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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Unorthodox, yet effective.

There are certainly stylistic differences in our child care techniques we've discovered over the last week, as illustrated by this short video clip...

Also, though completely unrelated, Evelyn was STANDING in her crib this morning when I went to get her out of bed! STANDING!!!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our girl

Welcome home

Welcome home

Welcome home

Yesterday marks a week that Justin's been home. I know you will forgive me for being "away" online--we had too much to enjoy here to do much more than the occasional e-mail check and to post a few pictures. On Wednesday we went down to welcome home another group of soldiers--this time specifically to be with Julia as she waited to welcome home her husband Kellen. I took pictures for Julia and so Justin held Evelyn throughout the ceremony while I handled the camera. It was so sweet to see them together. I just can't get over it.

Justin and I had discussed and wondered about how the reintegration of our family might go...we figured there would be some difficultly reintroducing him to Evelyn and prepared ourselves as best as we could for the reality that she would not know her father. Still, the first afternoon he was here, I must tell you, it hit me hard when she burst into tears at his touch when he reached out to steady her as she stood. It broke both of our hearts and the unfairness of the whole situation--that hundreds of military families have gone through and are going through the same thing washed over me like a crashing wave. That was a hard moment to swallow, despite the fact that we knew it would be the case and had attempted to prepare ourselves mentally for it. We took a deep breath, held each other's hands, comforted Evelyn, and kept playing.

Now here's the really surprising and amazing part--after that first afternoon, she has not cried AT him, or because of him ONCE. She has adjusted to him better than I could have imagined. She looks for him after waking for a nap, she crawls to him, and she's even babbling "dada"--sort of at him...It fills me with such joy, I can hardly convey it to you. There are still many things she prefers me for of course, and Justin hasn't felt confident enough yet to tackle bath time, but I am amazed by how normal it all feels so soon after having him home.

Well, I say that, but really it's always been that way. He comes home, and it's as if he was never away. I love him so, and from the look in Evelyn's eyes when she gazes at him, it's clear she feels the same way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A little of this

Things we're doing:
  • Going to the (crappy) commissary TOGETHER.
  • Making REAL meals again--eggs for breakfast! ham, pepperjack, and mushroom crepes for dinner! grilled veggies! (I've more or less been "living" on frozen meals, cereal, canned soup and mac and cheese)
  • Working out while Evelyn is AWAKE because someone else is here to play with her!
  • Playing with our daughter TOGETHER.
  • Talking IN PERSON.
  • Sitting quietly TOGETHER.
  • Holding hands.
  • Planning what's next TOGETHER.
Home again

Home again

Home again

Little green girl

Little green girl

Home again

Things are so good.

Friday, May 22, 2009

He's back!

Justin is HOME! The welcome home ceremony was around midday and Julia went with me (and Evelyn of course) to greet him.

Evelyn handled the noise and excitement of the ceremony well, but she was a little unsure of what to make of Justin. Her reception of him could have been much worse, however, and they're already beginning to acclimate to one another.

Choky literally peed herself upon seeing Justin again. I think she may have thought he was a ghost, or maybe just that she'd done something so bad that I'd called him back from wherever he'd been to discipline her.

More to come later...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No. Freaking. Joke.

No. Joke.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ten months old today!!!

Look! I even got the pictures up with the letter!!!

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

10 months old

Dear E,
This month I totally did remember to take notes along the way of all of the amazing strides you started making, but now…I can’t remember what I did with the paper. It’s around here somewhere…but I get the feeling the things listed there would be out of date already—that even though they happened and were new at the beginning of this month, they would already feel like a lifetime ago. Just in the past few weeks you’ve had some incredible new developments. I can’t believe you’re 10 months old. That’s two digits. Ten seems so much older than nine. You’re so close to a year old now, it’s ridiculous, and I find myself stunned at the prospect of being the mother of a one year old. When did this happen?

Evelyn, this month you grew not one, but TWO teeth. The first one was the right of the bottom center two, and now the left fella is coming in. They are adorable. I never knew teeth could be so cute. Somehow this month your overall cuteness has been almost overwhelming, and even more than ever before I can’t seem to resist the urge to nibble on your feet and kiss your little nose and every other inch of you. It is borderline obscene how cute you are. Oh, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in a while, but you have gorgeous eyes. Seriously. They are sometimes grey, sometimes hazel, and sometimes look more green. Whatever color they are, they are framed by thick gorgeous lashes and are alight with curiosity and observation.

Food has become an issue for us in that this month you became sort of, orange. Actually, I think you’ve been gradually becoming orange for a while now, but this month it got to the point where I felt I needed to check and make sure you’re alright. (On the day we returned from the clinic one of the neighbors asked if you’d been “baby tanning.” I’m not sure that she was joking.) The conclusion seems to be that you have too much carotene in your diet, and although it’s a perfectly harmless condition that will fade with time, it definitely was a concern that loomed over a great portion of this month. You continue to really enjoy mealtimes, though, especially finger foods and feeding yourself. In one of those aforementioned moments of overwhelming cuteness, you very clearly wanted to share and thus fed me a Cheerio. Swoon. What a sweet girl you are. Hardly a meal goes by now that you don’t want to share something with me, and of course, you love sharing with Chokydar too.

You’ve begun to attempt conversation with me as well. A favorite game is tongue clicking back and forth. You click. I click. You click again. The possibilities are endless! You really enjoy animal sounds, especially the hissing of a snake and a sheep’s “baa.” Your sense of humor is starting to emerge in earnest too. Certain expressions and noises I can count on to leave you in stitches. Sometimes I’m not sure what you’re laughing at, but it makes me laugh all the same, which you find very funny in turn, and we just feed off each other infectiously.

Some of the most exciting stuff (motor skills wise) has begun to happen just in the last week. The first event was when you managed to pull yourself up on the ottoman. I was so proud of you and was nearly moved to tears by the look of pure joy and accomplishment radiating from your face. The next day, catching the wave of your momentum, you not only pulled up on the ottoman, but cruised around the perimeter—yes, that’s right—you made your way from point A to B WHILE STANDING. You were as wobbly as a new born colt and giggled with glee the whole way. A few days later your moonwalk crawl transformed before my eyes into a full out, belly off the floor crawl, not only backwards, but forwards too! This leaves me scrambling because I’ve been putting off a serious baby-proofing outside of your usual play area and “mop” has been bumped to the top of my to-do list.

In a matter of DAYS/weeks now, Evelyn, your daddy will be coming home to live with us again! As much as I’ve talked to you about this, I am prepared for it to come as something of a shock and surprise to have someone new sharing in our day to day lives. I can only tell you HOW ECSTATIC I am to have your father home after SO LONG and how much he loves you. We are so excited at the prospect of being under the same roof again and I know that he is nervously and excitedly anticipating getting to know you in person. He has fallen deeper and deeper in love with you from a distance, and I’m delirious with joy to get to watch you and he learn all about one another.

I love you always and always,


And here's one more video of the crawling! Very similar to the other I posted, except I really love Choky just quietly observing from the background. Believe me, it is taking every ounce of her willpower to not try and play with Evie's feet as she crawls.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Things are happening this week

Friday, May 8, 2009

March 2008- Normandy

I know--it's May not March. I'm behind. I never got up my past travel pics from March or April. I'm trying to play catch up, because some of these are really lovely pictures and I want to revist them myself and also share them with you.

Last year--wow, it seems crazy that it was last year; it seems a lifetime ago--before the guys deployed we went on a trip to Normandy with our very good friends the Blythes. Justin and I had been to Normandy with my parents the previous October, but on that trip we traveled more widely in the area and thus did not spend as much time focusing on the WWII aspects of the region. I am so glad we got to take two trips there. I would definitely go again. I love France and that region is so full of history and beauty.

The morning we left for the trip last year, we were hit with a snow storm. We sat in traffic trying to get to the autobahn for a good while. Cars were stuck in the snow trying to get up hill and traffic was seriously backed up. Thankfully, once we got to the autobahn things cleared up considerably, and we didn't have to deal with snow again until we made our way back into Baumholder on the return end.









I was pregnant during this trip (6 months along or so) and thus I just looked enviously as the guys raved about a local rose wine at a restaurant we stumbled upon, Le Crabe Vert. We bought a bottle actually, now that I'm remembering...I think we'll have to break that out to celebrate their return in the coming weeks!



The Blythes are adorable. We love them.




Le Crabe Vert was actually SO good (they had all kinds of AMAZING specialty pizzas) that we visited it two nights we were in the area. It was that good.

It stood out in stark contrast to another restaurant we stumbled upon one afternoon when we were taking a break from a long stretch of driving and were all starving. I was the "French speaker" of the group. I took two years of French in highschool and one brush up semester in college, but that's all starting to be very long ago now, and while I can get by, we've had some funny experiences that definitely prove I am no where near fluent. (I don't think I've told the story on here about accidentally ordering 6 orders of escargot at 12 euros a plate...) The escargot story and this experience, forever remembered as The Cold Duck Pate place are two of the funniest (and most costly) errors. This restaurant, as you can see from the linens and decor, was nicer than just a pop in lunch place and should have tipped us off that we might not be in for a bargain. Most restaurants in Europe have a "fixed price" menu, where, for a flat rate you get to choose an appetizer, main course, and usually a desert. This restaurant had the option, but no prices were listed on the menu, and we got nervous that we'd be way out of our price range to go that route. Plus, many of the choices listed were beyond my limited vocabulary. I don't like seafood, and typically recognize and stick to chicken, rabbit, or duck from French restaurants.
After much diliberation, we--did we all?--I think maybe just Julia and I--I can't remember...well, we got duck something or other with pears in a sauce. If I remember correctly it was 17 euro, and thus we assumed it was a main course. Wrong. It was an appetizer. They brought out the plates with this cold miniscule lump of duck pate stuck artistically on top of a pear soaked in liquor and drizzled with sauce. As you can see, we were less than thrilled:

We went back to the car afterwards and dove into a box of Cheese-Its.


Who knew I was this funny...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thanks, but no thanks

Oh those crazy Germans...

Okay, to follow up on last post; I took Evelyn in to the clinic yesterday to try and have her seen by a nurse. We were able to be seen, but the nurse wasn't much help. She basically wasn't willing to say that Evie didn't have jaundice (she said it didn't look like it to her)--she said we should be seen by a doctor. Sigh. She recommended that we go up to the patient liason office and go to the krankenhaus (German hospital) here in Baumholder. So we went.

I could make this a waaaay longer story than it needs to be, but I'll try to keep it relatively short. Just to give you a sense of the experience though, as I was in the moment I couldn't help but think to myself that I was experiencing a sensation I hadn't since I was a VERY small child--the sense of being herded around having people talk over you and not fully understanding what's going on. It wasn't a pleasant feeling at all, especially because I was trying to make an informed decision about the health of our child. Anyway, here's what happened:

The doctor looked like a cross between a German Colonel Sanders and the actor Michael York. He was dressed in snugly fitted white clothes from head to foot, including his shoes and belt; even hair was white. His English was certainly better than my German, but that's not saying much. He was VERY difficult to understand, and gave short, sharp directions like, "take her clothes off!" He had like, negative bedside manner. Evie was being brave, but he wasn't doing anything to try and keep her calm. When at one point she began to look as if she might cry, he shoved a woven basket full of candy at her. I'm talking little plastic packages (choking hazard) of sugar coated (!!!!) root beer flavored gummy candy (CHOKING HAZARD) at my nine month old infant. And I'm supposed to take his medical opinion seriously? He was losing points quickly. Evie stared at him teary eyed as if to say, "Dude, don't you know I'm a BABY? I don't eat candy..."

He asked me, "What's wrong with her?"
"Ummm, nothing really is wrong. She's just, kind of, orange. I wanted to make sure it's not jaundice and that everything's okay."
He looked at her, poked and podded a bit and said, "It's not jaundice."
Then he followed with, (I'm translating here, because his english was not this clear) "We will do blood work and ultrasound."


She doesn't have jaundice, so you're going to do bloodwork and an ultrasound...I was seriously confused and thought I must have misunderstood him. I tried to clarify, but all I could get out of him was that he thought she needed extra testing. I couldn't understand why, but I'm not a doctor, and it's a bit daunting to decline when a doctor tells you you should have a test run on your child. I was NOT pleased that Evie would have to be put through extra stress, but we wandered up stairs to have the blood work done.

Did I say I was going to try and keep this brief? Ooops...

Neither the blood work lady or the ultrasound technician spoke english. At all. The lady babbled on and ON in German to Evelyn, obviously smitten with her, and Evie didn't seem to mind. I have to say, it kind of creeped me out though; she was a bit scary. The ultrasound guy understood me when I said "orange." I'm not sure he fully understood why we were getting an ultrasound either. He showed me her stomach, her kidneys, her liver--all were present and accounted for, and looked normal (surprise, surprise...). But wait! Where's her gallbladder? Hmmmm

He couldn't find it. DoctorColonelMichaelYorkSanderstein was called in to try and find it. Why are we even looking for her gallbladder??? The doctor found it, but exclaimed that it was contracted because she had a full tummy. (She hadn't eaten in about 4 hours.) He tells me, "Come back tomorrow at 9 in the morning. Don't feed her." Oh, and at this point he also says, "Do you feed her....(he turns to try and find the word from his non-english speaking assistant)...carrots?"

"Yes," I replied, "That's what I sort of thought it was from the beginning..."

"Stop feeding her carrots. Don't do that anymore."


He was already walking out of the room when I protested the summons to come back the next day. "She wakes between 5 and 7 and is HUNGRY. Why does she need to be seen again? What is the problem? Can we be seen earlier if it's necessary?"

"No, we don't come in until 9. Don't feed her." He leaves.

I was totally frustrated, confused, and at a loss. Why was I even doing all of this? THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH EVELYN, except that she sort of looks like she's eaten too many Oompa Loompas.

I called the patient liason office when we got home and tried to explain my frustration and ask for help. They said they'd call over and see what the doctor was concerned about and if it was necessary for me to go in again.

They called back to tell me he'd already gone home. They said he's probably just checking to make sure she doesn't have any other problems and that it should be alright to let her eat a little when she first wakes up before we go in. Sigh. In the back of my head I KNEW that it was just SILLY to go in again, but he'd made it seem so important to see her gallbladder, I couldn't help but have this fear--what if there IS something wrong with her gallbladder and I don't have her checked and something happens to her? So we went this morning and had a SECOND ultrasound.

When I first saw the doc this morning he looks at me as if he'd never seen us before and asked, "So what's wrong with her?"

I stared at him for a minute, like, "you're kidding, right?"

"Ummmmm....Nothing's wrong with her...she's orange. You said to come back so you could check her gallbladder..."

"Of course nothing's wrong with her. Of course I remember. Take off her clothes."

He poked her some more and said, "It's just orange here in her face."

"Ummmm..." I said, "I see it all over, really."

"Yes of course."


(Have I mentioned lately how much I can't wait to get back to America?)

Ok, now this officially isn't just not brief, it's probably much longer than most regular posts...

So during 9 month old infant's SECOND ultrasound, he finds her gallbladder, and SURPRISE! it's totally normal. He sees her stomach full of liquid on the monitor and says, "You fed her."

"You caught me," I said, loathing him.

"She has a full bladder. Let's do a urine test."

WHAT?!?!?!!?!?! WHY?


"To check."

"Wait, do you think anything is wrong with her or are you just doing this because you think I want you to? If it's not jaundice and everything looks okay, I'm fine. She acts normally. She's happy and healthy. She's just orange. Her urine looks normal. Her poop is normal. Why do you need to get a urine sample?"

"Come to my office. To check." He walked out of the room.

I dressed Evelyn and told her we were leaving. I poked my head in the room and told him, "You know, I think we're just going to go. I don't think she needs a urine test." (How do you get a 9 month old girl to pee in a cup anyway?? It's hard enough when I have to do it...) He looked at me all concerned and confused with the little platic cup in his hand and was like, "But the urine test!"

"Yeah, I feel comfortable that she's okay. Thanks, though."

"Why don't you take it with you. Take it with you and when you get the chance, have her go in it and then you can bring it back."

I am not even kidding you.

I nearly refused, but I thought it would just be simpler to take the cup and go. Plus, I thought, I can take a picture of the urine sample cup we're NOT going to pee in and post it on tomatobear.

no thanks

So, Evelyn is apparently fine. Just a little orange.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We're having a bad day today

When things are going bad, I have the tendency to want them to stay that way. "What?!?" you ask, "Michele, that makes no sense! Don't you want things to get better?" The real answer is, of course I do. The answer when I'm in the depths of my pity party (You're not invited, thanks, it's a party for one. I like feeling alone. And miserable. Go away, I have no friends.) is No. Life sucks. And then you die. The world is out to get me. Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms.

Today just started off on the wrong foot. I was up really late last night finishing my homework for class--I'd put it off until the last minute and HAD to get it done last night. Evelyn was cranky when she woke up. She didn't want to take her nap this morning. I somehow feel a little dizzy and keep bumping into things today. I've hit my head twice already. Ouch. I haven't showered in a day. (I should be showering now, but it feels better when you're miserable to be dirty too. Don't want to do anything that might accidentally make me feel better.) The weather is super crappy and cold. We went out to run errands and of course no one was friendly. I felt fat and dirty and blech. We came home and I called the Nurse's hotline--I've been meaning to for a week now; Evie has a bit of an orangey tint to her skin that comes and goes. I don't think it's jaundice; her eyes are perfectly white and she doesn't have the other symptoms listed online for jaundice. I think it's much more likely that it's something like carotenemia but I want to make sure of course that she's okay and I'm not brushing off something serious.

Well, the nurse on the hotline said I should have her seen within 3 days. Now I feel kinda guilty because I've noticed this orangey-ness for a while now and haven't been compelled to spring into action on it. It seems to come and go and she acts normal and healthy. But I called in to get an appointment, and of course, they don't have any appointments. My options are 1)the emergency room 2)call non-stop and be on hold for the next 5 hours of my life to see if they have an opening that becomes available. I freaked out on the woman on the phone, pushed to the point of tears as Evelyn spat apricots at me and I stared blankly out the window at the gray. She gave me the number for the nurses line here in Baumholder; the other line was apparently stateside.

On top of it all, I can't help but have these huge nagging paranoid doubts about my ability to be a human being, let alone a mother. I haven't been eating that well--nothing sounds good, and I worry that Evelyn's diet isn't up to snuff or that maybe my breastmilk isn't giving her all of what she needs. I'm afraid that my lifelong food issues are going to be passed on to her.

I know it isn't as bleak as it feels right now. Thankfully, Evie has settled down for a nap, and will most likely be in a better mood when she wakes. I probably just need some more sleep myself and to go take a shower (and workout--which I haven't done in over a week!).

On a completely unrelated note, here are some pictures of Evelyn being adorable with my growing afghan:

the baby and the grannies

coming along


they make her happy too!
starting over

I like this one, mommy
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