Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas card demographics

Christmas cards are my thing.  Writing letters in general is my thing.  I love writing letters and sending people pictures of our baby.  I think I do this because I know how much I love to get mail also, so I figure people will enjoy what I send them and if I’m lucky, they’ll write back.  One of my biggest annoyances though, is when people send a card and just sign their name to it.  Yes, I very much appreciate the gesture and the time they took to send a card in the first place, but even a sentence or two is better than nothing.  I want to know what’s going on in their lives and to hear what they have to say.  Yes, I’m picky, I know.  But if my 94 year old grandma can take the time to write me a paragraph or two on the cards she sends me (even if I can’t read half of it or it takes me 30 mins to decipher it), anyone can.

Anyway, on to the original purpose of my post.  My Christmas cards are done!  All 116 of them!  (Although I might send just a few more out.)  This year I thought it’d be fun to take note of where I’m sending them, and here’s what I found.

There are 27 going to Illinois and 22 going to Iowa.  There are 10 staying here in Arizona, 8 going to Wisconsin, 6 going to Florida and 3 going to Oklahoma.  (Those are the 6 states I’ve lived in so far.)  That takes up 65% of my cards.  Here’s where the rest are going to:

1 to SD

2 to TN

1 to MD

2 to NE

1 to WA

3 to MN

1 to VA

2 to NC

2 to NM

1 to UT

1 to MO

1 to CA

5 to CO

2 to OH

1 to NV

1 to MI

3 to IN

1 to SC

1 to VT

1 to MT

and 1 to GA

I have 6 going overseas, with 1 going to Japan, Germany, Italy (Vatican City actually), Belgium, Spain and to an AP address, which is a Navy ship.

So I have cards going to 26 different states, 5 countries and a ship!  Pretty cool!  My list keeps getting bigger and bigger every year too!

If you are a regular reader of this blog and do not get a card from me, PLEASE email me your address if you’d like to be on my Christmas card list.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The first 6 months

I was looking at Abbie’s pictures while I was making our Christmas photo and I just cannot believe how much she’s changed in the past 6 months.  See for yourself.

Brand newIMG_5168 IMG_52391 month oldIMG_5934IMG_60092 months old   IMG_7279IMG_72823 months oldIMG_7928IMG_79304 months oldIMG_9093IMG_91065 months oldIMG_4600IMG_46116 months old!IMG_5446IMG_5476            Pretty soon she’s going to weigh more than the weina dogs do!  She actually might already.  We’ll find out Monday!


Despite this being my 188th blog post, I am WAY behind in keeping up with this blog.  Time just seems to be flying by lately, and I have a feeling it’s going to stay like this until after we get to Germany because we have something going on, someone visiting or we’re out of town every week from now until the end of January.  I don’t even want to begin thinking about moving overseas yet.  Ugh.

I had the flu or something for the past few days, which was not my idea of fun at all.  Thank God Mark’s brother was in town and could watch Abbie for me while I spent all day in bed.  I don’t know what I would have done if he hadn’t been here.  I’ve been trying to avoid her as much as possible, as hard as that is, so she doesn’t get sick.  I feel much better now so hopefully it’s all behind us.

Speaking of Abbie, the little turd threw her first temper tantrum yesterday.  I was giving her a bath and she was reaching for the wash cloth.  After I’d rinsed it off, I gave it to her to play with and she started sucking on it.  Nice.  And then she slapped it down into the soapy bath water (EVERYONE gets wet during Abbie’s baths now).  So I took it away from her to rinse it over before she started sucking on it again, and she threw a FIT!  Started screaming and smacking the water and got super mad, until I gave it back to her, and then she was fine again.  Oh boy…  We have a VERY high strung baby.  Her new favorite thing is to blow raspberries ALL the time now.  You look at her and she sticks out her tongue and spits everywhere.  It’s her happy noise.  And if you stick your tongue out at her, she’ll do the same to you, but she sends spit flying everywhere.  It’s pretty cute… except when you’re trying to feed her.  Do they make adult sized bibs?

IMG_5524We still need to sell both our Jetta and Explorer.  I posted ads on Craigslist and got one response for the Explorer – someone asking if I wanted to trade it for an RV.  Uh, no.  Hopefully they’ll sell in the next few months.  I don’t know what we’ll do if they don’t sell before we move.  I don’t even want to think about that now.

Other than that, not much is going on.  Mark graduates next Friday so his parents and grandparents are coming on Wednesday to stay with us.  We’ll have a full house.  Should be interesting.  Abbie’s 6 month appt is on Monday so I’ll be sure to post her stats after that.

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Learning to cope

Mark has been gone for the past 2 days.  He’s in Vegas with his class going to what they call “The Petting Zoo” and learning about a whole bunch of classified stuff.  Overall, my time alone with Abbie has been better than I anticipated, which gives me hope for our time in Germany.  Today we ran a bunch of errands and then had lunch together. (Well I ate and she watched with her mouth wide open until I gave her a little sliver of my chicken nugget.)

We had an “assignment coffee” last night, where I got together with the squadron wives who’d been to Germany and asked them a bunch of questions.  They said that he’ll be gone a LOT.  As in, 6 month deployments and a month or two more of TDY’s every year...  I’ve heard NUMEROUS times that I need to get out and travel by myself while he’s there, because if I wait for him to be around I’ll never get to see half of what I want to see while we live over there.  It’s intimidating thinking about traveling with Abbie by myself though, but at the same time, I really do what to see a lot of things while we’re over there.  I want to go to Holland and see the tulips.  I want to go to Prague.  I want to drive through France and see the beaches of Normandy.  I want to go to Dachau (concentration camp) and go to the Christmas Markets in Germany.  I want to see all the castles I can.  I want to go to Switzerland and buy a watch and go to Vienna and see where the Sound of Music was filmed.  I want to go to Greece and I REALLY want to go explore London (which will only be 6 hours from us!!!)  And if I make it to Ireland and Scotland, I’ll be one happy camper.  Granted, I would LOVE to go visit all of these places with Mark if possible,  but I’m afraid that if I wait for him, I’ll miss my chance.  One of my mentors here said that she visited 24 countries when they lived in Germany.  She really wanted to see Rome, but her hubby requested that she not do that without him because he wanted to see Rome also.  They never got the chance to go.  Luckily Mark lived in Germany and he spent a month traveling around with friends so he’s been to quite a few places already.  I have some catching up to do.  But I figure Abbie and I will go scope these places out and if we really like them and Mark hasn’t been there, we’ll just go back.  They said the squadron wives go on trips at least once a month as a group and people are generally very close and supportive there.

In a weird way, it’s almost easier when I’m doing things by myself.  It’s like I know there’s no chance that Mark can help me with anything, so I just suck it up and deal with it all, and it doesn’t seem that bad.  Maybe Abbie’s given me an unusually easy past 2 days, or maybe she’s just getting easier in general.  We had fun today, just me and my daughter.  (That reminds me a Mercer Meyer books.)

IMG_5543 (I really need to get Mark to take more pictures of Abbie and me.  I have TONS of him and her, but not very many of her and me.  Kinda makes me sad.)

Abbie Rose is half a year old!!

IMG_5271 IMG_5274


I cannot believe my baby is already 6 months old.  I was watching “A Baby Story” on TLC today, and I’ll admit, I cried.  It truly seems like just yesterday I was in the hospital meeting her for the first time and now she’s half a year old.  She’s going to be 16 before I know it.

IMG_5361So our little pipper is still wearing size 2 diapers.  She’s in mostly 6 month clothes now, although a few 3-6 month things still fit.  Most of them aren’t long enough for her though.  She’s eaten all the stage 1 baby foods and I’ve also fed her pureed chicken and ham, which she loved.  (Did you know that Canada recommends feeding meats first?)  I’ve fed her two of the stage 2 baby foods and she’s devoured both of them.  I timed the 2nd one and she at the entire 3.5oz container in less than 3 mins.  She’s a good eater.   

IMG_5386She is so interested in everything and anything right now.  Her little hands are CONSTANTLY going and she grabs on to anything within her reach.   She’s a very intense baby.  She’s ALWAYS watching me.  And if I stop whatever I’m doing and look at her, she erupts into laughter.  It’s the cutest thing ever and just melts my heart.  The other day I was at Michael’s looking at beads on the bottom of the display.  I was crouched over next to the cart, and I had her in the seat in the cart.  I looked up at her, and she was leaning over the edge of the cart staring down at me, and when I looked at her she started belly laughing.  I would look back down at the beads, and then back up at her and she would crack up again.  We did that for probably 3 minutes.  (Here she is laughing at me from across the room.)

IMG_5413 Unfortunately she is SUPER attached to me right now.  (Although maybe fortunately for me, because I love the fact that she recognizes me now and that I bring her comfort and security.)  I had friends stop over today and she was in her swing.  My friend Lynn got down on Abbie’s level and Abbie started crying.  So Lynn picked her up and Abbie was pretty upset the whole time and was looking for me.  Oops..  And then Lynn’s husband, Dave, sat down next to her while she was in her bouncer.  He didn’t even touch her, and she started to cry again.  So I have an anti-social kid.  Sometimes if strangers get close to her and look at her when we’re out and about, they’ll try to get her to smile, but she never does and half the time she starts to cry.  You are guilty until proven innocent with her.  Thank GOD she’ll go to Mark without any problem, but his family is coming in the next 2 weeks and I’m a little worried that she might be stand-off-ish to them.

IMG_5515 IMG_5534

Her 6 month photo shoot was a bit of a challenge.  All the previous months I could just set the paper with the month and date written on it next to her and take the picture.  That wasn’t happening this month.  As soon as I put the paper near her it was in her little hands and usually in her mouth.  Grr.  But here are a few of my favorites.

IMG_5455 IMG_5475













Happy half birthday, little one.  I sure do love you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cars and car rides

So Mark and I bought a new (to us anyway) car yesterday. We got a 2006 VW Passat. It's a pretty nice car and has pretty much ALL the bells and whistles. It's all wheel drive, which should come in handy on those narrow, curvy, sometimes snowy roads in Germany. It has a navigation system, a premium sound system and pretty much every upgrade you could buy on the car in 2006. We're pretty happy with it, and we're even more happy that we got a really good deal on it. (As in close to $7000 under book retail price!!!) The one downside is that it only came with one key and those stupid "keys" are $250+ to replace! It's not a traditional key, it's this little rectangular box thing that you push into the dash to start the car, no turning anything. Gotta love German engineering!

So as great as the car is, we're both very worried about our Christmas plans... Our plan right now is to drive home for Christmas... Yes, I do think we're partially insane to even consider it. It wouldn't be bad if it was just us or even us and the weinas. But when you add our darling little (amazingly loud) girl into the mix, that 28 hour drive looks more like 3 days of pure torture. Abbie doesn't exactly like her car seat at times... As in, you put her in it and she SCREAMS for 10-15 mins until she falls asleep or you get her out of it. I could handle fussing or even crying, but her screaming gets really old after about 15 seconds of it. I'm really not sure how she'd do with 3 days of sitting in her car seat. Yes, we've thought about flying, but our first issue with that is getting all Abbie's junk, plus our stuff, plus the dogs, plus presents home. Our 2nd issue with that is cost. It's over $350 per ticket right now for Mark and I, plus $150 per dog PER WAY, plus the cost of a car rental. So just for us and the dogs to get home is $1300. We thought about boarding the dogs, but I've never boarded them before and we'll be home for over 2 weeks. So we figured it'd be at least $20 per dog per day, which means it'd be at least $560 to board them, only saving us $40. Plus we'd have to rent a car to get between our parents houses and to have some freedom to visit friends and do our own thing, and that'd be at least $500 if not more for 2 weeks. So... looks like we're going to drive. But I am truly very nervous about it. Does anyone have any ideas as to how to entertain a 7 month old on a 28 hour car ride? If anything, could you just say a few prayers that we're still sane when we get to IL? We're most likely going to need all the help we can get...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend in Denver

This weekend we went to Denver for my cousin’s wedding.  It was Abbie’s 3rd round-trip plane ride.  Not bad, considering she’s just over 5 months old and she’s already been in 5 states. (AZ, CA, IL, IA and CO)  She really is a good little traveler.  She’s completely happy watching the world go by and she seems to do a lot better when we’re out and about vs. her being home alone with me all day.  She seems like she gets bored when we’re home all day.  (Bored= crabby)  She did really well on both flights and very well at the wedding (that was TWO hours long!!) and reception.  And she did well all the times we ate out also.  The only time she didn’t do well was at night.  She didn’t sleep well at all in the crib at the hotel and when I’d finally bring her to bed with us, she still didn’t sleep well, which means I didn’t sleep well either.  *sighs*




Sitting with Daddy in the window of our hotel room.  (We stayed at the Hyatt in downtown Denver.  REALLY nice! – and expensive…)







Going on one of our strolls.  We were right by 16th Street, which had TONS of shops and restaurants on it.  The hotel let us borrow this stroller from them, which was really nice!





Watching the Veteran's Day parade.  Abbie seemed to enjoy it!






With Grandma and Grandpa.









Her first lemon!  She only wrinkled her nose once, and other than that she seemed to really like it.




Us at the wedding.







Abbie with her cousin’s Cameron and Miles.  (My sister’s kids.)



Here we go…

Last Thursday Mark and I were invited over to one of Mark’s IP’s (instructors) houses to discuss Germany.  There were 2 IP’s there that had both gotten back from Germany recently and Mark and I and Mark’s classmate, Chris, went over to ask them some questions.  Basically the answers we got made me about 10x’s more nervous than I was before, and here’s why.

It’s going to take 2+ MONTHS to get all our junk over there.  In the meantime, they have a “really nice hotel” for us to stay in.  And sometimes it takes 3-4 MONTHS to find a decent place to live in over there.  So Mark, Abbie, 2 weina dogs and I are going to live in a hotel room for a few months?  Really?  Mark and I got about 5 hours of sleep this entire weekend while we shared a room with Abbie…  This info alone was enough to make me start breathing much more quickly.

They also said that they were gone (TDY’s and deployments) about HALF the time they were in Germany. … … … Half?  Really?  (By this point in the conversation I was starting to sweat.)  They have to go back to the States for a 2 month “spin up” and then are home for a little bit and then they deploy for 4 months.  After the deployment they get 10 free days off to spend with their families.  They deploy once every 18 months as of right now.

Abbie and I had a rough day today.  She was SUPER clingy, would NOT take a nap by herself to save my life and was whiny and screaming all day long.  And the whole time I kept thinking “What is this going to be like when I live in a foreign country and Mark is deployed and I have to deal with her being  like that by myself for 4 months straight?”  Can I really handle this?  Luckily Abbie is good at traveling, but I think Mark and I will be somewhat limited in our travel opportunities since we’ll have an infant/ toddler the whole time we’re over there. 


They said most businesses are open from like 9am-4pm.  I guess the commissary (grocery store) isn’t on the base, it’s in a town like 25 mins from base.  Everyone lives in different little towns around the base.  They said to make sure you live in a house that some other American has already lived in because it’s hard to find decent places that don’t try to screw you over if you try out a “new” place.

We still have a ton of questions about moving over there, but the few we did get answers to just scared me even more.  This will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and I realize that, but that doesn’t mean I’m not scared to death in the meantime.  It’s going to be a HUGE change for us and I’m most nervous about deployments and me living in a foreign country by myself.  It’s going to be a lot harder when I can’t just call my mom or friends when I’m having a tough time because of the time difference.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My fingers are crossed!

Last week, Mark tried to fly the same ride FIVE times.  He was cancelled 3 times due to jet maintenance (it didn’t work) and 2 times due to weather (too windy).  So that put him behind quite a bit in his training.  My cousin is getting married in Denver this weekend and Mark had requested leave for Friday – Sunday, so we could go to the wedding, and his leave was approved.  Well last Friday they told Mark that his leave would be un-approved if he didn’t fly Monday – Thursday this week to catch up.  The odds of him having 4 successful rides in a row is not all that high, but if it doesn’t happen, Abbie and I are going to Denver by ourselves.  I am really hoping that Mark is able to go with us, not only because I want to spend time with him and dance with him at the wedding, but I’m VERY nervous about flying alone with Abbie.  The flying part doesn’t scare me at all – she does fine on flights.  It’s more the lugging all our junk and the kid around BY MYSELF part that scares me.  How am I going to carry her, her car seat, the diaper bag, a carry on suitcase and our big suitcase by myself?  Mark and I have it down to a science when it’s the two of us traveling with her, but we’ll be playing in a whole new ballpark if it’s just me.  I guess it’ll be good practice for if I decide to come home by myself from Germany while Mark is deployed. (Shudders.)  Anyway, please keep your fingers crossed for us that tomorrow and Thursday’s flights go okay.

I’ve been using to learn German.  I’m only on the 2nd lesson, but I’m slowly but surely picking it up.  I keep calling Abbie my little madchen (girl), mainly bc that’s one of the 10 words I know.  =)  Mark and I really want to learn to speak German, but he has a head start since he studied it in college.

I’m typing this on our new netbook!  We decided to retire my (humungous!!) Dell, for something smaller, lighter and easier to travel with.  This little thing is tiny and I can actually pick it up with one hand, which comes in handy when I’m trying to use the computer and nurse Abbie at the same time.

Oh!  Speaking of Abbie, we’re slowly but surely getting  the napping in her crib thing down.  Previously she’s slept in her swing or sometimes in the playpen or frequently with/on me for her naps, but I figured since we’ll be having relatives around I wanted to her to sleep in her room away from all the noise and commotion.  We started yesterday, and after her screaming for 15 mins both times, she ended up taking two hour and a half naps!  That’s WAYYY longer than she naps when she’s downstairs.  Today, for the morning nap, she went down with no crying at all and slept for an hour.  It took me about a half hour to get her down for her afternoon nap, but she slept for 1.25 hours once I did get her sleep.  And TONIGHT, I laid her down WIDE awake, and she went to sleep on her own with NO crying at all!  If only it was like that every night.  I’m hoping she’s learning that when she’s in bed it’s time to sleep.  I try my hardest not to pick her up when she’s throwing her fits because that just rewards her screaming.  Instead I pat her and talk softly to her and give her her pacifier, and it seems to be working.  I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to let her cry though because she gets more upset occasionally if she sees me and I don’t get her.  She’s getting the hang of it though.  Hopefully our traveling in December won’t mess up the routine too badly.



Mark and I take Abbie for walks around the neighborhood at least 3-4 times a week.  She LOVES riding in her stroller and it gives us lots of time to chat and a little exercise too.  Before the walk…







IMG_4881After the walk…

IMG_4885   IMG_4891And she loves going in the jogging stroller too, even though I don’t jog.  =)IMG_4905

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Abbie’s 1st Halloween

We didn’t go trick or treating, but we did go to Mark’s squadron for a little party they had there for the kid’s.  She was a lamb this year.

IMG_4932 IMG_4948 IMG_4947The head piece didn’t fit the best, it was way too small.  But I thought she was cute, regardless.

We’re going to….

IMG_4446…the motherland!!!  That’s what I keep telling the weinas anyway.  (Get it?  Dachshunds are from Germany?… ?  Anyone?)
Anyway, Mark and Abbie and Ollie and Sadie and I are going to be heading to Germany.  Spangdahlem ( got that mom…) to be exact.
Map picture
So as you can see from the map, we’ll be on the western side of Germany, about 40 mins from Luxemburg and less than 2 hours west of Frankfurt.
Mark’s class tried to “bro it out” (come to a decision without bringing the “chance” factor in to it) but they ended up rolling dice.  Mark rolled a 10 so he got to pick 2nd and we didn’t even practice his dice rolling skills before then (although we seriously thought about it).  Our good fortune and excitement was somewhat dampened since one of the guys in his class is going to Korea and that was his 3rd choice since he has a wife and a 2 year old.  I feel bad for them, but I am thankful that it was their 3rd choice vs.. their last choice.  Everyone got their 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice, which isn’t bad.
Mark’s report no later than date is March 30th so we’ll be headed over there sometime between mid-Feb to mid-March (read – when Abbie is 9-10months old….  God help us…. It’s a 7+ hour flight….).  Have I mentioned how much she likes to scream/ squeal?  She seriously does it all. the. time.  When she’s happy, mad, excited, tired, etc.  This should be interesting.
So in the next 4 months we have a TON to do.   Europe has different electrical voltages than we do, which means our appliances and electronics won’t work over there without special transformers/converters.  So we’re going to get rid of a few of those type of things.  We’re going to sell both cars and upgrade to a bigger car since the car seat doesn’t fit in the Jetta very well and we sure as heck don’t want to take the gas guzzling Explorer to Europe.  I need to get rid of a ton of clothes and other miscellaneous junk since European houses usually don’t have any closets.  Imagine me, someone who’s at least in the top 10 of the world’s biggest pack rats, living in a house without closets?  Ha.  We need to brush up (aka – learn) German, although most people over there do speak English.  I just think it’s rude to live in a foreign country for 3 years and not at least try to speak their language.  And most importantly, we need to figure out how we’re going to be able to watch our American TV shows while living in Germany.  (We’re moving in the middle of American Idol!!  I can’t miss that!)
Anyway, we’re super excited about this next adventure.  It’s funny because I distinctly remember thinking to myself shortly after Mark and I started dating that it would be great fun to have the chance to live in a foreign country for a few years since he was going to be joining the Air Force.  Most jobs don’t provide you with that opportunity, but we’re blessed that Mark’s does.  And we got that chance all because of the roll of a pair of dice.
PS – I actually met Mark for the very first time in Germany!  He was studying abroad and I was visiting my friend and his college roommate, David, who was also studying abroad.  I actually met Mark’s parents and younger brother for the first time over there too, since they were visiting Mark the same time I was visiting David.  How ironic!  Six years and a month and a half later, along comes this…