Today we woke up to the first snow of the year!  There was enough that when we finally got out the door at 10:45 the kids could still play in it.  Both Joseph and Vivienne are old enough that I can just set them loose and only worry about holding the baby and keeping them from wandering off.  Winter parenting is not my favorite because I have no model for how it is supposed to work – I grew up without winter!  So, I’m proud of myself that they got 20 minutes in the snow . . .


What’s New with Joseph:

Joseph has been doing well with night training.  He still needs help getting to the pot sometimes, but he is pretty consistent about waking up when he needs to go.  Yeah Joseph!


We got a puzzle of the counties of Ireland at our visit in 2011.  He can now put it together himself.  In fact, he is working on it as I type, chattering away about who knows what . . .


Nov. 15th he discovers the fun of dumping lots of water on the bathroom floor.  Fortunately for mommy, it was her night to do post-birth exercises and Bappe walked in the door just in time for her to make her escape.


Nov. 16th Bappe took J+V out for most of the day so I could have some time to work.  Memory fades quickly, but I believe this was the time I used the whole time that Daniel didn’t need me to work on clearing out emails.  I still dream of being all clean and clear with email . . . but more to the point, while they were out Joseph suggested that they get me a rose.  Bappe has trained him well. J


Stephan always prays for the kids before bed with much the same phrases.  The other day Joseph prayed for Daniel using most of Bappe’s prayer.  It warms the heart!


Grossvater visited Wednesday morning and I walked in on him playing with Joseph and explaining (in Swiss German) that at 3:30 they’d have to clean up.  Joseph said it was 3:27 – three minutes to go!  Then he announced it was 3:28 – two minutes to go!  When it hit 3:30 he said “zero!”  I didn’t know he could do that, but apparently Grossvater always prepares him for clean-up this way.  He says Joseph never complains and gets right to work when the appointed time comes.  I should try it myself!


What’s New with Vivienne:

Vivienne can do so much we’ve nearly forgotten that she’s not yet two, which we shouldn’t, because sometimes we’re too hard on her.  She can put her socks and boots on, she can jump with two feet and even off of a 3-inch ledge.  She uses more grammar words than Joseph did at this age, saying “have cracker please” rather than just “cracker.”  He pronunciation is getting clearer and her vocabulary exploding.  The other day when I was lying down with Daniel trying to get him to nap I asked her to leave the bedroom.  She did, closing the door behind her and saying “night night, sleep well.”


Yesterday she found a piece of chewed gum in the trash and discovered the joys of chewing herself.  She was very mad when I took it away . . .


A few days before that she threw up.  I wonder if she’d tried something else from the trash.  In any case, the next day she was back to normal.


What’s New with Daniel:

Daniel, on the other hand, is still struggling with something he got the day after he got the Pc vaccine.   He has kept his cheerful attitude, but has been pooing a ton of little squirts.  Apparently that can be a reaction to a vaccine, but I’m a little worried as it’s been a week now and we’re not quite back to normal.  I’m so thankful for EC, because otherwise I’d be changing a lot of diapers!  Plus it keeps the skin irritation to a minimum.  Some days I seriously question why I’ve trained my baby to wake up in the night when he needs to pee.  Isn’t sleep more important?  Well, I didn’t night-EC Jospeh and he woke up that much, so there are never any guarantees.  Kids are just work no matter how you slice it.

Posted by harp on Friday, November 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Edit
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Saturday, October 19th we all got a real treat.  The military airfield next door had an open house for the first time in over 20 years.  Vivienne is an airplane lover, and the rest of us are fascinated like anyone might be.  We walked there, with Joseph and Vivienne in the stroller and Daniel diaperless in the wrap.  It’s just on the other side of the highway, but took a good 45 minutes to arrive, but it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the little hike.  Daniel slept nearly the whole visit, which meant I could focus on other things.  They had stations for the kids to draw, bounce, and generally have lots of fun.  We got to look at the planes up-close and personal, and we watched the fire truck and propeller plane demonstrations.  About half way through the visit Daniel got restless, and lo and behold, we were right next to a fire hydrant.  I leaned against it and Daniel staked his claim on the airfield.  I find that funny.  I don’t think anyone noticed.


By the end of the walk back we were all pretty tired.  Daniel claimed another little piece of land 20 minutes to home, but with only two pees in the five hours he was on me, I was quite impressed.  Even more so that as soon as we got home he had a poo.  Wasn’t it kind of him to wait?


In the afternoon I indulged in a purchase for the kids, but it turns out to be great for me, too.  I know I’m not supposed to be filling my house with big things, but part of what decluttering is about is making room for the stuff you care about.  I saw a small trampoline at the second hand shop and snatched it up.  We have all had a great time jumping on it, counting or not, as we please.


Oct. 24th we had a visit from Joseph’s birthday buddy and her brother.  I can’t seem to remember that as well as I know my kids, they act totally differently when around others.  They were bouncing off the walls and throwing balls up in the air and generally going crazy.  They had a great time and acted like they get to play together every week even though we hadn’t seen them for several months.  As soon as they left, the two played silently.  Do other mothers experience the same phenomenon?


What’s New with Joseph:

Joseph does more than potty train, but that’s all the note I have for him this time.  Oct. 25th he was dry 11:30-5:30 and last night he woke himself up at 11, got out of the playpen (still his preferred place to sleep), peed on the pot and only called for help when it came time to put his PJs back on.  In the morning, he was dry!


What’s New with Vivienne:

Oct. 22nd Vivienne picks up the bit with the word “love” and says “luf!”  We hadn’t done bits that day yet.  I’m guessing she knows the word so well from the power point presentations Grandma makes that always end with a slide that says “I love you!”


While looking at the mail, Vivienne saw a picture of an African mother and child.  She pointed to it and said “kah-ket” which means “chocolate.”

Vivienne continues to grow in speech.  She uses two-word phrases and not just ones she’s heard before.  Yesterday I’m pretty sure she said “clean-up, eh Vivienne?”  You can guess who she learned that one from . . .


At dinner she munched her toast into rough curve like and uncrossed “J” and proclaimed “Jay!”


The bad-girl in me that never gets to have proper expression takes a disproportionate delight in Vivienne’s unfortunate pronunciation of certain words, like shirt and yogurt (o-got).  Switching syllables is common for toddlers, but take the German word for finished (fertig) and switch the last two and you get an innocent “feg-it”.  Combine all this with the current phase both Vivienne and Joseph are in where they preface everything with “oh!” (I only have myself to blame.  I say “Oh, there’s the bunny!) and you get some rather amusing utterances, like when she finds a shirt.  Just imagine when Vivienne discovers an empty yogurt container: “Oh! Fertig yogurt!”  I shouldn’t find it so funny, I know.


What’s New with Daniel:

Laughing, smiling, peeing, pooing – all the normal things a baby does.  One night he only woke twice in a night that was twelve hours long – something my babies have never done before.  Even better, both at the 2am and 5am waking he was dry.  Sadly, I missed the 8am pee because I was hot and heavy into the morning chores, but nights like these are what keep me going on more than fumes.


Oct. 25th Daniel scoots forward far enough and often enough for me to declare him my earliest crawler.  Having no diaper leaves him with maximum freedom for movement, though he spends a lot more time sitting than his sibs did (on the pot, that is!).  He kind of does a dive-and-kick but hasn’t yet figured out that this is a great way to get into stuff.  He hasn’t even figured out how to put something in his mouth yet!

Posted by harp on Friday, November 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Edit
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Today yesterday Daniel turned two-months old, and that means I have survived life with three kids for over eight weeks now.  Joseph is nearly 3 ½ and his Bappe is night-potty-training him – he was dry last night having woken himself once to pee!  Vivienne is 21 months and wears cute undies during the day when we’re at home, with more than moderate success.  We don’t get out much without Bappe.  The big event of the week is a two-hour trip to the grocery store (with lots of time for play built in).  Baby Daniel has been diaper-free since birth, and I’m starting to gain more confidence since those diaper-free grocery trips have been going just fine.


Our library put on a story-telling even for two- and three-year-olds yesterday and I decided to brave the trip alone with the three kids.  I thought Joseph especially would love being around other kids and listening to the story, as his understanding of Swiss German is just fine.


The outing started off fine, with Daniel falling asleep in the cocoon for the stroller well-fed and well-emptied shortly before we had to leave.  Joseph and Vivienne were excited enough about going to the library that they cooperated well getting ready to leave and 45 minutes before the event was slated to start, we were out the door with Daniel asleep in the stroller, Vivienne in her pink helmet and riding the scooter, and Joseph on his walking bike.  We were halfway there when I made my first mistake.  We were running ahead of schedule so I said we could take a quick detour and visit the animals near the pool.  I gave the kids crackers for their 9am snack and as we were about to move on I noticed Daniel squirming.  I wanted to ignore it, but there were benches there and I guessed we’d have enough time, so despite other people around I took Daniel out for a pee.  He was wearing his Chinese split pants and had already gone a little, but only the cloth rag between his legs was wet so no change was necessary.  He did the rest in the bowl, which I then dumped in the forest and we were soon on our way again.  If anyone noticed, they didn’t say a word.


Vivienne had given up on her scooter well before and was riding in the front part of the stroller, but now Joseph wanted to ride, too.  Sadly, our handy two-kid stroller can’t hold three kids and two vehicles, so I made him ride on, which he grudgingly did. Amazingly, we arrived at the library five minutes before the event – perfectly on-time.


Then I made my next mistake, which was to pick a chair next to a little desk so I could have a place to set the pee-bowl, but it turns out that I was then off to the side of the presenter, so I was in pretty good view of all the participants.  By the time I realized my prominent position it was too late.   I eyed the one more discreet spot left but by the time I’d gathered my things a lady sat down right before me, so I was stuck with my old spot.  Of course all this time Joseph and Vivienne had free-reign of the library, but fortunately Joseph was just reading a book and Vivienne hugging a stuffed dog.


No sooner did the event begin than Daniel started making noise again.  I tried nursing, but it was clearly a pee need, so I put the bowl under him while nursing and he peed right away.  Some other mommies noticed.  I tried to stay cool.  I set the bowl on the table and looked up to see Joseph standing next to the presenter on the far side.  I took Daniel off the breast and lead Joseph by the hand behind a row of books back to join the kids, but he became very clingy and shy so he stayed next to me.  Vivienne decided to follow her brother’s lead, but didn’t manage to find us and ended up elsewhere in the library.  When I found her she was sitting at a table looking and an adult book.  She was easier to lead back to the group and with things quiet for a bit I decided I’d quickly dump Daniel’s pee bowl in the downstairs bathroom.  I told Joseph I’d be right back and slipped out only to be met on the stairs by the maintenance man who informed me that the bathrooms were closed, sorry.  I’d have to use the building next door.  That not being an option for me, I went back to my place to find Vivienne behind the presenter again, only this time she’s discovered a stuffed squirrel, which she unfortunately takes for a bunny.  If you know how much she is currently in love with bunnies, you would know how much of a dangerous discovery it was.  “Bun-eeee!” she cries and I have visions of her clinging to Mr. Squirrel for dear life and screaming top-voice at the prospect of letting him go.  Fortunately, I’m able to lead her back to Joseph.  At some point in all this I’d managed to put Daniel in the wrap and he was starting to fall asleep but started squirming again.  That can only mean one thing, so I took him out and we caught a second pee in the bowl.  Our bowl is not ideal for the size Daniel is now, so emptying it became more of a priority.  I had the brilliant idea to just dump it outside in the bushes, but was thwarted again by a locked door.  The presentation was outside normal library hours, so the doors were locked.  On my way back the librarian asked what I needed, and I bet it was the first time she’s ever been asked to empty pee in her bushes before, but she did without a word or look of confusion, which I think takes great talent.


Daniel fell asleep, Joseph wandered off and found a friend with crackers who was willing to share, and Vivienne stood in the crowd fascinated by everything the kids were doing, but not participating much.  Whatever was left of the 40 minute presentation went uneventfully enough, but then I noticed Joseph disappearing down the stairs, which it turns out he was doing because he knew the bathrooms were down there –only the bathrooms were closed.  With difficulty I managed to convince Joseph that he couldn’t go to the bathroom there and I asked the librarian where in the next building the bathrooms where.  She didn’t know, but walked us to the door pointing to the building.  I thanked her but explained I had another kid still in the library and would she please look after her.  “You mean that girl there?” she asked, pointing to a lone girl wondering outside the library.  “Yes,” I said and took off with Joseph, looking over my shoulder to make sure Vivienne wasn’t scared of the librarian.  Without going into detail, we managed to find the bathrooms only after asking two people because the door wasn’t labeled at all due to renovations.  Thankfully we made it just in time and as we were leaving the librarian met us with Vivienne, who had a tear in her eye (but if you know Vivienne you know that that doesn’t necessarily mean much.)


Back in the library I managed a two-minute broken conversation with another mom I knew before Vivienne fell off the little table she’d decided to sit on and Joseph decided to walk out of the library with an arts and crafts book.  It was time to leave.  We managed to check out two books (one with numbers and one with bunnies) and get on our way with both kids walking, the baby in the wrap, and the stroller loaded with our stuff, two helmets, a scooter and a bike because Joseph refused to ride.  We managed the way alright except going down the bumpy ramp which caused both vehicles and helmets to come spilling out, at which point my 3-year-old reminded me not to be so serious by laughing his head off.  I laughed, too.  At least it wasn’t spilled poo or cracked sculls.


Nearly home, Vivienne discovered a puddle and soon both kids were ankle deep throwing stones in the muddy water.  It’s taken me a long time to get over my fear of getting dirty, even though I loved mud puddles as a kid (I never forgot how I never got to go on the mud walk my sister got to go on in 5th grade.)  As a parent, dirt means (unnecessary) clean-up and so it is not welcome, but I’ve lighted up over the years and let them enjoy the dirt a while.  Daniel was asleep in the wrap, after all, and we were nearly home.  Shortly after that decision (and after four propeller plane landings) Daniel woke up, which could only mean one thing . . .


Fortunately, no one was about and behind the chain-link fence was a field of weeds, so I whipped Daniel out of the wrap and held him out still in his handy Chinese split-crotch pants, which worked wonderfully, except that at first he nearly hit himself in the nose with his stream before it straightened out (boys!!).


Once we were safely home I reflected that it really wasn’t that much different from any other day at home running after little kids, but it’s simply more exhausting because you’re under observation and accidents mean messing up other people’s stuff.  Still, we had no messy accidents and we even had less crying than in a normal three-hour stretch, so whether the trip was worth the 15 minutes Joseph actually paid attention to the presenter is still up for debate.


And I wrote this 1 ½ sentences at a time amid three kids screaming for attention that same afternoon and consequently my husband came home to a very messy house, so that, my dear readers, is why you don’t get so many posts!  (And why the voice switches to present part-way through – I don’t have time to fix it!)  Part of me would love to become a real and regular blogger, but the rest of me looks at my life and sees that it’s not possible . . . yet!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Edit
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My excuse for missing a few Friday posts is that of sickness, which thankfully is mostly over.  It’s hard to believe Grandma has been gone only a month and that this is our first “normal life” post since her visit.  Overall, things are going well


We decided to attend our church’s weekend retreat even with two little kids and a one-month-old because wanted the opportunity to get to know folks better.  We expected to mostly be running after the kids, though, which helped to manage our expectations.  Every uninterrupted interaction with others was a happy plus and there were plenty of people willing to help out when we asked.


The retreat was at Casa Moscia in Moscia, Ticino the weekend of Sept.21st.  It’s a beautiful location right on the lake and built into the hill rising up immediately from the shore (if you can even call it a shore – the hills goes right to the lake).  Consequently there were lots of places where kids could fall and kill themselves or drown, so I had to work hard not to panic every time one of the kids wasn’t within sight.  We had beautiful weather and I even had the chance to dip in the lake myself (I left Daniel napping in our room alone – I kept running back in to check if he was awake or not . . .).


We decided to take public transport rather than rent a car and deal with traffic.  It went all rather well, though it was a bit awkward to empty a pee bowl on a full train.  I had Daniel in disposable diapers but still tried to EC as I would at home.  The times I thought it wasn’t appropriate I rediscovered that having a baby in diapers isn’t that much more convenient than having a baby without.  One such moment came as I cleaned up a dirty diaper and realized with gratitude that I don’t change dirty diapers at home and this was Daniel’s first dirty diaper!  With a diaper-free baby you can see the leakage signs and get the baby to the potty before the real poo comes, so even though I miss enough pees at home, I’ve never missed a substantial poo, and cleaning up poo from a baby bottom is a wonderful thing to never have to do.  So, one thing I learned from the retreat is that even if EC seems like a pain sometimes, using diapers really isn’t much easier, and in some ways it’s harder.  Looks like I’m stuck . . .


But mostly the retreat was what you’d expect from a church retreat and we all enjoyed ourselves.  Most people didn’t notice the EC (except for the time Daniel pooed in the bowl during the church service – note to self, go outside if you think he has to go . . .).


We returned exhausted, but happy and enjoyed a week of health before it all went downhill.  Fortunately for you I’ve detailed the sicknesses in the kids’ health docs so I don’t have to record them here.  The short of it is we had fevers and vomiting and aches and irritability and sore throats and red bumps and white spots in mouths and sleepless nights and screaming babies and exhausted mommies – well, only one exhausted mommy, which made a tired daddy . . . Two different doctor’s visits and internet research did not bring any conclusive diagnoses but fortunately it is all in the past.  Vivienne might have had a virus reaction from the MMR vaccine, or maybe they had hand, foot and mouth disease.  Who knows.


On to the CUTE stuff!


What’s New with Joseph:

Joseph is growing in reading and making connections.  Sept. 6th he was heard to say

“P-U heist ‘poo.’ P-U-M-A heist –‘Puma.’ P-U-M heist ‘Pum’ (poom)”


“D heisst ‘digger.’  “S heist ‘Schuufle bagger.’”


At dinner Joseph said “Would you like a wasp?”  The question form is often how he asks for something, but why he would want a wasp was beyond us as we do our best to keep them out of the house (they’ve been bad this year).  Somehow my mommy instinct kicked in and I ventured a guess “Would you like a straw?”  Yes, he wanted a straw and couldn’t quite remember the name . . .


Joseph has only been interested in drawing letters and numbers for a long time, then suddenly at the end of September he drew a character on the chalkboard with arms and legs and 10 fingers and toes.  We’re not sure if he was trying to draw a Little Pim character or not, but it was cool to see!


Once Joseph brought me Daniel’s pee bowl and I was sure Daniel didn’t have to go, but to encourage Joseph’s desire to help I thanked him and put Daniel on the pot.  He went pee and poo and Joseph was so proud of himself (and mommy learned to trust and not be so patronizing!).


One morning as the sickness was starting to hit us, Joseph was unaffected and I woke up to him saying “G-E-T space U-P spells Get up!”  Then he wrote it on the board. . .


One day I was nursing Daniel on the pot and I told the kids if they finished cleaning up they could watch Little Pim.  They cleaned up quickly and as my hands were full I told them they could set it up themselves – and they did!  Joseph got the DVD from the shelf while Vivienne opened the DVD drive on the computer, then Joseph put the DVD in and clicked the right buttons to get it started.  He even knew where the mute button was when no sound came out.  The whole time I just sat there!  It does get easier with more kids because the older ones can do some things for themselves!



What’s New with Vivienne:

Vivienne’s language is exploding so fast we almost want it to slow down.  She’s more advanced and faster than Joseph was, so I almost feel I’m not ready for her to be so grown up!  English and German are getting equal treatment as far as I can tell.  It’s terribly cute and she still likes to put the emphasis on the second syllable.  The tendency is so strong she sometimes adds a second syllable if there is none, like for Joy she says “Jo –aye.”  Some words:

“Zehn putze”

“begit” (fertig)

“she-tirt” (T-shirt)

“hoht” (hurt)

“pink ink” (blanket)

She’s just started saying “Joseph” and isn’t consistent enough to record how she says it.  Mostly her pronunciation is quite good, as in “pencil” (except for the wrong emphasis, of course).


Not to be outdone by her brother, Vivienne knows quite a bit about numbers.  It took me quite by surprise when, while cleaning up the Pooh addition cards, she picked up a card and read “Four plus two equals” clear as day.  She has since shown she can count to 10 in French, knows some in German (I’m not sure how much) and up to 13 in English.  She is good at counting actual items, a skill that comes from the Little Pim “I Can Count” DVD I’m sure.  She also recognizes many of the numerals.  She once pointed to the chapters 3 and 4 in the Bible during a reading and named them correctly.  Of course she is of an age that shuns testing, but she knows 3,4,8,9,0 for sure.


Vivienne can jump with both feet leaving the ground, a skill Joseph couldn’t manage even at his 2nd birthday.  Having an older sibling definitely has some advantages.  She is also a skilled kicker, and very deliberately adjusts her stance until she is in the right position to kick the ball straight and with some altitude.  Will I have to be a soccer mom for my daughter?  The thought intimidates me a little . . .


Oct. 7th our neighbor Miss T cut Vivienne’s long and messy hair into a cute bob-like cut that is much more tame.  I miss the curls, but they’ll come back soon enough.  I was thankful that she was happy to do it, as I find it a challenge to find the time and patience to cut their hair.  This was Vivienne’s first hair cut.


What’s New with Daniel:

Sept. 13th was Daniel’s one-month appointment and all went well.  When we got home, however I was not feeling so well and had a fever, muscle aches and no energy.  I think it was related to a breast infection, and was grateful that it was the weekend and Stephan could take over most of the non-baby chores.  Having three kids is a challenge when healthy, but when sick, I really sometimes wish I could quit.  Thankfully, I was feeling better enough by Monday to get back to the grinding stone.  Still, things are going quite well for it being so soon after becoming a family of five.


Daniel smiles more regularly and clearly enjoys attention from all of his family members.  As mentioned, EC is going well and we’ve even had a few nights with no night misses at all.  I don’t think it’s true that doing EC at night is keeping Daniel from sleeping longer stretches, as on some of the nights he wakes a lot I still miss plenty of pees and on some where he wakes only 3-4 times he’s dry each time and happily goes on the pot and back to sleep.


Oct. 5th he rolled from his back to his tummy over his right side.  I think this is the earliest of my babies, but it’s hard to recall correctly. 

Posted by harp on Friday, October 11, 2013 at 10:50 am | Edit
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We were ALL very sad to say goodbye to Grandma yesterday.  I’ve enjoyed six weeks off from dishes, the kids had grown quite attached, especially Vivienne, and Stephan was asking if it weren’t possible for Mom to stay longer.  Hard goodbyes are a good thing – it means we get along and have precious relationships!  But it also means that, well, the goodbyes are hard!  Vivienne didn’t want me helping her dress and get breakfast in the morning.  She wanted Grandma.  When Bappe came back from doing laundry, she thought it was Grandma arriving and jumped up to see.  Still, the goodbye wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be.  The children are handling it rather well, and it’s true that one fewer person in the house makes it easier to cook and clean, but I just can’t bear to think of having to wait another year to see family!


What’s New with Joseph:

Joseph learned a lot from Grandma, and it’s pleasant to hear the effects linger on.  Joseph’s favorite new trick is the backwards alphabet song, which is set to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  The list of things Joseph can do that his parents can’t is growing, including the ability to recite the first 36 digits of Pi.


The big hit around here is a math book that KL sent called “You Can Count on Monsters” and it’s all about prime numbers.  It’s also rather fact oriented, like Bappe’s dot book, which means it’s easier for Joseph to digest (workbooks don’t work, despite their name.)  Joseph read through the whole book the day he got it and it is so beloved I’ve used the threat of its removal as a discipline technique.  His nose was buried in it when Grandma tried to say goodbye the night before she left, and that morning I awoke at 6am to the happy chanting of “14, 15, 16 are composites. 17 is prime.”  Clearly he doesn’t understand everything, but clearly he is getting something out of it!  Thanks so much to KL for the perfectly timed and appropriate gift!


What’s New with Vivienne:

Vivienne got sick just as Grandma was leaving, so her heart and her body are sick together!  She’s doing quite well despite it all, but it clearly easily exhausted.  The poor girl also got stung by a wasp (Sept. 2nd) while feeding the goats at the farm.  Grandma said she was very brave about it.  In that, she’s like her mother – brave in the face of clear difficulty and pain, and a mess of tears at that small stuff!


What’s New with Daniel:

Daniel has good nights and bad nights, but so far we’re still surviving.  He still doesn’t wear diapers, which feels completely natural at home and at night (and boy, do diaperless babies crawl at nightl!), but still a little intimidating when out and about.  Still, I’ve done a few more shopping trips and even tried diaperless for our first time at church this past Sunday.  It went so well, I was quite pleasantly surprised!  We caught several pees and had NO misses at all.  I’m not sure more than one person noticed either.  It definitely feels weird to be so into EC this time – it sure is easier than I thought and helps SO much with knowing why Daniel is fussy.  Daniel is three weeks old today and we have not ONCE had a long screaming session.  I remember pacing the halls with both Joseph and Vivienne, and maybe that will come later, but it sure is nice to feel so connected to Daniel.  Of course, just because he’s not screaming doesn’t mean he’s always happy – he has some long fussy stretches, but mostly that’s because he has a poo that is slow in coming . . .


And I’m sure that’s enough about that.


It’s good I only write these twice a month because I write a lot even when it’s only been a week since the last one, but this time it’s a present to Grandma who is missing us so much right now!

Posted by harp on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Edit
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We’ve been pretty busy here just surviving daily life.  Stephan was back at work this week (he’ll work four day weeks for a while until I’m better adjusted to taking care of three on my own) and it went pretty well, but of course I still have Mom here help me and hold the baby when I need to pee or attend to some such need – and she’s still doing all the dishes!  It felt good to get back to work, but as the nights are still pretty rough, I’m still quite tired!  I’m so impressed with how well the kids are doing.  They have accepted unquestioned and with open arms the fact that Daniel is part of our family now, and on the occasion when I’ve left the house with him alone for a while they are happier to see him back than me.  Grandma has still been doing the bulk of childcare, so I’m a little nervous about next week when she leaves.  I think we’ll all be crying!!


On to our notes for the week.



We have the Little Pim French Bop CD and on it is a song with “it’s lunchtime, it’s lunchtime” in French and English and Joseph likes to sing it as well as any other song he’s heard.  During his quiet time we heard him imporovising his own verse “it’s playtime, it’s playtime.”


In the evening we each pray individually for the kids and on the 20th Joseph asked to pray for Daniel, which he did, in part gibberish and in part using some of the phrases I always use when praying for him.  It ended with “and may he know, deep in his heart, how much we love him. Amen.”  It warms a mommy’s heart!


August 25th Joseph was playing on the bed and stepped on a wasp and it stung him.  It swelled a bit, but was fine the next day.  Lots of tears, lots of limping, but we all survived.



Poor girl is so attached to Grandma that I must be ignoring her as we have no notes on her for the week.  She’s as loving and energetic as ever and we’re starting to train her to stay in bed for her naptime whether she sleeps or not.  This is important for me if I’ve ever to get a break during the day once I’m on my own.  Up until this point someone has always stayed in with her until she fell asleep.


Vivienne loves washing the dishes with Grandma and never misses an opportunity to participate.  Thanks to Grandma, who is willing to train her, wash dishes with a crooked back, and clean up the puddles afterwards!



On the 20th our pediatrician visited for Daniel’s birth check-up.  All is well, praise the Lord!


On the 22nd Daniel turned a week old and to celebrate he weighed in at his birth weight and rolled over from tummy to back.



Today I got the official news that I have the right to Swiss Citizenship.  All that’s left is to get my passport and ID card!  I am officially Swiss. It hasn’t sunk in yet.  Stephan gave me a Swiss T-shirt in congratulations.  The ironic thing was we got the letter after having just returned from the passport office for Daniel’s documents.  I had been hoping the letter would come before we went in for Daniel and could do both errands at once, but alas, it was not to be by an hour or so!!!



That’s the end of the post for those not interested in EC news.  For the brave, read on!


EC has been going very well.  We’ve made a few outings diaperless and I’ve caught more pees than I’ve missed and caught all the poos. With the right preparation, it’s not all that more difficult than going out with an infant in diapers.  Shopping is a challenge not because of EC, but for keeping track of three kids in the store and getting through the checkout lane.


Nights are a mixed bag.  Last night Daniel gave me two 3-hour stretches, which was a welcomed respite to the previous two nights (the fact that he was fussy from 3-6 afterwards should be a warning to those who think life is easy).  I catch more pees than I miss and have only missed a poor or two in all his life (all two weeks).  I’m not sure I’d be getting any more sleep if I didn’t EC at night.  It’s very nice to know why he’s awakened, and with him diaperless at night, it’s easy to see if he’s wet, or if he’s dry I know he needs to go if it’s been a while, or if he just needs to burp, etc.  Having the diaper off gives me more info, makes it easier to put him on the pot and back to sleep, and makes me feel like I’m waking up for a purpose.  It’s far more frustrating to be awoken by a baby and pat his back until he goes back again than it is to awaken to a baby that needs to pee, put him on the pot, dump the pee and go back to sleep again.  For sure, sometimes I misread his cues, but so far it’s been more blessing than curse, so we’ll keep going for now.

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Friday, June 14th we said goodbye to Stephan’s brother and family as they head off to Canada.  We surely will miss them!  The kids had a blast running around outside with the other kids at the goodbye party.  Joseph is starting to realize that English is not the dominant language around here.  At one point he asked for a push on the swing, but he asked in Swiss German and wasn’t interested in being pushed by someone who doesn’t speak Swiss German (i.e. he refused to be pushed by me.)  It’s the first sign of things to come.  Kids don’t always appreciate being in bilingual homes, so it will be interesting to watch how our kids handle the realization over time that they’re different.  I’m praying for small and easy adjustments and not an all-out rejection!


June 19th Joseph and Vivienne are playing with dominos and Joseph is doing addition with them.  Vivienne looks at domino with four and five and shows it to me saying “nine.”  And you thought Joseph was gifted in math!  Actually, Vivienne is aware of numbers because of her brother’s interest, but every number is “nine” in her vocabulary.


June 20th Joseph and I finally took the time to go get haircuts.  It was a special Mommy-Joseph date and he did a great job!  I was sad to see his curls go, but he looks cute this way, too.


June 21st: Joseph leaves the room we’re playing in saying “I need to go pee-pee. I be right back. Don’t worry.”


June 23rd we had a lovely visit from the Wilkinsons and Gotte Diana.  The kids had fun with little L. Wilkinson, who we saw for the first time even though she’s nearly a year!  You wouldn’t think that Basel was so far away, but when people are busy . . .


June 25th I enter the kids’ room after doing dishes and see both kids with their bodies on the window sill and their heady peering down to the rocks below looking at all the number stickers they’d thrown down.  I’m not sure how to handle this one.  Making Joseph push through the bushes and collect all the stickers didn’t deter him.  He wanted to throw more out and collect them again!  For now they are banned from opening windows, but there are no guarantees . . .


June 27th Joseph finds a pair of scissors and decides to play barber.  Fortunately he only gets one lock of Vivienne’s hair and the rest is his own.  Good thing the professional haircut he got last week was pretty cheap . . .


June 27-30 is our third “Family Weekend” where Stephan takes off of work so we can have a mini vacation in lieu of a real vacation because of the baby joining us this summer.


The first day we started by going to the dentist and then to the Tierpark (petting zoo, but a big one.)  We went last year but this year both kids could walk and they love feeding animals so they had a blast walking around with the chickens and deer.  We grilled for lunch and Joseph had fun climbing the rocks.  It’s good I only saw the sign that says no climbing as we left the park . . .

They were both tuckered out after that.


June 28th was Joseph’s third birthday!  We’d planned to go to the pool but with cold and rainy weather I let Joseph help make his birthday cake instead.  He got to lick the bowl and spoon, which he very much enjoyed.  He opened a few presents spread throughout the day and we had pizza for lunch.  While Vivienne slept he had good quality time with Bappe but we underestimated how much his quiet time does for him.  Missing it two days in a row meant he was so exhausted at night that he couldn’t eat his dinner or blow out the candles on his cake.  He went right to bed at 7 and fell asleep right away!  We didn’t feel right eating his cake without him so we’ll try again today.  Note to self, even if he doesn’t sleep, the period of rest in the afternoon is necessary for him and not just me!  He was already tired when we did the little treasure hunt to find his new bike after Vivienne’s nap, but he did well reading my notes and following clues.  Still, the afternoon of bike riding that I’d anticipated lasted less than five minutes.  Both kids will need a little time to get used to the next step: Vivienne on the walking bike and Joseph on his new pedal bike.  No chance to practice today, however, as it is supposed to rain all day . . .


In General for Vivienne:

Vivienne has taken an interest in potty training.  She prefers to wear disposable diapers because she can undo them herself and sit on a potty.  She’s taken off her diaper and gone poo on the pot and caught a few pees too, but recently it’s been more frustrating in that she’s not been telling us about her poos at all so we’re back to dirty diapers.  Still, with the interest there I’m hoping she’ll make progress if the weather will EVER warm up!!!  It’s the end of June and COLD and rainy, and by cold I mean 50’s, maybe lower 60’s all day.  We were hoping to go to a playground of the foot of a mountain, but the weather predicted freezing temps . . .  But I’m supposed to be writing about Vivienne.


Words: Vivienne says more and more (“mo” actually!).  She’ll bring me a book and say “weee” for read; she recognizes stars and says “dah”; cereal is “wee-woh”; “ka” means cat and she still loves making all the animal sounds. 


In General for Joseph:

I need to write up a more thorough 3-years-old update and summary, but Joseph is itching to write an email to Grandma and Dad-o, a favorite pastime of his now.  I failed to check my Tickler yesterday and already there was a comment bugging me for a bullet update, so here it is!

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Oct. 20: We went on a hike with Joseph’s Swiss-side cousin and his parents along a beautiful like that we couldn’t see because the fog was so thick.  It was sunny on the inside, though, as we enjoyed the company of family.  At the very end we did see some of the view and the rest of the afternoon was crisp and beautiful.  The boy cousins had fun throwing stones and drinking water from the fountain and just enjoying life.  Joseph rode his bike for much of the time and Vivienne was happy in the backpack with Stephan.  She fell asleep so when Joseph got tired he had to go on my back!  The wrap works well, be he sure is heavier than his sister!


Joseph teaches himself how to write 7.  The down stroke is vertical and it MUST have a cross.


22: Together we write 12-100 on the blackboard.  This time Joseph does all the 0’s, 1’s, 4’s, and 6-9’s by himself.  He does a number of 5’s in his own way until I try to help him (read: correct him).  Then she shuts down and insists that he can’t write 5 and that Mommy has to.  It’s another clear lesson of why there is so much to the idea of unschooling.  Joseph has taught himself so much but he is so fragile.  He learns most when I’m there as a resource for his self-directed learning.  Any brilliant idea of mine on how to gently teach is more often than not a disaster.  (Note that in the pictures that are up there is one photo that is labeled “Joseph writes 95-100”.  The 5 of the 95 is mine, the rest is all his.)


23: Joseph demonstrates that he knows most of the US capitals as he puts his US puzzle together.


Looking at a board book with the animals names in bold lower-case, Joseph says “c-a-t spells cat” and reads each of the animals names in that way.


Joseph starts to color inside the lines in his coloring book – not perfect but he has the idea (I never told him to, but I did color inside the lines a few times when I was playing with him).


24: At Vivienne’s 9 month doctor appointment Joseph remembered and asked for a 15-piece jigsaw puzzle that was in the waiting room.  We did it together once then he did it himself almost without help.  We have no such puzzles at home (hint, hint).


26: We visit Joseph’s birthday buddy and have a great time playing.


Soon after I asked Joseph to put away his number puzzle I heard him say “I put away my number puzzle just for you.” Which is a modification of the lines in the book “Just for You” where the child character does things just for his mom.


27:  Joseph reads all of “Hop on Pop” on his own.


Vivienne knows the hand motions we use during our Bible reading times.  I still guide her hands, but she anticipates a little.  It’s so fun!  Joseph has most of the repeated parts of these readings memorized even though most of the words surely don’t make sense to him.  A child’s memory is amazing.


30:  Vivienne back down 5-6 steps of stairs.


November 2: Joseph is getting pretty good at going to the toilet when he needs to go (at least during the day).  Today he was watching a Pimsleur French DVD when he realized he had to go and said so while climbing off the chair.  I paused the DVD and he went to the toilet without complaining.  I find that impressive, because TV - even educational TV - is mesmerizing.


Nov. 5: Joseph has been trying to teach himself to write “2” and is very frustrated.  I see it as a good illustration that a child’s play is really WORK.  Joseph doesn’t imitate and ask for repetition, and practice writing just because he doesn’t know what else to do.  He is desperate to be able to DO and SAY the things adults can.  He is thirsty for knowledge and is deeply upset when he can’t learn what he wants to learn.  If we patronize and say “how cute” or in other ways belittle his work, we can easily crush his spirit.  It’s a bit scary.  He is so capable of learning so much, but all that can fall apart if we don’t take care to respect his work as serious and not just child’s play.  Parenting is fun, but it’s scary!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Edit
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On the 21st Vivienne turned nine months.  It is at once hard to believe it has been that short and that long since we welcomed her!  She is now the age Joseph was when we moved to Emmen.  Having kids messes with my sense of time.  But the fact that I have no sense of time and I still can’t believe I’m really a mother is not that important.  What’s important is that when I wasn’t looking, someone took my sweet baby and gave us a delightful little girl.


Vivienne creeps (hands and knees crawling) everywhere and at lightning speed.  So often goes so fast that she ‘steps’ on her hands with her knees and takes a dive into the floor.  She is quick to burst into big, pitiful tears, but Mama can cure most of her woes.  She hugs and kisses and loves to be with her family and snuggle.  She doesn’t like to be cooped up for long, though, so it’s a wonderful balance of snuggles and exploration.  She is tough despite her dramatic explosions.  Joseph likes to move whatever object she’s holding on to for standing and she either keeps holding on or drops off in a controlled way.  She is expert at going from hands-and-knees to sitting or standing (with a hand on something) and back down again, so she has had very little need to learn to cruise.  She’s been pulling herself up since 6 months but still hasn’t taken more than a step or two while holding on.  If you try to hold her hands so she can walk, she buckles her knees so she can get down and creep.  She is very stable, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she started standing and walking in the not-too-distant future.


She has four upper teeth and two lower teeth and a great big smile that she showers on everybody, especially Mom, Dad and big brother.  She is delighted to see Joseph whenever she wakes up, and though she can play on her own for a bit, she is definitely happier when big brother is there to pick on her love her.  Joseph adores Vivienne, but he doesn’t know his strength or how something might hurt, so like I said, she’s learning to be tough.


Vivienne has only just begun exploring drawers and is actually quite good about listening to ‘no’ though of course there’s a long way yet to go.  She likes flipping through books, ‘singing’ loudly, throwing things (food, dominos, balls) and when she gets excited (which is often) she pumps up and down and up at down with great amplitude and frequency.  She loves music and when she hears it she sways back and forth with remarkable accuracy.


Vivienne is a good sleeper.  She still wakes up often in the night (actually, last night she only woke up at 2:30am and 5am so I hope that trend continues) and will not infrequently settled down to sleep on her own or with minimal coaching.  Sometimes she’ll even settle back down without nursing when she’s woken up upset.  If she does need to nurse, it’s briefly and then she pops off, rolls over and goes back to sleep.  It is quite a blessing for this mama to have such an easy sleeper!  She’s also fairly regular, taking a short morning nap between 9 and 10, a longer afternoon nap after lunch, and going to bed at 8 and getting up around 7.  I’m positively spoiled (though of course frequent wake-ups mean I’m still not getting normal sleep, so don’t think I have it too easy!).


As for EC, most of Vivienne’s poo goes directly in the toilet and sometimes a pee, but we’re not working that hard at it.  She’s clear about when she has to poo, and that’s good enough EC for me.


Her favorite foods are paper and dirt, so she keeps me busy whether inside or out.  She’s a pretty good eater, too - happily eating whatever we’re eating that’s appropriate for her.  Today she downed pumpkin and potatoes like it was candy.


I’m working on getting caught up with videos so you can see her yourself!  With her smile and curls she is absolutely charming!  We love you, Vivienne!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Edit
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The last weekend in September we visited the Stücklins while they were on vacation in the Ticino.  We had a grand time despite some drizzly weather.  One night the kids had a special date with their grandparents (including baths!) while Stephan and I had a special date just the two of us.  As we drove away from the house I realized it was the first time I’d been away for something fun since Vivienne was born.  I think the longest I’d been away from them both at once was for a church worship team meeting that I went to directly after my post-birth exercise class for a total of about 4.5 hours.  Anyway, it was strange to think I hadn’t gone out for fun on my own for eight months!  Of course I’ve been having plenty of fun, but it sure felt strange to only have my own two arms and legs to walk around with.  I soon stopped worrying (thanks to cell phones), which was good because we were headed for quite an adventure of our own!


We checked out a restaurant that was in the restaurant guide we gave the Stücklins and we almost didn’t stay because they were booked and only had room in the event room, which was past the kitchen, up a narrow staircase and decidedly less atmospheric than the main room with its fireplace and homey feel.  A friendly neighbor translated for us (Italian to German) as a plump Italian grandma gave us our options.  Dinner is at 7pm and there’s no menu.  You can pick between pasta and sliced meat and a veggie pâté for a starter, and roast beef and rabbit for entrée.  Until then you can take a walk in the rain or order a drink and wait inside.  We opt for the rain after Stephan convinces me we’re better off here than finding another place to eat.  And boy, am I glad I submitted this time.  The kids survived the late evening (though we were back by 10) and we had an absolute blast.  We walked through the beautiful Italian-style little town (name?) and covered it all in a matter of minutes.  The wet and cold didn’t keep us from enjoying the romance of the moment.  Hard to believe so much cuteness can be packed into so little space.  Back at the restaurant, I still wasn’t convinced of the ambiance.  We were located near the restrooms and we heard a man doing his business loud and clear.  Shortly after, he entered the room we were in with not a small amount of embarrassment (all expressed in Italian, of course).  As it turns out, he was a musician and we were in the musicians green room of sorts.  We shared our first course with the two musicians – the other one being the owner of the restaurant – before they went downstairs to entertain the guests.  I had the freshly homemade pasta and Stephan had the huge plate of meat and the vegetable pâté.  Both were delicious.  I was thrilled with my roast beef and Stephan quite pleased with his rabbit.  I’m not such a bit fan of dining out in Switzerland (nothing can compare to the dining experience in Japan), but this was a real treat.  During breaks the musicians would join us again and we got to talking.  It turns out that the bass player is a Canadian who first came to Geneva with a job in theater and now teaches English privately to the Italian-speaking Swiss, and the owner/mandolin player is a former banker who got sick of the dirty end of the business started the restaurant with his wife.  He’s an avid amateur mandolin player and absolutely adores entertaining his guests with song and passionate playing on weekends when he’s not chatting with guests or filling their orders.  During one break Stephan asked him if mandolin playing was different in different music traditions, which lead to a passionate impromptu lecture on mandolin styles complete with musical examples from bluegrass to Peruvian.  When I asked “And what about Italian?” he beamed saying it was the most beautiful of all and launched into a soulful and passionate ballad.  As for my doubts about ambiance, how romantic can you get?


After our desert we were invited downstairs as there was now room.  We enjoyed the music and couldn’t have escaped if we’d wanted to.  The only space for the musicians to play in the tiny room is right in front of the door!  If Dad didn’t worry so much about fire-safety violations I’d insists on taking my parents there someday.


It’s a good thing we don’t have too many adventures like this because it surely does take a long time to write about!  We returned home happy and not as poor as we thought we might after the feast we were served.  The kids had had a great time with Stephan’s folks and we had another memory to last a lifetime.  Every year Father Tom’s words take on deeper meaning.  His wedding address to us included the advice that the answer to “How long have you been married?” is always “Not long enough.”  The longer we’re married the more it’s not long enough.  Who knew life would be this hard but this good?


Now on to the biggest reasons why life is so hard and so good: the kid’s adventures!


Sept 29: Vivienne’s next upper right tooth appears.  She climbs up a whole flight of stairs.


Oct. 2: Joseph sees some soy sauce in a bowl and calls it “pink ink” (from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish)


Oct. 6: Vivienne’s next upper left tooth appears.  Now she has four on top and two on bottom.


Oct. 7: Vivienne can reach my desk.


Oct. 9: I overhear Joseph say “J-O-S-E-P-H Joseph!”  He can now write I, J, H, O, and L and enjoys doing so greatly.  J is for Joseph, H is for Aunt Heather, L is for Lorax, and after writing I he says “that a very very nice I”


Oct. 10: Once a week a friend visits so he can practice English.  His mother tongue is French.  Sometimes we read Dr. Seuss books.  Today I overheard Joseph reading Fox in Sox.  He read the first page the way he always does, then he read it again with a French accent.


Oct. 12: Joseph still loves writing numbers on the chalkboard.  He can write one and zero and something that sometimes looks like a 9 (but it always is a 9 to him).  I write down the parts to a number he can’t and he fills them out for me, usually placing the numbers in the correct place (like adding 1 before the 3 for 13).  Today he asked for “count by 6’s.”   I stopped at 102 but said “108” so I wrote it to, then he said “114” then “120”!  I don’t know what’s going on up there.  He says crazy stuff like “4+5=1!” but then he knows stuff like how to count by six to 120!!  Motherhood surely is an exciting ride!


Oct. 13: Joseph loses his socks in the indoor playground with balls at the shopping center nearby.  When the time comes to put his shoes on without socks for the trip home he is distressed.  Who knew socks were that important to a two-year-old?


This afternoon both kids wake-up shortly into their naps within 5 minutes of each other.  That’s not too unusual, but what’s noteworthy is that they both went back to sleep and slept for a good while before waking up again (also within 5 minutes of each other).  A double double nap!  It doesn’t make up for the times when they don’t nap together at all . . .


Joseph is starting to not need an afternoon nap.  He still sleeps several times a week, but it is not uncommon for him to stay awake for the whole two-hour quiet time.  I am grateful that I started the quiet time rule just in time!


Joseph is also getting very good at wearing underwear and using the toilet for his needs.  We’ve taken a few short outings in underwear but haven’t tried any naptime or overnights yet.  We haven’t been pushing it.  He asks for his underwear most of the time.  When he is in a diaper then he can’t be bothered to use the toilet, though.  So I wonder if he would do well during a nap if I let him wear underwear to bed.


Oct. 14: We take a Mobility car up to our old Basel church BCF and enjoy a Sunday service in English and then the harvest lunch afterwards.  It’s lovely to see old friends and to see how much all the children have grown.  It had been over a year since we visited!


Oct. 15:  Joseph can write “6” as well as “9, 1, and 0.”  On the 19th he adds “4” to his list of skills.  He is very proud of himself.  He wrote something that looked like a 5 without the cross and I said “That looks like a five!”  He looked at it and then added a cross in the right place and said excitedly “five!”  It’s still hard for him to reproduce, though.


Oct. 16: Together Joseph and I write 0 to 100 on the blackboard.  Joseph writes all the 0’s, 1’s, 6’s and 9’s, adding them in the right places.  Often he’ll first put them in the wrong place then correct himself saying “that’s 41” then putting the ‘1’ in front to make the number he meant to in the first place.


Oct. 17:  I get frustrated easily, and though I’m much better, I still yell at my kids in exasperation.  Today I heard Joseph in the other room saying “no, not the CD’s” over and over in a calm voice.  I went to check it out and he was patiently trying put back the CD’s Vivienne had pulled out.  One can question the effectiveness of such calm correction, but I am grateful at least that he has picked up some kind discipline from us despite the times when we fail to be calm.  So far the only “yelling” he has picked up is when he pees in his pants.  He goes “grrr Joseph!” (or something like that) when he pees, which I can only assume is the grunt of dismay I utter when I’ve noticed he’s soiled something . . . but like I said, he doesn’t pee in his pants that much anymore and can even stop it in time to run to the bathroom and finish.


That is plenty for now.  Don’t forget to post a comment to my Mind Oranization for Moms post!

Posted by harp on Friday, October 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Edit
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Aug 9: Joseph and Janet are writing numbers, as they often do, this time at the chalkboard.  Joseph asks Janet to write 112 but she only write a ‘2’ and asks Joseph to make it a 112.  Joseph completes the number correctly.


11: Vivienne now has a cross-pattern creep (hands and knees crawl).  Go Vivienne! We’re so proud of you!  Her lower left tooth appears, too.  That’s quite a bit of change for a little body!


The four Stücklin-Wightmans take a trip to Tierpark Goldau, an animal park (not quite a full zoo) in the Lucerne area.  We all have a blast, though I have to admit when I discovered that they let deer and other animals out in the public area I was a little uncomfortable, especially since we’d bought some animal feed and were there the moment the doors opened.  That meant we were greeted by a swarm of hungry deer that could smell we had breakfast!  Joseph was a little frightened, too, but he warmed up throughout the day and by the end was having a blast feeding the deer and goats and we all came home healthy and happy minus a skinned knee.  We’re at that age and I’m doing better with not letting my heart break when I see my son bleed. . .

There was playground equipment scattered throughout the park and I had fun trying my skills at them (I’m not pregnant! I can DO these things!  Did I mention diving off of the high dive at the lake?  It’s fun to have my body my own again after a few years of baby carrying…).  Joseph and Vivienne also had fun.  Vivienne did well in a contraption that looked like a Pacman on a spring.  Lots of playgrounds have those horses on a spring you can whip back and forth in, but this one had a seat and a foot and hand bar that Vivienne could hold on to well.  She did great!


At one point Joseph saw a little girl with a 4x4 pattern of hearts on her shirt.  He scared her a bit by walking up close and saying ‘heart heart heart heart.’  At this point I was more worried about him scaring the girl and trying to get him to give him some space, but Stephan said as I pulled him away he said ‘sixteen heart’ in German.  My mental replay confirmed that this could have been what he said, but how did he know that?  Oh, maybe the dominos, which have numbers in very logical patterns, I say, but Stephan points out that the dominos only go up to 15, though the pattern is the same for 16, only one row has three not four.  A day or so later I saw a pile of almonds on the table and said ‘six’ without counting them.  He’s done that now and then with other random amounts of things.  This baffles me even though of course I know he’s had a lot of number exposure.  I just still have too little expectation for what a little kid can do!


Joseph has also started to experiment with jumping with both feet coming off the floor.  Late for his age, but he’s having a blast.


12: Another number story, this time in church.  During the announcements there were several dates and numbers mentioned.  Joseph picked them out of the flow of words and happily repeated them.  His pronunciation was clear enough for those around us to understand what had happened.  Fortunately he was happy to continue with his quiet voice so as to no longer disturb other people (though folks at church are quite relaxed).


15:  It’s a Catholic holiday so Stephan has the day off.  We go and visit Joseph’s birthday buddy, who had just gotten a little brother.  It was great to see them again and even though we’ve known each other for over a year it was Stephan’s first time meeting them!


That evening Bappe gets a Vivienne kiss.  She is quite deliberate about them.  She opens her mouth and pulls you close and plants one on your cheek.  She is not exactly a snuggle bug (she also likes to be on the move a lot, like her brother), but she is quite affectionate when she wants to be.


17: This is the third morning in a row that Vivienne has woken up and pooed on the toilet for me.  EC has been on the back burner for a while, so I’m happy that I’ve had several day of no pooy diapers!  We’ve been feeding her bits of solid from about 5.5 months and she eats it up!  I’m much more relaxed about giving her food that I was with Joseph.  Again, we’re not pureeing anything, just giving her soft bits of whatever we’re eating.  She does a great job of rejecting what she can’t swallow, and swallowing what she can.  I think she prefers to eat than nurse at least during the day!  Anyway, the solid food helps make more solid poo, which makes it easier for me to tell that she’s working on getting one out, which means I can catch them pretty easily.

Posted by harp on Friday, August 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Edit
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June 14. Joseph is stopped just before getting the Jack Daniels BBQ sauce bottle to his lips.

15. Joseph calls any bug he sees a bumble bee (bambabee)

16. We’re at the yearly lab BBQ, and Joseph eats peanuts and chips as though we didn’t feed him anything.  He can’t see into the plate, but he knows the blind reach will get him something…

Vacation in the US

July 8. Joseph asks me at bedtime to count to 200.  (He still often wants some amount of counting as his bedtime ‘story’.)

Vivienne rolls both ways purposefully and easily.

9. Joseph says the alphabet from memory without visual aids.

10. Joseph counts backwards from 11 without any aids.

18. Joseph tries a day in big boy underwear (he’s been in disposable diapers for half a year because of the pesky fungus and dry leg problem, but that is now gone!) and he only has three misses – the rest went in some sort of receptacle.

21. Bappe was working in the garden and asked me to hand something to him over the balcony.  Joseph takes the opportunity to be on the balcony, where he is at home, only this time Bappe is bored waiting for Mama to bring him what he needs so he slips his gloved fingers in the space between the floor and the solid wall of the balcony.  Joseph flips out and clings to Mama who has just returned to give Bappe his stuff.  Mama can’t tell where Joseph ends and Mama begins because Joseph is clinging on so tightly.  Note to Bappe: Joseph is still a little young for loving scary surprises.

23. Joseph sings Grandma’s ‘we love you’ song.  Using crayon on paper he write and narrates his writing ‘one, circle, circle’ then exclaims over his finished work ‘one hundred !’ It was a very beautiful 100.

25. Bappe was helping Joseph put away his States puzzle.  Joseph was frustrated that Wyoming wasn’t fitting so Bappe said „Wyoming isch uffem Chopf,“ which means Wyoming is on its head (turned upside down).  Joseph obediently places Wyoming on top of his own head.

26. Vivienne does a one hand forward proto-creep.

28. Joseph emcees the Bible reading (he knows the drill !)

31. Vivienne gets her first tooth ! Bottom right.  She also pulls up onto the couch and the bed.

Aug. 4th Vivienne starts creeping at Uncle Jul’s because she doesn’t like the carpet.  She gets better every day, but still likes to belly crawl when wants to be somewhere fast.  She loves pulling herself up on everything, but is a little smarter about how to fall than Joseph was, according to memory.  She’s grown up so fast!

9. Joseph asks me to write numbers on the chalkboard.  When he asks for 112 I write a two and ask him to finish it.  He does so correctly.

Posted by harp on Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Edit
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I have a hard time knowing what’s important to record and what’s not.  I find myself impressed Joseph’s accomplishments and I need a place to share EC success, so it seems those topics dominate the blog, but I have too much going on to really think about what I want to be getting down.  For now, something is better than nothing.  If you have ideas of things you were glad you recorded, or wish you had, and in what format, or if there are things you’d like to know about what we’re up to, please comment with your suggestions!


March 18th: Vivienne was sleeping diaperless on my chest while I was watching cleaning videos (Aunt S’s fault).  I was impressed with us both that even though I was distracted by the videos, I noticed when Vivienne woke up to pee, and after she went in an appropriate place she went back to sleep peacefully.  I know, I know, more EC blather . . .


March 20th: Vivienne rolled from back to tummy on our couch that has a slight incline.  She got over completely, even freeing her pinned arm.  Go Vivienne!  The next day she rolled over on a flat surface, but never managed to free her arm.


March 24th: Joseph put his right shoe on correctly without any help.  Now he has new shoes that are even easier to put on.


March 25th: Total EC success!  Move on to March 26th if you don’t want to hear it . . .

The day almost couldn’t have gone better, so make note that not every day with EC is this easy.  That’s why I want to report it!  Vivienne woke up not too long before we had to go to church (the time change helped that).  I put her on the couch while I got other things ready in hopes of catching some morning pees before I imprisoned her in a disposable diaper and cute clothes (thanks, Heather! She’s in the 6-month outfit already!).  Sure enough, I got two pees easily and then I packed her up and put her on my back so we could walk to church as a family.  Joseph likes to hold our hands as we walk and then do the counting himself for when we lift him in the air to give him a boost with his walking.  It’s so cute, but he still forgets eight a lot!  (We starting making him count higher and higher in order to get a lift.  What’s life without a challenge?)  Anyway, Vivienne slept most of the service, then woke up, had a nurse (she’s pretty fast now) and then I thought I’d try to catch her after-nap pee.  She want as soon as I got her on the toilet!  She was then happy and awake after church so everyone could admire her beautiful smiles.  I sensed she needed to go again and waited until I could excuse myself from conversation and get to the bathroom.  We were detained by a bathroom conversation during which I undressed her but didn’t feel comfortable taking her into the stall while the lady I was talking with was still watching.  Still, with all the waiting, she held it until we were on the toilet and then went right away.  Maybe this is what people mean when they say EC is easier when you’re out and about.  We got home from church and I’d caught every pee since her morning awakening!  We didn’t stay home long before we took off walking to the home of church folks who live in the area.  Again, Vivienne was bundled on my back and just as we arrived she started fussing.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get her to the toilet in time, but I did catch a later pee.  While we were having dessert and Stephan was holder Vivienne he sensed she need to poo, but I wasn’t sure of the urgency so I tried nursing her first.  I sensed he was right, so took her to the toilet and she did her business where business ought to be done.  Our hosts were none the wiser as each time it looked like I was changing her diaper in the bathroom, though they might have thought I changed it too often.  So, all day we used three disposable diapers.  I think plenty of people do that without EC, so we have a way to go yet when thinking about the environment, but if this continues, using cloth when we’re out and about won’t be so much of a problem.  Plus, two of those diapers were worn a while and only had one pee, and the rest went to the sewer and not the landfill (or the burning site, which is what I think happens to our trash).  So, I have renewed excitement for EC.  Some days it just works so easily without even trying.


March 26th: Vivienne smiles and coos and is just such a delight.  What great big smiles, but I can’t catch them on camera just yet.  Joseph can screw together his Haba toys with a little effort.


I finished our US taxes.  I’ll spare you various complaints, but I’ll report a problem Stephan’s brother ran into.  If your child is not a US citizen (or resident or a few other technical things) then you cannot claim him as a deduction on your US tax return.  Do you realize how many US citizens living abroad have children who do not hold citizenship?  Lots!  The US is quite helpful, they simply sate “generally if you are a US citizen your children are, too.”  Great, and if not?  Well, tough luck!  The US is really rather crazy.  I won’t even mention how the exchange rate gave us a tremendous raise this year . . . Oh, one more thing, I can’t resist.  According to the definitions, our move to Emmen wasn’t a justifiable move because Stephan’s commute would not have increased more than 50 miles if we’d kept our old place.  That number might work in the US, but in Switzerland, it would be crazy to commute that far!  Okay, people do it, but they have cars and burn lots of CO2.  We use public transport and Stephan bikes to work.  For that, we get penalized because we can’t justify our move as due to a job change.  Gotta love it.  But we’re STILL looking forward to our visit to the US this summer!

Oh, and Joseph calls me “Mommy” now!  I’m thrilled!

Posted by harp on Monday, March 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Edit
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March 8th: Joseph counts from zero to 12 in Swiss German while pointing to the numbers of his number puzzle.  (Up until now it’s mostly been English for me.)


14th: Joseph counts from zero to ten in Swiss German for memory (no visual aids) without skipping eight, as is often his habit.


15th: Joseph says “Mama say cheese” (how he says cheese is hard to write) then I’m pretty sure the next part was “Joseph say kääs.”  It was clearly cheese in Swiss German, but the “Joseph says” was unclear.  He has since experimented with this.  It is the phrasing I use when he asks me to identify things in different languages.  I say “Mommy and Grandma say X, die Deutschen sagen Y, und Bappe sagt Z.”


He took my keys, managed to get them in the door (quite a stretch!) and turned them a bit.


Vivienne has the greatest smile and silent laugh.  She is so precious.  She often goes down for morning naps peacefully on her own – I appreciate having that much more time since I don’t have to carry/nurse her to sleep every time like I did with Joseph.  She hold her feet up high when on her back.  I’m convinced the diaper free time has a lot to do with her ability since no bulk is in her way.  She’s discovered her right fist – I caught her staring at it.


Last night (16th) Stephan was holding Vivienne and he let out some loud gas.  Stephan thought it was the real deal but I encouraged him to take her to the toilet.  A few minutes later he came back saying that’s SO much easier than changing a diaper!  He caught it all, too, she didn’t have more later as is often the case.  I’m thrilled my husband is on the diaper-free bandwagon as well!  For a number of days now she’s been diaper free all day except for our walk.  I haven’t figured out away-from home EC yet, though she has pooed on foreign toilets while we were at someone else’s place for a visit.  In those cases I don’t plan to EC, but when she makes it clear, I can’t just sit and watch her go in her diaper, so I take her to the bathroom and people are none the wiser.  Unless of course I can’t keep it a secret and announce to everyone what she did when we come back . . . I hate wearing my every thought on my sleeve.  Sometimes being in a foreign country is a good thing for learning to hold the tongue.  It takes more energy to formulate the thought in German and it’s often the time I need to realize that it might be so important for people to know about my daughter’s poo.  Blog readers, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky . . .


I’ve found a ditty to sum up the “how are you doing” question.  “When life is good it’s very, very good, and when it’s bad it’s horrid.”  (Click on the link and you’ll see that it has an author and that I quite it wrong!)  Horrid is too strong, but when being a mother overwhelms me, I’m in a bad state, so it feels pretty horrid, but most of the time life is very, very good (or very good indeed, as the original goes), so I feel it sums things up rather well.

Posted by harp on Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Edit
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I’ve been bad about computer time and have even failed to take notes for a bullet update.  The only thing I have is from January 19th.  Joseph does the gestures we use during our afternoon devotional time.  He calls Grandma “mama” so I have become “me” to distinguish.  I have a feeling I’ve written this before.


Things are going really quite smoothly here.  Joseph had been sleeping better, but the past two nights he’s woken up on his own screaming, and unfortunately, both times it’s been in the middle of a four-hour sleep stretch for Vivienne – the only one’s she’s had so far!  I get a big grumpy sometimes, but mostly I’m able to keep a good attitude for my family and not feel so terribly exhausted like I was with Joseph.


Joseph is growing by leaps and bounds and is as charming as ever.  He beams at strangers when we’re out and about and he very often points to his nose and says his name “ji-si.”  He will sometimes pick up a toy set (like his crayons or a puzzle) cheerfully and right away if asked to.  He will sometimes pitch a huge fit that ends in a long battle of wills.  It is wonderful to is, it is a challenge to deal with.  Having Vivienne means he is forced to do a lot more on his own and I am forced to teach him or at least to have the patience to wait for him to try to do things on his own.  That is also exciting to see.  He’s adding more and more words to his vocabulary in both Swiss German and English.  He likes to show off a new skill right when we’re trying to discipline him.  He doesn’t skimp on the cute face while saying it either . . .


At such a fun age, it’s hard not to let Joseph steal the show, but his sister is a charmer as well.  Vivienne is so beautiful and cute and cuddly and I feel so close and connected to her especially as we experiment with EC together.  I am amazed at the number of times I’m holding her while doing something else and not paying much attention to her at all but I still know quite easily when she has to relieve herself.  It’s so obvious that it pulls my attention away from whatever I was doing.  Of course, not every time she eliminates is it that obvious.  I’m grateful for that or the nights would be terrible!  I try to give her diaper-free time each morning after she wakes, but then she’s in diapers most of the day, but I still try for catches whenever it works out.  That means most of her poos go in the toilet, sink or bowl, and a surprising number of pees, too.  She still seems rather uncomfortable peeing in any position, but we’re figuring it out.


But Vivienne is much more than her elimination, sorry for dwelling on that.  Still, it is such an important part of the work she does as an infant.  She eats, she sleeps and she, well, poos and pees.  Being aware of her elimination needs I’ve been able to notice that once she’s peed it all out after nursing she goes to sleep easily.  If she’s still got pee in there she’ll fuss and squirm and won’t settle down with all the bouncing and patting and pacing in the world.  Knowing that means I can be patient and keep peeing her or changing her wet diaper until she’s ready to sleep and it often meals she sleeps dry for a good while.  I’m hoping to avoid the diaper rash that poor Joseph is sill struggling with (it’s been months now!).


But like I said, Vivenne is much more than the sum of her pees.  He is a happy baby most of the time (that is, if I keep her clean and dry and take her to the potty when she wants it) and I enjoy caring for her.  This morning she was fully clothed for church when she rolled over tummy to back.  This afternoon she was diaperless on a couch with a slight incline.  She rolled over tummy to back uphill!!!  She can hold her head up and push up with her arms for a good minute before getting tired.  She isn’t happy for too long on her tummy, but does a goes job with it.  She sleeps best on her tummy, but is often on her side since I nurse lying down at night.  During naps she is often on her back.  Somehow I fell better with her able to sleep in many positions.


She looks super cute in her girl outfits, and once again I was slow to switch over to the next size clothes because the newborn phase is so short she hardly wore everything once!


Stephan and I have had a few tight moments working through the kinks until we find a good flow for being a family of four, but things have been going really quite smoothly.  Joseph is missing his Grandma but he’s doing really well with all the changes.  We got a fancy in-line stroller (that means two kids but not side-by-side) as a gift so now I can put them both in the stroller and do some shopping or take a walk, which is lovely.  Vivienne still prefers the wrap, but it wonderful to be able to change things up.


Both kids are sill sleeping, it’s a miracle . . .

Posted by harp on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Edit
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