Red, White, and I Loathe Fireworks

Happy 4th Weekend to all the Americans even though a giant percentage of us aren’t particularly feeling very patriotic these days. Our day was pretty chillaxed actually. I say that in the sense that I wasn’t a raging psychopath about having things in order at all times!

The in-laws are in town which is lovely. We so very rarely get guests that even if it is long, it is still really comforting to have family around. But also, my German speaking abilities were thrown into a dark dark closet since January so I’m glad I was forced to dust that off because I’m back to speaking it like it never was ditched to begin with!

I searched high and low for a parade and I found one that was held in a town about 25 minutes away and completely in the middle of nowhere. Somehow, that made it all the better! People were kind and the event itself was well organized.

Of course it was hot as all getup but we survived. Arjen had a heart attack per usual from the sound of the horns and sirens so instead of catching candy he was busy plugging his hears the whole parade. Landon was loving it and would chase down the candy and gather it for his Opi to put in a bag for him. Could they be any more opposite?!

Baby Aurelia loved checking all the people out and jumped half a mile every time someone beeped right in front of us, which begs the question…do people in parades not realize that the horns and sirens are a bit much for toddlers/babies?! There were a ton near us so I was surprised.

After the parade, we headed home in the heat and waited for a giant storm to hit with sparklers. Again, blondie wasn’t into it but Brownie dove right in to his pyro-loving way! As the storm rolled in we set ourselves up for a movie night with the big projector. Boys love this so called “movie night” however it’s basically watching the few shows they are allowed to watch on YouTube.

We were gifted a beautiful double rainbow afterwards and as we went up to bed all was quiet. Or so I thought. Then it begins. The dreaded fireworks. Every year the same nonsense. And here’s what I hate about it. An organized firework show through the city is fine because it will be 10 minutes then it’s over. The bad part is the idiot homeowners who think they are magicians with their glittery sky bombs and set them off one by one.

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then wait 15 minutes till the bozo can set up the next one.

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and now I have kids who are crying because it sounds like someone is trying to blow up their bedroom. So there I was at 10:00pm with two overly tired kids (bedtime is at 8:20 mind you) and I sat on the ground with my back to their cribs and my arms stretched out like Jesus on the damn cross holding a hand of each kid until they fell asleep.

11:00pm and I’m still hanging on although I’m pretty sure all the blood left my arms at this point. The things we do, amiright?!

Anyways, I was never a fan of fireworks nor will I ever be so I’ll complain until the day I die. But it’s not for me but for little kids and for wild animals and house pets. It’s absolutely pointless to put a dangerous blow up stick in the hands of common folk. Just saying!

What did you all do to celebrate?! Anything fun?!

Until next time, Readers! Xoxoxoxoxo

The Calming Corner

Three-year-olds are ridiculous. They are emotionally charged, whiny, and logically disconnected.

My dudes are not exempt from the nonsense, unfortunately, and so I’ve had to curve my “parenting skills” constantly. Even more so, with twins, you have to change the way you parent each kid as both are completely different individuals with completely different needs. It’s been a challenge, to say the least.

Blondie is what the modern world is now calling a “spirited kid.” What is that you ask? Let’s be real…he’s full of the devil! Full of energy, spite, and love. He is sensitive and high-strung, loving yet psychotic, lol. No for real…he’s a tough cookie but I am certain he will do amazing things when he’s older. Own a Fortune 500 company or cure cancer. But for now, he’s a doozy and I’ve been trying to find ways to comfort him before his massive blowups happen.

 

Brownie is the complete opposite. He wouldn’t hurt a fly but is very very sensitive. To the point where if we tell him not to do something and logically explain why not to do said thing, he will throw himself on the ground as if he was shot down. He literally just falls out of his chair without bracing his fall. It’s pretty hilarious actually. Kind of like those fainting goats. That being said, he doesn’t get in trouble much but he also won’t listen when you tell him “No.” So, it’s a bit out of control on both ends here.

I began to dig around for an all-around thing that would work for both extremely different children. I’m not sure where I first heard of the idea of a calming corner but I happened to search a bit and found a zillion things on Pinterest and other places about it. Phew! I’m not the only mother who has lost her damn mind and needs SERENITY NOW!

 

***wooooosssssaaaaaahhhhh***

 

First things first, we had to find a spot to have this said Calming Corner. I don’t know why but setting it up in the formal dining area was good enough. I needed to have these two jokesters in plain view so another room wouldn’t have worked. Then I trucked over or mom-vanned it over to the dollar store and grabbed all the essentials to make a calming corner..well..calm.

So in our bucket is:

2 sensory bottles (1 with glitter, the other a lava lamp look)

3 playdough filled balloons with different emotions drawn on them (Happy, Sad, Angry) which act as a stress ball of sorts.

1 snuggly bug

2 squrimy thingies (I bet you like it when I talk about technical, don’t ya!?)

1 firm yet squishable football

1 rubix cube

 

The only rule that is set with this area is that when they are done playing there, they have to put all the toys back in the bucket so they are ready for the next person to use. Essentially, the idea is that we try to catch them before they are upset or if we see that they are starting to get emotional about a situation we ask them if they want to go to the calming corner for a little bit. They are allowed to bring their blankets, loveys, and pacifiers with them if they want and they can choose when they are done. Both boys have sat there quietly for 15-20 minutes at times.

This is not to replace time-outs. It’s supposed to be a “safe space” where they can go to try to identify their emotions and work out how to handle them. It’s not easy being green or three for that matter and this so far has been a great option for both of them. At this point, I’m willing to try anything to get these kids to quit their antics but let’s face it, toddlers will be toddlers.

Hell, I should throw myself in the calming corner and see if they leave me alone for a minute actually! (Going to go try that right now! I’ll report back! ha!)

 

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

Saying Goodbye To Harley Noodle Jones

I hate that title. I hate everything about it. Note: This is a long and sad post. So read at your own free will.

I didn’t think I would be writing a post like this for years to come and its completely breaking my heart to do so. Harley deserves a post all about him and for those of you that have followed closely with my journey moving to Germany, you know how huge of a part he really played in that whole ordeal.

Toblerone and I got Harley when he was just a couple months old in March 2010. He solidified everything for us and from that point on we were a family.

H-man went first with Tobi to Germany and I couldn’t join them fast enough. I had to finish out my duties at work and tie up loose ends in the States before I moved. Once I got there, Harley was my main focus since I didn’t have a job or anything else to do except take care of the house (and who wants to spend their time doing that! lol) I dutifully made up a dog training excel spreadsheet and got to work on that! Harley would be smirking at me knowing that lasted all of 4 days! Ha!

Truthfully, Harley was the only close friend I had in Germany as strange as that sounds. It was so difficult to make friends there. He was the one reminder from the US I had and he spoke perfect English. He got me 🙂 On days when I was especially homesick he would take me out for walks to ease my mind for a bit. He was my person.

Back in the US, my world traveling dog watched us go through a heck of a time trying to get pregnant and he sat right with me throughout my pregnancy even though I was barfy (is that even a word?) and barely could move. When the boys arrived he was ALL about them. I didn’t know for sure how he would react and was worried because he was my baby for so long, I was sure he would NOT be impressed with how much attention they would be getting.

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He did take the backseat a bit and I felt awful for it. The twins took over my life and with no family around to help I powered through and did the very best I could trying to manage his schedule and their schedule. But I think he knew I loved him all the same.

Harley and Arjen barking at people passing by. They were a team!

Our blondie twin had a crazy special bond with Harley and I didn’t really see it until I was going back through pictures and there the two of them were over and over again.

I got pregnant again with our little girl this past summer and once again, Harley man had to take the backseat since the sickness took over my body. I laid in bed all day – could NOT function. I did slowly start to feel better later in the pregnancy and by Christmas time, Toberlone was awarded his green card and we booked a last minute trip to Germany. (Side note: NEVER travel during winter holidays with 3yr old twins while 7 months pregnant. NEVER. EVER.)

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Fur Ball got to go on vacation at a great place he loved to go to. A doggy resort so to speak. Fireplaces, fluffy warm dog beds, access to jump on the couch or a bed and to run outside free. NO kennels. That wasn’t his style. While he was there over Christmas he was having the absolute best of times with the resort staff 🙂 (aka the wonderful family who treated him like their own.) He got loads of pets and snacks during their family Xmas party and he sent us daily pictures to brag about how awesome his days were there. Meanwhile, in Germany, I was in WWIII with the time change and toddlers who were kept indoors due to the freezing cold weather. It was interesting…

New Years Day we were driving 3 hours to a hotel in Frankfurt near the airport to make it easier for us to wake up the following day and hop on the plane with the kiddos and my large and barely in charge self. I get a phone call from his host family telling us that he was having a hard time using his back legs and at one point he couldn’t walk up the steps anymore to go inside. They asked for permission to take him to the emergency hospital and we immediately said “YES.”

Initially, the Vet at the hospital said she thinks it could be a pinched nerve in his back and they wanted to do a CT scan the following morning to take a further look. However, his glucose levels were extremely low so that was a different concern.

Fast forward, upon arriving in Detroit and waiting in line at customs, I get the phone call from the Veterinarian and her words to this day are just muddled letters. How do you take in difficult news with 40 languages going on around you while trying to wrangle two extremely tired and moody children through customs? How? Well…you don’t. You listen…you try to take it in… and you cry in front of hundreds of strangers.

Diagnosis: Insulin-producing tumor in his pancreas. His glucose levels dropped so low that in fact, even with surgery to remove the tumor, he would never regain the use of his legs and would only have a few months with us.

What. The. F*ck. Is. Happening. Right. Now. (sorry for swearing but I needed to emphasize the pain)

I couldn’t get home fast enough. In hindsight, I noticed things about him that were giving us signs. He was always thirsty…was starving and begging for more snacks and waiting by his food bowl in the mornings (this is a dog we had to beg to eat!) and he needed way more potty breaks.

As soon as we got back to the house we rushed over to the hospital to see him. I couldn’t even tell the receptionist who I was. I squeaked out a, “I’m Harley’s Mom…” and the rest Toblerone had to take over. The Vet met with us and through tears, we asked her to let us take him home but she recommended not to do that because he had a seizure the night before and they wanted to keep him alive until we arranged his euthanization. Ugh. “Keep him alive.” Double Ugh.

When we went back to see him in ICU…omg…I can’t even describe how awful it was. There were surgeries going on in the middle of the room and all around were cages full of sick dogs. When we got to Harley he lifted his head up, looked at us and laid back down. I couldn’t believe that we were seeing our boy in this situation. It was unreal and maybe the jet lag didn’t help or the pregnancy hormones for that matter.. He didn’t want to eat and there were catheters and tubes hooked up to him all over the place. At this point, I still had not come to terms with the fact that we had to let him go.

We arranged for a home euthanization the following afternoon and as Tobi brought him home in the snow, he put him in the grass one last time to feel the snow on his paws. My heart was crushed watching him carry him inside for the last time.

The Vet gave him a steroid to hopefully keep him going and seizure-free until he got home and that alone made it seem like he was his old self! Gave him a bit more pep and when he saw me he lit up and tried to stand up to come to me.

We laid on the floor together and with his paw on my heart I told him it was ok and I was sorry for not being here for him but he was home now. And all would be ok.

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We tried to help the boys understand that they needed to say goodbye because he was going to heaven but that was the first time they heard the term “Heaven” so the concept was out the window. They patted his head and our nanny took them off to the library and out for donuts so we could say goodbye to Harley. Just us three musketeers again.

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The actual process happened so fast that I couldn’t even catch my breath. A month shy of his 9th Birthday, he was asleep and gone within seconds and I broke. I sobbed and cried asking the doctor to bring him back. As if somehow willing him with my broken heart was enough. But there he laid, peacefully on the couch in slumber like he always did in that spot. The Vet placed him on a stretcher but she put the coziest and softest blankets on him and tucked him in like a baby. He looked so peaceful and I didn’t even know what I was looking at anymore. I kissed his soft ears and watched as he was carried out to the car. I said goodbye one last time and off he went.

A week or two later we got his ashes back in a beautiful box, a clay ornament of his paw print and the first thing I did was look at his ashes. How did our beautiful 90lb boy end up as a small bag of flour? How did that happen?

Days following his passing I walked around with his favorite bear in my shirt because I couldn’t deal with life without him. I even went outside and took a walk as I always did with him at noon, imagining him there with me.

The boys watched me break down every day and would say, “Mommy sad? Mommy miss Wau Wau?” (Wauwau is what the dog says in German but that’s what they called him.) Eventually, the crying wasn’t full sobs, it was silent tears and then it shifted. The boys started to cry and ask where he was. This was worse than anything else. I had to try to put on a brave face for two little boys who didn’t understand where their dog went. And to this day, (even this morning actually) they cry for him and miss him so much.

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I ache to my bones for this dog who was my friend. He was the constant thing I had in my life and I feel guilty that since the boys came around he took the back burner. He didn’t deserve that.

 

I’m not a religious person but I hope more than anything that wherever he is he is happy. Or that he’s somewhere with me here. If there really is some sort of afterlife or rainbow bridge, I hope to meet him there one day. For now, I like to imagine him swimming, playing frisbee, eating a million snacks, and keeping a collection of his favorite sticks.

He was my very first baby and I knew that if I never had kids, he would be enough. I lost my first boy and the grief is all-consuming.

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Miss you sweet Harley Noodle Jones ButtButt.

Until next time, Readers. xoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Time To Say Goodbye

I’m sure you have all noticed for quite some time that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Obviously with infant twins, life is different but I think I’m ready to close this door and say goodbye.

Truthfully, when I do travel there isn’t much to say that I haven’t already said. Sure, traveling with a bunch of rascals makes things interesting but I think instead it’s time for me to graduate to a mommy blog! (EEK! I SAID IT!) As if there aren’t enough of those already but I’m a stay-at-home-mom and thats really all I do. Take care of my kids. 1

So, I want to thank you all. Thank you for the good, the bad, and the ugly. The ups and downs and all the love along the way. Thank you for being fans of my page and hanging around enough to read my babble from time to time!

I’ve had this blog for so many years and maybe one day I’ll come back to it (since I still realllllly love the name!) but for now it’s time for me to say “Tchüss!” and leave the expat world with one less blogger in it. Time for another up-and-comer to take my spot. It’s a great world to be a part of but it’s just the right time to move on.

From the bottom of my heart….Thank you.

Until another time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

A Party For Two Very Loved Babies

I have to say that had we become pregnant in Germany, I would not have the pleasure of experiencing a real deal Baby Shower of my own. As most of you know they do not throw Baby Showers in Germany partially because it’s just not their tradition but the other idea is because they are superstitious about bringing gifts to a baby before he/she is born. Its considered bad luck!

A while ago I threw a party in Germany for a friend who was expecting. Giving her the whole experience of an American Baby Shower!  Go check it out if you missed it!

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So, I was just ecstatic that the people I love were willing to throw me my own special party for these two little nuggets. Toblerone and I traveled to upstate NY to my family’s home right before Thanksgiving. The drive was atrocious…9 hours in a car with thigh high compression socks is not particularly the most comfortable way to go! But we arrived and were just so excited to be back with family! People came from all over and even from out of state to visit us! My brother and his clan came from West Virginia and my Aunt and Uncle and cousin came from Pennsylvania! I mean….THATS what I call love!!

My mom’s house was decorated in my absolute favorite theme: nautical! We decided to have this as a Jack and Jill party as well so we could see all of our friends and family at one time. People brought diapers for a diaper raffle and gifts as well. These boys are SPOILED!

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It was just so amazing to be around family and to show them the belly we waited so long to have! Granted, I’ve now tripled in size since then!

We got so many amazing gifts and of course Toblerone was out of this world excited when he got his very own gift for the boys! Thank you to all our friends and family who came and gave us gifts for these boys. We are just so grateful! Having twins is certainly not cheap!!!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

 

A Big Time Out – But I’m Back

So it’s 4am here in Michigan and I decided to write a bit as I sit here in the dark on the couch. Time got away from me since I last wrote. I announced to the world we are having twins and then life just started to fly by!

I am now 33 weeks along and I look gigantic. Now it’s just a matter of trying to keep these little babies in!

In August we took a baby moon to Cape Cod and it was MUCH needed. You all know how much we love that place and I couldn’t imagine not going. It was a rough flight though. I was only about 13 weeks or so at that point but I was SO uncomfortable and the nausea…oh man. That was rough.

There is really something to be said about the healing powers of the ocean. I’m no hippy but for the first time since I found out I was pregnant, I could EAT. I even dabbled in a lobster roll 🙂 My parents were able to join us as well for the weekend which was so nice! Who knows when we will be able to do that again!

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As soon as we got back to Michigan, I was sick again. I wish I could have bottled up the ocean and brought it home with me. I’m not sure we will make it next year with the two babies so that will be hard on the heart. It will be our first time not going in over 7 years.

We went to Germany in September as a last hoorah you could say! Unfortunately, Toblerone had to work the majority of the time and I was left to my own devices. The things we planned (soccer game, Oktoberfest, etc.) were quickly shot down because of my growing belly and the risk of being around rowdy drunk people. So, we did a lot of visiting with family and catching up.

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The plane ride…oh man. Let me just tell you something. I do NOT recommend that. I was 16 weeks when we left and I was just about 18 weeks on the way back. A 9 hour flight stuck in the same position really does a number on the body. For two days it felt like my stomach was in a vice grip. Ouch. I will NEVER fly pregnant again. That crap is for the birds! However, I did it all for the Schnitzel and cake! I ate like a champ there. I definitely have two little Germans growing. All they wanted was the typical southern German fare: Fleischsalat, Schnitzel, Spaetzle, and gravy.

 

We had a great time catching up with all the family! I spent lots of time taking walks and going to lunch at Toblerone’s Omi’s house which was nice to catch up with everyone and keep my German going!

We were there during a holliday “Erntedank” that they celebrate here. It literally means “Thanksgiving” or “Thanks for the Harvest.” They are thankful for all that the world gives them. This first picture of the world and biblical friends was made from flower petals that were turned into powder and then this was “painted” somehow. Really incredible stuff. Plus they showcase vegetables and fruit that they are thankful for. It really was amazing to see in person.

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On top of all the fun, we revealed the Genders to Omi and Opi by having them open two gifts and….well…:-) Guess we gotta stock up on Lederhosen!

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

Off To Italy We Go (Part Two)

After waking up with a gorgeous view of the Italian Alps we headed down for breakfast. We decided we would head into town to do a little shopping.

While there, we went to The Speck Museum which in English means The BACON museum. Very exciting times! As we walked in this jolly old Italian man who spoke VERY little German and absolutely no English, naturally, greeted us and said to me, “Hello Speck!” and I gave him quite the stare down. Did that man just call me fat? Do I smell like bacon?  Then he said I was like the Coco Chanel of Bacon. I guess if I was going to be any kind of bacon, I would want to be the fancy kind 🙂 He laughed and we both understood it was just all for fun.

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So there we are in a stone basement testing homemade smoked and dried bacon. There was bacon on the ceiling…

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Bacon on the walls…..

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It was indeed the Bacon Museum! There was also cheese down there but that’s not important. We did buy some to smuggle in our suitcases. Totally worth being a rascal!

We walked around the streets and did a bit of people watching. The Italians are such wonderful people. Somehow they are just so relaxed and inviting. I can’t really explain it!

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We went to a little cafe around 11:30 and the scene was something I could definitely get used to. A small cafe with outside seating as well as inside. Every table filled with friends sitting and standing, laughing at jokes, and drinking glass after glass of wine. Oh Italians, you have my heart! Here is a peek from inside the cafe from where I was sitting. It just made you feel like you were part of a bigger story…a big family.

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Back at the hotel after a day of shopping we spent the rest of the afternoon in the spa. I tried out one of the “quiet” rooms to see if I could actually sleep like everyone else does. I just hung out and read a book and listened to the spa-like music that was available.

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After hours in the spa and relaxing we got ready for dinner. I apologize in advance for the bad quality pictures. I only brought my phone with me…which is also a no-no in this type of fancy schmancy place but the things I do for my readers…:-)

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As with every night they start our table off with bread and a special cream cheese spread. On this night it was with Rosemary.

Next up we had a “Gruß aus der Küche” / “A Greeting from the Kitchen which was a sesame breaded shrimp on a marmalade of sorts.

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For an appetizer we had fresh made brioche or bread and with two different items made with tuna fish. The first option (on the left) was actual raw tuna that you find often in restaurants. On the right was a creamed tuna fish fluff that was out of this world good!

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Soup was a tomato cream soup with Parmesan foam and a raw ham chip. (Very salty ham chip…lol)

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Moving right along, We received a breaded shrimp ball in asparagus salad. Sooooo delish!

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Time for a little snack to clean up the palette before the main entree, we had a wild berry sorbet with passion fruit.

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The main entree was veal filet with vegetables and layered potato gratin. I actually opted not to have this because I don’t eat baby anything so veal was out of the question. However, I did order my own amazing shrimps dish (not pictured.)

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And lastly, to close the stomach we had fresh strawberries with a Sour Cream ice cream (Not like sour cream, but like pudding just not so sweet), with what they call Eier liquor drizzled. It’s not like anything I can compare it to here in the states. It’s an Egg-like liquor. Not like egg-nog…thats a thousand times tastier. lol 🙂

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That was our lovely evening and we were serenaded by this sweet girl who played the Harp for quite a long time…and really well if I do say so myself! Please excuse the awkward filming but again…was trying not to be too obvious. Here’s a small snippet nonetheless! (And you can hear the Swabian accent from my in-laws while you’re at it.)

More to come later on our trip!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo