Monday, February 27, 2017

Growing up, whether he likes it or not

Judah is between a rock and a hard place.  Poor guy is three years old.  That is such a hard year.  They have to go from being a "baby" to being a "big boy" and they want to, but then they don't.  It's hard to accept the fact that if you want the privileges of being a "big boy" then you have to take on responsibilities as well.  On the one hand he has Isaac and Drew, who can do so much more and seem so cool, and he wants to be just like them.  On the other hand he has Bobby, who is so cute and everyone loves and cuddles him, and he wants the attention that he gets from Mom and Dad.  What's a little guy to do?

Between two years old and 4 years old is the time that my little ones potty train (check,) move from a crib to a bed (check,) move to a real seat at the table (check,) and give up their pacifiers AKA "Bubbas" (not check.)  I have been putting off taking his nighttime pacifier away for a long time.  The girls are the only other ones that really ever took a pacifier and we took it away before they were three.  I mentioned recently that the dentist told us it is time because his bite is getting messed up now.  We have a big trip coming up that I didn't want to be dealing with that during the trip so we decided to do it soon to give him time to adjust in case he needed it.

Some background about Judah and his Bubbas.  When he was a baby, newly unswaddled, he would go to sleep on his own in his crib with one Bubba in his mouth and one in each hand.  He was so attached to them that I put a net bumper around his crib to keep them from falling out.  When we moved to Germany a little over a year ago, I took the netting off and told him he could only have one in his crib from then on.  He handled that pretty well, except for when he dropped that Bubba and couldn't reach it through the rails of his crib and he would call for me in the middle of the night to get it for him.  Really that didn't happen often, but it was enough to make me realize that he really was dependent on that thing to sleep.  This made me hesitant to take it away when I had an infant that wasn't sleeping through the night.  Now my infant is a toddler and sleeps through the night, and has for a long time.  I guess I have no excuse.

We talked about it for about a week after the dental appointment, explaining that very soon we were going to have to give the Bubbas up to a baby because Judah is too big now for Bubbas.  He kept telling me, "Sure, sure.  At Christmas Mama."  I kept on saying that it would be very soon, but he was sick and so I was waiting to put a time on it until I knew he felt good again.  We asked if he wanted to give the Bubbas to a baby that he knew and he chose a friend's baby, Michael.  He doesn't use pacifiers, but I spoke with his mom and she said she'd play along.  That friend was coming over for the Super Bowl party and so we decided he was well and ready to do it then.  Earlier in the day, he and I went to the store and picked out a gift.  I did this with the girls.  They both picked out stuffed dogs to sleep with instead of their Bubbas.  He did the same thing and picked a very cute, soft doggie.  However, he also wanted an action figure.  He had some Christmas money from my uncle, and so I let him also pick out one action figure with his money.  He chose a big Falcon action figure.  He slept with that thing and the dog and his Grumpy Cat (long time cuddle friend since he turned one) for almost the whole week and now he is back to sleeping with Grumpy Cat and his doggie, that he named "Shooting Star," lays next to him.  Falcon is usually with the toys now.

He did a great job and occasionally still gets in his bed and looks for his Bubba, but then he says, "Oh, yeah!" and lays down without a fight.  I'm in shock. I was ready for a good fight, but he did it all so well.  I guess his desires to be a "big boy" are outweighing the desires to remain my baby forever.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

First Sword Fight Milestone

It's always fun to see your baby start to interact more with the other kids has he grows, but one of the milestones that I love is when they first join in the sword fighting.  That day has arrived for Bob.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Another Big Snow

We had heard that the temperatures were supposed to be over 40 and it would be sunny on Saturday, so we planned to do the first Volksmarch (hike) of the year then.  We woke up to this on Saturday morning.

It was around half a foot of snow that dumped on us silently overnight and completely changed our plans for the day.  The kids had a great time with Daddy out in the snow again.  Bobby stayed in with me.

They came back to find mugs and hot chocolate mix waiting on the counter, and they all made some hot cocoa to go with their lunch.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our House

Our house is full of fun, full of reading, full of playing, and full of boys.  I am so outnumbered here. 

Boys Playing Trains

Three Bibliophiles

Pan out... Daughter folding my laundry!  Thank God for girls!

Brian brought home four balloons that normally bring much joy to the house.  However, since there were only four and we have six children that desperately desire to hit around a balloon it just brought endless fights.  Two were popped by Judah, who was not a very popular guy for that.  I took a knife to one in a fit of overzealous passion because there had been one too many arguments that day over it.  And there is one remaining.  Somehow it hasn't needed to be popped yet, but I figure it is only a matter of time.  This back story leads me to the time Drew was hiding the balloon from his little brother, Judah.  He hid it behind the couch and then told Judah that he probably didn't want to go behind the couch because there was a "dead body behind the couch."  It actually worked like a charm too which is more concerning since this only reinforces Drew's trickery.  It makes for yet another funny story though.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bucket List

We have tried to retroactively start a running total of how many cities and countries we've been to since we've lived here this time around.  The country count was easy to add up.  We've been to 9 foreign countries and we also went to the USA in June so that makes visiting 10 countries in the first year that we lived here.  Here's the list:
Czech Republic

Brian's been to Poland and Norway also.  Last time we lived here we went to Scotland in addition to all these places listed above.  There are only 5 more that are on our wish list.  From our bucket list only these remain Spain, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, and maybe Croatia.  Brian wants to go to Ireland, but that'd be a complicated trip and I'm not sure if it'll make the cut.

Our city count is more difficult because it's hard to remember the name of all the cities and to remember little stops to see just one thing while on another trip.  Here's what I've got so far:

Rome, IT
Strausburg, FR
Metz, FR
Saarbrucken, DE
Bernkastel-Kues, DE*
St Wendel, DE
Salzburg, AU *
St. Gilgen, AU
Burg Hohenzollern, DE
Stuttgart, DE
Eban Emael, BE
Aachen, DE
Orvieto, IT
Assisi, IT
Bettona/Pomonte, IT
Florence, IT
Nevers, FR
Tours, FR
Lourdes, FR
Naples, IT
Pompeii, IT
Herculineum, IT
Krumlov, CH
Regensburg, DE
Potzberg, DE
Pirmasens, DE
Bingen, DE
Bacharach, DE
Oppenheim, DE
Remagen, DE
Oudenaarde, BE
Hombourg, BE
Tongerin, BE
Luxembourg City, LU
London, UK
Oxford, UK
Leavesdon, UK
Norwich, UK
Mainz, DE*
Esslingen, DE
Ghent, BE*
Brugges, BE*
Baneaux, BE
Beauraing, BE
Brussels, BE
Oudenaard, BE
Knokke-Heist, BE
Ypers, BE
Zell Am See, AU
Gries, AU
Cologne, DE
Souflenheim, FR

That list totals at 52 cities in 14 months, again not counting the cities we were in in the USA which were Washington D.C., Germantown, MD, Great Falls, VA, and Dover, DE, and Fredericksburg, VA.  This list is also not including the cities that Brian and I went to either separately or together.  Brian's list is too crazy to catch up on, but here's my manageable list.

Kelle's list:
Ischia, IT
Landau, DE
Birnau, DE
Triburg, DE
Freiburg, DE
Baiersbronn, DE

Monday, February 13, 2017

Super Bowl and Brian's Birthday

Sunday of the Super Bowl is one of those days we always have a party.  When we were stateside we used to do a game and give away prizes depending on the score at the end of each quarter.  Overseas though the game doesn't start until the party is long over, at 12:30am.  So no game this year, but we still had a good time with friends and football food: chilli, beans, dips, and wings.  There was some  pregame action going on toward the end of the party for the men folk.

Bobby was fascinated by the youngest of the bunch.

He always amazes me at how gentle he is with babies and animals. 

Some of the men folk getting ready for some pregame action.

Brian was given the day off on Monday, which just happened to be his birthday.  He got to sleep in and watch the Super Bowl since he didn't quite make it to kick off the night before.  We did some school work that was periodically interrupted by the Super Bowl.  The kids gave him his hand made gifts.  Drew was especially excited about the card that we made him together.  I drew the pieces to make a saw.  He cut them out and glued them into place.  I wrote, "You are the best Dad I ever saw!" on it.  Brian loved it!  Drew's been making stuff right and left.  A full post is dedicated to his creations and drawings and is coming up soon.

I made one of Brian's old favorites for dinner, German Gulasch.  I got the recipe from the lady who sold us our dining room table.  She owns an antique shop and her husband was cooking this Gulasch in the back of the store making the whole place smell amazing.  We asked what was cooking and she gave me the recipe verbally.  I made it as soon as I could and have made it countless times since because all the children like it.

(Disclaimer:  When I say "all the children" there is usually at least one that doesn't like it.  Even with pizza I have one and sometimes two children who don't like it.  Although chicken nuggets are actually liked by all, I can't think of one other thing.  Also, somethings that are truly liked by all one meal are not liked by all the next.  It is something that I have to accept, with six kids, that "all" has to mean at least four.)  Whew, long disclaimer!

Here is the recipe:

Gulasch meat (She recommended all beef, but pork is acceptable and it is cheaper here, so I often do a mixture.  Here it is sold marked as "Gulasch"  meat but I imagine stew meat in the states would be good as well.)
onion, diced
garlic, diced
other veggies that you prefer (I always use mushrooms and sometimes other veggies that I have on hand like parsnips.)
salt and pepper
a bottle of wine (I have used both Bordeax and Burgundy because Brian and I both remembered this part of the recipe differently.  As I said, it was not written down.  Both turn out great.)

You saute the onions, other veggies, and meat until meat is mostly brown on outside.  Add garlic, saute another couple minutes.  Add the bottle of wine and bring to boil.  I make it around 1 or 2pm and let it simmer on lowest setting covered until dinner.  Then I salt it and serve with egg noodles and bread.

Happy birthday to you, wonderful husband!  I love you!  I'd be in the loony bin without you to keep me sane...ish.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Birthday

My birthday was on the Friday before the Super Bowl.  Since we'd had such a crazy week we all just stayed in our pj's all day long.  I kept the boys home one more day from kindergarten, and decided to send them Monday assuming all was well.  Bobby's gift to me was suddenly waking up at 5:45am (lately he's been sleeping until 7am.)  The kids all showered me with drawings and pictures first thing when they woke up.  Then we got to work on our school work.  We most certainly can not afford to take off any extra days.  I was able to do Drew's reading lessons in the morning this week which was nice for my afternoons.  He is on lesson 39 in his 100 Easy Lessons book and doing pretty well.

Again due to the boys' coughs still sounding so bad we decided to go to dinner without them.  We have German food all the time, so I opted for a Thai place near us that I have only been to once on a ladies' night out.  I had a craving for Green Curry.

It was a good day.  I felt like I had some special quiet moments with each child which is so rare on our regular busy days.  That's the best gift I could receive.