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

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Almost there...

baby and granny

baby and granny

baby and granny

baby and granny

baby and granny

baby and granny

baby and granny

We're making progress on a lot of fronts here lately. We're less than 20 days out from our flight back to the states now, I'm up to 13x13 rows on my blanket and, most exciting of all, Evie has taken one or two steps on her own!

Check out the video with Evie almost walking!! She is so close now! We flipped out the other day when she took two tiny steps hands free to get from the coffee table to the travel crib. She doesn't make an attempt all the time, but I just know it's coming soon...

I've decided to add two more columns and maybe 4-6 more rows on the blanket, although I think that will make it larger than most throws. I am a sucker for oversized blankets, though, and I figure I can make another--perhaps in fancier yarn--that is more "normal" sized.

The second move date is this coming Thursday, and I'd love to finish the blanket by then, althoguh there's no practical reason why it would ship better finished rather than incomplete. I'll still have remaining yarn either way; I already have ideas on what to do next.

I've been treading water, so to speak, in so many ways the last few weeks, having to wait on many of the things that are left to do before leaving. I've been cleaning around the apartment, but all the major cleaning needs to wait until closer to our clear date, otherwise I'll just need to do it all again. I'm anxious to get more information about buying our car--I contacted Houston VW dealerships back in July to get preliminary info, but now I'm waiting for the end of August to see what deals and incentives will be available in September for us. All exciting things. All teaching me patience. Or at least making me wait.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thirteen months old (yesterday)

don't move


Yesterday you became thirteen months old. I know you can’t count quite yet, but when you get older and look back over these posts you’ll realize we’ve encountered a problem. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, thirteen. That’s right. I’ve dutifully been writing these love letters to you monthly--every thirty some-odd days since you arrived on the scene--only last month for the big ONE, I didn’t do it. I could blame it on the move, on crazy schedules and busy times; saying goodbye to friends, on packing and preparations, but if I’m being honest with myself and you, it’s because I’m having a bit of a hard time coming to grips with you growing up.

You’re not yet walking (although you’re sooooo close), but to me, I think you’re already a toddler rather than a baby. Every time I say this your father responds with, “No! She’s still a baby!” I think you always will be to him, just fyi. You’re still making leaps and bounds with your motor skills—gross and fine, you’re babbling to anyone who will listen or sometimes to no one at all, you are quite the problem solver and have a great sense of humor. Your father or I will call out excitedly, “Did you see that??” when you do something amazing, like stand on your own and balance unassisted for half a minute or so. But there’s some X factor that’s taking place, Lamby, and you’re metamorphosing in front of my very eyes.

You’re down to two nursings a day now, and I think you’re about to go down to one, as we’ll probably eliminate the morning session any time now. You’re trying new foods and sampling off of our plates as well. I can’t wait to get back to the states to see what new things we can experiment with. You’ve been resisting your morning nap in favor of a single afternoon nap as well. You love to play on the floor with your daddy or “run away” down the hall and have us chase after you. You’re very graceful, but when you fall, you fall spectacularly. In all honesty, it scares the bejeebies out of me every time it happens. You face plant after a false step and go from all smiles to wails of pain and fear. Before I can even assess the state of your busted lip you’re squirming out of my lap, eager to go knock yourself silly again.

It’s really clear now that you can understand a good deal of what I’m saying—if not word for word, than certainly the intent or tone comes through. You respond to simple commands or questions with an inquisitive look, smile, or pout. You have a “new face” that is something akin to a wide eyed, teeth bared (you have four now, btw—teeth, that is) grimace that is used when you are surprised, taken aback by something, or are unsure. Chokydar brings about this look a lot. I’ve got to get a picture of it, because it is totally priceless. You can sometimes handle “no” without much ado, but other times it can send you into a complete fit, stomping feet and all.

You’re liberal with your kisses, and are, on occasion, a biter. You like playing with my yarn. You love “reading.” You prefer the letters “O,” “Q,” and “B,” and “D.” You rock out to hip hop, oldies, and Motown. You point your toes like a ballet dancer and like to brush your teeth with Baby Orajel.

This time next month, we’ll be in America. There are so many things I want to show you, I don’t even know where to start. I know that you won’t remember your time here in Germany, but it has been a happy time, for the most part, and you have been such a source of joy for us in this past year.

I love you. I can’t say it enough.



A short list.

These have been my favorite words here:

1. Schneeman ("snowman")
2. Bodenschwellen ("speed bumps")
3. Glan M├╝nchweiler (proper noun, a town nearby)
4. Niedermohr (proper noun, another nearby town, meaning "low moor") --I like saying this one followed by an evil cackle: NEE-DER-MORE!!! MUAH AH AH AH!!!

and probably my most used phrase:

5. Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch. (I speak only a little German.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Walking through the windmills

on the horizon

over there


that a way


off in the distance

enjoying the ride

precious girl

happy puli

watching daddy

precious girl

my girl

sweet one

Speaking purely of the weather, today was perhaps the most beautiful day I've experienced here in Baumholder over the past (nearly) four years. It was not only sunny, but cloudless and the colors seemed brighter, more vibrant. Ever since stumbling across a user map on Google for a path through the windmills outside town I've been itching to go walk up there. It's easy to have reasons "not to go" in Baumholder--usually involving the weather, so when today was just about completely perfect, we hopped in the car and drove up to the path.

It's maybe slightly possible I'm feeling slightly sentimental about our leaving here. Don't get me wrong--I can't wait--but for all of the valleys we experienced here, it also has been a good time, and I don't regret the choice we made when we decided to come to Germany.

With some free time on our hands and not a lot of things around the house to distract, I've been working out a lot more lately. Today on our walk I had too much energy to just keep walking, so I traded Justin the stroller for the leash and took off with Choky down the path. Evie started to get concerned that I was running away, so I doubled back, which she thought was hilarious. After a time or two of this game--run away for 50 meters or so, sprint back--I could have stopped, but then Justin began spurring me on, so for about 20 minutes of the return "walk" I ran up and down hill with Chokydar.

Choky was having the time of her life, although it was clear from the run that she's a touch out of shape. She ventured into the weeds at one point and came out covered in burrs, which stuck to her fur like glue. Evie watched in awe as Justin picked them out, one by one before we got back in the car to come home.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

IF: Impatient

It's been forever since I've posted a drawing to Illustration Friday, but when I saw this week's word, "Impatient," I knew I had to do something. I am the definition of impatient lately. After nearly four years of not setting foot in my home land, we're getting ready to move back to the states. Our stuff is packed, save a few essentials (i.e. Evie's swing, travel crib, our laptops, etc.) and I'm just itching to go. We have about a month left to go until we fly and I'm having a really hard time waiting...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Leo Babauta on Creativity

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has great life hacker tips on tons of things, from organization to creativity, and I enjoyed this list so much, I wanted to share it. Here are his top tips for creativity:

  • Play.
  • Don’t consume and create at the same time — separate the processes.
  • Shut out the outside world.
  • Reflect on your life and work daily.
  • Look for inspiration all around you, in the smallest places.
  • Start small.
  • Just get it out, no matter how crappy that first draft.
  • Don’t try for perfect. Just get it out there, asap, and get feedback.
  • Constantly make it better.
  • Ignore the naysayers.
  • But let criticism help you grow.
  • Teach and you’ll learn.
  • Shake things up, see things in new ways.
  • Apply things in other fields to your field, in ways not done before.
  • Drink ridiculous amounts of coffee.
  • Write all ideas down immediately.
  • Turn your work into play.
  • Play with kids.
  • Get out, move, see new things, talk to new people.
  • Read wildly different things. Especially stuff you disagree with.
  • Get lots of rest. Overwork kills creativity.
  • Don’t force it. Relax, play, it will start to flow.
  • Allow your mind to wander. Allow distractions, when you’re looking for inspiration.
  • Then shut them off when you’re going to create.
  • Do it when you’re excited.
  • When you’re not, find something else to be excited about.
  • Don’t be afraid to be stupid and silly.
  • Small ideas are good. You don’t need to change the world — just change one thing.
  • When something is killing your creativity, kill it.
  • Stop reading creativity advice, clear away everything, and just create.
  • Most of all, have fun doing it.
“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before
breakfast.” - Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Inspiration strikes

color inspiration

I found this amazing living room, styled by Sasa Antic, via Oh Joy! and it brought my entire (current) design aestheic into focus. I've been loving the simplicity of Scandanavian design--white washed with bright bursts of color, but we also have a good deal of black furniture that I love and I've been struggling with how to incorporate that well in our new place.

I've also been head over heels for midcentury design lately, especially the Cherner Arm Chair:

I looooooooooooove this chair. Elementary school children could sing songs about me and this chair sitting in a tree, and I'd just be cool with it. It comes in many finishes, but my favorite is the classic walnut. I really love how in the Sasa Antic living room she incorporates white, black, and wood finish so easily. You would think, "Ah, just mix and match!" but somehow it's not that easy! Designers somehow put it all together and it looks eccletic and chic. If it's done incorrectly it just looks like you couldn't make up your mind.

I think I've settled (for now) on a table and chairs. What do you think? I'm planning to get 1 Cherner chair and 5 Jake chairs. Or maybe 4 Jake chairs and hold off to find another arm chair to accompany the Cherner.


I have no idea whether or not we'll have carpet in our next home(s), but I can't help admiring these regardless:


Oh, and art of course. Here are some of my latest favorites:


Monday, August 3, 2009

Never good enough

I came across this article on Unclutterer, You don't have to be the best and wanted to link to it. I know for me, I often feel very alone in my flaws and shortcomings. It's easy to look around at others and be completely frustrated and demoralized by people that "do everything" or seem to navigate life effortlessly. The funny thing is, though, I think most people feel the same way I do--struggling to balance competing aspects of life, attempting to keep up appearances for others' sake as well as for our own.

As a child I was exceptionally blessed in most of my endeavors. I succeeded maybe more often than was good for me, and somewhere along the way, I began to fear failure and rejection in a way that became a bit paralyzing. It's a problem I have with my art--I don't want to sketch, I was to produce a masterpiece on the first attempt. I am so frustrated by my (completely natural) inability to produce perfection on the first try, I have difficulty putting pencil to paper (or stylus to tablet, as sometimes the case may be), I'm still working on this, and I'm always amused and relieved to hear of this problem being shared by others. Just who exactly are we trying to prove ourselves to?

I'm reminded of this as we prepare to make the move to a new place as well. I think very often people share social anxieties that feed off of one another. You meet a new person--they're a little nervous to meet you, you're really nervous to meet them. If you're both waiting for the other person to take the first step, you both walk away feeling that the other person is cold or unfriendly, when really, you may have just both been hoping the other person would do the honor of breaking the ice.

Anyway, it's something I've been thinking on lately--embracing myself, flaws and all, and being proud of my strengths as well (I sometimes have the tendency to diminish them to the point of degrading myself). It's a bit fun to get to try and renew yourself with a fresh group of people. You have another chance at making a first impression, and just maybe you can manage to improve, without worrying about being the best.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

One Big Step Closer

For weeks now we've been making preparations for our move back to the states. This week, however, was a frenzied hurricane of activity as we got ready for most of our belongings to be packed and moved. You would think how complicated could it be? as we don't actually have to pack or move anything ourselves, and I'm sure for some (less anal) people, it may not be such an event. I figure the more organized we can be on this end, the smoother the packing will go, and likewise, the easier the unpacking will be on the other side.

When Thursday rolled around this week I could be found running around the house, making piles of our possessions based on room or function, or whatever other wacky way of classification that makes sense only to me. Things needed to be sorted into two very broad categories: staying or going. We have two packing dates, and the bulk of our items, including all major pieces of furniture were required to go this week. Our next pack date will be at the end of August, about a week and a half before we go ourselves, and at that time, all we'll be left with is what we'll carry with us on the plane. As I decided what things were necessary to our existence and pared things down to a reasonably small group of objects, I couldn't help but wonder how many of our belongings we could do without altogether. The task of disassembling, sorting, and grouping things was especially arduous because Evie was either napping (requiring QUIET organization) or wanting to "help," which, while very cute, isn't actually that helpful. She was very amused by the feather duster in particular.


The morning of the move, she and I were up and making final preparations by 6am. She then took a nap before they arrived around 8:30am. I did not nap. I paced around muttering to myself, unplugging appliances, making coffee for the packers. We had an especially fun moment that morning when Justin attempted to secure the front door behind him on his way out to pick up breakfast for everyone and the key snapped off in the lock.


This looks organized to you, right? Yeah...

We marked Evie's room as off-limits to the movers and filled it with everything that wasn't going with this shipment. It was filled with everything from tools to cleaning supplies to things to be mailed, clothes, things to be donated or sold, Chokydar's toys and kennel, diapering supplies, books, luggage...you get the idea.

The bathroom too was off-limits. We are not able to send any liquids, including lotion, perfume, detergent or cleaning supplies, so all of that was sent to stay in the bathroom. Oh, and a giant basket of laundry I hadn't gotten around to doing.


The packers were really quick about their work and did a good job. Thankfully the weather cooperated as well. Come lunch time everyone took a break and Justin went out to get lunch for everyone. When asked what they'd like (pizza, fried chicken, deli sandwiches, Taco Bell...) the movers responded excitedly "Taco Bell!" That amuses me rather a lot for some reason.

Originally we had scheduled the movers to come on Thursday and then to have the government owned furniture (the same stuff we had when we first got here--affectionately deemed the "Barney syphilis couches" because of their awful spotty purple upholstery) brought in on Friday, but the movers had to push back our date to Friday, which bumped our furniture delivery to Monday. This weekend then we're making due with impromtu horizontal surfaces on which to eat (i.e. boxes) and have two folding chairs in which to sit. To closer watch Evie while she played, I moved to the floor while I was messing on the computer. She proceeded to crawl over and create a new game--Mommy Is A Pony. She straddled the small of my back as I lay on the ground and giggled insanely as I called for help. Justin instead went for the camera. ;)




That's all for now. The typing is echoing in our cave of a place now and it's time for bed! It's been an exciting and exhausting couple of days, and more than ever it's hitting home that the move is real and that we're finally on our way.
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