We should have internet on Wednesday!!

We should have Internet on Wednesday!!!!!! SO excited to finally Skype…who’s first?? Call me maybe? (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

We went to a mall near our town last Tuesday just to poke around and explore a little bit. The main store inside was called Real, and it’s basically like a SuperTarget – housewares, clothes, electronics, grocery, etc. The grocery area was really big, and we loved looking around at all the interesting food products. They had an international section, and we were enjoying looking at foods from Greece, Spain, Turkey, Mexico, Italy, Russia, and the Middle East. Then we saw the American section…and we were so embarrassed at what was there! The shelf had chocolate syrup, marshmallows, pop-tarts, bbq sauce, spray cheese in a can…is that what we are known for??

We had lunch in the food court at a Döner Kebap place. It’s similar to the gyros you can get in the states. You can get gyro meat, chicken, or falafel on bread, a wrap, or a pita. Then, of course, we had to stop at the bakery to get something sweet. Charlie got a marmalade-filled donut, and I got a pudding pretzel.

FMO came to pick up the temporary bed on Wednesday! Hooray for getting that out of our dining room! (I finally found out that FMO stands for furniture management office.) Now we don’t have any excuses for finally getting everything settled!

Connor rolled over from his back to his tummy for the first time on Friday! He didn’t completely get his arm out from under him, though, so before I could grab my phone to take a picture, he had rolled to his back again:

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On a side note…some of you know I was avoiding dairy for a while because we thought Connor had a sensitivity. After no dairy for about two months, I bit the bullet recently and gave it a shot. With no side effects from Connor, I am now happily eating dairy again :).

Saturday brought yet another day of…going to the BX. Ugh. This time we were buying a few things to replace what is in our missing crate – towels, rugs, glassware. Charlie filed a claim this week, so we’ll see what happens. Out of everything that is missing, I am most upset about our glider. I spent a LONG time looking in stores and online and finally deciding which one to buy before Connor was born. And it wasn’t cheap. Of course we will probably get the money from insurance to replace it, but I don’t know if I could get that same glider shipped here. Haha, the ottoman made it in a different crate! Anyway, on the way to the BX we stopped at a store called The House of Clocks. It’s a souvenir shop that also sells the Black Forest cuckoo clocks. Charlie and I have already decided that we want one, but we’re looking around to find just the right one! After the BX we had lunch at Chili’s, then went to the commissary. Connor was his usual good-as-gold self the whole trip :). Eating out with him is getting more interesting, though. He doesn’t sit up by himself yet, so he just sits in my lap. He does, however, reach out to grab anything within reach! He was all tuckered out after a busy afternoon:

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Connor’s 5-month birthday and his birth story

I can’t believe how quickly our little guy is growing up! We have seen so many changes over the past month…
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-Connor has great control of his hands now. He can touch anything he wants, can usually grab things if he wants to, and can get his fingers in his mouth when he wants to (which is all the time)! It cracks us up when he sucks on his fingers or thumb – he can’t get the other fingers out of the way, so they end up splayed across his face.

-He found his feet! He loves to show off his flexibility by grabbing onto his toes, and especially loves to try pulling off his socks.

-Holding his head up high during tummy time is no big deal anymore, and he can just hang out like that for a while! He often rolls from tummy to back. He has sort of rolled onto his tummy once or twice. He actually seemed to be trying, which was new, but he was already on his side, so gravity just seemed to take over.

-Connor sits in his high chair while we eat dinner and he plays with toys on his tray. He is getting better and better at lasting through an entire meal while playing in his chair!

-I think he’s almost ready to sit up, but he just isn’t quite interested in trying. When I hold onto his hands to help him roll up from laying down to sitting, he loves to push all the way to standing! Forget this sitting thing!

-Connor smiles, giggles, and laughs all the time 🙂

-I love to see how he improves at using toys! We borrowed a jumperoo from a friend, and Connor didn’t quite know what to do for a few days. He only lasted a few minutes at a time. Now he has lots of fun playing in it! He also likes to hang out for a while in his swing. He had a few toys in Colorado that he didn’t know how to enjoy yet, and when we unpacked them here, he was excited to play with them!

-Connor still loves to nurse for quite a while as he falls asleep at night or for naps, but he is getting really quick and efficient with his meals during the day. He’s also getting much more easily distracted – heaven forbid Charlie walks into the room and starts talking while Connor is eating!

-Connor drooooools a lot

-He is definitely showing interest and curiosity when we eat or drink. I am in NO hurry for him to grow up, but, I’m excited to make food for him soon!

Connor Joseph Brokovich ~ April 16, 2012
I wrote this shortly after Connor was born, and decided to share it here to celebrate his first five months of life.

Your birth story

I loved every moment of being pregnant with you. Aside from about 2 weeks of back pain, I felt great the entire time you were growing inside. I was thankful that you let me continue with teaching, normal activities, and exercise. Around 36 weeks, people started saying things like, “You must be ready to get that baby out!” Truthfully, I was just fine with you waiting until your due date as long as I kept feeling the way I was feeling! Your due date was May 8, but you clearly had your own plan. I am so grateful that your plan ended with a happy and healthy baby and mama!

On Saturday, April 14 I had a baby shower hosted by Jennifer Quinlan, Vicki Jackson, and Melissa Staudacher. You received lots of wonderful gifts, but I had no idea how soon I would use them! The next day, I went to the commissary to grocery shop like I always do on Sundays. By the time I got home, I wasn’t feeling that great. My left side (more towards my back – not directly on my side) was very uncomfortable. It was a constant dull ache, I was feeling slightly nauseous, and I was definitely not up for eating. The pain continued all day and I ate only a few crackers and a few bites of applesauce. Somehow I managed to finish the laundry (with help from daddy), work on my birth plan, make sure my hospital bag was ready, and create some emergency substitute plans just in case I wasn’t feeling well enough to go to work the next day. That night I slept horribly. I could not get comfortable in any position because of the pain, and meanwhile I was having frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. Well, I thought they were Braxton Hicks! At that point, I honestly didn’t think my discomfort had anything to do with you.

The next morning (Monday, April 16), I woke up around 6:00 when your daddy was getting ready for PT. I was feeling just as awful as the day before, so I went ahead and requested a substitute and emailed my sub plans to my principal. I still didn’t think that the pain had anything at all to do with you. The pain was so isolated in my kidney area that your daddy and I thought it might be a kidney infection or something like that. I wasn’t even considering the idea that I could be in labor! I called the OB clinic, but they didn’t have any openings that day. The nurse on the triage line said to just go to the ER if the pain got any worse. For a few minutes, I was actually feeling better. I took a shower and managed to eat half a banana. Before long I was in a lot of pain again, so I sent your dad a text message saying I think I should go to the hospital. He came right home to get me, and he had the good sense to grab my hospital bag. We went to the ER, but because I was so far along in my pregnancy (36 weeks and 6 days), they just sent us up to Labor and Delivery. I was quickly shown to a triage room where they hooked up an external fetal monitor to make sure you were doing just fine. Your heart rate was good, and although I was having regular contractions, they were not painful and did not indicate that I was in labor. Meanwhile, the nurse said that I had a urinary tract infection, so I was prescribed antibiotics and we were going to go home soon. The nurse noticed that your heart rate was dropping slightly each time I had a contraction – not a huge drop, but enough that he wanted to keep an eye on us a little longer. The midwife came in and did a quick exam to see if I was dilated. I was 2 cm, 90% effaced, and -2 station. I’ll be happy to explain all of that to you if you are curious, but the point is that no one thought I was in labor, or that I would necessarily go into labor anytime soon. Meanwhile, my contractions were definitely feeling more intense than they had before, but I thought that was somehow related to the pain of the UTI. We waited a little longer to get the official “ok” to go home.

Around 12:15pm I suddenly felt a very strange sensation, then I felt a gush of fluid. I said to your dad, “I think my water just broke!” He went into the hall and said to the first nurse he saw, “I think my wife’s water just broke!” The nurse came into the room and said “Are you sure?” One peek under the sheet and she knew it was true. Then she said, “Well I guess you’re staying with us today!” At that moment, your dad and I knew that you were on your way. We couldn’t believe that we would be holding you in our arms later that day. You weren’t due for another 3 weeks! My first fear was that I would not have the energy to go through a natural childbirth like I had planned because I felt so weak – I had only eaten a few crackers and a few bites of banana and applesauce since Sunday morning because of the pain and discomfort of the UTI (or what I THOUGHT was a UTI). The nurse helped me get cleaned up and into a gown, which took several minutes because as soon as my water broke, the contractions were suddenly very intense. I think I even said while we were still in the triage room, “I feel so much pressure!” I thought I felt you coming quickly, but I certainly wasn’t sure since I had never gone through this before. Once I was finally into a gown, your dad and the nurse helped me walk down the hall to a delivery room. It was a short walk, but a difficult one because of the contractions. Once we got into the room I had trouble getting into the bed because I had to keep stopping for the contractions. At one point I just had to hang on to your dad. I finally made it into the bed, and meanwhile I know I kept saying with each contraction, “I feel so much pressure!” and I knew I meant it now. I was no childbirth expert, but I would have bet money that your head was getting ready to come out. One nurse was busy putting in an IV, and another was trying to pick up your heart rate on the external fetal monitor. She was having trouble and kept moving the monitor around – which was belted to my belly – and the discomfort of that was driving me crazy. Your dad was doing a great job helping me try to relax through the contractions, although that was difficult because of their intensity. It felt like my body was starting to take over with each contraction. Each contraction started with a tightness in the top of my belly, but then it moved downwards and it felt like my muscles were working on pushing you out without any conscious effort from me. After saying “I feel so much pressure!” several more times, someone finally paid attention to me, took a look, and there was your head!! Suddenly everyone was moving very quickly and calling for a doctor. I think one nurse was even trying to hold your head in until the doctor came! With one contraction I felt your head come all the way out. With the next, my body pushed the rest of your body right out! At 12:45pm – about 25 minutes after my water broke – there you were! I held you right away, but then your dad stayed with you on the other side of the room while they measured you, gave you a bath, and did the standard tests. You weighed 5 lb 12 oz, and you were 20 in long. Your dad and I were so thrilled to meet you and have you in our arms, but we were still in shock that you were here! When we woke up that morning, we never would have guessed that our day would turn out like that. You were so perfect (and you still are!) and we immediately felt so blessed to have you in our lives. All the doctors and nurses were surprised at how quickly you came. I guess you had made up your mind that it was time, and no one could stop you!

(About 7 weeks later, when I went to my check-up, the midwife looked up my bloodwork and noticed that I never actually had a urinary tract infection after all! The initial test showed bacteria, which is why the nurse told me I had a UTI and prescribed antibiotics, but after a few days nothing had “grown” in the culture, so it turns out there was no UTI. The pain I had been having all day before you were born must have been early labor! I’m just so glad we were at the hospital when my water broke, otherwise you might have been born in the car! Or in the middle of first grade music class!)

Since you didn’t give me a long labor, I was able to recover pretty quickly. We had to spend a little extra time in the hospital, though, for your blood test. I was supposed to receive antibiotics through an IV at least 4 hours before your birth, but everything happened so quickly that there definitely wasn’t time for that! So just to be safe, they had to run some extra bloodwork on you. Everything came back just fine! We stayed at the hospital Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, then came home at lunchtime on Thursday, April 19.

You were quite the popular little man! We had lots of visitors after you were born. Right after we got home from the hospital, my college friends Tammy, Elizabeth, and Colleen came to visit for a few days. They had planned the trip as one last girls weekend before I gave birth and before we moved to Germany, but you had a better idea, and they were so excited to have the chance to meet you and hold you! We took you to Garden of the Gods while they were here. Next, your Aunt Michelle came to visit. She held you and cuddled with you as much as your dad and I would let her! I got to catch up on some sleep while she was busy holding you. Grandma Penny was our next visitor, and she got to be your first “babysitter.” Daddy and I had to drop off passport applications (getting ready for our move to Germany) and you were already fast asleep in Grandma’s arms, so we made a quick decision to leave you with her since we wouldn’t be gone long. I cried a lot in the car, but when we got home, you were still asleep! After Grandma Penny left, Gram and Grandpa Mraz came to visit! Next came Grandma and Granddad Brokovich and Uncle Jeff. A few weeks later, Uncle Jeff came back with your cousins Katie and Kari.

After all of our visitors were gone, it was time to get ready for your first big adventure: moving to Germany!

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The last few days

Today was busy! We went to the FRG (family readiness group) meeting, which was on Ramstein. I sat with the ladies at the meeting while the dads played with the kiddos :). I kept seeing Charlie and Connor walk past – both of them looking happy and content – and next thing I know, Connor was out cold. Nothing like a nap with daddy! We stopped by the BX before the meeting because we had a few items to return. We also needed to pick up a few more things (big surprise), but didn’t have enough time to do that before the meeting.

After the meeting we went to the bazaar, which was held on the flight line at Ramstein. I think this one is held once a year, and apparently it’s one of the bigger ones in the area. It took up two hangars plus a tent. There were tons of local vendors selling everything from furniture, cuckoo clocks, and grandfather clocks to paintings, wine, toys, Polish pottery, and Christmas items. It was fun to walk through and look at everything! Connor spent most of the time sleeping in the front carrier with me, but he woke up towards the end and got to look around. We ran into our friends Demetra and Paul, and decided to meet up with them later for dinner.

Once we finished looking around at the bazaar, we went back to the BX to pick up the things we ran out of time to get earlier. Then we met Demetra and Paul at Macaroni Grill (it’s in the mall with the BX). Finally made it home after 7:00pm. Great day, but we were tired! Connor was a rock star. You can ask Charlie…every time we get home, I rave about how good Connor was. I’m not surprised, but, I’m just so appreciative of his amazing behavior! I mean, I know grown-ups who can’t handle long days out as well as Connor can! And sometimes I’m one of them 🙂

Random events from the past couple of days…

The weather has finally cooled off! Charlie started a fire the past two evenings, and that warms up the living area pretty well. We’ve never had a real wood-burning fireplace before now! And I’ve never wanted to make s’mores so badly :).

I made homemade granola bars the other day, and I think they turned out great! Charlie even said, “not bad,” which is a pretty big compliment coming from him. I got the recipe from Pinterest – I finally caved and tried out the site. I have a lot of recipes pinned…next step, make at least one each week!

I was making breakfast the other morning with an open box of grape nuts in one hand and Connor in the other arm. I’m sure you can finish the story! Let’s just say that I’m grateful Charlie had already charged our new dust buster.

It was a slow week…as you could probably guess from my recent postings. I’m definitely not complaining, though! I am enjoying every moment at home with Connor, and I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with him. However, I was thrilled to get out of the house for a playdate on Friday! Charlie didn’t have to go to work, so he dropped us off at Staci’s house. She has two girls, Jes was there with her two boys, and I met a new friend Julie who has a girl and a boy. It was lots of fun to spend time with friends, and see all the fun Connor will have when he gets a little bigger!

Connor was having a BLAST in his jumperoo on Friday afternoon! Up until now, he has just been hanging out in it and playing with the toys closest to him. Today he was jumping up and down and having so much fun! We’ll have to try to catch him on camera. I also want to catch his laugh on camera. Yesterday he had a fit of giggles when I sneezed loudly, and the rest of the day he started laughing even if I fake-sneezed. Nothing like an almost-5-month-old to make you feel like the most hilarious person :).

One of Connor’s first times in the jumperoo…still trying to figure out what to do!20120915-214323.jpg

Catnap in the bouncer…

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A slow start to the week, but no complaints!

I often jot things down on a blog draft when I have the opportunity, then go back another time to finish up before posting. When I went back and read that I started this post with baby messes, it made me realize that it has been a slow couple of days…

A messy morning…
Connor woke up Sunday morning with a wet leaky diaper, promptly gave me my first ever bloody nose, had three dirty diapers within the next hour, a fourth dirty diaper not too much later, and of course there must have been some spit-up in there, too. Phew! The bloody nose stopped within a couple minutes. Connor has recently decided that his new favorite skill is reaching out to touch or grab anything within his reach. He was touching my face and nose as we were saying good morning, and next thing I know his thumb was in my nose, and he pulled it out so fast that I think he scratched me. It hurt, and I could feel the blood starting to roll down the inside of my nose, so I was able to grab the diaper cloth in time. Goodness knows we didn’t want to wash the sheets again…we did that yesterday after another one of Connor’s leaky diapers. (He’s usually on a waterproof pad…but yesterday he wasn’t at that moment. Whoops.)

We spent the rest of the morning taking the rest of the boxes and packing paper to the garage (they are ALL unpacked!) and trying to get more of our things in place. We moved the temporary bed out of the way so that we could lay down the living room rug and put the couch and chair in place. Charlie setup the big TV on a make-shift stand (we have the glass shelves for our stand, but the frame is in the missing crate), and I must say…non-HD TV looks terrible on his giant TV. We discovered a few more things that are missing. I don’t think I mentioned that our guest room dresser is in the missing crate, and in the drawers the movers must have packed some of our towels and all of our bathroom rugs. Luckily we have enough towels that did make it, and there were already bathroom rugs here, but I definitely would like to have our own rugs. Our crock pot isn’t here, but we can’t remember if we left it in storage, or of it’s in the missing crate. It might be in the bottom of the box with our glassware. We use the crock pot a lot, so I can’t imagine that we would have left it in storage. We brought a few of our Christmas dishes and those are missing, too.

Monday felt like the first regular stay-at-home mom day that I have had since…maybe early July? Charlie was at work all day, the school-year has started but I’m not teaching anymore, we are (mostly) settled in our house, and it was just my little man and me! We had a nice morning together. I gave him a massage, which I haven’t done for quite a while. I took an infant massage class back in Colorado, and it’s really a special time for me to focus on Connor with no distractions. It was so nice to get back into it, and I hope to make that part of our routine. We came downstairs and had breakfast together, played, then he relaxed in his swing while I exercised a little bit. (I’m about 3 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight!) Connor was ready for his morning nap after that, so we relaxed together for a while.

Wednesday morning Charlie started the process to see if our crate can be tracked down, and he dropped off the dishes and kitchen items we had borrowed from Army Community Service. Someone from the internet company came by this morning to check the connection. Apparently the problem is not our house, so now the company has to get permission from town hall to go down one of the manhole covers to check the line. Or something like that :). He told us that should be taken care of within a day or two, then he can set an appointment to come and hook us up!

Connor loves Sophie the Giraffe 🙂

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Getting settled and Charlie’s promotion

We have been busy trying to get everything unpacked and put away. Actually, it has been going pretty smoothly. We were able to unpack lots of boxes while the movers were still here so that they could take away the trash, and we have space to keep the rest of the boxes/packing paper out of the way until they come back to pick them up. It amazes me how I can unpack a box of dishes, then when I try to stuff all the packing paper back into the empty box, it hardly fits!

Two challenges I hadn’t anticipated: no closets and no pantry. The military provides two wardrobes per person, plus there was already one in our house, so thankfully we were able to find a place for all of our hanging clothes. There are shelves underneath our kitchen counter, and that space is serving as our pantry. It’s a tall space, so I wanted to get some sort of shelf to put across and double the space, but we haven’t found anything that will work quite right yet. We’re gradually getting there with the unpacking and settling in, but the next thing I’m anxious about is getting rid of the rest of the boxes/packing paper, temporary bed, and borrowed dishes/kitchen items – then it will really feel like we have lots of space.

Charlie’s promotion ceremony was yesterday morning (Friday). We drove down to the band hall in Heidelberg (the band and chorus are still getting things packed up and moved to Sembach). Connor was so good and didn’t do anything embarrassing while all the soldiers were at attention :). He did promptly spit up, though, when it was time for everyone to come shake our hands. Guess he didn’t want anyone coming too close! It was really great to meet so many of the people that Charlie will be working with. I was really impressed with the commander. As he was promoting Charlie, not only did he know Connor’s and my name with no hesitation, but he rattled off where Charlie earned both of his degrees and where he has been stationed. I know it’s not difficult information to find, but it really makes a difference when you take the time to find out those details.

After leaving Heidelberg, we stopped at Ikea in Mannheim on the way home. We needed to return some of the sheets we bought. After all the drama of trying to pick out sheets last time we were there, I opened up what I thought was a fitted sheet and a flat sheet and found two fitted sheets instead. We had bought two sets of everything, so all we had were four fitted sheets and pillowcases! The pillowcases were strange, so we decided to return those, too, since we would be back at the store anyway. We decided we could just get queen size flat sheets from the BX and they would be close enough to the correct size, instead of trying to find another store here to buy the European size to match our mattress. Well, the BX only sold sheet sets, so that was a bust. I hunted online and ordered flat sheets and pillowcases from Target. In the meantime, we had a flat sheet that a friend had loaned us, and since our household goods arrived we have been using the flat sheet from our guest bed sheets. While we were at Ikea, we also wanted to look for some kind of shelf for the kitchen, but didn’t find anything that would work. We did find a rack for our pot lids, though – love when you find something cheap that you didn’t think about needing, and it turns out to be really useful! So this trip to Ikea turned out much cheaper and quicker than the first trip :). All we spent was €4.99 on the lid rack…plus lunch…

Lunch at Ikea brought my second German food faux pas. (My grandma, who is German, confirmed that the saumagen I ate last week was in fact meat packed in a pig stomach casing, but the casing is generally removed before serving.) We went through the cafeteria-style line and got our main dishes (served by someone behind the counter). Then there are a few areas where you can serve yourself – salad, dessert, etc. I saw something that looked like crepes and decided to try one. They were folded in thirds and pretty flat, so I wasn’t sure if they were filled or not. I was imagining either a slightly sweet plain crepe, or a chocolate-filled crepe. I put a crepe on a plate, then went to the other side to put a white dessert sauce on the side of it. We went through the line to pay, and the cashier looked at our plates and started spouting off in German while pointing to our food. I thought she might be saying something about charging us extra because I added sauce my crepe. I asked, “Sprechen sie English?” and she pointed to my crepe and said, “That’s not sweet. It’s filled with spinach and cheese. Thought you might want to know in case you notice it tastes funny with the sauce.” We laughed, thanked her, and paid, and I’m sure my face was red. I wonder how many people wondered why I was putting a dessert sauce on my spinach crepe? At least I didn’t pour it on top…so I was able to just cut off the side that was touching the sauce and eat the crepe. It was good :). And the ironic part was that the dessert sauce wasn’t even that good. I tried a little on its own and it tasted like vanilla pudding. So I’m not sure what was funnier…the fact that I mistakenly put dessert sauce on a spinach crepe, or the fact that Charlie knowingly ate the crepe with the sauce and liked it :).

Saturday morning we went to the Sembach commissary. We needed to go anyway, plus they were advertising a case-lot sale, which commissaries typically have twice a year (at least that’s how it was in Colorado). We ended up buying a case of canned black beans and canned tuna, two huge containers of laundry detergent, paper towels, and two big boxes of diapers…then did our regular grocery shopping. It was a full car, but we made it! We have space in the cabinet in the storage room to store everything. (The living room had about six wood cabinet units that came with the house. We moved the one for a TV into the storage room since we already have a TV stand with shelves.) We all took naps after we got home (and Connor is still snuggled up with me finishing his nap, which is why I have time to blog…), and now Charlie is mowing in the back. Sadly, I think we’re headed back to the BX on Ramstein for a few more things this afternoon…

It is amazing to see how much Connor has developed since we left Colorado! We unpacked a few toys that he couldn’t really do anything with before we moved, and now he grabs them and puts them right into his mouth. That’s what all toys are for, right? Now that we have a high chair, we put him in there when we eat our meals. He has toys on his tray, and sometimes a baby spoon to practice with :). He doesn’t always last the entire meal in his seat before he fusses to get out and sit with one of us, but it’s a start! And speaking of growing up, Connor received his first birthday party invitation! Our friends Jes and Derek are having a birthday party for their two little guys, who will turn one and two this month.

And now for a random comment to wrap this up: A neighbor across the street was weeding his brick driveway with a FLAME today! I kid you not. It looked like a weed whacker, but the end of it was like a big blow torch! It was so awesome, and I wish I could have had one of those in Colorado…

Our household goods have arrived!

We were initially told that our household goods wouldn’t arrive in Germany until September 17. What a great surprise yesterday – Charlie got an email yesterday morning that they could be delivered TODAY! Thankfully he got the email in time to call back and confirm (if you don’t call within three hours of the email, you give up that delivery date offer).

The guys arrived around 9:00am today. Connor was just starting to fall asleep for his morning nap when all the excitement started and he didn’t want to miss anything! Thankfully he settled down for a snooze after I put him in the front carrier. I marked off inventory numbers as boxes were brought in, and Charlie started unpacking boxes. We wanted to be able to send away as much trash as possible with the movers so that we would have space to unpack and find a place for everything.

Soooo now it’s a few hours later, and as the movers opened the last crate, they discovered that it wasn’t our stuff in there. We looked at the inventory sheet and marked down all the boxes and items that are missing. Some of the missing items are: two of our dining room chairs, our glider/ottoman (the nice Dutailier glider that glides AND reclines…my big splurge for the nursery), the TV stand, a recliner, some bed pieces/parts, glassware, and some other items that we marked as high value, like a crystal candy dish from Charlie’s aunt. Charlie is really upset about the missing crate, but I’m staying optimistic (for now) that it was just a simple mix-up and our crate is sitting in the warehouse here in Germany. Another possibility is that it’s still in the warehouse in the states…and if that’s the case, who knows how long it will take to get here (it took 8 weeks for the stuff we got today to arrive). And to top it all off, one of Connor’s dressers has a big gouge on the side.

I haven’t gone upstairs since the movers left, but the good news is that it’s not too much of a disaster downstairs. There’s enough room to move around while we try to unpack things. My first project is the kitchen…Charlie started putting things in cabinets, but he knows I’ll want to arrange everything :). The kitchen is tiny, so we’ll see if we can find space for everything! The sad thing is that we left a lot of kitchen items in storage…and there is still a ton of kitchen stuff here!

Our Internet is supposed to be hooked up later today! Let’s hope that goes according to plan. We are anxious to Skype :).

Trails, a castle, wine, and…pig stomach?

Sunday we took a walk through a nearby trail. It was a perfect morning – sunny and cool. Connor enjoyed his nap in the stroller. The trail went through a forest, and we even passed a group of people having a church service out there. What a beautiful place for worship. It wasn’t a very long trail, so once we got home we walked around our neighborhood for a while. Then it was nap time for all three of us! Here are Charlie and Connor at the start of our walk:

On Monday we had a small local adventure. We drove to the town of Bad Dürkheim, a little more than 20 km east of Hochspeyer, to see the Burgruine Hardenburg. It was a 13th century castle that burned in 1794. Turns out it’s not open on Mondays (whoops…) but we were still able to walk around the outside of it.
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After walking through town to get back to our car, we set out to find a winery along the Weinstrasse. I’m not sure how long the wine road actually is, but it goes through many towns. You can drive along any part of it and stop at wineries for tastings. The drive was beautiful – I have never seen so many grapevines! We stopped at a winery in Wachenheim and tasted a few Rieslings. The one we liked the best was a Rieslaner (I have no idea how that’s different from a Riesling…) and we bought two bottles. We drove a few towns over to the town of Deidesheim and saw lots of signs for wineries, but the one we were able to pull into and park was also a restaurant, so we decided to just get a table and have lunch. Charlie had jaegerschnitzel, and I somewhat randomly chose a dish called saumagen. I figured I would like anything! I knew that it came with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, but I didn’t know what the main part was. It looked like two ground pork patties on top of the potatoes and sauerkraut. It was really good. I looked it up when we got home, and according to Wikipedia, saumagen is…”A pork’s stomach that serves as casing for a filling of pork, sausage meat and potatoes. The dish is usually served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.” Hmm. So maybe I ate pig stomach. The meat didn’t seem to be in any casing, though…oh well, whatever it was, it was tasty :).

Connor was so good on our outing! He pretty much always is, but I’m always so proud of my little guy when we get home. He was perfectly content in the stroller as we walked to and from the castle, he was happy to be carried around for a little while at the castle and the winery, took a little nap in the car, and played at the restaurant. Luckily we had a huge booth, so there was room for him to lay down and wiggle a little bit. We all had big naps when we got home!

Things I love about Hochspeyer:
– We hear the sounds of church bells and trains throughout the day.
– We don’t need a clock because we can tell the time from the church bells!
– We can see stars at night through the giant window above our bed.

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