Oct. 27th: Joseph says “ice” for “lights.”  He says “spices” and I can’t transcribe it, as with most of his words.  He gave me a kiss unasked for for the first time.  He found Daddy’s stash of paper for recycling (piled under his desk) and he put it in the recycle spot one piece at a time without any prompting!  We’d been giving him paper to put away for a while now, but this was the first time he did it on his own.  He can put books back in their shelves.

29th: I spent a lovely day in Holderbank where we have missionary friends.  Stephan looked after Joseph, was it was lovely to just relax, enjoy good company and good food.  What a luxury!

31st: We live in a Catholic canton so Stephan got the day off and we were able to visit the Swiss grandparents.  Stephan and I got to spend some romantic time at the Basel Herbstmesse (oldest, biggest, longest, etc. etc. fair in Europe or something like that) while Joseph enjoyed visiting the zoo for the first time!  Again, talk about pampering . . .

Nov. 3rd: I’ve been experimenting with making our own peanut butter since it is rather pricy here.  From a bag of peanuts in the shell I made a batch for half the price the store sells at and we all liked it.  If only I could find unsalted shelled peanuts it would save a lot of the work.

4th: Joseph signs “play piano.”  His signs are getting quite accurate.  It’s fun to watch!  More words: mouse, fish, squawk, and tea.  The last two are from a British book from V that is one of his favorites.  In the end they have a scrumptious tea and Joseph always supplies the last word.  (Now he has many such words he supplies in various books, I doubt I’ll write them all down.)  This morning he woke me up by giving me a kiss and then giving my belly a kiss!  How can you be upset at that?

7th: Joseph officially doesn’t crawl anymore.  Of course he can, but walking is his preferred mode of transportation.  That means he’s slower at stairs, but is much more like a little boy than a baby.  Where did the time go?  It’s the shortest years and the longest days . . .

He signs “bread” and “banana.”  Swimming time is going very well.  I’ve been saying “one, two, three, jump” and letting him jump from the side of the pool into my arms.  Today he supplied his own “one, two, three” (with only the three sounding anything like the number) because he couldn’t wait for me to count to jump in.  I’m still working on teaching him that he shouldn’t get in the water without me there.  Pool time takes a lot of vigilance!  He can also consistently swim when I launch him from my arms to the stairs and pull himself out.  He is good at catching himself when he falls so he doesn’t hurt himself – even if it is slippery inclined tile.  This session he accidentally fell head-under twice and came up without a cough for any sign of surprise.

“Hot pot” and “pepper” sound similar, and both sound like “Bappe” (Daddy in Swiss German) but he still says “Mama” for Stephan and me.  “All gone” sounds like “kaka” which is also his word for “cracker.”

9th: Joseph says trash (“ksh”) while holding a plastic bottle.  He wants to throw it away but I point him to the recycling.  Since then he grabs trash whenever possible (and mostly he’s right!) and throws it away in the kitchen trash, opening and closing the door appropriately.  What a help!

10th: Joseph says “poo” when he needs to go #2.  That’s a great help, as he can usually wait until we can get him to the potty before he soils his diaper/underwear/whatever he’s standing over.  Said “bath” (ba).  He got out the AquaDoodle and then came to me saying he word for house/mouse/mouth (“auf”).  He was clearly asking me for something.  I then guessed he was saying “mouth” and by that he meant he wanted the AquaDoodle pen which we don’t let him put in his mouth.  I was right.  What a smart dood!

He can blow into a tissue.  (Yes, we’ve been sick.)

12th: We visited D+A S.  It was a great pleasure, but oh, how a new place is so tempting for a toddler to explore!

13th: Joseph walked down three steps without holding on to anything.

14th: Joseph is now a help with laundry, and not just in spirit.  He can empty and load things according to instructions.  He doesn’t always follow, but he does enough to be counted a help since I can hang up laundry while he fills the washer with the next load.  What fun!

At dinner he asked for some cheese (signing) then he held his piece of cheese out to me and said “chs” (cheese) and then turned to Stephan and said “ka” (for Käs – cheese in Swiss German if I knew how to spell it).  He’s used German and English words before, but this was the first time he showed us that English is Mommy’s language and German is Daddy’s.  Raising a bilingual baby is amazing!  He understands as much of what Stephan tells him as he does of what I tell him – even rather complicated sentences.  I don’t know why it amazes me.

He knows his body parts in German and when we read the book that talks about them he points to each part, including his bottom.  So cute!

15th: Tante A gave us some money to spend at the fair on Joseph.  We bought a wooden Alphabet puzzle.  Joseph loves it.  He knows a number of letters from his signing book, but needs prompting from us to say the letter before he can say it.  However, the other day he picked out the “I” and said “eye” and he’s done it a number of times since.

He says “muesli.”

He says “ppph” and does a very good “potty” sign if he notices he’s peeing.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t use the sign much when he needs to go.  I have to read other clues (taking off the diaper, hopping off my lap, suddenly getting still, grunting).


Notes from Stephan:

Says “ma” while holding a fist to his mouth for “mommy milk.”  Says “please” (psh).  Climbs up on chairs and then tables and beyond . . .

When it’s time for the Bible readings and prayer he becomes very excited, holds his hands in the air and says “maaaay!!!!” for “Praise the Lord.”

He blows kisses.

He loves to pick up the pot after going and walk it to the bathroom himself.  This is a dangerous affair, but he often makes it there without spilling and then dumps it in the toilet as well.  

Posted by harp on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Edit
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13th: Joseph has two 2-year molars breaking through. 

-He moves his index finger (right hand) back and forth and hisses at the back of his tongue to sign that he wants to brush his teeth, which he has to do every morning when Mommy brushes hers.  We brush his teeth with paste every night, but maybe he knows better.  In any case, he now gets it twice a day, once with and once without paste.

-We took a walk wearing no diaper and split pants we got from China (curtsey of Stephan’s coworker).  Well, I wore normal pants, but I also didn’t pee in on the sidewalk.  It was embarrassing.  He didn’t give me any sign, just started peeing after we’d come up out of the underground passage that goes under Seetalstrasse.  At least he didn’t pee in the tunnel!  Split pants work, though . . .

That was Joseph’s first time crossing under and over the street.  I let him go where he pleased, with proper traffic instructions, of course.  He had a grand time!

-Joseph knows the names of all the farm characters on the cloth memory set that Gotte Diana gave him.  He can say something similar for all of them, but when asked, he can find whatever you ask for.  We did get a video!  Up in the usual places (though most of you have seen this already).

-Joseph makes a beautiful sign for food now – it’s exactly right!

-I like to take Joseph for walks where he’s free to roam (off the main street).  Once we took a 1 ½ hour long walk and he walked the whole way!  (I’m too pregnant to carry him far.)  He needed some coaxing and encouragement to make it home, but he did it!


16th: Joseph says “bushi” (which means baby in Basel German) when pointing to my belly.  He says “I’m a whale” which is a line from one of his books.  He points at one of the German library books and says “bagger” which sounds a bit like “kaka” but it’s clear what he wants (it’s a construction book).  She says “shoes” and “socks” which sound like “shish” and a short “ah” respectively.  The first thing he does when he comes out of the bedroom is go directly for his shoes saying “shish” and asks me to put them on.  He wares them all day and would go to bed with them if he could.


17th: Joseph adds “tongue” and “baby” to his vocabulary.  Baby is particular clear.

-Joseph is a fish!  He’s been jumping off the side (from sitting) and into the water for a while without trouble now and I’ve started guiding him to the steps (underwater) and letting him crawl out.  He does well and asks for it frequently.  Soon I’ll try letting go a little before his hands reach the steps so he has to swim a bit to get there.  He can run all around the baby pool and does well when he falls.  He can do the slide by himself (belly down, feet first) and stop himself before his head goes under water.  Today he walked up the slide holding on to the edge and fell and ended up on his back.  His face was still out of the water, so I let him struggle a bit.  Unfortunately at one point in the struggle his face went in and he got a big breath of water.  Usually he recovers quite quickly, but this time I almost started to panic, but before it even looked like he was back to normal breathing he was back at walking up the slide again!  He has no fear!  That’s good – and bad.  I’m happy he loves the water and doesn’t freak out when he gets some water, but shouldn’t he learn his lesson?  I learned once again that often his cries are not over the accident, they’re over his purposes being frustrated  - so he wants to try again!


18th: Joseph signs “please” now (both hands brush against his tummy sideways), which is lovely before he’s started saying “na na” for “yes please” and it sounds awfully close to “nei nei” which means no.  If I’m not sure what he wants and say “If you want it please say ‘yes please Mama’” and he says “na na” I then tell him that sounds like “no” and to please say “yes please” at which point he’ll either do the real sign for “please” or his old sign (hands clapping, or index to palm).  This is a great improvement to thinking he’s said no and then getting cries of frustration when we don’t give him what he’s thought he’s said “yes” to!!

-Today after I Swish+Swiped the bathroom Joseph tore off a bit of toilet paper and rubbed the toilet seat and lid before tossing it in the toilet – just like Mommy does!

-New trick found!  If he doesn’t want to eat (why doesn’t he want to eat?) if we give him a fork to eat with suddenly all his food becomes edible.  He loves every kind of food, the trouble is, it varies on the day, so I have no idea what he’ll eat at any given time.  He favorite food one day is detestable the next, the food he spurns today he’ll gulp down tomorrow.  What’s up with that?!

-We still do our Bible readings mostly consistently after lunch, which is when the BCP has us read part of Psalm 113 to start.  We’ll tell him we’re about to praise the Lord now and he’ll come to sit in our laps and will put his hands in the air saying “praise the Lord!” (I can’t transliterate yet).  Every time in Psalm 113 we say the word “praise” I raise his arms enthusiastically.  Sometimes he does it on his own.  In any case – he loves it!

-His favorite bedtime book is “Goodnight Moon” and when we talk about the “quiet old lady who was whispering ‘hush’” he always turns around and puts his face close to mine (since I always whisper the ‘hush’ close to his face).  Tonight Daddy was reading the story to us and when the time came Joseph sat up and put his face nice to his and a burp came out!  We’re no good at controlling our laughter, but Stephan’s much better than I am!  I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve – I think I’ll have to adopt Barbara’s “Just because I’m laughing doesn’t mean I think it’s funny” line.


19th: Joseph likes to carry his potty to the toilet to dump it out.  This makes me nervous, but he’ll have to learn sometime!

-It’s been mentioned on the videos, but Joseph loves “In the Night Kitchen” in German (we only have it in German).  He has three favorite phrases from it that he says over and over throughout the day.  Picture teenagers quoting moving lines to each other – he loves quoting with us!  He goes “aaaaaahhh” for “Ruhe da unten” and “ti ki tiii” for “kikerikii” (rooster crow) and “mi, mi, mi, mi, mimmhhh” for “Milch, Milch, Milch für den Kuchenteig.”

-EC is hit or miss.  He doesn’t say when he needs to pee or poo we just have a good clue when he needs to poo and some clue if he needs to pee and we’re paying attention.  He does sometimes say he needs to go (and we can tell) but often it’s as he’s going or just after.  Anyway, I hope to be more consistent with the new baby and see things don’t go better.  Still, we’re glad for what we’ve done.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if he got the idea down before the baby came . . . ?

-Today after swimming he tripped when walking to the stone stairs and bust his lip on the lower step, poor thing.  After some blood and tears all was better again.

-I can’t keep up!  He fills in the last word “hot” in his Monet book “This garden has a shady spot for reading books when the day is . . .”  He says “apple” in the right place for “The Hungry Caterpillar” and he’s making other connections.  I think that’s why he’s started asking for the same book over and over again . . .

-The alphabet song doesn’t have anything to do with letters to him.  He loves the alphabet sign book PJS gave him and once each Stephan and I tried to sing the song while doing the signs.  He got a very serious look on his face – to him, that song means he has to stop what he’s doing soon and do what we want him to!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Edit
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28th: I realize that Joseph signs “train” and “siren.”  Both come from the “Baby’s First Noise” book that Grossmutti gave him (and where “airplane” was learned).  I wonder how many other signs he does that I haven’t recognized yet.  I wonder with words as well.  My observation skills are lacking and I don’t know how to train them!

7th: Joseph consistently says “may” with a short vowel (rhymes with “re”) for “mommy milk.”  That’s a good word to have!  He’s walking more and more and while he still crawls, he will mostly choose to stand up and walk somewhere rather than crawl.  He knows most of his face parts and likes to point to them on himself or me when I name them.  He says “eye” fairly well.  When I show him bits he always tries to say the last one I’ve shown.  It’s so cute!  Try “California” or “ring-tailed lemur” with a 15mos old tongue! 

10th: Joseph goes from sitting to standing with a shoe in each hand (one knee to standing without support).  Joseph still LOVES books.  The main reason why he fusses in the day is because he wants me to start reading or doesn’t want to stop reading.  I now have a spot on the couch where I sit and when I sit there he can bring me books to read.  He scrambles off my lap the moment a story is finished and rushes to find another one.  Then he brings it to me with the quick in-out breathing of one very excited little boy!

He says “wow” when he’s peed on the pot – in imitation of my enthusiasm, of course.  He walks to the bathroom, lifts the lid, flushes (he can reach on his own now) and lower the lid softly.  He still doesn’t tell us often when he needs to go – or we haven’t figure it out yet.  Today (12th) he said “banana” for pot, but because he used the same word as banana and the bananas hang on the same bit of furniture the pot is (don’t ask) I didn’t realize he wanted the pot until – well, you know.

On the 8th we finally found shoes that will fit his feet.  It’s getting cold and wet here and even I won’t let him out barefoot.  They’re pink, but he loves them anyway.  Two days later as we’re getting ready to go out and I don’t know where his shoes are I ask him to go find them for me.  To my surprise (why does it still surprise me how smart kids are?!) he remembered that in the morning he’d been playing with them and had brought them into the office.  He looked at me and thought a bit, then marched right into the office and picked up a shoe and brought it to me!

He knows “belly-button” in German.  I was reading the body-parts book to him and when we got to the belly-button he lifted up his shirt and stuck his finger in his belly button!  Daddy’s around enough for him to know a good bit of German!  Stephan reports he knows “eye” in German as well, but he knows plenty more than that!

12th: Last night Joseph slept from 8:30pm to 6am without needing anything: no songs, no breast, no nothing.  Wow!  I woke up plenty, but how nice to just worry about myself!

Today we had another swimming date with birthday-buddy A.  Joseph became positively hyper, kicking and moving his arms in the big pool and then exploring all over the kiddy pool.  He’s getting good about keeping his head above water when he falls from standing and then getting back up again.  It’s hard to watch him and know the right amount of intervention.  Often he can fall and even have his face get submerged without any trouble.  But sometimes he doesn’t hold his breath in time.  He’s still alive so far . . .

I can’t keep up with all the new things he can and does do.  He’s really taking off!  It’s such a pleasure to be his mommy.  We’re still learning about “no” and obeying, but he has made so much progress!  When we go for walks and he walks down the wrong path I can call him back again and he obeys – not without some hesitation, but I’m pleased that he often makes the decision to obey.  It must be such a struggle between doing what he wants and choosing to listen to Mama.  If he needs a little time to make that decision, I’m happy for him to have it when it’s not critical, and he can tell by my voice when it’s really dangerous.  I think I’m okay with the idea that learning to obey immediately  comes gradually and can be better enforced with an older understanding.  It’s funny, though.  Whether he behaves well in public or poorly I’m frustrated that it’s not a true representation!  We had coffee at our pastor’s house the other day and Joseph obeyed us right away when we asked him to shut the drawer he’d discovered.  He shut it and went to something else and the pastor and his wife were very impressed.  Stephan and I were quick to point out that that doesn’t always happen that way . . .

Posted by harp on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:49 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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This weekend was the best weekend yet with little Joseph.  We got to be together as a family the whole weekend and we got lots done and had lots of fun!

We no longer sleep in on Sunday morning for obvious reasons.  Joseph is always ready for some entertainment much earlier than we would like, but it has the added benefit of leaving us with lots of time together before church.  This time we went up the hill behind our apartment and watched the Basel flight club launch and fly gliders.
We didn’t have time for a ride, though . . .

In the picture below you can see our apartment and the pool I swim in.  They almost fly over our place!  (More)

Posted by harp on Monday, August 23, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Edit
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And some days I think that I can’t make it.  Everyone talks about labor being hard, but somehow life after gets lost in the fuss.  Thanks to all my wonderful supporters!  I couldn’t be the mommy I am without you all!

But I started this post saying some days are wonderful – and they really are!  Today was one such day so far.  It’s the little things that make life so exciting.  My daily run is starting to have a very positive effect on my energy level and emotional stability.  It’s starting to be my favorite time of day not just because I can work up some energy, but also because it means swimming time!!!  Joseph has picked up on the pattern.  He smiled big smiles when I put him in the trailer this morning and he smiled big smiles as I undressed him for bath time.  He knows what’s coming!  Grossmutti arrived just in time to see Joseph swim and she got to see how excited he was to go in the water, too.  (And Joseph doesn’t yet have stage fright.)  She also saw how Joseph is learning awareness of his bodily functions.  I always give him a chance to go on the “big potty” i.e. the toilet (I hold him over it – he’s not sitting yet . . .) and he had a little pooh and started to fuss.  I thought that meant he was done so I took him away and he screamed bloody murder.  Ask Grossmutter.  He was one mad little boy.  I put him back on and sure enough he had to pee and afterwards was perfectly content to come off the potty.  Now, if Mommy can only learn the difference between “I’m fussing because I have to go” And “I’m fussing because I’m DONE WITH THIS STUPID POTTY!”
Posted by harp on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Edit
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