A Visit from Oma and Aunt Ellen

My grandma and Aunt Ellen visited us in Germany! My great-grandmother immigrated to the US from Germany, leaving behind nine siblings, so my grandma has first cousins and many other relatives living here. She has visited Germany several times and thought she had already come for the last time, but once we moved here, she decided to come for one more visit. I’m so glad she made the trip and that Aunt Ellen came with her! It was Ellen’s first trip to Germany.

Friday & Saturday
Charlie picked them up from the airport on Friday, and Connor was Mr. Shy for a few minutes once they arrived. He soon warmed up and was ready to show them all of his toys! We relaxed for a while, then took them to a nearby mall to show them what the German stores are like.
Our landlord came to visit on Saturday morning while our heat was getting fixed, and she was thrilled to meet Grandma and Ellen and speak to my grandma in German! Mid-morning, we hopped in the car and drove about 40 minutes to Burg Lichtenberg. Charlie had performed a woodwind quintet concert in this castle a few weeks earlier, so I was glad to finally see it since I couldn’t go to the concert. We started with a fantastic lunch at the castle’s restaurant, then walked through the musical instrument museum. Finally, we walked through the castle ruins. I naively assumed we would be touring the inside of the castle, but I quickly realized there WASN’T an inside! It was just ruins, which we were able to explore at our own pace. Connor certainly enjoyed running outside and climbing rocks much more than he would have enjoyed an indoor tour! On the way home from the castle, we stopped at the BX so that Grandma and Aunt Ellen could see it.

Beautiful fall leaves at the castle
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Sunday
We drove about 3 hours to Hirrlingen, the village where my grandma’s mother grew up. Charlie and I have visited there twice already, but it was SO special to be there with Grandma and Aunt Ellen! We had a wonderful day with our German relatives: a nice lunch, visiting the town’s church to see the “seed carpet” that is displayed annually, visiting the Atomkeller Museum in Haigerloch, then coffee at a cafe at the Schloss Haigerloch. The day ended with a long dinner at a restaurant with around 30 German relatives who came to see us! We stayed overnight at Andrea’s (the daughter of one of my grandma’s first cousins), where Connor discovered the endless joy of a simple ping-pong ball on a hard floor.

This is the Erntedankbild at the church in Hirrlingen. It’s made entirely of seeds and grains, and it’s a way to give thanks for the harvest.
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Connor walking at the Schloss with Annette (the daughter of one of my grandma’s first cousins)
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Monday
After coffee at Andrea’s, we drove to Elisabeth and Matthias’ house (Grandma’s first cousins) for a leisurely breakfast. We took a short trip to the cemetery in the village and saw the graves of many relatives. Elisabeth had lunch ready for us after that, but Charlie, Connor, and I really needed to hit the road home. Elisabeth graciously packed up the food for us and we enjoyed it as a delicious dinner at home. Grandma and Aunt Ellen stayed in Hirrlingen for the following week and enjoyed lots of adventures with their German family! Annette brought them back to our house the following week.

The next Monday
Annette and her husband Gerd brought Grandma and Aunt Ellen to our house late on Monday night. After three trips to Hirrlingen throughout the last year, it was great to finally have Annette and Gerd in our home!

Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday
Charlie had the car for work, so Grandma, Aunt Ellen, Connor, and I stayed at home during the day. On Tuesday we went for a walk around our town, and once Charlie got home we drove back to where he works. He and I had to attend a meeting, but it was a good excuse to show Grandma and Aunt Ellen where he works. I planned for us to have dinner at the FlammkuchenhĆ¼tte on the way home, but it turns out that it’s closed on Tuesdays. Oops. Charlie dropped off Connor and me at home so I could let him eat and get him to bed, and meanwhile they went to an Italian restaurant in our town and brought home calzones for everyone. Wednesday was another relaxing day at home as we enjoyed our last day together.

I loved seeing Connor bond with his Oma and Great Aunt. Connor only says two words besides “mama” and “dada,” and one of them is “Ohhhh-mahhhh!” We tried to teach him to say it before she arrived, but he mastered it during her visit :). He says “Ne-Ne” for Aunt Ellen. They have been gone several days already, but Connor still randomly says “Ohhhh-mahhhh,” which of course is always followed by “Ne-Ne!”

It was a tearful goodbye as they left the house. It was so sad to know that we won’t see each other until we move back to the states in the summer of 2015. We had such a wonderful visit together, and I will never forget the special memories that we created!

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October 2013: 18 months already??

You are the sunshine on our chilly, dreary Fall days! You are constantly finding new ways to amaze and entertain us, and we are so blessed to be your Mama and Daddy. Your clever and curious personality shines through more and more as each day passes. You have been extra clingy lately and often only want mama, but last night when I tried to wash your hands with you, you cried for daddy!

Signs
It’s so much fun to continue learning new signs with you. It seems like at least once a day we come across a word that we want to add to our signing vocabulary. You are able to learn a new sign and start using it immediately, which amazes me! You can identify a few colors by using signs, particularly orange for some reason. New signs this month: Mama, Daddy, chair/sit, fan, paper, lid, sand, balloon, slide, pumpkin, helicopter, boat, penguin, crocodile, dinosaur, pants, shirt, warm, wet, cookie, popcorn, cup, plate, excuse me, where is…?

Talking
No “official” words yet! You’re starting to say, “nahhh” for “no,” which is pretty cute. It’s usually in response to a question like, “Connor, do we stand on chairs?”

Favorite toys
Yep, still kitchen stuff :). You also like to ride on your horse and dump truck. And when we leave it within reach…you love the fly swatter! You whack it on the ground and laugh like crazy!

A pot AND the dump truck? It doesn’t get much better than this!
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Favorite books
She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain, The Cat Came Back, Zoo Poo, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Sometimes you just want to go straight to your favorite pages instead of hearing the whole story!

Favorite activities
-“Where is it?” is definitely one of your favorite games. You like to cover something up and put your arms up as if to ask, “Where did it go?” In our bedroom you back up between the wardrobe and dresser, “hiding” until one of us asks, “Where’s Connor?” I love the grin on your face when you run out! Sometimes you hide things that aren’t toys, but luckily (for now) you WANT to show us where you hid it, and you always remember where. Hopefully that will still be the case when you manage to get your hands on the car keys or daddy’s wallet!
-You love standing on a stool…in the kitchen to play with bowls or “help” with the dishes, or in the bathroom to brush your teeth or wash your hands. When I get you out of your highchair after a meal, you immediately ask, “Doo? Doo?” (your sound for “stool”) because you want to stand on the stool to wash your hands!
-Once you point to something for us to name, you want to hear the name/see the sign over and over!

Playing on our porch…another favorite activity!
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Other fun things
-You can (sort of!) kick and throw a ball!
-Anytime we start a question with “How many…?” you enthusiastically answer, “Doooo!” It sounds like you are saying “two.” If we ask the right questions, you look like a budding mathematical genius! Must be the genes from your Uncle Jason and Uncle Charlie šŸ™‚

Mama’s little helper
Entertaining the produce while Mama cleans the refrigerator
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Oh, you took everything off this shelf to clean it? I thought it was a good place for my carrots…
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Helping with the salad
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Sweeping up the dry pasta that I scattered everywhere!
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Special visitors
My grandma and Aunt Ellen came to visit us! (Even though she is your great-grandma, we call her “Oma,” the German word for “grandmother.”) You can read more about Oma’s German heritage in this blog post. I will write a separate post about their visit because they are coming back next week to spend a few more days with us!

Dog-sitting
Our new friend asked us to take care of her dog while she was out of town for the weekend. You had already met Bella and warmed up to her, so I said yes! You really liked Bella and had fun with her. You were fascinated with watching her eat or drink, and even when she went into her bed you wanted to be near her! For several days after Bella left, you would still “bark” from the top of the stairs…hoping Bella was waiting downstairs to play. Daddy can’t wait to get a dog of our own someday.

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Adventures in potty-land
We are not actively trying to get you to use the toilet, but we are just trying to give you signs and words to communicate your bathroom needs as well as give you the opportunity to try the toilet. So far, you haven’t done anything in the toilet, which is fine with us, especially since you don’t mind your diapers. When I ask if you want to sit on the toilet, you seem much more interested in sitting on the big toilet instead of the little ones we bought for you. You had one moment this month that really shocked us! We had just come home after your gym class and you were touching your nose. Daddy asked me what you were signing, and it looked like “pee.” I wasn’t sure if that’s what you meant, so I asked if you wanted to pee on the toilet, and you started signing “toilet.” We went into the bathroom and as I took off your pants I could feel that you were wetting your diaper right then! We couldn’t believe you told us that you needed to pee! Nothing like that has happened since then, but we know it will when you are ready.

New teeth
You chew on things like crazy, and that combined with some of your mysterious clinginess this month keeps me wondering if you are teething, but there’s no visible sign.

Eating habits
You have been a vegetable monster this month! You inhale broccoli, peas, mushrooms, and green beans…and you even chowed down on sautĆ©ed fresh spinach in a coconut-cilantro-garlic sauce. Raisins, sweet potato, avocado, eggs, and corn are some of your favorites. You got to try some fresh spƤtzle while we were visiting family in Hirrlingen last weekend, and you showed your enjoyment with excited choruses of “noo noo!” You also loved the fresh German bread.

Sleeping habits
Bedtime is around 7:30, and you take your nap around 11:30ish. Unfortunately, you are still waking up too early (between 5:00-6:00). I wouldn’t mind except that it’s obvious by your fussiness/clinginess later in the morning that it wasn’t quite a full night’s sleep for you. You start the night in your crib, but so far the longest you have continuously slept in there is about an hour and a half. It’s a work in progress!