Thursday, May 29, 2014

Impending Hiatus

Two more nights in our old home. It's a mess, and pure chaos. Our nutrition is seriously lacking these days (as in cake for dinner tonight - at least it was home-made cake, and Father's Day in Germany), I don't know where anything is, The kitchen needs to be all packed up by tomorrow afternoon, and I haven't even started, and I feel so behind on schedule.

Once we've moved to the new house, I'll be on a forced hiatus for a couple of weeks, maybe longer. According to the last notice we received from our provider, our phone and internet will be hooked up on June 18, if that doesn't change again, like in April and May. So I will have some time to actually finish some projects around the house, maybe start on a knit blanket for the little lad, support my friend on some translation work, and get ready for my maternity leave starting July 2.

I will try to check in as often as I can, but simply can't promise anything at that point!  I hope you all will stick with me after all!

Monday, May 26, 2014

House Update - The Final Timeline

I cannot believe that we are finally at this point, that all of a sudden, everything has worked out just the way it should. There were some minor, minor hiccups, but those resolved themselves mostly.

So, Saturday is the big day of the move, and we have a tight schedule till the very end:

Tuesday: Some workers come for final touch-up work; the mortgage agent will stop by to take some final pictures for the bank. More moving of boxes.

Wednesday: Painter will come by to finish up his work (kitchen, entrance way and utility room need to be painted, some touch-up work done); Richard will rent an industrial-grade vacuum and deep-clean the entire house again to remove the last of the fine dust left there (for now). More moving boxes and packing once we receive the additional moving boxes from our wonderful friends.

Thursday (German Father's Day): My dad will come to help Richard putting up all the light fixtures, or as many as they can manage. More moving and cleaning on my part.

Friday: A friend will help us pack and move more boxes. I'll wait for the freezer/fridge and the dish washer to be delivered to the house, move all the perishable food, defrost the fridge in the apartment and deep-clean the kitchen before it's being moved. Disassemble the beds and other large furniture items.

Saturday: Two of our lovely neighbors volunteered to move our kitchen. So they will work there while I will get the transporter and pick up the new kitchen surfaces to be installed. A few of our friends will help us move the bigger furniture items while I'll be driving the transporter, provide food and drinks, organize last-minute items from the hardware store, etc. Re-assemble the furniture at the new place.

Sunday: Have a first breakfast at the new house. Remove the plastic covering from the staircase and enjoy the look of it for the first time. Unpack.

The following weeks will be full of finish moving little stuff, cleaning and painting our old apartment, and getting settled into the new place. Not having neighbors will be weird at first. We'll miss the meadow and hate the construction all around us. But this will pass, and before we know it, we'll not only have a house but a home!

Have a great new week, everyone!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (49)

Ten Things of Thankful

I'm so tired. Today I spent way too much time running around, and I know that the next two weeks won't be much better. There's going to be much cleaning, packing, organizing, unpacking, furnish, etc. But then it will be over, a journey of 20 months complete. But until we are at that point, there are many things to be thankful for this week:

1. One of my best friend getting her hubby back on June 3!! We learned during our vacation that their second application for compassionate reassignment was accepted by the Army, and now they have a date for their reunion. I could not be happier for them!!  Oh, and in the midst of all that stress, she passed her college finals and is on her best way to help provide a great future for their family.

2.  The sounds of spring. We have a few ponds near our house and meadows all around it, so there's tons of birds singing, frogs quacking, and insects humming around. I'll miss these sounds once we move!

3. The floors being installed! It looks so nice, finally, no concrete floors any more :-)

4. Hubby being such a great partner in shopping for stuff for the house. Bought literally all the light fixtures today, and he was so involved. I'd hate to pick out everything by myself. This way, it'll totally by OUR home!

5. Violet seeming to go through somewhat of a development spurt right now. I feel as if she's been making big progress this last week, and I'm truly, truly thankful for that!

6. Getting to spend some time with a friend browsing the baby basar to pick up some stuff for our babies and having lunch. I don't get enough grown-up girls' time!

7. My colleague offering to help us out during the move. We definitely can use every pair of hands.

8. Hubby being concerned about my general education and got Pulp Fiction for me. Finally, I may get some of the related jokes!

9. This wonderful hand-crafted ice cream at my go-to place. They always have a surprise flavor, and the nice guy in front of me, who got it let me try it. I have to say, I'm not a fan of bananas, but this banana chocolate ice cream (that's at least what I think it was) was delicious!

10. Having a place that's called home, which isn't actually a place but anywhere I am with my loved ones. We've moved so much in the last years, this will be our 5th move in our 8 years of marriage. In every place we've made memories, and it was difficult to leave, but I was fine because got to go with the most precious people in my life. Having my family is something I'm thankful for from the moment I wake up to the second I fall asleep. And when I sleep, too!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Not Coming To Terms

I was writing with a colleague of mine via the work communicator the other day. We've been to college together, so we don't merely have a professional relationship. Somewhere in between "How are you doing?" and "How's coming the house along?", she asked me "Have you come to terms with having a boy yet?"

To be very honest, I have not come to terms with having a boy. Because there was never anything I had to come to terms with.

Yes, if I could have picked, I would have chosen a girl. For once, I simply love having girls and wouldn't have minded a third one (the hubby either, if anyone wondered); we already had most of the stuff a new baby girl would have needed without having to go buy much new stuff at that point and somehow, it's very much easier for us to name girls than boys. And we were both seriously annoyed with so many people assuming that we had a third child because we were desperately hoping for a boy after two "failures" (yes, that's what people have called the girls!!).

But despite this, we were just incredibly happy to be pregnant again; to have an easy pregnancy, and as far as it looks to have a healthy baby. We never struggled with having a boy (even though the naming wasn't easy) but are simply excited to be blessed with such a wonderful family. How could I feel any less?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - New Beginnings

No, I'm not all excited about the new house, to be honest. We've gone through so much this last year that soured a lot of the excitement we had. It's coming back now, as we see how things come together and it really starts to look like a home. Another reason is that we will truly miss our apartment, where he have created so many wonderful memories, where the kids have grown up during the last four years, where we have felt so at home. We'll miss having our wonderful neighbors downstairs, and across the street.  But I know that this will be a new beginning for all of us. Our little baby boy will be born into this new home, we will make tons of memories there as this will be the home for our family for the next decades. So yes, it is very bittersweet, but again the Doctor is so right again.

Monday, May 19, 2014

House Update - The Countdown

Here's my to-do list until moving day (May 31):

- call the communal water department to have the permanent water meter installed
- call the town hall to have the trash cans delivered
- call Telecom to figure out when they will finally have figured out how to provide service for everyone there (yes, it seems that I'll be off the net for a couple of weeks after the move because of lack of service)
- rent a moving truck
- coordinate for the girls' rooms to be measured out for the furniture (and probably re-order the furniture for Violet's room)
- buy more light fixtures
- buy a dish washer and fridge/freezer combo and have it delivered before moving day
- buy a shower rod, shower curtain, towel holder, etc. for the bathrooms
- make sure that none of the workers will get in each other's way
- empty out the attic and move the boxes to the new house
- pack books, toys, and miscellaneous stuff and move to the house
- pack clothes that are not needed for a few weeks and move to the house
- take apart the furniture that cannot be moved in one piece
- buy a new working surface
- move all non-built in kitchen appliances, and the contents of the cupboards to the house; remove the utensil bars, unscrew the working surface

and most importantly:
- try to stay sane until after May 31!!!

Keep your fingers crossed for us!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (48)

Ten Things of Thankful

And once again, a weekend is over. And we're officially kicking off a very stressful two-week period, with a whole bunch of things to check off a list that doesn't exist yet but still needs to be put together. So, before plunging into a new week, it's time to review all the great things to be thankful for during this past week:

1. The most beautiful double rainbow I've ever seen. Especially the inner rainbow was so colorful and bright, it was amazing. And it ended right in the meadow next to our house!

2. Deciding to switch to the birth center in Bamberg. We had our first appointment with the OB/GYN there on Tuesday, and he was amazing. He was so great with the girls and took tons of time for us and reviewed the entire pregnancy to confirm that everything was alright with both of us.

3. Bassoon concertos by Vivaldi. Simply so beautiful, and I do get private concerts every once in a while  :-)

4. The paint in the house looking amazing! The painter took the freedom (upon conferring with us) to include some alternative wall design, and we're glad he did!!

5. My yogurt gums having dried up to perfection. I actually don't like them that much when I open a new pack, but after sitting a week or two, they are just awesome!

6. The fun day with Violet and my parents shopping for new room sets for the girls. We got a pretty good deal on the furniture, great inspiration for the wardrobe situation  in our room and Violet enjoyed running around the furniture store, trying out the perfect princess beds (which her horrible parents won't buy her), playing with all the fake lap tops there without anyone telling her "no". We all were exhausted at the end of the day, but had such a great time!

7. "YouTube Wish List" with the girls.
Lily's first wish:

Violet's first pick:

YAY, our girls have a good taste in music (and Daddy gets a rest from Frozen songs in non-stop repeat)

8. Seeing Violet bunny-hopping along the hallway butt-naked with her pants and undies at her ankles on her way to the bathtub. Hubby scolded her (because it's dangerous as she could fall), and me (for cracking up even though indeed she could have fallen and hurt herself), but just thinking about it now makes me giggle like crazy all over again. It was hilarious and totally absurd :-)

9. Having a moving date: May 31st it will be!!!  Now keep your fingers crossed that we find a few more volunteers who actually show up to help us move our stuff  :-)

10. Lily's second wobbly tooth finally being out. It took a little rough tooth brushing from my end, but it's out!!  Now off to Tooth Fairy duty!!

Have a wonderful week, everyone!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nice Things

Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic

Finally it's Friday again. Tomorrow, the painting on our house should be completed and Violet and I will spend the day shopping for furniture for the girls' rooms with my parents while Lily will attend a last minute birthday party.Today, after our doctor's appointment, we ran out really quick to buy a present; now I definitely won't feel bad any more calling a friend on Wednesday to invite her kids to a birthday party on Saturday any more  :-)

Friday also means that Janine and her co-hosts have come up with yet another Sentence to Finish, and this week it's a really good one!

The nicest thing someone has ever done to me is...

... giving life to me, raising me, providing me with some tough love but also giving in when needed. And still being there for us today! Thanks Mom and Dad!

... staying with me for over 8 years now. Dealing with my moods and antics without going completely crazy. I sometimes cannot believe that I am really that lucky, but here I am. You gave me three wonderful children, more back and foot rubs than I deserve and cook the most yummie meals for us most days of the week. Thank you so much, my love!!

... loving me unconditionally, even though I'm far from perfect. Loving me even if I'm impatient or unfair sometimes. Giving me back rubs and oiling my tummy every night. Bringing so much joy and awe into my life. I love you, my sweet little girls!!

... still being my best friend after 17 years. Having been encouraging, critical, and always honest. Having been the calming opposite to my sometimes crazy antics, but while allowing me to pull you along for some fun adventures. No matter how far we lived apart, nothing could change our friendship. Thank you so much for being my friend, Sonja!

... giving me a chance when you had no reason to do so. When my resume looked less then perfect, but you noticed something that made you decide to give me a chance. We owe you so much. Thank you, boss!!

... for all the random kindness in my life, from strangers, friends, acquaintances. For absolutely no reason. These are the moments that make my life so much richer. Thank you so much!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A First Diagnosis

This Monday, I spent half the day with Violet at the paedaudiological clinic to have her evaluated for a number of issues that both we as parents and the kindergarten teacher have noticed. She has issues to react to verbal instructions or auditive cues, has a hard time to concentrate on story-only books and oftentimes seems to not be able to grasp the story.

We started early, at 8:15, and after signing in at the clinic, the speech therapist first tested her general hearing to rule out primary physical issues. She did great in those tests and her hearing proved to be perfect.

On we went to a row of tests to check her active and passive language skills. Taken into consideration that bilingual kids are oftentimes a little behind in that area at her age, she also did well on the tests regarding her active vocabulary.

But just like at home and in kindergarten, her issues started with the tests to determine her language comprehension skills. She had issues following more complex instructions. Towards the end of the testing, we had to take another break as Violet had increasingly problems to concentrate, but what else to expect of a 4-year old? She did great participating and was simply so very sweet.

After lunch, the speech therapist discussed the preliminary results with us, even though at this point, she didn't tell me anything we didn't know already. She recommended to make an appointment with her pediatrician to arrange speech therapy for her as soon as possible in order to start working on her problems. At this point, however, she is still too young to diagnose a potential concentration or attention deficite disorder. Physically, she's luckily completely healthy, even though the muscle tone in her cheeks seems to be a little low, which would explain her eating with her mouth open or have her tongue out a little bit when she is in her thoughts.

Yesterday, we received the official report, and reading through it, my heart about broke for our poor little girl. I admit, we are frustrated with her a lot, having to repeat ourselves over and over again with sometimes even very simple instructions. Mealtimes sometimes are challenging when we need to remind Violet over and over again to eat with her mouth closed, or to keep her tongue in her mouth. I know her as such a happy girl, who must have developed these great coping skills to manage her life despite her challenges, which makes me want to cry. She's such a strong girl, even though she appears so slight and confused sometimes.

Today, we made an appointment at the pediatrician for her, to arrange a regular speech therapy for her as soon as possible. And we got an appointment for an initial evaluation for early intervention therapy that already helped Lily so much over the last two years. Starting September, she hopefully will receive additional support in strengthening her concentration and fine motor skills along with heavily focussing on her language comprehension. Even though I know that her progress will be slower this time, I try to remember the moment she put on her glasses for the first time and could actually see the world around her clearly. I know that with the proper support by professionals, some day soon she will be able to enjoy being read a story without pictures and be able to understand instructions the first time (and probably decide to ignore them just the same).

I will keep you all updated on Violet's progress and our journey to support her overcoming her limits and reach the potential I know is in her.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Growing Baby

Belly pictures from 14 weeks (bottom left) to 26 weeks (top right; missing: week 22 - 25). Big picture: today

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

When Not-So-Perfect is Perfect

So, over the last few days, Facebook and many lovely blogs were covered with beautiful Mother's Day gifts, stories of how this special day was spent with special lunches or dinners, and I truly hope everyone had a wonderful day! You all deserve it so much!

And how was my day? Quite honestly unsuccessful. We were partly still dealing with our jetlag, and even though the ads at the airport in Philadelphia notified us about the impending Mother's Day, it took us until Thursday or Friday to even figure out that Sunday was Mother's Day.

Saturday night, I spent preparing the almond crescent rolls for breakfast, because I saw them in a magazine and they looked so yummie; and I went to bed way too late.

Come Sunday, hubby and I take turns getting up to prepare the girls' first breakfast, wipe poopie bottoms (sorry, TMI, but life of a parent), and switch on the TV. Way too late, we finally get up; I switch on the coffee maker and pop the crescent rolls in the oven. Oh, and remember again that it's Mother's Day. Hubby gets up a few minutes later. We all have breakfast together and halfway through (the girls had already run off to more important things), hubby asked: Is today Mother's Day??? 

Ineed, it was. And it wasn't picture perfect. There were no big gifts (I did get very cute flower pots from the girls, which I loved!!), there was no breakfast in bed or dinner out, but it was perfect for me. I got to spend it with the people I love most. I got to talk on the phone with a very close friend and my mom. We had a great family breakfast, we relaxed a lot, and hubby made a yummie dinner of pasta and pesto.

And while our extremely low-key Mother's Day may not seem perfect at all, it was all I needed and wanted that day, and I am truly happy and thankful for it!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: Shock Absorber Sports Bra

Remember last November? Back then I was contacted by Shock Absorber, one of UK's leading brands of sports bras to review one of their bras. I was just recovering from a severe bronchitis and started slowly to get back into training for my first half-marathon in June 2014 when the plans changed a bit when we found out that we were expecting our third baby.

While the half-marathon is postponed by a year or two, excercizing is definitely still on, especially since I never want to be as out of shape again as last year when I started training for the 10k. And I've stayed on track so far, despite a growing belly, leg cramps, and adverse weather.

Around Christmas, I finally received my Active Multi Sports Support bra, and I was so excited to try it out.
Active Multi Sports Support
After trying the bra for a few months now (and after a few washings), running with my Shock Absorber makes such a difference. The bra fits snug without constricting me and is truly cut to size and keeps its shape and functionality even after tossing it in the wash; yes, I was unsure getting a bra without trying it before, but the Shock Absorber fit just perfectly. The high-performance fabrics keep me dry and prevent chafing. And the best: while I've outgrown most of my normal bras in the meantime, the Shock Absorber still fits and supports my growing breasts.

To be honest, in the beginning I was sceptical whether a sports bra would make much of a difference for me, as I am not too well-endowed. But after my very first run wearing my new Shock Absorber, I would never want to run in a regular bra any more. No bouncing, perfect support, and this dry feelings my regular cotton bras could not provide.
Wearing my Shock Absorber

If I had to say one negative thing about this truly wonderful bra, it would be that you'd need to be quite flexible in order to fasten the bra, or maybe I just don't know the easy technique. But despite this, I'm simply in love with this fabulous bra  :-)

For your very own Shock Absorber sports bra, visit one (or all) of these online retailers.