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Saturday Feature -Click Clack Gorilla

This week was crazy busy and very stressful, so I apologize for only bringing you the link-up and feature posts with no other content. The boy was having a time of it this week and simply, it wore me out.

So, on to the good stuff. You guys really know how to bring your best and if I could, I would’ve picked all of you. With advice about being an expat, a ten year anniversary, stylish and creative business cards and even a yummy Valentine’s Day lasagna recipe, how do I choose?

Well, once you read this post from Nicolette of Click Clack Gorilla, you’ll see why. Ever heard of “Tiny Living” or “Wägen”? Take a read and make sure to watch the You Tube video at the end where she was featured on Tiny Yellow House and you can get a better idea of their living style here in Germany. I’m in awe and inspired by the choices she and her husband have made for their lives and I can’t wait to share it with you!

*Nicolette is a freelance writer who you may have seen before as she is the voice behind the blog for Young Germany

WagenWith three trailers (Wägen) our daily life has changed again.  It is always changing.  The nature of life, the nature of parenting, the nature of the passing of seasons.  It feels worth recording.  It feels like the more of these posts that I remember to write, the more interesting it will one day be to look back at them, wondering at the people and places I have been.

With a cousin visiting the chores spread themselves out among three instead of two, and the difference is a noticable sigh of relief.  He may sleep later than Pickles ever lets us, but he loves making kindling for the stove, washes dishes almost every day, cooks spicy Indian food that makes our noses run and our stomachs happy.

When does the day really start?  The first time that Pickles wakes me up, asking for a drink, at 1 or 2 or 3 am?  At 5 or 6 when she threatens to wake up for good, but usually falls back asleep for a few hours with milk?  At the very latest it starts at 7 or 7:30, if we’re lucky 8, when she wakes up for good, usually in a bad mood.  “Milk!”  “Eat!”  “Peepee!”  I vaguely remember a time when she woke up happy, and we played games across the pillow from each other until I could bear the thought of getting out of bed.  Now she wakes up cranky, demanding.  I can’t say I blame her.  I feel the same way.

Let’s just assume that this is a day when the Beard is at home.

He gets out of bed first, motivated, I can only assume, by the dream of coffee.  Whoever makes the coffee lights the woodstove in the kitchen.  Whoever doesn’t lights the woodstove in the sleeping trailer.  Except when the Beard is faster, which he almost always is these last few weeks.  Then he shoves paper and medium-sized logs into the woodstove and leaves it to relight itself on last night’s embers before heading to the kitchen to do the honors there.  It takes somewhere between 10 minutes and 45 for the stove to relight.  The pressed mulch briquettes we use to heat at night keep the trailer at a comfortable tempurature until we wake up, and leave enough embers to make relighting a hands-free process.  Long live pressed mulch briquettes.

Coffee is ground by hand, water boils on the stove, kindling crackles in two wood stoves, the Chemex is prepared, and it all results in a cup of coffee delivered to my hands.  While the Beard heads off to wash dishes or smoke or where ever, I get Pickles dressed, brush her hair (screaming), brush her teeth (more screaming; it is a nightmarish process that you have to hold her down for).  I attempt to sneak in a few minutes on the internet, alternatively, while she either plays happily or begins to scream “outside outside” over and over.  It doesn’t matter what the weather is like.  That kid loves the outdoors, the trampoline, and walking around the property anywhere that isn’t our direct yard.  Sometimes I actually wish that she liked tv more. HA.

The Beard and I trade off Pickles in shifts.  One goes to the park so the other can write a few emails.  I take her to play groups and dates (and on Thursdays, child care at the gym) so the Beard can fiddle.  The Beard cooks lunch, and we all eat together around the new kitchen table that I am already starting to take for granted.  Shifts are traded.  We bike to the grocery store.  We bike to the playground.  We bike into town.  We bike to a friends’.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to get a nap.  At home diapers have been replaced by a potty, like magic (the kid potty trained herself).

The Beard, or maybe my cousin, or maybe even I cook dinner.  We eat around the table again, reveling in the luxury of delicious food at every meal.  Talking about music.  Playing music.  Pickles refuses to stay in her seat and insists on sitting in my lap.  I refuse; eating is holy and I want my space.  She clings to my leg, whines, starts yelling and signing “sleep” over and over to signify that she’d like to go back to the sleeping trailer, and she’s not going to leave me alone until we do.  Sometimes the Beard takes her over, and she screams until I follow.  Sometimes I take her over, leaving my meal half finished, disgruntled.  Yesterday we brought her high chair back in from the shed and strapped her in, and she finally had no choice but to sit there until we were all finished.  It wasn’t even that dramatic.  What a relief.

After dinner she plays in the sleeping trailer for an hour or three.  We’re trying to cut back on what sick time has made a rather extreme television habit to a night time wind-down habit, so maybe she watches an episode of Baby Einstein on my computer.  It is a quiet, relaxed time most days, and I can read a page or two of a book between interuptions to look at cars or set up train tracks or kiss hurts.  Sometime between 8 and 11 she’ll show signs of tiredness, and I’ll whisk her into bed.  She usually doesn’t need more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, but they are the longest 20 minutes of my day, spent waiting in the dark.  Being kicked.  Feeling impatient.  Ready for a break.

Now that our kitchen is finished we sometimes hang out there post-bedtime, not worrying about how loud we’re talking or playing music or drinking beer.  What luxury!  But more often than not I am too exhausted and want nothing more than to lay in bed, reading by the light of my solar lamp, visiting fictional worlds, and finally winding down myself.

I can’t imagine you won’t be stopping by her blog to say hello! If you’re here in Germany and write about your experiences, make sure to also check out Young Germany for a chance to have your content shared on their site! Have a great weekend!

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A Boy Mom’s Guide To Survival

“Boys are easier”, they said.

“Boys are so fun”, they said.

Yes, they are fun, but easier? Maybe in an alternate universe where there they are not constantly a danger to themselves. From one mom on the verge of having a heart attack to another, here are some tips for survival safety:

  1.  If he can stand on it or sit on it, he will jump off of it. (anything, usually the couch)

     

  2. If he can stand on it or sit on it, he will try to skateboard with it. (think laundry basket lid, cushions)
  3. If he can stand on it or sit on it, he will try to surf on it. (think gliding ottoman)
  4. If he can sit on it, he will try to ride it. (his toy wheel-barrow – he turns it over and makes it into a car)
  5. If he can’t reach it, he will find a way. (see next)
  6. If it’s at all climbable, he will climb it. (chairs, tables, tv stands, toys, beds, nightstands…you get the idea.)
  7. If the ottoman and the living room table are close to each other, he will do his best planking move. (don’t bother moving them, see next)

  8. If they aren’t close to each other, he will move them. (can you cement furniture to the floor?)
  9. Anything in his hand is a potential weapon, to you or himself.
  10. The more dangerous something is, the more he likes it.

So what if all your preparations fail? What next??

Make sure you are well-versed in head injuries, concussions and broken bones. Keep ice packs readily available as well as coffee for your sleepless nights.

Most importantly, be friends with your family doctor. Have ALL of the numbers to reach said doctor at any time day or night on speed dial. Keep them hanging on the refrigerator, in your cell phone, at the school, with friends, frankly, anyone your son is with.

When all else fails and hopefully the boy is safe and sound (which only happens when he sleeps), have your alcohol of choice on hand.

Pour, drink and repeat.

Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor….

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Good Tidings Today

So many things to share, so I will admit that this post is a bit of a ramble, but here goes.

1. Christmas Spirit

a merry little christmasBack in November, La Maman Heureuse wrote about the spirit of giving and offered her readers a gift to thank them for following along. She asked that you leave a comment with a sweet Christmas memory and a winner would be chosen based on the comments received.  Well, I for one, first had to tell her how sweet it was that she was doing something so generous. No giveaway entries, no follow requests, just simple giving. I thought it was the prime example of Christmas Spirit. I left a comment saying something like that and also sharing how special is to me because it is both the time I met my husband AND when he proposed. I recently wrote a guest post for Polly about when we met and now I have written one for La Maman Heurese about my husband’s marriage proposal. Christmas is such a special time for me so if you aren’t sick of all the love and mush, definitely go check them out!

And look at this adorable Christmas package she sent me from Belgium! Isn’t she sweet? Make sure you stop by and spread some Christmas cheer her way!

Wrapped so cute and festive!

Wrapped so cute and festive!

SO many cute presents inside!

SO many cute presents inside!

She even included these cute cookie cutters in "boy style" for my little guy.

She even included these cute cookie cutters in “boy style” for my little guy.

And these ornaments are so sweet!

And these ornaments are so sweet!

2. Book Release Day!

Yep, if you haven’t heard, I recently became a contributing author to a book about motherhood. (I wrote a more detailed post about it here.) I am so excited that I was chosen and today is the official book release day! I have included the book on my sidebar that links it to Amazon should you be so inclined to purchase it. But shameless plug aside, I just really wanted to share this exciting news! They are promoting the book release in a radio interview in the states today to help spread the word about this amazing cause. Thanks again to all of you for your support!

Front Cover

Front Cover

Back Cover

Back Cover

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A Hopeful Beginning

Wow, two posts in one day? I think that’s a bit unheard of for me and usually I would wait for another day; however, due to the sensitive time frame of this announcement, I thought I should share now. 

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Have you ever heard of CausePub? Their site states:

Use our crowd-publishing platform to create an instant best-seller and support your favorite cause!

Well, to be honest, I hadn’t either until another fellow blogger posted a request to vote for her and help her story be chosen for publication in a compilation book that would support the given cause of providing clean water to those in need. I voted for her and later heard that she was published! (Her story is touching and beautiful!) In the process of doing so, I “liked” the CausePub Facebook page and thought little of it since then….that is until I saw the latest call for story submissions!new-life-within-temporary-book-cover-288

The project manager was in search of stories about motherhood with the hopes of publishing a compilation book of true stories from real moms. This project will provide funds/donations to The Gabriel Network, which is an organization that helps support and encourage women who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy due to homelessness, poverty or other personal reasons. You can read more about that here.

So, I submitted a story. 

Now, I am not a political person, or an overly religious person. I believe that everyone should have the freedom to make their own choices without being pressured or forced to believe in someone else’s beliefs and opinions. In my social work career, I have had the pleasure of working with organizations similar to that of The Gabriel Network and they have done wonders for so many women who are struggling during what should be a wonderful time. There is no pressure, but simply support during desperate times and I am all about supporting others.

I was chosen and will be published!

I’m so very excited! Unfortunately, I can no longer share it with you from the site, as they have closed submissions since it is now in the publication process. It is a very personal story; here is a brief excerpt:

I made mistakes in my life because I didn’t know myself. I suffered through abuse and violence. I turned to drugs and alcohol. For a long time, I was still that rebellious teenager wanting to punish the world for what I felt I had lost. I also wanted to punish myself for who I was becoming. Somehow, though, I made it through. With the help of good friends and guardian angels I’m sure were meant to cross my path, I chose a different road than the one I was so clearly headed down. I chose to rise above and become a survivor. Sadly, my first marriage was one of the casualties of me finally accepting the past, letting it go and becoming the woman I deserved to be.

I wanted to share this with all of you because you helped give me the courage to write this story. Your support, comments and encouragement throughout these past months of blogging gave me the push I needed to at least try. This blogging community has opened me up to a whole world of new people and new possibilities. I have always dreamt of becoming a writer and I’m hoping this is a small piece of the puzzle pointing me in the right direction to accomplishing this dream.

Thank you.

Furthermore, the project could still use some help to reach its goal. If you are at all interested in supporting the cause, reading more stories, know someone who would love to/or needs to read these stories, or you just want to have it because I’m in it (hehe), then please make a pledge to buy the book. There is no money needed now, they will send an email when it is ready to be ordered. It will be available on Amazon, but I am not aware of the cost. If you’d like to submit a pledge, you can do so here.

Again, thank you….for reading, for supporting, for voting, for introducing and for possibly pledging. It means the world to this dreamer. 
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Dear Doc McStuffins

Image Courtesy of  thedisneystore.com

Image Courtesy of thedisneystore.com

Dear Doc McStuffins,

I am writing this letter to you today to say, from the bottom of my exhausted heart, THANK YOU. I am not one who supports the idea of my child watching endless hours of television, but there is no denying the happiness he feels when watching your show. While there are a couple of others my son likes, no one compares to you. To him, you are the icing on the cake, the cherry and sprinkles on top, the chocolate chip in his cookie.

Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Thank you for your theme song which when played is like the magic flute of the pied piper (without the tragic ending of course). The instant my son hears it, he smiles, even if in the middle of a complete and total meltdown. He runs to the television, dances and sings as if in a trance by your magical powers. He could listen to your song on repeat all day long if I let him(I’ve thought about it). And to be honest, it is kind of catchy and the least annoying cartoon song I’ve heard to date.

Thank you to all of your stuffed animal friends. My son thinks they are funny and giggles when they come to life and do silly things. He especially loves when Lamby sings; it’s like a lullaby to him.

Thank you for your cute “morals of the story” and the every day instructions you make fun. He doesn’t understand about washing his hands, checkups, or allergies yet, but someday he will.

But most of all, thank you for being the toddler whisperer for my child. Some days there is just no pleasing him! He’s cranky and fussy and I’m at my whit’s end.  And then….the magic happens, the sun shines and the stars align as it is Doc McStuffins time! He can run to the TV, sing and dance and although this mom thinks she needs a break, the overwhelming adorable quality of seeing him be so happy in such a pure, childish moment, will make this mom smile, laugh and sing along. Whatever was frustrating or exhausting will be washed away in an instant, for both of us.

Nothing in the world compares to the smile on a child’s face, especially when it’s your own child. Thank you for giving us extra smiles today and every day.
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