Happy Birthday, My Sweet Baby Boy

Around 3:30 AM tomorrow morning will mark one year since I went into labor, and at 4:37 PM CST, Elijah will officially be one year old.

I know all parents say it, but really, how has a year passed already? How did my little 8 pound 6 ounce newborn transform so quickly into a 25 pound crawling, babbling, joke-making, hug-giving, dog- and food-loving toddler? Those nights of endless feedings and days spent covered in puddles of spit up seem so long ago and yet like they were yesterday. I only just (finally) packed away Elijah’s burp cloths. They had been so much a part of his life for the first seven months that it took me another 4 months to realize we were not going to need them any longer.

We are far from having everything figured out as parents, but boy, have we come a long way. We gave in to many things we said we would never do as parents, but you know what? I think we are better for it. I am not ashamed to admit that Elijah has been sleeping in our bed for the past month. It gives all of us a chance to sleep, and if I fought it and tried to get him in bed night after night until a new habit was formed, I would be a zombie at work. Yes, he kicks us and has fits sometimes in his sleep (thank you, endless teething), but we also get to spend hours cuddled up to the little boy we are so sad to have to leave during the day.

He has come a long way, too. In the past month, he has learned to be more independent. He has lessened the amount of crying he does during pick up and drop off at his in-home care provider’s house. (It used to be heart-wrenching.) Now he waves bye-bye to her. He even smiles when I mention her nickname, Nini (given to her by the little ones she watches).

Elijah is a wonderful blessing, and I cannot imagine life without him. I cannot imagine not hearing his dinosaur imitations (which I had to explain to Nini when she told me “um, he growls at the other children” hah!), looking at his toothy grin, smelling his little boy smell, touching his soft hair (and sharp nails!), and sharing his dinnertime meals (he sure does love to share!).

And for my own record, at one year, Elijah says the following words:

mama
dada
Mimi
dog (dah with a soft g)
night night (nah-nah)
moo (mmmm)
roar
Dozer
Nini

He also understands these words without a doubt

cheese
milk
water
book
Beni
food
eat
tooth juice (ibuprofen)
monkey
teddy
toys
ball
come
give
bath
stinky
hi (he waves every time you say hi)
bye bye (he also waves for bye bye)

If I think of any more, I will come back and edit this list!

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March 30, 2012 at 11:01 PM Leave a comment

Exhausted

Exhausted.

I took Friday off as part of my new 9/80 schedule, which means I work nine 9-hour days followed by one full day off. (Yes, that’s 81 hours, so I actually work eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day followed by a day off.) Having that day off was wonderful. It was a small taste of our old routine when we were together every day.

Friday, we became members of the zoo. It was a steal! For $54 (thank you, military discount), we are able to go anytime we want for the next 13 months. A great added benefit of zoo membership is that we can enter at 7:30 in the morning, and the general public cannot enter until 9. Having a little one who wakes rather early in the morning, this is perfect – especially as the heat of summer is rapidly approaching.

I honestly do not remember what we did on Saturday, but I know we were mostly go go go all weekend. Sunday was the busiest. We went to breakfast with John’s mom and step dad, came home for a little bit and then headed to church. After church, we had lunch with John’s dad’s side of the family. Then we headed home for a quick change, back to John’s dad’s to borrow a tree trimmer, out to the park to take pictures in the bluebonnets, to the mall to pick up a quick gift for Elijah’s birthday, to Carter’s to get some summer clothes, to HEB for the week’s groceries and finally we got home around 5. Then, John worked on trimming the oak in our backyard while I attempted to start cooking dinner. Unfortunately, I felt sick, and John stepped in and made our dinner, which turned out very yummy!

Just after 10 PM last night, someone rang our doorbell repeatedly, which of course made Beni bark and irritated both John and me as we worried that it would wake Elijah. We were about to get in bed, but John went downstairs to see who would actually ring a doorbell at 10 PM. It was our neighbor across the street. Apparently, he got a piece of our mail and he thought we might need it at 10 PM. (Seriously?) Ugh.

I finally fell asleep after 11, woke in the middle of the night to get Elijah (he has started sleeping with us…bad idea, I know, but I need sleep) and then got up for the day at 5:40.

Exhausted.

March 26, 2012 at 11:19 PM Leave a comment

A Weekend of Work

We finally have a refrigerator! Woohoo. We just bought a washer and dryer as well, but unfortunately, we will have to wait until a week from Wednesday for them to be delivered. It looks like we will be doing laundry at one of our parents’ house one more time before we can be self-sufficient.

This weekend was enjoyable. We finally got some yard work done, which was a relief to both John and me. We want to designate an area of our yard as a fruit and vegetable garden as the weather is already getting very warm (much much much earlier than Germany!), but we had to take care of basic yard maintenance first. All last week, John pulled weeds, and yesterday, we (with the help of a very handy and generous neighbor) mowed the yard, trimmed the bushes and edged. The yard looks so much better! I wish I had taken before and after photos.

Now that we have a refrigerator, I’m looking forward to getting some freezer meals knocked out. As I quickly discovered (and had anticipated), there is not much time between when I get home from work and Elijah’s dinnertime. Plus, I’d like to spend as much time hanging out with Elijah as possible. Freezer meals can help with that!

It’s supposed to storm tonight, which I am excited about – if and only if it does not take down the wonderful (albeit somewhat hollow) oak tree in our front yard. Filling that sucker with concrete is on our to-do list…

March 19, 2012 at 7:12 PM 4 comments

It’s Been Awhile…

It’s been a long time. A long long time. I almost gave up on this blog. I had blogged consistently for 9 years, and then I had a baby, stopped working and moved 5000 miles around the world. Needless to say, things got a little crazy.

It’s taken nearly a year, but things are starting to settle down, and I have a little time to start writing here again.

Elijah is almost a year old. That can’t be true. My little sleepy baby is now a cruising, crawling, talking little boy. He loves imitating cows and dinosaurs, saying mama, dada, dog (his first word) and na-na (night night). He gives the best hugs in the world. His smile melts my heart. He loves dogs, and I’m pretty sure he is a big animal lover. We have yet to take him to the zoo, but we are planning to take him soon.

I started back at work three weeks ago. Up until my first day of work, I hadn’t been away from Elijah for longer than 4 hours, and that was only once when he was about 4 months old and he stayed with John. Consequently, it was very difficult to leave him. It is getting easier, but admittedly, I did cry about it in the bathroom at work yesterday. Thankfully, we did find a wonderful woman who lives just a few minutes from us that does in home care. She watches Elijah every day from 7 AM – 5 PM, and he has 4-5 other children under the age of 3 to play with. We love the arrangement, but I really look forward to my weekends.

So now is the time to bring up that we are no longer living in Austin. The job I got brought us back to San Antonio. John is still going to school in Austin, but he will transfer to San Antonio at the end of the spring semester. Until then, he is commuting (and still staying up in Austin at our nearly-bare apartment thanks to rising gas prices).

Our biggest news as of late – as if everything else I’ve mentioned isn’t big news – is that we bought a house! We closed on it last Friday, and spent last weekend trying to get moved in. The UHaul we rented, though allegedly sufficient for moving a 3 bedroom house, was not large enough to move all of our belongings, especially with the large antique European furniture we acquired while in Germany. Therefore, we had to leave quite a bit behind in Austin and will have to spend the next few weeks moving the rest of our things down to San Antonio. We are also acquiring a chair, couch and fireplace tools from my brother who is also undergoing a move from Austin this month. His job is taking him north to the DFW area.

Some of the major appliances – washer, dryer and refrigerator – did not convey with our new house, so we have been getting by with a borrowed mini fridge and no washer/dryer this week. I am stoked that our new refrigerator will be delivered this afternoon. So stoked. Hopefully, we will have  a washing machine and dryer by sometime next week.

That is the big picture of what has been going on with us. I hope to return here more often over the coming weeks and months, if for nothing else than to record the funny things that Elijah does as well as his milestone moments. I know that is not too entertaining to anyone other than John and me, so if no one returns here to read or comment, I understand. I just want to have a record of these precious moments with our little boy.

March 16, 2012 at 4:14 PM 4 comments

We’re Still Here!

Life has been crazy since we last posted over a month ago. Oops. I still don’t really have the time to update, but I did want to throw something quick up on our blog to let everyone know we’re ok.

It’s been a bigger adjustment to life in Texas than we had imagined, but it’s starting to feel a little more like home as we get the walls painted and things hung. Our bedroom is still a mess as we haven’t put everything away yet. The living areas and Elijah’s room have been done for a while now, though.

Things with my business are going well. I have done three shoots in the past 2.5 weeks and have a proposal for more work that I’m putting together today. Let’s hope the trend continues.

John is doing well in school and likes his class for the most part. It is a core requirement, so it doesn’t pertain to his major, but he does have a great professor and is taking away a lot from the class.

Elijah is growing like crazy and will be 12 weeks tomorrow, meaning he will have spent half his life in Texas and half in Germany. We went to the doctor two weeks ago and he weighed 14 lbs 5 oz, so he is a big guy already! He is also dealing with reflux which is no fun. We go through burp cloths like crazy, but thankfully the Zantac seems to be giving him some relief for the burning.

This weekend, we are headed to a reunion for John’s side of the family. Since I’ve never been to a family reunion before, I’m especially looking forward to this one. I will also get the chance to meet some of his family that I haven’t met previously. To top it all off, we’re getting to celebrate his grandmother’s 90th birthday. Hurray!

I will update more soon, but for now, my litlte squirm bug has almost wiggled completely off his play mat, so I must go!

June 22, 2011 at 6:15 PM 2 comments

We Won’t Miss Pt. 3

And now, the final edition of “we won’t miss.” Enjoy!

We won’t miss the lack of German customer service. I will never forget when we were sitting in Mandy’s diner, a restaurant near our house, and our waitress got mad at us because she brought two servings of an appetizer when we had only ordered one. She insisted that we were lying and we had ordered two. She didn’t want to take it away or take it off our bill. She was so rude, and it infuriated us so much that we can’t bring ourselves to go back. Too bad that was the only place we know of where we could get jalapeno poppers. Gosh, I love those things. And no, the commissary does not sell them. Speaking of the commissary…

We won’t miss the inability to go to other grocery stores. Sure, we can go to the German grocery store, but then we are paying extra (because it’s in Euro) for the same products. Sometimes I get so fed up with the commissary. Their produce is far from fresh, and oftentimes, their chicken expires within 1-3 days of the purchase date. In fact, I have brought chicken home that expired THAT day. Ugh. Oh, and I won’t miss paying exorbitant prices on our groceries. I had my mom check it out, and we are almost paying double on our milk price to what we’ll pay when we get back. That’s just ridiculous, especially since pregnancy gave me such a hankering for milk.

We won’t miss my cell phone contract. We never even went near the monthly minute limit. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what I am allotted. I just know that we pay far too much for what we use. It comes out to about $90/month and I use less than 200 minutes/month. It’s an iPhone, so I have unlimited data usage as well, but most of the time, I’m on our home network, so I’m not even accumulating data usage. Bah.

We won’t miss having to pay bill at the bank. That’s right. We cannot pay for my iPhone online. You have to either have a direct debit set up from your German bank account or go to the bank and pay directly from your bank account. We did not like the direct debit option, because it didn’t give us a chance to review the bill first. So now, we have to go to the bank once a month, deposit money and then go pay our mobile phone bill at the machine in the lobby. It would not be as much of a headache if the banks had good hours, but they don’t. They close at noon at least one day a week and it varies by branch. They are closed for an hour and a half or so around lunch time. And they are closed by 4 or 4:30 in the afternoons. They are also closed on Saturday. When, pray tell, do Germans make it to the bank?

We will not miss dealing with two currencies. It has made budgeting rather difficult, and it gets a little tricky with our cash budgeting since the amounts we need each month vary with the exchange rate. It will be nice to only have to withdraw one currency type each time we go to the bank.

We will not miss paying for parking everywhere. If a store has free parking here, it’s a major advertising point. Only really big stores like IKEA and OBI (the Home Depot equivalent) have free parking. The new mall in Mannheim doesn’t even have free parking. With nearly 82 million people in a country the size of Montana, I guess space really does come at a price.

We will not miss having to spend thousands of dollars to visit our family. Once we’re back, they will just be about an hour or so away by car. Here, however, we have to take off from work (read: lost money), buy plane tickets that are usually in excess of $1000 each, pay someone to watch Béni, and pay for the normal expenses of being on vacation (rental car, eating out, etc.).

And last but not least,

We will not miss being in the Army!!!

May 16, 2011 at 2:00 PM 2 comments

We Won’t Miss Pt. 2

Welcome to the weather edition of what we won’t miss…

We won’t miss the bitter winter cold. We’re not Rochester, MN, but boy howdy does it get nippy here in the winter. It wouldn’t be so bad if it warmed up above freezing, but we’ll see multiple weeks pass by without breaking freezing. That is enough to make a Texan go crazy and start wearing weather inappropriate clothing.

We won’t miss shoveling the sidewalk or having to clear our car of snow and ice before work. Shoveling snow is hard work. Enough said.

We won’t miss the darkness of the winter months. In December, it gets to a point where the sun has completely set and it’s pitch black by 4 PM. The sun also doesn’t come up until after 8 AM. That’s less than 8 hours of daylight, folks. It can be depressing.

We won’t miss the gray, misty winter weather. It is one thing to have cold temperatures but for it to also be sunny. However, a typical German winter lends itself to very few sunny days. We can go weeks (that’s not an exaggeration) without seeing the sun. One more weather complaint…

We won’t miss the lack of thunderstorms. I bet you we have had less than 10 storms in the past 3 years that involved thunder. And those storms were nowhere near on par with the nasty Texas storms that roll through in the summertime. I love a good Texas thunderstorm.

May 13, 2011 at 9:00 PM 1 comment

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