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.

Montag, 16. Juli 2012

My little fluffy butt, how its going

Ryan's super cute little butt has now been in cloth for 4 months, which means that he's been in cloth diapers for more than half his life.  I thought it might be time to do a little check-in on this often viewed as unconventional practice.

I guess I'll start with the fact that I love cloth, and am so pleased with my decision, and proud of myself for standing up for what I thought was best for my baby.  I don't think Joern has still fully agreed with this decision, but it seems like a battle that wasn't worth fighting to him.  Lots of people think I'm a nut for dealing with cloth.

I also don't think cloth is for everyone.  I don't even think that cloth is really the right choice for every baby.  As a parent, you do what you think is best and what works for your family.  Cloth is simply working very well for us. 

I started with 17 diapers.  Out of the intial 17; 6 were organic cotton All in Ones (AIOs), meaning that the inserts are sewn into the outer diaper with nothing extra needed; 9 were mircofiber or fleece pockets, meaning there is a cloth "pocket" sewn into the outer diaper that needs to be stuffed with an insert; and the last 2 were microfiber AIOs, with two flaps of absorbant microfiber sewn into the outer diaper cover, these last ones are very popular because they dry so quickly.  Out of the first 17, 15 are still going strong, and I sold the two microfiber AIOS.  I sold the two microfiber AIOs because they just weren't our thing.  We had lots of leaks with them, and I just wasn't crazy about them.

Since my initial 17, I have joined two cloth diaper groups and have learned so much more about cloth.  In a way, I wish I had all this knowledge before I started with cloth, but then again, the information is all so confusing before you actually have the diapers in your hands.  Cloth diapering is like going to another country, there are different practices and a different language.  Like moving to a new country, you need a little time and experience in order to make your way in the new country.  I remember being so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices and materials.  I remember being confused by the lingo, and the ways to use each diaper.  I'll never forget reading comments like "jellyroll a prefold and use a snappy," seriously confusing stuff.  After 4 months now, I have the lingo down, and have experience with many more types of diapers than my intial pockets

 and All in Ones. 

Once my comfort level with cloth increased, I slowly learned what worked best.  I decided to use our cotton AIOs with a hemp doubler for night time, and pockets during the day.  I also started to realize that I like natural fibers, like bamboo and cotton, better than synthetic microfiber. And, I realized that 15 diapers wasn't really enough for us.  Doing laundry every other day with 15 diapers meant that I was running crazy low during wash and dry time, and it was really forcing me to do diaper laundry right after Ryan's first diaper change in the morning.  So, I decided to add a few more diapers to Ryan's stash. 

I added three organic cotton AIOs (top row,) two All in Two's (middle row,)

and a cotton pocket and a different type of cotton AIO (bottom row.)  The All in Two's are simply a cover, and you can use a variety of absorbant things for a diaper with the cover over the top.

With a little learning and a little patience, Ryan and I worked ourselves into a nice groove with cloth.  I also realized that I didn't really like using store bought, premoistened wipes on most changes.  I felt like Ryan was pretty smelly still.  So, I did a little reasearch, cut up some old towels, and started making my own wipes solution of water, a squirt of baby wash, and a squirt of baby oil.  I'm still using store bought wipes for the dirty stuff though :) 

Our first big cloth challenge came when we traveled to the States for a month.  At first, I was going to use disposables, but then realized that if I went home for 2 months total this year, and I started Ryan in cloth when he was 3 months old, he'd only be in cloth for 7 months.  So, I started researching options.  In the end, I landed on All in  Twos (AI2s) with prefolds.  Prefolds are your stereotypical cloth diaper, the ones you picture when you think of cloth.  I also purchased some Flip organic inserts, which are like prefolds but a lot softer and will probably hold up better.  I even purchased some Flip disposable inserts for the airplane.  It was all like a gigantic experiment, but it worked really well. 
I changed the disposable insert every 2 hours on the airplane or in the airport until about 9 pm German time, which was somewhere above the Atlantic,) at which time I switched over to two Flip organic inserts to get Ryan through the night.

Before we arrived in the States, I ordered Ryan's travel solution.  I purchased two more AI2s, a bunch of prefolds, 6 Flip organic inserts, and some hemp doublers.  It meant a lot of laundry and prepping at the beginning of our trip, but it was all worth it- Ryan was in cloth the entire month we were home, which was awesome considering how out of our routine we were. I also purchased some organic cotton liners from a shop on Etsy.  I love liners, because they free you up to use whichever diaper cream you choose without worrying about messing up the absorbancy of the diaper. 

I also purchased, but didn't receive until the end of our trip, Ryan's first custom diapers.  Yup, custom from a WAHM, or Work At Home Mom.  I bought four AI2s, and we're loving them to pieces!


Like all things in life, our groovy little cloth diapering routine quickly changed a few weeks ago, right around 7 months, because Ryan started leaking though his nighttime AIOs.  I don't mean leaking by the way, I mean, we were waking up in a lake of pee, which I guess is one of the joys of having your baby sleep in your bed.  So, I quickly researched and was glad that I had bought two bamboo fitteds to try.  For now, they are working really great with my AI2 covers.  I have ordered a few custom cotton fitteds and plan on ordering a few more AI2 covers in velcro, just because velcro closure seems to be a little easier around the bulky fitteds. 

As of right now, Ryan's diaper drawer looks like this:

and the drawer beneath, with prefolds, inserts, liners, and doublers, looks like this:

So far, so good.  I'm proud of Ryan and myself for making this work!     

Samstag, 14. Juli 2012

30 weeks in, 30 weeks out

I'm a few weeks late with this one, but just wanted to show the difference!  

They grow so quickly!

Food, glorious food!

I wanted to wait to post about Ryan's dive into the world of solids until I had lots of good pictures.  But, then I realized that if I wait that long, I'll probably never get this post up.

Ryan started solids in May, the week before we left for the States.  As a crazy mother, I've decided to make my own baby food.  When Ryan started on solids, I wracked my brain searching for the best first food, and then I realized that I was confused by how to make a puree.  Yes, don't laugh, my knowledge of purees is mashed potatoes, but those are full of milk and butter to make them smooth.  I had no idea how to make a smooth puree without milk and butter, so I thought and searched until I came up with a milk and butterless solution- Avacado.  Yup, Avacado.  You just cut it up, take a fork, mash it up, and add some formula until its a good, soupy consistency.
The verdict?  Well, the first 2 days, Ryan really didn't know what to make of it.  He didn't spit it out, but kept making these confused faces.  By day three, it was all different though, and Ryan was more relaxed, less confused, and even smiling a bit.

From there, we ventured into the world of pumpkin.  I cheated and bought jarred pumpkin.  I know, I know, seems crazy, but I still was confused on how to make a liquidless puree and we were preparing for our trip to the States.  Plus, I wanted to bring jarred baby food for our first few days in the States anyway, so pumpkin it was.  Ryan LOVED pumpkin!  He smiled and ate happily.  When we were at home, he continued to enjoy his pumpkin for a few days.  Pumpkin makes this kid happy!

And then, after a week in the States, after I had purchased a few sweet potatoes for Ryan, tummy trouble started :(  So, we put off food for a while until he seemed better.  Better didn't happen until the first week in July when we were back in Germany.

So, we got back to solids in early July.  We started back with pumpkin, because Ryan did well with pumpkin and it was familiar.

While he was enjoying pumpkin, I decided to try homemade food.  I started with potatoes, because the German Research Institute for Children's Food, (Forschungsinstutiut für Kinderernährung,) babies should start with veggies mixed with potato early on.  So, I decided that since I'll be using lots of potato in Ryan's food over the next few months, why not get started with potatoes?

Here's  my first attempt at baby food:

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that you need to puree veggies with liquid, so well, my potatoes aren't that yummy.  I'm redoing them as I type.

After I decided it was time to leave pumpkin behind, I thought carrots might be a good homemade puree.  Joern went to a farmstand and bought lovely carrots.  So, I tried for puree number two.  This time, I steamed the majority of the carrots, and boiled about three.  I decided to boil a few to get a good carrot broth for the puree, and I figured that even though boiling leaches out a lot of nutrients, I was keeping some of the nutrients by using the broth.

Carrots were a hit!  Ryan loved them!  And the carrot puree looked beautiful!  If I were to feed Ryan straight carrots, two pounds produced enough puree for about a week.

While Ryan was enjoying carrots, I decided to start making peas.  Pea puree has to be the easiest ever- steam frozen peas, place in food processor with liquid, and place in containers.  Easy breezy.  After about 4 days of carrot, Ryan got to try peas.  And this was the verdict:

Yesterday, we added potatoes to the peas, and it went over really well.  The research institute suggests about 4 oz. of veggie/potato/meat puree for the first month of solids.  Ryan's up to about 2 oz, which I think is really good, considering that he just really started solids two weeks ago.

Today's challenge is to add in meat.  I have no idea how this is going to work.  You're supposed to offer about 3/4 of an oz. of meat 3-4 times a week.  I'm using jarred meat right now, because I want to perfect my  veggie purees before I even think of trying meat.

I'm so proud of our little boy.  He's growing up so quickly!  Keep it up Little Pea!

Donnerstag, 5. Juli 2012

Linking to Facebook

Since I've been the world's worst blogger, I decided to link this blog to Facebook, so that new posts show up on Facebook to let my friends know that there has been a little action over here.  But, when I linked, I hoped my post about the States came up, which is interesting and chock-full-o'pictures.  Unfortunately, a post appeared as new which was from May, when I was feeling a little low.  Thank you for the comments and motivation.  I'm actually feeling quite refreshed after my time home, and well, if our house has a few dust spots, its okay!

Mittwoch, 4. Juli 2012

Ryan's first trip to the USA!

Last Monday, we returned from what was most definitely the most exciting and emotional trip of my life.  We spent 3 1/2 weeks in Connecticut with Ryan.  It was so awesome! 
Ryan was a super, wonderful, amazing baby the entire time, which started on the airplane.  He was fantastic on both the flight from Stuttgart to Frankfurt, as well as the flight from Frankfurt to New York.
We received tons of complements once we landed at JFK about what a fantastic baby Ryan was the entire flight.  Way to go little man, we're so proud of you!

Of course, the trip was only to get better from here.  We got to my dad's house, and well, it was a mutual love fest.  Ryan loves Grandpa, and Grandpa loves Ryan.  It was so wonderful, touching, and heart wrenching to see my dad with Ryan, knowing that I live so damn far away.  Its the being far from family that is the toughest for me about living abroad.

From the first of June, it was a "meet everyone" fest for Ryan, and he did incredibly well.  Obviously, Ryan met his Grandma Cheryl and Auntie Gigi the next day.

And, he was welcomed as the newest member of the "Bruegger's Crew," which is funny as the group is primarily retired guys :)
As the days went on, Ryan got to meet a bunch of other awesome people.  Some family, and some of Mommy's friends.  
 Mommy's long-time friend, Emily

 Meeting Aunt Terry, Uncle Ed, and Laurie

 Ryan meeting his cousins

 Ryan meeting more family

Ryan's first encounter with a cat, Lucy!

Of course, we also got to spend time with Aunt Karen, Jeff, Kaethie, and Elizabeth, but sadly, we can't seem to find the proof of this.  Ryan also got to meet Mommy's friend Monica and her new little baby.  

Besides all the exciting faces, there were tons of exciting places too!  Beyond the airport, Ryan had tons of new experiences in his other home country.

 He arrived in New York sound asleep, and in his jammies.

 Every Connecticutician must go to Stew's!

 At the New England Air Museum

 Enjoying a little lamb for breakfast at the Cracker Barrel

 Rediscovering his German roots at Old Heidelberg restaurant

 First trip to the beach

An afternoon at Captain's Cove Seaport


And if that wasn't enough, Ryan also had a busy time supporting the German national team playing in the European Cup.
 As always, our time was too short though, and we ended up running out of time to see everyone we wanted to see.  And, I'm sure Ryan and Grandpa wanted to spend lots more time together.  But also, Ryan had so many "firsts," and just like all our other experiences, I'm so glad I was able to share this wonderful experience with my little boy.