Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hanging out with Great Grandpa in Germany

It's hard to believe that it was just a few short weeks ago that we were in Germany. October is definitely a good time to head to that part of the world I must say. We enjoyed really pleasant weather and of course since it was October, we had a beer or two in honor of Octoberfest!

I thought I'd post a few pictures of the boys hanging out with their 91 year old grandfather. He's Susanne's Opa on her dad's side, so to the boys he's their Uropa. It was really fun to see both him and the boys so happy together.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

My three favorite characters setting the mood set for a spooky Halloween. Scary!

It Was a "Snowshine Day" to paraphrase the Brady Bunch ;-)

We got our first snow fall of the year yesterday and Danny and Benji were thrilled as you can see. Danny's hat is sort of a combination stegosaurus/porcupine hat that we got for him in Germany, and Benji's was perfect for Halloween weekend. A pumpkin hat we got from our friend Raquel when he was a tiny baby. He fills it quite nicely now and it will be perfect for this winter! Have a great Halloween everyone, and if stay warm!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stopping the Madness!

Growing up in an Irish American family I was very familiar with the word "whinging". It rhymes with "singeing" and what it means is to whine or fret. In a very annoying way.

As an adult I remember reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt and being astounded to see him write the word "whinge."  I'd never seen it written before which was sort of a shock.

Fast forward many years and here we are today. And we've got a whinger. His name is Daniel, and we have gotten a tad bit sick of the whining. (Our neighbor is from Ireland so his family uses the word quite a lot to describe their kids' high pitched complaining too.)

Anyway, a few days ago Susanne read some great advice on Baby Center or somewhere that a good way to stop the incessant whinging is to create a jar with say five whinge cards for the day in it, the last one attached to a treat. Every time the kid whinges you take a card out. The last one to come out if the one with the treat attached. However, if the kid can control him or herself enough, they get the treat. Each night you put your five whinge tickets back in and start over (always with a treat attached to one as the reward).

Bottom line--if we have to pull all 5 cards out each day before supper ends because he's been caught whinging 5 times he does not get his gummy bears. If we pull out 4 or fewer, he gets the bears.

We have been using this with pretty good success this past week as Danny is very keen on getting his Gummy Bear treat (we got the kind with Vitamin C so we feel like this is an okay thing.) He did not get his treat the first night we tried it, but has every other night (except one) and we are thrilled that the whinging has dropped off considerably.

Now if only we could figure out how to solve for the problem of Benji becoming apoplectic when Danny gets a treat and he does not.  And also how to help Danny understand that whinging "BUT I'M NOT WHINGING" loses him a card. ;-)

Anyone else used this method, or think you'll try it? We give it a thumbs up! -Monica

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More farm fun

Continuing with my Wizard of Oz theme, I guess I would title this one "He would while away the hours".

The "scarecrows" on this farm we visited were actually pretty scary for most of the littler kids. But Danny thought this one was pretty silly. Enjoy the rest of the weekend everyone. -M

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Representing the Lollypop Guild...

The faces Benjamin can make right?

The boys had fun at a farm/pumpkin patch this morning, and as I type they are gleefully stabbing innocent pumpkins on the dining room table with Susanne. Ah yes. Tis that most spookiful time of the year...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Greetings loyal readers

Well I know people continue to visit our blog because our cool widget on the sidebar shows the visitors. If not for that, I would guess we don't have any readers as we get so few comments, but that's okay. With the pathetic amount of writing I've been doing lately I'm surprised anyone still tunes in.

As you can tell, our two precious boys continue to dominate all of our time and energy. They are a handful (what little kids are not?) and even though at times I'd like to pull all of my red hair out, I don't. Mostly because if I did I'd look like a crazy woman!

Susanne and I are a good team when it comes to taking care of the day to day stuff, but at times we definitely have conflict over parenting. These conflicts generally occur in the middle of the night when I am, according to my lovely wife, too quick to jump to the call of a crying child. She believes that doing so only rewards the crying. The worst part about having disagreements in the moment, in the middle of the night, is that you can't talk about it. Especially if one of the crying boys is now sound asleep on the floor of our room. It's also worse when the boys are sick. It seems like torture to me to just let them cry if they are hurting.

I'm not saying that Susanne is wrong in her assessment. I'm just saying that it is exceptionally difficult for me to always know the best thing to do, even when everyone's interests are the same. The boys share a room so when one cries out loudly in the night, I want to do all I can to keep the other boy sleeping. Sometimes this means removing the offender to a different space. It doesn't help that Danny clings to me and hangs on when I try to comfort him.

I know that Susanne has a point, but I also think her threshold for listening to the boys cry and scream in the night is different than mine. So I am always wrong. Or at least that is how it feels. It also doesn't help that usually the boys tend to cry out for me (Mommy) and not her (Mama) which I know hurts her feelings. Sometimes, I feel like there is no right answer to some of this conflict.

So Benji just got the fever that Danny has spent the past few days dealing with. I'm not looking forward to this. -Monica

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More good times in Germany


Lots of fun with cousins everywhere we went as you can see here. The last picture is sort of a funny story. You see we'd gone to meet Su's friend Marcus at the main train station in Koblenz when we turned around to see what Benjamin was up to. Turns out his pants were not up to anything. The waist on these sweatpants had seemed a little stretched out but wearable. As it turns out we were wrong. Thank goodness for the "onsie" shirts. And thank goodness we had a suitcase filled with lots of other pants in the car parked not too far away. Will he ever forgive us when he's old enough to understand this post? ;-) -Monica

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Traveling Abroad--The Good, The Bad and the...Yawn...

As I mentioned in my last post, we went on a visit (for two weeks) to Germany for a family party. Su's aunt and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and just about every relative in the family made it to the gorgeous town of Buxtehude which is in the north near Hamburg. We also spent time with Su's 91 year old grandfather closer to Frankfurt which was wonderful.

I was so looking forward to this trip, in part because I was so looking forward to a break from my job. Getting all of our packing organized has become a bit more complex with the addition of our two boys, but how much extra stuff do you need for a 4 year old and a one year old munchkin? Turns out quite a lot. Car seats and many diapers, and snacks and toys/books and a DVD player for the rental car (what a blessing that turned out to by though!)  Anyway, we got to the airport with time to spare and began our 7 hour direct flight to Frankfurt in good spirits.

The flight left at 3:45 local time and with the 6 hour time difference, we hoped they'd just sleep some and then sleep some more in the rental car. But alas, one year old Benji was the squirmiest worm ever--he was only happy when he was running laps around our section of the plane (so sorry fellow travelers). He had scant interest in the movies and shows on the little screen in front of him, nor in any snack, book or toy. When dinner came we hoped he'd be happy and eat then sleep, but somehow he managed to crawl under my legs with the dinner on the tray in its locked and downright position, and I could not catch him. Slapstick comedy ensued (not). Anyway, Su finally coaxed him to sleep and there was peace. Sort of.

Danny was super well behaved, but except for a one hour nap from about 4:00-5:00, he did not sleep. So for 23 of 24 hours he was awake. And talkative. And wanting to watch this and then that. And wanting to talk some more. It was a long flight.

When we arrived in Frankfurt at 5 am local time we hung out for about 1.5 hours waiting for Su's mom to come in on another flight. Benjamin ran around in a circle approximately 750 times. He would not be stopped. Danny started crashing. It was all great fun. After a nice breakfast with Su's mom (she stayed with the boys so we could get and load up the rental car) she went to meet her sister to take a train to the festivities, and we were off on the autobahn. You know, that winding German highway with no speed limits in many places?

When the gagging started in the back seat I was not sure who it was at first. It was poor Benji. One clean up stop later we were on the road again. Then he did it again. Another cleaning pit stop and then we wisely put a bib on him too.

You know, this sounds like a real downer of a trip right? But it wasn't! We had so much fun hanging out with cousins and other relatives. The boys were for the most part well behaved. The weather was lovely. But Su and I realized that we are hardly ever with our boys 24/7. And for this two week period we were.  Everything was new and exciting to the boys and they loved, loved, loved, Patrick and Christoph and Toby and Lisa and Jonas and Jannis and Jonna and all their older German relatives too.

A friend on Facebook called vacationing with kids an "oblication". I like that. It's a lot of work. (There was also the peeing the pants incident on the return flight but who is counting?)

But I'm thrilled that suddenly Danny is interested in speaking German and wants Su to read to him in German. I'm glad that Benji charmed the heck out of everyone and that we'll hopefully see some of our cousins next year when they come to DC to visit us.

And I'm VERY glad to be home. But can't wait to go again in a few years. Yeah, I'm sort of crazy like that. ;-) -Monica

Thursday, October 06, 2011

More to come on our great trip to Germany...

Here Benji and his cousin Jannis said "cheese" in German for the camera!