Sunday, December 30, 2007

Good night, T!

My son, who's 3, has been very slow to talk. Very, very slow. We've taken him in for several evaluations, and they haven't found any reason for it. And while he has made huge strides in the last year, he's still pretty far behind most kids his age. This becomes a problem in social situations. T is tall for his age and very physically skilled, so other kids often think he's several years older than he really is. Then, when he tries to talk, they all look at him like there's something really wrong with him. As his Mom, I want to protect him from being hurt or ridiculed. But I also know that he's got to find his own way and that if I'm too protective of him now, it's going to do him more harm than good in the long run. (cue sad, dramatic, emotional music) sniff.

So, I have enrolled him in a preschool program of a private child care provider on base. He is doing so well. The other boy that's in the program is behind verbally as well, so it's nice that they are on the same verbal level. Now, here's the part I don't like - while T can be an absolute Tasmanian devil with the temper tantrums and activity level, overall he's a good kid. Since starting preschool with this other boy - let's call him Jay - T has learned how to tackle, spit, fake cry (like we need any more crying around here *cough* S *cough*) fake cough/gag and a few other things that are generally annoying. In the back of my mind, I see Jay's mom blogging about T saying, he's taught Jay how to...... So, all in all the positive outweighs the negative, and isn't that the point?

When I put T to bed, I sing to him and we (usually meaning I) talk to him about what we did during the day and what's going on tomorrow. But for the past couple weeks, when I put him to bed, he's been trying to sing along with me and he's been telling me what songs to sing. This is a huge leap and I find myself tearing up (and not being able to blame it on pregnancy hormones, drat it) and just so happy that he's making noticible progress. So, tonight, when I was putting him to bed, he held up his little hand and said - "No Mom! T's turn!!" and HE sang his version of twinkle twinkle little star. Now, THAT'S progress to me!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ne pas fete sans Bob (It's not a party without Bob) at McDonalds

Driving through Belgium on Saturday, we saw numerous billboards that said, "Ne pas fete sans Bob" which translates into It's not a party without Bob. Since R and I both have Bobs in our family, we thought it would be really cool to take a picture of it. Alas, after many attempts to capture one of these billboards in a photo, the batteries died. Sorry Bobs! But we already knew it wasn't a party without you. heh!

They speak a version of French in Belgium. I took four years of French in high school and one in college. I can rehearse beautifully in my head the simplistic gist of what I want to say, but put me face to face with a foreigner and I have no idea what comes out of my mouth, other than it's not coherent. So, when we went to McDonalds for lunch I was determined to order in French. Hhhahaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Ahem. You'd think I'd learn by now. Let me just preface my next few paragraphs by saying that I took a year of Spanish in college and an intensive ten week course in German right after we moved here. So, when trying to speak Spanish or German, French will pop into my head - usually words I didn't realize I knew. Let me try to communicate in German, and it's a new language entirely - I call it Gerenchish. No wonder some Europeans dislike Americans..we can't even master our own language most of the time, never mind another one...or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, let me start off by saying this was the smallest McDonalds I've ever been in. It was a mcminiture mcversion of a mceuropean mcdonalds. As you may have guessed, everything was
"mc"'d. Mcparking, McDrive, McToilettes. Okay, I'm not sure about the McBathrooms, but it fits. There is a McDonalds really near where we live in Germany. While it's different than the ones in the states, it's fairly spacious by European standards. The McD's in Belgium was McTiny. At the order counter, there were three registers - all manned - with enough room for about 7 folks to be squished in together. (Of course, I have a personal space issue. My preference for calculation is to take the 24 or however many inches Americans prefer and double it. With cheese. heh. In this particular public space, you were lucky if you got six inches of personal space. Between R, me, the kids and the diaper bag, we were immediately labled American because of our space hogging. As were were being stared down and muttered about (interestingly the translation for idiot in most languages seems to pretty much be idiot with a few different accents thrown in and perhaps a extra e or something). In my head I'm practicing my high school French ordering "Je voudrais un happy meal cheeseburger..." etc. What came out was ...well.. it was... it was horrible. Whenever I have to actually speak French for some unknown reason it comes out in East Tennessee twang. So phonetically, Je voudrais which should sound like 'zeh vood-ray' come out like 'jeh VOUD-raise". OMG - I was so mortified, I turned bright red and slapped my hand over my mouth to stop myself. The cashier, who must be used to stupid Americans massacring their language, didn't blink but did turn up the left side of his mouth in an uncontrollable smirk. SIGH. Who could blame him?

Walking through the tables (they were round cafe style tables and there were LOTS of them all crammed together), I managed to hit at least 10 people with our diaper bag, and I was being careful. There was less space in between the tables which were inconveniently NOT arranged in rows, more like an obstacle course for anorexic...I conscious models. So anyone of a normal size, much less a little large, was destined to do some bumping and knocking. And, let's be honest.. how many 'diet conscious' people do you see eating at McDonalds? So, sorry McCustomers, I did the best I could.
Besides, what can I say? We didn't have a Bob so it couldn't be a party!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Real, true, honest holiday letter

Let's face it - we all want to show ourselves in the best possible light - hence plastic surgery, 'good' lighting, photoshop, 'tactful' honesty, less than totally accurate resumes, and my personal favorite - the Christmas letter. Ever notice how no one ever, ever has a bad thing to say in a Christmas letter? Yeah, me too.

So, in the spirit of keeping it real, here is our absolutely, positively what-really-happened-this-year Christmas letter showcasing all our dysfunctional glory. No doubt we are going to offend someone, so we apologize in advance and suggest that just maybe you shouldn't read any further. We'll insert a cute pic of the kiddies to distract you while we continue with our snark. Love ya, mean it.

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family! Oh, wait, that's not PC anymore.


Happy Holidays to all our friends and family!

We had a big year! Starting with the good news first - we added to our family this year! S was born in early spring and smart kid that she's shaping up to be, she fought being born tooth and nail. I, who have established that I have a slight control freak issue, showed S who was boss and scheduled a c-section when I wanted her born. She responded by requiring two people to pull her out. Can you imagine what would have happened if I'd waited for her to decide to be born? I'd still be pregnant.

T, who refused to acknowledge in any way that he had a baby sister coming, adjusted really well to her existence. Of course, if you considered that he hit his terrible twos (more on this later) at the beginning of the year, it was kind of hard to tell because any pause at all in the screaming and tantrums was immediately noted as great behavior and very positively reinforced. (p.s. thanks to Marci for the travel tips - ooooh boy! they work!!)

I decided to have the baby in NC for a variety of reasons, including the chance to see friends and family. R's parents were able to come and see the baby without flying over the ocean and back. However, I have to say, staying with mom and her husband while greatly appreciated, seemed like I was back in junior high. Out of the kid raising business (or so they hoped) Mom and her husband were a little - no, a lot - overwhelmed with all the changes and activity. They were very gracious, but let's just say we were all much happier when I finally left. The proof is in the pudding when she says how much she misses the kids - oh, and me too of course. I'm not sure she's quite recovered. Again, see the later section on temper tantrums to understand. And NC is NOT the place to be without a car of your own.

R was able to come for the birth and as he puts it - he saw waaaaaaay more of me that he ever cared to. Hey, he chose to look. It ain't pretty like in the movies. But now we are a foursome and life is good. And we have a LOT of frequent flier miles. Two or three million more and we might get an extra coke. Each. Wooooo!

Now for the bad stuff. (Admit it, you are dying to know). Oh good lord, the tantrums. I guess that there must have been a surge of estrogen since I was having a girl, because I cried more during this pregnancy than I have in my entire life. Between the hot flashes and the moodiness, I would have sworn I started menopause if I hadn't seen the ultrasound to prove I was actually pregnant. (And, sorry if this is TMI - but a very sarcastic thanks to the military that prescribed the crappy birth control pills) I also owe some apologies due to my spectacular bitchiness both during and directly after my pregnancy. I'd name names, but frankly, it's easier, shorter, and quicker to apologize to the entire world. Me - "Sorry for being bitchy" World - "Whateva!"

As I mentioned before, T started his terrible twos in January. I can pinpoint the second, truth be told. I was in the lab taking my glucose test when T decided to throw the mother of all fits. To this day, I can't tell you why. But he screamed and cried and hit and flailed about. Now, in any other situation I'd have hauled his misbehaving butt out of there, but I couldn't leave because of the stupid glucose test. So the entire building and perhaps the next three or four could probably hear the screaming. Defying my orders to sit and wait in the lab, I eventually hauled him off to the sitters, praying that my blood pressure would go down enough before they drew blood to avoid a vein blowout. Walking back in, toddler-less, I hear the techs talking about us to other patients. (Cough*unprofessional*Cough) By the way, they would have beat his ass and GIVEN him something to cry about. Oh, and I just sat there and did nothing. Yeah, imagine the HORROR of not beating the crap out of my kid because I don't want to teach him to hit when he's angry. THEN - they realize I'm baaaaaaaaaaack and haul their sorry butts into the lab room and no one wants to take my blood. This, of course does nothing for my BP or my temperament. So when the tech that was doing all the side car parenting finally decided to help me (it didn't hurt that I pressed and held the buzzer after they didn't come out when 10 minutes went by) she had the nerve to say that she felt so bad for me and wished there was something she could do to help.

Now, in my mind I am handing this calmly and cooly and I mentally reply, "Really? You wouldn't have taken a two year old into the bathroom and beaten him until he stopped crying, you sorry b**ch?!?" In reality, I got "Really?" out and then burst into tears when I said the rest -only I left the sorry b**ch part out cause she WAS sticking a needle in my arm and I'm not quite that stupid. Or rude, actually.

Unfortunately, this was only the tip of the tantrum iceberg. On our way back to the US, T screamed, cried, or a combination of the two for at least five hours of the eight hour flight. He smacked the flight attendant when she tried to help, so we went thirsty and were avoided (understandably) for the rest of the flight. The poor guy sitting behind R balled up his napkin and stuffed that into his ears, put pillows over each ear, practically wrapped the blanket around that, and then put his coat over him to quell the noise. I don't think it worked. It was so bad that on their way out, the passengers instead of seeming angry with us, patted us in sympathy. This, of course, just made us feel worse. To add insult to injury, T blew kisses at everyone on the way out and gave them a cheerful "'bye!!!!" I am still shocked that we are allowed to fly that airline and that we weren't kicked out over the ocean without parachutes. SO embarrassing! As are the countless times we've pulled him out of the BX, Commissary and various other public places. And let's not even go into the toilet training thing.

Onto S's strong personality traits - this girl is SERIOUS about her food. She refuses to eat baby food if we are eating something she wants, which is whatever we are eating. She loves to put everything in her mouth, so not only do I need to keep the floors free from even the tiniest specks of anything, she will try and bite your finger off if you attempt to pull anything out of her mouth. And then she laughs about it. Uh oh. She also screams non stop when she's tired of being in her car seat. The average this week is 15 minutes before the vocal sirens begin. But her favorite thing is to smile and giggle to lure you close to her and then spit up all over whatever clean item of clothing you had the gall to put on. I think R's record for shirt changes in one day is seven.

We've done some short trips since S's birth. We've been to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and some cities in Germany within a couple hours drive. The consistent thing is that we are going to get lost - with or without directions, maps, or the assistance of some really nice locals. Anytime we go near Liege, Belgium, we not only end up lost but end up lost in the same freakin' area. And the only reason we know it's the same area is because it has a Pizza Hut and the Belgian version of a Food Lion. You'd think that between the two of us (considering you can literally drop R in the middle of the woods with a compass and a poncho and he can McGyver his way home) that we could pull it together and figure it all out, but nooooooooooooo. We are hoping that 2008 brings us better navigational luck, but we aren't holding our breath. And anyway, the journey is half the fun, right? Well, if S isn't screaming and T's not kicking the back of the seat and they've had a decent nap and are fed, watered and entertained... oh who am I kidding - these road trips can really suck.

So! That about wraps it up for this year. Belive me, I have more but I think I've painted a pretty clear picture. Wishing all of our friends and family a wonderful holiday season and a joyous New Year. May you all have the lives you wrote about in your holiday letters - and please email me and tell me how to do it :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Let it snow party

Last Thursday was R's Christmas party - the one for the adults (since that what we are supposed to be calling ourselves...err.. I mean behaving like). So we got all dressed up, okay.. we got sort of dressed up which for me meant a skirt AND makeup AND fluffy southern-i-fied hair and for R meant something without camouflage or denim. Hey - we have kids - no point in getting out the fancy stuff for everyday wear since the kids will either get bodily fluids, food, or art supplies on it.

The older kids were voluntold (our opinion only) to watch the younger ones, but either way you translated it, it meant free child care. So, sign us up! After getting lost once or twice (everything looks exactly the same in Germany at night in rural areas) we finally made it to the Christmas party site. Which, I have to give the planners credit - it was a beautiful place. If we actually had money to spend on us, I'd totally want to spend the weekend there --probably in the spa.

T settled in quickly. The resort even provided kiddie food - mini pizza, mashed potatoes, hot dogs, peas and carrots (Me and Jen-nay go together like peas and carrots - I LOVE Forrest Gump!), and other kid friendly stuff. My only suggestion would have been to put the condiments in smaller serving dishes because a big bowl of ketchup to T is like manna from heaven. And he's not so crazy about sharing the things he truly loves. Like ketchup. And Thomas the train.

They had two different Christmas movies playing, both of which he'd seen before and liked, so he could have cared less that we left or if we ever came back. Such a change from this time last year, when I literally could not leave his sight for one second! But to us, it looked like there was only one teenager there for all those kids and there must have been 15 already. So we were nervous about leaving S, since she's been a bit of a pill as of late. And with all those other kids to deal with, we weren't sure that we could leave our little banshee there to ruin everyone's night. So we thought we'd take her up to the main room with us. Two flights of steps later, we walked into smokeville. Sigh. Now, I grew up in a tobacco town with a smoking family. While R and I don't smoke, I feel it's up to the individual to choose how they live their life. Unfortunately, about 45 folks chose to smoke right outside the ballroom door, so to go in to the party, you had to walk through the fog, and leave your coat out there in fogdom to absorb all the magically delicious smoke odor. So, we turned around and headed back downstairs with S. We could hold our breath and dash in, S has yet to acquire that skill. Fortunately, there were now several older kids there to help out and several small babies, which would keep S interested. So we put her down and left again, T was having so much fun he didn't notice that we had come back.

Walking through the smoke haze, we entered the ballroom where the theme was Let it Snow. We know this because it was written in several places. Which is good, because there was no other indication of what the theme was. Looking around we saw very few people that we know. Of course, since R does the PT program, they all knew him, and oddly enough didn't seem to want to hang out and chat. Huh! So, we walked the perimeter and smiled and nodded at people we did know. We ran into R's section chief and ended up chatting with him for a long time. So long that we ended up sitting with him at dinner. Admittedly, it was fun - he's hilarious - and between R and the chief, people left us pretty much alone. Woohoo - how to be social without actually being social.

Ohhh.. and they had a slide show up of photographs of the squadron members and their families. And do you know what I saw?!?!?! My meek, quiet little hubby on his hands and knees all drill instructor like, yelling at some poor soul doing pushups. Well, I'm pretty sure it was R. I recognized the ears. Since R never yells at home, I was fascinated. But my seat was near a column, so I couldn't see the slide show well from where I was sitting. sniff sniff.. I smell a rat. People always tell me how mean he is, which I find hysterical, since I've never seen that side of him. I have pissed him off before, so I know he's got it in him, he just never loses his temper with me. Now I know why, he takes it out on those poor out of shape coworkers of his. HA!

Moving right along since the party sure didn't..cocktails and social hour were at 6, dinner was supposed to be at seven, but between the speeches and the game they played to determine the order in which the tables could eat, we didn't start eating until after eight. It was a beautiful spread - a mini salad bar, tons of pasta and I think potato salads, roasted wild hen, tomato soup, salmon, roasted goose, ham, green beans, potato dumplings.. you get the idea. My only thing is this - I don't eat mayo if I can possibly avoid it. And I don't know what it is with the Germans and the Canadians, but they are mayo happy. It seemed like it was on everything. I did try some new things, but ugh!! The theme for the night should have been food slathered with mayo. Blech!

After we ate and socialized a little more, we decided to head home with the kiddies since it was way past their bedtime. Walking into the kiddie room, T was checking on S to make sure she was okay (or to make sure she didn't have a toy he wanted). So sweet. The sitters said that S didn't cry at all. Yay! T didn't want to leave - and he'd been having such a good time that he hadn't even eaten any ketchup. Unless you've seen T with ketchup, you don't realize what an amazing thing that is. Trust me.. it's amazing. If you've seen the movie Big Daddy with Adam Sandler, think the 37 packets of ketchup scene and there you have it.

So, we headed home without getting lost, got the kids to bed, fell into bed ourselves with the knowledge that this was our last holiday party --until next year. Three in two weeks is plenty!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Parties, dates, and grills, OH MY!

What a week! Last week we were quite busy. Tuesday was our road trip, Wednesday the Globetrotters were here, Thursday was the Family Holiday Party for the Squadron, Friday was Give Parents a Break, and Saturday was mail your packages or else day.

And because nothing is ever as simple as it seems - we stood out in the wind and rain for 45 minutes waiting to get in to see the Globetrotters. And let me tell you - the line was long! It wrapped around the gym, through the parking lots and then around the front and side of the movie theater. The doors didn't open until 1800, we got there at around 1715 and waited and waited. There was a large group of kids playing beside the line, so we told T that he could go and play but to stay where we could see him. And, he mostly did. R went to get an umbrella when the mist turned to sprinkles turned into cold, hard pelting rain. We have one of those big golf umbrellas so that we can all fit, which is nice for us but not so great for the folks ahead and behind us, who (thanks to the gusting winds) narrowly missed getting an eye put out more than once. Need some personal space? Take a golf umbrella. Tilt it just right and you can channel a nice stream of water into the back of someones shoe.

Anyway - we look up from our huddle to realize we don't see T anywhere. R goes and looks for him - can't find him. I go and look for him - can't find him. Trying not to panic, we discuss options-alert security forces, go back to the car for a flashlight and search more ourselves, scrap the flashlight and keep looking separately, give up our place in line and search in sweeping circles. We decided to leave the line. No big loss, since we were near the back and we saw at least 70 people cut in front of us. Good thing the military teaches honor and honesty, huh? Besides, due to our lack of umbrella control, we hadn't exactly endeared ourselves to the people around us. So, R goes one way, I go the other and R finds T splashing in a nice, muddy puddle just out of our line of sight. He could see us, we couldn't see him. But he was fine, and we learned our lesson too. Cold, wet, and way less panicked, we decided to scrap the whole Globetrotters thing and grab some dinner where we could get warm. Turns out the gym filled up to capacity long before half the line was admitted. I, ever the picture of grace and attentiveness, managed to step on a board with a nail sticking out of it when searching for T. Lucky for me, it missed my foot, but did managed to go all the way through the sole of my shoe, which means now anytime it rains (which is pretty much every day) water comes up into my shoe through the nice little hole. For the record, this is something duct tape didn't fix. Go figure.

Thursday night was the family holiday party. It was so much fun! There were activity stations - decorate your own gingerbread man, build a gingerbread house (out of graham crackers - what a great alternative), and make a paper boot to fill with candy. I had way more fun than the kids did with the crafts. I consider it a fringe benefit to parenthood. Santa came and read stories to the kids and they all got the option to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. T, to my surprise, didn't want anything but instead gave Santa his decorated gingerbread man. How sweet! It was however, missing a bite or two so we warned Santa about that - not that he'd be interested in eating a gingerbread man with about an inch of icing, two handfuls of M&M's some marshmallows, and I think chocolate sprinkles. At least I hope they were chocolate sprinkles. Nothing like getting the kids all sugared up right before bedtime.

Friday was Give Parents a Break and for a nominal fee, you can leave your kids at the base childcare center. This time it was from 6:30 to 11:30. So R and I got five whole hours all to ourselves. (Doing a little happy dance). We went to see Fred Claus, which was really cute. And, since we still had time left and had eaten earlier with the kids, we went to see the second movie showing which was The Kingdom. Unfortunately, we had to leave before it was over, but we had a lot of fun. The kids did really well being left in childcare, and slept really late on Saturday. an upside to our rain drenched fiasco (where we also lost S's pacifier, drat it) Wednesday night, we got a call on Friday that we'd won a grill. The new gas station/shopette/care care center opened Wednesday and we stopped by there on our way home. While waiting for T and I to come out of the bathroom, R registered for the grand opening giveaways. It's a nice portable grill, it's even on wheels! You know what else is nice about it? Robert's excited to have a new grill, so he's been a grill master and that means less cooking for me, which is always a bonus!

On Saturday, we went to the post office to mail off the last of our Christmas gifts. Encouraged by the kids' good behavior in the post office in the line that seemed to never end or progress, we went to the Christmas market in Bitburg. It was smaller than we remembered and really, really cold. T had a blast looking at all the decorations loved being able to run around a little. Walking by an alleyway, I saw a sign for Funk Taxi, and let me just say, given some of the body odors wafting around here, I don't know that I'd have picked that out for a business name. I tried to take a picture, but it didn't come out well. You know what they say - funk it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rooooooad Tripppppppppppp!

It means exit, but even after two years I find it funny.
HA!!!!! You said it, I didn't

The plan for yesterday was simple. I think maybe that's where we went wrong. My husband had a seminar/meeting/briefing thing at another base that was only going to last half a day. He suggested the kids and I come down and meet him for lunch, we could do a little Christmas shopping and then he'd just ride back with us. Since the base where he was going to be was much bigger than the one where we are, I jumped at the idea.

In Germany, it gets a bit chilly here in the winter. I mean, I even wear a coat. And hat. And gloves (especially now that I seem to be on dead mouse detail--see my previous entry). For those of you who read this that know me well, you realize what that means. While I am certainly not a perfect parent - far from it - I would like to dress my children appropriately for the winter... including long sleeves and long pants. Perhaps a hat and some gloves to ward off frostbite. Just a thought.

I have been unable to find anything at our BX for S. She's at that in between stage - not an infant, not a toddler. I call her a bascotod (baby/scooter/toddler) But I have been unable to find a single long sleeve onsie for her at the bx, much less a pair of pants. Short sleeve onsies? Check. Pajamas? Check. Cutsey little dresses that will literally allow frostbite on her bum? Check check. Mittens or hats for babies? Nope. I found a pair of nice mittens at the Christmas fair in Dudeldorf last weekend, but they were 19 Euro, which is pretty expensive for something she's going to lose and or chew on (and when I say chew, I really kinda mean spit up). But back to my point. I figured I stood a chance at finding some winter clothes for her. Luckily, Mom sent her some really cute long sleeve onsies a couple weeks ago. Now, of course, she's hit a growth spurt so all of her pants are too short. Sigh. It never ends.

So, off the kids and I go. I was so prepared. I had a well stocked diaper bag, snacks, extra bottles and formula, changes of clothes, toys for the trip (about an hour and a half each way), directions, a full tank of gold..err..gas, kiddie music for the cd player, a towel for spills and most importantly, a caffeinated beverage for me. Sounds so comprehensive, doesn't it? The only thing I left off this list was S's pacifier. This, of course, will be glaringly obvious before the day was over. The trip down was great. Lunch was great. Shopping - so so. I did find two pairs of pants, but was disappointed because at this point, I'd really like S to branch out colorwise from pink and purple. It's been eight months, Carters. Let's move on down the color chart.

Our stroller has been used to the last scraggling, duct taped inch of it's life. It's survived T, many, many plane trips, countless over loadings against the manufacturers warnings, a secret life as a double stroller, luggage cart. and a grocery cart. It's time to retire ol' bessie. She's had a good life. Alas, today was not retirement day, because while we found strollers, there wasn't a single one out of the box to prove that it really was a one handed fold up/down, easily maneuvering, sturdy enough for two kids yet not too bulky model. So, we passed. I have to admit, I'm drooling over a sporty red German version that would be considered affordable were we paid in Euro's but seems on the extravagant side given that in a year neither of my kids will want anything to do with a stroller and we'll basically be using it for imprisonment purposes.

Oh - and I forgot to mention that I filled S's bottles with water before we left. Before you congratulate me on my forward thinking I have to say that I didn't notice that the diaper bag tipped over in the car. When we arrived at our destination I noticed because the stupid avent bottle leaked, soaking my coat, the newspaper, the diaper bag full of clothes and diapers (things pretty important to keep dry in my humble opinion), and T's last artwork masterpiece. Umm... bottle manufacturers? Do you think you could create, say a color coding system for folks like me that mistakenly assume all avent bottles of the same size, shape and color have interchangeable parts and only find out they are mistaken in situations like the one described above? thanks! Oh, and yes, I used the cap. The leak was from the actual piece that you screw on to the bottle, and yes it was tightened.

The calm before the storm Enjoy it-all hell breaks loose in 9 minutes

Jeez.. I just noticed how long this post is. I'll wrap it up in a hurry. Okay! So, very little shopping done due to lack of things to purchase, we decide to head home. The original plan was to head to Trier on the way back to hit the Christmas market. We planned to go Sunday but it was pouring down rain. Pouring rain, high winds and munchkins without proper winter gear equals pneumonia. No thanks. On the way home, we decide to skip the Christmas market in Trier again, mainly because my coat was still wet, we now have a lack of usable diapers, neither kid has napped (which is so far beyond tempting the lack of discipline gods I won't even go there), and honestly we are both tired. And it's dark by 4:30 pm here and parking is a b**ch in Trier. We usually take the train. All is going well, and the kids are snoozing. We are about 30 minutes from home and S wakes with a start and begins to wail. It's a piercing wail - the equivalent I'd guess to being a dog and having a dog whistle blown right in your doggie ear. This wakes up T, who begins to cry too (I assume in a show of solidarity). Things get worse from here. Oh, if only only I'd remembered the pacifier. I break out snacks which helps T, but S wants to be fed cheerios by R or I judging from the fact that she refuses to pick one up in her tiny little baby claws and instead does her best baby bird imitation. Which, let's be honest here, at this point I'm willing to feed her, except she's sitting directly behind me, facing the rear of the car, and my arm only bends in certain ways. I don't want to turn around in my seat because we tell T that he cant do it on a fairly regular basis. T was willing to help, but would give her one cheerio to his handful, which really, really ticked her off and resulted in more wailing by both of them. She did stop wailing when we got to the front gate long enough to go through the id check and coo at the freakin' guard, but immediately picked up where she left off as we went through. Good times, good times. Turns out it was nothing that a clean diaper, warm bottle of milk (a gerber bottle this time thankyouverymuch) and freedom from car seat prison couldn't cure. We SO need a minivan.

Full tummy, clean pants, no car is good!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Failure, mice, and annoying neighbors

No one can make S laugh like T can. Unfortunately, we've only gotten it on video once (when I find it, I'll post it). This video is the most recent one we've taken. S, who will stop and smile for the camera now, somehow knows the difference between our taking a simple picture and taking video. Whatever cute, hilarious, or impressive thing she's doing stops immediately when she is being videotaped. Granted, cute, hilarious, and impressive is totally subjective and probably only impresses us, but still...

Wednesday night, we all bundled up and went for a short walk to see if there was a movie we wanted to rent. When we got down to the bottom of the stairs, there was a dead mouse on the floor in front of the stairs. This is the third dead mouse I've found in less than two weeks. Given that we've never seen mouse droppings, much less a mouse inside, I was a bit puzzled. But then it hit me - there's a cat that's been hanging around out building. We've seen it on the stairs and someone in the stairwell put out some food for it last weekend. This cat belonged to someone, because it's dashed into out apartment before, not realizing that the little munchkins that live here are the cat equivalent of terrorists. They aren't intentionally mean, but for the kids, the lure of that swishing tail attached to movable feet is the equivalent to the lure of Elvis and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Uhhhhuhhhh - huh.

Anyway, T bends over and puts his nose about one inch away from the mouse -- which, can I just say it--what is UP with the people in this building? I know that at least three people stepped over that mouse on their way to their apartment. So, T is looking at the mouse saying, "Mouse, asleep?" And we say yes, the mouse is asleep, so I end up picking up the mouse (I was wearing gloves) and taking it back to 'bed' which just happened to be under a tree in a pile of leaves behind the trash building. I figured it would go well with all the dog poop the slackers in apartment 2 leave back there apparently thinking that if it's behind a building then it won't smell or be visible.

Anyway, the following pictures we took today at a Christmas market in Dudeldorf. As Christmas markets go in Germany, this one was tiny, but it was really neat to walk around and see all the handmade crafts for sale. We are probably heading to the Christmas markets in Trier and Bitburg this weekend too, so I'm sure we'll have more pictures soon.

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