Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Dienstag, 23. Juli 2013

18 months!

Okay, by the time this post is up, Ryan will actually be, probably 19 months. In reality, next week, I'll have a 20 month old, and am posting Ryan's 18 month update.  The past three months have really flown by! 
17 months old started off like every other month, but we didn't know the surprise that was to await us in a few weeks.  17 month old Ryan had 6 teeth, and a few more words. At the end of April, Ryan and Mommy were on our own for a week, when Daddy, Oma, and Opa went to Hong Kong.  He became obsessed with the moon, or "moo." Ryan also started saying "hi" and "bye," but, his big word came around the 10th of the month, when he said "lawn mower," or more accurately, "maw mo." Ryan also got his own slide in the middle of May, which he loved from the beginning!


 Unfortunately, the middle of May brought us scary news, Grandpa (Mommy's dad,) had a heart attack, and not just a Little one, it was one that landed Grandpa in intensive care, and required him to be paddled back to life.  A very frightened Mommy and Daddy hopped on an airplane on May 17th to New York. In typical Ryan fashion, he was wonderful on the airplane ride over.  Ryan's first week in the States brought his first time in a hospital after he was born.  Of course, Ryan loved the hospital, because he got tons of attention from the nurses and Grandpa.  Because it was a stressful time, we decided to give Ryan some special time, and visit the beach as often as possible while we were home.  Turns out, we have little explorer, who loves the beach.


  He spent days and days wading into the water, and picking up shells, seaweed, and rocks.  He loved looking for the moon, and making seagull noises.  Ryan even said "beach" to Mommy and Grandpa one day.  Once Grandpa got home, it was tough for Ryan.  Grandpa had lots of doctor's appointments, and Ryan had to be a really good, and patient little boy as we went from doctor to doctor.  While we were at Grandpa's house, Ryan enjoyed climbing the stairs and trying to climb up on Grandpa's bed to get Lucy the cat.
Ryan learned to "high five," and found his love for blueberries, or "boobeesh," while we were home. 
Daddy had to leave before Mommy and Ryan, which meant we were home for a week on our own, and it also meant that Mommy had to fly alone with an 18 month old.  Scary stuff that flying alone with a toddler.  Turned out that all my fears were for nothing, Ryan did fantastically well on the plane.  He immediately befriended our seat neighbor, and she took him on her lap and sang with him.  She even played with Ryan while I ate dinner!  I wish I could find the airplane neighbor and give her a hug!

Once we returned to Germany, life became normal again pretty quickly.  We returned to playgroup and Music class.  Ryan's vocabulary continues to grow daily.  By 18 months, Ryan's vocabulary included "car," "bus," "Bababa" (Babybel cheese,) and a host of other single words.  Ryan also discovered Daddy's hairspray and hair dryer.  He stands now on the toilet lid, grabs the can of hairspray, whispers "dadada," and makes a "shhh" sound.  After his hairspraying show, Ryan then will to point to the hairdryer and make a lower "shhh" sound.  He also makes a sound for a payloader, and a cement mixer.

Ryan learned the movements to "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around," and pats his head when we sing "I am a Firefighter."  He also does the hand motions to a song we learned about birds in Music class.  Now, when Ryan sees a bird, he taps on his arm, because one of the lines in the bird song is "nuthatch hopping down the tree," and you motion your fingers down your arm like a bird hopping down a branch.

The last two months were just wonderful in terms of Ryan's growth and change.  He's really no longer a baby at one and a half, he's all toddler, and having the time of his life!








Montag, 22. April 2013

A Greener Me

Since yesterday was Earth Day, I've been thinking about the changes that I've been making that are resulting in a greener me.

I don't know where it started.  There are probably two points in my life where I can say, "my greener journey started here."  First, moving to Germany changed a lot of my thoughts on being green.  I'm definitely not a hardcore Green Party member, like the ones they have here, and I often think I would describe myself as a light green, or a slightly soggy cereal, and not super crunchy.  But, I've defnitely changed since living in Germany.  We separate garbage a lot.  We have paper garbage, glass garbage, recyclables, compost garbage, and the "leftover garbage."  When I go back home, I often ask how to dispose of egg shells or the cardboard that doesn't go in the recycling bin.  We use energy efficient appliances.  We built a well insulated house, with a very efficient heating system. Joern and I drive an alternative fuel car and we've become a one car family.  I could go on and on about the greener changes in my life that resulted from moving to Germany.

But, I also realized that none of those changes were my decision.  Many green acts are required here, you must separate your garbage and you must build a house to high energy standards.  Other changes are out of necessity, like my car that I could not afford to drive here with traditional gasoline.

The other greener changes in my life are smaller than those necessary changes, but they were changes that were my decision.  This conscious step towards being green probably started with Ryan's move to cloth diapers.  I have to admit, I didn't start with cloth for green reasons.  I started using cloth diapers because we had fit problems with disposables and because the ones that fit smelled really bad.  Once I started using cloth diapers though, I realized that I do like the idea of reducing waste and I really like the idea of not having so many chemicals against Ryan's skin constantly.  And the longer I've been using cloth diapers, the more often I've been thinking of waste.

I decided to reduce my use of paper towels, because I'm a paper towel addict.  I use them for everything!  I now try my hardest to grab for a dish cloth instead of a paper towel, and I bought a set of unpaper towels from  Joyful Girl Design on Etsy.  I love them!  I think that for me, they work so well because I put them right where my paper towels used to live, on my paper towel holder, which happens to be in a super handy spot.

We're also reducing our plastic shopping bag useage.  Although we have to pay for plastic bags here, it isn't enough of a charge to deter us from using plastic shopping bags.  But, I do realize they are wasteful and unnecessary.  We try our hardest now to remember to put our various shopping bags and totes in the car when we head out to the store.  My favorite of all my items is my Large Utility Tote from Thirty-One Gifts. It fits a ton of food in it, and it fits across a shopping cart perfectly, so you can throw all your stuff in it in the cart, unload to pay, and reload when you leave.

From here, I'm getting ready to make the move to cloth napkins and reusable produce bags.

Another greener move is to try to buy as much locally produced food as possible.  Its not easy to buy local here in the winter, but we do have a farmstand here in our town that works with other European farms that use their standards of food production.  Buying locally isn't only a green act because it saves on transportation and ensures that the fruit and vegetables are truly organic, but its also fair, because local, small farmers are more and more often being pushed out by larger farms here.

In the end, my steps toward being greener are really small steps, but they're all doable.  And every little bit helps!

Dienstag, 9. April 2013

16 months!

The months are just piling up and Ryan is inching up to 18 months.  I just can't believe that my baby, who isn't so baby very much anymore, is almost one and a half years old.  Sigh.

The past few months have marked more change, and the only reminders really that Ryan is still a baby are the rare occasions when he cries at night.  Somehow, his night cry is still that baby cry.  We have moments still when he takes his bottle of milk, and he's sleepy and cuddly, and 100% still my baby, but these moments are becoming rare.  More often, bottle time, is wiggling, and pointing in a milion directions, and a slide off my lap as soon as the bottle is empty.  

Since Ryan has pretty much mastered walking, running, and falling with ease, he's been working on climbing. He climbs everyhwere, on every thing.  He climbs on the toilets, he climbs on the book shelf, he climbs on chairs by himself.  He's figured out how to stand on the toilet and turn on the bathroom faucet, unfortunately, he has also figured out that if he turns the faucet, the water can go from running nicely down the drain to running all over the bathroom floor, which is obviously, much more fun.

Ryan is also looking more and more like a little kid.  In the past two months, three top teeth have come in.  Bringing his grand total of teeth to 5.  His hair is growing like mad, but only in the back.  I don't have the heart to cut his hair yet, so instead, we call him, MacGyver.  Ryan has moved out of his 18 month clothes, and is in the end of baby clothes, and wears lots of 2T shirts now.   18 month was one of those sizes for Ryan like 0-3 month.  He wore size 12 month from 6 to 13 months, and 28 month from 13 to 15 months.  And now, its all 24 month.  
 He is also rapidly outgrowing the shoes we bought him when we were home.  We bought him size 5 shoes, which were intentionally big so that he could go to spring in them.  The shoe salesman was right, its spring and I don't see him staying in his shoes much longer. 

Ryan had a wonderful visit with his baby cousin, Liam.  Liam and his parents came to visit just in time for Ryan's second St. Patrick's Day.  Liam and his family live in Ireland, and brought Ireland with them for our St. Patty's Day celebration!

And, we celebrated Ryan's second Easter.  Last Easter, he could have cared less about his Easter basket.  This year, the look of surprise on his face when he found a big basket in his play tent was absolutely priceless!  We spent at least 5 minutes just looking at all the things in his basket before opening it up!

The biggest change in Ryan was definitely language.  He has a huge animal sound vocabulary.  He can do the sounds of cat, cow, fish, seal, bear, lion, dog, goose, monkey, sheep to name a few.  He also now yells "go go go," (chug, chug, chug) when he sees a tractor.  He yells because he loves tractors, and gets so excited when he sees them that he can't keep quiet.  
Ryan also has words!  Words happened during the end of 15 months, but they're there!  Ryan can say "Dada," but he always whispers it, and its a very intentional, talking about Daddy, "Dada."  He also says "up," and "ba ba" for bicycle.  And, the most impressive, NO!  "No" took me by surprise.  I had made Ryan a lovely piece of salmon for lunch one day, he took two bites, spit them out and said very big, very clear, and very emphatically, "NO!"  Thanks kid!  But, its very exciting to see his language grow and change.

Ryan has also started dancing.  We dance to songs, we dance to chants.  Ryan loves dancing.  Most dances are twirls, but he also shifts from side to side during some songs too.  He loves music.  Ryan does the hand motions to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." 


It has been a real adventure with Ryan these past few months.  I will try my hardest to post at the end of this month, just because too much happens in one month to wait for another.  

Mittwoch, 30. Januar 2013

Ryan- 13 months

I cannot believe that my little baby boy is now 13 months old!  Thirteen months is way worse than one year, because he's not even one year anymore, but one year plus.  And to make matters worse, looking back on my sweet baby boy's first year, I feel like the world's worst mom, because I was really, really bad at documenting it.  I believed in my baby book.  It turns out that looking back, my baby book is just a tiny snippet into Ryan's life.  I think this is another reason why I'm having so much trouble with Ryan being 13 months- I feel like the first year flew by, and I don't have much to hold on to.

So please bear with me while I go into a little more detail about the first month of Ryan's second year.

The month started off with a fantastically fun birthday party,
 

 and a trip back to Germany.  We lost a week to jetlag, and 3:00 am bedtimes.  Ryan had his one year checkup, where he weighed in at 23 lbs (no wonder my arm starts burning when I hold him,) and measured 29 inches.  The good news is that he's close to the 50th percentile now for height, which is a triumph, at his 6 month checkup, he was in the 10th percentile for height.  But he's gone from 80th percentile in weight to 50th, which would be good if it were only due to his largely increased mobilitly, but we struggled for months with food.

My little boy became a full-fledged toddler this month!  On Ryan's birthday, he was able to walk pretty well, so well that we stopped counting steps because there was no point where we were waiting for him to fall.  He still needed help getting up off the floor, and would have to crawl over to a piece of furniture or the wall for a little help getting up.  During the month, Ryan slowly started assuming a position that looked like he was going to do a summersault, which was his attempt at getting up.  All of a sudden, one day, while sitting, he put his hands on the floor, butt up in the air, and with a little wobble, stood up all by himself!  We clapped and laughed together at his triumph.

He's also started running.  It started during our 20,000 times a day game of chase around the island.  The game that started with me crawling behing him around the island, then turned into walking around the island, finally became run around the island.

 He runs best barefoot, and preferably, naked, as his favorite time to run is right after a bath.  I have to dry his feet off quickly now after a bath, because he's off like a shot.  I have to say, its an awfully adorable sight.

Fortunately, he's still not good in shoes though.  I say fortunately because I dread the day when he starts running in public.  Its pretty easy to corner him in the house, not so much in the outside, wall-less world.

And this was also Ryan's month of climbing. This is one of those milestones that is good in terms of development, and scary as anything in terms of parenting!


I would call December also "Ryan's month of eating."

I wonder if it was the move towards table food and away from chunky purees that made the difference.  Whatever the change, Ryan moved from barely eating three meals a day, to eating 3 full meals a day plus two snacks.  Ryan tried so many new foods this month it was amazing.  He ate sausages and potato salad, spaetzle with sauce and pork steak, kiwi, oranges, eggs (he's had scrambled egg yolks before, but they were never a hit,), just to name a few.  Ryan's favorite snacks are Babybel cheese, or fruit mixed with yogurt. 

Ryan also transitioned from formula to cow's milk in December.  The transition went really well.  Saturday, December 22 was Ryan's last day of having formula at all, and by then, he was down to 2 oz. of formula per bottle anyway.  I think the transition to cow's milk was harder for Mommy though.  It seems strange thinking how formula became such an essential part of our lives, from the day before Ryan was released from the hospital until December 22nd, it was always on our minds.  We were always running out to buy more formula,  measuring out scoops of the stuff, storing it, and cuddling with Ryan while he drank it.  When I think back to our trip home in the summer, we brought 20 boxes of the stuff- it fit in a large trash bag.  It was a mountain of formula.  And all of a sudden, its all gone.  Yes, there are many positives to being off formula, but its just one more reminder that my little baby isn't a little baby anymore. 

In Ryan's world experience, Ryan visited New York City for the first time this month!
Yes, he's flown in and out of New York twice, but he's never actually visited the city.  It was so much fun to watch him take in, and get a little overwhelmed by, all the sights and sounds that make up the coolest city ever!

 Ryan flew yet again- from the US back to Germany.  It was fun to let him walk around the airport in his jammies while we were waiting at the gate.  And just as I predicted as we stood at the Frankfurt airport watching our little boy percariously toddle around taking three, four, five steps; by the time we flew back to Germany, Ryan was walking all over.  He and I spent lots of time walking from one side of the building to the other side to look out the windows and see the airport workings.  He did fantastically well yet again on the airplane.  Since the flight was overnight, he slept the majority of the time.  Very few tears, and lots of smiles when he was awake.

Ryan visited only one Christmas market this year.  Jet lag, and the lady on the airplane with the bad cold, really messed up our Christmas preparations this year.  But, it was okay.  Ryan loved looking at all the lights and the booths in Stuttgart!

Ryan had a very important anniversary in this 13th month of life:  we celebrated Ryan's homecoming from his time spent in the hospital.  We celebrated by taking Ryan outside to play in the snow- for the first time ever!  Ryan didn't feel it was much of a celebration, apparently, snow isn't his thing.  But, he also found out that he loves sled riding!

And of course,the holiday celebrations.  Ryan had his first visit from the Christkind and his second visit from Santa Claus. This year, Ryan had the pleasure of unwrapping gifts and trying to take down the ornaments and lights from the Christmas tree.  He got to enjoy visitors.  And, he got to be the star of this year's Christmas card.

Rounding out Ryan's last days of being just a one year old, and not a one year plus months, Ryan got to celebrate the New Year.  Ryan's first New Year was as to be expected with a newborn: he spent the time cuddled in a blanket, fast asleept.  Ryan's second New Year's celebration was completely different.  He stayed awake way past midnight.  He got to eat our special New Year's meal with Oma, Opa, Mommy, and Daddy.  And most importantly, he absolutely loved the fireworks!  If you're going to like fireworks, then Germany is THE place to celebrate New Years!  We watched fireworks shoot up into the sky in all directions for at least half an hour.  Near the end, Ryan was even saying, "Baaa," when Oma and Mommy said "Boom" to a firework!  It was so exciting to celebrate the New Year with our handsome little man.

All in all, it was an exciting month!  It was so fun to watch our little toddler explore the world in a new way!  We love you so much Ryan!



Sonntag, 6. Januar 2013

Ryan's second Christmas

I have to admit, there is a HUGE difference between celebrating Christmas with a 4 week old, and celebrating Christmas with a one year old.  Some of my friends whose December babies were born early, like Ryan, lamented over that "missed," first Christmas.  Ryan spent his first Christmas in his bouncy chair, parked under the Christmas tree.  I was trying to get his attention with the lights on the tree.  He could have cared less.  Ryan still wasn't too sure of us that first Christmas, and his world involved eating, pooping, sleeping, and cuddling.
This year, Christmas was a completely new experience for Ryan.  Of course, I'm pretty sure that next Christmas will also be a completely new experience for Ryan, he'll understand a lot more next year.

Ryan's first Christmas was really for us.  Although we were in that sleep haze, we had this perfect, tiny human being, it was like the most amazing, yet totally surreal Christmas ever.

Ryan's second Christmas though was totally for Ryan.  He gulped in everything. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes.  It was the year to see it all through his eyes.  Christmas this year to Ryan was not about the presents, or the prep, or even the dinner.

Christmas for Ryan meant meeting a man with a fluffy white beard dressed in a furry red suit.  And then, Mommy and Daddy left him with this man for a minute.

Christmas was sitting down in Grandpa's car, and waking up in a really large city.  Mommy and Daddy kept saying "you're in New York."  Being all snuggled up in a  teddy bear suit, and seeing a huge tree with lots of people ice skating in front of it.

Christmas was having Mommy dress up Ryan in a silly outfit to go on a "Santa Hunt."
 Only to find Santa had left his hat on Pooki:
 But, it made Christmas fuzzy and exciting.

Christmas was lights and a giant tree in the middle of Ryan's living room


Christmas for Ryan was playing with Onkel Marcel
And a very fun visit with Aunt Mandy and Uncle Doug

Christmas was going to Oma and Opa's house on Christmas Eve (or Christmas in Germany.)  Where Ryan had his first taste of Würstchen und Spezial Salat, or a sausage and potato salad.  And a visit from the Christkind.
Christmas meant new pajamas, with a green, sparkly guy on them.  Who is this man on my jammies?
And waking up to find the mantle filled with hanging socks for everyone
And gifts under the Christmas tree
Christmas was warm and cuddly
But also crinkly and rippy
And new
Christmas was putting on fancy clothes,
sitting at a fancy table
and trying new, big boy, food, like twice baked mashed potatoes.

It was so exciting and amazing to experience Christmas through Ryan's eyes.  I love Christmas, but for adults, it usually becomes a holiday of hustle and bustle, stress, and exhaustion.  For Ryan, it was a feast for the senses, a time of discovery and love.  I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful little boy to help me see the world in a completely different light.  



Dienstag, 9. Oktober 2012

Month by Month Ryan: Month 4

March was an exciting month for Ryan and for us as well.  March brought with Ryan's first trip "abroad," and Ryan's first St. Patrick's Day.  Ryan showed lots of head control in March, and tummy time became a lot easier. Ryan's loves in March were his octopus, named "Otto," naps, and his changing table.

When Ryan turned 3 months old, he was rounding out his big growth spurt.  Here's a picture of Ryan sitting up "unassisted," for the first time:

And, he was still a very sweet, cuddly baby, who was famous for his "milk comas" or passing out after a bottle.  Even cuter, he most often slept with one hand on his belly:


A proud day for Daddy, he got to take Ryan to his first Importtrend customer.  And the family sales dynasty continues.
Sadly, Ryan also had his first cold in March:

Ryan also went on his first international trip, when Mommy, Daddy, and Ryan all drove over the French border to visit a grocery store:

March was a great time for tummy time. Little Pea's neck all of a sudden was really strong, and tummy time was no longer a scream-fest, and more a time for Ryan to check out his surroundings from a new perspective.



In a very patriotic moment, Ryan wore his first Osh Kosh overalls on the same day he received his US passport.  He found the whole experience very exciting, and very exhausting!



He was also the man of funny faces in March:




I have to make a brief mention here that Mommy realized in March that Ryan loved the changing table.  Ryan and Mommy would head upstairs all smiles and laughs knowing that it was changing time.  Ryan would happily lay on his changing table forever at the time, he enjoyed all the tickles,singing and kisses.  We would play multiple rounds of "Where's the baby's fingers," and "All around the garden."  It was all so very cute!  He loved his changing table so much that if Little Pea was upset, all I had to do was take him upstairs to his changing table, and he'd calm right down.  Aaahhh, those were blissful days!

There was also the famous "drinking" incident in March.  Uncle Marcel was visiting, and he and Daddy enjoyed some beer.  Ryan decided that he was going to "keep up" with the boys with his milk.  Unfortunately, too much milk always caused Ryan to pass out.  Case in point:

As the weather improved, Ryan also enjoyed some lovely walks and some outside playtime:



At the end of the month, Ryan visited our old apartment.  We lived there up until the week before Ryan was born.  So, the visit to the old apartment was Ryan's outside visit to his first home.  We spent some time in the apartment cleaning and preparing for the new tenant, which meant that it was Ryan's first and last visit to the apartment for some time.  It was also very exciting because although he is asleep in the picture, he also had some playmat time at the apartment.  He turned onto his side for the first time while he was there!

Of course, the apartment was our old life, and although Ryan spent almost all of his "in Mommy's tummy" life there, our house is really Ryan's castle.  On March 28th, we finally receieved the final piece of Ryan's crib, which allowed us to finally put it together.  It seemed like love at first sight!



What really amazed me, looking back, is that by the end of the month four, Ryan looked like Ryan.  He looks more mature now, and he finally has hair again, but the end of month baby face closely resembles my little guy now.  Its amazing that in four short months he went from a squishy, squinty-eyed newborn, to a mini-version of 10 month old Ryan.  It was a wonderful time to share in our Little Pea's life!