Apologies for the long silence.  GTD keeps me from getting too overwhelmed when the routine is interrupted, but it still takes some time to get back to feeling like I can use the precious double-nap time for blogging.  Thanks for the prods from people who let me know they enjoy reading what I have to write.

This will still be a bit of a whirlwind.  June 16th to July 7th we were away in the states.  I tried to prepare Joseph for the trip by telling him that soon we will take a bus, then a train, then a plane, then a car and go see Grandma and Dad-o.  He went right for the door without so much as putting his socks on.  From that time until when we left he often repeated “take a bus, take a train, take a plane, see Grandma Dad-o.”  It turns out that helped a lot to encourage him while we were traveling.  It was quite a feet with two kids and no stroller or car on this end of things.  We hauled our luggage and baby and made our not-quite-2-yr-old walk to the bus stop, then changed to the train and had another unexpected train change due to work on the lines, then there was quite a bit of airport to walk through as well.  I was really proud of how well the kids did through it all, especially on the return trip being exhausted and suffering from jet lag.  Jet lag is a parent’s nightmare.  I’m still not sure we’re back to normal, but the first week back was torture with taking hours and hours to try to get the kids to sleep but not really getting to sleep in.  Family travel is a whole different ball game, and I’m not sure when we’ll have the strength to try such a long trip again, but I know none of my family wants to hear that . . .

But fortunately, jet lag is not nearly so bad going toward the US, so we enjoyed our nearly three weeks there to the fullest.  We flew into Boston where Grandma and Dad-o picked us up and drove us to Old Saybrook.  We got to go to Grace church, where our blessing of the marriage service was, I used a birthday gift to get a hot stone massage, we visited Stephan’s cousin S. and her daughter Q. in Rhode Island and enjoyed the park and a restaurant together.  June 23-24 was the Big Family Weekend at the Maggie P. where the weather mostly cooperated and we all had fun in the sun, sand and water.  Of course it was too short a time with most people, but the Maggie P. is a small place for so many.  The Daleys were there for the week after the big weekend and Joseph just adored his cousins and loved every minute of play.  It wasn’t all easy for him, but he didn’t show any discomfort, I could just tell he wasn’t himself.  He likes to take quiet moments to sit and read and he likes to eat at a table with a plate and fork.  He didn’t eat much most of the time and I thought maybe he didn’t like American food, but one time is was relatively quiet and he actually got a spot at the table and he happily ate everything that came his way, carefully and slowly with fork in hand.  We discovered it’s one thing to interrupt your habits for other people and it’s another to let your kids loose everything they’re used to.  I have a hard time putting into words how much fun we had and yet how disorienting it was to be so thrown out of whack.  I don’t expect people to understand that I experienced culture shock, but I did, and it’s nice to be back home again.  I’ve lived outside the US for six years and believe it or not, a lot has changed there and in me over that time!  But that’s not so important or interesting – I’ll get back to recording the fun!

June 26th we took advantage of nice weather to take the birthday buddy outing on the Essex Steam Train.  Joseph and Noah turned two and six, respectively on the 28th, so the gang of us to the train and visited Gillette’s Castle.  Joseph slept some of the train ride – he is used to trains after all, but he enjoyed a good part of it, too.  There was a storm the night before so the train had to stop for a downed tree.  Extra excitement!

On the actual birthday we had pizza, bay punch and ice cream cake.  Joseph isn’t an ice cream fan, but I’m sure he’ll acquire the taste some day.  I think the best part of the day for Joseph was being invited by Noah to a tea party at the frog table/umbrella set that Aunt Ellie got for the Daley girls.  He loved every chance he could get to be included in activities with his cousins.

I’m not sure how planned it was, but Joseph had only one day to be sad about the cousins being gone before we drove up to Maine to visited the island Aunt S.’s family has.  That was luxury for me as everyone there was adult or old enough to look after himself, so all the normal chores that go along with life (cooking, cleaning, etc.) were taken care of and enough people were interested in playing with Joseph and Vivienne that I actually had quite a bit of time to just relax and enjoy myself – something that mothers don’t often get to do on vacation I’m discovering (the older and wiser mothers are laughing – I can hear it).  I enjoyed a swim, which had warmer water than at the Maggie P. as it was river water and not as close to the ocean, I played games and even read some (I stole Stephan’s birthday present book . . .).  Billy took us out in the boat to the rock where the seals like to sun bathe. That was cool in person!  The kids did great in the boat with their new life jackets from Aunt P.  Really, everything went quite smoothly this vacation – I really shouldn’t complain, but that transition from single person to mother was/is a rough one for me.  It just changes EVERYTHING!  We had great family bonding time, though, and Stephan was an equal partner in kid care, which was a huge help as well.  Mom worked her butt off for us, too.  I feel a bit guilty, but thanks, Mom!  I wish I could report that we had a big bash for her 60th which occurred while we were there, but she did get to have all her grandkids together on the day, even if it was just at a pizza place.  I guess mothers are always under-recognized.

On the way back from Maine we got to see the Daley’s new home in New Hampshire.  It will be nice to have a visual for when the stories start pouring out on their blog (hint, hint). ;)

Joseph spent a lot of time in the sand with Daddy.  He did some swimming, including under water, but preferred the sand.  Vivienne did a good job swimming, too, but I only had the energy to take her once.  She had just started moving around before we left for the trip and while we were there he pushed up on all fours (July 3rd).

Thanks to everyone who made is a special vacation!  We made it back in the right number of pieces and our garden had grown quite a bit and not just with weeds!   My sugar snap peas aren’t as good as Uncle J.’s, but I’m proud of them nonetheless.  We’ve eaten a number of zucchini already and the squash and pumpkin are looking good.  Tomatoes are questionable and corn is slow, but we’ll see.


Joseph has been saying everyone’s names and tells me he wants to go back because he says “Take the bus, take the train, take the plane, see Grandma Dad-o.”

We love and miss you all!


Posted by harp on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Edit
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15th: I had to pick another corn from the garden because the stalk had blown over.  This time is was nearly ripe and Joseph and I quite enjoyed it!  (Unfortunately, Stephan was out of town so he didn’t get a taste).

Joseph can now push two duplos together (with a bit of luck).

16th: Joseph deliberately practiced standing up from sitting on the ground without pulling up on anything.  It was fascinating to see him thoughtfully experiment and then celebrate his accomplishments!  And now, just a few days later, he’s fine squatting to get a toy and then stand back up with it without help, or to get back up into walking after having fallen.

17th: Joseph loves to look through his books and read to himself when he can’t convince anyone else to read to him.  Today he was looking through “Neighborhood Animals” that DA gave us with one animal per page spread and he very clearly read (or knew from the picture) dog, cat, duck, bird, and then less clearly some others.  They sounded like “da, ta, duh, bir” more or less.  It shouldn’t astound me, but it does!

19th: Today I showed him how to throw something away in the kitchen trash.  A few hours later he found a speck of something on the ground, picked it up, walked over to the trash, which is under the sink, opened the door, threw the trash out and shut the door.  I was so proud of him, and the speck of whatever was too small to worry about that fact that he didn’t manage to get it all the way in the trash can . . .

He started asking for the names of things by pointing to them then after I name them he tries to say the word.  That usually lasts a few times and then it sounds like he starts saying nonsense.  I wonder if he’s trying to say “Mom, this is how I say it. Say it after me!” or something else entirely.  There are a number of times where I realize he was clearly saying something to me, but only after the fact.

He gives sweet kisses (that aren’t bites!) on request, though he doesn’t always give it to the person you name, it’s very sweet nonetheless!

Posted by harp on Monday, September 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Edit
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Sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve blogged.  Needless to say, it’s been busy.

June 15th: Our little boy has turned into quite a climber.  He climbed onto our blue couches all by himself.  He is an able climber, and I might say a good deal less cautious than he is when standing, especially if you’re holding him.  It’s as though he knows you’ll keep him safe so he can push of whatever footholds his little feet find.  He also just loves to watch me brush my teeth.  He thinks it’s so funny.  Thankfully he doesn’t mind it when we brush his either.

June 23rd : Climbing with a vengeance all over the beds and every bit of furniture he can reach.

June 26th: Joseph started to stack blocks on top of each other and often successfully, though with the flattest side of the blocks.  He’s started to help me put away his toys when asked.  He’s gotten better and better, though he still gets distracted sometimes and wants to play more rather than just put things away.

June 27th I gave Joseph his first hair cut.  It was so long over his ears and at the back of his head.  I was cautious, so I didn’t do too much, but it still looks funny over his ears.  I had him watch Pimsleur DVD’s but he still got annoyed with me messing with his head for so long.  Hopefully I’ll get better each time!  Today he was willing to stand alone for me if I was right there to catch him.  How exciting!  I thought maybe he’d walk on his birthday, haha . . .

June 28th Joseph turned one year old.  We had a special family day where I took him to the pool and let him do whatever he wanted and stay as long as he wanted and in the evening we all went to the park.  In the afternoon we went to a friend’s birthday party who was born on the same day he was!  When he first arrived he planted him a tackle kiss!  The 1-year-olds had fun together and also with the older children.  He loved having all that attention and was in a great mood.  I should make a mental note that when he’s given enough attention he’s calm and happy . . .

June 29th I wanted to make up for not getting much work done the day before because I was focusing on Joseph and it was a bad day for him!  From so much attention to so little, poor guy.

June 30th We went to the new doctor in Emmen and praise God I am quite comfortable with her.  Finding pediatricians in the Luzern area is difficult because there aren’t enough.  Joseph got a clean bill of health weighing in at 10.6Kg, 75cm.  He’s only gained 1.35Kg since he was 6 months (that’s about 3 pounds).  He still has chunky legs and arms, but looks rather trim, especially in his birthday suit compared to what he used to be like.  Joseph was able to put small beads into a small-necked bottle, which I hadn’t tried him on before.  He transferred on bead from his left hand to his right and put all the beads in with his right hand.  He always throws balls with his right hand, too.  He did well taking the MMR shot.  In general he didn’t do what the doctor wanted him to right away, he was always interested in his own play.  Instead of pushing the car back and forth (which he’s done from a few months of age with his musical car) he was more interested in putting the little person in and out of the car.  It took a while before he banged two objects together when she asked, even though he’s done that for a while, too.  He can do a lot, but he does what he wants!

July 1st we had a family birthday party for Joseph.  I set the timer and had names in a hat so that each person got 10 minutes of focused time with Joseph.  It worked well and Joseph loved it!  He enjoyed opening his presents and making a mess of his corn bread cake.  I hadn’t thought that it’s worth doing much for a 1st birthday, but it was good for us all to mark the event and enjoy him.  I’m glad we did and I’m glad we have some family nearby to celebrate with us!

July 3rd Joseph took three steps alone toward me!  Later that day he did 6, but that hasn’t been repeated.  Mommy and Daddy are more interested in him walking than he is!

July 6th Joseph uses the word “hot” frequently and for a few things: hot things, forbidden things, things that have been hot in the past (left over potatoes from the fridge).  He’s good at letting his food cool before touching and eating it.  And speaking of eating, he loves it, especially veggies and fruit . . .

July 14th I first noticed that he can catch a ball that I’ve thrown to him such that it bounces at the floor near him and back up in the air where he catches it.  I find that quite impressive!  He can do it often, though not all the time.  There’s a video of it now, but you’ll have to wait because Daddy just posted a bunch.

In the family news we’ve had US guests, a wedding where we both had important roles, another wedding where we could just enjoy it.  Joseph found himself on a grassy gentle slope but was too cautious to crawl down it – he scooted backward the whole way as he would going down stairs!  The garden has turned into a jungle.  I harvested a ton of weeds this weekend.  There wasn’t a trace of lettuce, carrots, zucchini, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, or onion.  I had thought all the sprouts looked alike so I was afraid to weed until I could tell, hence the forest.  It turns out they all looked alike because they were all weeds . . .  The corn grew well from seed and is doing fine.  We had a hail storm before I put up stakes for my transplanted tomatoes, but I tried to save them, we’ll see!

Posted by harp on Monday, July 18, 2011 at 11:01 am | Edit
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The garden continues to grow dandelions at an impressive rate.  It’s been a cold, rainy June, so I’m not sure how great that is for my other plants.  We shall see, we shall see.

June 4th Joseph started putting shapes into the shape sorters.  Since that day he hasn’t been as successful, but it still keeps him occupied.  With him starting to put things INTO other things, that means soon we’ll be able to teach him to help clean up with us!

We went to a play group the same day and had a great time even though rain kept us indoors.  Joseph loves being around other kids and their strength and roughness doesn’t seem to bother him.  Since we were out for a short time I had him in cloth diapers, but had no intention of doing EC, but about halfway through he come to me fussing and he didn’t want food or to nurse so I thought maybe he needed to pee.  He was still dry after several hours from when we left home so I decided to give peeing in a public toilet a try.  He’d never been interested before, but this time he went like a pro!  He stayed dry until we got home that day, too.  Nothing like that has happened again and we’ve had plenty of down EC days, but the successes are more fun to report.

June 5th we had a reunion meeting for PEKiP folks.  Unfortunately, the two older babies couldn’t make it, but it was great fun to see the other babies and mothers and to share experiences again.  Everyone was surprised Joseph wasn’t walking yet.  I’m not sure if the babies remembered each other, but they did enjoy each other.

June 7th Joseph took his first steps!  He grabbed my skirt to get up off of the potty but once he was standing the skirt was not supporting him anymore, but he didn’t know that and took a step or two toward me.  I praised him but he didn’t know what I was so excited about!  That same evening Stephan was holding his hands as Joseph walked and Stephan let go and Joseph stood for a second then took a step before Stephan held his hands again.  So far, no repeat performances or interest.  He is interested in walking if we hold his hands, though.  Now after he goes to the potty we walk together to the bathroom where he lifts the toilet lid (he’s only supposed to do that when we have something to dump – maybe a complicated rule for a 1-year-old) and helps flush.  He finds that great fun.

He now has eight teeth: four on top and four on the bottom.

June 8th both Joseph and I woke up a bit sick.  That evening I lost all my food but Joseph got away with only the snuffles.  He’s been sleeping a lot and we both are on the mend.

June 11th I finally sent in our taxes.  It always seems to take longer than expected – I started months ago!  They’re sent under the wire (over seas folks have until June 15th), but they’re done!  Now we can enjoy our first guests at our place in Emmen.  They should arrive any minute now, so I’m signing out and it will probably be another two weeks before I touch base again.  Thanks for your faithful reading anyway!

Posted by harp on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Edit
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Most of it, anyway.  Stephan entertained Joseph last Saturday while I did the final preparations for the garden and did some planting between threats of rain.  I did more planting Monday and what’s left needs to wait anyway.  Already there are sprouts everywhere!  Of weeds, that is . . .  I’ve learned my lesson to always get every bit of a dandelion plant OUT because what they say is true: every little bit of chopped up root will start growing a new dandelion shoot.  I spent a lot of time digging them up before planting, and got at least a barrel full of roots!  I’m thankful I didn’t have time to finish prepping the soil right a way so it gave time for me to see the fruits of the dandelion’s labors and take care of some of the problem before planting.  It’s interesting that the problem is only in one half of the garden, and that’s where I first started turning over the earth.  I didn’t know what I was doing, so I just turned it all over and left it, but as time went on I decided to pull out the weeds since turning the earth exposed them anyway, so I did that to the other half of the garden and it’s almost weed free!  I told you I didn’t know what I was doing . . .

So, we’ll see what happens to my seeds!  I’m excited and am still having fun, but I can’t help being very aware that I really don’t know what I’m doing.  What’s in the garden you ask?  I have three strips about a meter wide and 4 ½  meters long.  The back strip is a collection of flowers (scattered from one packet).  The front two are veggies: zucchini, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes (yet to be transplanted), lettuce, carrots, spring onion, beans (not planted yet), and corn.  I really hope the corn works out.  I love fresh corn and you can only buy it here already torn open!

In the developmental news, yesterday in the pool Joseph found a ball interesting enough that he practiced climbing out of the pool by himself a number of times.  I can now say he’s expert at it, knowing he has to turn around and lower himself down feet first.  I can also safely say that he knows how to reliably use the same technique to get down off of the bed and of furniture.  He’s still not interested in standing or walking, though.  I also caught him putting the stars of the star pyramid back on the column today.  He seems quite pleased with himself, as am I!

Posted by harp on Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Edit
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Some days everything seems to go wrong and other days everything seems to line up.  Most days are a bit in between, but here is an account of one day to give you (and my future self) a glimpse into daily life here in our new home in Emmen.

6am Stephan’s alarm goes off. I’m already awake because Joseph needed a snack.  He just want back to sleep so I do too.

6:15am get up and follow my morning routine:

Get dressed. Do a quick sweep of the floors. Process my physical inbox for five minutes. Water the plants.  See the chives, marjoram and tomato grow!!!

10 minutes of “nesting” or making the house a bit nicer than it was the day before, today I wiped the coffee table, de-cluttered the window sill and arranged the candles there, found a home for some oversized sheet music that had been sitting around since the move, etc.

6:45am Joseph wakes up.  I drop what I’m doing (nesting) and greet him.  He pees on the potty.  We dump it in the toilet together and play a little.  I get us breakfast.  Today he ate two little slices of bread and three scoops of yogurt.  I had toast.  I wipe up the high chair and table and notice Joseph grunting so I put him on the pot.  Success!  For some reason he also grunts before having to pee.  We take care of the pee, say goodbye to Daddy as he goes off to work, I do the dishes and we play a little together and nurse (I don’t remember how often we play and nurse but it’s here and there and whenever).  I finish my morning routine:

Open all windows to air out apartment (so humidity doesn’t get high enough for mold to continue to grow)

“Swish and Swipe” bathroom (wipe surfaces and toilet, brush toilet bowl) – 4min

8:30ish I start to work on my “important daily cards” where I alternate 10 or so minutes on a task with 10 or so minutes of focused play with Joseph.  This morning practice was first up so I got out my harp and worked on adjusting the bray pins until Joseph crawled over to me and I gave him a little harp lesson.  He loves the harp.  I’m trying to teach him to be gentle.  He actually seems to have learned a bit how to be gentle and has a better plucking technique than he did before.  It used to be the “grab five strings and pull with all your might never releasing the fingers” and now it’s “grab one to three strings and pull sometimes releasing the fingers and making a nice sound.”  I call the improvement, especially since he’s only had three lessons.  What a smart kid!  I tell him he can’t bother me while I’m practicing (it’s only 10 minutes!) and he listens until I’m almost done then when he comes to grab the strings while I’m doing a run-through of a piece I tell him “no” while I’m playing (that takes brain power!) and he starts crying.  Fortunately I’m at the end of my practice session and we can make up.  Total time the harp is out: 15 minutes.  Not up to conservatory standards but I’ve learned how to make the most of the minutes I have.


Posted by harp on Friday, April 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Edit
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The day after I blogged about how great ECing with Joseph is I missed nearly every one of his pees for two days.  Things have been improving ever since, however and now we’re back to a pretty good average.

Joseph loves clapping his hands, especially with people.

He is increasingly aware and coordinated.  He crawls around obstacles to get to his desired destination.  I first observed this April 20th when he saw me open the balcony doors and he crawled as fast as he could around his toys to get outside.  If I close the doors before he gets there he throws a fit.  I’m learning how to balance real needs with fits.  It’s not always easy to tell when he’s hurt and when he’s just made he can’t have something.

And speaking of crawling, he goes FAST!  We need to get a video of it someday.  He’s still not interested in standing or walking without support.

He pushes buttons.  When Daddy helps Joseph brush his teeth Joseph gets to turn the bathroom light on and off (it’s a button).

Joseph likes being on the balcony and crawling outside of the house.  When he’s on a surface he doesn’t like he’ll lift his right knee up so that only the foot touches and then gingerly crawl using his right foot and his left knee/foot.  It’s terribly cute.

I’ve been enjoying working on our garden.  I have no clue about gardens and all the instruction books confuse me more and fail to give the basic instructions I think I need.  Despite not knowing what to do and taking too long researching and getting nowhere, I’ve finally just started trying things and whether it’s right or not I’m having fun with it.  I’ve worked the ground to our 170 sq. ft. garden entirely by hand (and with hand tools).  It’s starting to look tamed and I’m proud of how I can grab 15 minutes or so of time when Joseph can entertain himself to work on it.  I’m also trying to grow parsley, chives, marjoram, and cherry tomatoes from seeds indoors.  We don’t get that much sun, so we’ll see how it goes.  The chives and marjoram are sprouting already after just a few days!  It’s so much fun to grow stuff!  It’s almost doesn’t matter if I get a good harvest.

Posted by harp on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Edit
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