Thursday, November 29, 2012

River Sites

Blustery unusually warm Fall days are behind us now and the frost on the grass in the morning is making regular appearances as we slide gently into a new season of cuddly sweaters and hot cocoa filled mugs.  I'm counting the days until we get on a plane to Florida to visit family and friends to dip our toes in the cool gulf waters while watching for mermaids.  Until then, I'll be satisfied with our trips to the river to get my fill of negative ions and spectacular views.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today is the day before my very favorite of favoritest holidays: Thanksgiving.  I LOVE Thanksgiving for soo many reasons that are not at all original, but this year is a little different.  A short list of things I am unusually grateful for this year:

1. Readily available pumpkins/squash in assorted varieties.
2. Pie and all the easy to find stuff that goes into making them--like pans!
3. Fairly inexpensive pecans.
4. Turkeys--even though I don't even eat them.
5. Being able to eat with our family in the room, and not just on Skype.

Last year, we had to search high and low for pumpkins all over Berlin.  We found only one type, that had been imported from Japan.  Same for the Turkey.  Andy finally found one, but it was tiny compared to our huge 20 pound ones here in the USA.  Soo not the same.

Last year, Andy actually made a pecan pie in a 12" pizza pan.  It was scrumptious, but never thought we'd get to the end of that huge thing.

Finally, last year was great because we did actually get to take the whole entire day off to spend it with just our family, but it just isn't the same when everyone isn't in on all the celebrating.  We certainly did our share of German celebrating too over the course of the year, but nothing measured up to my high holiday expectations for Thanksgiving.

This year we will be celebrating here in our new-old hometown surrounded by family and friends.  I'm starting the day off by running a 5K with my awesome-sauce sister-in-law.  She just ran her first marathon last month, so I'm really hoping I can keep up with her for the 3.1 miles.  We'll see.  After the race, we'll drop Andy off at his Turkey Bowl football game with a group of his high school friends.  Here's hoping neither of us gets injured, as the rest of our day will be spent hanging out with family at Andy's parents house.  I've already made the pumpkin cheesecake we're bringing.  YUM!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  Wherever you might be, I'm sure you can find something to be thankful for too.

P.S. I'm totally obsessing over the Pinterest right now, and it is all Corinne's fault!  In case you want to follow me over there:

P.P.S. Baby Mayzie feeding a gnome.

You're welcome.  

P.P.S. My friend recently informed me that I sometimes remind her of this girl and I've been too busy laughing to be offended.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dating a 4 year old

Sometimes we like to take the girls to do special one-on-one dates.  I am always on the look-out for things that they will like to do and that would be fun for us to do together.  When the local roller derby team announced that there was to be a toy-drive at a skating rink, I knew Annika would LOVE it.  I do try to take her to do physically active things, since she is such an energetic child.  I tried to capture the time in pictures, but most of them came out blurry.  For posterity was our date.  

Before we went to the skating rink, I took Annika to pick out a toy to donate.  She picked out a toy helicopter with a doggy pilot that I'm sure some kid is going to LOVE getting.  We placed our toys in the bins as we arrived and headed over to get our rental skates.  She was already jumping for joy when she saw the rink and all the games to play.  

This is Annika the first time she stood up in roller skates.     

It didn't take long for her to fall down, but being the feisty thing that she is, she persevered all the way around the rink twice before she gave up and asked me to get her a skate walker.  

Once she got the walker, she really started to catch on, and was happy to watch me skate backward and do circles with her.  By the end of our time there, she could actually go around the rink all by herself.  

Naturally, we had to take a slushy break in the middle of all the action.  

We had a great time and a whole bunch of toys were collected for kids in need.  

P.S. I've been contemplating doing roller derby for a while now.  If I get the skates, I think I could at least practice with them to see if I like it.  I know I would be Annika's HERO, and for that alone the bruises would be worth it.  What do you think?  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Toe BooBoo

Annika is the super rambunctious child who likes to climb everything and is completely unafraid.  Naturally her more cautious sister, who happily ask for help if she needs it instead of screaming for help 2 seconds before she is going to fall to her death (true story), is the more accident-prone of the two.  

One night this past week when Andy was working late and I was cooking dinner, Mayzie found my 3 pound weights and dropped one of them directly on her foot and 4th toe.  The toe was definitely broken, as it was crooked and already purple by the time I got to the scene (less than 10 ft away from where I was cooking of course), but I was really concerned about her foot.  I called my Dad (a former EMT) to ask what to do.  

Here is Mayzie doing our RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) with a bowl of ice cream to make it all better.  

Once the ibuprofen kicked in and a special "Bo on the Go" was on, she acted like nothing had ever happened and all was right with the world.

She didn't even eat the ice cream!  She was walking on it with only a minor limp by the time she went to bed, so per the advice of my Dad, we put a shoe on so that she wouldn't bump it in the night and wake up wailing and hurt.  

We have been soooo outrageously lucky to have had children for more than 4 years, and this was our first broken bone.  (Don't worry, I'm not superstitious.  I am not at all concerned that typing this and publishing this on the internet will bring us bad fortune now.)  The toe is still a little bruised and swollen, but it isn't giving her any trouble at all now.  She'll be fine.    Who ever thought Mayzie would be the accident prone one?  

One last tidbit: the entire time I was on the phone trying to figure out what to do and the actual severity of the problem, Annika was standing in front of me holding the 3 lb weights and trying to get my attention by dropping them on her feet and saying, "Owwwaahh Mama!  I'm hurt now too."  It might have actually concerned me if she didn't keep doing it over and over and over without ever actually injuring herself and laughing about it.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kite Flying

On gorgeous blustery autumn days, kites beg to reach for the clouds and flutter in the gusts of wind with their brave little wings attached to tiny strings held by strong hands.  How could we say no on such a beautiful day as this?  Here is Annika flying her first kite.  

Mayzie also flew a kite for a bit, but I wasn't as sure she could hold it while I snapped a picture.

It sure was a marvelous day with my beautiful girls.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Child Care

Searching for child care has to be one of my least favorite things in the world to do.  It is all a hazy mess of feeling your way in the dark around a bunch of very non-transparent options of places that you'll then hand over your precious child to and pay large sums of money, all in the hopes of getting stuff done all by yourself.  You know, stuff like work and dentist appointments. Hmm, that reminds me, when WAS the last time I made it to the dentist?

In Germany, IKEA had this amazing place where you could drop off your potty-trained kids for 2 hours for free. It was so very nice! I have no idea if IKEA does that here, mostly because I have never lived less than a 2.5 hour drive to an IKEA in the USA.  This got me thinking, where are some other places that I could use some child care like this.  I submit a short list for your consideration.

-the Dentist office
-the OB/Gyn office
-the grocery store
-the mall
-the hairstylist
-Etc etc ad nauseum

I am not meaning to suggest that these things are impossible with children along, rather that they would be MUCH easier with a little more help.  Sometimes the complete lack of understanding that you get at these places because of being the primary care-giver of small children is a little ridiculous.  If you even knew the level of coordination it takes a primary care-giver to get to these places alone and on time, you would cut them a little more slack.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Off on the Wrong Foot

My mother-in-law is so extremely happy to have us here in her hometown, and she is trying as much as she can to make this new-old town appealing to us.  She sends me links to all kinds of things around town that we just have to check out, highlights all the greatest things about the area, and is pretty much our one woman Welcome Wagon.  I know that it is really all in the hopes that we don’t move her two adorable grand-daughters away again, but it is honestly one of the sweetest things no matter what the reason. 

These are the kinds of things she has working against her efforts:

Our first Pediatrician visit was pretty much awful.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I want to say that I was over the moon with our pediatrician’s office in Cleveland.  The entire practice is AMAZING and I MISS THEM soo much.  Even our German Pediatrician, who was very good and very nice didn't really measure up in my eyes.  I digress. 

In order for Annika to start at her new school, we had to have a doctor’s note saying she’s healthy.  Andy made the appointment and sent me with what he thought was the proper paperwork (an informal shot record).  I don’t have the German records yet, so the first thing I explained to the receptionist after stating my kids’ names was the whole situation with moving back from Germany, paperwork, jet-lag, blah blah blah, “Yes yes, you can play with the toys here in the waiting room, but please don’t whack your sister.” <deep sigh.> 

Receptionist (haughty & unhelpful):  Maam, I told your husband that the doctor can’t see you if we don’t have a complete shot record. 

Me: Well, I can call our pediatrician in Cleveland and have them fax the records that they have, but I won’t be able to get the German ones today. 

Receptionist (rolls eyes, exasperated sigh, looks at watch): Well, your appointment isn’t for another 10 minutes, so if you can get them to fax it here before then, you MIGHT be able to see the doctor.  Here’s the number.  (She hands me a piece of paper, closes the glass divider between us and goes back to working on her computer.)

Standing there with my mouth open, I whipped out my phone and called the pediatrician’s office in Ohio. 

Me: Hi, this is Mama Melch, I’m…

Ohio Receptionist: Yes, Annika and Mayzie’s Mom!  How are you guys doing? 

Me (completely flabbergasted!): Um, just fine.  We just got back from Germany, and I’m standing in a doctor’s office.  I was wondering if you might be able to fax their shot records over for us.  They won’t see them without them and Annika needs a pre-school form. 

Ohio Receptionist: Awww, you guys aren’t coming back here?  Soo sad.  I’m printing them out for you right now and I’ll fax them over right away.  What’s the number?

And. She. Did!  I peeked through the glass partition and saw the fax coming through as I was hanging up my phone.  I knocked on the glass. 

Me (pointing at the fax machine): There are their shot records from our Ohio pediatrician.  Do you think those will work? 

Receptionist: Well, I’ll have to check with my boss. 

They were sufficient enough for us to gain entry to the exam rooms. 

This was not like any pediatrician’s office I had ever seen.  Everything was white and gray.  EVERYTHING.  They showed us to an exam room that was the size of my bathroom, and was completely white and gray.  The very nice nurse kept telling my kids not to touch things and then left us to some gowns for them to put on for the doctor to examine them.  Not since my children were infants had we ever been required to disrobe for the doctor.  (I’ve since learned that this is fairly common practice here.  Is it everywhere else too?) 

I was pretty livid by the time the actual doctor came in the room.  She was very nice, especially when the first thing I said to her was, “Hi, I just want you to know that I am extremely frustrated and upset right now because of the horrible experience I have had so far in your office, and I really hope that you and I can have a better beginning.”  She actually listened to me when I told her what happened, though I’m pretty sure she thought I was a little insane at that point.  I might have been.  Anyway, she was nice enough.  She was a knowledgeable young doctor, though I might have scared her.  I was extra high on my mama bear defenses by that point.  I may have corrected her about Annika’s hemangioma and the treatment options.  I may have said something like, “No, we don’t need a referral.  She saw several different specialists at the Cleveland Clinic and we’re perfectly comfortable with the normal course it is taking.”  Ouch!  Yeah, just typing that makes me sound snobby.  Oops!  Obviously, my sass was a bit out of control at that point.  The doctor was nice, but then she acted all concerned about Mayzie’s runny nose.  She asked how long it had been runny and whether or not we were concerned and/or giving her anything for it. 

I was thinking, “Seriously? A runny nose?  Lady, we just flew internationally.  If all we got was one runny nose, we’re doing all right.” 

Instead I asked: Do you have any children?

Doctor: Yes I do.  I have a seven month old. 

In my mind: LIGHT BULB!!!  OMG OF COURSE you do!!!  (Side Note: Guess which movie I got to watch 4 times in a row on the airplane?!?!)  So not only are you fresh off the residency boat, but you are a new parent of one.  Yeah, of course you think you know everything about children! (Note: I'm really not always this mean, I promise.)  

As we were checking out, I asked the lady how long they had been in their office because it looked really new.  She assured me that oh no, they'd been there since March and were really getting settled in now.  I guess they had no plans of making the office actually look like or function like children might actually visit occasionally?  

By the time we got to the car, I was happy that we had gotten the required paperwork signed so that Annika could go to school, and was in a full-blown rage.  That’s what I call getting off on the wrong foot.    

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood

I have found nothing so calming and centering as getting out into nature and away from the mundane routine of day to day life.  Andy had been telling me to go check out this nature center and trails close to our house, so one afternoon I took the girls.  

They had a great time finding walking sticks, though quickly lost interest when they found other more interesting things, like a path to follow.  

I let them take the lead that day and just followed them most of the time.  

I did whip out our handy-dandy magnifying glasses that I keep in my mommy backpack, so that they could investigate some fungus and other things a little more closely.  

They had a great time exploring everything the place had to offer.  

It was comforting that Annika wasn't the only child at the playground to misunderstand what a gazebo is for.  

I've been in a particularly reflective mood since returning from our year abroad in Berlin.  Between struggling to figure out our new day to day and where the heck the _____ store is, I've been trying to contemplate the path we have taken so far.  I know that I certainly have taken "the one less traveled by" so far, shaping our experiences to be much different than the average up until now.  I sincerely hope that our choices have not made us unrelatable, while at the same time full of stories to tell.  I like to think that our humbling midwestern sensibilities ward off any snobbery on our part anyway.  As one of my favorite kids' books says, "Different is what makes this world so great."  Here's to a return year of being a little different.


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