a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Better luck next time

Rookie Mom Rule No. 3: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just end up covered in poo.

Today was a good day. I got in half a workout and showered. Evie was in a good mood all day. I met with my good friend Loretta for coffee and my Friedman book came in the mail, along with a couple of new toys for Evelyn. Loretta invited me to go with her to Bible study tonight, and knowing I want to more deeply involve my faith in everyday life, I decided it was a good idea. Baumholder conspired against us with a chilly night of wind and rain, but Evie and I braved it for the sake of some fellowship.

Evelyn seemed to be enjoying herself, despite having gotten a little less sleep than usual because of our action packed day. ;) The group was just settling in to discuss passages from the book of Ruth when things started picking up, Evie wise. To be more specific, things with Evie started picking up, gastrointesinally-wise. My first clue was the extra wiggliness. Then Evie started to vocalize a bit. Next, I shifted her from my lap to shoulder and we had a burp. Not three minutes later, Evelyn decided to join the conversation--by means of her famous "percolating." Our friends over at Merriam-Webster would remind you that this action is defined as the process in which "a solvent oozes or trickles through a permeable substance." Evelyn's percolating had been named thus originally because it mimicked the sound of coffee being brewed. Tonight's percolating was closer to the Webster definition. Grossness factor aside, this kid has talent. Perhaps she couldn't resist showing off in front of a new group of people, but Evelyn achieved her all time blow out record tonight, covering not only herself in poo, but her dear mommy as well. I was mercifully wearing black, so the visible damage to the members of the Bible study was not so graphic. We rushed off to the ladies' restroom to do hazmat control. By the time we were once again presentable, Evelyn suggested that we call it a night because she was tired from all that poopin' and could use a nap. This, as well as the prospect of a shirt not covered in poo, seemed like a good idea to me, and we made our way home.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Illustration Friday: Packed

It's Oktoberfest time in Germany, and nothing quite says "packed" like those crowds! This was my first attempt coloring a sketch with Corel Painter. I'm excited to know how to do it and looking forward to making improvements!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Julia time!

Evie- September 2008 04 005

Evie- September 2008 04 004

Evie- September 2008 04 002

On Saturday Evie and I had a Julia day! For living a little more than a block away, we can sometimes go for weeks without seeing eachother. We went to Kaiserslautern to visit the H&M there and because Julia had found a review for a Thai food restaurant in the area as well. Any place that doesn't have 37 different kinds of schnitzel on the menu is worth trying!

We found the H&M without incident, although the parking way atrocious. The store is located in an outdoor pedestrian shopping area and the nearest parking lot, while conveniently only about a block away, is less conveniently packed to the brim, and European sized--meaning cars 1/2 the size of our Corolla fitting into spots 1/3 the size of the Corolla. We finally snagged a spot and after feeding Evie in the car, were on our way.

At H&M I found some mittens for Evie. The pink pair above will be for this winter, and the other (what kind of animal is that? Kangaroo? Rabbit? Long-eared Bear?) was just too cute to pass up, so I bought a pair that should fit her next winter. I also found a pair of chunky knit mittens for myself and a scarf in the most beautiful peacock blue.

After H&M we returned to the car and put the address for the restaurant into the GPS (YAY for GPS!) We drove to a closer spot, the street now being more deserted as the stores had begun to close. We'd gone less than a mile and by the looks of it, the restaurant was located right where we'd just been. As we meandered back through the streets on foot with no restaurant in sight, I sheepishly realized that the address had been reset for H&M (BOO for human error with GPS!). Once we figured this out, we recalculated and found the restaurant with little trouble. You can see above, our highly sofisticated baby navigating system. I can see it now, the day when strollers actually have built in GPS. Oh boy.

Evie "sat" in my lap once we were seated; she was getting tired of being in the car seat and wanted to be closer to the action. It was at this point, while Julia and I were perusing the menu, that Evelyn decided to provide some...ahem..."music" to accompany dinner. Also at this point, I realized that I'd forgotten the Tooty-Pooter's diaper bag in the car. Oops. Rookie Mom Mistake No. #12: You think that just because you've recently changed the diaper, there won't be need of another diaper in the immediate future. Lesson learned. We made it through dinner, but we were hurried and took half of the meal to go. Despite being rushed, I really enjoyed eating out--I had the Pad Thai Moo, and it was delicious. I'm so grateful to have a friend like Julia who is willing to hang out with someone who poops during dinner (Evelyn not me!!) and lives life in cycles of 2-3 hours (Me, because of Evelyn).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Illustration Friday: Clique


Don't you hate it when you're an outcast amoung mannequins? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Sunglasses Clique.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weighing in

Why is it that working out makes you feel SO good after you've done it, and yet it is SO hard to get up and do it?

It's been one of my goals here in the early life-with-baby months to try and do a modest handful of things for myself every day. My list, not in any order, includes these things:

1. shower
2. get dressed
3. extra bonus points for hair and make-up
4. work out
5. leave the house at least once (taking the dog out does not count)
6. draw, or do some sort of creative activity

It is amazing how such a simple list can become very difficult to complete. I am a list maker and planner by nature. I think I do it more out of comfort nowadays than necessity. There was a time where my schedule was so packed that if I didn't write everything down, I would surely forget something. These days we're much more "relaxed," but I still have the urge to plan. I am trying very hard to resist this urge nowadays, because the result is usually a complete joke. The minute I think we've found a pattern or dependable routine, and thus plan some activity accordingly, it's as if Evelyn KNOWS and behaves differently just to get my goat. Because I cannot plan, I'm left to fly by the seat of my pants. I have my mental list, always at the ready, and must be ready to jump when Evie provides an opportunity to complete a task. Sounds like it would work, right? (We're ignoring the part where Evie is setting all the rules. At this point, it is easier this way. Believe me.)

The only trouble with this brilliant system is sometimes I don't feel like doing whatever it is I need to do at that golden moment of opportunity. It is much more appealing, say, to eat candy than it is to exercise, and when the weather is as it is in Baumholder much of the time, it is much more appealing to do ANYTHING rather than go outside. And then some things just become a vicious cycle; there is little motivation to get dressed when your only fitting options are still of the maternity variety, and feeling like a cow in your zipper-less pants does not particularly encourage you to workout, which of course, is the only way to get to the magical land of Zippered Pants. Most days, however, I somehow find a way to get all, or nearly all of those 6 "to-dos" done.

I am making progress. (I need to keep telling myself that.) I have lost 23 pounds since giving birth have about 40 to go. Hmmmm....maybe I should just leave it at "I have lost 23 pounds" and not mention the other 40. I am starting to feel more fit and I'm trying to remember that I need to be patient (and kind) with myself in this process. I didn't gain the weight overnight, and it won't go away that quickly either. In the meantime, I think I seriously need to look into some clothes that require more than one step to put on. Convenience is one thing, but somehow zippers, buttons and laces can make you feel a little bit more human when you're covered in spit-up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Supplies only 45 minutes away!

Today Evie and I ventured out to find a fabled art supply store about 45 minutes away from us here in Baumholder. We found the Ramen & Bild Galerie on Kaiserslautern Strasse as I'd heard told, and was thrilled to find real live art supplies here in Germany! I bought 3 brushes for detail work (all the ones I already had were much too bulky) and a new mixing tray. It's been a major annoyance to be without an in person supplier, as sometimes you really just need to look at something to know if it's what you need. Also, sometimes you want it RIGHT NOW, not 10-21 days from now. I'm very happy to have found this wonderful little store, and am very grateful to have been allowed to take a couple of pictures of the store to document our little adventure.

Visit RAHMEN & BILD GALERIE to see their website, and if you're here in Germany, stop by and buy something!
Hopefully in the next couple of days I will post the piece I'm working on with my new brushes! Yay!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Already on its way

Hot, Flat, and Crowded

And with Bosch on the cover to boot!

This is the latest Thomas Friedman book, and I'm hoping amazon already has it on its way to me. I first stumbled across Friedman--or at least took note of him--when I read his article, "The Power of Green" in the New York Times. I used to browse the news in my spare time at the library, and that article was one I happened upon. I read all 11 pages, in as much of one sitting as my duties in the library would allow. I was really impressed by his thoughts and candor, and was shaken by the meaning and insight of that article. I sought out more of his writing and soon was following his weekly opinion articles at the Times and checking out his books from the library on post.

His views on the Green movement and its potential effects on our economy and standing in the world are so logical, it's hard for me to imagine people who could find fault in them. If you're looking for a good read, seek out some of his work. I'm totally hooked. I think he is saying things that are important and need to be heard.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Koosh Ball Head


Evie- September 2008 03 001a

Evie- September 2008 03 007a

Evie- September 2008 03 025a
Just a few shots from the last couple of days.
After her last bath, Evie's hair was on end even more than usual. I don't know if it's the weather change or her mutant power, but her hair was so on end, she really looked like a little Koosh Ball. It was only exaggerated when I put her in The Swing, so I had to snap a shot.
The others were from today, as I frantically try to let the girl wear her beautiful 3 month clothing that is really more meant for the summer than fall in Germany. The temperature is hanging in the 50s nowadays, and is even colder first thing of a morning. The fun summer onesies are having a last hoorah with the help of a hoodie I got for her from Old Navy. I'll have to get a picture of her in that soon, as it's pretty comical to see her in it at this point. I bought the 3-6 month size, knowing that's what she'll be in the coming months. The only catch, of course, is that she is not quite there yet, so presently she looks like a baby sized flasher. Even though she's wearing duds underneath, the hoodie comes down to her knees and thus makes her look like she's au natural besides the jacket. It's really quite comical.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Illustration Friday: Island


This didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped, but I was rushing to try and get it finished this week and thought something was better than nothing. It's been sooooo long since I've posted anything to Illustration Friday, and it is a goal I have to start participating again.

My thought for the topic comes from the fact that--although this is not always a bad thing--I sometimes feel like I'm on an island here in the apartment with Evelyn. Life is completely different with a newborn, and it definitely revolves around her. Of course Chokydar is here with me, but other than that, it can feel rather isolating at times.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Years




190- After the Ceremony in the Sanctuary


Four and a half years ago I was once again checking in to a Continental flight from Houston to Newark on my way back to Rutgers after spring break. While at the curb side check in, the attendant asked, "Would you like to change your seat?"

"Where am I sitting now?" I asked.

"On the isle about midway back," he replied.

"No, I'll stay there then. Thank you."

When I'm traveling with someone, I prefer the window so I can look out, but alone I go for the isle. I like the isle seat so I stand up quickly at the end of the flight and don't have to crawl over any one if I need to come or go. Plus, you never know when you're going to get stuck sitting next to Fat Tony and the extra breathing room the isle seat affords can be heaven sent. I had an isle seat, so I saw no reason to change.

Like I said, you never know who you're going to end up sitting next to on flights, and I usually try to be friendly but aloof, often putting in earphones immediately after saying hi to make it clear I'd rather not spend three hours talking to a complete stranger about their dog's latest haircut or whatever; we've all sat next to someone and found ourselves entangled in a painful conversation, unable to break free. That day I had a book I needed to have read over spring break (and didn't), The Good Soldier. It was for an honors seminar on "The Puzzle Novel" and I had to be ready to discuss it by the second day of classes after the break. I was going to need the 3 hours on the plane to try and make up for my slacking over the holiday.

I didn't get a single page read that day, because as fate would have it, I didn't sit next to Fat Tony, but instead, shared the row with Justin Watson. He boarded after me, and stopped at my row after I was already seated and settled. Let's just say I didn't mind getting up to let him in. Once we were both settled again, I went back to "reading," although I think my eyes were really just skimming the page as I tried to casually glance his direction now and then. He told me later that he sat there "reading," doing the same thing, trying to think up a good way to open up a conversation. "So, what brings you to Newark?" he asked me. The only pause in the conversation came three hours later when we realized that we had landed in New Jersey.

There was no way for me to know that day that I would meet the man I would marry, and I sometimes muse about how awestruck we would have been in that moment had we known the full gravity of that first chance encounter. Today is the third anniversary of our wedding, and every day has been better than the one before it. We've had our share of trails for sure in the last three years, but every hardship has been more than offset by joy. In Justin, I have a man who supports me for who I am and encourages me to keep growing to become the person I have the potential to be. He knows my strengths and weaknesses and often knows me better than I know myself. He truly listens. He inspires me because he acts on his beliefs and in so doing, he willingly makes sacrifices so that complete strangers can have the ability to act on their own. His creativity sparks my own.

So, happy anniversary, Sweetheart! I love you more than I can ever say, and I'm so happy to be walking this road with you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Two months old today

Evelyn at 2 months, September 15, 2008
Evie- September 2008 02 047
Evie- September 2008 02 013
Evie- September 2008 02 046

Dear Evelyn,

You are two months old today! Woo hoo! This month has brought so many changes, I can hardly keep up with them all. I know the old addage about not seeing the forest for the trees applies here. Because I spend all day, every day with you, I know I'm taking some of the gradual, miniscule miracles you're accumulating everyday for granted. First of all, you weigh 11.4 lbs! Your hair is still as full and fun as the day you were born, maybe even more so, and your eyes remain the beautiful steel-grey you were born with as well. Your growth physically is astounding, but that's only the beginning.

Lately while I'm talking to your Daddy on the phone, you'll make a noise and he'll stop the conversation with, "Was that Evelyn??" Your repertoire of noises has expanded greatly this month. You've gone from only "WAAAAAA!!!!!" (when your father was here) to more expressive and varied crying, gurgles, and here in the last few days, coos. It's incredible to listen to you because I can tell you're actually experimenting, and you get a real kick out of it.

This month you've begun to actually look at me. There were inklings of it last month, but mostly you just stared into space in August. Now, in glorious September, you actually look, no, dare I say, STARE at me! You can fix your eyes on an object and follow it in all kinds of directions--up, down, left, right, in arcs--ARCS, Evelyn! I know this seems small to you, but believe me, last month you couldn't handle the arc.

A little while after eye contact became the trendy thing to do, you dazzled me with another new trick: you smiled. And not just an "Mmmmmm-I-just-pooped" smile, but an honest-to-goodness "I-can-see-you-and-I-actually-like-you" smile. You greet me this way when I gather you in my arms for night time feedings and again in the morning. Your father moaned when I told him this. "Great! She's a morning person!" he sighed. When you get older, I think you and Chokydar could combine your forces to wake him up in the mornings. If you say this was my idea, I will deny it. Your smile lights up your entire face, from your adorable double chin to the tips of your electrified hair. You flash your toothless, gummy smile at me and my heart melts.

Nap time has been a sticky subject for us this month. You, on occasion, have decided to boycott The Nap, and then (GASP) find yourself irritatingly tired. The concept of cause and effect was obviously not one of your learned skills this month. Usually, however, you can be persuaded to catch forty winks with the aid of our dear, dear friend, The Swing Chair. This beautiful device allows Mommy to do things like, catch a bathroom break, run outside to take the dog out, grab something to eat (two handed!), or even squeeze in a workout. Although you don't always nap regularly during the day, you are a champ at sleeping at night. Usually you're in bed asleep for the night by 11 and can sleep until 3 or 4. You wake up again around 6 or 7 usually, and will sometimes let me catch another hour or so after that before we get up for the day. This weekend, after a particularly napless day, you managed to sleep through the night, from midnight to 7 am. This is not a regular occurance, but honey, 7 hours of straight sleep was one of the nicest presents you could give to Mommy. Thank you!

Your hands have become much more active this month, especially in the last week. You are starting to seek out things to grab on to, and you really enjoy sucking on your fist. That's right, not just a finger or two, the entire fist. You get it nice and slobbery and then smear some more drool all around your chin for good measure. When I wipe you dry with the spitty cloth you often flash me a grin. I say "flash" because typically about a second later you've jammed your fist back in your mouth to do more drool fishing.

There's so much more, Evelyn, but I can't even begin to put it all into words, and besides that, I've got to get to bed so I can keep up with you tomorrow.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Here come the smiles...

Evie- September 2008 053

Evie- September 2008 055

Evie- September 2008 047

Evie- September 2008 049a

Evie- September 2008 048a

It was another really yucky day out today, one of those where it's 10 am but still looks like it's yet to break dawn. The sky was gray, mist hung in the air and it rained on and off all day. Evie and I had kind of an off day as well. We started off the day with a bath and a new outfit, but failed to fall into our regular "routine"--if it can be called that yet. It's more like a cycle: eat, play, poop, sleep, repeat. Only today, she forgot about the sleeping part. All day long it was the same story: eat, play, poop, rub your eyes and yawn until you decide it's time to eat again. She got maybe an hour or so of rest in little 10-15 minute cat naps the whole day. At one point when our magical friend The Swing had failed to aid us in our quest for a nap I decided we might as wel, go check the mail. I strapped Evie in her car seat, and given the state of the weather outside, I insisted on a hat. Snuggled in her blanket and cap we set out, picked up the mail, and headed back home. Still no sleep. When I opened the car door to bring her back inside, I found that she'd pulled her blanket up to her nose so that only her little eyes poked out under her kitty ear hat. Too adorable. No sleep for us, but she could still smile about it. Gotta love this kid.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


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So on Monday, while the sun was shining, Christa, Evie, and I headed over to Bernkastel-Kues. I'd heard their annual wine festival described as the Oktoberfest for wine lovers, but didn't realize that it was taking place this week. Thankfully we were there during the day, so it was not yet as crowed (or intoxicated) as I'd heard tell. On the way there Evie got hungry. Trying to plan a trip around her nursing needs can be daunting. By the time you've fed her and gotten everything ready to go, she can often be hungry again before you even arrive at your destination.

We were only a few minutes outside the town when we came upon a look out point that was a perfect place to park and let Evie eat. There was a painted wall that looked like it was the entrance to one of the hillside vineyards, and the view overlooking the valley was beautiful. Evie's meal was well under way when all of the sudden an 18-wheeler rounded the hair-pin turn that bordered the look out point where we were so peacefully parked. The 18-wheeler was coming right for us and as he neared I could see the driver motioning to me. He wanted me to move my car so that he could turn around in the shoulder that had become my makeshift breastfeeding nook. Exasperated at his timing, I start considering my options. Staying put under the threat of a good ole fashion smooshing didn't seem like such a good choice, so I figured I'd better stop nursing and try to get out of his way. I'm really aggravated at this point, thinking I need to strap Evie back in her five-point harness before I can move the car, only to have to take her back out AGAIN so she can finish eating. Then I remember I'm not the only adult in the car, and so I hand Evelyn off to Christa, who stands in the grass with The Squishy while I move the car so Mr. 18-wheeler can do his u-turn. He looked rather sheepish when he saw the whole process go down and realized he'd interrupted Lunch Part III (or however many Evie was up to at that point).

I'd put on the moby wrap before leaving the apartment, and planned to carry Evie that way since I've found that the pathways and pavement are not always stroller-friendly when adventuring in the European country side. Once we'd parked, Christa helped me situate Evie in the wrap, facing in to me, tummy to tummy, her little pj-footed feet dangling out the bottom. The carrier was a good call, as the streets were cobblestone and fairly crowded. We weaved in and out of the crowd and took in the sights along the cafe-lined winding roads. There were lots of people sitting out, enjoying the weather, wine glass in hand, and as we continued to walk I became aware that people were smiling at me. More to the point, they were smiling at Evelyn.

With a dog like Chokydar, we've gotten used to attracting attention when we travel. Her hair is so unique; it's not every day that you see a puli. We've become accustomed to people oogling over our dog, but as I walked the streets with Christa and Squishyton, it became apparent that Choky had competition for the title of Family Member With The Wildest Hair. I don't know if the moby helped accent Evie's cuteness, as only her dangling feet and poof of hair were visible, or maybe the wine was starting to take affect, but heads were turning as we strolled along. One table of elderly German women in particular cracked me up. They were seated at a round table, and as we passed, the eyes of the woman facing us widened. She breaks into a wide grin and turns to her neighbor, pointing unabashedly at my daughter. Before you know it, the entire table of 6 or so women were turned around in their chairs, necks craning, smiling, pointing, and laughing in our direction. Evelyn, on the other hand, slept soundly, her tiny 8 week old little Koosh ball head, tucked quietly under my chin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Christa comes to town




It was coming up on three years since I'd last seen Christa, so even though she was only in town for 6 days, it was a wonderful visit, long overdue! She was given the usual "welcome" by Chokydar. Those who have also been "welcomed" by Chokydar know this entails a standard 15-20 minute bark & growl fest, often accompanied by the baring of teeth. If you are lucky, you avoid any temporary hearing loss. Choky eventually settled down and decided that Christa could be a valuable addition to the herd.

We spent most of the week in the apartment. The weather was classic Baumholder--dreary gray, chilly and with the threat of rain, so the outings we embarked upon were very brief. Christa and I caught up on all kinds of news and engaged eachother in debates on topics varying from religion to ethics to politics. Over the weekend, Julia was able to come over and we treated ourselves to butterscotch-chocolate fondue and watched Enchanted. It was so nice to have two such close friends from such different times in my life present at once.

The day before Christa left, the weather cleared up and we actually had some sun. Seizing the opportunity, we grabbed the baby and all the gear and hopped in the car--a process that only took 2-3 hours. We drove up to a lovely little town, Bernkastel-Kues, and found that our visit coincided with their annual wine festival. More pictures and stories from that trip to come.

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