Monday, December 17, 2007

Seasons Greetings

Like father, like son

Wow!!! I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted something. I'd like to say it's because I've been doing some wonderfully exciting things, and I've been so busy that I just couldn't blog. Unfortunately, it's more the case that I've been too tired and/or lazy to blog. Willem is still up quite a bit at night and I don't get any quality sleep so I'm always tired. So let's see... what has happened since the last time I posted?
"Please help me if these are my parents"

I started a "gymnastics" class here for post-partum women. Organized gymnastics classes for after delivery are a BIG THING here. My OB told me about them and said I should take advantage of the class because insurance usually pays for it. I was planning to look into it when my neighbor (also named Steffani) mentioned that she had started taking classes a week before. (Steffi has a daughter one month older than Willem.) I asked if I could tag along and she was gracious enough to let me. I am now enrolled in the class, too. As it is in German, I have NO clue what the instructor is saying, but I try to follow along and watch what she does. Some of the exercises are so subtle that Steffi helps translate what I'm supposed to be doing in those cases. I enjoy the class, but I also find it a bit strange. In the U.S. I don't remember there being a huge push for organized post-partum classes. Sure, they were available but certainly not covered by insurance, so I'm not sure how in demand they were. A lot of the exercises work your pelvic floor, and then there are some strange ones I can't figure out what they are working. At any rate, I am hopeful that after some of the classes are finished, I can go out for a coffee or a drink with some of the gals from class and try to learn a bit more German. My progress in that department has been super slow and I am very intimidated to attempt what little German I've learned in social settings.

We met up with Kaspar for lunch last Thursday. It was nice to see another familiar face- all fond reminders of back home. Gerard made plans to catch up with Kaspar again Sunday night to watch American Football at a pub while I stayed home with the kids. Unfortunately, that was a rough night for me with the boys. Gerrit was VERY clingy and wanted me to himself. Willem wanted to be nursed and wouldn't handle being put down for a while. If I let Willem cry, Gerrit stayed awake, yet if I nursed Willem Gerrit started to cry. After several hours of jockeying both of them, they finally went to sleep. This gives me a little taste of how things will be sometimes when Gerard is in Chile for weeks to a month at a time. It's going to be rough. In Los Angeles, three days is all I could handle. Here it'll be a nightmare to even go that long.
Christmas is almost here. I can't believe we've been here over three months now. I'm still not done unpacking, and have done very little of it since mom left. We do have a tree decorated and I set up a few of my grandmother's village items. I was unable to put them all up this year, but I hope to be able to find a better solution next year. It doesn't feel right only putting part of it up. I was able to put a few more pieces up by making a very small window scene in the kitchen. I've done a lot of Christmas shopping online this year, as I don't know where to buy things and frankly, schlepping both kids around Munich trying to find various stores didn't sound appealing. At least online I can take the time to figure out what things are even when I don't speak the language (thank goodness for Google Translate).
A Christmas mini-village set up in the Kitchen Window
Our Charlie Brown Tree
We've also hit a few Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets) so far. It's been bitter cold here (well, at least for me) and quite windy at times so we've tried to make sure the boys are bundled up. I still haven't purchased a double stroller yet so I continue to wear Willem and we use the stroller for Gerrit when he wants to sit or sleep while we're out and about. We bought a fussack (a foot sack) to help keep Gerrit's legs warm while he's sitting in the stroller. It's basically a sleeping bag for the lower portion of his body. It actually looks quite comfy. I wish I had one for me when we're out and about in the cold. People keep telling me I'll get used to it, but I'm not so sure. Needless to say, there are a lot of warm foods served at the Weihnachtsmarkts. Of course, I get my banana-Nutella crepes whenever I can, but I also have been munching on gebrannte Mandeln (basically burned almonds in a sugar candy coating). They are served warm and very tasty. There are a ton of different nuts served this way, but I prefer the almonds best. Glühwein, on the other hand, I've found is an acquired taste. And frankly, I haven't yet acquired a taste for it. Glühwein (Glow Wine, typically served around Christmas time) is a hot spiced red wine, much like an alcoholic spiced cider. There are Glühwein stands all over these Christmas Markets and people stand around sipping it to keep warm. Gerard enjoys it and perhaps with time, I may come to enjoy it too. For now, while I find it palatable, I much prefer hot apple cider or hot chocolate to keep warm.

Gerrit's Nifty Fussack
Mmmm.... Glühwein

ESO held a Children's Christmas Party on Friday and an Adult Christmas Party on Saturday. It was pleasant. At the children's party there was a pantomime show, lots of goodies, and a visit from St. Nicholas, himself. Nicholas referenced the giant book of names of children who had been good or naughty this year and brought gifts for the children who had been "good." Nicholas also brought his helpers. Gerrit had no idea what was going on but enjoyed all the hullabaloo.
The enormous Christmas Tree at ESO
After the pantomime show
The Book of Names
Yeah, Gerrit's name was called
"Hey Willem, look at the crocodile St. Nick gave me"

Saturday we left the kids with Liesel and Martin and proceeded to have wow... almost a real date by going to Gerard's work Christmas Party. It was a bit unclear if food was to be served so Gerard and I stopped at a little cafe on the way to get some nibbles. We ordered a crepe, but mistakenly thought we were getting a crepe with a certain kind of cheese. Instead we ended up with a crepe filled with chicken and tons of vegetables. I had to laugh when I saw the plates arrive. Ah yes, Gerard's favorite. He did his best to force down a few veggies and ate around the rest. The poor waiter wasn't sure if he should take the plate or not because he was convinced Gerard couldn't be done eating yet. Fortunately, there actually was food at the party so Gerard was able to munch again later. The party was very pleasant. A reception with champagne served, followed by a welcoming from the president of ESO, an extremely fancy buffet dinner of lots of things I couldn't pronounce, followed by music and dancing. Gerard and I were unable to stay for the dancing (lucky him) as we had to get home quickly to our boys. It was a pleasant evening and while I wish the evening could have lasted longer, by the time we got home and settled into bed I was exhausted. Yes, we have become fuddy duddy parent-types. Our niece, Alex, would be so disappointed.

ESO Christmas Party

Gerrit continues to be obsessed with fish, bus, trains, and airplanes, but we can now add to the list DINOSAURS. Incidentally, while he can say "Alligator" he always calls crocs and alligators dinos, too. Gerrit continues to amaze me with how much he is developing. Obviously his gross and fine motor skills have developed like crazy as he became more mobile. But now his mental development is taking off. He is trying out words like crazy and though they rarely sound exactly as they should, I love that he is trying. In fact, at this age it's always entertaining to hear his funny mispronunciations. He mimics like crazy, which means it is now definitely time to watch ourselves and lead by example. The other day we were watching a nature show and there was a bird feeding her chicks a rather disgusting array of squished bugs. Gerard saw it and blurted out, "Ewww" and Gerrit of course, followed suit... and repeated the word every time a bird fed her young. I don't even think Gerrit really found it disgusting, but like father like son. Gerrit enjoys reading books and is now beginning to read them to himself. He, of course, doesn't get the words quite right, but he looks at the pictures and recites a few words that he remembers us reading to him when he gets to certain pages.... a few real words interwoven in a lot of jibberish. One of Gerrit's favorite books is a Baby Elmo book that talks about all the things that Baby Elmo has learned to do (say things like, "Ma Ma, Da Da," sing "La La" and laugh "Ha Ha"). When Gerrit gets to those pages he will recite those words. Then at the end, the book says, "How Big is Baby Elmo now? Baby Elmo is ssssooooo BIG!" I've heard Gerrit get to that page and recite "SOOOOO BIG." I am tickled each time I see him pick up a book and hear him "read it " aloud. It's adorable!
O Tannenbaum!

Willem is a big boy of nearly 8 weeks now. At 7 weeks I weighed him and he clocked in at 5,886 grams (12 pounds 12 ounces) so he's definitely growing well. He has started to plump out around the face. He is much more alert when awake, cooing and kicking his legs about. Willem is also now moving out of that lizard-like phase where he has little control over his tongue or facial expressions. As his eyes are now able to focus better and fixate on objects a bit more, his facial expressions have become a bit more "intentional"... and he even smiles for me now and again. I love that! He started smiling a few days after my last post and now I melt every time he does it. With Gerrit I wasn't as aware of how precious it was. Sure, I enjoyed it, but now I realize that I need to cherish this time. For now, I am the center of Willem's world and he looks up at me with adoring eyes. He has known my voice and smell but now he is beginning to focus on my face and he is thoroughly amused by it. This is time where I feel more bonding takes place, as we gaze into each other's eyes and begin to "learn about each other." I realize that probably sounds very dorky. However, I now know how fleeting this time really is. Soon enough, he will become a teenager who may think his mother a nuisance. But for now, I am everything to him.
All Smiles!

Mommy's Little Angel


At December 21, 2007 at 11:10 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Steph - I looked at the picture of you and Gerard at the holiday party and recalled many a picture of my parents.

OH MY GAWD!!! We're becoming our parents.

Freaky, huh?


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