. I retired to the couch around 8pm and watched some TV when I started having contractions, who became uncomfortable quite quickly. To take my mind off, I called a friend of mine to let her know that there's going to be a baby pretty soon. As I was sitting down on the couch, the contractions slowed down a bit. I got back up to pace the living room and called the midwife, who recommended to run a bath and relax for a while to see if the contractions would stop again. Hubby went to bed to rest a little, and I submerged in the bathtub. But instead of slowing things down, the contractions picked up big time. I got out and started throwing up, a sure sign that there's going to be a baby soon. I called my sister to get ready and head over. She arrived about an hour later and found me crumbled up on the floor. Hubby had been compressing my hips for an hour to help with the back labor, but it was getting worse. I called the midwife to touch base with her, as I was not sure if I could do the 45-minutes trip to Bamberg before the baby came.
 She left it up to me how I felt, and since the pain was excruciating, I decided to take the much shorter trip to the hospital in Forchheim. As soon as my sister arrived, hubby loaded me into the car (with two stops on the way there) and off we were. He almost had to carry me into the hospital as I was shaking violently from the pain and felt like in trance; the receptionist called the labor and delivery ward immediately and up I went in a wheelchair. I could barely climb up the bed or get out of my clothes. The midwife on duty checked me and I was at 8cm. The doctor put in an IV and I got some pain medication to take the edge of. Richard helped me further to compress my hips, but within minutes of arriving, the pain became much, much worse. At some point, I suddenly felt like pushing and did; at this point, my water broke and poor hubby got a good portion on his pants; with the next contraction, our baby's head was born, and on the third contraction I gave birth to our beautiful little baby boy. As soon as he was  lying in between my legs, I snapped out of the haze and took him into my arms. Like with the girls, the midwife had the honor to cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating; soon afterward, our son made himself known to the world with a strong voice.
We rested at our room for 4 hours, completed our paperwork to register him, and after I had a shower, we were on our way back home. We arrived around 5:30am, where my sister got to welcome her new nephew. About 6am, Violet woke up and was surprised by her little brother; Lily joined us around 8am.  We spent this first day resting, cuddling, and getting to know each other.

The past days have been just wonderful. Calvin is a good sleeper and generally a happy baby who's adored by his big sisters. I never expected everythigng to be so relaxing and simply natural and am very thankful for it. Calvin has already had his first well-baby exams and couldn't do better. He's already re-gained most of his birth weight and passed all other exams wonderfully. We couldn't be happier!

The girls with their little brother

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (60)

Ten Things of Thankful

Obviously, I've missed a whole 10 weeks! Ten weeks without my weekly reflections on the big and small things that have made my life so much better, or made me realize that no matter what, I'm still luckier than most people in this world. Yes, I'm glad to be back!!

Here is the list of Thankfuls for this first full week of August:

1. The weather has neither been crazy hot nor crazy humid, making my life a whole lot easier.

2. Almost daily naps. Yes, I'm really thankful for maternity laws here in Germany, and the fact that hubby is so supportive and the girls very understaning so I can rest whenever I need to.

3. Finding my calm again after being quite antsy about little baby boy's arrival earlier this week. Our OB/GYN  estimated him to come about 5 to 10 days early, based on the progress my body has made so far, but even now, EDD -4 days, there are no real tell-tale signs that he's about to show up. There have been some early signs in the past days, but as of now, he's still happily camping out in there. But at least, we're prepared, all bags are packed, my sister and dad are on call, and all the plans we've made for the next days are on a "may be canceled o short notice"-basis.

4. Hubby cat-sitting for friends of ours. The story he comes home with almost every day are priceless! Can't wait to add a little four-legged member to our family later this year!

5. Early mornings with Violet. I truly enjoy just sitting with my little girl, have breakfast, play some games and cuddle before anyone else gets up.

6. Not having had proper internet for a while. I got tons of projects done, caught up on movies, etc.

7. Having proper internet again. I missed everyone out there and wondered a lot how this or that person was doing. I'm glad to be back!

8. The smell of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Finally found time to kill all the chocolate bunnies left over and turned them into a new form of deliciousness.

9. Having a good night sleep a couple of times this week. It really makes a difference on my overall well-being  :-)

10. A career option coming up for hubby we never even thought about. It's not quite what we wanted as it would be on a free-lance basis / running his own business, so there aren't any benefits, but on the other hand, he'd be very, very flexible with his hours, which will come in handy managing three kids after I go back to work almost full-time come September 2015.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2014


There I was, gone for 2 months, and as I come back, looking forward to re-entering the blogging world, it is just in time to learn that Janine is quitting one of the link-ups I join regularly. At this point, I'd love to thank Janine for hosting the Finish The Sentence Friday so far, for introducing me to it and providing something to write about every Friday  :-)

Luckily for me, the link-up still continues, hosted by Kristi and Stephanie, with quite an interesting cue for this week:

The most incredible thing my body has ever done is...

... recovering from whatever I've thrown at it over and over again.

Going back, starting in my early teenage years, I've never been good to my body. For years, I've suffered from severe eating disorders, gaining and losing again 20 or 30 pounds within a matter of a few months, eating meals just to yuck them up again in the bathroom minutes after getting off the table.

Once I was somewhat over all that, still panicking when thinking about fat or sugar, I compensated with sports. I went into martial arts and started to pack on muscles. I've destroyed the skin on my shin bones to prevent pain, at times, my whole body was more black and blue than normal color, but still I kept pushing, until I had this moment in the bathroom in one of the clubs I frequented and saw that bull-necked girl in a neckholder top and decided I had to change.

Yes, at this point, I was firmly lodged into the party scene, drinking heavily with the bikers and dancing the nights away in hip-hop clubs. There were weekends I was neither sober nor got any sleep, and those weekends were the rule, not the exception.

Luckily, at this point I entered my 20s, and my priorities changed. I didn't drink much any more, slept more, and my body returned to normal. I went to college and eventually met the husband. We were married and moved to the U.S., and I found a new drug: work. This was maybe the healthiest addiction I've had so far, but long work weeks paired with compressing 2 years of college into only 15 month and my first pregnancy again brought my body to the verge of just collapsing.

Then, we had Lily, and my life changed. It was a long and difficult birth, and when we finally got to hold our daughter in our arms for the first time, I knew that I had to change. I needed to be healthy, in body and mind, to be the mother our daughter would need. Someone, who is a positive role model, someone, she can watch and model her own life after, and become a healthy and happy person.

At that point, I don't know if my body would recover, from all the damage I have done, from this difficult birth and problematic recovery afterward. But surprisingly, it did. My body has not only recovered but managed to create and sustain two more children, and I feel the healthiest I've ever been.  And this truly amazes me.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What I'm Up To

After a 2-month absence, here a little overview over the current state of affairs at our house (in parts totally stolen from Pinky!!)

I'm currently...

... reading:  Tons of Christopher Moore books, and some random reading material I've picked up at the give-away at my work's library

... trying: Not to whine too much. My mood swings are more than annoying, especially because I am painfully aware of them and can't get away from myself. I wouldn't know what to do without the the family's general understanding of my moodiness.

...  anticipating: The arrival of our baby boy, of course!

... buying: Last odds and ends for the baby, school supplies for Lily.

... lusting for: wine and vanilla cream pudding. Can't indulge in the one but totally going for the other!

... enjoying: Daytime naps and the occasional realization that we're home owners. Somehow, it hasn't quite sunk in yet, and if we're thinking about it, we feel so grown-up, which cannot be because after all, we're still just over-sized kids, right?

... cursing: Not being able to sleep at night, itching all over from a liver insufficiency. Can't wait for things to go back to normal!!

... listening to: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Buena Vista Social Club, Amy McDonald, and the ever-present songs from Frozen.

... watching: Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica

... devouring: said vanilla cream pudding (can't beat 80% cream!!!)

... waking up: At the oddest times. When you can't sleep at night (meaning: impossible to fall asleep before 4 or 5 am), wake-up time is quite random at the moment.

... feeling: Thankful for all the good things in our lives; the fact that we're finally living in our new house; that we're going to have awesome neighbors; that our little lad is going to be here so soon; that Violet got to start her speech therapy and is already making progress; that Lily is looking forward to her long summer break and first day of elementary school; that hubby may have a serious prospect of starting his own business; for the translation work that's coming in; for the love and support all around me.  (you see, I missed way too many TToT-weekends!!)

Have a wonderful day, everyone!