Tuesday, December 25, 2012

stupid easy broccoli cheese soup

i was really in the mood for some broccoli cheese soup today. cora was sick last night, up and down choking on mucus and/or spit up, so i spent 4am-9am on the couch with her, keeping her upright. then bella woke up at 9 to open her presents. by the time it was the afternoon, i had forgotten that i needed to make something to feed to my family. seeing as how it has been a rainy, windy, cold, dreary day today, i took to the almighty internet to look for some soup recipes. and everything was way more complicated than i was looking for, aka-required ingredients i didn't have. 

i had some stuff on hand and figured it would work so i tried it, and it was easy. it was stupid how easy it was. and it was good. (not like those recipes you find on pinterest that claim to be oh so good. this was legitimately good).

so here goes.


1 can cream of chicken soup (+1 can water)
1 can cream of broccoli soup (+1 can water)
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
1 head broccoli

mix soups and water in pot on medium heat. stir until well blended.
add in broccoli. 
simmer for a few minutes, depending on how you like your broccoli. we like it a little crunchier, so i let it sit for about 5 minutes or so.
add in cheese. stir until well blended.

DONE!  stupid easy, right?!!? 

i added a little bacon to ours (and keeping with the theme, it was bacon bits. the real kind though, not the crunchy ones). 

and on that note, merry christmas. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012


time has escaped me. i fully planned on doing the whole 1 month, 2 month, etc. pictures in something like a laundry basket, but honestly, my laundry baskets have been way too full of mountains of dirty clothes, and that just doesn't seem right. they rarely have fluffy clean laundry in them, and because cora hit one month on bella's 3rd birthday, we just kind of forgot that she was one month. 

such is the life of the second child.

so here is her {almost} 6 week update.

at her one month appointment, she had gained 3 pounds from birth and 1/2 an inch in length! my girl is a big eater. 

while, for the first 2 weeks, she hardly made a peep and slept a lot, she started to get more vocal around 3-4 weeks. her constant grunting and grumping lead us to believe she had some serious reflux (that, and all the spit up). we put her on xantac, but a week later, i took her off because it didn't seem to be helping, but laying down to nurse DID seem to help. we realized it was just over supply of milk and a forceful let down that was causing her problems and since then, we have been mostly spit up free (with the occasional bit that is normal, aside).

as far as breast feeding goes-the second time around, it's amazing. so much easier than the first time, but i think i may have been suffering from a mild case of "baby blues" last time. very mild as it didn't really interrupt my ability to function. maybe it was just first time mom blues, but nursing cora has been so much sweeter and i feel a stronger bond, earlier on. with bella, it took a full 6 weeks for me to really feel that connection. i felt like i did everything because i knew i had to take care of my baby, but didn't really feel that sweet cuddly feeling everyone describes. reading that, i almost feel a bit embarrassed. i loved being a mother, and i definitely got that bond after a bit with bella. and maybe overcompensated a bit. but with everything we went through to have her, i think i spent a lot of time in fear that we would lose her. once that passed, the walls came down and i stopped trying to guard myself from that emotion. 

but enough about bella.....this is cora's update!

cora is a mommy's girl, through and through. she will be in a full on choking screaming fit with anyone else and nearly the moment i pick her up, she calms. poor joel is sure she hates him. in the last 2 weeks, i have started wearing her a lot more. she has finally warmed up to the moby (that's currently where she is sleeping) and she LOVES being carried in the ergo. 

she sleeps swaddled half of the time, but doesn't seem to be bothered either way. she goes to sleep around 9 or 10pm waking once at 12 and once at 4 until she finally wakes at 9 or 10am. nights are pretty easy, especially since she got enough head control to manage nursing laying down. she sleeps beside us in a bassinet (the FP newborn rock and play sleeper-best infant product EVER!!!). 

unlike bella who would sit in a dirty diaper for HOURS if i let her (and still does) without ever fussing about it, cora screams the minute her diaper is dirty. i swear, i think cora will be potty trained before bella is! but this meas we go through a lot of diapers. i tried her in cloth at 4 weeks, which is when bella started, and her little legs are so skinny that it was almost like she wasn't even wearing anything. i have newborn gdiapers and am getting some liners today, so we are going to try again and see if we have any better luck she goes through about 10 diapers a day, and i have about 24 newborn/small sized diapers, so hopefully i can keep up, until she is in her normal sized diapers.

cora flipped from front to back yesterday. she was having some tummy time and started getting grumpy. i was getting bella dressed beside her and was fully intending to just let her grump for a bit when i looked down and noticed she was on her back. i got excited and bella screamed really loudly "YAY BABY SISTER!!!!!!!" in her high pitched siren wail, so i am pretty sure cora will never do that again. 

and as for the sisterly bond-bella loves her baby sister. cora is terrified of bella. i was holding cora and we were "talking' when bella came running over, squealing, "baby sister is AWAKE!!!!!", and cora's eyes about popped out of her head and she started screaming. clearly bella's big head coming at her, full speed is not the thing that makes my girl happy. i feel really bad for her and i am pretty sure this 

They do this.

is in our future. (BTW-if you want to laugh until you pee, check this out you are welcome. and also i'm sorry). 

people keep asking me if having two is so much harder than one. it's not really. it's just as hard as it ever was. the toddler is the most complicated part of it all. maybe it will get harder. the hardest part is generally the tantrums and bucking done by my big girl and that hasn't gotten harder since cora came along. i will say, it's much funnier having two, or maybe i am just delirious and everything is funnier. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

feeding my baby bird.

cora took her first bottle today. enthusiastically.

i may have cried a little.

bella didn't really take a bottle. ever. she was exclusively nursed for 14 months. i nursed on demand, and bella thoroughly enjoyed nursing. and so did i. 

there were some drawbacks, of course.  i could never really be away from her for too long. on my birthday, we drove down to disney, and my mom came and stayed with her at our hotel so we could have some fun. we came back, and mom had fed her 6 oz of pumped milk. through a straw. 

so when i had a bit of an over supply and started pumping, getting 5+ ounces off one side, after a feeding, i was really afraid that all that beautiful milk was just going to go to waste. but bella nursed like a fiend, 20 minutes on each side, every 2-3 hours, consistently. cora nurses like a little bird. 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, on and off all day long, then sleeping almost 6 hours at night, then another 4-5. bella never took a pacifier. cora is destined to be a thumb sucker if we don't have one handy at all times (and my theory is that it's easier to throw away all the paci's than chop off all her fingers. and more humane.). so tonight, i thought, what the heck, let's try her out. if she takes it, i get a break AND we get to use the liquid gold floating around in the freezer. win and win. 

so i warmed up a bottle, gave it to joel and went to do the dishes. when i came back, the bottle was done. 

chug-a-lug and ol' girl was milk drunk and passed out. 

i thought i would be elated. in my head, i was. mostly. 

but my heart hurt, just a little, too. like the one thing only i could provide for my child, was no longer my sole responsibility. and also, my excuse for sitting down and having a messy house was out the door. 

there is something about nursing that is so magical, and i didn't fully realize it until cora wasn't fully dependent upon me to be the one feeding her. 

she will still be nursed 99% of the time. so really, my feelings are a little dramatic (which i am not lacking in, lately). but i can't help but feel a little disappointed that she accepted it so freely. 

and now i have no excuse to sit around all day while joel does all the work around here........

Monday, November 19, 2012

different as night and day

you always hear that second children are the exact opposite of your first.

we are only a few days into this, but i have a feeling that "they" are right.

bella came into this word with fists of fury. she was a spit fire from conception-constantly kicking and moving around in utero. i had a short 12 hour labor, after being induced, and she had no reservations complaining about the way things were going. she was demanding, impatient and what my mother likes the call "high needs". she had her own time table and we were all going to abide by it, or suffer her wrath.

she was a sweet baby, she just knew her mind and wouldn't stand for people not getting behind her.

not much has changed today. my girl is about to turn 3 and doesn't let me think for a moment that i am in charge.

cora, on the other hand, is a laid back girl. pretty much. she didn't want to come out, obviously-i was 5 days overdue and she only came out then because she was forced. she came out with a little whimper and a few grunts, while she settled down to sleep on my chest. and for the next 5 days, she slept. then woke up to eat, letting me know by grunting a bit.

there are times where i'm sure i am doing something wrong because it's too quiet and the only noise i hear is bella stomping around or yelling, "i wanna schnack!!"

i definitely feel like we got a crash course with bella. and i could be jinxing this whole thing. it's only been a week. and dare i say, it's been a little too easy......

plus also, this......

Monday, November 12, 2012


delirious about sums up the last 24 hours.

right up until about 10 pm last night, i was pretty comfortable, having normal contractions, but making little progress. around 11, i was hooked up to the CTG (fetal heart monitor/contraction reader thingy) for 30 minutes, when things started to get a little....intense.

i had a series of contractions that wouldn't quit coming-as in, never stopped. as in, ow.

i was sure she was coming. it had been 12 hours. it was some serious pain. quick contractions.

i was checked.

no progress.

i started to cry.

i could not have been more frustrated. no progress in 12 hours was quite possibly the worst thing i could hear. that means all this pain for nothing.

so at midnight, they gave me several pills-1 to ease the pain, 1 to stop the "annoying" contractions, as the midwife called it, and one to allow the good contractions. sounds like my kind of cocktail.

i walked up to my room and went to sleep. at 2 i started waking up every few minutes with painful contractions. in between each one, i would fall deep asleep, and 2 minutes later i would wake up and have to jump out of bed.

around 4, i figured it all had to mean something, so i put on my fuzzy slippers and made my way downstairs, stopping every 10 feet or so, and biting my lip so i didn't scream.

again, i was hooked to the machine. again i was checked. and again, nothing.

so i limped back upstairs, crying the whole way, more out of frustration than anything.

i spent the next hour sitting in the hot shower. around 5 i tried to get back in bed, and rest.

finally, at 7:30, the doctor came up, right in the middle of a series of contractions, said it seemed we were progressing and brought up a midwife to take me down stairs. in the 5 minutes it took to get down, i probably had 3 contractions.

one more time, she checked me. and one more time, no progress. (by no progress, i mean we are still at 2 cm. where i was when i came in, at 8:30 the morning before).

i figured it was going to be a long day full of pain. i asked for the epidural. she said i needed to progress first.

at this point, i have to say, when i was induced with bella, i made it to almost 5 or 6 cm with no pain at all, got my epidural and relaxed until she came, when i simply pushed her out. i mean it was literally that easy. and blissful. and calm.

around 8:30, it got real bad-i was in a delivery room, hooked up to the monitor and could see the contractions. they were so painful that i couldn't see straight. but i could see the number going up higher and higher, coordinating with the pain. just when i thought i might pass out, my water broke.

here's where things get crazy. right before 8:30, i was at a 2.

cora arrived at 9:30, after 2 pushes.

i can not make this up.

needless to say, my throat feels like someone punched me in it from all the screaming.

i didn't get an ounce of pain meds, and it came so fast i didn't even have time to breathe much, let alone call joel back from the house where he was picking up bella. so he arrived at 9:50, just in time to meet his new girl.

bella is VERY excited. she keeps telling us, "thank you for my new baby sister!!!" while she jumps up and down, and demands that we put her in the bassinet so she can see her. she can't stop touching her and get's this crazy look on her face, like she just got the best gift in the whole world.

it's pretty much awesome.

cora weighed in around 8 1/2 lbs, 22 inches. ji don't have exact numbers because they were "loosely converted" from kg and cm. i will have to do some actual conversions later.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

today could be the day

i am so hoping today is the day.

i am sitting in the hospital right now, just waiting. i was induced this morning around 10:30. it's now almost 7:30 pm. so far, i have had increasingly regular and strong contractions, but that's about it.

being induced is different here. i was induced with bella back in the states and was given an iv line with a pitocin drip. i got it at 7:30am and by 7:30pm, i had a pink little bundle of baby awesomeness.

this morning i was given a tiny little pill that is supposed to induce contractions. i can get one every 4 hours until there is progress. and between there, i just kind of hang out.

it's really not a bad gig. this hospital is very much more like a hotel than anything else. i am sitting in a room with a fantastic view of the city (well, once you look past the cranes and construction equipment....but it's really very pretty), there are no wires constricting me, i am free to roam around and eat and drink whatever i want. there is a restaurant and a cafe on site, and lots of gardens (although it is raining outside, so i haven't gone out). i even got a plush robe on my bed! and no gown to wander around in all day-i am in my comfy clothes.

the delivery ward is full of midwives. that's who will deliver the baby. there is a doctor here just in case, but the midwives pretty much do it all.

after my 2:30 dose, i came back up and went to sleep. i have to admit, it's almost like a mini vacation, minus the contractions, which haven't been bad yet.

in about 15 minutes, i go back down to be checked, so i am hoping by then they will tell me that it's going well. i may also get a 3rd dose at that time.

joel is betting that we will have a baby around 11pm. that would be an alright time table for me! considering bella came in 12 hours after being induced, i am hoping that's about right.

on a less "relaxing spa vacation" note: dinner tonight was an odwalla bar and some beef jerky. someone warned me to bring snacks, and i am so glad they did. when the lady brought dinner in tonight, it was a piece of bologna that looks like a fruit cake, 2 pieces of swiss cheese, and some kind of vienna sausage looking thing in a nasty casing. i am pretty adventurous when it comes to food, i think, but that just isn't going to cut it. and i am not a fan of processed meats, anyway. i'm not sure how people survive on that after having a baby, and i am really glad we only live 5 minutes from the hospital. there isn't really "fast food" around here, except for a mcdonalds. and my experience with german mcdonalds is generally.....don't. well, my experience with american mcdonalds is generally don't as well. but if this is what my meals look like, i may be mc-ing it up for a few meals.

so here's hoping the next update is a picture of my girl! wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DIY subway art

yesterday was my 40 week appointment. this is not a post about how it turned into a smooth and easy delivery. no one is more sorry about that than i am.

no progress is the official report. not a bit. apparently, i have such an inviting womb, that my children do not want to vacate. that, or little cora has heard the madness around here lately and is smarter than all of us. 

either way, i am a grumpy goose around these parts. and apparently prone to unreasonable outbursts of tears. this morning, bella knocked over my water and i broke down crying. that could be the frustration of telling her 15 times to watch where she is going after i pick up in her wake of destruction, or it could be that i might have gotten 2 hours of sleep last night, between her sleep-screaming and my up-and-down all night to pee. she is battling a nasty cough, so this is not a new phase we are entering. at least, i hope not. 

warnings have been issued to anyone who could get caught in my line of fire, and this is now a "say something stupid at your own risk" zone.

apparently, america and my facebook feed did NOT get my memo. 

anyway, since this baby is not coming out any time soon, it seems, i decided it's time to do some more art work. i have several empty frames hanging up in girlfriends room and that just won't do. 

i knew one of them was going to contain some subway art with her birth stats in it, and i was going to make it. i don't know how to make subway art. and while i am not the most computer savvy, i am pretty good at figuring things out. so i set out to work some magic in picmonkey. i knew it could be done, so i tried. and i tried. and i tried. 

then i gave up and did a search. "diy subway art tutorial". 

i found a lot of tutes for picnik, which is annoying since they closed down back in april. and right when i was about to give up, i stumbled across one for picmonkey! thank you persistence. 

here is the tutorial. it's a little lengthy, as in, there is a lot of information you can skip over if you aren't 4. but i'm not rewriting it. i had some idea of what i wanted, so i made bella her lunch, duck taped her to the floor sat her down at the table, and got to work. 

here is the finished product: 

seeing as how she isn't actually here yet, i borrowed some "birth information" from bella, and made up the date (although, that is a perfectly good date to come, little miss). i'm pretty happy with it. 

now, i am going to sit in the corner and eat some pigs in a blanket while i rock back and forth. yep. it's getting bad over here. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

false alarrm

last night, i was sure i was having this girl.

let's start from the beginning. on thursday, i started having some pretty painful contractions. they were irregular, occurring anywhere between 18-25 minutes. they were uncomfortable and a little painful. friday brought closer contractions, but still erratic.

saturday morning, we woke up bright and early-bella got us up at 5:30 am. so around 10 we decided we would not waste the day and we took a trip on the train downtown to do a little wandering in the shopping area at the hauptbahnhoff  (main train station) with a friend of ours. we spent nearly 6 hours walking around.

on a side note, i had a really yummy brat and some starbucks! good times.

we hopped back on the train and when we reached our stop, we got off and started walking home. only, the 3 blocks it took to get home took us a lot longer than expected.

i kept having to stop because my contractions were coming fast. about every 8 minutes. and they were pretty potent.

by around 7, they had gotten more intense and were 5 minutes apart. i started writing them down around 9 and at 11, we made the decision that it was time and headed in.

we dropped bella off at her friends house ( another side note-i opened her suitcase and put in on her bed to put in some clothes, left the room for a minute, and when i came back, she had packed all her trains, cars and pieces to her cake set, and was singing, "i'm going to dominic's, i feel so happy!"), and headed to the hospital, a good 5 minute drive. on the way, i had 2 contractions.

long story short, i got in and was checked out.

 and had made absolutely no progress.

i wanted to cry.

i was so sure this was it. it wasn't so much that i was sad i wasn't in labor. it was more the foolish feeling of not really knowing what's going on in my body.

i am assuming that all the walking around put me into false labor-i had real contractions and real pain but no real progress. it's like the perfect storm of disappointment.

so here i am, no closer to having had this kid, and have spent the morning being abused by an over tired toddler.

someone hold me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

fingers crossed this was my last appointment!

i had my 38 (1/2) week appointment today. i am getting a little tired of the 3 hour appointments and am very hopeful that this will be my last one. i have one scheduled the day before my due date, so i will probably not be that lucky, but i am banking on joel being at home for the next one, so at least i can sit there alone for a few hours.

bella was very well behaved, until we walked in the house, and then she lost her mind and started kicking the door, screaming for shredded cheese. which, of course, we ran out of last night. so, that was fun.

she spent about 5 minutes in her room, the whole time screaming, "i want me baby sister!!! i want my baby sister!!" it left me a little confused. but she is better now, and has also been informed that baby sister is not going to help her.

as for the appointment:

cora seems to be doing well, and measuring around 8 pounds. the doctor asked, "how big was your first? because this one is going to be pretty big". yay. that sounds fantastic. she said it's either that or my due date is miscalculated, which i am hoping is the real case and we see a baby in the next little bit!

she was bouncing around like a jumping bean during the ctg (heart rate monitoring), so i was hooked up for 45 minutes. as inconvenient as that was, it was a bit reassuring, since she isn't moving nearly as much as i remember bella moving. her movements are very intentional and mostly feel like she is stretching out her entire body, rather than spastic somersaults, like bella used to do.

i am 2 cm dilated, which is better than 0, but means little to me, since i walked around at 2 cm with bella for 2 weeks and then was induced.

total weight gain: 12 pounds. up about a pound from my last appointment, 2 weeks ago. as i was typing this, bella took my pretzel stick and asked, "momma, can i have this please?" i had just taken a bite out of it and sat it down, then reached for it only to find she had it. so maybe that's the reason for the little weight gain.....

cravings lately: ice. lots and lots of ice. i had read a while ago that ice cravings were linked to iron deficiency, but didn't think anything of it until the dr told me my iron was low today. so, that makes sense. and also explains why i am SO tired.

i've been having some contractions, but nothing really regular. just very uncomfortable.

once halloween passes, cora can come any time, but i am really hoping to be able to take bella around this year. her costume is most likely going to be her coat and some sweatpants over her cheer leading costume, because there is still snow on the ground and the forecast for that night is something like, 30 with a chance of rain. but i am really excited about it! living on base, there is a lot going on, so i think it's going to be pretty fantastic. the plan is to have some of her little friends over for dinner then get bundled up and go around until they are pooped.

and then we come home and i will eat all the candy put her candy in a small jar and eat hide the rest.

we also had some pictures done last week by my amazing friend. she is seriously the most creative and talented person i have met in real life. i fancy myself a bit of a crafter, and she puts me to shame. leaps and bounds.

bella was not cooperating and duke was constantly sitting backwards, so i was really impressed with the shots she got.

this one might be my most favorite of all. 

here is the link to all the pictures: http://cjsnapshots.zenfolio.com/nelsonfamily
the password is Duke.

i have big plans to wallpaper the house with the pictures she took as soon as i win the lottery figure out which ones i want! and i am hoping she will sign up to be my official photographer and will follow my children all over the place taking pictures of them.

that's all for now. my big belly needs to rest.

it's the little things about the little ones

i was catching up on my facecrackbook this morning when i saw someone post about getting a beaba babycook in 220v so she could use it over here.

(if you aren't familiar with the babycook, you do not cook your baby with it. i kid. it's a little steamer/food processor that you use to make baby food)

it gave me that little giddiness i get whenever i think about bella as an infant.

some days, this toddler thing makes me feel like i am losing my mind. her will is definitely stronger than mine most days, and there are moments i wonder if i will survive it.

but i digress.

infancy and babyhood was my bag, baby. i felt so perfectly where i was supposed to be. it was like i was born to have little bitty babies who couldn't talk back or sass.

i cloth diapered. i nursed like a pro (after that first 6 weeks of sandpapery torture). and i made all of bella's baby food. we had moments of "what the heck am i doing", but for the most part it seemed so natural to have a wee one. again-no back talking and sassing. it really makes all the difference that they lack the ability to talk or the desire to run away from you.

i've said before, i am excited to nurse again. i never thought i would be that mom. before i was pregnant i knew one mom who nursed. ONE. she raved about it. and i thought it was weird. not me. nope. no way. yucks. it didn't bother me that she did it. i just wouldn't be whipping out a boob for a baby to use as a pacifier. but after everything we went through to get pregnant, and all the research i did about nursing, i was determined it would be my future. (that's all i will say about that. i support feeding babies. formula or breast milk, just do it.)

cloth diapering we will do again, because for a full 2 years, it was great. there were minor set backs that we worked through, but for the most part it worked for us, until we stopped to potty train, then moved across the globe and kind of gave it up for the ease of transport of disposables. they are now newly stripped and awaiting a little baby bottom.

but baby food making-that's something we never stopped. it has just taken many different forms over the years. nutrition has always been pretty important for joel and me. i believe that proper nutrition starts from birth (actually, from conception, since the baby gets so much in the uterus. ) i decided on a no sugar diet, and wanted it to be as unprocessed as possible. which meant, i made just about everything i could.

it was incredibly rewarding. and when i read the girls post this morning, i had this flooded memory of making food for bella and how much i enjoyed it. i've been stocking up on some organic baby cook books and recompiling the old recipes i used for bella in the last few months, and while we still have a good 7 months before baby food will be on our radar again, i am excited all over again for making baby food.

bella always had such a fantastic appetite, and ate with such gusto, i often felt like wolfgang puck in a homeless shelter. seriously, she ate as though each meal was the best meal she had ever had. i love me some little appreciative babies.

now, most of the time, she acts like i am trying to poison her, but again, that is one of those "toddler will" things-once she tastes what the momma is cooking, she returns to her old self and gobbles it down. my girl has a great appreciation for food. i'm hoping little cora is the same way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

almost there and some nursery pics

17 days left.

the reality of that is a little bit like a smack in the head.

when people ask if we are ready, my answer is two-fold. am i ready with all the things-yes. i was ready 3 years ago when i bought it all the first time around. we have made maybe 3 purchases for this baby-typical second baby routine, i guess. and am i ready to be not huge and uncomfortable and running into things? absolutely yes.

if you've seen "what to expect when you're expecting", you have met me. i am the blond character, played by elizabeth banks. you know, effie trinket....no wait....

every uncomfortable, inconvenient side effect of pregnancy that exists, happens to me. i especially identify with that part in the movie where she is speaking to the group of women at the expo, and she says to her husband, "gar-bear, i'm sorry, all i want to do is punch you in the face....."

i so get that. don't get it twisted. i love mah man. he is an awesome father, a great provider, and a pretty rocking computer nerd, which means, i always have awesome technology things going on that i don't have to think about, and let's be honest-i don't do computer thinky things very well.

but i have that hormonal ragey thing down pat. it's pretty irrational. and i hate to admit it. i usually have pretty good control over my emotions. i am not a big crier, or a big screamer. i rarely lose my temper with people, even my tiny terrorist of a child. and i generally would say i am a "glass is half full", kind a gal. or at the very least, i'm a "the glass is there, regardless of it's fullness or emptiness" kind a gal.

but something about pregnancy makes me lose my stuff a bit.

but i digress.

the second part of "am i ready", the part about having two girls, two daughters? nope. i am not ready for that. not in the slightest.

i don't get girls too much. they kind of scare me a little bit. and to have two, well, i am a little afraid for my sanity. whenever bella plays with other little girls, there is lots of screaming and fighting and pouting happening. that being my reality? does not excite me.

i know, toddlers scream regardless of gender, but girls screams are just so....high pitched.....and constant. oh, and the severity of their drama. please. someone hold me.

i am really holding tight to the dream that "your kids will be polar opposites" and praying that we go the opposite way, as in LESS dramatic, and not more so.

all that said, i am really excited for cora to arrive. i love snuggly little newborns, and i cant wait to see some of the cute little outfits i've been washing, on her. and oh tiny babies. i can't wait to nurse again (although, i know i will miss having my body as my own) and i love how bella loves babies.

here are some updated shots of the nursery, it's not quite done, because i am waiting on some matte board to come in for the pictures, and i need to find some more embroidery hoops. it's not like i can just run out to hobby lobby, so i am being forced to be a little more resourceful.

waiting on some more hoops to finish up

waiting on a hot glue gun.....

and the letter "o"

waiting on some matte board to use in the frames (that blue bird will not be in there) 

waiting for a baby, to fill these cute clothes! (this will be her hospital outfit)

sweet little elephants my dear friend made. these will fill the frames once the matte board arrives.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

freezer meals, aka dinner time cruise control

with this pregnancy coming to an end, i have been logging some serious pinterest time hours trying to find some fantastic meals i can freeze and forget.

what this translates to is, i'm tired of cooking and doing pretty much anything and really want to enter that lazy "fat lady" zone without my family suffering too much. i already can't bend over to clean up after bella, which means the whole house looks like toys r us and a grocery store had a baby and then blew it up.  so i am hoping a little thought and preparedness will allow me to put dinner on cruise control for a bit.

pinterest is failing me. epically.

the last 4-5 "freezer meal" plans i have tried have been seriously lacking in all ways. for one-there are always too many ingredients. i kind of zone out after 5 or 6. and if i have never heard of an ingredient it, there is a slim chance i will find it in the commissary. but also, they very seldom taste like something i can tolerate, let alone convince bella to eat.

so i am on a mission. i've started doing my own versions of freezer meals. mostly crockpot cooking freezer meals.

here are a few tried and true that are both toddler and husband friendly!

white bean chicken chili

  • 1 lb chicken, cubed (you can use precooked to make this even easier)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or you can use 2 14 oz cans chicken broth)
  • 2 (14oz) cans white beans
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • in a skillet, saute chicken over medium-high heat, with olive oil garlic powder and salt (if you are using precooked chicken, you can skip this step, and add salt and garlic powder to the chicken when you put it in the bag)
  • add chicken plus next 6 ingredients (up to sour cream) to freezer bag, and freeze.
cooking directions:
  • thaw* and put contents of bag into slow cooker.
  • cover and cook on HIGH 1 1/2 hours
  • turn off cooker and add sour cream and evaporated milk. stir well. serve over corn bread or rice.
(this recipe has been a favorite of ours for years. it's so yummy.)

bourbon chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast or tenderloin
  • 2 tbs minced onion
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3/8 cu bourbon (or vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • add all ingredients to freezer bag and freeze
cooking directions:
  • thaw* and place in a baking pan.
  • preheat oven to 325.
  • cover and bake 1 1/2 hours
 crock pot burritos
  • 2-3 lb london broil or top round roast
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 (8 oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • add all ingredients to freezer bag and freeze
cooking directions:
  • thaw*
  • dump into slow cooker.
  • cook on high 4-5 hours or low 6+ hours.
serve with everything you need to make a burrito. 

carolina bbq
  • 3 lb pork butt or shoulder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire 
  • add all ingredients to freezer bag and freeze
cooking directions:
  • thaw*
  • dump into crock pot.
  • cook on high 6-7 hours, low 8-9 hours
  • shred pork with a fork

*i mention thawing in each post. apparently you don't have to thaw these freezer meals for them to cook just fine, but i find that they fit better in the crock pot AND it makes me feel a little better about the cook time. so, i just pull them out the night before and they are all ready in the morning.

so, that's what we have tried thus far. i have no pictures, because, well, i have none. i don't generally make a habit of taking pictures of my food, as i am too busy stuffing it in my face.

i'll try to add some more soon.

you are welcome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

the most obnoxious thing on tv

can we talk for a minute about something on tv that is really annoying?

no, i'm not talking about the debates.

what even is this hot mess? we have avoided it like the plague for almost 3 years.

until today.

bella got to choose something to watch on tv for a bit, so i could clean up last nights dishes. 

big mistake. i'm thinking the creator was on some serious drugs when he thought this one up. i'm not so sure he is off of them.....it might be the most obnoxious thing i have ever seen.

i let her watch it, only because it allowed me to be super productive, but i may need to learn how to block it for the sake of my sanity.

first of all, what is this??

i mean.....seriously.

second of all, i get the appeal for toddlers-boogers, farts, sticking weird things in their mouth and yo, gabba gabba (is that the correct punctuation? what is a gabba gabba?) all sound like really awesome things. but i'm not really keen on teaching her to pick boogers or laugh at farts. just because my almost 3 year old thinks it's a good idea does not, in fact, mean that it is a good idea.

after semi-listening/watching one episode with her, i am slightly fearful of her developing add, or maybe having a seizure. it skips around so quickly from one thing to another. again, it holds a toddlers attention. but a shortened attention span that jumps from one thought to another is not exactly what i want to instill in her. you know, like for when she is trying to do anything in life that requires an attention span longer than 30 seconds. which is everything.

and really? grown men in weird costumes, singing to children about their tummies and sillies creeps me out. it's right up there with ice cream men in white vans with no windows and strangers offering my kid candy. there is just something not quite right about it.

i'm just saying.

for now, i will let it go. i think if i make a big deal about it, she will just want to watch it more. but it is going the same road as sponge bob- "that one is broken". i know. lying is bad. but i'm not really lying. that is one broke show.

save me, "super why!"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

36 weeks

i am a bit behind on this one, but i was waiting for my appointment today to post. at this point i am 3 1/2 weeks from my due date, which is mind boggling. this pregnancy has gone pretty fast, even though it has been a bit more of a struggle than the last one.

i mentioned before about trouble breathing and dizziness, so this morning i had an ekg to make sure everything was a-ok. and it is. and my blood pressure is back to normal. i still have a bit of trouble with the faintness, but i am going to chock that high bp up to having a long dr.'s appointment with a rambunctious toddler in tow. i've never had high bp, even during pregnancy, and that was a one time thing, and hopefully it will stay that way.

my nst was perfect, cora is perfect, and there is no progress towards labor, so that's all good news. i've gained 3 more pounds since my last appointment, for a total weight gain of 12 pounds. if i gain a pound a week til the end of this pregnancy, i will hit 15 pounds which makes me kind of happy.

i FINALLY got the nursery cleared out and (sadly) departed with my beloved papasan chair. i got all the clothes washed and put away (it seriously looks like i robbed a gymboree.....), got the crib all set up, the glider put in place and the dresser mostly cleared off. all that is left is to decorate, which is the fun part!

we have bought nothing for this baby. pretty much. i did have 2 showers where my gracious friends so generously indulged me in things that are all soft and fuzzy and new, we are reusing almost everything from bella and have found that we simply need less than we thought we did as first time parents. we sold some of bella's things that were "must haves" that turned into "no one really needs this". funny how that works.

so now, all that's left is to have a baby!

Monday, October 8, 2012

writing on the walls

we had our first "incident" with wall writing this weekend. i honestly can't believe it took her this long to put pen to wall.

i was pretty sick. like, up all night, "morning sickness" sick. so i was sleeping.

joel was home. i'm not sure if daddy's just don't register on toddlers radar as competent adult figures who are capable of retrieving appropriate drawing things, or what.

when i was feeling better, and noticed the crime, i confronted her.

me: "bella, why did you write on the wall!?"

bella: "aww, i real sowwy i drawed on the wall mommy, bup, 
i wanted to draw and i couldn't ask you for paper." {super sad pouty face} 

ahhh. it's my fault. that makes sense. 

so, i explain to her why we don't write on walls. because, you know, that makes more work for mommy, and mommy is not into more work. 

speaking of more work for mommy, we have this strange sense of wanting to teach bella about consequences. which means i get to sit in the hallway with her while she scrubs the wall with a magic eraser. for an hour. 

the theory of teaching your children about having to be responsible for their actions is fantastic.....in theory. 

in practice? it takes a really, really long time. and a lot of patience. 

and also? a camera. 

who has this much fun cleaning? wipe that silly smile off your face, this second, young lady. but wait until after i take your picture......

and finally? you go buy a gallon of paint for the hallway, because after bella tried, mommy tried and daddy tried, the pen still didn't come off. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

oh, woe is me.

i'm not one of those ladies who enjoys pregnancy.

i'll come right out and say it: with the exception of the outcome, i hate it.

i love babies. i want lots of kids (by lots i mean, give me 6 months to see how 2 goes, but i probably want more, after i forget what pregnancy is like). and i am SUPER grateful that i even possess the ability to conceive and carry a child.

but this 40 weeks of torture is just not my bag, baby.

i spend about the first 18-20 weeks sick. don't say/cook/think/look like any meat product, or i might ralph on your face.

in both pregnancies, weeks 18ish-30 have included moving across the globe-so i can't truly speak to the miserableness of pregnancy in that time frame. but let's just say that if i get pregnant in 3 years, someone shoot me.

finally, the downward slide from 30-40 weeks for me include a return of morning sickness, heartburn that won't quit, the inability to breathe and eat, RBS (restless body syndrome-totes made that up), combated by an overall sense of "someone hand me a pillow, i will sleep right here, thankyouverymuch."


and all those doctors visits? every 2 weeks i feel like an animal. i miss my appointments in the states, quite honestly. the novelty of having an ultrasound every appointment went out the window when i also have 3.5 hours of poking and prodding and listening and feeling to get through. with a toddler in tow.

so all that complaining aside-today i had an appointment. i will be 35 weeks on friday, so the misery is almost over. glory be.

i lost weight. am showing no signs of pre-term delivery. but my blood pressure is kind of high, and that whole "i can't breathe" thing is leading me to a date with an ekg machine. boo-hiss. i'm sure it's because there is zero room left for lungs what with a baby in there and all, but the doctor didn't think it was very funny. and i've been given magnesium, for the restlessness that keeps me up all night.

the trouble is, i get very little feedback at my appointments, and it's mostly the doctor talking to the nurse in german. i'm all, "wait, what was that?" and they're all, "oh, you're fine". but i definitely heard "pre-eclampsia" and "high blood pressure" which scare the pants off of me.

my hospital doesn't have a NICU, which means if there are any baby complications, she will be sent to another hospital, while i hang out in this one for 4 days. that kind of ruins all my plans, man. so, i will be praying for nothing to go wrong, am cutting out red meat and anything else that spikes blood pressure, and maybe i will start drinking red wine.....that lowers BP, right???

seriously, i'm pretty sure everything is a-ok, because no one sent me home with any instructions, per se.

the good news is, the baby is steady freddy, and i am still wearing normal clothes (pants mostly, and about 75% of my shirts) which rocks my socks off, because maternity clothes kind of cramp my style. which is to say, i am just too cheap to buy clothes i will wear for 2 months, and then by the time i am on the next kid will be unfortunately dated. but i am enjoying wearing leggings like, 24/7. and lately will put on anything that is clean, or at least doesn't stand on its own.

i couldn't help myself. 
by the way?? it's october!!!!! that is one thing i am not complaining about. the weather is fan-freaking-tastic, and it's finally fall!

Friday, September 28, 2012

6 weeks

6 weeks until little cora joins our family.

i'm not entirely sure i am ready to be a mommy to 2!

we have had our things for over a week (or is it 2?) now and i still don't have the nursery done. i barely have anything done, for that matter. we have boxes in the hallway, wrapped pictures in the bathroom, and it looks like there was a small electronics and clothing explosion in our room.

i have the bedding, the crib is set up, and all the wall decor is picked out, but the problem we have encountered is, the room is just too small. honestly, i don't think i have ever seen a bedroom this tiny before. on the flip side (and across the hallway), bella's room is HUGE.

elephants and some stuff i'm working on for the decor. 

that little corner is the perfect size for the crib. at least the bedding fits!

this room is so small, and has also become a catch-all for things we don't have a spot for yet

what a problem.......

in baby news:
-cora has begun getting the hiccups. i had forgotten all about when bella used to get them. they are weird, but i make bella feel them and she thinks it's hilarious.
-cora is not nearly as active as bella was-i swear i thought i was going to be giving birth to a jumping bean. she moves around plenty, but it's usually when i am laying on her. this bodes well for my hope that she is not as fast forward as bella was! i'm not sure i can take 2 speed demon babies.

in me news:
-i feel miserable most of the time. this pregnancy is much more annoying than i remember the first time around. and now i have a cold.
-i've lost 2 pounds. probably because i can barely breathe, let alone eat anything. it's really not as awesome as it sounds.
-nausea is slowly returning. the (incredibly delicious) bbq i made last night made me gag several times. i know it was incredibly delicious because after dinner, i caught joel sneaking bites out of the crock pot (which he rarely ever does, because he's "getting fat".)
-i wake up every night with massive cramps in my calves. it's pretty much the most annoying way to wake up.
-i went through all of bella's old clothes and am getting so excited about having a tiny baby again.

-is so silly. her new favorite thing to do is apologize. real problem, right? yesterday, i kept telling her no jello (her friends were coming over for a lunch date in a few minutes). so as i am making the little caramel apple bites (another pinterest fail, BTW), she sneaks into the fridge, gets out a jello cup and runs into the living room. a second later, she comes in and says, "aww mommy, i reawwy sowwy i got jello out of da fidge-ee-ator." then she takes a big bite. clearly she knows the meaning of sorry......
-has been measuring everything in sight today. my computer is 400 miles long.
-has been talking a lot (A LOT) more. not that she wasn't talking much before, but it's like having a conversation with a 12 year old now. i was laying in bed this morning, dying a slow death sick, and i hear her dragging her chair into my room. i peer through a half closed eye, and say, "what are you doing?" she says, "bringing my chair in here mommy, so i can look at you." then, "oh i really like this picture you painted, mommy. it's really pretty." then, "can you please turn my chair around? i can't see you when i sit in it."
-every night, right after we finish reading books and singing, bella grabs my hand and says, "i neeeed you mommy! don't go!" it kind of makes me want to cry. it's precious. i know she is just trying to eek out a few more minutes of wake time. but she is very convincing.
-she loves making me birthday cakes. i asked her how old she thought i was. "hmmm...that's a little bit tricky.....300 and a half." yep. she loves me.

i feel like i could fill a book with the silliness that comes out of that child's mouth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

she may be crazy, but she's my baby.

bella started her new music class yesterday. she had a blast singing and dancing and spinning around in circles. per her usual self, she had everyone giggling at her through most of the class.

after class, i was walking out with another mother and she said, "she is so cute, she seems like she has a huge personality"

to which i responded, "yes. too big!" (insert eye roll and nervous laugh)

i got in the car and said to myself, "why did i just say that??"

see, bella has a personality bigger than her tiny body, that's for sure. but i don't think it's too big. i love it. i think it's perfect. she is wild and crazy and silly and it's just fantastic. there are days where i wish she would reign it in a bit. it is exhausting trying to allow her to have her personality and also be socially acceptable at places like the library and grocery store. but as a whole, i love her quirks.

but i find myself saying things like that whenever anyone compliments her. and it's grating my nerves.

"i love her hair!"

it's so wild.

"she is so sweet"

she is a mess.

i do it when someone compliments me too. deflect. self depreciate. i hate it, but it makes me feel super awkward when anyone says anything nice about me.

when i do it about myself, that's fine-it's something i have embraced and even try to make a joke out of it.

but i hate when i do it in regards to my child. or my dog. or my husband (that's a whole other story......).

i am so proud of bella, and even when she misbehaves or does something embarrassing, i love her and appreciate the things that make her, her. but the response has become so knee-jerk, i wonder if i can unlearn it.

i find myself talking about how rotten she is when i get around other people. she isn't rotten. not at all. she does rotten things sometimes, but she is (almost) 3. she doesn't generally throw tantrums, she holds it together pretty well, and she adjusts pretty easily-even though it may not be as quickly/the way i imagined she would.

she does push buttons. mine. her friends. the dogs. she pushes her limits, daily. but she plays on her own, she is wildly imaginative, she is quick witted and she is so smart.

i like to think that we have cultivated a freedom in her to be her own person, and my remarks may not mean anything to her now. but one day, she will understand what it means, and i never want to do anything to dampen her spirit.

i also don't want to come off like i am bragging about my kid. yes, i think she is amazingly fantabulous, but i don't expect that everyone wants to hear about it.

for now, i try to tell her daily, HOURLY! that i love her and think she is so smart/sweet/brave/wonderful. and i will work on coming up with an appropriate response that doesn't deflect or depreciate. perhaps a simple "thank you" will suffice.

Monday, September 24, 2012

reigning in the tasmanian devil

today was a good day. a very productive one. and i have a confession to make.

i hired a mommy's helper.

bella has hit her stride as a tiny tasmanian devil, whirling around the house, causing a path of destruction in her wake. bless her.

last week, i made the executive decision that, if i wanted to get anything done, i needed some help.

my girl couldn't have come too soon. we walked in the house from the store and duke had spread garbage through the kitchen, living and dining room and pooped and peed in the hallway. it took me 45 minutes to get it all cleaned up. but in the rest of the time she was here i did laundry, cleaned the table off, unpacked a couple of boxes, took 4 loads of stuff down to the dumpster and car and even answered a couple of e-mails. all while bella played excitedly with her new bff.

and i felt no guilt.

if it had been a normal day, i would have gotten maybe half of that done, but would have fought my urge to play with her, and my need to get stuff accomplished. we would play for a bit, then i would tell her to play on her own for a bit, and she would for about 2.5 seconds until she hunted me down, strewing all her worldly goods along behind her thus destroying whatever i just cleaned and in the mean time making me feel both angry and guilty.

before i hired her, i thought a lot about it. it isn't much-3 days a week, 2 hours a day. but just that short bit of productive time made the time i spent with bella so much more involved. i didn't feel like i had to split my time, because i knew i would have time to do what needed to be done.

this week, we started getting back into our routine, and having a schedule always makes me feel more productive and like my time really matters, rather than wasting days with no purpose. i am held accountable for my days, and when i go to sleep at night, i rarely have that "i forgot something!" feeling.

we are re-incorporating a lot of the things we did before we pcs'ed: "preschool" (at home), music class, art classes, and playdates, and starting some new things-MOPS begins this wednesday, and it's the first time i have been a part of this group. and of course, my mommy's helper, 3 days a week! =)

since i decided not to put bella in preschool, and keep her home instead, i feel like all of these different interactions will allow for her to get a well rounded experience that i have control over.

next year, we will look into the german preschool near our house, but currently, with cora coming in a few short weeks, i think it would only add to the chaos, and i like being the one to teach her and experience her learning.

so i get more time to see her "feeding duke and reading him dis book about JEEsus. 'once upon a time, there was a castle and in the castle was a baby named JEEsus.' you like dat story, mommy?"

yes, baby. i like dat story.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

pregnancy update: 33 weeks

33 weeks. this pregnancy has flown by!

granted, my mind has been focused everywhere else for most of it. 

this morning was my 2nd appointment with my german doctor. other than the couple of nurses who speak very little/no enlglish, it's been so great. somehow, even when they don't speak any english, we still understand each other.

the german baby having process is a bit different than it is in the states. for one, i get to see this little muffin every single appointment. back home, i either had to pay for an ultrasound or i got one at 20 weeks (which, at the last doctor i saw, i had to convince her that our insurance did, in fact cover it. after she made me pay for one......). 


girl, healthy and around 4 lbs.

how far along: 
33 weeks

weight gain: 
10 lbs

still mostly non maternity clothes, though my shirts are getting too short and my waistband is a bit pushy. have 2 pairs of maternity pants and have started stocking up with long, warm shirts for the next few months.

how do i feel:
fat. and tired. but mostly fat. i do feel less puffy than i did with bella at this point, and i think i look less puffy too. i think most of the weight i have gained has been belly, where as last time it was kind of evenly distributed. hoping that means postpartum weight loss will be a little less lengthy.

until about 18 weeks, i was doing a mix of crossfit and crossfit mom (which is basically a tailored version of crossfit main, for women who are expecting or postpartum). now that we are in germany, we walk everywhere, so honestly, i don't do much else. 

on a personal level, i am SO excited for this baby to get here. not that i wasn't excited for bella, but it was a different excitement, for sure.

we went through so much to have bella, that i think i spent most of my pregnancy worried and anxious-that i would lose her, that i would be a bad mom, that she would hate me.....i realize now how irrational those worries are, but at the time they felt very real. this time around, i kind of have an idea of what i'm doing, and i am so excited to do it all over again. birth to 18 months-ish felt like such a breeze compared to toddlerhood.

bella is excited too and will often say "i love my baby sister!" and will kiss my belly or hug my belly. or ram my belly with her head.....that's not so much fun.

people always say your second baby will be different from your first. i'm hoping that's true. bella insisted on doing everything super early, so i am hoping this one takes things nice and slow.

we decided early on the name, but chose to keep it quiet for a while. really, i decided on the name and made a deal with joel that i wouldn't tell which was the only way i could get him to agree with it. he's difficult that way.

but, seeing as i am due in.....oh.....7 weeks, and things have been monogrammed, i am letting the cat out of the bag. too late to change it now, so, there.

her name will be cora anne.

i really liked coraline, but joel said it was creepy (like the movie), and i didn't want her to be called caroline by teachers. which would so happen. this coming from a "justin". caroline is pretty, but it wouldn't be her name, and it would be annoying. so cora it is. anne after joel's maternal grandmother.

our list was long and he pretty much nixed everything i came up with, and while his names were alright, they were very VERY popular names, and i don't want to yell my daughters name and have 15 kids turn around.

i think in this whole process, naming her was the absolute hardest part.

i've not really been into taking "baby bump" pictures this time around, so i really have nothing of worth to share. but maybe at 36 weeks i will bite the bullet.

that's all for now. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

job title: military spouse

we've been a part of this military life for 7 1/2 years now. that's not a very long time compared to many spouses, but it is almost half way through a career-after this assignment, we will be 10 years from retirement.

most spouses don't speak of their husbands career as "ours" or say "we" when referring to time in service. but the life of a military spouse is not the life of most spouses.

like it or not, we are in it up to our elbows. while we don't "wear rank", we still have duties that we perform on a daily basis. this is never more apparent than during a PCS (permanent change of station), a deployment, or even a field exercise.

we don't carry weapons, we aren't issued gear, we don't wear a uniform, and we definitely don't get paid. but we make decisions and choices that only military spouses can understand. we face challenges that never cross the minds of most spouses.

when bella was 7 weeks old, we were sitting in a movie theater, watching avatar, when joel's phone started to blink. he walked out, answered it, came back in and said he had 2 hours to get his stuff and get on base-he was deploying to haiti. and just like that, i was on my own with a newborn for 2 months.

when bella was 8 months old, joel deployed again, to jordan for 3 months. our lease in our apartment was up (and we were maxed out of space), so i found a new place, packed up the house and with the help of my friend and her cabana teenage boys, we moved all our worldly possessions into the new house.

when she was 18 months old, he deployed again, this time for 6 months to iraq. he left in the middle of summer, so all of the household chores that he usually took care of (mowing the lawn, car maintenance, household repairs) fell to me. i learned how to use every power tool he owned (which is a lot).

and when she was 2 1/2, we got orders and moved to germany. while he was working on getting his work stuff in order, i was dealing with getting the car shipment arranged, the dogs papers and shots in order (which nearly had us leaving him behind-we missed a cut off by mere hours), overseeing the packers, getting medically cleared, getting passports and official documents in order-all in just under 2 months time.

and now, i spend my days transitioning from our old, big, perfect-for-us house into our new, small, stairwell apartment.

i'm not complaining. i love the adventure. but, just like any job, there are hard parts and parts we enjoy.

my "job" allows me to watch my child grow up and takes our family to some pretty amazing places. it affords opportunities unique to military families. it provides relative comfort. it hands us built in community, wherever we go. we have friends all over the world, and friends who are more like family.

but it's emotionally challenging on a daily basis-we left the house where our first baby made her first home. slept her first nights in her big girl bed, spent her days in her yard with her dogs running around carefree, made her first friends-friends she still asks for. she had her first birthdays, first holidays, in that home. she learned her first words, had her first sleepover, took her first steps, in that home. we face spur of the moment separations, stress from military decisions and worldly events that our completely out of our control, and possibilities of loss that most families will never have to think about or prepare for. some days, it seems unfair. but most days, we take it all in stride and understand it is the life we signed up for.

i may not be reporting for duty every day. i may not have standards that i have to perform to. but i perform important tasks every day, so that joel can do what he has to do. i help enable a stable environment for our child(ren), our marriage. i teach, i cook, i clean. i am an event planner, a moving foreman, and a professional unpacker. i ensure the smooth running of our household and the emotional stability of everyone involved.

so when i say "our" job, i am referring to our team that makes up the military member. one day, bella and her siblings will be part of this team. they will make decisions and choices that only military children can understand. they will face challenges that won't cross the minds of most children. and hopefully, their lives with be enriched by being a part of this team.

i know mine has been.

Friday, September 14, 2012

potty training is for the birds

i was talking to my friend this morning about the woes of potty training. she said something that really struck a cord with me. she said, "everybody always talks about how fast their kid gets potty trained, but no one really talks about the ones that take a long time."

it's true. i guess no one really wants to talk about anything their kid does that isn't "early" or "advanced", or even sheds them in a not so great light.

we i am here to do just that.

bella is not potty trained. not in the slightest. (go ahead and shake your head and cluck your tongue. i do it on a daily basis)

i mean, she knows about the potty. she uses the potty, occasionally. but she is by no means anywhere near potty trained. as a matter of fact, the child would probably go the entire day and not even let me change her diaper if i didn't wrestle her to the ground and threaten to beat her not let her play anymore.

when we arrived in germany, the pediatrician said, "what's up with the diaper?" innocently enough, but it just reminded me of the problem i may have created for myself. let me give you my excuses story.

i know too many people who like to share that their little angel was potty trained by 18 months, sleeping in undies at 2! mostly mothers of girls.

"oh, you'll have no problem. girls are so easy to potty train!"

so at 18 months, i bought her a potty. and not just any potty. the fisher price one that looked like a real potty (except with eyes and a mouth and that sang songs when you used it. why do kids get all the cool things, by the way?) and we began our journey. i would let her run around at home with no dipe and it was great-she never had an accident and she would get SO excited every time she used it. and boy did she use it. like every 20 minutes. it was actually kind of annoying after a while. every time she wanted a party.

"ok," i thought. "i need to encourage her! let's get stickers!! and prizes!!" you know. do it up right.

which meant that we had a week long chart, full of stickers after a day.

from everything i understood about potty training (absolutely nothing), if they use it that much, they aren't really ready. so we put it on hold. she wouldn't tell me if she had undies or a diaper on, so i assumed she didn't really know until she was just about to go.

we waited.

she turned 2 and i thought, hey, maybe we should try again. same story as before-she would go so often and only if she was absolutely nakey. and only at home. we had a few breakthroughs over the next couple of months where she would ask to go while she had a diaper on, and i would ask her over and over, and she would always say no, then come to me with a wet diaper. we talked about it, read books about it, watched her friends go. but she never really seemed to feel like it was something she needed to do (my fault, i know).

honestly, it was easier to just let her be in diapers. we travel a lot, which means if we really went at it, we could potentially have to stop and find a potty every 30 minutes or so. i took her potty with us places, but she never wanted to use it unless it was in the "potty room".

then we found out i was pregnant. and we got orders. and i was done.

the thought of me, on a 10 hour plane ride, with a big fat belly and swollen ankles, dragging her to the potty every 30 minutes, or her peeing in her pants on the plane, or even dealing with lugging a potty/potty seat all over while we  were already displaced, made me anxious. so i made an executive decision. unless she asked for it, there would be no more pushing with the potty.

so here we are, bella will be 3 in 3 months and we are no closer than when we started. ever since we unpacked her potty yesterday, she has been naked, and we are about 50/50. she didn't even have this many accidents when she was 18 months.

my biggest fear is that i have ruined her. that maybe i missed the "ready" signs because i was being kind of selfish, and now she just doesn't want anything to do with it. my next biggest fear is that the light will flip right before november, and then when the baby comes, she will have a fit and regress.

so, currently, she is eating a snack, watching little einsteins and sitting on her potty. because i really have no idea what else to do.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

welcome home

you really have no idea how excited a 2 year old can be until you take everything she owns away from her for 10 weeks, and then give it all back to her on one day.

our household goods shipment arrived today and as the men started unloading the truck, bella stood on her stool looking out the window.

"my HORSE!!!!!" this is of course a horse she had not sat on or looked at once since she got it for christmas last year. but today, she sat on her horse for no less than 30 minutes, yelling, "giddy up, horsey!!!".

she was even excited for her time out chair. seriously. she said, "mommy, LOOK!! it's my time out chair!!"

we opened one of her boxes and it was full of stuffed animals and purses. as i was unpacking some kitchen stuff (how in the WORLD have we accumulated SO much kitchen stuff??) she came sauntering in with all of her purses around her neck. "look mommy! my PURSES!!"

it's really sweet when she pulls each animal out and says, "my yaya got me dis one. OH dis one i got for my birfday! mommy, let's read cooper a story! (that little hallmark bear)". it's heartwarming.

our plan though, is to take this opportunity to slowly go through her things and get rid of a lot of it-donate most of it, maybe sell some. but the blessing that comes with each PCS is learning how much you really can exist without. for instance, while cooking some dishes has been complicated by the lack of certain things-casserole dishes, crockpots and measuring spoons and cups-i definitely didn't miss all the random cups and gadgets that really are just taking up space until i use it once a year.

each time we move, we are baffled at how much we have-most of it is truly garbage (i feel mildly like a hoarder each time we get our delivery). crafting supplies that are half used, baskets that have no purpose (but are wicker and pinterest says there are 100 uses for wicker baskets so i CAN'T throw them out!), pens, tape, spices (yes, they will pack your spices if you don't toss them) that are all hardened. and random furniture that we have collected. each time we move, our houses are vastly different, and so we get set up for that place. our last house was just 3 bedrooms, but it was an older house and so the rooms were large and spacious. which means we had plenty of space for all our stuff. as a matter of fact, there were times it felt like we couldn't quite fill the place out (which i was just fine with) but this place is small. about 600 sq ft smaller, with less open spaces.

as i am unpacking everything, it is becoming a bit overwhelming and tough to see the light, but i've already gotten 6 boxes for the thrift shop and haven't even really unpacked much, so i feel like that's progress.

i guess i will probably disappear for the next week or 2 until most of this stuff is sorted out and organized. pray for me. .....

Monday, September 10, 2012

pumpkins and castles. this is a fairy tale life.

saturday, we enjoyed the beginning of the fall season with a trip to ludwigsburg, germany, to enjoy the pumpkin festival. the festival was on the castle grounds and was absolutely awesome. it was pretty warm, so it didn't exactly feel like fall, but it is still september.

there were pumpkins everywhere, as you can imagine, and the theme was "switzerland". there were pumpkin structures of all types-the matterhorn, a swiss army knife, cows, all things switzerland. plus a few other things that weren't exactly swiss, but were interesting, all the same.


we ate pumpkin burgers (delicious!), pumpkin soup (amazing!!!) and some of us got to partake in pumpkin wine. being 31 weeks pregnant, i smelled some. and then bought 2 bottles. 

i think the coolest part about the grounds was the marchengarten-a kiddy land, based on popular fairytales. it was a permanent structure and was pretty awesome. 

some days, i look around and am kind of amazed at where we are. it wasn't all sunshine and roses getting here, but we have been here for a little over 7 weeks and things are finally starting to feel a little easier and real. 

adjusting to change is something i have always had a hard time doing, even though i have changed so many times now, you would think i would be a old pro at it. i think i crave routine just enough and moving definitely has no routine to it-especially moving to another country.

this has, by far, been our most difficult move to date. being displaced with an almost 3 year old, a big dog, a big ol' belly, for such an extended amount of time and in a foreign country is a bit overwhelming. made more difficult by the fact that the person i have been over the past 7 weeks, is not the person i identify myself as. 

i am generally pretty evenly keeled-not overly emotional or easily stressed out, and i feel like i generally take emotional situations in stride-deployments and tdy's usually don't ruffle my feathers much. but during this move, i have cried more times than i would like to admit, and still after 7 weeks of being in the country, i get very easily stressed and overwhelmed. i have been blaming it on being pregnant and sleeping on, what my husband so poignantly calls, a hobo's bedroll. 

we receive our household goods shipment in 2 days, and my hope is that with a few good nights of sleep we will all be a little less grumpy.